The rhythm started slow. The bed creaked beneath him. She tried to touch him, but he was afraid she’d hurt her hands so he lifted them up, caught her wrists in one hand, and pinned them carefully to the bed.

Withdraw. Thrust.

Her cheeks were flushed. Her eyes gleaming.

He thrust harder. A little deeper.

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Her legs wrapped around his hips. “Dane…”

He loved the way she said his name. Loved the way she felt against him.

Warm. Sexy.

There was no death here. No fear.

She was moving faster. So was he. His climax was pressing ever closer, but he didn’t want this moment to end. He wanted to be with her. To feel the pleasure pulse through her body, around him.

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He kissed her.

She came.

He kept kissing her. Kept thrusting. He couldn’t hold off his release. Not any longer.

His head lifted. He stared into her eyes. Saw her pleasure. “I…love you…”

She smiled.

And the pleasure swept over him.

He’d f**ked plenty of women, but with Katherine, only with her, did he feel like he was loving someone.

“I don’t ever want to lose you,” he rasped as his heart thundered in his chest. He wouldn’t. Couldn’t.

Obsession?

Love?

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Sometimes, it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began.

Valentine had crossed that line. Hell, Valentine had crossed a hundred lines.

“You won’t lose me,” Katherine whispered as her breath panted out.

“That better be a promise.”

Her lips curled. “Detective, it’s a guarantee.”

He smiled. For the first time in longer than he could remember, Dane actually felt happy.

His past wasn’t going to haunt him. He wouldn’t let it. He wouldn’t turn out like his old man. Not f**king ever.

Choices.

Katherine had been right about that part. Life was all about the choices that people made.

He stared into her eyes. She was his choice. The best thing in his life.

He was stronger, a better person when he was with her.

And he’d make sure, no matter what the future brought, that he stayed at Katherine’s side.

For better or worse…

Hell, they’d already done the worse part.

Time for better.

Time for life.

No more nightmares. No more killers.

This was the way the story ended for them. Not with Valentine winning. Not with death.

With life.

With love.

EPILOGUE

A new town. A new name.

A new husband.

Katherine—Katie—walked into her home and smiled when she caught the scent of fresh flowers in the air. Then she saw the flowers waiting on the kitchen table.

Daisies. Not roses. Fresh, beautiful daisies. Her new favorite flower.

For a moment, her heart beat a little too fast as the past tried to push its way into her perfect present. She walked toward the table. Let her fingers caress the flowers.

Footsteps sounded behind her. Warm hands closed around her shoulders. She didn’t jump now when she was touched from behind. Not when she knew who was touching her. And she’d always know Dane’s touch.

Smiling, she turned toward him.

“I’ve got a surprise for you,” he said, his deep voice rumbling.

They’d been in their new house for just over a week. She was setting up her art gallery, and Dane—well, he was taking over the vacant sheriff’s position in town. Ross had seemingly found them the perfect new home.

But Katherine knew nothing was perfect.

I can’t hope for perfect. I don’t want perfect. I just want to be happy.

With Dane, she was.

She might not ever be able to completely get over her past, but she didn’t want to forget where she’d come from. Darkness and scars. Pain and suffering. Everything had shaped her.

Dane led her up the stairs. There was no basement at this house. One of her rules.

No damn basements. And no roses—ever.

He opened the door on the right. Bright light filled the space. Canvases. Paints.

“I thought you might like to have a studio here. You know, for when I piss you off and you want some private space.”

She smiled at that. “It’s wonderful.” So now she knew what the guy had been working on so hard for the past day and a half.

Dane and his secrets.

At least she knew his secrets weren’t the killing kind.

He wiggled his brows at her. “Should we christen the room?”

She laughed. She was doing that more. Laughing with Dane. Enjoying life.

Maybe one day, she’d see her past through a cloudy veil. Maybe it would seem like everything had happened to someone else.

Maybe she’d just be the happy woman with the doting husband.

The woman who could live next door to anyone.

The woman who’d once had a serial killer say he loved her. In those last moments, Valentine had whispered to her, and he’d said…

I did it. I died for you.

She wrapped her arms around Dane. His warmth pushed away the cold of her past.

She was a new woman. In a new place. With a man who loved her, darkness and all.

And she loved him. So much that, sometimes, the power of that love scared her.

She’d expected love to be beautiful. Kind. Good.

She knew now that it could be consuming. Terrifying.

But even in the midst of that terror, love could bring you safety. Hope.

Dane was her hope. Her future.

And she couldn’t wait to see what more life would bring them.

She was Katie Black. She lived in Anywhere, U.S.A. She knew about killers. She knew about death.

And now, she knew about love.

Thanks to a detective who hadn’t been interested in dying, but more interested in living, for her.

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