Authors: Sara Schoen
Copyright © 2015 by Sara Schoen. All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: February 2015
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
To all my fans and friends from wattpad that encouraged me not only to publish the first of the series but make more books. Without you guys, I wouldn't have done it.
Table of Contents
There was darkness. There was nothing in the pitch-black room
had thrown me into. I had a feeling it was a large room, maybe even a hall from how many voices were echoing around me. They were all female, but none talked to each other. They screamed and begged for help, then cried themselves to sleep as reality hit. We were trapped, and weren't going anywhere. We had been left to rot in these gated cells.
One girl claimed to have been taken almost two years ago—March of her junior year of high school. Now she should be almost done with her first year of college, but instead she was here. She told the horror stories of rape, forced marriage, punishments, and much more. It was sick, made worse because I had a feeling I knew what the other girls looked like.
This man seemed to know what he wanted when he grabbed me. I was at school, with at least thirty other kids around, but he chose me. Why? I didn't know him, and I didn't want to know him. He simply grabbed me and sped off. Before the cops could even get a call we were on a dirt road speeding through the woods.
He had tried to drug me with some chemical soaked rag as he quickly bound my hands with plastic-zip ties before tossing me in the truck, but the rag slipped off in his haste. The sweet-smelling gas had had an effect though, and as I bounced along, helpless, sleep eventually overwhelmed me and I lost track of where we were.
I didn't know then what he wanted from me, but he had been obsessed with my blonde hair. He talked about it all the time, and I didn't understand why it mattered. All I did know was he wanted a girl that took orders, someone that cleaned and cooked, like a perfect housewife. He had taken a few girls upstairs, but eventually they would all return. Our only hope was to escape, but it was futile. Even now, when it was the only thing I could think about in the dark room, I knew escape was impossible.
The door cracked open and he flipped on the light switch, immediately transforming our world from mind-numbing darkness to eye-piercing light. There were no windows nor other doors in the room, and the sudden light blinded us in surprise. I covered my eyes, but froze when I heard his footsteps approach. I knew his face was close to mine. I could feel his hot, sour breath—was he going to try to kiss me again? His pale, green eyes would once again seep into my soul. Trembling, I peeked through my fingers to see him about two feet from me.
He smiled, but didn't come into my cell. Instead he walked down the long row of cages and looked at each of the girls in turn. I had been right, we were all blonde, young, and fit, and we also had the same body type. He stopped outside the gate of a girl covered in dirt and grime. She had been here the longest, and had told the worst stories. He opened the gate separating her from him—protecting her in its own, perverted way—and slowly stepped in, a wicked looking knife dangling lightly from his fingers.
A cruel smile licked his lips, causing panic to surge through me with each step he took. She scurried back, but quickly ran out of room in the tiny cage.
"Why are you doing this?" she cried, pressed against the far wall. Tears slid down her cheeks as the knife touched her throat momentarily.
"Because you don't obey like you are supposed to. You aren't the one for me," he answered. The knife slashed through the air and crashed on to the concrete floor.
She let out a tortured scream and raised her hand to her face, blood rapidly streaming down her hand and arm. He grabbed the severed ring finger, pocketing a simple gold band before tossing the useless member to the dirty floor. She began hyperventilating as he almost casually hoisted her over his shoulder and headed back down the hallway. She cried hysterically, weakly struggling in his iron grasp, leaving behind a pitiful trail of blood and tears. He chuckled softly and began to lightly whistle a popular tune famous for extolling the listener to don't worry and be happy.
She pleaded with us for help, but we were powerless. When she looked at me I saw the change in her. “Tell them”, it said “tell the world what he did”. I only nodded as tears slid down my face. I had made a promise that I knew I couldn't keep. She had been here almost two years, and he was getting rid of her. That meant we were all disposable.
The light shut off, plunging us into complete darkness again. An eerie silence fell as we took up positions to try to find some comfort in the terrifying dark. He had cut her finger off and then cheerfully carried her away with no sign of remorse.
What had I been dragged into?
I asked myself as someone whispered a prayer for the tortured girl—may Amanda Greene rest in peace.
I was entangled in a lecture about the behavioral analysis portion of the FBI as a way to keep up in the job. There were always new techniques and ideas floating around and it inspired me to work harder and save a few more people by learning all I could. If I had an arsenal of techniques and ideas, then maybe, just maybe I could save just a few more—get there faster, be better at determining who the real danger was, and executing the right course of action.
The speaker was going through old case files, explaining how each person was discovered and how they figured out who was behind the problem. It took a special skill because I didn't understand how they knew what ethnicity the individual would be. I was about to raise my hand to ask when my phone started to vibrate. I glanced at the caller id, and quickly left the room.
"Yes, Spencer what is it?" I asked once I was in the hallway and unable to interrupt the presentation.
