Shades Of Midnight: A Midnight Breed Novel

Mass Market Paperback | December 29, 2009

byLara Adrian

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In a frozen wilderness steeped in darkness, the lines between good and evil, lover and enemy, are never black or white but drawn in Shades of Midnight.

Something inhuman is stalking the frigid Alaskan wilds, leaving unspeakable carnage in its wake. For bush pilot Alexandra Maguire, the killings stir memories of a horrific event she witnessed as a child and evoke in her the inexplicable sense of otherness she has long felt within herself but never fully understood . . . until a darkly seductive stranger with secrets of his own enters her world.

Sent from Boston on a mission to investigate the savage attacks and stop the slaughter, vampire warrior Kade has his own reasons for returning to the frigid, forbidding place of his birth. Haunted by a secret shame, Kade soon realizes the stunning truth of the threat he faces–a threat that will jeopardize the fragile bond he has formed with the courageous, determined young woman who arouses his deepest passions and most primal hungers. But in bringing Alex into his world of blood and darkness, Kade must confront both his own personal demons and the even greater evil that could destroy all he holds dear.

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From the Publisher

In a frozen wilderness steeped in darkness, the lines between good and evil, lover and enemy, are never black or white but drawn in Shades of Midnight.Something inhuman is stalking the frigid Alaskan wilds, leaving unspeakable carnage in its wake. For bush pilot Alexandra Maguire, the killings stir memories of a horrific event she witn...

From the Jacket

“Evocative, enticing, erotic.”—J. R. Ward, author of Lover Avenged

Lara Adrian is the New York Times bestselling author of the Midnight Breed series, including the novels Kiss of Midnight, Kiss of Crimson, Midnight Awakening, Midnight Rising, Veil of Midnight, Ashes of Midnight, Shades of Midnight, Taken by Midnight, Deeper than Midnight, Darker After Midnight, Edge of Dawn, Crave the Night, and the e...

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Format:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 6.9 × 4.2 × 1.03 inPublished:December 29, 2009Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0440245265

