From New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards comes a thrilling new novel of suspense and steamy seaside sensuality set in North Carolina's Outer Banks, where a serial killer combs the beaches filled with beautiful female tourists for his next victim.
Christy Petrino hadn't planned on a vacation on Ocracoke Island, but when she learns her fiancé and boss, suave Michael DePalma, is a "made man" and the Philadelphia law firm where she works is a front for the mob, she breaks her engagement and quits her job. But no one walks away from the DePalma family business so easily....Only if she delivers a locked briefcase to a motel on Ocracoke Island will she -- and her mother and sisters -- be free.
But after clandestinely making her drop-off late at night, Christy suspects she is being followed on the moonlit beach -- and unwittingly runs into a new kind of terror. Now a witness at the center of a homicide investigation, Christy learns the police are hunting a serial killer they refer to as the "Beachcomber" because beautiful young women -- women who in fact resemble her -- have disappeared recently while vacationing at nearby beach communities. Christy doesn't know whom to fear more -- a serial killer who believes she might be able to identify him, or the DePalma family, whose tentacles she can't seem to escape.
Only when she's with Luke Rand, her big surfer-dude next-door neighbor, does she feel safe. But with Luke's asking so many questions about her ex-fiancé and his showing up almost too conveniently whenever danger strikes, she can't help but wonder if his interest in her is due to more than sexual attraction. Can she trust this handsome stranger to help her survive a hot and deadly summer?
Karen Robards creates a tour de force of passion and suspense in this scintillating page-turner, the quintessential summertime read.
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June 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Beachcomber by Karen Robards
Pretty girls in bikinis were everywhere, frolicking in the surf, walking up and down the beach, sprawled out on towels as far as the eye could see. It was the first Saturday in August, and Nags Head was sweltering and hopping at the same time. The sun was a fireball the size of an orange hanging low above the jagged skyline of hotels, condominiums, and private residences that stood like a backbone behind the creamy curve of the beach. The scent of suntan oil hung in the air. A raging boom box all but drowned out the hiss and growl of the ocean. Vacationers crammed the shore, all different ages and colors and sizes and shapes mixed up together, talking and laughing as they soaked up the last of the day's rays. Most of them were as invisible to him as he was to them. The girls were what stood out in vivid Technicolor. As his gaze moved from one to the other, lingering on a tall blonde here, caressing a curvy brunette there, his body tightened and tingled with a familiar anticipation. Just looking at them made him feel good all over. And why not? They were his favorite prey.
A beach ball bonked him in the side of the head. It didn't hurt, but he blinked, startled, and glanced around. A college-age girl with long blond hair scraped back in a ponytail and generous assets barely contained by a tiny turquoise swimsuit grabbed the rebound.
"Sorry!" she offered with a grin.
"No problem," he said, but she was already running back to rejoin her friends. He played follow the bouncing ass until she dodged behind an old guy dragging a kayak out of the water. The beach ball arced over the old guy's head and was caught by another girl. A brunette. His eyes widened as she leaped into the air to grab the ball. The blonde was cute, a lively tow-head with skin the color of crispy chicken, but it was the brunette who was something special.
She was taller than the blonde, and slimmer. A pink bandanna held her thick brown hair back from her face. It swung just free of her shoulders as she tossed the ball away. Her bikini was pink, too, cotton-candy pink, a shiny, stretchy fabric that his fingers suddenly itched to touch. He could almost feel the silkiness of it, the firm warmth of her skin beneath -- the lovely unblemished skin that was as golden-smooth as melted caramel.