Thursday Sampler: Hide and Seek by Lynette Eason

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Thursday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Hide and Seek, a love-inspired mystery from Lynette Eason.

As one reviewer said: Full of suspense, intrigue, mystery, love, faith and tenacity. Strong characters. This book was difficult to put down. Loved the happy ending.

The Story

Erica James has spent the past three years as a skip tracer, hunting down others and hoping one day it will lead to her kidnapped daughter. Now she has a new suspect—Max Powell’s missing sister. Max, a private investigator, has found evidence that connects the two missing girls, and together, he and Erica search for answers.

The closer they get to finding answers, the stronger their feelings for each other become. But the kidnapper will stop at nothing—including murder—to keep them from finding Erica’s daughter.

The Sampler

Lynette Eason
Lynette Eason

Searching for a crack house had not been in Erica James’s plans for the evening. However, Detective Katie Randall had uttered the one sentence that could send her into one of the worst neighborhoods in the city.

“We’ve found new evidence in Molly’s disappearance.”

Erica let the words ring through her mind as she drove, looking for the address of the crack house that had been raided two days ago.

New evidence. New evidence.

“It’s been three years,” Erica exclaimed. “What possibly could have come to light now?” she’d asked, hating the shak-iness in her voice, the desperate hope that she knew was carved on her face.

Detective Katie Randall had shown her a photograph of a crime scene. Even now, Erica’s fingers curled around the steering wheel as she remembered the little outfit clearly pictured amidst the trash and rubble.

The outfit three-year-old Molly had been wearing when she’d disappeared from the day-care field trip to the zoo. Erica touched the picture with a shaking finger.

“That’s her hair bow.”

“We got a fingerprint from it. A girl by the name of Lydia Powell. Her prints are in the system for a shoplifting charge two years ago.”

“So what does she say? Did you ask her about Molly?”

“We haven’t been able to find her,” Katie admitted.

“Then I will.”

Now, two days later, on a cold Tuesday evening, Erica glanced at the sky. The sun would set in about ten minutes and she still hadn’t found the address.

In this dark, dank part of town.

Drug deals on one corner, the selling of bodies and souls on the other. Her heart shuddered at the thought of her child being in the middle of all of this. And yet at the same time, her heart ached for the innocents trapped in this cycle of crime and abuse. For those who wanted out, but didn’t know how to accomplish that. Or were too young to try.

Narrowed, suspicious eyes followed her progress down the trash-strewn street. The sun crept lower and her pulse picked up a notch.

As daylight disappeared so did the people on the street. One by one, everyone in a yard or on a porch made their way behind a closed, locked door.

She hadn’t counted on it being dark by the time she got here. Then again, she hadn’t counted on the place being so hard to find, either. Her GPS had led her down one street and up another until she was so twisted around she’d never find her way back out.

For the first time since Katie had told her the news, fear started to replace the hope she’d allowed herself to feel. She’d taken the information and run with it. Straight into one of the most dangerous parts of town.

What was she doing? Was she crazy?

After another hesitant second, she picked up the phone and dialed her brother, Brandon. Nerves on edge, she watched the street as she waited for him to answer. Finally, she heard,

“Hello?”

“I think I’ve gone and done something stupid.”

“Who, you? You’re kidding.” He didn’t sound concerned—or surprised.

With good reason, she had to silently admit. She bit her lip. “No, Brandon, this time I’m serious.”

That got his attention. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

The mechanical voice from the GPS told her, “Turn left and your destination will be on the right.” Erica rolled to a stop and looked to her left.

Brandon said, “Where are you?”

“Five sixty-seven Patton Street.”

“Patton Street! Are you crazy?”

Now she heard the concern. “Yes, I think so. If I stay in my car and wait, will you meet me here?” Uneasy and on alert, she glanced around, felt unseen eyes watching her every movement. “Because while I’m not comfortable here, I’m not leaving yet, either.”

She heard him muttering and thought she heard the words “crazy woman” in there somewhere. “I’m getting you home and then you’re going into a safe occupation like accounting or—”

As Brandon continued his tirade, Erica chewed her bottom lip and tuned him out. Brandon worked with her at Finding the Lost, an organization dedicated to finding missing children she’d started after Molly disappeared. Erica, Brandon and Jordan—Brandon’s best friend who’d needed a job and came highly recommended—worked together to find children who disappeared either through criminal activity such as kidnapping, or because they ran away.

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