Colby Rebuilt [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Debra Webb
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Colby agent or not, he didn't dare cross the line with this woman--not yet.... Former U.S. marshal Shane Allen made one mistake on the job, and it cost him his reputation. Now he had a second chance working an inside case for the newly rebuilt Colby Agency. And nothing, certainly not some tag-along woman, was going to ruin it. After her sister's murder, justice was all that Mary Jane Brooks wanted. And Shane was crucial to nailing those responsible, even if he did send her pulse racing. Keeping things professional was downright impossible, especially when Mary Jane kept putting out conflicting signals. If Shane's instincts were right, this fragile beauty was a virgin in the worst kind of trouble--but was he ready to take it all the way?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Intrigue
Fictionwise Release Date: November 2007
5 Reader Ratings:
Mary Jane Brooks understood the news was bad the moment she opened her door and saw the resigned slump of the detective's shoulders.
"We've confirmed that the—" Detective Brandon Bailen, Chicago PD, cleared his throat "—the remains are Rebecca's."
Mary Jane's heart plummeted and her knees weakened. Holding on to the doorframe was all that kept her vertical. "You're certain there's no mistake." She moistened her trembling lips and struggled to hold back the tears. "Labs do make mistakes. I read about—"
"There's no mistake, Ms. Brooks."
Rebecca was dead.
On some level Mary Jane had known for a while now that her sister was gone, but hearing the words somehow made it new…made it hurt so badly.
"Thank you, Detective." Mary Jane managed to draw in a deep, shuddering breath. "Do you know what happened? Was she—" working up the courage to say the word took monumental effort "—murdered?"
Sympathy softened Bailen's usually firm expression. He was a tall, thin man with stark features, yet he was the kindest cop she had met during this awful ordeal. "Yes, ma'am, we have reason to believe so."
Mary Jane closed her eyes. She wasn't sure she wanted to hear the details, but how else could she ever know the whole truth? She opened her eyes and looked directly into the detective's. "How?"
"Massive head trauma."
The image of a broken and battered skull flashed in her mind. She tightened her hold on the doorframe, her fingers ice cold. "I see."
But she didn't see. Her sister hadn't been in trouble. She had been guilty of nothing more than doing the right thing. Rebecca had told her weeks before she disappeared that she was going to have to take a stand against her employer. She hadn't elaborated on the specifics, only that the company or the CEO or maybe both were up to something illegal. Rebecca had known she had to do something…the right thing.
Mary Jane had known the situation was far more serious than her sister had related when the federal authorities—FBI as well as the Marshals Service—had called to inquire as to Rebecca's whereabouts less than forty-eight hours after she had vanished. Now, eleven months later, Mary Jane's worst fears were confirmed.
There was nothing she could do but bury her only sibling just as she had buried both her parents in the past three months.
Mary Jane was alone. The realization crashed in around her, leaving her shaking in spite of her best efforts to remain stoic.
Her whole family was gone.
"When can I claim her remains?" Mary Jane forced the question past her lips. Seeing that Rebecca had a proper service and burial was the one remaining detail she could attend to for her sister. In all these months one would think that she would have been better prepared for this moment. But she wasn't. It felt impossible…surreal.
"That may take some time," Bailen warned, his tone careful. "The FBI is launching a new investigation and, of course, we'll be coordinating our own with theirs in an effort to get to the bottom of what really happened."
Mary Jane understood. "You'll keep me posted?" That seemed like the proper question to ask next in light of the circumstances. She had no idea how this sort of business was handled. Her only experience with criminal investigations was watching television. Surely the authorities kept the family informed.
Dear God. Her sister was dead.
Mary Jane was alone.
"As soon as we know any details," Bailen promised, "I'll pass along what I can."
Her head moved up and down in a motion of agreement, but Mary Jane's thoughts were churning on the horror evolving in her head. Rebecca running away from her killer…or maybe struggling with him. Him bashing her over the head…once, twice and then again.
"Where?" Mary Jane hadn't even realized the inquiry had taken shape in her brain until she heard the word echo in the corridor outside her apartment. She should have asked the detective in, she realized belatedly. Instead, she'd stood here in the doorway and listened to the news no one ever wanted to hear.
Bailen looked confused. "Where?"
"Where did you find her…remains?"
With that question, the full implications collapsed around her with new, brutal impact. She had another funeral to plan. It seemed unbelievable. So much death in so little time.
"That's part of the puzzle," Bailen said wearily. "Her remains were found amid the rubble of the building downtown that once housed the Colby Agency."
"What sort of business is that?" Mary Jane wasn't familiar with the name. Insurance? Staffing?
"The Colby Agency is a private investigation agency," Bailen explained. "Been a prominent Chicago fixture for more than a quarter of a century. The building was blown up last Christmas Eve by thugs attempting to cover up fraud at an investment firm located at the same address. For a while there was some question as to whether the Colby Agency or the investment firm was the target, but that investigation is closed now."
"Why would my sister have been at a private investigation agency?" That didn't make sense to Mary Jane. Why wouldn't Rebecca have told her about that kind of thing? But then, she hadn't told her everything about the trouble with her employer. Did the Colby Agency have something to do with her testimony against Horizon Software?
There was no way for Rebecca to even guess. Her sister would have kept things from her in an effort to protect her. It was part of the "older sibling" mentality. She hadn't told Mary Jane the gritty truth about her employer for that very reason. Sure Mary Jane had known there were problems and that Rebecca was going to blow the whistle, but, as Mary Jane had learned over the past few months, those details had only scratched the surface. Mary Jane doubted she would ever know everything that had happened between her sister, Horizon Software and the federal authorities.
Copyright © 2007 by Debra Webb.