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Eileen Caldwell sat in the Renaissance bar of the Grand Pittsburgh Hotel and stared at the myriad liquor bottles lined up against the leaded glass mirror. Old money.
The place reeked of old money.
She glanced around at her fellow Friday night revelers and thought again.
The bar and hotel might scream old money, situated as they were along the north side of town, but the establishment's clientele suggested anything but. Brash and beautiful, the crowd was as young as it was plentiful.
She leaned across the bar and signaled to Henry, the long-time bartender. "Are you sure he's usually here by now?"
Eileen's younger brother, Jack, had asked her to meet him here tonight. Over two hours ago, to be precise.
Henry nodded as he slid another glass of club soda in front of her. "By now he'd be well into his second scotch." He gave a shrug and a wink, his dark eyes twinkling. "Maybe he got a better offer."
Eileen rolled her eyes at the man she'd once chatted with every Friday night. Back in the days before her older brother Robert had gone missing. Back in the days when she and Jack and Robert had sat here every Friday night without fail, commiserating about work and politics and life in general.
Then everything had changed.
Eileen had run away after Robert's disappearance. She could admit that now.
But she'd finally come back. She'd come home. She'd been hoping the call from Jack had been a sign he'd chosen to forgive her for deserting him, for leaving him alone with the media and the memories.
She stole a glance at the empty barstool by her side, the one she kept defending from predatory moves by twenty-something corporate types.
Maybe Jack wasn't going to show after all. Maybe he'd decided she wasn't worth forgiving. Not yet.
She drew in a long, slow breath and took a sip of her drink. She wasn't giving up. Recent events had taught her family mattered, and Jack was all the family she had left.
She pushed away from the stool, nodded to a nearby group of young women in their best Friday night suits and slid a generous tip toward Henry.
"Thanks," she called out.
Henry reached for the bill, his fingertips brushing against hers. "Welcome home, Eileen."
She let the words play through her mind as she made her way through the crowd toward the sidewalk outside. The lights of PNC Park sat dark across the Monongahela River and she stopped suddenly, turning back to study the bar.
For a split second, time slipped away. Eileen remembered the bar as it had been when she'd been a regular. Less trendy. More empty than full.
The image carried her back to the night five years earlier when she and Jack had waited for Robert for hours, just as she'd waited for Jack tonight.
Robert had never shown up. Matter of fact, he'd never shown up anywhere ever again.
His deserted car had been found an hour away, parked at the scenic Majestic Overlook.
A sudden urge to drive to the very spot threatened to overwhelm her, but she shoved it away.
What if Jack had reached out not to welcome her back, but to tell her he was neck-deep in some sort of trouble? A case more dangerous than usual?
As employees of the United States Attorney's office and specialized task forces, both he and Robert had been involved in many dangerous cases.
What if he hadn't stood her up by choice? What if something had gone horribly wrong?
Eileen was letting her imagination get the best of her, and she knew it.
Jack had just wrapped up one of the biggest arrests of his career. Successful convictions would shut down a major arm of the Basso crime family.
Pride welled inside her, but was edged away instantly by dread. Why couldn't one of her brothers have chosen a safer career? Like her career?
She laughed to herself. Both Jack and Robert would have been driven half-mad at the prospect of dealing with the ins and outs of hotel management.
A cab cruised slowly past, but Eileen decided to make the twenty-minute walk back to the small foursquare she'd owned for years.
It was a gorgeous September night. Crisp and clear. Her favorite time of year in the city. Besides, as far as she was concerned, a long walk in Pittsburgh was one of life's little pleasures.
The sounds and smells of the town she loved filled her, completed her, and she was struck again by how much she'd missed home during the years she'd lived in the Caribbean, on Isle de Cielo.
A couple strolled past, headed in the opposite direction, laughing and talking, and Eileen smiled.
A perfect night.
But the shiver that danced down her spine suggested otherwise, as did the growing sensation of dread churning inside her.
She plucked her cell phone from her purse and speed-dialed Jack's number. Again.
The call clicked into voice mail instantly, just as her previous calls had done. He'd turned his phone off for some reason.
The chill in her spine reached around the base of her neck and squeezed.
Eileen quickened her pace, suddenly wanting to be nowhere but home.
Jack would undoubtedly have a good explanation in the morning about why he'd stood her up tonight, but in the meantime she was in for a sleepless night.
Not knowing where Jack might be had brought the past crashing into the present. She found herself consumed by a question that had haunted the corners of her mind for the past five years.
Where was her brother?
Only this time, the missing brother was Jack. And this time, Eileen had no intention of going anywhere until she got an answer, and put the discord in her mind to rest.
KYLE LANDENBURG woke in a cold sweat, wanting nothing more than to attribute the knot inside his gut to the overly spicy pizza he'd eaten too late the night before, but he knew better.
He'd had the dream again.
A jumble of flashing images and sounds, shadows and light. A figure without a face. A woman, perhaps? Fighting for her life?
He couldn't be sure, but this was the second time in the past week he'd had the vision. He was man enough to admit that's what the images were.
He wasn't man enough, however, to dwell on the possibilities of what those images might mean.
He'd never asked for the overly sensitive intuition he possessed. Matter of fact, if he could lose the skill tomorrow, he wouldn't waste a moment missing the ability after it was gone.
He reached for his cell phone where it sat on his nightstand, and pressed the display button.
Five-fifteen. Almost four straight hours of sleep. A new record.
Kyle swung his legs over the side of the bed and reached for a sweatshirt from the chair next to his closet. He slid the worn cotton over his head then pulled on a pair of sweatpants. He clipped his phone to his waistband before he headed for the front door of his apartment.
There was nothing like a predawn run along the damp streets of Seattle to wake a man and clear his head.
The visions from his dream flashed through his mind's eye once more and Kyle thought for a moment about trying to write them down, describe them, preserve them in case he might need them should their meaning become clear.
Instead, he shoved them away, far inside the odd workings of his brain. The visions had never done him much good in the past. He didn't expect them to start now.
Sure, his intuition had facilitated his work with The Body Hunters, but the visions? The visions were nothing more than incoherent flashes of shapes and sounds.
He pushed outside and the brush of damp air against his face slowly uncoiled the tension knotted inside him.
Nothing replaced sound mental and physical conditioning for keeping a man sharp. Combine that with smart teamwork— like Kyle's work with The Body Hunters— and life was good.
Even so, he remained ever vigilant, ever on guard.
He'd learned long ago to remain prepared for anything and everything.
If a man didn't learn to do that, sooner or later he'd find himself blindsided. Stung by the big, bad world outside when he least expected it.
Kyle had been stung once. He had no intention of being stung again.
His cell phone beeped to signal an incoming call and he instantly recognized the number— Will Connor, Body Hunters codirector.
"We got a hit on a cold case out of Pittsburgh."
Kyle slowed to a walk and focused on Will Connor's voice.
Eileen Caldwell's older brother.
Kyle knew the case inside out. His research had bordered on obsession during the months since he'd met Eileen on Isle de Cielo. "Found his body?"
In the silence that followed, Kyle pictured Will shaking his head as clearly as if he stood before him instead of being on the other end of a phone call. The two had worked together for years, and understood each other's every move.
"Younger brother's car was found abandoned in the same spot where the older brother went missing. The local response triggered the hit on our system."
"Signs of struggle?" Kyle straightened, the images from last night's dream replaying through his mind.