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The Beast Within: Mended Souls #2
 

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The Beast Within: Mended Souls #2


  The Beast Within

  #2 Mended Souls

  Jacquie Biggar

  Contents

  What Readers Are Saying

  The Beast Within

  Preface

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Afterword

  About the Author

  Also by Jacquie Biggar

  Preview Tidal Falls

  Preview Silver Bells

  Copyright © 2016 by Jacquie Biggar

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  ISBN: 978-1-988126-08-1

  Created with Vellum

  I want to dedicate this book to the thousands of aboriginal women who have gone missing in Canada.

  May you find peace in the warmth of Heaven’s embrace.

  Jacquie Biggar

  I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.

  Isaac Newton

  What Readers Are Saying

  The Guardian

  Who wouldn't want to be swept off her feet by a movie star? And championed by a guardian angel? Sign me up! And like any great start to a series, the ending left me reaching for the next book. Highly recommended

  Christine Hart

  I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of The Guardian. A quick, easy read that I enjoyed!. A serious topic handled not only with touching moments but a few humorous moments also. Romance, suspense, family ties, friendship, angels that aren't sure about being angels, some sad moments, some nail biter moments, and a darling dog named Sugar Bear....what more could we want? I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.

  Barbara Cassata

  The Sheriff Meets His Match

  Who could possibly be the perfect match for Sheriff Jack Garrett, the steadfast pillar of a small west coast town like Tidal Falls? Enter Laurel Thomas, a woman on the run from her past in Florida. As soon as she shows up in Tidal Falls, she turns Jack's meticulously organized world upside down with her disorganized ways, sexy looks and feisty humor. I'd been craving Jack's story every since I read about him in an earlier story in the Wounded Hearts series, and I wasn't disappointed! Ms Biggar's characters leap off the page and become family you'll be rooting for with all your heart.

  Jacqui Nelson

  I really enjoyed this romance. It has a heroine that's running around helping family, while working for the sheriff. She uses sticky notes to help keep everything straight, while the family tends to count on her to make everything right. This is full of humor and a little bit of serious in a small town type setting. I've given it a rating of 4.5*. It really made me laugh.

  Nancy Luebke

  Twilight’s Encore

  What a captivating story. Twilight's Encore is the third book

  of Wounded Hearts series. This is Ty's and Katy's story, i have

  to say what a beautiful story!!!

  Nicole- Reading Alley

  This is a very heartwarming, suspenseful book that will have you cheering for the good guys. HIGHLY RECOMMEND and Can't wait for Book 4 in the Wounded Hearts series.

  Barbara

  The Rebel’s Redemption

  What I loved about this story was not only the premise but how it all came together.

  LAS reviewer

  THE REBEL'S REDEMPTION (Wounded Hearts, #2) by Jacquie Biggar had me reading this romantic suspense well past my bedtime. The characters are so well written they could walk right off the page!

  Avonna-The Romance Reviews

  The Beast Within

  Preface

  Can two displaced angels save a woman from the clutches of a vicious killer?

  Julie Crenshaw is offered work on Vancouver Island and grabs on like a lifeline.

  She didn't expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial killer.

  Connor O'Rourke has seen his share of human depravities during his fourteen years as a homicide detective, but is still sickened by the murderer terrorizing his island shores.

  And threatening his key witness.

  As the stakes rise, can two people give love a second chance or will a killer become the winner?

  Prologue

  Her skin was tender as the belly of a kitten. And just as fragile.

  Her screams edged toward hysteria, muffled by the material of her slutty shirt. He’d taken pleasure in cutting the offensive cloth from her body and stuffing it into her cherry red mouth.

  Almond shaped eyes, the color of strong black coffee and wide with terror, glittered with the tears streaming down her dusky cheeks.

  Too late for that. She should have begged for mercy when he demanded it. Instead, she’d laughed at him.

  She wasn’t laughing now.

  He ran a finger from the gold love knot piercing her belly button, up to coffee-colored breasts tipped with cocoa nipples peaked with fear. She should be scared. He was her master and she’d wronged him. She had to pay.

  He grinned.

  This was his favorite part. There was probably something wrong with him, but the thrill he got out of having complete control over his subjects filled his body with adrenaline, made blood rush to his extremities, and turned him rock hard. Way better than sex. Sex was dirty, all that sweat and bodily fluids. Not this. This was clean—spiritual.

  He picked up the red hot iron he’d been heating on the propane stove. When she saw what he had in his hand, her body bowed against its bonds, but there was no escape. She’d run away from him for the last time.

