I will come for you.
Kim Collins bolted upright in bed, adrenaline spiking.
What was that? A whisper in the wind? Or her imagination?
A premonition of a future soon to be hers? The promise of
a man whose only goal was to kill her?
I will come for you.
Her heart pounded in her chest, filled her ears, bruised
He was here. She knew it.
She frantically searched the dark bedroom, her gaze
darting back and forth, trying to cover every inch at
once. She dipped into the moon's eerie shadows, double-
checking the location of each item. Nothing amiss. Even
her suitcase still lay open on the floor, half-unpacked
after her arrival from California two days ago. All was
Except the six-inch scar on her thigh.
It throbbed with pain. Pulsed with fear. Ached with ugly
But the room was silent. The house was still.
Relax, Kim. It's another nightmare. Nothing in the room
had moved since she'd gone to bed. See? She was imagining
It was nothing but a dream.
Or, rather, a nightmare.
Kim pushed her hair off her face, her fingers twisting in
the wet strands, damp from the humidity and the fear. The
sweat of terror. Too real. Too often. And nowâ€¦she was
having those dreams almost every night.
The overwhelming terror of impending death. And that
sickening smile he'd given her when they'd escorted him
out of the courtroom for his six-month stay in prison, his
thin lips forming his promise: I will come for you.
Yesterday, she'd gotten the call from the Los Angeles
County District Attorney's Office. Jimmy Ramsey was out on
parole. She'd known he would be getting out. She'd been
preparing for it by taking a leave of absence so she could
get out of town, but nothing had prepared her for the
shock of knowing he'd been released. Free to pursue her.
And he was coming for her. She knew it.
"Stop it!" She hugged her pillow to her chest. He was
probably three thousand miles away, stalking her in L.A.,
clueless that she was hidden away in the Maine woods,
right? Her best friend, Alan Haywood, was watching her
apartment and he'd call her as soon as Jimmy was spotted.
Everything was under control.
Besides, Jimmy wouldn't travel across the country just to
No, but he'd travel that far to kill her.
If he realized she wasn't in L.A., he might remember
hearing about the family resort in Maine and decide to see
if she was out here. He'd pull out his credit card, mosey
on over to the airport, grab a last-minute ticket and then
he'd be hereâ€¦
Argh! She closed her eyes and pressed her palms to her
eyelids, trying to expel the thought from her head. Deep
breaths. Inhale for five counts. Exhale for eight counts.
A distinct thump sounded above her head and she lurched
off the bed. She landed on her feet, her fists balled and
her breath heaving, dread paralyzing her for an instant.
Then she shook it off and raced for the open windows. She
yanked them shut, locked them and jumped back. Her hands
shook, her skull ached where Jimmy had smashed it and her
legs threatened to give out.
The scrabbling on the roof continued. Little thuds and
scratches, faster now.
Dammit. She wasn't ready to die. She hadn't been before
and she wasn't now.
She grabbed the phone, but her fingers were shaking too
much to hold on to it. It clattered to the floor. She dove
for the handset and dialed 911. The operator answered, her
calm, detached voice so wrong for the intensity of the
"1370 Birch Road. There's an intruder! Please send
Kim jumped away as the wall nearest her began to shake. He
was climbing down the side of her house! She heard a thud
on the ground and fresh panic surged over her. Was he
planning to break a window and come in the ground floor?
"There's an officer in the area. He should be there in
about three minutes."
"Thanks." Kim hung up just as the operator was telling her
to stay on the line. As if that would help if Jimmy came
through her window wielding a knife. Stay away from me or
this operator will kill you. Uh-huh. Yeah, that'd work.
The phone rang and she jumped.
The operator calling back?
Or was it Jimmy phoning from her front step? Laughing at
her fear? Mocking her? Counting down the seconds she had
left to live? No, thanks.
She let it ring.
The police would be there in three minutes.
That was all the time she needed to buy herself.
