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The second book in the Women of SweetWater series, newcomer Jade Rivers is haunted by visions of children who are lost. With help from the local deputy, Declan McCallum, Jade rescues a small group of children. Haunted by another lost child, Jade stumbles across horrific memories from her past. Will the cost be too great for the children and Declan? Will they be able to survive? Will Jade find all of her “Lost Stars”?
A tear dropped onto the tabletop. Another splashed next to it. “She didn’t want me,” Casey whispered. “She said I’d be just like my dad—mean and spiteful.”
“But she came back, didn’t she?” Lisha whispered. She reached across the distance and took hold of Casey’s clasped hands.
“Only because she wanted more money,” Casey cried. He lifted his head. Anger blazed in his dark pupils, but the hurt on his face tore through the shield Jade had spent the night building around herself.
“I took Cierra from her car seat while they were fighting. It was hot in the car. Felicia had gone after Mom when the screaming started. I got scared, so I took Cierra and we hid in the shed behind the house. I hated them for leaving me behind. It’s my fault Mom and Felicia died.” His sobs shook his thin shoulders. “I prayed for her to come back, but she didn’t want me. So, I didn’t want her any more either.”
Jade stepped into the room. “Casey,” she called out softly.
He jumped from the chair, stumbled, then practically flew into her arms. He buried his head against her abdomen and wrapped his arms around her waist.
Jade bent forward and pressed a kiss on the top of his head. “Shh, it’s okay, Casey. It wasn’t your fault.” She rubbed his back and continued to coo soothing noises at him until his sobs quieted. When she glanced back at the table, Declan and the rest of the children were gone.
“Why don’t we sit down for a minute,” she suggested and led the way to the chair he’d abandoned earlier. Just like when she was growing up everything could be solved at the kitchen table.
“Casey, you didn’t kill your mom or your sister,” she repeated. “I’m so sorry your mom left you behind. Did you hear your mother say she didn’t want you?”
Slowly, he shook his head. “My dad told me when I got home from school.”
Jade closed her eyes. Her hands shook from the anger pulsing through her body. Why did people have to be so cruel?
When she opened her eyes, she found Casey staring at her. “You’re a hero, did you know that?”
Confusion settled on his face. “I’m not a hero. I’m not even a good person. Miss Brummel said so.”
Her anger sparked. “Miss Brummel can go straight to...” She bit her tongue.
“Purgatory,” Willow finished as she stepped through the side door. Rudy followed pushing Sasha in her stroller chair. “Hey there, you two. What have you done with Declan? I’ve got a little lady here who’d like to see her daddy.”
Jade tried to smile, but irritation bubbled inside her even at the joy of seeing somebody new.
“Right,” he stated, did an about face and wheeled Sasha back outside.
Undeterred by Rudy’s abrupt departure, Willow proceeded to the counter where she deposited two large bags.
Jade returned to her conversation with Casey. “I bet your little sister knows you’re a hero. You saved her from the same fate that took your mom and sister away from you. And you helped get Cierra and Lisha away from Miss Brummel.”
“But I don’t feel like a hero.”
I continue to reside in the state where I was born and raised. One of three daughters, I would stand at the kitchen sink daydreaming of different lifetimes I believed I’d lived before. With each passing year, I continue to wonder about past life experiences, déjà vu, and the blueprint of life we are all born with. As time continues, I hope to discover more of my own past lives through my studies. With the help of my guides I believe this will be a major accomplishment for me.
I am surrounded by my four children, my beautiful grandchildren and my sisters, who love me, but don’t always understand me. My parents offer me their encouragement from their home state, by reading my books, then telling their friends. I am blessed to share my living space with my cat, Gracie, who only knows true and unconditional love. Which she’s bound and determined to teach me in this lifetime.
I am constantly being challenged with new thoughts and ideas by my close circle of friends. They never know when something they say may start to smolder and flame into a new story.
I would love to hear from each of you and you may reach me at Sthornton@neb.rr.com.
In the combined tradition of Tami Hoag and Dean Koonz, author Sue Thornton creates a spellbinding tale of horror and murder.– Cindy Penn, Word weaving
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 404
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