When A Killer Doesn't Want To Get Caught...
The woman has been waiting impatiently on her satin sheets. Her lover knows exactly how to satisfy her. But this time, he has something else planned...something that will really take her breath away...
There's Only One Way To Eliminate His Victims...
In the courtroom, defense lawyer Quinn Cortez has a reputation as a ruthless predator who always gets what he wants. In the bedroom, it's no different. Quinn is an accomplished seducer with a long list of conquests. But now, someone has brutally slaughtered one of them, and Quinn has no memory of the night he was found in her home...
Annabelle Vanderley wants justice for her murdered cousin, and if Quinn Cortez swears he can find the true killer, she's willing to give him the benefit of a doubt. But then another body is discovered...and another...each victim an ex-lover of Quinn's. Now, consumed by dread, Annabelle wonders just how close she may be to a twisted psychopath for whom her pain would be the ultimate pleasure...
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June 30, 2005
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Excerpt from Killing Her Softly by Beverly Barton
Lulu Vanderley was rich, blond and beautiful. Women envied her. Men wanted her. She had it all. Everything. Except... There was one thing she wanted that could never truly be hers. Quinn Cortez. And knowing she couldn't have him made her want him all the more.
They'd been lovers for several months, ever since they'd met through mutual acquaintances in Vail. In the beginning, a hot affair had been enough for both of them. He'd made it clear from their very first date that he was a no-strings attached kind of guy. And she'd been well aware of his love'em-and-leave-'em reputation. But that was before she fell in love with the gorgeous hunk, before she decided that she wanted to become Mrs. Quinn Cortez. And as a general rule, Lulu got what Lulu wanted.
She stared at her reflection in the mirror and smiled devilishly. No man had ever been able to resist her. And that was one reason she and Quinn were perfect for each other. They were two peas in a pod--a couple of gorgeous, irresistible philanderers.
Tonight she would spring the trap, the age-old trap that had caught many a poor fool. Quinn wasn't invulnerable. He was as susceptible as any man to feminine wiles and little white lies. She'd weep and swear she didn't know how it could have happened. She'd told him the first time they had sex that she'd been on the pill for years and since he'd also used a condom every time, convincing him she was pregnant might not be easy. But all he had to do was talk to her doctor. Lulu was definitely six weeks along.
Running her hands over her tall, slender body, from waist to narrow hips, she studied her image. Her beauty had always gotten her whatever her family's wealth wouldn't buy. But neither could give her what she wanted most.
Quinn might be a womanizer, but he wasn't a heartless cad. If he believed she was carrying his child, then there was a good chance he'd do the honorable thing and marry her.
And if he doesn't, what will you do?
She'd get an abortion, of course. No way in hell did she want to get tied down with a squalling baby unless the little brat served some purpose.
The mantel clock struck the hour, reminding her that Quinn would be arriving soon. Her stomach tightened. Lulu laughed. It wasn't like her to be nervous.
Everything was ready. A bottle of champagne was chilling. A second bottle. She'd already drunk three glasses from the first bottle in an effort to steel her nerves and lull herself into a tranquil haze. Not good for the baby, she supposed, but what the hell. The silk bed linens were turned down, soft music was playing and she was wearing her most alluring sheer black teddy.
Quinn had just won another high profile case, this time involving country singer Terry McBryar. The Nashville jury had come back with a not guilty verdict in the case against McBryar, who had been accused of murdering his manager. Of course, this victory was only one in a long line for Quinn Cortez, who was one of the nation's most highly acclaimed trial lawyers.
The fact that Quinn had a reputation for being ruthless excited Lulu. She'd always been fascinated by bad boys.
When she had telephoned him earlier today to congratulate him on his big win, she'd heard reluctance in his voice the minute she invited him to drive over to Memphis this evening so they could celebrate together. But in the end, she had persuaded him. Telling him that she'd be waiting in her bedroom, wearing only a teddy, and eager to suck his dick had given him all the incentive he needed.
"I can get there by eight," he'd told her. "Is your extra key in the usual place?"
"Right where it always is," she'd said. "Just let yourself in. I'll be waiting."
Thinking about the night ahead, Lulu shivered with excitement. She'd had dozens of lovers, but none compared to Quinn. The guy was a real stud, in every sense of the word. She'd give him a blow job, then they'd drink champagne and cuddle by the fireplace here in her bedroom. After he was relaxed and mellow, she'd spring her big surprise.
Guess what, Quinn, you're going to be a daddy.
