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Threat of Darkness

Threat of Darkness

4.6 10
by Valerie Hansen

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As a nurse and special advocate for children, Samantha Rochard is used to danger in small-town Serenity, Arkansas. But when she suspects a little boy is in jeopardy from his powerful father, the danger turns on her. Her only source of protection? The handsome police officer who broke her heart five years ago. Yet after John Waltham comes to her rescue


As a nurse and special advocate for children, Samantha Rochard is used to danger in small-town Serenity, Arkansas. But when she suspects a little boy is in jeopardy from his powerful father, the danger turns on her. Her only source of protection? The handsome police officer who broke her heart five years ago. Yet after John Waltham comes to her rescue in more ways than one, Samantha must trust in him—and the Lord—to watch over her…and save one sweet little boy.

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The keening wails echoing down the usually quiet halls of the Serenity Medical Center made the hair on the back of Samantha Rochard's neck prickle. Every natural instinct told her to flee. Instead, her experience as a registered nurse sent her racing toward the sound of misery.

A doctor, white coat flying behind him, shoved her aside and burst through the curtain into an E.R. exam cubicle. She heard him start to speak. Then, his words were abruptly cut off.

A sixth sense brought Samantha to a skidding halt before the weighted curtain had stopped swinging behind him. Was that scuffling? Fighting? A thud?

She peeked through a slit between the panels. Dr. Weiss, the physician who had elbowed her out of his way, lay on the floor, moaning. A thin, scraggly figure she judged to be male stood with his back to her. The only thing about him that caught her attention and held it was the small, silver-colored revolver he was waving.

Samantha wheeled and flattened herself against a nearby wall. Hands trembling, she pulled out her cell phone, called 911 and cupped her hands around the instrument to muffle her speech.

"We need help at the medical center. Hurry."

"What's the nature of your emergency, ma'am?"

"I don't know." Samantha wanted to shout instead of whispering. "I heard a scream and…"

When the dispatcher interrupted to ask, "Is that you again, Ms. Rochard?" she figured her report wasn't going to be taken seriously. So what else was new?

"Look," Samantha said, "we've got a guy in our E.R. with a gun. Isn't that enough?"

"Okay. Stay where you are and let us handle it." There was a rumble of conversation and beeping noises in the background before the dispatcher returned. "We have units on the way. Stay on the line with me."

Samantha was about to reply when someone grabbed a fistful of her shoulder-length, dark hair and jerked her off her feet. The cell phone hit the floor with a splintering crack. She was being dragged backward into the exam area where Dr. Weiss lay!

Her scalp felt as though it was on fire. She couldn't think. Couldn't reason. All she could do was keep screaming "No! No!" and try to regain her balance enough to fight back.

The attacker flung her aside like a sack of dirty laundry. She landed hard. The instant she looked up she knew who had manhandled her. It was one of the teenage Boland boys. What's hisfirst name? Why can't I remember? Marty, Jimmy, Bobby? It was Bobby. Bobby Joe. At least that sounded right.

Shying away while her thoughts whirled, Samantha stared at the young man in the tattered jeans and T-shirt. His eyes were wide and darting, their pupils dilated. He was under the influence for sure, which made him even more unpredictable. His demeanor reminded her of an animal caught in the jaws of a steel trap and willing to chew its own leg off to escape.

She licked her lips and found her voice. "Hey, it's me. Samantha Rochard. You're—you're Bobby Joe, right? I used to go to school with your big sisters. Remember?"

His eyes flickered. His body was shaking so uncontrollably his hand kept jerking. The hand with the gun in it. "I—I know," he stammered. "I came to see you 'cause you're a nurse."

"Okay. I'm here," Samantha said with forced calm. "I'm going to get up now, Bobby. Will you let me do that?"

His nod was quick, twitchy. "Yeah."

Using the edge of the exam table to steady herself she kept her concentration on the teen's face, waiting for him to do something else irrational thanks to his drug-induced paranoia. The biggest plus of the whole situation was the fact that she knew all of the Boland kids had been raised with strong morals and lots of love, even if they hadn't had much else.

Samantha took a deep, settling breath and squared her shoulders. "I'm listening," she told the skinny, long-haired teen. "Why did you want to see me?"

He stepped aside so Samantha could view the occupant of the narrow gurney for the first time. A homemade quilt wrapped a frail, blond child about two years old. The little body lay quiet. Too quiet.

Whipping her stethoscope from around her neck she pushed the teen aside, threw back the edges of the quilt and began to check the child's vital signs. There was a heartbeat! Thank You, God.

"What happened?" she demanded.

"I don't know. I was just watchin' him for a friend and…"

"How long? How long has he been like this?"

Instead of answering, the gunman stepped back and began to weep as if his heart was breaking.

