by Sandra Brown
Publication date: February 10th 2015
Genre: Romance, Suspense
Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.
While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.
Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.
As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.
Emory watched through a sliver of space between the window frame and the muslin curtain as he worked the combination on the padlock, went through the gate, and crossed the road to the wrecked pickup where the passenger door stood ajar.
He bent down, looked inside, appeared to be speaking to someone. After a sixty-second conversation, he turned back to the two men. His expression was dark and dangerous. Tight-lipped, he said something to the pair, then strode through the gate and across the yard toward the cabin, leaving the gate open.
She backed away from the window as he burst through the door. “Stay out of sight, but keep an eye on them. Tell me what they’re doing.” He went to the end of the sofa, lifted it, and moved it several feet, then knelt and flipped back the corner of the carpet.
“What’s going on? Who are those men?”
“The brothers Floyd. Norman and Will.”
“Are they asking for your help with their truck?”
“It’s beyond help. They want a ride.”
“Their place. What are they doing?”
“Helping someone out of the pickup. Who’s that?”
“Their kid sister.”
During this terse exchange, he’d pulled up a section of the wood flooring. In the rectangular cavity under the floor was a metal locker like the one she’d found beneath the bed. He flipped the latches and raised the lid.
Firearms. Many. Of all types.
He lifted out a handgun, checked the clip, then tucked it into the waistband of his jeans and pulled down his sweater and coat to conceal it. While Emory stood there, mute with astonishment, he closed the trunk, replaced the flooring and the rug, and moved the sofa back into place.
He said, “Secret’s out,” and motioned down toward the hidden armory. “If the need arises, help yourself. Do you know how to shoot?”
She gaped at him as he went to the bed and stripped the pillowcase off the pillow. Then he picked up her shoes and tossed them into the pillowcase. “If you should run out of firewood before I get back – ”
“Back?” she exclaimed. “You’re not seriously thinking of going with them?”
But apparently he was, because the trio outside were making their way toward his pickup. The one toting a shotgun looked eager to check it out. He went ahead while his brother, with noticeable impatience, ushered their sister around the icier patches in the yard.
“As I was saying, firewood is stacked on the outside of that wall.” He raised his chin in the direction of the wall that held the book shelves. Patting his coat pockets, he located his gloves and pulled them on. He dropped his cap and scarf into the pillowcase, gathered the top of it in his fist, and tossed it over his shoulder like a Santa sack. “I won’t be long.”
She planted herself between him and the door. “Are you crazy? They look dangerous.”
“Then — ”
“I’ll be okay.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I know.”
“That’s no answer.”
“They could slit your throat.”
“Not their style.”
“What do you know about their style?”
“More than I want to.”
“You’ve had confrontations with them before?”
“What does that mean?”
“I knew who they were, but until today, we hadn’t met. They’re my neighbors.”
“Which you claimed not to have.”
“Yeah, well, I lied about that.”
“How close do they live from here?”
“I don’t have time to go into it now. Move out of my way before they come to see what’s taking me so long.”
He tried to go around her, but she side-stepped to block him.
“You’ve been using the icy roads as your excuse for keeping me here.”
“They’re still treacherous. Which is why that damn heap crashed into the tree.”
“Then why are you driving them home?”
“Because it’s too far for the girl to walk.” He reached behind her, lifted his key ring off the hook, and dropped it into his coat pocket.
She grabbed his sleeve. “You can’t leave me here.”
For the first time since coming back inside, he paused to really look at her, then, with a sudden move, dropped the pillowcase and closed his hands around her head. He ran his gloved thumb across her lower lip.
“I swore to myself I wouldn’t touch you. But I wish like hell I’d fucked you anyway.”
Then he bracketed her hips between his hands and forcibly moved her aside. “Stay out of sight until we’re gone. If they come back in place of me, shoot the sons-of-bitches and ask questions later.” In one fluid motion, he bent to pick up the pillowcase, opened the door, and left.
~About the Author~
Sandra Brown is the author of more than sixty New York Times bestsellers, including DEADLINE(2013), LOW PRESSURE (2012), LETHAL (2011), TOUGH CUSTOMER (2010), SMASH CUT (2009), SMOKE SCREEN (2008), PLAY DIRTY (2007), RICOCHET (2006), CHILL FACTOR (2005), WHITE HOT (2004), & HELLO, DARKNESS (2003).
Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages.
A lifelong Texan, Sandra Brown was born in Waco, grew up in Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University, majoring in English. Before embarking on her writing career, she worked as a model at the Dallas Apparel Mart, and in television, including weathercasting for WFAA-TV in Dallas, and feature reporting on the nationally syndicated program “PM Magazine.”
In 2009 Brown detoured from her thrillers to write, Rainwater, a much acclaimed, powerfully moving story about honor and sacrifice during the Great Depression.
Brown recently was given an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She was named Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer’s Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sandra’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
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