Vanished in the Night

 

She doesn’t trust cops . . . 

Veronica Osborne has had enough problems with the police, thanks to her volatile father. So when tall, strapping Sergeant Zach McKnight shows up at her door, she’s prepared for anything—except the news that her beloved missing brother, Max, has been dead for nearly twenty years . . . ever since he ran away.

Appalled when the police suspect her father of Max’s murder, Veronica begins her own investigation. But as her surprising role in her brother’s disappearance surfaces, so do more bodies. The ghosts of Max’s past are working hard to hide the truth, while another, more sinister force will do 
anything to expose it. How far will a killer go to get revenge? And can Zach stop him before he targets the woman Zach’s coming to love?

REVIEWS

 

"A fascinating mystery and compelling characters will keep readers entertained until the last page. The author has a knack for creating believable characters readers are bound to care about."
- Romantic Times (4 Stars)

 

" . . . a complex,heart pounding thriller that will leave you in awe."
My Book Addiction Reviews
 
"I felt like I was watching . . . one of the crime shows I loved."
Peace Love Books

". . . a great read for a summer's afternoon."
Better Read than Dead

 

"The characters are true-to-life, the attractions are right on target and the suspense is gripping in this great keep-you-up-all-night read. Murder, love, trust and betrayal…what else could you ask from a suspense novel?"

-WebbWeaver Reviews

 

EXCERPT

 

Whoever the poor bastard was, he’d been dead

a long time. Long enough that all Sergeant

Zach McKnight of the Sacramento Police

Department could see were bone and some hair held together by a few shreds of cloth.

 

Crap. Was that a 49ers jersey? When was the last time he’d seen one of those?

 

The case was beyond cold. It was freaking arctic.

 

His partner, Frank Rodriguez, came to stand beside him at the edge of the construction pit where the body had been found. “I think the first forty-eight has totally passed, dude.”

 

“Gee, Frank, what was your first clue? Was is the nearly total decomposition? Or the rotted clothing?” Zach skittered down the side of the pit to crouch next to the body.

 

“I’m going with the decomp. That’s always a dead giveaway.” Frank pulled the collar of his jacket up against the early morning chill.

 

Zach scanned the remains. The likelihood that he’d find anything helpful was somewhere between slim and none, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have to do it anyway. That was the job. Eighty percent going through the motions, twenty percent making a difference. “Who found him?”

 

“Foreman.” Frank followed him more slowly into the pit. “Swears on his mama’s grave that it wasn’t here at the end of the day yesterday. Then poof! It it magically appeared in his construction site overnight.”

 

“Magically? He said that?” Zach glanced up with narrowed eyes. Did he have whack jobs on his hands? Satanists digging up dead bodies? At least it would spice things up a little. Halloween was right around the corner.

 

“No. Of course not. I’m embellishing slightly to make the story more compelling, moron. He didn’t swear on his mama’s grave either. They’re figures of speech. Keep up, will you?” Frank folded a piece of Juicy Fruit into his mouth and crouched next to Zach. “At least he don’t stink.”

 

Amen to that. The lack of eau de corpse might be the only advantage to working a cold case.  Pretty much everything else about them sucked. Most people couldn’t remember what they were doing last Tuesday, much less some random day five, ten or fifteen years before. Most of the forensic evidence had probably rotted along with the flesh off the body.  “They have security cameras? A guard? Anything?”

 

“They’re getting the tapes together for me now. There’s a rent-a-cop who drives by all their sites in the area. I got his name and number.” Frank shook his head. “It looks like a dump job to me, but why bother dumping it after all these years? And why here?”

 

Zach didn’t bother answering. Something shiny near the belt that hadn’t fully rotted caught his eye. Reaching down with a pencil, he fished a metal chain out of the shredded fabric around what must have been hips at some point in time.

 

The military issue dog tags flashed in the weak morning sunlight. “I think IDing him might just have gotten a little easier.”

 

“Nice,” Frank said. “I’ll call in the crime scene geeks and see what else they can find.”

***

They’d found him. She leaned back in her chair and snapped off the little television set she kept in her office off.  She hadn’t doubted they would. They could hardly have missed him. She’d made sure of that.

 

Of course, they’d been missing him for close to twenty years. She shook her head. It was too easy for someone to fall through the cracks. Even now, with all the computers and linked databases, people slipped off the face of the earth and no one noticed. No one cared.

 

She’d noticed. She’d cared. She was finally making sure the police would notice. There was nothing more she could do at this point. Not without destroying everything she’d worked so hard for. The world was better off with her. She’d made sure of that, too.

 

It was the least she could do to make up for the things she hadn’t done, for not having stopped the things that still haunted her dreams and made her wake up gasping and sweat-drenched, heart racing and bile rising in the back of her throat.

 

“Rest in peace, Max,” she whispered to the blank screen of the television. “Finally, rest in peace.”

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