The Cradle Mission. Rita Herron

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The Cradle Mission - Rita Herron

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      “You’re going home with me tonight.”


      “Don’t argue with me. You damn near got yourself killed. No telling what could have happened to Simon.” He reached out and laid a palm against Simon’s cheek. “The baby needs a safe place for a while. And I want some answers.”

      “Thanks for rescuing us, Cain, but I can’t stay with you.” Alanna gathered all her strength to remain still when he tried to urge her forward. “Please, just let me go.”

      “I’m not letting you drive off tonight with Simon. And if you don’t level with me about my brother, I’ll haul you in for withholding information in a murder investigation.”

      “Please, Cain, no.”

      His steely gaze didn’t waver. “If you don’t want me to call the police in, you have to tell me what’s going on.”

      Alanna reached for the car door handle. Cain grabbed it first, wrapping one arm around her. “Don’t get any ideas about running. I’m going to be right behind you.”

      The Cradle Mission

      Rita Herron


      MILLS & BOON

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      Award-winning author Rita Herron wrote her first book when she was twelve, but didn’t think real people grew up to be writers. Now she writes so she doesn’t have to get a real job. A former kindergarten teacher and workshop leader, she traded her storytelling for kids for romance, and writes romantic comedies and romantic suspense. She lives in Georgia with her own romance hero and three kids. She loves to hear from readers, so please write her at P.O. Box 921225, Norcross, GA 30092-1225, or visit her Web site at



      Alanna Hayes—A pediatric nurse who will do anything to protect baby Simon—even kidnap him and go into hiding.

      Cain Caldwell—A cop who believes Alanna is responsible for his brother’s death; will he turn her over to the authorities or become her personal protector?

      Eric Caldwell—Cain’s brother and a vigilante who put his reputation and life on the line to help abused women. Did he die for his cause?

      Simon—An innocent baby who becomes a pawn in a ruthless scientific experiment called Project Simon.

      Paul Polenta—A geneticist who helped Alanna escape with Simon; is he Simon’s father?

      Randall Ames and Stanley Peterson—Fertility specialists who created Project Simon; how far will they go to protect their secrets?

      William Elk—The OB-GYN who delivered Simon. He knows the names of Simon’s parents, but will he die before he reveals them?

      Arnold Hughes—The former CEO of the Coastal Island Research Park. Has he resurfaced from the dead? And if so, what is his relationship to Simon?

      Phyllis French—This reporter believes Simon is her baby and will do anything to get him back, even commit murder.

      To Jenni and Jennifer

       for not laughing when I go out on a limb

       (or at least for laughing in private!).

       Thanks a million.


      Chapter One

      Chapter Two

      Chapter Three

      Chapter Four

      Chapter Five

      Chapter Six

      Chapter Seven

      Chapter Eight

      Chapter Nine

      Chapter Ten

      Chapter Eleven

      Chapter Twelve

      Chapter Thirteen

      Chapter Fourteen

      Chapter Fifteen

      Chapter Sixteen

      Chapter Seventeen

      Chapter Eighteen

      Chapter Nineteen

      Chapter Twenty

      Chapter Twenty-One

      Chapter One

      Catcall Island

      “Kill her,” the man ordered in a gruff voice. “Then take the baby.”

      Alanna Hayes’s heart constricted. She had to save herself, so she could save baby Simon.

      Frantic, she tried to free the bindings encasing her wrists, scanning the dark interior of the lab storage room for an escape. Shadows claimed the corners, dark clouds casting bleakness through the small window, the sound of rain slashing against the metal roof ominous. Another man’s husky voice filtered through the darkened doorway.

      She should have known better than to snoop into unauthorized areas, but she hadn’t expected the security guard to take her hostage at gunpoint. And now they’d kept her in this cold, cramped space for hours, making her wonder—

      The voice broke the silence again, a harsh mumble. She didn’t recognize the men’s voices. Did they belong to the doctors at the research center where she worked? The security guards?

      Were they really going to kill her? And what would happen to innocent little Simon? He was only four months old, he needed her….

      “I don’t like the idea of murder,” a deep voice said.

      “We have no choice,” the man said matter-of-factly. “But make it look like an accident.”

      “What are you going to do with the baby?”

      A chill rippled up Alanna’s spine. The thickly accented voice belonged to her boss, Paul Polenta, one of the leading researchers in gene therapy in the country.

      God, no. He couldn’t be a part of this…this lab project. She’d liked him, had thought he was a brilliant, caring doctor. Just as she’d believed everyone at the Coastal Island Research Park intended to help people.

      She’d been wrong.

      The man’s gruff voice cut through her fear like a razor blade scraping raw skin. “We’re taking him to the lab as planned.”

      “Won’t it draw suspicion if one of our nurses turns up dead?” Polenta’s voice quivered. “After all, what does she really know?”

      “Too much. I found her snooping in my files.” The other

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