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Killer Resolutions

Killer Resolutions

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Killer Resolutions

Length:
238 pages
2 hours
Released:
Oct 11, 2019
ISBN:
9780463115268
Format:
Book

Description

For fans of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None . . .

In a remote lodge in northern Wisconsin, friends gather for a festive, New Year’s Eve weekend. When a blizzard traps them with a murderer, who will be left to kiss at midnight?

Five years ago, a tragedy shattered the friendship between Dani, her older brother, and their college pals. When her brother invites the old gang for a weekend of outdoor winter fun at a remote lodge, she sees it as a chance to reconnect and heal. But when her friends are murdered one-by-one, Dani must determine whom she can trust before she becomes the next victim.

Contains profanity, violence, and mild sexual content.

Bonus Materials:
Contains Chapter 1 of the following Elizabeth McKenna novels:
• The Great Jewel Robbery (cozy mystery)
• First Crush, Last Love (contemporary romance)
• Venice in the Moonlight (historical romance)

Released:
Oct 11, 2019
ISBN:
9780463115268
Format:
Book

About the author

Elizabeth McKenna's love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King's horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). Her novels reflect her mercurial temperament and include historical romances, contemporary romances, cozy mysteries, and dark mysteries. With some being “clean” and some being “naughty,” she has a book for your every mood. Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.


Book Preview

Killer Resolutions - Elizabeth McKenna

Cover.jpgTitle Page

Killer Res­ol­u­tions is a work of fic­tion. Names, char­ac­ters, places, and in­cid­ents either are the product of the au­thor’s ima­gin­a­tion or are used fic­ti­tiously. Any re­semb­lance to ac­tual per­sons, liv­ing or dead, events, or loc­ales is en­tirely co­in­cid­ental.

All rights re­served. No part of this pub­lic­a­tion may be re­pro­duced or trans­mit­ted in any form or by any means, elec­tronic or mech­an­ical, in­clud­ing pho­to­copy, re­cord­ing, or any in­form­a­tion stor­age and re­trieval sys­tem, without per­mis­sion in writ­ing from the pub­lisher. Please do not par­ti­cip­ate in pir­acy of copy­righted ma­ter­i­als in vi­ol­a­tion of the au­thor’s rights.

Copy­right © 2019 by Eliza­beth McK­enna

Pub­lished in the United States of Amer­ica

ISBN-13: 978-0-578-57325-0 (print)

First Edi­tion

De­signed by Lorie DeWorken, Mind the Mar­gins, www.mindthem­argins.com

Spe­cial thanks to
Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (2015)
star­ring Aidan Turner in a low-slung towel.
It made me want to write again.

CON­TENTS

I: Dani

II: Dani

III: Nate

IV: Dani

V: Vin­nie

VI: Vin­nie

VII: Dani

VIII: Nate

IX: Dani

X: Dani

XI: Nate

XII: Dani

XIII: Rob

XIV: Dani

XV: Nate

XVI: The Killer

XVII: Nate

XVIII: Nate

XIX: The Killer

XX: Dani

XXI: Ian

XXII: Nate

XXIII: Vin­nie

XXIV: Dani

XXV: Ian

XXVI: Nate

XXVII: The Killer

XXVIII: Dani

XXIX: Nate

XXX: Ian

XXXI: Dani

XXXII: Rob

XXXIII: Dani

XXXIV: Rob

XXXV: Nate

XXXVI: Dani

XXXVII: Nate

Ad­dtional Books by Eliza­beth McK­enna

C01

New Year’s Eve, five years ago, near the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota

ANI wiped the vomit from Crys­tal’s doll-like face and waited for Molly to hit thirty.

Strad­dling her friend’s limp body on the apart­ment’s bed­room floor, Molly com­pressed her chest with stiff arms. Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty. Go!

Dani pinched Crys­tal’s nose and blew into her mouth twice. The re­volt­ing aroma of re­gur­git­ated white zin­fan­del and pep­p­er­oni pizza made her stom­ach churn. Un­able to quell her nausea, she ad­ded the con­tents of her din­ner to the room.

Dam­mit, Dani, throw up later. I need your help. A line of sweat stained the back of Molly’s coral mini-dress, her bosom threat­en­ing to spill from the scooped bod­ice as her body moved to the beat of her rhythmic count­ing. At the be­gin­ning of the even­ing, Dani had en­vied how the vi­brant color of the dress had popped against Molly’s dark honey skin. Now, coral would be linked forever to this ter­rible mo­ment.

I’m back. She rubbed her mouth on her sleeve, leav­ing a line of bile across the royal blue vel­vet fab­ric.

Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty. Go!

Dani breathed into Crys­tal’s mouth, watch­ing the chest of her brother’s girl­friend rise and fall. She re­fused to think about how cold the skin felt un­der her fin­ger­tips. She wanted to ask Molly, the pre-med stu­dent, how long a per­son could go without work­ing lungs and heart, but she knew the an­swer would re­lease the panic strain­ing to break free and worsen the hor­ror play­ing out in her brother’s bed­room.

Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty. Go!

