Unable to recall his identity or the events leading up to him washing up on the beach, mystery ensues, and it isn't long before the residents of Turtle Cove realize there is something far more sinister in the making.
Full of mystery, twists, and turns, the final book in the bestselling Adam Cross contemporary Christian suspense series will hold your attention until the very last page!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” - Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
It only took an instant to realize that he was already dead when Patrick Phillips dropped to his knees next to the lifeless body of his client.
Dr. Bill Sutton’s blank eyes stared into the space next to him, as though focused on something unseen. Fresh blood drenched the plush cream rug beneath his shoulders in his home office.
As if he wasn’t convinced Bill was dead, Patrick leaned in to better inspect his face only to discover the horrific gash across his neck. He had never seen a dead body before, and it took every bit of inner strength to hold down the caviar he had enjoyed with Bill just a short while ago.
His heart pounded hard against his chest as his body now trembled with shock. Next to his knees, the pool of blood threatened to soak the designer suit he had specially bought for that evening’s charity dinner. Jumping to his feet he stepped away from the body and stood anxiously staring at it with both hands clasped on top of his head.
In the background, he heard the dinner guests’ chatter coming from the reception room at the end of the corridor. Suddenly aware that anyone could walk in on him at any moment, he panicked and rushed to close the door he had inadvertently left ajar. He needed time to think, time to make sure they wouldn’t implicate him.
If caught alone in the room with the great Dr. Bill Sutton lying dead on the floor, it would take a lot more than his word to convince authorities he wasn’t to blame. Why he felt such immense guilt over his death, he didn’t know. Perhaps because deep down inside he had wished Bill dead a million times. To the world out there Dr. Bill Sutton was a saint, a savior of lives. But to him, Bill was the proverbial nightmare client no one wanted. The only reason he’d tolerated his condescending ways with him was because he was best friends with his son, William. And Bill had made it abundantly clear that his loyalty to his only son was the single reason he had agreed to let Patrick manage the company’s financial portfolio. So they were each doing it for William. On that, they could agree. Everything else, not so much.
It was also no secret that Bill hadn’t been pleased with his recent trading strategies. Patrick had lost him millions in a swing trade. He’d heard the rumors—Bill had been shopping around for a new portfolio manager. Without the Gencorp account, Patrick’s company wouldn’t even exist. Everyone knew that, and with Bill out of the way, William, his only son, and heir to Bill’s entire fortune, would make void that threat.
That was motive.
He’d need solid evidence, an alibi.
And he had neither.
Patrick nervously circled Bill’s dead body, careful not to step into the blood or leave any trace behind. With his palms now together over his nose and mouth, he took a deep breath to relax his shoulders and snapped the vertebrae in his neck back into place. He was used to thinking on his feet, deciding under pressure. Risk management was the very marrow in his bones.
With his eyes fixed on the dead body on the floor, his mind hurriedly worked through the dilemma. He was last seen flirting with Bill’s attractive assistant before he made small talk with a few prospective clients. As far as anyone should be aware, he was still out there canvassing the room for new clients. Bill had joined a few of the other guests in the wine cellar. At least that’s what Patrick had assumed when Bill had excused himself and walked off in that direction.
Patrick’s mind worked through the events of the evening. If only he hadn’t come looking for Bill. If only he hadn’t felt so insecure over losing the Gencorp account and tried so hard to win back Bill’s favor.
There was no doubt in his mind. He’d definitely be on the police’s main suspect list. A list that wasn’t that long. Bill didn’t have enemies—he was far too good-natured for that.
The reflection triggered him to realize that his fingerprints were on the doorknob. He leaped across the room and, using his pocket square, wiped the handles on either side of the door. Pausing at the door, he readied himself to quietly sneak out but quickly let go of the notion when he heard footsteps approaching. Frazzled by the unexpected threat, his eyes searched for a place to hide as the footsteps grew closer. Moments before the doorknob turned to open the door, Patrick hid in a dark shadowy space between a floor-to-ceiling bookcase and a wall in one corner of the room. Unable to see the door, he stood there, shoulders squashed between the wall and the bookcase, his back stiff and his body on high alert. All he saw was Bill’s unresponsive eyes staring directly at him. It made his stomach tense up; it was downright creepy, so he looked down at his feet instead. The door creaked open, then gently closed again. As he waited, barely breathing, he spotted a small oxblood leather notebook next to his feet on the floor. Intrigued, his eyes remained fixed on it while he listened for movement in the room. His instincts told him it had to have been the killer who had returned, and he guessed the book had something to do with it since Bill’s eyes had fixed on it just before he died. If it were any of the guests, they’d have screamed by now.
