Buried Under Ice

December 28, 2023 – Ice Breaker, Book 7

Once she was falling in love with him, but now she hates him.

FBI Special Agent Oliver Foxx lied to Lark Lawson. Lied, used, seduced, and betrayed her. Four ultimate sins. The special agent got close to Lark just so that he could prove her twin brother was guilty of murder. Correction, multiple murders. The deceitful special agent believed that her brother was a serial killer, and now, because she let the wrong man get close, Lark’s brother is rotting in a jail cell. Her fault, but she’s going to fix things. Or die trying. Though she’d really, really prefer not to die…

It’s up to Lark to prove her brother’s innocence.

Lark knows her brother isn’t guilty. He is the only family she has left, and she is not about to watch him go down for crimes he never committed. So now she’s determined to hunt down the real killer. No one seems to believe that she’s up to the task, but when danger begins to stalk her, it’s clear that Lark has attracted someone’s attention. To a deadly degree.

She also has an annoying special agent suddenly shadowing her every move.

Oliver never planned to get emotionally involved with the passionate and too lovely Lark, but his best laid plans went straight to hell when she entered his world. Oliver is used to profiling killers. He doesn’t know how to win back the only woman who has ever touched his heart. Especially when he broke hers. But when it becomes apparent that Lark is in the crosshairs of a dangerous killer, there is no way that Oliver can stand on the sidelines.

He played dirty before, and he’ll do it again.

Losing Lark isn’t an option. Winning her back? Convincing her to love him again? And—most importantly—keeping her alive? Absolutely on Oliver’s agenda. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe. The hunt for a killer has never been more personal for him. And the desire he feels for Lark? Never been stronger. He doesn’t just want her. He’s obsessed with getting her back.

But someone else is obsessed, too. And time may be running out for Lark…

The Ice Breakers are ready to solve another cold case, but things will get blazing hot for Lark and Oliver. Desire. Deception. Danger. You just can’t trust anyone these days, and Lark is about to discover that the world around her is full of lies. Love and hate…sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between these two emotions. Just like it can be hard to tell the difference between the guilty and the innocent.

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Prologue

He was perfect.

Until three months ago, Lark Lawson would have sworn that she’d never fall in love. She’d avoided the situation for twenty-eight years, after all. She’d never clicked with anyone. Hadn’t felt the insane attraction that was supposed to exist in books. She’d never looked at someone and thought…I want to spend forever with you.

All of that had changed when she met Oliver Foxx. FBI Special Agent Oliver Foxx. Smart, loyal, dedicated…and sexy as hell. Oliver had rolled into her florist shop one day and from that first moment when he’d confessed his confusion at picking out flowers for his mother…

She’d started to fall.

The candlelight flickered from the middle of their table. They were currently at a posh restaurant in Vegas. Expensive food. Stunning service. Not that she cared about any of that. But…

This is one of those places where proposals happen. And Oliver had definitely been hinting that he had something major to tell her. Was three months too soon for a marriage proposal?

Maybe but…

But last night, Oliver had finally lost that iron-clad self-control of his. They’d given in to the desire that seemed to pulse beneath the surface whenever they were together. Their passionate kisses hadn’t been enough last night. Not for her. Not for him.

And the sex that had followed…

Oh. My. God. She crossed her legs, aware of an ache in her core because…I want more. So much more. She’d raked her nails down his back last night. Come for him over and over. And…

I love him. She wanted to tell him that news right then and there. The way she felt wasn’t just about the phenomenal sex they’d shared. She loved him.

But the friendly waiter was talking about wine. Her gaze darted from the waiter back to Oliver. She found Oliver’s dark, intense gaze locked right on her. For a moment, his handsome face seemed almost…angry, and she tensed. Automatically, she reached out and curled her fingers around his hand as it pressed to the top of the table. Or, rather, as his hand pressed to the white cloth on top of their table. “Oliver?”

He sent her a smile. A tight one that didn’t reach his eyes. His head turned toward the waiter. “Just bring us your best bottle of wine, would you? Thanks.”

The waiter hurried away.

She kept her hand on top of Oliver’s. “Is something wrong?”

A muscle jerked along his jaw as he focused on her once again. “The case I’m working…” His voice came out gruff. “It’s been…real brutal.”

