Monica yanked the knife free. Blood splattered in the air. Leaning down, she put her lips close to his ear. “Are you scared?” she whispered.
Monica felt his nod against her cheek even as she smelled death approaching.
“Good.” She drew back and finally gave him a smile of her own. “Hell’s waiting, ass**le.”
His eyes widened. A gurgle rose in his throat. He lifted his hand, bloody fingers reaching—
And went to Hell.
The hand fell back against the floor, and his breath choked away.
The door flew open behind them. “FBI! Don’t move!” Kenton yelled.
The cavalry had arrived. Too late. She’d expected them sooner. Bastard must have broken my cell phone, messed up the signal.
Figured. Kyle had known all the tricks.
He’d been prepared for her.
But then, she’d prepared for him, too.
She stared into those sightless eyes. It looked like she’d been wrong. Kyle wouldn’t spend the rest of his days rotting in a jail with Romeo.
Romeo would be all by himself. Just what the bastard feared. She knew his fear. Knew what scared him most. She’d learned the truth in a blood-stained room years before when the cops took her away from him and he’d been the one to scream—for her.
Romeo wanted someone to share his darkness. Someone who understood death and horror and fear. Someone just like him.
But he’d lost her, and he’d lost Kyle. Now he was alone.
Exactly what Romeo deserved.
Hyde shoved through the door right behind Kenton. His gun was up, steady and tight in his grasp.
The scent of blood hit him first. The stench of death.
Monica rose from the chaos. Her shirt was stained with blood, and there was a dark, purple bruise on her forehead that skimmed down the side of her face. She lifted her arms slowly, and he saw that she had a knife clenched in her right fist.
“Suspect is down,” she said simply, and her voice didn’t shake. Didn’t so much as tremble. Rock steady and cold.
Not the girl she’d been. The woman she was.
This time, she’d taken down the killer.
And sometimes, so many times, he wished he’d let her take down the other bastard.
But then what would she have become?
And what is she now?
She dropped the knife. “Vance Monroe… he’s Kyle West. He killed his mother sixteen years ago, murdered Saundra Swain, Sally Jenkins, Patty Moffet…” she swallowed, “Laura Billings, and he-he attacked Special Agent Samantha Kennedy.”
What is she?
A f**king fine agent.
“Monica.” Dante’s voice. His was boiling with emotion—fury, fear, need—the opposite of Monica.
He’d always been her opposite. Hyde had known that from the first moment he saw them together at Quantico. The two of them together were one powerful team.
When Monica heard Dante’s voice, she blinked, and the ice melted away. “Luke.” She spun and lunged for him.
Dante sat up on some kind of makeshift operating table. Long, thick straps held down his legs and his hips and, shit, it looked like the killer had been carving him up.
“Got an injured agent!” Hyde yelled. “Get the EMTs in here now!”
Two deputies lay on the floor. Vance Monroe wasn’t breathing, and he had a gaping stab wound in his chest. Lee Pope’s chest was rising and falling, but he looked like shit.
“Deputy down!” Kenton called.
Down, but still alive.
And his agents had survived. Hyde tried to take a deep breath but the stench of blood choked him.
Way too much blood. The EMTs needed to move their asses. Monica threw her arms around Dante. Held him tight.
Crushed her mouth to his.
Luke pulled Monica against him. He buried his hands in her hair, and he tilted her head back.
The better to take her mouth.
Fear pumped through his blood. Too close. Nearly lost her.
His lips closed over hers. His blood smeared her, but he didn’t care. That bastard had tried to take her away. When Kyle or Vance or who-the-hell-ever he was had gone across that table after her…
My heart stopped.
The killer had played him well. He’d been trapped, helpless to fight back, and he’d known what was coming for him.
Then she’d come for him. Gotten him free. Saved his ass.
And killed the serial.
His fingers tightened in her hair. She was real. She was alive. He could feel her heart pounding, racing just like his.
Never letting go.
“Ah… Agent Dante…”
His lips pressed harder on hers.
Hyde’s voice. Probably should care that his boss saw him devouring her mouth, but he didn’t give a damn.
Monica was alive. He was alive—and this was just the beginning for them.
“You have to let the EMTs look at you—both of you.”
Luke pulled away from her. Monica was hurt.
Kyle had punched her hard, and her jaw was already swollen, darkening to match the bruises on her face and forehead.
“Do I look as bad as you?” she asked him quietly, and it took him a minute to realize the woman was joking.
“Baby, you look beautiful.” To him, she always did.
“Oh, Christ,” Kenton muttered from somewhere behind them. “He must have head trauma. EMTs!”
But Monica smiled at him.
The EMTs swarmed. “Blood loss… close the wounds… possible concussion…”
They pushed between him and Monica. Her smile dimmed and she slipped back.
He grabbed her hand. His hands were wet with blood. Didn’t matter. He caught her fingers. He knew he’d never really know—not completely—what those dark times with Romeo had been like for her.
Romeo let me watch.
Had the sick f**k made her watch him hurt those women? Or had she just been playing a dangerous mind game with Kyle? A game that had worked. She’d gotten free and killed the ass**le.
Either way, it wouldn’t change things for him. They’d deal with her past and his, and they’d face the future.
“Stay with me,” he whispered.
And she nodded.
Monica’s fingers twined with Luke’s as they carried him out on the stretcher. The blinding sunlight hit her first. So bright.
She’d gone into darkness before. When Hyde had come for her years before, it had been so dark.
The swirling ambulance lights were there just like before, cutting through the trees with red and yellow lights.
Deputies, so many men and women she’d never seen. Probably called in from other counties. Swarming around, racing to secure the scene.