Authors: Debra Webb
Tags: #Fiction / Suspense
Faces of Evil
Copyright © 2011 Debra Webb
The right of Debra Webb to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2012
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
eISBN: 978 0 7553 9689 4
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
338 Euston Road
Special Agent Jess Harris is the only person to have come close to catching The Player, a terrifying serial killer. And now, as she tries to rebuild her life in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama – with the offer of Deputy Chief of a new division and the prospect of love – he has other ideas. . .
He is fixated on her, on how close she came and on the terrifying revenge he now so frantically seeks. As it becomes clear that he is targeting those closest to her, Jess realises that the only way to save them is to sacrifice herself. But with a chance at love with Police Chief Dan Burnett and the promise of his protection, can Jess find a way to stay?
Debra Webb, born in Alabama, wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the military behind the Iron Curtain – and a five-year stint with NASA – that she realised her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has penned nearly 100 novels. The Faces of Evil is her debut thriller series. Visit Debra at
The Faces of Evil Series
‘Webb keeps the suspense teasingly taut, dropping clues and red herrings one after another on her way to a chilling conclusion’
‘Fast-paced, action-packed suspense, the way romantic suspense is supposed to be. Webb crafts a tight plot, a kick-butt heroine, a sexy hero with a past and a mystery as dark as the black water at night’
‘Romantic suspense at its best’
New York Times
bestselling author Erica Spindler
‘Compelling main characters and chilling villains elevate Debra Webb’s Faces of Evil series into the realm of high-intensity thrillers that readers won’t be able to resist’
New York Times
bestselling author C. J. Lyons
‘Bestselling author Debra Webb intrigues and tantalizes her readers from the first word’
‘Masterful edge-of-your seat suspense’
Men cannot always give an account of their impulses
The Ark of God
Monday, July 19th, 10:31 a.m.
“Did you know that one drop of blood travels from the heart to the toes and back in under sixty seconds?”
Lori Wells tightened her fingers into fists, tugged futilely against the tape binding her to the chair, and forced herself to meet the son of a bitch’s eyes. “Did
know all that blood rushing through my veins at this very moment is teeming with the urge to watch you die?”
Eric Spears smiled, made a breathy sound that wasn’t quite a laugh. “You are such a brave girl, Detective Wells. I wonder if that’s because your father committed suicide when you were so young.” He inclined his head and stared at her as though memorizing each detail of her face like a lover intent on never forgetting the moment. “Did you have to help your mother clean up the blood afterwards? Or did your neighbors jump in to help out?
Y’all do that down here in the south, don’t y’all?
Lori turned away from him.
How could he know so much about her? He hadn’t known her name five days ago.
A longsuffering sigh hissed past his lips. “You’re quite boring, detective.” He stood. “What should I do about that?”
Renewed fear trickled inside her. Lori snapped her head up and stared into those piercing blue eyes.
She would not give him the pleasure. She hardened her expression, refused to let him see the fissure of terror widening inside her.
? Can’t get it up if I’m not crying like a scared little girl?”
Don’t let him gain control.
Fury tightened his lips. He drew back his hand.
She braced for the blow.
He laughed at her instinctive reflex. Dropped his hand to his side. “See, you are a scared little girl. Frankly, I find all that feigned bravado quite tedious.”
“Life sucks like that sometimes.”
He made a sound of agreement. “It does indeed.” For five or six seconds he deliberated as if undecided how he would proceed. “You know the reason you’re here. Why make our time together more unpleasant than necessary? It’ll be much easier for both of us if you cooperate, Lori
How dare he call her that! Her father had given her that nickname. . . this scumbag had no right. She didn’t need him or a GPS to show her where this was headed. “Go to hell.”
She wasn’t making this easy for him. He would kill her anyway.
Spears turned his back and strode across the room.
Lori quickly scanned the space now that the lights were on, searching for any aspect of her surroundings that might provide some hint as to where the hell she was.
The sedative he’d injected when he’d held her at gunpoint and forced her into his SUV had prevented her from assessing the distance or the traffic sounds as he’d driven her here. She still felt a little groggy. Her mouth was dry. She squared her shoulders, focused on clearing her head. She had to pay attention, to be ready for whatever came next.
Let your training and instincts guide you.
