Lisa Renee Jones
Book 8: The Party Is Over
Lilah Love (28)—dark-brown hair, brown eyes, curvy figure. An FBI profiler working in Los Angeles, she grew up in the Hamptons. Her mother was a famous movie star who died tragically in a plane crash, which caused Lilah to leave law school prematurely and eventually pursue a career in law enforcement. Lilah’s father is the mayor of East Hampton; her brother is the Hamptons’ chief of police. She dated Kane Mendez against her father’s wishes. She was brutally attacked one night, and Kane came to her rescue, somewhat, and what unfolded that night created a secret between the two they can never share with anyone else. This eventually caused Lilah to leave and take a job in LA, away from her family, Kane, and that secret. Lilah is back in the Hamptons now, married to Kane Mendez, and working as part of a special FBI task force to take down the Society— an underground organization with deep pockets, and fingers in all the wrong political pots.
Kane Mendez (32)—brown hair, dark-brown eyes, leanly muscled body. He’s the CEO of Mendez Enterprises and is thought to be the leader of the cartel that his father left behind when he was killed. But Kane’s uncle runs the operation, while he runs the legitimate side of the business. Lilah’s ex from before she left for L.A., and now her husband since they’ve reconnected.
Director Murphy (50s)—gray hair, perfectly groomed. Former military. Lilah’s boss. The head of the L.A. branch of the FBI. Sent Lilah to the Hamptons to follow the assassin case. Is known to have had strong feelings for Lilah’s mother, and as head of the task force Lilah is on, continues to point her in the direction to take down the Society.
Jeff “Tic Tac” Landers—Lilah’s go-to tech guy at the FBI. She’s pulled him onto the task force with her.
Grant Love (57)—blue eyes, graying hair. Lilah’s father, the mayor, retired police chief of East Hampton. A perfect politician. Charming. He’s being groomed by Ted Pocher to run for New York governor.
Andrew Love (34)—blond hair, blue eyes. Lilah’s brother and the East Hampton police chief. Andrew is protective and seems to be the perfect brother. The problem is that he’s perfect at everything, including being as macho and bossy as their father. There’s more to Andrew than meets the eye.
Lucas Davenport—tall, and looks like a preppy version of Tarzan. A very successful and good-looking investment banker, he has taken to hacking in his spare time. He is a cousin of sorts to Lilah and Andrew. His father was the stepbrother to Lilah’s father. His father was also known to be with Lilah’s mother, Laura, on the night they both disappeared in the plane crash. He flirts mercilessly with Lilah, seeing as they’re not blood-related, but she always shoots him down.
Laura Love—Lilah’s mother. Famous actress. Died four years ago in a horrific plane crash, which has now been discovered was murder at the hands of the Society. She infamously portrayed Marilyn Monroe in an Oscar-winning performance.
Ted Pocher— A thin, tall man in his fifties, with salt and pepper hair, there’s an air of arrogance and authority to him, which he wears like a second skin. Billionaire CEO of the world’s fifth largest privately held conglomerate, Pocher Industries. Has taken a liking to Lilah’s father in the hopes of furthering her father’s political career. He tried to do business with Kane and Mendez Enterprises but was turned down because of his rep for shady business deals. One of the leaders of the Society. Was murdered by the Umbrella Man serial killer, or that’s what was told to the public. Kane really had him killed and covered it up. Pocher was found to still be alive though, and the man who was murdered in his place was his brother.
Jay—Lilah’s bodyguard courtesy of Kane. His voice is heavily accented, an ugly scar ripped down his cheek. Thick, dark hair. Lilah’s bodyguard courtesy of Kane. Has taken a bullet for Lilah. Mexican.
Chief Houston (30s)—NYPD Chief. Lilah’s contact when she needs a police presence or liaison while in the city. Lilah knows him from back in the day. Linebacker, fit frame.
Kit—tall, brooding, fit Mexican man who smiles big and used to guard the front desk of Kane and Lilah’s building, before he became a personal bodyguard for both of them as needed. He kills easily. Kane trusts him.
Marco Rollins—Tall, dark-haired, NYPD detective in his forties, a goatee, and attitude as the accessories to his slacks, pressed shirt, and tie.
