The body count is rising. Who can Grace Sinclair trust? No one.
Grace Sinclair is a woman of many talents. The FBI’s top profiler, she’s also a crime novelist, drawing upon the cases she works for inspiration that helps her top the bestseller lists. When women begin to be murdered, women who look just like Grace, she finds herself enmeshed in a dangerous cat and mouse game with her biggest-and deadliest-fan. And the man who’s tasked to help her? He may be even more dangerous. A new member of an elite FBI team and Grace’s old flame, Gavin Walker is assigned Grace’s case and it’s personal this time. As they work together to figure out the killer’s sick game, it soon becomes clear that he’s closer to Grace than they could have imagined. As more women begin to be targeted, the team is running out of time and chances. In order to come out the winner in this fatal game, Grace is forced to confront her past, her fears, and even the idea of a forever love.
Such A Pretty Girl
by Tess Diamond
Suspense / Thriller
September 26, 2017
McCord’s Jewelers was a tiny place, tucked in a nondescript brick building just outside of downtown DC. The gold-leaf letters on the door shone bright as Gavin pushed it open, and bells tinkled as they entered.
Gavin automatically glanced all around, taking in the two cameras situated in the room. Surveillance meant tapes. Maybe they’d be able to catch their guy buying the earrings. That’d make this an open-and-shut case, for sure.
An older man with gray hair and a sweater-vest looked up from his place at the counter, where he’d been examining a tray of loose diamonds. “Welcome,” he said with a smile. “How can I help you? Wait.” He held out his hand. “Let me guess. An engagement ring?”
Gavin could feel his cheeks heating up a little as he glanced over at Grace. But she just smiled, shaking her head, pulling out her badge. “I’m afraid we’re here for business, not pleasure,” she said. “I’m Special Agent Sinclair. This is Special Agent Walker.”
“Oh, my,” he said. “I’m Anthony McCord. I own this place with my wife. How can I help you?”
“We’re investigating a murder,” Gavin said. “We believe the victim in question was wearing earrings purchased from your shop.”
Grace held out her phone, the screen showing a picture of Janice Wacomb’s earrings in an evidence bag. “Do these look familiar to you?”
Mr. McCord pulled on his glasses, leaning forward and looking at the phone. “Yes, those are definitely my work.”
“Can you remember who you sold them to?”
“If you get me the serial number, yes,” Mr. McCord said.
“Serial number?” Gavin asked.
“Each diamond that we sell has a serial number engraved on the stone. It’s microscopic; you can’t see it with the naked eye. It’s done for insurance purposes—if a piece of jewelry gets stolen or lost, it can be traced that way. Isn’t that how you found the store?”
“We’re not forensics, but I’m sure that’s how they found you,” Grace said. “Just give me a moment; I’ll get the serial number for you.”
She stepped away and Gavin smiled at Mr. McCord. “While she’s doing that, mind if I ask just a few more questions?”
“Anything I can do to help,” Mr. McCord said.
“What’s your surveillance like here? I see the cameras. Do you save your tapes?”
“We don’t have the capacity for that, I’m afraid. We’re just a mom-and-pop shop. We keep the tapes for only a week. Then they’re erased and recorded over.”
“Okay,” Gavin said. Damn, unless their killer had bought the earrings in the last week, they weren’t going to get a video of him. They would have to rely on Mr. McCord’s memory to discover if he’d been the one to sell the killer the earrings. “And how many employees do you have?”
“Just my wife and me,” Mr. McCord said. “She does the books, I make the jewelry.”
“Sounds like a good system,” Gavin said.
“She’s always had a better head for numbers than me.”
“And what about your customers. Anyone stand out to you lately? Maybe he was nervous?”
Mr. McCord smiled. “I’m a jeweler, Agent Walker. That means most of the men coming in here are looking for engagement rings. And that’s almost guaranteed to make a man nervous.”
Gavin laughed. “Okay, fair enough,” he said. “What about someone who put in a big order? Was there someone in the last few months who ordered multiple pairs of those earrings Agent Sinclair showed you?”
Mr. McCord frowned. “Actually, there was,” he said. “I remember there was a gentleman who came in to buy a pair of earrings for his wife. And then about a week later, he came back in and put in an order for three more pairs. He said that his wife had loved them so much, she wanted their granddaughters to have matching pairs. It was very sweet.”
“You remember when this was?”
“I’d say maybe two months ago?” Mr. McCord said.
“I’ve got those serial numbers for you.” Grace pushed a piece of paper across the counter and Mr. McCord took it.
“Let me go look in my files,” he said. “Just a moment.”
He disappeared into the back room, and Grace leaned lightly against the counter, gazing at all the baubles surrounding her. Gavin couldn’t help but think she shone the brightest, even surrounded by all these diamonds.
“You like this stuff, Sinclair?” he asked, gesturing to the dazzling array of bracelets in the glass case in front of him.
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” she said, but there was a dry note of sarcasm in her voice that surprised him. He looked over to her questioningly, and she shrugged. “I’m more of an art collector,” she said. “Most jewelry isn’t exactly practical in our line of work. I have a few pieces, but they’re mostly sentimental and inherited.”
“From your grandmother,” he said, remembering how she had mentioned her that night they’d spent together. She’d been wearing a necklace then; the sapphires had glittered darkly against her skin, making it seem luminous.
Something flickered in that extraordinary face of hers, her eyes widening in what looked like confusion . . . or maybe surprise. “You remembered,” she said.
Gavin couldn’t tear his eyes off her. He wanted nothing more than to reach out and touch her—any part of her, just to remind himself what it was like. “I remember everything about you,” he said quietly.
About Tess Diamond
Tess Diamond is a romantic suspense addict with a taste for danger – and chocolate cake. She lives in Colorado Springs with her law enforcement husband, two kids, and ferocious Jack Russell guard dog. She always dreamed of being an FBI agent, and now she almost is – if watching 24 reruns and plotting her next novel counts.