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Authors: Colleen Vanderlinden

Tags: #paranormal romance

Lost Girl: Hidden Book One

BOOK: Lost Girl: Hidden Book One
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by Colleen Vanderlinden

 

 

 

Published by
Building Block Studios, LLC
Detroit, Michigan, 2013

© 2013 Colleen Vanderlinden

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, email the author at
[email protected]
.

Contents
Dedication

For Roger
Best friend, love of my life.
Thanks for all the times you said “you should do that.” I finally did!

Acknowledgements

This book would not have happened without the support of my amazing family. Thanks and hugs and kisses to my awesome children for their support, patience, and understanding that sometimes, I am not all quite here.

Thanks to Hidden's earliest readers for their never-ending encouragement and enthusiasm for Molly's story. Without that, I don't know how much I would have actually written. Many hugs to Jayna Longstreet, Kellie Roach, Kathy Kloba, Michelle Kay. You ladies rock.

And, finally, thanks to my husband, who does all of the technical stuff and designed my book cover and never once looked at me funny when I said I was writing about demons. I love you.

Chapter One

 

I shouldered my messenger bag as I walked out of the library and out onto campus. I could feel a migraine forming behind my eyes, and the sweltering, humid weather was not helping. I looked at the students lounging in the courtyard, talking on phones or goofing off with friends, as I walked to the parking structure. Lucky brats.

I couldn’t help feeling more than a twinge of irritation as I caught their thoughts. This one worried about his girlfriend, a girl deeply contemplated the pros and cons of a nose job, and another moped about how much she hated working.

Join the club, kid, I thought, rolling my eyes. I wasn’t much older than most of the underclassmen I passed, but I felt as if I’d lived whole lives longer than they had.

I stopped, as always, near the bulletin board just before I crossed Anthony Wayne Drive to the parking structures. Scanned it. A mix of job postings, recruitment notices, lost dog/car keys/book notices. Two fliers of missing girls. The first I’d already seen. I’d be taking care of that later that night. The second was new to me.

Marja Szymanski, 19, of Hamtramck. I pulled out my phone and took a picture of the flier. I would have liked something a little more detailed, but I’d research it when I had a minute. I shook my head. Impossible to keep up with them all.

When I got to the parking structure, I waved to the attendant, who waved at me with a hearty “hey, Molly!” just like he did every day, and climbed the four flights to where I was parked. By the time I got to my car, I was sweating as if I’d run a marathon.

I looked at my car, a pitch-black 1970 Barracuda I’d bought off of a little old man at a steal after I’d found his granddaughter and brought her home safe. I ran my hands along the trunk lovingly. I knew it was ridiculous. It was a car. A method of transportation. But it was mine, and it was bad ass.

I got in, rolled the window down, and turned up the stereo. AC/DC blared. Screw the migraine.

I sped out of the parking structure and headed toward Cass, then snaked toward Gratiot and toward home. I noticed people giving me weird, worried looks. Easy to catch their thoughts: young chick, in an expensive car, with the windows down, in this neighborhood? I smirked. I was the scariest thing out here.

I drove through the east side, finally reaching my neighborhood. “Neighborhood” was being generous. The houses on the blocks immediately surrounding mine, as well as on my block, had been leveled years ago. I lived on a vast urban prairie. Tall grass and ghetto palm as far as the eyes could see, except for the six lots I’d claimed as my own over the years. Mine. I pulled the car up into the garage, parked, and got out. I shut the garage doors behind me, and my two German shepherds loped up to me, tongues lolling, tails wagging. Kurt and Courtney. I was a 90s brat, after all.

I scratched them both behind the ears, patted them on their sides, and headed up the back steps to the kitchen door. When I got inside, I took a deep breath. Home. Finally.

I made a salad and grabbed some iced tea, sat at my 50s Formica table and ate it, listening to the Tigers on the radio. The quiet calm that surrounded my house was like an ointment that soothed away the irritations of my day job, the stresses of my night job. Hopefully, I wouldn’t need the day job much longer. I’d paid cash for the house and car. I just wanted to build up a nest egg so I could afford basic expenses for a while, and then I would quit. And have time for more important things. I spent the next few hours napping and doing research for that evening’s jobs.

