Out of the Dark

Out of the Dark

4.7 52
by Sharon Sala

View All Available Formats & Editions

Street artist Jade remembers little of her childhood except for the time she spent under the ruthless control of a cult leader, a time marked by terrible abuse and suffering. For the fifteen years since she escaped his grasp, she has survived by living on the streets and never putting down roots.

Ex-cop Luke Kelly knows his friend Sam Cochrane wants nothing

…  See more details below


Street artist Jade remembers little of her childhood except for the time she spent under the ruthless control of a cult leader, a time marked by terrible abuse and suffering. For the fifteen years since she escaped his grasp, she has survived by living on the streets and never putting down roots.

Ex-cop Luke Kelly knows his friend Sam Cochrane wants nothing more than to find his daughter, Jade, who was taken from him as a child. So Luke uses all his connections to make that happen, not knowing that by reuniting Jade with her father he is exposing her to a deadly peril.

In the healing embrace of her father's home, Jade—with Luke's loving help—begins to put fear behind her. But somewhere in the darkness, a man is prepared to kill rather than let Jade reveal the secrets of her childhood. And when her story makes the national news, that someone finally knows where to find her.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Readers who have come to appreciate Sala's predilection for controversial topics and her ability to skillfully convey their emotional impact will relish this but moving romantic suspense novel. Kidnapped by her upper-middle-class mother, who'd inexplicably "turned into some mushroom-smoking hippie named Ivy," six-year-old Jade Cochrane was prostituted to pedophiles following her mom's death and knew little of childhood besides life in a cult called The People of Joy. Now a gorgeous, albeit troubled, street painter in her late 20s, Jade unwittingly sets in motion a reunion with her long-lost father when she sells a painting to one of his vacationing friends. After Jade's tumultuous, highly publicized return to her loving father's arms, former cult members get wind of her whereabouts and threaten the seeming safety and happiness she's finally found with her father and kind-hearted security expert Luke Kelly. The use of flashbacks lends credibility to Jade's past and helps flesh out her character. Although Sala (Dark Water, etc.) has the tendency to overstate her points, which is evidenced by the book's de trop epilogue, she handles the sensitive issue of Jade's past with skill, never allowing her story to descend into melodrama. In short, this is the perfect entertainment for those looking for a suspense novel with emotional intensity. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
707 KB

Read an Excerpt

Out Of The Dark

By Sharon Sala

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-55166-740-1

Chapter One

St. Louis, Missouri - 1977

It was just after midnight when Margaret Cochrane opened her eyes to look at the face of her sleeping husband. She'd been Sam Cochrane's wife for seven years and Jade's mother for four, and once she'd loved Sam Cochrane more than life. But during the past year, she'd struggled unsuccessfully to hide her unhappiness with herself and with life. Times were changing. The country had been at war for years in a land she could barely pronounce. Young men had abdicated their military duty by escaping to countries outside of the U.S. to keep from being drafted. People Margaret's age had staged sit-ins in protest, burned flags and marched on Washington, D.C. She felt as if life had passed her by. She had so wanted to be a part of it - to make a change in the world. But her responsibilities as a wife and mother had precluded those options. To satisfy her emotional drought, she had decided to enroll in a self-realization course at a local community college.

Then one day, less than two weeks into the course, she had taken a shortcut across the campus greens to the bus stop and found the path blocked by a large gathering of people. She'd seen their kind before, but never up close. Both men and women wore their hair long and hanging loose about their faces. Some had flowers woven into their hair; others carried bouquets and handed out a flower to anyone who wandered by. They dressed like gypsies from some Hollywood movie, in bright, colorful fabrics - the women in dresses that brushed against their ankles, the men in tight pants and long psychedelic print shirts that hung halfway to their knees. They referred to themselves as the People of Joy and were led by a man who called himself Solomon.

Margaret stopped out of curiosity, listening halfheartedly to their talk of free love and making peace, not war, until the man who called himself Solomon stepped off the low wall on which he'd been standing and started toward her.

One look from the dark-eyed, charismatic leader and she'd been hooked. He'd smiled at her, touched her face, then her hair, with the back of his hand. She felt the warmth of his breath as he bent down and placed a flower in her hair above her ear. As he did, the crowd around them had laughed then applauded, and something within Margaret had soared. One day ran into the next, and then the next, until she was at the campus almost daily. Seven days after her first encounter with Solomon, she'd gone again, only this time with Jade.

The People treated her child as if she was a princess, exclaiming over Jade's stunning beauty, even weaving flowers into her curly black hair and painting a tiny butterfly on the baby doll curve of her cheek. They praised Margaret until she felt as if she'd given birth to a holy child. Within the short space of that week, the emptiness in her heart had been replaced with a false sense of family. And so the brainwashing of Margaret Cochrane had begun.

Six months later, she was about to break her marriage vows to the man she'd sworn to love, honor and cherish. If that wasn't daunting enough, she was also about to steal away his only child. More than once she'd thought about telling him, but she knew he would never understand.

