Title The Victim’s Child
Author Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton
Genre Mystery Romance, Suspense
..AND THE KILLER HAD NO FACE…
Lara Radburn arrives minutes after a crime is committed. She finds her renter, Crystal Mar, a local artist, dead. She has been bludgeoned by one of her own works in progress…the sculpture of a fierce lion. Her four-year-old daughter, Karma, has disappeared. In a frantic search through the surrounding woods, Lara encounters a stranger who helps her find Crystal’s child. But she soon discovers that Dane Lanford is the man who has taken her late brother’s role as head of the local art retreat, a place shrouded in rumors and mystery, and has ties to Crystal through her artwork. To the traumatized child, the face of the killer has merged with that of the stone lion, so she can identify no one. Lara suspects charming Dane Lanford may be Karma’s father…and a cold-blooded killer.
She was still rocking, arms clasped tightly together, when they found her.
Karma was barely aware of the eyes invading her terrible solitude. In spite of the darkness, the eyes seemed to reflect the surrounding green. They were nice, kindly eyes in a pretty face encircled by tangled tresses of blonde. Mommy's friend. Lara!
"Over here!" Lara gasped. "She's bleeding!"
More footsteps. Karma heard a man's deep, anxious voice, felt gentle hands reach out to her, coaxing her from her hiding place. Strong arms lifted her. She remembered the feel of those arms, the pleasant scent of him, like leather and spice. Karma stifled a sob and clung to the man's broad shoulders, feeling the warmth of him, the safety.
Whispering soothing words of comfort, he carefully inspected her forehead. It stung where his large hand pressed against Karma's feverish skin.
Karma drew in a shuddering breath and began to cry. "I want Mommy! Where is my mommy?"
The woman broke the stillness, but not to answer her question. "Are you hurt, Karma? Did you fall?"
"Were you in the house?" the man demanded.
Karma buried her face against his shoulder. She could not answer—but a scream sounded that she hadn't intended to make.
"This is very important," Lara spoke. "Was someone there with your mother?"
In her mind, Karma pictured the shattered mountain lion. She saw the gleaming eyes, the snarling lips, and the jagged edge where part of it had broken away.
The man's grip on her loosened. Eyes, almost black, seared into hers. "Who was in there? Did you see him?"
The dark figure she had seen clutching the lion wavered before her mind. Through the screen door Karma had momentarily glimpsed his face as he bent over her mother's body...distorted lips, cold eyes, angry like the mountain lion's.
With cheek pressed hard against the man's shirt, Karma struggled to remember. But a protective shield rose up in her mind, blocking his image. She could see his form crouched over her mother's body. But as he raised his head toward her his features melted into a dark, gaping void. The emptiness slowly filled with the snarling lips and the glittering eyes of the shattered mountain lion.
And the killer had no face.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub)
Sisters and co-authors Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton have written over fifty novels including the popular Jeff McQuede High Country Mystery Series, set in Wyoming. They are also co-authors of the eight-book Ardis Cole archaeological mystery series.
Their books are written with readers in mind who enjoy cozy mystery, mystery romance, and romantic suspense. Some of their single titles include The Vanished Lady, The Mayan Mask of Death, and Path of the Jagar, They are currently working on a new mystery romance, The Knights of Garland Murder, set in Kansas, where both of them reside.
Social Media Links
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Vickie-Britton/e/B002BLR63K
Web Page: https://sites.google.com/site/vickiebrittonandlorettajackson/