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When Night Falls Mass Market Paperback – October 3, 2000
About the Author
Linda Anderson is the author of Over the Moon, The Secrets of Sadie Maynard, and When Night Falls. The mother of five grown children, she lives in South Florida with her husband. "Writing is a gift that brings me great joy, for which I'm very grateful. I hope my stories bring the same joy to my readers."
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Children drown silently.
The toddler reached for the ball and toppled softly into the pool. Her arms and legs flailed valiantly as she fought a desperate solitary battle to survive. She opened her mouth to cry out, but gulped water instead. Instinctively, she locked her jaws to stop the overwhelming rush of water from invading fragile lungs. Her blue eyes widened in heart-catching fear, and she had a moment of bewilderment at the betrayal of the mother who should have been there to keep her safe. She began to lose consciousness, and the irises of her eyes rolled back until only the whites showed. As the water closed over her ears, the pretty song of the bird nearby became a muffled trill and soon dissolved completely. It was the last sound she heard. All was quiet. Air seeped from her delicate nostrils and she sank until she drifted lifelessly, like a formless amoeba, along the bottom of the pool.
The red ball she'd reached for bobbed merrily on the crystal blue surface.
Lannie woke with the familiar cold sweat beading her hairline.
She sat up, drew up her knees, and wrapped her arms around them. Eyes still closed, forehead pressed hard against her knees, she rocked back and forth.
"Gracie, lacey, dancing daisy, makes her mom a happy lady." The singsong rhyme they'd made up jangled in her head.
"Dammit, dammit, dammit."
Lannie hadn't been there when her daughter Gracie drowned, but she knew this was how it happened. She'd suffered this vivid nightmare almost every night since Gracie's death three years ago.
But she deserved the nightmare. She deserved to suffer every damnation that came her way. She should have been there for Gracie.
A gruff bark, and then a soft whine made her smile. She stretched out a hand and found the wiry head of O'Bryan, the Irish wolfhound who had slept at her bedside for the last two years. The reassuring feel of his rough, warm coat soothed her.
"It's okay, Bry," she whispered into her knees. "Only twice this week. I'm getting better, huh?"
He whined again.
She lifted her head and laughed. "Okay, okay. I know it's time to get up."
Early June sunlight streamed through the square screened windows. The rustic one-room log cabin faced east. When she'd first arrived she'd resented the cheery intrusion of the sun first thing every morning and had kept the shutters closed, preferring the dimness. The sun picked up the golden hues of the log interior, carefully crafted more than one hundred years ago by men who knew how to build fireplaces that drew and structures that survived. And, though the nights were still cold high on this North Carolina mountain, she kept the shutters open now and welcomed the light.
Five minutes later she was following her morning routine: letting O'Bryan out, slipping on her soft moccasins, poking up the embers that remained in the fireplace from last night, making coffee in the old tin pot and placing it on the Coleman camp stove to boil, pulling on her threadbare jeans and blue and orange Florida Gator sweatshirt.
O'Bryan barked, and she opened the screened door to sit on the stone stoop with him. Coffee mug in hand, she surveyed the colorful scene before her. The only sounds this morning were the distant wheezy cheee-up of a pine siskin, and close-by, the energetic whir of a hummingbird.
She held her breath and froze as the ruby-throated hummingbird hovered over the vivid red Indian pinks growing wild next to the stoop. She could have reached out her hand and touched its tireless body. For a blessed, sacred moment she and the hummingbird existed alone together, and then the tiny bird took impatient flight.
This had been her solitary domain for two years. Though she suspected friends had an idea where she'd disappeared to, only three people knew for sure: her father, and her friend and former law partner, Nell Smathers, and Wilkie Talley. Just this spring she'd followed her father's suggestion that she get help to put in her garden, and she'd hired their former handyman and mountain caretaker, Wilkie.
Guilt and grief had kept her company here for a long time. She hadn't really begun to appreciate the isolated plateau until the last few months, and now woke up each morning looking forward to any gifts the mountain was offering up that day.
Waves of blue-green spruce and hemlock stretched before her for endless majestic miles. Budding mauve and deep-rose hardwoods blended their colors artfully with the evergreens. A dawn mist drifted, weaving lazy lavender ribbons haphazardly through the summits. The effect was ethereal and soothing.
June might be heading into early summer elsewhere, but here near the top of Haystack Mountain early spring flowers and trees still blossomed. Yellow dogtooth violets radiated over the ground all around her and disappeared into the sharply sloping treeline.
Bry's tail began to thump rhythmically.
"Yes, I don't know how you know, but yes, we're going into town today."
She tossed the dregs of her coffee onto the ground and stood up.
"Okay, you big brute, give me a few minutes to perform my pitiful beauty routine, and then we'll leave."
Inside the cabin, she washed her face, brushed her teeth, and drew a brush through her thick red hair. A quick glance in the small rectangular mirror that hung on the wall told her that she should, at least, tame her hair in some manner.