ISBN - 13:9780440245261

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite Loved everything about this book, the breed's story and his breedmate's too. The chemistry as amazing between the both
Date published: 2015-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Yummy!!!!!! It keeps getting better.....
Date published: 2014-02-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Back on track I plowed through book #7 - and agree with other reviewers: it is hot in Alaska! I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy this book because it is about Kade, a character rarely mentioned in the previous 6 books, but one of the Order. Really enjoyed his character, and his interaction with Alexandra. Finally a heroine who can "rescue" herself! I moved straight into book #8 which picks up days after this book ends, and am hoping this means the series is back on the upswing!
Date published: 2013-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's hot in Alaska Shades of Midnight is the 7th book in the Midnight Breed Series. This book follows the Breed warrior Kade and a bush pilot Alex. Something or someone has killed a family in a remote part of Alaska. Alex discovered the bodies while dropping off supplies to their place. The bodies were video taped and put over the internet. The Order needs to contain this situation fast and sends Alaskan born Kade to go contain the situation. Kade is a warrior who just joined the Order the year before. He has an ability to take over predator animals with his mind and struggles with that dark side of him and his nature. Alex is a very realistic heroine. She feels like the girl next door who's strong yet vulnerable. She (of course) is a breedmate who doesn't know about that side of the world. While Kade investigates the killings he works with Alex to get information. He finds himself extremely drawn to her. He also comes to the realization that something even more dangerous is loose in Alaska that some Rogues. Another great book from this series. I really loved these two characters and loved the tormented Kade. The glimpse into his family's darkheavens and his insecurities as a son and protector of his brother really made his character more believable and lovable. Love this book.
Date published: 2011-01-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unsure at first This is book seven in The Midnight Breed series and at first I was usure about it because it started off alittle slow but I'm happy to say it picked up and I really enjoyed this book, I'm also very excited for the next book. Overall I thought this was a great addition to the series and I can't wait till the next one comes out. :0)
Date published: 2010-07-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ALASKAN VAMPIRES...WHO KNEW SHADES OF MIDNIGHT is book 7 from the Midnight Breed series which I’ve followed from the beginning and for the most part really enjoyed. You can pretty much count on yummy and tortured alpha male heroes, steamy romance and exciting action filled paranormal storylines. Adrian has built a great Vampire world here that always reminds me of a vanilla-fied version of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. Unlike Ward however each instalment continues to be either hit or miss for me and I’m never really sure going in which one I’m going to get. With this instalment we travel to the snow, cold and almost perpetual darkness of Harmony Alaska, focusing on newer Breed member Kade and his strong and independent breedmate to be, bush pilot Alexandra. I loved the setting here; with its remote settlements, small town characters, wolves, snow mobile action scenes and death deifying single engine flights. You could almost feel your breath freezing and the snow crunching beneath your boots. I think that this could easily be read as a stand alone too as it steps away from the previous story arcs and main breed characters. (They do make a small appearance however and Hunter in particular intrigued me) Lara Adrian has also given the rules to her vampire world and filled in an relative back story, so you won’t ever be lost. After a rather gruesome prologue we join Alexandra Maguire and her wolf dog Luna as they fly to one of the remote settlements on her supply route. What she comes across once she arrives is horrific. Someone or something has slaughtered the entire Tom family, reminding Alex of the unspeakable events from her childhood that’s kept her running and pretending ever since. Back in Boston at the Breed compound word of the attack has reached the ranks of the Order. Little known member Kade is sent to investigate, having been born and raised in Alaska he’s the logical choice and the only one truly comfortable in the cold. What the Order doesn’t know however is that Kade’s twin brother could be the one responsible for the murders. But if anyone remembers what happened at the end of ASHES OF MIDNIGHT you’ll also know that the Order has even bigger problems in the form of one roving and unrestrained Generation One warrior. So for me this was just an okay read. Nothing special or remarkable happened that added to the series as a whole, there were few surprises and the romance was quick, trouble free and lukewarm at best. I never really felt any connection to or between Kade and Alex and in the end came away not feeling much of anything with a romance and story that I’ll soon forget. Nonetheless I will continue to recommend this series and be looking for the next addition (TAKEN BY MIDNIGHT) as soon as it hit’s the shelves. Cheers! "Do you… do this often?" "Get naked with sexy Alaskan bush pilots in the middle of the frozen wilderness?" He paused for a minute "Nope, this was a first time for me"
