Author: Susanne Matthews
The Harvester is out there … watching, waiting, biding his time.
FBI cult specialist Lilith Munroe lives in dread that one day the man who tortured her when a case went bad will find her again. So leaving her sanctuary in Quantico to join the Harvester Task Force in Boston is her version of hell. But the Harvester is kidnapping babies, and Lilith’s profiling skills may mean the difference between life and death for the most innocent in society.
Australian millionaire and former member of the New Horizon commune Jacob Andrews returns to the United States searching for his sister. Instead of the happy reunion he expects, he discovers she is dead and his twin brother may be responsible. He agrees to lend his law enforcement skills to help find his former cult leader before the man can implement his plan to kill millions.
Now uneasy partners, Jacob and Lilith must learn to trust each other even as they fight their growing attraction. But when Lilith’s greatest fears materialize, will Jacob be able to set aside his anger and save the woman he loves?
Sensuality Level: Sensual
“For God’s sake, Halliday, slow down. My legs aren’t as long as yours. Where’s the fire?” Lilith said as she headed down the stairs. “And why the hell couldn’t we take the elevator?” Since Rob was a good foot taller than she was, she was running to keep up, and with the four-inch heels she’d chosen to wear this morning, she was apt to fall and kill herself.
So this is why they call it breakneck speed.
“And please don’t call me Lily. I prefer Lilith or Munroe.”
He slowed slightly. “Sorry, Lilith. I’ll try to remember that. As for the elevator, it would be awkward considering my behavior toward Mr. Andrews this morning,” he said, and she could see the embarrassed flush on his face.
“It’s okay. He isn’t going to press charges. He’s actually been quite nice about the whole thing. So, where are we off to in such a rush?”
“We’ve got a multiple homicide on Lawrence. Tom left early—it’s his wife’s birthday. His daughter has been planning this surprise party for weeks. The murder falls under Boston PD jurisdiction, but since the rule of two applies, Trevor said I could take you with me—as an observer, so keep your hands to yourself. That being said, if you have any profiling thoughts while you’re there, feel free to share.”
Standard operational procedure dictated that two people handle any calls that came in. This was for their protection as well as for that of the victims. Her father, a career cop, had drilled that concept into her. His partner had chosen not to wait for him and had walked in alone on a domestic. The man had gone out in a body bag.
“Besides, I figured you’d want to come along. You’re still trying to make sense of the Richardson case. The 9-1-1 caller was almost incoherent, but she did mention that there’s a child or children missing. I want you to focus on similarities between those crime scene photos you memorized and this one.”
“Will do, but you do realize I’ve never actually been to an active crime scene, don’t you?” she asked, hoping her nervousness didn’t show.
“I figured as much, but you’ve got to lose your cherry sometime. You’re a field agent now, and that means you visit the crime scenes yourself. Just remember, if you’re going to vomit, try not to contaminate anything.”
Great. Just great.
“If Trevor’s hunch about the Richardson girl’s paternity doesn’t pan out and there are kids missing here, we could be looking at a child trafficking ring,” Rob said, “and that will make this an FBI case—your case, since you’ll be the agent on record.”
“Are any of the Colchester children living in the Boston area?”
“I don’t think so, but Child Protective Services is as closemouthed as the US Marshals and the Witness Protection Program.”
“So, what you’re saying is that we don’t really know those kids are safe. We’re just taking their word for it. What if Savannah is related to James Colchester?”
“Then Jacob Andrews has a missing niece on his hands, and we have a hell of a mess on ours. I glanced at the Richardson file. I don’t doubt the Prophet will want his children—I dream of him showing up on our doorstep at least once a week—but I don’t think the Richardson kid is one of them. Trevor’s reaching. That crime scene doesn’t fit with anything we know about the members of New Horizon and the way they do things.”
Lilith scowled. She’d been doing a lot of digging, especially into Faith Volt, the child her computer software said was a 97 percent match for Savannah Richardson. According to what little she’d been able to get out of CPS, and Rob wasn’t exaggerating when he described them, the child was living in Michigan with her grandparents, but it hadn’t been a happy reunion. The Volts, deeply religious people, had been reluctant to take their granddaughter because of the circumstances of her birth. What if, after they’d gotten her home, they’d decided they couldn’t handle it? What if they’d given her to someone else? It sounded cold-blooded, but after what she’d heard as Jacob described his youth, the child would be better off with someone who could love her.
Not wanting Rob or Trevor to realize how anal and obsessive she could be, Lilith had spent the last couple of nights at home searching for a connection between the Richardsons and the Volts. The only thing the two families seemed to have in common was religion, but considering 23 percent of the American population was Roman Catholic, that didn’t count for much.
Loose ends, unanswerable questions. She hated it when things didn’t come together, something that happened too often with cases like these. Like her niece’s.
Trying to maintain her balance on the metal stairs, Lilith grasped the railing for all she was worth. Jacob Andrews had had a hell of an experience at the hands of his uncle, but the guy was a jerk. How dare he presume she didn’t have the right to judge him? She’d been to hell and back, too. There was no excuse for leaving that child there, abandoning the poor thing. With his money, he could have searched for her long before this. Eloise could be alive and well on his fruit farms in Australia, but he’d wiped her from his mind eighteen years ago, as easily as he’d changed his name. She wouldn’t abandon Rose, Kelly Kirk, or Savannah Richardson. She’d keep looking for them the rest of her life if that’s what it took.
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