This is the description of my book, “The Concierge.” It is the first book in the series.
Parents are going missing around the country. Children are showing up alone at charitable organizations. They will not give their names nor addresses. Some refuse to talk at all. But, the notes the children carry have these organizations hiding them from law enforcement.
Individual police departments think these events are only happening in their cities and towns—the missing parents and children too few to raise a national alarm.
One detective, however, is secretly investigating the missing parents and children. Despite what top officials say, he knows it is nationwide.
His research has led him to a man named Clay Vanster. Clay appears to be rich and powerful. Many people know him. The problem is no one knows what he looks like or where he is. Except for one person—Thomas George.
Thomas is the Head Concierge at the luxury five-star Merle Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the best in the business. Rival hotels attempt to hire him every month. His colleagues envy and respect him. He has met and served Presidents—domestic and foreign. Businesspeople around the world speak highly of him. He raises money for charitable organizations and police departments. Politicians, actors, and other influential people stay at the Merle when visiting Atlanta. Thomas’s attention to detail attracts them and keeps them coming back.
No one has a negative or disparaging word to say about Thomas. He is described as humble and sincere. His charm mesmerizes people. He is willing to help anyone in any way that he can. Anything guests want he makes happen.
Detective Green wonders, with such a stellar reputation, why would Thomas have a business relationship with Clay Vanster? If his research is correct, Clay Vanster could be involved in horrific crimes?
Is Thomas’s connection to Clay a simple coincidence? Who is Thomas George? And what is the depth of his relationship with Clay Vanster?
You can see The Concierge and read more of it on Amazon.
I hope you enjoy this sample.
WHO ARE YOU?
THREE SMALL CHILDREN shivered outside of Chicago Children Center door. They had knocked on the door and were waiting for someone to let them in. It was twenty-eight degrees. The wind chill felt like fifteen. It was one thirty-two a.m. It was March.
The two boys were four and five. The girl was six. They were blindfolded, scared, tired and freezing. Their hands were shoved in their pockets. Their breaths came out as steam. Their clothes were dirty. Their faces were filthy. They had no idea where they were or who was coming for them. The only thing they were sure of—even though they were scared—was to wait and not move as instructed.
The girl pounded on the door with her fist. Much harder than before. Even though she wore gloves it stung her hand. Waiting for someone to open the door she reached out to her sides and put her arms around the boys and pulled them close to her.
Clicking sounds came from inside the door. The children jumped. The door opened. A woman’s voice said, “Oh dear. Not again.” The woman was forty-nine-year-old Helen Lisan. She quickly pulled the children inside, almost tripping them. “Take those off your eyes.” She was pulling the blindfolds off their eyes as she said it. “Jay! Teresa! I need you!” she shouted down a hallway. “Stay here,” she ordered the children and ran outside down the steps.
She stood in the walkway, scanning the area. Someone left them here, she thought. Who left them? She stared at the parking lot in front of the strip mall across the street. It was empty. She looked up and down the street. No cars or trucks were parked along the curbs. Parking there was illegal. Cars were towed when they did.
She walked almost to the end of the walkway and stopped and looked around. She did not see anyone. But she could feel them. They were there. Anyone who took the time to drop off those kids would not leave them in the cold and dark alone. Someone was there, watching.
Maybe she should call out to them? Tell them she could see them. Flush them out of hiding. Who were they? What were their intentions? Why had they chosen her place to leave the kids? Were they telling the truth? She folded her arms and looked and waited. A chill came over her. It was more than just the cold she felt for wearing a thin sweater outside. She was scared.
She backed up, scanning the area. Halfway to the door she turned around and rushed back inside the building and locked the doors.
Jay and Teresa who worked at the Center were with the children.
“She was holding this,” Jay said to Helen. He gave her the note that the girl had been holding.
Helen unfolded the note and silently read it. Please don’t turn us in to the authorities. Our parents will get us back and continue to abuse us and kill us. Please help us.
Helen swallowed to compose herself. She pulled Jay and Teresa away from the children. “Feed them if they’re hungry,” Helen said. “Get them clean and put them to bed. No one is to know they’re here.” Jay and Teresa nodded. “No one.” She stared at them. “Just like before, I’ll take any blame that comes down. They’re my responsibility now.” Jay and Teresa said yes. “Thank you. Now go ahead and help them. Hurry up.”
Jay and Teresa led the children away. None of the children talked. As young as they were, the man and woman who left them on the steps had made them understand the dangers that awaited them if they did not follow instructions. The children did not want to go back home.
Helen went to her office and made notes about the children. This was the fifth time in three months that children had been dropped off alone at the Center’s door. It was always early morning hours—one to two o’clock. No one was around. No vehicles were around. Each time the oldest child carried a note. All the notes were the same. Don’t tell the authorities. The parents would abuse and kill the children. Help us. And all the children showed classic signs of young abuse victims.
Her duty was to call the authorities. Failure to do so could cost her the Center. And she was committing crimes—possibly assisting in kidnappings. She had vaguely described the situation to her attorney. Her attorney had indirectly let her know that the less he knew, the better. Because if she were committing a crime, he would be obligated to report her. That was why she had spoken to him in hypotheticals.
The facts were saying whoever dropped off the children were telling the truth. Physicians, psychiatrists, and therapists who secretly examined, evaluated and spoke with the children saw the signs of abuse.
The evidence left Helen with no choice. No matter how many children came to her, she could not live with herself if she turned them over to the authorities and they ended up dead. She wished she had more information on the children.
Whoever had instructed the kids on what to do and say had done their job. The kids did not crack under questioning. They did not say their names or their parents’ names. Nor would they say where they lived.
Helen assumed the kids saw the people who had helped them escape from their lives of hell as angels. She would if she were in their shoes. What else could she do? She had to protect them. The Center was now their safe place.
What Helen did not know was that this scene was playing out in more than twenty different cities in eighteen different states and growing. Each charity wrestled with what to do. The possibility that they could send a child to their death forced them to keep the children a secret. And each charity wondered and feared who else, and what, they were protecting with this secret.
If you enjoyed the Prologue in The Concierge, stop by Amazon and purchase the book. I have written other books. They, too, can be found on Amazon under Stephen Wallace. You can read free chapters of each book.
Take care of yourself.
Stay healthy and safe.