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Authors: S.J. Harper

Tags: #Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Suspense Romance, Mystery

Captured

BOOK: Captured
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Table of Contents

Title Page

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

EXCERPT OF CURSED

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

COMING SOON RECKONING

PRAISE FOR BOOK 1 IN THE

FALLEN SIREN SERIES

CURSED

“One entertaining and fast-paced read. Best of all? Zack, the wildly sexy werewolf FBI agent! What better crime-fighting partner could a girl have?”

—Jennifer Ashley,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Tiger Magic


Cursed
is the perfect blend of magic, mystery, and romance. Emma and Zack are strong, noble characters who are trying to overcome their dark pasts, and their quests for redemption will make your heart hurt. This is a series you need to read now.”

—Sandy Williams, author of the Shadow Reader series

“A promising new writing collaboration. . . . After delivering a hefty helping of danger and drama, Harper then sets the groundwork for more fast-paced adventures.”

—RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

“Authors Samantha Sommersby and Jeanne C. Stein (the writing team that is S. J. Harper) have created something wonderful with the Fallen Siren series.”

—Wit and Sin

“I love the story, I love the world, I love the concept, and I love the characters.”

—Fangs for the Fantasy

“A good mix of traditional mythology and contemporary UF.”

—Scorching Book Reviews

 

ALSO BY S. J. HARPER

Cursed

Reckoning

 

CAPTURED

A Fallen Siren NovelLA

S. J. Harper

Published worldwide by S. J. Harper

#44772
PO Box 4668


New York, NY 10163-4668

Copyright ã Jeanne C. Stein and Samantha Sommersby, 2014

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever with out written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

Publisher’s Note

This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or business establishments, events, or locales is coincidental.

ISBN: 9781936387779

First Printing, June 2014

 

DEDICATION

This is for all of you who read and loved CURSED. We hope this tides you over until the release of RECKONING. Thank you for your enthusiasm and your support.

 

 

Siren

noun

1. One of three sisters ejected from Mount Olympus by Zeus and cursed by Demeter for failing to prevent Hades from kidnapping Persephone.

2. An immortal goddess bound to earth who, in search of her own salvation, saves others from peril.

3. A beautiful and powerful seductress, capable of infiltrating the minds of others in order to extract truth or exert influence.

CHAPTER 1

I should run while I have the chance.

I know it with a certainty that shakes me to the core of my very being. Just like I know how impossible running away would be, how unforgivable. A child is missing. A life is at stake. A life that’s mine to save. Then my eyes connect with his. I take a slow, steady breath, reach for the handle of my roller bag, and walk toward him.

Agent Zack Armstrong isn’t exactly what I expected. He’s taller, darker, and if my instincts are correct, three nights every month he’s a whole lot furrier.

“Agent Monroe, it’s nice to finally meet you in person.” He offers me his right hand, reaches for my bag with his left. “You travel light.”

His voice is low and lilting, the Southern cadence as compelling in person at it was over the phone.

“I’m hoping to wrap this up quickly,” I tell him.

“You and me both.”

The handshake is professional. Warm. Firm. No-nonsense. The cut and quality of his tailored black suit, the crispness of his shirt, and his choice of tie—a bold gold that brings out the exotic ring around dark brown irises—are all more James Bond than Seeley Booth. Even the hair sets him apart. Thick and dark, it’s slightly longer than regulation and swept straight back, accentuating the lines of a strong jaw.

“Car’s out front.” He gestures to the wall of doors leading outside. “You’re already checked in at the hotel.”

“Decent place?”

“I’ve been comfortable there. They put you next door to me. Hungry?”

“Starving,” I admit. “We were late getting into O’Hare. I barely made my connection. Didn’t have time to grab anything for lunch and the peanuts wore off long ago.”

“Good. We’ll grab a bite while I fill you in on our progress.”

The instant I step outside I’m hit with a wall of oppressive air. Although it’s past nine and March, it’s hot and humid enough to make my hair curl. A strand escapes from the bun at the nape of my neck. Without breaking stride I tuck it behind my ear and remove my blazer. Like all of my suits, the one I’m wearing is conservative and black. I unbutton the cuffs of my dove-gray blouse and roll them up.

“Is it normally this humid in March? ”

With a push of a button on the key fob, Zack unlocks the standard issue Chevy Suburban waiting for us at the curb. “What’s normal anymore?” He opens the passenger door. The gallant gesture reminds me that we’re in Charleston—home of the Southern gentleman. I slide in and suppress a smile. “Freak tropical storms in the winter? Temperatures in the 70s and 80s in the spring?”

My carry-on is quickly stowed in the back. I pull down the visor and flip open the vanity mirror. Not to check my makeup. I don’t wear any—no mascara, no lipstick, no makeup. Period. I do it to track Zack’s progress as he walks behind the car. Admiring him openly is a luxury I’d never allow myself. But as I sit here, alone, I take a moment to study the man whose voice for the past month has starred in my fantasies. Dangerous, I know, especially now that I’m here instead of thousands of miles away. But I just can’t help myself. A Siren is a Siren. A sexual creature, born of Gaia. I’m one of three, cursed by Demeter thousands of years ago for failing to protect Persephone. For failing to rescue her before she was dragged by Hades to the Underworld. It’s for this I atone. For this I pay. It’s the reason I couldn’t run. The reason I need to see this through. The reason I must find Cooper Anderson.

