In creating the Circle City Mystery Series, she brings to life fictional characters who work diligently to bring justice to victims of crime in the city of Indianapolis. Michele also hopes her readers will witness through her eyes, the wonderful city she calls her hometown.
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Christmas is only a week away, but not all is merry and bright for Sergeant Brent Freeman and his partner, newly promoted Detective Anne Samuels. They find themselves facing more than a homicide when they discover the victim’s five-year-old daughter, Maricella, is missing.
When suspicion moves to human trafficking and gang involvement, the FBI sends in two of their best to assist in the investigation. In the meantime, two people who insist her mother didn’t want her anymore have transported a terrified little Maricella out of state. Fortunately, she finds solace in two older children. These two soon realize their captors are prepping Maricella for organ harvesting. Their main goal becomes to protect her at any cost, even if it means running away in the snow and bitter cold temperatures of December without any knowledge of the area where they’re being held. Can Maricella’s newfound protectors get her out of the house and to safety before the doctor decides she’s a transplant match? Will Brent discover where these unscrupulous persons are hiding the children before it’s too late?
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Keep reading for an excerpt:
“Where is Mamá?” little Maricella whined from the back seat of the minivan. “I want to go home. I have to go to the doctor and then get ready for school.”
“Cállate!” The fat woman in the front seat turned and scowled at her. “You’re too young to go to school.”
“Abuela Elena takes me to kindergarten….”
“I said, shut up!”
At only five, Maricella knew better than to keep talking when an angry adult started screaming at her. Her mamá always sent her to her room when Papá got mad. She would hear him yelling at Mamá and then he would break things. Sometimes he would hit Mamá and make her cry.
The fat lady finally stopped glaring at her and turned around. She was really mean. Maricella heard her hit an older boy named John right across the face before they left the big house she was taken to last night. He had a big bruise on his cheek now. The skinny man got real mad at her. He said she’d damaged the merchandise, whatever that meant. John didn’t get to go with them today. He stayed at the house with a really old guy who had an ugly gray beard and never smiled.
At least the skinny man wasn’t like her Papá. He got mad, but he didn’t hit anybody. Last night, he came into her room in the dark and took her out of her bed. When he carried her out, she noticed her mamá sleeping on the floor in the hall in some red stuff. Maricella was confused because Mamá had never slept in the hall before.
The man put her in the back seat of a black minivan and then the fat lady brought out a paper bag and told him those were Maricella’s clothes. The lady roughly put her into the seatbelt and told the man to drive. Maricella asked the man where they were going and why her mamá couldn’t come.
He didn’t answer, but the mean lady did. “She doesn’t want you anymore, so you’re going to a new home.”
She couldn’t understand why her mamá wouldn’t want her anymore. She’d been good. Abuela Elena had told her so. Then she decided they must be taking her to her abuela’s house. Even if Mamá didn’t want her any longer, Abuela Elena would.
That isn’t where they took her, though. The fat woman pulled her from the minivan, forcing her inside a big house in a strange neighborhood. She pushed Maricella and told her to sit on a big brown chair and not to move. Terrified, Maricella wouldn’t dare move. She heard them arguing in another room. That’s when she heard the woman hit John.”
The fat lady said they needed to leave by five because they had to deliver Amber the next day. Maricella didn’t know what time it was when she was ordered into the car, but it was still dark.
“Amber?” Maricella said to the girl in the other seat.
Amber had been looking out of the window ever since they got into the car and hadn’t said a word. The girl didn’t look at her; she simply continued to stare out the window.
“No talking,” said the fat lady, returning to glare at her again.
Maricella lowered her eyes and nodded. She glanced momentarily at the other girl who hadn’t moved, and then turned to stare out her own window at the leafless trees.