Scarlet Revenge by Ann McGinnis
Date Published: January 21, 2014
The FBI doesn’t know what to do with Analyst Caycee Scarlet. She’s brash, brilliant & brutally relentless when tracking a serial killer. But she also has a temper, problems with authority figures and recognizing the chain of command.
Things go sideways for Caycee when she uncovers a lead that saves the Omega Killer’s latest victim. Rather than working the system and making nice with her pompous boss, sparks fly and she gets into an altercation with the lead Special Agent on the case, resulting in a transfer to another assignment.
Caycee finds herself transferred to an FBI interrogation facility where she assesses the most dangerous of criminals in custody. She struggles to get over the loss of her dream job, but her new boss, handsome Special Agent Gil Graham, may soften the blow. Sparks, of a different variety, fly between the Special Agent and his new Analyst, as they work together to crack the most difficult cases.
Just when Caycee’s wounds are healing from her expulsion on the Omega Killer team, she is dragged back into the thick of it. Caycee and her new team are front and center, focused on an interview of a bombing suspect, when Omega comes looking for revenge. His attack wounds her team, leaving Caycee with only one option for help—the devastatingly handsome bombing suspect. It will take all of Caycee’s wits, and a kiss for luck, to stop Omega and save her co-worker.
Our steps echoed down the stark hallway. Clean. Institutional. And utterly amazing. Caycee Scarlet was finally walking along the hallowed hallways of the FBI. It was a good day for me.
“Say nothing, Scarlet,” Special Agent in Charge Tony Wilkes ordered. He threw me a look over his shoulder. “Even if someone asks you a question, keep your mouth shut.” He laughed to himself. “No one will ask you a question.”
Wilkes had already made it clear that I was the newest member of the Omega Killer Task Force. As such, I should listen more than talk, act fast when given orders, and let the seasoned team members guide my every move. It seemed like the equivalent of an FBI-whipping boy. Or girl, in my case. I didn’t care. Everyone started at the bottom. I was ready to put in the time needed to earn their respect.
At least, I looked good in a form-fitting black suit. It was more than I could afford, but I figured I would live in the outfit. Besides, it sent a message. I valued my appearance, even if I had to dress like a man, I’d still look like a woman.
I’d had the suit cut to fit my curves, which were on the athletic side. My auburn hair pulled into a no-nonsense ponytail. It hung past my shoulders, showing off my best feature – my eyes. As a window into my soul, they were unflinching. I did admire my own intelligence, probably a character flaw, but hopefully that wouldn’t show in my eyes. The traits I wanted to show: no nonsense, quick witted, relentless.
“You get the crap jobs,” Wilkes said, acting as if his honesty was attractive. A few hours in the gym and hair implants, maybe. Not that I didn’t find bald men attractive, just not this one. “I can’t lie,” he continued, “we’ll be throwing you every crap job that this case delivers, but you’re on a big case. That don’t happen to many newbies.”
I wasn’t that new, but I guessed he didn’t count the eight months of testing and background checks. I did. Or my training at Quantico. It all counted to me.
The agency gave us two years to prove ourselves. After that, candidates either earned their spot or were let go. I couldn’t imagine putting in all that time and failing.
I had a feeling success would require long hours and serious ass-kissing. I just needed to find someone with a cute ass. It sure wasn’t Wilkes.
We passed three large rooms filled with personnel. One looked to be the size of a football field filled with cubicles. “You’ll be in here,” Wilkes waved, “but first I want you to see the Dugout.”
He led me to a large conference room, its walls filled with crime photos, running news feeds and a huge whiteboard for pertinent case data. “The Omega Killer is priority number one,” Wilkes said, opening the conference room door for me. “This is where the main players are at bat.”
I slowed at the door, sensing a real sports theme to the way he liked to operate. Perhaps one day, I’d be his most valuable player. It looked competitive, though. Wilkes’s team already consisted of veteran agents and analysts. They seemed a cohesive group, working in unison to stop a psychotic killer.
Wilkes quickly ran through Omega’s deadly stats, but he didn’t need to bother. I knew the case inside and out. Killers were my hobby.
