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Authors: Mariah Stewart

Voices Carry

BOOK: Voices Carry
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P
RAISE FOR
M
ARIAH
S
TEWART
AND
H
ER
M
ARVELOUS
N
OVELS OF
R
OMANTIC
S
USPENSE

BROWN-EYED GIRL

“In the tradition of such bestselling suspense authors as Sandra Brown and Tami Hoag, Mariah Stewart crafts a mesmerizing tale. . . The world of romantic suspense has a new rising star and her name is Mariah Stewart!”

—Under the Covers Reviews

“Deftly combines the tingling excitement of a thriller with the passion of a true romance.”

—Romantic Times

“Mariah Stewart proves she can deliver first-class, pulse-pounding suspense while still retaining the type of romantic characters she is renowned for.”

—The Belles and Beaux of Romance

“Another great book by Mariah Stewart. . . A story that will appeal to readers who enjoy the psychological thrillers of Tami Hoag and Linda Howard.”

—America Online Writers Club Romance Group

“Mariah Stewart is sure to become the new Goddess of Romantic Suspense.
Brown-Eyed Girl
is a hardcover quality read at a mass-market paperback price readers will love.”

—CompuServe Romance Reviews

“The romantic suspense book of the year.”

—Midwest Fiction Reviews

PRICELESS

“The very talented Ms. Stewart is rapidly building an enviable reputation for providing readers with outstanding stories and characters that are exciting, distinctive, and highly entertaining. Four and a half stars.”

—Romantic Times

“The best of romance and suspense. Flowing dialogue, wonderfully well-rounded and realistic characters, and beautifully descriptive passages fill the pages of
Priceless
. . . Not to be missed.”


RomCom.com

“Ms. Stewart’s story lines flow like melted chocolate.”

—America Online Writers Club Romance Group

“In the style of Nora Roberts, Stewart weaves a powerful romance with suspense for a very compelling read.”

—Under the Covers Reviews

“An exceptionally gifted storyteller with a unique ability. . . [Stewart has] a rare talent that places her in the company of today’s bestselling romantic suspense authors.”

—CompuServe Reviews

MOON DANCE

“Enchanting. . . a story filled with surprises.”

—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Stewart’s books, like Nora Roberts’ sibling sagas. . . are about relationships. I can’t think of many writers who can do this better.”

—Under the Cover Reviews

“Filled with excitement, suspense, and a passionate love story, told by a master storyteller. A book to cherish.”

—The Belles and Beaux of Romance

“[Stewart] hits a home run out of the ballpark. . . a delightful contemporary romance.”

—The Romance Reader

WONDERFUL YOU

“You can’t help but be caught up with all the sorrows, joys, and passion of this unforgettable family. Four and a half stars.”

—Romantic Times

“Wonderful You
is delightful—romance, laughter, suspense! Totally charming and enchanting.”

—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Mariah Stewart exceeds her own high standards of excellence with a work that compares favorably with the best of Barbara Delinsky and Belva Plain.”

—Harriet Klausner,
Amazon.com

 

For orders other than by individual consumers, Pocket Books grants a discount on the purchase of
10 or more
copies of single titles for special markets or premium use. For further details, please write to the Vice President of Special Markets, Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10020-1586.

For information on how individual consumers can place orders, please write to Mail Order Department, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 100 Front Street, Riverside, NJ 08075.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

An
Original
Publication of POCKET BOOKS

POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

Copyright © 2001 by Marti Robb

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce
this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue
of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

ISBN: 0-671-78591-5
eISBN-13: 978-0-6717-8591-8

First Pocket Books printing February 2001

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Front cover illustration by Ben Perini

Printed in the U.S.A.

 

For our much-loved cousin,
Bonnie Bricker Almquist,
who took me to a place where
this story
could
have happened.

 

V
OICES
C
ARRY

1

The nightmare always began the same way.

Outside, the monotonous drone of cicadas would drift through the sultry midnight air. There would be faint light from the single bare yellow bulb that hung outside, over the front door, and cast a small pale spot of illumination within. Cheap handmade curtains, pulled back tightly to one side to permit the maximum amount of still air, hung on windows screened against mosquitoes and all those other things that flew about at night.

