"Just the right amount of romance to equal the thrills and roller coaster ride. I was on the edge of my seat, reading swiftly to just find out what was next. The thrills and suspense was fantastic, the romance very real and electrifying. These parts I found very realistic. The storyline flowed smoothly, giving the reader that right amount of smexy, sexy stuff, and of course the suspense was riveting." Katrina, Goodreads
Serenity Lost (#1)
Their brief heated meeting one fateful night had singed itself into their minds. Not knowing of the other's identity, but unable to forget, had sealed their fate. The fire smoldered quietly in each of them as they tried to move on with their lives.
Eric Stiles was in the middle of chaos, searching for a killer.
Hunted by an obsessed psychopath, Rebecca Gailen was trying to be strong.
The world stopped for a moment as they looked up and saw the other standing just feet away.
His heart lurched, her armor shattered and the world started again as Eric's brother, Charlie, appeared to take her hand.
Family loyalty isn't a choice. When Rebecca's stalker rages out of control, Eric's decision haunts him and he struggles to stay away. Can he remain loyal to his brother, even if it means abandoning Rebecca when she may need him the most?
Eric managed to get a few hours sleep in the cage before he was needed back in the bullpen. He was finding it more and more difficult to push her out of his mind. He went to get some coffee.
“Stiles,” Lug said, breaking through his churning thoughts.
“Hey, what’s up?” he replied as he grabbed is full cup of coffee.
“Trace on the box of blood came back,” Lug said.
Eric walked to his desk. “And?”
“They found a piece of hair in the box sealant.”
“Were they able to get a name?”
“Yeah,” Lugow started. Eric looked down at his desk in hesitation. “It came as a match to a Veronica Naltin.”
Eric froze, the name hitting him in the chest. “What?”
“Yeah.” Eric took a deep breath. “We double checked. There’s no mistake.”
“Jesus,” He leaned on the desk, his mind spinning uncontrolled.
Adam appeared and looked at him. “You told him?”
“So now what?” Eric asked. He tried to reign in the fear that began to bubble in his stomach. They were not only dealing with a stalker, but now a ruthless killer.
“We start from the beginning,” Adam said as Lug nodded. “We look at everything from both cases.”
“We should look at anything that’s happened since this guy made first contact with Rebecca,” Lug suggested.
“Do we have a date?”
“The only specific date I have is two weeks before the teddy bear,” Lug replied as he looked at his notes. “I will try and get something more specific.”
“Where is she now?”
“Donna’s,” he said with a deep breath.
“Is she going to be safe there?”
“She’ll be fine for now,” Lugow added.
“Okay, let’s get to work,” Adam said.
Eric’s phone rang. “Detective Stiles.”
“Eric, we have a problem,” Charlie said, sounding panicked and out of breath. “What’s going on?” he said, looking to Lug and Adam.
“Rebecca got a message from the stalker.”
“I little while ago,” he replied.
Eric’s heart began to race.
“We think he’s going after Donna.”
“I don’t now. Something about the message.”
“Did you hear it?”
“Let me talk to Rebecca.” Charlie passed the phone to Rebecca.
“Eric,” her voice sounded terrified and shaken.
Eric got to his feet as Adam followed him. “What did he say?”
“Uh, it was a joke.”
“A knock, knock, joke.”
“Tell me exactly what he said, Beccs.”
“Knock, knock, who’s there, Donna, Donna who, Donna turn around ka-boom,” she said into the phone.
He could hear the agony in her voice. “Where are you?”
“On our way to Donna’s office.”
“Okay, let me talk to Charlie.” He heard her pass the phone back to Charlie.
“Hey,” Charlie said.
Eric and Adam reached Adam’s car. “Have either of you tried to call her yet?”
“Yeah, she’s not answering, but Beccs said she had an early meeting.”
“We’re on our way to Donna’s office as well, but you need to stall and keep Rebecca away until I tell you it’s okay.”
“That’s going to be pretty hard to do.”
“Listen to me, this could all be a way to lure Rebecca out into the open,” Eric explained as Adam pulled onto the street. “Just stall long enough for us to make sure it’s safe.”
“Okay,” Charlie agreed before Eric hung up.
“What’s going on?” Adam asked.
“Rebecca got a message from the stalker.”
“What kind of message?”
“One with a ka-boom.”
