In one moment, high school teacher and single mother Brooke Davenport interrupts a vicious assault, saves a young woman’s life, and attracts the attention of a serial killer.
Sixteen years ago, Brooke lost her roommate to a brutal murder. Now she teaches women’s self-defense, still trying to heal from the guilt and grief that plague her. Convinced the predator knows his victims and is stalking his prey online, she is determined to find him before he strikes again. Her brother’s friend, Luke has the computer expertise to help. But Brooke’s unexpected desire for Luke complicates her investigation, and her fixation with the case provokes a deadly reaction from the killer.
Injured in terrorist bombing overseas, computer expert Luke Holloway is still haunted by flashbacks of his young assistant’s death in the explosion. But Luke can’t refuse the request of a deployed friend to look after his sister, Brooke. Taking on responsibility for Brooke’s safety threatens Luke’s tenuous recovery, especially after he develops feelings for her that transcend a promise to a friend. When Brooke saves a young girl from a brutal assault and becomes a killer’s obsession, Luke vows to protect her at all costs.
*** slight spoiler alert ***
In Coopersfield, Pennsylvania Maddie is going out for a jog not knowing that she was being watched by a psychopath. Thanks to her social media accounts being stalked. (shudders) Her life would be his for the taking. As he grabs her, Maddie screams and tries to fight back but.. he hits her. She manages another scream. Hopefully someone will hear her.
Brooke Davenport, a teacher at Westbury High is giving a lecture to her class in the community center in Coopersfield on “safety” and “self defense” is leaving the community center when she hears a scream. She steps inside and asks George, the janitor of the community center go out and search the woods right by the center. Hearing a scream again she runs and sees the man sitting over a girl. Brooke calls 911 and then she yells at George to stay with the girl when the man takes off on foot. Brooke goes after the masked man, running as hard and fast as she can but thanks to a tree root she didn’t see she falls and the man gets away.
They take Maddie and Brooke to the hospital to be checked out. She calls home and talks to her brother, Wade. He sends his best friend, Luke to get her. (Luke had a crush on her in high school…) And Wade goes to pick up her daughter, Hayley from the school. Brooke isn’t comfortable having her kids not with him. When she gets home she recounts the events of the night. Wade isn't happy, he is being deployed tomorrow for afghanistan. He makes Luke promise to keep an eye out for her (for the next week, while he is at his nan’s house) atleast. Really he tries to hook them up. (Laughs) Luke agrees but is worried this is a bad idea. Now to see if they can find the man that attacked Maddie. Could Brooke be in danger? Would they put her name in the paper?
The next day Luke is awakened by a familiar nightmare, so he goes for a long ass jog. Literally he ran from his nan’s house to Brooke’s. That’s like a four mile run. He of course looked around and then headed back home. His nan was up so he had breakfast and she sent him back to Brooke’s to take her a casserole. When Brooke came down stairs, ready for work she had to stop and try to cut out the panic she felt when she heard someone routing around in the kitchen. She thinks Wade was running late so she was surprised to see Luke there. seems Wade gave him his key in case of an emergency. (snickers) After Brooke and the kids have breakfast (cooked by Luke) he takes them to school.
All goes well at school except Tony, a fellow teacher can’t take a hint that she is not interested in him. Men. After school Brooke unsuccessfully tries to avoid him but he’s right there ready to carry her bags. Luckily her son Chris comes to the rescue after they get to the front of the school. Brooke asks Chris where Hayley (her daughter) is and Tony’s face puckers up when he says she is in the car with Luke. His interests are peaked more than usual now so he follows them out of the school. Luke sees him and we have that male standoff that isn’t awkward at all. (snorts) Luke asserts himself over the situation and gets them all in the car and takes them home.
Home should be safe, right? Not. When Brooke hobbles out to the road to check the mail she finds a squished something in her mail box. Roadkill. (gags) Luke gets her inside and calls the cops. He had seen a black truck driving by her place earlier in the day but never expected that to be the result of it. Then Tony showed up at her house. Yes, that Tony. Big mistake. Luke makes it clear he isn't welcomed there and finally Brooke tells him there will never be anything between them and he leaves. Once the cops come in and do what they can -after telling brooke that Maddie wanted to see her- she and Luke get the kids settled in at his Nan’s and head to the hospital.
