Cold Case at Cobra Creek


Cold Case at Cobra Creek

Book 3 of the Cold Case Series

Cold Case at Cobra Creek

A Native American tracker makes it his mission to bring a missing child home, just in time for Christmas…

After two years, Sage Freeport had all but given up hope of seeing her little boy again…until she met Dugan Graystone. They shared a disdain for local law enforcement, the same folks who’d hindered Sage’s efforts to find her son. As an expert tracker, the broad-shouldered Native American was sure he could find the child—even if he had to leave Texas to do it. Spending time with Sage, watching as she broke down every time a lead didn’t pan out, Dugan worked harder than he ever had before. Now, with Christmas just days away, Dugan knew Sage trusted him to give her the greatest gift of all: bringing Benji home….

Cold Case at Carlton’s Canyon


Cold Case at Carlton’s Canyon

Book 4 of the Cold Case Series

Cold Case at Carlton's Canyon

Two officers’ badges—and hearts—are on the line in Rita Herron’s Cold Case at Carlton’s Canyon

Sergeant Justin Thorpe has dedicated his life to justice and won’t stop until he finds the vicious serial killer who has already claimed ten innocent lives. He works solo—until he joins forces with Sheriff Amanda Blair. The Texas Ranger can’t let his desire for his coworker keep him from his mission, especially when Amanda’s life is threatened.

Ten girls have vanished—one for every year since Amanda graduated from Canyon High. And as she tries to fight her attraction to a man as independent as she is, a trap is being laid to make Amanda the final victim in a killer’s terrifying endgame….

Don’t Say a Word


Don’t Say a Word


Special Agent Dubois is no hero… Groomed by a covert operative of elite killers, Damon left the secret society to join the FBI after a mission went brutally wrong and an innocent woman died.

When his brother is arrested for murder, Damon investigates and finds a “Jane Doe” who holds the key to the case, along with a darker terror – one that threatens to expose Damon’s deadly secrets and destroy them all.

Despite the danger, he’s drawn to the nameless beauty, igniting a passion that burns hot between them. But with a madman out to silence her forever, Damon knows he must deny their love. And to stop the man responsible, he must return to the one place he had desperately tried to leave behind – the dark shadows of a killer’s mind.


May, New Orleans

The woman had no name. No voice. No face.

Dr. Reginald Pace studied her near lifeless form as she lay on the shiny surgical table. The harsh fluorescent lights glowed off of her charred skin and raw flesh, painting an almost inhuman picture.

Her silent, pain-filled, vacant eyes begged for mercy. For death.

But the voice inside his head whispered that he could not fulfill her wish. That her body craved the transformation that only his gifted hands could offer.

As a plastic surgeon, he had seen the ruins of people’s faces and bodies on a daily basis. But never had he beheld a sight like the one before him. She looked almost inhuman.

Mangled, charred skin had peeled away from the severed tendons and crushed bone. Lips that might have once held a feminine smile now gaped with blisters and raw flesh. Eyes blinded by pain had flickered with a plea for death to end the agony before he had swept her under with the bliss of drugs.

His healing hands would piece her back together.

His healing hands and time…

Layer by layer he would rebuild her. Repair severed nerve endings, damaged cartilage. Replace tissue. Mold the monster into a beauty.

Without a face, a name, a picture, he could shape her into whatever he chose.

The woman of his dreams, God willing.

He gently brushed the remnants of her singed hair from her hairline. She would be in agony for a while, but he would be there with her every step of the way to offer her comfort.

And she would recover; he wouldn’t rest until she did.

A smile curled his mouth as he picked up the scalpel to get started. Yes, she would thank him in the end.

And then, she would be his creation.

His to keep forever…

Chapter One

A year later, New Orleans

Damon Dubois was a dead man.

At least he felt dead inside. As dead as the soldiers who’d fallen and given their lives for the country. As dead as the ones who’d lost their lives during the terrible hurricane that had nearly destroyed New Orleans.

As dead as the woman he had caused to die.

He could still see the flames licking at her skin, see the smoke swirling above her face, hear the crackle of the house as wood splintered and crumbled down on her body.

Ironically though, his heart still beat and blood still flowed through his veins, forcing him to go through the motions of life.

A punishment issued by the gods, he was certain.

For although his head hadn’t touched the pillow yet on this dreary evening, nightmares haunted him with the cries of that anguished woman screaming in pain.

