Torn - Cynthia Eden


KENNEDY LANE’S SNEAKERED feet pounded over the pavement. Her breath heaved in and out and her heart raced as she ran. The trees passed her in a blur. Her ear buds were snugly in place, blasting out a hard and fast beat that pumped her up. The music played and her gaze stayed locked on the trail in front of her.

Only two more miles to go. Two more . . .

She jogged faster. Her pace was on target. She’d do great in the upcoming race this—­

He stepped from behind a tree. A tall, thick oak tree. She didn’t have time to avoid him. Didn’t even have time to stop as his arm flew out. His arm—­powerful and strong—­caught her right along the throat as she literally ran into him.

Kennedy flew back. Fell. Slammed right into the hard dirt trail.

Then she looked up, glaring as the man stepped fully into the old path.

And her glare froze.

He shouldn’t be here. She yanked out her ear buds. “What the hell was that?” She rose and brushed the dirt off her legs and then dusted off her palms. Her throat ached where his arm had hit her. The jerk had nearly strangled her. “You can’t do some crap like that to me—­”

Sunlight glinted off the object he held in his right hand, and her words stilled as she realized just what he gripped so tightly. A knife.

Kennedy backed up a step.

“Did you think we were done?” he asked her, shaking his head. “Just because you said we were through?”

“Wh-­Why do you have the knife?” But Kennedy knew. She could tell by that sick, twisted expression on his face. And to think she’d once thought he was so handsome. So perfect.

He wasn’t perfect any longer.

You have to get out of here. No other joggers were out on that trail. No one was close enough to hear her screams.

So she wouldn’t waste her breath on a scream.

He glanced down at the knife, almost as if he were surprised to see it in his grasp. And when he looked down, Kennedy seized that moment. She turned and ran. She pumped her tired legs faster and faster and—­

He tackled her. The impact was so hard that her whole body shuddered when she hit the earth. Then he flipped her over and before she could fight him put the knife to her throat.

“Sweetheart . . .” He smiled at her. “I’m not here to kill you.”

Liar. She could see her death in his eyes.

“I’m just here to love you . . . and you’re going to love me.”

She didn’t. She wouldn’t. No matter what he did.

“We’re going to be together you and I,” he promised her softly, “for a very, very long time.”


FIVE YEARS AGO a woman named Kennedy Lane went for an early morning jog and she never returned home.” Gabe Spencer stood at the head of the conference table and spoke in a quiet, emotionless voice. “She was a twenty-­two-­year-­old college student living in Savannah, Georgia. The authorities searched extensively for her, but they were never able to locate Kennedy—­or to develop any leads in what was considered an abduction case.”

Beneath the conference table Victoria Palmer nervously rubbed her palms against her jean-­clad legs. Another case. Maybe this was what she needed. Lately, she’d started to feel as if she were about to jump out of her skin. Her nightmares were getting worse, and she needed some sort of escape—­desperately.

“Kennedy’s boyfriend—­Lucas Branson—­is the one who first alerted authorities to her disappearance,” Gabe continued in his tough, no-­nonsense voice. Gabe . . . he was the one who’d brought their team together, the mastermind behind LOST.

The Last Option Search Team.

And that was exactly what their little group was . . . the last option for so many families. When cases went cold, when the cops gave up, families turned to LOST for help.

“Kennedy didn’t turn up for their date, and Lucas became nervous. He went to her place, found no sign of her, and when she still hadn’t shown up the next morning, he called the cops.”

Victoria reached for the manila file in front of her. All the LOST agents had a manila file, just like hers. Gabe believed in being thorough, so she was sure every detail of Kennedy’s abduction would be spread out for the group to review in their manila files.

“Branson came to me this morning,” Gabe added. “So as of . . .” he glanced down at his watch, “ . . . three