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  • Writer's pictureAna Ban

Firestarter: Sneak Peek

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

As promised, the first three chapters of the newest Parker Grey adventures. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

It had been a tumultuous month. First, my trip to Boston and meeting Logan. Then, Andres Cortez’s trial. Elliot’s arrest. The video of Brandt and me breaking into a building. My first loss in a Trial by Peers case. Finally, making the decision to continue to hide my feelings for Brandt and instead support his relationship with Amber. Promising myself to be there for Elliot, as a friend. And, less than half an hour ago, having the conversation with Logan.

With a burning need to find some solace, I’d driven myself down to the Riverwalk and made my way to the end of the pier that stuck out into the ocean. That’s where I stood, breathing in the salty sea air and allowing the steady waves to soothe my soul, when I accomplished peace with my decision.

I was ready for whatever came next.

Turning away from the endless blue waves of the ocean, I came face to face with one of the last people I expected to see. Duncan Cooper. “Parker?”


When he smiled, his cheeks pulled up like a little boy asking for dessert first. The last light of day turned his soft green eyes to jade and picked up the red hues in his otherwise blonde hair. “How are you?”

“Good,” I replied. “Really good. You?”

“Good, too.” After an awkward pause, I began to make an excuse to leave when he beat me to the punch. “Would you walk with me? I was supposed to meet up with some friends, but they’re running late.” When I hesitated, he tilted his head and pushed out a pair of dimples. As I stared at his adorable face, one thought flitted through my mind. Be careful what you put out into the universe. “I promise to keep you no more than half an hour. What’s the worst that could happen in half an hour?”

If only he knew. If only either of us knew. After a brief internal argument, I surprised us both by agreeing. “All right. Half an hour.”

His smile grew into a full-out grin. Holding out his hand, he said, “After you.”

I led the way back down the pier and, by silent agreement, onto the stretch of sand that served as a beach for our small suburb north of San Diego, called Cove Point. To the south, the water turned abruptly into a lagoon, which our downtown had been built around. To the north, the sand stretched as far as the eye could see.

Slipping off my shoes, I carried them as we meandered down the beach, letting the waves tickle my toes. Couples along the shoreline stood and watched the sunset, wandering back toward the shops and restaurants as the brilliant show of colors slowly fizzled out.

“What were you doing out here by yourself?” Duncan asked.

“Just clearing my head.”

“Anything you want to talk about?”

“Not really.” Silence fell over us again, and I realized how rude I’d come across. “Duncan…”

He waved a dismissive hand. “No, it’s fine. You don’t have to explain. I get it, you’re not interested.”

“No, it’s not that. I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For not calling you. For being rude now. I’m sorry.”

“Apology accepted.”

“That easy?”

“That easy.” Duncan paused, waited for me to face him. “Look, I think you’re awesome, and gorgeous. I’d like to get to know you better, but if you don’t want that, I won’t push you.”

Looking down, I shoved sand into a pile with my foot while I decided how to explain my side of things. “I think I would like to get to know you better. The thing is, I’m getting over someone”—make that three someone’s—“and I didn’t call because it wouldn’t have been fair to you.”

“I get it. I was in a pretty serious relationship last year, and it took me a while to get through the break up.”

“Really? What helped?”

“Time. And meeting you.”

I felt my cheeks get hot; I never blushed. “All right.”

“All right?”

“I’d like to get to know you better.”

He grinned again—those two dimples winking out at me—and reached out to clasp my hand. “I’d like that, too.”

We began walking, hand in hand. It felt nice, if a little awkward. Not as natural as it had been with Elliot, or Brandt, or Logan. But still nice.

“What are you planning to do after this year?” he asked as we strolled.

“I’m really not sure yet. You?”

“I’ve always wanted to go to UCSD. I’ll apply to a couple of colleges, but that’s my first choice.”

“I wanted to be a lawyer for a long time. I even work at a law firm, and do the Trial by Peers program. But working there has made me see that I don’t want to be a lawyer. The problem is, I don’t know what I want to be.”

“That’s what college is for, right? Figuring it out?”

“I suppose. Seems like an expensive way to do it.”

“You’re smart, you’ll get scholarships,” he joked. I let out half a laugh. “Hey, are you hungry? You could join me and my friends for dinner, if you want.”

“Oh, um—sure, that would be great.”

“And if that goes well, I’d like to take you out on a real date.”

