Full of danger, intrigue and heart, Iris Johansen's Night and Day is a breathtaking, high-energy adventure that's sure to keep readers riveted from the first page to the last.
About the Author
IRIS JOHANSEN is the New York Times bestselling author of Hide Away, Shadow Play, Your Next Breath, The Perfect Witness, Live to See Tomorrow, Silencing Eve, Hunting Eve, Taking Eve, Sleep No More, What Doesn’t Kill You, Bonnie, Quinn, Eve, Chasing the Night, Eight Days to Live, Blood Game, Deadlock, Dark Summer, Pandora’s Daughter, Quicksand, Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, and more. And with her son, Roy Johansen, she has coauthored The Naked Eye, Sight Unseen, Close Your Eyes, Shadow Zone, Storm Cycle, and Silent Thunder.
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Night and Day
By Iris Johansen
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 IJ Development, Inc.
All rights reserved.
"I don't like to lose, Eve. I did very well, but I don't like partial victories."
The woman's voice drifted back from the cockpit of the helicopter to where Cara was lying in the rear.
So hard, Cara thought dazedly through the thickness of the chloroform clouding her mind. The woman's voice was so hard and full of venom, and it was all aimed at Eve. Cara had heard that voice before as she had floated in and out of consciousness during the last minutes after Eve had come and talked to her, comforted her as she lay in the woods. The woman's voice had been hard and ugly then, too. But Cara couldn't remember exactly what she had said.
She had to protect Eve. It was all Cara's fault that Eve was here and had to face those terrible people. She should have known Eve would come after her. Just the fact that Cara was only eleven would guarantee that Eve would try to save her. Eve spent her life trying to protect children and punish the people who hurt them. But Eve hadn't been able to save Cara. She could hazily remember shots and explosions and that woman's hard voice giving orders to everyone around her. Giving orders to Eve ...
She had to help her. Help Eve.
Cara tried to move, but her muscles seemed weighted. She tried to open her eyes. The second time she made it. She was still on the floor of the helicopter, where she had been shoved only minutes before. Why was she there?
It didn't matter. She had to get to Eve.
There was something bad happening ...
Keep your eyes open.
That hard, vicious voice again. "I want it all. I think I need to do something to impress you with that."
"No," Eve screamed.
Terror seared through Cara.
Eve shot! Eve screaming!
Eve dying as Cara's sister had died, as her friend Elena had died.
Not again. Please, not again. Not Eve.
But the woman was laughing. "Let's get out of here, Nikolai. I believe that Eve Duncan has learned a lesson she'll remember."
Maybe that meant Eve wasn't dead, Cara thought. Maybe she could still save her. But the helicopter was lifting, she realized in a panic. She had to get them to land, to go back so that she could help Eve.
Once more she tried to move. Weak. So weak.
She managed to turn over and look around her. Find something to hurt them, to make them go back.
What was she thinking? She was only eleven, just a kid. How could she make anyone do anything?
How could she not do it? Eve was hurt, maybe dying. She had to help her.
Find something ...
There was a flashlight and a tool chest on the opposite side of the helicopter. Maybe there was something she could use inside that chest. She started to crawl toward it. She had to go very slowly. Her arms seemed to be working now, but her legs were still weak. She finally reached the tool chest and reached out to flip open the lid.
"I thought I heard something back here. What are you doing?"
Cara froze. Then she turned her head to look at the woman standing several feet away.
Dark eyes, with lustrous dark hair in a single braid and a face that was as beautiful as any movie star's. She wasn't smiling and her eyes were narrowed on Cara. "Or maybe I can guess what you're doing. You may have been with Eve Duncan too long. What has she said to you? Has she completely destroyed your faith in me, Cara?"
It was the same voice that had spoken to Eve with such ugliness, but now this woman's voice was no longer hard, Cara realized in confusion. It was soft, silky, and full of both sadness and affection.
"Eve ..." Cara's voice sounded hoarse, slurred even to her. "You ... hurt ... Eve."
She shook her head. "Nonsense. Of course, I didn't. Even though she hurt me more than you can imagine." She knelt down beside Cara and took her hand. "But that's all over. I'll make you understand, Cara. After all we've gone through, we're together now." She touched her cheek with a gentle finger. "What a pretty little girl you are. I believe you look a little like me. What do you think?"
Cara gazed at her in bewilderment. "Why should I look —"
"Because it's perfectly natural that you should, silly." She was laughing, her beautiful face brimming with warmth and humor. "Because I'm Natalie Castino. Because I'm your mother, Cara."
TWO HOURS LATER
"Are you okay, Eve?" Jane MacGuire was walking toward her down the south bank of the lake. "I saw Joe up on the road with the local police getting rid of the last of the IEDs. I expected him to be with you."
"What was he going to do? Hold my hand?" Eve shook her head. "You've been doing your share of that, Jane. I'm not the one Natalie shot. It was Joe, and he was lucky it was only a flesh wound. I believe she was only trying to show me that she could reach out and hurt us whenever she wished. Give the guy a break."
