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Pretty little things, p.34
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       Pretty Little Things, p.34

           Jilliane Hoffman

  His eyes trolled the rest of the corkboard. There were so many flyers. So many young, pretty faces. And in the month he’d been out, he knew there were even more to put up. More kids who had decided to run away from something horrible. Or run to someone horrible. Kids who didn’t want to cope any more. Or couldn’t cope. He found the runaway flyer for Shelley Longo and pulled it off the wall with a snap.

  And there were more to take down.

  The cadaver dogs that had been brought in to look for bodies buried under the cane fields behind the Sugarland house had alerted. So far, three skeletonized human remains had been found. And they had acres and acres to go. The first to be identified was pretty Eva Wackett, who had wanted to be a ballerina when she was five. How many more parents would get the phone call that they had dreaded receiving from the moment their kid stopped answering her cell on the day she never came home? From the moment they first held their precious little baby in their arms and prayed to God to keep her safe forever?

  Or worse, how many parents wouldn’t even give a damn?

  The phone at his desk rang, pulling him out of his thoughts.


  ‘Got a call for you,’ said Kiki. ‘I’ll put her through. You coming to the party? I made flan.’

  ‘Ooh. I can’t miss that. Did you use rum?’

  ‘Don’t even ask me that. Of course. Lots.’

  ‘I’ll be down in a second.’

  The line clicked over. ‘Dees.’


  Someone sucked the air out of the room.

  ‘Daddy, are you there?’ repeated the small fragile voice that he knew in an instant.

  ‘Katherine? Katy?’ he managed to say. ‘Is that you? Oh my God, is that you?’ He sat down. The world was spinning.

  ‘It’s me, Daddy. It’s me.’ She was crying.

  ‘Jesus Christ … Katy, where are you? Where have you been?’

  ‘I’m at a bus station in New Orleans, but I don’t have any money –’

  ‘I can send you money. I can give you money. Tell me where you are. Are you OK? Are you hurt?’

  ‘I … I … I saw you on the news, Daddy. I saw you on TV. And I’ve been really messed up, Daddy. I got myself real messed up.’

  He closed his yes. ‘That’s OK, Katherine. It’s OK. We can fix that.’

  ‘I miss you and Mom … I miss you, but I’ve been so messed up. I’ve done some bad things …’

  ‘We love you, Katherine. Mommy and I love you so much. Whatever you’ve done, we can, we can work it out …’ It was hard to talk. Tears streamed down his face.

  ‘I really want to come home now. Please, Daddy, can I come home?’

  ‘Oh God, yes, you can come home. You can always come home, Katy. You can always come home.’

  Bobby closed his eyes again and whispered another thank you to the sky above.

  Christmas had come a little early this year.


  Writing a book, even one of fiction, involves the assistance and input of many people. I’d like to thank the following individuals who I have called upon (some on numerous occasions and at varying times of the night) for their expertise and knowledge: Special Agent Supervisor Lee Condon of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Special Agents Larry Masterson, Chris Vastine, Bob Biondilillo and Don Condon of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Marie Perikles, Esq., Office of the Inspector General; Julie Hogan, Chief of the Office of Statewide Prosecution, Broward County; Special Agent Jeff Luders of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Detective Joe Villa, Broward Sheriff’s Office; and last, but most definitely not least, Assistant Medical Examiner Reinhard Motte of the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office, who always cheerfully provides the answers to my most gruesome questions. As for Larry and Chris, thanks for continuing to pick up the phone, even on Saturday nights. I’m glad you’re back!

  As a former prosecutor who has handled her fair share of sex crime and kidnapping cases, having two cell-phone-equipped daughters – a tween and a teen – and a computer in the house provided the necessary inspiration needed to write about the terrifying dangers of the internet. I naturally have to thank them as well.

  All musical lyrics have been reprinted with permission.


  Words and Music by Rod Temperton

  Copyright © 1982 RODSONGS

  All Rights Controlled and Administered by ALMO MUSIC CORP.

  All Rights Reserved Used by Permission

  About the Author

  JILLIANE HOFFMAN began her professional career as an Assistant State Attorney prosecuting felonies in Florida, with special assignments to the Domestic Violence Unit and the Legal Extradition Unit. She has advised more than one hundred special agents on criminal and civil matters in complex investigations involving narcotics, homicide and organised crime. Her previous novels are the bestselling Retribution, Last Witness and Plea of Insanity. Originally from Long Island, New York, she presently resides in South Florida with her husband and two children.

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  By the same author


  Last Witness

  Plea of Insanity


  This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.


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  Special overseas edition 2010

  First published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers 2010


  Copyright © Jilliane P. Hoffman 2010

  Jilliane P. Hoffman asserts the moral right to

  be identified as the author of this work

  A catalogue record for this book

  is available from the British Library

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  EPub Edition © 2010 ISBN: 978-0-00-731162-0

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  Jilliane Hoffman, Pretty Little Things



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