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Written by Elizabeth Heiter

Love and vengeance

FBI profiler Evelyn Baine and fellow agent Kyle McKenzie are—secretly—on vacation together, visiting an island off the coast of Georgia. Evelyn has recently solved a notorious cold case, so she considers their holiday a reward of sorts. More than that, it's a cautious acknowledgment of her growing feelings for Kyle.

One day a body washes up on the beach, a body that's been disfigured. The killer has carved the word "pervert" into the victim's stomach. A second murder, with the victim labeled a "killer" appears soon after. The police don't agree when Evelyn tells them the murders look like the work of a vigilante trying to avenge…something.

Evelyn and Kyle find their own lives at risk as they move closer to the truth.

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Chapter One

Evelyn Baine had just lied to the FBI.

Lied to her boss. Lied to her training agent, Greg, who happened to be her closest friend in the Bureau. Lied to every colleague she had in the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit.

Now here she was, on her first vacation in the entire year and a half she'd been a profiler. If anyone found out, it might be the end of her career.

Instead of worrying about it, she slid her toes through the sand, tipped her head back and soaked in the last of the heat as the sun sank below the ocean and the wind kicked up hard. Most of the land on this little island off the coast of Georgia was protected by the state, so even in July the tourists were minimal. Which meant she had this gorgeous beach to herself. Almost.

She glanced left, at the man stretched out beside her. The fading sunlight seemed to dance across his muscled torso and over his bare legs. She'd always thought of his eyes as being the same shade as a stormy ocean, and lying right next to it, she could see it was true. A little thrill shot through her. He was hers.

He must have sensed her staring, because Kyle McKenzie turned his head and gave her a dimpled grin. If he hadn't gotten over his shock when she'd agreed to his joking suggestion that they go on vacation together, he wasn't showing it.

He folded his hand over hers as though they'd been doing that for a lifetime, instead of only sharing a few secret kisses over the past six months. But then, he'd never been concerned about the consequences of dating her.

She'd resisted, afraid of what would happen to her job—or his—if the FBI discovered that two agents in their Critical Incident Response Group were dating. It was technically a gray area, because they were in different units under CIRG. But all those units worked critical missions together. It was almost like a special squad—and dating within an FBI squad could lead to reassignment or even dismissal. And Evelyn's job had long been her life.

Yet, right now, right here on this secluded beach, she couldn't seem to remember why it had ever seemed like a good idea to resist Kyle's constant flirting.

"You're thinking you should've gone out with me the first day I asked, aren't you?" he teased her, digging his foot into the sand beside hers and sliding his toes against her arch.

She scooted closer, seeking a little of his warmth as the scent of coming rain filled the air, and laughed. The first time he'd asked had been her first week as a profiler. He'd strolled into the BAU office, completely out of place in his cargo pants, T-shirt and smears of cammo paint, and told her he wanted to take her flying in the Hostage Rescue Team's helicopter.

He'd obviously just been looking for a reaction, and he'd gotten one. She'd had no idea how to deal with him, because despite all her hard-earned skills profiling serial criminals, social cues didn't come as easily to her.

"Something like that," she said now, leaning into him. Before she could reach his lips, she lurched to a sitting position, shading her eyes with her hand as she peered out at the ocean. "Did you see that?"

"What?" Kyle sat up more slowly, following her gaze.

The ocean had been getting rougher over the past hour. Having grown up near the water, Evelyn knew a storm was on the way. No one was out there today. Except, off in the distance… "I thought I saw a boat."

Kyle leaned forward, his eyes sweeping from side to side, until finally he shook his head. "I don't see anything. Probably an illusion caused by all those waves. No one would be crazy enough to go out in that."

He rolled toward her, trailing a hand up her side and giving her goosebumps that had nothing to do with the temperature. "In fact, I think rain's coming. Want to head in?"

"Okay," she said, trying to shake off the bad feeling that swept through her as she continued to stare at the ocean.

She'd seen something—she was sure of it—that was going to come back to haunt her.

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About the author

I like my suspense filled with strong heroines, chilling villains, psy...

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Elizabeth Heiter

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