Glancing over at him, I nodded. “That would be great, too.”

“Tell me more about yourself. Brothers and sisters?”

“One, a brother. He lives in Boston, going to school there. How about you?”

“A younger brother and younger sister.”

“How old are they?”

“Brother is fifteen, sister is ten. My brother is going through his ‘too cool for anything’ phase, but my sister is a little sweetheart.”

“I always thought I’d like a sister. My mom and I are pretty close, now that I’m almost an adult. I suppose some days she feels more like a sister than a mom.”

“That’s cool. I’m not very close with my parents. We have dinner together, but my sister usually smooths over any awkwardness for us.”

“Always good to have a buffer.” In a way, I usually did that for my brother and dad. They loved each other, of course, they just didn’t have much in common. After checking the time, Duncan steered us back toward the direction we’d come from. The beach had been deserted now as darkness descended, so he used the flashlight on his phone to light the way. “Are you in any sports, clubs?”

“I golf,” he said with a sheepish smile. “That’s about it. You?”

“I’m in Key Club at school, and my best friend Nikki and I take martial arts classes. That’s as far as my athletic ability goes.”

“Really? Martial arts? Like hi-ya and all that?” He attempted to perform a karate chop with the hand holding the light. The beam bounced over the sand, sending up bright shards of light as if it were glittering in the sun. For a moment I thought I saw something in the tangle of sea grass. The light bounced again as he readjusted, and I froze in my steps.


“Sorry, that was terrible—”

“No, shine the light over there,” I said, pointing to the dark mass I’d spotted.

He followed my direction, then squinted. “It looks like a person.”

“They’re not moving.” I began to move toward them, but Duncan held me back.

“What if they’re dangerous?” At my arched look, he nodded and moved reluctantly closer. When we were within a few feet he called out, “Hey, are you okay?”

A tight knot formed in the pit of my stomach. The person lay completely still—deathly still. I took a step forward, and then another. When I’d gotten within touching distance, my brain finally understood what my eyes were seeing. “Duncan, stop. Don’t go any closer.”

“What? What’s wrong?”

I crept forward on my own, knowing but needing to make certain. Crouching by a figure with long, dark hair tangled around a pale face, I realized Duncan had followed me when the scene became bathed in light. He let out a gasp followed by a gagging sound, but managed to hold the light steady. Blood matted down the girl’s hair, covered her clothes. With a deep breath I reached in, found the spot under her jaw to feel for a pulse.

With somber eyes, I looked up at Duncan. “You need to call the police. Now.”

Chapter 2

Red and blue lights danced across the sand as I stood on the beach, arms crossed over my stomach. Duncan waited beside me with a reassuring arm draped around my back. Officers taped off the area from curious onlookers and the swarm of media while the medical examiner investigated the body and detectives combed the scene.

We’d been asked to wait until a detective could take our statements. After we’d both called our parents, I’d also sent a text to my team to let them know what had happened.

Liam, Ryder, and I had been working together for almost two months. They’d helped me out from afar while I’d run into trouble in Boston, and we’d taken on cases since then. Just a week ago, we’d discovered a missing coin collection that hadn’t actually been stolen—just sold. We’d also helped a twelve-year-old girl find her lost dog, deciding we needed to take on a few easy cases to work out some kinks.

Liam would be able to find out anything the police knew, and Ryder could work his magic in other ways. Not that I wanted to start solving murders—but, seeing as I had been the one to find the body, I did want to know everything that happened with the case.

I spotted my mom and, to my surprise, my dad, at the edge of the tape. Leaving Duncan’s side, I walked over to let the officers know my parents should be let through. My dad instantly gripped my biceps in order to give me a once-over. “Are you okay? What happened?”

“I’m fine, I promise,” I assured them both. “Duncan and I were just taking a walk, and we found… we found…”

“It’s okay,” my mom said as I trailed off, pulling me into a hug. “How horrible.”

“Who’s Duncan?” my dad asked.

“I am, sir. Duncan Cooper.” I hadn’t noticed Duncan following me over, but he answered my dad and offered his hand. “I wish we could have met under better circumstances.”

With a grunt, my dad briefly shook Duncan’s hand. Before I could admonish him, Duncan’s parents hurried over. After we all got introduced—talk about too soon to meet the parents—we huddled together while we waited to be questioned.

Fifteen minutes later, one of the detectives came over and introduced himself. “I’m Detective Bennett. Detective Price and I will be the leads on this case. Can I get your names?”

