Oct 12 2012 1:45pm
IN THE GAME OF CRIME
A new trainee at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Lucy Kincaid has already seen more than her share of murder and mayhem. Still reeling from the sex-crime case that sealed her reputation, she’s found a true friend and mentor in Agent Tony Presidio. No matter what goes down at the Bureau, Tony’s got her back—until he’s called to New York to help investigate the murder of a reporter with ties to Lucy.
NEVER PLAY THE VICTIM
But the reporter may not be the first victim of a patient killer with a penchant for revenge, and she’s definitely not the last. Connections between closed cases, a missing person, and Tony himself lead Lucy to fear for those she cares for most. When the FBI is rocked by the death of one of their own, Lucy seeks the help of her boyfriend, private investigator Sean Rogan, to help put together the puzzle—and puts her career in jeopardy. But the harder she pushes for answers, the clearer the truth becomes: There’s a killer inside Quantico. Watching her every move. Waiting to kill again…
Get a sneak peek of Allison Brennan's Stalked (available October 30, 2012) with this EXCLUSIVE Lucy/Sean scene!
“For telling the truth?”
“If I don’t go back I won’t have to worry about the driving test on Monday. And we don’t have time for you to teach me.”
“You know how to drive. I was supposed to teach you how to drive well enough to ace the FBI track. Is it the test Monday or a practice?”
“Defensive driving. No test, but I have to be able to complete the course.”
If she was there. “I hate driving,” she mumbled. She didn’t want to tell him, or anyone, how nervous she got when behind a wheel.
“You’re tense.” Sean nuzzled her neck. “Patrick told me about the accident.”
She frowned. “He shouldn’t have done that.”
“You’re right. You should have.”
“Am I supposed to recount everything that has ever happened to me?”
“I’ve asked why you hate driving.”
“It was never the right time.”
“Accidents are traumatic. But you’ve faced far worse than a non-fatal car crash. Which means, Patrick doesn’t know everything.”
“I was five. It left a lasting impression on me.”
She rolled away from Sean, but he pulled her back toward him, spooning his body around hers.
He was trying to make her comfortable, trying to make her relax and share. But it wasn’t working. He always wanted to know everything, and he usually just guessed. Most of the time he was right.
“What do you think happened?” she snapped. “You usually know what I’m thinking.”
He refused to take the bait. “Not this time. I only know that Patrick has no idea what happened during the crash, and that’s what I don’t understand.”
“I barely remember the accident.”
She’d been in the back between Patrick and Carina, who were bickering about something, but in the good- natured way they always had. They were only eleven months apart, and as Lucy grew up she’d been jealous that her older brothers and sisters were all friends and she was the mistake, the seventh child who came a decade late.
She didn’t remember much about the accident, only flashes. Like she knew it had been raining, rare for San Diego. Her father had muttered something about drivers being stupid in the rain. Her mother had a rosary in her hands. They may have been coming home from church, or that memory might be because her dad told her later. Patrick had taken something from Carina and had given it to Lucy to hide behind her back. Their dad told them to settle down, and Lucy was giggling. She loved when her big brother included her in his jokes.
Then suddenly everything was moving fast. Loud sounds, Carina screamed, and they were upside down.
Lucy went to sleep, or so she thought at the time. She awakened fast, to a loud noise as their van was hit again. She looked around and no one was moving.
She thought her family was dead.
An involuntary moan escaped her throat.
“Hey, Lucy?” Sean sat up, pulling her up with him and holding her close. “What’s wrong?”
“Don’t do that. Tell me, princess. What happened?”
“My family thinks I’m scared of driving because I was in the car accident. I don’t remember anything about it, really, just the noise. And everyone was fi ne, though Carina had a broken rib, I think. Or maybe it was Patrick.” She glanced away. “Maybe there was more to it, but I really don’t remember. That shouldn’t stop me from driving. It’s silly.”
“Early childhood trauma impacts us far greater than anything else,” Sean said.
“Now you sound like a shrink.”
