The Tracers Series, Book 4
Pocket Star Books
August 30, 2011
» Read an Excerpt
Nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award!
SOPHIE BARRETT THINKS
SHE’S LUCKY TO BE ALIVE.
SHE MAY BE DEAD WRONG.
On a sweltering summer afternoon, Sophie Barrett walks into
a nightmare. A sniper has opened fire on a college campus.
When the carnage is over, three people—plus the shooter—are
dead, and dozens more injured. Sophie escapes virtually unscathed.
Yet as details emerge from the investigation, she becomes
convinced that this wasn’t the random, senseless act
it appeared. No one wants to believe her—not the cops,
not her colleagues at the Delphi Center crime lab, and definitely
not Jonah Macon, the homicide detective who’s already
saved her life once.
Jonah has all kinds of reasons for hoping Sophie is mistaken.
Involving himself with a key witness could derail an already
messy investigation, not to mention jeopardize his career.
But Sophie is as determined and fearless as she is sexy. If
he can’t resist her, he can at least swear to protect
her. Because if Sophie is right, she’s made herself
the target of a killer without a conscience. And the real
terror is only just beginning. . . .
A Note from Laura about SNAPPED
"A gripping, white-knuckle read. You won't
be able to put it down. Laura Griffin's best to date."
—New York Times bestselling
author Brenda Novak
"SNAPPED rocks! Griffin consistently cranks out one gripping suspense after another and this may be the best yet… The characters are flawed and completely endearing."
—RT Book Reviews Top Pick! 4 ˝ stars!
"Be prepared to lose yourself in this enthralling read."
—Night Owl Reviews
"Electric chemistry between two believable and interesting characters coupled with the investigative details make this page-turner especially compelling."
—BookPage, Top Pick for romance
"Laura Griffin mesmerizes…. SNAPPED is a captivatingly passionate romance where danger is around every turn."
"An excellent addition to the Tracers series."
—The Romance Reader
"Laura Griffin hits her groove in SNAPPED."
—The Newton Daily News
"You won’t be able to put this book down."
"This gripping, vivid tale has a great pace that delivers plenty of suspense."
—Fallen Angel Reviews
Parking on campus was a
bitch and so was Sophie. Or at least, she was in a bitchy mood at
the moment. She was hot, hungry, and doomed to spend the better
part of her lunch hour waiting in line at the registrar’s
But then she spotted it--a gleaming, perfect, gorgeously
empty parking space not fifty feet in front of her. The green flag
indicating time still left on the parking meter was the cherry on
top of her lunchtime sundae.
“Thank you,” she sighed, as she rolled past the spot,
shifted into reverse and flipped her turn indicator. She started
to ease back when an old-model VW zipped up behind her.
“Hey!” Sophie pounded her horn as the Bug driver whipped
into her spot while pretending not to see her.
“Unbelievable!” Sophie jabbed at the window
button and leaned over to yell at him. “Yo, Fahrvergnugen!
That’s my spot!”
She might as well have been invisible.
A horn blared behind her and she glanced around. Now she was holding
up traffic. She shifted into drive and muttered curses as she scoured
the busy streets for another scrap of real estate large enough to
accommodate her Tahoe. Of course, there wasn’t one. She glanced
at her watch. Damn it, she was going to be late getting back to
work, and she’d long since used up her tardy passes. With
a final curse, she pulled into an overpriced parking garage three
blocks downhill from her destination. After squeezing into a spot,
she jumped out and dashed for the exit, pressing numbers on her
cell phone as she went.
“Mia? Hey, it’s me.” She stepped onto the sidewalk
and blinked up at the blindingly bright sunlight.
“What’s up, Soph? I’ve got my hands full.”
“Shoot, forget it then.” Sophie caught a heel on the
pavement as her crappy luck continued.
“I’m at the university,” Sophie said. “I
was going to ask you to cover the phones for a few minutes if I’m
not back by one.”
“I’ll get down there if I can, but--”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get Diane to cover it.”
Diane was the assistant evidence clerk at the Delphi Center where
Sophie worked, but she wasn’t exactly known for her cheery
disposition. “She owes me a favor anyway. We’re still
on for margaritas with Kelsey, right? Six o’clock?”
“El Patio,” Mia confirmed. “See you there.”
