All posts by Linsey Lanier

Most Likely to Die

A Miranda and Parker Mystery #16

Amazon | FREE with Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Just a few weeks ago, PI Miranda Steele thought the love of her life was dead.

Parker believed the same about her.

Miraculously, they made it through the worst ordeal of their lives, and have retired to the peace and quiet of the North Georgia Mountains.

But it’s a little too peaceful here, and Miranda is getting restless.

As a diversion they decide to attend a high school reunion party in Chicago. Nothing dangerous about that, right?

But when a former classmate is found dead, Miranda and Parker are pulled out of retirement to investigate what could be a bizarre murder. Not exactly what they had planned.

Once again things are about to turn deadly.

This time, they might not survive.

Amazon | FREE with Amazon Kindle Unlimited
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CHAPTER ONE

This was going to be the best night of her life. Or at least one of them.

Turning this way and that, she carefully checked herself over in the full length mirror in the hotel’s elegant marble bathroom.

She smiled at her reflection.

Her hair was perfect, cut to just the right length and falling over her shoulders in the way that always made men swoon. Her makeup was just right, too. She’d used that new eye shadow method she’d found on YouTube recently.

And the nightgown? Well.

The black Victoria’s Secret special in scalloped eyelash lace hugged her curves as if she’d been poured into it. And its dramatic plunge down the front showed off her best feature in a way that would have him eating out of the palm of her hand the second he arrived.

She knew her assets. And how to use them to get what she wanted.

Lipstick. She could do with a bit more.

She grabbed the tube, drew it over her lips, smacked them together.

Perfect.

With a squeal of excitement, she put the tube away and danced into the bedroom, the fabric of her negligee flowing behind her like a regal robe.

She eyed the clean sweeping lines of the light colored furnishings and the pretty blue and white carpet. It wasn’t the suite she’d asked for. It was just a room with a king size bed. But it was nice. And in one of the best hotels in Chicago, in fact.

She wasn’t going to let him put her in some fleabag motel. Not with the kind of money he had.

She went to the table near the window and touched the champagne bottle chilling on ice in its decanter. The two flutes beside it reflected the lights from the magnificent view of the city below. They were going to have fun tonight.

She looked at the clock. He’d be here any minute.

Her heart beating in anticipation, she went to the door, unlatched it, and left it ajar. That would make him feel welcome and spike his curiosity at the same time. She wasn’t worried about anyone unwanted busting in on her. She had her little snub-nose eight shot revolver in the nightstand, and she knew how to use it.

It was legal and all. She had the proper ID and license for concealed carry.

She knew how to take care of herself.

Crossing to the bed, she laid down on the thick satiny duvet. Resting an arm on one of the embossed pillows, she struck a pose she knew would make his brows rise—and something else, as well.

She sighed happily.

No, this wasn’t about money. And it wasn’t going to be a one-night fling. This was more. She hadn’t thought she could feel this way again. All tingly and giddy and schoolgirlish. Not after all these years and so much water under the bridge.

But she did.

Tonight would be the start of something new. Something life altering.

She looked at the clock again and scowled. He was late.

He used to pride himself on being punctual. Oh, well. Some things were worth waiting for, weren’t they? She closed her eyes and imagined how she’d feel in his arms again.

Minutes passed. An hour. Another hour. And another.

At one a.m., she got up and checked on the champagne. The ice was melted, the bottle’s contents were probably near room temperature.

She didn’t care. She popped it open, poured some into one of the flutes, and swallowed a big mouthful.

She stomped over to the door, anger burning inside her. Nobody stood her up. Nobody humiliated her like this.

But he had. And it wasn’t the first time.

Gritting her teeth, she turned the lock and went back to the bed. At least she’d have a night in a nice hotel room.

Then she opened the drawer of the nightstand and stared down at her snub-nose revolver. Nobody did this to her. Nobody got away with something like this.

She’d make him pay.

She took out the gun, released the cylinder, and checked the bullets. All eight were there. She snapped it shut and blinked back the tears that were starting to come.

She knew what she had to do. It was clear as day. Simple.

She had to kill him.

Amazon | FREE with Amazon Kindle Unlimited

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RETRIBUTION (#15) NOW AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED!

I’m so excited to share this new release with my readers!

A Miranda and Parker Mystery #15

Amazon | FREE with Amazon Kindle Unlimited

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is MP15-sb-redo-June-2018-FINAL-350.jpg

IS WADE PARKER DEAD?

Almost three weeks ago on a cold dark pier in Boston, PI Miranda Steele saw her beloved husband shot down before her eyes.

Now she and her team are on a quest to find his body and bring it back to Atlanta.

But the criminal mastermind who gunned down Parker has a plan that’s more devious and evil than anything Miranda could ever have imagined.

If she can’t bring him down, it could be the end not only of her and her team, but of the whole world.

Can she stop him before it’s too late?

Find out now.

Amazon | FREE with Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Trade paperback

Chapter One

Six weeks prior

Just after dawn in a port in Odessa, Ukraine, Boris Petrov stood on the deck of a sixty-thousand-deadweight-tonne cargo ship barking orders at the man operating the crane high above.

“Careful! Slowly now.” Ignoring the chill in the air, Petrov scratched his dark beard and signaled to the left.

The wooden crate dangling forty meters overhead at the end of the heavy chain was huge. The first of almost a dozen, it was giving Petrov an ache in the stomach.

Though it was padded with foam, Petrov was not certain of the box’s strength. In his opinion, they should have used regular containers. But those who were above him had decided the interchangeable metal containers would draw attention, and possibly inspection.

That could not happen.

As extra cargo loaded with the usual scrap metal the ship carried, the crates were less likely to be noticed.

But as the heavy box was lowered into the first hold, Petrov’s anxiety only grew.

“Gently, gently,” he shouted to the men who were guiding it into place. “Handle her like a woman.”

“She is fine,” a young man called back with a too confident grin. “I know how to handle the fairer sex.”

Petrov did not like the man.

His name was Andruko. He had arrived from Kiev yesterday evening begging for a job and telling horrific stories of a shootout in a parking lot. The contraband Petrov himself had loaded into a truck days ago had been seized by the police, Andruko had said. All two hundred and forty kilos of it gone.

There was more. Udar had been raided and shut down by the authorities. Sergei Chumak and Irina Savko were dead.

Unbelievable. The details made his head ache.

How could this have happened?

He had checked and double-checked the texts on his encrypted phone. Was the voyage today canceled? No. He was to proceed as ordered.