She kicked her bedroom door shut.
A scrambling noise from outdoors spurred her into motion.
She ran to the end of her dresser, wedged her back against
it and pushed with all the strength her trembling limbs
could provide. With a protesting shriek that made her own
hackles rise, the bureau screeched its way across the wood
floor, a mournful sound that made cold fingers of fear
close around her spine.
The creepy wail didn't end until she had the dresser
jammed safely in front of the door. The taut silence was
barely a respite as she stepped back to inspect her work.
Not enough. He could still get through.
She ducked into the attached bathroom, grabbed the lid off
the back of the toilet and hoisted it over her shoulder,
taking up a post by the side of the door. If he stuck his
head in there, she'd brain him with the porcelain. It
wasn't a gun, but it was heavy and hard. She wasn't going
down without a fight.
Kim strained, listening for the sound of breaking glass or
splintering wood. Or the ominous thud of footsteps on the
Silence. Not even a noise from the side of the house
anymore. She took a deep breath. Maybe it hadn't been
Jimmy. Maybe it was a really fat raccoon. Or even a bear.
Or maybe she was deluding herself right now. Maybe she'd
been yards away from the man who wanted her dead.
But the silence stretched. Even if it had been him, maybe
he was gone.
But what did it matter if Jimmy had left tonight? If it
had been Jimmy on her roof, if he had found herâ€¦he'd be
Until he was through with her.
So what was she supposed to do?
Be like Cheryl, her beloved sister, who had changed her
name and disappeared? If Kim ran, she would endanger
Cheryl as well as herself because her sister was safe only
so long as Jimmy pursued Kim. Though after tonight, she
really wasn't enjoying this plan too much, either.
Her goal had been to set him up to violate his parole,
either by getting caught stalking her apartment or by
following her out of state. Of course, the original plan
had been to take a short leave of absence and set herself
up in a very secure hotel, one that he'd never be able to
penetrate, but her dad's accident had changed all that.
Now she was still acting as bait, but in a remote and
Bright lights glared and her room began flashing in blue,
like a disco invading rural Maine.
Kim snuck over to the window, peering cautiously through
the corner of the glass. A cruiser was sitting in her
driveway and there was a uniformed officer walking up the
front steps toward her door.
For now, she was safe.
But she was certain the danger was only beginning.
SHE FLUNG THE front door open, where a cop stood in the
shadows. She'd made it. Oh, God. She'd made it. She wasn't
going to die tonight. Her knees suddenly gave way and she
"Whoa!" The man jumped out of the shadows and grabbed her,
pulling her back to her feet. "You okay?"
Something caught in Kim's chest at that voice. That husky
timbreâ€¦ She looked up, then felt her world spin into a
black abyss. "Sean?"
His grip tightened on her arms, and he pulled her into the
It was him. His eyes were tired, his face more bony and
lined, his hair shorter than it had been ten years ago,
but it was him. "Sean!" She threw her arms around him. "I
thought you were dead!" He smelled the same as always.
That musky scent that had made a sixteen-year-old girl
fall in love, and it seized her gut and tugged.
For an instant, his arms tightened and he crushed her
against him and it was as if the past ten years had never
happened. They were both eighteen again and the world
hadn't betrayed them.
Then he pulled back and set her to the side and a rift of
cold air settled in her chest. "What's wrong?" he asked.
Wrong? She blinked. Wrong was the cold shadow in his eyes,
the rigid set to his jaw that said he wanted nothing to do
with her anymore. But what could she expect? It was what
she'd wished for.
"Kim? You called the cops?"
Sweat broke out on her forehead again and she hugged
herself. "He's going to kill me." Her voice was no more
than a whisper, but Sean must have heard her because the
lines on his face deepened and his expression became
"What are you talking about?" His hand went to his gun.
His eyes became vigilant. He looked all cop, and something
else. Something more. Someone who knew how to handle a
weapon and who thrived on the threat of death.
