When Marianna Santino's roommate is killed, Detective Ethan O'Hara can't fathom the motive. Then he realizes the deaf teacher was the intended target. Marianna must have something the murderer desperately wants. But what? Digging for the truth, the guarded cop tries to learn everything he can about Marianna. Her world. Her family. Her beauty, faith and fierce independence. In spite of himself, Ethan finds that he can't keep his feelings at bay. Soon, he's willing to risk everything--including his heart--to lay the silent terror stalking Marianna to rest.
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March 09, 2009
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Excerpt from A Silent Terror by Lynette Eason
Something was wrong. Goose bumps pimpled on Marianna Santino's suddenly chilled flesh as she walked up her driveway. The door to her small home stood open. That in and of itself didn't bother her. The open door combined with the facts that it was January and slightly below freezing didn't bode well. And where was Twister, her large German shepherd, who normally bounded out to greet her?Her internal fear alarm screeched. Adrenaline rushed.Run. Get away.She turned to runand paused. But what about Suzanne?Investigate or flee? What if Suzanne, her roommate, needed her? What if she was hurt?What if whoever broke in was still in there?Jamming her right hand into her coat pocket, she pulled out her Blackberry and punched in 911. When the screen lit, indicating the call was connected, she put the device to her ear to hear someone speaking. Unable to make out the words, she spoke softly into the phone. "Someone broke into my house." She gave the address and clicked off to wait. No doubt the dispatcher was probably yelling at her about hanging up, but it wouldn't do any good to stay on a phone with a person she couldn't hear.Marianna scanned the house again. Her hearing aids picked up nothing out of the ordinary, just the wind whipping all around her, causing a whooshing sound to rumble in her ears. Other than that, all was quiet. Silent. Like a tomb.Was the person still in there? Did Suzanne need help? Again the questions swirled in her brain, worry agitating her. Please God, don't let anything be wrong. Maybe the wind blew the door open.But that didn't explain Twister's absence. And Suzanne, who always arrived home before Marianna, would have shut the door immediately.Her eyes darted to the street. No police yet. Fear for her friend finally overrode her concern for her own safety. Slowly, she walked forward until she reached the front porch steps that led up to the door. The stain on the step stopped her.Blood.In the form of a shoe print. Leading out of the house.She was beyond fear. Now she was terrified."Suzanne? Twister?"Desperately, she strained for any sound that would penetrate the shroud of silence she lived with on a daily basis. With a shaking finger, she bumped up the volume on her hearing aid. Slowly, she stepped toward the door once more. The footprint led away from the house. That was good, right? Whoever had been there was now gone.Or watching.Glancing over her shoulder, she scanned the quiet street. After school normally meant children on bicycles and neighbors walking dogs. But the frigid weather had everyone inside. The street was deserted. Suddenly, the windows seemed ominous, staring back at her like empty eyes.Where were the police?Shivering, she stepped closer, avoided the bloody print and slipped inside the door. Looked down. Another print. A blast of warm air from the vent above her blew a lock of raven-colored hair across her eyes. Pushing it aside, she swallowed hard and made a concerted effort to control her fear-induced ragged breathing.She continued on.The kitchen to her right. Peered in. Nothing but an empty mug on the counter.The den to her left. Again, nothing seemed out of place.That left the three bedrooms down the hall. And the trail of bloody footprints leading to the room at the end.With nerves taut, the hairs on her neck standing straight up, she took another deep breath and stepped into the hall, doing her best to avoid smudging the prints, which grew darker with each step.Was she destroying evidence the police might need?Hesitating, she chewed her lip. Her instincts screamed at her to get out. To leave.But Suzanne might be hurt. What if she needed immediate medical help?Those thoughts kept her going, ignoring the raging fear flowing with every heartbeat."Suzanne?"A noise, caught by her hearing aid, pulled her to the left as did the prints. Suzanne's bedroom. The door was shut.Reaching out, she a