The Tracers Series, Book 3
Pocket Star Books
November 30, 2010
» Read an Excerpt
» Buy It Now
KILLERS IS MIA VOSS’S BUSINESS.
AND HER WORK JUST GOT PERSONAL.
At first, Mia Voss thinks it’s just bad
luck when her already lousy day ends with a carjacking. But
what seems like a random incident is followed by another sinister
episode. A DNA expert, Mia has made it her mission to put
away vicious criminals. Suddenly, she’s become the target
of one. And the only way to protect the people she loves most
is to deliberately destroy her reputation and risk letting
a killer walk free.
Once, Mia trusted Detective Ric Santos. That
was before Ric let his turbulent past ruin his chances with
Mia, the sexiest, most intriguing woman he’s ever met.
But he can tell when she’s lying—and when she’s
scared. The key to catching a sadistic madman lies within
a long-buried cold case that has haunted Mia for years. Only
she can uncover the truth, but first, Ric will have to get
her to entrust him with her secrets . . . and her life.
A sample from the playlist
I listened to on my iPod during the writing of UNFORGIVABLE.
Velvet” – Neko Case
2. “Acrobat” –
3. “To Live Is to Fly” –
4. “Wise Up” –
5. “Mothers of the Disappeared”
6. “Useless Desires” –
7. “Use Somebody” –
Kings of Leon
8. “Hold On, Hold On” –
9. “Angels Running After” –
10. “Square One” –
11. “Dylan’s Hard Rain”
– Ryan Bingham
"The perfect mix of suspense and romance
that made Catherine Coulter, Iris Johansen, and Tami Hoag
popular with both women and men."
"The science is fascinating,
the sex is sizzling, and the story is top-notch, making this
clever, breakneck tale hard to put down."
"Gritty, imaginative, sexy!
You MUST read Laura Griffin."
—NYT bestselling author
"Griffin delivers another top-level
romantic suspense with her latest release. Strong
characters, a tight and complex mystery plot and nonstop action
make Unforgivable a must read. Griffin is sure to continue
—RT Book Reviews
"Compelling reading with lots of heat.
. . . Definitely worth the wait."
Mia Voss needed a fix. Badly.
On a normal day, she would have stood strong against the temptation.
But nothing about today had been normal, starting with the fact
that it was January seventh and ending with the fact that for the
first time in her life she’d actually been demoted.
Her stomach clenched as she turned into the Minute-Mart parking
lot and eased her white Jeep Wrangler into a space near the door.
Her cheeks warmed at the still-fresh memory of standing stiffly
in her boss’s office, gazing down at his weasel-like face
as he’d sat behind his desk, meting out criticism. At the
time, she’d been stunned speechless, too shocked by what was
happening to defend herself. Only now--six hours too late--did the
all the perfect rejoinders come tumbling into her head.
Mia jerked opened the door to the convenience store and made a
beeline for the freezer section. If there was ever a night that
called for Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk, it
was tonight. For the first Thursday night in months, she wasn’t
stuck at the lab. For the first Thursday night in years, the only
items demanding her attention were a sappy chick flick, a cozy blanket,
and a pint of butterfat. Tonight was for wallowing. Mia slid open
the freezer door and plucked out a tub of Super Fudge Chunk. She
tucked it under her arm, then grabbed a Chunky Monkey. As long as
she was sinning, why not sin big? That motto had gotten her into
trouble on more than one occasion, but she continued to follow it.
She jumped and whirled around.
A bulky, balding man in a brown overcoat stood behind her. He crouched
down to pick up the carton that had rolled across the aisle, then
stood and held it out to her. “Good stuff, isn’t it?”
“Uh, thanks.” She stared at him and tried to place
his name. He was a cop, she knew that much. But he wasn’t
someone she’d seen around in a while, and she couldn’t
pull a name from her memory banks.
“Not as good as mint chip, though.” His droll smile
made him look grandfatherly. “My wife’s favorite.”
She noticed his shopping basket--two pints of mint chocolate chip
and a six-pack of beer.
His gaze drifted down to her fur-lined moccasins and a bushy gray
eyebrow lifted. “Slumber party?”
Mia glanced down. For her quick trip to the store, she’d
tucked her satin nightshirt into jeans, pulled on a ratty cardigan,
and slipped her feet into house shoes. She looked like an escapee
from a mental ward, which of course meant she’d bump into
someone she knew from work. Nothing like reinforcing that professional
image. Yes, today was shaping up to be a banner career day.
Mia forced a smile. “More like movie night.” She glanced
at her watch and stepped toward the register. “It’s
about to start, actually. I’d better--”
“Don’t let me keep you.” He nodded. “See
ya around, Doc.”
Mia watched his reflection in the convex mirror as she paid for
her groceries. He added a couple of frozen dinners to his basket
and then headed for the chip aisle.
The name hit her as she pulled out of the parking lot. Frank Hannigan.
San Marcos PD. Why couldn’t she have remembered it sooner?
Something hard jabbed into her neck.
“Take a left at this light.”
Mia’s head whipped around. Her chest convulsed. In the backseat
was a man. He held a gun pointed right at her nose.