Her stomach knotted. Oliver worked Violent Crimes at the FBI, and he rarely talked about his work with her. Not that she didn’t want him to talk about it. She did, but the job required him to keep things confidential. But she knew about the case he was currently investigating. It would be impossible not to know. The stories about the attacks had been on the news for months.

Someone had been abducting and murdering women in Vegas. The women—all with dark hair and in their twenties—were later found, strangled, with a coil of white rope still around their necks. And in their hands? A bouquet of white flowers. Mostly roses, but also carnations, peonies, and even hydrangeas. Because flowers were such a big part of her life, she’d zeroed in on the images that had been posted in the media. She’d even thought that maybe she could help Oliver with his case.

But…

During their time together, he’d never asked for her expertise. And, really, what was she going to do in a murder case? A case with an actual serial killer?

The thought of a serial killer hunting in her city had goose bumps rising on her arms. “I know you want to catch him.”

Oliver’s lashes flickered. If possible, his square jaw hardened even more.

Right. Of course, he wanted to catch the killer. What a silly thing for her to say. Oliver had to deal with the victims’ families. He had to see the dead bodies. Lark had no idea how he did the job day in and day out. When you fought monsters all the time, didn’t it take a toll on you?

Her gaze darted around the restaurant. Dimly lit. Soft music playing in the background. Couples huddled close together. A romantic night for so many. Only now it seemed…wrong. Wrong when Oliver was surrounded by so much death. She squeezed his hand. “We don’t have to be here. Why don’t we go to your place and relax in private? Whatever you have to tell me…” Lark licked her lips. “We can do it there.”

He glanced down at his watch, then back up at her. “Not time to leave yet.”

She blinked. That was an odd thing to say.

He cleared his throat. “I mean, you haven’t even had a drink, much less dinner. Besides, I need to be here with you tonight.”

I need to be here with you tonight. The words chased some of the chill from her body just as the waiter arrived and opened the wine. He poured with a flourish for them. Normally on their dates, Oliver usually did the whole wine tasting routine. Tonight, he didn’t. He didn’t even touch the wine that had been poured for him.

She did. She grabbed her wine with her left hand and took a big, fortifying sip. This is it. You go first. Don’t be scared. Only she’d never actually said these words to a man before…

I love you.

Sure, she loved her twin brother Lane. Absolutely adored him. He’d been her rock for most of her life. When her parents had died, she and Lane had just been teenagers. Thirteen years old. There had been no other close family. Just the two of them. They’d gotten shuttled from foster home to foster home.

They’d been desperate to reach adulthood. To escape that life. To start over.

They had.

Maybe she had trust issues. Maybe she distanced herself from people because she expected no relationship to last. Or at least, that was what a therapist had told her once. Back when she’d been a teen, she remembered overhearing one social worker say that Lark had attachment issues.

And the things the social worker had said about Lane…

No, no, stop it. All of that is over.

She took another sip of wine. Her fingers trembled as she put the glass back down. “I know you asked me here tonight because you had something important to tell me.”

His head tilted to the right. The candlelight sent shadows chasing over the hard planes of his face. He really was incredibly attractive. Almost movie-star perfect. The kind of gorgeous you don’t see in real life. The kind that caught you off guard and made you do a double—or triple—take.

Tall, well over six feet, with broad shoulders that stretched the black blazer he wore. His dark hair brushed over the back of the blazer, and a lock of hair tumbled charmingly over his forehead. A strong jaw, high cheekbones, and eyes that smoldered. Oliver sort of burned with a barely leashed sexuality.

Or at least, he did to her.

Because whenever she was around him, she felt edgy. On the verge of losing her control. And she valued control above all things. She created schedules. She made daily to-do lists. Her life always followed a plan.

But meeting Oliver had changed all of her plans.

His hand turned beneath hers so that he was now holding her fingers. The light calluses on his fingers slid against her skin.

Heat surged through her. It always did when they touched. “Oliver…”

His gaze met hers. His left hand pressed to the top of the table. His right hand went right on holding hers.

“I love you,” Lark confessed. Breathless. Soft.

Done.

She smiled as the tension poured from her. That admission really hadn’t been nearly as hard as she’d thought. The words had just come out. If you were going to take a leap, why not dive right in?

