It is the day after Aimee Patterson’s high school graduation. College beckons, as does her dream of becoming an engineer. On an early evening walk, her cocker spaniel charges into the woods on the other side of the pond. Aimee trails after him, and in the stillness of that forest the unthinkable happens. She becomes paralyzed and watches in horror as her hands vanish before her eyes.
Waking to the sound of voices, Aimee realizes that she has been kidnapped. Little does she know how far away from home she is, though. In an attempt to flee her captors, she launches from their confines only to freeze at the view outside the window. The sky is black and filled with stars, and in the distance is a familiar blue globe. The planet Earth.
Have you been to Victory Cove, Maine?
Victory Cove, Maine. A town as remote as you can get. Perched on the cliffs, overlooking the Atlantic, this Maine village hosts lobstermen, danger...and romance.
I'm known for writing cold, dark romantic suspense novels. But even I need to warm up after awhile. ENDLESS NIGHT will take you to the cliffs of Maine's rugged coast in the middle of a blustery nor'easter, but JUNGLE OF DECEIT will have you sweating in the Guatemalan rainforest. Whatever your geographical or weather preference may be, chances are that I'm going to weave you a tale of romance and danger in one of them.
I am also the founder of JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, so if you are a fan of the genre, please stop by!
“What is it, Zig?” she whispered.
At first she saw nothing. The darkness was a void barely penetrated by the waning sunlight at her back. Yet, there was something. A light. A reflection. Something. A hum. Definitely a hum. Not the wind. Not a motor. It sounded like the oscillating fan in her bedroom window.
Aimee squinted. She swore for a moment that they weren’t even trees overhead and that it was the massive underbelly of a giant vessel. A spaceship parked atop the forest, obliterating any sunlight. She rolled her eyes. Space ships and aliens lurking beyond the Patterson property.
“Come on, Zig.” she muttered, kicking herself mentally. “Neither of us belong here. We’re just spooked.”
Ziggy cocked his head and emitted a low growl. For a moment Aimee wasn’t sure whether he was going to dart deeper into the woods or just stand there barking like an insane puppy. But he surprised her. Ziggy, the traitor, took off back towards the pond like a herd of rabid Rottweilers were chasing him.
“Coward!” she yelled, turning to follow. “You could at least wait for me.”
At least she’d meant to turn. She’d also meant to follow. Aimee couldn’t move. If she’d done what she’d meant to do, she’d be walking nice and easy back around the pond, but she wasn’t.
She thought for a moment that her muscles were locked in spasm from the two laps around the track during gym today, but her hands and arms were paralyzed. She tried to clench her fingers into a fist and could feel perspiration bead on her forehead from the effort. She was motionless.
What the hell?
Even her lips could not move to speak those three words.
Light materialized around her as if someone had switched on a spotlight from above. She tried to squint against the vivid assault, but even her eyelids were frozen in place. Instead, all she could do was watch as the light grew brighter, bright enough that she could see through her hands. That freaked her out. Her hands were transparent, and she could see through them to the mottled leaves on the ground below.
The hum intensified and she began to feel lightheaded.
One lurch of her stomach and she felt nothing at all.
Less than two days after her high school graduation, Aimee Patterson had walked her Cocker Spaniel along the pond on her parent’s farm. When Ziggy charged into the woods on the other side, Aimee was paralyzed with indecision. The forest was scary, a dark lair she had avoided since childhood. But, she was not a child anymore, and something had caught the dog’s attention. Trailing after him into that bleak stockade...Aimee disappeared from this planet.
She woke up on a spaceship so grand and so far from Earth, never imagining that her adventure in space would last five years. In that time she learned new technology, visited a foreign planet, battled aliens, encountered disease—and cured it. Most importantly, though, she fell in love.
When the adventure was over, Aimee was twenty-two years old and confronted with a monumental decision. Should she remain in the stars with Zak and start their life together, or should she return to Earth to lead a normal existence and comfort the parents who never knew the fate of their missing daughter?
Aimee’s heart yearned for one future, but the burden of responsibility argued for another. The truth was that in order for her and Zak to spend a life together without regrets, they both needed to evolve—to mature.
For half a decade, Aimee walked the routine journey of life—always waiting—always looking to the stars—knowing, hoping, that one day he would return for her.
And today was that day...
JUNGLE OF DECEIT $.99 JUNGLE OF DECEIT TRAILER
Trailing after Chuck’s worn USC shirt, Mitch avoided the backlash of tree branches with counteractive arm motions akin to karate. By this time, he thought he had grown accustomed to the jungle, but the terrain was so variable he could barely delineate between underbrush and overhead foliage. Even in this dense greenery, the flash of red and gold from Chuck’s shirt could easily be mistaken as a disgruntled macaw.
"And what made the doctor move to this sector?" Mitch asked when he was knee-deep in ferns and unable to spot the ground beneath him.
