A little boy hired a brooding detective to bring his mother home...and then the child disappeared
Detective Colt Mason's latest "client" was impossible to resist. Not only was he just five years old, his teary-eyed pleas to prove his mother was innocent of murder pulled at Colt's hard to reach heartstrings. But before he could investigate, the child disappeared without a trace. Now, with Serena Stover desperate to find her son and clear her name, Colt took one look at the beautiful widow and knew this little family would change his life forever. As the search intensified, Colt unearthed a far-reaching--and deadly--conspiracy, making him more determined than ever to solve this case and keep his promise that Serena's smile would return when she was reunited with her little boy.
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June 30, 2011
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Excerpt from Her Stolen Son by Rita Herron
"Mister, will you get my mommy out of jail?"
Colt Mason glanced up from his desk at Guardian Angel Investigations and stared at the dark-haired little boy, surprised at his request.
He was probably what, five or six years old?
"I don't gots a lot of money," the boy said, then hoisted the piggy bank he held in his arms onto Colt's desk. The change inside clanged and rattled as he shoved it toward Colt. "But you can have it all if you'll help me."
Colt grimaced. The last thing he wanted was the boy's savings.
Besides, the kid's eyes were red and swollen from crying, and he was breathing hard as if he'd been running.
Where had he been running from?
"Why don't you sit down, son, and let me get you some water. Then you can tell me who you are and what's going on."
The boy slid into a chair, his shoulders hunched. Colt stepped from his office into the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of water, brought it back and handed it to him.
The kid's big brown eyes studied Colt warily, but he took the water, unscrewed the lid then took a long drink. Finally he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and sighed. "My name is Petey Stover. My mommy said people here help kids. And she's in trouble so I come here." Petey pointed to the nameplate on Colt's desk. "You gots the name of a gun."
"Yeah, I do." Colt fought a small smile. "Now, tell me what happened, Petey. How did your mother end up in jail?"
Worry tightened Petey's bowlike mouth. "Last night my mommy had a date with this man named Mr. Lyle. But he pushed Mommy against the fireplace, and then he grabbed her neck." Petey gulped and Colt noticed his hands shake. "I didn't like him hurting her."
Colt clenched his jaw. "I wouldn't like that either. What happened next?"
"She stomped on his foot and kicked him in the... you know--" he pointed to his private parts "--where it hurts."
Colt barely resisted a smile. "Yes, I know. Then what?"
"I tried to pull him away 'cause now Daddy's gone I'm the man of the house." Another deep breath and he squared his small shoulders as if to prove he was a man. "But he knocked me down on the floor."
Anger made Colt grip the chair edge. "He hit you?"
Petey nodded. "Then my mommy got the fire poker and yelled at him to leave."
Colt narrowed his eyes. "Did your mother hit him with the fire poker?"
"No." Petey took another swig of water. "She acted like she would though 'cause she was scared. Then the man got mad and said she'd be sorry."
Colt wouldn't have blamed the woman if she had killed the bastard. "What did he do then?"
"He gives her a mean look but he left." Petey sighed. "So Mommy and I wents to bed. But this morning when I was eatin' cereal, the sheriff came and he said Mommy killed that mean Mr. Lyle, and they taked Mommy away. And this lady with big orange hair took me to kid jail."
Colt's head was reeling. "Kid jail?"
Petey pointed toward the door. "To that big spooky house down the street."
Ah, Magnolia Manor, the orphanage. DFAC had obviously gotten involved.
"But I runned away when they went in for lunch, cause I don't wanna stay in jail, and Mommy shouldn't be there either." He squared his little shoulders. "Jail is for bad people, and my mommy is good. She didn't kill nobody."
Colt took a moment to process the situation. "Where's your father, Petey?"
Petey looked down at his hands where they clenched the water bottle. "He was a policeman, but he got shot and he died."
Poor boy. And now his mother had been arrested.
Petey's chin quivered as he looked back up at Colt. "Will you get her out, Mr. Colt?"
Colt stood. He didn't know if the woman was innocent or guilty but he wanted more details on the matter. "Let me talk to her and...