Chilled (A Bone Secrets Novel)

BOOK: Chilled (A Bone Secrets Novel)
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PRAISE FOR
HIDDEN

“[A] thrilling tale of passion and suspense...Realistic characters and a frightening plot will keep readers spellbound with numerous twists and turns...Wraps up with a love scene that’s hot enough to make a polar bear sweat.”

–Romantic Times Book Review, 4½ stars

“A page-turning blend of romance, thrills, and danger!
Hidden
is a winning debut from a new star in romantic suspense.”

– Allison Brennan,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Make room on your keeper shelf!
Hidden
has it all: intricate plotting, engaging characters, a truly twisted villain. I can’t wait to see what Kendra Elliot dishes up next!”

– Karen Rose,
New York Times
bestselling author

 

ALSO BY KENDRA ELLIOT

Hidden

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Text copyright ©2012 by Kendra Elliot
All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Montlake Romance
P.O. Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140

ISBN-13: 9781612183893
ISBN-10: 1612183891

 

For Dan, who believed in Fate

CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

“Here’s the plane’s last known whereabouts.” Sheriff Patrick Collins tapped a finger on the plastic Cascade Mountains map spread across his Suburban’s hood and turned a resolute brown gaze on his team. Shivering, Brynn studied the wet map, ignoring a buzzing rush as it dumped a load of adrenaline in her gut.

It felt good.

“A hunter called it in late yesterday. He’d seen a plane flying low through the range that sounded like it was in trouble.” Collins spoke grimly. A dark, lean man, the deep lines around his mouth reflected his demanding twenty-five years with the sheriff’s department. “He said the little plane barely made it over Cougar Ridge, and he swore it had to have hit the trees on the
other side of the ridge, but he couldn’t see any smoke from his position.”

The determined eyes of his three Madison County Search and Rescue team members memorized the spot on the map as icy rain ran off their red hoods. Brynn brushed a drip off her cheek and plunged her hands into the pockets of her winter parka.

“He didn’t try to check it out? Give us a clearer location?” Jim Wolf, the SAR team’s leader, scowled at the map. Confidence hovered around the stocky man like a mist. “The possible search area is huge.”

Collins shook his head. “He was alone and scouting from the forest service road.” He drew his finger along a dotted line on the map. “From that road—actually it’s more like a muddy, rut- crammed path—Cougar Ridge is over a thousand feet straight up before it drops to form a deep valley in the Cascades. There’s no way he could have hiked up there.”

Brynn eyed the distance from Collins’s finger to their present location on the map. “We’re miles away,” she muttered. From the spot where a small plane
may have
crashed in a huge forest.

“This is the quickest way into that valley,” Collins stated. “It’s gonna be a harsh run. You guys are the most experienced, and that’s why I want you out there. You’re the best hasty team I’ve got.”

As the hasty team, their mission was to get in to the emergency site first and fast, and assess the location. The sheriff’s department had nicknamed them “hard chargers.” After appraising the situation, they communicated their needs to the sheriff, requesting specific help or conveying bad news.

Brynn watched as Collins traced a route from the trailhead where they stood. The route left a groomed wilderness trail and pushed through one of the densest forests in the Cascades. The
path wasn’t flat. There were ups and downs all the way to the site. Mostly ups.

It was going to be a tough one.

Bring it on.

Two wavy blue lines crossed their projected path on the map, and Brynn’s stomach gave an acid twinge. Rivers. And they’d be deadly fast and high from the five inches of Oregon rain in the last twenty-four hours. She glanced at the three men. Sheriff Collins and the biggest member of the team, Thomas Todoroff, were studying the route, discussing elevation. Jim wasn’t looking at the map. His concerned gaze rested on her; he knew her hatred of river crossings. She gave him the tiniest shake of her head.

“So we don’t know for sure if the plane even went down? And we’re guessing where it might’ve crashed?” Steam hovered in the frosty air from Brynn’s quick questions. She’d wanted to distract Jim, get his piercing eyes off her. “What about its emergency locator transmitter? Can’t they pinpoint it?”

