Authors: Sandra Brannan
A LIV BERGEN MYSTERY
Notice: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press
Copyright ©2010 Sandra Brannan
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.
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Design and composition by Greenleaf Book Group LLC
Cover design by Greenleaf Book Group LLC
Publisher's Cataloging-In-Publication Data
(Prepared by The Donohue Group, Inc.)
Brannan, Sandra. In the belly of Jonah / Sandra Brannan. — 1st ed.
p. ; cm. — (A Liv Bergen mystery)
1. Serial murder investigation—Fiction. 2. Women—Crimes against— Fiction. 3. Colorado—Fiction. 4. Suspense fiction. I. Title.
PS3602.R366 I68 2010
Part of the Tree Neutral
program, which offsets the number of trees consumed in the production and printing of this book by taking proactive steps, such as planting trees in direct proportion to the number of trees used: www.treeneutral.com
Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper
10 11 12 13 14 15 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To Mom, who taught me to dream
To Dad, who proved I could dream BIG
To my brothers and sisters, who spent hours with me daydreaming
To my husband, who taught me how to dream in color
And to my boys, who made my dreams come alive
A BOTTLE ATOP A
tiny two-drawer cabinet next to a larger two-drawer cabinet. Where had she seen this before?
The cabinets were brown. The bottle was brown. The cork, brown. The gravel beneath her feet, the hills around Horsetooth Dam, the rowboats nearby, even the clouds in the dark sky. Brown. Differing shades of brown, as far as she could tell in the moonlight, but brown nonetheless. The dress he had made her put on—simple and old-fashioned, with eggshell-colored lace serving as trim around the collar and the tight short sleeves—was a warm chocolate brown.
Undressing in front of him had made her tremble. Not because of the cool June night in the Rocky Mountain foothills but because she dreaded what would come next. She was proud of having remained chaste and she didn’t want to lose her virginity now. Not like this. But he hadn’t raped her. Instead, he had just stared at her nakedness and smiled. His dark eyes were wild and still. They didn’t scan her body as she would have anticipated;rather, his stare pinned her in place, rendering her useless to fight back or run or scream.
strong enough, fast enough, crazy enough to fight back. Even after sleeping off the roofie or whatever it was that he had slipped into her drink, so disoriented when she had awakened that she had no clue what time or even what day it was. She had lain in the dark room for what seemed like hours, trying to clear her mind, regain her strength, calculate a way out of this mess. She had pretended she was with her mother, laying her head on her lap, feeling hands stroke her hair, and hearing her say everything was going to be all right. And she had felt strong again.
When she had tried the doorknob in the dark room, it didn’t give. The only window was covered by a steel grate that had been welded on the inside of the frame. There was no escape. He had done this before, she had thought. She wasn’t his first prisoner. Or his last. And then a second thought had come to her. She hadn’t heard or read anything recently about women disappearing or dead bodies being found. A wave of relief had washed over her mind then. She wasn’t going to die after all. She just had to do what her abductor told her to do.
So, here she stood, focusing all her energy on being still, obedient. Dressed like a settler, complete with a homespun apron, and standing amid the bizarre props he had pulled from the back of his truck.
He had promised her earlier that night that if she obeyed his every instruction, he would not harm her. But if she did not obey he would turn his attention to Julia. She would not let that happen. Even if it killed her.
Her frazzled nerves had paralyzed the part of her brain that was trying to recall where she’d seen this setting before. The odd cabinets they had both carefully placed near the water’s edge at his instruction, the wooden cane he was carrying, the dress. It was somehow familiar, but she couldn’t quite recall why. And why did it even matter whether she had seen this before? Something primordial demanded it of her, though. She
know the reason for all this.
Neither his stare nor his smile had changed, even after she had finished dressing. What was he fantasizing about her? Was she his maid? His pilgrim? His little woman in his little house on some stupid prairie out west?
But the shoes. They were the most confusing part of all. Her high-top leather basketball shoes and tube socks were heaped by the shoreline next to her blue jeans, T-shirt, and green CSU hoodie. Next to the heap was a pair of tan Converse low-top tennis shoes with no laces.