His Vengeance Will Be Repeated...
A woman’s slashed, incinerated corpse is found in a seedy New Orleans apartment. Her killer is certain there were no witnesses, unaware that his every move was seen by a beautiful stranger—from her bed in a bayou cottage on the outskirts of town…
Weeks later, another violent vision shatters Olivia Bechet’s sleep. Convinced a serial killer is stalking the city, Olivia turns to the authorities. But jaded detective Rick Bentz doesn’t believe her—even when a second body turns up, slain in exactly the same bizarre, ritualistic manner Olivia described…
As New Orleans panics in the icy grip of a merciless killer, Olivia is frustrated by Bentz’s skepticism—and captivated by her attraction to him. But soon her dreams are invaded by images of another murder. One that has yet to be committed. This time, Olivia recognizes not only the victim’s face—but the murderer’s. And both are closer than she ever imagined…Prologue
He saw her.
Half-running, head bent, fingers clutched at the hood of her coat, she hurried through the darkness to the small church.
From his hiding spot beneath the magnolia tree, The Chosen One waited. His blood began to sing through his veins as he crouched in the darkness, every muscle tense, nerves strung tight as piano wire.
How easy it would be to catch her. In three swift strides he could be upon her and drag her away. While her father waited inside. That particular thought appealed to him, was warm seduction.
But it wasn't her time, he reminded himself. There were others.
She paused beneath the overhang near the front doors, tossing off her hood and shaking her hair free. Long and wavy, the strands gleamed a tempting red brown in the lamplight. The Chose One swallowed and felt the first stirring between his legs.
He wanted her.
So badly he ached.
Just looking at her, his senses were heightened. He heard his heart heating, felt his blood pulse through his veins, smelled the heavy odor of the Mississippi River winding dark and slow through the town where traffic whined on slick streets and sin was waged at every comer.
As she disappeared through the doors, he edged deeper into the dense foliage of the grounds to his hiding spot near the flawed stained-glass window. A tiny panel of glass had been removed and replaced by a small clear pane, giving a perfect view into the nave. Crouching, The Chosen One peered through this portal and he watched as she walked down the aisle, genuflected, then slid into the pew to take her seat next to her father. The bastard cop.
They exchanged a few words before she planted herself next to him.
Once seated, she fidgeted in the pew. Looked bored. As if she'd rather be anywhere than at evening mass with her father. She flipped her long hair this way and that, glanced at the others as they entered, slumped onto her lower back to bite at one fingernail as dozens of candles burned.
The Chosen One let his gaze move to the cop.
He was a solid man, over six feet. His jaw was square, his eyes deep-set and world-weary, showing his forty-plus years. Rick Bentz was a detective whose tarnished reputation had been polished to a recent sheen, his past sins forgotten if not forgiven. In his black suit and starched shirt, he appeared more uncomfortable than his daughter, definitely out of place in the house of God.
As well he should be.
Tugging on his tie, Bentz leaned closer to the girl and whispered into her ear. Immediately she stopped biting at her nails and straightened in the pew. She folded her arms over her abdomen defiantly and inadvertently raised her breasts, making them plump a bit at the neckline of her dress. White supple flesh against turquoise silk.
The Chosen One imagined what was hidden beneath that smooth fabric...rosebud nipples, virgin skin, and lower, a dark nest of curls the same reddish brown as that luxurious tangle of copper that tumbled to her shoulders.
He thought of her as the princess.
Her father's pride and joy.
Athlete, scholar, and...a little naughty. Rebellious. It was there, in her eyes. He'd seen it before. Heard it in her deep, sexy laughter.
She glanced toward the window with her wide green eyes. The Chosen One froze in his hiding spot.
Her mouth pulled into a tiny, defiant pout.
His cock responded. Just a little twinge.
He imagined what those lips might do with the right sort of prodding...Closed his eyes, felt the cool caress of the rain running down his neck as his fingers strayed to his crotch.
His erection stiffened to full mast. Hard. Throbbing. Anticipating.
Soon, Princess, he thought. Soon. But I must take care of the others first. Then it will be your turn.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
His eyes flew open at the sound of his watch's timer. He
clicked off the alarm and bit back a swear word. That was careless. Unlike him. Angry with himself, The Chosen One took one last glimpse of the church's interior and found the princess still staring at the window. As if she knew he was there.
Quickly he ducked from beneath the tree and jogged through the curtain of rain. He'd stayed much too long. Furious with himself, he picked up his pace, long legs sprinting easily across the wet lawn to the comer, where he turned down a narrow alley, ran three blocks, then doubled back to a parking space in front of an abandoned, boarded-over building that had once been a garage.
He was sweating, not from exertion but anxiety as he climbed into the older car with its tinted windows. He stripped off his running clothes and gloves, then folded them neatly into a leather duffel.
Soon it would be time.
Soon Rick Bentz would feel the pain of losing that which he held most dear.
But first Bentz needed to know what was at risk; he had to feel real fear--a dark, gnawing dread that would eat at him when he realized that everything he did, everywhere he turned, every place he'd once held sacred, would no longer be safe.
A smile crept across The Chosen One's jaw as he withdrew a towel from his bag. Quickly he swiped the rough
terry cloth over his face and neck. Then he took the time to check the rearview mirror. Blue eyes stared back at him. Hungry eyes. "Bedroom eyes," he'd been told by more
than one woman who was foolish enough to think he could be seduced.
But...beneath his gaze he caught the merest glimmer of a shadow, something wrong, out of sync in the reflection. As if someone were watching him. He snapped his head around, stared through the foggy rear window to see if the
mirror's reflection had caught someone peering into the car.
He squinted through the raindrops and fog of condensation.
Nothing moved outside.
There was no one around on this deserted street. And yet
he felt...a connection somewhere. This wasn't the first
time; he'd sensed a presence on several occasions. Each
time the feeling became a little more certain, a tad more
intense. Sweat rolled down his temples. His heart hammered
Paranoia...that's what it is. Stay cool. Keep focused.
There was no one in this desolate part of town, no one
who could possibly see through the smoky glass windows
of the sedan on this gloomy night.
He had to calm down. Be patient. Everything was coming
Rick Bentz's worst nightmare had already begun.
He just didn't know it yet.