Mackenzie white 10 befor.., p.1

Mackenzie White 10-Before He Longs, page 1

 part  #10 of  Mackenzie White Series

 

Mackenzie White 10-Before He Longs
 


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Mackenzie White 10-Before He Longs


  B E F O R E H E L O N G S

  (A MACKENZIE WHITE MYSTERY—BOOK 10)

  B L A K E P I E R C E

  Blake Pierce

  Blake Pierce is author of the bestselling RILEY PAGE mystery series, which includes thirteen books (and counting). Blake Pierce is also the author of the MACKENZIE WHITE mystery series, comprising nine books (and counting); of the AVERY BLACK mystery series, comprising six books; of the KERI LOCKE mystery series, comprising five books; of the MAKING OF RILEY PAIGE mystery series, comprising two books (and counting); of the KATE WISE mystery series, comprising two books (and counting); and of the CHLOE FINE psychological suspense mystery, comprising two books (and counting).

  ONCE GONE (a Riley Paige Mystery--Book #1), BEFORE HE KILLS (A Mackenzie White Mystery—Book 1), CAUSE TO KILL (An Avery Black Mystery—Book 1), and A TRACE OF DEATH (A Keri Locke Mystery—Book 1) are each available as a free download on Kobo!

  An avid reader and lifelong fan of the mystery and thriller genres, Blake loves to hear from you, so please feel free to visit www.blakepierceauthor.com to learn more and stay in touch.

  Copyright © 2018 by Blake Pierce. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the author. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Jacket image Copyright Lario Tus, used under license from Shutterstock.com.

  BOOKS BY BLAKE PIERCE

  CHLOE FINE PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE MYSTERY

  NEXT DOOR (Book #1)

  A NEIGHBOR’S LIE (Book #2)

  KATE WISE MYSTERY SERIES

  IF SHE KNEW (Book #1)

  IF SHE SAW (Book #2)

  THE MAKING OF RILEY PAIGE SERIES

  WATCHING (Book #1)

  WAITING (Book #2)

  RILEY PAIGE MYSTERY SERIES

  ONCE GONE (Book #1)

  ONCE TAKEN (Book #2)

  ONCE CRAVED (Book #3)

  ONCE LURED (Book #4)

  ONCE HUNTED (Book #5)

  ONCE PINED (Book #6)

  ONCE FORSAKEN (Book #7)

  ONCE COLD (Book #8)

  ONCE STALKED (Book #9)

  ONCE LOST (Book #10)

  ONCE BURIED (Book #11)

  ONCE BOUND (Book #12)

  ONCE TRAPPED (Book #13)

  ONCE DORMANT (book #14)

  MACKENZIE WHITE MYSTERY SERIES

  BEFORE HE KILLS (Book #1)

  BEFORE HE SEES (Book #2)

  BEFORE HE COVETS (Book #3)

  BEFORE HE TAKES (Book #4)

  BEFORE HE NEEDS (Book #5)

  BEFORE HE FEELS (Book #6)

  BEFORE HE SINS (Book #7)

  BEFORE HE HUNTS (Book #8)

  BEFORE HE PREYS (Book #9)

  BEFORE HE LONGS (Book #10)

  AVERY BLACK MYSTERY SERIES

  CAUSE TO KILL (Book #1)

  CAUSE TO RUN (Book #2)

  CAUSE TO HIDE (Book #3)

  CAUSE TO FEAR (Book #4)

  CAUSE TO SAVE (Book #5)

  CAUSE TO DREAD (Book #6)

  KERI LOCKE MYSTERY SERIES

  A TRACE OF DEATH (Book #1)

  A TRACE OF MUDER (Book #2)

  A TRACE OF VICE (Book #3)

  A TRACE OF CRIME (Book #4)

  A TRACE OF HOPE (Book #5)

  CONTENTS

  PROLOGUE

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

  CHAPTER TWENTY TWO

  CHAPTER TWENTY THREE

  CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR

  CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

  CHAPTER TWENTY SIX

  CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT

  CHAPTER TWENTY NINE

  CHAPTER THIRTY

  CHAPTER THIRTY ONE

  CHAPTER THIRTY TWO

  CHAPTER THIRTY THREE

  CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR

  CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE

  CHAPTER THIRTY SIX

  CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN

  CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT

  CHAPTER THIRTY NINE

  PROLOGUE

  She was scared to open her eyes. She had closed them some time ago—how long, she didn’t know—because she had been sure he was going to kill her. He hadn’t, yet she was still unable to open her eyes. She did not want to see him or what he had in store for her. She hoped that when it came, her death would be a bit more painless if she wasn’t aware of which method he used.

  But with each minute that passed, Claire started to wonder if he had death on his mind at all. Her head was ringing from where he had hit her in the head with something. A hammer of some sort, she thought. The memory was murky, as was the memory of what had happened once he’d struck her on the head.

