Cache a Predator
by, M. Weidenbenner
Officer Brett Reed will do anything to gain custody of his five-year-old daughter, Quinn. But when the man-hating judge grants Brett’s drug-addicted ex-wife custody and slaps him with a protective order for losing his temper, he fears for Quinn’s safety. Who will protect her now?
When Quinn is found abandoned on the streets, Brett’s worse nightmares turn toward a dark path. His daughter is placed in a temporary foster home until Child Protective Services can complete an assessment. It should only take a few days.
But a lot can happen in a few days.
Especially when there’s a deranged psychopath on the loose, someone who’s attacking pedophiles, someone who wants to protect children like Quinn, and someone who’s planting body parts in geocaching sites.
Cache a Predator is a novel about a father’s love, justice, and the unhinged game of hide-the-cache.
About the Author
Michelle is a fulltime employee of God’s kingdom, writing and encouraging writers every day. She’s often a sucker for emotional stories, her sensitive side fueling the passion for her character’s plights, often giving her the ability to show readers the “other” side of the story.
She grew up in the burbs of Detroit with five brothers. No sisters. Each time her mom brought the boy bundle home from the hospital Michelle cried, certain her mom liked boys better than girls. But when her brothers pitched in with the cooking, cleaning, and babysitting—without drama, Michelle discovered having brothers wasn’t so bad. They even taught her how to take direct criticism without flinching, which might come in handy with book reviews.
Michelle is living her dream—writing every day and thanking God for the stories He puts in her path. When Michelle isn’t writing she’s winning ugly on the tennis court. She’s known as “Queen of the Rim Shots.” No joke. It’s ugly.
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No morning felt the same without Quinn tickling his ear, the breath of her tiny
voice saying, “Wake up, Daddy.”
Brett stared at the ceiling. A leaky faucet dripped, gnawing at his nerves. He
needed to get up and get going, but without his daughter, he dawdled. It was like the air
didn’t move. The empty apartment reminded him of how alone he was and how unfair the
courts had been.
What kind of screwed-up justice system did he work for anyway? He knew the
answer: a system that sided with mothers—even addict mothers.
He needed to let it go, but worry had a mind of its own. His fists clenched. Quinn
wasn’t safe with Ali, but the judge only saw a hot-tempered man, not a drug-addicted
mother. Of course he was ticked—what father wouldn’t be at a mother who neglected her
He dragged his body out of bed and into the shower, trying to scrub his negative
thoughts away and wash them down the drain. After he towel-dried, he dressed in his
uniform, stepped into his navy-colored pants, and tightened the belt around his waist to
the next notch. Anxiety as a diet had a way of loosening a man’s pants. Guess I should
have eaten the last piece of pizza last night. He buttoned his shirt, strapped on his belt
holster, removed the gun from the locked drawer, and slid the firearm in place.
His phone rang, playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Quinn’s ring, the one
he’d programmed to play whenever she called because she was his twinkling star.
He lunged for his cell on his bed and held it to his ear. “Quinn?”
“Daddy?” Her voice quivered. “I’m scared. Mommy won’t wake up.”
His heart raced as he willed his voice to stay calm. “Are you home?”
“Go lock the front door.” He slid in his socks, crossing the room in one sweep,
fear squeezing his heart. At the closet, he slipped into his shoes, fumbling with the phone
as he bent to tie the laces. Could he get to her in time or should he call 911?
He could hear her breathing like she was moving to the door. In three steps, he
dashed across the room to the kitchen and clutched his jacket hanging over the chair.
He juggled the phone again as he shoved his arms into the sleeves, first one, then the
other. “Sit next to Mommy, and I’ll be there soon. I’m going to my car now. I’m coming.
Everything is going to be okay.”
But it wouldn’t. This had happened before, and it would happen again.
Once upon a time he would have called Child Protective Services, but not now.
He couldn’t wait. They were overworked. It could take them up to seventy-two hours to
investigate, and he didn’t trust anyone but himself. No one cared about Quinn the way he
He grabbed his keys off the counter and headed out his front door, still holding
the phone to his ear. “Is Max with you?”
“He’s sniffing the garbage. I think he’s hungry.”
Blast it, Ali. She’d probably forgotten to feed him.
Brett climbed in his cruiser and reached for his sunglasses tucked in the visor.
He talked to Quinn as he started the car. “You did good, calling me. I’m sure Mommy
will get up soon, but I’ll come and fix you breakfast. Do you have eggs and milk in the
He envisioned her feet pattering on the tile and thought he heard the refrigerator
squeaking open. “Uh-huh.”
That’s a shock. But that was Ali—seemingly together in one way, but not in
Brett clicked on his flashers, ignoring the speed limit signs as he sped down
Wooster Road. Ali’s house was on the other side of the highway, but close. Moments like
that made him thankful Hursey Lake was a small town.
“I’ll be there soon. Don’t open the door for anyone except me, okay?” He turned
the steering wheel with one hand and held the phone to his ear with the other.
Drivers pulled into the right lane and slowed when they saw him coming. After a
few turns and red lights, he shut off his flashers and swung the car into the driveway next
to Ali’s red beater and slammed the car into Park.
On his way to the front door, he scowled as he stomped over cigarette butts
littering the concrete, the filters crunching beneath his feet. The lawn needed mowing,
and the shrubs had grown spindly and wild. When he’d lived there he’d never let the
house get that run-down. The screen door stood ajar, the bottom bent at an angle, not
allowing it to close properly. It squeaked in a faint breeze. The landlord had never been
good about fixing things.
As he fumbled for the right key, he sucked in a deep breath. Keep your temper.
He wasn’t supposed to be here, but keeping Quinn safe was worth violating the protective
order. Besides, Ali had lied. He’d never hit her. Her brother was the one who’d pushed
her to lie. And the judge had believed her—not Brett.
Max barked on the other side of the door. “Quinn, it’s Daddy.” He turned the key
and pushed open the door. At least Ali hadn’t changed the locks.
Quinn stood before him in bare feet, wearing a pink T-shirt and purple shorts,
holding her stuffed lamb she called Lambie under her arm. Her dark curls hung over her
dirty face, tear streaks leaving a line of clean skin. Snot dripped from her nose.
He knelt in front of her, scooped her into his arms, and held her to his chest,
breathing in her sweet smell, not wanting to let her go. He kissed her cheeks. “Shhh, I’m
Quinn hiccupped like she’d been crying hard. Her arms closed around his neck,
almost choking him.
Brett’s throat grew tight, and he squeezed his eyes shut, fighting the rage bubbling
inside him. How could Ali ignore her child?
Max’s tail thumped against the wall. Brett rested Quinn on one leg and nestled the
dog’s face in his arms, rubbing his ears. Max whined in rhythm to his wagging tail.
“She’s on the couch.” Quinn pointed to their right. Garbage-filled bags sat on the
floor along the wall outside the kitchen, smelling like Max had crapped nearby.
Brett dodged the trash and stomped into the living room. Ali lay on the sofa on
top of a pile of clothes, her dyed blond hair covering her face. He crossed the room to
her, gritting his teeth. “Ali, wake up.”
She didn’t flinch. His heartbeat raced, suddenly panicked. Was she unconscious?
No, this had happened before. But still, was this the one time she wouldn’t wake?