Where was the gangly kid she'd almost married? The boy
whose only goal in life had been to run the Loon's Nest
alongside her parents? Gone, apparently, replaced by a
hard man she didn't even know.
A man who was here to protect her from Jimmy. "Who's going
to kill you?" He shifted her slightly, putting himself
between her and the doorway, his gaze boring deep into the
interior of the house. Searching for the threat.
"Jimmy Ramsey." Just saying his name made her legs start
to shake again. "Who's he? Is he inside?"
She was freezing, even though it was a hot, muggy night.
Guess fear of death would do that to a person. "I heard
"Outside?" Sean grabbed her, shoved her inside the house
and slammed the door shut behind them. "Who? Your husband?"
Was it her imagination or did he stumble over that word?
She shook her head and clutched her arms to her chest, the
old T-shirt hanging loosely off her. "My sister's ex-
"Cheryl's husband?" He frowned. "What's going on?" She
pressed her back against the door, afraid of the house and
its cavernous interior with so many hiding places. "He was
in prison and he got out and I heard something on the roof
and then he climbed down the side of the building and then
you came and I don't know if he's still here orâ€¦"
Something flickered in his eyes, but he offered no
comforting words. Not as he would have ten years
ago. "Lock yourself in the bathroom while I check things
out." He opened the powder room door, old instincts
apparently directing him to the right place without a
second thought. "I'll be back in a minute."
She grabbed his arm before he could get away. "Be careful.
He's a cop."
Sean stopped, surprise flickering on his face. "A cop?"
She nodded. "He'll kill you."
"No chance." He disengaged her grip and guided her into
the room, then pulled the door shut. "Lock it."
His footsteps didn't take him away until she'd engaged the
lock with an audible click.
And then, all she could do was wait.
KIM LEANED AGAINST the door, trying to catch her breath.
Her chest was so tight, her hands cold, her forehead hot.
Sean. He was here. At her house. Alive.
And Jimmy was here.At her house.And he wanted her dead.
She groaned and slid down the door to the floor. Her hands
were shaking so badly she dropped them to the tiles and
let her head flop back against the wood.
What was Sean doing in town? She never would have agreed
to come back if she'd known he was around. Even for her
sister, she couldn't have done it. Cheryl had begged her
to return to Maine when they'd found out about their dad's
accident because Cheryl was still trapped in hiding and
couldn't come home. For her sister, Kim could endure
And Jimmy again.
She had no strength left to cope with either of them, not
even for Cheryl. She was exhausted, so unbearably tired.
A knock on the door sent her leaping to her feet. Kim
smashed herself up against the opposite wall. Was it Sean,
or had Jimmy killed Sean? What if Jimmy had come back to
finish her off at a leisurely pace?
"It's me. Open up."
She nearly collapsed with relief at Sean's voice. "Is it
Kim inched toward the door and flicked the lock, but the
doorknob turned before she could open it. Sean stuck his
head into the room, his dark eyebrows knitting when he saw
her. She had no doubt that he'd be able to see through her
facade and know that she was terrified. For an instant,
his face softened and she thought he was going to give her
the reassurance she craved, but then his expression
"Come on out. We need to talk."
An agonizing need to have his arms around her again jolted
her into moving toward him, but he turned away before she
could reach him.
Nothing. No comfort. No special look. No touch of support,
even though he had to know how much she needed it. Regret
made her energy sag. Had she done that to him?
Changed him from a sweet, doting guy into someone who
wouldn't even touch her arm in comfort? She couldn't ask.
Couldn't apologize. Where would she start after a decade
of silence? Should she try?
He held the door for her and stepped back when she reached
him, his eyes cold and distant. Pushing her away. He
didn't want to hear about their past. She could read it in
the tight set to his mouth, the way he held his arm so she
couldn't brush against it.
They were strangers now.
Strangers who had to discuss the man who'd almost killed
her once and wouldn't let her escape next time.