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Authors: Kathy Herman

Tags: #Murder, #Christian, #Single mothers, #General, #Witnesses, #Suspense, #Religious fiction, #Fiction, #Religious

Ever Present Danger

BOOK: Ever Present Danger
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“Kathy Herman’s latest series is off to a flying start with
Ever Present Danger
. Be prepared to stay up late as you get to know the people of Phantom Hollow—a place you’ll want to visit again and again.”
CAROL COX, author of
Ticket to Tomorrow
and
Fair Game

Ever Present Danger
has all the tightly woven drama, excellent characterization, and suspense Kathy Herman’s readers have come to love. This newest series digs even more deeply into the heart, leaving a powerful impression of God’s forgiveness and His loving direction in each of our lives.”
HANNAH ALEXANDER, author of
Grave Risk
and
Death Benefits
“Kathy Herman writes stories that draw us into the lives of characters that we grow to care more and more about.
Ever Present Danger
is one of Kathy Herman’s ‘usual’ surprising and excellent mysteries.”
LYN COTE, author of The Women of Ivy Manor series
“Another wonderful book from Kathy Herman.
Ever Present Danger
is an exciting, breath-holding adventure as only Kathy can write. Tops in this category.”
LOIS GLADYS LEPPARD, author of the Mandie books

Ever Present Danger
will take you on a wonderful journey from regrets and heartache through unexpected twists and turns of storytelling to a deeply satisfying conclusion filled with redemption and forgiveness. As usual, Kathy Herman mixes sympathetic and admirable characters and unexpected story events to create an engrossing tale. This is a great beginning for what is sure to be a terrific series.”
JANELLE CLARE SCHNEIDER, author of “A Distant Love,”
in the anthology
Christmas Duty
“Kathy Herman is a master at weaving heart-racing mystery and biblical precept into unforgettable narrative. Not only will the twists and turns in
Ever Present Danger
keep the pages turning, her newest characters will inhabit the soul.”
DEIDRE POOL, author of
Loving Jesus Anyway
“In Kathy Herman’s
Ever Present Danger
, a long-concealed murder has deadly consequences and hidden sins must finally be brought to light. The action never stops!”
DEANNA JULIE DODSON, author of
In Honor Bound,
By Love Redeemed
, and
To Grace Surrendered

