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The Lost Girls of Johnson's Bayou Kindle Edition

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Length: 219 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Ginny Bergeron stood in front of the cafe's plate-glass window and stared into the swamp. The setting sun cast an orange glow on the cobblestone street in front of the cafe and the thick range of cypress trees that littered the swamp beyond the edge of the small town. It was the same view she'd had every day for sixteen years, yet today, it felt different. As if something wasn't right.

"You gonna finish cleaning that coffeepot or just stare out the window all day?"

The booming voice of the heavyset woman behind her made Ginny jump, and she spun around to face Madelaine, the woman who was, for all practical purposes, her mother.

"Sorry," Ginny said. "I guess I wandered there for a minute."

Madelaine gave her an understanding smile and glanced out the window. "It's a beautiful sunset. I finished up in the back, so as soon as those coffeepots are washed, we can leave." She grabbed one of the pots off the warmer behind the counter. "Since you're up here lollygagging, I'll help."

Ginny smiled at Madelaine's teasing, more because she knew her mother expected it than because she felt like smiling. The beautiful sunset wasn't what had caught Ginny's attention. In fact, Ginny couldn't put her finger on exactly why she'd been staring out the window, or what she expected to see. But she could feel it—something out there didn't belong.

Ginny grabbed the half-empty coffeepot off the table where she'd placed it a couple of minutes earlier and headed behind the counter. Madelaine already had hot water running in the huge stainless steel sink, so Ginny poured out the old coffee and stuck the pot under the stream of water. Some of the steamy water splashed onto her bare hands and she flinched. Her mother glanced over at her bare hands and shook her head, her expression one of long-standing exasperation worn by parents who'd told a child something over and over again in vain.

"I have a pot roast in my Crock-Pot," Madelaine said. "Why don't you come over for dinner and a movie?"

"Great minds think alike. I put a roast in my Crock-Pot this morning."

Madelaine wiped the coffeepot with a clean rag and set it on the counter. "Well, if you're sure."

"I'm sure," Ginny said and placed her clean coffeepot on the counter next to her mother's.

"I guess we'll both be eating pot roast for a week then." Madelaine stared at her for a moment, the uncertainty clear on her face, but finally, being a parent won out. "I worry about you spending so much time alone. You sure you're all right? You've seemed on edge lately."

"I'm fine, and I'm perfectly happy alone. I have a good library of books." She smiled. "You ought to know, since you gave me most of them."

Madelaine didn't look convinced. "A book isn't the same as having someone else around. Like a man. Then maybe I wouldn't worry as much."

"Really? I haven't noticed that being a problem for you. In fact, in my years with you, I've never known you to even date."

Madelaine waved a hand in dismissal. "That's not the point. I made my choices long ago, and I'm happy with them. I had my run at that hill in my earlier years. Enough to know it wasn't for me. But you haven't so much as taken a step toward it."

Ginny shook her head. "You know good and well that the only single men in Johnson's Bayou are under ten or over sixty. Which would you prefer I take up with?"

"Ain't no one saying you got to remain here the rest of your life. That university in New Orleans wanted to give you a scholarship before. I bet you could get one again."

"And do what?"

"Leave. Leave all this behind and start a new life. A good life."

Ginny placed a hand on Madelaine's arm. "I have a good life. Maybe someday I'll want something different, something else, but for now, this is what's right for me."

Madelaine sighed and kissed Ginny's forehead. "All right then. I'll see you tomorrow morning. Ought to be a busy one with everyone in town preparing for the Fall Festival."

Ginny nodded then followed Madelaine to the front door of the cafe and locked it behind her. Ginny gave the cafe a final glance to make sure everything was in order, then hurried up the staircase at the back of the cafe kitchen to her apartment.

The apartment consisted of a small living area, an even smaller bedroom and a tiny kitchenette and bathroom. Madelaine had provided her with a worn couch that Ginny had recovered in coarse fabric with light blue and white stripes. An old nineteen-inch television sat across from the couch on a stand with peeling paint that Ginny had bought at a garage sale but hadn't had time to refinish.

