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Abduction (Killer Instinct #1.5)

By´╝ÜCynthia Eden

he devil was this guy doing? He'd made no demands. He refused to interact with the negotiator. Any time a perp took a hostage and waved around a weapon, he wanted something.

The distant ache in her skull that had started the minute she'd received the call expanded into a dull throb. She resisted the urge to yank free the clasp holding her long brown hair off her shoulders so she could massage the pain away. No need to illustrate to all present that her headaches were still around. The whole department already watched her every move to see if she would crack under the stress. No matter that she had been back to work for four weeks without falling down on the job, she was still the detective who had shattered like delicate, hand-blown glass thrown against a wall seven months ago. The whole damned world knew that a couple of surgeons and shrinks, as well as a good half of the year, had been required to put her back together again.

Stay sharp, Bobbie. No letting the past intrude.

Once behind the police barricade, the uniforms released Anna Evans, and she almost collapsed on the pavement before they could catch hold of her again.

"We need a medic," Bobbie shouted. She moved toward the woman. "Are you injured, Mrs. Evans?"

She shook her head, her eyes red and swollen from hours of crying. "Are you Detective Gentry?"

"Yes, ma'am. We spoke on the phone a little while ago." The woman appeared unharmed and reasonably composed for a terrified mother. Let this be a good sign.

Anna Evans drew in a shuddering breath. "He says he'll let the children go if you-" her pleading gaze latched on to Bobbie's "-come inside and talk to him."

"I can do that." The sooner those kids were out of harm's-

"The hell you say!" Miller roared. "That's all we need is another hostage in there!"

"Hold up, Miller." York turned to Bobbie. "We can do this," he offered in the modulated tone negotiators were trained to use. "I'll go in with you."

While Miller launched another protest, Anna Evans hugged her arms around her trembling body and moved her head adamantly from side to side. "He said you have to come alone, Detective Gentry. Unarmed and alone."

"Not going to happen, Bobbie," York stated, his voice hard now. "You're-"

Bobbie held up a hand for both men to shut up. "Did he say anything else, Mrs. Evans?"

Fresh tears welled in her puffy eyes. She shook her head. "Just that he...he would let the children go. Please." She wrung her hands together in front of her as if she intended to pray. "Don't let my babies get hurt."

Bobbie removed her service weapon from its holster at her waist and passed it to York. "I'm going in."

"I'm calling Chief Peterson," Miller warned. "The rest of the department might believe that you being his college buddy's daughter and all gives you free rein in this town, but I don't. You'll play this by the rules exactly like the rest of us."

His accusation made Bobbie want to unleash the volatile emotions simmering just beneath the surface of her carefully schooled facade. Montgomery was the second-largest city in the state, but the department was like a small village. There were few secrets. Eventually everyone got the lowdown on everyone else-especially as it related to the chain of command or any perceived special favors. She'd understood from day one that the time would come when someone would have the balls to say those words to her face.

Bobbie snatched her cell from her belt and offered it to him. "Go ahead, Miller. Call the chief. He's in my favorites list under Uncle Teddy."

"Enough of that nonsense," York growled, his fierce gaze focused on Miller.

Since Miller didn't take her up on her offer, Bobbie snapped her phone back onto her belt. "I'm going in."

"Think about what you're doing, Bobbie," York called after her. Next to him, Miller made good on his threat and put through the call on his own cell.

Bobbie didn't look back. She headed across the street. If any hope whatsoever existed that Evans would let those children go, she was willing to take the risk. A twinge of pain twisted in her right leg and started to keep time with the throb in her head. She ignored it. She would do some extra stretches tonight before her run.

Assuming she was still alive. As long as she got those kids out of there, little else mattered.

If you get yourself killed, who's going to get him then?

She hushed the nagging voice as she hustled up the sidewalk. At the end of the block, television cameras and the eagle eyes of reporters would be straining to see what Montgomery's most damaged detective was doing next. Let them gawk. She didn't care what they wrote about her.

Shouldering the weight of York, Miller and the rest watching, she opened the front door and slipped into the living room. The interior was as quiet as a tomb. One would never know that half a dozen MPD cruisers, a SWAT van and crisis negotiation vehicle, along with a horde of reporters, were on the street. Not to mention two ambulances.

As she crossed the living room and entered the hall, she called out to the man responsible for all the excitement this sweltering summer morning. "Mr. Evans, it's Detective Gentry."

She paused at the door to the first bedroom on the left. Oddly, the man had chosen a bedroom at the front of the house, giving SWAT a reasonably clean view between the slats of the partially open blinds. Had he planned on committing suicide by cop and chickened out at the last minute?

Never take a gun in your hand unless you've got the guts to use it. The words of wisdom her father had shared so often after she announced her intent to follow in his career-cop footsteps echoed inside her. If they were all lucky, Evans lacked the courage to use the weapon he'd waved around at his wife. Shielding himself with the children was certainly the act of a coward.

"I'm here to talk, like you asked," she reminded h