- Deacon Novak
- Broken Minds
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Title: You Be You: Why Satisfaction and Success Are Closer Than You Think - eBook By: Jamie Ivey Format: DRM Free ePub Vendor: B&H Books: Publication Date: 2020 ISBN: 751 ISBN-13: 751 Stock No: WW113367EB. May also be obtained free of charge while supplies last by placing an order on the SSI website. Check the website for availability. SSI publications may be quoted or reprinted in part or in full with permission and appropriate credit given to the U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press.
A woman on the run must confront her dark past at her family’s home in Cincinnati in this thrilling novel of romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Karen Rose.
Author: Karen Rose
View: 890A woman on the run must confront her dark past at her family’s home in Cincinnati in this thrilling novel of romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Karen Rose. Psychologist Faith Corcoran is desperate to escape the stalker who’s made her life a nightmare for the past year—desperate enough to run to the one place that has been her nightmare far longer. Her recent inheritance of her grandmother’s old house in Cincinnati offers sanctuary in which she can start her life anew, but requires that she face the dark memories that still resonate to this day. But she has no idea how close to home her fears still are... Two college girls have gone missing in the area, and FBI Special Agent Deacon Novak is called to work on the case. When his inquiry unexpectedly leads him to Faith, he finds a beautiful and brave woman he can’t help but fall for. Soon they’ll discover that this seemingly simple investigation is anything but. Reaching back decades into Faith’s own past, it will shatter everything she believes to be true and will give terrifying new meaning to flesh and blood.
‘Just getting the lay of the land,’ he said mildly. ‘You’d armed yourself with a gun when the sheriff arrived.’
She blinked, startled at the topic change and now back on her guard. ‘Yes.’
She blinked again, this time in disbelief. ‘Why? Seriously? Maybe because I was alone, my Jeep wrecked, stranded on a deserted road with an unconscious victim of a violent assault? That girl was left there by someone, Agent Novak. If that someone had stuck around, I wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to hurt her again. Or me.’
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‘That’s sensible, of course. But why did you have a gun to begin with, Miss Corcoran?’
So I can shoot my sonofabitch stalker if he manages to track me here,
she thought, but had the presence of mind not to say it aloud. If she ever did shoot the sonofabitch stalker, she didn’t want anyone claiming she’d done so with premeditation
‘A lot of women carry weapons.’
‘True enough. But most of the civilian women I know carry them in their purse. You left your purse in your car, yet you had your gun handy.’
That he’d noticed shouldn’t have rattled her, but it did. ‘I don’t carry it in my purse.’
‘In a shoulder holster, then?’
He narrowed his eyes, clearly frustrated. ‘You’re going to make me work for this, aren’t you? Fine. Why did you have your gun so handy, Miss Corcoran? Did you bring it from your Jeep on purpose, expecting to need it? Did you perhaps see more than you’re admitting?’
It was her turn to blink in surprise.
Holy hell. He thinks I’m lying.
Which she was not. She had simply withheld personal information that he did not need to know. There was a difference.
‘No,’ she said firmly. ‘I did not expect to need my gun. It was in my coat pocket, if you must know. I didn’t see anyone except the girl, just like I told you. I’m not lying.’
He stared at her. ‘You carry a gun in your coat pocket? Why in God’s name would you do something so dangerous?’
She glared back, irritated. ‘I’m not stupid, Agent Novak. I don’t carry it in my pocket unprotected. I have a pocket holster.’
‘Why?’ he asked again, his urgency mounting.
She feigned nonchalance, hoping to ratchet his intensity down a bit. He was making her nervous again. ‘Because shoulder holsters chafe.’
Abruptly he rose from his crouch, simultaneously leaning into her space until they were eye to eye, their noses nearly touching. ‘Why do you carry a gun in your pocket, Faith?’ he demanded, his voice rich with an authority that crushed her defenses as if they’d never been.
‘So I can get to it when I need it,’ she blurted out, then clamped her lips together.
. She hadn’t meant to say that.
He was really good, she had to give him that. He’d known how to push her buttons. For a minute there she was a teenager, cowering in the confessional while her grandmother’s priest thundered at her from the other side.
Novak had immediately stilled at her answer. ‘But
do you need it?’ he asked quietly.
None of your damn business
was on the tip of Faith’s tongue, but she was saved from having to respond by the approach of the agent who’d been talking with Novak earlier. The angry one.
‘Agent Novak, I need to talk to you.
‘Excuse me, Miss Corcoran,’ Novak said. He and the angry agent stepped several feet away, speaking too quietly for her to overhear and turning so that she couldn’t see their faces.