He didn’t smile back at her.

Didn’t say the words back, either. And it took a moment for the heavy silence to register.

“I-I just wanted to tell you,” she stammered quickly. A stammer that she’d worked hard to overcome. It only slipped out now when she was very nervous or very stressed. “These last few months with you have been wonderful, and I wanted you to know how I felt.” Her phone beeped as a text came through. She’d hung her purse over the back of the chair, and the beeping and vibration of the phone made the purse seem to softly pulse.

She ignored the pulsing and the text. This moment with Oliver was more important than anything else.

“I didn’t expect you,” he said. His voice was rough. Angry? No, surely not. “Never counted on you at all.”

That seemed like a strange thing to say. Not incredibly romantic but…

“We need to talk, Lark.” Gruff.

She nodded. “That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? You said you had something important to tell me.” She smiled at him. “I had something important to tell you, too.” And she had told him. I love you. After last night, she’d known that holding back with him wasn’t an option.

I have never wanted anyone more than I want him. She’d never been so free during sex. Never just let go and let the passion take her.

With Oliver, she didn’t hold back. She didn’t want to hold back. She wanted him. So say the words. “I want to go home with you, Oliver. I want to stay with you all night long.”

A flash of pure lust filled his eyes. There was no mistaking his need.

Her shoulders straightened as some of her confidence returned. She smiled at him once more. “Now, what did you want to tell me? Or…ask me?”

It’s probably not a proposal. Settle down. It’s been three months. It’s probably not—

But, hell, a girl could dream, right?

Her phone chimed again. And, again, she ignored the text and stared expectantly at Oliver.

“We’re closing in on our killer,” he rumbled.

Um… “That’s wonderful.” It was. “I know everyone will feel better when he’s locked away.”

The killer was a male. At least, according to the profile that had been released to the media, he was. The suspect was most likely a white male, mid-to-late twenties, physically fit, and living in Vegas.

Of course, that profile had matched thousands of men in Vegas.

“Most people will feel better.” His hand pulled from hers.

Her phone chimed again.

Then immediately…again.

“But there will be some people who are…upset.”

Her brows shot up. “Upset that a killer is behind bars and the streets are safe?” A nervous laugh came from her. “I can’t imagine anyone feeling that way.”

Oliver grimaced. “Don’t be too sure,” he muttered.

Her phone chimed again.

Unease slid through her. Someone really wanted to reach her. She grabbed her phone out of her bag.

The texts were from her brother.

Lark, I need you at the house.

Emergency.

I need you.

“I’m so sorry,” she told Oliver as she swiped her finger over the screen to call her brother. “I have to talk with Lane.”

But when she tried to reach him, the phone just rang and rang.

Then voicemail kicked in.

“What’s happening?” Oliver asked her.

The waiter edged toward their table. “Would either of you be interested in an appetizer?”

She called her brother again. No answer. Voicemail. “I have to go,” she blurted.

The waiter and Oliver both glanced her way.

“My brother—he said there’s an emergency at the house. I have to go.” She rose. “I’m so sorry. I can find a cab and get home. Eat your dinner. We’ll catch up later—”

But Oliver had already stood, too. He tossed some cash onto the table. “Of course, I’m coming with you.”

Because that was Oliver. Always ready to help.

One of the many reasons she’d fallen so hard for him.

He’d helped her over and over. Helped clear out old boxes from the house she shared with her brother. Helped to organize items in the basement. He’d even befriended her brother, and Lane was notoriously difficult to approach.

They didn’t speak again until they were in Oliver’s sleek ride and heading down the wet streets. The rainstorm from earlier had passed, but the dark roads seemed to gleam with a shine from the water.

She tried reaching her brother again. He didn’t answer. She fired off a text. What is happening? Are you hurt?

Her greatest fear. That her brother would be hurt. He was her only family. They’d looked out for each other for so long.

“I…I didn’t get to tell you…” Oliver’s voice came slowly. “I need to tell you…”

Her left hand curled around his fingers as he gripped the steering wheel.

He braked at a light, and his head turned her way. “I didn’t expect you.”

Her phone dinged. She’d kept it gripped in her right hand. Automatically, she looked down.

Being arrested. Get to the house. Hurry.

