Jen, a young widow floundering in the storm of mourning, whose only lifeline is her humdrum job, is tossed into a maze of deceit and intrigue by a coworker named Tom...at the request of her late husband, or so Tom says. He kidnaps her and fakes her death to keep her safe from the cartel who he thinks caused her husband's "accident." Together, they are thrust into a tempest of danger and deceit where no one is whom they claim to be. The list of people Jen can believe in keeps diminishing. Who can she trust while dodging the Feds, human traffickers and the press who've discovered she's alive? How will Jen rescue the two held-captive girls she befriends without drowning them, Tom, and herself in the waves of betrayal, especially when she's begun to suspect her husband may not be as dead as everyone thinks...
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Something woke me. The pitch-black room smelled pungent and musky as if no fresh air had been allowed inside it this century. I eased my body up and tried to adjust my eyes to see through the dark. Clarity oozed in to replace the floating feeling in my brain.
I raised my hand, but couldn’t see it in front of my face. Why weren’t my eyes adjusting? No thread of light filtered under the door. No flashes of lightning outlined a windowsill, though I thought I heard rumbles of thunder, so it must still be raining.
I strained my ears, but heard no pattering on a roof above me. In fact, I heard no rain at all. Not against a window, nor on a sidewalk. My heart flinched. Where was I?
“Tom?” No response. I swallowed hard so I could call out louder. “Tom!” Silence. Why wouldn’t he answer?
This was why my brain had warned me to not follow him to Bob’s Burgers. My reluctance to listen to it earlier slapped me hard in the face.
The room sucked the air from my lungs. Nothing seemed right. I squeezed my eyes tight and rubbed them with my palms. A rush of dread flowed over me.
Then, just as quick, an old childhood prayer zipped into my mind. “God in Heaven, hear my prayer. Keep me in thy loving care.”
Seriously? Had I ever believed that? I couldn’t remember the last time I felt His loving care, much less know Him to hear my prayers. Not when Mom and Dad died in the mission field. Definitely not when Robert died.
Instead, Dad’s favorite adage blared in my head. Fear and worry never solved anyone’s problems. I shook off the fright and willed my analytical side to kick in.
My hands pushed against my temples several times. Tom said goodnight. We left the restaurant at night, in the rain. So, I hadn’t been out of it very long. Either that or I had been unconscious twenty-four hours.
No, no. My common sense told me it wouldn’t still be raining. It’s dark because it’s night and there’s no moon shining through the rain clouds. In the morning, there will be light.
Except for the faded rhythmic thunder, dead silence shrouded the room. I heard no city noises, no hums of electronics, no ticks of clocks. Not even the soft buzz of an air conditioner. No whish of air against my skin. Did it mean no air came into the room?
I sat erect and inhaled as deeply as I could. See, Jen, you have air. Wait. Musty, damp air. That smell. What did it remind me of? Something horrible, and long ago. A cardiac tom-tom beat in my ears like when my upstairs neighbors turned up the bass on their speakers.
I swung my feet to the floor. A scratchy rug scraped against my toes. Where were my shoes? I patted the cushions, then the floor around me. They weren’t there. I probed around some more. Nothing. The smell grew stronger.
“Where’s my purse? And my cell phone?” I spoke into the darkness, as if it would answer me. Duh, Jen. You’re alone.
I leaned against the back of the couch. Of course. Tom wouldn’t have left my cell phone so I could call the police. Not if he’d kidnapped me. He had, right? But, why? To protect me?
What about all those times he’d look away quickly when I caught him staring at me across the cubicles? Maybe he brought me here for another reason. I crunched my blouse buttons in my hand. No, I didn’t want to think about that.
My brain whispered, “No one will know you’re here.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie B. Cosgrove is a freelance writer, professional speaker and published author. She is a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, North Texas Christian Writers, The Christians Writers Group Two, and Christian Writers Fellowship International.
She represents Women at Risk International, a Christian missionary group who sponsor safe houses for women and children snatched from human trafficking and slavery in thirteen countries and is actively involved in Prayer For Freedom, a nonprofit anti-trafficking ministry.
As a speaker, Julie has achieved the highest level of communication award, the Advance Communication Gold, in Toastmasters International. She has led quiet days, workshops and retreats as well as spoken to many women’s and church groups throughout Texas, Louisiana and Florida, and in Indianapolis.
Julie writes regularly for several Christian websites and publications. In the past three years alone, her articles have been featured in Devozine and Alive Now Magazinespublished by the Upper Room, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness, Faith-filled Family Magazine,Good News Daily, The Secret Place, Light from the Word, andThe Journey.
She has also published five nonfiction works: P.R.A.Y.I.N.G.: Bringing Power and Purpose to Your Prayers (2009), Song Notes: Devotionals from the Book of Psalms(2010), What Can She Tell Us? (2011), Between the Window and the Door (2012),andSqueeze More God-time Into Your Day (2013).
Julie has authored three contemporary faith-based novels. Focused, set in the Texas Hill Country, which follows a woman’s journey to find God in her empty nest, was released in 2012. She is working on the other two novels in that trilogy, Grounded andRooted. The sequel to Hush in the Storm, Legitimate Lies, launches through Prism Book Group in early 2015.