It was a night like no other...darker, longer and totally unforgettable
Sara Douglas watched as Nick Tyson emerged from the heavy rain. In his face she saw little of the boy she once knew. She'd returned to Cape Darkwood to research her parents' murder. And stop the nightmares. Was Nick just another terrifying dream--or a flesh-and-blood man who would leave her breathless? Chief of police now, pain etched Nick's rough face, colored his eyes navy blue. He'd lost someone, too, but while Sara ran, Nick had nowhere else to go. Instead, he patrolled a divided town whose secrets lay dormant at the bottom of the cliffs. Nick wouldn't let that be Sara's fate, no matter how much it pained him to see her again. Together their investigation mounted and led them to horrifying consequences--but more lethal than the case was their undeniable and deadly desire for each other...
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October 09, 2007
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Excerpt from In the Dead of Night by Linda Castillo
The headlights of the rental car cut through rain and fog and darkness. Gripping the steering wheel, Sara Douglas inched along the narrow coast road at a snail's pace, not daring to look over the guardrail where the landscape dropped away to the rocky shore a hundred feet below.
The house had been calling to her for quite some time. Years, in fact, but Sara had never heeded that nagging little voice. Her job as a costume designer kept her far too busy to listen to frivolous voices inside her head. Certainly not when it came to the terrible chain of events that had shattered her life twenty years ago.
The phone call two days ago had changed everything.
Even now, the memory of the electronically altered voice sent a chill skittering up her spine. Why would someone call her and dredge up a past she'd spent a lifetime trying to forget? Who would go to such lengths to hide their identity and why? Sara intended to find out.
Midnight was not the best time to arrive at a sprawling old mansion you haven't seen for two decades. She'd planned on arriving in the light of day, but her flight from San Diego to San Francisco had been delayed due to mechanical problems. She'd taken a puddle jumper to the Shelter Cove Airport, a tiny facility that served much of northwestern California known as the Lost Coast. By the time she retrieved her luggage and rented a car, it was nearly ten o'clock.
A leaning mailbox overgrown with a tangle of vines alerted her that she'd reached her destination. She turned the car into the weed-riddled driveway. The old Douglas mansion loomed before her like some aging Hollywood actress. Shrouded in mystery and glamour and scandal, the house was perched high above the rocky cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The old place seemed to cry as it looked out over the black expanse of sea. Twenty-five years ago Sara's father, Richard Douglas--an up-and-coming Hollywood producer at the time--designed and built it for his family. A dream home that should have been filled with children and laughter and happiness.
A double murder and suicide five years later turned his dream into a nightmare, the mansion into a dark legend and the setting for even darker stories.
Sara and her sister, Sonia, had inherited the property. They'd rented out the old place a dozen times over the years. They'd discussed selling it more than once, even going so far as to put it on the real estate market. But the house hadn't sold. Later, the real estate agent told them no one wanted a house that had been the backdrop for the worst crime in the history of Cape Darkwood.
The headlights illuminated the battered mahogany garage door through slashing rain. Sara put the vehicle in Park and killed the engine. For an instant the only sound came from the pounding of rain on the roof.
"Welcome home," she whispered. But her voice sounded strained in the silence of her car.
Not giving herself time to debate the wisdom of coming here tonight, she threw open the door and stepped into the driving rain. Darting to the rear of the car, she heaved her suitcase from the trunk and started toward the front door. Around her the cold air smelled of the ocean and wet foliage.
She rolled the suitcase up the slate walkway to the tall beveled-glass door and jammed her key into the lock. A single twist and the door groaned open. The odors of dust, mildew and years of neglect greeted her. She'd called ahead and had the utility companies turn on the electricity and phone. As her hand fumbled along the wall in the darkness, she fervently hoped they had.
A sigh of relief slid from her lips when her fingers found the switch and light flooded the foyer. For a moment, Sara could do nothing but stare at the majesty of the double spiral staircase. Constructed of marble and mahogany, twin stairs curved left and right to a railed balcony hall above that overlooked the grand foyer.
An onslaught of memories rushed over her. Her dad standing in the hall with his arms wrapped around her mother. The sound of laughter as she and Sonia rode their sleeping bags down the slick marble steps in a race to the bottom. She could practically smell the roses her mother picked every morning and arranged in a vase on the console table.
In a flash, the memories were gone, replaced by the emptiness of a house that had been vacant for so long there was no life left inside it.
Sara's boots clicked smartly against the marble tile as she crossed to the formal dining room. She flipped the light switch and for an instant she could only stand there as the grandeur of the room washed over her. A crystal chandelier iced with cobwebs cast prisms of light onto an oblong table draped with a dusty tarp. A floor-to-ceiling window looked out over a garden that had once abounded with roses and wild-flowers, neat rows of herbs and the ornate Victorian gazebo Daddy and Uncle Nicholas had built that last summer. Little did they know that by fall all three of them would be dead--and her father would be accused of murder and suicide.
For twenty years Sara had believed that. She'd hated her father for stealing her childhood and shattering her happiness. For two decades she'd held that hatred close; she'd clung to it because she'd needed someone to blame. Someone to hate so she could lock all those old emotions into a compartment and get on with her life.
The phone call had brought it all rushing back, like black water backing up in a drain.
Leaving her suitcase in the dining room, she went through the first level of the house, turning on lights as she went. Some of the rooms didn't have lamps, but there was enough light for her to see that the interior had fallen in to disrepair. In her father's study, she walked along the floor-to-ceiling shelves, wondering what had happened to his collection of books. The scents of lemon oil, fragrant cigars and the leather of his