A week ago the funds had been wired by a senator’s aide in Washington. Today’s cargo had been packaged and shipped to port from somewhere in the east. No one knew where. It was unnecessary information.

No time to ponder it. The next crate was being lowered into the hold.

He had a vague idea of what each one contained. The boost controls, the body section, the cable assembly, and so forth. And most importantly, the warhead itself.

That would go on the upper deck under strict watch.

And then it would be off for the long trip to the island south of the United States.

Petrov had been ordered to travel with the ship to ensure the cargo’s safe arrival and to help with the unloading at the destination. Experts would be in place there to reassemble the thing.

He wanted no part of that.

But it was by no means certain they would arrive. If the sea did not behave, if the cargo shifted too much? Well, he and all the crew could wind up as fish food on the bottom of the ocean.

Why take such a risk? Because it was orders. Petrov always obeyed orders. And this time, the reward was too handsome to turn down. Not that he had a choice.

What his boss had in mind with such a weapon as this, he could only guess. He only hoped it would bring power back where it belonged.

He guided the next crate into the hold and wished for the best.

He did not have answers. All he knew was to obey and keep his mouth shut. It was all he needed. Once he was paid, life would be better. The risk was worth it. Besides, one did not question the Man in Boston.

Amazon | FREE with Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Trade paperback

Predator

A Miranda and Parker Mystery #14

Amazon | FREE on Amazon Kindle Unlimited

What’s wrong with Mackenzie?

PI Miranda Steele knows something has been eating away at her teenage daughter for months now. Does Mackenzie know her real father was a psychotic serial killer?

Miranda’s afraid to ask and this time, Parker has no answers.

But when her precious daughter goes missing, Miranda goes into a tailspin. Now she’s forced to ask the most painful question of all.

Has Mackenzie’s emotional state caused her to fall victim to a sexual predator?

You’ll want to read this exciting, fast-paced thriller because it’s a story readers say they can’t put down.

Get it now!

Amazon | FREE on Amazon Kindle Unlimited


Chapter One

She plodded along the concrete walkway of the interstate bridge, head down, barely aware of the cars whizzing past her.

She felt numb and yet she shivered a little in the chilly March wind. She’d worn too light of a jacket. Not that it would matter soon.

It was her time.

Everyone has a time, her mother used to say.

She’d been thinking about her mother a lot lately. The headaches brought on the memories. In her mind, she could see her mother stretched out on the old worn couch, dressed in the robe with the pretty blue flowers she used to wear, her hair a tangled mess. She could smell her breath. The odor made her sick, just like it used to.

She hadn’t learned until much later it was the smell of alcohol. She’d been too young to recognize it then. But she could remember those words.

Everyone has a time.

Her mother had been talking about her father.

She had never known him. He’d left before she was born. Her mother would call him names and cuss at his imaginary figure going out the door. Then she’d call her names. “You’re too stupid for words,” she’d say. “Why did I ever have you?”

And then one day she’d told her her father was dead. When she asked how that could be, all her mother had said was that it had been his time.

“Everyone has a time,” she’d told her.

The wind grew stronger as she reached the edge of the bridge where the railing stopped and the concrete barrier began. Her head pounding, she stared up at the chicken wire fence mounted high atop the ledge.

She peeked over the barrier and saw a small concrete platform about five feet down. That would work.

She blinked at the cars buzzing by down below the overpass. So many of them. All going so fast. Where were they heading? To soccer practice? To games? Shopping? It was the weekend.

How nice it would be to know who you are and where you were going every day.

She never had.

And then there was that girl at school. The junior with the perfect brown hair. The words she’d said about her at lunch on Friday still burned in her heart. Even now, she could feel her cheeks reddened. She’d been so humiliated.

The girl hadn’t been mean, exactly. Just superior. Far above her, anyway.

That’s when she’d known she’d never be good enough. Not for her faceless father. Not for her drunken mother. Not for the kids at school. Not for anyone. She’d never ever be good enough.

That’s when she knew it was her time.

She took off her jacket and laid it over the rail. The wind whipped through her, rippling her lightweight short-sleeve top.

Closing her eyes, she put her hands on the concrete and drew in its rough cold surface.

Minutes went by. Her hair blew around her face as her brain swam with hurtful words from her past, from her mother, from the girl at school, from deep inside her own mind. She breathed in the cold air, searching for the courage for what had to be done.

A shout made her open her eyes again.

The cars down below were slowing. There must be a traffic jam up ahead. She thought she heard tires screech behind her. And a cry.

But her head was so fuzzy with memories, she couldn’t make out anything.

She had to go.

Then a strong female voice came from the sidewalk beside her. “Hello, young lady.”

She turned and saw a police officer coming toward her.

No.

“Don’t be alarmed. I thought you might like to talk a little.”

Talk? What was there to talk about? Nothing would change. Nothing would ever change.

Again she peered over the railing. Cars were stopped in their lanes. Flashing lights came from a fire truck a few yards beyond the overpass. A group of firemen were assembling a large yellow inflatable thing just below her. It looked like a raft she’d been on at summer camp one year.

They were trying to stop her.

No.

She slung a leg over the rail.

“I just want to ask you a question.” The woman sounded friendly, but she wasn’t. “What’s your name, honey?”

She didn’t answer.

Instead she held onto the rail, pulled her other leg over, and let herself drop down to the concrete platform. It was only about a foot wide. She had to be careful or she’d land in the trees.

“C’mon, sweetheart. Don’t do that.”

“Leave me alone.” Trying to position herself, she clung to the iron bar of the railing now over her head.

“I just want to talk to you.”

The woman leaned over the rail and a strong hand gripped her arm.

“Let go of me.”

“I’m sorry I can’t do that.”

The grip was tight. The pain confused her. “You’re hurting me.”

“I don’t mean to do that. I’m just here to help.” The woman kept on talking, but she couldn’t make out the words.

She was in too much of a panic. She looked down. The men below were pointing up at her and moving the yellow raft thing so it would catch her.

If she was going to do it, it had to be now.

She looked up and glared at the woman. “Let go of me, I said.”

She pulled her arm away as hard as she could. The officer’s nails scraped her skin as she lost her grip.

She lost her balance and fell backward.

Her feet left the narrow platform. She tumbled down toward the pavement below. Down past the bare tree branches. Past the beams of the overpass. Past the stains on its concrete supports.

Down, down, down. And into darkness.

Amazon | FREE on Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Vanishing Act now available in Kindle Unlimited!