What? What? Her breath choked out. “My brother is being arrested! We have to get to the house, now!”

The light changed.

But Oliver didn’t move.

He kept staring right at her.

“Oliver?” Lark prompted. “I need to get to my house. Hurry!”

He looked down at her hand as her fingers covered his. “I’m sorry.” Low.

So low that maybe she hadn’t heard him correctly. “What?”

“I’m so fucking sorry.” Then he focused on the road, and he drove them forward.

***

Chaos.

That was what she found when Oliver braked in front of her home on the normally quiet suburban street. Police lights flashed. There was even a big, black SWAT van to the right. Cops were running everywhere.

And…was that a news crew? Stationed at her neighbor’s house and filming everything?

She shoved open her door and tried to lunge out of Oliver’s vehicle.

But Oliver grabbed her hand. “You don’t want to go in there. Just…stay here. They’ll be bringing your brother out soon.”

She twisted her hand and jerked free of his hold. “What are you talking about?” He hadn’t talked on the ride over. Not since he’d gritted out that he was “so fucking sorry.” Her stomach twisted and heaved, and terror clawed at her. “Who will be bringing him out?”

“My team.”

Ice seemed to coat her skin, starting with her face and working to encase her entire body.

Without another word, she jumped out. Then, frantic, she ran for her house.

Only to find uniformed cops blocking her path. One blasted, “This is a crime scene! Stay back! Go with the others!” He pointed to the right.

To the right…where her neighbors stood. Gaping. Recording with their phones. Watching her.

“This is my home!” Lark cried. “Not a crime scene. I want inside. My brother is in there.”

“Your brother?” The swirling lights hit the cop’s face. “That piece of shit is your brother?”

Her heart slammed into her ribs.

Hands curled around her shoulders, and she flinched in surprise. Automatically, Lark whirled.

But it was just Oliver. “I didn’t want you here for this,” he said. A stoic mask covered his face. “I tried to keep you away. That’s why we were at the restaurant. So you didn’t have to see…”

Lark!” Her brother’s yell penetrated through the chaos and had her spinning right back around.

Two men in dark suits pushed her brother from the house. Her cuffed brother. His hands were behind his back.

She sprang toward him, only to have Oliver lock his arms around her waist and pull her back against him.

“Baby, no,” he rasped against her ear. “You can’t stop this. You don’t know what he’s done.”

She elbowed Oliver as hard as she could and lunged for her brother. “What is happening?”

A cop grabbed her before she could reach Lane. A much rougher hold than Oliver had used, and he shoved her back. She slipped and fell to the ground.

“Watch your fucking self!” Oliver shouted at the cop. “She’s not part of this!” He reached for her. Lifted her up. Swept his hands over her as if he was looking for injuries.

She pushed his hands away.

The two men in dark suits—they were hauling her brother toward a patrol car.

“Stop!” Lark yelled.

They didn’t.

Her brother craned his head and looked back at her. “Call a lawyer! I tried to tell them they were wrong—I would never—they wouldn’t listen! I had to sneak and contact you—they won’t listen!”

The drumming of her heartbeat filled her ears.

One of the men opened the rear door of the patrol car. He put a hand on Lane’s head and thrust her brother into the interior of the car.

“I didn’t do it, Lark!” Lane shouted. “I swear, I didn’t kill those women!”

Those women…

The door slammed. The man who’d put her brother in the vehicle slapped his hand on top of the patrol car. As if he’d been waiting for the signal, the uniformed driver sounded his siren and drove forward.

While her brother, trapped in the back of that car, stared desperately back at her.

The drumming of her heartbeat grew louder and louder. Not just a pounding now. More like constant thunder blasting in her head.

Eyes were on her. She could feel them. Her neighbors. The cops. The reporters.

Oliver.

The two men in dark suits marched toward her. She stiffened as they approached.

“Agent Foxx, we didn’t think you’d be at the scene tonight,” the taller one said. Tall but lean, with a closely trimmed beard on his face.

“Change of plans,” Oliver snapped back. “Especially since you let the bastard text his sister. What the fuck?”

The other man—the other agent—grimaced. “We were questioning him. Fool was talking freely, and we didn’t realize that he was sending those messages on the sly. Fucking fast with his hands, that one is. He is—”

“You’re federal agents.” Not a question. Lark barely recognized the frozen, brittle sound of her own voice.