Zack climbs into the driver’s seat and fires up the engine. I push the visor back up, take a deep breath, and silently repeat the words I always do at the start of a new case.
Redemption could be one rescue away.

As soon as we turn onto the I-26 east Zack asks, “Did you question Hicks again?”

We’ve been together all of five minutes. I’m surprised it’s taken him this long to ask. Lance Hicks is the reason Zack contacted me in the first place. Hicks is currently serving a life sentence in one of California’s state prisons. His crimes started as kidnappings for ransom but they always ended in the death of the victim. Except for the last. We caught Hicks and rescued the boy he’d taken. That was four years ago. There had been some speculation at the time that Hicks might have had an accomplice.

“I did. Drove up to Chino yesterday. He still maintains he worked alone.”

The corners of Zack’s mouth dip down in disapproval.

Zack’s a member of one of the FBI’s five Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams. He’s been in the Charleston area, working this series of abductions for weeks now. I know he’s been hoping to connect his case to mine. To pin the kidnappings he’s been tasked to investigate to Hicks’ phantom partner. But that’s not going to happen. Hicks had no partner. I made certain of that during my initial interrogation.

Was using my power risky? Maybe.

Demeter frowns on any use of power that might draw attention to an Immortal on Earth. Having this gift is a burden. Not using it, a constant struggle. Though each use of my magic chances Demeter’s wrath, finding one of the missing, saving them, tips the scales in my direction. At the time I believed it to be a justified risk for the greater good. If Hicks had a partner, I needed to catch him and put him away. So, I did what I had to do. I stepped over the line—insinuating myself into Hicks’ mind to ensure he was being honest.

He was.

“Your gut still saying he’s telling the truth?” he asks.

My gut? Not quite, but I can’t elaborate. “I believe him, Zack,” I say. “The victim profiles are the same, yes. But here there’s been no request made for ransom. Hicks was always about the money. This feels different. How’s your partner holding up?”

Zack spares me a glance. “Not so good. They took Lincoln’s wife back to surgery this morning. She’s still in an induced coma.”

Suddenly he looks tired. Worried.

I understand.

This is the reason I’m here, now, in Charleston. Art Lincoln’s wife was in a head-on collision on her way home from a PTA meeting not more than twenty-four hours ago. She’s been in critical condition since, and Art, understandably, has been by her side. With Zack’s partner out of the game and a third child missing, I’ve gone from consultant to temporary replacement in the space of a few hours.

Andrew Boroson. Michael Nicolson. Cooper Anderson. All blond-haired, blue-eyed boys. All reported missing. Two found dead. And now the clock is ticking for the third.

“I’m anxious to get started.” The admission is punctuated by a loud roll of my stomach.

Zack takes the Meeting Street exit and heads right. “Maybe I should feed you first?”

“Someplace we can talk.”

“The grill at the hotel serves amazing shrimp and grits,” he suggests as he turns onto Wentworth.

We’re clearly in the historic district. The street is narrow, dotted with quaint shops and restaurants. The Charleston Renaissance comes into view, its cream-colored façade bathed in warm yellow light.

“If there’s steak on the menu, you’re on.”

“Oh, there’s steak all right. Not to mention the best mac-n-cheese you’ll ever taste.”

The car comes to a stop, and an over eager bellman opens my door. “Checking in?”

Zack opens the trunk then tosses him the keys. “The lady’s already checked into 502. Can you take care of the bag?”

“Yes, sir.”

Zack peels off a couple dollars for the young man, then hands me a room key.

“Hey, big spender, I can pay my own tips,” I say, dangling my purse in front of him.

I get a nondescript shrug before he places his hand on the small of my back. “You expense it. I expense it. What’s the difference?”

Before I can answer, he’s managed to open the door, guide me into the restaurant, and expressed his preference for a quiet table for two on the patio. Despite the hour, the place is bustling. We weave our way past a group of four-tops and follow the hostess through a set of French doors. Although the patio lacks the perfectly calibrated climate control of the dining room, it’s quiet and for the moment completely private.

I order an iced tea, and Zack asks for a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Zack’s beer is black and dense. My tea comes with a sprig of mint and, after tasting it, what I imagine to be a boatload of sugar.

Note to self: When in the South, be sure to specify
un
sweetened tea.

I push the glass aside.

Zack has yet to open his menu.

“Where do we start?” he asks.

“Let’s review the timeline.”

Zack nods and leans forward, his expression somber. “The first victim, four-year-old Andrew Boroson, went missing on the fifteenth of November from his day care center. The Borosons are a blue-collar couple, early twenties, with less than two-thousand dollars in their savings account. The case was initially investigated by the Charleston Police Department. The FBI was called in shortly after and Lincoln was assigned to the response team. That was before we became partners. Despite a flurry of exposure and press coverage, there were never any viable leads. No clear motive. Andy’s body was discovered on the twentieth of December, just a few feet behind the tree line on Ashley River Road, by a biker who’d stopped to relieve himself. The boy had been dead just over a week.”

“Autopsy determined he’d drowned,” I chimed in. “And there was no indication of sexual assault.”

“Just like Mikey Nicolson, victim two. I was there for that one.” Zack waves down our server.

I hand in my too-sweet tea and order the steak, rare, with a loaded baked potato and seasonal vegetables along with a glass of zinfandel. Zack surprises me by ordering the same along with a starter of hushpuppies made with the unlikely combination shrimp and preserved peach

BOOK: Captured
4.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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