Glancing over at Detective Price, the petite woman still studying the body, I nodded. “My name is Parker Grey.”

“And I’m Duncan Cooper.”

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“We went for a walk. Started at the pier, came down this way and started heading back as it got dark. Duncan used his phone as a flashlight, and it shone over the body. We went closer to see—at first I couldn’t tell it was a body—and we found her.”

“Parker felt for a pulse, just in… just in case,” Duncan added, still shaken. “And then I called 9-1-1.”

“You didn’t touch or move the body in any other way?”

“No,” I answered with a shake of my head. “That’s it.”

“All right. I’m going to take down your information, in case we have further questions. We’ll also need each of you to come into the station with your parents, so we can get a signed statement. You’re free to go, for now.”

We all nodded, and I turned to my mom. “I have my car here.”

“I’ll drive it home. We came together.”

I looked between the two of them, but didn’t have the mental capacity to think that one through. “All right. Thanks.”

As we began to move, the medical examiners shifted the body from the ground to a stretcher. For a moment the girl’s face was exposed to the floodlights before someone covered her with a sheet.

“Oh, my God,” Duncan breathed out, stumbling forward. We all stared as he walked forward as if in a trance. “I…I know her.”

“What?” I blurted out, following him.

“I know her!” he shouted to anyone that would listen. “That’s…that’s Jocelyn.”

Bennett and Price’s heads snapped up, and they were in front of Duncan in a split second. Detective Price gripped Duncan’s shoulders and peered into his eyes. “What did you say?”

“I know her. Her name is Jocelyn. Jocelyn Peters.” Price and Bennett exchanged a telling look. Even I jolted at the name—with the work I’d been doing with my team, I’d taken to keeping up with the news.

Jocelyn Peters had been reported missing three days ago. It had been considered a kidnapping, not just a missing person’s case. Though I hadn’t looked much more into it, I realized that this information changed the entire investigation.

“Thank you,” Price managed to say to Duncan. “We’ll be in touch.”

Duncan stared blankly at the vehicle as Jocelyn’s body got loaded. He looked shaken to his core. I placed a palm on Duncan’s arm, waited for him to look at me. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be fine. That was just a shock.” I opened my mouth to ask how he knew Jocelyn, but he spoke before I could. “I’ll talk to you later.”

He rejoined his parents and I watched as they spoke in hushed voices. His mom’s face crumpled as tears formed. She wrapped her arms around Duncan and led him away from the scene.

“Come on, sweetie. Let’s go home.” Nodding at my dad’s suggestion, I allowed him to lead me back to the pier. Sandwiched between the two, I felt like a little kid again. As if we were out for late night ice cream, instead of walking away from a murder scene.

As we reached the parking lot, I felt someone’s eyes on me. Looking around, I spotted Ryder leaning against the rail. Giving him a discreet nod to let him know I’d be all right, I handed off my keys to my mom and slid into my dad’s car.

Our silent drive home didn’t surprise me. My dad tended not to be much of a talker, and I could imagine he didn’t know what to say to me after the night’s events. I didn’t know what to say to him, either. He eventually broke the silence a block away from home. “This Duncan kid—are you dating?”

A bubble of laughter surprised us both. “No, not really. We have some mutual friends, and he asked me out…but as of now, we’re just friends.”

This seemed to relax him, just a little. “I’m sorry you had to be a part of this. Someone your age shouldn’t be dealing with dead bodies.”

“Believe me, it’s the last thing I wanted to be doing tonight. But I’m okay, I promise.”

“Your mother is worried.”

“I know. She always worries about me.”

He glanced over, gave me half a smile. “I do, too.”

“Thanks, Dad,” I muttered as we parked. My mom pulled my car in just after. “Thanks for driving together so I didn’t have to drive back by myself.”

“You’re welcome, sweetie. How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay, really.”

“Have you eaten?” my mom asked.

“Actually, no.”

“I’ll order some pizza. Nathan, would you like to join us?”

“Sure, Soph. I’d like that.” Even though my parents had been divorced for a few years, they still got along really well. I appreciated their effort to remain civil.

“I’m just going to wash up,” I told them. I’d cleaned my hands off in the water at the beach, but I still felt the heebie-jeebies.

Making my way to my bedroom, I peeled off the clothes I wore and stuffed them in a plastic bag. They’d be going in the garbage. No amount of washing could take away the memory of what had happened tonight. In the bathroom, I turned the water as hot as I could handle and allowed the scalding stream to wash away the grime and general creepiness I felt.

