Skip to main content

Excerpt - SHADOWS ON THE RIVER by Linda Hall

SHADOWS ON THE RIVER (Steeple Hill/Love inspired Suspense)
by Linda Hall

SHADOWS ON THE RIVER is the story of Ally Roarke. When she was a young teenager she saw her best friend pushed to her death. Here are Ally's own words:

"I was only fourteen when I witnessed a murder on the riverbank. A murder that went unpunished. Unless you count what happened to my family. We were forced out of town by the teenage killer's prominent parents. And the murder was forgotten—by everyone but me. Now, the killer is a respected businessman. I can't let him get away with it. But I'm a single mother with a child to protect, what can I do? The new man in my life, Mark Bishop, warns me to be careful. For there's already been another murder. Close to home."

A bit about Linda:

Award winning and twice Christy-nominated author Linda Hall has written fifteen novels plus many short stories. She has also worked as a freelance writer, news reporter and feature writer for daily newspaper.

She grew up in New Jersey where her love of the ocean was nurtured. Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. When she's not writing, Linda and her husband enjoy sailing the St. John River system and the coast of Maine. In the summer we basically move aboard their 34' sailboat aptly named - Mystery.

What others are saying:

- With a voice well suited to mystery and suspense, Hall creates an almost gothic atmosphere and a wonderfully satisfying conclusion in this final installment of her Shadows series. Romantic Times 4 stars

Linda invites you to her website: http://writerhall.com

Excerpt of chapter one:

I turned over onto my side, pulled the quilt up around my ears and listened to the snowy wind rattle against the outside of my house. I snuggled down deeper into the warmth of my blanket. Still, sleep wouldn't come. I threw off the blankets and glanced at the alarm clock. 2:52 a.m. I sighed deeply, loudly and sat up on the side of the bed where I'd slept alone for eight years since my daughter, Maddy, was born. It was going to be one of those nights.

I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and stuffed my feet into my slippers and switched on my bedside lamp. Beside me the novel I was reading lay opened and facedown.

It wasn't just the blizzard that was keeping me awake. Rod should have called today. We should have heard something one way or the other by now. This was stupid, I thought, yawning and tying my terry cloth robe around me. What could I do right now, anyway? I couldn't exactly phone him at three in the morning, could I? I walked out into the hall, as another wintry blast shook my little house. The storm was worsening, as predicted.

I gathered my hair up off my neck and tried to still my thoughts. This was insane. I was just nervous, that's all it was. This project that Rod and I had bid on was just that—another project. There would be more projects. At least, that's what I tried to tell myself. Never mind that this was the biggest contract to come down the pike in a long time.

I made my way across to Maddy's room to check on her. We both needed the money this project would provide. If I was lucky, the money might just be enough to pay off all my credit cards. There were always unforeseen expenses with Maddy, with her special needs, plus there were all the normal things she wanted, like a new pair of ice skates. New ones, she kept insisting. Not secondhand ones. If we got the project, brand-new ones would be no problem.

As the wind increased, rattling the panes, I also thought about Rod. He and his wife Jolene were expecting their first baby, a daughter, in just a few weeks. They, too, were relying on this money.

And then there was Mark Bishop—newly hired, specifically for this project. What would he do if we lost it? In the two weeks he and I had worked together, we'd gotten to know each other pretty well—enough to know that we clicked. We spoke the same language—boats and boat design. We'd had many long discussions about sailing in rough weather, racing in light winds and whether Kevlar was better than nylon for small, light wind boats.

But not about personal things. I knew very little about his private life. All I knew was that he wasn't married and that he had moved to Nova Scotia from Florida, where he'd worked at a marina. For all I knew, he could have a girlfriend stashed away somewhere, or even a fiancée. But it went both ways. He didn't know anything about me, either. I have a whole lot of secret places that no one can enter.