She'd taken her bedroom set with her when she'd moved out of her mother's house, and the bed, dresser and nightstand left only a small walking area in the narrow bedroom. The kitchen had room in the corner for a tiny table and two chairs, but nothing else. Some people probably wouldn't consider it much, but for Ginny, it was perfect.

What some would see as sparse, Ginny saw as uncomplicated.

Her life in Johnson's Bayou certainly hadn't started out that way, but Ginny had been determined to make it that way. She'd always found comfort in knowing that today was the same as yesterday and would be the same as tomorrow. But lately, complicated thoughts had roamed her mind, unbidden. Despite her attempts to ignore them or change her mode of thinking, the thoughts kept popping back up, unwanted and uncomfortable.

She laid her keys on the breakfast table and opened the blinds on the window behind the table. The sun had almost disappeared behind the swamp, but she could still see the roofline of the old mansion just above the top of the cypress trees. The LeBlanc School for Girls. Or at least it had been.

What had happened there sixteen years ago? And had she been a part of it? Is that why the house seemed to call to her in the night? All these years, she'd had no inkling of her past, as if her mind had been scrubbed clean of the first six years of her life. She had no answers to the bizarre questions that surrounded her arrival in Johnson's Bayou, despite a significant amount of effort by the local police into searching for those answers.

Ginny had never searched for answers.

Sometimes she thought it was because she was afraid of what she'd find. Other days, she thought it was because nothing she found would change who she was today, and that's all that mattered. Curiosity had never compelled Ginny to visit the LeBlanc School. The police said the fire had completely destroyed the room the resident records were housed in, so no answers were contained there now, even if they had been before.

But lately, she felt anxious…drawn to this window where she could see the top of the house, tucked away in the bayou. Drawn to seek answers to questions she'd never asked out loud. It was as if a giant weight was pressing on her, but for no particular reason that she could determine. Why now, after all these years?

She reached for a shipping box on her table and opened it up. She'd told Madelaine it was supplies for her beadwork. With the festival coming up, Madelaine hadn't even blinked at her explanation of the heavy box. Ginny's jewelry had become quite popular in

Johnson's Bayou, and she'd even had sales to some New Orleans shops. But the item that lay inside wasn't the beads or wire or tools she'd claimed.

She pulled the spotlight out of the box and glanced once more at the woods that lay just beyond her apartment. Every night for a week, she'd taken the spotlight out of the box, determined to walk into the woods, even if only a couple of feet. Determined to prove that nothing was there. That her overactive imagination was playing tricks on her. And every night, she'd placed the spotlight back in the box, closed the blinds and drawn the curtains, trying to eliminate the feeling that she was being watched.

But tonight was going to be different.

She still wore her jeans and T-shirt with the cafe logo but didn't bother changing. In the time it took to change clothes, she could come up with a million different reasons to delay her trip another night. Before she could change her mind, she hurried out of the apartment and slipped out the back door of the cafe.

She stood at the edge of the swamp, her strength wavering as she studied the wall of cypress trees and the dense growth beneath them. Dusk had settled over the town behind her, and not even a dim ray of light shone in the swamp.

That's why you have the spotlight.

She took one step into the swamp and studied the brush in front of her, looking for any sign of a path. This was foolish. She should abandon this folly and come back in the daylight.

But in the daylight someone might see…and question.

It had taken years for the whispering about her to stop. Years for the residents of Johnson's Bayou to feel comfortable in the same room as her. The last thing she wanted to do was spook a group of already superstitious people by fueling their original fears about her—about what she was.

The brush was less dense to the right, and when she directed her spotlight that way she could make out an open area about twenty feet away. She pointed her spotlight toward the clearing and stepped deeper into the swamp. The brush closed in around her, eliminating what was left of the natural light. The sharp branches scratched her bare arms, but she pushed forward until she reached the clearing.

It was small, maybe five feet square, and someone had taken the time to remove all the brush from the area. The ground was solid, dark dirt beneath her feet, not a sign of grass or weeds in sight. Kids, maybe? Although she couldn't imagine kids wanting to play in this area of the swamp, nor their parents allowing it. On the backs...


