The Colorado Academy for Superior Intellect (CASI)…only the best and the brightest may attend…and only if they possess a Talent the Meece Foundation deems of value. Founded in the late sixties, the Academy is the brainchild of Hugh Meece, pharmaceutical groundbreaker…and CASI is its shining jewel.
Its motto: Exploring the last frontier...the human mind.
Special Agent Arin Thomas always gets her man, but when she embarks on a personal mission to uncover the details behind her best friend’s death, she discovers a world she’s never even imagined. A world where extrasensory powers are exploited and where her badge makes her a big, shiny target.
Dr. Jonah Summers would be more than happy to run the Colorado Academy for Superior Intellect if only people would stop shooting at him. But that’s a pointless wish when someone with a bottomless bank account and a direct line to Russian special forces has CASI and everyone connected to it in the crosshairs.
Arin and Jonah find themselves dodging a merciless killer with a hidden agenda while trying to fight their own attraction. It’s only a matter of time before one of them has to Shoot to Thrill in order to kill—or be killed.
Read on for an excerpt.
Now... Kansas City, 7:45 p.m.
I sank into the almost-skeevy hotel room chair and toed off my shoes, so exhausted even my teeth hurt.
The air conditioner kicked on with a rattle, and it would have made me jump if I weren’t so damned tired.
I leaned back against the headrest of the chair and closed my eyes, but even then all I could see were the faces of the families—which was better than the faces of the victims. I’d learned to shut them out long ago, otherwise I knew I’d have drowned my sorrows in about a hundred bottles of scotch long before today.
This case was kicking my ass, draining me both mentally and physically, and lately there just hadn’t been much of a well to draw from. I was tired, more than a bit heartsick, and ready for a change, but it wasn’t as if the FBI was running out of cases, both hot and cold, to solve.
Even as I told myself it was the job that was dragging me down, I knew I was lying to myself. I’d shut out Special Agent Wes Burke’s face, just like I’d learned to with the victims. Put away the mental picture of my best friend, my ex-partner, because the fact he was never coming back hurt too much. Hurt so much I almost hadn’t returned to the Bureau.
But I had. And here I was, six weeks later, neck-deep in someone else’s misery. I was what I did. What I’ve always done. The dead needed someone to speak for them, and for the foreseeable future, I’d be speaking for five-year-old murder victim Tessa Aria, in a case now three decades cold.
So I pushed away Wes’ memory and got to work.
I rifled through my case file box, looking for an interview done over thirty years ago. Being the FBI’s go-to girl for the unofficial cold cases section had been my choice, my request, but it had become a parade of one low-budget chain hotel after the other, and now they all looked alike, just like my cases were starting to blend together. If I hadn’t eaten some pretty fabulous barbecue tonight, I probably wouldn’t even know I was in Kansas City.
I found the interview I was looking for and settled back against the chair. I’d be re-interviewing this witness tomorrow, seeing if she remembered anything else about the little girl who’d disappeared from a neighborhood park thirty-two years ago and the panel station wagon she’d last been seen in. Hunters found her remains years later in Arkansas, with little forensic evidence to point out who’d killed her and left her body in a remote part of the Ozarks. Dentals had confirmed her identity, and we’d been called in because the victim had been taken across state lines.
Standard procedure. Which sucked on so many levels I couldn’t even begin to count them. I really, really hated cases like this. It was easier when it was an adult who disappeared or was killed. They’d had at least a fighting chance at life. But a five-year-old? Hurting kids made me want to inflict some damage on the assholes who’d done this, who’d taken a child’s innocence and exploited it in the worst way possible.
Yeah, today was definitely one of those days—new case, dead kid, not-quite-shitty hotel. Even good barbecue couldn’t begin to balance out my day.
So when my cell rang, I seriously debated even picking it up. But I couldn’t let it go. Never have been able to, probably never will.
“Thomas,” I answered, not even bothering to sound polite. It wasn’t as if my bosses expected it of me anyway.
“You want to know about Burke? Check out the Colorado Academy for Superior Intellect. He was a student there.”
I shot up, phone gripped tight in my hand as I focused on the voice whispering spy-like and sinister in the phone’s earpiece. “Pardon?”
“Wes Burke,” the caller repeated, “you’ll find the truth about him in Colorado.” And then the atonal, sexless voice was gone, replaced by a static-y hum that was somehow more disturbing than the words had been.
What the hell? I swallowed hard, the beer I’d had with my dinner threatening to come up, my heartbeat thundering in my ears.
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Check out TL & Keira’s dual lives: www.tlschaefer.com
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