“This book captured me from the start! The Rules of Burken reveals the chilling secrets behind a childhood game, and I’ve never been more disturbed by what the human mind can do.”
–Colleen Hoover, New York Times bestselling author
The Rules of Burken, an all-new thriller packed with secrets, lies and a dangerous game from Traci Finlay, is available now!
Twenty-four-year-old Charlotte Stahl would do anything for her older brother, Ian. After all, he’d done everything for her growing up.
He played Burken with her—a hide-and-seek game they made up as kids.
He comforted her when their mom deserted them.
He raised her when their dad went to prison for murder.
To Charlotte, Ian is the only reason she’s still alive—he’s her rock. So when Ian asks her to play Burken in the isolated woods of Cadillac, Michigan, Charlotte feels she could use the nostalgia and agrees. Besides, they haven’t played this game since childhood. Burken—it’s the one thing that never changes …
…until Ian threatens to kill her in the middle of the game.
More than the rules have changed as Brother turns to Predator, Sister turns to Prey, and she’s navigating the forests of Northern Michigan on foot with nothing but the clothes—and a target—on her back.
If Charlotte wants to stay alive, she knows she has to untangle the web of her haunting past to find out where things went wrong, and at what point she lost sight of reality. With no other choice but to reopen old wounds—and with Ian hot on her trail—Charlotte learns that sometimes evil has to manifest in order for good to succeed. Which makes her wonder…
Is Ian really a monster? Or her savior?
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“Nope, the game’s not over,” he says and suddenly releases my hands before standing.
“What?” I say to his knees.
“It’s not over,” he repeats harshly, like I’m not the co-creator of this game.
I sit up on my elbows and pull a twig from the pesky strand of hair that’s cupping my face again. “What do you mean? Of course it’s over, that was the third round. Have you forgotten how to—”
He reaches down and grasps my upper arm, heaving me up. “Listen very carefully,” he whispers, as if the trees might be listening. “I’m giving you one more chance. I’m even going to give you a head start. But I’m warning you.” His grip on my arm tightens, and he pulls me closer until his breath hits my ear. “Don’t let me catch you. Because if I catch you, I will kill you.”
Okay, that was never in the script.
“And, for the record, if I get back to the house and you’re there, I will murder you. Do you understand?”
I finally look at him, scanning his eyes for a twinkle, any sign that this is just a huge prank and at any moment he’ll burst out laughing, pointing and saying stupid things like, “You should’ve seen your face!” or, “You thought I was serious?” But his eyes dart back and forth between mine with threats I haven’t seen since we were at the barn with Trevor during The Night That Never Happened.
I mean, I’ve never seen his eyes like that.
He digs his nails into my arm. “Do you?”
“You’re going to kill me… Is this a joke?”
“It’s not a joke,” he whispers. “Do you understand?”
I absolutely have to break eye contact. “I—I’m really confused.”
His hand goes to my throat, and his fingers slide in the blood he’d dripped on it. But it doesn’t hinder him from pressing against my jugular, my windpipe, and now I’m officially and rightfully scared, and eye contact, it is.
“I said, do you understand?” he says a lot more calmly than his hand at my throat says.
“Good. Now listen carefully. I’m going to let you go. And you have ten seconds before I hunt you down. This is round four, got it? This is a bonus round, wherein the loser dies. And don’t—”his voice lowers to a diabolic decibel. “Don’t let me find you at the house.” At that, he releases me.
I should’ve just eaten my orange. Shouldn’t have done this.
I should feel indifferent. Every milestone in my life has been haunted by some form of loss and betrayal—if it wasn’t our mom leaving, then it was the death of my best friend and the incarceration of our father.
But this is Ian, the only person I have left. This is shock in its purest form, and I’m no longer tempted to laugh at him. I stare instead. I blink twice. Take a step backward. Another.
Then I’m gone. I don’t know where I’m going, but as those ten seconds dwindle down, a sinking awareness that Ian is dead serious swarms like a nest of bees in my gut.
Ian is chasing me now, I know it.
I knew I shouldn’t have played.
About Traci Finlay
Traci Finlay grew up in the Midwest and transplanted to Florida for college. She received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts with a minor in English, met and married the love of her life and moved to Miami, where she currently lives with her husband, two sons, and two smart-mouthed dogs.
Growing up, she loved reading books, but had a particular passion for mysteries. Throughout her adulthood, she’s taken many writing courses and written three psychological thrillers she plans to publish soon.
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