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“What boat docks there?” he demanded, taking Bethany roughly by the shoulders.

“Um…oh, Jack’s old fishing boat,” Bethany said, shivering, still in shock, staring at Jay’s seemingly lifeless body.

“Get him on the dock!” Thor ordered. “Now!”

“Hey, I’m doing CPR,” Alex protested.

“And this is a speedboat. Get off it!” Thor ordered. He bent down and lifted Jay himself, gritting his teeth, half hating himself.

But he needed the boat.

And for Jay, those few seconds wouldn’t make any difference.

“Tell the cops. Tell them to get a boat out on the reef fast,” Thor ordered over his shoulder, racing for the helm. “And keep up the CPR, no matter what, until help gets here.”

Alex lifted a hand in acknowledgment. Bethany hurried to his side at the dock, dropping down beside him, then looked up at Thor.

“Oh, my God. Genevieve….”

He couldn’t reply.

The key was in the ignition. He turned it, praying.

Beside him, Brent turned on the lights.

“You drive, I’ll look,” he said simply.

The powerful engine roared instantly to life.

Thor blessed the cop he had suspected for keeping the boat he never used anymore in good running order.

Genevieve was aware of the movement of the boat, the rush of the water, the heat thrown off by the engine. She blinked desperately, trying to move.

She felt a body next to her.

Panic seized her. She was trapped in the darkness with a dead body.


Oh, God, Audrey was dead….

She started to scream, but it didn’t matter. She couldn’t even hear herself over the roar of the motor. She fought for calm. She was still alive, and she desperately wanted to somehow stay that way.

But she might as well have been paralyzed.

Her wrists had been bound behind her back, and her ankles were tied, as well. Realizing her situation, she fought a nauseating wave of panic. When she had finally gained a grip on her sanity, she realized the body wedged next to her own was still warm.

“Audrey?” she whispered.

There was no response. She didn’t know if Audrey was alive or dead. She only knew they were both in serious trouble.

She tried taking a deep breath, but her stomach turned at the stench of motor oil. She coughed, her lungs ripping in agony. She bit her lip and began working at the ropes binding her.

Jack. Good God, Jack was the killer.

It hardly seemed to matter. She was numb.

He couldn’t get away with it. Not this time. Thor would have returned to the house. He would look for her….

He might find Victor and beat him to a pulp, but he would still keep looking for her.

Except he wouldn’t know where to look.

She couldn’t think that way. She kept struggling with the ropes, cursing the fact that Jack was an expert seaman and knew how to tie a knot.

Despite that, she forced herself to work steadily at her bindings. As long as she worked at them, she had a chance.

She had become so fixed on her task that she didn’t even notice at first when the motor cut off.

Then she froze.

A second later, the hatch opened. “Gen, you came to. I’m sorry. I should have hit you a lot harder, saved you the panic, but when you think about it, it’s your own fault. You started this. You’re the one who brought it to light. You’re the reason I’m going to have to keep going tonight after I…well, let’s not go into that now. It’s too bad, though. I really love Key West.”

He didn’t reach for her first, but bent down to lift Audrey from the hold. He laid her out like a rag doll. Audrey’s hair was plastered to her head. Her clothing was drenched.

“Still warm,” Jack said cheerfully.

“Jack,” Genevieve said, finding she had no voice at first. “Jack, I don’t understand.”

“Oh, don’t take me for an idiot. Do you know what I really am? A hero.”

“A hero?”

He stood in the cabin, staring down at her, his hands on his hips and laughed. “Imagine me with a red cape, honey. I’m an avenger. Those girls were running around with their short skirts and bursting cleavage, taunting men—and giving the clap and crabs and AIDS to guys the whole time. They had to be stopped.”

“Jack, the girl years ago…when I was a kid. She wasn’t a prostitute—she was a model.”

He burst into laughter before dragging her out to lie half on top of Audrey. She gritted her teeth against the painful way he twisted her arm.

“Model? That’s what she wanted people to think. That little whore was getting her room, her food, her photographs—all of it by hopping from bed to bed. I knew her, knew her tricks. And then, when I helped her out, did she want to pay up?”

Genevieve tried to breathe, thinking furiously that she had to keep him talking as long as possible.

“She was the first?” she asked.

“First—and only—for many years. Then, after a while, there were a few others. That little hussy who came down here last year, she was number eight. But I only punished those who deserved to be punished.”


