It's the ultimate game--the adrenaline surge of the hunt, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. For in this game, the rules are simple: To win, you only have to kill. To lose, you will have to die...
The victims are former beauty queens found with a single rose beside their bodies. Lindsay McAllister has seen this signature before, when she was a rookie detective with the Chattanooga PD investigating the death of Judd Walker's wife, a murder that sent the handsome lawyer off the deep end. Now, Lindsay has the brutal task of telling Judd that his wife's killer has struck again, and she's going to need his help to outplay their opponent--because the killer is getting bolder, faster, and more ruthless. The game is escalating, and no one is safe.
Now as the body count rises, the rules are changing. A killer will do anything to win. And the only way for Lindsay to stop a madman's twisted game is to play it herself...
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March 27, 2007
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Excerpt from The Dying Game by Beverly Barton
The intensely bright lights blinded her. She couldn't see anything except the white illumination that obscured everything else in her line of vision. She wished he would turn off the car's headlights.
Judd didn't like her to show houses to clients in the evenings and generally she did what Judd wanted her to do. But her career as a Realtor was just getting off the ground and if she could sell this half-million dollar house to Mr. and Mrs. Farris, her percentage would be enough to furnish the nursery. Not that she was pregnant. Not yet. And not that her husband couldn't well afford to furnish a nursery with the best of everything. It was just that Jennifer wanted the baby to be her gift to her wonderful husband and the nursery to be a gift from her to their child.
Holding her hand up to shield her eyes from the headlights, she walked down the sidewalk to meet John and Katherine Farris, an up-and-coming entrepreneurial couple planning to start a new business in Chattanooga. She had spoken only to John Farris. From their telephone conversations, she had surmised that John, like her own husband, was the type who liked to think he wore the pants in the family. Odd how, considering the fact that she believed herself to be a thoroughly modern woman, Jennifer loved Judd's old-fashioned sense of protectiveness and possessiveness.
When John Farris parked his black Mercedes and opened the driver's door, Jennifer met him, her hand outstretched in greeting. He accepted her hand immediately and smiled warmly.
"Good evening, Mr. Farris." Jennifer glanced around, searching for Mrs. Farris.
"I'm sorry, something came up at the last minute that delayed Katherine. She'll be joining us soon."
When John Farris raked his silvery blue eyes over her, Jennifer shuddered inwardly, an odd sense of uneasiness settling in the pit of her stomach. You're being silly, she told herself. Men found her attractive. And it wasn't her fault.
She didn't do anything to lead them on, nothing except simply being beautiful, which she owed to the fact that she'd inherited great genes from her attractive parents.
Jennifer sighed. Sometimes being a former beauty queen was a curse.
"If you'd like to wait for your wife before you look at the house, I can go ahead and answer any questions you might have. I've got all the information in my briefcase in my car." He shook his head. "No need to wait. I'd like to take a look around now. If I don't like the place, Katherine won't be interested."
"Oh, I see."
He chuckled. "It's not that she gives in to me on everything. We each try to please the other. Isn't that the way to have a successful marriage?"
"Yes, I think so. It's certainly what Judd and I have been trying to do. We're a couple of newlyweds just trying to make our way through that first year of marriage." Jennifer nodded toward the front entrance to the sprawling glass-and log house. "If you'll follow me."
"I'd be delighted to follow you."
Despite his reply sending a quiver of apprehension along her nerve endings, she kept walking toward the front steps, telling herself that if she had to defend her honor against unwanted advances, it wouldn't be the first time. She knew how to handle herself in sticky situations. She carried pepper spray in her purse and her cell phone rested securely in her jacket pocket.
After unlocking the front door, she flipped on the light switch, which illuminated the large foyer. "The house was built in nineteen-seventy-five by an architect for his own personal home."
John Farris paused in the doorway. "How many rooms?" "Ten," she replied, then motioned to him. "Please, come on in."
He entered the foyer and glanced around, up into the huge living room and to the right into the open dining room. "It seems perfect for entertaining."
"Oh, it is. There's a state-of-the-art kitchen. It was completely gutted and redone only four years ago by the present owner."
"I'd like to take a look," he told her. "I'm the chef in the family. Katherine can't boil water."
Feeling a bit more at ease, Jennifer led him from the foyer, through the dining room, and into the galley-style kitchen. "I love this kitchen. I'm not much of a cook myself, but I've been taking gourmet cooking lessons as a surprise for my husband." "Isn't he a lucky man."
Jennifer felt Mr. Farris as he came up behind her. Shuddering nervously, she started to turn to face him, but suddenly and without warning, he grabbed her from behind and covered her face with a foul-smelling rag.
No. No . . . no, this can't be happening.