The Tracers Series, Book 2
Pocket Star Books
June 29, 2010
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ELAINA MCCORD WANTS TO
FIND A KILLER.
BUT HE’S ALREADY FOUND HER.
Elaina McCord’s dream of being an FBI profiler is in
danger with her first case—investigating a string of
murders near a Texas beach resort. The victims, all young
women, were drugged and brutally murdered, their bodies abandoned
in desolate marshland. Elaina’s hunch—met with
disbelief by local police—is that these are only the
latest offerings from a serial killer who has been perfecting
his art for years, growing bolder and more cunning with each
True-crime writer Troy Stockton has a reputation as an irresistible
playboy who gets his story at any cost. He’s the last
person Elaina should trust, let alone be attracted to. But
right now Troy, along with the elite team of forensics experts
known as the Tracers, are her only allies in a case that’s
turning dangerously personal. A killer is reaching out to
Elaina, taunting her, letting her know how ruthless he is
and how close he’s getting. Now it’s not just
her career that’s in danger—it’s her life.
. . .
Four and a half stars! "Readers
who’ve been waiting for a book featuring sexy true-crime
writer Troy Stockton, your time has come and you won’t
be disappointed. This is a tight suspense with the sexiest
of heroes and a protagonist seriously worth rooting for."
—RT Book Reviews
“Laura Griffin’s fantastic romantic
suspense will be enjoyed by fans of Nora Roberts and Andrea
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“Laura Griffin's Tracer series is spellbinding
and full of twists and turns. A page-turner until the last
page, it's a fabulous read!"
“Laura Griffin is a master at keeping
the reader in complete suspense, and the books in the Tracers
series are first-rate thrillers plus touching romances."
“An exciting and sexy book… Wonderful
Troy Stockton’s boat
was flat and narrow, and looked nothing like the other flat, narrow
fishing boats living at the Lito Island Marina.
“It’s black,” Elaina said, gazing
down at it from the dock.
“So?” He undid the bow line and whipped
it into a neat coil, which he tossed on the boat’s floor.
“So, all the other boats are white.”
She stepped aboard. Everything shifted, and he caught her arm to
“No law against black.” His hand dropped
away, and he turned to flip some switches at the helm. Soon the
“Looks like it can go in pretty shallow
“Eight inches,” he said with a touch
She looked around for a good place to stand. There
weren’t many choices, so she rested a hand on the captain’s
chair as they eased back out of the slip.
“Hold on.” He shifted gears, and then
they were gliding in the other direction, moving out of the sheltering
cove the marina shared with the police dock. Elaina glanced over
her shoulder and watched the pier recede. She was going out on a
boat with a man she barely knew, without letting her boss or anyone
else know what she was doing. Not terribly smart.
She patted her back pocket, where she’d tucked
her cell phone. While Troy had waited out on the patio at her hotel,
she’d showered and changed into the jeans and T-shirt she
kept stashed in her gym bag. Her Glock was strapped to her ankle,
just above her Nike. She had her phone. And if Troy tried anything
funny, he was going in the bay.
Elaina shifted, putting some distance between
them. She couldn’t explain why he made her uneasy, but he
did. It made no sense, because she spent every day surrounded by
macho types—guys trained in firearms, and hand-to-hand combat,
and mind games. As a border town, Brownsville attracted more than
its fair share of gun-loving lawmen. Since day one, many of the
Bureau, DEA, and Homeland Security guys had attempted to intimidate
her either physically or by getting in her head, and she’d
learned to blow them off.
But Troy was harder to ignore.
He stood between the helm and the captain’s
chair, and she stood beside him, trying not to cling too tightly
and reveal her fear of toppling out of the boat. She glanced over
and noticed his ropey forearms and powerful-looking calves. He was
some sort of athlete, obviously, and she tried to guess the sport.
“You get seasick?” Troy asked.
“You look uncomfortable.” But he wasn’t
even looking at her. Those eyes—which were the exact green
color of the bay—were trained on the southern horizon. He
wore cargo shorts today and Teva sandals. His white T-shirt contrasted
with his sun-browned skin, and she envisioned him on a surfboard.
Why was she even thinking about this? She needed
to focus on the case, not Troy Stockton. The man had a reputation.
It was coming back to her in bits and pieces. She didn’t usually
read celebrity mags, but she had a vague recollection of the People
she’d flipped through at her dentist’s office. Troy
had been photographed with some gorgeous starlet. That girl from
Corpus Christi. What the hell was her name?
“That was some profile you came up with.”
She cut a glance at Troy and saw the smile playing
at the corner of his mouth. She bristled.
“What do you mean?”
“White male. Likes hunting and fishing.
Owns a boat. Sounds like half the men on this island, including
me.” He stared down at her, serious now. “Except for
the getting-it-up part.”
