With a storm coming and a killer on the loose,
every step could be their last...
Angel Smith is finally ready to leave Antarctica for a second chance at life. But on what was meant to be her last day, the remote research station she's been calling home is attacked. Hunted and scared, she and irritatingly gorgeous glaciologist Ford Cooper barely make it out with their lives...only to realize that in a place this remote, there's nowhere left to run.
Isolated with no power, no way to contact the outside world, and a madman on their heels, Angel and Ford must fight to survive in the most inhospitable—and beautiful—place on earth. But what starts as a partnership born of necessity quickly turns into an urgent connection that burns bright and hot. They both know there’s little chance of making it out alive, and yet they are determined to weather the coming storm—no matter the cost.
“Got company!” a man’s voice said, stern and matter-of-fact.
Angel could barely hear through the pounding of blood in her ears. Light sliced the dark open, solid as a knife through butter, blinding her, while footsteps converged.
They were coming for her.
It was some sixth sense that led her to the wall, instead of straight down the arch, and pure instinct that sent her to the low wooden door that led to the ice tunnels. Jameson had shown her around once. He loved it down here, had even hand-carved a few of the passages himself, but to her, they’d always felt like a frigid tomb. Didn’t matter. She needed a place to hide.
The steps pounded closer, some men breaking off to search the tool room, others the food storage area. There was no time.
With shaking hands, she slid back the lock and pulled. It wouldn’t budge. Another pull, with both hands this time, and still, no give. The door, her only escape, was frozen shut.
No, no, no.
A wild look over her shoulder showed them approaching, their flashlight slicing through the darkness within a few feet of her. She’d seen the emotionless way they’d shot Chester. Five more steps and she was as good as dead.
She tightened her hands, pictured herself picking up one of those massive bags of rice she had to sling around for her job, and heaved.
It flew open, smashing her nose in the process. It took every bit of control she had not to cry out. Quickly, blindly, she stepped in, pulled the door silently closed behind her, and waited. No, no waiting. She had to lock the door, somehow, to keep them from following her in.
Oh, God, was there even a lock on the inside?
Breath coming in hot and hard, she scrabbled at her pockets until she came up with her Maglite. Wait. Best not to alert them to her presence. But they’d know, eventually, that she was here. Surely, they’d think to search the tunnel? And the place was so unfamiliar, she needed a quick look. It was worth the risk.
She turned it on and immediately slammed her eyes shut. They burned from the light and the cold, but mostly--oh, please no—they burned from what was there. In the split second after closing her eyes, she shut off the light again.
The image she’d just seen was seared into her corneas like a brand into skin. Was that blood on the ice? Or some other red substance splashed and smeared like a flashy Jackson Pollock?
She’d think about it later. The important thing now, was that there’d been no lock, no way to keep them out.
Something thumped just outside the door and her body went rabbit-still. The only thing moving were her eyes and her madly beating pulse—racing, racing, racing—until she pressed one gloved hand to the ice wall and forced herself forward. Each crunching step led her further into the massive ice maze. One, two, three…the door swung open behind her.
Angel lurched forward and around the first bend, just as the light grazed her shoulder.
“Who is that? That you, Angel?” It was Sampson, his voice smooth and southern, the charm as real as his bright white smile. His light laugh made her curl in on herself. She’d never felt so much like an animal before. Prey, making itself as tiny as possible—playing dead and begging the hunter not to notice. “Awful shame if it is.”
Why? Why was it a shame? What would they do to her if they found her in here?
Don’t ask questions. Move.
Slowly, she put a foot down on the hard-packed snow that lined the tunnels. Crunch. The sound was light, barely audible, but too loud for the absolute quiet. Another step, another. She had to get away or he’d kill her. Surely, he could run faster, given her bum knee, which left only hiding.
What was down this way? Impossible to remember after just the one visit.
It didn’t matter. She had to move, now.
With nothing but Sampson’s slowly oscillating flashlight to show her the way, she forged ahead, doing her best to remember the layout. There were indentations, lots of them, cut from the ice like false starts. Some were altars previous poleys had set up as odes to their experiences working at the south pole. But they were small and high and impossible to get into. There! A shadow to the left.
It was brighter now, which meant Sampson’s light was closer. Too close.
She pushed herself. Her breaths came out in audible little puffs, as if this fear were too strong to stay inside her. It had to be out in the open, vocalized, real. Never mind that he’d hear her if she couldn’t find a way to shut up and hide.
She turned the corner into…another hall. Pitch black. No way to tell how deep it was, but the steps behind her grew ever louder.
With no choice now, she ran.