Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Exclusive Excerpt: Hide and Seek


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HIDE AND SEEK

Special Agent Macy Crow is a survivor. After a vicious hit-and-run nearly kills her, she gets right back to work, and now she’s gunning for a spot on the FBI’s elite profiling team. As an audition, she offers to investigate the recently discovered bones of Tobi Turner, a high school girl who disappeared fifteen years ago.

While investigating with local sheriff Mike Nevada, a former colleague and onetime lover, Macy discovers a link between Tobi’s case and several others that occurred around the same time as her disappearance. As Macy interviews victims and examines old cases, she uncovers a sinister picture of a stalker who graduated to sexual assault—and then murder.

Macy and Nevada race to put this monster behind bars before he can come out of hiding. But the murderer’s had years to hone his skills, and soon Macy herself becomes a target. She’s no stranger to pain and terror, but will Macy’s first profiling case be her last?



Exclusive Excerpt:

Macy took the elevator up to the third floor, where Special Agent Jerrod Ramsey worked. She made her way to his corner office and knocked.

“Enter.”

She pushed open the door as a leather chair swiveled toward her, offering her her first up close look at Jerrod Ramsey.

Thick brown hair was cut short and swept off a striking face that conjured images of East Coast prep schools, old money, and the Hamptons. He wasn’t classically handsome, but the sharp green eyes and olive skin coupled with tailored suits had to be kryptonite to the ladies.

Ramsey rose and adjusted his blue tie before he crossed the room to her.

“Special Agent Macy Crow,” she said.

A faint smile hinted of a welcome. “Good to meet you, Agent Crow,” he said, extending his hand.

She accepted his strong grip, clasping his hand firmly. “And you as well, sir.”

When Macy had declared her intentions to return to the bureau, she had been temporarily assigned to the ViCAP computer section because her former position had been filled. If she wanted back in the field, she would have to apply for another position.

When she had heard Jerrod Ramsey’s profiling team had an opening, she had thrown her name into the hat. She had expected a quick no to her request but, instead, had received what amounted to a “let’s talk.”

Either returning from the dead had earned her points or someone with juice was pulling strings. Whatever the reason, she hadn’t looked a gift horse in the mouth and had agreed to the meeting. Last night a courier had delivered a file from Ramsey. He’d instructed her to review the case and be prepared to discuss.

Ramsey offered her one of the two seats in front of his desk. When she sat, he took the remaining one.

“How do you like being back at work? Working with tech in the ViCAP unit must be a change,” he said.

“It’s been great.” In truth, staring at the four walls of a cubicle and a computer screen sucked. But it was the price of readmission.

He allowed the pause to linger, expecting her to fill in the silence with nervous chatter. It was a good trick. And one she’d used when she interviewed suspects.

When she didn’t speak, he said, “I heard you’ve set a few recovery records.”

“Queen of rehab,” she said with a smile. No agent wanted a weak partner. “Ready to rumble.”

His eyes narrowed. Either he had decided she was too flippant, or he liked her moxie. Or maybe the pointed stare was supposed to make her second-guess and worry while he figured her out.

She again absorbed the silence. What the hell. She was her own person and wouldn’t tone herself down for him or anyone else. Near-death had a way of cutting through petty worries cluttering everyday life.

He reached across his desk and retrieved a file. Her name was marked on the tab in precise block letters. She imagined he already knew her professional credentials and her Texas origin story. Reading the file now was for show.

“Ten years with the bureau,” Ramsey said. “You worked in Denver, Kansas City, Seattle, and Quantico. Human trafficking is your specialty. You led several successful undercover operations.”

“Blessed with a slight frame, and in the right light, I pass for a teenager.”

He closed the file. “Why not go back to that?”

“The miniskirts and halter tops don’t fit as well as they used to,” she quipped.

“They’d also showcase your scars.”

“Honestly, the scars would have added to my mystique on the streets. But with or without the red racing stripe running up my leg, my days of passing as a teenager are over.” Climbing back alley fences was also no longer in the cards for her. “Time for a new challenge.”

“I’ve heard good things about you,” Ramsey said. “Texas Rangers said you cracked a big case for them. ViCAP also likes having you.”

“The Rangers solved the case in Texas. I just gave them the crowbar to pry open the cracks.”

“Tell me about Texas.” Ramsey wasn’t going to make her return easy. No slam dunks in this room.

Reciting the story wasn’t easy, despite lots of practice. “You have a reputation for being prepared. You must know as much as I do.”

“I’m not interested in the facts in a report. I want to hear your version.”

She shifted in her seat. “I returned to Texas when my father was murdered. Pop left a message for me. Basically, he said there was a grave in the desert. The grave belonged to my birth mother. Turns out there were three graves. All girls who’d been kidnapped, raped, and murdered after they gave birth.”

“Did you know you were adopted?”

“Hard to hide it. When both parents have black hair and brown skin, it’s difficult to pass a pale blond kid off as their own.” She shrugged. “They were always up-front about the adoption. But they left out the part about my birth mother being murdered.”

“That must have been a gut punch.”

“Learning I’m a child of rape and that I’m half monster wasn’t pleasant. Gut punch sums it up.”

Her adoptive mother had once whispered that Macy had bad blood. When a girl in her third-grade class had been kidnapped and murdered, the other children had been afraid. Macy hadn’t. She had been fascinated by the cops, the cadaver sniffing dogs, and the blue wave of law enforcement sweeping over their community.

“No one but Macy dare goes near that alley,” her mother had whispered to her father. “It’s not normal.” Her mother hadn’t relaxed until the fourteen-year-old murderer had been arrested.

The Texas trip drove home the true meaning of bad blood. Since then, its full weight rested heavily on Macy’s shoulders.

“Violence is forged in my DNA,” Macy said. “Maybe it explains why I’m good at hunting monsters.” Modesty didn’t become her, so she didn’t bother with it. “I’m good at what I do, or I wouldn’t be here now.”

“Do you think you’d have been injured in Texas if you’d had backup?” Ramsey asked.

Macy refused to apologize or backpedal. “I take risks. It’s the secret sauce behind my high-profile arrests, and yes, it set me up for the HNR.”

“HNR?”

“Sorry, shorthand for hit-and-run. The incident has come up a few times, so I abbreviate it. Federal employees love acronyms.”

Ramsey wasn’t amused. “Did your injury teach you any lessons?”

“To be more careful. But I can’t promise. No agent really knows what they’ll encounter in the field or how they’ll react.”

A muscle pulsed in his jaw. “How are you physically?”

“Solid and better every day.” She could lie without blinking, thanks to the undercover work.

If he didn’t buy her assessment, he didn’t give any hint. “Technically, you’re to remain on desk duty for another month.”

She decoded the thoughts lurking behind his dark eyes. Instead of wondering, she asked, “Are you saying you want me on your team?”

A smile tugged at the edge of his lips. “Do you want to be on it?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Why?”

More silence settled between them as they played an invisible game of chicken. Would she stay silent? Or would she admit that catching monsters was how she justified her existence and eased her crushing sorrow for the brutalized girl who’d died giving birth to her in the desert?

“All I can say is that I love the work,” she said.

***
Author Biography

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Mary Burton is the highly praised author of twenty-six romance and suspense novels and five novellas. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three miniature dachshunds.

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