To Him who is both the Giver and the Gift
.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
THOUGH PHANTOM HOLLOW exists only in my imagination, the rugged, heart-stopping beauty of the San Juan Mountains is reality at its best and offers the perfect backdrop for this series. In the writing of this story, I drew from several resource people, each of whom shared generously from his or her storehouse of knowledge and experience. I did my best to integrate the facts, as I understood them. If accuracy was compromised in any way, it was unintentional and strictly of my own doing.
I’d like to acknowledge my dear friends Danny and Deanna Tyler of Montrose, Colorado, who refreshed my memory about the lifestyle on the western slope, and my friend Allen Burt for suggesting (with a twinkle in his eye) that my husband and I might find it worthwhile to take the scenic drive from Ridgeway to Telluride as part of the “research” for this series. I’m sure we got a glimpse of what heaven will be like.
I owe a special word of thanks to Paul David Houston, former assistant district attorney, Nacogdoches County, Texas, for his valuable input regarding criminal charges and legal issues and for taking the time to read pertinent chapters. Paul, I always thought that someday we’d finally catch up to each other, but I never dreamed I’d also get to meet Nicki and have the chance to hold baby Ben. What a blessing!
A warm thank-you to my friend Will Ray, professional investigator, state of Oregon, for taking time to give his input on forensic evidence, crime scene investigations, autopsies, and background checks. Will, when you ordered the very first copies of
Tested by Fire
from my husband’s store, I had no idea what great friends we’d become or how much I would come to appreciate and rely on your various levels of expertise. Thanks for being so willing to take the time to answer my many questions.
I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to my sister and zealous prayer warrior, Pat Phillips, and my online prayer team—Joanne Lambert; Carolyn Walker; Jackie Jeffries; Sondra Watson; Judith Depontes; my mother, Nora Phillips; and my uncle, Chuck Allenbrand—for your amazing support. How God is using you!
Thanks also to Travis and Rebecca May for a very timely prayer at my kitchen table. And to Susie Killough, Judi Wieghat, Mark and Donna Skorheim, Pearl Anderson, my friends at LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas, and Donna Ridenour and the ladies in my Bible study class for your many prayers for my writing ministry. It means so much.
To those who read my books and those who sell them, thanks for encouraging me with e-mails and cards and personal testimonies about how God has used my words. He uses you to bless me more often than you know.
To my novelist friends in ChiLibris, thanks for sharing so generously from your collective storehouse of knowledge and experience. It’s an honor to be counted among you.
To the staff at Multnomah Publishers, whose commitment to honor God through the power of story has never wavered, it’s been a joy linking arms with such dedicated professionals.
To my editor and friend, Rod Morris, I’m so grateful to have been a beneficiary of your decades of experience. Each of my stories has made a deeper, more lasting impression because of the suggestions you made. How I’ll miss working with you! There’s no doubt in my mind you’re going to shine in your new job, but don’t ever forget the legacy you’ve left at Multnomah. I know I won’t.
To my husband Paul, who comes home from work eager to hear me read whatever I’ve written on any given day, how blessed I am that we’re partners in this venture—and that your unwavering enthusiasm never lets me forget why I do what I do.
And to my Father in heaven, how I thank You for allowing me the privilege of writing stories that challenge and bless Your people. I pray that the truth of Your Word woven into this story will come to life in the heart of every reader.
PROLOGUE
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts
good character.’”
I CORINTHIANS 15:33
IVY GRIFFITH STOOD beside her pink and silver snowmobile, her breath turning to vapor in the late afternoon chill, her gaze set on the giant cottonwood tree that marked the secret grave like a towering headstone. She knew that even after the spring runoff came rushing down the mountain and the Phantom River became like a torrent of baptismal white water lifting the impurities and washing them away, the horrible deed that was done here would not be cleansed. Not then. Not ever.
She blinked to clear her eyes and willed away the emotion, the same unanswerable question running through her mind: What if Joe Hadley wasn’t dead when they buried him? What if his heart was still beating and they couldn’t hear it—or didn’t want to? Never being allowed to know the answer seemed a fitting punishment for a spectator guilty of gross indifference.
She moved closer to the giant cottonwood, the snow crunching under her boots, the ears of her memory alive with the sound of flesh hitting flesh and then Joe struggling to breathe. She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t tried to stop Pete from choking him, only that she’d been smoking pot spiked with angel dust and nothing seemed real.
Sometimes she obsessed about how horrible it must be for Mr. and Mrs. Hadley to speculate about the ways their son might have died—or if he was still alive and suffering at the hands of some pervert. She had thought about typing a letter and sending it to
them anonymously, telling them that Joe was dead and hadn’t suffered long. But the fear of what would happen if the letter were traced back to her was greater than her desire to ease their anguish.
Her heart felt blacker than the blackest night, as if the light inside her had gone out. If only she had never met Pete Barton! It was bad enough that she had given away her virginity and had experimented with drugs, but it felt as though she had sold her soul when she made a pact with Pete and the others never to speak of Joe’s demise.
That agreement stood between her and God, but it was the only thing keeping her and Pete together. He kept reminding her over and over that she was an accessory to the killing and that telling the police would ruin not only her life and his, but also her parents’. Then she’d have no one, except the inmates at some dank and dreary women’s prison.
A noise broke the stillness, and Ivy realized a car was coming. She turned around, her pulse racing, and saw a white Jeep Cherokee outfitted with chains moving in her direction on the snow-packed road. She forced a friendly smile and waved at the driver, relieved when he nodded and drove past. She stood frozen until the Jeep’s taillights disappeared over the hill and the only sound was the wind whistling through the bare aspens.
Why was she so skittish? It’s not as though her being seen out here would raise suspicion. As far as anyone was concerned, she was just Elam and Carolyn’s daughter out for a ride on her snowmobile.
She turned back around, her eyes drawn like a magnet to the secret grave, and wondered for the umpteenth time how different things might have been had she simply shouted at the boys to stop hitting Joe before it went too far.
Ivy breathed in slowly and then let it out. In a few months, she and Pete and the others would be parting ways and going off to college, beginning a new chapter in their lives and leaving that gray January afternoon on the pages of the past.
She walked back to the snowmobile, her burden heavier than when she came, thinking Joe Hadley was the lucky one. At least his suffering was over.
1
BRANDON JONES STOOD at the scenic overlook on Tanner’s Ridge, his gloved hands wrapped around a cup of hot coffee, his eyes drinking in the jagged San Juan Mountains that rose high above the valley floor and surrounded Phantom Hollow like a pure white fortress.
Directly below he spotted the log buildings at Three Peaks Christian Camp and Conference Center. “Honey, look. There’s our house. To the right of the dining hall. See it?”
Kelsey Jones nodded. “Looks small from up here.”
“It still hasn’t hit me that I’m camp director and actually get paid to do what I love doing—
plus
have access to all this natural beauty. There’s no way we’d be here if you hadn’t gone to college with Jake Compton.”
“It never hurts to have a connection, but Jake hired you because you’re exactly what he was looking for in spite of the fact that he considered
me
a ball and chain.”
BOOK: Ever Present Danger
6.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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