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When local journalist, Tori Peterson, fails to prevent a child abduction outside her niece’s school, her horror and guilt sparks a vow to do whatever it takes to get little Abby Brady home to her parents.
While Tori battles the vile memories of her own kidnapping as a child, she accepts the help of widowed father, Mark Bolton. As he and Tori join forces with the local police, their attraction and intimacy grows…along with their fears for Abby.
Links are uncovered between Abby’s disappearance and Tori’s kidnapping, and Tori is forced to accept the monster who held her captive is back. But this time, Tori is all grown up, and there is no way she will let him hurt another little girl.
Page Count: 348
Word Count: 86081
Tori left the pub and kept walking.
Mark’s gaze burned into her back as she tried to stop smiling. The man’s piercing blue eyes, his deep, calm voice and care for his daughter had drawn something out of her she hadn’t known existed.
God-awful, unwanted, deeply feared need for someone to care for her. For so long, Tori had kept Melissa and their parents at arm’s length to prove to them, and herself, that what Brian Appleton did to her hadn’t defined her.
Yet, in the pub with Mark, something had momentarily shifted, scaring her so much, she’d quickly slammed in place an attitude of being in charge. When in truth, it had been Mark in the driving seat from the moment he’d confessed his love and fears for Olivia.
She risked a look behind her. He’d gone.
She released a shaky breath. Whether Mark Bolton realized it or not, she’d not only agreed to him helping her with the investigation, he had slipped a little way under her personal defenses too. Time and again during the hour they’d been in the pub, she had waited for an annoying comment to come out of his mouth. Waited for him to make a move or say something disparaging about the case or even about something she said. Anything to put her off him, to give her reason to kick him to the curb as she’d warned she would.
The man was nice. Really nice.
She glanced at her watch. It neared eight. She turned the corner toward her office anyway. She’d left her car there earlier, assuming she’d not even make it through one drink. Instead, she got through two and would have easily stayed for number three if Mark hadn’t needed to leave to pick up Olivia. So while she waited for the wine to leave her system, she might as well attempt some work.
In amongst the subdued undercurrent of some mild flirtation, she and Mark had talked about Abby and the similarities between her abduction and Tori’s. Mark agreed there was something in Tori’s suspicions to pursue—unlike DCI Thornhill who’d seemed skeptical about everything she’d told him.
She had to find more, another link or reason, to convince the inspector she wasn’t clutching at straws or acting out of fear. Not that she wasn’t scared, but her adrenaline didn’t work that way. Every time she considered Abby’s home life and her own, the way the abductor had looked straight at her and her similar looks to Abby, it was too much to ignore.
Taking her keys from her bag, Tori let herself into the newspaper office. Surprised the alarm had already been deactivated, tension snaked through her body. She locked the door behind her and slowly walked to the elevator. Once she was in the paper’s office, she glanced toward Neil’s glassed corner office.
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