New York Times
bestselling authors Lisa Jackson, Beverly Barton, and Wendy Corsi Staub join forces to create a thrilling novel about love, revenge, and the dark secrets three women hold to a terrifying murder…
A Killer Who Gets Away With Murder Once…
It’s been twenty years since the night Jake Marcott was brutally murdered at St. Elizabeth High School. It’s a night that shattered the lives of Lindsay Farrell, Kirsten Daniels, and Rachel Alsace. It’s a night they’ll never forget. A killer will make sure of that…
Finds It Easier To Kill Again…
A 20-year reunion has been scheduled for St. Elizabeth’s. For some alumni, very special invitations have been sent: their smiling senior pictures slashed by an angry red line…
And Again…And Again…Prologue
St. Valentine’s Day Dance 1986
St. Elizabeth’s High School
What the hell does she want from me?
Jake Marcott hated to think what her plans might be.
Standing in the near-freezing night air, he braced himself for
whatever demands she was certain to make.
He didn’t know whether he loved her or hated her.
He lit a cigarette with shaky fingers, a residual effect from
the car accident that had left his best friend dead and nearly
taken his own life.
God, he missed that crazy son of a bitch. Things would
have turned out so differently if Ian hadn’t been thrown
through the windshield. If his goddamned neck hadn’t been
broken. Shit! The crash and spray of glass, the screech of
tires, the groan of metal twisting and splitting still echoed
through Jake’s brain. Ian’s face, freckled from too much sun,
floated into Jake’s mind for just a second before Jake pushed
it quickly away. Too many times he’d wondered what would
have happened if the tables had been turned, if Ian were still
alive and he had been the one to die.
It messed him up to think about it.
Everything seemed washed out and pale now... the joy
bled from it.
He drew hard on his cigarette and thought about the tranquilizers in his pocket: the prescription that Doc Flanders
just kept refilling, barely asking any questions, somehow
knowing how deep Jake’s pain was, that the little white
tablets were a nearly useless balm for the ache splitting his
Get over it, Marcott, he told himself and was pissed that
he was here in his damned tuxedo, missing the dance and
waiting for her. When would he ever learn?
Clearing his throat, he looked around at this, the eeriest
part of St. Elizabeth’s campus.
Why this lame, clandestine meeting?
Because she’s a psycho. You know it. You’ve always
Jake took a drag from his cigarette and let smoke stream
from his nostrils in the cold night air. He shoved a hand
through his hair and glared up at the night-dark heavens. A
few stars were visible, not that he cared. He was sick of dealing with the fallout from the accident, his woman problems,
and the whole damned world. Eighteen fucking years old
and he sometimes felt that his life was a waste.
So where was she?
He glanced around and wondered if she’d show.
Tired of waiting, he tossed what was left of his Marlboro
into the darkness, watching the red ember arc, then sizzle
and die on the frosty grass. He glanced up at the full moon
hanging low in the sky and heard the thrum of a bass guitar
throb through the hills. Edgy, his nerves strung tight as the
piano wires inside his grandmother’s old upright, he paced
back and forth in front of the oak tree just as he’d been told.
Hidden deep in the maze of hedges, the leafless oak seemed
to shiver in the wind, brittle branches reaching upward like
skeletal arms scraping the sky.
From deep in the maze he was invisible to anyone. Even a
crafty old nun peering out of her third-story window in the
hundred-year-old brick building guarding the acres of this
campus couldn’t see him here.
The place gave him a bad case of the creeps. Throughout
the rounded corners and dead ends of the lush labyrinth,
benches, fountains, and statues had been placed. Beneath the
oak a sculpture of the Madonna stared down beneficently.
Arms upraised, she stood silent, white as bleached bones,
and surrounded by topiary cut into the shapes of dark creatures that, tonight, seemed sculpted by the devil.
Oh, for Christ’s sake, it’s just plants, Marcott. Nothin’
Angrier by the minute, he glanced at the digital readout
of his watch.
She was late. Nearly ten minutes late. So he’d give her another five and then he was gone...a ghost.
Besides, he had more important things to do than to
waste time on her.
He whipped around, toward the sound of a twig breaking.
He saw no one.
“Hey, I’m here,” he said in his normal voice.
Nothing...no response, just the faraway thrum of music
and laughter and the soft whisper of the wind.
A stealthy footstep.
The hairs on his nape lifted.
Surely it was she.
“’Bout time you showed up,” he said to the inky darkness, his heart pounding a little.
“I was about to give up on you.”
Again, she didn’t say a word.
Christ, what was the problem with her?
Always playing these damn head games.
At that thought, he smiled...maybe that’s what she
wanted. For him to chase her down. Find her in this maze of
He heard the sound of a footstep again. Closer now. And
something else... breathing.
Oh, she was close . . .
“I know you’re there,” he whispered.
He couldn’t help the smile that threatened his lips.
Still, she didn’t respond.
All the better.
“Have it your way,” he said. “I’ll find you.”
His eyes narrowed in the night and he noticed a dark
shape move a bit ...away from the twisted shadows of the
topiary only to fade away again.
So this is what she wanted.
A thrill of anticipation sang through his brain. His blood
Jake Marcott could never back away from a challenge.
Where the hell is Jake?
He’d been gone for over ten minutes, and Kristen had the
first worrisome sensation that she’d been ditched. At the
high-school dance. By her new boyfriend. On the two-month
anniversary of when they’d started dating. It was like the
lyrics of some bad 1950s song.
Don’t panic, he said he’d be right back. Just find him, she
Jake was easy to spot. At six-four, he stood half a head
taller than most of the boys and a foot above a lot of the
girls, so why couldn’t she spot him? “Where are you, Jake?”
she muttered to herself. Tall and lean, with wide shoulders,
thick brown hair, and an almost shy smile that had caused
many a girl’s heart to beat triple time, Jake Marcott was definitely a hunk.
Kristen scanned the packed gym, her gaze skating over
the knots of students clustered in the corners and crannies of
the old gym. A few couples were dancing beneath a canopy
of twinkling lights strung from the ancient rafters. Music
thrummed, drowning out most conversation, and a fog machine, supplied by the DJ, gave the old building a creepy, intimate ambience. It was late, nearly eleven, and most of the
guys had ditched their ties and jackets, but the girls were still
dressed in gowns of silk, satin, lace, and chiffon, some sophisticated and sleek, some outrageously frilly, but all far
more interesting than the stupid uniforms they wore daily to
this, the last all-girls Catholic school in Portland.