And then there was the bebe’s ghostlike cry…

’Tite ange,” he whispered. “Little angel, you did not deserve to die.”

Perspiration beaded on his neck and trickled down into the collar of his shirt as he opened the French doors to the hundred-year-old house he’d bought on the bayou and breathed in the sultry summer air. The end of May was nearing and already the summer heat was oppressive. Sticky. The air hung thick with the scent of blood and swamp water. A Luis Armstrong blues tune floated from the stereo, the soul wrenching words echoing his mood.

Still, eerie sounds cut through the endless night. The muddy Mississippi slapping at the embankment. A faint breeze stirring the tupelo trees. The gators’ shrill attack cry in the night. Insects buzzing for their next feed.

Though a thick fog of blessed darkness clouded the waning daylight, morbid images bombarded him. A hand outstretched, begging for help. The fingers curled around the tiny bebe’ rattle. The accusing horror-stricken eyes.

He blinked to stop the damning images, but they flickered in his mind’s eyes like flashes of lightning splintering the sky.

The scream tore through the air again, and he swallowed back bile. Its shrill sound refused to stop, pounding against his conscious with a will that he couldn’t defy. Reminding him of his past. His sins. His vow of silence.

So many secrets…tell and you die.

Inside his pocket, his cell phone vibrated, jarring him back to the present. Hauling him away from the pain and self-recriminations clawing at his mind.

He gripped the mobile unit with sweaty fingers and connected the call.

“Special Agent Damon Dubois.”

“Damon, thank God you answered.”

His little brother Antwaun’s strained voice rattled unevenly over the line. Something was wrong. What kind of mess had his youngest sibling gotten into this time?

Hell, not that he had a right to judge anyone.

But the family knew nothing of his secrets. Or his lies…

“You have to come out to the bayou. We found a woman…at least part of one.” Holy Christ. “I’ll be right there. Where are you?”

Antwaun relayed the address, and Damon snapped the phone closed, grabbed his badge, then his weapon and strapped it onto his shoulder holster. Fifteen minutes later, he parked and headed through the densely packed stretch of the swamp. The scent of murk floated from the marshy water as the mud sucked at his feet. The voices and faint beam of flashlights ahead served as his guide through the knot of trees, and when he reached the crime scene tape the police had already strung up, he identified himself to the officer in charge.

Through the shadows, he spotted Antwaun and strode toward him. His brother’s forehead was furrowed with worry, the intense anger in his dark eyes warning Damon that this was not an everyday crime scene. It was personal.

“What’s going on, Antwaun?” he asked quietly. “Is this a federal case? A serial killer?”

Two uniforms frowned and muttered curses at his arrival, already the thread of territorial rights adding tension to an anxiety-ridden situation.

Antwaun leaned close to him, his voice a conspiratorial whisper. “Hell, Damon, I think I know the victim.”

Damon’s gaze shot to his brother’s, his pulse racing. “How do you know her?”

“I can’t be sure, but …” his gruff voice cracked with emotion, “but if it is who I think it is, we dated.”

The oppressive heat thickened, causing a cold clamminess to bead on his skin. “You recognize her or what?”

Antwaun scrubbed a hand over the back of his scraggly hair, his face as pale as buttermilk. “Like I said, we only found part of her.”

Damon sucked in a sharp breath, then followed Antwaun over to the edge of the swamp. The murky, wet slush chewed at Damon’s shoes, the stench of blood and a decaying animal hitting him. Somewhere nearby the hiss of gators warned him that the hungry creatures lurked at the edges of the river. Yellow eyes pierced the inky darkness, the scaly predators hiding beneath the water’s surface, taking stock of their prey. Biding their time. Waiting to strike.

Then he saw her. At least the part that was visible.

Her hand.

Just a single hand sticking up through the sludgy quicksand of the bayou.

Brittle, yellowed bones poked through skin that had been gnawed away. The fingertips were half gone. Blood dotted the remnants of mangled flesh, revealing exposed veins that had been sawed away by the jagged teeth of the animals that now watched in silent reverie.

“How…” he had to clear his throat, push away the mounting fury and choking bile. No woman deserved to end up like this. Had she been dead or alive when the gators got her? “If this is all they found, what makes you think you know her?”

