Secrets and lies have become deadly.
While investigating the murder of her parents, Roxanne Bowman encounters more than she ever thought she would. The secrets that both of her parents kept knock her off kilter. Finding an intruder in their home afterwards changes her life forever.
GHOST operative, Hawk Delany is back in the swing of things after being shot while working a case. Sent to Washington D.C. to investigate the murder of a foreign dignitary, and an American couple with ties to deadly secrets, places him in a precarious position, between the fight to help solve the murders and to keep his heart from theft by the lovely Roxanne.
“Roxanne, it was weird, he looked like your dad’s cousin, Raymond. Do you remember Raymond? He was always a bit different and he had so much trouble dealing with people. That’s why when I saw this man following me, it completely scared the crap out of me. Then, I saw him again yesterday and I don’t know what to do.”
Roxanne’s eyes flew open. Staring at the ceiling, her heart pounded in her chest as her mother’s words came back to her. Throwing back the covers, she sat up and turned so her feet were touching the floor. Her childhood bedroom still had the same furniture, same bookcase across from her bed, same creeks in the floor. The only things that had changed were that her mother had repainted the room to a soft gray last year and had updated the bedding to match.
“I want you to be comfortable when you come home, and you’ve outgrown the pink floral patterns. This suits you so much better,” her mother had said. Oh, how she wished she could speak to her mom now.
Sliding on her slipper socks, she walked out of her room and hesitated. This home seemed too large and ominous somehow now. Glancing down the hall to her right, her parents’ bedroom door was closed now and would be forever if it was up to her. But, only time would tell. Her brothers, Brendan and Matthew’s, bedrooms were to her left. It had been her paternal grandparents’ home before they passed, then her family’s. Now it belonged to her and her brothers.
Descending the enormous, dark mahogany staircase with its white-painted handrails, which curved to the right of the large foyer in their old Georgetown home, she turned left and entered her parents’ office.
Her mother had remodeled this room twenty years ago, but it still suited the era of the house. Majestic mahogany pillars stood adjacent to the wall behind her father’s desk and in between those pillars were towering shelves of books. She loved playing in this room when she was a girl. Her father spent countless hours in here as his military career soared. His final position landed him at the State Department working as the Chief of Protocol, appointed by the President. It’s also the position that got him and her mother killed.
Turning to the opposite side of the room, where her mother’s identical desk sat, she walked behind the desk and opened the left top drawer. Somewhere in here her mother had kept the key to the storage units in the basement. She needed to find a picture of Raymond. Her first order of business tomorrow morning would be to find Raymond and figure out why he had been stalking her mother and if he had anything to do with her death. The sheer level of chaos, not to mention the political uproar, that had enveloped her parents’ deaths and that of Kanan Mammodov, Prime Minister of Azerbaitani at the same time was monumental. Feeling around the papers in the drawer, she also found office supplies, staples, tape, and a ruler but she couldn’t feel the key. The moonlight that shone through the tall windows to her right was ample light for moving around the house, but didn’t offer enough light to see a small key. Yet, she enjoyed this darkness and the anonymity it offered. There had been at a minimum a handful of reporters on the street in front of the house since her parents died two weeks ago. Turning on the lights would allow them to see in better and use the zoom lenses on their cameras. Fuck that.
Pulling the papers out of the drawer and laying them on top of the clean desk, she felt around a bit more. Nothing.
The top drawer on the right was next. Pulling the multitude of tablets and notepads from the drawer, she felt around the bottom of the drawer and found nothing. Repeating this motion for the five remaining drawers on each side, she had a mess to show for her efforts laying all around her and still no key. Standing with her hands on her hips, she looked across the room to her father’s desk, then remembered, he’d hidden things on the underside of drawers from time to time. Pulling out the top right drawer of her mother’s desk, she ran her hands underneath and smiled when she felt an envelope taped to the underside. Peeling the tape away and pulling the envelope from underneath, she smiled to herself as she removed the key and stepped over her mess to make her way to the basement. Through the foyer and into the living room, she turned right and headed to the back of the house and the kitchen.
The basement door was directly to the right of the entrance to the kitchen. Opening the door, she clicked on the light and descended to the basement. Over the years her parents had reinforced the basement and added lighting and the locked storage units, which her father had insisted upon having, since his position meant he had access to and possession of confidential information. Her mother then had insisted they have a room in the basement where family heirlooms and pictures were stored, keeping the room at a constant temperature and humidity free.
Opening her mom’s storage room, she looked at the shelves, walking down the row until she found the storage boxes marked “Family Photos.” Her mother, ever the organizer, had them stored by year. Trying to recall the last time they’d seen Raymond, she remembered being around ten, which was twenty-nine years ago. Finding this box, and pulling it down from the shelf with both hands, she turned to take it upstairs and lay the photographs out on the dining room table.
At the top of the steps, she nudged the light switch with her right elbow and closed the door with her behind. Turning to her left, she headed into the dining room from the kitchen and set the box on top of the table.
A noise from her parents’ office caused her to freeze. Papers softly shuffling, then nothing. Slowly reaching around her back, her heartbeat increased rapidly, and dread filled her gut as she realized she’d left her gun upstairs in her nightstand. Shit.
Softly she crept to the door of the dining room which was directly behind the huge staircase she’d come down earlier. Staying close to the wall she listened again. Inhaling, she took a slow deep breath and crept out of the room and around the staircase.
A massive hulk emerged from the office, and she froze for only a moment before turning to run in the opposite direction. The back door was in the kitchen; if she could get there, she’d run across the lawn and to the neighbor’s home for help.
Three steps from the kitchen she was grabbed from behind, an iron band of arm around her waist and one hand over her mouth. She was pulled into the hardened chest of her attacker and barely able to move. Her left arm was trapped next to her body in the steel grip of the man who now began to drag her deeper into her home.
Panic flooded her brain and her stomach. She struggled to get free, twisting her body as much as she could, hoping to find a weakness to exploit. She began kicking back, but her slipper socks weren’t going to do any damage to this man. A second man appeared in her peripheral vision and chuckled before saying, “Well, Hawk, looks like you found yourself a thief.”