Product Details

  • File Size: 462 KB
  • Print Length: 219 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0373695985
  • Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue (February 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: February 1, 2012
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006IIWZRY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,895 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jana DeLeon was raised in southwest Louisiana among the bayous and gators. Her hometown is Carlyss, but you probably won't find it on a map. Her family owned a camp located on a bayou just off the Gulf of Mexico that you could only get there by boat. The most important feature was the rope hammock hanging in the shade on a huge deck that stretched out over the water where Jana spent many hours reading books.

Jana and her brother spent thousands of hours combing the bayous in a flat-bottom aluminum boat, studying the natural habitat of many birds, nutria and alligators. She would like you to know that no animals were injured during these "studies," but they kept makers of peroxide in business.

Jana has never stumbled across a mystery or a ghost like her heroines, but she's still hopeful.

She now resides in Dallas, Texas, with the most spoiled Sheltie in the world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Leigh on February 20, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Once again, Jana DeLeon has written a great novel full of suspense and intrigue. The book captured my attention enough for me to sit and finish it in one sitting (completely ignoring everything else I was supposed to be doing). I enjoyed the characters, the mystery, and the conclusion. Another reviewer complained about the sex in the book. In response, I'd like to point out that this is a Harlequin book. There has to be some expectation of romance. Second, this book was heavy on mystery/suspense and included only one major sex scene. 210 pages of mystery and one page of sex isn't going to kill anyone.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jacqui Adkins on February 10, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book in one night, which is one of the highest compliments I can give. This is the kind of story that makes you willing to forgo sleep because you can't stop turning the page to see what happens next. If you like boring, formulaic romance novels with weak heroines, this isn't what you're looking for; on the other hand, if you enjoy a well-developed plot, great mystery, strong heroine and a sexy, charismatic hero, pick this up immediately. You won't regret it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pat on February 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This mystery keep me going and it was hard to put this book down. I like how Jana DeLeon twisted the lives of these people together, but not in a way that you could guess who the real bad guy is. I admit a lot of time by the about 3/4 of the way through a book I can guess who the bad guy is. I didn't guess this one until the very end.
In God we trust.
Pat
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Idaho Gem on February 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love Ms. DeLeon's supernatural stories. They are fun and exciting to read and I love her descriptions of the bayou. Never been there, but these books give me a chance to escape and enjoy somewhere new. I love the original story lines, but wish there wasn't so much descriptive sex in them. I'll keep reading just because I like her imagination, but I'll just keep skipping over the risqué parts. Don't know why authors think they have to put that in otherwise really good books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Melissa A. Halliday on January 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
sixteen years ago, a girl's school (for young girl's)caught fire and many girls died in
this raging inferno....but two girls escaped along with a teacher (?)...which leads us to
ask many questions: who set the fire? what happened to the three survivors ? and what
of the burned out, rotting hulk of the former girl's school which ,sits there still waiting for
someone to reveal it's secrets ???
I enjoyed this one. it was very fast paced and not boring. as it turns out, ginny (the young
lady who works at the local café) IS one of the girls who escaped the fire that night. ginny
is out one night ,over at the ruins of the girl's school and while there a handsome stranger
grabs her and scares the living daylights out of her !!!. the handsome guy is paul Stanton who,
is looking for his long lost sister (most likely-the other girl who escaped the fire).
I don't want to ruin the story for those who have not read it but,ginny and paul have quite
the adventure ! this is a good one--won't stop reading till the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was interesting to start off and there was some character development but the ending just wasn't well thought out. I've read many of Jana's more comedic novels which I love - they are interesting, funny and I can't always work out the ending. I think I'm juust the wrong target audience for this book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sdeputy on June 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoy books that make you laugh and this fit the bill. I would recommend all the Jana Deleon books that I have read so far.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Suspense, and mystery surround Johnson's Bayou. The heroin and hero quickly form an attraction as they set out to find lost memories and lost family. Judging from attitudes and behavior of the locals any one could be the culprit. There is an urgency to find out how this mystery is solved. It was a great book that I highly recommend.
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