Book 1 – Midnight Novel Series
Published: August 21, 2012
Point, click, die.
When two hikers disappear, their hometown in Maine blames the blinding storms. But the truth is far more sinister. Unaware of the danger, tabloid photographer Jayne Sullivan follows an anonymous tip to find the most reclusive sculptor in the art world. Instead, she finds sexy handyman Reed Kimball—and a small town full of fatal secrets. Five years ago, Reed buried his homicide detective career along with his wife. But when a hiker is found dead, the local police chief asks Reed for help. Why was a Celtic coin found under the body? And where is the second hiker? Avoiding the media, Reed doesn’t need a murder, a missing person, or a nosey photographer. Then Jayne is attacked, and her courage is his undoing. Reed must risk everything to protect her and find a cunning killer.
“Dude, I swear I’ll get us out of this.”
“It’s OK.” John bit back the whine hovering on the tip of his tongue. Camping sucked. And being lost for two days in the middle of the Maine woods sucked even more. He sniffed. Frozen air stung his nostrils. Wood smoke cut through the heavy scent of pine. “I smell smoke.”
“Yeah, me too. Cool.” In front of him, his roommate, Zack, hefted his pack higher on his narrow shoulders. “Going in the right direction then.”
“I guess.” Doubt laced John’s voice. A scant half inch of snow dusted the game trail like powdered sugar. How had his roomie talked him into spending their fall break camping? “Long as it’s not a forest fire.”
“Not this time of year.” Zack shook his head. “Gotta be a campsite close by.”
John’s gaze swept the shadowed, desolate forest surrounding them. Bare tree limbs pointed to the overcast sky like skeletal fingers. “That’s what you said an hour ago. You sure you don’t want to stop here?”
Zack stopped and turned around. “Tell you what, city boy. If we don’t run into campers in the next half hour, we’ll pitch our tent and start a fire.”
“Man, it ain’t the cold that bothers me. Chicago isn’t exactly the tropics. It’s just so freakin’ quiet.” And dark. No street lights, no headlights, no neon signs. John pulled his fleece hat lower over his ears and stamped his feet. Inside his boots, his toes stung.
Zack sucked in an audible breath and blew out a puff of steam. “It’s peaceful.”
“Creepy,” John corrected and sent a silent prayer skyward that his transfer application to the Art Institute of Chicago had been accepted. “Dude, I don’t blame you for losing the trail. Everything looks the same out here. But you’re crazy if you think this is fun.” John’s parents had thought he’d be safer attending college out here. Not. Didn’t they know Stephen King was from Maine?
The trail curved around an outcropping of boulders. An erratic, pulsing glow shimmered ahead as faint murmurs carried over the crackling of fire. Hope flared warm in John’s chest. “Do you hear that? It’s people!”
“I told you everything’d be OK.” Zack slapped John’s shoulder as he hurried forward. Ice and dead pine needles cracked underfoot. “Hello?”
Instead of the expected greeting, the voices ceased, cut off suddenly like somebody’d pressed the Pause button. A shudder started at the base of John’s spine and quivered up to his nape. He stopped.
Zack moved ahead. “What the fuck?” His voice dropped to a puzzled whisper as he stepped through a patch of underbrush.
John pushed aside an evergreen bough. “What?”
The tree limb snapped back and John ducked under it. Straightening, he faced a clearing the size of a half basketball court. A circle of upright wooden posts, thick as telephone poles and tall as men, ringed the space. Five shorter poles formed a half-moon in the middle. In the center of their arc, next to a large flat-topped stone, tall flames rose from a shallow pit. The tingle on the back of his neck surged into an electric charge. The wilderness might be foreign to him, but John recognized creepy shit when he saw it, and this whole place had a disturbing woo-woo feel.
John scanned the clearing. Where are the people? He’d heard voices. He knew it. Heat from the fire reached out to his frozen fingers, tempting him to step closer.
But he didn’t.
Book 2 – Midnight Novel Series
Published: April 16, 2016
One by one, people are mysteriously disappearing from a small Maine town. Four months ago, a ruthless murderer killed two people and kidnapped three more, including Danny Sullivan’s sister, who barely escaped. Unfortunately so did the killer, vanishing without a trace into the vast wilderness. When the police fail to find his sister’s captor, Danny returns to Maine to hunt him down. He begins his search with another survivor, bed and breakfast owner Mandy Brown, but her refusal to cooperate raises Danny’s suspicions. What is the beautiful innkeeper hiding?
