The office was silent. Empty.
No clicking keyboards, no constantly beeping fax machine, no rise and fall of heated voices as other agents in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit argued over a suspect profile. Not even the persistent smell of burnt coffee that usually pervaded the office, even first thing in the morning, before anyone else arrived.
This was exactly how Evelyn Baine liked it. Quiet. Just her and her cases.
She glanced once around the empty gray bullpen, then down at the stack of files on her desk, illuminated only by her desk lamp. One by one, she picked them up, then restacked them, bottom to top, from least to most pressing. Cyber criminal. Arsonist. Serial killer. Bomber. Child abductor.
Her fingers stilled on the last file, and memories flooded, like they always did, of another case, from a long time ago. Of a little girl with blonde ringlets and the kind of instant smile that drew people like the pull of the sun. Cassie Byers.
Evelyn glanced at the date on her computer screen, realizing the eighteen-year anniversary of Cassie’s abduction was less than a month away. A familiar pain circled her heart. She’d helped put so many criminals behind bars in her year and a half at the BAU, but the one case that had brought her to the FBI remained unsolved.
“It was supposed to be you.”
The voice in her ear made Evelyn jerk in her seat and whip around, her heart rate jackknifing.
“Here.” Fellow profiler Kendall White stood behind her cubicle, holding out a case file and frowning. “What’s wrong with you?” He shook the file. “I said, this was supposed to go to you.”
Evelyn nodded, grabbing the file out of his hand. She spun around before he could continue questioning her, trying to get her heart rate to settle down. For a second, she could have sworn the voice had come right out of her past.
For a second, all the whispers had filled her head, the sounds of the other searchers as they walked the fields in Rose Bay, South Carolina, all those years ago.
“Did you hear about the note? Cassie is another victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer.”
And then, seventeen years later, when her grandma had slipped and revealed, “The note mentioned Evelyn, too.”
Evelyn straightened her spine, pulled her chair up close to the desk, and shook the memories free. Cassie was gone. She was still here. She couldn’t change that now. But she could stop things like this from happening to someone else.
She opened the file Kendall had handed over and got to work.
You can read more about Evelyn in Vanished, the second book in the “Profiler” thriller series, published by Harlequin MIRA. The first book in the series is Hunted.
Sometimes, the past can haunt you…
Eighteen years ago, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine’s best friend, Cassie Byers, disappeared, the third in a series of unsolved abductions. Only a macabre nursery rhyme was left at the scene, a nursery rhyme that claimed Evelyn was also an intended victim. Now, after all these years of silence, another girl has gone missing in South Carolina, and the Nursery Rhyme Killer is taking credit. But is Cassie’s abductor really back, or is there a copycat at work?
Sometimes, the past is best forgotten…
Evelyn has waited eighteen years for a chance to investigate, but when she returns to Rose Bay, she finds a dark side to the seemingly idyllic town. As the place erupts in violence and the kidnapper strikes again, Evelyn knows this is her last chance. If she doesn’t figure out what happened to Cassie eighteen years ago, it may be Evelyn’s turn to vanish without a trace.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on January 9 for the chance to win a signed print copy of HUNTED or VANISHED, (winner’s choice). The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
Meet the author
ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.
Elizabeth graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature and is a member of International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America. New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen said Elizabeth’s debut novel “HUNTED is a nonstop, thrilling read that will leave you breathless, and Evelyn Baine is a sharp and gutsy heroine you’ll want to follow for many books to come” and bestselling author R.L. Stine said of the sequel, “…VANISHED had me turning page after page. Wow. When you talk about our most-promising new thriller writers, put Elizabeth Heiter on the list!”