Two women...linked by one deadly memory.
On an ice-encrusted road in New Jersey, Tara Johanan loses control of her car and drives off an embankment. At the same moment in Palmetto Springs, Florida, in an unwitnessed attack, Charlotte Durand is shot in the head and left for dead.
Both women die. Both return. But near-death experiences are not always straightforward. Tara woke up with the voice and memories of a comatose woman in her head. And she can remember a shooting she never witnessed.
Telling the family a loved one is the victim of a violent crime is the worst part of the job for Detective Marcus Danforth. When his stepsister is the victim, and the loved ones his family and best friend, it's crippling. He'll do anything to uncover the mystery of Charlotte's shooting.
Believing the story of a beautiful accident victim may be too much for him--even in the face of overwhelming desire. Even as the shadows of death grow darker.
Warning: Book contains determined heroine searching for answers for her psychic visions and hero torn between arresting her or kissing her senseless.
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September 22, 2008
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Excerpt from By A Silken Thread by M. K. Mancos
The once beautiful glow of life drained out in a steady stream down the front of Charlotte's trench coat. For a moment, she didn't know how it was possible to be both victim and spectator to the scene. Panic escalated. This was not the way she had envisioned her death. Not like this! There was still so much to do. She was getting married to the love of her life.
That was it! She needed Gil to help her.
Time and space whirled until they merged. Charlotte found herself floating above Gil in the living room of the antebellum house they had bought from his grandmother and painstakingly restored. He was half reading a sports magazine, half watching the news.
He's so beautiful. Taking a closer look, she noticed he had a strange glow about him, a corona radiating from his body. Charlotte tilted her head to the side as faceted energy covered Gil in a loving glow. Warmth spread through her. She realized she could see his aura. She could have watched him forever, but time was no luxury she could afford.
Gil, she said. To her surprise no words came out. The only thing she heard was the thoughts inside her own consciousness. Words without voices. She felt the thoughts. In her mind, she repeated the phrase, help me, until he began to look around the room, in search of a draft. He shivered once, then got off the couch and closed the open window. It was no use. He couldn't hear her. She couldn't communicate with him.
No! She refused to let someone get away with murdering her. There had to be another way to get his attention.
An insistent tugging lifted her as she moved away from the life she had known. Lights and colors became one with each other. She was too upset to enjoy the beautiful display of energy as it passed around her. A warm, loving calm came over her, yet she fought that, too.
How could she be comforted when everything she was had been extinguished? She had to find a way back to herself.
Hurtling faster and faster through space, the journey ended in a large open field. She floated past a cottage with a white picket fence that reminded her of her grandmother's Kentucky farm.
The sound of a child's laughter caught her attention. It wasn't sound as she knew before, but an echoing inside her soul, plucking the strings of her heart like a well-tuned viola. Turning her attention towards the sound, a tawny-haired boy played in the sunlight, kicking a ball then running after it. Kyle! Ray's son. The young boy turned and smiled knowingly at Charlotte then faded away.
Somebody help me. She sent the message out through her mind, hoping a heavenly being would hear and come to her rescue.
From her periphery, she could see the image of a young woman. She was spinning and laughing with such abandon she had to be an angel. She had brown hair and was slender built. Her form was solid, yet not. It must be an impression of how she had looked in life.
Charlotte was instantly drawn to her. How happy the woman looked, playing in the tall grasses. Definitely she was someone who belonged to the afterlife. Maybe the woman knew some secret to get Charlotte back into her body.
To Charlotte's astonishment, the being looked so much like her it felt eerie. She looked so content. Could it have been a vision of what should be?
"You have to help me. I have to get back."
The woman gazed at Charlotte. A shimmer of confusion moved around the edges of her essence.
"Why would you want to go back?"
"No, you don't understand! There were no witnesses. The police won't be able to find out who killed me. It was so dark...I don't know who...I think, but I can't be sure."
"They'll find out. Even if they don't, it doesn't matter to you now."
Despair seeped in to fill all the voids where happiness should have been. No one could help her. She was stuck here with no link to the living world. What would happen to Gil? How could he go on now that she was dead? He had no way to know who killed her.
Light coalesced before them, sending beams upward and outward. The center turned opaque, forming a figure. Arms outstretched in offering, the being enfolded Charlotte in love. Despair melted away, replaced by peacefulness. The empyrean being was like nothing she had ever imagined. Surely this was a real angel. Bathed in the light of wisdom and love, her features were hazy, yet Charlotte could make out long golden curls of light. Her eyes were radiant pools of blue, like the oceans of the Earth. The pseudo-skin on her face appeared iridescent and the only words Charlotte could think of to describe her were pure energy.
Images of her life and everything that had happened to her since birth flooded her mind. The lake of memories surrounded her, and she became submerged. All the pain and sorrow felt by others she had known came to rest in her heart, along with all the joy, triumph, and love. It was an eternity of emotions released by the simple act of merging with the being.
Charlotte's soul shook and melted. Grew and expanded, then finally released.
Let go of the pain, my child, the being whispered in her head.
Within the security of the being of light she felt another presence, touching on the fringe of her existence. She knew, yet not how, that it was the young woman she approached in the grass.
The woman was leaving. She was being sent back. The touch was meant to comfort. It did little but upset her again. It wasn't fair! She was content to stay here and play in the afterlife, while Charlotte had a mission to find her own killer.
A gentle pulling jolted her conscious then tugged as their memories snapped and swirled together. Before her was an easel, and through eyes not her own, she could see a painting being completed. She stood watching a young man with brown hair and blue eyes kiss a girl in a cheerleading uniform, and her heart bled. Last, she saw a woman in a hospital bed, beaten bloody. A feeling of cold regret pooled inside as the woman blamed her for something out of her control.
As the being disengaged, she caught a name--Tara.
When Tara moved away, the being of light held Charlotte tighter to keep her from following. You, my child, will return as well. But be prepared, it may not be as you expect.