Date published: 2010-05-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Slow to Start Off, but Exciting at the End When Alex Maguire discovers a family massacred in remote Alaska, it brings back painful and terrifying childhood memories. She knows that something dark is out there waiting to kill more people, but she’s afraid and doesn’t know who she can trust. Kade, born and raised in Alaska, arrives in the small town of Harmony to investigate the brutal murders, and Alex instinctually knows she can trust Kade with the truth. As Kade and Alex work together to find what is lurking in the darkness, Kade starts feeling affection and maybe even love for Alex creeping up on him. Can Kade risk bringing her into his world when there is so much danger as well as his own secrets waiting to catch up to him? Going into this novel, I knew a lot less about Kade than I had the other warriors going into their novels. As a result, I felt disconnected from Kade and I had a bit of a hard time really immersing myself in his story. Compared to the previous novels, I found the beginning of Shades of Midnight slow to grab my attention despite the fact that the novel starts off with a fairly brutal event. Both the continuing plot and the relationship plot in the novel started off slowly, progressed with moderate excitement during the middle, but exploded with thrilling twist and turns at the end. Based on the first 200 pages, the book only seemed worthy of 3 out of 5 stars, but the last 150 pages almost completely made up for what the beginning and middle lacked. The continuing plot progressed somewhat, but the ending of the book left me with a few suspicions and questions that I’m eager to explore further in the next installment. There were multiple little side plots going on in this book, which I found very interesting. Kade not only had the plot with Alex, but he also had a subplot involving his family. I appreciated the inclusion of the family aspect because it allowed me to develop an understanding and fondness for Kade that I lacked going into the book. Like I said before, Kade was a bit of a mystery going into this book for me because I Lara Adrian didn’t spend a lot of time developing a back-story or introducing Kade like she did with some of the previous warriors. While Kade was elusive at first, his past was explored probably more than any other warrior during the course of his novel. Kade’s family was introduced and his childhood was explored in quite a bit of detail. I was delighted to get so much insight into his character because he seemed a bit cold and flat at first. There is a lot more to him that meets the eye. Alex didn’t connect with me immediately either, but I warmed up to her quicker than I did Kade. She had a lot of baggage and secrets she carried around from her childhood, and she seemed quite lost and alone emotionally. Once she met Kade and started to open up a bit, I found her quite sweet and pleasant. There were some fairly steamy love scenes between the two, but I wouldn’t say they were the most memorable or highest heat of the series. Overall, I think they complemented one another well. Shades of Midnight had a lot of side characters due to the Alaskan setting. I found a lot of these new characters to be sort of stereotypical, but mildly amusing. I’d still say Shades of Midnight was the weakest of the series so far, but it’s a worthwhile read. Stick it out until the end and you’ll be rewarded. I’m looking forward to the release of the next novel in the series.
Date published: 2010-04-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not The Best "Breed" In The Bunch This was the 7th book in the Breed series. After running away from home to join the Order, Kade is forced to return to his Darkhaven in Alaska. There his must hunt the Ancient while facing his family and the dark secret that caused him to run. While struggling with his own mess, Kade meets up with bush pilot Alexandra Maguire, a woman with a secret past of her own. This story wasn’t as tightly woven as the others in the series. There was no real bad guy, just a lot of looking for the bad guy. And the whole "not feeling worthy enough to claim a breedmate" is getting extremely old. The next Breed book should be about one of the warriors getting some help to deal with their self esteem issues.
Date published: 2010-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read Shades of Midnight follows the story of the exotic and brooding Kade, who is sent on a mission home to Alaska to hunt down a possible rogue, and wouldn't you know, finds the love of his life in a beautiful young breed-mate! I found it a refreshing storyline from the usual midnight breed books, away from its usual setting in the city. Kade resolves old family conflicts; in the meantime, another (possibly more sympathetic?) side of the Ancient is revealed. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one in the series.
Date published: 2010-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Good Read I find this book wasn’t as good as the others…though it was still exciting and passionate. I liked the setting of this book; I find lots of books are written in cities, and it was refreshing to be in an isolated area such as the Arctic. And it had a really good ending…I wish the next one was coming out sooner.
Date published: 2010-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enticing The books in this series just keep getting better, and the character's just pull you into the story and you can't put the book down. I counted down the days till this book was released and I was not dissappointed. I love how Kade, the breed male, is troubled with his talent and how it's a delicate balance for him and that he could easily succome to the wild call. Alexandra is a great character, she is strong and determined, yet her past greatly troubles her and wants to constantly run from it. That is until she meets Kade. They help each other with their weakness' and the attraction between them is sizzling. With murders, missions, deceit, family troubles, haunting past's, uncertain futures, and lust, this book will grab you and never let you go.
Date published: 2010-01-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from s'okay This one was a bit of a disappointed. I've been following the Breed series which usually has some momentum and strength to the story but this one was like an intermission. The characters aren't too bad and the story was fair. There just wasn't the usual thriller suspense and quickness to it where you just couldn't put the book down. Yes, it clarified Kade's story and yes, he also finds his Breedmate but there just wasn't any spice to it. It was okay for a quick weekend read. I will hang in there and wait for Book 8, Brock's story.
Date published: 2010-01-04

