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Authors: Jerri Drennen

Abducted Heart (Z-Series)

BOOK: Abducted Heart (Z-Series)
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Abducted Heart

 

JERRI DRENNEN

 

 

 

 

Kindle Edition

Copyright © 2013 Jerri Drennen

Cover art by Elaina Lee

Edited by Gina Ardito

 

This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any existing means without written permission from Jerri Drennen.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

This book and series is dedicated to all my wonderful critique partners who have kept me on the right track and moving ahead, which hasn’t always been easy. To Gina Ardito who edited the book and Elaina Lee for the gorgeous cover art she created.

 

 

Other Books by Jerri Drennen:

 

Dark Moon Magic

Agent in Training

Her Man Flint

Untouched

Unplanned

Fire & Ice
(available in e-book and print)

 

Three stories by Jerri Drennen are published

in an anthology entitled
Aztec Security:

 

“Inventing the Abbotts”

“Mauvelous”

“Caddy-Did”

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

Casey Jackson took a right onto Bourbon Drive, anxious to get home and kick off her shoes since her feet throbbed intensely inside her two-inch heels. She'd been on them all day, trying to get everything ready for the technological convention starting this weekend at the Regency. On her way home, she'd had to stop to do some baby gift shopping for a shower she planned to attend on Sunday.

Several feet in front of her car, a small terrier shot out across the street. She stomped on the brake, afraid the dog might double-back. All she needed to make this day worse was to hit a poor, defenseless animal.

The neighbor owning the property on her left waved as Casey eased her BMW into the driveway. Marian Cramer practically stood on her tiptoes, peeking over the tall hedge that separated their acreage. She reminded Casey of Mrs. Kravitz from
Bewitched
with all her snooping.

She popped the trunk, then opened the door and got out, smiling at Marian, inwardly praying she wouldn't want to chat. Casey was in no mood to hear who did what in their gated community today.

Wait until next week. The woman would have plenty to talk about.

Up the front stoop to her two-story colonial—the dream home Casey had worked day and night to buy without any help from her parents—she heard the telephone ring inside. She rushed into the foyer, dumping her keys, purse and three Neiman Marcus bags on the floor and raced into the kitchen. She snatched up the landline extension, then forced some air into her lungs, wondering why the person calling hadn't tried her cell. Rarely did anyone use a home phone any longer with everybody's need to feel connected at all times.

“Hello,” she said once she'd caught her breath.

“Mrs. Jackson?”

Great
. She didn't recognize the voice, it sounded odd, and she didn't know the number on the caller ID. Better not be a telemarketer trying to talk her into adding more to her already over-insured life insurance policy. Something her husband had insisted on them taking advantage of.

“Yes, but I'm not interested in buying anything.”

“You'd better listen to what I have to say if you want to see your husband again.”

Casey's heart came to a screeching halt. “What?”

“We have your husband, Brent, and if you want him back—alive that is—you’ll need to get two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars together and wait by the phone for further instructions.”

This wasn't happening. It was a nightmare, and she'd wake up and have a good laugh about the whole thing.

Casey swallowed past the tightness in her throat. “I don't under...”

“You call the police,” the man interrupted, “ and we’ll kill him. Got it?”

“How do I know you actually have Brent?”

“I could send you his wedding ring, which is sort of unique. Some kind of Celtic design with two hands around a heart. You want me to throw the thing in the mail for you with his finger?”

“No! Please don't hurt him,” she said, her heart hammering in her chest. It was Brent's ring. She knew that with certainty since she'd had the band designed especially for him.

“You have two days to get the money. I'll contact you Sunday night on where to deliver it. If you don't follow everything to the letter, when you do find your husband, he
will
be in pieces.”

The line went dead, then started to buzz. Casey stood in a daze, listening to the incisive humming until an automated voice came on and told her to hang up and dial her number again.

Casey slumped against the kitchen counter. What was she going to do?

Her thoughts shot back to that morning when she and Brent said their goodbyes in passing, like they had for the past three months. Since she had asked for a divorce. The two had been going through the motions in a marriage that had disintegrated long before she filed for the dissolution.

If she was honest with herself, it never was a marriage.

Yet, to see Brent dead?
No way
. Not if Casey could help it.

Somehow, she'd have to round up the money since they didn't carry that kind of balance.

Where could she get the cash?

Daddy
. As owner and CEO of J & W Shipping, Daniel Wheaton had the power to find out who kidnapped Brent, although that could get her husband killed. Her father might purposely make a mistake to get rid of a problem—his son-in-law. But then, Brent wouldn't be that for long.

Of course, her father didn't know that. No one did. She and Brent had planned to tell everyone about their separation when he moved out next week.

That wouldn't happen now. Not with this.

Casey sucked in a breath.
Should I call the police
?

An image of Erica Simms’s missing person's flier came rushing back. The eighteen-year-old teen was kidnapped almost a year ago to the day. The FBI was called in on that case, and the girl was found a week later—dead.

Casey couldn't let that happen to Brent.

She'd go to her father and lie about what she needed the money for until after her husband was returned.

If he was.

Raw emotion churned in Casey's stomach.

She needed to think this through.

Who could she call to ensure Brent's safe return? Someone who'd be willing to take the risk to save her husband's life?