“Agent Theo Tutweiler,” the man who’d just called her brother a fool said. He put his hands on his hips, and the move pushed back his coat to show the badge clipped to his hip. And the holster under his arm. “And this is my partner, Jase Guillory.”

Jase’s gaze swept over her. “Did you know?”

She could only shake her head. “Know…what?”

“That your brother killed all those women. That each time he killed one, he was killing you.”

Her knees buckled. She would have slammed into the ground if Oliver hadn’t caught her. For a moment, she wanted to lean back against him. To soak up his strength.

But…

“No.” She broke free of him. Some blind instinct had her running after the patrol car—the one that had just taken her brother away. Her twin. Her only family.

This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be happening.

Wrong.

Wrong.

Wrong.

Her brother…he wouldn’t…he would never…

“Lark.” Oliver closed his fingers over her shoulder. He’d caught her so easily. “I’ll take you to the police station, if that’s what you want. But he’s going to be booked. You aren’t going to see Lane tonight. You…Lark, look at me.”

She didn’t want to look at him. Her breath heaved in and out. In and out. But her gaze—her traitorous gaze—locked on his face.

“I suspected for some time, but I recently found the proof we needed. Your brother was just arrested for three murders. Do you hear what I’m saying? Do you understand?” His voice hardened. “I got you away tonight so you wouldn’t witness all of this. He wasn’t supposed to text you—I was going to tell you about his arrest after he’d been taken into custody.”

He didn’t take me to that fancy restaurant to confess his love. He took me there so I wouldn’t be in the way when his men arrested my brother.

“The plan went to shit,” he growled. “You got the messages from him, you were coming here, and I…fuck me, I didn’t tell you before we arrived, and I should have. I should have. I should have—”

Her body wasn’t cold. It was numb. The chaos around her? It no longer registered. “You think my brother is a serial killer.”

“It’s not what I think. It’s what the evidence—”

“How long…how long did you suspect him?”

His grip tightened on her. “We shouldn’t talk about this out here. You have to be questioned, but I’ve told my men to wait. You need some time. I’ll take you to a hotel and you can rest. Tomorrow will be soon enough for the interview with you.”

I’ve told my men… His orders. Oliver’s plans. “You did…all of this.”

He stepped closer. Big, strong, lying Oliver stepped closer.

“How long did you suspect him?” she asked again, but the knife that had just stabbed into her heart told her the answer even before he said—

“Before I ever walked into your flower shop.”

Of course. Of course, that would be why he’d come into the shop. Tears slid down her cheeks. She wished that she could have blinked them away, but it just wasn’t possible. They poured too fast from her eyes. “He’s my only family.”

“He’s a killer.”

She shook her head. “He wouldn’t hurt a woman. Not ever.”

“He did. We found evidence. Hell, I found evidence when I was going through those boxes in your basement—”

She was almost physically sick. Right then and there. Her hand flew to cover her mouth even as she swallowed frantically.

“Lark?”

He’d been searching her house. Not helping her. Never helping her. “I thought…tonight, I thought we went out…you said you had something to tell me…”

His jaw tightened.

“Something important to say to me…To ask me.” She’d foolishly thought he might be proposing. How had she thought that? How?

“I needed to tell you about your brother, but I couldn’t tell you before he was arrested. I had to wait. Thought I’d get the call long before we left the restaurant.”

Another tear trickled down.

“And what I wanted to ask…It is important. Damn important.” He finally let go of her shoulder. “It’s…will you forgive me?”

She could not move.

“Because I know this thing between us started—it started with me working beneath the radar and investigating your brother. But I know you didn’t have anything to do with his crimes. I know it, Lark. I want you to forgive me and we can move forward and…you said you loved me.”

He was throwing that back in her face? Her hand lifted and she realized—

I want to slap him.

No, no, that wasn’t her. Her fingers balled into a fist.

“You love me, so…I know it hurts,” Oliver stated grimly.

He knew nothing about the pain tearing her apart.

“But we can get past this.” A determined nod from him. “We will get past it.”

She shook her head. And turned away from him. She put one foot in front of the other. Her gaze darted over the crowd. Landed on nice Ms. Hazel. A bit of a gossip, but she made incredible cinnamon rolls each Christmas. Her heart was good, and…maybe she’d give Lark a ride to the police station.

