Deadly Silence: New Excerpt

Deadly Silence by Rebecca Zanetti
Deadly Silence by Rebecca Zanetti
Deadly Silence by Rebecca Zanetti is the 1st book in the breathtaking new romantic suspense Blood Brothers series (Available October 4, 2016).

Under siege. That's how Ryker Jones feels. The Lost Bastards Investigative Agency he opened up with his blood brothers has lost a client in a brutal way. The past he can't outrun is resurfacing, threatening to drag him down in the undertow. And the beautiful woman he's been trying to keep at arm's length is in danger…and he'll destroy anything and anyone to keep her safe.

Paralegal Zara Remington is in over her head. She's making risky moves at work by day and indulging in an affair with a darkly dangerous PI by night. There's a lot Ryker isn't telling her and the more she uncovers, the less she wants to know. But when all hell breaks loose, Ryker may be the only one to save her. If his past doesn't catch up to them first…

Life didn’t make any damn sense.  Ryker leaned back against a tree and ignored the pounding rain.  Blue and red lights swirled through the darkness as FBI techs hustled around the secured vacant land north of Salt Lake City, looking for evidence that wouldn’t be there.  This killer was too good to leave evidence.

Being this close to any law personnel gave Ryker a gut ache, but he didn’t have a choice.  At least his disguise wouldn’t reveal his true identity, although to the best of his knowledge, the FBI wasn’t after him.  Yet.

Two guys wearing jackets emblazoned with yellow FBI letters finished setting a tent up to protect the body further from the elements.

Ryker had caught a glimpse of the girl’s matted red hair, but hadn’t gotten close enough to see her face yet.  But he knew.  Yeah.  The body had been Rachel Misopy, and he was too late again.  The idea of some psycho hurting the innocent plunged him right back into his childhood, and he had to fight to keep in control of himself when all he wanted to do was punch the nearest tree.

Why did people with loved ones get killed, while a guy like him, who for so long hadn’t had anybody, still walked the earth?

“How the hell did you get the news?”  asked an irritated female voice from his left.

He turned to see Special-Agent Loretta Jackson stepping gingerly over broken bottles and what appeared to be a dead possum.  “Connections,” he said easily, raising his voice a few octaves to mask his normal tone.

She came to a halt, her battered brown boots sinking into newly forming mud.  In her mid-thirties, she had deep brown eyes, very curly brown hair, and full lips that belonged on a supermodel and not a cop.  “The family hired you.”

“No.” He smoothed down his nondescript paisley tie that coordinated perfectly with his boring brown suit.  Padding gave him a beer belly, and high-end designs gave him a beard and mustache.  Add in brown contacts with blond hair dye, and even the sharp-eyed agent wouldn’t be able to draw a true picture of him.  “My agency is going to keep working this until the guy is caught, whether we’re paid or not.”

The family of the fourth victim had hired them two months ago, and they’d failed to bring her back home alive.  Yet another person Ryker had let down.

Jackson looked around him, spotting his rented Taurus on the deserted county road.  “You’re solo this time?”

“Yes.”  Usually Heath handled the crime scenes, but he’d been getting too emotionally close to the case, so Ryker had stepped up.  “Can I see the body?”

She zipped up her dark jacket.  “Sure.  Tell me how you knew about the body, and I’ll let you see it.”

“We have an alert out for any suspicious deaths of young females in the Pacific Northwest,” he said, giving her the truth and biting back his frustration.  “When the hikers discovered this body, and the local sheriff called you in, we were notified, and here I am.”

“There’s something not quite right about you guys, and I’ll figure it out after I catch this maniac.”  She pushed wet hair away from her face.  “If I insist on seeing your license for the state of Utah, you’ll say you don’t have it with you, right?”

“Yes.”  He smiled beneath the fake beard.  “Then we’ll send you copies of the license after I get back to the office.”  They’d have no trouble once again faking credentials by creating authentic ones and backdating them in computer systems.  Thank God Denver was so good with computers.  “I’ll have my office send you our Utah credentials.”

“I’d appreciate that.”  She looked toward the white tent, her shoulders slumping.  “All right, one peek.”

