Praise for Born to Die
“Lots of tension and intrigue will keep readers hanging on until the very satisfying end. An excellent second offering in the series.”— Starred review from Library Journal
“With interesting characters, and crisp, vibrant writing, Winter Austin’s, Born To Die is a winner for any fan of Romantic Suspense.”–NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Toni Anderson
She had avoided any chance of entering the timbered areas of McIntire County, where the stuff of nightmares dwelt.
But not tonight.
Tonight nothing that mattered to her—not her family, her past, or her pride—was as important as doing her job. And damn it, Deputy Cassandra Rivers always did her job, even when it was obvious the orders might get her killed.
She and her squad-car partner, Deputy Deacon Nash, had been sent to this side of the county—the heavily wooded side—to patrol for the culprits who’d dared to rob a bank yesterday. With every mile she traveled through the darkened timbers, sweat seeped from her pores, saturating the first layer of clothing.
“Calling all units. Robbery in progress at the Speedy Mart,1653 Elm St. Two unidentified suspects wearing dark clothing and black sneakers. Suspects are armed. No sirens or lights.”
“10-4, dispatch. Rivers and Nash responding. Approximately nine minutes out, over.”
Thank God for small miracles. She yanked that car around, and as fast as the slick road conditions would allow, she sped back toward town.
“Easy, Rivers. We’re one of several units responding,” Nash warned.
Damn this crappy weather. No doubt the gas station attendant wasn’t in a situation to wait for whoever was less inconvenienced to arrive at the rescue.
A few miles from the edge of town, the glare of headlights seemed to come out of nowhere. It took her brain a few seconds to realize that the oncoming vehicle was veering back and forth between her lane and the other, and those lights were a lot closer than they first appeared.
“Shit!” She reacted without thinking, hitting the brakes and throwing the car into neutral, then braced for impact, hoping the cow kicker covering the grill did its job to protect them. “Hang on!”
The front wheels hit a slick patch, and suddenly the steering wheel jerked right and the car skidded off the road into the ditch. The nose dove into a snowbank, spraying the windshield with a powdery shower and bringing the vehicle to a rapid stop. Cassy jerked in her seat, the belt locking her tightly in its grip. Glaring at the whooshing wipers as they cleared the moisture from the glass, she unclenched her fingers from around the steering wheel.
“Rivers, you okay?” Nash asked.
“Fine, but pissed off.” Shifting the car into park, she left the engine going and removed her belt.
“Those assholes are going to be in for a surprise.” She hit the lights, and as she tried to push her door open, it stuck in the snow.
Nash grabbed the mic and radioed dispatch. “Dispatch, be advised, responding unit has been in an accident and is in need of assistance, over.”
Cassy twisted in her seat to brace her feet against the door and forced it open wide enough for her to squeeze out.
“Copy that,” she heard the dispatcher reply as she fumbled through the drift. Nash would give their location.
Flashlight in hand, she scanned the area, making sure not to peer into the stand of trees at her back. Oh, how nice. The asshole who’d ran them off the road hadn’t bothered to stop and was now a faint red glow in the distance. The mound they’d plowed into was mid-calf deep, and by the looks of the tires, the car was stuck good. They’d need a wrecker. Upon making another pass toward the road, the flashlight beam glinted off metal. Cassy paused, her heart hurtling into her throat as the light revealed the secret in the dark.
Red taillights reflected from a truck that had smashed into the fat trunk of a tree. The driver’s side door hung open at an awkward angle. Her brain blanked, ripping her back to those moments, those seconds of lucidness when she’d realized that open door meant her life or death.
A grunt of exertion hurtled her to the present. Cassy coughed as she realized she’d been holding her breath. There would be no going back to that night, or the day that followed. She was here, now, and that meant someone was hurt and needed her help. She looked over her shoulder at her partner. “Nash, we’ve got another accident.”
That truck … it looked familiar. She hurried, best as she could through the snow, to the crushed vehicle. Behind her, she heard her partner following. Panting by the time she reached the truck bed, Cassy placed a hand against the side and sucked in air. Finally able to breathe, she lifted her flashlight.
Dark, dripping stains marred the window and the door’s interior. The coppery scent of blood was strong—either the cold was keeping it fresh, or the accident had occurred in the last hour. On closer inspection, they found more blood on the steering wheel and seat, smeared down the side of the truck into the snow.
“Where’s the driver?” Nash asked.