“We’ll get you through it, okay? Let me help you.”
Sean needed to help people. Especially her. He wanted to be the one to fi x everyone’s problem, and that was endearing and noble, even when he was frustrating.
“I don’t remember anything.”
“Look me in the eye and say that.”
“Why don’t you trust me?”
“You know I trust you.” She trusted Sean more than anyone, but that didn’t mean she could just talk about this.
Sean didn’t say anything. But he didn’t move, either. He was waiting.
Lucy closed her eyes. Sean wasn’t going to budge. He wanted to know. She considered making something up, but he would know. She wished she was a better liar.
“I don’t know how to put it in words,” she fi nally said.
“Patrick said you didn’t want to get your license when you were sixteen.”
“But I did.”
“Of course you did; you’ve never let fear hold you back.”
“And it’s not now. I’ll get through this, Sean.”
“I thought everyone was dead, okay?” Tears clouded her vision. “Damn you, I don’t want to cry.”
He kissed her lightly. “When I found my plane upside down in the field last May, I thought you and Noah were still in it.”
Maybe he did know. “It’s not logical,” she said. “I was a little kid. But every time I drive, I get tense. Just a flash of memory, me wedged between Carina and Patrick, the blood, the rain hitting our car, and they weren’t moving. No one was moving. It seemed like hours that I was there, crying, staring at my dad, who was so big and strong, but blood covered his head.
“It wasn’t hours, of course. I learned later less than fi ve minutes passed before someone, an off-duty policeman, came over to our van. Everyone woke up after that, but those minutes were forever to me.”
Lucy was grateful that Sean didn’t probe her for more details or offer his sympathy. His even breathing, his chin on her head, was all she wanted—or needed. Comfort.
“Every time I drive, especially on the freeway, I get a flash of my family. When I interned with the Sheriff’s department, I never went to traffic fatalities. I found excuses not to go. Not consciously, but I see it now.”
“And when you and Detective Reid were run off the road last month, you were thinking about it.”
“I knew you were keeping something from me that day.”
She looked up at him. “Thank you for not pushing.”
“I knew you’d tell me eventually.” He kissed her, and her muscles began to relax.
“I promised you a romantic night,” Lucy said. “And all we’ve talked about was work.”
“And you.” He kissed her again. “Lay down. On your stomach. You’re still tense.”
Lucy complied and Sean pressed his fingers and thumb on her sore shoulder muscles.
“Umm,” she said.
“You’re really tense. Take off your shirt.”
“This sounds like a ploy to get me into bed with you.”
“How well you know me.” He kissed the back of her neck.
Lucy smiled and took off her shirt. Sean rummaged through her overnight bag and found her favorite lotion. He poured some into his hands and rubbed them together, then straddled her without putting any weight on her. Slowly, he spread the lotion over her back, kneading her muscles from her neck to her hips.
“You’re going to smell like roses,” Lucy mumbled.
“I’ll be reminded of you.”
Sean’s strong, talented hands smoothed out her stress.
He didn’t rush. With each passing minute, Lucy’s mind slowed down, pushing aside the case, her grief, her childhood trauma. The world disappeared and all that was left was her and Sean.
Sean reached around and unbuttoned Lucy’s jeans and pulled them down her well-formed legs. He rubbed more lotion between his hands and took the massage from her lower back to her thighs and down to her calves.
“Oh, God, Sean,” she whispered, and he smiled.
“I wish I could do this for you every night,” he said, and began rubbing the balls of her feet.
“I could fall asleep so easily.”
“Don’t you dare.” He wished she didn’t get this tense. Tomorrow, she’d be back working on the case, focused on everyone except herself. He would do this for her nightly, and enjoy it.
Lucy rolled over and smiled at him. “Take off your clothes.”
“Aren’t you bossy.”
“I don’t like to be naked alone.”
Copyright © 2012 by Allison Brennan
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Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nineteen novels and many short stories. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives in Northern California with her husband Dan and their five children.