THE GIRL IN THE WOODS, a thrilling new romantic suspense novel from New York Times Bestselling Author, Kristen Ashley, is available now!
Scroll down for an excerpt!
Seething under the surface…
This body would be the last for Zachariah Lazarus…
The Crystal Killer’s latest casualty was discovered in a sleepy town in the Pacific Northwest, Misted Pines.
His years in the FBI, and tracking the Crystal Killer, have taken their toll on Rus. He lost his marriage to the job. And the burdens he carries for the victims was crushing him.
Misted Pines has recently survived a killer’s rampage and a town scandal that made global news. The media was primed to devour a new story. So Rus already has his work cut out for him.
But it’s more.
Something is just not right with this latest victim.
As Rus works with the local sheriff to unravel the mystery, the victim’s employer, Lucinda Bonner, decides she’s going to do everything she can to help.
To help Rus find the killer. To help Rus survive the hunt. To help Rus navigate the intricate, and sometimes sordid, history of the town of Misted Pines.
And to help Rus let go of his burdens.
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“A thrilling story bursting with anticipation and passion coupled with a fast-paced plot and a smoking-hot mature romance…” ~Danielle, Red Cheeks Reads
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The Last One
Standing in the doorway staring at a dead woman, Zachariah Lazarus knew this case was going to be his last.
He’d lost his wife to this.
He couldn’t drop everything, fly five hours, drive for two and a half, stand in the doorway of a room and assume responsibility for another lost soul.
He’d see to her. If he caught a break, he’d find the twisted mess of a human being who was behind it, and he’d put him out of commission. If he didn’t, he’d uncover everything he could and leave it for the next guy to use when he stood in a door and stared at a life ended in a grim and tragic way, hoping like hell he’d catch a break.
But Rus was done.
He was heavy with this shit. Struggling to breathe under a boulder he carried, which grew bigger and bigger, threatening to crush him.
He took a single step into the room, fighting against that weight he’d carried for years but only started feeling the day he signed his divorce papers.
The room was cold, incredibly cold. They’d jacked the AC way up to take care of her. It was probably another reason the owner was impatient to get her out of there.
She was lying in a cradle of plastic sheeting, like the other seven had been.
Her back was to the door, just like the others.
She was arranged in a position of sleeping, on her side, one leg hitched and resting on the bunched plastic tucked around her, arms cocked, hands tucked under her cheek.
She’d been anally raped, he could tell by the blood. Rus knew from experience she’d likely also been vaginally raped.
The back of her head had been bludgeoned, her long blonde hair matted and mingled with the color of rust, the stained ivory of jagged pieces of skull and the gore of exposed brain matter showing through the strands.
He’d spoken to his team on the drive there. They’d come and gone and were queuing up evidence to process what they’d found.
At that moment, the local sheriff and two of his deputies were outside, the sheriff not three feet behind him, the deputies trying to calm an irate motel owner who wanted the body removed.
He was going to have to put up with crime scene tape, but cruisers and an active investigation fucked with his ability to rent rooms.
This was too bad, since the man needed the money so he could put some fucking cameras in his reception and parking lot. Perhaps he hadn’t already because their presence made his current clientele nervous, but this meant the zero evidence Rus knew his suspect left behind added to the zero video footage would leave Rus and this woman with less than zero to go on.
She’d been there since discovery by the motel’s maid yesterday morning. She was still there due to the fact the MO was highly publicized, and the call needed to be made that would put Rus on a plane.
This boded well for the start of the investigation. It said the locals weren’t going to mess around.
They didn’t try to take lead. They didn’t start an investigation they weren’t going to be able to finish. They made the call. Rus arranged for agents in the Seattle division to head out and process the scene, gave the locals his ETA and asked that the scene was secured, nothing disturbed, so he could see her as she was left.
Precisely as she was left.
Great emotion put a stamp on a space.
Stand in the doorway after a child’s birthday party, you could feel the joy even if you didn’t see the mess left behind or smell the residue of frosting. Stand in the doorway of a crime scene, you could feel the suffering.
He normally let it wash over him like this, taking on the added weight of that despair, smelling the residue of misery.
He stood in that doorway longer, though, and not because she was going to be his last one.
He couldn’t put his finger on why, something was just…
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About Kristen Ashley:
Kristen Ashley is the New York Times bestselling author of over eighty romance novels. She’s a hybrid author, publishing titles both independently and traditionally, her books have been translated in fourteen languages and she’s sold millions of books.
Kristen, born in Gary and raised in Brownsburg, Indiana and was a fourth-generation graduate of Purdue University. Since, she has lived in Denver, the West Country of England, and she now resides in Phoenix. She worked as a charity executive for eighteen years prior to beginning her independent publishing career. She now writes full-time.
Although romance is her genre, the prevailing themes running through all of Kristen’s novels are friendship, family and a strong sisterhood. To this end, and as a way to thank her readers for their support, Kristen has created the Rock Chick Nation, a series of programs that are designed to give back to her readers and promote a strong female community. You can learn more about Kristen and the Rock Chick Nation on her website.
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