Only one name came to mind.
Lynch Rendell
. Yet, if she called Brett's step-brother, it'd bring back a past best left there.

Was she willing to unearth feelings long since buried?

Did she have a choice?

Not really
. Brent's life was more important to her than the pain she might experience at seeing the only man she ever loved again.

 

* * *

 

“Lynch. You got a phone call. She says it's an emergency.” Zackary Kyle gave Lynch one of those wry smiles that always preceded a punch line, then leaned his six foot, two-inch frame against the kitchen counter and crossed his arms over his chest. “She probably needs you to come over and fix her plumbing.”

“All right, smart-ass.” Lynch glared at his friend and fellow Z operative, sick to death of the razzing he took on how
he
drew women like Zack did flies, a running joke that was wearing thin.

“Ya know.” Zack winked at him. “If she has a girlfriend, we could have a foursome.”

“That is secretly your biggest fantasy, isn't it? Getting me in the same bed with you.”

“I believe that's
yours
. That's why you can't find a woman to satisfy you. I'm always in the back of your mind.” Zack smiled like a cat who had eaten the family bird, one of its yellow feathers sticking out of his mouth.

Lynch fought from rolling his eyes, then went for the phone. “Rendell.”

“Lynch,” a familiar sing-song voice said, sending a zing of electricity all the way down to the tips of his toes. He never thought he'd hear from her again—not in a million years. “Casey?” he asked, sure he was wrong.

“I need your help, Lynch. Brent's been kidnapped.”

“Kidnapped?” Lynch's initial thought was it couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy. There was no love lost between the two men, yet he did care about Brent's father and knew he'd be devastated if anything happened to his son.

“Yes.”

Lynch cleared his throat. “What do they want?”

“Two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars.”

His jaw clenched. “How many days do you have to raise the money?”

“Two. That isn't my problem. I can get the cash from Daddy. What I'm worried about is what happens after I pay them. Will they let him go or kill him anyway? Please, Lynch, you have to come and make sure they let him go alive.”

Lynch rubbed at the tension on his left temple, not sure what Casey thought he could do to make that happen.

He squeezed his eyes shut and pictured her beautiful face—those hypnotizing, violet-colored eyes and a pair of soft, luscious lips that still stirred a fire in his gut.

How many times had he thought about her? Wanted to hear that sweet voice confess her love and tell him to come home?
Too many to count
. Unfortunately, ten years had flown by like it'd been a week and that call never came.
Until now
. And it was to save a man he had trouble being in the same room with. Not to say how sorry she was for hurting
him
.

Lynch shook off the memory and stowed it away where it belonged—in the past. “I'll be on the next plane home, Casey. I'll call and let you know when my flight arrives. Meanwhile, try and stay calm.”

“Okay. I'll pick you up at the airport.”

“No. These people are probably watching you. I don't want them knowing I'm in town to help find Brent. I can do more without an audience.”

“Thank you so much, Lynch.”

Lynch hung up, then jotted down the number Casey called him from and turned to Zack. “I have to go home. If you need me, I’ll be at Mom’s.”

Deep lines creased the outside of his friend's light-green eyes. “Who the hell was kidnapped?”

“My step-brother. I'm going to New Orleans to find him, then take care of whoever's behind this.”

“Whoa. Do you need help?”

Lynch shook his head. “Not yet. If I need you, I'll call.”

“All right, man.” Zack reached out and squeezed Lynch's shoulder for a moment, then stepped away. “Be careful.”

“You know my motto: better safe than sorry.”

“That's
mine
. I wouldn't worry so much if you weren't such a hothead.”

Lynch gave him a half smile, then started for his room. Over his shoulder, he said, “I'll watch my back. You can count on that.”

Was he watching his back by going? Lynch wasn't concerned about dealing with kidnappers. That'd be a cake walk compared to what they did every day with Xe Services, LLC or simply Z, formally known as Blackwater. Seeing Casey again, though, could reopen a wound the
Dear John
letter she'd sent inflicted on him all those years ago—a note that said she had no intention of waiting for him to serve his country. That she was moving on with her life and he should do the same. Completely coming out of left field six weeks into his training at naval boot camp.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

Casey paced the confines of her father's office, waiting for him to finish his meeting in the company's conference room. She had a little over a day to get the money together and was nervous about the prospect of lying to him. She hoped she'd be able to pull it off and convince her father she needed two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars to save her home from foreclosure.

In this economy, it wouldn't be all that far-fetched. Many US families were facing just this scenario. But would her daddy need proof that she'd allowed herself to get into such dire straits? She prayed he wouldn't, for Brent's sake.

The door opened, and her father walked into the room. He came straight to her, smiled, then gave her a quick hug. He went to sit behind his oak desk, which took up a large portion of the office. “So, what brings my beautiful daughter down here on a Saturday morning? Shouldn't you and that husband of yours be off doing something Generation X?”

“Shouldn't you be at home with Mother?” she shot back, her anxiety getting the better of her. Maybe she should just tell him the truth and hope he wouldn't get Brent killed.

No
. He'd insist on taking control as he always had, and something bad would happen. She couldn't chance that.

“I had to come in for a meeting with a client who was only in town for the day. Besides, your mother had a tennis game with some friend of hers.”

BOOK: Abducted Heart (Z-Series)
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