How does a family just disappear?
Alexis Mission returns to her parents' house for Thanksgiving and winds up in the middle of a mystery. The house is locked, the turkey's in the ovenburned to a crispfour places are set at the table and not one member of her family can be found.
Sitting in the shadows is a man claiming to be a government agent. Gabriel O'Rourke wants her to believe what can't possibly be true. He wants her to go with him. He wants her to trust him. But that's not what Alexis wants.
Too bad she has no other choice. Gabriel is the only one who can tell her what's going oneven if everything he says sounds like a lie.
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By Kay David
Harlequin EnterprisesCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAlexis Mission hadn't driven a car in more than a year.
She hadn't gone to McDonald's for a hamburger, she hadn't stopped at a mall to shop, she hadn't put on lipstick or worn a pair of panty hose or done any of the countless things Americans did every day without thought.
Coming home was a shock. She walked out of the Albuquerque airport and into the chilly New Mexican sunshine. Everywhere she looked, people were rushing. The confusion was even more overwhelming on the sidewalk than it had been inside, the cacophony of horns, engines and movement too much for her to absorb. All at once, she felt as if she'd been living on a different planet instead of a tiny village in Peru.
Despite her anxiousness, Alexis threaded her way through the chaos with determination. She had to get accustomed to civilization again. Her family didn't know it yet, but she had returned and not just for a visit. She was back home to stay. Her mother's Thanksgiving invitation had provided Alexis the excuse she'd been looking for for the past six months.
She crossed the walkway to the rental-car buses and located the proper van. Five minutes later, it stopped in front of a low-rise building and everyone jumped out. Moving with the crowd, Alexis found herself in front of a neatly uniformed agent who had herstamped and ready to go with an efficiency she hadn't seen in quite some time. In the lot behind the building, she located the small red Mazda he'd assigned her.
She threw her duffel bag into the spotless trunk, then climbed into the front seat and fumbled with the keys. After a second's study, she started the compact vehicle, but didn't put it in gear. With the motor purring quietly and the jets rumbling overhead, she simply sat in the car and thought, just as she had a thousand times, about the last time she'd seen her family.
Her baby brother had been too young to do anything but cry, his big eyes filled with confusion. A late surprise for her parents, Toby had been more like Alexis's own child than a brother. But she'd kissed his plump cheek and turned away. The pain of that moment had carved a hole in her chest, but it was the anger - the disappointment - in her parents' gazes that had haunted her.
When she was nineteen, however, nothing had meant more to Alexis than Esteban Garza. He was the only person she could think about. She'd met the handsome young social worker through a volunteer program in Peru. He was a teacher, doing incredible work high in the Andes, helping his people. She wanted to be his partner - his soul mate - and toil beside him forever. Everyone had been horrified at the thought of her moving so far from home to live with a virtual stranger, but Alexis had felt she was old enough to make such decisions on her own.
Her mother couldn't say too much about Alexis's plans because for years Selena Mission had filled her daughter's head with romantic stories about Lima, Selena's birthplace. The men were all handsome, the women gorgeous, the beauty of the country unparalleled. Alexis's father, Robert, had had plenty to say, though.
"You're too young. You don't know what you're doing ... You're throwing away your life, for God's sake ..." He'd followed Alexis out of the house the day she'd left, begging her to change her mind, then threatening her when she didn't. "I swear to God, Alexis, if you get in that car, don't bother to ever come back! No daughter of mine would do something this stupid!"
They'd always been close, so the fight with her father had been shocking to Alexis. Angry and ugly. She'd said things she hadn't meant, and so, she hoped, had he.
One way or the other, she was about to find out, and then it'd be her time to beg ... for forgiveness and understanding. Her throat tightened in anticipation. What if he ignored her pleas as she had his? Her mother was the one who'd written to Alexis. Come home for Thanksgiving, Alexis, she'd scribbled. We miss you terribly.