When I moved from bathroom back to bedroom, I could hear my parent’s hushed voices discussing me. For now, I left it alone. They were worried and for good reason. I would deal with that later.

Changing into comfortable sweats, I grabbed my encrypted phone and made a group call to Liam and Ryder. A computer whiz and all-around genius, Liam Sutton kept us flush with nifty gadgets, like this phone, and also kept us out of trouble. Ryder Vance was a different breed; we’d met through the Trial by Peers program, where he’d been accused of breaking and entering to steal a baseball card. Though he’d been found innocent, it’d turned out he shouldn’t have been—he had, in fact, broken in to steal the card.

After that, we’d formed a somewhat unlikely friendship but, more importantly, a partnership. He’d been grifting in various forms since his mom had passed away, doing whatever he had to do to survive living on his own and on the streets.

When I’d first heard his story, I’d had absolutely no frame of reference to sympathize but it had helped me understand the mysterious man just a little bit better. Ryder picked up the call first, and we looped Liam in. “Can you both talk?”

“Good to go,” Liam assured me.

“Me, too. You all right?”

“I am.” After giving them a brief rundown on what had happened, I asked, “What can we find out about Jocelyn?”

“I’ll work on it. From the news I know she went missing three days ago and it was considered a kidnapping, but I don’t know much more than that.”

“Same,” Ryder said. “I knew her in passing at school. Seemed sweet, always smiling.”

“It’s horrible what happened,” I murmured, the vision of her bloody, matted hair flickering across my vision. Pushing off a shudder, I heard the doorbell ring so I added, “I better go talk with my parents. Let me know what you find out, Liam. Thanks.”

We hung up and I made my way out to the kitchen. Pizza had just arrived, which meant my parents had stopped talking about me. My mom’s eyes flicked over my face so I offered a small smile to let her know I wasn’t in shock.

“Smells good,” I said, grabbing plates from the cupboard. “Want some root beer?”

“Sounds perfect,” my dad said, rising to pour it himself. We all settled at the kitchen table, my feet dangling from the high chair. My dad cleared his throat, obviously nervous about whatever he was about to say. “Your mom and I have been talking, and we think it would be best if you didn’t go anywhere alone for a while.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“There are some things you may not know about. This girl, Jocelyn, she wasn’t the first to go missing. In the last few months, two girls in San Diego were also kidnapped and found a few days later.”

My breath clogged my throat. “You think there’s a serial killer on the loose?”

“It’s a possibility.”

“How can you be sure they’re related?”

“Each family received a ransom note. This part has been kept out of the news—but, with my connections, I know about it. Same M.O. each time.”

My mind raced to process this new information. “You think I’m in danger? Why?”

My parents exchanged another look; this time, my mom spoke. “You found her, sweetie. That means you could now be in this sick bastard’s radar. We would just feel better if we knew where you were, and that you were with someone at all times.”

Looking between the two, I realized they were dead serious—and dead set on keeping me under constant surveillance. That could seriously put a hamper on my activities. “For how long?”

“At least the next month. It’s been the pattern for a girl to go missing once a month.”

A whole month? I needed to come up with an alternative, and fast.

But they also had a point. The last thing I wanted was to be next on this sicko’s path. “All right. I understand your concern, and I’ll agree to being with someone whenever I’m out. But can we agree that I can be with friends, not just you two?”

“As long as we know who you’re with and where, that will be fine,” my mom said.

Setting down only my second piece of pizza, I nodded. “All right. I agree.”

They both let out a sigh of relief. I, for one, felt my freedom being taken away, one chaperone at a time.

Chapter 3

The next morning, I took my seat in English and attempted to clear my foggy head. I’d barely slept the night before. Every time I’d closed my eyes, I’d seen Jocelyn’s pale, lifeless face. My mom had been up early enough to make me breakfast, then follow me to school. She kept driving as I pulled into the parking lot, and it all seemed a little extreme to me.

But after my involvement in Inessa’s kidnapping in Boston, not to mention Brandt being shot by Andres Cortez, and a myriad of other things that had happened over the last few months, I could understand her concern.

Brandt came in, took one look at me and knew something had happened. “What’s wrong?”