Jack Cox (36)—Wavy, slick-backed hair, a sculpted but somehow weak jawline, and glasses. Chemist, with a Ph.D. who worked at NYC Health and Hospitals right out of college until last year when he became a forensics tech. Has been stalking Lilah online with a huge mass of people, and tracked her down (by stealing her information from Rollins’ Rolodex) to her being involved in the Horror Movie killings.
Bonnie—Waitress at Curly Joe’s. She knew Nathan (one of the victims), they slept together. Reddish-blonde hair, freckles, green eyes. Called in sick to Curly Joe’s as she hasn’t been feeling well since she learned of Nathan’s murder.
Ted—Waiter at Curly Joe’s. Loves whipped cream and loves to supply Lilah with all she likes of it. Fifty-something, tall, thin, and bald, wire glasses framing deep-set eyes.
Calvin Pierce—Manager of Curly Joe’s. Bushy hair and a good thirty pounds and three inches on Ted. There’s a bit of an air of authority to him.
Landry Williams—Connected to the case via the Kellermans’. He went to school with Kellerman Senior, and Grayson Kellerman (a victim) was murdered along with Natalie Smart who was Landry’s real estate agent as well.
Ghost— One of the deadliest assassins on the planet. Went up against Lilah before during her first case back in the Hamptons when she faced off with the Society. Tall, muscular, and confident, his grace is that of a practiced soldier. His dark brown hair is short, but not short enough to read as military. His temples are streaked gray, perhaps thirty-six or seven. Pale green eyes. High cheekbones, a straight nose.
Gabriel—One of Kane’s men who helps protect him and Lilah. His father worked for Kane for five years. Military background, recently honorably discharged. Sniper.
Enrique—One of Kane’s men who helps protect him and Lilah.
Laslo—One of Kane’s men who he has dubbed to take over the cartel when Kane can finally get rid of his uncle.
We are back for more Lilah and Kane!
As always, I try to help you slide back into the story with a little summary of the previous book, which is a long one because there was a lot going on in the book. I know I needed a recap when I started writing, so I felt you might as well.
If you remember, Happy Death Day started as Lilah and Kane returned from their honeymoon and before they even left the airport, Lilah was pulled into a murder mystery. She received a call from Jack Cox—you know Lilah had an opinion on that name!—telling her about a series of murders. Jack Cox is a forensics tech who claims there is a horror movie copycat killer, a serial killer, but no one believes him. Turns out he stole Lilah’s number from a detective’s desk. There are a lot of weird things about Jack. He’s a Ph.D. chemist who left his job to be a tech. He’s connected himself to the wealthy Cox family, but Lilah finds out there is no connection and gets him to confess. His parents are dead. He’s also obsessed with Lilah and follows her on forums about her, her serial killer mentor, Roger, and Kane, that she didn’t know existed.
So far, per Jack: Jason (Friday the 13th~), Michael Myers (~Halloween)~, and Freddie Krueger (~Nightmare on Elm Street~) have been duplicated in gruesome murders which later check out to be true. One of those murders is an active crime scene. Jack wants her to leave the airport and go straight there. He expresses frustration that the local law enforcement hasn’t connected the ~obviously connected ~murders. Jack seems to know a little too much about the murders, and Lilah, in fact, believes he resembles a serial killer himself. His goofy innocence doesn’t fool Lilah. There is another side to Jack.~
Of course, Lilah can’t not go to the crime scene.
Once Lilah is on the scene, she discovers that Marco Rollins is the detective in charge. She blew him off at another crime scene and he’s pissy about it. She smooths his feathers, as best as Lilah ever smooths anyone’s feathers, and they come to a working agreement. Everyone can now agree these murders are connected. There are no suspects at all.
The victims include:
Nathan Allen, 21, tonight’s victim, killed Freddy Krueger style, a student, aspiring to be an engineer like his successful father. He lived in an apartment bought for him by his wealthy father.
Miller Johnson, 32, the victim stabbed with a butcher knife, Friday the 13th style. He owned a bar near campus that he inherited from his father.