Mandy Brown has a secret. But sexy Danny Sullivan, his relentless questions, and the desire that simmers between them threaten to expose the truth. A revelation that puts her family in danger. As more people disappear, it becomes clear the killer is planning another ritual…and that he’s circling in on Mandy.
Winter in Maine was more than a season, it was the enemy.
The December wind whipped down the alley and smacked Mandy in the face. Her eyes watered. Another gust grabbed the glass door. She held on tight, muscling it closed. To her right, the alley opened into a small parking lot behind the building. Her car would be as cold as a walk-in freezer and wouldn’t begin to warm up on the six-block drive home, but at least she’d be out of the wind and off her feet. Helping her mother the run family’s bed-and-breakfast, then waiting tables at the diner had left her arches crying for a hot bath and a soft bed. But if she ever wanted to get out of this town—and she did—the extra shifts were a must. No way could she squeeze tuition payments out of the Black Bear Inn’s nonexistent profit margin.
With gloved hands, she pulled her knit hat over her ears and trudged forward. Wind slipped into her coat at the throat. Turning her back to a frigid gust, she made sure her knee-length parka was zipped to her chin and her flannel scarf wound securely around her neck. Being a Maine native did not make her impervious to the temperature.
“Mandy, get in.”
She startled and spun around. The diner’s owner, Nathan Hall, had pulled his SUV into the alley. He was leaning over the passenger seat. The window was down.
She took a half step toward him. She stopped midstride, a prickly sensation sliding along her spine. Under her thick coat, the primitive tingle lifted goose bumps that had nothing to do with the abominable temperature of her hometown. Something was wrong.
Nathan jumped from the truck, rounded the front of the vehicle, and approached her. He wasn’t wearing a hat or gloves. The smell of smoke wafted from him, and his eyes gleamed with a weird fervor. He stepped into the light cast by the fixture over the door. What were those dark stains on his pants and shoes?
As he got closer, its raw, meaty scent thickened the air. He reached for her arm. Instinct kicked in, and Mandy stepped back.
He caught her wrist. “I love you. Just get in the truck.”
“No.” Mandy stared at him. Fear pulsed into her throat. “What’s wrong with you, Nathan?”
Instead of answering, he tightened his grip and tugged on her arm. Mandy resisted. He pulled harder, dragging her toward his SUV. Her purse dropped from her arm and hit the ground with a thunk.
“Let me go!” She planted her feet on the pavement and leaned back. “Nathan, what are you doing?”
His silence fueled the panic gathering in her belly.
“I said let go of me!”
He let go and raised his hand. The slap knocked her to her butt. She pressed a glove to her burning cheek.
Nathan glared down at her, rage and madness transforming his handsome face into an ugly mask, as if someone else had taken over his body. “Shut up and get in the truck.”
Her friend Jed barreled out of the diner. He grabbed Nathan by the jacket. “Don’t you touch her!”
Nathan moved. Silver glinted in the streetlight. Jed doubled over. His mouth went slack. He looked at Mandy and gasped, “Run.”
But she couldn’t leave him. Nathan turned toward her, a knife clutched in one hand. Blood dripped from the tip. Jed’s blood.
The scream burst from her throat. She crawled toward Jed, who was sinking to the ground. Just before she reached him, Nathan leaned down. His fingers clamped around her wrist again. He yanked hard. Mandy resisted, sinking her butt toward the icy pavement.If she went with him, she would not be coming back.
“Get in the truck now.” He pocketed the knife, lifted his free hand, and cracked her across the face again.
Her cheek stung. Tears streamed down her face as he hauled her toward his vehicle. Terror scrambled in her belly. She was too small, too light. Her feet skittered along the icy asphalt as he dragged her closer. She tried to scream again, but panic clamped down on her vocal chords.
A dark figure flew in front of Mandy and tackled Nathan. She fell backward. Her savior and Nathan tumbled into a snowbank. Nathan landed on top. He leaped to his feet and ran to his truck.
Turning, Nathan pointed at her. “You’re mine.”
**Also Available in this series**
Published: September 2, 2014
Expected Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Meet Melinda Leigh:
A life-long lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity while raising her kids. Over the next few years, she learned a few things about writing a book and decided the process was much more fun than analyzing financial statements.