As a single mother struggling to get by in a tough neighborhood, policewoman Jessie Cline knows she can't protect her son from the streets forever. For his sake, she takes a job as assistant police chief in a small island town off the coast of Washington state where she lived as a child. But her search for a safe haven will lead her toward more danger than she ever imagined.
Even as Jessie tries to start anew, the secrets of her family's painful past -- and her own troubled life -- return to haunt her and threaten her son. Someone on the island knows Jessie very well, and will do anything to drive her away. They will stalk her. They will frighten her.
And if she cannot unravel a sinister disappearance that connects her past to the present, they will kill her...
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November 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Afraid of the Dark by Donna Anders
JESSIE CLINE SLOWED THE PATROL CAR, BRINGING IT TO A stop in front of an early nineteen hundreds row house that was typical to the Sunset area of San Francisco. It was the address where the call for help had originated. She was about to follow her partner, Matt Spence, out of the police cruiser into the foggy late afternoon when the dispatcher's voice crackled over the radio, stopping her.
"Possible gunfire reported at your location."
"Copy that," Jessie said, responding immediately to the transmission. Then she stepped out to the street and unsnapped her holster. Matt's revolver was already in his hand. Another domestic dispute turned deadly? she wondered. Jessie hoped not. But they had to be ready?just in case.
Damn, she thought, glancing at the nearby draped and shuttered houses. She had a bad feeling. It was too quiet, too spooky. Something had scared the neighbors into lying low, out of the line of possible fire. There wasn't a person in sight anywhere, not even the one who'd made the call.
Upon reaching the porch steps, Matt continued up to the door while Jessie headed for the narrow walkway between houses that led to the back. She moved cautiously, her body edging along the side of the building, alert for whatever awaited her in the fenced backyard.
It was an anticlimax. The tiny enclosed patio was an unexpected oasis behind the drab house. It was a miniature paradise of multicolored flowers and overgrown evergreen shrubs, a fountain and a small table with two chairs, all positioned with the perfect balance of an artist about to paint a still life. The drapes on the French doors were closed so that she couldn't see into the residence itself. All was quiet except for the tinkle of water in the fountain.
Surreal, she thought. The brilliant blossoms were subdued by the thickening fog, and the line of cookie-cutter backyards were obscured by high fences. It was like no one existed on the planet, let alone in the Sunset area of San Francisco.
An icy finger seemed to touch her spine.
Jessie quickly checked out the backyard, her senses alert to the shuttered windows. She went to the backdoor and turned the knob. It was unlocked.