A time to fear.... Grace Hart seemed to have it all: a bright, beautiful daughter, a successful career as a judge, and a lovely home in an Ohio suburb. But beneath the placid veneer, darker truths lie waiting. Her fifteen-year-old, Jessica, is teetering on the cusp of drugs and delinquency. And someone is stalking the troubled teenager. Someone who has already violated their home and stolen their peace of mind. A time to love.... Now the police are involved. Grace is relieved--and worried. Is Jessica in danger from a drug dealer who wants to silence her? Detective Tony Marino is on the case. He's too close for comfort, asking disturbing questions, probing into her long-buried past, igniting feelings Grace has tried to suppress. In Tony's strong arms, Grace finds comfort, protection--passion--as he tries to shield them from the evil lurking just beyond their door....
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December 31, 1998
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Excerpt from The Midnight Hour by Karen Robards
Where do you think you're going "
The sound of his mother's voice affected him like fingernails scraping across a blackboard. His skin prickled, and he shuddered slightly. Turning to face her, he felt oceans of hostility surge through his veins. He hated her....
"Out." His hand rested on the doorknob. She stood there glaring at him, arms crossed over the chest of her pink-flowered cotton robe. Her dyed-black hair was short and spiky with interrupted sleep. Her olive skin was creased with fifty-five years' worth of sun worship, and worse. Without makeup to hide them, the bags under her eyes were as big and purple as grapes. Her neck was thin and wattled like a turkey's. She wore little white sock-things on her feet, and above them her legs were bare and scrawny, with big varicose veins twining like vines just below her knees.
She was ugly....
"It's after midnight. You're not going anywhere!"
They were standing in the old-fashioned kitchen. It was long and narrow, with a faux brick linoleum floor and faux marble countertops. The cabinets were of plywood stained to look like oak. A scarred round table with four rickety-legged chairs took pride of place in the center of the room. On the table, there was a bowl of green plastic apples, the same apples that had been there since he could remember. Overhead, the illumination was provided by a single fluorescent fixture.
"You off your Prozac, Ma " The drawled question was mocking. He turned away from her, turning the knob. He had thought to get out without waking her. Usually she slept like the dead, snoring like a drunk in the master bedroom just off the kitchen. Maybe she'd been listening to Jay Leno. She had the hots for Leno, preferred him to Letterman. But usually she fell asleep before he came on.
"I said you're not going anywhere! You're seventeen years old, and you're living under my roof, and you'll do as I say! I'll tell your father...." She was shriller than ever, shrieking shrill, as he ignored her, opening the door and running down the back steps into the welcoming night. The door slammed behind him, cutting her off in midtirade.
I'll tell your father... Big threat. It almost made him laugh. His father, the big-shot attorney who made his living suing people for a percentage of the award, was gone five days a week -- in a slow week. When he got home, all he wanted to hear about was how many points Donny, jr., had scored in his basketball game, or whether Donny, jr., was gonna make the all-A honor roll again, like he usually did.
Big Don barely spared a glance, much less a word, for his younger son.
He'd known for years that as far as most people -- including his parents -- were concerned, he was the moon to Donny's sun. Nobody saw him when the golden boy was around.
But the long hours after midnight belonged to him. The warm, windy darkness embraced him as he rolled his Honda 250 from the garage, straddled it, and took off with a roar down the driveway.
He smiled faintly as he pointed the bike toward his destination.
The sun had set now, and Donny's little brother had come out to play.