From the door­way, Nate held up his cell phone. The dis­patcher wants to know if there is any change.

Molly put two fin­gers to Crys­tal’s neck and then shook her head.

Dani bent over and blew twice. She used a clean corner of her blouse to dry her tears from Crys­tal’s cheeks.

Nate spoke into the phone, listened, and then re­por­ted, The para­med­ics should be here any minute.

As if on cue, dis­tant sirens mixed with the sound of fire­works, car horns, and drunk rev­el­ers from the street be­low.

Dani checked the clock on the night table. The bright red num­bers read 12:20 a.m. Twenty minutes ago, she had been on the re­ceiv­ing end of a tongue-tangling New Year’s Eve kiss from Nate. Then they had checked on Crys­tal, and the night­mare had be­gun.

She gave up on be­ing calm and let her panic take over. Sob­bing, she asked, Is she dead?

ANI'S fin­gers tightened on her cell phone as she listened to her brother’s plead­ing voice.

Come on. You have to go, Rob said. It’ll be fun. The lodge is in north­ern Wis­con­sin, and we have it from Fri­day to Sunday. There’ll be tons of snow, and the place has a huge fire­place we can toast the New Year by. Maybe we can even spend a day cross-coun­try ski­ing.

She bit her lip and stared out the kit­chen win­dow. In the dis­tance, the Red Line train rumbled to­ward her on tracks that nearly sideswiped her apart­ment build­ing. Her eyes traced the swirl­ing bits of trash kicked up by its wake.

We haven’t seen each other in ages, he con­tin­ued. I know it’s a long drive from Chicago, but I’ll make it worth your while. I prom­ise.

She leaned her head against the win­dowpane, made cold by the Mid­w­est winter. Her breath steamed the glass, and her fin­gers ab­sently traced a pat­tern in the con­dens­a­tion. OK. I think I can swing it and come up Fri­day. I have some va­ca­tion time I need to burn be­fore the end of the year.

Great! The tri­umph in his voice had her pic­tur­ing him fist-pump­ing the air. There’s just one more thing.

She swal­lowed a groan and waited.

Re­mem­ber Nate? From col­lege?

The memory of a drunken, pas­sion­ate kiss at the stroke of mid­night morphed into frantic shout­ing and the wail of an am­bu­lance siren. Guilt rendered Dani mute. She nod­ded into the phone.

Are you still there?

She cleared her throat. Yes, sorry. Of course, I re­mem­ber Nate. Why?

He’s fly­ing into Chicago from Ger­many that Fri­day morn­ing. You can pick him up and drive to the lodge to­gether.

He’s com­ing from Ger­many to cel­eb­rate New Year’s Eve with you?

Her brother let out a loud laugh. No, goof­ball, the tim­ing just happened to work out. But it’s great be­cause now you won’t have to drive six hours by your­self.

Yeah, great. She made a half-hearted at­tempt to hide her lack of en­thu­si­asm.

Vin­nie and Molly are com­ing too, and I can’t wait for you to meet Brit­tany.

The phone slipped from her hand. She caught it in the crook of her el­bow and brought it to her ear. What? Who’s Brit­tany?

My girl­friend. A few beats of si­lence filled the air. Maybe she’ll be more after New Year’s Eve.

Oh, Rob­bie. Tears filled her eyes, and the build­ings out­side her win­dow blurred. Why didn’t you tell me sooner?

I don’t know. I guess I wanted to be sure first.

What’s she like? What does she do for a liv­ing? Does she like dogs or cats? Ex­cite­ment over the news sent her pa­cing the length of the small apart­ment.

An­other bois­ter­ous laugh boxed her ear and filled her with joy. Enough already. You’ll have to make the trip and find out for your­self. I’ll text you the ad­dress of the lodge and Nate’s flight in­form­a­tion.

I’m so happy for you. She wanted to say more, but the phys­ical and emo­tional dis­tance over the past five years held her back. You de­serve the best.

Then you’d bet­ter bring the best cham­pagne you can af­ford be­cause we’re go­ing to bring in the New Year right.

Sounds like a plan. I’ll see you soon.

Can’t wait. And re­mem­ber, bring all your snow gear. You still have some, right?

Yeah, of course. Chicago might not get as much snow as Min­neapolis, but we do still have winter. I just hope my snow pants fit. Her voice trailed off as she ex­amined her re­flec­tion in the bath­room mir­ror.

I’m sure they’re fine. Hey, listen, I gotta go. I prom­ised Brit­tany we’d watch a movie to­night, and it’s get­ting late.

No prob­lem. Re­mem­ber to text me.

Will do.

She ended the call and pressed the phone to her chest. There had been only a hand­ful of calls and even fewer vis­its between them since that fate­ful New Year’s Eve five years ago. Maybe this fu­ture fiancée would be the cata­lyst that dis­solved their es­trange­ment. She hoped so. Rob was the only fam­ily she had left.

After rum­ma­ging through the freezer for her emer­gency ice cream, she nestled un­der a blanket on the couch and dug into the quart of mint chocol­ate chip. Her thoughts re­turned to her brother and the friends they had shared in col­lege. Molly and Vin­nie still sent her a Christ­mas card, but Nate had dis­ap­peared soon after gradu­ation.