Because this was a mistake. Her brother was not a killer. He would not have strangled three women.

Never.

And especially not women…who look like me.

“Lark…”

Oliver’s voice came from behind her. Because he was following her.

“We can get past—”

Her steps stumbled to a halt. “You did this.” The chaos. The cops. Her brother being led away in handcuffs. “You found evidence when you were using me. You got close to me because you wanted to nail him for these crimes.” She glanced over her shoulder.

“We can get—”

“Go fuck yourself, Special Agent Foxx.”

Then she walked away from the man who’d just turned her life into a perfect nightmare.

***

Five months later…

“I’m not getting out of here.”

She stared at her brother though the glass. Glass, plastic? What the hell was it? Lark wasn’t sure and it didn’t really matter, anyway. She’d just call it glass. What truly mattered was that she’d come week after week and talked with Lane through the divider. He sat on one side, clad in his bright orange jumpsuit, and she sat on the other. She gripped a phone to her ear and heard his rumbling voice drift to her.

No visitors were actually allowed in a room with her brother. No visitors but his lawyer. Not that there had been a trial, not yet. And there was certainly no bail for him.

A faint bruise slid under his jaw, and a circle of black covered his right eye.

“You were in another fight,” she whispered.

“Don’t worry about me.”

All she did was worry.

“I have a target on me in here. I can take care of myself though.”

Her gaze slid to his hand, the one that cradled the phone. His knuckles were red and scraped.

“You need to distance yourself from me,” he told her. “If they are tearing me apart in the media, I know they have to be doing the same thing to you.”

They were. Her shop had closed. You couldn’t sell flowers when there were no customers. Her house had been egged. Bricks had been thrown through her windows. Her car had been keyed. Multiple times. Her tires slashed. “I’m fine,” she told him as her left hand clenched.

His eyes closed. “You could never lie for shit.”

Her lower lip wanted to tremble. She caught it with her teeth.

“I’m your older brother,” he growled as his eyes slowly opened. “You have to listen to me.”

Older by three minutes and thirty-two seconds.

“Take care of yourself. Don’t crawl into this grave with me.”

For a moment, she feared her grip might shatter the phone. “You are not dying in here.”

“I am if the prosecutor has her way.”

Her breath came faster. “You didn’t hurt those women.” Her certainty had never wavered. It would never waver.

“I didn’t hurt those women,” he said, voice flat. “I wouldn’t. And going after someone who looks like you? Hell, no. Never.”

“Someone framed you.”

His lips twisted in disgust. “Probably the Fed who was fucking you.”

She flinched. He fucked me and fucked me over. Fucked my whole world to hell and back. But Oliver wasn’t going to win. She would not let him take her brother away forever. “I will find out who did this.” Determination filled her voice. It was the same driving determination that helped her get out of bed every morning when she wanted to curl up into a ball and hide. “You are not going to be locked away for the rest of your life.” Or, worse, you will not be executed for something you didn’t do.

“Lark…”

She put her free hand on the glass. “You wouldn’t leave me in here.”

He shook his head. No, he wouldn’t. They both knew it.

“I didn’t leave you before,” she whispered to him. “I’m not about to do it now.”

His hand lifted and pressed over the glass. Right over hers. As close to a touch as they could get.

“I’m going to find the real killer,” Lark promised him. “I don’t care what it takes. I don’t care what I have to do, I am going to find him. You won’t go to prison for crimes you never committed. I won’t let you.”

“Lark—”

“Trust me?”

His hand remained pressed to the glass. “Everyone else thinks I’m a monster. Even my lawyer doesn’t want to be near me.”

Her chin lifted. “You aren’t a monster. You’re my brother.”

And she would get him out.

She would.

She just…

Had to catch the real killer first. “I’ll catch him,” Lark vowed. “Or die trying.”

Alarm flared in her brother’s eyes. “Lark, don’t you dare.”

Oh, but she would. She was desperate, and a desperate woman would dare just about anything. “Just wait, Lane. You’ll be free soon. I’m going to get the Ice Breakers to help me.” She smiled for her brother. She knew he’d heard about the cold case group. Everyone had heard their success stories. “See you next week.” She put the phone back into place. Stood up.