She slipped out of bed, careful not to wake Sam, then stood within the darkness of the room, looking down at his face. He was so good-looking, and he did love her. But he was always busy, and he didn't understand her. It seemed to Margaret as if everything mattered more to him than she did. There was a brief moment of hesitation before her eyes narrowed purposefully. Quickly she slipped off her nightgown and dressed, choosing a long, ankle-length dress made of a blue, flowered fabric that she'd purchased yesterday. She picked up her shoes, waiting to put them on until she had stepped into the hall. With a quick backward glance over her shoulder, she hurried next door to Jade's room and slipped inside.

The baby was sleeping like the angel she was. Margaret thought of what she was about to do and hesitated again. Sam was going to be devastated. He doted on Jade, and it would be easier if she left Jade behind. Margaret knew it wouldn't be difficult for him to find a nanny. But then she thought of how the People had praised her for giving birth to such a perfect child and was afraid to leave her behind. Jade had become part of her identity with the People.

Having settled that in her mind, she bent down, and as she did, her long blond hair fell forward, hiding her face like a veil. She brushed the dark tangles from her baby's cheek then whispered softly in her ear.

"Jade ... wake up, honey. We're going for a ride."

Four-year-old Jade Cochrane rolled over onto her side, subconsciously pulling away from her mother's grasp.

"No, Mommy," she muttered, her voice thick with sleep.

"Don't wanna go."

Margaret glanced nervously over her shoulder, then grabbed the pink blanket that was Jade's sleeping companion and wrapped her up in a larger blanket before lifting her out of the bed.

"Sure you do," Margaret whispered. "You're Mommy's girl, and Mommy can't go without you."

Unaware that the pink blanket had fallen onto the floor, Margaret carried Jade out of the room, then hurried down the stairs of the old family mansion. Within seconds, she was out the door and running down the long drive toward an old blue Volkswagen van parked at the curb. As she approached, the side door slid open. Two bearded men wearing soft flowing robes and ponytails met her with open arms, took Jade out of her arms, then followed her into the van. Within seconds, the door slid shut. There was a moment when Margaret looked up at the two men in the darkness and started to panic. Then one of the men took a hand-rolled joint out of his mouth and offered it to her.

"Here, pretty lady ... have a toke."

Margaret shivered as she put the marijuana cigarette into her mouth. She inhaled sharply, held her breath for a moment to let the drug cycle through her brain, then exhaled through her nose. The kick of the drug silenced her conscience as competently as if she'd put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. Two more pulls from the joint and she knew that she was right where she wanted to be.

Jade whimpered. One of the men pulled the covers up over her shoulder, then shifted her to the back of the van as the other man reached for the joint dangling between Margaret's fingers. He took a long drag, then put the vehicle in gear and sped away.

Inside the house, Sam Cochrane rolled over in bed, felt the empty pillow beside his head and sat upright with a jerk. His wife's absence wasn't unusual. She often got up in the night to check on Jade. But there was something about the silence of the house that felt different. There was a vacuum in the space where love was supposed to be.


No one answered.

He got up out of bed and hurried next door to their daughter's room. The room was dark, the door ajar. He shoved it aside and walked in, only to find the bed empty and his daughter gone. When he saw the pink blanket lying on the floor next to the bed and Jade nowhere in sight, his heart skipped a beat. Jade never slept without it. This time, when he called his wife's name, he was yelling.


Still no answer.

He turned on lights as he ran through the house, running up to the third floor, then back through the second, before going down the stairs to the main floor. It wasn't until he got to the foyer and found the door standing open that reality hit. They were gone, and while the possibility of foul play couldn't be ruled out, in his heart, he knew what she'd done. The signs had been right in front of him for weeks, but he'd ignored them, refusing to believe Maggie was that unhappy, unwilling to admit that any part of it was his fault. He'd seen the love beads lying on her dresser, noticed the changes she'd made in her hairstyle and clothes. Last week he'd come home early and seen what society called a "hippie" van pulling out of the driveway. When he'd questioned Maggie about it, she'd shrugged it off by saying it was only people asking for directions. He hadn't believed her, but he'd been unwilling to broach the subject. And now it was too late.

He ran out onto the lawn and then down the driveway just in time to see a pair of taillights disappearing down the street.

"Maggie! Come back! Come back! For God's sake ... come back!"

His screams shattered the silence of the night as he raced down the street chasing the taillights, but it was no use. The vehicle disappeared. She was gone, and she'd taken their baby with her.


Excerpted from Out Of The Dark by Sharon Sala Copyright ©2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Meet the Author

Sharon Sala is a native of Oklahoma and a member of Romance Writers of America.  She is a NYT, USA Today, Publisher's Weekly, WaldenBooks mass market, Bestselling author of 85 plus books written as Sharon Sala and Dinah McCall.  She's a 7 time RITA finalist, Janet Dailey Award winner, 5 time National Reader's Choice Award winner, 4 time Career Achievement Award from RT Magazine, 4 time winner of Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >