Home > Lethal Risk

Lethal Risk
Author: Jane Blythe


Chapter One

February 14th

4:28 P.M.

Every parent’s worst nightmare.

His daughter had disappeared.

Asher “Mouse” Whitman spun in a slow circle, sure that if he kept looking, his seven-year-old would suddenly reappear.

Where was she?

She’d been right there, playing on the swings with a few of her friends. The Valentine’s Day party picnic in the park meant there were families and kids everywhere. It was winter and cold in Manhattan, but that didn’t seem to have put a dampener on the fun. All the kids from his daughter’s class were there along with their parents and siblings, but he couldn’t see Lolly anywhere.

Lauren had been nicknamed Lolly when she was about eighteen months old and trying to learn to say her own name. It had stuck. Mouse believed sooner or later she’d drop the childish nickname, but for now, she was his sweet little Lolly.

They’d been at this very same spot just ten days ago celebrating her seventh birthday.

Away more often than he was home, Mouse had been thrilled to be able to celebrate his daughter’s birthday with her. He’d missed two in her short little life, and while Lolly never complained about the fact she spent more time at her grandparents’ Long Island home than at their Manhattan apartment, he hated missing out on any of her special days.

The life of a single parent was full of guilt over the things you had to miss because you were the sole provider. Added to that, his job with Prey Security was dangerous and required extensive travel, and he missed much more than he should.

Definitely much more than he wanted.

“What’s wrong?” Luca “Bear” Jackson asked, appearing beside him. The two of them had been friends since childhood, served together in Delta Force, and now worked side by side on Prey’s Alpha team.

“Where’s Lolly? I can’t find Lolly,” he said, barely sparing his friend a glance as he continued to spin in circles searching for his daughter.

“She’s gone?” Bear asked, his voice immediately snapping into his work tone. No one else on his team had kids—although Bear and his fiancée Mackenzie were expecting their first child in five months—but they were all close with Lolly. They were her uncles in every way but blood and had decided to come and join the party.

At first, Mouse had intended to take his daughter out for a special daddy-daughter day to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Shopping and lunch at a fancy restaurant had been his plan. Lolly was starting to become much more independent and had been asking for a while now to be able to choose all her own clothes. So, he’d thought he’d take her out, let her pick out a few new things for her wardrobe, but then he’d gotten the note from her school about the party.

Lolly loved parties. His little girl was sweet, friendly, and outgoing, and she’d been so excited about the picnic that he’d scrapped his plans to join the rest of her class in Central Park.

Now he wished they were out, just the two of them, enjoying lunch and shopping.

“When was the last time you saw her?” Caleb “Brick” Quinn asked. Apparently Bear had summoned the rest of the guys over.

Even though the question was a legitimate one, and one that anyone investigating a missing child would ask, Mouse felt a zing of guilt hit him straight in the chest. He should have been watching his daughter more closely. It was his job to protect her, keep her safe, and he knew better than most how much evil lived in this world.

Keeping his eyes on his daughter should be a given, but he’d caught sight of a pretty blonde out running. Other than a couple of nondescript encounters there had been no one in his life since his wife died giving birth to Lolly. While he wasn’t on the lookout for a new partner, he was still a man, and when a beautiful woman caught his attention, he couldn’t help but take a look.


Because of that split-second mistake, his daughter could be gone forever.


He’d find her.

He had to.

There was no other choice.

Shaking himself, Mouse forced his brain to leave panicked father mode and slip into trained operator mode. Lolly’s life might depend on him holding it together. He’d already lost his wife, there was no way he was going to lose the only piece of her he still had.

“She was playing by the swings with three of her friends,” he replied.

“What’s she wearing today?” Antonio “Arrow” Eden asked. Although all the guys had greeted Lolly with hugs and Valentine’s Day gifts when they’d arrived at the park, he wasn’t surprised they hadn’t paid attention to her outfit. He knew exactly what she had on today because Lolly loved the new dress he’d given her as a Valentine’s Day gift. Loved it even more because he’d given her a pair of new boots in the same color. Apparently, matching your outfit was important once you hit seven.

“She’s wearing a black long-sleeved dress that hits just above her knees with red hearts all over it. She has on black leggings and red boots, a red knitted beanie with a pompom on top, and she’s wearing a red jacket. Or at least she was, but she was begging to be allowed to take it off so everyone could see her new dress, but I told her it was too cold.” Lolly had pouted and sulked as they’d walked from their apartment to the park but once she got here and saw her friends her bad mood evaporated. It was one of the things he loved the most about his daughter, she was almost always happy.

“I’m going to call in a description of her to the cops,” Arrow said.

“You’re going to report her missing already?” Mouse asked. It was the smart thing to do, he knew that. If they found her playing with her friends, they could always let the cops know it had been a false alarm. Better safe than sorry. But reporting her as missing made the fact that he still couldn’t see her anywhere a reality.

It meant she was really gone.

“We don’t want to waste any time,” Arrow said, his expression full of sympathy.

Dominick “Domino” Tanner jogged over from the direction of the swings. Mouse hadn’t even noticed that the man had left their small group and gone over to the last place he’d seen Lolly. “I found this,” he said, holding up a red jacket. “Is it hers?”

Holding out his hand, Mouse took the jacket and checked to see if Lolly’s name was on the tag. He already knew the jacket was hers, recognized it, and could smell the scent of her strawberry shampoo lingering on it, but he needed one last moment of denial.

The moment ended when he saw Lolly’s name written in his mom’s cursive script on the tag.

His daughter’s jacket.

But no Lolly.

“We’ll find her, man,” Christian “Surf” Bailey said.

The empty words offered little comfort.

There was no way to know if they would find Lolly because they had no idea where she was. If she’d been lured away from the group of children playing, if she’d wandered off on her own, if she’d been taken, and if she had by who and for what purpose.

His ex-in-laws had been making plays to get custody of Lolly ever since their daughter died, their last attempt just a couple of months ago. Could they be behind this?


They’d never hurt their own granddaughter like that, would they?

There was something off about the family law firm they’d hired in that last petition for custody. Something he hadn’t been able to figure out other than to know that the money running in and out of the company was a whole lot more than it should be.

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