Elaina felt a blush creep up her neck. “Look,
we are.” The boat slowed abruptly as he pulled the throttle
up, and she stumbled into him. “She was found just over there,”
Elaina looked in the direction he was pointing,
but saw nothing unusual. Just more grass and water.
“How do you know?”
He tapped his control panel, and she noticed the
GPS. “I got the coordinates.”
He got the coordinates. From the police, no doubt,
who clearly were sharing information with members of the public,
but leaving her completely in the dark.
“They got a good set of prints from the
victim yesterday night.” Troy veered close to the shoreline,
and the water was so shallow, Elaina could see grass on the bottom.
“They’ll run the thumbs through DMV, hopefully get a
positive ID soon.”
Elaina thought of Valerie Monroe, who’d
graduated third in her class at Baylor med school and recently had
been accepted as an intern at Texas Children’s Hospital. She
wondered what Valerie’s parents were doing at this moment,
although she figured she knew. Most likely they were either en route
to Lito Island or camped out at the police station, waiting for
Troy veered left into a narrow inlet.
“We’re going in?”
“You want to see it, don’t you?”
“Yes, but…” she watched him
deftly steer the boat through the tight opening. The water wasn’t
even a foot deep, and she saw ripples in the sand as they skimmed
along the surface. “What if we run aground?”
He smiled. “You get out and push.”
But they didn’t run aground. He tipped up
the engine and slowed down, using just enough speed to maintain
control over the steering as they maneuvered this way and that through
all the channels. She began to doubt that he really knew where he
was going. Maybe he was leading her to some generic patch of marsh.
She spotted something yellow tangled in the reeds.
“Look there.” She pointed at it.
“Well, shit.” He let the motor stall
and then jumped out of the boat and waded over to take a look. “I’ll
The boat drifted into the grass, and bumped against
Troy gazed down at the thin yellow twine, but didn’t
touch it. “They must not have seen this,” he muttered.
“Or maybe they came in from the south.”
“Who came in?”
He looked up. “The crime seen guys. Breck,
Maynard, Chavez. They should have collected all this. It’s
“Evidence of what?”
He trudged back to the boat and shoved it into
the center of the narrow channel.
“Of your unsub.” He climbed aboard
and got them moving again. “This marsh, it’s like a
maze. I grew up all over this bay, and I get lost half the time.
Looks like the killer used twine to mark the route so he could find
his way out after dumping the body.”
stared at the twine, struck by the idea.
“And how do we know it came from him?”
she asked. “Maybe Breck left it.”
“How do you know?”
“Because.” Troy gave her a hard look.
“They found it in Gina’s case too. He leaves it every
Elaina continued to look
queasy, so Troy hugged the coast as he headed back in. He felt her
behind him as she gripped the chair and stared silently off into
She hadn’t liked him poking holes in her
profile, but that was too damn bad. Sure, the profile sounded good
in theory, but given the demographics around here, it didn’t
narrow things down a whole lot. Troy had never cared much for mind
hunters. Most of them stayed holed up in their basement at headquarters
and rattled off psychobabble while the real cops rolled up their
sleeves and worked the cases. If criminal profiling was Elaina’s
thing, she was going to have an uphill battle getting anyone around
here to buy into it. Profiling and fortune-telling were first cousins,
as far as Chief Breck was concerned.
But she’d figure that out soon enough.
Troy glanced back at Elaina and saw that she still
had that uneasy look. Her nose was pink, too, and she’d forgotten
sunscreen. She wasn’t from around here, evidently, but he
didn’t know her background. He needed to do some digging and
find out just how green a green-horn she really was.
She squinted at something up ahead, and he followed
“What’s going on?”
“Dunno,” he said. But as they neared
the marina, it became clear something had gone down during their
little sight-seeing cruise. Cars and news vans filled the LIPD parking
“Breck’s holding a press conference,”
Troy guessed, turning into the cove. They glided past the police
station, and Elaina turned to gape at the crowd.
Troy pulled into his slip without touching the
dock. He hopped out and tied the bow line to a cleat, then held
out a hand for Elaina.
She barely glanced at it as she stepped onto the
pier without help.
“I hope your police chief knows what he’s
doing,” she said. “If he releases too much detail, he’ll
compromise the investigation.”
“That’s one thing you don’t
have to worry about. The man hates reporters.”
“But he talks to you?”
Troy walked across the pier and surveyed the situation.
Breck was talking to the media—or more likely, dodging their
questions—from the station house steps. Cinco stood on the
sidelines. Troy caught his eye, and the deputy joined them on the
lawn beside the marina.
“What’s up, Cinc?”
He glanced at Elaina. Then he eyed Troy’s
muddy sandals and seemed to put it together where they’d been.
news and bad news,” Cinco said. “We got an ID. Girl’s
name is Whitney Bensen.”
Troy felt Elaina go rigid beside him.
“What about Valerie?” she asked.
“That’s the bad news,” Cinco
told her. “Valerie Monroe is still missing.”