Samantha was no longer concerned about anything except the ill child. "Talk to me, Bobby Joe. Tell me everything."

Sobbing was all she heard so she doubled her efforts.

"Listen. Time matters. If you think he swallowed something I need to know what and when. Talk to me. Help me save him." She was searching for injuries on the little body as she spoke and finding none.

The young man sank to the floor near Dr. Weiss's feet. Samantha heard him mumble something about a stash and the little boy being too curious. That was enough to get started. She threw aside the curtain surrounding one end of the exam area and found herself staring at a trio of quaking coworkers.

"Narcan," Samantha shouted. "And find me a doctor who's conscious enough to give the order to administer."

"I can do it," Weiss said, rolling onto his hands and knees and pausing before pulling himself erect. He cast a wary glance at the assailant who was still babbling incoherently, then nodded at a middle-aged nurse who stood outside the immediate area. "You. Alice. You heard her. Meds. Stat. And somebody order a chopper. We'll transport to Children's in Little Rock as soon as we stabilize."

"Respirations are slow, pulse rapid and weak," Samantha told him.

"That figures." Weiss blew a sigh. "I'll start an IV while you give him half the dose IM. If the problem isn't opiate-induced, Narcan won't hurt him."

"Right." She administered the injection while other nurses and the doctor worked on the opposite side of the gurney.

The sound of approaching sirens caught her attention. Tensing, she eyed Bobby Joe. He apparently hadn't noticed that the police were almost there.

"Vitals are improving. Somebody take my place for a second," Samantha said before leaving the patient in other capable hands and going to crouch beside the distraught teen.

"We've given the boy an antidote and he's starting to respond. It's going to be okay." Reaching for his weapon and closing her hand around it, she made sure it was pointing in a safe direction, then exerted steady pressure. "You can let go. Give me the gun, Bobby Joe. Everything's under control."

Relieved beyond words when he did as she asked, Samantha stood, holding out the small, silver pistol, butt first and muzzle direction safely diverted, just the way she'd taken it from its owner.

Several police officers were already approaching warily when she turned to face them. Their guns were drawn, their expressions deadly serious so she announced, "You can relax, fellas. Everything's under control. I got his gun away from him for you."

One deputy sidled past her to cuff the addict while another stepped up and took the pistol from her hand.

If Samantha hadn't already been so keyed up that she could barely think straight, she might have shrieked when she saw that cop's face. Her jaw did drop and she was pretty sure her gasp was audible. His light brown hair and eyes and his broad shoulders were all too familiar. It couldn't be him, of course. It simply couldn't be. She hadn't had one of these deja vu moments for months. Maybe years.

Her pulse leaped as reality replaced imagination. She couldn't catch her breath. This was not another bad dream. John Waltham, the man who'd broken her heart so badly she'd wondered if she'd ever recover, was standing right in front of her, big as life.

Before she could decide how to greet him, he set the mood of their reunion. His "What did you think you were doing?'" was delivered with such force it was practically a growl.

That attitude stiffened her spine and made it easy to answer, "My job."

"You're a nurse, not a cop."

"Oh, so I'm supposed to just stand there while you and your buddies waltz in here and start shooting?"

"If necessary, yes."

"Don't be silly. I knew Bobby Joe wasn't going to hurt me," she insisted, wishing she fully believed her own assertion. When an addict was under the influence there was no way to predict what he or she might do.

Handling the pistol expertly, John unloaded it and passed it to one of his fellow officers to bag as evidence before turning back to Samantha.

She noticed that his expression had softened some but it was too little too late. She was already bristling. "What are you doing back in town?" She eyed him from head to toe. "And why are you dressed like a member of our police force?"

"Because that's what I am. I've come home," he said flatly.

Samantha couldn't believe her ears. After all he'd put her through, all the tears she'd shed after he'd left her high and dry, he had the unmitigated gall to return and go back to work as if nothing had changed. How dare he!

Seeing Samantha again had been disquieting to begin with. Seeing her with the perp's loaded gun in her hand had dealt him such a staggering blow he'd almost been rendered speechless.

Although Sam was prettier than ever, she now exhibited an element of authority and expertise that floored him. The last time they'd been together Sam had clung to him, crying and begging him to stay in Serenity. She'd acted as if she couldn't bear to see him go and was positive she couldn't live without him.

Now, however, she was behaving with such self-assurance he was stunned. His high school sweetheart had grown up in his absence. Boy, had she!

Waiting until the addict had been escorted to a patrol car and stuffed into the backseat, John approached her for the second time.

She looked up from her task of packaging the quilt and the child's clothing. She didn't speak, didn't smile.

John cleared his throat. "I think we got off on the wrong foot just now. It's good to see you again, Sam."

All she did was nod.

"Nice job calming the suspect. Just don't try anything like that again."

