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Alternate Chapter 48

“Careful, Cam.”

John peaked out from behind Dane’s head, pressing a compact pistol to her boyfriend’s neck. She recognized it as her Ruger that was missing from her glove compartment.

Cameron swung her gun toward John as he tucked behind Dane.

“You shoot him, you shoot me,” John said.

Cameron stepped closer, seeing the beads of sweat that covered Dane’s forehead beneath his dark hairline. He wore his trooper uniform without his vest. Dane exuded a grunt through his clenched jaw. His arms were tucked behind him; they had to be bound.

“I’m disappointed that this is how you greet me after all this time apart.” John sighed. “Ah, well. It’s like my father always said, ‘There’s a thin line between love and hate’.”

Dane shifted his weight and cried out in pain. Cameron’s gaze fell to this leg, seeing the hole in the thigh of his uniform pants—and the blood that seeped through the dark fabric.

“Let’s go inside, shall we? It’s cold out here.” John peered one eye around the back of Dane’s head. “But leave your weapons out here. You can start by setting your gun on the deck.”

Cameron made no move to lower her pistol. Dane grimaced. She watched the side of John’s mouth curl into a smile before his head disappeared behind Dane’s.

“Your boyfriend’s having trouble standing, Cam. Don’t make him wait.”

“Shoot him, Cameron,” Dane said through gritted teeth.

John twisted the barrel of his gun into Dane’s neck. Dane winced and threw his head backward into John’s. John grunted as Dane staggered to the side, falling against the side of the cabin and leaving John exposed. Cameron aimed her barrel at John’s head as he tucked behind Dane, sliding his arm beneath Dane’s armpit to pull Dane upright using him as a human shield.

“You’re such a coward, John.”

 “Drop your gun. Or I’ll put a bullet in his neck right here. Then, you and I can celebrate our anniversary in peace. Alone, as husband and wife.”

“Shoot him!” Dane yelled.

Behind Dane’s head, she saw the edge of John’s face uplift to a smile. John’s hair was longer than the last time she’d seen him, but aside from that he looked exactly the same. “One. Two.”

“I’m not a child, John.”

She watched John’s demeanor suddenly darken, reminding her of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, even though only part of his face was visible. She might have thought he was acting if she hadn’t known his sadistic true nature.


An ear-deafening blast erupted from John’s gun. A bullet whizzed past her. Wood splintered into the air when it impacted with the deck railing.

“Ahhh!” Dane’s face writhed in agony as blood poured from the bullet wound in his shoulder, staining his blue shirt crimson.

“Drop your gun, Cam! Or he dies!” John seethed, pressing the barrel of her Ruger into the bottom of Dane’s jaw.

“Don’t do it,” Dane sputtered as Cameron slowly lowered her weapon onto the snowy deck. He doubled over with gritted teeth. “He’ll kill us both!”

John smiled after Cameron set down the gun. “I knew we could be civil about this. And I’m glad to see you’re not letting your new boy toy tell you what to do. Good for you, Cam.”

Dane stifled a deep grunt.

“Take off your parka,” John ordered.


A scoff. “I’m sure you’ve got all kinds of other weapons in there. Let me guess: another gun, a knife, and maybe something else less conventional?”

John lifted his gun up the side of Dane’s face to his temple as Cameron started to unzip her coat.

“Hurry up!” John screamed.

She tossed her parka onto the deck and put her hands in the air, aware of the small, sheathed knife inside her waistband that was covered by her sweater.

John leaned behind Dane and swung open the cabin’s rear door. He shoved Dane through the doorway. Dane stumbled inside before falling to the floor. Dane swore as John trained his gun on Cameron’s chest.

“You first, my love.”

Cameron stepped into the cabin. Dane managed to sit up as John’s footstep sounded on the wood floor behind her. She locked eyes with Dane as she reached beneath her sweater. It was now or possibly never.

She pivoted as she unsheathed the knife, bringing the blade over her head in one fluid motion. Her eyes trained on John’s neck as she spun. She hurled the knife toward his throat, preparing to lodge it into his jugular. Or better yet, his carotid.

John raised a fist in defense. Her forearm impacted with his before the blade reached his throat.

“Uhh!” She tightened her grip on the blade’s handle as she drove it toward him with all her strength, fighting against the weight of his forearm pushing against hers.

Out the corner of her eye, she caught a flash of movement seconds before the butt of John’s pistol slammed into her temple.

Alternate Chapter 51

When Cameron opened her eyes, her face lay against something cold. Her vision blurred as she pushed herself off the wood floor, trying to make out her fuzzy surroundings. It was dark beyond the windows, but a kerosene lamp lit the cabin from the corner of the room.

Something crackled behind her. She twisted around. Flames flickered inside the wood stove.