Antwaun’s hand shook as he pointed to her third finger. At least what was left of it. “That ring…”

“Yeah?” Damon squinted, moved closer, knelt and spotted the thin thread of silver glinting thought the mud and debris. Amazingly the simple silver band still clung to the bone.

“I gave it to her,” Antwaun said in a low tortured voice as if his heart had been ripped out. “Right before she went missing.”

She lived in the darkness. Had known nothing but pain for months.

And all that time, she had been missing, but no one had come looking for her. Why?

Clutching the sheets of her hospital bed between bandaged fingers, she begged for relief from the agony and the mental ache of her own tormenting thoughts. Time bled and flowed together, sometimes non-existent. Sometimes slipping through the hourglass in torturous slow motion. Sometimes chunks and days, even weeks gone by without notice.

Isolated, starved for human contact, she lay waiting for his visit.

The bleep bleep of hospital machinery became her music. His voice, her salvation.

Gruff. Soothing. Coaxing her to sit up. Eat. Fight for her life. Heal.

His touch offered comfort, compassion. Murmured promises that she might recover one day. Be human. Even beautiful.

His miracle.

Yet as much as his manner evoked concern and care for her, even growing feelings, the scent of medicine and the hospital permeated his clothing, reminding her that he was her doctor, she his patient. And she had yet to see her reflection because he had stripped the hospital rehab facility of mirrors.

She was only one of many he had helped. But she’d heard the rumors. The hushed voices.

She was the woman without a face. A human monster.

He had repaired what he could. Endless, countless surgeries over the past few months. Bandages and medication, and hours on end of mind control techniques to keep from going crazy.

Sometimes she feared she walked a tightrope to insanity.

Then he disappeared.

But another came. A monster like her who whispered in the shadows. The man with the scale-like skin.

Her one and only friend here. Lex Van Wormer.

He seemed to sense when she was teetering on the edge, and reeled her back in, sewing the tethered strands of her mind together with some fanciful story. Silly dreams of a future she had to look forward to.

One he dreamt about as well, but one that eluded them both. Instead they had become prisoners of the darkness.

A gentle knock sounded at the door, and the heavy wooden structure squeaked open. A sliver of light from the hall sliced the black interior causing her to blink. Slowly over the past months of her imprisonment, her vision had adjusted and returned to near normal, although she still preferred the shadows. Whether to shield herself from having to face others and see the disgust or pity in their eyes, or because she’d begun to view the darkness as her best friend she wasn’t certain.

Her breath lodged in a momentary panic in her throat as she listened to the approaching footsteps. One of the nurses with another round of injections? Dr. Pace with his soothing voice and promises that she would get better? Or Lex, somehow sensing that she had suffered another nightmare?

Nightmares or memories – she could no longer distinguish the difference. She only knew that night after endless night, some fathomless sightless, black-hearted devil chased her. That he waited around every corner, watching, stalking, breathing down her neck. That she had to escape. That he wanted her dead and would stop at nothing until he achieved his purpose.

The door closed, blanketing the room once again in the gray fog of twilight, offering her safety.

It was always twilight in her room.


“Lex.” She exhaled a sigh of heartfelt relief. Though he called her the foreign name, she hadn’t recognized it. But the first time he’d seen her, he’d commented that her eyes reminded him of sparkling crystal cut glass, so he’d given her the name and the nurses had latched onto it.

That she’d been blind at first and hadn’t been able to see him hadn’t mattered. She’d relished his company.

Then, finally, on a pain-filled admission to prove to her that she wasn’t alone in her world of shadows, he’d allowed her to touch his hand. She’d felt the scaly dry patches of leather-like skin and had understood his reason for withdrawing from the world.

The condition caused by exposure to an unknown chemical in the war had disfigured him and eaten away at his body like battery acid. For a brief time before the bandages from her eyes had been removed, she’d feared she would react to his impairment and hurt him.

But she had grown accustomed to the sound of his voice as he read her poetry at night, to the cadence of his laugh as he’d fabricated stories of journeys he’d taken, and his looks hadn’t mattered. In fact, she hadn’t even cringed when she’d finally rested her eyes upon him.

Apparently, he had adjusted to seeing her without a face, and covered in bandages as well. Who else would be so accepting?

He dragged the straight chair against the wall near her bed, then reached for her hand. A light squeeze, and her breathing steadied.

“Thank you for coming.” Heavens, she hated the choked, childish quiver of her voice. But she had been so lonely.