His hand remained pressed to the glass.

She turned away. Walked to the door. The guard opened it for her, as he always did. She passed down the long corridor. Headed back through the security intake area. Collected her purse. Her phone. Her keys.

There were more doors. More security checks. But then she was outside. The bright sunlight shone down on her. Her car—with its newly cracked windshield and the wonderful scratch marks that spelled out KILLER on the left side—waited in the lot.

And FBI Special Agent Oliver Foxx waited beside the car. No, actually, he glared at the car. Then at her. Even though aviator sunglasses shielded his gaze, she could feel the fury of his stare.

“What the hell?” Oliver demanded as she drew closer to him and her ride. He waved toward the damage. “Did you report this shit? When did it happen? Who did it? How did you—”

She stepped around him. Hit the button on her keychain to undo the locks. Though, really, who was going to steal this beat up ride? Each time she got it repaired, more damage was done. So she’d stopped with the repair work. Now her vehicle just looked like shit.

Maybe it would be better if it did get stolen.

His hand curled around her upper arm. “We have to talk.”

Lark stopped. She looked down at his hand. “Do not touch me.”

His hand jerked away instantly.

“And there is nothing to say,” she informed him crisply.

“Yes,” he growled. “There is plenty to say. You love me, remember?”

He had not. He had fucking not just thrown that at her. She turned. Made herself stare at him. It was so hard. Lark had this thing…she’d always had it. When she was mad at someone—truly, deeply angry, no, enraged—she just couldn’t look at the person. Her fury was too great.

Looking at Special Agent Oliver Foxx in that moment required all of her strength.

And she knew fury had to blaze from her eyes. “I love my brother.”

“The courts are going to handle—”

“He’s being framed. I thought you were a good FBI agent. Someone out for justice. Someone who wanted to help.” She shook her head. “All you did was use me. Lie to me. Seduce me.”

A muscle jerked along his jaw. “Our relationship was separate—”

She flinched. “We didn’t have a relationship. We had you using me. You getting close to me so you could find evidence that you’d use against my brother. You told me all the things I wanted to hear. You probably researched me, didn’t you? Before we actually met? Maybe even made a profile on me.” Because that was what he did. He was so good at getting into the heads of people. “You figured out what I would like the most. You gave me that. Nothing with you was real.”

“It was.”

Like she could believe him. “Stay away from me. My brother’s lawyer said you shouldn’t be alone with me.” But it was more than that. More than just following some protocol rules for the case. It was personal. “I don’t want to be alone with you. I don’t want you anywhere near me.”

Pain flashed on his face. “I had a job to do. Listen, dammit, you and I—that’s separate from everything else.”

“My brother’s life isn’t separate.” She backed up a step because she did not want to be close to him. “He has to fight in there, do you know that? The other prisoners attack him. He has a giant target on his back, and every time I come in, there are new bruises on him.”

“Fuck.”

Yes, indeed. “Fuck,” she repeated clearly. Then, “Fuck you.”

“I can pull some strings,” Oliver offered. “Get him put in solitary.”

Bitter laughter broke from her. “Solitary. So he can be alone twenty-four, seven? For how long? Until the trial? Because there is no bail for Lane. Because FBI experts said he was too dangerous. That he would kill again. That he was a flight risk because he had business in other countries. You are the one keeping him in there.” Each word stirred the fire of her fury. “You took away my only family, and you dare to come to me now and talk about me loving you?”

Oliver squared his shoulders. “I’ll make sure the guards keep an extra eye on him.”

“How about you try doing your job? How about you find the real killer?” She spun away and lurched toward her car.

“He is the real killer.”

She shook her head. “Screw. You.” Lark opened her door. “The real killer is still out there, and when he picks another victim…” She slid into the driver’s seat and—once more—forced herself to look at Oliver. Handsome, powerful, betraying Oliver. “When he picks another victim, her death will be on you.” Her breath heaved. “Stay the hell away from me. You are the last man I will ever want in my life again.”

She yanked the door closed. Cranked the engine and screeched out of that lot.

As she glanced into the rearview mirror, she saw Oliver watching her.

The last man I will ever want.

And the only one she’d loved.

But how quickly love could turn to hate.