Hello again Miranda and Parker fans!

I’m so excited to announce Vanishing Act (A Miranda and Parker Mystery) #13 is now available in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.

I’m thrilled to share this riveting story with my wonderful KU readers. Links and details are below.

Enjoy!  🙂

Linsey

A Miranda and Parker Mystery #13

Amazon | FREE on Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Five thousand miles away from Atlanta.

A young man is killed.

A young man with secrets.

When Parker’s father asks him to travel to Ukraine to find someone who’s been missing over a decade, Parker flatly refuses. But Miranda can’t say no to Mr. P.

And so they board the plane.

After a long flight and a futile search, they are about to give up. Until they rouse the ire of a very dangerous group. People with secrets. People who will kill to keep them. People who now want Parker and Miranda dead.

You’ll want to read this next adventure, because secrets are about to be revealed.

Get it now!

Amazon | FREE on Amazon Kindle Unlimited


Chapter One

It was two o’clock in the morning.
The motor of his cycle growled beneath him as fear pounded in his temples.
Faster. Faster. Faster.
The cold November wind whipped his hair over his face, into his eyes and his mouth. Above the highway, streetlights twinkled against the blue velvet of the sky and the river below.
Kiev lay to the left of him, the lights of its majestic old buildings and ancient cupola-topped churches shimmering with the mystique of a beautiful woman attempting to seduce him.
He had always fallen for her charms, though he wished he hadn’t. Tonight he wished he had stayed in his little village and been content.
Too late for those wishes.
He could not think about home now. He could not stop. He had to keep going.
He had to get away.
He had left the club perhaps only fifteen minutes ago. He had taken what he had in his satchel and snuck out the back.
He had thought he had not been seen.
But now, as he raced along the wide highway that bordered the Dnieper River, he knew someone from the club was behind him.
If he could just make it across the river. Back to Troieshchyna and his bleak little apartment, he would be all right. That dingy living space fourteen stories up in the cheap Soviet era building. Olga deserved better than that. He had wanted to give it to her.
He had failed.
Just as he made it to the straightaway, a shot rang out from behind him.
Sergei. He had followed him.
He swerved, and the bullet missed him.
But he could taste the fear in his mouth.
Where was the politsiya? The police did not patrol this part of town so well as the wealthier sections.
Sergei was the enforcer. A huge man five years his senior. He could beat him to death with his bare hands if he caught him. He could easily shoot him. But it was difficult to aim well on a motorcycle.
Another shot spat over his shoulder. Sergei’s aim was better that time.
The vehicles around him began to slow, the drivers no doubt wondering what was going on. Why was there a gunfight on Naberezhno-Rybalsak in the middle of the night?
He sped up, swerved around a car on his left, another on his right. He took the curve to the bridge as fast as he dared.
He could not fall now.
Focusing on the tall buildings far away in the distance across the river, he ignored his pounding heart.
He could get there. He had to.
His motor roaring, he reached the bridge and swung out onto traffic without yielding. A little Lada blared its horn at him as they nearly collided.
Ignoring the driver’s protests, he zoomed ahead.
He was over the river now. In a month, the water would be frozen and children would come to skate along the banks.
But tonight the Pivnichny Bridge seemed to stretch across the world.
No, it was only a few more kilometers to home.
Would Sergei follow him there? The little flat would not provide much protection. He had not thought of that. Perhaps he should head south and into the forest, toward his old village instead.
He was almost to the left bank now.
He swerved past a Renault on the side closest to the railing. Between the iron barrier and the road lay a path bicycle riders used to travel back and forth across the river to their jobs on the right bank.
He had such a job once. And he had Olga. What would she think of him now?
He would never know.
Another bullet came from Sergei. This time it hit his rear tire. He spun, veered in a circle. He lost his balance and the cycle went down and slid out from under him. The pavement dug into his jeans, tearing his flesh.
No time to think of that now. He put a palm onto the asphalt to lift himself up.
Before he could rise, Sergei was on top of him, the short red curls atop his head glistening in the street lights.
His massive body hovered over him like the prize oak in the Buda village.
“Where is it?” His face was like a snarling leopard.
He would pretend not to know. “Where is what? Why did you shoot at me, Sergei?”
“Where is it?” Sergei shouted, ignoring the ploy.
He tried again. “I do not know what you mean.”
It was not a good answer. He saw the reply come in the form of Sergei’s boot.
He rolled, but not in time. The kick caught him hard in the kidney and he cried out in pain.
Yet somehow, he managed to get to his feet. If it was a fight Sergei wanted, he would give it to him.
He swung and grazed his chest as Sergei stepped back. Then the large man returned a jab.
He ducked, an American move, and Sergei missed.
He swung again, but once more missed the treelike target.
Sraka!” Sergei growled. “How dare you steal from us? From those who care for you?”
He wanted to deny it, but he could not lie to this man. Looking down at the pavement, he tried to find the words to say.
The hesitation was a mistake. He looked up just as Sergei’s fist flew toward him like a flash of lightning.
It connected with his jaw, shooting incredible pain through his skull. He stumbled back, tasting his own blood in his mouth.
He should not be tangling with Sergei. This man was one of the top fighters in the MMA club where he worked. Sergei’s footwork and balance were impeccable. His blows were like iron.
But he had little choice now.
He swung again and somehow landed a punch to the stomach. The leather of his jacket softened the blow, yet he heard Sergei groan.
And then Sergei’s face became a wall of stone.
“That was your last chance.” Sergei’s arm flew back. The blow sped toward him, too fast for him to duck this time.
He felt the cartilage crunch as Sergei’s knuckles landed against his nose. He crumbled to his knees, blood dripping onto the pavement.
And then he saw it.
His satchel lay along the railing, its strap just beyond reach. Biting back the pain, he crawled forward. Grabbing onto the leather band, with all his effort he pulled himself to his feet.
“What are you doing?” He heard Sergei yell behind him.
Too late. He took the satchel and hurled it over the railing as far as he could.
Into the air it went, then down into the river below. Never to be found again.
Bracing himself against the railing, he turned around. “And now we are even, no?”
Sergei did not reply. Instead he drew his pistol and aimed it at his chest. “You have betrayed us. You know what happens to traitors.”
He did.
There was no reasoning with the man now, if there ever had been.
And so he was not surprised when Sergei pulled the trigger and the final bullet hit him dead center in the chest.
His body recoiled with incredible pain. He felt himself fall backward. Felt his feet leave the pavement. His arms flapped the air like a young bird trying to take flight.
But he was no bird. He could not fly.
Instead he plunged head down into the river. All the way into the depths of the Dnieper.
And disappeared.

