CHAPTER 1

Blood. I could hear the consistent drops of my own blood dripping down my face to the ground. It's steady – one, two, three. I'm transfixed on the very concerning pool of blood forming beneath me.

One, two, three.

Was all that blood from just my face? I can't remember anything.

All I know is that my face is almost completely numb – my left eye completely swollen. I can feel the blood slowly flowing from my nose and mouth.

I spit it out, hoping to get rid of the awful taste of iron and copper present in my mouth. Unfortunately, the taste remains.

My wrists are aching from the duct tape and rope so tightly wrapped around my hands, keeping me bound to the chains that hung from the high ceiling. I examine the chafed, torn, and bloody skin under my restraints, red and ugly.

Like a coarsely ground slab of meat, I mused.

So tired…

I can't seem to keep my eyes open. The only thing that has been keeping me up all night was the sound of my blood dripping to the floor.

I take a quick look around at my surroundings. My vision is blurred, but I can make out that I'm in a factory, or warehouse of some sort. God knows if I'm even still in Virginia. I shift my head, looking around once more. I can see a heavy metal door just down the hall. There are shelves lined up in neat rows, and ladders connecting to a second tier. There are rows of unused machinery, dust lining every square inch of them. There are small windows lining the wall that connects to the ceiling, and I can see that it's still dark out. It must be late night or early morning. The hanging lights from the ceiling are so dim – making it increasingly difficult to keep focus. I'm in an abandoned factory. However, the assailants are nowhere to be seen.

I wonder how long I've been here…

How did I get here?

Then it hits me – I was attacked on the way home from a case.

I was in the BAU parking lot, getting ready to drive home. I had my keys in my hand, ready to open the door when I felt someone grab me from behind. I struggled, but was unable to subdue them. There were at least three men – one approaching me from behind, covering my head with a black hood, rendering me unable to see anything, another stripping me of my badge, credentials, gun, and purse, and the other, swinging a heavy object of some sort straight to my abdomen. A bat, perhaps. It took a few swings to my midsection and face to render me unconscious. Then I remember blacking out.

After that, everything is fuzzy.

God, how I wish I was at home with Will and Henry…

Oh God! Will and Henry!

I can only pray nothing will happen to them.

I slump my head in disappointment, upset I wasn't strong enough to prevent my attack.

The team. Oh God, the team.

They're going to have to uncover everything about my life at the Pentagon once they figure out I've gone missing. I've kept so many secrets from them…

But it was for their safety.

Jesus, how I wish this never happened. Cruz is going to have to tell them everything.

What I've done.

The people I've killed.

The people I've gotten killed.

Those I couldn't protect.

Those who couldn't protect me.

All the secrets and lies.

The very reason why I came back to the BAU.