- Four $50 gift certificates (two for Wild Child and two for Freya's Bower)
- An awesome swag package that includes:
- Wild Child T-shirt and mug
- Wild Child and Freya's Bower bags
- Four handmade, crochet coasters by Kit Wylde
- An autographed copy of Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
- A rare DVD copy of the Matheson/Furst classic "Up The Creek" (lovingly used)
- One ebook copy of Nita Wick’s short story, The Dream (previously published as part of a Freya’s Bower anthology.)
- Book trading cards
- Signed Dangerous Waters poster
- copy of "Battle for Blood: The Blood Feud"
- the winner’s name as a character in Kissa Starling’s next sweet romance story.
- A Yankee Candle
- and more...
Damn it! Why did this have to happen now? She should just walk away and pretend she'd never seen it. After all, it had nothing to do with her. Yeah right. No way could she turn a blind eye to this. Turning back, she peered through the crack again.
The redhead in the suit coat had pulled a small syringe from his pocket. The sight of it upset the distressed girl even more. She stared at it over the big hand clamped across her mouth, her eyes widened in horror. In a desperate bid to deter his intentions, she kicked out. Only by chance her knee knocked the redhead's hand. The needle rolled across the floor. He cursed.
The ponytail man snarled. His large, gangly hand dropped from the girl's mouth, and he slugged her hard. The trapped girl grunted and sank in his grasp.
The blow sent Billie into action. She couldn't leave the girl to these thugs. With a little luck, she could pull off both operations.
Sneaking in, the detective picked up an old, wooden chair just inside the room. Although tempted to use her gun, silence was of the utmost importance. She couldn't afford to alert the men upstairs. They would be edgy enough, and the sound of a gunshot would certainly send them on a runner.
Both thugs had their backs to Billie, their attention on their captive. Mumbling curses, the redhead's rising temper dampened his cautiousness. The chase brought him into the closest position to her. With the chair gripped in her hands, Billie jumped at the punk and cracked it over his head. The chair shattered into pieces. He moaned and collapsed to the floor with a heavy thud.
His partner spun at the noise. He stared at her with a startled expression before turning a stunned look at his downed partner. Overcoming his surprise, he looked back up at her. The thug's lips twisted in a snarl. He dumped the girl to the floor. She fell in a heap. He lunged forward.
Billie turned and faced him full on. She kicked up. Her heel smashed into his nose well before he could touch her.
The guy's head rocked backwards. He recoiled with a couple of staggered steps. Billie followed, giving him no time to recover. Using the same foot, she buried it into his stomach. The impact doubled him over, driving the breath from his burning lungs. She stepped forward and brought up her knee, slamming it into the side of his jaw. He reeled sideways with a groan and collapsed, motionless.
Billie looked at him, and then glanced at the other guy. Neither looked like they'd be moving for a while. She blew out a sigh and tossed the busted chair to the side.
The detective crossed to the dazed girl and knelt beside her. She studied her face. A bruise already showed through on her cheek, marring her good looks. She lay relaxed in her enforced sleep, her features free from the strain they'd carried only a few moments before. Brown, shoulder-length hair bordered the girl's dainty face. A clean, fresh complexion enhanced her attractiveness. Long eyelashes guarded her closed eyes. She carried a 'girl next door' image, a guileless look that bathed her in a simplistic innocence yet held a disguised beauty to catch any man's eye. Her slender figure did her proud. Billie couldn't help wonder why she would be in a dive like this, or why these men were after her. She was a pretty girl and had a lot going for her, but something had definitely gone wrong for her to end up here and in this kind of trouble.
The girl stirred, bringing the detective out of her thoughts. Her head rolled towards Billie. Her eyes flickered open. They looked glazed and confused.
"Take it easy. You're safe now," Billie said, brushing a strand of the long, brown hair back off her face.
The girl's confused gaze focused on her rescuer, and she tensed. She sat upright. Her gaze darted around the room in search of her would-be attackers.
'Hey, it's okay!" Billie took hold of her by the shoulders in a comforting gesture.
Shooting her no more than a brief glance, the frightened girl stared at the unconscious men. They were no longer a threat. She turned back to the blonde kneeling beside her and relaxed in Billie's grip.
"Are you okay?" Billie dropped her hands from her shoulders yet maintained a wary eye on her.
The dishevelled girl nodded. "Yeah, I think so." She turned away from her and studied the men. After a lingering moment, she looked back at Billie. "Thank you very much," she said in a whisper. "Who-who are you?"
Before the detective could answer, a voice from the doorway interrupted them.
"So this is why they're taking so long."
Billie's head snapped around in surprise. Three men stood in the doorway. Billie gave them a quick, assessing look. The guy in the middle, a short, plump, half-bald man in his late fifties stood with a thin smile on his lips. His gaze was fixed on her. His bright Hawaiian shirt boldly expressed his personality, loud and dominant. Short tufts of curly grey hair overflowed from the vee of the collared shirt. His round, beach-ball face was clean-shaven, like the top of his head. Only a strip of grey-flecked hair ran from one ear around the back of his head to the other.
The other two flanked him, their bulky frames towering above him. Dressed like the two on the floor, they fell comfortably into their category: hired 'heavies'. These paid henchmen eyed her with guarded looks.
The guy on the left of the fat man carried a scar down his right cheek. His hair was slicked back out of his face, leaving the dark, distrusting eyes in clear view. The third guy, a curly-haired blond, was shorter yet bulkier than his comrade. He stared with a blank expression set on his bristled face, clearly expressing his dislike. They stood protectively by their boss's side, like dogs on a leash waiting for a command to please their master.
The little, fat man's gaze remained locked on the blonde girl in front of him. "My God."
His astonished tone snapped Billie's attention back to him. She looked more closely, sensing something familiar about him. Her nerves stiffened. Suddenly, she knew.
"Bates?" The name slipped through her lips before she could stop it. She'd failed to identify him in that first brief glimpse. The bright clothes and menacing conditions engulfing the tense situation had thrown her. He looked so different, and so out of place. She'd met this guy a couple of times, and both times he'd been dressed in a full suit, tie and all-back in police headquarters. So why would Captain Bates, head of Missing Persons, be here? Why would he be interested in this girl, especially in a place like this? And what was this well-respected police officer doing with these henchmen? Slowly, she stood, not taking her eyes off him.
"What's going on here?" The young cop took a step towards him.
"Ahh, what a pity, a sure pity." He sighed. His hand reached in through the open neck of his shirt and pulled a pistol out from under it. He dropped it to waist level, aiming at her chest. His tone may have held some remorse, but his actions didn't.
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