by Kristine Mason
Chicago detective Jessica Donavan will never stop looking for her missing daughter. Her obsession has destroyed her marriage, but the search is the only thing that helps keep her sane and her mind off of everything she’s lost—her husband and her baby girl. When she uncovers a string of unsolved disappearances and reappearances of a number of baby boys, Jessica turns to her soon to be ex, Dante Russo, a former Navy SEAL turned investigator for the private agency, CORE, to help her fit together the pieces in this perplexing puzzle. But as Dante helps her, she realizes just how much she still craves his support—and his touch.
Dante is still in love with his wife and would do anything to have her back in his life again. He’s been miserable since she left him to deal with the grief over their daughter’s abduction, never understanding how much he grieves as well. When Jessica tells him about the case she’s working, he jumps at the chance to take part in her investigation. He’s hoping not only to save their marriage and ease his personal pain over the loss of their daughter, but to stop a serial kidnapper from taking another victim.
As Jessica and Dante work side by side, pregnant women begin to turn up missing or dead, and they start to uncover the consequences of another woman’s unfathomable grief. The childless mother doesn’t just want a baby. She wants a newborn straight from the womb.
And when forced to confront the dark and twisted perversion of a mother’s obsession, can Jessica and Dante find their lives again…or merely more death?
“Look,” she continued, “do you want a baby or not?”
“I told you I was happy with the last one and where we were living.”
Repeatedly. She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “What’s done is done and we can’t take it back. We can only move forward. Now answer me. Do you want another baby?”
Wayne tugged on the bill of his ball cap and hung his head. “I want you to be happy.”
“I want you happy, too. If not having a baby in our lives is what—”
“I didn’t say that,” he said, and stared at her with a combination of concern and impatience. “If you’re happy, I’m happy. If having a baby is what’s going to get us there, then we’ll get us another baby. But I’m worried we’re moving too fast too soon.”
In a way, he was right. Normally they’d find a new city and place to live between babies. She’d take a job for a few months to stash away extra money and, in the meantime, search for their next baby boy. By the time they brought the baby home, they were established and ready to give that baby everything he would need. But she couldn’t pass up this baby boy. Too soon or not, she didn’t know when she’d have a chance like this one again.
No one, not even Wayne, was going to take the opportunity away from her.
To be able to bring a life in this world and be the very first person to hold and kiss the precious angel was something she’d dreamed of for more years than she could remember. God had given her the gift of being a born nurturer. Now He was giving her Missy Schneider’s baby boy.
“I promised you this would be the last one,” she said. “When have I ever gone back on my promises?”
He pressed his head against the headrest. “Never. But how can you make a promise like that? When the boy starts walkin’, talkin’ and he’s ready for potty training, what makes you think you’re not going to have the itch to get rid of him and find a new one?”
“We’re both thirty-six. How many years can we keep doing this?” She remembered what she’d thought about that yesterday. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I want to deal with sleepless nights and dirty diapers in my forties. I’m telling you the truth, Wayne. I’m ready to settle down, too. Just think, after living in Chicago for a few years and saving up more money, we could buy a house.”
Hope replaced his worry. “Set up roots.”
“Exactly, hon. I want that, and I want this baby.” She looked at the clock on the dashboard. All of this talking was going to make her late for her twelve o’clock appointment with Missy. “So, whatdya say? Ready to do this?”
“Let’s go over the plan one more time.”
She fought an eye roll. They’d gone over their plan—or her version of it—last night and again this morning. But she understood Wayne’s unease. Usually they scoped out their next child together, targeting families who didn’t deserve to have a baby. They always wore disguises and looked for opportunities when the thoughtless parents weren’t keeping a careful eye on their babies. One time, they’d rescued a baby right from the family’s backyard. The mother had gone inside to answer the phone and left the child sitting in his Exersaucer on the patio. Wayne had been parked on the next street over, waiting for her. When the mom had slipped inside, she’d pounced. Grabbed that precious bundle and ran. This time around would be different from the others. Never before had she had face-to-face contact with a parent.
She itched her head where the cheap wig irritated her scalp, then slid on a pair of fake glasses. “Again,” she began, “when Missy takes me to look at the puppies she thinks I’m wanting to buy, I’m gonna give her a bop on the back of the head with this.” She opened her oversized purse, careful not to reveal the latex gloves and dissecting kit, and showed him the small, ball peen hammer. “Once she’s out, I’ll get the baby and meet you out front. Easy-breezy.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I didn’t pick up my first romance novel until I was in my late twenties. Immediately hooked, I read a bazillion books before deciding to write one of my own. After the birth of my first son I needed something to keep my mind from turning to mush, and Sesame Street wasn’t cutting it. While that first book will never see the light of day, something good came from writing it. I realized my passion and found a career I love.
When I’m not writing contemporary romances and dark, romantic suspense novels (or reading them!) I’m chasing after my four kids and two neurotic dogs.
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