Chuck stopped, lifting the bottom of his shirt to swipe the perspiration from his forehead. "You mean you don’t know?"
"That no one else has been here."
One glimpse up at the ceiling of writhing limbs, uncertain whether they were branches or indigenous reptiles, Mitch observed, "Understandable. But you sound cryptic. Why does no one come here?"
"Well…" Chuck seemed reluctant to embellish, "−there have been others—others who have." He paused, glancing over his shoulder as if to confirm no one had followed them. "But they never returned. Not one single member of any party that traveled to this region ever returned. The area is marked on the map as No Man’s Land."
At that moment, a macaw screeched an eerie warning, and Mitch flinched.
"You’re pulling my leg." He tried to sound composed. "Let’s spook the photographer, huh?"
"Would I purposely try to scare you?" Chuck grinned. "I wish I had thought of that."
He pushed a branch aside and looked back. "Personally, I believe that a group or two have come in here, ran into some problems…hell, get bit by the right thing, or have a run in with a Fer-de-lance, and you’re doomed. Anyway, over the years, those little tales have escalated into hordes of archeologists gone missing. It’s become nothing more than campfire fodder," Chuck frowned. "You know what I’m saying?"
Mitch doubted the man’s levity. And it was hard for him to form any conjecture without knowing the facts.
"How many people are you talking? How many have gone missing?"
"Five that I know of. There have been reports of others, but like I said, the frenzy of gossip could have jacked the count up."
Closing the trunk and hoisting it under her arm, she reached out to throw the latch open as the door ripped from her hands and the Atlantic screamed at her.
She screamed back.
Even with the collar pulled up over her ears, the sounds of the tempest assaulted her. In the wind, she heard the ghostly woman crying, the phantom that besieged her at night. Outside of Wakefield’s dark chambers, the cry took on a hollow sound, like a woeful moan meant to lure souls toward its source, the yawning black shadows beyond the cliff’s edge. Megan also heard the anxious murmur of ice and snow, like a thousand voices whispering about her, berating her, cajoling her. Amidst their dissonance, one voice broke through.
Her body jerked and the radio fell to the ground. It wasn’t the storm that called her name. She spun around and instinctively crouched, prepared to attack, but she did not have her trusty GLOCK. She had nothing but her bare hands and a flashlight.
“Margaret,” that chilled voice called again.
Megan whirled and saw his outline. Night swelled into the menacing form of a man. There were no distinct features, only a shadow—a frightening profile that looked as if the storm had taken its vivacity and breathed life into this very monster.
Serena’s feet crunched over frozen turf. Air billowed from her mouth as her eyes began to tear from the wind. She tucked her chin even deeper into the down collar. Walking backwards against the gust, she focused on the floodlights illuminating the tavern’s deck. From this perspective, O’Flanagans represented a warm and inviting symbol of hope, the lights on the third floor reminding her that Brett lay safe and asleep.
Turning back into the blustery weather, sounds came to Serena in muffled echoes within the cocoon of the jacket hiked around her ears. She nearly missed the grinding tread to her right. Instinctively she crouched, cursing the open knolls that lead to the lighthouse. She prayed for cloud cover—any form of camouflage. But the moon glimmered across the fresh snow.
Spinning about, she studied the dirt path that led to the light-keeper’s house like a black vein scarring white marble.
The path was empty. She was alone.
Brian felt a jolt when he touched her. After all, it was less than twenty-four hours ago that he thought this woman was the most beautiful, benevolent creature he had ever encountered. Hah, how could someone like him ever fall for that? He had been bred to be mistrustful. He had been taught to find the deceit in everyone. How had he succumbed and been infatuated with this woman?
He forced aside the disturbing recollection, but nonetheless gentled his grip. Emily wasn’t going anywhere that he couldn’t catch her. He used his touch to prompt her through the woods, impressed with her agility on such a gnarled and slippery trail.
A light above the porch of the cabin acted as a homing beacon. When they emerged into the clearing, Emily tugged against his touch and stopped to stare at him. She looked wary. Ready to take flight. He could tell that she was trembling, but under the glow of the overhead bulb he detected aggression in eyes that looked like midnight and still tempted him.
“I’m with NMD.”
“Of course you are.” Scorn tinged her reply.
“Why did you do it?”
“None of your damn business.”
“Yes,” he smirked, “actually it is. Do you want to turn it over now?”
“You think I kept it? I got rid of it. It’s safe, but I don’t have it anymore.”
Brian’s glance sliced towards the cabin, its innards glowing from a stoked fireplace. “In there maybe?”
The response was quick enough to make his lips thin. “It’s cold out here. I’ve been traveling for hours and I’ve got one hell of a headache—why don’t you invite me in at least, and we can talk about it.”
“Look, if you’re going to arrest me, just go ahead and get it over with.” She went so far as to offer up her wrists for him to shackle.
Brian snorted. “We’re going inside, and we’re going to discuss your options.”
“Options? You’re giving me options? How damn noble of you.”