Natalie Smart, 26, was having sex with another victim and was stabbed from under the bed, during the act, aka Michael Myers style. She was a real estate agent to the rich and famous.
Grayson Kellerman, 27, was having sex with Natalie. He was the son of the wealthy owner of the real estate firm Natalie worked for and also her co-worker.
Lilah’s notes on the killer:
The killer is a man
He has money. He’s amusing himself with games, bored with life, without a challenge until he traveled the path of no return and began killing people. The money makes him feel he’s above everyone else, he’s better than them. I’ve known a million of his type and so did my mother. My father is his type. Me and Andrew could have been his type. At a pricey college, that type is a dime a dozen.
Money and power seem to be possible triggers for the killer
The crime scenes are clean. It’s almost as if the killer knows law enforcement.
Money seems to be the root of the murders.
He probably thinks those he killed were unworthy in some way. That’s what God-complex killers do, and this one is a God-complex killer.
Curly Joe’s is somehow the focal point of the murders, though there is a holding company that owns it that remains elusive. Smith Payroll does all the communicating with employees. The building is owned by a company out of Wyoming called Taylor Holdings. Wyoming shelters the owners. No phone number. No name. The address for Taylor Holdings is a hotel room in Wyoming.
Lilah questions people close to the victims and finds a connection to the college or at least the college neighborhood. She also goes to the diner, Curly Joe’s, where she knows Nathan Allen hung out. He also had a little flirtation with the female waitress there as well, who talked to him the night he died. Bonnie is not just flirty but a bit manipulative and headed to law school. She has called in sick since Nathan’s murder, expressing her devastation over Nathan and fear over all that has happened. She is on Lilah’s radar.
Grayson Kellerman, who also went to Curly Joe’s, as did his father, was apparently rude to the staff. Nathan’s father also visited the diner, but there was no reference to him being rude at all. Another connection to the college neighborhood is the bar that Miller, one of the victims, owns very near to the diner. Keeping with the theme of the neighborhood being the link to the killer, Jack brings up a neighborhood horror club he personally knows about. Jack knows a lot of things the killer might know. He gets the list of members to Tic Tac, Lilah’s tech guy, and one of them stands out. Landry Williams went to school with Grayson Kellerman and has a personal connection to Kellerman’s son’s fiancée, Natalie Smart.
Lilah goes to see Landry. He tells her Natalie was his real estate agent and helped him find a home for his mother. Landry was at the horror club because his son likes horror. He’s been dealing with a rough divorce and wanted to take his son but checked it out first. He says it’s recommended by a patient but can’t remember the patient’s name. He owes Lilah the name.
One night when Lilah and Kane were in the diner neighborhood looking for clues, Lilah walks the neighborhood and notices an old theater that has a horrorfest on the marquee. It’s a closed theater, but the movie showings are listed as the three movies featured in the killings. Lilah calls for a warrant and back-up as this is clearly a message. Kane goes to the diner to work. At the end of the search, Lilah finds a locked upstairs room with a dozen or so naked dolls hanging from the ceiling, but also beside the open window, there are photos all over the wall. They’re all Kane, sitting at the diner, talking on the phone, drinking coffee, and working on his computer. They’re right now, present time because Kane didn’t get back to the diner until they were inside. The killer boldly took his photo, then climbed into a building packed with police to leave the photos.
At this point, the investigation charges onward, and so does Lilah’s father’s political career. Kane and Lilah plot to ensure her father is loyal to them, not Pocher. This means a fake attack on her father during his speech at the rally. Kane’s men will appear to save him. Then it will be clear Pocher can’t protect her father, but Kane can. Flash forward to the event, right before the speech that will be given to a massive crowd, Lilah and Kane meet with her father and Pocher. It’s clear in this encounter that Grant Love and Pocher want to use Kane’s oil empire for political gain. It’s also clear Lilah’s father, and the future governor of New York is starting to control Pocher, not the other way around. This may be a problem for Pocher, even if Grant Love is good for the Society.
Grant Love steps on stage to give his speech and there is a real attack, an attempted shooting of Lilah’s father. Kane personally saves Lilah’s father’s life, shoving him aside and going down on top of him. But if Kane didn’t set-up this attack, who did?
