Home > Sound of Darkness (Krewe of Hunters #36)

Sound of Darkness (Krewe of Hunters #36)
Author: Heather Graham

 


Prologue


   Orlando, ten years ago


   “Help me!”

   Colleen Law heard the call as clearly as if the person had shouted in her ear.

   But she was nowhere near anyone.

   “Help, me! Oh, please...help!”

   She was in the playground in her neighborhood, a quiet residential area just east of Celebration in Orlando, Florida.

   It was a pleasant, middle-class place, with a low crime rate. While Central Florida might be theme-park-ville, she knew her parents had chosen a home with a high safety rate for children.

   What else did one prioritize when they had three children, triplets no less?

   But now, someone was screaming for help.

   She leapt out of the swing where she had been sitting, playing games on her phone, and raced across the street to her house where her father had been working in the yard, pruning the hibiscus bush that grew around the house.

   “Dad!” she cried.

   “What?” he asked, perplexed.

   “Don’t you hear that? Someone is screaming for help!”

   He frowned, casting his head to the side. She loved her father; he was a good dad and a good man. But he was now looking at her as if she were crazy.

   “Honey, I don’t hear anything. What did you hear?”

   Before she could answer, she heard the cry again, now more like a sob of someone who had lost hope.

   This time, she had a direction.

   It was coming from a car parked in front of the Clancy house just down the street.

   “Dad, there’s someone in that car who needs help!”

   “Colleen, are you sure? That car has been parked there for a few hours—”

   He clearly wasn’t listening. She had heard the cries plain as day. She looked at her father in frustration and raced down to the car. A quick glance assured her there was no one in it, but it also showed her the keys had been dropped on the floor near the gas pedal below the driver’s seat.

   She knew she had to grab the keys quickly, aware her father had frantically chased after her; he probably thought she was breaking into someone’s private property.

   She was, of course. Though was it breaking in if the door was unlocked?

   It wasn’t. But there was a loose rock from the small coral stone wall that surrounded the Clancy property and she swept it up quickly, thinking of just how long she was going to be grounded if she was wrong and there was no one in the trunk.

   But she knew she had heard the cries!

   The coral rock smashed the window with a shattering sound. She unlocked the door and grabbed the keys as she heard her father yelling, “Colleen! Have you lost your mind?”

   He was almost upon her. She studied the keys as quickly as she could, shaking.

   She found the key fob, which held buttons to lock and unlock the car, and open the trunk.

   She hit the one for the trunk, opening it.

   It lifted just as her father reached the passenger’s side of the car, and she raced to the rear.

   Then she screamed.

   There was a woman in the trunk. She was bound, gagged, and beaten badly.

   Her father came around and saw the woman; a dark look came over his face as he reached into his pocket for his cell phone. He called the police, describing the situation and demanding they get an ambulance out to them fast.

   “Dad! We can’t wait! We have to help her!” Colleen said, reaching into the car. She couldn’t believe she was doing so. The woman was covered in blood, but there was duct tape covering her mouth, and though her eyes were closed, Colleen refused to believe she was dead.

   She ripped off the duct tape.

   “Oh, God, Colleen,” her father warned. “You shouldn’t... We don’t know if she’s...”

   Alive! Colleen thought.

   But her father suddenly came to that realization and reached into the car, lifting the woman out. He was a strong man; she knew he had kept fit chasing after her and her siblings. He was able to lift the woman cleanly from the trunk, not bumping her head or body into anything.

   He laid her on the ground, pulled a Swiss Army knife out of his pocket, and sliced through the ropes that tied her wrists and ankles. He had her stretched out on the lawn, and he quickly began artificial respiration. They could hear sirens in the distance, drawing closer.

   As the first police car and ambulance pulled to a halt, Colleen saw the woman cough and gasp and take her first breath.

   She was alive.

   Colleen looked at her father. “Dad,” she whispered, almost crying she was so relieved. “You saved her!”

   Her father looked at her strangely.

   “No, Colleen,” he said softly. “You saved her. I don’t know how...but you saved her.”

 

 

One


   Mark Gallagher spoke softly to his dog as he pulled his phone from his pants pocket to call his partner, Ragnar Johansen, who was sitting at a bus stop within shouting distance.

   “Act chill for a minute, Red,” he told the dog.

   Red was a big Labrador mix, a good hundred pounds.

   “He found it?” Ragnar asked over the phone.

   “Hey! Yeah!” Mark said loudly for anyone who might have been watching or in earshot.

   Red sat for a moment at his feet. He had already indicated the house where the young woman was being held.

   “He found it, and we can move,” Ragnar said. “Red is one damned cool canine.”

   It wasn’t Red’s size that made him so unique. The Krewe members all called him “Special Agent Red” since he was a service dog in many ways, but he was highly trained in other areas.

   Red was excellent at finding people—both the living and the dead.

   “He found this house, and hopefully Sally. Alive,” Mark said softly.

   The young woman had gone missing, and according to her parents and friends, she wasn’t the type to just disappear. And while a dozen possibilities could be considered in any disappearance, they’d been immediately concerned.

   Two women from areas just outside of DC had also recently disappeared.

   Only they were later found—dead.

   “Heading around the back now. It’s number 1405. I checked with Angela. The house has been rented by an Alex Grant. Angela says it’s a pseudonym.”

   “So, it’s really Carver,” Ragnar said. “But this is your plan. Um, I’ll take the front. I’ll come up with a ruse—selling Girl Scout Cookies won’t work.”

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