With an inward sigh, I reminded myself of my promise to be his friend. The fact that I’d gotten no sleep and felt like a bug in a box was not his fault. “I’m sure you’ll hear soon enough. I was walking on the beach last night, and I found Jocelyn Peter’s body.”

"Holy crap, that was you? I heard about it on the news, but they didn’t give names. How are you handling that?”

“I’ll be fine,” I told him. “But my parents are being a tad over-protective.”

“I can imagine. Anything I can do to help?”

Giving him a self-deprecating smile, I said, “Well, since I’ve been ordered not to go anywhere without a chaperone, you might be able to help. I’ll let you know.”

“Anytime,” he promised.

Tapping my pencil against my notebook, I forced the next words out of my mouth. “How’s everything with you and Amber?”

“They’re good. She came over for dinner last night, my parents seemed to like her.”

“She’s very likable.”

Brandt gave me a conspirator’s grin. “They still like you better.”

Sitting up straight, I shook my hair back and looked at Brandt as a princess would a pauper. “As they should. I’m awesome.”

Brandt chuckled and turned his attention to the teacher. Slumping once again, I realized my mood had lifted considerably. I’d missed having Brandt to joke with. When we gathered our items together at the end of class and headed into the hall, I glanced up at him. “Let’s do dinner sometime this week.”

“I’d like that. Do you have a free night?”

“What about tomorrow?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

When I got home from school, I made sure to lock the door before scrounging up some lunch. A knock just seconds later had me jumping before I checked the peephole and saw my dad standing on the step.

“Hey, Dad,” I greeted him on opening the door. “What are you doing here?”

“Hey, kiddo. I’ve brought a few things for you.” Gesturing him inside, I offered to make him a sandwich but he’d already eaten. While I took a bite of mine, he set a small bag on the table and began taking items out. Showing me a small device that could easily fit in my pocket, he said, “This is a stun gun. It was made specifically for women’s self-defense. You put this cord around your wrist, and this little key inserts into the gun. That way, if someone gets the gun away from you, the key comes out and it won’t turn on.”

“That’s ingenious,” I said with a smile, then touched the bottle beside it. “What’s this?”

“Pepper spray. One shot and your attacker can’t see. Gives you time to run away.”

“All right. What else you got here?”

Slipping a small dagger from its sheath, my dad showed me the sharp blade. “This is meant to slide into your shoe. I dearly hope you won’t have to use this—any of this—but I’d rather you be prepared. How are your martial arts classes coming?”

“Good,” I told him, examining the knife. “I tested for my first real rank a little over a month ago.”

“Any weapons training yet?”

“No. We’ve gone over the very basics of a knife attack, but that’s it.”

“Maybe we could go over some, when you have time. I always thought I should have taught you this stuff when you were little.”

“I’m not sure I would have been interested then,” I told him to lighten the scowl that had formed between his eyebrows. “But I’d love to now.”

“Sounds good. Are you ready to go to work? I’ll follow you before I head back myself.”

Looking at the clock, I realized I’d be early. Really early. “Sure. That’d be great. Give me a minute.”

Grabbing my backpack, messenger bag, and a paperback I’d been reading, I came back to the kitchen and stored my new items. The knife, I slipped into my shoe. Though I could feel it, I was surprised that it didn’t hinder my movement.

“Remember, if you have to walk anywhere alone, hold at least one of these in your hand,” my dad said as we left. “It will do you no good in your bag or purse.”

“Got it.”

“All right. Have a great day at work. Your mom will be there when you’re done.”

“I've got class tonight. I'll let Mom know." Hugging him goodbye, I slid into my firebird and headed to work.

After I parked and walked to the building that held the law firm, I waved at my dad, still sitting on the street, and headed inside. The doors opened on the third floor and I turned left to talk to Tammy.

Her eyes widened in surprise. “What are you doing here so early?”

“Long story. I’m going to the roof to do some homework; I’ll head down at my normal time.”

“Sounds good, hon. I’ll see you later.”

On the way to the stairs, I stopped in the kitchen and grabbed a soda. The roof had been set up for entertaining clients, and the tastefully decorated patio sat empty most of the time. Claiming one of the many tables, I dropped my backpack and spread my homework out on the tabletop.

Once I’d finished my math, I got a call from Liam. “The autopsy hasn’t been done yet, but I managed to find out some information about Jocelyn. You may want to sit down for this.”

My stomach dropped. “What is it?”

“Duncan was dating Jocelyn. They were together almost two years, broke up this summer.”

