When suburban Milwaukee law student Dianna Murphy fails to connect with her roommate, there is no real evidence that she has been snatched. Until Law Professor Janet MacLachlan, a former covert agent, discovers a single clue, one that points to a taking by a slave trafficking cartel. In a race against time, Janet recruits her husband, secret agent Cade Matthews, small-town Police Chief David Manders and his wife, criminal defense attorney Julianna Constant, and other law students to uncover the truth. Can they prove she has been taken, before Dianna disappears without a trace?
Constitutional Law Professor Janet MacLachlan strode out of the DeBarkin University campus coffee shop and paused.
Slowly she pulled on sunglasses and took in her surroundings, her gaze darting right, then left. She studied the building in front of her, her eyes narrowing as she peered at the windows without pulled shades. Someone was watching her. Janet could feel the eyes on her.
Now on high alert, she carefully tugged at the straps to her backpack and pulled them more tightly against her. Then Janet began walking. Why on earth would someone be following me now? I’ve been out of the game for years. And I’ve been careful to stay under the radar. Technically, I should be irrelevant.
Janet approached the Fine Arts Building and quickly ducked inside. She dug into her front pocket, pulled out her phone, tossed it into a recycling bin, and headed straight for the student cafeteria. Without acknowledging the students or serving staff, she pushed through the doors to the kitchen, waved at the chef, and walked to the back of the room and the fire door. She disengaged the alarm and motioned to one of the cooks. “Mike, make sure you reset the alarm after I go through. Cord threw a hissy fit last time.” Mike smirked, flipped a pancake, and nodded.
Janet slipped through the door and down cement stairs lit by a singular bulb. She entered a tunnel, used primarily during the winter months. The mild spring had brought only a few students and professors underground. All of them were rushing to class. No one noticed Janet as she strode through the former nuclear fallout shelter sipping on her coffee.
When she came to a door marked Maintenance only, she tossed the coffee cup into a waste bin and entered a code on a keypad, then ducked inside.
The motion-activated lights flipped on and Janet relocked the door. She quickly pulled off her bright red sweatshirt and replaced it with a black hoodie from her backpack. When she finished changing, Janet removed a thin wallet from her pack and stuffed it into the front waistband of her jeans. She pulled a chair over to a large air vent and removed a tool from the wallet. Janet quickly loosened three corner screws on the vent cover and pushed it out of her way. She bent down and retrieved her backpack, stuffed the red sweatshirt inside, and crawled into the ventilation shaft. Carefully, she pulled the screen back into place.
As she crawled through the narrow passageway, Janet began to count the tiles above her head. When she reached ninety-two, Janet stopped and listened, then pushed at the grate over her head. Cautiously, she stood up and crawled into the office of the Dean of Students at DeBarkin University’s School of Law. Janet replaced the tile, then turned, cleared her throat, and grinned.
Dean Mallory Graves spun around, a look of surprise on her face. “For God’s sake Janet, I wish you wouldn’t sneak up on me like that! What is it this time? Russian spies? Rogue CIA? Or just some crazy student stalking gorgeous Janet MacLachlan, Professor of Law?” The middle-aged woman absently finger-combed her wild grey curls and her red lip-sticked mouth curled up into a wicked smile.
Janet put a finger to her lips and moved behind the office door. She pulled a Glock Nineteen from the back of her jeans and held it with both hands, taking aim through the wood barrier.
Mallory rolled her eyes and sat down at her desk. She opened a drawer and removed her own Glock. “In for a penny, in for a pound,” she muttered.
Seconds later, a shadow appeared under the door, and Janet nodded at Mallory. She dropped back down into the ventilation shaft and watched through the grate as Mallory stood and walked to the door. Mallory waited a moment, and when no one knocked or entered, she flung it open and pointed the gun directly at the interloper’s head.
Janet smiled as Agent Cade Matthews guffawed. “Put that down before you hurt someone, woman.”
“Or maybe I’ll shoot you in the ass so you can feel the pain you are in mine.” Mallory chuckled and lowered her weapon. She gestured to her one office chair. “Have a seat and tell me what brings you to my abode.”
Cade walked in, and his eyes narrowed. “Janet’s not here? I tracked her all the way from that damn coffee shop. We put some experimental tracers on the cups before the Coffee Hut opened. I was sure she was headed this way.” He lowered his large, well-muscled body into the chair.
Mallory locked her gun in a drawer and shook her head. She gazed at Cade and smirked. “Haven’t seen her. Why were you chasing her, anyway? I mean, you live with the woman. Don’t you get enough at home?”
Cade ran his fingers through his hair and frowned. He turned and looked behind him, then under Mallory’s desk. “I don’t understand. She ditched her phone in the cafeteria, and her coffee cup in the tunnels. I tracked her through the ventilation system to your office.”
Quietly, Janet emerged from the vent.
Cade sniffed. “I can smell her perfume.” He started to turn, but Janet stuck the nose of her pistol into his back. Cade slowly raised his hands in surrender.
“Tell me, dear darling husband, how did you manage to trace me through the ventilation system? Did you tag my bra?”
Mallory roared with laughter. “Or her bloomers? Christ, Cade. You give new meaning to ‘til death do us part!”
Cade’s face reddened.
Janet shoved her gun into the back of her jeans and perched on Mallory’s desk. She held out her hand. “Phone please?”
Cade dug into his pocket, pulled out the device, and handed it to her.