Mayhem and mistletoe share the holiday in these two suspenseful stories
Yuletide Sanctuary by Terri Reed
A cry for help shatters youth counselor Sean Matthews's quiet Christmas night. He saves Lauren Curtis from her attacker--for now. But the vengeful man on her trail won't be held at bay for long....
Christmas Target by Stephanie Newton
She hadn't wanted the contest "prize" in the first place. But when police officer Maria Fuentes arrives for the holiday vacation she won, she finds much more than expected. Her "date"--handsome weatherman Ben Storm--is in danger, and Maria is the only protector he'll trust.
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October 31, 2010
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Excerpt from Holiday Havoc by Terri Reed
From the top of a sandy berm skirting the beach, the man barely noticed the bitter cold or the churning surf of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon. His focus remained on his target.
A feral smile curved his scarred mouth. He couldn't have planned their reunion better. Seemed fate was on his side. Finally. His prey, who'd ruined his life, was alone and vulnerable. Just how he liked his women.
She was just up ahead, walking down the deserted beach with a sketch pad tucked under her arm. Her dark hair whipped about her head in the chilling December wind.
Time was of the essence. It would only be a matter of hours before his ruse was discovered.
His pulse sped up as he shuffled through the tall scrub grass, keeping his gaze fixed on her. On Lauren.
The burning need to avenge his pain seethed white-hot in his veins. Patience, he cautioned himself. He had to capture her quickly and carefully in case some nosy busybody looking out the window of their insulated, Christmas-festooned little home decided to interfere.
He stuck his hand inside the pocket of his long, black leather coat and fingered the syringe of ketamine he'd stolen from a veterinarian clinic outside Burbank. He'd intended to use it on Lauren's mother. Unfortunately, the old bat hadn't been home when he'd broken in. But he'd learned where to find Lauren just the same while tossing the place. He'd then stolen a motorcycle and had ridden straight through from L.A. to this sleepy little Oregon town.
And now Lauren was only a hundred yards away from him, totally unaware that her life was about to end in a drawn-out masterpiece of torture. The familiar thrill of the kill rushed through his body. His breath quickened and the sound of it mingled with the roar of the surf.
Rushing water greedily devoured the beach. The rising tide ebbed and flowed, closer and closer to where she walked. Like him. Closer and closer.
A hulking rock loomed ahead with barnacle crusted tide pools at its base visible in the waning evening light. The waves swelled as the wind picked up. The salty air dampened his clothes and filled his nostrils. The man reached the flat sand of the beach, his scarred legs protesting the excursion. He ignored the pain as he pushed himself to move faster.
Soon, very soon, the plans he'd meticulously plotted over the past five years would come to fruition. Revenge would taste sweet.
As sweet as Lauren's tears.
A woman's sharp, desperate cry broke through Sean Matthews's jogger's trance.
His heart lurched and beach sand sprayed, stinging his shins as his long stride shortened abruptly. Mind racing through possible emergencies, he swung his attention toward the bluff above him.
In the twilight of dusk, it was difficult to spot anything beyond the interior lights that randomly dotted the windows and the strings of colored Christmas lights decorating the eaves of the resorts and cottages of the small town of Cannon Beach. High berms covered with tall grass provided a barrier between the buildings and the ocean. He didn't see anyone.
His gaze scanned the coastline, taking in Haystack Rock, a 235-foot monolith jutting out of the surf. The rising tide stirred the cold swells into white, foam-capped waves that rushed up toward the dryer sand and then quickly retreated, leaving wet, dark patterns in their wake. Mist blowing in on the evening breeze dampened Sean's hair and cooled his sweat until a chill chased down his spine.
Overhead, a gull's caw echoed the scream he'd heard.
He frowned. He hadn't imagined the cry, had he?
He scanned the area once again.
His gaze snagged on two figures up ahead. A woman ran through the tide pools toward Sean. A man, dressed in a long...