Laughing, pleased with her almost foolproof plan to trap her man, Lulu twirled around the room.
She heard a noise. The front door opening? Her heartbeat accelerated. Quinn was here. He'd arrived early. He must have broken every speed limit between Nashville and Memphis. That had to mean he was eager to see her.
Hurriedly, she turned off all the lights and lit the candles she had arranged on top of the sleek, modern cherry dresser. Only the candlelight and the glow from the flickering blaze in the fireplace illuminated the room. The right ambience was so important.
"Quinn? Darling, I'm back here waiting for you."
His footsteps tapped quietly over the hardwood floors in the foyer and down the hall.
"You got here early, didn't you?" She licked her lips.
Why wasn't he answering her?
She scratched her long fingernails over her nipples, hardening them instantly. "Come on back here, big boy. I've got what you need."
She stood by the fireplace, primed and ready, eager for what lay ahead. When she saw him standing in the doorway, her heart caught in her throat. She did love this man, loved him to distraction. He stood there in the shadows, a tall, dark silhouette. Broad shouldered, lean hipped. Six one. And every inch a man.
She held open her arms. "Come to mama. Let me take good care of you."
He took several steps toward her. His blue-black hair glistened in the firelight. God, he was handsome. Ruggedly handsome in that exotic way only men of mixed heritages were. Quinn was a delicious mixture of Mexican and Irish.
As he neared her, she thought how incredibly young and sexy he looked tonight. Even men looked better by candlelight. At forty, he possessed a body any twenty-year-old would envy. And she knew from personal experience that he had the stamina of a man half his age.
"Hello, Lulu," he said, and she thought there was an odd tone to his voice. He didn't sound quite like himself.
She took a tentative step toward him, closing the gap between them. When she looked up into his piercing black eyes, she gasped. "Quinn?"
"Were you expecting someone else?" he asked. "Another lover?"
"No, I wasn't expecting anyone else." She felt a sudden sense of unease. What was wrong with him? He was acting so strangely. And he looked odd.
Maybe it wasn't him; maybe it was her. After all, she had drunk three glasses of champagne. Perhaps she was picking up on strange vibes where there were none.
He reached out and grasped her shoulders. She quivered.
"What's wrong? You're shivering," he said.
She stared directly at him, studying his tense features, as his big hands bit painfully into her shoulders. Oh, God, how could this be? She didn't understand what was going on.
"You're acting as if you're afraid of me."
"I--I am." She tried to pull away, but he held her in his strong grip. "Let go of me." When she struggled against him, he pushed her backward, his dark eyes boring into her with unadulterated hatred. "I don't understand--"
She felt addled, her thoughts fuzzy, her mind playing tricks on her.
As he shoved her backward, she somehow managed to escape his tenacious grasp. She had to get away from him. She turned and ran, intending to lock herself in the bathroom and use the telephone in there to call for help. But before she reached the bathroom door, he caught her by the wrist, whirled her around and flipped her over and onto the bed.
The satin sheets felt cold and clammy against her bare arms and legs. The dark shadow of the man hovering over her appeared menacing and dangerous. Why hadn't she realized sooner that something wasn't quite right?
Because you drank too much champagne.
He came down over her, bracing his knees on either side of her hips, trapping her beneath him. She opened her mouth in a silent scream, her voice paralyzed by fear.
Don't panic. Maybe he just wants to play rough. Maybe he isn't going to hurt you.
"You're a fool, Lulu," he said in that strange tone of voice. "And I feel sorry for foolish women."
"What--what are you talking about? Please--"
"Do you know what I do to foolish women?"
He reached over and picked up one of the king-size pillows from the head of the bed. She tried to shove him off her, but without success. He was too big, too strong. He lifted his knee and pressed it against her belly, effectively holding her in place and enabling him to use both hands to maneuver the pillow.
"I kill foolish women," he told her. "I kill them softly... tenderly... and put them out of their misery."
"No!" She managed to scream once before he covered her face with the huge pillow. Oh, God, he really was going to kill her. Smother her.
Help me, please, dear God, help me.
She wriggled and squirmed, thrashing her head about, seeking air, but he kept the pillow securely in place. With what little strength she had left, she grasped his wrists, but the effort proved useless. Within seconds her hands loosened. Her arms dropped languidly to either side of her still body. Her chest ached. Swirling gray circles appeared in the blackness behind her pillow-covered eyes.
Lulu had one final coherent thought.
I can't breathe. I can't breathe!