Collins shook his head. “The plane didn’t make its scheduled landing at the Hillsdale airport last night. Calls to other airports confirmed it hadn’t landed anywhere within two hundred miles. And as for the ELT, no one can pick up anything. You’ve got to be in line of sight to pick up the signal, and the crappy weather is keeping away the search planes. Or it’s possible the ELT is damaged and not working.”

“Not working? I thought those things were indestructible.” The words tripped out of Brynn’s mouth as she stared at the sheriff.

“They run on batteries,” was the dour reply. “Or can be turned off.”

The group grumbled in unison at the information.

“No luck with the radar?” Jim asked.

The sheriff grimaced. “Apparently, there are several radar gaps going over the Cascades. The hunter’s visual spot was farther north than where the plane last appeared on radar. That valley’s the best place we’ve got to start, and this weather isn’t going to let up, so we’ve got to go in on foot.” Collins paused. “One more thing.” Three gazes locked onto his, and Brynn tensed at the heavy discomfort in his eyes.

What worse news could he tell us?

Collins rubbed his lips together.

“What?” Jim asked sharply. “What is it?”

“I got a call from the US Marshals’ office early this morning. Looks like the plane’s one of their transports.”

Transport? A plane packed full of convicts?

“I thought they flew the big stuff. You said this plane was small.” Brynn’s stomach twisted.

Collins shook his head. “This was a lease. They were moving a single prisoner back to Portland. The caller also told me there were two pilots and a marshal on board.”

Brynn’s stomach relaxed the littlest bit.
Only one convict.

“What kind of prisoner? What’d he do?” Thomas cut to the chase. The dark man didn’t usually say much, but when he did, it was direct and to the point. The huge Alaskan hoarded words like thousand-dollar bills.

“‘Extremely dangerous’ was the phrase the marshal used to describe him.” Collins’s brown eyes glanced at Brynn. “He didn’t get more specific, but I could tell he was uncomfortable with the idea that the guy might be loose. Even in this freezing wilderness.”

Brynn looked steadily at the sheriff. He wanted to suggest she sit this search out, but he didn’t dare say the words. Her team’s first instinct was to keep her out of harm’s way. She was a nurse,
not a cop. Thomas and Jim were both deputies with the Madison County sheriff’s office, and she was the only one without a gun or two hidden on her body. Her job as a death investigator with the medical examiner’s office didn’t require firepower. Her role on the team was strictly medical support and investigation.

She glanced around the dreary clearing.

“Where’s Ryan? He’s going in with us, right?” Brynn asked Collins.

Ryan Sheridan made up the fourth and final member of their SAR team. The young, energetic cowboy of a cop worked for the city of Salem and volunteered for the rescue team. Just like the rest of them. No bonus pay here.

Collins’s cell phone rang. He glanced at its face as he answered Brynn’s question. “Ryan should be here any second. I called him at six this morning. Same as you guys. I gotta take this call. It’s the marshals’ office again. Hang tight for a minute.” He stepped away from the truck.

Brynn glanced at the other two men. “Marshals? Like in
The Fugitive?
Or
Con Air?”
Images of Tommy Lee Jones and John Cusack dashed through her mind.

“Extremely dangerous? What the hell does that mean?” muttered Jim. “A fucked-up felon, probably. A damn rapist who likes little girls or a murderer who likes to feed his victims their fingers before he finishes them off. A piece of shit I don’t want to waste my time on in this fucking weather.”

“Jesus, Jim. Thanks for the lovely images.” Brynn swallowed the lump in her throat and took another look at the dark sky.
A rapist? Murderer?

Jim clomped his waterproof boot in a puddle, sending muddy water shooting in all directions. “Hate the rain. Classic March in Oregon.”

“Beats hiking in during a snowstorm,” Thomas spoke up. He’d removed the hood from his parka, pulled the collar up around his neck, and put on a red cap with the Madison County SAR logo. Thomas never wore hoods. Brynn felt the icy breeze touch her cheeks and wondered how he put up with the bitter cold on his neck.

“We’re gonna get snow. Weather report shows temps dropping. We’ll have snow tonight and tomorrow.” Both men swore at Brynn’s words. This wasn’t a one-day, quickie in-and-out rescue. They’d be in the freezing wild for at least two nights.

BOOK: Chilled (A Bone Secrets Novel)
10.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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