She was like all the other victims. Naked, flawed, helpless…
Fifteen years ago, Emily Wright barely escaped from a serial killer dubbed the Baby Doll Strangler. She wants nothing to do with the small town she grew up in, but when her father is hospitalized she reluctantly returns home to care for her teenage sister.
When a friend of her sister is killed and left in front of Emily’s house, Emily begins to relive the nightmare she endured long ago. Soon she realizes that her sister too is in danger from the killer – and the only person who can help is the man Emily left behind: Deputy Bailey O’Neil. Together, Emily and Bailey must discover the killer’s identity before he claims his next victim…
The First Victim by JB Lynn
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: June 13th, 2011
She was like all the other teenage girls. All of them were disappointing once he got them like this.
She huddled on the floor in a puddle of her own piss and shit, trembling and whining like a beaten dog.
She hadn’t been hurt.
He really wished she hadn’t made such a mess of herself. He liked them clean. He wanted them to be unspoiled, not caked in their own filth. He needed them to smell sweet, like candy.
She balled herself tighter as though that offered some protection.
He laughed, the sound bouncing off the concrete walls, the echoes magnifying his mockery of her. She couldn’t stop him. He’d take what he wanted from her. He owned her. She was his plaything now.
He didn’t tell her again to get up; he just turned the hose on her. She yelped when the first blast struck her. Instinctively, she rolled away from the icy water, but she couldn’t escape. She cried out as he kept the stream aimed at her tender flesh. She held out her hands to ward off the stinging assault, but he kept changing his angle of attack.
“Stop! Please stop!” She scrambled to her feet, trying to put some distance between herself and the harsh spray, but he pursued her relentlessly.
He smiled. It had been a stroke of genius to use a power washer instead of a lowly garden hose to clean off the dirty girl.
She backed all the way into the corner. “Please stop. Please. Please!”
He paused, and she sobbed her relief. “Thank you!”
She looked so pathetic, so unlike the perfect doll he wanted her to be. Pink welts rose on her skin where the water had lashed her. He wondered if they’d be warm to the touch.
He moved closer and she pressed back against the wall. He lunged to the right. She threw herself in the opposite direction, leaving a smear of water against the wall where she’d leaned. As he followed her, she moved farther away. Normally, he loved this part. The part where they danced this bizarre, macabre tango, but today he just wasn’t in the mood.
She froze as he raised the handle. He smiled as he saw her hope of escape get extinguished.
Except for her shivering, she stood still, waiting for him, knowing that she had no other choice. Her eyes drifted closed, signaling her surrender.
He used the nozzle to push away the arm that was covering her young breasts. Obediently she let it fall, offering no resistance. With his free hand he traced a line of water beads from her throat down to an exposed nipple. Her skin was cold, but at least she was clean.
Grabbing her hand, he pressed her palm to his dick. She curled her fingers into a fist, not wanting to hold him, so he jammed the hose between her legs, reminding her of his power. Her almost blue lips parted on a pained gasp as her hand unclenched.
Submissively she wrapped her fingers around him. Even though her hand was icy, the discomfort was still a pleasure.
“That’s a girl. Up and down. Up and down.”
As she tentatively stroked him he leaned in and licked a welt on her shoulder, tasting her. What flavor was she? Orange? Grape? Cherry?
Every time she rubbed him, he ran his tongue over her skin. The hose nozzle fell to the floor with a clatter as he pushed her back against the wall, pinning her there, so that he had both hands free to squeeze her tits.
“Don’t stop,” he ordered when she hesitated.
She began to stroke him again in earnest. Not that it would do any good. He never, ever came this way, not even when he used his own hand in the shower, but it still felt good.
“That’s it, Emily. That feels so good.”
Not that this girl was Emily. This was Dianne, a poor substitute. But if he closed his eyes, and concentrated really, really hard, he could imagine that it was Emily he was touching and tasting. Emily he was about to fuck. Emily he was going to kill.
“Does your palm itch? Emily?”
Engrossed in paperwork, it took Emily Wright a moment to realize that her assistant, Ruth, was talking to her. She looked up at the older woman as Ruth placed a cup of coffee beside Emily’s telephone. It was only then she realized that she’d been rubbing her left thumb across her right hand.