The party goes on and while Lilah is standing with Kane, talking to guests, Andrew, her brother, summons her, wanting to talk about what just happened.
Lilah is in the alleyway behind the hotel, talking with her brother when they are suddenly surrounded by the cartel. Miguel, Kane’s uncle, gets out of the SUV and tells Lilah to get in or her brother dies.
Andrew warns Lilah not to get in or she won’t get out alive.
I’m going to start you out with the end of Happy Death Day to get you back in the moment. I hope you enjoy it! And the next book in the series is up for pre-order. Ghost is back and he and Lilah finally match wits and skills!
The final chapter of
Happy Death Day
What the hell just happened? And in what universe did I ever believe Kane would save my father’s life? But that’s what just happened. Kane returns to my side, and I say just that, “What the hell just happened?!”
“I don’t know.” Kit steps to our side, and Kane speaks to him in rapid Spanish, the general gist being to get word on the street. Find out who did this.
Chaos is an understatement, and my father demands both me and Kane be by his side. Kane offers Enrique and Jay to my father, who couldn’t be more appreciative. That was always the plan, of course, but not like this, not with an unknown enemy shooting bullets at my father and for all we know, us as intended targets, as well. But the win here is what the win was always supposed to be. Now Kane has trusted men guarding my father, watching what is happening inside a Society operation.
I coordinate with the police, talk with Chief Houston, and work through the safety issue, and somehow, forty-five minutes after the attack, the chaos has calmed down. When that happens, and despite my objections, my father convinces the hotel and the police that he must go on, even if it’s only on camera. After which, he will host a slimmed-down afterparty. And so, that’s what happens. He stands on the stage and gives a speech to the cameras that I expect will now end up on every television in the city. Everyone in this city will be spellbound by the television and what happened tonight. A part of me wonders if my father set this all up to ensure this attention came his way. I decide if anyone did this, it was Pocher, or my father would not have accepted Kane’s protection.
I’m more convinced of this than ever after my father’s speech, and before the party, that my father didn’t set-up today’s attack as a publicity stunt. Kane and I are inside a private room with my father when he shakes Kane’s hand again. “You saved my life. I don’t know who’s more surprised, me or you.”
“As long as she wants you to live,” Kane replies, “I’ll protect you.”
There is a not-so-hidden meaning punched into those words, as long as she wants you to live.
My father isn’t stupid. He gets it. This story works in reverse. If I want him dead, Kane can make that happen, as well.
Much later, the afterparty has turned into much more than a small party, with at least two hundred guests, and waiters working the room with trays of champagne and finger foods. Kane’s on the menu too apparently, as my father pulls him into conversation after conversation about energy and oil. An hour into the torture of it all, a waiter pauses next to me and hands me a note. I open it to read: Alleyway behind the kitchen –Andrew
I show it to Kane and he frowns, but I don’t give him time to object. My brother knows what I know. Tonight was all about an agenda, and we need to know who was behind it all. I hurry through the crowd and into the kitchen, continuing on to the rear alley doorway. I step outside to find Andrew there, waiting. He motions for the security guard, an off-duty cop, to step inside for a minute. When he resists, I flash my badge and he complies. When we’re alone, Andrew says, “What the hell was that?”
Apparently, it’s the one thought we can all cohesively manage. “I suspect an attention grab set-up by Pocher, but I don’t know. The men are in custody, but I spoke to the police chief right after they were brought in and they’re not talking.”
I never get the chance to say more. Suddenly, two black SUVs floor it down the alley toward us from either direction. Andrew and I reach for our weapons, but several armed men jump out from behind the industrial dumpsters, and we’re surrounded. The SUVs halt and the doors open. More men pile out, and we now have a good ten guns pointed at us.
“What is this?” Andrew whispers to me.
The answer comes when a man steps out of the rear of one of the vehicles. It’s Kane’s uncle. He motions to the door. “Let’s chat, Lilah.”
“I’m not getting in that vehicle with you.”
“Either you get in, or we kill your brother. Your choice.”
“Do not get into that vehicle, Lilah,” Andrew hisses. “If you do, you won’t get back out alive.”
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