A Profiler's Case for Seduction - By Carla Cassidy

Chapter 1

He’d gone rogue.

At least that’s what his fellow FBI agents would think if they could see him now, entering one of the college theaters where a lecture was about to begin.

It had been years since FBI agent Mark Flynn had been in such a setting. As he opened the door to the room, heard the chattering of students eager to learn, saw the polished wooden lectern in the center of the stage, he remembered how much he’d loved college and soaking in the knowledge offered by each teacher and every class.

Brainiac, that’s what his fellow students had called him when he’d been at university, but it had been his high IQ and his thirst for knowledge that had made him not a trust-fund baby, but rather a think-tank subject for the FBI.

The seating was theater-style and most of the seats were already taken. Knowing he wasn’t going to sit through the entire lecture, he spied an empty spot in one of the last rows and slid into the chair.

He focused intently on the lectern where within minutes sociology professor Melinda Grayson would begin a lecture. He had no idea what the topic of the day might be, although he knew this course was about sociopaths. Still, he wasn’t here to listen to what she had to say. He was here to observe, to form impressions and follow through on a gut instinct that had him at odds with most of the other members of his team.

Darby College and the small town of Vengeance, Texas, located forty miles outside Dallas, had been lucky to get a professor as renowned as Melinda Grayson. With her stellar credentials she could have found employment at any college or university in the country.

He found it slightly odd that she had chosen Darby and the small town as her home, but he found most people rather odd in the choices they made and the forces that drove them through life. Certainly he recognized that he was considered more than a little bit odd by many of his friends and coworkers.

The room began to quiet and expectancy shimmered in the air as a young man and woman took two seats that had been left empty in the center of the front row. He instantly identified them as Amanda Burns and Ben Craig, graduate assistants to Melinda.

For a brief instant it was as if everyone in the room had stepped into a vacuum, so great was the silence that stole over the group of students. And then Melinda appeared. She walked with measured strides toward the lectern and began the lesson for the day.

Mark leaned forward, his gaze focused intently on the beautiful woman who commanded the room. Her long black hair flowed across her shoulders and he knew from her photos that her eyes were an intense green. She appeared slightly fragile, tall and almost too thin. The white cast on her left arm only emphasized the appearance of frailty and was a reminder that she was a victim of an alleged crime.

However, there was nothing weak or vulnerable in her strong, low voice or in the way she owned not just the lectern but every space of the stage. Clad in a pencil-thin black skirt, high heels and a red jacket, she was dressed for power, and she had it.

Innocent victim or wildly dangerous?

That was what he needed to figure out about the lovely professor. Right now all he knew was that on September 5, Melinda had been kidnapped. She’d resurfaced almost two and a half weeks later. During her captivity, she’d been beaten and videotaped then released by some unknown perpetrators and, during the time she’d been supposedly held in captivity, three men had been murdered.

To Mark, it all seemed so obvious. She had been “kidnapped” three days before the murders were discovered and all three men had been dead for twenty-four hours when they’d been found. Somehow he believed that she was intrinsically tied to the murders, but there was absolutely no evidence to prove or disprove his theory that she was involved.

She’d taught her first class since her ordeal on Friday, but Mark had been tied up and hadn’t been able to attend.

That was why he was here now, watching her, assessing her in an attempt to do what he did best...crawl into the dark mind of a killer. It was this unique ability that had made him a respected name in the bureau, and it was also this ability that had destroyed