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Read from the Book

Chapter OneTwenty-eight-hundred feet below the red single-engine de Havilland Beaver’s wings, the broad swath of the frozen Koyukuk River glistened under the morning moonlight like a ribbon of crushed diamonds. Alexandra Maguire followed the long stretch of ice-jammed, crystalline water north out of the small town of Harmony, the back of her plane loaded with supplies for the day’s delivery run to a handful of settlements nestled deep in the interior.Beside her in the passenger seat of the cockpit was Luna, the best copilot she’d ever had, aside from her dad, who had taught Alex everything she knew about flying. The gray-and-white wolf dog had been standing in for Hank Maguire for a couple of years now, when the Alzheimer’s had really started taking hold of him. Hard to believe he’d been gone for six months now, although Alex often felt she had been slowly losing him for a lot longer than that. At least the disease that ate away his mind and memories had also ended his pain, a small mercy to be sure.Now it was just Luna and her living in the old house in Harmony and making the supply runs to Hank’s small roster of clients in the bush. Luna sat erect next to Alex, her pointed ears perked forward, sharp blue eyes keeping a steady watch on the mountainous terrain of the Brooks Range, its dark, crouching bulk filling the northwest horizon. As they crossed the Arctic Circle, the dog fidgeted in the seat and let out a small, eager-sounding whine.“Don’t tell me you can smell Pop Toms’s moose jerky from here,” Alex said, reaching out to ruffle the big furry head as they continued north along the Koyukuk’s Middle Fork, past the small villages of Bettles and Evansville. “Breakfast is still twenty minutes away, girlfriend. Make that thirty minutes, if that black storm cloud over the Anaktuvuk Pass decides to blow our way.”Alex eyed the dark thunderhead that loomed a few miles up from their flight path. More snow was in the forecast; certainly nothing unusual for November in Alaska, but not exactly prime conditions for her delivery route today. She exhaled a curse as the wind coming off the mountains picked up speed and scuttled across the river valley to give the already bumpy ride a bit more gusto.The worst of it passed just as Alex’s cell phone began to chirp in the pocket of her parka. She dug the phone out and answered the call without needing to know who was on the other end of the line.“Hey, Jenna.”In the background of her best friend’s house, Alex could hear a Forest Service radio chattering about sketchy weather conditions and plummeting windchill factors. “Storm’s gonna be coming your way in a couple of hours, Alex. You on the ground yet?”“Not quite.” She rode through another round of bumps as she neared the town of Wiseman and turned the plane onto the route that would take her to the first stop on her day’s delivery schedule. “I’m maybe ten minutes from the Toms place now. Three more stops after that, shouldn’t take more than an hour apiece even with the headwind I’m fighting right now. I think the storm is going to pass right by this time.”It was hope more than qualified estimation, sympathy for her friend’s concern more than caution for her own safety. Alex was a good flier, and too well trained by Hank Maguire to do anything completely reckless, but the simple fact was the supplies she carried in her cargo hold were already a week overdue because of bad weather. She’d be damned if she was going to let a few snowflakes or gusty breezes keep her from delivering goods to the folks in the far-flung reaches of the interior who were counting on her for food and fuel.“Everything’s fine on this end, Jenna. You know I’m careful.”“Yeah,” she said. “But accidents happen, don’t they?”Alex might have told Jenna not to worry, but saying it wouldn’t have done any good. Her friend knew as well as anyone—perhaps better than most—that the bush pilot’s unofficial creed was roughly the same as that of a police officer: You have to go out; you don’t have to come back.Jenna Tucker-Darrow, a former Statie from a long line of Staties—and the widow of one to boot—got quiet for a long moment. Alex knew her friend’s mind was likely traveling down a dark path, so she worked to fill the silence with chitchat.“Hey, when I spoke to Pop Toms yesterday, he told me he’d just smoked a big batch of moose meat. You want me to see if I can sweet-talk him into sending me back with some extra jerky for you?”Jenna laughed, but she sounded as though her thoughts were a million miles away. “Sure. If you think Luna will let you get away with it, then yeah, I’d like that.”