The Vanishing

By: Jana DeLeon


THIS INVESTIGATION WILL TAKE THEM DEEP INTO THE BAYOU—AND MIGHT NOT ALLOW THEM TO LEAVE…

Certain death awaits any outsider who enters Cache, a mythical city said to disappear when intruders threaten. But P.I. Max Duhon won’t let the Cajun superstition stop him from going there. He’ll do anything to help sexy Colette Guidry and close this missing person’s case, even admit how attracted he is to his client. But as their investigation deepens, Max finds himself protecting Colette from the inexplicable terrors of the bayou. This includes the specter taunting them with voodoo…and a shotgun. It seems they may have come too close to Cache and its eerie secrets—and dangerously close to each other.





“Once he found out what I knew or decided I didn’t know anything at all, he still would have tried to kill me. And he’ll try again, because he didn’t get the answer he was looking for.”

Max clenched his hands, not willing to think about another attempt on Colette’s life. “He’ll have to come through me to do it. We didn’t know how far he’d carry things before. We know now and we’ll be more prepared.”

“But how? We’re sitting ducks. He can just sit in the swamp and wait for us to leave.”

“I’m working on that. Just try not to worry about it. When I’ve worked everything out in my head, I’ll let you know.”

She nodded, but didn’t look convinced.

Lightning flashed, and he peered into the darkness, trying to ferret out any sign of movement. Any sign that the shooter had returned. He couldn’t see anything.

But he knew something was out there.







CAST OF CHARACTERS

Colette Guidry—The head nurse at a New Orleans hospital knew her assistant, Anna, was in trouble when she didn’t show up for work. But given the girl’s checkered past, the police believed Anna had simply run off with yet another unsuitable man and would eventually find her way back home. The last thing Colette needed was a private investigator who didn’t believe her, either, especially one as attractive as Max.

Max Duhon—Max looked forward to leaving police work behind in favor of more in-depth investigating without all the red tape, but the detective had as much trouble believing Colette’s story as the New Orleans police. Even more troubling was how attractive he found the sexy nurse.

Anna Huval—The troubled young woman ran off from her hometown deep in the Louisiana swamp at age fifteen. Since then, she’d established a long rap sheet with the New Orleans police. The cops didn’t believe for a moment Anna had turned her life around, despite Colette’s assurances that was the case.

Marshall Lambert—The wealthy collector bought a gold coin that Anna had pawned to start her life in New Orleans. He wanted more information about the seller, but the pawn-shop owner didn’t provide it. Did he spend some of his considerable fortune to track down the coin’s origin?

Danny Pitre—The gas station attendant lent out his boat and gave Colette and Max directions to the missing village, but warned them that the villagers wouldn’t appreciate a visit from strangers.





To my recently married friend, Leigh Zaykoski.

May you and Phil have your own happily ever after….






Prologue

November 1833

The young Creole man pushed open the door on the shack and sat on a chair next to the bed. The fifty-seven-year-old Frenchman lying there wasn’t much longer for this world. The only thing keeping him alive was the news the Creole would bring.

“Have you found my son?” the Frenchman asked, then began coughing.

The young Creole winced as the dying man doubled over, his body wracked with pain. “Wi.”

The dying man straightened up, struggling to catch his breath. “Where is he?”

The Creole looked down at the dirt floor. He’d hoped the man would be dead before he returned to the village. Hoped he’d never have to speak the words he was about to say. Finally, he looked back up at the man and said, “He’s dead.”

“Nonsense! They’ve said I’m dead now for over a decade. Bring me my son!”

“Somethin’ bad went through New Orleans last year that the doctors couldn’t fix. A lot of people died.”

The anguish on the dying man’s face was almost more than the Creole could bear to see. “You couldna done nuttin’,” he said, trying to make the dying man’s last moments easier.

“I shouldn’t have left him there, but there was nothing here for him—hiding in the swamp for the rest of his life.”

“You did what you shoulda. You couldna known.”

The dying man struggled to sit upright. “I need for you to do something else. Something even more important.”

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