She thumbed her phone and opened the pho­tos folder. It didn’t take long to get back to her col­lege days at the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota. Some­where along the way, she had lost in­terest in re­cord­ing every mo­ment of her life. A few more scrolls and she found the pic­ture of the six of them shiv­er­ing in their fancy clothes in front of Marco’s Trat­toria. The wo­men spor­ted card­board and tin­sel New Year’s Eve tiaras, and the men wore plastic, trop­ical-colored leis. It was still early in the night, but their loose smiles sug­ges­ted sev­eral drinks had already been con­sumed.

She zoomed in, mov­ing from one face to an­other. Her lips pouted, and her hand brushed her bare neck when she saw her long blonde hair. After law school, she had de­cided short hair would be more pro­fes­sional, so she had her curls cut into a chin-length bob. When she stopped on Nate’s face, her heart hitched. In­stead of look­ing at the cam­era, as the oth­ers were, they were grin­ning at each other. Their friend­ship had eased into a ro­mance and then quickly died a death of pain and guilt. She scooped an­other spoon­ful of ice cream into her mouth and shut her eyes against the tears.

New Year's Eve, five years ago, near the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota

RAPPED to­gether like a pair of snakes on his bed, Nate gently kissed Dani. He loved how she tasted and deepened the kiss to get more. It was five minutes be­fore mid­night, and he had already met his New Year’s res­ol­u­tion. His room­mate’s sis­ter had al­ways been off-lim­its, but the friend­ship that had de­veloped between them the past few years begged for more—and he was tired of fight­ing it.

When he broke the kiss, her slender fin­gers stroked his cheek, and she whispered, "I don’t think I have your full at­ten­tion.

Am I bor­ing you?"

He res­ted his fore­head against hers and chuckled. Hell, no. Just think­ing about Rob.

What, you want a three­some? Sorry. Not go­ing to hap­pen. I was never good at shar­ing with my big brother. Her lips found his jaw and nibbled a path to his ear.

He squirmed as her tongue tickled a sens­it­ive spot. You know what I mean. I want him to be OK with this. With us.

Her head fell back, and her blonde waves brushed against his arm. Her sap­phire blue eyes widened. This isn’t a one-night stand?

He brushed his mouth against her lips and then dug deep for will­power. No, Dani. And to­night, it isn’t go­ing any fur­ther than kiss­ing.

She shif­ted against him, her dark lashes shut­ter­ing her eyes. Um. Why?

He kissed the corner of her mouth. You know why. We’re drunk.

She sat up and ges­tured to the ar­ray of lit candles scattered about the room. You did all of this just to kiss me?

Trust me. I want to do more, but when I make love to you, there’ll be no ex­cuses and no re­grets.

OK. But I hope it’s soon.

The pop­ping of fire­works and the honk­ing of car horns ex­ploded on the street out­side the apart­ment build­ing. Nate checked the bed­side clock. Happy New Year, Bug.

She grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him up. Against his mouth, she said, I hate that name. Her fam­ily had given her the nick­name long ago when it seemed she would be forever petite. A growth spurt her senior year of high school brought her up to av­er­age height, but, thanks to her older brother, Bug fol­lowed her to col­lege.

A mis­chiev­ous grin slid across his face be­fore his ex­pres­sion switched to one of sol­emn obed­i­ence. I’ll never call you it again. I prom­ise.

Her stony eyes dis­closed how little she be­lieved him, but they re­sumed kiss­ing un­til Dani shoved him away. "We should cool off and check on Crys­tal. We don’t want Rob to be mad at us for dis­obey­ing or­ders and mak­ing out."

He blew out a heavy sigh and nod­ded. I’m sure Vin­nie and Molly are already go­ing at it, so we’ll have to be the re­spons­ible ones.

They crossed the empty liv­ing room and opened Rob’s bed­room door.

ARLY Fri­day morn­ing, Dani paced the ar­rival area of O’Hare’s in­ter­na­tional ter­minal and wondered if Nate had changed much since col­lege. She skir­ted a row of chauf­feurs hold­ing signs and wait­ing for their cus­tom­ers. Maybe she should have writ­ten Nate on a piece of poster board in case he didn’t re­cog­nize her. She ran a hand through her short hair and res­isted the urge to find a mir­ror to check her makeup.

She pivoted to march back to the other end of the ter­minal and ran into a wall of muscle. Arms circled her up­per body, and her feet left the ground. The wall swung her in a circle be­fore let­ting her drop.

Hey, Bug. The husky voice sent heat to her cheeks.

She pushed against the rock-hard chest and gazed up into the black-rimmed am­ber eyes of a man on his way to be­com­ing the next Sasquatch. Re­bel­li­ous, sun-bleached blond curls sur­roun­ded a shaggy beard that fell past his col­lar bone. Whatever Nate had been do­ing the past five years, shav­ing hadn’t been on the agenda.

Slightly crooked teeth ap­peared in the nest of fa­cial hair, and her heart tripped over

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