“I’ll always be here for you, Crystal. Always.”

She closed her eyes to stem the tears threatening. Theirs was an odd relationship. Two misfits thrown together, two survivors hanging onto life by a severed thread. Yet they weren’t really living either.

“I’ve missed you, Crystal,” he said in a low voice.

She tensed. She’d sensed that his friendship ran deep, that he wanted more from her. She loved him in a platonic way, yet something was missing.

Too many pieces of her past lost. Too many questions unanswered.

Another man…maybe waiting.

The sound of Lex turning his harmonica over in his hands with fingers brittle from his disease, forced her to open her eyes again.

“Our quote for the day,” he began, “is from Ecclesiastes 49:10. Two are better than one, for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.”

A sliver of unease tickled her spine as his words washed over her. Lex was her friend, but if she healed as Dr. Pace promised, and she had to hold onto the hope that she would recover, she couldn’t imagine Lex as her lover. And she knew that he wanted more from her.

He lifted his harmonica and began to wail out a blues song that gripped her with sadness. Regret fed the flames of her emotions. She loved Lex, and she didn’t want to hurt him.

But she had to find out who she was. Where she’d come from. How she had ended up here.

If she had a family, a husband, other friends. A lover.

And why in the past nine months, not a single person had cared enough to hunt for her.


Undercover Avenger


Undercover Avenger

Nighthawk Island Series

Undercover Avenger

After surviving a near-fatal accident, undercover agent Eric Caldwell wanted revenge. Falling for his beautiful physical therapist had never been part of his plan. Melissa Fagan was investigating the same mysterious medical research complex that he was. But she was asking too many questions, digging too deep.

Now someone wanted her dead—before she could discover the truth about her birth parents.

All Eric wanted was to keep Melissa safe and alive. But how could he protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his mission…and risking both their lives?

Chapter One

Eric Caldwell walked a fine line with the law, but he didn’t care. He had trusted the Feds before and people had died. He didn’t intend to let it happen to this witness.

Even if he and his brother, Cain, fought again. Cain, always the good guy, the one on the right side of the law. The man who never saw the grays.

The only color Eric did see.

“Come on, Eric, where’s the witness in the Bronsky case?” Cain asked.

“What?” Sarcasm laced Eric’s voice. “Did the police lose another witness?”

“We do the best we can,” his brother said. “Do you know where he is?”

Eric grabbed a Marlboro and pushed it into the corner of his mouth. “Sorry, can’t help you, bro.”

Cain hissed, his message ringing loud and clear. Eric was lying, but Cain knew better than to push it. Eric would do whatever he could to keep the witness alive. “You can’t go around undermining the cops and the FBI, Eric, or killing every criminal who escapes the system.”

He glared at Cain over the duffel bag he’d been packing. “I didn’t kill anyone.”

Cain’s gaze turned deadly. “I don’t want to see your vigilante ways get you in trouble. It’s like you’re on a death mission, taking everything into your own hands.” Cain’s voice thickened. “One day you’re going to cross the wrong people.”

Eric ignored the concern in Cain’s warning, zipped his bag, then threw it over his shoulder, grabbed his keys and strode toward the door. “Like you don’t cross the wrong kind all the time.”

“It’s not the same thing,” Cain argued. “I have people covering me. You’re on your own.”

Eric hesitated. “You could quit the force and help me. Make it your New Year’s resolution.”

“New Year’s has come and gone,” Cain said. Their gazes locked briefly and Eric’s stomach clenched. His brother was serious. “Join the force, Eric, and work with the law, not against us.”

But Eric could not fit the mold. “I guess we hit that impasse again.” He snagged his laptop off the counter.

Cain’s jaw tightened. “Watch your back. If you get into trouble -”

“Then you’ll be there to help me.” A cocky grin slid onto Eric’s face. “Now, I’d love to stay and talk politics but I gotta go.”

Cain caught his arm before he could fly past. “Where are you going?”

Eric stared him down hard, the way he had when they were boys and they’d argued over whether or not to interfere when things had gone sour at home. When their father had taken his rage out on their mother and them. “I have business to finish,” he said between clenched teeth. “Legitimate business at the ranch.”

His brother studied him, didn’t believe him. Eric didn’t care.

Or maybe he did, but he would do what he had to do anyway.