Eric, Adam, Lug and the bomb squad arrived in front of Donna’s office twenty minutes later. Adam coordinated the sweep and evacuation of the building while Eric went looking for Donna. He stepped off the elevator and flashed his badge to the receptionist. “Detective Stiles, I need to speak with Donna Smith, it’s an emergency,” Eric said as the woman looked at him in confusion.
“I thought you were meeting her in the parking garage,” the woman replied.
Eric spun, dashing to the elevator as he called Adam. “She was called down to the parking garage, I’m on my way now,” Eric said into the phone hitting the P on the elevator. The doors opened moments later, and he stepped off. He found Donna leaning against her car with a look of irritation. “Donna!”
She shifted, looking.
He ran toward her.
“Eric, what’s going on?” She moved to meet him.
Eric heard a door slam just to the left.
“Is Beccs alright?”
“She got a call from the stalker. He…”
“Donna!” Rebecca called, Charlie in tow.
Eric realized she was going to pass right in front of Donna’s car
“Beccs, no!” he screamed, pushing Donna behind him just before the car exploded.
The blast pushed both he and Donna off their feet as it shattered and sprayed glass across the parking lot. Eric recovered and bolted upright to see Rebecca and Charlie flat on the ground...
She had become his prey. His plaything. The one he desired the most, but someone wanted her more.
Her resilience fading, Rebecca fights to remain strong against the man trying to destroy her mind and her life. Without the solace of Eric's arms, Rebecca's will to recover from the relentless blows wanes as she begins to break.
Eric, forced to face his own choices, races to end the nightmare before the woman he loves is completely torn apart.
Just when they think the worst is over, the game and the stakes change.
Eric sat through a barrage of unneeded attention for a simple flesh wound. After what seemed like forever, the doctors released him. It was early evening when Eric stepped onto the sidewalk. He saw several messages waiting for him and he began to listen to them when Adam pulled up with the car.
He got in and his phone buzzed. He lifted it seeing Charlie's name.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Are you on your way?"
"On my way where?"
"What? Why are you at…"
"Eric, it's…it's bad," his brother said, and Eric's heart dropped. Breathless, he looked to Adam. "I got her out, but she won't stop shaking. She won't talk or look at me. It's like she's in a trance…"
"What happened?" Adam turned on the emergency lights and Eric felt the car accelerate.
"Someone broke into her house and covered it...Everything is covered in…blood…" Charlie started his words broken and hesitant. Eric's mind went to the buckets of blood. "I've never seen anything like it, whoever did this..."
"Did you already call the police?"
"Yeah, but they aren't here yet."
"Okay, Charlie you need to listen to me.” He tried to stay focused and compartmentalize the images rushing at him. "Rebecca's going into shock. Put her in the car and turn on the heat. You need to keep her calm and warm until the police arrive."
"How far out are you?"
"About half an hour, we'll get there as soon as we can," Eric replied before he hung up the phone.
"Black & Whites will be on scene in less than five minutes," Adam told him. "I called Misty, Lug, and a bus. How bad is it?"
"I …it sounds…bad."
They pulled up alongside three patrol cars parked in front of the house. Jogging to the front door, a uniformed officer burst out of the house. Eric looked to Adam in confusion, and the officer proceeded to vomit into the bushes. They stepped across the threshold seeing pairs of flat foots covering their mouths, standing in awe of the view.
His memory of her house was full of light, comfortable, and warm. A chill ran up his back and his stomach lurched in revulsion. Surrounded by dripping crimson and the suffocating odor of iron, the walls were covered in a thick coat of blood.
Eric didn't remember what color the couch was before, but it was now a deep soaked purple with blood dripping down the sides. Two more officers exited the house, and he forced himself to remain steady against the revolting display.
"She just pulled up." Adam stepped out of the house to get their expert.
He tried not to think of Rebecca walking into the house and seeing this for the first time but there was no way to avoid it. He could almost envision how it happened and his entire body tensed in rage.
"Wow," he heard a female voice say and saw Misty walk into the house. "This is some seriously fucked up shit."
"Get to work. I want this bastard rotting in a jail cell sooner rather than later."
Eric Stiles has everything to lose and no matter how hard he fights he can feel his life slipping away.
Rebecca Gailen thinks that the love of her life is dead and only the vigor of revenge keeps her fighting to survive.
