Wake to Darkness (A Brown and De Luca Novel) Online - Maggie Shayne

Prologue

Marissa Siorse’s new lease on life wasn’t supposed to end this way. Lying on her back on the cold ground, unable to move any part of her body. Her mouth was open wide as she tried and tried to breathe, and failed. Her lungs wouldn’t obey her brain’s commands. Her eyes were open just as wide, as the horror of what was happening played out in front of them. She wished she could close them, but she couldn’t, so she tried to focus on the leafless branches of the tree above her, and the sky beyond that. Blue, with soft, puffy clouds.

Then the ski-mask-covered face loomed over her, blocking out the sky. One gloved hand used a scalpel to slice the front of her dress open from hem to collar, laying her bare to the elements. To the cold. To the blade. That same hand had jammed a needle into her neck only minutes earlier, as she’d gotten into her car after a lunch date with her husband. She’d dressed up for him. Things were good between them. Better than ever. They hadn’t been. Life had been nothing but fear and struggle, up until her miracle. Back in August she’d been given a new pancreas. And after that, life had become a dream. She was strong now, maybe back to one hundred percent at this point, and looking forward to spending the rest of her life in the pink of health.

She’d had no idea that would be so short a time.

God, she was cold. Tears blurred her vision as she thought about her two kids. Erin was fourteen, halfway through her freshman year of high school and just now starting to get comfortable there. Cheerleading had been the ticket that got her through. And Mikey... Mikey was only eight. He needed his mother. And Paul. What the hell was Paul going to do without her?

Black spots started popping in and out of her vision. She wasn’t getting any oxygen to her brain. She was suffocating.

And then the hand brought the scalpel sharply across her skin, leaving a path of fiery pain just below her rib cage. Inside her mind, Marissa’s screams drowned out every other thought. But on the outside, she just lay there, still and silent. Until she died.

1

Friday, December 15

If the bullshit I wrote was true, I wouldn’t have been standing with my back to the man I’d most love to bone, saying “No.” Because if the bullshit I wrote was true, the question he’d just asked me would have been an entirely different one, instead of the one he’d asked, which had been, “Will you help me investigate another creepy fucking case that might get us both killed?”

Okay, those weren’t his exact words, but they might as well have been.

I was in Manhattan, in a TV station greenroom, getting ready for my live segment, and having him there was throwing me way off my game. Way off. I was tingling in places I shouldn’t be tingling, and remembering our one-night stand two months ago.

I should be remembering what happened after. The serial killer who damn near offed us both.

Mason Brown moved his oughtta-be-illegal bod around in front of me so I couldn’t not look at him. I knew he knew that. “I shouldn’t have sprung it on you like that. Should have started with hello. You look great, Rachel. Really great.”

“It’s the makeup. They overdo it for TV.”

“It’s not the makeup.” He tried his killer smile on me. A fucking saint would steam up at those dimples. “I’ve missed you. What’s it been, a month?”

Three weeks since I’ve seen him. Thanksgiving. Two months, nineteen days and around twenty hours since we’d had sex, last time I checked, but I’ll be damned if I’ll say that out loud. “Something like that.”

“Too long, any way you count it.”

“We agreed that we—” I waved my hand between us “—would be a bad idea.”

“Yeah, but I thought that meant we wouldn’t date.” And by date he meant screw. “Not that we wouldn’t ever see each other again.”

Except that seeing him made me want to jump his bones. Hence the not-seeing-each-other part. But I couldn’t tell him that, either.

“Look, Mason, I have five minutes before I have to be on that stage, in front of a live studio audience, hawking my new book, and you’re really throwing me off my Zen.”

“You have Zen?”

I closed my eyes. “No, but I fake it beautifully when I’m not...” Don’t finish that sentence. “What makes you think