“Excuse me, for a minute, Gen.” He rolled her over, reached down and lifted Audrey up.

“No, Jack, wait!” she cried.

He turned, one step up the ladder. “Hey, don’t worry. I’ll let you two go together.”

He was gone. She heard Audrey’s body land topside.

Then he was back.

“Jack, I don’t understand.”

He hunkered down by her as if truly concerned, fingering the skull and crossbones in his ear.

“What don’t you understand, Gen?”

“Audrey isn’t a prostitute! And neither am I.”

He sighed, not looking at her. “Gen, you started everything when you thought you saw a ghost in the water,” he told her. He actually sounded truly sorry. Her heart took flight as she prayed she could talk him out of his intent.

“Jack, I still don’t get it.”

He shook his head. “Gen, you thought you saw a woman. Then a dead woman popped up. I was the one who tried to scare you off with the mannequin, you know. It was Victor’s idea, but I convinced him it was idiotic. I only meant to scare you—to make you stop. Didn’t work, though,” he said regretfully. “And then there you were, spouting off about different bodies. And Audrey! Her and her so-called ghost hunters. I had to shut her up.” He grinned suddenly. “Don’t you go kidding yourself. She worked hard to stay alive this long. Real hard. She knew how to pay up. It’s almost too bad she has to die, but that’s the way it has to be. And you, Gen, I’m so sorry. You were always the sweetest kid. And so pretty, too. You know, I remember when you were a kid and you used to come see me. I’d tried to make you feel better when the boys teased you for being so tall, calling you an Amazon. Remember how I used to tell you it was going to be okay? That you were going to be a real beauty and they’d all be sorry. By the time you were twelve, you’d proved me right.”

“Thanks, Jack. Listen—”

“Sorry, honey. No more time. I’ve got to get moving. I’m going to the Bahamas. I know some people there who will be thrilled to help me out. I’ve uncovered a few treasures of my own, you know, diving this area. Hell, we didn’t need Sheridan and all his charts. I’ve been picking up pieces from that ship for years.”

He stood, reaching for her. She shrank from his touch.

“Gen, I told you, I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have to.”

“You don’t have to do it, Jack,” she pleaded.

She landed on the deck next to Audrey.

“Tell you what?”

“What?” she asked hopefully.

He didn’t answer at first. She realized he had two heavy canvas bags of ballast ready. He started tying one to the ropes around Audrey’s ankles.

“What, Jack?” she demanded, trying to divert him.

He kept working while he answered. “I’ll let you pick. Who goes in first, you or Audrey?”

She stared at him. She still couldn’t believe it. Jack! He’d been like an uncle to them, a friend, someone who had taught them, stood by them.

“Jack, if you’re running to the Bahamas, anyway, there’s no need for this,” she begged.

“I’m sorry, but there is. I have to slow your boyfriend down.” He had hunkered down beside her and started humming as he tied the second bag to the ropes at her ankles.

“My boyfriend?”

“Thor. He’s on his way now. I reckon that’s Jay’s boat he’s coming in.”

He was staring out at the dark horizon. She could hear, above the slapping of the waves against the hull, the rising sound of a motor.

“Jack—” she began, then broke off. Staring past him, she could see the ghost. The woman in white.

She wasn’t alone. The pirates were aligned beside her.

Her heart sank.


Too late.

Help me!

This time she was the one crying the words, in her mind.

“What? You seeing ghosts again, Gen? Jeez, who’d have thought you, of all people, would be the one to go off the deep end.” He laughed. “Hell, is there a deep end in the ocean? Okay, you won’t choose, so I will. Audrey first!”

He bent down, scooping Audrey up. He threw her overboard, then picked up the canvas bag of ballast he’d tied to her feet and threw that overboard after her.

“Oh, God, Jack, no!”

She fought as much as she could as he reached for her. She was still dimly aware of the ghosts. They had moved, congregating together, the woman in white giving the directions.

They were moving toward the helm. They seemed to be…

She saw the key fall from the ignition.

Success, she thought.

But not in time to save her.

Jack picked her up, heedless of both the ghostly activity and her fierce squirming. “Damn, you’re as slippery as an eel,” he complained. Then he laughed again. “Look at it this way. You already think you know some of the people you’re going to be joining. And since you’re in love, you can come back and haunt Thor until the end of his days.” He roared with laughter at that.