|About the Book|
Doc led them down a short hallway into the kitchen. Jack peered into the dark living room they passed and noticed boxes in there, as well as books strewn about the room. In the hall, he couldn’t help but notice the framed water color on the wall.MoreDoc led them down a short hallway into the kitchen. Jack peered into the dark living room they passed and noticed boxes in there, as well as books strewn about the room. In the hall, he couldn’t help but notice the framed water color on the wall. Striking and perfect, a sailboat sailed within the confines of the frame.The kitchen was bright. There were more boxes on the counter. There were also dishes broken on the floor and in the sink.One wall of the room was stenciled with a picket fence, brightly painted birdhouses, grass, flowers, and several birds flying about. It was a lot of work, and it added warmth and invitation to the room.Jack didn’t dwell on it for long. His attention was drawn to the woman who sat on a chair not too far away.“I stopped by to check on her,” Doc continued. “And I found her like that.”“Has she spoken to you?” Jack asked.“Yes. She probably needs medical attention, but she refuses.”Across the room, the kitchen table, a heavy-looking oak piece, lay on its side, the legs pointing at him like four huge fingers. The young woman touched nothing, merely sat on the stiff, wooden chair. She was so still, she could have been nothing more than a mannequin in a store window. Her arms rested on her lap, her head was down. She stared at her hands.She was perhaps twenty-six or twenty-seven. She was pretty, Jack thought, or she could have been, with hair that fell below her shoulders, caught the light and revealed a multitude of colors—red, gold, brown, and any shade in between. She was thin, too thin. Jack saw her collar bones beneath the scooped neck of the shirt she wore. Her skin was flawless, her nose slightly turned up, reminding him a bit of Nicole Kidman. He wondered at the color of her eyes, but she didn’t look up as they entered the kitchen. She didn’t move.Jack had seen this stance, this look many times. Mostly it was in women, but a few times, he’d seen it in men, too. And still, it sent his heart into skids. Then it filled him with anger, anger that boiled him enough to cause his fists to clench before he managed to roll it under the blankets of his insides where he could keep it under control. He forced in a heavy breath and stared at her, doing his best to ignore the shiny black eye that marred her beauty.“Stella?”Jack liked the way her name rolled off his tongue. He’d heard a few Hollywood people with that name, but he’d never actually met anyone before—and Jack Holston knew a lot of people.She didn’t respond to his voice. When he moved to draw closer, Doc stopped him with a touch on his arm. Jack met Doc’s hard gaze. “If we’re going to help her, you have to let me do this my way.” He left his bag near the counter.Doc nodded and released his arm.Jack drew closer and knelt before her, putting himself into her line of vision. “Stella, look at me.”She shifted her gaze slightly, seeming to look beyond him, not at him.Her eyes, he saw, were a soft blue, almost violet. The left one, the one with the shiner, was bloodshot. For a moment, Jack hoped to meet the guy who did this to her. He’d give the guy two. Then he forced that thought aside. He’s goal—his job—was to make the victims safe, and keep them that way. His heart again raced in his chest. And his breath caught.