  He pinched her pebbled nipple, tipping her breast upward so he could access the tender skin beneath. The acrid scent of burning flesh and the inhaled silent scream of torture before her eyes rolled back in her head rewarded him for his patience. The S was perfectly shaped. The snake’s head crested the top of the curve, its forked tongue curling around the scorched meat of her breast.

  She was his now.

  Chapter One

  Except for the gentle lapping of waves against the shoreline, the beach was quiet. Eerily quiet. Julie Crenshaw picked up a flat stone and threw it into the chilly Pacific Ocean. It plunged through the gently rolling waves like a swimmer fighting the tides. She watched for a moment, then continued down shore.

  The sun was little more than a thought on the horizon, shading the sky with the faintest hint of what was to come. Oranges, yellows, and a blush of pink like a young girl’s cheeks. The sand was still damp from the recent high tide and washed clean of tracks.

  She loved this time of morning. The briny scent of the ocean cleared her head and prepared her for the
day to come. A few Canadian Geese flew overhead, their distinctive honk blending with the sound of the surf, just as a gull rose a few feet away, a crab squirming in its beak and the red and white lighthouse stood sentinel, warning sailors of the dangerous rocks hidden just beneath the surface.

  Julie counted her blessings because she was able to live in such beautiful surroundings, but it was bittersweet. The plan had been for her and Mike to move here together, but a drunk driver had ended those dreams forever.

  Time to leave; she had a long day in front of her. The beach was littered with driftwood from the recent winter storms. Thick logs and tree stumps made for slow going back to the car. She was nearing the grassy verge when her gaze caught on something in a hollow under a four-foot stump. She couldn’t see any eyes staring back at her so it probably wasn’t a predator. Relieved, she nonetheless kept a good grip on the stick she’d been using to walk through the sand. “Quit being a chicken, let’s just check it out then.”

  She crouched and gazed timidly into the hollow. It looked like the sole of a shoe. Curious, she tugged, and with a bit of effort a sneaker came loose. When she saw what was inside the shoe, Julie screamed.

  Chapter Two

  Julie glanced over her shoulder at the crowd of interested onlookers behind the police barricades, and shivered. Any enjoyment she’d taken in the start of her day was long gone. It was one thing to report about crime as part of her daily job; it was another thing entirely to be a witness to a possible homicide.

  Cuddling a little deeper into the jacket one of the patrolmen had thrown about her shoulders, she watched the beehive of activity around the tree stump and fervently wished herself a hundred miles away. She should probably be trying to get some statements from the investigating officers, but she couldn’t seem to shake the shock. It wasn’t the first dead body she’d ever seen. In her job she often trailed those first on scene and ended up with an eyeful. But this… this was out of her comfort zone. Way out.

  “You the witness who found the severed foot?” A brusque masculine voice asked from behind.

  Startled, she turned and looked into steely gray eyes set in a face that was more interesting than handsome. Crow’s feet suggested he spent a lot of time squinting into the sun, as did the ochre cast of his skin. His jaw was square and unyielding and drew the eye to lips set in a hard, straight line.

  “Yeah, lucky me,” she muttered.

  Those lips tilted, hinting at humor, then firmed up again. Julie lifted her gaze and met his sympathetic stare. She stiffened. She’d seen that look way too many times after Mike died. She hated it.

  “When can I go home? I have to get to work.”

  The man’s eyes narrowed. “I’m sure your boss will understand. Unless you have something to hide?”

  The guy didn’t like to waste words.

  “I didn’t catch your name?”

  “O’Rourke. Detective Connor O’Rourke.”

  Guess that explained his interest in her.

  Quelling her odd disappointment, Julie got straight to the facts. “Well, Detective, there’s not a lot I can tell you. I was out for my morning walk and caught sight of… something that didn’t belong.”

  She shuddered, remembering again her horror at the first glimpse of what was in that running shoe. “Anyway, as soon as I realized what it was, I called 911, and you guys showed up. End of story. Can I go now?”

  O’Rourke pulled a notebook and pen out of an inside jacket pocket, affording her a glimpse of a muscular chest covered in a tight fitting navy blue t-shirt, and shoulder holster. She gulped.

  “I’m going to need a name and address,” he said.

  “Whatever for?” she protested. “I’ve told you everything I know.”

  “Let’s just say I like to cover my bases,” he replied, and clicked the pen open.

  Julie sighed. There was no way to avoid this—unless she faked her name? Tempting as it was, she knew it would only make matters worse.

  “Julie Crenshaw, 2011 Keating Cross Road.” She didn’t have long to wait—aaaaaand there it was, the light bulb moment. He looked up, startled, renewed interest and curiosity igniting those mercury eyes.

  “As in, Lucas Carmichael, the movie star? You’re the woman who survived the accident?”

