Violet dawn, p.1

Violet Dawn, page 1

 

Violet Dawn
 


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Violet Dawn


  VIOLET DAWN

  Other Books by Brandilyn Collins

  Kanner Lake Series

  1 | Violet Dawn

  Hidden Faces Series

  1 | Brink of Death

  2 | Stain of Guilt

  3 | Dead of Night

  4 | Web of Lies

  Bradleyville Series

  1 | Cast a Road Before Me

  2 | Color the Sidewalk for Me

  3 | Capture the Wind for Me

  Chelsea Adams Series

  1 | Eyes of Elisha

  2 | Dread Champion

  HELP CREATE THE KANNER LAKE WORLD

  Write a post for Scenes and Beans—and win a signed copy of Violet Dawn!

  Scenes and Beans, the Kanner Lake character blog, features many of the Java Joint folks you’ll meet in Violet Dawn. Their entertaining posts are written in real time, according to events in this story. And they’re created by you — the readers of the

  series!

  Visit Scenes and Beans at www.kannerlake.blogspot.com.

  For details on auditioning a post, go to www.kannerlake.com/scenesandbeans.html.

  Want to discuss Violet Dawn with your book club?

  Insightful questions about the story and how

  it applies to your life can be found at

  www.kannerlake.com/discussions.

  God makes a home for the lonely.

  PSALM 68:6 NASB

  ZONDERVAN

  Violet dawn

  Copyright © 2006 by Brandilyn Collins

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of Zondervan.

  Mobipocket Edition February 2009 ISBN: 978-0-310-54303-9

  Requests for information should be addressed to:

  Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

  * * *

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Collins, Brandilyn.

  Violet dawn / Brandilyn Collins.

  p. cm. — (Kanner Lake series ; bk. 1)

  Includes bibliographical references and index [if applicable].

  ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25223-8

  1. Young women — Fiction. 2. Murder — Fiction. 3. Idaho — Fiction. I. Title. II. Series: Collins, Brandilyn. Kanner Lake series ; bk. 1.

  PS3553.04747815V56 2006

  813'.6 — dc22

  2006004764

  * * *

  All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible. © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other — except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

  * * *

  06 07 08 09 10 11 12 • 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4

  For Sister #1,

  Dr. Sylvia Seamands.

  Soft in heart

  and a rock for our family.

  You were there for me

  when I was young and foolish.

  CONTENTS

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  INTRODUCTION

  PART ONE: Targeted

  ONE

  TWO

  THREE

  FOUR

  FIVE

  SIX

  SEVEN

  EIGHT

  NINE

  TEN

  ELEVEN

  TWELVE

  THIRTEEN

  FOURTEEN

  PART TWO: Hunted

  FIFTEEN

  SIXTEEN

  SEVENTEEN

  EIGHTEEN

  NINETEEN

  TWENTY

  TWENTY-ONE

  TWENTY-TWO

  TWENTY-THREE

  TWENTY-FOUR

  TWENTY-FIVE

  TWENTY-SIX

  TWENTY-SEVEN

  TWENTY-EIGHT

  TWENTY-NINE

  THIRTY

  THIRTY-ONE

  THIRTY-TWO

  THIRTY-THREE

  THIRTY-FOUR

  THIRTY-FIVE

  THIRTY-SIX

  THIRTY-SEVEN

  THIRTY-EIGHT

  THIRTY-NINE

  FORTY

  FORTY-ONE

  FORTY-TWO

  FORTY-THREE

  PART THREE: Trapped

  FORTY-FOUR

  FORTY-FIVE

  FORTY-SIX

  FORTY-SEVEN

  FORTY-EIGHT

  FORTY-NINE

  FIFTY

  FIFTY-ONE

  FIFTY-TWO

  FIFTY-THREE

  FIFTY-FOUR

  FIFTY-FIVE

  FIFTY-SIX

  FIFTY-SEVEN

  FIFTY-EIGHT

  FIFTY-NINE

  SIXTY

  SIXTY-ONE

  SIXTY-TWO

  SIXTY-THREE

  SIXTY-FOUR

  SIXTY-FIVE

  SIXTY-SIX

  SIXTY-SEVEN

  SIXTY-EIGHT

  SIXTY-NINE

  SEVENTY

  PART FOUR: Released

  SEVENTY-ONE

  JURY ACQUITS BRANDT ON ALL COUNTS

  SEVENTY-TWO

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  PROLOGUE

  About the Publisher

  Share Your Thoughts

  INTRODUCTION

  Dear Reader,

  Welcome to Kanner Lake. You’ll find a warm, eclectic, and rather colorful community here. You’ll also run across a few dead bodies.

  I’m supposed to tell you that Kanner Lake is fictional. True, you won’t find it on a map. But then, cartographers were never known for their imagination. Through Violet Dawn and future books in this series, you’ll learn that Kanner Lake lies in the Idaho Panhandle a little east of Highway 41, about halfway between the towns of Spirit Lake and Priest River. Those familiar with this area will realize I’ve taken the audacious liberty of flattening the mountains just west of Spirit Lake Cutoff Road and replacing them with my lake. Ah, the power of a novelist! I’ve chosen the setting of Northern Idaho for an obvious reason. It is a gorgeous area of lakes, forests, and wildlife — just about the closest you can get to heaven on this earth.