Faith closed her eyes. This evening was shot to hell. By the time she made it through the ER, it would be time to sleep. There would be no going into the house for her tonight either.
. He had to still be at the house. He would have come back this way if he’d gotten tired of waiting, and no other vehicles had approached from the direction of the house since she’d hit the tree.
She was frankly surprised that he had waited so long. Maybe he’d never shown up. Or maybe he had and was charging her by the hour
. Wouldn’t that just be my luck?
She patted her pockets, looking for her phone so that she could call him, then remembered it had been in her coat pocket.
That’s just perfect.
The sheriff had bagged her coat since it had touched the girl, so they now had her cell phone too.
Novak and the angry agent parted ways, the other man heading toward the sedan parked behind the CSU van. Novak returned to the ambulance, knocking on the driver’s window.
‘Jefferies, I need to leave for a few minutes. Can you please take care of Miss Corcoran’s hands while I’m gone?’ Without waiting for a reply, he took off at a jog for the sedan and jumped in the passenger seat before Faith could ask about her phone.
The sedan squeezed past the ambulance and disappeared from view, headed in the direction of the house. The other agent must have found evidence on the animals who’d dumped the girl.
, she thought. Her locksmith troubles were nothing in comparison. If the locksmith had actually shown up, he’d eventually grow tired of waiting and come back this way. Until then, all she could do was stay here until Novak released her from the scene.
‘You ready, Miss Corcoran?’ Jefferies asked.
Faith held out her hands with a sigh. ‘As I’ll ever be.’
Mt Carmel, Ohio, Monday 3 November, 6.40
Deacon successfully fought the urge to look over his shoulder. He knew that Faith Corcoran was in good hands with the EMT. But he was still reluctant to leave her alone.
Which was ridiculous. She was surrounded by armed cops. She was not in danger, nor was she helpless. She’d climbed a rocky hillside to save a girl she didn’t know and had stood watch over that girl, gun in hand.
A gun she carried because she was frightened of something. Or someone.
‘What’s with the Good Sam?’ Adam asked. ‘What did she say to you?’
She’d said his eyes were beautiful. He could count on one hand the number of times that had happened in his life. The word had hit him hard when she’d whispered it, left him momentarily speechless.
Deacon was accustomed to the reactions of others. The flinches. The avid, clinical curiosity. Sometimes even suspicion. Over the years, he’d learned either to ignore people or to manipulate their initial surprise to suit his own agenda.
But Faith had called him beautiful.
Adam smacked his shoulder. ‘Hey. What the hell’s wrong with you?’
Deacon cleared his throat, rewinding his brain to remember Adam’s question. ‘She said that she was on her way home when the girl jumped in front of her.’
‘And?’ Adam prompted. ‘There’s more. I can see it on your face. What else?’
‘She’s hiding something. She’s definitely afraid.’
‘I don’t know. She wouldn’t tell me. All I could get is that she carries a gun in her pocket so she’ll have it if she needs it. But she didn’t hurt Arianna Escobar.’
‘And . . . you’re sure about that?’ Adam asked carefully.
Deacon started to say yes, then frowned. Was he really? He’d found her suspicious enough to ask his boss to run a background check. Before she’d called him beautiful.
Had he been that easy to distract?
I guess so
. It was a little humiliating, actually.
‘Why?’ he asked, unsettled. ‘What did you find? Any sign of Corinne Longstreet?’
‘No, but I traced the Escobar girl’s trail to a utility truck crashed into a tree, around the next curve. Hell of a coincidence.’
Dread building, Deacon kept his gaze on the trees. That the other crashed truck was a coincidence, that Faith Corcoran really was a valiant protector, was what he wanted to be true. But what he wanted rarely mattered. What mattered was finding who’d assaulted Arianna – and determining what had happened to Corinne Longstreet.
Adam stopped the car and Deacon swore. Down a slight hill was a truck with a dented hood, its front right tire hovering about six inches off the ground. The vehicle had struck a young tree, snapping it in half, and was now suspended on the broken trunk.
On the side of the utility truck a cartoon nobleman balanced one booted toe on the tip of a lightning bolt. ‘Earl Power and Light,’ Deacon murmured. ‘Arianna’s trail ends there?’
Adam nodded. ‘The driver’s seat is covered with blood. It hasn’t completely dried. Tanaka’s tech is down there, taking blood samples. He found woman-sized bloody handprints on the door and the other side of the truck. He typed the blood, said it matches what was on the road. He also found a hair that’s the same length and color as Arianna’s, but none that match the description of the second girl.’
