Page 27 of Secret Admirer

Rage and pain burned inside of her.

And Jonathan just smiled. “Then there you were…I have to say, you impressed me. You didn’t rush to the reporters. Didn’t sell out Hugh. You were true to him, during all those months. Never taking another lover. Proving to me that I had been wrong about you all along. Sweet Alice, you were—”

“I fucked Zander.” Her chin notched up. “On the anniversary of Hugh’s death, I was in Zander’s bed. I was with him. Because I chose him that night.”

Jonathan’s smile faltered.

“That pissed you off, didn’t it? That’s why you destroyed my bedroom. That’s why you came after me in town—”

“I was protecting you in town. The FBI thought you were guilty. I showed them you weren’t. I helped you.”

The hell he had. “And when you shot the FBI agent—Cara McCoy? Were you helping me then?”

But he appeared offended. “I don’t kill with guns. Not very personal. I prefer a knife.” He glanced down at the weapon he held. “You can feel it when the blade cuts through the skin. Nothing better than that.”

Oh, my God.

“I didn’t shoot the FBI agent. That was Tiffany. Poor, deluded Tiffany. She wrote to me, did you know that? Sent me long letters telling me how misunderstood she realized my brother had been. Telling me that she was the woman he’d searched to find. That she would be perfect…She kept whining about how she wished she’d met the Secret Admirer before his tragic death.” He gave a sad shake of his head. “Some people are just sick, you know?”

Yes, she absolutely knew.

“So I talked to Tiffany.” He shrugged. “Even fucked her a few times. I told her my secrets, and she loved me. She would do anything I wanted. You know, when we fucked, she’d beg me to put the knife at her throat.”

She didn’t want to hear about them fucking. She wanted away from him. Could she make it out of the door? She was so close…

“Tiffany was an incredible shot, wasn’t she? Got to give her credit for that. Tiffany’s dad was a cop, the guy taught her how to shoot before she could even tie her shoes. She was lethal. And crazy as hell. That’s probably why she killed her dad when she turned sweet sixteen. But hey, I killed my old man, too. Did it when I was just ten years old. Shoved the bastard down the stairs, and no one ever knew.”

She tried to keep her breathing steady. Another step back—

“Alice…” He shook his head. “That door is locked. You’re not getting away from me. I’ve waited a long time to have you.”

“To kill me.”

He gave another shrug. “I was going to love you. But…like you said, you chose the special agent.” His eyes glittered at her. “You made the wrong choice.”

Her hold on the hidden knife tightened. “I don’t think I did.”

He lunged toward her, slashing out with his knife, but she ducked, and then she surged up with her blade. She didn’t slice. She shoved that blade into his side as hard as she could. Jonathan grunted and stared at her with wide eyes in a tense moment that seemed to last forever.

“Alice…” He stumbled back.

She whirled for the back door. Her fingers were shaking as she flipped up the lock, then wrenched open the door. Alice rushed onto the steps that would lead to freedom. She was—

He tackled her. He hit her hard, and they fell onto the ground with so much force that the air was driven from her lungs. She couldn’t even scream as he twisted her around, rolling her over and shoving a knife to her throat.

“You don’t…” His breath heaved out. “Get to run.”

The knife cut into her skin, and Alice finally got the breath to scream. She screamed as loud as she could.

The knife cut her harder. “No one can hear you. The deputy is out cold…or, hell, he could be dead. I didn’t check. Your FBI agent…” He grunted. “You told me he’s in the town for a while. Just you and me. You and—”

Her hand slid down to his side. He’d yanked out the knife she’d put in him, but she could feel the wetness of his blood beneath her touch, so Alice knew she’d located the wound. Alice jabbed her fingers into the wound as hard as she could.

He bellowed, his grip on her easing as he cried out in pain, and the knife at her throat lifted for one frantic moment. She twisted and lunged away from him, rising to her feet and staggering away.

“You bitch!”

She ran around the side of the cabin. And as she did, Alice heard the growl of an engine approaching. A car—someone coming to help! She just had to get to the front of the cabin. Had to get the attention of whoever was arriving. “Help me!” Alice yelled. So close. She was almost there! A few more feet and she’d be in front of the cabin. “Help—”

Jonathan’s arms wrapped around her as he yanked her back against his body. She twisted, but he just turned and slammed her head into the side of the cabin, momentarily stunning her.

Then she felt the knife press to her throat once more. “You won’t call out again. Not a single fucking sound, or I will slit you open from ear to ear.”

Brakes squealed, and car doors slammed. The vehicle was in front of the cabin. She was hidden on the left side.

“Not a sound,” Jonathan whispered. “Or you die.”

“Alice!” The cry of her name filled the night. Furious and desperate. Zander’s voice.

“Just check the cabin!” Another male shouted at him. Randall. “She’s probably inside, safe and sound, and you’re being a total nutjob.”

“Where’s the fucking deputy then?” Zander’s steps rushed onto the wooden porch. “And did you see the other car out front?” She heard the jingle of keys and then—

“When they go inside,” Jonathan’s breath blew over her ear as he murmured to her, his words barely distinguishable, “we’ll get in my car. We’ll get the hell out of here.”

No, no, they wouldn’t. If she got in that car, she was dead. Alice knew it. Hell, he might even just kill her as soon as Zander and Randall entered the cabin. Then Zander would have to find her body later.

It wasn’t going to happen. She wasn’t getting into Jonathan’s car. And she wasn’t going to be helpless. Zander was close. She just had to get Jonathan’s hand off her mouth. If she called out, Zander would help her.

Alice jabbed her elbow back at Jonathan’s ribs as hard as she could.

He gave a grunt, but Jonathan didn’t let her go.

She shoved down on his foot, grinding with her heel.

Still won’t free me.

The knife was cutting into her throat.

“Enough,” Jonathan rasped, “stop it, you—”

Her right hand flew up. She didn’t try to grab his whole hand—the hand that pressed over her mouth. Instead, she just went for his pinky finger. Exactly like she’d been taught in her self-defense classes. Did he know that she’d taken them? After everything that had gone down, hell, yes, she’d taken them. So she went for his pinky because it was the most fragile part of his hand. She grabbed it and wrenched back, snapping those delicate bones.

He yelled.

So did she. Actually, Alice screamed. She screamed as loud as she could even though the knife was still at her throat. “Zander! Don’t go in the cabin! I’m here, I’m—”

“Dead!” Jonathan snarled. The knife’s blade bit into the flesh under her left ear. He was going to slice her, from ear to ear, just as he’d warned.

But a bright light hit them.

“Get the fuck away from her!” Zander’s roar. And she could just see him past the light. It was a flashlight that he held, one that was positioned above his gun.

“You’re going to watch her die!” Jonathan shouted at Zander. “See her bleed out and you won’t be able to do a damn thing to stop her death!”

“Really?” Zander’s voice had gone flat and cold. “That’s what you think? You’re dead wrong. Alice isn’t dying because I’m about to shoot you right between the eyes.”

“Bullshit! You won’t take the shot!” Jonatha

n denied. His spittle flew against Alice’s cheek. “You won’t risk shooting her!”

“I’m a fucking fine shot,” Zander threw out in his lethal voice. “And the only one dying tonight is you. I will have that bullet between your eyes long before your knife can sink into her skin. I’ll fire, and I’ll be the last damn thing you see before you open your eyes to hell. Do you understand me?”

“If you could take the shot, you would have done it!” Rage shook Jonathan’s voice and body. “You’re bluffing! Drop your weapon! Drop it, now!”

“Don’t…Zander, don’t,” Alice pleaded.