At around ten, I started suiting up. Black top, long sleeves. Black cargo pants. Black Chucks. I brushed my long nearly-black hair mechanically, almost in a trance as I plotted that night’s business. I put a variety of things into my pockets. Zip ties, tear gas, a pearl-handled switchblade. A prepaid cell phone. I sighed and looked at the mirror on my dresser. Not at my reflection; I knew what I’d see there; lots of pale skin and dark circles. But at the photograph taped to the upper left-hand corner. Forced myself to really look. The reason I did what I did, the shame I wouldn’t let myself forget.

“Time to go save some lost girls,” I murmured to the photograph. Then I patted it, gently, four times with my fingertips. Four taps, four lost girls who needed to be found. And that’s what I would do.

I drove down Gratiot, to a neighborhood that looked a lot like mine, but, impossibly enough, even deader. Desolate.

I parked a few blocks away from where I needed to be, pulling into a garage that was leaning precariously, its wooden clapboards rotting, showing just a few remaining stubborn specks of white paint. Then I got out, stood at the window and lifted the pocket binoculars to my eyes, watched the corner on the next block. I’d picked up this location snooping around where one of the suspects in the kidnapping hung out. He wouldn’t be alone. And the girls were alive, and relatively alright, so far. Of course, I’d known they’d still be alive. There was money to be made.

I could hear the squeak of a storm door’s hinges creaking as the wind blew. A Detroit version of an Old West ghost town.

I watched a dark blue van pull up to the corner and three men got out. Early, eager for a payday. My cue.

I stalked out of the garage, not rushing, but purposeful. The three men were tense, watching in the opposite direction. Not talking. Feet shuffling, arms crossed over their chests.

“Hey, assholes,” I said, my voice cutting the silence of the night. I could feel my power coursing through me, welcomed it. My invisible armor, my weapon.

There was a lot of fumbling, some swearing, and when I reached them, I had three guns pointed at my face.

It wasn’t anything personal, of course. I would be pissed, too, if someone interrupted a nice paying deal like this one.

They stood there, guns pointed, breath ragged. Nervous, angry. In the distance, I could hear the typical night noises: cars, sirens, the occasional pop-pop-pop of someone shooting a gun. Hopefully into the air.

I sighed. “You hate guns,” I said, feeling the power roll off of my body toward the men. “You are afraid of guns. More than anything, you want to put the guns down.” Glazed looks in their eyes, then they did just that, looks of disgust contorting their features as they dropped the guns, as if they’d been holding steaming piles of shit instead of metal. “Now. Hand over the girls.” Power still emanating from my voice.

“No fuckin’ way,” the largest of the men said, shaking off my power and aiming a punch at my face. I ducked it easily, kicked out and heard a satisfying squish as my heel came into contact with his groin. He fell down, whimpering. His comrades were on me. The short one was more vicious, reaching for a knife tucked into his waistband. But he was overconfident. He came too close, and I kicked out hard at the side of his knee. Heard a crack, then a scream, and he fell. I kicked his knife into the tall grass nearby.

“Okay. Your turn,” I said, moving closer to the third man, who had backed away. He took one look at his buddies writhing on the concrete, put his hands into the air, and shook his head.

“This was their deal, lady. They just brought me along for back up,” he said, a bright sheen of sweat across his forehead. “I don’t want any trouble from you.”

“You pussy,” the little one shouted from his spot on the ground. I kicked him in the stomach and he went back to whimpering.

“Are you going to hand over the girls, then?” I asked, as if we hadn’t been interrupted at all. I wished they could hurry this along. It was hot, and I hated every abandoned neighborhood that wasn’t
my
abandoned neighborhood. They gave me the creeps, no matter how much time I spent in them. Their loneliness, the sense of desolation and desperation, of being forgotten, was overwhelming. It was almost a physical thing, and it weighed on me.

BOOK: Lost Girl: Hidden Book One
5.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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