"You mean give you a break," Jane said quietly. "I know that you don't want us hovering over you. But having Natalie snatch Cara like that had to be a traumatic wound in itself. Did you tell Joe to go and get rid of those booby traps?"
"I suggested it might be the thing to do so that everyone will have access to the lake. As soon as MacDuff is out of the hospital, I know he'll be back here hunting for that treasure chest." Her lips twisted. "And Joe needed to have something to do until we know something about Cara. He called his contact, Burbank, at Scotland Yard, and put him on tracking down that helicopter Natalie Castino used to take Cara. But it may take time. You know Joe would be going straight after Natalie Castino on his own if he wasn't kept busy. Joe's not the most patient person."
"Neither are you." Jane shook her head as she looked at Eve. She had been Eve's adopted daughter since she was ten years old, and she knew her strength. Eve Duncan had become one of the foremost forensic sculptors in the world after her seven-year-old daughter, Bonnie, had been taken and died. She had given closure to hundreds of families who had lost their children over the years, and she didn't deserve to have to face this threat to Cara. Eve had originally only wanted to help and shelter the child who had known only fear and deadly risk. But Jane knew that had changed. Eve had grown to love Cara, and she didn't need this heartache and trauma. Particularly not at this point in her life. "It's been a rough day. How do you feel?"
"Angry, scared, panicky." Her lips twisted. "How do you expect me to feel? That bitch Natalie Castino has Cara, and I don't know what she's doing to her."
"I meant physically."
Eve glanced at her. "Oh, for heaven's sake. Fine. Just fine. There's no way I'd have a miscarriage. Do you think I'd let Natalie do that to me?"
"No, you're tough. Just checking. It's been one hell of a day." She looked up at the road, where Joe Quinn was working. "I'm certain that Joe asked the same thing."
"Of course he did."
"And that's why he's up there disarming IEDs."
"He wanted to do it. He's got those police experts helping. And he's got this water-blade gadget that makes it fairly safe. It's not as if I —" She broke off. "I wish I had something as valuable to do. I hate this waiting."
"I know you do." She took her arm. "Come on, let's get a cup of coffee. I believe we both need it." She guided her down the steep slope toward the camp area, where their living and work tents were set up beside the lake. "It can't be too much longer." She took the coffeepot simmering on the campfire and poured Eve a cup of coffee. "Scotland Yard and Interpol have all kinds of high-end satellite stuff. All they have to do is locate one helicopter." She handed Eve the cup, then poured one for herself. "And a child is involved. That always makes a difference."
"It didn't make a difference to Natalie Castino." Eve sat down by the fire and cradled her cup in her hands. "You'd think I wouldn't be so shocked. It's not as if I haven't run across all kinds of monsters who didn't think a child was important enough to care whether they lived or died."
"But none like Natalie Castino," Jane said quietly as she sat down across from her. "She appears to be one of a kind."
Eve nodded jerkily. "She's clever and manipulative and a complete sociopath. I don't think Cara would have a chance if Natalie decided to focus all that poison on her."
"I'm not so sure," Jane said. "Cara may only be eleven years old, but she's smart and she's wary and she's been on the run since she was a child of three. She may be more able to deal with her mother than you'd think."
"Natalie Castino has been responsible for three deaths today." Eve shuddered. "I watched her shoot Ramon Franco in the heart because she just thought he might be a problem for her later."
"I don't think the world will miss Franco," Jane said dryly. "He was a killer for Alfredo Salazar's drug cartel and nasty as they come. And Joe actually took out Salazar by planting IEDs on that hill where you met with him and Natalie."
"Because Natalie set Salazar up to die on that hill," Eve said. "Just as she set up the ambush on her husband in Mexico City so that she could frame her lover, Salazar, for his death. It was all Natalie."
"I wasn't defending her," Jane said. "I was just pointing out that ever since Cara came into your life, you've been dealing with a pretty rough group of scumbags. It's a wonder you've survived them."
"It wasn't Cara's fault. She was a victim."
Jane knew that was true. She was saying all the wrong things. Cara deserved a chance for a normal life after years of running, and Eve hadn't even known Cara was involved at the beginning of the nightmare. She had told Jane she had been sent the skull of a nine-year-old girl to reconstruct by a sheriff in northern California. She had done the reconstruction and become involved with that skull in a very personal way. It was clear someone had not wanted that child's skull to be reconstructed or her body to be identified. After Eve had sent off the reconstruction to the sheriff who had requested her help, the FedEx driver who had picked it up had been murdered and the reconstruction stolen. Eve had been upset and angry, and she and Joe had gone out to California to find out who that child was and who had killed her. After a heartrending, painful search, they discovered that the little girl was Jenny Castino, the daughter of Juan Castino and his wife Natalie. Castino was the head of a drug cartel in Mexico City, and his daughter had been kidnapped, together with her sister, Cara, and Elena, their nanny, over eight years before. Jenny had been killed shortly after they had been kidnapped, but Cara had escaped and was still alive and on the run. The hired killer, Walsh, who had murdered Jenny, was committed to finding Cara and killing her to protect himself from the possibility of anyone's finding out he was responsible for the crimes. Eve and Joe had stopped him, killed him, and saved Cara. But the nightmare hadn't ended. Salazar, who had hired Walsh, had gone on the hunt himself. Which was why Eve and Cara had ended up in the Highlands of Scotland, hiding.