Mottled storm clouds rolled across the sky as he headed outside, thunder rumbling above the trees. The wind howled off the lake, a haunting reminder of the bleakness that had become his life.

He didn’t have time for self-analysis, though. He had to get the witness to a safe house, then meet that woman his friend Polenta had sent his way. She’d sounded desperate, as if she was in trouble. And there was a kid involved. Some baby named Simon. The woman hadn’t made sense. She claimed they were after the baby, that he was the product of a research experiment.

He’d known then he had to help her and the child. He’d even considered confiding in Cain, but she had turned to him for a reason. Because she couldn’t trust the cops.

The reason he did what he did.

Eric could never say no to a woman or child in trouble. Not when his own past haunted him, when memories of his mother’s suicide still sent sweat trickling down his spine. Years ago, he’d started working with an underground organization to help women escape abusive homes so they didn’t meet the same fate, and their children didn’t suffer from abuse themselves. Someone had to help them break the cycle.

He jogged down the front-porch steps two at a time, heading toward the lean-to where he’d parked the Jeep. Thankfully, his brother followed him to the porch. The witness was hiding in the back room, waiting to escape out the side door, then slip through the woods to the SUV.

Rocks and gravel sprayed beneath his boots as he walked, the sting of his brother’s disapproval burning his back. He shrugged it off, tossed his duffel bag into the back seat along with his computer and saw the witness crawl into the passenger seat. He waited until Cain turned before he went to retrieve the cash he kept stashed in the shed for emergencies.

Shaded by the thick forest of trees between his property and the road, he stepped toward the knotty pines. But a sudden explosion rent the air, the impact throwing him against a tree. Glass shards and flying metal assaulted him. He banged his head and tasted dirt, then jerked around on his knees in shock. His Jeep had exploded. A fireball rolled off it toward the sky. Ignoring the blinding pain that seared him, he lurched forward to rescue the witness, but another explosion rocked the ground and sent him hurling backward again into the woods.

Fire breathed against his skin, catching his clothes and singeing his arms and legs. A jagged rock pierced his skull.

The world went momentarily dark, the crackle of fire eating into the night. Eric pulled himself from the haze and tried to yell for help, but his vocal cords shut down. The smoke and fire robbed him of air. He coughed, inhaling the acrid odor of his own burning flesh. Pain, intense and raw, seared him. Flames clawed at his face, and pieces of hot metal stabbed his thigh. Then dizziness swept over him.

He released a silent scream into the night, welcoming death and telling his brother goodbye.


The Cradle Mission


The Cradle Mission

Nighthawk IslandSeries

The Cradle Mission

When vulnerable beauty Alanna Hayes appeared on his doorstep with a baby in tow, Cain Caldwell didn’t know what to think. On the run after uncovering evidence of secret experiments at the Coastal Island Research Park, she claimed his brother had promised to help her, but he was dead. The closer Cain got to Alanna, the more difficult it was to remember she might be involved in murder. Except this hardened lawman couldn’t deny the passion rising between them, and neither could Alanna.

Would Cain join the mission to save baby Simon from the mysterious forces of Nighthawk Island—before it was too late?

Chapter One

Catcall Island
“Kill her,” the man ordered in a gruff voice. “Then take the baby.”

Alanna Hayes’s heart constricted. She had to save herself, so she could save baby Simon.

Frantic, she tried to free the bindings encasing her wrists, scanning the dark interior of the lab storage room for an escape. Shadows claimed the corners, dark clouds casting bleakness through the small window, the sound of rain slashing against the metal roof ominous. Another man’s husky voice filtered through the darkened doorway.

She should have known better than to snoop into unauthorized areas, but she hadn’t expected the security guard to take her hostage at gunpoint. And now they’d kept her in this cold, cramped space for hours, making her wonder –

The voice broke the silence again, a harsh mumble. She didn’t recognize the men’s voices. Did they belong to the doctors at the research center where she worked? The security guards?

Were they really going to kill her? And what would happen to innocent little Simon? He was only four months old, he needed her….

“I don’t like the idea of murder,” a deep voice said.

“We have no choice,” the man said matter-of-factly. “But make it look like an accident.”

“What are you going to do with the baby?”

A chill rippled up Alanna’s spine. The thickly accented voice belonged to her boss, Paul Polenta, one of the leading researchers in gene therapy in the country.

