Gunnar slipped out of his family’s townhouse and closed the front door, soft as a spy. He wasn’t supposed to be out there on his own, but his parents wouldn’t notice. And anyway, he’d be back inside in just a few minutes. Quick as a flash. 

It was past ten in the morning but still dark out. The sun wouldn’t come up for another hour. He looked around at their street. It snowed in the night! Only a little dusting, but snow was snow. It looked just like the powdered sugar on the Christmas cookies his Danish au pair made the day before, on Christmas Eve. 

Gunnar descended the steps and trudged around the corner, scooted across the street and out onto the ice. He knew it was safe. In fact, he’d be out there later that day with his parents to watch the college kids play hockey. Right now, though, there was no one on the pond, no cars on the streets. Christmas Day. Everyone was at home eating oatmeal and staying warm, or still in bed (“sleeping it off”) like his parents. 

He ventured farther out onto the ice, halfway to the middle of the pond, then lay down on his back, gazing up at the gray clouds against the violet morning sky, imagining bears and dragons and brave men with swords chasing them. He made snow angels. Laughed at the fresh tickle of snowflakes on his face. 

After a few minutes of this glorious fun, Gunnar rolled himself over to get up on his feet. Gotta be home before they noticed him gone. He slipped on the ice and fell flat on his frontside. Good one, klaufi! That takes talent! That’s what his big brother would say if he saw that clumsy move. 

Taking it slow and careful now, Gunnar got back up onto his hands and knees—and stopped. 


This couldn’t be real. Could it?


He was looking down at the ice, and someone underneath was looking back up at him. 


He stared into the ice. 


Into her eyes. 


‘Cold Fear’ Excerpt Preview: ‘In Reykjavík, Nothing Bad Ever Happens at Christmas’

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“The Little Mermaid” was Gunnar’s favorite story. His au pair had read him all the Hans Christian Andersen stories, and that was the one he fell in love with. He’d seen the Disney movie, too, but that was different. It felt fake. He liked having the story read to him better. Closing his eyes and hearing the words, in her voice, it all came alive. He never admitted this to his big brother, or to anyone, not even his au pair, but in his heart of hearts Gunnar believed that mermaids were real. 

And there was one staring up at him right now from under the ice!

His palms were starting to hurt from the cold, but he couldn’t move a muscle. It was like he was as frozen as the ice. 


He wanted this to be real. 


He wanted so badly for this to be proof that he was right all along, that his brother and his parents and teachers were all wrong, that there really were mermaids, and that Gunnar—not his brother, not his parents, but Gunnar himself—had found one!

But there was this cold feeling in his tummy, a bad feeling, really bad, bubbling up like Geysir.


He was terrified. 


Gunnar knew this was not a mermaid.


He knew this, because the lady in the duck pond wasn’t moving. 


Not at all.


Then Gunnar heard a horrible sound, like the shriek of a hockey referee’s whistle, but he didn’t stop to wonder what it was or where it was coming from, didn’t even think to realize it was coming from himself. 

Didn’t think at all. 


He was too busy running.


Order your copy of “Cold Fear” today!

Order at least two copies of Cold Fear or Steel Fear (soon to be a streaming series) for the Holidays and receive a limited offer to have your gift recipients receive a personalized cameo style video emailed to them directly from the authors and there’s more.

Buy here now. 

You’ll also receive an exclusive live Zoom SNEAK PREVIEW where the authors will reveal glimpses into their next book, Blind Fear (spring/summer 2023 release).

Send proof of purchase and your gift recipients name and email to:  [email protected]

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Brandon Webb is founder of SOFREP and the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Circle and Benghazi: The Definitive Report. A former U.S. Navy SEAL whose last assignment was Course Manager for the elite SEAL Sniper Course, he was instrumental in developing new curricula that trained some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century. Webb has received numerous distinguished service awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Commendation Medal with a “V” for “Valor,” for his platoon’s deployment to Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks.

John David Mann is coauthor of more than thirty books, including four New York Times bestsellers and five national bestsellers. His writing has won multiple awards and been featured in American ExecutiveFinancial TimesForbesLeadership ExcellenceHuffingtonWired, and CrimeReads. His bestselling classic The Go-Giver (with Bob Burg) has sold over 1 million copies and won the Living Now Book Awards Evergreen Medal for its “contributions to positive global change.”

John and Brandon have coauthored ten books together. Steel Fear, the debut novel in their Finn series, was nominated for a Barry Award and hailed by Jack Reacher author Lee Child as “an instant classic, maybe an instant legend.” Cold Fear is the second book in the series; the third, Blind Fear, comes out summer of 2023.

Visit Webb & Mann here.