And why Natalie Castino had suddenly emerged as the real monster of the piece.
"It's still hard for me to believe a mother would kill her own children," Jane said. "I can't get my head around it."
"Everyone has trouble with it," Eve said. "Maternal love dominates every family and, when it doesn't exist, it turns that family upside down. Joe said that even Detective Manez, who suspected Natalie wasn't a grieving mother, wouldn't commit her because he didn't want to believe it. It's a crime against the helpless from the person who should be dedicated to caring for them."
"You've seen it before?"
"Only a couple times in my entire career. The courts declared both women insane." She shook her head. "I told you, it's hard to prove, hard to believe." Her lips thinned. "Natalie isn't insane though she'd accept that loophole if she had to do it. She's a sociopath, and that's even more frightening. She'll do anything she wants to do unless there's a danger to her in doing it."
"And she wanted to kill Jenny and Cara. You told me that she played the affectionate mother before they were kidnapped."
"She did, but they were in her way somehow. Her husband wanted sons and was toying with mistresses who might give them to him. She was probably afraid she'd be displaced. She liked being queen of all she surveyed. Juan Castino was the most powerful cartel boss in Mexico City, and everyone was afraid to cross him. She liked that power. Once the children were out of the picture, she would have been a bereaved mother, and her husband would have hesitated to set her aside. She was the daughter of a Russian Mafia boss, Sergai Kaskov, and he would not have been pleased. Castino would have found himself dangling headless from one of the bridges down there."
"And no one suspected her of having anything to do with the kidnapping of the children?"
"She seduced and manipulated Alfredo Salazar into hiring Walsh to do the actual kidnapping ... and killing. He was the head of a rival cartel, who hated Castino anyway."
"Terrible," Jane murmured. "I knew some of this, but no details about Natalie Castino. Only the fact that Joe wasn't sure that Natalie was what she seemed to be and neither were you. No wonder you're frightened for Cara. Natalie Castino has to be totally ruthless."
"But we have a wild card. When Natalie found out that we might have found Cira's treasure, she lit up like the Fourth of July. She might have even moved up her plans about killing her husband and Salazar to make an adjustment that would suit her." Her hands were trembling as she lifted her cup to her lips. "She wants money and power, and Cira's gold could give it to her. We've just got to use that wild card to get Cara back."
"I'm sure it's not as if it hasn't been used before for less worthy purposes," Jane said. All through the many centuries since the eruption of Vesuvius had destroyed Herculaneum, that fabulous chest of coins had been a lure that had drawn everyone who had heard about it, she thought. But it had all centered around Cira, the young actress who had been born a slave, and who had taken the gold with her when she had escaped the raging volcano. She had schemed and fought to keep that treasure for herself and her family even to the extent of fleeing to the wilds of Scotland and establishing the MacDuff dynasty here at Gaelkar. "We'll find a way."
Eve looked down at the huge lake, with its eternal mist hovering over the entire north bank. "What do you think the chances are that it's really down there?"
"Sometimes I think that it is, sometimes I just don't know. That chest of coins has been missing for centuries, and you know that Cira has been a mystery I've never been able to solve."
"You know MacDuff would argue with you," Eve said dryly. "He's convinced that you have some kind of ancestral connection or something with Cira and that you can lead him to that treasure."
"Because I had those dreams about Cira when I was seventeen? That doesn't prove anything." But it had meant a great deal to Jane while she was going through that chaotic period. Those dreams had been so real, they had dominated her thoughts and her life. And when she had been driven to do in-depth research and found that Cira had actually existed, they had led her to MacDuff, the Laird of MacDuff's Run. "I don't dream about Cira any longer."
"Except that one dream that led us all here," Eve said. "You may not be sure that chest is out there somewhere lost in that mist, but MacDuff believes it."
"He's grasping at straws because no one has even gotten close to finding Cira's gold." She smiled. "But maybe Cira is ready to release her secrets. And I couldn't think of anyone more worth her doing it for than Cara."
"Neither can I." Eve moistened her lips. "I hardly knew Cara when all this began. I felt sorry for her. I wanted to help her. But then I got to know her. She was brave and honest and sometimes a kid, but most of the time more mature than she should be." Her voice was unsteady. "She wanted to help me. She wanted to take care of Jock Gavin. One of the last things she asked about was Jock."
"He was her friend. She didn't have any friends," Jane said. "And because she'd lost so much, she didn't want to lose either of you."
"I don't want to lose her, either," Eve said. "I ... care about her, Jane. I won't let her be taken from us."
"I know you won't." She frowned as a thought occurred to her. "But Cara isn't going to let Natalie Castino hurt you, either. That may be a problem. I've gotten to know Cara. She'd fight for you, Eve. And that might mean she'd piss off Natalie Castino. Is that possible?"
Excerpted from Night and Day by Iris Johansen. Copyright © 2016 IJ Development, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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