  Why did everyone always look so amazed by that? She should be used to that reaction by now, but it still had the power to sting.

  “Yes, detective, Mike Crenshaw was my husband. Is that all?” She didn’t really care if she was being rude any more. She tugged off the officer’s coat and handed it across to O’Rourke. “If you need any more information you can reach me at the VIBS news station, I’m one of their investigative journalists.”

  She turned to leave, and frowned at the news vans lined up on the road beyond the straining crowd. Great, her boss was going to have her head on a platter.

  Sighing, she tugged her cell phone from her pocket and clicked on the recorder function before swinging back to the detective—and caught him checking out her butt.

  Her cheeks heated. She raised her brow. He shrugged, and glowered at the phone.

  “Put that away, Mrs. Crenshaw. There will be no statements for the press at this time.”

  “So the rumors are true then?” she asked. “This isn’t the first discovery of this nature, Detective. Don’t you owe the public an explanation?”

  He snapped the notebook closed and shoved it in his pocket, the black leather of his coat pulling taut over his biceps. The clouds that had been gathering all morning started to spit rain, turning his auburn hair a rich chocolate brown.

  He glanced at the crime scene, and then up to the sky, no doubt worried about losing his evidence to Mother Nature.

  “Look, I gotta get back there. Just keep this under your hat until we find out what we’re dealing with, okay?” He nodded to the crowd. “Need help getting through that?”

  Oddly touched that he would think of her comfort, she shook her head. “I’m good.”

  O’Rourke nodded, then strode away, his long jean-clad legs eating up the distance to the group examining every square inch of the area around the stump. Talk about your needle in a haystack. Between the ebb and flow of the tides, the wildlife and the sand, they were fighting impossible odds.

  She climbed the slight incline to the string of yellow ribbon and waited for an officer to clear the way. Regardless of her words, these people knew something bad had happened and they wanted information.

  A senior with earphones dangling from her sweat-suit called, “What happened?”

  Another person, his hand wrapped around the handle of a cane asked, “Why are the police down there? Did someone kick the bucket?”

  Well, that’s one way of putting it.

  She knew better than to say anything. They’d never let her go if she did, so she just kept her eye on the prize—her little Honda Civic sitting far to the left of the line of vehicles. Some of the competitor news teams tried to get a statement out of her, but she only smiled and kept moving. And then she saw them. Her cameraman, Rudy, and their driver, Sam. They were set up on the shore, filming up the beach to the location of the find.

  Julie hurried over, relieved to see her friends.

  “I was wondering if you heard,” she said when she was near enough for them to hear over the mix of vehicles passing on the roadway, and the surf.

  Rudy grinned. “Are you kidding? Taylor had us out here almost before it happened.”

  Sam swept her into a hug. “You had us worried. We could see that cop interrogating you. Oh, honey, are you okay?”

  Julie closed her eyes and pictured O’Rourke’s uncompromising face. “I’m fine. How did you guys hear?”

  Sam leaned back, her usually laughing blue eyes, serious. “Taylor told us you made the call. You know her, she has connections everywhere.”

  True. It often gave them an advantage over the other news stations, something they all appreciated.

  “So, was it bad?” Rudy asked. Typical ma
le, looking for the gory details.

  “Let her be,” Sam scolded her husband. “She’ll tell us when she’s ready.” Then she totally ruined it by looking at Julie with huge puppy-dog eyes.

  She laughed. “You two deserve each other, one’s as bad as the other.” Then, before they could protest, she added, “It was the shock more than anything. It was mostly bone, and still lodged in the shoe so I didn’t see much.” A random shiver squirmed down her spine.

  “Well, I think you’re incredibly brave. If it were me, I probably would have fainted right there.” Sam said.

  Julie shrugged, uncomfortable. She wasn’t feeling very brave.

  “You guys about done? I want to get to the station and do a little research.”

  Rudy set his camera in its bag and started dismantling his tripod. “We’ll be right behind you. I think I have enough here.”

  Julie nodded and headed for her car. She opened her door. Just before she climbed in, she took one last look down the beach. But there was no sign of Mr. Tall, Dark, and Annoyingly Handsome.

  Chapter Three

  O’Rourke rubbed the back of his neck and glared at the looming rain clouds. The last thing he needed was a storm messing with his crime scene. His team scoured the sand dunes, leaving virtually no grain unturned. He’d handpicked them for this case. They were all veteran officers and knew their shit. Good thing because this was the third severed foot found in as many months. He hated to even think the S word, but it looked increasingly inevitable.

  Serial Killer.

  Two words guaranteed to strike fear into anyone’s heart.

 
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