She sat up and spotted Dane sitting on a wood chair on the far side of the room. His hands were still bound behind him, and his head hung to the side. Beads of sweat illuminated his brow from the light from lamp.

“Cameron.” His voice was soft. Weak.

His face was ghostly pale. The right side of his blue uniform shirt was completely soaked with blood. His eyes fluttered, and he blinked them open, straining to stay conscious.

“Dane. I’m so sorry.”

He shouldn’t be here. This is all because of me.

“Glad to see you’re awake,” John said from behind her. “Wine?”

She spun to see him relaxing on the couch with a glass of red wine beside the wood stove, reminded of the first time she came here with Dane. Except it had been Dane sitting on the couch, not John. It was the day they’d met. She offered to fly Dane here to check on his father, hoping to glean information from Dane about Bethany Long’s murder. She’d had no idea at the time they’d end up together. How close she and Dane would become. Her throat tightens, visualizing George lying dead on his cabin floor next door.

“It’s your favorite. A Columbia Valley merlot.” John swirled the wine in his glass. His hair is longer than when she lost saw him, and his beard is neatly trimmed. But the evil in his hazel eyes remains the same. “For a while I was afraid you were going to sleep through our whole anniversary. Did you get the book I left you? You must have.” He lifted the glass to his lips. “You’re going to love it, Cam. Especially after telling me how much you knew about wolves last winter. And I hope the reason you didn’t get something for me wasn’t because you forgot. You know how special anniversaries are to me, my love.”

“Let Dane go. He has nothing to do with this.”

“I’m afraid I can’t.

She started to stand, but the room spun. “What do you want, John?” Although, after what she did to him, she knew the answer.

He took a drink from his wine. “You know what I want. Same thing you wanted when you tracked me down last winter, which was quite impressive I might add. Revenge.”

It was then she spotted the pistol in John’s left hand. It was bigger than her Ruger that he’d used to shoot Dane. It looked like Dane’s service pistol. A moan emitted from Dane as his head bobbed. She needed to keep John talking while she figured out a way to gain the upper hand.

“You knew what I’d done to Miles. What I was capable of. You’ve known it all along. You sought me out for it. Why?”

John’s gaze moved to the window facing the lake even though there was only darkness beyond. He turned pensive, seeming to enjoy her question. “I admired it when I discovered what you’d done. A woman who’d killed and gotten away with it. I felt…a connection if you will. A kinship. Most people aren’t like us, Cameron.”

Behind her, Dane wheezed. She glanced over her shoulder to see him lift his head, eyes closed and barely conscious.

She turned back to John, rage spreading through her veins like wildfire. “I’m nothing like you.”

John cocked his head, meeting her gaze. “We’re more alike than you admit, Cam.” He smirked. “Look at what you tried to do to me.”

She pictured John, tied to the tree after she’d shot him in the leg and made him walk into the bear trap. How he cried in pain when she drove the knife into his abdomen when she should’ve left his fate to the wolves. Then Miles’ head soaring backward after she shot him in the temple.

Those times were different. She hadn’t done those things for enjoyment but out of necessity.

John lifted a palm in the air. “I’m not judging you, Cam.”

Dane had gone silent behind her. Cameron twisted to see his head hanging to the side, his eyes closed. Just hang on a little longer, Dane. She turned back to John and watched him finish his wine. Her eyes traveled to the pistol in John’s hand.

“On the deck, you quoted your father. You never told me much about him. What was he like?”

John twisted the stem of his wine glass, his gaze falling to its rim.

“You said he was an alcoholic. Was that true?”

“He drank heavily in his later years, but no. He was like me, Cam.” John met her gaze in the dim light.

She stiffened. “Like you?”

“A killer.”

Cameron searched his eyes. This was not at all what she expected him to say.

He shrugged. “I know what you’re thinking. I ended up just like him. Like father like son. But he loved me, Cam. He was a good father, despite having to raise me as a single parent.” John smiled. “He used to love Alaska. Took me to Fairbanks with him a few times.”

Cameron stared at him as he continued, thinking this was likely the first time he’d ever been truly honest with her about who he was.

His eyes traveled out the window toward the lake even though all you could see was darkness. “It’s disappointing that you and I had to come to this. I would never have thought myself capable of killing my own wife.” His dark gaze returned to hers. “Until now.”

“So, what? You’re going to kill us both, then?” She scanned the room for something she could use as a weapon, hoping to keep John talking until she did.

John set his wine glass on the antique coffee table. Cameron’s eyes settle on the corkscrew beside the opened bottle.

“Well, that’s up to you. If you can be reasonable, then only one of you has to die.”

She got to her knees and fought to stay upright despite the swaying cabin. “So, I let you kill me and you’re saying you’ll let Dane go? How could I ever trust you to do that?”