Amazon | FREE on Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Vanishing Act

Hello Miranda and Parker fans!

If you’ve been waiting for the next book in the Miranda and Parker Mystery series, I’ve got some good news.

It’s available now!

I’m so excited to share this riveting story with my wonderful readers. So instead of letting any spoilers slip, I’ll just get right to the point:

A Miranda and Parker Mystery #13

Amazon | iTunes | B/N | Kobo

Five thousand miles away from Atlanta.

A young man is killed.

A young man with secrets.

When Parker’s father asks him to travel to Ukraine to find someone who’s been missing over a decade, Parker flatly refuses. But Miranda can’t say no to Mr. P.

And so they board the plane.

After a long flight and a futile search, they are about to give up. Until they rouse the ire of a very dangerous group. People with secrets. People who will kill to keep them. People who now want Parker and Miranda dead.

You’ll want to read this next adventure, because secrets are about to be revealed.

Get it now!

Amazon | iTunes | B/N | Kobo


Chapter One

It was two o’clock in the morning.
The motor of his cycle growled beneath him as fear pounded in his temples.
Faster. Faster. Faster.
The cold November wind whipped his hair over his face, into his eyes and his mouth. Above the highway, streetlights twinkled against the blue velvet of the sky and the river below.
Kiev lay to the left of him, the lights of its majestic old buildings and ancient cupola-topped churches shimmering with the mystique of a beautiful woman attempting to seduce him.
He had always fallen for her charms, though he wished he hadn’t. Tonight he wished he had stayed in his little village and been content.
Too late for those wishes.
He could not think about home now. He could not stop. He had to keep going.
He had to get away.
He had left the club perhaps only fifteen minutes ago. He had taken what he had in his satchel and snuck out the back.
He had thought he had not been seen.
But now, as he raced along the wide highway that bordered the Dnieper River, he knew someone from the club was behind him.
If he could just make it across the river. Back to Troieshchyna and his bleak little apartment, he would be all right. That dingy living space fourteen stories up in the cheap Soviet era building. Olga deserved better than that. He had wanted to give it to her.
He had failed.
Just as he made it to the straightaway, a shot rang out from behind him.
Sergei. He had followed him.
He swerved, and the bullet missed him.
But he could taste the fear in his mouth.
Where was the politsiya? The police did not patrol this part of town so well as the wealthier sections.
Sergei was the enforcer. A huge man five years his senior. He could beat him to death with his bare hands if he caught him. He could easily shoot him. But it was difficult to aim well on a motorcycle.
Another shot spat over his shoulder. Sergei’s aim was better that time.
The vehicles around him began to slow, the drivers no doubt wondering what was going on. Why was there a gunfight on Naberezhno-Rybalsak in the middle of the night?
He sped up, swerved around a car on his left, another on his right. He took the curve to the bridge as fast as he dared.
He could not fall now.
Focusing on the tall buildings far away in the distance across the river, he ignored his pounding heart.
He could get there. He had to.
His motor roaring, he reached the bridge and swung out onto traffic without yielding. A little Lada blared its horn at him as they nearly collided.
Ignoring the driver’s protests, he zoomed ahead.
He was over the river now. In a month, the water would be frozen and children would come to skate along the banks.
But tonight the Pivnichny Bridge seemed to stretch across the world.
No, it was only a few more kilometers to home.
Would Sergei follow him there? The little flat would not provide much protection. He had not thought of that. Perhaps he should head south and into the forest, toward his old village instead.
He was almost to the left bank now.
He swerved past a Renault on the side closest to the railing. Between the iron barrier and the road lay a path bicycle riders used to travel back and forth across the river to their jobs on the right bank.
He had such a job once. And he had Olga. What would she think of him now?
He would never know.
Another bullet came from Sergei. This time it hit his rear tire. He spun, veered in a circle. He lost his balance and the cycle went down and slid out from under him. The pavement dug into his jeans, tearing his flesh.
No time to think of that now. He put a palm onto the asphalt to lift himself up.
Before he could rise, Sergei was on top of him, the short red curls atop his head glistening in the street lights.
His massive body hovered over him like the prize oak in the Buda village.
“Where is it?” His face was like a snarling leopard.
He would pretend not to know. “Where is what? Why did you shoot at me, Sergei?”
“Where is it?” Sergei shouted, ignoring the ploy.
He tried again. “I do not know what you mean.”
It was not a good answer. He saw the reply come in the form of Sergei’s boot.
He rolled, but not in time. The kick caught him hard in the kidney and he cried out in pain.
Yet somehow, he managed to get to his feet. If it was a fight Sergei wanted, he would give it to him.
He swung and grazed his chest as Sergei stepped back. Then the large man returned a jab.
He ducked, an American move, and Sergei missed.
He swung again, but once more missed the treelike target.
Sraka!” Sergei growled. “How dare you steal from us? From those who care for you?”
He wanted to deny it, but he could not lie to this man. Looking down at the pavement, he tried to find the words to say.
The hesitation was a mistake. He looked up just as Sergei’s fist flew toward him like a flash of lightning.
It connected with his jaw, shooting incredible pain through his skull. He stumbled back, tasting his own blood in his mouth.
He should not be tangling with Sergei. This man was one of the top fighters in the MMA club where he worked. Sergei’s footwork and balance were impeccable. His blows were like iron.
But he had little choice now.
He swung again and somehow landed a punch to the stomach. The leather of his jacket softened the blow, yet he heard Sergei groan.
And then Sergei’s face became a wall of stone.
“That was your last chance.” Sergei’s arm flew back. The blow sped toward him, too fast for him to duck this time.
He felt the cartilage crunch as Sergei’s knuckles landed against his nose. He crumbled to his knees, blood dripping onto the pavement.
And then he saw it.
His satchel lay along the railing, its strap just beyond reach. Biting back the pain, he crawled forward. Grabbing onto the leather band, with all his effort he pulled himself to his feet.
“What are you doing?” He heard Sergei yell behind him.
Too late. He took the satchel and hurled it over the railing as far as he could.
Into the air it went, then down into the river below. Never to be found again.
Bracing himself against the railing, he turned around. “And now we are even, no?”
Sergei did not reply. Instead he drew his pistol and aimed it at his chest. “You have betrayed us. You know what happens to traitors.”
He did.
There was no reasoning with the man now, if there ever had been.
And so he was not surprised when Sergei pulled the trigger and the final bullet hit him dead center in the chest.
His body recoiled with incredible pain. He felt himself fall backward. Felt his feet leave the pavement. His arms flapped the air like a young bird trying to take flight.
But he was no bird. He could not fly.
Instead he plunged head down into the river. All the way into the depths of the Dnieper.
And disappeared.

