In Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s edgy new
thriller, Louisa Hancock thought she was safe…but there’s a new killer in
When a mysterious package lands on Louisa Hancock’s doorstep, the
Philadelphia museum curator can hardly anticipate the nightmare that’s about to
envelop her. The package is addressed to her father—an expert in Viking
culture—and inside is a ninth-century sword, a chilling thank-you note, and
photos of two dead bodies in a tableau evoking a Nordic funeral. The gruesome
images match a recent crime scene. But before the police can investigate the
killer’s connection to Louisa’s father, Ward Hancock vanishes.
Sports bar owner Conor Sullivan wants nothing more than to spend his life with
Louisa. Devoted and protective, he refuses to leave her side after her father’s
disappearance. When a troubled young boxer he’s been coaching is suspected of
the murders, Conor is pulled in even deeper. Desperate, Louisa and Conor take it
upon themselves to find her father, but soon another ritualistic slaying makes
it clear there’s a Viking-obsessed serial killer on the loose. And he has a new
[Montlake Romance, On Sale: January 3, 2017,
Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781503939257 / ]
Showered and dressed, Louisa crossed the master bedroom before seven a.m. Kirra,
sensing something was amiss, stuck close. Louisa eased to her knees and hugged
the dog. Kirra never minded tears in her fur, and there was something about the
dog’s presence that always brought her comfort.
Rising, she left the room. The door to the guest suite was closed, and she hoped
Yvonne and Tyler were still sleeping. They’d all been stuck at the fire scene
giving statements and waiting to see if and when Yvonne might be able to get
into her apartment to collect anything that was salvageable.
Unfortunately, what the fire hadn’t consumed, the firemen had destroyed with
their axes and hoses. From what Louisa had seen from the street, Yvonne and
Tyler had nothing. They hadn’t made it back to the condo until nearly midnight.
She went into the kitchen and found Conor assessing the contents of the
refrigerator. He removed a carton of eggs.
“I’m not really hungry.” She stood next to him and rested her head on his
shoulder. Kirra leaned on her shins.
“When was the last time you ate?”
“Good point.” Yesterday was a blur.
“I made coffee.” He nodded toward a mug on the counter. “You tossed and turned a
lot. Did you get any rest?”
“A little.” A disturbing mix of dreams and nightmares had invaded her sleep. “I
dreamed of a vacation we took when I was in grade school. I don’t even remember
where we were, somewhere tropical. It was just the three of us. We’d taken a
small sailboat out to watch the sunset. There wasn’t much wind, but no one
minded.” Louisa closed her eyes for a few seconds, reliving the damp warmth of a
tropical breeze across her face, the restricting bulk of the life vest they’d
always made her wear, the scents of Coppertone, insect repellent, and the sea
mingling in her nose. “We saw dolphins and sailed until the sun went down. I
remember the lights along the shoreline dancing on the water.”
“It sounds all right so far,” he said.
“The first part was.” She paused, a shudder rippling through her. “The dream
ended with the boat sinking and my parents being sucked into the sea while I
watched, bobbing helplessly in my life vest on the surface.”
Conor turned to press a kiss to her temple. “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t know why I dreamed about that night. It was a quiet sail. Nothing
special happened.” Despite its nightmare finale, the dream soothed her.
“Maybe you just needed to remember that they loved you before it all went to
“I don’t think I ever forgot, but I definitely let bad memories crowd out the
“You were awfully young. Children can’t control how they react. Your happiness
was ripped out from under you. The adults in your life left you to fend for
yourself. I don’t think it takes a psychologist to make the parallel between
that dream and the way your future spun out of your control.”
“Probably not.” Louisa set the dream aside and reached for the coffee mug. “I
hope Yvonne got some sleep. I still can’t believe her boss fired her for missing
a second day of work under these circumstances. What is she going to do?”
The anger that fired in her belly felt a heck of a lot better than the cold
horror she’d been harboring.
“You’ve given them a safe place to hide from the gang. For now, that’s about all
you can do.” Leaning over, Conor kissed her temple. He lit a burner under a
frying pan, cracked eggs into a glass bowl, and began to whip them with a wire
whisk. “We’ll stop and buy them some clothes. I can offer her a job.”
Best. Man. Ever.
Even in her current state of despair, she held onto gratefulness for having him
in her life.
“I love that you help everyone,” she said.
“Yvonne’s a waitress. I need a waitress. Seems logical.” Conor poured the beaten
eggs into a frying pan. The embarrassed flush on his face made her smile.
Chivalry wasn’t dead. He was in her kitchen making sure she didn’t face another
terrible day with an empty stomach.
Melinda Leigh abandoned her career in banking to raise her kids and never
looked back. She started writing as a hobby and became addicted to creating
characters and stories. Since then, she has won numerous writing awards for her
paranormal romance and romantic-suspense fiction. Her debut novel, She Can
Run, was a number one bestseller in Kindle Romantic Suspense, a 2011 Best
Book Finalist (The Romance Reviews), and a nominee for the 2012 International
Thriller Award for Best First Book. She is the author of the Midnight Novels,
including Midnight Exposure (a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award
for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) and Midnight Sacrifice.