I made the mistake of saying that to a date once. I never saw a man escape faster, admonishing me by exclaiming: “You’re sick, truly sick.” Hopefully, my academic interest in killers wouldn’t repel men in the FBI.
Not that I was here to find a man, but I was twenty-eight and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake the feeling that somewhere in this organization was my perfect match. After all, I needed a man who liked to catch killers.
“Are you listening to me?” Wilkes sounded irritated.
“Yes, sir,” I answered. “The Omega Killer marks his victims’ forehead with the sign of the Omega. All indications are that it signals the moment he’s ready to make the fatal cut, into his victim’s left breast. Such a wound, based on other serial killers, suggests Omega has mommy issues, but I personally believe that it signals a desire to find love.”
Wilkes made a face at me. Clearly he did not care for my analysis. “That’s not what I was talking about. Geez, he wants to find love? Table that thought, quickly, and get back in the game.”
He raised his arms, showing off the Dugout. “Welcome to the nerve center of our investigation. We call this the show,” he said, then clapped his hands together to get the room’s attention. “Everyone, this is Intelligence Analyst Caycee Scarlet.”
The agents, analysts and techs turned from their work. Some at laptops along one side of a long mahogany conference table and others working on reports across from them. Several agents were standing, talking in a small group. They barely looked over at me, too busy for someone below them on the FBI food chain. The analysts nodded an acknowledgement. Matter-of-fact. No smiles. No words of welcome.
I gave a half-hearted nod to the room, hoping I’d make a better impression later. Probably much later, if I was reading the total lack of interest correctly. It must be the pressure of catching Omega. Tension hung in the room. With twelve victims to date, catching the killer had them all wound up.
Wilkes pointed to a side table stacked with boxes. The top one filled with old cell phones, victim personal effects and police reports. “We need them properly catalogued. You know, a searchable database. I’m told you were the most anal student in your class. Go at it.”
His voice trailed off, but I didn’t know if he’d stopped talking or I’d stopped listening. Maybe a little of both, because I read the whiteboard. One of the hand-scribbled numbers was written incorrectly.
Without thinking, I went over to the board and used the heel of my right hand to wipe off an area code. Everyone in the room stopped working and screamed at me.
“What have you done?” Wilkes shouted louder than anyone else.
I came out of my trance and blinked at him. Whatever I said next could make or break me, so I said nothing.
“Every piece of information is vital to solving the case,” he scolded. He turned to the room. “Can we fix it? What was that number?”
I quickly picked up a dry erase marker and wrote the numbers back on the board. It was only three digits.
Screams went up all around me again.
“What?” I asked. “That’s the number I erased. But it’s wrong. It’s a phone number, right? Someone transposed the area code. 3-7-1 is not an area code, but 7-3-1 is New Jersey.”
No one screamed at me that time, but their looks were deadly.
“Is that right?” Wilkes asked the room. His eyes darted from the whiteboard to the closest agent. He wanted confirmation before his head exploded.
“Shit,” the agent said.
Wilkes grabbed his head.
The agent couldn’t look at me. “She’s right, sir.”
“Okay, we’re okay, fix it and double-check everything that goes on the board, people,” Wilkes barked.
The agent took the dry erase marker from me and fixed the numbers. Wilkes waved two fingers at a petite woman with raven hair twisted into a bun. “Take care of this.” He pointed at me.
FBI Analyst Nina Dunbar instantly responded. She rolled her eyes and grabbed a stack of boxes, indicating with her elbow that I was to take the rest. “Follow me,” she sighed. “Consider this your first and last favor.”
I shot a glance at Wilkes, but he already had his nose in a file folder, barking orders to the closest agent. He had no time for me. No one did. I exited the conference room, utterly deflated by my welcome to the FBI.
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Ann McGinnis started writing romantic suspense to combine two things— thrillers & foreplay! Connect with Ann and upcoming news about the Scarlet Suspense Series:
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Can’t wait to read this Romantic Suspense! I think Caycee will be a strong heroine whose story will be enjoyable. I’ve definitely added it to my future reading list.