Amazon | iTunes | B/N | Kobo

The #Audiobook is HERE!

At long last,  Someone Else’s Daughter is now available as an audiobook narrated by the fabulous Kristin James.

I can’t wait for everyone who loves the Miranda and Parker stories to hear it! Kristin really brings these characters to life.

Amazon | Audible | iTunes

PLUS – I’m giving away FIVE Audible coupons (US) for a FREE copy of the audiobook.*

Enter the contest here:

Audiobook Giveaway

More changes to win when you share on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

The giveaway ends soon, so be sure to enter right away.

Good luck to you and thank you for your support.

Happy listening!

Linsey

PS: If you enjoy this audiobook, feel free to leave a review, especially on Audible. It means a lot to Kristin and me. Thanks in advance!

* Sorry, I can only give away coupons for the US. You also must have an audible or Amazon account to redeem the coupons.

The Stolen Girl is available on Amazon!

The Stolen Girl (A Miranda and Parker Mystery) #12

Amazon | FREE with Kindle Unlimited subscription

On a sunny winter afternoon in West Hollywood, California, a seven-year-old girl gets into a car with a stranger.

Two hours later a single mother receives a call telling her not to go to the police.

On the other side of the country, Miranda and Parker are sparring in the gym—until a colleague tells them her sister’s daughter is missing and begs them to help.

A kidnapping? A missing little girl?

Of course, they have to help. With thoughts of the desperate search for her own daughter, Miranda boards the next plane to LA, along with Parker and the team.

But when they arrive in tinsel town, the clues are sparse. Locating the little girl seems hopeless, and soon they find themselves at the kidnapper’s mercy.

But is this just a kidnapping?

Or is it something much worse?

You’ll want to read this next installment in the Miranda and Parker Mystery series, because it will keep you guessing.

Get it now!

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Chapter One

Imogen Wesson didn’t always like the teacher at her elementary school in West Hollywood, but today she thought she was just great.
Ms. Bishop told the class they would be going into second grade soon, and it was never too early to think about the future. Their assignment was to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up.
Imogen knew what she was going to write about. And as the bell rang and she pulled on her backpack and headed out the door, her mind raced with ideas.
She wanted to be either an astronaut or a zookeeper. Or a rock star.
A zookeeper, she decided following the rest of the kids out to the waiting buses. She loved animals.
She’d been begging her mother for a puppy. In fact, she’d asked for one that morning before school. But Mommy said they couldn’t have one in their apartment. And they were both too busy to take care of a puppy. She’d gotten mad at Mommy and said she didn’t care about her. She said she bet her Daddy would let her have a puppy.
She hadn’t mean that.
She was sorry she’d said that to Mommy. When she got home, she’d tell her so. And maybe if she made good grades, maybe Mommy would let her have a puppy for her birthday.
Though that was a long way away.
No, not a zookeeper, she thought. She wanted to be a veterinarian.
Thinking about what it would be like to play with puppies and kittens every day, Imogen lingered along the blue fence. As she peered through the gate, something caught her eye.
A squirrel was sitting on the lawn in front of the school chewing on a nut he held in his little paws. He was looking straight at her. She glanced back at her bus. Most of the other kids were climbing aboard, but she still had a little time.
Trying to be quiet, Imogen opened the gate and took a few steps toward the animal.
“Hello, there,” she said, grinning.
The squirrel froze, dropped its nut, and scampered away across the grass and up a nearby tree.
“Oh, you didn’t have to run away,” Imogen pouted, wondering if she really could be a veterinarian.
Then her gaze drifted to the street.
A man stood behind one of the skinny trees growing in the sidewalk. Imogen had always thought it was funny to plant trees in the cement.
The man was tall and dressed in black leather. He had tattoos on his arms, like her daddy. Was it her daddy? She hadn’t seen him in so long, she wasn’t sure.
He was staring at her and smiling. He seemed friendly in a scary sort of way. And familiar.
Slowly she inched toward him.
He bent down and his smile grew bigger. “Hello there, Imogen.”
She sucked in a breath. The man knew her name. “Daddy?” she said softly, her heart starting to beat faster.
“I’m a friend of your Daddy’s. He’d like to see you.”
“He would?”
The man nodded. “He sent me to get you and take you to him.”
“He did?” She’d dreamed about her father coming to get her.
“C’mon. My car’s right over there.” He held out a hand to her.
It was big and rough. Don’t go with strangers, Mommy always told her. But this man wasn’t a stranger. He was Daddy’s friend.
She put her hand in his and let him lead her to the car. It was an old car. The side was dented. As she climbed inside, she saw the seat was torn. The man closed the door, then came around the other side and got in beside her.
He snapped a seatbelt around her. “Don’t want anything to happen to you,” he chuckled, then he started the car and drove away.
She watched the apartment building across the street fade away as they rolled down the street. This was the same direction the bus took every day. She recognized the bushes and the houses.
Was this man taking her to Mommy’s shop? Was Daddy with Mommy? Were they getting back together?
But then they were on the big street with the tall palm trees, and she was sure the bus would have turned by now. They passed a place with a big orange machine. A crane. They were building something here. Green pipes held up a ceiling with no walls.
She turned around and peered out the back window. She didn’t see the bus anywhere.
They were on a wide highway now, with grassy places and lots of trees. She didn’t recognize it.
They drove and drove.
“My Daddy must live very far away,” she said at last.
“It’s only a little longer.”
“Maybe he’ll take me for ice cream when we get there.”
“Maybe.” But there was a scary sound in the man’s voice now.
Mommy never let her have ice cream after school. She made her eat a sandwich. If she finished all her dinner later, then she might get ice cream, but she usually didn’t.
The man made so many turns, Imogen didn’t know where she was. They were on a big street she didn’t recognize at all, with lots of auto repair places. “Trans—mis—sion,” she read on one sign.
Then the man turned down a side street, drove a few blocks, and slowed.
They were at a light green two-story house with dark red trim and a short driveway. It looked funny. It didn’t have a front door. Imogen wondered how they would get in. Then the man turned into the drive, pressed a button, and the garage door opened. He drove into a tidy garage and pressed the button again to close the door behind them.
It was dark in here, and Imogen was frightened. “Where’s my Daddy?”
“Inside. I’ll take you to him.”
She didn’t believe the man, but it was too late to change her mind now.
She got out of the car and followed the man up a short step and into a kitchen. It was small and the edges of the countertops were chipped. On the other side of the refrigerator there was a door. It smelled bad in here. Like someone had forgotten to take out the garbage.
She moved away from the man and hurried into a nearby living room. The furniture looked old and worn here, but there was nobody here.
“Where’s my Daddy?”
“He’s at work. He’ll be home soon.”
“I think you should take me back home now.”
“Sorry. Can’t do that.”
“What if I run away?”
“You’re not going anywhere.”
“Yes, I am. I’m going right out that door.” She pointed toward the kitchen.
Though she had no idea what she’d do outside. Would someone help her? Mommy made her memorize her address, but right now, she couldn’t think of it.
She moved toward the kitchen again. The man blocked her.
“I said, you’re not going anywhere.” He sounded mean now.
“Yes, I am.” She tried to go past him.
Before she could get around him, he bent down and picked her up in his arms. She beat against him with her fists, but it didn’t do any good.
He carried her down a hall to a small room. She kicked and screamed, trying to get away from him, but he was too strong.
He stuffed her under one arm and opened the door to the room. It was a dirty place with a mattress on the floor and a wrinkled blanket on top of it. It smelled bad in here, too. He wasn’t going to make her lay down on that. She wouldn’t.
But instead he carried her to the corner and opened another door. A closet.
Was he going to put her in there? No! She screamed again. Then she did the only thing she could think of. She bit his arm.
“Ow. You little bitch, you.”
But he let go of her and she dropped to the floor.
She ran.
She almost got to the hall. Almost got away. Then he lunged for her. His big hand clamped around her arm hard, making her cry out.
“Leave me alone!”
“Shut up.” He picked her up and carried her to the closet.
He slung open the door, tossed her inside and shut the door in her face.
She could hear him locking it from the outside. She banged on the door. “Let me out of here.”
“Shut up, I said.”
“My Mommy will call the police. They’ll put you in jail.”
“No, she won’t. Not if she knows what’s good for her.”
And then she heard the man walk away.
She sat down on the floor. It was dusty and smelly like the rest of the place. She began to cry. Why hadn’t she listened to what Mommy told her? Why had she got into the car with that bad man?
Where was her Daddy? Gone. He had been gone for a long time. He was never coming back.
“I’m sorry, Mommy,” she blubbered into her hands. “I’ll never be angry with you again.”
All she wanted was to go home, but she had no idea how to do that. She didn’t know what to do.
Except cry.

