I don’t sleep well.
Maybe it’s a holdover from my old life as a homicide inspector. Maybe it’s the remnants of paranoia that cling to me, shaking me awake in the middle of the night to listen to the quiet for a whispering voice. . .
Hey there, darlin’, Did you miss me?
There’s no voice. Hasn’t been for nearly a year now. Nothing in my head but my own thoughts and maybe that’s what wakes me. The silence. It’s big. Too big sometimes. During the day, there’s activity. Kids and dogs. Meals to prepare. Dishes to wash. Routine. Noise. Things to do. Life to hide behind.
The silence feels different in the dark. It feels like waiting.
I feel the press of Avasa’s nose against my knee and I open my eyes to find her sitting on the floor next to my side of the bed. As soon as I open my eyes she whines softly and stands, her paws mincing impatiently as if to say, come on, you’re wasting time.
I don’t want to wake Michael but as soon as I shift toward the edge of the bed, I feel his arm snake around my waist, pulling me close. “Sabrina,” he murmurs, eyes still closed.
“Avasa needs to go out,” I say, turning to press a kiss to his sleep-softened mouth. “I’ll be right back.”
“Want me to take her?” he offers, sounding more alert.
“Nope.” I kiss him again and the arm around my waist loosens. I ease out of bed and Avasa dances backwards to make room for me. I pull on a pair of pajama pants and Michael’s discarded T-shirt while she watches me, tail twitching, not so much excited as she is impatient. “Keep your pants on,” I hiss at her and she chuffs at me in response, making me laugh.
She leads me down the hall, into the kitchen. Moonlight streams in through the window and I can see her clearly as she sits down in front of the backdoor, tail swishing. I reach past her and flip the lock as I look at the clock mounted on the wall. It’s 3AM.
“I really have to teach you how to let yourself out,” I tell her, pulling the door open and she bolts ahead of me. Instead of heading into the yard she stops short, dropping her rump on the top tread of the steps, planting herself between me and yard. “Hurry up, knucklehead. I’ve got another couple hours to sleep and I don’t want to waste it on—”
Avasa growls, low and deep in the back of her throat, the sound of it tightening the skin on the back of my neck.
Something’s out here.
I think of the antique larder a few feet behind me. There are guns in there. It would take me less than a minute to unlock it and arm myself. Instead, I leave the safety of the doorway, pulling it shut firmly behind me to join my dog on the porch. “Shhh,” I say, smoothing my hand over her sleek head while I scan the yard. As soon as I touch her, she settles, pressing her head against the top of my thigh.
The moon is full, washing the yard in bright, silvery light. About fifty yards ahead is the river. Beyond it more land—we’re surrounded by nearly five-hundred acres. Beyond that, the steep cliffs that encircle our valley and keep us safe. There is nothing out here that doesn’t belong. It’s impossible.
Still, I feel naked. Exposed, and I lace my fingers around Avasa’s collar, getting ready to yank her into the house if I have to. . . and then I see him.
He’s sitting on the opposite bank of the river, watching us. Seeing him, my fingers relax and I sink down to sit on the top step next to Avasa. “Your boyfriend’s back,” I say and she answers me with another growl, this one softer than the first.
The wolf is big. His massive head held high, steel gray fur glowing blue in the moonlight. He’s a frequent late-night visitor, usually accompanied by the small pack he leads. This time he’s alone.
“I think he likes you,” I tell her. I swear she rolls her eyes at me.
About a hundred yards from where he’s sitting is a bridge. If he wanted to, he’d have little trouble finding his way across and into our yard but he doesn’t. As usual, he stays on his side of the river. He just sits there, watching us. Watching me.
It happens again—the skin on the back of my neck goes tight. A warning and I instantly aim my gaze as the narrow dirt road beyond the bridge, half expecting to see someone traveling its narrow width but it’s empty. We’re still alone here—still safe—but I have the feeling that’s about to change.
When I swing my gaze back toward the river, the wolf is gone.
I stand. “Come on,” I say to my dog and she reluctantly follows me inside.
Blood of Saints is the fifth book in the Sabrina Vaughn thriller series, published by Midnight Ink, August 2016.
He wants a miracle
And he won’t stop killing until he gets one
Deep in the mountains of Montana, former Homicide inspector Sabrina Vaughn has found the kind of peace she’s always dreamed of. And with Michael O’Shea, she’s found the kind of love she never thought possible. Together, even under the constant threat of faraway adversaries, they’ve managed to build the kind of idyllic life they’ve both longed for.
But a life this safe was never meant to last. When twenty-year-old forensic evidence connects her to a string of recent murders, Sabrina must leave her new life behind and return to the place she was brutally raped and tortured in order to search for a killer who’s as cunning as any she’s ever encountered.
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Meet the author
Maegan Beaumont is the award-winning author of the Sabrina Vaughn thriller series. Her debut novel, Carved In Darkness was awarded the 2014 gold medal from Independent Publishers for outstanding thriller as well as being named a Foreword, book of the year finalist and Debut Novel of the Year by Suspense Magazine. When she isn’t locked in her office, torturing her protagonists, she’s busy chasing chickens (and kids), hanging laundry and burning dinner. Either way, she almost always in to company of her six dogs, her truest and most faithful companions and her almost as faithful husband, Joe. Look for the fifth novel in her series, BLOOD OF SAINTS, released by Midnight Ink in August 2016. Connect with Maegan at maeganbeaumont.com.
All comments are welcomed.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win the complete 5-book series set (Carved in Darkness, Sacrificial Muse, Promises to Keep, Waiting in Darkness and Blood of Saints). U.S. residents only, please. The giveaway will end August 18, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!