Duncan had told me about a serious relationship while we’d been walking on the beach. One that ended at the beginning of summer. It had to have been Jocelyn. No wonder he’d been so upset when he’d recognized her. I couldn’t let this news affect me. I steeled myself for what would come next. “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll figure out what to do about this, but before we go, I have another favor to ask.”


“It’s about Sam.”

For the rest of the day, I mulled over the information Liam had given me. When I took over for Tammy on phones for the last half hour of my day, I filled her in on what had happened.

“The girl that was missing? She was murdered?”

“Looks like it.”

“No wonder you’ve been like a zombie today. Oh, honey, how are you coping?”

“Well as I can, thanks. My parents are being slightly overprotective.”

“As they should. Can I do anything to help?”

“I’ll let you know. Thanks, Tammy.”

She gave me a one-armed hug before heading out for the day. I pulled up the internet and did a search on Jocelyn but seeing her happy, smiling face only served to remind me that she’d never smile again. I closed the browser and spent the rest of my time doodling on a scratch piece of paper. A few minutes before six, the door opened and Liam stepped inside.

“Hey, what are you doing here?”

“Ryder dropped me off so we can ride to class together.”

“I appreciate it. That’ll get my parents off my back for an evening. Give me a few, I’ll go grab my bag.”

Liam nodded and leaned against the wall. Hurrying to get my messenger bag, I waved to the last few stragglers and headed back to the front. Liam and I didn’t speak much during the elevator ride down to the main level or the walk to the parking structure. He seemed amused that I parked on the roof, but also approving. “Better light up here. Easier to see someone coming at you.”

“Part of the reason I park up here.” Starting the car, I glanced over and asked, “How did everything go with the thing for Sam?”

“Nearly done. Should have the official paperwork in a few days.”

“A few days? That’s fast.”

“Cash has a tendency to smooth the way.”

“Good point. Thank you for taking care of that.”

“No problem. It will help us in the long run, too.”

“That’s the plan. Any ideas for dinner tonight?”


I half expected him to say Pita House. When we’d helped Munya last month, I’d noticed some subtle sparks between the two of them. I’d let it go for tonight, but sometime in the near future I might get to try my hand at matchmaking. “Sounds perfect, as I’m sure Nikki will agree.”

“Does she know what happened?”

“I filled her in at school. For tonight, I’d like to forget everything and just be normal teens.”

Liam snorted. “I don’t think either of us knows what that means.”

“It means we’re going to have a good workout and then eat copious amounts of fried foods.”

“I suppose that’s one definition.”

We shared a grin as I found a parking spot at the dojo. Nikki hadn’t arrived yet, but she was renowned for her tardiness. I headed into one of the changing rooms and pulled on my gi, carefully storing the knife from my shoe with the stun gun and pepper spray. Once I stashed my bag, I joined Liam in stretching out. “No Nikki yet?”

“I think she just pulled in. I saw her car.”

She hurried to the door just as our instructor called us to line up. Luckily, she was already dressed and ready to go. We smiled in greeting as she tossed her bag into the back and took her position next to Liam.

Our instructor kept us in high gear from start to finish. By the time we were done with class, sweat dripped down our faces and soaked into our uniforms. That part felt gross, but the intense workout had done me good. Left my mind clearer than it had been in the last few days.

Nikki promised to meet us at Sonic and I drove Liam while he checked in with the police. “They’ve put a major rush on Jocelyn’s autopsy.”

“I can imagine. This won’t just be a local case anymore, not when a kidnapping and potential serial killer are involved. The media is already all over it. They’ll be feeling the pressure.”

“I’ll keep an eye on it, let you know as soon as I see results.”

We parked and got out, deciding to make use of one of four outdoor tables. When it was just Nikki and me, we would sit and eat in the car. With three of us, a table was far easier.

“I’m so hungry I could eat a burger and a chicken sandwich and the fries and onion rings that come with,” Nikki announced as she sat down. “Was it just me, or did Sensei Jordan seem to be enjoying our pain tonight?”

“He did have an evil smile through most of class,” I said in agreement. “Must be a sadist.”

We ordered our food and while we waited for it to arrive, I had an uneasy sensation wash over me. Like I was being watched. Glancing around, I tried to pinpoint where the feeling originated but had no luck.

“What is it?” Nikki asked.

“Nothing,” I said, shaking my head. “It’s nothing.”

No need to worry my best friend about nothing.

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