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“It was a bullet.” He had a hand under his head, propped against a pillow he stole from the couch, as he watched her explore. At his even tone, she turned to study his face.

“What happened?” She caught her breath as his face closed off and he reminded her of Alex. That vacant emptiness in his eyes. Jack didn’t want to talk about it. She moved up his body until she could kiss away the blank face that gave her chills. His silver eyes flickered with the firelight and she felt his heart speed up under her hand. She stayed silent and waited.

He told her a story that sent her own heart racing.

“You could have been killed.” She stared in shock.

“A lot of people could have been killed. Neither of us checked them for weapons. Stupid mistake.” Anger spat from his eyes.

She spoke slowly. “Is that when you left the department?”

Jack nodded. “I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to whip out my weapon every time I came in contact with a person. I was a mental wreck. I needed a job where I could control what went on around me. A cop’s job has too much uncertainty.” He paused. “I had to walk away. It got to the point where I couldn’t pick up a gun without getting physically ill. And I haven’t been able to touch one since.” He stared at the fire. “I couldn’t do the job. I thought I was going to hurt someone else.”

She sat up. “You didn’t hurt that woman! Her husband did.”

“I know.” She could tell from his face he was lying.

She touched his face, loving the feel of the sandpaper of his cheek. She bent down and breezed her lips across the stubble, the tickle stimulating a new arousal. “It wasn’t your fault. You could never hurt anybody. When I’m with you…I feel safe. You wouldn’t let anything hurt me.” She moved to his lips and he ran his hands up and down her back, kissing her deeply. “I trust you, Jack.” The words surprised her as she said them. “I trust very few people and you’ve become one of them.”

In a move that stole her breath, he flipped her onto her back and set upon her with his tongue and rough hands. Heat flared in her veins at his possessive handling. She reached out to touch his face. In his sad eyes she saw his desperate need to believe her as he moved between her legs and claimed her again.

Jack stretched his legs, pushing his feet out from under the down comforter toward the fire. The flames were gone and hot red coals warmed his toes. He needed to toss a few more logs on the fire. Lacey slept curled against him. Turning his face to press his nose into her soft waves, he inhaled deeply. He could smell her vanilla scent and something else. Her hair smelled like she’d been rolling around in bed with a man. But not just any man. Him.

He wallowed contentedly in the possessive surge that swam through his tired body. She’d said she trusted him, believed he could keep her safe. God damn it, he’d prove her right even if he had to lock her in the cabin for a month. His body hardened at the thought, erotic images dancing about his brain. He studied her profile in the wan light, wanting to wake her but also wanting to keep staring as she slept. This wasn’t the usual postcoital glow.

She’d sunk into his core and imprinted his heart.

He was hooked.

“We’ve got an address.”

Lusco snapped his cell shut, scribbling on his notebook. “Brody came through. He found Linda DeCosta and she gave him an address. It’s out in Molalla, about twenty miles south of here. Property search says the owner is Robert Costar. That’s got to be our man. The mom said she’s been in touch with her son periodically. Claims her boy isn’t doing anything.”

“Yeah, right.” Mason was already slipping into his coat. “Call county. Get them to do a drive-by and watch the place. Get their SWAT unit in on this. I’m not taking any chances.” His energy rocketed like he’d had a double shot of epinephrine. Finally, a break. And it felt like a good one. The search for Kelly Cates had turned up nothing. No video footage at her gym, no abandoned car, no sightings. She’d literally vanished. He was ready for a lead like this. The phone on Mason’s desk rang and he snapped it up impatiently, tucking it between his ear and shoulder as he struggled with a twisted coat sleeve. “Callahan.”

He froze, his coat partially on. “Are you shitting me? You’re sure? He’s the one who called it in? Why?” He grabbed at the receiver as it started to slip.

Mason’s hard gaze locked with Ray’s as the voice babbled in his ear. Then he hung up the phone and stared at it. He closed his eyes as he felt his adrenaline jump off a high dive and land in a belly flop. His case was imploding.

“This can’t be happening. Too many things at once,” he muttered.

“What? What happened?” Ray sounded ready to strangle him.

“Melody Harper’s gone. Grabbed late last night.” He rubbed a tired hand across his face.

“Harper’s sister? Another woman’s been grabbed? Are they sure? And they think it’s our guy?”

“Pretty damned sure. The kidnapper called it in himself. Told the nine-one-one operator we’ve been looking for him for the cop and lawyer murders.”

“Our guy? Why?” Ray was incredulous.

“Beats the shit out of me. Her maid verified Melody never came home last night and her car is still in the parking garage.” But Mason knew their killer was pissed. Dr. Campbell had been removed from his reach and now he was striking back by grabbing other women. First Kelly Cates and then Melody Harper. He must have known the little dentist was with Jack Harper so he struck out at Harper through his sister. Mason needed to call Harper. The man was going to throw a gasket.