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Mind Bender (A Miranda and Parker Mystery) #10 – Now Available!

It’s finally here! The tenth Miranda and Parker Mystery is now available.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  B/N  |  Kobo

Book #10 in the gripping mystery-thriller series from bestselling author Linsey Lanier

A shooting. A bank robbery. A car chase. A kidnapping. And that was just PI Miranda Steele’s morning.

After a relaxing vacation in the North Georgia Mountains with her sexy husband and boss, Miranda Steele gets mixed up in a bank robbery that leads to a desperate hunt for a missing woman. Never in her life would she have guessed it would be that woman, but she can’t give up now. The woman’s life may be in danger, as well as the trust of Miranda’s new team at the Parker Investigative Agency.

On a twisted trail of violence, kidnapping, and mind control, Miranda is forced to face a frightening question: Can someone brainwash you to do something that’s not in your nature? Like rob a bank and kill everyone in your way?

Miranda and Parker are about to find out.

Mind Bender is the tenth book in the Miranda and Parker Mystery series, a continuation of the popular Miranda Steele, private investigator, stories from bestselling author Linsey Lanier (the Miranda’s Rights Mystery series). Buy this exciting, fast-paced thriller for a story readers say they can’t put down.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  B/N  |  Kobo


Chapter One

She was so excited, her skin tingled.

She could feel her own heartbeat as she listened to the murmur of Friday business being conducted around her.

As she waited in the roped-off line, she bounced on her toes and gazed up at the tall glass façade of the front wall and entrance to the downtown Buckhead bank. Ten minutes ago she’d marched through those doors, her first paycheck tucked in her pocketbook under her arm.

Well, it wasn’t her very first paycheck.

She’d worked all kinds of jobs back in Austin. She’d waitressed in dives, cleaned houses, even tried a little panhandling. But she’d gone to school and taken acting lessons for the past eight year, and all that effort had finally paid off.

She was in a real movie being filmed in Atlanta.

She was about to deposit her first check from the production company.

Okay, she wasn’t a star yet. She was only an extra, and the part was only supposed to last a few days. But the second assistant director seemed to be taking a liking to her. He’d asked her to stay on another week, and she thought he might give her a line in one of the upcoming scenes. Who knew where that could lead? She was on her way. She could feel it. The sky was the limit. Someday, she would be a star. She always knew she would be.

She couldn’t stop smiling.

Bouncing on her heels with excitement, she glanced around at the other customers waiting in line and the busy bank clerks behind the counter. The place was crowded and felt close. She could smell the colognes and body washes of the customers near her. One large man in a suit grumbled impatiently. She should have expected the bank would be busy on a Friday just before noon. Everyone was here to cash their own paychecks and go out for a good time.

She wasn’t in a hurry.

She was done for the day and didn’t have plans for tonight. She’d be heading home after this stop. So why was she suddenly feeling so anxious? Maybe because Drew had promised he might stop by later.

She’d only known him a week, but she really liked him. She’d met him back in Austin and he’d asked her out. When she told him she was trying to get into the movies, he said he had some connections and might be able to get her something in Atlanta if she was willing to start at the bottom.

At first she’d thought it was a come on line. But there was something about Drew that made her trust him. But leave home and go all the way to Atlanta with him? It might have been risky, but she’d decided to do it. And it had worked out. Drew hadn’t been lying. Here she was, cashing her first paycheck.

She felt a hand on her shoulder. As if he’d materialized from her own thoughts, Drew appeared at her side, wearing that heart-stopping smile of his.

“Hey, honeybun.”

“Hey,” she breathed in answer.

He was so handsome. Tall and broad-shouldered, dressed in jeans and his leather motor-cycle jacket, his thick black hair tousled as if he’d just been on a ride. His face was to-die-for. He was part Asian and his dark exotic eyes always made her knees feel like jelly.

“Cashing your check?”