“You got it. The only thing better than Pop’s moose jerky is his biscuits and gravy. Lucky me, I get some of both.”Breakfast at Pop Toms’s place in exchange for semimonthly supply drops had been a tradition started by Alex’s father. It was one she enjoyed maintaining, even if the price of aviation gas well outweighed the price of Pop’s simple meals. But Alex liked the old guy and his family. They were good, basic folks living authentically off the same rugged land that had sustained generations of their stalwart kin.The idea of sitting down for a hot, homemade breakfast and catching up on the week’s events with Pop Toms made every bump and dip in the flight out to the remote settlement worthwhile. As she crested the final ridge and began her descent toward the makeshift landing strip behind Pop’s store, Alex imagined the salty-sweet smell of smoked meat and buttermilk biscuits that would already be warming on the woodstove when she arrived.“Listen, I’d better go,” she told Jenna. “I’m going to need both hands to land this thing, and I—”The words caught in her throat. On the ground below, something odd caught Alex’s eye. In the dark of the winter morning, she couldn’t quite make out the bulky, snow- covered form lying in the center of the settlement, but whatever it was made the hair at the back of her neck prickle to attention.“Alex?”She couldn’t answer at first, all of her focus rooted on the strange object below. Dread crawled up her spine, as cold as the wind battering the windscreen.“Alex, are you still there?”“I’m, uh . . . yeah, I’m here.”“What’s going on?”“I’m not sure. I’m looking at Pop’s place just ahead, but something’s not right down there.”“What do you mean?”“I can’t say exactly.” Alex peered out the window of the cockpit as she brought the plane closer, preparing to land. “There’s something in the snow. It’s not moving. Oh, my God . . . I think it’s a person.”“Are you sure?”“I don’t know,” Alex murmured into the cell phone, but the way her pulse was hammering, she had no doubt that she was looking at a human being lying underneath a fresh cover of snow.A dead human being, if whoever it was had been lying there unnoticed for anything longer than a few hours in this punishing cold.But how could that be? It was almost nine in the morning. Even though daybreak wouldn’t come until close to noon this far north, Pop would have been awake for hours by now. The other folks in the settlement—his sister and her family—would have had to be blind to miss the fact that one of them was not only unaccounted for but sprawled in a frozen heap right outside their doors.“Talk to me, Alex,” Jenna was saying now, using her cop voice, the one that demanded to be obeyed. “Tell me what’s going on.”As she descended to begin her landing, Alex noticed another worrisome form on the ground below—this one lying between Pop Toms’s house and the tree line of the surrounding woods. The snow around the body was blood-soaked, dark stains seeping up through the blanket of fresh white in horrific intensity.“Oh, Jesus,” she hissed under her breath. “This is bad, Jenna. Something awful has happened here. There’s more than one person out there. They’ve been . . . hurt somehow.”“Hurt as in wounded?”“Dead,” Alex murmured, her mouth gone suddenly dry with the certainty of what she was seeing. “Oh, God, Jenna . . . there’s blood. A lot of blood.”“Shit,” Jenna whispered. “Okay, listen to me, Alex, I want you to stay on the phone with me now. Turn around and come back into town. I’m going to call Zach on the radio while I have you on the phone with me, all right? Whatever’s happened, I think we should let Zach handle it. Don’t you go near—”“I can’t leave them alone,” Alex blurted. “People have been hurt down there. They might need help. I can’t just turn away and leave them now. Oh, God. I have to go down and see if I can do something.”“Alex, dammit, don’t you—”“I have to go,” she said. “I’m about to land.”Ignoring Jenna’s continued orders to leave the situation to Zach Tucker, Jenna’s brother and the sole police officer in a hundred-mile radius, Alex cut off the call and eased the plane down onto its skis on the short landing strip. She brought the Beaver to an abrupt stop in the fresh powder, not the most graceful landing but good enough, considering that every nerve ending in her body was screaming in rising panic. She killed the engine and no sooner had she opened the cockpit door did Luna leap over her lap to bolt from the plane and run toward the center of the cluster of homes.