By: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Looking back, my fatal flaw wasn’t allowing myself to love again, it was trusting him. Because while he swore up and down that my sister had died swimming in the ocean and that he loved me, they were all lies.

And sooner or later, the truth catches up with us. Which was why this moment had been inevitable. I knew I couldn’t run from Warner forever, but now that I was ready to give him what he wanted, he wasn’t going to listen. He’s like that lagoon, out for blood. My blood.

I felt the car slowing. This was it. Oh shit. Oh shit. My body began to tremble and my skin turned ice cold. Add to that, I felt dizzy from lack of oxygen and my foot still hurt like hell from a cut I’d gotten at the beach. It had been stitched up by Mr. Rook’s resident doctor, but I’d reopened it while fleeing the island and Rook’s aunt. Crazy bitch. She’d told me the truth about the lagoon and then tried to drag me off—likely to kill me or something. I hadn’t stayed around long enough to find out.

The tires of the car rumbled over gravel or some other rough surface, coming to a complete stop. I held my breath to listen, wanting to piss myself. Warner and his men were known for removing body parts before killing, as a warning to others.

I shut my eyes and squeezed tight. Oh, God. Please help me.

The trunk popped open, and the early morning light blinded me. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry I didn’t call you, but they didn’t give me a choice! I escaped just to come see you.” Lies. Mostly.

“Now, Stephanie, do I look like an asshole to you?” said Warner in a cocky tone, bending over the trunk. He still wore the all-black outfit he’d had on when he’d showed up to my house last night and dragged me out the back door where his men were waiting.

“No. No, you don’t,” I said frantically.

“But you’re treatin’ me like one if you think I’m going to listen to your bullshit.”

I shook my head. “No bullshit. That island is way more valuable than I told you. It’s a fucking gold mine. That’s why they wouldn’t let me leave.” Another lie. I’d chosen to stay. I was in love with Rook, and when he gave up his vows, knowing he and the lagoon would die, all just to be with me for a few short weeks, I couldn’t leave him. Not even if it killed me to watch him wither away. Only, I found out that he’d lied about Cici and how that lagoon really worked. Now it all made sense—the way that water beckoned me in my sleep and showed me things, like my sister, to lure me in. It wanted my blood, just like Rook’s aunt had said.

Warner pulled a gun from his waistband and pointed it at my face. “I gave you two weeks and two chances to deliver on our deal. I don’t give thirds.”

“Wait!” I held out my palms. “I can get you more than just the island.”

Warner paused and started to laugh. The three men behind him joined in. “Your time is up, Stephanie.”

“Rook has money, too. A lot of it. It’s how he’s been able to conceal the island for so long. Think about it. With so much technology and satellites, how does he keep it off of maps or the internet? Why hasn’t a country claimed his land? It’s because he pays people off.” I could have mentioned the fountain of youth, but Warner would just think I was certifiable. At this point, my only shot was appealing to his greed.

Warner’s espresso-brown eyes twitched with suspicion, and he flashed a smile. He was a pleasant-looking man in his mid-fifties with classic Italian features—a straight nose, dark hair, and a disarmingly handsome face—but when he smiled, there was nothing pleasant about it. One hundred percent sinister.

“What proof do you have?” he asked.

I have nothing. “I had to run. They were going to kill me.”

“You ran home from an island.” He bobbed his head of thick dark hair. “Don’t think so.”

“I snuck onto one of their private planes with some of the employees. Rook is kicking everyone off and shutting down the resort, which also means it will be that much easier for you to take it.”

Warner crossed his arms over his beefy chest. “So how you plannin’ to take us there? Because I’m guessing you still don’t know where the island is.”

I knew the island was somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle. But, no, I couldn’t lead a boat or plane there. I had another plan.

“They’ll come for me,” I said. “I know too much, and they want me dead. All you have to do is wait.” I didn’t believe Rook really wanted me dead, but what did that matter? He killed my sister, or at the very least, he was involved. It was the sort of thing I could never forgive, so as far as I was concerned, Warner could have Rook and do as he pleased. Cici, my older sister, had been my best friend and the only one who loved me in this world. She gave up her own childhood to raise me while my father was off traveling the globe as a war journalist, trying to escape the grief of my mother’s death. Cici was the closest thing I had to a mother, and Rook took her from me. How could I ever love a man like that?

He has to pay.

Warner let out a sinister laugh. “Nice try, sweetheart, but this is your last sunrise.” He reached for my arm, but I snapped it away.

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