Beverly Barton 3 Book Bundle
Table of Contents
Title Page (#uff98717a-f4c1-55b7-9f20-97e16afcdc0f)
Close Enough to Kill (#u200312db-d36e-5dd6-8efd-c9aa67ce69c0)
The Dying Game (#litres_trial_promo)
The Murder Game (#litres_trial_promo)
About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)
By the Same Author (#litres_trial_promo)
About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)
Close Enough to Kill
Close Enough to Kill
To my husband, Billy …for the love, patience and TLCI’ve always been able to count onthrough our many years together
Chapter One (#u24d79568-0fe8-58f0-871b-b48ebdbf9303)Chapter Two (#u53ddecef-fafc-56c5-a91e-01e47c046098)Chapter Three (#u308e6061-ce80-56a8-8e65-d666e746509b)Chapter Four (#u812e4443-9c5d-5036-9e39-ac0bcd316c7e)Chapter Five (#ueb129566-cc40-569f-8d3b-68ae80a11dee)Chapter Six (#u0479a3da-02f7-5b54-bda3-c03eb561f219)Chapter Seven (#u3706d5fa-47ad-56cb-8309-17d9709f7a4d)Chapter Eight (#uadf038f1-1395-5b2b-b4da-7521d6645bf4)Chapter Nine (#u4a7bf934-8d6d-59b9-a4c7-f080b65e69b8)Chapter Ten (#u6dc07a60-42d7-542f-9c02-dd19ae6f4aa0)Chapter Eleven (#uc32c8e38-1c8b-5825-b655-4645645c0330)Chapter Twelve (#u0839389c-cb32-5df9-b315-e93daf853429)Chapter Thirteen (#uf259a9f7-db04-5195-bdc5-df1379234838)Chapter Fourteen (#u64fa14ff-600b-5fef-8931-379b7ffc5a95)Chapter Fifteen (#u8aaba8c9-c80c-59cf-919b-d4893e1a0ce8)Chapter Sixteen (#u0a4dd894-4e99-583b-99b4-369583011cf3)Chapter Seventeen (#u934acf41-966b-5cb4-b498-003ab420df2a)Chapter Eighteen (#u0e0408e2-3514-5278-a9b8-412fd9f1acac)Chapter Nineteen (#uc1bd5f1d-20b7-5225-b5d3-61b7f941dca8)Chapter Twenty (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty One (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Two (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Three (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Four (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Five (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Six (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Seven (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Eight (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Nine (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Thirty (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Thirty One (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Thirty Two (#litres_trial_promo)Epilogue (#litres_trial_promo)Acknowledgments (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 1 (#uf0f29a13-839e-557e-a55f-f4749208704f)
Please, dear God, let him kill me.
Stephanie Preston lay on the narrow cot, listening to the rapid beat of her heart. Staring up at the ceiling in the small, dark room, she tried to pretend she was somewhere else. At home, with Kyle. Or at work, surrounded by people she knew and trusted. Perhaps at church, where she sang in the choir. Anywhere but here. With anyone but him.
As hard as she tried to mentally remove herself from the reality of this moment, from where she was and what was happening to her, she could not fully escape into her mind.
Try harder. Think about last Christmas. About how surprised you were when Kyle proposed, on bended knee, right there in front of your parents and your sisters.
Just as the image of her smiling parents flashed through her mind, the man on top of her rammed into her again, harder this time. With more fury. And his fingers dug into her hips as he forced her body upward to meet his savage thrust. As he accelerated the harshness and speed of his deep lunges, he voiced his need, as he did every time he raped her.
“Tell me.” He growled the words. “Say it. You know what I want to hear.”
No, I won’t. Not this time. I can’t. I can’t.
She lay beneath him, silent and unmoving, longing for death, knowing what was going to happen next.
He slowed, then stopped and lifted himself enough to gaze down into her face. She closed her eyes, not wanting to look at him. Not wanting to see the face of terror.
He grabbed her, clutching her chin between his index finger and thumb, pressing painfully into her cheeks. “Open your eyes, bitch. Open your eyes and look at me.”
Her eyelids flickered. Don’t obey him. Not this time. Bestrong.
“Why are you being so stubborn?” he asked, a tone of genuine puzzlement in his voice. “You know that I can force you to do whatever I want. Why make it so hard on yourself? You know that, in the end, you’ll obey me.”
“Please …” She opened her eyes and looked at him through a mist of tears.
Tears pooled in her eyes despite her determination not to cry. He liked it when she cried. “Just finish it.”
“If you want me to finish with you, then tell me what I want to hear. Otherwise, I’ll punish you. I’ll make it last a long time.” Lowering his head to her breast, he opened his mouth and bared his teeth. Before she could respond, he clamped down on her nipple and bit.
She cried out in pain. He thrust into her several times. Harder each time.
When he moved his mouth to the other breast, she gasped, then cried out hurriedly, “I love you. I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anyone. Please, darling, make love to me.”
He smiled. God, how she hated his smile.
“That’s a good girl. Since you asked so nicely, I’ll give you what you want.”
She lay there beneath him and endured the rape, hating every moment, despising him and loathing herself for having given in to him yet again.
This can’t go on forever. Sooner or later, he’ll kill me.
I hope it’s soon. I hope it’s very soon.
He stood across the street, on the corner, and watched her get out of her car and walk up the sidewalk to her front porch. She was lovely. He would enjoy sketching her, but before he could begin, he would need to see her up close. When he created the pictures of her, he wanted to get every detail correct. The slant of her eyes. The curve of her nose. The fullness of her lips. Her neck was long and slender; her body nicely rounded, neither skinny nor fat. Just right.
The first thing he would do was call her. Just to say hello. To make contact. He would be able to tell by the sound of her voice if she would be receptive to his overtures. He wouldn’t listen to what she said. Women so often lied—unless you forced them to tell the truth. But he could always tell when a woman was interested just by the way she spoke to him.
“Thomasina, Thomasina. Such a lovely name for a lovely lady.”
The thought of their courtship excited him. He reveled in the days leading up to the moment before a woman became his completely. It was the prelude to the mating dance that intensified the pleasure, those incredibly delicious events that prepared them for the inevitable.
However, he couldn’t begin pursuing Thomasina in earnest until he ended his current relationship. He’d been keeping tabs on her, learning everything he could about her—but from afar. He wasn’t the kind of man who would betray one woman with another. It wasn’t his style. It wouldn’t be easy ending things with his current lover. She was very much in love with him. He had been wild about her in the beginning, when she had posed a challenge to him, when she had led him on a merry chase. And the first time they’d made love had been good, although not all he had hoped it would be. He was certain that she knew their relationship was coming to an end, that they both needed to be free. And soon.
Perhaps tonight he’d tell her.
She would cry, of course. She cried a great deal. And she would beg him, plead with him, offer to do anything he wanted her to do.