He'd thought she might reply because her jaw dropped slightly but she snapped it shut and kept mum. "I told you I was sorry a hundred times," he said quietly so others wouldn't overhear. "What happened between us in the past was for the best, Sam. You and I both know that."

With a noisy sigh and shake of her head she regarded him for long seconds before she finally spoke. "I'd adjusted fine to you being a detective in Dallas, John. What the… What are you doing back in Serenity?"

"You don't sound happy to see me."

"Happy? Happy is getting the gun away from Bobby Joe Boland and saving that little boy's life. There was no joy in going through the struggles I faced after you left me. I won't do it again. Not for anything."

Floored, he stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets and tried to look unconcerned. He'd thought he'd made Samantha understand his desire to better himself, to advance his career. Surely she must have had some empathy because she'd insisted she wanted to do the same thing in regard to nursing. They had both succeeded. He'd just had to move away in order to accomplish his goals and she'd been able to do it right there in Serenity.

"I kind of hoped you'd be glad to see me, Sam. It's nice that you're doing so well." He gestured toward the area where the doctor and nurse were smiling at the formerly unconscious boy. "Looks like a good save."

"This time. I wish I could rescue them all."

"Kids, you mean?"

"Yeah." Another sigh. "There are so many like."

"Like you used to be?" he offered. When her eyes narrowed and she glared at him he was afraid he'd reminded her too much of her own childhood.

"I managed. And I'm still managing," Samantha said, closing and tagging the bag of belongings that would go in the medevac chopper that was going to transport the child to a bigger hospital. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do."

"Maybe I'll see you in church Sunday?"

You could have knocked him over with a feather when she said, "Not a chance. I don't go to church anymore."

"Why not?" The way John remembered their youth, Sam's faith had seemed stronger than his. What in the world would make her stop attending worship services?

At first he didn't think she was going to answer. When she lifted her chin higher and said, "Because I got tired of everybody asking me about you,," he wished she hadn't told him the truth.

The swing shift sped by for Samantha. Weary and eager to get home and relax, she clocked out at midnight, grabbed her purse and headed for her compact, blue sedan.

Overhead lights cast a yellowish glow across the medical-center parking lot. Fall breezes were scattering dry leaves and either piling them against the tires of the few remaining vehicles, or tumbling them down the hill into the farmers' mowed fields beyond.

Samantha turned up the collar of her fleece jacket and clasped her arms across her chest to help ward off the chill. She knew she hadn't been the same since she'd seen John again and she didn't like the feelings of loss—and of buried anger—that kept washing over her.

Logic insisted that it was foolish to relive an unhappy past. The problem was, most of her time with John Waltham had been blissful. Elating. Filled with the promise of a perfect future.

That was the real problem. She was once again coming face-to-face with a shattered dream and seeing how irrational it had been in the first place. Childhood attachments were fine for kids. A person had to grow up eventually. In a way, John had done them both a favor when he'd left town and forced her to stand on her own two feet. Intellectually, she believed that. All she had to do was convince her emotions.

Because of hospital rules, Samantha's car was parked in a distant section of the lot designated for employees. There were some lights back there, too, but the farther she got from the buildings the more forbidding the encroaching darkness seemed.

One hand was inside her shoulder bag, reaching for her keys, when a large, black-clad form stepped out of the shadows. She sensed him before she actually saw him and her fingers began probing the deepest reaches of her purse. Instead of her keys, she gripped a small can of pepper spray.

Shaking on the inside, she continued walking boldly toward her car. When the silent figure blocked her way she simply said, "Excuse me?"

Meet the Author

Valerie Hansen resides in the rural Ozarks where she writes the books of her heart, primarily for Love Inspired Romance and Suspense. She is married to her childhood sweetheart and has worked as a teacher's-aide, EMT, fire dept. dispatcher, dog breeder, commercial artist, dulcimer builder, Veterinarian's asst., 4-H leader, Sunday School teacher, antique restorer and certified Storm Spotter, etc. See ValerieHansen.com for more!

