Beyond the Shadows
by Loree Lough
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Elice Glasser is a widow with three young children to raise. Cabot Murray is an ex-cop who returns home to Freeland, Maryland, to deal with the pain of his own tragic loss: the death of his wife and daughter in a fiery explosion intended for him.
Grieving, their sorrow brings them together, and a friendship develops that leads then to explore the possibility of finding love again. But vengeful enemies and jealous rivals are determined to destroy the peace and happiness that Elice and Cabot have found in each other’s arms. Why are their rivals so intent on keeping Elice and Cabot apart? Loree Lough's latest suspenseful romance is a page-turner!
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“Sounds like a fair price to me.”
The guys on the force had nicknamed him Speedy Gonzales because he’d always moved with lightning speed.
When he reached for his billfold, Elice flinched. Cabot froze. He’d seen that reaction, too, in his street cop days. It told him she’d been abused. He wanted to tell her she’d never have anything to fear from him. At the same time, he wanted to throttle the man who’d put such fear into those beautiful brown eyes. The clock tick-tocked some more while he tried to think of something clever, something soothing to say. His big hands trembled as he thumbed through the bills in his wallet.
“I. . .uh. . .1 seem to be a little short…”
“You’re not short,” Annie said. “You’re tall. Very tall.”
He’d been so involved in Elice’s fright that Cabot hadn’t even noticed the little girl enter the workshop. As she stood there, looking up at him with those big blue eyes of hers, he wanted to scoop her up, give her a huge hug, and kiss that Popsicle-red smile of hers. He met Elice’s eyes. She’d composed herself quickly, he acknowledged. If he hadn’t seen it himself, he’d never have guessed that only moments ago, she’d looked for all the world like a terrified child.
“It won’t take but a minute to run home and get my checkbook. My cupboards are as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s,” he said, chuckling, “and I have to do some grocery shopping anyway. I’ll be passing right by—”
‘“Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone,”‘ Annie said, grinning, as she recited the nursery rhyme. “Do you have a dog?”
Cabot laughed. “No. I don’t.”
Annie shook her head and frowned. “Me, either. Mommy says she doesn’t have time for a fuzzy kid with four legs.” She headed for the door, stretching the pink straps of her bathing suit as she faced her mother. “Emi says to tell you the table is set and Danny’s on his way home.” She gave Cabot a quick once-over, then looked back at her mother. “Is he eating supper with us, Mommy?”
She glanced from her daughter to Cabot and back again. ”He just stopped by to order a sign, sweetie,” Elice said. “I’m sure he has better things to do than eat day-old bread and soup.”
Maggie had called Lindy “honey” using exactly that same motherly tone of voice. The dull ache in Cabot’s heart grew as Annie planted herself directly in front of him and asked, “Do you have any kids?”
Cabot shook his head, then squatted to make himself child-sized. “1 had a little girl once, but she died.” It surprised him how easily the words came tumbling out. What surprised him more was that saying them didn’t hurt this time. Not as much, anyway.
“Couldn’t you and your wife get another one?”
He swallowed. Hard. “I’m afraid she’s dead, too.”
She placed a tiny hand on his cheek. “Aw, that’s too bad.” Blond brows rose sympathetically over huge blue eyes.
Cabot didn’t dare look at Elice. If he saw even a trace of pity on her face, he’d flee the workshop like a man being chased by a nightmare. Because that’s exactly what he was.
Her hand clamped on her daughter’s shoulder, the sweet, maternal tone replaced by one of no nonsense: “Annie, go inside and wash up.”
Annie’s brows rose high on her forehead as she folded tiny hands in front of her chest. “Oh, Mommy,” she said, turning to hug Elice’s knees, “he’s all alone. Can’t the nice man stay for supper? Please?”
Cabot resisted the urge to bolt from the workshop, fire up his Jeep, and head back to Foggy Bottom as fast as he could. Then he realized he was still holding his wallet. Standing, he closed it and cleared his throat. “I’ll, uh, I’ll stop by later with the money,” he stammered, stuffing it into his back pocket.
Annie’s bare feet made tiny slapping sounds on the concrete floor as she followed him to the door.
“What’s your name?” she asked, grabbing his fingers.
He stared at the tiny hand in his. “Cabot. Cabot Murray.”
Frowning, Annie looked at the big hand that surrounded hers. “How’d you get so dirty, Mr. Murray?”
“Annie, if I have to tell you one more time to go inside…”
Smiling, he met Elice’s eyes at last. “It’s okay. I don’t mind.” He faced Annie. “This stuff is called axle grease. You see, I’ve been working on my tractor all day.”
Annie shook her head and frowned. “Mommy doesn’t like dirty hands. ‘Specially at the table. My grandma gave me some neat soap for my birthday. It will make you smell like flowers. Maybe once you’re clean, Mommy will let you stay for supper.”
“Annie…” Elice’s voice was a mixture of warning and amusement. “I’m going to count to three, and if you’re not inside washing your hands by the time I say—”
Immediately, the child released Cabot’s hand and headed for the door. “Okay, okay, I’m going.”
When she was out of earshot, Elice frowned. “Sorry about that. I don’t know what gets into her sometimes.”
“There’s absolutely nothing to apologize for. I think she’s adorable.” And so are you, he thought. Already, Twin Acres had a strange and mystical hold on him. He knew if he didn’t get out of there, and quick, he’d lose all control over his emotions. He needed time to get things straight in his head. Lots of time.
At last count, best-selling author Loree Lough had 115 award-winning books (nearly 9,000,000 copies in circulation and 7 titles that earned book-to-movie options), 68 short stories, and 2,500+ articles in print.
An oft-invited guest of writers' organizations, colleges and universities, corporate and government agencies in the U.S. and abroad, Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry.
Once upon a time, Loree (literally) sang for her supper, performing alone and "opening" for the likes of Tom Jones, Dottie West, The Gatlin Brothers, and more. Though she refuses to share the actual year when she traded her Yamaha 6-string for a wedding ring, she IS willing to admit that, every now and then, she blows the dust off her six-string to croon a tune or two. But mostly, she just writes (and writes).
Loree and her husband split their time between a home in the Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she continues to hone her "identify the critter tracks" skills. Her favorite pastime? Spending long, leisurely hours with her grandchildren...all seven of them!
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