  Special note: two wonderful things found in Kanner Lake really do exist. Check the acknowledgments at the back to see what they are.

  Okay. Now that you’ve got your bearings, it’s time to climb aboard for another mind-rattling ride. You know the drill. Strap that seatbelt on tight, keep your hands inside the car, and don’t forget to b r e a t h e . . .

  PART ONE: Targeted

  ONE

  Paige Williams harbored a restless kinship with the living dead.

  Sleep, that nurturing, blessed state of subconsciousness, eluded her again this night. Almost 2:00 a.m., and rather than slumbering bliss, old memories nibbled at her like ragged-toothed wraiths.

  With a defeated sigh she rose from bed.

  Wrapped in a large towel, she moved through the darkened house, bare feet faintly scuffing across worn wood floors. Out of her room and down a short hall, passing the second bedroom — barren and needing to be filled — and the one bathroom, into the small kitchen.

  She unlocked the sliding glass d
oor. Stepped outside onto the back deck. The grating rhythm of cicadas rose to greet her. Scents from the woods — an almost sweet earthiness — wafted on a slight breeze.

  The dry Idaho air was still warm.

  A large hot tub sunk into the left corner of the deck was her destination — a soothing womb of heat to coddle and comfort. There, looking out over the forested hills and Kanner Lake, Paige could feel sheltered from the world. The closest neighbor on either side was a good quarter mile away.

  But first, captivated by the night, she padded to the edge of the deck’s top step and gazed up at the heavens.

  A slivered moon hung askew, feeble and worn. Ice chip stars flung themselves in all directions. The Big Dipper tipped backward, pouring into Kanner Lake, which seemed to brood under the spangled sky. Across the sullen waters a few downtown lights resolutely twinkled.

  Intense yearning welled so suddenly within Paige that she nearly staggered in its presence. She clutched the towel tighter around her body, swaddling herself. The universe was so vast, the world so small. A mere speck of dust, Earth churned and groaned in the spheres of infinity. Upon that speck, mothers and fathers, children and friends laughed and cried and celebrated one another. No bigger than dust mites they were, compared with the vastness of space. Their lives, their loves — insignificant.

  So why did she long to be one of them?

  Paige stared at the downtown lights across the water. In eight hours she would return there, among the families and the lovers. Surrounded by people who belonged. Separated from them by a mere two feet of counter space . . . and a chasm. Behind the Simple Pleasures counter on Main Street, she would sell gift items and pretty home accessories to tourists and local residents. Parents with tagging children, couples, and friends. Sometimes from the corner of her eye she would watch them shopping, especially the young women. Pointing out an oil lamp candle to a girlfriend, exclaiming together over a glitz-studded handbag. And something inside her would swell and ache like bruised skin. God knew she wanted a friend like that more than anything else in the world, someone as close as a sister —

  Stop it, Paige.

  She lowered her chin and gazed at her feet. Slowly she turned away from the lake and town.

  God, if You’re up there, send me friends. Send me a sister —someone lonely, someone with a childhood as miserable as mine.

  Her daily prayer. The one she’d brought with her to Kanner Lake. The one that had kept her going ever since she fled the Williams family hometown in Kansas.

  Not that she deserved an answer.

  As she edged across the deck, Paige consoled herself that all would be well. She might be parentless and alone, but wouldn’t people expect a twenty-five-year-old to be capable of making friends? She’d settled in Kanner Lake only a month ago. She would make a life here, build her own family to love —

  Your sister is coming very soon.

  The stunning thought filled Paige’s mind as forcefully as if the words had been shouted. Paige blinked, drew to a halt. For a moment she couldn’t move. Could only tilt her head, listening. She must have imagined it.

  But no. The knowledge bloomed within her all the more, as captivating as a vibrant flower in the desert. Her new friend, her sister, would soon enter her life. How Paige knew this, she couldn’t begin to fathom. Where had such a strong premonition come from? Was it God’s voice she’d heard?

  She drew a hand across her forehead, anticipation mixing with perplexity. Whatever it was — God, fate, or some other force in the universe — she shouldn’t question it. What if the power took back its promise as quickly as it had been sent?

  Paige shivered in the warm night. She crossed to the hot tub, seeking its heat, her mind still singing with The Promise. What would her sister-friend be like? Had she grown up in Kan-ner Lake, or would she too be a newcomer? What kind of childhood had she experienced? What had happened in her life at age seven? Ten? In her teenage years? All these experiences — and the girl’s secrets — Paige would soon share. They would encourage each other, do things together.

  She would protect this “sister” with her life.