A warehouse, she decided. An old one for sure. Smelled of neglect and vaguely of oil or grease. Brick walls soared some twenty or so feet to a ceiling where steel beams supported the roof. Naked fluorescent tubes glowed from metal fixtures suspended five or six feet overhead. The smell of disuse permeated the air. She tried to get a better look behind her. Couldn’t. Wooden crates lined the wall to her right suggesting the warehouse had been used recently in some capacity. She squinted to read the word stamped on some of the crates. . . Grimes. She’d lived here all her life but that name didn’t ring a bell.
Birmingham had its share of neglected and abandoned buildings. . . she’d been in a few but not this one. From her position in the middle of the large open room, she could see a door. Maybe an exit. Maybe just an office or bathroom.
One shot at that door was all she needed. . . if it wasn’t a dead end.
Images of what this monster had done to his other victims, all women, rolled like an old-fashioned filmstrip through her mind. Defeat chiseled away at her courage.
Spears grabbed the one remaining chair in the place and dragged it over to where she sat bound with duct tape, wrists, ankles, and waist, to a similar heavy metal chair. He scooted his chair close and straddled the seat, his spread knees flanking hers. She squeezed her legs more tightly together; didn’t want any part of him touching her. She didn’t even want to draw his scent into her lungs.
Like his subtle aftershave, his wardrobe conveyed an understated elegance. The navy suit jacket hadn’t come from a rack in any store where men she knew shopped. The white shirt was crisp and pristine like he’d just picked it up from the cleaners. The jeans fit as if they had been designed by his personal tailor. The icing on the cake – the definitive packaging for his classically attractive blond-haired, blue-eyed features.
If you want to know what evil looks like, look in the mirror.
Jess Harris had definitely gotten that right. Eric Spears, aka the
, appeared nothing like the depraved killer Lori knew him to be. Why did he bother abducting women when he could easily charm them into his lair with that killer smile and deep, smooth voice?
The hunt. Somehow it fueled him. . . drove his heinous desires.
Lori wished she knew half what Jess did about him. Maybe then she could do more than be a damned victim.
Even before she’d met Jess, Lori remembered vividly hearing in the news that not a single one of the Player’s victims had ever escaped alive.
Her chest ached. She didn’t want to die. Her sister needed her. Her mother needed her. She took solace in the knowledge that at least they were safe. As soon as Chief Burnett and Jess discovered Lori was missing, they would take steps to protect her family.
And Chet Harper. Lori thought of the detective, the man, who wanted so much more from her than she had given. Would she have continued to push him away if she had known this day was coming?
Spears chucked her under the chin, forcing her attention back to him. “Let’s get one thing straight, detective. However much you test me, this isn’t about you,” he explained in that calm, clever tone that belied his every action.
“All your hard work to reach the esteemed rank of detective earlier than most means nothing to me.” He tugged at a lock of her hair, twirled it between his fingers. “That you are most attractive means nothing to me.”
Lori waited, her heart thudding with apprehension, for him to spell out exactly what he wanted from her besides her life.
“I brought you here so Jess will pay attention,” he whispered, leaning forward so that he lingered nose-to-nose with her. “You think I have her attention?”
Fear buffeting ever harder against her defenses, Lori steadied herself. She would not let him use her to get to Jess. No way.
I might be a victim but I will not be his means of reaching Jess.
“She told me all about you.” Lori forced a smile, inclined her head and studied his face the way he had studied hers. “What happened? Did mommy fail to protect you when daddy decided he preferred you to her? Is that why you hate women so much?”
His hand went to her throat; strong fingers closed tightly, cutting off her airway. “Do not toy with me, detective. There are things you will never know so don’t waste your time and energy trying to analyze me. You’ll fail just like all the rest.”
There was nothing amiable about his tone now. The fear she fought to restrain dug its claws in deep even as he released her. She gasped for breath. Her thoughts raced in frantic circles. The things Jess had told her kept colliding with her own instincts.
Should she play his game or resist? What he did to her in the end wouldn’t change either way, but could she slow him down or trip him up by choosing one avenue over the other?
“Do you think I have her attention?” he repeated.
“Yes.” Lori cleared her throat, wished she had a drink of water. “I’m certain you have her attention.”
“That’s better,” he said softly. “Now, tell me about this Chief Daniel Burnett.”
She filled her lungs with a jagged breath, refused to let the fear maintain a stronghold. “What about him?”
“What’s his interest in Agent Harris?”
Lori cleared her mind.
Careful what you say.
Don’t give him any ammunition. “She’s a top notch profiler and investigator. We needed her help on a case. Because of you she’s probably unemployed.” Anger at what he had done to Jess chased away some of the fear. He had ruined Jess’s career with the FBI.