He stood still, barely breathing as he listened. But the room was dead silent. It baffled him. What was he waiting for?
When, after a few moments, there was still no sign of anyone in the room, he slowly leaned forward and peered around the bookcase into the room. There was no one to be seen—at least not from his angle.
Perhaps the killer had left. Remaining cautious and alert, he bent to pick up the notebook. A shuffle to his right let him know he wasn’t alone after all. It took a mere split second to be discovered by a man wearing a dark dinner suit and a black hooded mask with matching gloves.
Without another second to spare—for fear of being trapped in the corner—Patrick charged towards the door. But the masked figure was too quick, the silver blade of his knife glistening under the soft light of the overhead chandelier.
As quick as lightning, the killer’s gloved hand thrust the knife forward and slashed across Patrick’s arm. The sharp edge sliced through the sleeve of his suit and very nearly penetrated all the layers of his clothing. The motion had Patrick step back several paces, in the process nearly tripping over Bill’s body.
“Who are you? What do you want?” Patrick yelled out.
The answer to one of his questions was obvious when, from behind the narrow slits in his hooded mask, the killer’s beady eyes fixed on the leather notebook that was still clasped in Patrick’s hand. With only Bill’s body on the floor between them, there was little else to protect Patrick from ending up dead on the floor next to Bill.
“What’s so important about this book that you’d kill a man over it, huh? Who are you?” Patrick asked again, hoping his questions would buy him some time until someone heard and came to his rescue.
The killer didn’t answer. He’d seen through Patrick’s futile attempt to escape his wrath. Instead, a silent, slow dance of sorts ensued between them as they circled around Bill’s body, the knife in the killer’s outstretched hand hovering, threatening. Neither of them made the first move. Neither of them spoke.
As they turned once more, and Patrick faced the French doors that opened out onto a small veranda that overlooked the bay, he cast a swift glance at the lightweight curtain that stirred ever so slightly in the evening breeze. He couldn’t be certain the doors were open, but if not, he’d break his way through the glass. If he could somehow be quick enough, he could escape across the lawn and disappear between the boats in the marina. It was his only option. Fleeing through the internal door and the house would give the killer the perfect opportunity to get away, leaving him the one who’d end up looking like the murderer fleeing the scene.
Preparing for his escape, he placed the notebook in the inside breast pocket of his jacket, his face arrogantly mocking the killer.
The killer remained silent.
“You know you won’t get away with this. There are cameras all over this place. Your days are numbered, buddy,” Patrick bluffed, attempting to distract the killer.
Patrick watched as his beady eyes darted to the corners of the study. Using it to his advantage, Patrick gently manipulated their circular dance until he had his back facing the terrace doors.
“You’re missing the one above the entrance door behind you,” he deceived again.
When the killer turned to look over his shoulder, Patrick swung around and bolted for the French doors, pushing a chair down behind him as he passed it. His mind was laser sharp and focused on the slight parting in the middle of the two doors. With no effort, his lean frame and agility had him slip through the opening with ease.
Adrenaline pulsed through his veins as he took two long strides before he hoisted himself over the low wood railing to land feet first into the shrubs below. He lost his footing and rolled onto the expansive lawns but, thanks to his athletic prowess, was back on his feet and running in no time. Behind him, the killer’s feet hit the deck. Patrick didn’t turn to look for fear of losing his focus. He ran. As fast as his feet would carry him. Down the slight hill, towards the glistening lights in the small marina. Mere steps behind him, he heard the killer’s strained breathing under his face covering.
He pushed his body harder, keeping his eyes on the marina some eighty yards or so away. It took several more strides, but he had gained enough distance between them. When he reached the bottom of the hill where the grass met with the white concrete walkway that led another thirty yards down into the marina, his eyes skimmed over the moored boats. There were at least fifty, ranging from large luxury yachts and catamarans to smaller sailboats. Spaced evenly along the now wooden walkway, the warm glow of overhead lamps illuminated every step he took. He’d need to get out of the light and hide—quickly.
Up ahead, positioned in the shadows between two lamps, he spotted a jetty leading off into the darkness between the boats. When he reached it, he quickly turned onto the floating jetty that ran between the two rows of large yachts. Hiding in one of the vessels wouldn’t do. With only five of them on either side, it would be dead easy for the killer to find him. If he had any chance of escaping, he’d have to get into the water. Short on options, and short on time, he didn’t hesitate.
When he reached the smaller landing stage between two enormous black yachts, he quickly stepped onto it, nearly losing his balance as the water moved beneath it.
Obscured by the large vessels, he retrieved the pocket-sized book from his jacket and secured it between his teeth.
Behind him, he heard the main jetty grind against the guide ropes as the killer’s weight slowly moved over it toward him.