He kept the surprise off his face as he followed her across the uneven ground toward the tent.  Mountains rose in the distance, silent observers of man’s worst, and he fought a shiver. 

As they reached the tent, he tugged up the flap and let her enter first.

The eighteen year old girl lay on her side, blood matting her hair to the right side of her face.  In death, her pretty blue eyes were closed, but bruises marched down her face.  Somebody had placed a sheet over her, but part of the potato sack she’d been dressed in peeked out the side.

The smell of death hadn’t permeated the tent yet, but it would.  His stomach clenched, and he dropped to his haunches next to the body.  His chest ached.  “God, she was young.”

Jackson nodded and reached a gloved hand to tug the sheet down.  “Just turned eighteen.  Dressed in burlap, like the others, and…”  Pulling further, she revealed the knife marks in the upper chest that said MINE. 

Ryker sucked in air.  The gauges were deep and bloody, showing the bastard had cut her while she’d been alive.  “Sexual assault?”

“Looks like it.  We’ll know more after we get her to a lab.”  Jackson settled the sheet back in place, her voice sober, her hands shaking.

Ryker wondered why she’d taken such a heart breaking job.  Instinct whispered the agent had some serious shit in her background.

He wanted to smooth the bloody hair back from the dead girl, to get it off her face, but he knew better than to touch something in a crime scene.  “She loved playing the piano,” he murmured, forgetting to alter his voice.  He’d even watched a couple of recitals from her grade school years, where she’d worn pigtails and a pretty white dress.  The pain for her loved ones at losing her like this must be indescribable.  He couldn’t even imagine.  “She was adorable.”

“I know,” Jackson said softly.  “Did you know she volunteered at the local animal pound twice a week?”

Ryker nodded, his chest compressing. Emotion swirled through him, and he couldn’t quite grasp the anger past the grief. 

“Seemed like a nice girl.” Jackson swayed and then quickly recovered.

Ryker stood in case he needed to catch her, noting her too pale face and darkening brown eyes.   “Why are you working with me?”

She threw up her hands.  “This is the seventh case in six months, all family members or close friends of law enforcement personnel, and I’m at the end of my rope.”  She sighed and looked years older than her probable thirty-five.  “You guys have been involved since the first case, your records hold up, and I want you to share any information you get.”

He nodded, making a mental note to have Denver shore up their identities and histories a little better, because this woman wouldn’t give up until she’d figured them all out.  “No problem.”  The small body on the ground would haunt him forever.  “Has her father been notified?”

“Yes.”

He couldn’t even imagine that type of pain.  The girl’s father was a bounty hunter who’d raised her by himself.  Maisey had been kidnapped from a college in Spokane, held for a week, and then dumped in Utah.  The killer was torturing both the kidnapped victims and anybody who loved them, which was beyond cruel.  He needed to be taken down and brutally.  “So far the guy has taken women from Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, Idaho, and Utah.”

Jackson nodded.  “Yes.  If you find any sort of lead, I expect you to give me a call.  I have your numbers to find you.”

He tugged out a new business card.  “We’ve relocated to Wyoming.”

She took the card, her eyebrows rising.  “Because of this case?”

“No.  It’s a nice place, and we need a home base,” he lied, wishing he could offer some sort of comfort to the agent.  But there was no comfort while the killer still walked.  “Keep in touch.”  Turning on his heel, he left the tent and headed for his car through the snow.

“Ryker?”  she called, peering out of the tent.  “I don’t mind you doing research, but stay out of the line of fire.”

He turned back.  “We’re not looking for the line of fire.”

“We both know you’re choosing Wyoming for a new office isn’t a coincidence.”  The wind blew rain to cover her pretty face, and she shoved hair out of her eyes.  “I want to know what your plan is now.”

To get the hell away from the FBI.  “I’m heading to the airport and back to work…after drinking a bottle or two of Jack Daniels.”  Without waiting for an answer, he left the dead girl and his last failure behind him.

 

Copyright © 2016 Rebecca Zanetti.

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Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five romantic suspense, dark paranormal, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestseller lists.

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