He notices a waif-like little girl has been sitting all alone and shivering. He sends over a hot chocolate and donut, takes a washroom break, then leaves.
He arrives home to discover the crouching child hiding in the back of his car.
The mystery builds as Michael and his wife, Claire, begin a covert investigation that leads to a shocking and gritty underworld of child abductions, human trafficking, and murder.
An exerpt from chapter One...
“For God’s sake, what is it?” Claire whispered.
“IT, is a little girl I spotted in the coffee shop, all alone.” Claire ventured close enough to see the bundle. “What in hell is she doing here?”
“I have no idea. She was gone when I left the place, so I figured her parents came for her. She’s a mess, Claire.”
The child kept her face shielded from the onlookers. “What I can’t figure out is how in hell she got into my car?”
Claire suddenly reached out and touched her, but the child curled up like a tight fist and let out an animal-like whimper. Claire jumped back. “You try. Maybe she has mother issues.”
Michael knelt beside the open door and remained silent for a moment. The child peeked out from under her arm and stared mournfully into Michael’s eyes. “Do you want to come out?” he asked. She still wouldn’t budge. He needed to consider a more radical approach. “I can’t leave you in there to freeze, young lady. If you don’t come out, I’ll have to call the um … police to come and take you somewhere warm.” The child let out a sorrowful howl, then immediately untangled herself, crawled out of the car and plastered herself against the wall. It was a stand-off.
Claire turned on the overhead garage light allowing them to take in the full view. The child’s hair was long, stringy, and matted. Every visible part of her was covered in layers of filth. She had on what was left of a ragged cotton dress, her grimy feet were lost in a pair of adult-sized sandals, and her ensemble was topped off with a tattered coat that was many sizes too large…