Where was the green ribbon she'd had a month ago? She rummaged in a drawer, found a worn shoestring, contemplated its use, but then discarded the notion. The crumpled ribbon, saved from a birthday present from her father, finally showed itself in the rear corner of the drawer. Quickly, she bunched the mass of hair into a ponytail and secured it with a rubber band and the ribbon. She had no idea what she looked like from the neck down and didn't care. Grabbing her shopping list, she left the cabin.
Bry waited for her beside the olive-drab Jeep parked at the rear of the cabin and across the creek. The 1950s army-issue jeep was perfect transportation for Bry. It had no top or sides, so he could spread his big body in just about any direction. He sprang in easily, and sprawled across the back seat, his head hanging over the side. They splashed through the shallow creek that ran near the cabin and tore down the mountain. Gears screaming, brakes straining and protesting noisily, they followed a barely discernible two-track path, sloshed recklessly through other knee-high streams, and finally emerged onto a rocky dirt road that led to the main highway three miles away.
As she approached the highway, the boulder-strewn, spine-shattering ride smoothed to a rocky crumble, and she shoved into fourth gear.
The Panoz AIV roadster's swift and powerful passage up the curling mountain highway pleased and matched the personality of its owner. Drum Rutledge pressed the accelerator, and a small smile lit his grim face at the immediate response of the small car. He didn't want to be here in the first place, so he took extra pleasure in the performance provided by the special-built roadster. He also had to admit that the cool bite of mountain air was a refreshing relief from the hot weather in Charlotte.
Other than the brisk invigorating air, he found no enjoyment in his first trip to High Falls in five years.
Two reasons brought him here today: one a business favor for a friend in New York, and the other in response to an urgent phone call from the caretaker of his summer house here. A violent storm, not unusual this high in the mountains this time of year, had caused extensive damage and the man wouldn't take responsibility for repairs until Drum inspected the lodge.
He chanced a quick glance at the passing terrain and realized he was probably passing some of his own land. Usually a small, discreet dark-green si
Top customer reviews
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Although this story contains a sociopathic stalker, an obsessive creep who's had a crush on Lannie since the 6th grade, the real magic is in the love story. There are minor procedural glitches in the hunt for the stalker (Would police fingerprint an abandoned, stolen car? You mean local police wouldn't jump at an influential citizen's request? Some clues were delivered to Drum too easily, in my opinion. And Lannie's denial about the stalking lowered my estimation of her IQ by about twenty points!) But apart from that, the characterizations are multi-dimensional, layered and sympathetic. Even the secondary characters are great. And the stalker made my skin crawl! So if you want a romance that sizzles, some characters to care about, a tale that transports to the North Carolina mountains--and a fast paced read--invest in this book. It's one of the better romantic suspense novels you'll come across.
Lannie is just coming out of a type of battle fatigue syndrome. Three years ago, her beloved little daughter Gracie drowned. Not long afterward, she and her spouse divorced with each accusing the other of neglect. Every night since the girl?s death, a guilt-wracked Lannie suffers nightmares about her Gracie. For most of the time in self imposed exile, Lannie lives the life of a hermit except for her canine. Now she is just beginning to return to the world of the living, starring in a local show and with the help of Drumond Rutledge, a visiting CEO. However, the game?s afoot as Jeb has begun stalking his prey.
WHEN NIGHT FALLS is a powerful suspense thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats from start to finish. The story line is brimming with action as Jeb begins his thirst for revenge and Lannie tries to counter his moves. A subplot involving a romance between Lannie and Drum seems unnecessary to this powerful thriller. As with her outstanding romantic mystery, THE SECRETS OF SADIE MAYNARD, Linda Anderson provides her fans with a superb suspense story that will bring the author new fans.
As I stated earlier in my review the story at the beginning was slow to hook but keep with it as it eventually picks up and turns into a decent read. Love, Romance, and Suspense it is all here.
I've read many a suspense but this one gave me the heebie jeebies!
That being said, I really enjoyed the setting for this book. It was unique and I found it charming.
Lannie and her dog, Bry, have been hiding out in the mountains of North Carolina for two years while Lannie heals from the death of her daughter and the breakup of her marriage.
Drum returns to the mountain, where he and his wife and son used to spend so much time, to repair the lodge and try to put his ghosts behind him.
These two hurting people find passion when they least expect it--in each other.
However, a spectre from Lannie's past as an attorney has been pardoned due to some shady DNA switching on his part, and now, he's out to settle the score with Lannie for his nine years in prison.
The killer in this book is so evil, so twisted and sick and disturbed.....I found the last part of the book really tough to read. But, it was incredibly suspenseful and very emotion packed.
I really admired Lannie for the things she had to overcome.
There are some fun secondary characters to in this book.
You'll enjoy this book. Just don't read it after dark! ;)