“Watch the road!”
She jerked her head around just in time to see the telephone pole
looming in front of her. She yanked the wheel left and managed to
stay on the street.
my God, oh my God, oh my God. Her hands clutched the steering
wheel in a death grip. Her gaze flashed to the mirror and homed
in on his gun. It was big and serious-looking, and he held it rock-steady
in his gloved hand.
The command snapped her attention away from the weapon and back
to him. Her brain numbly registered a description: black hooded
sweatshirt, pulled tight around his face. Navy bandana covering
his nose and mouth. Dark sunglasses. All she could see of the man
behind the disguise was a thin strip of skin between the glasses
and the bandana.
He jammed the muzzle of the pistol into her neck again. “Eyes
She forced herself to comply. Her heart pounded wildly against
her sternum. Her stomach tightened. She realized she’d stopped
breathing. She focused on drawing air into her lungs and unclenched
her hand from the wheel so that she could shift gears and turn left.
Where are we going? What does he want?
Her mind flooded with terrifying possibilities as she hung a left
and darted her gaze around, looking for a police car, a fire truck,
anything. But this was a college town and whatever action might
be going on tonight was happening much closer to campus.
How was she going to get out of this? Cold sweat beaded along her
hairline. Her stomach somersaulted. Bile rose up in the back of
The engine reached a high-pitched whine. She’d forgotten
to change gears. Her clammy hand slipped on the gear-shift as she
switched into third.
Think. She glanced around desperately, but the streets
were quiet. The nearest open business was the Dairy Queen two blocks
“CenTex Bank, on your right. Pull up to the drive-through
Mia’s breath whooshed out. He wanted money. Tears of relief
filled her eyes. But they quickly morphed into tears of panic because
she realized his wanting money didn’t really mean anything.
He could still shoot her in the head and leave her on the side of
the road. She of all people knew the amazingly cheap price of a
human life. A wad of cash. A bag of crack. A pair of sneakers.
She could be dead before the ATM even spit out the bills.
The cold, hard muzzle of the gun rubbed against her cheek. Her
breath hitched and her gaze went to the mirror. She remembered the
police sketch of a man in a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses who
for years had been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. The
Unabomber. Mia had met the artist who had drawn that sketch. As
a forensic scientist as one of the world’s top crime labs,
Mia had connections in every conceivable area of law enforcement.
And at this moment, they were useless to her. At this moment, it
was just her and this man alone in her car with his gun pointed
at her head.
Stay calm. Make a plan.
She maneuvered the Jeep up to the teller machine, nearly scraping
the yellow concrete pillar on the right side of her car. Too late,
she realized she’d just ruined a potential escape route.
She closed her eyes and swallowed. She thought of her mom. Whatever
happened, she had to live through this. Her mother couldn’t
take another blow.
Not on January seventh.
Mia’s eyes popped open at the realization. She turned to
face him with a renewed sense of determination--or maybe it was
adrenaline--surging through her veins. “How much do you want?”
She rolled the window down with one hand while scrounging through
her purse for her wallet.
“Five thousand?” She turned to gape at him.
She had that much, yeah. In an IRA account somewhere. Her checking
account was more in the neighborhood of five hundred. But she wanted
more than anything not to tick this guy off.
She gulped. “I think my limit is three hundred.” She
tried to keep her voice steady, but it was wobbling all over the
place. She turned to look at him, positioning her shoulders so the
camera on the ATM could get a view into her car. It probably couldn’t
capture him from this angle, but it might capture the gun. “I
can do several transactions,” she said.
The barrel rapped against her cheek bone. She would have a bruise
tomorrow. If she lived that long.
She turned to the machine and, with shaking fingers, punched in
her code and keyed in the amount. Three hundred was the most she
could get. Could she get it twice? Had her cable bill cleared? Mia
handed him the first batch of twenties and chewed her lip as she
waited for the second transaction to go through.
Her blood turned to ice. Seconds ticked by as she waited for the
man’s response. Despite the sweat trickling down her spine,
her breath formed a frosty cloud as she stared at the words flashing
on the screen.
That’s it, she thought. I’m dead.
She reached a trembling hand out and pulled the receipt from the
She could make a break for it right here. Except her doors were
pinned shut by the concrete pillars on either side of her.
could speed to the nearest well-populated area--which was a Walmart
three blocks away. Would she get there before he shot her or wrestled
the wheel away?
“Back on the highway.” The command was laced with annoyance.
But not quite as much disappointment as she’d expected.
She put the Jeep in gear and returned to the highway. As she shifted
gears, she glanced at the familiar Mardi Gras beads hanging from
her rearview mirror. Somehow they steadied her. This was her car
and she was in the driver’s seat. She could control this.
“How about Sun Bank?” Her voice sounded like a croak.
That bank was past Walmart. Maybe she could swerve into the lot
and make a run for it.
“Hang a left.”
Mia’s hands gripped the steering wheel. Her gaze met his
in the mirror. She couldn’t see his eyes, but she could read
his intent--it was in his tone of voice, his body language, the
perfectly steady way held that gun.
Left on the highway meant out of town. He was going to kill her.