So, whenever I start getting lost in his eyes, and start imagining how wonderful it would be to sail around the world with him, I have to call myself back. Even so, Jolene had decided early on that Mark and I were perfect for each other. Sometimes she could be worse than a mother, trying to fix me up with every and any available bachelor.

Why was I driving myself crazy on a snowy night? Mark and I would be working together for a long time. The contract was "in the bag." Those had been Rod's exact words. Yet, why hadn't we gotten any word? We should've heard a week ago.

The smoke detector in the hall chirped briefly, which is what it does when the power surges. I glanced up at it. This was promising to be the biggest winter storm of the season.

"Got your flashlights and candles?" Mark had said to me as we left work that afternoon. The early evening clouds had hovered gray, low and leaden above us.

"I think I'm ready," I said.

"Hey, you want to grab a coffee somewhere?" he had asked. I was momentarily taken aback. In the two weeks we had known each other, he had never suggested that just he and I go out. It was always the three of us, Mark, Rod and me, sitting together at the coffee shop on the corner, talking about budgets, plans or how we would fulfill the contract in the time allotted. Was this a work thing or a date?

"I have to get home to my daughter," I said. "I want to get us settled before it snows."

He knew I had a daughter, but not anything about her or why it was I had to get home early. I didn't date much.

The few men I'd gone out with over the past eight years had run, not walked, away from me when they'd found out about my daughter.

"Well, then," he had said, nodding his head slightly toward me. If he'd been wearing a cap, he would have tipped it—it was that sort of gesture. "We'll see each other on Monday. Stay warm this weekend."

A huge Nor'easter, which had been making its way up the Atlantic coast for days now, was finally reaching us here in Halifax. I had already done all the requisite things; stocked up on flashlight batteries and candles and made sure all my doors and windows were tightly closed. I had also filled the bathtub and containers with water, plus we had plenty of food. One never knew.

Despite the wind tonight, despite the storm, my daughter Maddy was tucked into bed and sleeping soundly, her soft, stuffed yellow animal, Curly Duck, nestled in the crook of her neck. I watched her for a minute before I bent down and pushed a ringlet out of her face. So peaceful. How I longed for that sort of peace in my own life. I ran the back of my finger over the smoothness of her cheek. She flinched slightly, but didn't waken. I pulled the blankets up around her chin and bent down to give her a whisper of a kiss on her forehead.

I rose. For a few moments I leaned against the door-jamb and watched her sleep. She's the only good thing that came out of a one-year marriage to a philandering bum.

I crept downstairs, wiping the sleep more thoroughly out of my eyes. I sat down at my quasi-drafting table in my studio/office. It had started out as a dining room in another life, but now was firmly devoted to my boat designs. My eyes blurred when I looked down at the technical drawings for the boat I was designing. Absently, I rubbed an eyebrow with the end of my pencil.

I looked up and out toward the back of my house. It was too dark to see, but I could feel the wind, fingering its way through the cracks around my windows, snow firmly in its grip.

I checked my e-mail. Nothing yet from Rod. As if there would be. Hadn't I checked it a dozen times before I went to bed at eleven?

Rod and Jolene own Maritime Nautical. Boat builders hire him to design sail-to-keel ratios, rudder length and shape. Rod and I were classmates at Memorial University in Newfoundland and we both have degrees in marine engineering technology.

His wife, Jolene, has been my best friend since high school. She has a degree in Business Administration and runs the business end of the company.

When I went to Newfoundland to study marine design, she stayed in Prince Edward Island and went to university there. Halfway through my last year at Memorial, Jolene came up to visit me. As soon as she and Rod met, sparks flew, and they've been together ever since. They were married shortly after Maddy was born, and have been trying, almost from the beginning, to have a baby.

About ten years ago Rod, Sterling Roarke and I, all engineering classmates, decided we'd go into business for ourselves. I ended up marrying Sterling. Within a year I was pregnant and Sterling was running around. It was only after we divorced that I learned the extent of his affairs. He also ran the business into the ground by not getting proposals ready on time, promising things and not following through and lying to me and to Rod. Nine years ago, Rod, Jolene and I decided to let him go and strike out on our own. I was eight months pregnant at the time.

