Sabrina’s heart slammed into her throat. She unsnapped her holster as quietly as she
could, and shot a look over her shoulder. Strickland had seen it too. He drew his weapon and
nodded. She lifted her SIG P220 off her hip and took aim at the curtain.
“SFPD—I know you’re back there. Come out with your hands where I can see them,” she
said in a tone that gave little doubt as to her intent if her command wasn’t followed.
No response, just the slight flutter of the curtain that told her that who or whatever was
behind it was still there.
“I said, SFPD. Come out—”
A pair of feet appeared, nothing more than the tops and toes. They were small and pale in
the steady beam of her flashlight.
Holy shit. It was a kid.
She changed tactics, softened her tone but still held firm. “It’s okay, you’re safe. I’m a
police officer—it’s okay to come out now,” she said but didn’t lower her gun. There was a chance
the child behind the curtain wasn’t alone.
Small feet shuffled closer and a hand peeked out from the split between the curtains. The
opening was pulled wider to reveal a white face—dark, vacant eyes and a sharp nose set in a face
that was painfully thin. Equally thin shoulders and torso appeared as the kid moved forward
slowly. Just like the dead boy upstairs, he was naked.
“Are you alone back there?” she said. The kid didn’t answer, just stared at her with those
empty eyes. She motioned the child closer. “Come here, it’s okay.” She looked at Strickland and
tipped her head in the direction of the curtain. He nodded and moved forward, gun raised.
Sabrina reached out and latched onto the boy’s arm, pulling him toward her. The second
her fingers made contact, he went crazy—swinging and shouting in a language she didn’t
She dragged the boy clear of the curtain. He fought against her grip, screaming and
flailing, while Strickland did a sweep of the room behind it. He came out a few seconds later.
“Nothing. Just a mattress, TV and another camcorder.” he said over the din of the boy’s
screaming. “What the hell is he saying?”
She shook her head and looked at the boy, saw his face, white and stretched thin with
terror. He wasn’t speaking English but his fear was obvious. “Shhh, shhh—it’s okay. We’re here
to help,” she said, hoping her tone would convey the message her words couldn’t.
The boy darted away from her, nothing but a pale blur as he bolted toward freedom and
she started after him, pounding up the steps, Strickland two strides behind her. She reached the
top of the stairs and saw him running down the darkened hallway, darting this way and that.
“Stop him,” she shouted, hoping the uniform at the front door would be quick enough to
The boy cut to the left and she followed, through the living room doorway. He saw the
uniform, blocking his way out and he darted to the left again, cutting across the room to the other
side of the house. Toward the room where the dead boy probably still lay stretched out on the
“Don’t go in there,” she said, even though he didn’t understand her. He disappeared
through the doorway seconds before she reached it. She skidded to a stop, blocking the doorway.
The coroner, Mandy Black, hunkered down next to the body on the floor but the whole of her
attention was concentrated on the boy who just burst into the room. He was crouching in the
corner furthest away from the doorway, knees drawn tight against his chest by arms so thin and
pale they looked like twigs, bleached white by the sun.
He started rambling again, eyes, like miniature black holes, aimed at the body on the
floor. She started to cross the threshold but Mandy threw up a hand and shook her head. Sabrina
stalled out mid-stride and watched as Mandy stood, crossing the room on slow and steady feet.
She said something in what sounded like the same language the boy was speaking and as if
Mandy had thrown a switch, he stopped talking.
Sabrina watched and listened. Mandy got closer and closer, still speaking the strange
language in a low, easy tone that seemed to sooth the boy. It sounded Slavic—maybe Russian.
Strange coming from the woman crouched on the floor. She must’ve asked him a question
because the boy nodded, eyes suddenly flooded with tears. He started to speak again but his
speech had lost its hysterical edge. Mandy got close enough to reach out and touch him but she
didn’t. She kept her hands at her sides, shaking her head as she crouched low and slow in front of
him. She kept talking. The boy kept listening.
“What. The. Fuck,” Strickland said behind her. “Coroner Barbie speaks gibberish.”
“It’s not gibberish, dickhead. It’s Russian,” Mandy said without looking up.
She felt a prickle, like electricity dancing along her skin. What was a Russian boy doing
in an abandoned house in San Francisco? One that had obviously been held against his will?
She looked away from the boy crouched in the corner to the one dead on the floor.
“Ask him if he knows the victim,” she said.
Mandy spoke quietly and the boy answered, shaking his head. “No. He said he’s never
seen him before.”
Sabrina studied the boy on the floor. He was small and blond. She entered the room and
squatted down next to the body. She peeled back a lid and looked at his eyes. They were milky
but she could see enough of the iris to know they were light in color.
She stood. “I need some air,” she said, brushing past Strickland on her way out the door.
She could feel him watching her and she silently urged him not to follow.
She didn’t need air. She needed to call Ben, because there was a very real chance that
she’d just found Leo Maddox.
Fifteen years ago, a psychotic killer abducted seventeen year old Melissa Walker. For 83 days she was raped
and tortured before being left for dead in a deserted church yard… But she was still alive.
Melissa begins a new life as homicide inspector, Sabrina Vaughn. With a new face and a new name, it’s her job
to hunt down murderers and it’s a job she does very well.
When Michael O’Shea, a childhood acquaintance with a suspicious past, suddenly finds her, he brings to life
the nightmare Sabrina has long since buried.
Believing that his sister was recently murdered by the same monster who attacked Sabrina, Michael is dead set
on getting his revenge–using Sabrina as bait.