I sit on my little front porch in a white wicker chair watching the sun rise over the water, which glistens a deep cobalt. The sky is full of pinks and oranges, clouds sweeping as though I’d taken my paintbrush and gently moved it across the canvas. I’ve painted a lot of sunrises over the years—and a lot of sunsets. Tourists come to Veronica’s gallery and want to bring home a little piece of the island so they buy my paintings. I never thought I could do this, and while I can’t make a living at it, I do bring in some income to offset the bike tours I give.
My name is Nicole—or it might not be—and I’ve been missing for fifteen years, living on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. My days start here, on my porch, with a bowl of oatmeal or cold cereal as I contemplate the water, waiting for the next ferry to come in. Now, before the tourist season really starts, I might take advantage of a little free time and ride my bike down to the spa for a yoga class or to get a massage after a particularly hard workout. The island is hilly, and the roads zigzag around picturesque stone walls and white and gray clapboard houses on the way to the North Light. The Mohegan Bluffs rise majestically over the waves that crash onto their stony shoreline. It’s peaceful here, the scent of salt water in the air, lulling me into believing that I am safe.
It feels normal, my life. As though what happened before never happened at all. As though I have lived here forever. I meet Steve for dinner on Friday nights at Club Soda and we share laughter and conversation over hamburgers and beers. Jeanine and Veronica are girlfriends I never had before, and we share stories about the men in our lives—or at least they do. No one seems to notice that they know next to nothing about my past, that I am a very good listener but don’t say much in response.
I am sitting here, on my front porch, watching the day break, the sun rising higher and higher in the sky, and I consider a hike in Rodman’s Hollow. The shad is in bloom, the dainty white flowers dancing across the branches.
I have no sense of foreboding, no indication that tonight my life will change, that my past will come galloping into my present and I may have to run again.
You can read more about Nicole in Hidden, the first book in a NEW suspense series, published by Severn House.
Nicole Jones – if that is her real name – lives off the grid. She doesn’t have a licence, passport or bank account. She definitely doesn’t own a computer. She hasn’t left her refuge, Block Island, in fifteen years. She’s hidden from the world and she likes it that way. Nicole doesn’t use a computer, not because she’s afraid of it, but because she’s afraid of what she – a badass hacker in her past life – would do with it.
When the last person Nicole wants to see suddenly reappears, using a name he knows will draw her out, Nicole realizes that her time hidden is now ending. Her past secrets tumbling into the open and her carefully-constructed new life set to fall apart, Nicole must re-hone her long-suppressed computer skills in order to escape from an island that is no longer a haven, but suddenly a prison.
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About the author
Karen E. Olson is the author of Hidden, the first in a new suspense series. She is also the author of the Annie Seymour and Tattoo Shop mysteries. She won the Sara Ann Freed Memorial Award for her debut mystery Sacred Cows, and her fourth Annie Seymour book, Shot Girl, was nominated for a Shamus Award. She lives in Connecticut. Please visit her website at www.kareneolson.com.