When a secret reveals more than anyone expected, it changes Eric and Rebecca's lives forever. The devastating truth puts the couple at odds. Can they overcome their clashing conclusions and learn to trust each other again? Or will they let it rip them apart?
The stairs creaked with each step as he looked into the dimness below. The humid musty area was cold and damp. He swallowed hard. Gray concrete, jagged walls and dust surrounded them and a chill raced up his spine.
"We found it over there." The same officer descended the stairs behind them. The beam of his flashlight landed to the right of where they stood. Eric reached for a flashlight, and his eyes landed on Charlie who scanned the room. An officer offered his and Eric stepped toward the area. His hand brushed against the cold concrete but his mind still refused to accept it.
Not here…not like this…
Eric’s eyes fell on a spatter of blood and his chest flooded with an unrecognized pain.
She was here
Unable to push the image away, all the air left the room as his entire body clenched at the suffocation. He ascended the stairs into the sunlight, fighting for control. He began to unhinge, mindlessly entered one of the side rooms
They didn't find her which means she's still…
Keep it together Stiles…falling apart isn't going to help anyone
The sewn seam around his emotions threatened to tear, and he couldn't move. The paralyzing agony that spiked from the core of his body was relentless. He fought back in vain. He knew it wouldn't stop until she was in his arms, safe.
"Eric, what’s going on?"
Eric wiped unexpected wetness from his eyes. He leaned against the wall to face his brother. Pure disbelief stared back at him.
"I've never seen you like this."
"Yeah, you never…"
"Yeah well, things change." Eric moved to exit the room.
He found the front door and pushed through it hearing Charlie just behind him.
"You still don't get it do you?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Have you really convinced yourself that all of this…what happened, was just some kind of joke?” He stopped to face him. “That Rebecca and I didn’t mean anything we said when we told you that we never wanted to hurt you?"
"I don't know what the hell you meant to do and to be honest, I don’t really care."
"Charlie…whether or not you choose to believe it, we did try to walk away.” Charlie’s eyes diverted in anger. "Jesus, Charlie she went through hell and all she could think about was how she couldn't hurt you!"
"So once again this is my fault!"
"No…I am just…" Eric’s chest turned to stone, unwilling to allow him to hide. "As your brother, your friend, I tried to forget about…everything. But that night. That first night in Dallas, everything changed. We did everything we could to ignore it, make disappear but it didn't. It only got stronger…can you try to understand that?"
"You really expect me to…"
"I expect you to believe that I tried! I expect you to realize that this had nothing to do with you. To remember that until that moment, I've never betrayed you."
"So because you’ve always tried to be the good big brother you want me to be okay with this? To just accept what you did and move on?"
"Because you’re my brother and I need you to." Eric’s watering despite his continued battle against it. "Charlie, I'm in love with her."
"I loved her too!"
"Okay Charlie,” Eric clenched his jaw. “Where did you see things heading with her? Let's say we never met, what then?"
"I don't know. I never got the chance thanks to you!"
"That’s the difference!" Eric’s fists balled in frustration. "Six weeks ago, and the two months before that, hell even in Dallas. I knew this was different. I knew she changed everything. Even when she left without a word and I didn’t even know her name, I couldn’t get her out of my head! I look at her and see everything I never knew I wanted. She's woken up this person inside me that I didn’t even know was there! The one who wants a house and a family. The person who needs to see her every morning and hold her every night, because when I don't something is missing, and the world doesn't make sense. "
"The difference is that the moment I met her, she became my whole world," Eric explained as he struggled to keep his furious heart under control. "I know that you loved her. That was one of the reason's I stayed away as long as I did. It might not seem like much but…she needed me, and I couldn’t turn my back anymore. Now she's gone and I can't…If we don't…if I can't find her...""We're going to find her, Eric.” He saw the first glimpse of understanding in his brother's eyes.
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About the author:
Amy Romine has always wanted to be one of the good guys. From playing Charlie's Angels in the backyard of her Macungie, PA home as a child to the pages of her unending projects, Amy has always dreamed of adventure and romance. Her need to make the characters truly deserve their happiness takes us on many a twisted journey. From serial killers to demons, Amy holds nothing back in the name of true enduring love.
A mother of three, Amy has spent the past sixteen years working in Operations for Ricoh America's Corporation. She is an avid movie fan and enjoys books, television, theater, her dog Pip and all things romance.