On her own since Noah walked away, Laken finds her resistance to Xander crumbling. As she turns to him for comfort, the stranger in the woods reappears, threatening Xander and his father, Caleb.

When Caleb reveals the secrets he and Xander have been protecting, Laken realizes she must stop at nothing to help them defeat the stranger. But Xander eludes him, and Laken is captured instead. Facing an unknown fate at the hands of a mad man driven by greed and jealousy, she resolves to fight to the bitter end for her life and her love.

The stakes are high, and no one, including Dakota, is safe. Will Laken survive, or will the curse she dismissed as a fairy tale prove to be true?

I couldn’t believe I had let my guard down. Now my life was in danger too…

I had just started to head back to the house when Efren stepped into my way. Bone-chilling fear rattled me as my eyes locked with his sinister stare. “Laken,” he said with an evil smile. “It’s time for you to come with me.”

An icy blast of panic shot through me. I looked around him, searching for an escape route. But it was hopeless. I was trapped between him and the Explorer, and I had no doubt he’d catch me if I tried to run. My nerves on edge and my heart nearly jumping out of my chest, I forced myself to remain calm. “But you don’t want me. You told me that.”

“That’s right. I want your boyfriend. But he had twenty-four hours to show up, and yet he’s nowhere to be found. So it’s time for plan B. If he won’t come for his father, perhaps he’ll come for you.” Efren grabbed my arm and, as I opened my mouth to scream, he darted behind me, covering my mouth with his free hand. “You really don’t want to do that,” he whispered in my ear. “Let your parents sleep. I don’t want to have to hurt them.”

Tears burst from my eyes. I couldn’t believe this was happening. How could I have been so stupid to leave my phone in the truck? Dakota wasn’t even around to protect me. Left with no choice but to obey, I held still as his hand dropped from my mouth to my ribs, anchoring my body against him.

“There, now. It’s much easier to cooperate, isn’t it?” he asked. One of his arms released me and a strange pop sounded, like that of a cap coming off a container. Then a needle pierced my upper arm through my sleeve and something cold was pumped into me. As the liquid circulated through my veins, the dim light from the single bulb outside the house blurred. I fought to stay awake, but I lost that battle, watching the shadows whip around me for a split second before my world went black.