We moved the business to Halifax, despite my misgivings about living here. After Maddy was born, I knew I couldn't work full-time. I've been taking the odd contract here and there, working from home. And then, of course, there is my own little sailboat that I've been fine-tuning and tweaking forever. I rested my forehead in one hand as I studied my sketchbook.

The project I was so worried about on this stormy night was a biggie. It would mean going back to full-time work. This was my chance, and I was ready, really ready. Maddy was doing well these days—remarkably so. When Rod called me two weeks ago, I figured fate or God was handing me a gift. Maybe things were looking up for me, finally.

The contract was to design from the keel up, a twenty-foot day sailer/racer for one of the foremost boat builders in Maine. It had to be fast. It had to win races. I looked down at my preliminary sketches. If I shaved a bit off the front end of the keel… And then the worries nagged again. Could I do this? What if I fail? What if they hate my designs? Even though I'd tested it on a million computer programs, there was no guarantee. The best computer program cannot totally duplicate what a real body of water does.

And then there was Maddy to think about. What if Maddy needed help in school and I wasn't there? I was feeling a vague unease and I wasn't quite sure why. I glanced at the time readout on my computer. Three-ten. I really should go back upstairs and try to get some sleep.

I've had insomnia for as long as I can remember. It goes back at least to when Maddy was born and I realized that I would be raising her on my own. It intensified ten months later when I learned the extent of her disabilities. Maddy is profoundly deaf.

A blast of storm hit the side of my house. From the dining room there was a door to a large wooden sun-deck, and the wind came at it with such a ferocity that it seemed personal. I hugged my arms around me while the drapes quivered. I could feel the storm from here.

I turned up the thermostat. Then I walked around the first floor of my small house, touching things as I passed them; my glass model boat, the newest sailing mystery from the library, a pair of Maddy's gloves, her stuffed teddy bear, the framed picture of my parents. I don't know why I was doing this pacing. Nerves, perhaps?

Then I sat down in front of my drawing, picked up the remote and aimed it at the little television I keep perched on a wobbly end table. Maybe there would be news about the storm. Or maybe the sound of it would keep me company on this uneasy, lonely night.

On the all-news channel, a weather announcer stood in front of a map of the east coast and indicated with a sweep of her hand, the track of the storm. It would gain in intensity throughout the night, she said, and peter out by late morning or early afternoon. Scrolling along the bottom of the TV screen in red were the words, "Severe weather watch for all of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and parts of New Brunswick. Stay tuned to local broadcasts for more information."

Scrabbles of snow hit my glass windows and slithered down like ghostly spiders. The cups in my kitchen cupboard rattled slightly against each other. I rose and stood beside the window and looked out. Snow swirled sideways underneath the streetlights.

"Please, God," I found myself praying, "Watch over us." I chided myself for praying. A long time ago I gave up on God. Yet, at times like this, I pray.

The news channel switched to another item and suddenly my attention jerked abruptly to the television screen. There I found myself looking into the face of the very person who had kept me looking over my shoulder all these years.

Larry Fremont.

Something like lead settled in my stomach. Larry Fremont is the reason I am no longer a Christian. Larry Fremont is the reason I gave up on prayer. I sat down at my table and watched the screen. Another gasp of wind made my house shudder.

One of the richest men in Halifax, Larry Fremont's name has been linked to more than a few shady dealings down through the years. My fingers trembled. It's not like I hadn't seen his face in the newspapers or on posters, billboards or TV before. He'd run for mayor of Halifax a while back. He didn't get elected—maybe the people were too smart. He was one of those rich entrepreneurs who manages always to be in the public eye. Just like his mother, I thought. Something deep inside me groaned and I felt a rising nausea.

