Closer To You (Callaways Book 11)

By: Barbara Freethy

Prologue


Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland



Seamus Donelan rubbed his tired eyes as he looked up from his computer. It was almost ten, well past time to call it a night and go home. The university's janitorial staff would be in to clean his office soon. He needed to leave and let them do their work, but returning to his empty apartment would only remind him of how alone he was and how long he'd been alone.

When he'd been younger, caught up in his ambitions, inventions, and patents, home had been the last place he'd wanted to be. To change the world, he had to live in that world—all over that world. He'd traveled for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. He'd told himself he'd had a higher purpose, one that would benefit millions of people. But his family hadn't seen it that way.

One day he'd come home and his wife and two daughters were gone. Tricia had taken his girls back to the States, to her parents' home in San Francisco, to the city she'd grown up in. Yes, they'd had a bitter fight the night before, but he'd never imagined she'd leave him in such an abrupt and brutal way. She hadn't even called him on the phone. Instead, she'd left him a letter reminding him of how many times she'd warned him and pleaded with him to put their family first; he didn't remember hearing one damn word.

The truth was that he hadn't been listening. He'd been caught up in his passions and his ego, his belief that he deserved everything that he desired. He'd been living in a cloud, confident that he could have it all, that he could walk above and over everyone else, and that no one would ever get hurt.

A lot of people had gotten hurt—especially his daughters—and that was a pain he would never be able to let go.

With a sigh, he got up from his chair and stretched his arms above his head. He felt more tired than he had in a long time. He'd thought teaching would rejuvenate him, but the young minds he saw every day in his classroom only reminded him that his youth had passed. He had done more than most men in science. His legacies would live beyond him—all but one of his inventions. That one had to be hidden away—forever.

He walked across the room. On the coffee table in front of the brown leather couch was a large box he'd started packing earlier in the day. Three months ago, he'd promised the young and brilliant scientist Ian Callaway that he'd send him his great-grandfather's earliest science journals, and tomorrow he would do that.

He hadn't meant to take so long, but things had come up, and he'd hesitated over asking Ian for a favor in return. Finally, he'd written Ian a long note. He hoped Ian would come through for him. But only time would tell.

A creaking door and a footfall down the hall suddenly got his heart pounding. His office door was locked, but he was very aware of how alone he was in the building.

It was probably just the cleaning service, he told himself, but he wasn't convinced. Too many odd things had happened lately. He thought he'd covered his tracks, but now he had the terrible feeling that his old life was catching up with his new one.

A shadow appeared outside the frosted glass of his office door. He could see nothing more than the silhouette of a man, a man working on the door lock. He didn't have much time.

He ran over to his desk and opened the locked drawer with shaky hands.

He grabbed what he needed and then moved back across the room. He placed the item carefully inside the box he was sending to Ian, hidden away under the journals, and the small package addressed to Grace. Then he closed the box, quickly wound the packing tape around it and dumped it through the postal service drop slot in the wall behind his couch. Hopefully, it would go out in the morning no matter what happened tonight.

The door burst open behind him. Before he could turn around, something hard came down on his head. An explosion of pain ran through him, as well as a feeling of terror.

He'd tried to stay away from evil, but sometimes science led to the dark as well as the light.

He fought to stay awake; he had a feeling if he didn't, he'd never see the light of day again…





One


San Francisco, California



"If you don't come to Thanksgiving, Ian, we're bringing Thanksgiving to you," Kate Callaway said, the fierce light in her blue eyes matched by the same gleam in her twin sister Mia's eyes.

Ian frowned as he ran a hand through his hair and stared at his younger sisters, who'd unexpectedly appeared at his apartment. He'd pulled an all-nighter at the lab and had gotten home and to bed a little before five a.m. "What time is it?"

"It's three o'clock in the afternoon," Kate replied, pushing her way past him. A confident, athletic, blue-eyed blonde, Kate never waited to be invited into a room. "You were supposed to be at Mom's an hour ago."

"You look exhausted," Mia commented, as she followed her twin sister inside.

Mia was also blonde with blue eyes, but she was softer than Kate, more artistic, more nurturing, and usually less of a pain in the ass. But the two of them together had always spelled trouble for him.

"What have you been doing?" Mia continued, giving him a thoughtful look.

"Or should we say who have you been doing?" Kate asked with a wicked sparkle in her eyes. "Is there someone here? Is that why you look like you just got out of bed?"