‘So Arianna was driving the truck. We have to assume that she used it to get away from whoever abducted and assaulted her. Have you contacted the power company?’
Another nod. ‘They sent a man out here this afternoon to turn the power on in an old house at the end of the road. Guess who phoned in the request?’
‘Yep. Earl Power said that they hadn’t heard from the tech since 3.05, when he texted that he’d turned the power on and that he was sick and heading home early. He’s not in the truck or anywhere around it.’
‘And he never made it home?’
‘Still waiting to hear. His boss called his cell while I waited. Went straight to voicemail. I ran a check, but the driver’s clean. Ken Beatty’s a family man. Never late, always finishes the job. The fact that he texted that he was sick was unusual.’
‘Corcoran said she was on her way to the house that she’d inherited from her grandmother, who died last month. A big old abandoned house with a cemetery in the back yard. It stands to reason that she called the power company for innocent reasons. Like to turn on her power.’
Adam met his eyes. ‘I still don’t like the coincidence.’
‘Neither do I,’ Deacon murmured. ‘The house is the only one around for miles, has been abandoned for twenty-odd years, and doesn’t show up on the map.’
Adam scowled. ‘Perfect place to hide while you torture some teenagers.’
‘That’s what I’m thinking. Take me back to the scene. I’ll find out what Corcoran knows about the power company employee and the truck. I’ll get her permission to do a search of the house. You take one of the deputies and check the place out. Coordinate your search with Sheriff Palmer. He and his men know this area far better than we do.’
Adam turned the sedan around. ‘What do you think about her now?’
‘I still don’t believe she hurt Arianna. She called 911, waited for them to come. It doesn’t make sense that she’d do that if she was up to anything nefarious. But I still think she’s hiding something big.’
They were halfway back when Deacon’s cell phone buzzed. ‘This is Novak.’
‘It’s Crandall. Isenberg said you wanted a background on the Corcoran woman.’
New dread piled atop the lump in Deacon’s stomach. ‘Yeah. And?’ He put the phone on speaker so Adam could hear. ‘What’s on her record?’
‘She doesn’t have one. No speeding tickets, parking tickets, nothing. And I literally mean she’s got
. She applied for her driver’s license less than a week ago, and the Miami address she listed is an attorney’s office, but I couldn’t find an employment history or a phone number. It’s like she popped up out of frickin’ nowhere.’
‘Shit.’ Deacon pinched the bridge of his nose. He felt a massive headache coming on.
‘You knew she was hiding something,’ Adam said. ‘Sounds like she’s someone who needed to disappear, become someone new.’
‘Which might explain her nervousness.’
‘Crandall, call Tanaka and get the serial number on her gun. Let me know if it’s linked to any crimes. I don’t want her walking away until we get to the bottom of all this, but right now I don’t have anything to hold her on.’
‘On it. I’ll let you know when I have something.’
‘Make it quick,’ he said as they rolled to a stop next to the ambulance. Faith was still sitting in the back, but her hands were now heavily bandaged. ‘Looks like the EMT has patched her up. Her next stop is the ER and then she’s in the wind.’
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Mt Carmel, Ohio, Monday 3 November, 7.05
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Faith stared at Agent Novak when he stopped in front of her. The angry agent’s sedan had returned, staying still only long enough for Novak to hop out and for a uniformed officer to take his place. Then it was gone again, back in the same direction. Toward the house.
‘What’s going on here?’ she asked. ‘What did you find?’
‘Are your hands better?’ he asked, ignoring her questions.
‘Can I have my phone back?’ she asked, ignoring his.
‘I don’t have it.’
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‘The sheriff does. He bagged it along with my gun. I expect you’ll hold on to the gun for a while, but I need my phone.’
‘I’ll see what I can do. Is there anyone I can call for you in the meantime?’
Something was very wrong. His eyes had grown suspicious. He knew. He had to know.
The jig’s up. You might as well just tell him.
But still she hesitated. She saw suspicion, but none of the contempt she’d come to expect from cops. She hated the thought of putting it there.
‘No, because I don’t know the number I want to call. It’s in my phone.’
‘Who do you need to call, Miss Corcoran?’
It was clear that she wasn’t getting her phone back any time soon.
Be careful. Answer only the questions asked.
‘If you must know, I need to call the locksmith who’s waiting for me at my grandmother’s house to tell him I’m not coming.’
He frowned slightly. ‘A locksmith? Why?’
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‘Because the key my grandmother’s attorney gave me doesn’t fit, and he told me he doesn’t have another one,’ she said, her patience thinning. ‘And it’s only smart to change the locks anyway. The house is a hundred and fifty years old. My cell phone, please?’