KK Conley Books

FBI Special Agent Lauren Kelly

Green-eyed, red-headed Lauren specializes in crimes against children in the New England states. She is intelligent and relentless. If she has to decide between getting a child back, and strict adherence to the law, she puts the child first.

FBI Agent Jake Reeves

Jake is the go to IT resource for Lauren. He was a hacker in an earlier life, and a long time ago was given a choice between serving time or working in the FBI. Jake’s half in love with Lauren, and half intimidated by her. His single goal in life is to find the information she needs on the web. And sometimes the dark web.

FBI Agent Maggie Vela

Maggie acts as family liason to the victim’s family. She stays close to them, keeps them calm, and looks at them with suspicion without having them realize it. She’s good with people, and spends some of her time keeping Lauren from intimidating Jake so he stays at his best.

An excerpt from A Spider Sat Down Beside Her (Work in Progress and subject to change)

Lauren touched the Glock in her shoulder holster, the FBI badge at her waist, and the emerald at her neck. She looked at the scene through her windshield, and rubbed the pendant between her thumb and index finger.

Lauren hated missing infants more than any other kind of case. Babies all looked alike except to their parents. If this baby girl was rescued, she couldn’t describe her abductors, or tell what had been done to her.

Lauren had parked next to a navy blue unmarked car that she knew belonged to the Sunrise Bay Police Department. Other unmarked cars and patrol cars lined both sides of the street. Crime scene tape blocked off an empty parking space and the area around it. The detectives, patrolmen, and a few civilians stood nearby on the sidewalk.

Another child, another family.

The mid-August heat shimmered up from the pavement and hit Lauren when she opened her car door. She left her jacket hanging from the hook in the back, and grabbed her FBI windbreaker from the trunk. She pulled it on while she walked toward Detective Scott Marcus. Lauren had worked with Scott before. She like him because he was competent, and he didn’t have an attitude about the FBI.

People crowded the parking lot outside the crime scene tape with the morbid fascination of bystanders at a bloody car accident. Scott lifted the tape barrier so she could join him.

Two couples, one in their thirties and another in their sixties, stood several feet apart but still inside the crime scene tape barrier.

The couple in their early thirties looked like their world had ended, and Lauren feared it might have. The husband stood with a protective arm around his red-eyed wife.  She struggled to stop crying. The other couple was much older, and their clothes had cost a whole lot more than the younger couple’s.

Lauren knew the FBI presence would stress the seriousness of the situation, and the parents’ hope would fade into despair. Scott knew her presence didn’t guarantee the infant would be found.

“Scott.” Lauren shook his hand. “Who’s the missing baby?”

“Harper Williams.” Scott held out his phone so Lauren could see a photo of a smiling blue eyed baby with a hint of auburn hair. “I’ll send it to your phone.”

Lauren focused on the two couples, who hovered ten feet apart inside the crime scene tape boundary. It was obvious to Lauren they were somehow involved in the abduction, but because the couples stood so far apart, she wondered if they even knew each other before the kidnapping.

She spoke to the uniform who stood beside Scott. “You must be Ed Nybo. Scott speaks highly of you.”

Ed’s face turned a little pink with the praise. “I’m the one who put out both the Amber Alert and the BOLO on the car.”

“I put the couple of people who saw what happened in the restaurant across the street. Nobody sat outside because of the heat, so there weren’t more than a couple of people who saw what happened.”

Lauren appreciated the detail Ed related. She checked the time on her phone. She’d been at the scene three minutes.

“What time did the abduction happen?” Lauren said.

“The carjacker drove away at five minutes before two,” Ed said.

Lauren calculated the time window in her head. Twenty-seven minutes had passed since the suspect abducted the infant. Twenty-seven minutes of the critical first three hours. She nodded to the couples of the back of the store. “They the victims and witnesses?”

“They’re the baby’s parents and grandparents,” Ed said.

Lauren had years of experience keeping emotions out of her face while in the presence of victims and other non-law enforcement, so she didn’t show her surprise that the two couples standing several feet apart were family.

Lauren had seen every kind of family relationship: those where the family huddled together and comforted each other, those where she broke up blazing arguments, and ones like this, where the family could have been total strangers, and sometimes were.

Nybo pulled out his notebook and scanned the first two pages. “The car belongs to Patricia Brand, the older woman.”

Lauren appraised the slender stylish woman in her sixties who stared at herself in a compact mirror. She fluffed her hair with her fingers. Her husband looked at the tables outside the restaurant like he would rather be there.

Scott introduced Erica and Nate Williams, parents of the missing infant, and Patricia and Robert Brand, Erica’s parents and the infant’s grandparents. Nate had the same auburn hair as his daughter.

Lauren was speechless for a second. She thought the older couple were witnesses rather than relatives. She was shocked that Patricia cared more about her makeup and hair than her missing granddaughter. Patricia and Robert looked annoyed. He wore golf clothes and leather loafers. The shoes didn’t look right with his golf shirt and shorts, and Lauren assumed he’d been called to the scene from the golf course.

Nate also wore golf clothes, but his were much cheaper. Lauren thought his might have come from a big box store, except that he wore a gold Rolex.

Erica met Lauren’s eyes, and hope filled her face.

Lauren hated that. She knew that despair would return when Erica realized Lauren was a mere mortal, and not some god who could rescue her baby by magic.

Erica stepped out from Nate’s sheltering arm, pushed the sleeves of her sweater up her forearms, and extended a hand to Lauren.

“I’m Erica. My daughter is the reason you are here.”

Lauren shook her hand. “Tell me what happened.”

Scott moved beside her and took a small notebook out of his pocket. He flipped to a fresh page and touched his pen to the paper, ready to record a another version of the abduction.

Patricia put away her lipstick and compact and strode to them. “I was assaulted. That’s what happened.”