Sophie dropped the phone in her bag and continued uphill. The
sun blazed down. Her blouse grew damp. Her tortured feet reminded
her of the folly of buying Victoria’s Secret sandals on clearance
and expecting them to fit. After waiting for a break in traffic,
she darted across the street and felt the heat coming up off the
asphalt in waves. Jeez, it was hot. Thank goodness she was signing
up for a night course.
At last, she reached the grassy quadrangle and enjoyed a few patches
of shade as she neared the registrar’s office. Students streamed
up and down the sidewalks, talking with friends and reading text
messages. Sophie gazed wistfully at their cut-off shorts and tank
tops. Once upon a time she, too, had lived in grunge wear. She didn’t
miss the clothes so much as that time in her life when she’d
had nothing more to do than go to keg parties on weekends and cut
class to hang out with her boyfriend. Now both those pursuits seemed
worse than trivial--they seemed wasteful. How could a few short
years make such a difference in her outlook?
She marveled at the irony--here she was plunking down her hard-earned
money to attend a class she would have happily ditched just a few
years ago. The perfect revenge for her I-told-you-so parents. Only
they’d never get the chance to say that because she had no
intention of telling them she was back in school. This was her private
mission, and if she failed to accomplish it, no one would ever have
to know she’d tried.
Sophie navigated the busy sidewalks, longing for a pair of Birkenstocks
instead of heels. She glanced again at her watch and knew,
without a doubt, she was going to be late.
She halted in her tracks.
People shrieked behind her, and she whirled around. Her gaze landed
on someone sprawled across the sidewalk. A man. Sophie stared in
shock at the jacket, the tie, and the bloody pulp that should have
been his head.
Someone’s shooting! The words screamed through
her brain as she scanned her surroundings. She was in an open field.
She was a target.
shrieks as she bolted for the trees. A staccato of bullets. Clumps
of grass burst up at her and she fell back, landing hard on her
butt. Before her eyes, a woman collapsed to the ground, clutching
her throat. A child in pigtails howled. Crab-walking backward, Sophie
glanced around frantically. What was happening? Where was it coming
from? Screams echoed around her as people ducked and dove for cover.
I’m a target.
She rolled to her knees and lunged for the nearest solid object--a
cement block at the base of a statue. She crouched behind it, gasping
for breath, every nerve in her body zinging with terror.
Where is he?
More gunfire. More screaming. Sophie cupped her hands over her
head and tried to make herself small.
# # #
“She lent it to you? That’s the best you got?”
San Marcos Police Detective Allison Doyle scowled down at the pimply-faced
perpetrator and waited. It didn’t take long.
“She didn’t say it exactly.”
“What did she say, exactly?”
“Well, it was more like understood, you know?” The
kid slouched against the door to his dorm room. “Like I could
use it long as I wanted, so long as I returned it.”
“I see.” Allison nodded over his shoulder, at the
array of loot spread out on his single bed: four iPods, two BlackBerries,
and an iPad not even out of the box--which constituted the reason
for her little visit to this room that smelled like gym socks and
God knew what else.
“What about the iPods?” Allison asked. “You borrow
A girl burst into the hallway. “Someone’s shooting!
Oh my God, people are dead!”
Allison yanked out her Glock and rushed down the hall. “Who’s
“The quad! Someone’s killing people!”
“Go into your rooms and lock your doors. Now! Stay away
from the windows.”
Allison raced across the lobby and pushed through the glass door.
It was like stepping into an oven. She took an instant to orient
herself, then took off for the university quadrangle just as her
radio crackled to life.
“Attention all units! Active shooter on campus! South quadrangle!”
The usually calm dispatcher sounded shrill, and Allison felt the
first twinge of panic. “Reports of casualties. All units respond!”
Allison jerked the radio from her belt. “Doyle responding.”
Jesus Christ. “Where is the shooter? Over.”
For a moment, silence. Then a distant wail of sirens on the other
side of town. Allison sprinted across University Avenue and did
a double take. Cars were stopped in the middle of the road, doors
flung open. The engines were running, but the cars were empty.
“Shooter’s location is unknown,” the dispatcher
said. “I repeat, unknown.”
# # #
Jonah Macon stared at the dilapidated house where absolutely nothing
had happened for the past seven hours. He hated surveillance work,
and not just the boredom of it. His six-foot-four-inch frame wasn’t
designed to be crammed into the back of a van for days on end.
“If I drink another cup of this coffee, my piss is gonna
Jonah shot Sean Byrne a look of disgust but didn’t respond.