  Paige reached the sunken hot tub, which protruded from the deck about one foot. A heavy vinyl cover, divided down the middle, rested over the tub, protecting its heat. Letting her towel fall, Paige leaned down and used both hands to fold back the cover, revealing half the water. No need to take the cover all the way off. It was heavy, and the tub was large enough that even half of it provided her with plenty of room to relax. Inviting steam rose into her face. She would not turn on the jets — she never did. She wanted quiet solace, not roiling waters, as she thought about The Promise.

  Paige held on to the smooth side and stepped into the tub. At that end a “couch” seat, formed like a recliner, ran its length. There she lay back, sinking up to her neck in the hot water and pillowing her head against the black vinyl headrest. She closed her eyes. Stretched out her legs and floated her arms in the warmth, her mind still filled with the prophetic words.

  Her thigh tickled. Paige flicked her fingers over the spot.

  Amid her new hope, persistent ghosts of old memories materialized. Whispering of her days in despair, nights on the run. Even if you do find a sister, Paige, she too will be taken away.

  No. Not this time. Paige gazed with rising determination at the silver-studded sky. She would cling to The Promise with every fiber of her being —

  Something sinuous brushed against Paige’s knee. She jerked her leg away.

  What was that?

  She rose to a sitting position, groped around with her left hand.

  Fine wisps wound themselves around her fingers.

  Hair?

  She yanked backward, but the tendrils clung. Something solid bumped her wrist.

  Paige gasped. With one frantic motion she shook her arm free, grabbed the side of the hot tub, and heaved herself out.

  Her body hit the deck with a wet thud. She rolled, whipped around to face the tub. Her eyes stabbed the black water. What was in there?

  Paige pushed to her knees and cautiously leaned toward the hot tub.

  A head surfaced.

  TWO

  A heavy thud on the bedroom floor startled Bailey Truitt awake.Her eyes flew open. She thrust a hand toward her husband’s side of the bed. Empty.

  Bailey jumped from beneath the covers, heart scudding. Her eyes couldn’t see as well in the darkness as they used to. Why wasn’t the night-light on? She felt her way down to the bottom of the mattress, around its corner. Passing the bed, she shuffled carefully, body bent and arms outstretched, searching the blackness of the floor. Near the bathroom door her fingers brushed a head.

  John.

  She hesitated, torn between the yearning to help her husband and her need for light. She felt his face, down to his shoulders. They were relaxed. Thank you, God. Probably a petit mal seizure. Scary enough, but it could have been so much worse.

  Bailey stood upright, her exploring hands now leading her to the bathroom threshold. She grasped the wood, felt around the corner, and flipped on a switch. Sudden light pushed down her chin, squinted her eyes. Bailey blinked and turned back to John.

  He lay on his side, knees bent, one arm out straight, clad only in his lightweight pajama bottoms. Apparently, in his fall one foot had caught their night-light and pulled it from its socket. It lay on the carpet near his toes. John wasn’t moving. Bailey threw herself down beside him, laid a hand against his heart. Its steady beat against her palm flung tears into her eyes. He was unconscious, that was all.

  Bailey pushed to her feet and hurried to the bed to fetch John’s pillow. She laid it on the floor beside his head, then gently turned him onto his back. Lifting his neck, she fussed the pillow into position, then rose again to pull his winter robe from the closet to drape over him as a blanket.

  “John?” Bailey whispered as she settled down beside him. She patted his shoulder beneath the robe, smoothed his cheek. In times like this she couldn’t touc
h him enough. “I’m here.”

  No response. Bailey stroked his graying hair, waiting. Chiding herself for being such a sound sleeper. If only she’d woken up when he rose to use the bathroom. She imagined the small seizure hitting, John’s arms flying toward the wall for support, while she lay just feet away. Not that she could have stopped the shaking, but maybe she would’ve reached his side before he fell.

  Bailey gazed at her husband’s face, drinking in every line of his forehead, the stubble on his strong chin. He looked so peaceful, so far removed from the multiple forms of epilepsy he’d fought so hard for the past five years. She knew that when he awoke, he would be disoriented. Extra tiredness would grip him as the morning dawned and the day wore on. He would need to sleep even more than usual. She sighed. John would be so disappointed with himself. He hadn’t experienced a seizure in almost a month. Which was a godsend, considering the other things he’d had to deal with. For some reason his myoclonic seizures — those sudden jerks, as a normal person might experience when falling asleep — had increased. And Inderal, a new medication for him, had helped calm his Parkinson’s-like tremors, but he’d gained twenty pounds as a side effect in the past month.

  Lord, give him strength. Bailey smoothed back her husband’s hair. You know how hard it is for him, even though he always smiles. Five years ago John had been a successful accountant and golf lover. But the car accident — and head injury — had changed his life. Now he couldn’t even work, permanent disability his only income. Now he counted not dollars on a spreadsheet but pills into little plastic boxes for his daily doses. Big blue Depakot tablets and large white Klonopin . . .

  John’s hand moved. His eyes opened, slowly blinking.

  “Hi, sweetie, I’m here.” Bailey touched his face.

  He turned his head toward the sound of her voice, frowning.

  “Bailey?”

  Her throat tightened. She forced a little grin. “And who else would it be in the middle of the night, with you half-dressed?”

 
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