“Luna!”Alex’s voice echoed in the eerie quiet of the place. The wolf dog was out of sight now. Alex climbed out of the plane and called for Luna once more, but only silence answered. No one came out of the nearby houses to greet her. No sign of Pop Toms at the log-cabin store just a hundred feet away. No sign of Teddy, who, despite his teenage front of indifference, adored Luna as much as the dog loved him. There was no sign of Pop’s sister, Ruthanne, either, nor her husband and grown sons, who were usually up well before the late daybreak of November and taking care of things around the settlement. The entire place was still and soundless, utterly lifeless.“Shit,” Alex whispered, her heart jackhammering in her breast.What the hell had happened here? What kind of dangerous situation might she be walking into when she got out of her plane?As she reached back into the cargo hold to grab her loaded rifle, Alex’s mind latched onto the grimmest possibility. Middle of winter in the interior, it wasn’t unheard of for someone to go stir-crazy and attack his neighbor or do serious harm to himself, maybe both in short order. She didn’t want to think it—couldn’t picture anyone in this close-knit group of people snapping like that, not even sullen Teddy, whom Pop was worried had recently fallen in with a bad crowd.Rifle at the ready, Alex climbed out of the plane and headed in the direction Luna had run. Last night’s fresh snow cover was powdery soft under her boots, muffling the sound of her footsteps as she cautiously approached Pop’s store. The back door was unlatched, wedged open half a foot by snow that had blown over the threshold and begun to accumulate. No one had been out here to check on the place for a minimum of several hours.Alex swallowed the lump of dread that was steadily growing in her throat. She didn’t dare call out to anyone now. She hardly dared to breathe as she continued past the store to the cluster of cabins beyond. Luna’s bark made her jump. The wolf dog was sitting several yards out. At her feet was one of the lifeless forms Alex had spotted from the air. Luna barked once more, then nosed the body as if she were trying to make it move.“Oh, Jesus . . . how can this be?” Alex whispered, taking another look around the silent settlement as she managed a firmer grip on her weapon. Her feet felt like lead weights as she walked toward Luna and that motionless, snow- covered bulk on the ground. “Good girl. I’m here now. Let me have a look.”God help her, she didn’t need to get very close to see that it was Teddy lying there. The teen’s favorite black-and-red flannel shirt was sticking out of the shredded, bloodied mess of his heavy down parka. His dark brown hair was iced over where it rested against his cheek and brow, his olive-colored skin frozen and waxy, tinged blue where it wasn’t coated brick red with coagulated blood from the torn, gaping wound where his larynx used to be.Alex rocked back on her heels, sucking in a great gasp of air as the reality of what she was seeing slammed into her. Teddy was dead. Just a kid, for crissake, and someone had killed him and left him there like an animal.And he wasn’t the only one to suffer that fate at this remote family settlement. Shock and fear clawing at her, Alex stepped back from Teddy’s body and swung her head around to look at the surrounding area and houses. A door was smashed off its hinges across the way. Another motionless bulk lay outside one of the cabins. Still another, just below the open door of a pickup truck that was parked alongside an old wooden storage shed.“Oh, God . . . no.”And then there was the body she’d seen on her descent into the settlement, the one that looked so like Pop Toms, dead and bloodied at the edge of the woods behind his house.Taking a firmer hold on her rifle even though she doubted that the killer—or killers, based on the depth of carnage here—had bothered to hang around, Alex found herself drifting toward that scarlet-drenched patch of snow near the tree line, Luna following at her heels.Alex’s heart and stomach twisted together with each dreadful step. She didn’t want to see Pop like this, didn’t want to see anyone she cared about brutalized and broken and bloody . . . not ever again.Yet she could no more stop her feet from moving than she could keep from kneeling beside the grisly, facedown corpse of the man who’d always greeted her with a smile and a big, warm bear hug. Alex set her gun down in the red snow next to her. A wordless cry strangling in her throat, she reached out and carefully rolled the big man’s shoulder. The ruined, sightless face that gaped up at her made Alex’s blood chill in her veins. His expression was one of pure terror, frozen across his once-jovial features. Alex could not even begin to imagine the horror of what he must have seen in the instant before he died.Then again . . .The old memory leapt out at her