"You're needed back in the office, there's a big case. It looks like a mass kidnapping from multiple states, they are pulling everyone in on this. Your
expertise is needed for this one," Spencer said with hesitation before he hung up the phone.
A groan escaped my lips as I turned and walked toward the elevator. It wasn't a surprise that everyone I ever worked with, talked to, or was near knew that Steve Bennett had taken me as a child. It was so common that I just expected everyone to treat me like glass. They thought I was damaged, but instead I had made myself into something. I was someone that fought against men like Steve Bennett. I didn't hide from them, I chased them. Just like Steve chased those girls, I would not stop until I had the criminal in my hands.
The elevator carried me to the sixth floor, depositing me into a cluster of cubicles cut off into teams of four. I glanced around for my team, but there was no one near our cubicles. As I walked toward my desk I looked around the room with no sign of them. I slid the waiting file on my desk smoothly into my hand as I stepped past, still looking for my new friends. Confusion washed over me when I still couldn't locate them until another agent pointed toward the conference room around the corner. I nodded my thanks, hurrying for the meeting.
"Sorry I am late I was watching a class on behavioral analysis," I said as I swept in and took my seat without even looking around me.
"Did you find it interesting, Jessi?" my boss' voice asked me as I pulled out a pad and paper to take notes on the case we were going to look over.
"Yes, sir. It was interesting to say the least," I stated absentmindedly as I scribbled on the paper below my fingertips.
"Well I'm glad you found it interesting, Ms. Sparks, because you're going to be helping us capture a dangerous man who you may have some personal connection with," a new voice said, causing me to look up for the first time straight into his clear blue eyes. His brown hair stuck up in the front, and swept back as he raked his fingers through it habitually to 'fix' it. Not that it needed fixing because it was perfect, but he noticed that I was staring he decided to point it out to the rest of the room. "Like what you see, Ms. Sparks?" he smirked with a lifted eyebrow that screamed egotistic jerk. He must be one of those men who always get the pretty girl; too bad I won't play his game.
“I love looking at a new case, now what do you mean 'that I have a personal connection'”? My voice edged between annoyed and defensive as I glanced around the room. I tried to take the file from under the mystery man's fingers, but he wouldn't let me.
"Do you know who this is?" the man asked me as he slid a file in front of me. He needed to be in control of the situation, I observed as he allowed me to take the file from him and slid it under my palms.
"Who are you?" I asked without even looking at the file in front of me. I wanted answers before I started handing out information on what I knew.
"Just answer the question, Ms. Sparks."
"It's Steve Bennett. He's dead, so what help am I to you?" I spat as I flipped the file open for a second, and then slammed it shut again. The man drew closer to me without telling me any information, he had to be in control, but so did I.
"It is, and he has a copycat. You've had close contact with Bennett and we need your help with this unknown subject. We know nothing about him yet except Steve's profile, we need you to fill in the rest."
"You have the training, Anna refused, and Audrey is in college," he retorted as he closed the distance between us.
"If you have Steve's profile, then why do you need me?" I asked ignoring the fact that they had made me a last choice for this case.
"Because he is playing off something that Bennett never did! He's added a quality that Bennett never used before!" he screamed as he glared into my eyes as if I had done something wrong.
"Don't you think that's because he's a different person?" I yelled back as I stood up abruptly and glared into his eyes.
"He idolized Bennett. He's following the same exact path, but on a wider scale! He's taken girls from the ages of fifteen to eighteen from all over the nation. Amanda Greene from Tampa, Florida; Katherine Martha from Topeka, Kansas; Tegan Richards from Hollowell, Maine; Grace Kaiser from Seattle Washington, the list continues!"
"How many has he taken altogether?" There was a noticeable hesitation in the room after the question was out in the open. "How many?" I repeated.
"Twelve. There are twelve so far, and we have no idea where he is going to strike next," the man said as he raked his fingers through his hair again in frustration.
"How come it took so long for you to ask for help? Those girls are probably dead!"
"You think we didn't ask before? How dare you insinuate—”
"Callum, stop. Do not start a fight with her, she doesn't know and there is no need for you to get in her face," a team member of his spoke up. It gave Callum enough time to compose himself before continuing.
"We had help before, but it caused the investigation to get worse. He took more girls, and most of them were found dead, and there was nothing we could do about it. There's something we are missing, and we think it's insider help and information. Will you help us?"
The question caught me off guard. He was asking if I would help instead of demanding. I wanted to help, but I knew there was a reason Anna said no. So should I follow her lead? It had gotten me out of dangerous, sticky situations before, but there was a copycat of Steve Bennett. I had known it would happen which is why I joined the FBI, but I never imagined it on such a wide scale.
"Yes. I will help you."