God, no. He couldn’t be a part of this … this lab project. She’d liked him, had thought he was a brilliant, caring doctor. Just as she’d believed everyone at the Coastal Island Research Park intended to help people.

She’d been wrong.

The man’s gruff voice cut through her fear like a razor blade scraping raw skin. “We’re taking him to the lab as planned.”

“Won’t it draw suspicion if one of our nurses turns up dead?” Polenta’s voice quivered. “After all, what does she really know?”

“Too much. I found her snooping in my files.” The other man cleared his throat, the sound echoing beneath the eerie drone of the rain. “And I’ve worked too damn long on Project Simon to let some nurse destroy it. I chose her because she has no family. No one will come looking for her.”

“She has a grandmother -”

“Who barely knows her name, much less if her granddaughter visits.”

Alanna’s chest constricted. Her grandmother had Alzheimer’s. The center’s research on the disease had been one thing that had led Alanna to take a job at CIRP. Even if her grandmother didn’t always recognize her, Gran counted on her visits. She had no one else. What would she think when Alanna didn’t show up for her weekly visit?

“But murder?” Polenta asked, sounding shaken. “We’re doctors, for Christ’s sake.”

“Hell, man, think of your reputation. You wouldn’t be able to work anywhere in the country if word leaked about this project. The Holy Rollers would picket. The press, the cops, the feds, they’d be all over us.” His voice escalated several decibels. “And the government would shut us down. Then there’s the damn Russians …”

Polenta grunted. “Can’t we use one of those experimental drugs to alter her memory?”

“Not after the mess with that cop, Clayton Fox, and the scientist Wells and his wife. I want all loose ends tied up,” the first man ordered. “Now let’s get out of here. We need to be long gone when the building blows.”

Outside, the rain intensified, pounding the roof with brutal force. Fear paralyzed Alanna as the voices faded into the howling wind. They were going to leave her to die. Then she’d never be able to save Simon. To hold the precious infant in her arms again.

To see him gurgle and smile. To watch him grow. To know he would have a normal life.

The outside door slammed shut. Silence followed, earth-shattering in its intensity. The low hum of a car engine sprang to life in the chilling aftermath. Thunder rumbled. Car doors closed. Gravel crunched, then tires screeched as the car peeled away.

Tears trickled down her cheeks, soaking the rag in her mouth. How long did she have before the building blew? Minutes? Seconds?

Time enough to escape? And if she did, could she find Simon and save him?

Fighting panic, she forced herself to breathe through her nose, and shuddered at the strange odor. Gas? Or was it another lethal chemical? Her heart pounding, she twisted in the chair, searching the darkness, hunting for something to help free her. Dust motes floated through the haze. Spiderwebs clung to the corners. Her eyes slowly adjusted. Lightning flashed, momentarily illuminating the sooty darkness. She searched the metal shelves and cement floor. Assorted flasks, test tubes, lab supplies.

A broken petri dish in the far corner.

She struggled to slide sideways, then slowly pushed herself up from the chair. Dizzy from the gas fumes, her legs buckled and her knees hit the concrete with a painful thud. The chair legs splintered. She winced, pitching forward, but managed to right herself, then crawled awkwardly toward the supplies.

Several long minutes later, she grasped in the dark for the broken glass and maneuvered it behind her. Thunder rent the air outside as she sawed through the thick ropes. Sweat streamed down her neck. The jagged glass jabbed her palm. Somewhere in the distance, the incessant ticking of a clock chimed. Or was it a bomb?

Her heart racing, she ignored the cramping in her muscles, the pounding in her head. Finally the rope frayed. She tugged until the ends came apart, freeing her hands.

Jerking the gag from her mouth, she heaved for air and quickly cut through the ropes around her ankles. Dizzy, she staggered to the door. Damn! It was locked. The ticking sound escalated in her head, reminding her to hurry. Then the door swung open.

A scream died in her throat.

Polenta’s hulking frame stood in the shadowed awning.

“Alanna.” His expression looked pained.

“Please,” she whispered. “Please … don’t do this, Paul. Let me take Simon and leave.” She grabbed his arms, shaking him. She was crying openly now. “I love that baby, I’m the only person he knows. You can’t let him be treated like a science experiment.”

His jaw tightened, but he dragged her outside. Gravel crunched beneath her feet. Lightning zigzagged across the sky, illuminating his angry face. His fingers dug into her arms. Where was he taking her? Was he going to kill her himself?