Hi everyone! So, Hunter is taking a little longer than anticipated, and I am still working through some editing. I am hoping to have it finished near the end of September. If, for some reason, it takes longer to finish than that, I will let you know.
In the meanwhile, both Tracker and Kindred are only $0.99! So now you can read the first two books of the series for $2. The low price is for a limited time, and will go up again after Hunter is released, so take advantage while you can!
And now, for the sneak peak I promised: here is the first Chapter of Hunter! (Not fully edited. Feel free to point out any mistakes you see, and I will cheerfully fix them! Thanks!)
It's strange how sometimes life seems to go in circles. Seven years ago--almost to the day--I ran away from my drunk and abusive father, and today I discovered my new boss is also a drunk. One who didn't mind showing up at the office, whose staff consisted of him and me, raging drunk because his wife threatened to leave him again.
Luckily, we currently had no cases on the docket. Nobody would want to hire a private investigator who couldn't even figure out his wife had cheated on him with everyone from the mailman to the dog walker, until she told him today. Which led up to a rather large, angry man storming into the grungy little office I was in the process of organizing for him.
Most of his yelling was impossible to understand as he stomped around the little room, destroying most of what I already organized. I remained seated at the chair by his desk until he suddenly turned on me. "You knew! You were one of them!" he screamed at me, his bulk looming over me. Intimidating only because he was about five inches taller, and weighed about sixty pounds more than I. Much of his weight was muscle, although it was covered by a layer of fat, not helped by his steady diet of take out.
"I-I didn't..." I wanted to tell him I had no idea what he was talking about, but my mind was spinning. What had I done to deserve another abusive figure in my life? Would I ever find a place I wouldn't have to be afraid?
"Spit it out, boy!" He yelled. "What have you got to say for yourself?"
I pushed the chair back against the wall, trying to put as much space as possible between us. It was also an attempt to blend into the background, while silently waiting out his rage. If he was anything like my father, he would run out of steam soon. But, if he was anything like my father, I wouldn't be in very good shape when he did.
My fear turned to anger when I realized something: I was an adult. I survived the worst that Trevor Mason, a sadistic criminal, could throw at me. He kidnapped and tortured me, but I got through it. I beat Kindred, the assassin created by Mason, who killed an unknown number of people two years ago, in a misguided attempt to thank me for freeing him from Mason.
With my anger came a stirring of the power I tried to ignore since leaving Crandal County nearly two years ago. The ground under the office growled lightly, like a pet left alone too long. "Back off," I said, my voice firm but quiet, and my eyes downcast to avoid looking at the cause of my anger.
When he instead took another step closer, and grabbed my arm, I rose, stepping into his space. "Back off!" I said again, louder this time, and emphasized by the building shaking slightly.
He took a step back, his angry grumbling stopped for the first time since entering the office. I took a deep breath, and the building stopped shaking. "I'm going to say this once, Joe. I did not know anything about your wife cheating on you, nor did I ever have any kind of relationship with her. I think I've met her once in the time I've known you. Now, go into the back room, and sleep it off."
I don't know who was more surprised by my outburst, him or me, but the result was Joe finally stepping back. He went into the little room off the main office, where he kept a cot for when he worked late. I lowered myself into the chair with a deep sigh of relief. Angry or not, it was never a good idea to antagonize a drunk. Something I learned quickly as a child.
Thankfully, this confrontation ended with no one getting hurt, and Joe was so drunk he'd probably forget it ever happened. Or, if he didn't, with any luck he would only remember bits and pieces. Hopefully excluding the office shaking, which had been unintentional on my part, and I hoped he would completely black it out.
Either way, for now it was done, and I couldn't see trying to do any more work today. Not with my quick breathing, and shaking hands. I needed a break.
Sam was still in school, so I could go back to our small house and study, or just relax for a little while. Our house was secluded, out on a few acres of open land, hidden within a wooded area. It was what I was looking for when we left Alice and Hannah. I never specifically told them where we now lived, but, as detectives, Dan and Alice would have no trouble figuring it out.
I also suspected Sam was talking to them when I wasn't around, and he probably told them our exact location. If so, I thought while I walked out of my workplace, then I was glad they never tried to come and get me. Or tried to convince me it was time to come home. Home. A concept as foreign to me as a feeling of security or lack of fear. I hadn't had a true home, well...ever, I guess. Not the way my family was.
Although, if I had to be honest, the closest I ever felt to having a home where I was cared for and wanted, was with Alice and Hannah. Unfortunately, I lost the sense of security initially offered by staying with them, when my father found me. And later, when Kindred and the rest of Mason's crew knew my exact location. Not exactly a comforting thought.
"Excuse me?" A voice sounded behind me, while I locked the door. I didn't jump, having felt the footsteps approaching cautiously, and determining little to no threat. The heartbeat was quick, but the steps were hesitant, indicating nervousness, but not necessarily meaning me harm.
I turned, the woman standing there as I pictured her, hands clasped in front of her to stop the shaking, her breathing shallow, and face pale. "How can I help you?"
"You're a private detective, right?" she asked softly.
Of course I couldn't tell her I was just learning the ropes from the man who was passed out drunk in our back room, so I simply nodded. I fully intended to share any information she gave me with Joe, once he was sober again.
Shining hazel eyes darted up to meet my own dark brown gaze for a moment before flicking downward again. "You find people?" Her voice was barely audible, and she struggled with the tears that were trying to fall.
"We certainly try," I said gently, "but the police may be better..."
"NO! They haven't found anything, and it's been a week. My boy," she sobbed. She was probably in her late thirties or early forties, so her child could be young, or into the late teens. "He disappeared on his way to school last Friday. No one saw or heard anything. He's just gone! I need help. The police think he ran away, but he didn't!"
She was getting agitated, and I held up my hand. "Do you have a picture?"
With a nod, she reached into her black leather purse, and pulled out several pictures of a young man, probably about seventeen, blond, hazel eyes, and a broad smile. Professionally taken photos. "He's a senior this year, top of his class. Likely to be valedictorian." Pride shone through her sorrow. "Smart as a whip," she said. "He had a date for prom next week. Does that sound like someone who would run away? He's too smart for that. If, for some reason, he did want to leave, wouldn't he just wait until graduation?"
She seemed genuine enough, but so had my father any time someone questioned him about injuries I had as a child. If this boy, this very smart boy, had run away, was it for reasons similar to my own? Or had he cracked under the pressure of being top of his class and popular? "Will you help me?"
I unlocked the door, and stepped back into the office. "I need to leave a note for my boss. Then I need you to take me on his route to school, so I can see the area where he disappeared."
Her teary eyes showed gratitude, and I warned, "I may not be able to find anything more than the police, but I will try."
Please let me know what you think! And again, if you noticed any glaring errors, feel free to point them out! This book is still in the editing stage, and every little bit helps! Thanks! Happy reading!