“Don’t flatter yourself, Cam. If I wanted you dead, we both know you would be already.” He pointed a finger toward Dane. “Dane’s going to die either way. But you can save yourself. It’s your choice to make.”

Cameron’s eyes narrowed. She pushed herself to her feet. “I’m not doing anything for you unless you let Dane go. If you kill him, I’ll kill you. Or die trying.”

John laughed, throwing back his head against the couch before turning serious. “I’m not going to kill him, Cam. You are.”

Alternate Chapter 53

“Shoot him.” John lifted her Ruger off the far side of the couch. He stood, a pistol in each hand. He raised Dane’s pistol, aiming the barrel at her head. “Or I will. And trust me, if you make me do it, I’ll be sure he suffers.” He stepped toward her. “We’re the same, Cam. It’s why I chose you. Let’s run away together. Start fresh. I’ll read you the classics, starting with my favorite, The Sun Also Rises. Then we’ll move on to Farewell to Arms, The Great Gatsby, and The Call of the Wild. I hope you brought that copy with you. You’re going to love that one.”

Cameron’s gaze traveled to Dane. He was unconscious, life fading from his body.

“I’m not going anywhere with you.”

John sighed. “I thought you might say that.” He lowered the gun to his side. “I’m not a monster, Cam.” He motioned to Dane. “I didn’t make him step in a bear trap now did I?”

“You’re not going to get away with this. Mulholland knows you’re still alive. And that you’re here.”

John lifted the pistol to the side of her face. “There’s a snowmobile parked on the side of the cabin.” He patted his pocket. “Your boyfriend was kind enough to give me the keys. We can take it back to your plane in Tok and fly to Canada. I have an old client I defended who can get us new IDs to start over. Mulholland won’t find us there. And if I have to kill you both, it will look like you shot each other, Double Indemnity style. So romantic.” John rolled his eyes at her blank expression. “Don’t tell me you still haven’t watched that movie. You know it’s my favorite.”

Cameron shook her head. “Mulholland will know you killed us. He won’t stop until he finds you.”

“Actually, that’s not what happened up here. After learning Dane killed those women, you followed him up here and found that he’d killed his father. Then you shot Dane with your Ruger, twice, and bound him to the chair. But Dane managed to free himself with a knife you left lying around.” John grinned. “It’s not like you haven’t done this sort of thing before. No one will doubt what you’re capable of after the video footage is leaked from the gas station where you bought supplies to burn down your own house after killing Miles.”

John leaned forward and slapped the side of Dane’s face. Cameron’s face burned with rage. Dane moaned without opening his eyes.

Keeping the pistol pointed at her head, John handed her the Ruger. “But I’m giving you the chance to come with me instead. And to end Dane’s suffering. Otherwise, I’ll make it ten times worse for him before he dies.”

He nudged the Ruger closer. Cameron made no effort to take it from him.

John smiled. “It was always you and me, Cam.”

Cameron stood still, looking down at the Ruger. She was tempted to take it and shoot John, end him right now. But with his gun aimed at her head, he’d get a shot off too, killing her also. Her gaze traveled to Dane’s unmoving form slumped in the chair. If that happened, Dane would be dead by the time someone found him.

“You love him, don’t you?” John asked in her ear. “I’m giving you a gift, being our anniversary and all. You can let him die peacefully. I’m a forgiving man, Cam.”

She stared at Dane, praying for him to hold on a little longer as John pressed his pistol into her skull.

“You could never be happy with someone else. He’ll never understand you like I do.” John tucked her hair behind her shoulder.

It took all her willpower not to pull away.

“Like I always have,” he whispered. “Kill him, Cam.” His voice turned cold as ice. “Or I’ll make you both suffer more than you can imagine. I killed those two women in your town to make you understand that you can never, never get away from me. Wherever you go, I’ll follow, bringing a rain of destruction, until you come away with me.”

She lifted her hand to take the Ruger, knowing what she had to do. She’d have to take her chances that John wouldn’t kill her first. An engine droned from across the lake. John’s head snapped toward the sound as he withdrew the Ruger from her reach.

She turned toward the window, seeing a light moving between the trees on the other side of the water. It couldn’t be headlights, Cameron thought. Not with the fallen tree blocking the road. The drone grew louder, and she recognized the hum of the snowmobile’s engine.

The light zigzagged through the trees, nearing the lakeshore straight across from them. John stepped outside onto the deck, keeping a gun in each hand. In the glow of the porch lights, Cameron watched John raise his pistol toward the light, leaving Cameron alone with Dane.

“Hang on just a little longer,” she whispered to Dane before turning for the coffee table.

She closed her hand around the corkscrew and made for the opened deck door.

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