She lay upon her cot, her light brown hair tousled around her child’s face, curled in sleep that had been long coming. She’d been willful that day, sneaking off during morning meditation to pick flowers to take to her older sister who’d been confined in the camp’s infirmary with another of the recurring headaches that had plagued her that summer. One of the counselors had reported the girl’s transgression to Brother Michael, and he’d chastised her—though not by name—before the entire camp at the end of evening prayers, rambling on and on about how some little camper’s spirit needed purification. She’d been standing near the back of the group that gathered
in the prayer circle, and hadn’t been able to see him—she’d gone just about all summer without seeing his face—but she knew he’d been talking about her. Just about everyone knew that she’d been the one who’d made a forbidden raid on the flower garden that afternoon.

She’d been surprised at having been let off with nothing more than a public berating. It had been well worth a few moments embarrassment to see her sister smile at the offer of a few daisies and the handful of pretty stones, stones that could be rubbed for luck and hidden under the pillow while she waited for her headache to wane.

Only the sympathetic glances from some of the older girls as she’d passed them on her way to her cabin had disturbed her. She’d lain awake that night for a long time after lights out, trying to decipher what exactly it was that she’d read in their faces. After several hours of trying to define what she did not understand, she’d finally fallen into a sleep so deep that she hadn’t heard the cabin door open.

Hadn’t felt the thin blanket being drawn down, nor the hands that had, with practiced deliberation, lifted her from her bed and carried her with measured steps out of the cabin and into the night.

It wasn’t until he stumbled on the path, jolting her, that she’d awakened, disoriented and confused.

“What. . . ?” she muttered.

“Hush,” he’d whispered gruffly.

“But where are you. . .” She attempted to twist away from him, but his arms only tightened around her.

“Hush, I said.”

“But I don’t want. . .”

Damp grass tickled her bare feet as she was lowered to the ground in one quick motion. One strong arm tightened around her neck, the hand clasped over her mouth.

He dragged her along, the light of the moon dimly illuminating the path into the dense woods before them and playing off the gauzy white robe that hid all but his hands.

She struggled, fear surging through her thin limbs with every step that he forced her to take.

“I’ve been watching you, Genevieve. You are headstrong and disobedient and in need of purification,” he said in a low voice, not quite a whisper, now that they were on the path leading down through the woods toward the playing fields below, far away from the cabins. “It is my duty to consecrate your body and drive away the impiety that infects your spirit.”

“Let me go.” She kicked blindly backward, catching his right knee with the sole of her foot.

He grunted as her small foot hit its mark, then punished her with a blow to the back of her head with his fist.

“I can see that you will require more than the usual hallowing.” He spoke softly, calmly, directly into her right ear.

“Help! Hel—”

The hand clasped over her mouth again, and he dragged her farther into the woods, her heart racing frantically as she struggled against his strong arms.

Everyone knew that something bad lived deep in the forest, back beyond the pines. It was whispered among the younger girls that the woods were haunted, and sometimes late at night, she had thought she’d
heard hushed cries carried on the sultry night wind. She, like the others, had sworn to never go past the dense wall of pines that bordered the end of the soccer field. She squeezed her eyes tightly closed. If one of the dreaded specters lurked about, she was pretty sure she didn’t want to see it.

Finally, they reached a clearing where white candles set upon the ground glowed in the shape of an arc and where, with one swift movement of a foot, he took her legs out from under her and dropped her, flat on her back, onto the ground.

Falling on top of her, he closed his eyes—those dark eyes that burned with an unnatural fire from within the frame of the hooded garment—and began to pray, even as he ripped her nightgown from the neckline to the hem.

The last thing he’d expected was a well-aimed foot, powered as much by fury as by fear, to land squarely in his scrotum.

Howling with pain, he fell back and to one side, just long enough for her to scramble onto her knees, onto her feet, and to disappear into the night.

Clutching the halves of the torn nightgown, she ran along the dark path, swallowing back her cries as jagged stones and thorns, burrs and sticks, tormented the soles of her feet. But she never stopped running, and she never looked back. She simply ran and ran and ran, through the deepest part of the woods, her heart beating like the wings of a tiny bird within her chest, her breath coming in anxious puffs from her tired, tortured lungs in spite of her best efforts to make no sound, lest he hear and find her. Beneath her feet, unseen things crackled, and overhead, something called to the night. And still she ran,
with no thought but to escape from Brother Michael while at the same time avoiding whatever other demons inhabited the dark places.

BOOK: Voices Carry
13.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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