“Does your palm itch?”
Emily nodded. “Thanks for the coffee.”
Ruth beamed. “That’s good news. It means you’re going to come into money.” Her unspoken message was that it boded well for the presentation Marisol, Emily’s business partner, was probably making at this very moment. All nine of the advertising firm’s employees were eagerly waiting to hear whether they’d landed their biggest client ever.
“Do you really believe in those old superstitions, Ruth?”
“They can’t hurt. Can I get you anything else?”
“No. This is great. Thanks.” Watching her newest employee, a woman old enough to be her mother, leave her office, Emily secretly hoped she was right.
She looked down at her palm. The scar that stretched across it had faded over time and was now nothing more than a thin raised line. No doubt there were a hundred doctors in Manhattan who could remove the physical reminder of what she’d suffered, but to her the scar tissue was a talisman of sorts, proof that hope could triumph over evil.
She’d learned an invaluable lesson the day she’d earned this scar. She’d learned that she was capable of more than she’d ever imagined, that help came from the most unexpected places and to never give up. Those lessons had served her well, which was how she found herself a co-owner of aManhattanad agency, waiting to hear whether they’d landed their first national account.
Feeling the distant rumblings of a tension headache, she rubbed at her temples, and then made a grab for her coffee cup. She needed caffeine!
Her cell phone buzzed. Hoping that it was Marisol calling with good news, she snatched it out of her purse. An icy tingle of fear ran down her spine when she recognized the area code. Home.
It rang three more times before she took a deep breath and answered.
“You’ve got to come home, Em.” Bailey O’Neil, her childhood friend and teenage crush who still made semi-regular appearances in her dreams, didn’t offer a greeting, ask how she was or even identify himself. Not that he needed to. Even though it had been close to fifteen years since they’d had regular conversations, she’d recognized Bailey’s voice immediately.
It transported her from behind her desk to a dock on a lake’s shore. In that instant it was easier to believe she was a confused fourteen-year-old girl rather than a driven, thirty-one-year-old businesswoman.
“There’s been an accident.”
He’d called and said the same exact thing two years earlier, but that had been a lie. Her mother had overdosed, and no one would ever convince Emily it had been an accident.
With Marisol, who was not only her business partner but her best friend, in tow for moral support, Emily had returned to Lakeside Acres, Pennsylvania for the funeral, choosing to stay at The Garden Gate Bed & Breakfast rather than the house she’d called home as a child. She hadn’t been back since, not even to see Laurie.
“Em?” Bailey still used the shortened version of her name, just like he had when they were kids. It almost sounded too familiar, since it suggested that they knew each other well. That was another lie. “Em? Did you hear me? I said you’ve got to come home.”
“I heard you. How’d you get this number?”
Ignoring her question, Bailey told her, “There’s been an accident. Your father’s been hurt. It’s pretty bad. They’re not sure he’s going to make it.”
She heard Bailey’s sharp intake of breath. He probably thought she was a stone-cold bitch. So be it. She’d decided long ago that she didn’t have to explain or justify her relationship, or lack of relationship, with her dear old dad. If Bailey O’Neil didn’t approve of her reaction, that was his problem.
Bailey, though, didn’t miss a beat. “Laurie needs you.”
Try as she might, Emily didn’t hear any judgment or condemnation in his tone, only a genuine concern for her younger sister. Doing her best to ignore the twinge of guilt she felt for not immediately inquiring about her only sibling, Emily asked, “Is she hurt? What happened?”
“Your father was out on his boat. I don’t have the details yet. Laurie wasn’t involved, but she’s scared, Em. She needs someone. She needs you.”
Emily’s gaze settled on two tiny framed photographs perched on the corner of her desk. They’d been taken more than two years earlier when Laurie was thirteen. She and her sister had crammed into one of those tiny booths at a mall, made a bunch of silly faces and ended up with a strip of four, slightly grainy, black-and-white photographs. They’d torn the strip in half, each taking two of the pictures. Besides the funeral, it was the last time she’d seen her sister. Their father had seen to that.
“Okay. I’ll be there in a few hours.”
An image of Bailey solemnly staring at her popped into her mind, not this adult version of Bailey who was just doing his job, but the boy she’d played freeze tag with.
“I swear.” She severed the connection.