Once Chosen by Blake Pierce

Once Chosen

Once Chosen by Blake Pierce (Riley Paige Mystery #17)
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.7 MB

A serial killer strikes every Halloween—the bodies of his victims re-surfacing years later—and with Halloween only days away, it is up to FBI Special Agent Riley Paige to stop the killer before he strikes again. How has this killer gone undetected for so long? How many victims have there really been? And who will he target next? FBI Special Agent Riley Paige must fend off her own demons and her dysfunctional family life as she races against time to enter the mind of a diabolical killer days away from striking again—one who may even be more brilliant than her. Can she stop him in time?

Rounding up her daughters for breakfast seemed to be an impossible task for Riley this morning. After arguing over who was taking too long in the bathroom, April and Jilly kept popping in and out of each other’s room to chatter about nothing in particular. When they finally came downstairs, they even started playing games in the family room until Riley dragged them out.

Have I got more than two girls? she almost wondered.

“Come on, let’s eat,” Riley kept saying. “You’re going to miss the bus to school. And I’m not going to drive you this morning.”

Finally she managed to herd both girls into the kitchen, where their Guatemalan housekeeper, Gabriela, had a delicious breakfast ready as usual. As soon as they sat down at the table, Jilly asked a question.

“Mom, can I have forty dollars?”

“What do you need it for, honey?” Riley asked.

“I need to rent a zombie costume,” Jilly said.

For a moment Riley wondered, Zombie costume?

Then she remembered—Halloween was just a couple of days off.

“You don’t need a zombie costume,” Riley said.

Sixteen-year-old April poked her younger sister and said gleefully, “I told you she wouldn’t let you have it.”

A whine rose in Jilly’s voice as she said, “But I need a costume to go trick-or-treating!”

“You’re too old to go trick-or-treating,” Riley said.

“I’m fourteen!” Jilly said.

“Exactly what I mean,” Riley said, taking a bite of her breakfast.

“This isn’t fair,” Jilly said. “I’ve never been trick-or-treating in my life. I’ll definitely be too old next year. This will be my last chance.”

Riley felt a pang of surprised sympathy. “You’ve never been trick-or-treating?”

Jilly shrugged and said plaintively, “When would I have had the chance to do anything like that?”

April added, “You know she’s telling the truth, Mom.”

Indeed, Riley was sure of it. It had just never occurred to her before.

Jilly had only recently become part of the family. Last October Jilly had still been in a social services home in Phoenix, and before that she had spent her childhood in the care of an abusive father. Riley had finalized her adoption in July and gotten her settled into a more normal life, but she knew that Jilly had missed out on a lot of ordinary activities—including trick-or-treating, apparently.

She asked Jilly, “Who will you go trick-or-treating with?”

Jilly shrugged again. “I dunno. Can’t I go by myself?”

Riley shuddered a little at the very idea.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “It can be dangerous for kids to go trick-or-treating on their own. You need to go with somebody older. Maybe April will take you.”

April’s eyes widened with alarm.

“I’m not taking Jilly anywhere!” she said. “I’ve got a party to go to!”

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