  Even with her eyes closed, there were some things that Claire could deduce. At some point, he had placed her into the back seat of his car. She could hear the hum of the engine and the low volume of a local radio station (WRXS, playing only true and original grunge from the Seattle area). She could also smell something familiar, not a food smell but something organic.

  Just open your eyes, stupid, she thought. You know you’re in a car and he’s driving. He can’t very well kill you now, can he?

  She willed herself to open her eyes. When she did, the car hit a small bump and started to slow down. She heard the low squeal of brakes and the crunching of gravel underneath the tires. “Love, Hate, Love” by Alice in Chains was on the radio. She saw the WRXS call letters in digital letters on the radio in front of her. She saw the shapes of the two seats between her and the man who had hit her in the head with the hammer.

  Of course, there was also the fact that she was bound and gagged. She was pretty sure the thing he had put in her mouth and tightened around her cheeks was some sort of sex gag, complete with the red ball in the center. As for whatever was binding her arms together behind her back, it felt like some sort of nylon strap. She assumed that was the same thing tying her legs together at the ankles.

  As if sensing she had opened her eyes, he turned around and faced her. He smiled at her and in that moment, she remembered why she had given in to him so easily. Psychotic or not, the man was handsome.

  He turned back around and put the car in park. When he got out of the car and then opened the back door, he did so casually. It seemed like he did something like this every day. He reached in and grabbed her by the shoulders. When his right hand grazed harshly by her breast, she couldn’t tell if it was intentional or
not.

  He pulled her toward him by the shoulders. She tried kicking at him but her bound ankles would not allow it. When she was in the open air and out of the car, she saw that it was nearly dusk. It was sprinkling rain—not really sprinkling, but what her father had always referred to as spitting—and foggy.

  Behind them, she saw his car and a slight hill. A small gravel driveway and a length of chain that extended to an old dilapidated doghouse in the yard. The doghouse looked odd…as if it had been constructed to look old. And there was something inside of it…not a dog at all but a…

  What the hell is that? she wondered. But she knew what it was. And it creeped her out. Her fear ramped up and something about the weirdly placed object in the doghouse made her sure that she was going to die—that the man carrying her over his shoulder was completely out of his mind.

  There was a doll in there. Two of them, maybe. It was hard to tell. They had been set up to face one another, their heads angled slightly.

  It looked like they were gazing out of the opening of the doghouse, watching her.

  A gnawing horror settled itself in her mind and refused to let go.

  “What are you doing to me?” she asked. “Please…I’ll do anything if you let me go.”

  “I know you will,” he told her. “Oh, I know.”

  He stepped up onto a rickety porch step and made a harsh swinging gesture with his right shoulder. Claire barely felt the impact of the railing against the side of her head. The darkness came on far too fast for her to really register it at all.

  ***

  She opened her eyes and knew that time had passed. Too much time.

  And she had the feeling she was no longer at the house near that doghouse. She had been moved.

  Her fear rocketed.

  Where had he taken her now?

  She cried out—and as soon as a moan left her mouth, he was there. His hand fell roughly on her mouth. He pressed himself against her. His breath smelled like old potato chips and everything about him from the waist down felt hard. She tried to fight against it but found that she was still tied up.

  “It’ll be okay,” he said.

  And with that, he kissed her on the mouth. It was a slow one, as if he was really savoring it. But there was also nothing lustful about it. Despite the obvious erection at her hip and the kiss itself, she could sense nothing at all sexual about what he was trying to do.

  He stood up and looked down at her. He showed her the gag that had been in her mouth and applied it once more. She shook her head against it but he only pressed it down harder. When he dropped her head after attaching something in the back, it hit the floor.

  Her eyes searched frantically for anything to help her and that’s when she knew for sure she was not in his house. No…this was different. There were various odds and ends everywhere, stacked against metal walls. A dim light bulb hung overhead.

  No, she thought. Not his house. This is like one of those storage lockers…hell, is this my storage locker?

  That’s exactly what it was. And this fact slammed into her brain harder than the floor had slammed into her back. It also made her fairly certain that she was indeed going to die after all.

  He stood up and looked almost lovingly down at her. He smiled again and this time there was nothing handsome about him. Now he looked like a monster.

  He walked away, opening a door that made an almost mechanical noise when it moved. He slammed it closed without another look at her.

  In the darkness, Claire closed her eyes again and screamed against the ball gag in her mouth. It vibrated in her head until she thought her skull would crack in half. She screamed a silent scream until she could taste blood in her mouth, and sometime shortly after that, there was the darkness again.

  CHAPTER ONE

  Mackenzie White’s life had become something she had never envisioned for herself. She had never been into nice clothes or caring about fitting into the popular crowd. While she was strikingly beautiful by most people’s standards, she had never been what her father had once called “the prissy sort.”