“Making my first deposit.”

“We need to go out and celebrate tonight. My treat.”

She bounced on her toes again. Could this day get any more perfect?

Drew touched her shoulder again and she caught a whiff of that sexy aftershave he always wore.

It smelled like honeysuckle and cinnamon—and something else she couldn’t quite identify.

The man behind her stepped a little too close. Feeling suddenly claustrophobic, she glanced around at the crowd. She was uncomfortable, antsy. She started to perspire. The A/C was on, but her skin felt like it was on fire. There were too many people in here.

She heard a voice calling to her.

“Ma’am?”

Looking up, she saw the clerk standing behind the counter. A fuzzy red haze surrounded her.

The clerk beckoned her forward. “Can I help you ma’am?

Awkwardly she stepped toward the window.

“What can I do for you?”

The clerk was wearing a ridiculous smile. She reminded her of Emmy Holt, a girl in high school who’d always made fun of her.

Suddenly, she hated that clerk. Who did she think she was, anyway?

“Would you like to make a deposit?” The woman prompted.

“Deposit?” She put a hand to her forehead and tried to think.

She couldn’t remember what she was here for. She opened her pocketbook and stared down at its contents. There was a check, but she didn’t remember putting it there. She saw lipstick, tissues, a cell phone—and tucked neatly beside the phone was a small handgun with a pink handle.

How did that get in there?

“Ma’am?” The clerk said again.

The red haze grew dark. Blue and purple clouds began to form around the edges of her vision. She felt dizzy, sick.

“Ma’am? Are you all right?”

And all she wanted was to make that clerk shut up. She reached into her purse, pulled out the gun, and fired at the woman.

The clerk crumbled to the floor as a collective scream rose from the crowd of customers.

She spun around flailing the gun at the sea of terrified faces. Suddenly, she knew exactly what to do.

“All of you,” she growled. “On the floor or you’ll be next.”

Continue reading on:

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  B/N  |  Kobo

 

Kobo books are 50% OFF!

Kobo is having a 50% OFF sale from now (June 25) until June 27, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST!

If you’re a Kobo reader in any of these countries you’re eligible:

U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand.

Just enter promo code 50JUN when you check out (for me this was on the second page).

For your convenience here are the links to all my books on Kobo. If you’ve been wanting to get more Miranda stories (or any of my other books), now’s the time to stock up.

Happy reading at half price!

~Linsey

THE MIRANDA’S RIGHTS MYSTERY SERIES
Someone Else’s Daughter
Delicious Torment
Forever Mine
Fire Dancer
Thin Ice

THE MIRANDA AND PARKER MYSTERY SERIES
All Eyes on Me
Heart Wounds
Clowns and Cowboys
The Watcher
Zero Dark Chocolate
Trial by Fire
Smoke Screen
The Boy

OTHER SUSPENSE BOOKS BY LINSEY LANIER
Chicago Cop (A cop family thriller)
Steal My Heart (A romantic suspense)

THE PRASALA ROMANCES
The Crown Prince’s Heart
The King’s Love Song
The Count’s Baby

Note: If for some reason a link does not work, please navigate to your Kobo site and enter “Linsey Lanier” in the search box.

Kobo Inc.

The latest Miranda and Parker mystery is out!

The Boy (A Miranda and Parker Mystery) #8

Amazon | iBooks (Apple) | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

There’s nothing more terrifying than losing your child

After two weeks of a lazy second honeymoon with Parker, private investigator Miranda is startled when her husband gets a strange call on his cell phone. Not only does the eerie robotic message raise more questions than answers, it throws the pair into the investigation of a grisly murder, a tussle with a GBI agent, a secret branch of the FBI, and a frightening kidnapping.

To top things off the team they were supposed to form is disgruntled with the management.

If Miranda can’t pull things together soon, this time more than one person might end up dead.

The Boy is the eighth book in the Miranda and Parker Mystery series, a continuation of the popular Miranda Steele stories from bestselling author Linsey Lanier (the Miranda’s Rights Mystery series). Buy this chilling, fast-paced thriller for a story readers say they can’t put down.