Knowing it would be easier to explain once she was there, Alexis had never replied. She'd simply packed her things and left. Controlling and critical, Esteban had been impossible to live with and impossible to please, his Latin machismo ingrained so deeply their relationship had been doomed from the very start. Her parents had realized that as soon as they'd met him; it'd taken Alexis a year to understand then another six months to admit it.
A commercial came over the car's radio, the volume suddenly jumping, the holiday jingle loud and garish. She clicked off the noise then put the Mazda into gear and carefully backed up. The wheel felt huge in her hands, the brake pedal unwieldy.
In an hour, she reached Los Lobos. Her parents and younger brother had moved to New Mexico right after Alexis had left for Peru. She didn't know Los Lobos, but she'd seen thousands of towns like it in the years they'd moved around the country. Small and depressed, hanging on to what it'd been in better days. The community was still alive only because of the government think tank where her father and mother worked, along with some of the other top scientists in the world.
Alexis found the neighborhood and then the house. Driving slowly, she passed the brick home and circled the block with her nerves jangling. When she came back around, she slowed the car five houses down.
Her mother's trademark Thanksgiving decoration was hanging on the front door. A diehard optimist, Selena Mission was a brilliant mass neuron scientist, but domestic tasks had always eluded her. Alexis and her father had always teased Selena unmercifully over the strange straw and pumpkin wreath, but seeing it now brought a quick sting to Alexis's eyes.
She dashed away the tears then eased the car into the driveway and parked. Her heart jumped into her throat and stayed there, a lump that only seemed to grow larger. Finally, her hands shaking, she managed to open the door and get out.
On the porch, she paused. Should she knock? Should she ring the doorbell? Should she just stand there and pray someone would come? None of those options seemed right, and after a few more seconds of hesitation, she knocked once then opened the door and called out. "Mom? Dad?"
No one answered, but they didn't have to. Alexis had found home and she knew it.
Excerpted from Disappear by Kay David Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This story is a provocative tearjerker that I couldn’t put down Alexis is forced to deal with losing her family at a young age and even worse she has to deal with a mystery that could get her killed. I liked how much this character grew in the story she was really brave and went through things that no one should ever have to experience, but she came out of it a better person. There was so much emotion evoked from this book and I could really relate to the character’s need for independence in the beginning. So when she found her family missing after so much time apart I almost began to cry myself. It is a horrible thing to lose one’s family and this book really captures the heart of a family and how precious they are. Gabriel was a solid character with a lot of depth to him. It was nice to learn about him along with Alexis and come to understand him and his situation a bit more. I was really angry with him toward the end, but overall he was a great character. The story itself was beautiful and heart wrenching at times with somewhat of a bittersweet ending. There was some happiness for Alexis whom I was glad for and I believe the story really makes you stop and think about the ones you love and to maybe not take them for granted because one day they may not be there. I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves a great provocative story with a bit of romance and I also recommend keeping a box of tissues close by because this will definitely bring some tears.
After spending the past year in a remote Peru village, Alexis Mission returns home to New Mexico. Neither her parents nor her four-year-old brother knows she is coming because she fears rejection from father, who told her never to come back. However, no one is home yet it looks like her family left abruptly. Government agent Gabriel O¿Roarke tells her that her family was murdered and she is unsafe so he forces her to vanish. Gabriel feels bad that he lied because her family still lives under a new name for their protection. Ten years later, Alex realizes that someone has entered her Austin home stealing a sketch she made of her family. Using the drop number Gabriel left her she gets in touch with him. He arrives and soon they fall in love, but he vows to adhere to his pledge to her father to keep her safe while knowing what will happen to their relationship if she learns the truth. DISAPPEAR is an exhilarating romantic suspense that engages the audience from the moment no one is at the Mission home (yet the stove is on) until the female protagonist struggles to figure out what happened to her family. Gabriel is a martyr doing what ever his country needs while keeping the Missions safe though he somewhat fails at the latter. The exhilarating novel clearly showcases Kay David¿s talent, but one must wonder how incredible the tale could have been if the plot followed up with a stunned Alex seeking closure from the moment Gabriel enters her life instead of the decade gap. Harriet Klausner