Her stalker is watching the hospital. Seems he has serious issues. More than one kind of problem. His older sister used to abuse him when he was younger. (Explains a lot...) Now as he watches Brooke walk into the hospital he wonders what they are doing. Will they talk about him? He has a present for Maddie… will she like it? Just as Brooke leaves the girls room she hears a scream. When Maddie opened her tray of food there was one of her earrings. Thanks to the news the next morning Brooke’s name and her past is out and the mystery man is out for her. Using her past and her friend’s death against her to get his own satisfaction at seeing her freak out.
After some time things get really dicey. Joe Verde, a man that used to work for Wade showed up drunk. He threw a rock through the window and was yelling outside. In order to keep Sunshine, the dog -who was outside and caught sight of the crazed man- from getting hurt by him Luke went out to talk to him. they got into a fight and Luke subdued him quickly. When the cops came he was arrested and they all tried to settle back in for the night. The kids father, her now ex husband of two years called and demanded the kids be brought to him. He wanted them away from Westbury. So, even though she wanted them close to her Brooke and Luke took the kids to Philly to their father’s place then came home. Brook went down to set the washer up with their dirty clothes… but what Brooke finds down there sets off a chain reaction of emotions in her that chill her to the bone.
A body, a woman's body is set up by the wall just as her friend Karen’s body had been all those years before. The past was coming back to her. When Luke hears her scream he runs down to her and after a little closer inspection.. finds its a mannequin. But the blood on it is real. It was set up to look like Maddie and remind her of Karen. The police come and as they investigate the scene Mike comes in to talk to Brooke. He suggests they not stay in the house tonight. Suggests a hotel or a safe place until things settle down some. Luke has other plans though. He will drive her to his place in Manhattan. No one would look for her there. Plus he knows its secure.
Sheriff O’Connell calls Brooke the next morning needing her to come in and answer some questions. She knew something was wrong. After Mike tells them about the latest body that was found they leave Manhattan and head to Westbury. When they arrive they meet with Mike and a few of his deputies. They couldn’t say who the woman was yet, the family hadn’t been notified. When a girl comes into the station to see Mike, Brook comes out of the room as she hears a scream. Looking into Mike’s office she almost collapses when she sees a student of hers in the office. Her family had lost a child all because she was in Brooke’s self defense class. With Luke’s help the police are going to compare the girl’s (the dead girl and Maddie’s) social media accounts and see what they have in common.
After they leave the police station Luke and Brooke head back to her place. As he starts his search Brooke does her own. The only noticeable thing she finds is that both girls have a picture of their school’s sports team taken by the same photographer. Owen, he is a townie and has contracts with the school Brooke works at too. This gives Brooke and idea to scope him out. And Luke, bless his heart but he goes along with her little plan. After leaving the photographers they go to the gym where they had been to spya t already. Of course they got nothing again. When they get back home Luke has to excuse himself to go and take a breath. Brooke’s recklessness is starting to get to him. While he panics in the bathroom Brooke gets a call to come outside. HE -the stalker- is watching her. If she doesn’t do what he says someone’s going to die.
Torn Brooke makes a choice to do as he says. She walks out of the house without a word. As soon as she gets to him he makes her drop her cell phone. When he thinks she is not going to listen to him he shows her who is in the back seat. She knows she has to do whatever she can to save them both. He makes her get in the trunk of his car and drives him to his home. Its there that he learns of his real identity. Shock that is the only thing that registers at first but then she wants to know why. So many reasons. He is a sick bastard after all. But what will happen next? You will have to read and find out.
This book, I have to say out of this collection I think is my favorite. The others have been frigging awesome but this one truly had me going “what the hell” and I had noooooooo clue the bad man was who he was. LOL Usually I can figure out pieces and make a good guess by them but this one stumped me and I literally listened to it almost non stop. It was that good. I can;t wait to jump into the next one.
Until next time, don’t stop reading. Your brain may melt.