I ran a hand through my hair and swallowed. Most of the time I can forget what Larry Fremont did to my family. Most of the time I can follow my father's advice to put it behind me. Or my mother's when she says, "Some things, Alicia, are best left buried." Most of the time I can do that, not turn over the slime-covered rocks of the past. But tonight, with the winter storm battering my home and my thoughts, it all came back to me in crystal clarity. I aimed the remote at the screen and cranked up the volume, wondering if it would wake up Maddy. If it's loud enough she can feel the vibrations through the floorboards.

Even though Larry and I lived in the same city now, we had never bumped into each other on the street, which was a blessing. Had I been crazy to move to the same city in which he lived? Sometimes I thought so.

One thing I had done was keep my married name. Maybe that gave me an edge of protection. Or maybe I was only fooling myself.

I kept my eye on the television. There had been a death. His personal accountant or lawyer, someone named Paul Ashton, had been found dead in his hotel room in Portland, Maine. It was believed that Ashton had a heart condition.


Buy from Christianbook.com
Buy from Amazon.com

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Merry Christmas! Enjoy The Spinster's Christmas

As a Merry Christmas gift to all my blog readers, I’m going to be posting my Christian Regency romantic suspense, The Spinster’s Christmas , for free on my blog! I’ll be posting the book in 1000-1500 word segments every Tuesday and Friday. (When I do the calculations, it’ll finish around the end of May.) Why am I posting a Christmas story when it won’t be Christmas in a week? Because I can! :) The Spinster’s Christmas is the prequel volume to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series . Right now I’m editing volume 1 of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, and it’s on track to release in 2020. (If you’re on my Camille Elliot newsletter , you’ll be sure to hear when it’s available for preorder.) I anticipate that the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series to be about ten volumes. I think the series story will be a lot of fun to tell, and I’m looking forward to writing up a storm! Below, I’ll be listing the links to the parts of The Spinster’s Christmas as I post them. (I created the html links by hand so please l

Tabi socks, part deux

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.25.2008 (If you're on Ravelry, friend me! I'm camytang.) I made tabi socks again! (At the bottom of the pattern is the calculation for the toe split if you're not using the same weight yarn that I did for this pattern (fingering). I also give an example from when I used worsted weight yarn with this pattern.) I used Opal yarn, Petticoat colorway. It’s a finer yarn than my last pair of tabi socks, so I altered the pattern a bit. Okay, so here’s my first foray into giving a knitting pattern. Camy’s top-down Tabi Socks I’m assuming you already know the basics of knitting socks. If you’re a beginner, here are some great tutorials: Socks 101 How to Knit Socks The Sock Knitter’s Companion A video of turning the heel Sock Knitting Tips Yarn: I have used both fingering weight and worsted weight yarn with this pattern. You just change the number of cast on stitches according to your gauge and the circumference of your ankle. Th

How can I pray for you?

Photo credit: lalalime.blogspot.com 日本語訳は下をご覧ください。 I hope you had a good Thanksgiving, taking time to be still and remember God’s grace. My IBS has gotten a little better, but I’m still not entirely in control of my symptoms. There are simply too many things I don’t know if I can eat or not, and when I try things, if they affect my IBS, then I’m out for about a week at a time. My writing has slowed down more than I’d like. Please pray for God to heal my IBS, and for me to learn what God wants me to learn by allowing these struggles. Just as I’m struggling, if you are too, remember that God is with us and has a reason for everything that happens to us. Lord, thank You that You are always with us and have control over everything that happens to us. Help us to surrender to You and do Your will, no matter what is going on in our lives. Amen How can I pray for you today? Please leave me your prayer requests! Prayer requests can sometimes be private things, so to keep your

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Grace Livingston Hill romances free to read online