Amazon | iBooks (Apple) | Kobo | Barnes & Noble


Chapter One

She risked another glance in her rearview mirror and caught the dark outline of the man behind the steering wheel of the black van.
He was a large man. The van drew close and he looked straight at her.
A shiver of nerves went through her.
But then he’d probably seen her the first time she’d noticed him. Right after she’d exited the grocery store on Krog Street.
She never should have left the house this afternoon, but they had run out of food and the only thing left was peanut butter.
The boy was allergic to peanuts.
It was a pretty little blue house off Irwin Street in the Old Fourth Ward of the city. The homes there were close together and the neighbors seemed friendly enough. Not that she had spoken to any of them. That was forbidden. There were children in the neighborhood and the boy longed to play with them. That was also forbidden.
For three long days she’d attempted to keep him occupied with books and toys and video games. All the while she’d been waiting for word. What to do next? How would she know when it was safe again?
And then the food supply got low.
The light changed and she continued on Spring Street not knowing what else to do.
She shouldn’t have left the house, she told herself again. She should have contacted someone for supplies. But the phone number she had was only for emergencies. She’d thought she could handle a simple trip to the grocery store. But somehow the man in the van had found her.
She could handle this, she told herself again, straightening her shoulders with determination. She’d had training, after all. She’d done well in the exercises for losing a tail. But that had been two years ago and it had been just a drill.
She’d never had to do it for real.
How had he found her? Had he followed her from the house? If so, then the boy was in trouble. The thought filled her with a sinking feeling.
No. She was positive no one had followed her from the house. This man had been cruising the streets looking for her. Had it been just her bad luck that he’d spotted her? That meant they knew what she looked like.
If only she hadn’t left the boy alone in the house. Her resolve wavered and she shivered again.
James would never have made such a silly mistake as to run out of supplies. But James was dead and she was here alone on the streets of downtown Atlanta, shaking all over with nerves.
So far she’d followed protocol.
As soon as she’d seen the van in the parking lot, she’d put the groceries in the trunk of the old gray Camry they’d given her and slipped into the driver’s seat as casually as she could. She’d headed in the opposite direction, away from the house and the quiet little neighborhood, and toward the highway.
The van had followed her. She glanced down at her gauges. She’d gone about half a mile.
Now what?
She made a turn and got on the Interstate. She drove to the next exit then got back off, hoping that would confuse him.
It didn’t work. The van was still behind her.
She headed downtown, turning left then right through the mid-morning traffic. She made her way past the novelty shops, the hotels, the assorted tall bank buildings. Past Centennial Olympic Park and the World of Coca-Cola building and the Aquarium. She passed a half dozen other cars but the van was still behind her. Surely the driver knew she’d made him by now. He’d known that right away, hadn’t he?
Apparently he didn’t care.
She headed back toward the interstate, but instead of getting on, this time she took the overpass and headed up West Peachtree. She drove past the hospital and bank buildings and more hotels.
She glanced up at the approaching street sign. Third Street. She put on her signal, as if to turn right. The light turned yellow.
She floored it and shot through the light—going straight.
The van did the same.
She couldn’t lose him. Again nerves made her hands shiver on the steering wheel.
Oh, James. If only you hadn’t signed up for that last tour of duty. If only you had come home to me. If only you hadn’t died in that last raid in Afghanistan. She could have been at home right now, waiting for their own son to come home from school. Or rocking a new baby to sleep in her arms for naptime.
It wasn’t meant to be.
But, no. These last two years in this job had taught her the needs of others had to come before her own. It was what James believed in. What they both believed in. What he’d died for.
This was no time to wallow in the past. She could do this. She was trained to do this.
Concentrate.
She looked around to get her bearings again and formulate a plan. After another ten minutes, she turned onto Fourteenth and headed back toward the highway.
The van was still behind her.
If she couldn’t lose the tail, at least she could lead the man as far away from the boy as possible. She’d go to South Carolina if she had to. She glanced down at her gauges. She’d need gas for that and she’d just passed a station.
Nothing was going her way.
Wait a minute. Why not stop there? Go inside the store at the gas station and get help from someone. Anyone. That would make the man in the black van disappear.
She made a right and headed around the block.
She drove along the road fronting the Interstate and around the curve to the next light. It turned red and she stopped. She let out a breath.
It would be okay. She was going to get help.
Then she remembered the edict never to involve civilians. She’d just strike up a conversation with a stranger. That ought to be enough. What if it wasn’t? She had her secure cell phone. There was the one number she could call.
And there was something else.
She glanced down at her small pocket book lying on the passenger seat beside her. In addition to her fake IDs, it had a secret compartment. Inside the compartment was a tiny vial. Inside the vial was a tiny pill.
Only for an emergency.
No going back after that. She squeezed the steering wheel and stared up at the light.
Bam!
The jolt threw her forward, knocking her forehead against the steering wheel.
Heart pounding, she glared into the rearview mirror. The black van had rammed the back of her car. The man inside it was getting out. He must have sensed where she was going so he’d faked an accident.
He was big and bulky and dressed all in black. His bald head was tattooed with a frightening black spiral-and-spike design.
She couldn’t let him get near her.
She put the car in park, grabbed her pocketbook, scooted across the front seat and got out on the passenger side.
She rushed onto the sidewalk and ran as fast as she could. The street she was on was nearly deserted. She was about a block from the gas station but it was a long block. She might as well be a mile away.
A car rolled by. She wanted to flag it down. No civilians. She hesitated too long and it was gone. Someone would report the accident, wouldn’t they? A police car could be along any minute, right?
She glanced behind her. The man was following her.
She hurried down the walkway.
The cement was broken in spots. This wasn’t the best cared for section of town. A row of overgrown holly bushes and maple trees lined one side of the walk. The city was known for its tree canopy. Could it provide a hiding place? She pulled her lightweight sweater around her feeling chilly despite the warm fall day. It was in the mid seventies. The sky was clear. People should be out walking.
But no one was on this road.
Could she make it to the gas station? It was too far away. She needed a hiding place. Across the street stood a tall office building. It was vacant. A parking garage sat next to it. Between the two structures stretched a dark narrow space.
Too risky to go in there.
She could hear the man panting behind her and knew she didn’t have much time. If she didn’t find a way to escape soon he would catch up to her.
She didn’t have a lot of details but she knew the type of organization he was with. She could only imagine what they’d do to her to find out where the boy was. She thought of the pill inside her purse.
As she hurried along, she opened it and reached inside. It was the cell her fingers touched first. Emergency contact. If this wasn’t an emergency, she didn’t know what was.
Quickly, she keyed in the special code she’d memorized when she took this assignment and pressed send. With a sinking sensation, she knew it wouldn’t get to anyone in time to help her. But maybe that message could save the boy.
Suddenly, the hedges along the sidewalk opened revealing a narrow paved road.
Beyond a low hill rose the back of two billboards. The Interstate.
There were cars there. She could hear them buzzing along. There was always traffic on the interstates in this town. If she just could get there, she could run out into the road. If she were hit head on, she’d be better off. But she’d be sure to get someone’s attention.
She ducked through the bushes and ran.
On the other side was nothing but an empty parking lot. One lone pickup truck sat in the grass beside the pavement. The building beyond the foliage was deserted as well.
But the man was still behind her.
She could hear his steps getting closer, clopping over the asphalt like a Clydesdale’s hooves.  She raced across the lot as fast as she could, wishing she’d worn running shoes instead of flats. Jeans instead of a skirt. If only she could make it to the road.
But the clopping grew louder. Closer.
Desperation tearing at her, once more she opened her pocket book, struggling with it as she hurried along. She found the secret compartment. Her fingers maneuvered the tiny vial into her palm.
And then it was too late.
Large strong hands gripped her shoulders. She dropped her purse and tried to kick out as she spun around.
She connected with his shin but he didn’t even feel it. He was so huge. Big shouldered. Strong as three men. He squeezed her arms, forcing her to look at him as if he wanted her to see him.
That face.
Big and knobby, weathered skin like old leather. Shaved head. The twisted tattoo climbing up the side of his neck. The smell of liquor on his breath. The face of a man with many gruesome murders behind him. What was one more?
Panic pummeled her brain. She couldn’t think.
The pill. It was her only hope.
She raised her hand to her mouth, but he gave her a brutal shake. The vial flew out of her hand and smashed on the concrete.
The man laughed. “You are not getting off that easy, little one,” he whispered in a strange, frightening accent.
And then he put a big hand around her neck and began to squeeze. The arterial nerve. A strong person can make you pass out by pressing in the right spot. She’d learned that in training, too.
She tried to fight but it was no use.
The traffic sounds on the interstate faded into a low whir. Stars began to whirl in her brain. The trees and buildings around her dimmed and went black.
As she went slack into the big man’s arms, all she could hope for was that her last message had saved the boy.

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