After saving her three-year-old daughter from a car-jacking, off-duty police detective Jocelyn Rush ends up in the ER. The last person she expects to run into is Anita Grant, former prostitute and an old acquaintance from Jocelyn’s days on patrol. In spite of her obvious injuries—mutilated hands and feet—Anita refuses to talk about what happened. Reluctantly, Jocelyn backs off, and Anita’s case goes to Philadelphia’s Special Victims Unit.
Before long, Jocelyn is pulled into the SVU’s investigation. Anita is finally ready to talk, but only to Jocelyn. Her story is harrowing, even to a seasoned veteran like Jocelyn. Working with SVU, Jocelyn’s investigation unearths a series of similar crimes going back four years. Three men are preying on local prostitutes, viciously assaulting and mutilating them.
The police apprehend two of the suspects, but the third eludes capture. As the hunt for the most sadistic of the three intensifies, and his crimes escalate, Jocelyn and her colleagues have precious few leads. Then a monster from Jocelyn’s past resurfaces. She doesn’t want to be reminded of the terrible secret that destroyed her family nearly twenty years earlier, but the man offers her a lead that could crack Anita’s case.
To solve it, Jocelyn must connect her past with her present—before a sadistic attacker sets his sights on her.
Jocelyn glanced at the house. The screen door was cracked just a little; and there was a flash of a plastic, yellow Shop Rite bag peeking out. She peered back at Olivia and paused a long moment to see if Olivia would wake up now that the car had stopped moving. But the snoring continued unabated. Jocelyn turned away from Olivia, catching her own smile in the rearview mirror. Just looking at Olivia made her grin. Most of the time, she didn’t realize she was doing it. It amazed her that this tiny person could be such a powerhouse of joy.
Unless she doesn’t have her blanket, Jocelyn thought wryly.
Jocelyn took a quick look up and down the street, gauging how long it would take her to sprint to Martina’s door and back. It shouldn’t take more than ten seconds. As a rule, she never left Olivia alone in the car—not even when she was paying for gas—but the door was only twenty feet away. It would be faster to run for it than to unfasten Olivia’s seat belt and carry her to and fro.
Jocelyn slipped her seat belt off and got out, closing the door softly behind her. She sprinted up the steps and snatched the bag from between the doors. As she turned back to her car, she saw the figure, just a blur in her periphery. Then her Ford Explorer drove off down Chew Avenue with Olivia in the back seat.
Jocelyn leapt off the steps and ran into the street.
“Olivia!” she screamed.
She had never run so fast, and was only vaguely aware of the other cars whizzing past, beeping and swerving to avoid her, expletives rolling out of the mouths of passing motorists. The Explorer made the first right onto North 21st Street and Jocelyn followed, arms and legs pumping, feet slapping the pavement, her heartbeat thundering in her ears. She reached for her gun but quickly remembered she didn’t have it. It was her day off.
She was losing ground as the Explorer turned right onto Conlyn and out of her sight.
Every muscle in her body strained and screamed, her lungs burning. She turned the corner and almost wept with relief. The Explorer was stopped behind someone who had double-parked in the middle of the street. There wasn’t enough room for it to pass. The other car’s blinkers were on, the driver nowhere to be seen. For once, Philadelphia’s narrow side streets were a blessing instead of a curse.
Breathing heavily, Jocelyn approached the Explorer from the drivers’ side and opened the door. She didn’t look; instead she grabbed and grabbed until she had a handful of clothing. She pulled a skinny, punk kid—maybe nineteen or twenty—out of the car by his collar.
His face was pimpled with a patchy five o’clock shadow. His white-blond hair was greasy, a shock of it falling across his coal-dark eyes as he glared at her. “Hey, what the hell are you—”
The whole world went silent. Jocelyn knew the kid was speaking, but she couldn’t hear anything. Her field of vision narrowed to his face. And when he met her eyes, for a brief, fleeting second, he looked afraid. Then Jocelyn hit him. She hit him again and again. He fought back, but his ineffectual punches glanced off her body; no match for her rage. By the time she was done, she had a few bruises and her right wrist throbbed, but she didn’t remember the particulars. She only remembered hitting him until he lay at her feet, unmoving. Her vehicle had rolled forward a few feet, bumping the rear of the car that was double-parked. A few people had come out of their homes. They stood on the pavement and on porches, staring open-mouthed.
Jocelyn’s hearing returned slowly. Her labored breath was deafening. She left the kid on the ground and pulled open the back door of the Explorer. There sat Olivia in her car seat, face flushed with sleep. Her little round face was relaxed, her mouth open. A strand of brown hair stuck to one of her cheeks. She sighed softly in her sleep, one tiny hand clutching Lulu, the pink beanie bear that accompanied them everywhere.
“Oh God,” Jocelyn gasped. She put her Explorer in park and then sat in the back, weeping uncontrollably. She dialed 911 on her cell phone.
“911. Where’s your emergency?”
“Miss? Where’s your emergency?”
“Philadelphia. I want to report a carjacking.”
About the Author:
Lisa Regan is a suspense novelist. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters In Crime. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Her debut novel, Finding Claire Fletcher won Best Heroine and was runner up in Best Novel in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards for 2013.
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Restricted to over 18.Author Lisa Regan is giving away 5 ebook copies of her first novel, Finding Claire Fletcher and 5 ebook copies of her second novel, Aberration. The giveaway runs 4/28/14 – 5/5/14.