from the dark, locked corner of her past. Alex felt its sharp bite, heard the screams that had shattered the night—and her life—forever.No.Alex didn’t want to relive that pain. She didn’t want to think about that night, least of all now. Not when she was surrounded by so much death. Not when she was so totally alone. She couldn’t bear to dredge up the past she’d left eighteen years and thousands of miles behind her.But it crept back into her thoughts as though it were yesterday. As though it were happening again, the unshakable sense that the same horror she and her father had survived so long ago in Florida had somehow come to visit this innocent family in the isolated wilds of Alaska. Alex choked back a sickened sob, brushing at the tears that burned her cheeks as they froze against her skin.Luna’s low grunt beside her broke into Alex’s thoughts. The dog was digging at the snow near the body, her muzzle buried in the powder. She moved forward, sniffing out a scent that led toward the trees. Alex got up to see what Luna had found. She didn’t see it at first, then, when she did, the sight did not compute in her mind.It was a footprint, bloodstained and partially obscured by the new-fallen snow. A human footprint that she had to guess would have fit a size fifteen or larger boot. And the foot that left it was naked—more than improbable in this deadly cold, impossible.“What the hell?”Terrified, Alex grabbed Luna by the scruff of her neck and held her fast at her side before the dog could follow the tracks any farther. She looked out to where they quickly grew lighter, then simply vanished into the elements. It didn’t make sense.None of this made any sense in the reality of the world as she wanted to view it.From the direction of her plane, she heard her cell phone ringing, accompanied by the airless crackle of the Beaver’s radio as an agitated male voice squawked for her to report in.“Alex, goddamn it! Do you copy? Alex!”Glad for the distraction, she picked up her rifle and ran back to the plane, Luna keeping pace at her side like the canine bodyguard she truly was.“Alex!” Zach Tucker shouted her name over the airwaves again. “If you can hear me, Alex, pick up now!”She bent in over the seat and grabbed the radio. “I’m here,” she said, breathless and shaking. “I’m here, Zach, and they’re all dead. Pop Toms. Teddy. Everyone.”Zach swore a harshly whispered oath. “What about you? Are you okay?”“Yeah,” she murmured. “Oh, my God. Zach, how could this happen?”“I’m gonna take care of it,” he told her. “Right now, I need you to tell me what you can about what you see, okay? Did you notice any weapons, any explanation for what might have gone on out there?”Alex shot a miserable look back over at the carnage of the settlement. The lives cut short so violently. The blood that she could taste on the icy wind.“Alex? Do you have any idea how these folks might have been killed?”She squeezed her eyes shut against the barrage of memories that assailed her—the screams of her mother and her little brother, the anguished cries of her father as he grabbed nine-year-old Alex up into his arms and fled with her into the night before the monsters had a chance to kill them all.Alex shook her head, trying desperately to dislodge that awful recollection . . . and to deny to herself that the killings here last night were stamped with the same kind of unthinkable horror.“Talk to me,” Zach coaxed her. “Help me understand what happened if you can, Alex.”The words would not come to her tongue. They remained trapped in her throat, swallowed up by the knot of ice-cold dread that had opened in the center of her chest.“I don’t know,” she answered, her voice sounding detached and wooden in the silence of the empty, frozen bush. “I can’t tell you what could have done this. I can’t . . .”“That’s okay, Alex. I know you must be upset. Just come on back home now. I’ve already got a call in to Roger Bemis out at the airstrip. He’s going to fly me out there within the hour and we’re gonna take care of the Tomses, all right?”“Okay,” she murmured.“Everything’s going to be okay now, I promise.”