Authors: Mallory Crowe
Tags: #Demon Romance, #Dark Romance Revenge, #Romantic Suspense, #Dark Romance Kidnapping, #New Adult Romance, #paranormal romance, #Angel Romance
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whattsoever without the express written permmission of the publishher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. Fonts used with permission from Microsoft.
Copyright © 2016 by Mallory Crowe
Mallory Crowe (2016-4-15). Stealing Fire (Bad Boys Of The Underworld Book 5)
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lla shoved open the door to the sheriff’s office, slamming it against the wall.
So what if all the deputies were staring? Let them know she was angry.
Gus looked up from his paperwork, a lazy grin planted on his face. “Ella, if you really want to see me, all you have to do is call,” he said with his signature drawl that had all the girls in the small Maine town of Pine Springs drooling.
All the girls except Ella.
“Have you found my dad?” She crossed her arms over her chest.
Gus stood up from behind his desk, towering over her tiny five-four frame. “We were able to track his car down, but there was no sign of him. It was out in the middle of nowhere. He’s probably in the woods, tinkering with some new invention or whatever the hell it is he does.”
Ella chewed her bottom lip. “He wouldn’t run off without telling me. I called the Lexington Hotel. He never checked in, and he was supposed to present at the science convention last weekend. I haven’t talked to him in a week.”
Gus nodded as if he were listening, but she could see in his eyes he’d already written her off. “Normally, that would all be quite alarming, but you can’t exactly call Dr. Murray ‘normal.’”
She clenched her fists and took a deep breath. “Why aren’t you taking this seriously?”
Gus moved to stand in front of her and set a hand on her shoulder. The touch sent a shiver through her. She pulled away, wrapping her arms around herself.
“Your dad’s a biologist. You said yourself he used to specialize in bats, and it’s the best time of the year to view them. Why don’t you take a walk to collect yourself? I’ll swing by your place after I get off and we can discuss this over dinner.”
She didn’t even dignify his offer with a response.
Her father had been missing for a week and he wanted to go on a date?
They needed to be doing something!
“Where was his car?”
He rolled his eyes. “Off Aroostook Highway, about sixty miles out. No signs of struggle. No sign it was stolen. If it’s still there in a few days, I’ll scrounge up some of my men to take a look at the woods around the area.”
Ella tightened her lips.
Dad could already be dead in a ditch somewhere and Gus wanted to wait even longer.
She opened her mouth to argue more but stopped herself. It was pointless. He was so convinced her father was crazy, he wasn’t even considering Dad could be in danger.
Sure, Dr. Scott Murray was eccentric. She had yet to meet a scientist who wasn’t a bit scrambled in the head. Though, considering she normally only met scientists her father worked with, maybe that said more about him than his profession.
But he needed her. Heck, he couldn’t even remember to feed himself when he was in the midst of one of his experiments. If he was going out into the middle of nowhere for God knew how long, not only would he tell her, but he’d probably demand she come with him.
He hadn’t said a thing to her about taking a trip. He wasn’t even studying bats anymore. The presentation he’d missed was supposed to be about the possibility of echolocation in the Mexican Long-Tailed Shrew. Mexican—as in they lived in Mexico. Nowhere near the forests of Maine.
Ella shook her head and turned to leave.
“Should I pick you up at your place around six?” shouted Gus as she walked out.
“I’m sure you have much better things to do,” she called over her shoulder, not bothering to turn around.
Deputy Louie caught up with her brisk pace and Ella fought the urge to walk even faster.
“I wouldn’t worry, Ella. Gus is great at his job. He knows what he’s talking about.”
Gus did love to surround himself with devotees
. “Easy for you to say. It’s not your family.”
“You know Gus has a soft spot for you. He’ll make sure you’re taken care of,” assured Louie.
Ella didn’t even argue with him. What was the point? He was obviously as infatuated with the sheriff as the rest of the town. She pushed open the door as the deputy rushed to hold it for her. “Good-bye, Louie,” she muttered.
Gus didn’t have a soft spot for her. He had a soft spot for the former Miss Pine Springs. Her beauty pageant days were long past her, but people in small towns had long memories. Other winners of the pageant had a bad habit of marrying young and getting the hell out of Dodge, so Gus decided to make her his mark.
He didn’t like her, and marriage probably wasn’t even on his radar. He liked the idea of bragging about banging a beauty queen.
Ella slid into the driver’s seat of her old Chevy Malibu and rested her head against the steering wheel. Her breaths came faster and her face scrunched up, but she refused to cry. She
Dad might be a bit out there, but he was brilliant. No matter what trouble he got himself into, he was a survivor. That being said, she couldn’t abandon him. He was all she had. What little family Dad had barely spoke to him, and her mother had been MIA for the entire twenty-five years of her life.
Ella took a calming breath and turned the key in the ignition, letting the AC cool off the heat of the early August sun. Gus might not be good for much, but at least he’d given her a clue.
The clock on her dashboard read three fourteen. If she could get her boss to give her the night off, she would be on the road by five and have just enough daylight left to check out Dad’s car and make sure Gus wasn’t playing her when he said nothing was suspicious about it.
Wasn’t the very idea of a car abandoned sixty miles outside of town suspicious?
After a short drive—everything was a short drive in Pine Springs—she parallel parked in front of Off the Page, the used bookstore she’d worked at for the last five years.
Her boss, Ray Menken, looked up from the book he was reading, probably some King or Koontz, his favorites. They made a good pair: he tended toward the suspenseful and scary while Ella preferred the passionate and sensual romance section. And if a book happened to have all those elements, Ella was in heaven.
He must’ve seen the frustration on her face, because he set his book down and walked around the counter, consoling expression firmly in place. “Gus didn’t find anything?”
Once again, Ella found herself fighting back tears. It was so much easier to deal with Gus’s arrogance and stupidity than the honest sincerity of a friend. “He found something. He just doesn’t seem to give a crap. Apparently they found his car out in the middle of nowhere, way the heck out of town, but he’s not even looking into it because there aren’t any ‘signs of struggle.’”
Ray frowned at the strange logic. “He’s been missing for a week. Don’t the police usually get involved after twenty-four hours?”
Ella shook her head. “Not necessarily. If there was evidence of a kidnapping or something, they’d get involved sooner. Gus thinks Dad is crazy.”
“You think he was kidnapped?” Ray’s brow furrowed, as if imagining the elderly Dr. Murray being dragged off.
Ella rubbed her hands over her eyes and shrugged. “I don’t know. All I know is that Gus isn’t doing enough. I need to go look at the car.”
“So this is your way of asking if you can have the night off?”
“More like the week. If I don’t find anything tonight, I might be doing some hiking. Gus thinks Dad is out in the woods, doing some experiments. I don’t know how much credibility I’d put on that theory, but I still want to look around. Make sure he’s not stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken leg.”