After three Athena Academy students are kidnapped, FBI special agent Katie Rush is first on the scene. The Athena grad will stop at nothing to make sure the girls are returned safely--even if it means working with a psychic. This unconventional relationship is not ideal for a by-the-book agent, but Katie can't dismiss his dead-on revelations. Now in a race against time, with young girls' lives on the line, Katie must do something she's never attempted: Put her trust in a handsome stranger.
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August 06, 2007
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Excerpt from Line of Sight by Rachel Caine
Until she chose to die, Katie Rush wasn't completely sure she had the guts. Sure, she'd considered it, she'd trained for it, but in the end there was always a doubt: Did she have what it took to trade her life for someone else's?
In that chaotic, oddly crystalline moment, it was very simple. She saw the gunman, she was out of rounds and there was a civilian being targeted. The calculations rose effortlessly in her brain: Given the angle of incidence, there was a seventy-five percent chance that the shooter would go for center mass, the safe shot. His ammunition wasn't armor-piercing. Of course, there were still decent odds that he'd choose the head shot instead, which was an almost certain kill at this distance.
It didn't even require a conscious decision. Her body just moved. She took a stunning blow to her chest, an impact that knocked her off balance and drove the breath from her lungs. She used the force in her favor, letting her weight fall against the boy who'd been in the line of fire and pushing him behind a parked car to safety.
"Agent down!" she heard someone yell, probably Special Agent in Charge Craig Evangelista; he was the one with the best vantage point of her position. She tried to take a breath but it was driven out of her by a second impact right over her solar plexus. Panic tried to smother her, but she grimly held on to her training, rolling on her side toward cover and ejecting the spent magazine of her Beretta as she did. Her right hand fumbled for the spares clipped to her belt and yanked one free, slapped it home with a precision built of hours of dry-fire drills, and completed her roll into a shooter's prone position, elbows braced. She acquired the target in a matter of a microsecond--which was good, because he had already acquired her again--and got off the first shot.
One was all she needed. She ignored the odds and went for the head shot.
The boy lying next to her was wailing and shaking. Katie felt calm, which she expected was the inevitable adrenaline shock as much as any real self-possession. She scanned the landscape for additional threats as the rest of the team swarmed in to apprehend any kidnappers who'd survived the firefight. There had been four of them--a large crew, unusually so for such a risky crime--and they'd been more than willing to go out in a blaze of glory. Katie could only see one man alive and responding to the agents' shouts and commands. It wasn't the one she'd shot. He wouldn't be moving on his own again.
She slowly got to her knees. The pain hadn't yet registered, but she had no doubt that later tonight her body was going to hurt like hell. She'd never taken a round before, but she'd seen the deeply colored bruises on other agents who had. Bulletproof vests saved lives. There was no promise that they'd do it painlessly.
At least she could breathe again, though not deeply enough to speak. She put her arm around the boy--Samuel Kaltoff, thirteen-year-old son of a prominent Russian politician--and tried to smile reassuringly. The kid was a mess, but then, he'd been through a hellish ordeal. Three days in the hands of captors who'd shown no signs of humanity or compassion. We could have gotten him back faster, Katie thought miserably. Samuel's dirty-pale skin showed so much bruising it looked as if he'd been tie-dyed, and that was only a hint of what had been done to him. We should have had him yesterday. Katie knew that logically they'd pushed the investigation as fast and as far as it was possible to do, but at moments like this, looking at the human wreckage left behind when law and chaos crashed, she never felt that it was enough.
The paramedics, who'd had to wait for the all-clear signal, suddenly dashed in. One peeled off toward her, but she waved him toward Samuel. Nothing they could do for bruises, and if that hot, glassy feeling in her side was a cracked rib, well, it wasn't going anywhere.
"Katie," said SAC Evangelista. He holstered his weapon as he approached and wiped sweat from his forehead--it was a hot day, and the vests and FBI jackets weren't exactly summer-weight. He crouched down beside her, examining her with clinical thoroughness. He was middle-aged, on the heavy side of fit, with a bullet-bald head and big brown eyes that could look warm and sympathetic when he chose. It wasn't necessary with her. "You trying to give me a heart attack?"
"Sorry, sir, but I didn't see any alternative."
He waved that away. "Not how I would have handled it, but you got the right result. Understand, the only reason we're having this conversation now, and I'm not going to be writing the condolence letter to your folks tonight, is that you were lucky. The government has invested a hell of a lot in your training, Agent Rush. Letting some Russian mob moron shoot you ain't exactly the return on investment they're looking for."
"Live and fight another day," she said. "I know, Craig. Thanks. Believe me, I won't make a habit out of it."