  Yet lately, she had felt that way. She blamed it on planning the wedding. She blamed it on the wedding magazines and cake tastings. From one potential wedding location to the next, from ordering fancy invitations to trying to decide on the reception menu—she had never felt more like a stereotypical female in her entire life.

  That’s why when she took the sleek and familiar nine-millimeter in her hand, it was claiming. It was like returning to an old friend that knew who she really was. She smiled at the feeling as she stepped into the entryway of the bureau’s new simulated active shooter arena. Based on the idea behind the infamous Hogan’s Alley—a tactical training facility designed to look like any urban street and used by the FBI ever since the late ’80s—the new arena boasted state of the art equipment and new obstacles that most agents and agents-in-training had yet to experience. Among the equipment were robotic target arms equipped with infrared lights that worked much the same way as laser tag. If she did not down a target fast enough, the light on the arm would flash at her, triggering a small alarm on the vest she was wearing.

  She thought of Ellington and how he had referred to it as the bureau’s take on American Ninja Warrior. And he wasn’t too far off as far as Mac was concerned. She looked up to the red light in the corner of the entryway, waiting for it to turn green. When it did, Mackenzie did not waste a single moment.

  She entered the arena and instantly started looking for targets. The place was set up almost like a video game in that targets popped up from behind obstacles, corners, and even from the ceiling. They were all attached to robotic arms that remained hidden and, from what she understood, never popped the targets out in the same timed progression. Therefore, on this, her second time through, none of the targets she had downed the first time would come out when it had the previous time. It would always present itself as a new course.

  Two steps in, a target came popping from behind a strategically placed crate. She popped it down with a round from the nine-millimeter and instantly started strafing forward looking for more. When it came, it came from the ceiling, a target roughly the size of a softball. Mackenzie put a round directly through its center as another target came from the right. She blasted through this one as well and continued into the room.

  To say this was cathartic was an understatement. While she did not resent the wedding planning and the direction her life was taking, there was still some kind of freedom in allowing her body to move instinctually, reacting to intense situations. Mackenzie had not been part of an active case in nearly four months now, focusing on closing up the few loose ends in her father’s case and, of course, the upcoming wedding with Ellington.

  During that time, she had also gotten something of a promotion. While she still worked under Director McGrath and reported directly to him, she had been tasked with becoming something of his go-to agent. It was another reason she had not worked actively on any case in nearly four months; McGrath was busy trying to determine just what role he wanted her to play within the pool of agents under his watchful eye.

  Mackenzie moved through the course like something mechanical, like a robot that had been programmed to do this very thing. She moved fluidly, she aimed with precision and speed, she ran expertly and without hesitation. If anything, the four months parked behind a desk and in meetings had given her more motivation to take part in these kinds of training exercises. When she did get back out into the field, she fully intended to be a better agent than the one who had finally wrapped up her father’s case.

  She came to the end of the arena without really being aware that she was done. A large rolling metal door sat in the wall ahead of her. When she crossed the yellow line along the concrete of the arena that signified she was done, the door rolled upward. She then stepped into a small room with a table and a single monitor on the wall. The screen on the monitor showed her results. Seventeen targets, seventeen hits. Of the seventeen hits, ni
ne were bull’s-eye hits. Of the other eight, five were within twenty-five percent accuracy of being bull’s-eyes. The overall rating for her course run was eighty-nine percent. It was five percent better than her previous run and nine percent better than any of the other one hundred nineteen results posted by other agents and trainees.

  Need more practice, she thought as she exited the room and headed for the changing room. Before changing, she took her cell phone out of her backpack and saw that she had a text from Ellington.

  Mom just called. She’ll be here a little early. Sorry…

  Mackenzie sighed deeply. She and Ellington were seeing a possible venue for the wedding today and had decided to invite his mother. It would be the first time Mackenzie had ever met her and she felt like she was in high school again, hoping to live up to the scrutinizing eye of a watchful and loving mother.

  Funny, Mackenzie thought. Exceptional gun skills, nerves of steel…and still afraid of meeting my future mother-in-law.

  This domesticated-life stuff was really starting to irritate her. Still, she felt that stirring of excitement as she changed into her street clothes. They were going to see the venue of her choice today. They were getting married in six weeks. It was time to be excited. And with that in mind, she headed back home with a smile on her face most of the way.

  ***

  As it turned out, Ellington was just as nervous about Mackenzie meeting his mom as Mackenzie was. When she returned to his apartment, he was pacing in the kitchen. He didn’t look worried per se, but there was a nervous tension to the way he moved.

  “You look scared,” Mackenzie said as she took a seat on one of the barstools.

  “Well, it just occurred to me that we’ll be seeing this venue with my mother exactly two weeks after my divorce was finalized. Now, you and I and most rational human beings know that these things take a while because of paperwork and the snail-like pace of the government. But my mother…I guarantee you she’s hanging on to this little bit of information, just waiting to spring it on me at a very bad time.”

 
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