Read Vanished Online

Authors: Kathryn Mackel

Vanished

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VANISHED

KATHRYN MACKEL

To my sisters Mary and Janice,
who have always been where I needed them

 
acknowledgments

OWE A BIG THANK YOU AND HUG TO MY HUSBAND, STEVE,
who sparked to this idea immediately and encouraged me to
keep going with it. Thank you to Bert Ghezzi, who saw the
same promise and gave the story a home.

Thank you to my writers group-Bev, Patty, Kathy, Lee, Bob,
Judy, Dave D., and Dave H.-for working through the birth
pangs with me.

I'm grateful to LB Norton who once again answered the call
to bring this book to creation, and to my agent Lee Hough,
who always-always-is there for me with guidance, encouragement, and wisdom. Thank you to all the people at Strang
who shepherded this book through editing, including Debbie,
Christianne, and Deb. Thanks to the marketing team of Lucy,
Woodley, Margarita, and Tasha, who will make sure readers
know about this book.

Victoria James wrote and recorded the lovely song "Oh,
Come to Me, Jesus." Thank you, Vicki, for being open to the
Lord's leading and understanding the heart of a book you
haven't yet read! Go to victoriajamesmusic.com and enjoy this
song, as well as many other songs she has written and sung to
bless my books.

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we
will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry
on business and make money." Why, you do not even
know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and
then vanishes.

-JAMES 4:13-14

 
an august morning
 
chapter one

HE LETTER ARRIVED AT THE POLICE SUBSTATION
special delivery, signature required.

Jason Logan couldn't bear to open it, couldn't bear to
see black lines forming letters and letters resolving into words
that would destroy his life.

Subject 58RS is negative for paternity.

Five years of pretending would be for nothing once he
opened the letter and let the truth out. Back then, he did the
research and discovered the combination of genes that would
allow a blue-eyed blonde to be born to a sable-haired woman
and a part Korean, part who-knows-what guy.

Highly improbable. A million-to-one shot. But statistically
possible.

Within hours of Kimmie's birth, Logan had refused to entertain any other possibility. For in truth, wasn't the heart far
more than muscle and blood, and parenthood more than the
sum-or the discrepancy-of one's DNA?

He and Hilary had named the baby Kim Li after his biological mother, a woman he knew only as a scrawl on his adoption
papers. It never mattered that Kimmie didn't have his tawny
skin or sturdy build. Logan carried her on his shoulders,
kissed away her boo-boos, and chased away the monsters
under her bed.

Now the monster under his own bed had reared its evil
head.

The door buzzed. Logan shoved the envelope into his pocket,
took a deep breath, and turned to greet the visitor.

The guy might as well have been a billboard, he was that
obvious. Tailored dark suit, crisp white shirt, modest tie, lean
cheeks, almost imperceptible bulge at the waist where his
service revolver sat.

"I'm Sergeant Logan. Help you?"

"Stefan Pappas." The visitor presented his credentials.

Logan squinted, not recognizing the bona fides.

"Secret Service. Advance team for President Freeman."
Pappas loosened his tie. "Hotter'n blazes out there."

Pappas's salt-and-pepper hair was military short, his eyes
dark and intense. Though his voice was a subdued baritone,
his straight back and broad shoulders gave an air of authority.
Judging from his creased forehead and gnarled fingers, he
was in his late forties or early fifties. Which meant he'd have
significant seniority backing whatever he was after in Logan's
duty area.

"Downtown know you're here?" Logan asked.

Nope.

Score one for the feds, Logan thought. Downtown was
Barcester Police Central, six miles to the southwest. Most of
the city subs had closed when the federal money for community policing dried up. A state grant and the public's desire to
have a permanent presence in the Flats-the most dangerous
neighborhood in Barcester-had kept the University Avenue
substation open.

The U-Ave sub was little more than a boxy bungalow with a
couple desks, a dispatch system, and a lock-up in the basement.
Not the competent luxury a Secret Service guy would be used
to. Duty was three cops per shift and no administrative help.
Hardly a fast track to a gold shield, but after the Gibbons incident, it had been either run the substation or ride a desk.

Logan chose the former, keeping his pay grade and his
self-respect-but losing his wife, who apparently had never
been his anyway. Let her have her rich boyfriend and fancy
estate. She wasn't getting his little girl.

Pappas cleared his throat.

"So this is an unofficial reach?" Logan asked, trying to focus.

"It's official. Just not orchestrated."

Logan laughed. Downtown loved a good dog and pony show,
but it was the beat cops who got stuck with the cleanup. "You're
here about the high-speeds."

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