“Nice image,” Jonah’s partner quipped, tossing
his Styrofoam cup into an empty Krispy Kreme box. Ric Santos had
volunteered to bring breakfast this morning, and the doughnut shop
was just around the corner from his girlfriend’s place.
So now here they all were--bored, caffeinated, and jacked-up on
sugar that needed to be burned off. Jonah leaned back in his seat
and popped his knuckles as he stared at the video monitor.
“Seriously, how late can he sleep?” Sean asked. “I’m
about to bust in there and drag his skinny ass out here myself.”
at the door,” Jonah said, and everyone snapped to attention.
A man stepped onto the porch, finally breaking the monotony. Jonah’s
team had been in the van since before dawn, waiting for their subject
to kiss his girlfriend goodbye and lead them to the crib where they
were ninety-nine percent sure their murder suspect was holed up.
Sure enough, they watched on the screen as their subject got some
goodbye tongue action before tromping down the rickety front porch
“Think he’s stepping out for a paper?” Sean
“I’m not sure he can read.” Ric eased out of
the bucket seat in back and slid behind the wheel while Jonah reached
for his radio to give the guys in the car down the block a head’s
The phone at Jonah’s hip buzzed. Then Ric’s phone buzzed.
Then a snippet of rap music emanated from Sean’s pocket.
Everyone exchanged a grim looks as they took out their phones.
Jonah answered first.
“Get to campus, ASAP! Where’s the SWAT van?”
“Perkin has it,” Jonah told his lieutenant. “He’s
up in Austin at a training op--”
“Someone’s shooting people all over the quad! Get
over there and suit up. Grab everyone you can.”
Jonah braced himself against the side of the van as Ric peeled
away from the curb. From the look on his partner’s face, Jonah
knew he was getting similar instructions.
“What’s your setup?” Lieutenant Reynolds demanded.
Jonah was already leaning over the backseat to do a quick inventory
of the cargo space. “Two shotguns, a rifle, and a couple of
flash bangs.” His pulse started to pound. “How many
“We don’t know.”
“What kind of weapon?”
“We don’t know that either. We don’t know anything!
All I got is a bunch of hysterical 911 calls, someone’s gunning
down people on the lawn. Some kid just got shot off his bike. ETA?”
Jonah glanced through the tinted windows as a blur of storefronts
raced past. “Two minutes, tops.”
“Okay, then you’re it, Macon. I’m fifteen minutes
out. You guys got any Kevlar?”
“Three vests and a flak jacket.”
“Take all of it. And call me when you get there.”
# # #
Another burst of cement on the nearby sidewalk. Sophie huddled
tighter and looked back at the howling little girl.
“Get down!” Sophie shouted.
From the pavement, an arm reached up and tugged weakly at the girl’s
shorts. The arm was attached to a hugely pregnant woman who was
lying in an ever-expanding pool of her own blood.
Dear Lord. Someone had to get them out of here, but there
was no one. The campus that had been crawling with students just
moments ago was now a ghost town. Sophie darted her gaze around.
Where was the shooter? Had he entered a building? Sophie eased up
slowly and peered around the base of the bronze statue.
An agonized scream behind her. Sophie recoiled. She peeked beneath
her quivering elbow and saw a man hunched at the base of a flagpole,
clutching his ankle with a bloody hand.
Sophie’s gaze was drawn to the corpse behind her, now baking
on the sidewalk. At the edge of the grass, another man lay sprawled
across the ground, a backpack beside him. A student. Sophie’s
heart jack-hammered against her rib cage as she watched the flies
already buzzing around him.
crying intensified. Sophie glanced again at the child, who was hunched
over her mother, sobbing uncontrollably. She had to be only two,
maybe three years old. The woman twisted onto her side, probably
trying to shield the girl with her body. They were behind a large
oak tree, thank goodness. But if the child moved too much--
Glass shattered on a building nearby.
Crack. Crack. Crack. One by one, the second-story windows
exploded, and she thought of those shooting games at carnivals where
the targets were little yellow ducks.
Sirens grew louder as Sophie scoured the rooflines for any sort
of movement or muzzle flash. She went from building to building
all around the quadrangle, searching the red tile roofs and the
highest row of windows.
Her gaze came to rest on the white limestone monolith that sat
atop the hill, overlooking the entire campus like a giant Sphinx.
And suddenly she knew. The gunman was on top of the library.
And from there he could see everything.
# # #