“Okay,” she repeated, feeling another tear spill down her cold cheek.Her father had said the same words to her all those years ago—a promise that everything would be all right. She hadn’t believed him. After what she had seen here today, the sense she had that something evil was closing in on her once more, Alex wondered if anything would ever truly be all right again.Skeeter Arnold took a long drag off a fat joint as he kicked back in a battered baby blue velvet recliner, the finest piece of furniture he had in the shithole apartment he kept in the back of his mother’s house in Harmony. Holding the smoke deep in his lungs, he closed his eyes and listened to the yammering of the shortwave radio on the kitchen counter. The way Skeeter saw it, the kind of enterprise he was in, it just made good business sense to keep a handle not only on the Staties but also the local yokels too stupid to keep their asses out of trouble.And yeah, maybe he liked to listen to the dispatches partly because he got a perverted amount of enjoyment out of other people’s misery, as well. Nice to be reminded sometimes that he wasn’t the biggest loser in the whole state of Alaska, no matter what his bitch of a mother told him on a regular basis. Skeeter exhaled slowly, thin smoke curling around the curse he mumbled when he heard the creak and groan of the old floorboards as the perpetual pain in his ass came stomping down the hallway to his room.“Stanley, did you hear me calling you up there? Do you intend to sleep all damn day in there?” She ham-fisted a few hard raps on the door, then gave the locked knob a good, but ineffective, jiggle. “Didn’t I tell you to run out first thing this morning and pick up some rice and canned beans? What the hell are you waiting for, the spring thaw? Get off your lazy ass and do something useful for a change!”Skeeter didn’t trouble himself to answer. Nor did he budge from his sprawl in the chair, or even so much as flinch as his mother continued to huff and puff and bang on the door. He took another lazy hit off the joint and savored the buzz, knowing the annoyance outside his room would eventually tire of him ignoring her and slink back to her harpy’s perch in front of the TV where she belonged.To help drown her out in the meantime, Skeeter reached for the radio a few feet away and cranked the volume. Harmony’s one-and-only law enforcer, Trooper Zachary Tucker, sounded like he had his panties in a wad over something pretty big today.“Stanley Arnold, don’t you think you can just tune me out, you miserable no-good excuse for a son!” His mother pounded on the door again, then stormed off, her big mouth still running all the way up the hall. “You’re just like your father. Never been worth a lick and never will be!”Skeeter got up from the recliner and moved in closer to the radio as Tucker, reporting in with the State boys in Fairbanks, rattled off the coordinates of an apparent multiple death scene—probable homicide, he’d said—some forty miles out in the bush. Tucker was awaiting air transport from one of Harmony’s two resident pilots. He advised that the other one, Alex Maguire, had been the one who discovered the bodies while on a supply run and was presently on her way back into town.Skeeter felt a twist of excitement as he listened. He knew the area in question very well. Hell, he’d been out that way just last night with Chad Bishop and a few other people. They’d been getting high and drinking by the river . . . right before they’d started tormenting Teddy Toms. In fact, the way it was sounding to him, the settlement the cops were talking about had to be the kid’s family’s place.“No friggin’ way,” Skeeter whispered, wondering if he could possibly be right about that. Just to be sure, he jotted the coordinates down on his palm, then riffled through a pile of unpaid bills and other trash until he found the beer-stained area map he’d been using as a coaster for the past couple of years. He triangulated the spot on the map, disbelief and a sick sort of wonderment sliding through his senses.“Holy shit,” he said, taking a long drag off his joint before snuffing it out on the burn-scarred Formica to save the rest of the buzz for later. He was too excited to finish it now. Too lit up with morbid curiosity to keep from running a tight pace back and forth across the cramped room.Had Pop Toms or the old man’s brother-in-law gone off the deep end? Or had it been Teddy who finally snapped his leash? Maybe the kid had gone home and lost it after Skeeter and the others had driven him off in tears last night at the river?He’d know all that soon enough, Skeeter figured. He’d always wanted to see a dead person up close. Maybe he’d just head out for a little detour on his way to the store for those beans and rice his mother wanted.Yeah, and maybe he’d skip the errand-boy bullshit and just go do what he wanted for a change.Skeeter grabbed his cell phone—the sweet new one with video capability and the cool skull-and-crossbones skin. Then he fished the key to his Yamaha sled out of the mess on his counter. He didn’t bother telling his mother where he was heading, just pulled on his winter gear and strode out into the bracing chill of the day.

Editorial Reviews

“Evocative, enticing, erotic.”—J. R. Ward, author of Lover Avenged