Luke pressed his hands over her chest, pumping. More water.
Monica grabbed Kenton’s phone. Her fingers were shaking, trembling hard, but she managed to punch the numbers for the sheriff’s office. Lily would be there, manning the phones while the sheriff and his deputies conducted their search. Lily would be able to contact him; she’d contact everyone on the task force and the woman would be able to make damn sure an ambulance got there ASAP.
Kenton closed his mouth over Sam’s, breathing for her.
Lily answered immediately. “Jasper County Sheriff’s Office.”
“It’s Davenport. We’re at Briars, cabin two. We found her!”
“Get an ambulance out here, Lily, ASAP! Now, now!”
Luke’s hands were on Sam’s chest. Her chest was just lifting with Kenton’s breaths.
Monica caught Sam’s hand and squeezed. “You fight, you hear me? Fight!”
Giving up and dying was easy. She knew that. She’d thought about it often enough.
But easy wasn’t her way, and it wasn’t Sam’s either.
“You do this,” she told her, the words rasping out, “he wins. You don’t want him to win. You want him to pay, to suffer, just like he made you suffer! You don’t do this! Fight!”
And Sam jerked.
Kenton pulled back.
Sam rolled over, coughing, shaking, trying to suck in desperate gulps of air. Breathing.
Thank you, God. Monica caught Sam’s shoulders. Held tight. “Get it out, get all the water out.”
The woman seemed to have swallowed half the damn lake.
How long had she been in the water?
“It’s okay, Sam, you’re safe now, you’re—”
“No!” An ear-splitting shriek of terror. “L-let… me die! L-let… m-me…” Shaking, shuddering, Sam struck out with her fists and feet.
Her elbow slammed into Monica’s chest.
She punched Kenton in the face.
“S-stop… bringing… m-me… b-back—”
Luke caught her arms, pinning her to the dock. “Samantha! Stop! You’re okay, you’re safe! We got you out of the water, you’re—”
Bloodshot eyes locked on him. “D-don’t… p-put me… back.” The words came out husky and broken.
And Monica knew what he’d done. Sick f**k. She knew how he’d tortured Sam. Into the water, again and again.
Luke stopped holding Sam down and wrapped his arms around her instead. “You’re not going back in.” A muscle flexed along his jaw. “You’re not going back in.”
Monica’s gaze slipped past his and went to the line of trees on the other side of the lake. “We have to check the cabin.” But the killer wouldn’t be there. No, he was somewhere else, watching. Because she knew he loved to watch.
I’m coming for you. Time for him to see what it felt like to be the prey.
His wet clothes clung to him, the same way Monica Davenport’s held tight to her curvy body.
She’d jumped right in for the other woman. He’d wondered if she’d hesitate, just for a moment.
But no, not her. A full run, then straight into the water. But then she didn’t fear the water.
He’d heard her scream, though. Monica’s sweet, desperate scream had rang in his ears when she’d first spied the floating angel.
Fear. Now he knew the sound of it in Monica’s voice, and he knew exactly how to rouse that fear. An attack on her wouldn’t do the trick because Monica wouldn’t break that way. She hadn’t broken before. She wouldn’t do it now.
He eased back and stripped off his wet shirt. He’d have to hurry. The deputies would be swarming soon. They’d search the area.
He didn’t take his gaze off Monica. She was looking his way now, as if she could see him. If only.
The last piece of the puzzle had fallen in place. Finally, a way to break her.
He’d make her fear, all right. But not by hurting her. By taking the others.
He shoved down his pants. Yanked on fresh clothes. Then he watched as the other agent, Dante, put his hand on Monica’s shoulder.
The bastard had shown his attachment to her from the beginning, but now Monica…
She wrapped her hand around his. Held too tight.
Monica had just sealed the deal.
The sun had almost dried his hair. He’d slip away, blend with the others in Jasper. No one would ever know.
No one ever did.
Not until it was too late.
Chaos. That was the scene as soon as the sheriff arrived with backup. An ambulance followed fifteen minutes later. Deputies swarmed, seemingly from all directions. Some scattered into the woods, searching for the perp. Others went to the house. The EMTs surrounded Sam, a damn good thing because her pupils were huge and she couldn’t seem to stop shuddering.
“Sam, tell me who did this.” Monica stayed as close as she could. Pretty easy to do because Sam still had a death grip on her left hand.
But the other woman just shook her head. Tears leaked from her eyes.
“We’ve got to get her to the hospital,” the EMT said, a tall, muscled blond. Lance. He’d patched Monica up last night. “They have to check her. Make sure there’s no—” He broke off, glancing down at Sam.
Brain damage. Because they didn’t know how long she’d been in that water.
And she could suffer heart failure, so common after a near drowning. Though not so near in Sam’s case because the perp had drowned her. Again and again. He’d killed her for a few precious seconds, then brought her back.
Lance and his partner lifted her up and pushed the gurney into the back of the ambulance. Monica stepped forward. Sam wasn’t heading out alone. She’d have protection, every moment, until this sadistic SOB was captured.
But Kenton shook his head. “I’ve got her.” His shoulders were straight, and his hands clenched into fists. “I’ll stay with her. They need you here, Davenport. Go see what the bastard left behind and stop him.”
She gave a hard nod. “Don’t leave her, not for a minute.” Monica lowered her voice. She didn’t want Sam to hear this part. “He’s already gotten through to a survivor before. He could make a try for her.” Because he didn’t like for his prey to get away. “Don’t leave her.” She wasn’t going to trust Sam’s safety to the deputies.
“I’ll be there every second,” he said and jumped into the back of the ambulance. The siren screamed on.