I wanted to update my old post on Grace Livingston Hill romances because now there are tons more options for you to be able to read her books for free online! I’m a huge Grace Livingston Hill fan. Granted, not all her books resonate with me, but there are a few that I absolutely love, like The Enchanted Barn and Crimson Roses . And the best part is that she wrote over 100 books and I haven’t yet read them all! When I have time, I like to dive into a new GLH novel. I like the fact that most of them are romances, and I especially appreciate that they all have strong Christian themes. Occasionally the Christian content is a little heavy-handed for my taste, but it’s so interesting to see what the Christian faith was like in the early part of the 20th century. These books are often Cinderella-type stories or A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) type stories, which I love. And the best part is that they’re all set in the early 1900s, so the time period is absolutely fasci

ひとり寿司第25章パート3

「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** ********** 「エイデンに電話するわ」ビーナスはアパートに入り、食料品が入ったバッグを床に投げた。 レックスは、ビーナスのコスモポリタン誌から目を上げた。「どうして?」 「ベンが外でコソコソしてるのを見たの。エイデンがあなたのボーイフレンドだ、ってことをまだ疑ってるんだと思う」 「うわー、何でかな。実際、彼氏じゃないしね」 「だけど、近づかないでもらいたいんだったら、ベンを納得させないとダメよ」 「ドアベルに出なきゃいいじゃない」 「私、男の気持ちを読むのは得

ひとり寿司第25章パート2

「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** ビーナスはベンの視界をさえぎった。「ここは大丈夫だから、もう帰っていいわよ」 「でも——」 ビーナスは、また彼の目の前でドアを閉めた。 「何——」 ビーナスはレックスの言葉をさえぎり、ドアの隣の窓から外をのぞいた。「よかったわ、レックス、エイデンが来てくれて。あなたの巻き爪を全部切ってくれるわよ」ビーナスの声が小さい部屋に響き渡った。 どうやって礼儀正しく答えようかと決めかねているように、エイデンの表情は少し硬くなった。多分、(そうなの?)とか(それはおもしろいね)とでも言う

Join Camy's Patreon!

At the moment, I’m releasing all my books in Kindle Unlimited, which requires my books to be exclusive to Amazon. However, I wanted to accommodate readers who prefer other ebook distributors and also reward my fans who might like my books a little ahead of schedule. ​So I started a Patreon where patrons will get BookFunnel links to download my latest ebooks about 2-3 weeks ahead of the release date. The ebook files are DRM-free and BookFunnel is great about helping you to load it onto your ebook reader or phone/tablet or computer. My Patreon is “per creation,” which means you won’t be charged every month. You will only be charged when I’ve posted a new book. For example, if I post a book on April 15th, you’ll be charged on May 1st. But if I don’t post a book in May, you won’t be charged on June 1st at all. This is because with my health problems, and since some of my books are over 100,000 words each, I’m not able to write a book a month, and I certainly don’t want to charge my

Toilet seat cover

Captain’s Log, Supplemental Update August 2008: I wrote up the pattern for this with "improvements"! Here's the link to my No Cold Bums toilet seat cover ! Okay, remember a few days ago I was complaining about the cold toilet seat in my bathroom? Well, I decided to knit a seat cover. Not a lid cover, but a seat cover. I went online and couldn’t find anything for the seat, just one pattern for the lid by Feminitz.com . However, I took her pattern for the inside edge of the lid cover and modified it to make a seat cover. Here it is! It’s really ugly stitch-wise because originally I made it too small and had to extend it a couple inches on each side. I figured I’d be the one staring at it, so who cared if the extension wasn’t perfectly invisible? I used acrylic yarn since, well, that’s what I had, and also because it’s easy to wash. I’ll probably have to wash this cover every week or so, but it’s easy to take off—I made ties which you can see near the back of the s

Camy Tang's November newsletter

My Camy Tang (Christian Contemporary Romantic Suspense) newsletter went out this week, but in case you missed it, the link is below. In my newsletter this month, there’s an update on my personal life and publishing schedule, and I also linked to a blog post about what the TV show Supernatural has to do with GONE MISSING, the 6th book in my Sonoma series Click here to read my Camy Tang newsletter for November. I also forgot to post the link for the October newsletter, so you can click here to read it.