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CHAPTER ONE

    “I’M GOING TO teach you to like pain.”

    Dawn Alexander felt the tears trailing down her cheeks. She could only stare at the man who stood above her, a man with a face that was so heartbreakingly familiar, and shake her head.

    Her hands were tied behind her back. The rough hemp rope bit into her wrists. She’d strained to break free for hours, and the rope had sliced into her wrists as she struggled. Each ankle was bound to a chair leg.

    And Dawn was in hell.

    He smiled at her. A smile that was wide and charming. A smile that flashed the dimple in his left cheek. “Right now, you don’t understand how good the pain will be. You still cry out when I hurt you.”

    He’d hurt her plenty. The nightmare wouldn’t stop.

    He lifted the bloody knife and pressed the tip to her cheek. “But soon the real fun will begin. By the time I’m done, you’ll be begging for the knife to slice you deeper.”

    He means I’ll be begging for death.

    “Please,” Dawn pleaded then as she had for hours. But he hadn’t listened to her. The man she’d thought was her friend had turned into a monster before her eyes. “Just let me go.”

    His bright blue eyes hardened as he stared down at her. “You came into my life, Dawn. You came to me. You tried to come between me and the one person who matters most.”

    Her breath sawed out of her lungs. They were in a small cabin, far away from the busy streets of Baton Rouge. The man before her—she knew him. She’d known him for years. Jason. Jason Frost. Everyone in the area knew him. Tall, handsome, smart and strong... Jason had been the star athlete on the football team. The guy most likely to succeed. Sure, there were plenty of stories that had swirled about his family—or rather, his father—but Jason, with his perfect looks and easy charm, had been the one all the girls loved.

    But not me. I didn’t love him.

    Because she’d lost her heart to his younger brother. She’d fallen fast and hard for Tucker Frost the first time they’d met.

    She’d been thirteen. He’d been sixteen. She’d been so taken by him that no other boy had ever been able to compare. But when he’d turned eighteen, Tucker had left her. He’d joined the Navy, gone far away. She’d heard people say that he’d become a SEAL.

    And he’d just...vanished.

    Until a few weeks ago. Until he’d come back and she’d turned around and found him standing in the library at Louisiana State University. He’d been looking for her. And she’d been lost.

    “Does Tucker know what you’re doing?” The broken whisper came from her. That had been her darkest fear as the hours had slipped by and her pain had continued.

    Jason had picked her up from her dorm room. He’d said that Tucker wanted him to give her a lift out to their place. She’d gone so easily, so happily, never hesitating. Only he hadn’t driven her to their home. He’d taken her away from the city, to the edge of the Mississippi River. To this little cabin.

    The first time he’d hit her, she’d been stunned. Too stunned to move. The second time, he’d hit her so hard she couldn’t move.

    Jason tilted his dark head down, seeming to give her question deep thought.

    Her heart pounded frantically in her chest. “Tucker won’t like this,” she said, desperate. “You’d better let me go. You don’t want Tucker angry—”

    His head lifted. His eyes—eyes the exact same shade as Tucker’s—met hers. And he smiled again. Tucker’s smile. Oh, God. “Of course he knows. Why do you think he came to see you when he arrived back in town? You’ve been on our list for quite a while.”

    Her heart stopped. Dawn shook her head. No. Anger was there, beating just below the terrible fear. Tucker wouldn’t do this.

    Not Tucker.

    He’d...he’d seemed to care about her. They’d always been close, secretly so before he left for the Navy. Nothing romantic or sexual, just...friends. They’d been friends when they were kids. He’d walk her home. He’d make sure she had all her books.

    But when he’d come back recently, when he’d come back as a man and found her at LSU, they’d stopped being just friends. They’d become so much more. He’d become everything to her.

    Not Tucker.

    The knife lifted and her breath came a little easier.

    Then the blade sank into her shoulder, going deep, and he twisted the hilt. Dawn choked out a scream.

    He laughed at her. “Surely you’ve read the stories in the paper? I mean, the press seems to be giving our kills a great deal of attention.”

    Our kills?

    “They even gave me a name.” He pulled out the blade and gazed at the blood on the weapon. “The Iceman.” He nodded once, as if satisfied with that name. “But they are so clueless. They don’t know why I freeze the bodies. They don’t get it at all.”

    OhGodOhGodOhGod. Yes, she’d heard the stories about the Iceman in the paper. The guy who’d been abducting women for the last few years. The man who froze their bodies and...kept them. Kept them so very long before he would call the cops, tipping them off to the locations. And those poor women would be found, so perfectly preserved, in freezers.

    She looked up at Jason. His thick, dark hair. His perfect features. His gleaming eyes. That dimple. Dawn could only shake her head.

    “The press should have realized it wasn’t just one man committing the crimes,” he said. “I mean, really, it’s more like Icemen than Iceman.”

    “Not Tucker.” Her breath heaved out. “You’re lying!”

 
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