My Deadly Valentine
and the only other way in was via the touch pad mounted outside. As far as she knew, she and Jace were the only ones privy to that secret number sequence.
    Concerned and a bit confused, she reached for the knob on the door leading to her kitchen and tried to turn it. It wouldn’t budge. Locked? How could it be locked? That door was never locked. She didn’t have the key for it with her because she saw no need to carry it. After all, the garage door was secure.
    The hair on the back of her neck prickled a primitive warning. Had something on the opposite side of the car just made a scuffing noise? Rachel froze. She fisted her key ring in one hand while she rummaged in her purse for the can of Mace.
    Could she hear breathing? Was it hers? She held her breath and listened to her own pulse thudding in her ears. She was trapped in that tiny garage, unless…
    Diving for the car, she jammed her thumb against the remote control button on the visor, fully expecting the heavy garage door to start to lift.
    Nothing happened. She slammed the car door behind her and locked it with her left hand while continuing to try to work the remote. It had functioned fine a few seconds ago. Why was it not working now?
    The glare from her compact car’s headlights nearly blinded her as she stared out the windshield. Something moved to her right. A shadow shifted. A man-size one. And it was coming closer.

TWELVE
    J ace set the box with the hot pizza next to him on the seat of his patrol car, backed out of the Hickory Station parking lot and headed straight for the card shop. He was glad he’d told Rachel to wait for him because he didn’t want her going home alone.
    Thinking back over their conversation as he drove, he realized that he had not specified where she was to meet him. Surely she’d understood what he’d meant. She knew better than to go home unescorted, even though they had changed all her locks and reprogrammed her garage door opener.
    As he pulled even with the card store, however, he realized that her car was already gone. His pulse began to pound and his heart leaped. “What was she thinking?”
    That I was going to meet her at the house, he answered only in his mind. How typical. She’d wanted to go home so she had conveniently assumed that that was what they’d agreed upon.
    Whipping the wheel and making a U-turn, he was thankful that there was no cross traffic. It was only a short distance to Rachel’s and she couldn’t have been gone long. He’d probably be able to overtake her in a couple of minutes at the most.
    His hands fisted on the steering wheel. A few minutes was all it would take for someone to end her life.
    Jace tasted bile. His jaw clenched. Every sense was heightened as he pressed hard on the accelerator. The tires of the patrol car squealed around the corner onto Third Street.
    Squinting, he tried to see far enough ahead to tell if Rachel was parked in her driveway.
    He didn’t see her car. He didn’t see any cars. So where was she? And why had she refused to wait for him? Had she been abducted? Was he too late?
    Deep in his mind he could visualize her in trouble. The image wasn’t a logical one. But it was so clear, so intense, he felt as if he were viewing reality.
    “Dear God,” he prayed. “Tell me what to do. Where is she?”

    Rachel was terrified. Trapped. Helpless. The car doors were locked and she was temporarily safe inside, but what if her stalker smashed the windows? What then? If he’d spent any amount of time lurking in the garage he had to have discovered that there were hand tools available. A hammer would shatter her side windows and then all he’d have to do is reach in and grab her.
    She must not allow that to happen. But what other options did she have?
    A shadow clad all in black crossed in front of the right headlight and stopped perpendicular to the hood of the car. It bent over. Rachel gasped. Was he trying to open the hood? It sure looked like it. And if he was successful,

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