The Hangman

Cut and Run

Coming October 9, 2018

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Trauma victims are not new to medical examiner Faith McIntyre, but this one is different. The unconscious woman clinging to life after a hit and run is FBI agent Macy Crow. What the woman from Quantico was doing in a dark alley after midnight is just one mystery. The other is more unsettling: Macy is Faith’s mirror image—the twin sister she never knew she had.

Faith knew that she was adopted, but now she’s finding that her childhood concealed other secrets. Following the trail of clues Macy left behind, Faith and Texas Ranger Mitchell Hayden make a shocking discovery on an isolated country ranch—a burial ground for three women who disappeared thirty years before.

They weren’t the only victims in a killer’s twisted plot. And they won’t be the last.

As the missing pieces of Faith’s and Macy’s dark lives snap into place, Faith is becoming more terrified by what she sees—and by what she must do to save her sister and herself from the past.

Cut and Run Excerpt
Macy Follows the Bread Crumbs

One way or another, she’d meet Faith McIntyre. But for now, the Hill Country and East Austin addresses waited. She typed in the rural address, and when it loaded, she took a right onto the road and drove past a lone strip mall and scattered homes before the turnoff to Blanco, Texas, appeared.

The moonlight was bright enough to illuminate sparse brown land covered with scrub trees and bushes. But the land and her surroundings barely registered as her mind spiraled around the idea that she might have a sister. Did Faith McIntyre know about her? One way or another, they would have questions for each other.

Which led to renewed questions about her birth mother, who had always been shrouded in we-don’t-knows and mumbled comments about a closed adoption. If her mother or Jack really knew who she was, they’d never said, regardless of how often she’d pressed.

Her headlights cut into the deepening darkness. Hoping to settle her racing mind, she switched on the radio and found a country western station . . . she always felt at home when she heard country music. She cranked it, hoping the melody would drown out her thoughts.

The Maps app on Jack’s phone reminded her of an upcoming turn, snapping her back to the present. She slowed as she searched the road for a sign. There wasn’t one, and she was halfway past a small rusted mailbox when she realized she’d found her turn. She backed up and took the left, grimacing as the dry brown dust kicked up around her car.

Ahead, her headlights sliced over a brick house that faced east. The windows were boarded up, and the roof looked like it had taken a beating in a recent storm. It had a low porch that ran across the entire front and a single rocker that stood eerily still.

She stopped. As the engine idled, she studied the house bathed in moonlight. Out here unexpected guests could just as easily be met with the barrel of a shotgun as a welcome . . . a lesson she’d learned in the Colorado mountains her first year on the job. She’d been searching for several missing girls. The woman on the other end of the gun had demanded her name as her gnarled finger twitched above the trigger. Macy had grabbed the gun and twisted it out of her hands, but her supervisor had reamed her out for ending up in the tight spot.

After a few minutes and still no signs of life, she shut off her truck’s engine, checked the gun holstered on her hip, and got out of the car. The day’s blazing heat still hadn’t dissipated.

Sweat beaded on her back almost as soon as she started walking toward the house. A rusted wind vane squeaked softly as her gaze swept the entire area a second time.

Climbing the front steps, she noticed the shades were drawn. There were also footprints in the dust scattered on the porch. “Was that you, Jack?”

She stood to the right of the door. Hand tightening on the grip of her weapon, she knocked on the front door and waited. Being out here alone at night wasn’t the smartest maneuver and something she’d never dare if this wasn’t so damn personal. A round object caught her peripheral vision, and she looked up to find a small camera covering the front porch.

The house remained silent, with no response to a second knock. She descended the stairs and walked around the back. Moonlight glittered on an old set of patio furniture. Windows facing the back of the barren property were also covered in shades.

She then walked to the back of the property. Dust coated her ankle boots and the hems of her jeans.

Other than the footprints on the porch, it looked as if no one had been out here in years.

Her gaze was then drawn to a row of three large rocks, arranged in a perfectly straight line. That kind of symmetry didn’t happen in nature, and for some reason, the hair on the back of her neck rose. She realized what she was looking at. Grave markers.

As she unholstered her weapon, she moved slowly toward the stones and saw a set of large footprints that circled the first stone several times. The footprints trailed to the second stone and the third. She knelt by the first and placed her hand on the sunbaked rock. The stones had no markings, but they were spaced almost exactly five feet apart.

Jack had hidden this phone in a compartment beneath the carpet for a damn good reason. Using the Maps app was way out of his wheelhouse. “Pop, the phone tells me you were out here, but it doesn’t tell me why.”

She scrolled to the next address. East Austin. She was convinced her old man had left her a trail of bread crumbs, and in her entire career, she’d never been afraid to chase a lead. But this time, she truly feared what she’d find.

 Copyright © Mary Burton 2018

 

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