Stolen by Carey Baldwin is the 5th Cassidy & Spenser Thriller.
Is she missing…or a murderer?
When Laura Chaucer, daughter of a U.S. senator, vanishes from her college campus, celebrated FBI profilers Special Agent Atticus Spenser and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin Cassidy are called in. Thirteen years ago, Laura and her nanny disappeared from her family’s Denver home. Laura was found alive, but her nanny wasn’t so lucky… and the killer was never caught. Laura could identify him—if only she didn’t have a deep, dark hole in her memory.
Now she’s missing again. Did the troubled young woman run away or has the kidnapper returned? As women who look eerily similar to Laura’s nanny begin turning up dead, the Chaucer family psychiatrist renders a disturbing opinion: Laura is unstable, a danger to herself and others. Who knows what terrible secrets lurk in the shadowy recesses of her mind? Cassidy and Spenser must solve one of the most infamous cold cases ever to uncover the answer: Is Laura a killer, or is a monster still out there, waiting to claim another victim?
Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains
This wasn’t the first time Laura had awakened with a pounding head and a hole in her memory. The sun, peeking beneath her eyelids, carried a glow that told her she’d slept past noon—and that was no first either. But the deep ache in her bones, the shredded feeling in her stomach, like someone had taken a potato peeler to its lining, was beyond anything she’d experienced before. Her mouth was so dry she barely had the saliva to swallow, and when she attempted to do so, she gagged on her own bile. This was shaping up to be one mother of a blackout.
Hang on. Breathe.
Once the nausea passed, she braced herself on her elbows, lifted her shoulders, opened her eyes fully, and cried out—the noise screeching violently out of her chest as if propelled by a demon. She’d been expecting to find herself in bed, sheets tangled about her feet, or maybe kicked to the floor. A single worn sheet did cover the lower half of her body, but she wasn’t in her bed. Instead, she lay naked on a cold floor surrounded by a pool of foul-smelling liquid.
She cringed and rolled away. She’d been sleeping in vomit and feces. . . and something else . . . that looked like blood.
No. No. No.
She touched her forehead. Sweaty hair stuck to her face, but she was cold . . . really, really cold. She saw that her hands were trembling, and then, without warning, her entire body began to shake violently. She couldn’t control her limbs. They jerked open and shut, jackknifing at the joints. Panic travelled over her in waves as tangible as the convulsions. Her head slammed against the floor, but God took no mercy on her—the head bang didn’t knock her out. She remained fully conscious through every excruciating muscle spasm until, after what seemed an eternity, the seizure passed. Nothing like this had ever happened to her before. What the hell was going on?
Get off the floor, Laura.
If she could manage to stand up, she told herself, everything would be okay. She’d look around and realize that this had all been one of her bad dreams. Or maybe a hallucination. After all, she’d seen things that weren’t really there before. But . . . that was so long ago, and she’d been heavily medicated at the time. Dr. Webber had said the hallucinations were caused by an interaction between her antidepressants and her sleeping pills. Once he’d changed her meds around, the visions had stopped. At the moment, she couldn’t remember much about the recent past, but one thing she knew for sure: she’d tossed out all of her pills the day she left DC for Denver.
There was no way drugs could be the cause of all this because she hadn’t taken any.
Get up, Laura! Now!
Lurching to her feet, she looked around. Her eyes filled with tears. Everything was still there: the puke on the floor, the blood, and the stench that permeated the air, bearing shameful witness to her incontinence.
Hallucinations didn’t smell—at least not the type she’d had in the past.
This was real.
She’d been passed out in a pool of her own bodily fluids, and she had no idea for how long. It might’ve been hours or even days.
Shuddering, she dragged her gaze around the interior of the room. Its bare walls brought a glimmer of recognition. She remembered seeing this cabin before . . . before . . . before what? She yanked at her damp hair, as if that could stimulate her memory. And maybe it worked because she now recalled the flicker of a candle. A table. Her hand went to her throat. Her heart, already racing, kicked into overdrive. With her fingertips, she sought out the razor-thin scars that had long marred her neck and felt new wounds—ones that were still moist and excruciatingly sore.
Dead ahead was the table she remembered, as well as a chair with her silk scarves—the ones she wore to cover the marks on her neck—wrapped around its arms.
Another flash of memory: He’d tied her up.
But as she studied her arms, she didn’t find any telltale ligature marks.
Because he’d used her silk scarves.
Unlike rope would have done, the scarves had left no trace, no physical evidence, but she remembered being bound. She remembered . . . a knife.
Copyright © 2017 Carey Baldwin.
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Carey Baldwin is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award-winning author of edgy suspense by night. She holds two doctoral degrees, one in medicine and one in psychology. She loves reading and writing stories that keep you off balance and on the edge of your seat. Carey lives in the southwestern United States with her amazing family. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and chasing wildflowers.