Silent Storm

Silent Storm

by Amanda Stevens

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The kind a small-town girl like Marly Jessop had rarely—if ever—seen in the flesh. Deacon Cage arrived in Mission Creek, Texas, like a specter in the night, stealthy and secretive. And his ability to stir Marly's feminine senses was like no other man's….

But she didn't have time for



The kind a small-town girl like Marly Jessop had rarely—if ever—seen in the flesh. Deacon Cage arrived in Mission Creek, Texas, like a specter in the night, stealthy and secretive. And his ability to stir Marly's feminine senses was like no other man's….

But she didn't have time for female fantasies. As local deputy, Marly had her hands full with a rash of suspicious suicides. Could there be a link between them and the killer Deacon came to catch? And would Marly survive her run-in with the desirable Deacon?

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Quantum Men , #2
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Silent Storm

By Amanda Stevens

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-22759-0

Chapter One

The rain was relentless. It came down in a steady drizzle, with no let up in sight. Huddled on the front porch of a shabby little house on the outskirts of Mission Creek, Texas, Marly Jessop scanned the gray sky with a growing sense of unease.

Meteorologists were calling it the wettest spring South Texas had seen in over five decades, and they blamed the unusual precipitation on everything from El Niño to global warming. But Marly didn't much care about the science behind the soggy forecast. She had very little knowledge of, or interest in, the upper-level troughs and low pressure systems the so-called experts kept babbling about on the evening news. What she did know was that the dreary weather was starting to wear on her nerves.

The weather ... and now the suicides.

Three unnatural deaths in just over a week would be a disturbing phenomenon for any community, but in a town the size of Mission Creek - population 18,733 give or take - it was downright scary.

Wiping a nervous hand down the side of her uniform, Marly turned and knocked on the front door of the wood-frame house. When there was no answer, she gave a quick glance over her shoulder, as if expecting someone to sneak up on her.

But no one was about. The rain had chased everyone inside. The whole community wore an air of abandonment. No passing cars. No barking dogs. No kids playing in puddles.

The only sound came from the raindrops that pattered incessantly against the porch roof, whispered eerily through the citrus trees in the front yard until Marly wanted to lift her hands and cover her ears. The rain was almost like a presence, a ghostly entity that settled over Buena Vista, a blue-collar neighborhood for day laborers, automechanics and construction workers like Ricky Morales, who hadn't been seen or heard from in over three days - according to an anonymous caller - despite the fact that his brand-new Ford pickup was parked underneath the carport.

Marly rapped on the door more insistently. "Ricky? You in there? It's Marly. Marly Jessop. Chief Navarro sent me out here to check up on you. Some of your neighbors are getting worried about you. Come on now. Open up."

Still getting no response, Marly put her ear to the door. She could hear nothing at first over the sound of the rain, but then came the faint tinkle of music. Whether it was coming from inside the house or from somewhere else - her imagination perhaps - Marly didn't know, but the distant strains gave her an eerie sense of déja vu.

Without warning her mind skidded back in time, and suddenly she was twelve years old again, a gawky adolescent on the cusp of womanhood as she stood on her grandmother's front porch, calling through the door: "Grandma, you home? It's me, Marlene. I came over to see if you're okay. Mama was worried when you weren't in church this morning. Grandma?"

There'd been no answer that time, either, just the low, mournful wail of trumpets and the singer's achingly beautiful voice blending with the rain.

The record had been scratched, Marly remembered, so that one part played over and over:

... Gloomy Sunday ... Gloomy Sunday ... Gloomy Sunday ...

She could see herself opening the door and stepping inside, her nose wrinkling at the abrasive odor of ammonia that could never quite dispel the old woman scent that permeated the house.


Walking quietly down the hallway, Marly glanced over her shoulder to make sure she wasn't leaving muddy footprints on the hardwood floor. Her grandmother hated dirt, almost as much as she despised children. Grubby creatures, she called Marly and her brother, Sam. Unsanitary heathens.


... Gloomy Sunday ... Gloomy Sunday ... Gloomy Sunday ...

Marly followed the sound of the music up the stairs to her grandmother's bedroom. Hanging from a ceiling beam, the old woman was suspended in a shaft of late-afternoon sunlight. Dust motes danced almost giddily in the air around her, and as Marly stared at the body in horror, she couldn't help thinking how much her grandmother would hate to be found like this. In her own filth, she would call it.

She was missing a shoe, too, and if there was anything Isabel Jessop obsessed over more than her house, it was her appearance. She never wore anything but dresses, all specially made for her by a seamstress in San Antonio. Cotton for everyday and silk or linen for Sundays and special occasions. And she purchased her makeup and toiletries from the cosmetics department at Dillard's. Wonderful smelling concoctions that came in lovely little bottles and jars, which Marly wasn't allowed to touch, let alone sample.

Her grandmother was wearing one of her Sunday dresses now, a crisp lilac linen, and Marly could see the diamond earbobs she'd always coveted glittering from her grandmother's lobes. In the split second before Marly screamed, she wondered what would happen to those earrings now ...

... Gloomy Sunday ... Gloomy Sunday ... Gloomy Sunday ...

The music faded with the memory, and Marly put a trembling hand to her mouth. Had she really heard that song? Or was her imagination playing tricks on her?

Considering everything that was going on in Mission Creek, it would be understandable if she had conjured the melody in her head. Everyone in town was on edge. Miss Gracie's tragic suicide had been hard enough on the community, but then those two high school kids had OD'd four days later.

Marly shuddered. Mission Creek was a small town. She knew all the victims, and their deaths had affected her deeply. And they'd brought back her nightmares with a vengeance.

A wave of dizziness swept over her now, and for a moment, she rested her forehead against the door frame to keep from being sick.

She clenched her fists tightly, willing away the vertigo. This wimpy stuff wasn't going to cut it. She was a peace officer in the township of Mission Creek, in the county of Durango, in the great state of Texas. She was sworn not only to uphold the law, but to serve and protect. If someone inside that house was in trouble, it was her duty to check out the situation and offer assistance. It might not be too late. This time might not be like the other ...

But what if it was?

A hand fell on Marly's shoulder, and for a split second, she froze in terror, certain that if she turned, she would find herself staring straight into the sightless eyes of her dead grandmother.

... Gloomy Sunday ... Gloomy Sunday ... Gloomy Sunday ...


Excerpted from Silent Storm by Amanda Stevens Copyright © 2004 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.

Meet the Author

Amanda Stevens is an award-winning author of over fifty novels. Born and raised in the rural south, she now resides in Houston, Texas.

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