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Threat of Darkness 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
DaleneH More than 1 year ago
I chose to read this book as I have read several before from the Love Inspired Suspense collection of Steeple Hill. This book was definitely a quick read from beginning to end. I liked the suspense part of the story the best. There were several twists to the story. Not knowing what the suspects were looking for I kept reading to find out where the story was going. I did have the twist figured out before the end, but it was still a good read as there was much more going on than just that specifically. It was interesting to learn about volunteer case workers that work in the interest of an abused child. Samantha was a great character and her caring for Danny and his mom. She really supported them more than I think I would have if in that situation. Of course, her having been in that specific situation as a child would definitely make her understanding a lot greater. The romance part of the book was okay for her. It definitely was not your sweet or sweeping romance. It was very different. I would recommend this book to readers who have read from this collection before or those who enjoy christian fiction.
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
5 STARS Samantha Rochard is a nurse is in ER when she hears sounds coming from the curtain area so she looked and saw thin boy with a gun doctor on the floor. Samantha called 911 and dispatch new her voice. She went into the room and new the boy and talked him into trusting her to help the little boy. Give her the gun. The cop that came was her old boyfriend that has been gone for the past 5 years. He wanted her to go with him. She wanted him to stay here with her. Lots of hard feelings. After working till midnight as she was walking to her car her purse was snatched and told where is the package that the gunman gave her. John was waiting for her to get off work so they could talk and chased the mugger and got her purse back. Then eveytime she turned around something else happened to her or her property. Even with the cops around and in police parking lot. They did not know why things kept happening to her and who was doing it. Besides being a nurse she was also childrens advocat and turned suspected child abuse in. One case that she was worried about was a 7 year old boy. Who the doctor did not believe his friend would do that. Also the police did not think he would. The second time he was brought in the doctor admitted him and they were working on getting paperwork to keep him from going home right away. The father and the doctor were arguing in the childs hospital room when John stepped in and as he protected Danny from a hit he was knocked out and his gun stolen from him. The story was good. It did talk about prayers being answered and praying for help. No swearing or sex scenes but their was violence but not a lot of gory details. I would like to read more books like this one. It kept my attention, had lots of action & drama. I was given this ebook to read in exchange for honest review from Netgalley. 06/05/2012 PUB Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Posted on Romancing the Books blog / Reviewed by Lisa / Review Copy From Netgalley / Samantha Rochard is a determined young woman trying to make ends meet. She works as a nurse and as a CASA volunteer. John Waltham has recently returned to Serenity in hopes of being hired by the Sheriff’s Department. When their two worlds collide in the emergency room of Serenity Medical Center, they realize that nothing will ever be the same. The love that Samantha and John once shared still burns but do they have the courage walk in faith. Hansen’s second book in The Defenders series tackles problems that face society today such as abusive relationships and crime. The character of Samantha is extremely well written as to experience of being a victim of abuse and now as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. The knowledge and sensitivity of this character is touching especially with the interaction between her and Danny. The relationship between Samantha and John is complicated but gradually begins to simmer. Hansen fleshes out the characters in such a way that it is difficult not to become emotionally invested. Threat of Darkness is a Christian romance novel with elements of suspense, mystery and faith. Hansen uses the element of faith to further develop an underlying theme of compassion and forgiveness. The plot allows for a quick read that has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. This was an enjoyable book and I look forward to more from The Defenders series. Favorite Quote: “Yes, me. I would have gladly taken you away with me. I don’t know why you have so much trouble believing that, Sam. It isn’t that the Lord failed to rescue you, it’s that you refused His help when He sent it.”
cr1 More than 1 year ago
Good intrigue without sex, which is hard to find anymore.
Jutzie More than 1 year ago
Threat of Darkness by Valerie Hansen Book 2 of the Defenders Series Samantha Rochard worked as a nurse. She was alone in the world except for her dog, Brutus. She had rescued him as a pup 10 years ago. She worked with CASA helping kids in abuse situations, something Sam was personally aware of from her own childhood. Life was good until one night everything changed. An emergency at the hospital with a sick child and an addict with a gun, topped off by a man who broke her heart six years ago when he left town. If that wasn’t enough she was attacked in the parking lot and her house and car were violated….the worse was yet to come. John Waltham had left town six years ago for his dream of working in law enforcement but not in this small town. He couldn’t convince Sam to marry and go with him. Her welcome back for him was not as he hoped. But she did need him when one thing after another started happening in her life. Could love be reunited after he had unknowingly shattered her heart? Valerie is an extremely talented author. I have enjoyed many of her books, mostly the ones in multi-author series. She keeps the facts and stories flowing well, even within those books. Bonus Novella: Small-Town Romance by Arlene James Becca Inman was extremely shy, single at thirty-three and had been carrying for her invalid grandmother since she was eighteen. Life changed for her when she was practicing to play the piano in place of her sister. She began to sing along as she played….not knowing she had an audience. And that one was young, handsome and single. Davis Latimer had never heard such a voice. He was instantly enthralled. And when he saw the pretty woman, he knew that she was special. He would get her to be play piano for his fledgling church, he wanted to keep her nearby. This was just a short but packed full of romance. Davis sees Becca past all her insecurities and encourages her at every turn. **Book received from NetGalley for review.
fuzzmom More than 1 year ago
Samantha thought her life was settled. She felt like she was helping those least able to help themselves. Then Bobby Joe, a childhood acquaintance, showed up in the ER with a comatose child and suddenly her well ordered life was falling apart. Who shows up in response to the 911 call? John Waltham, her former boyfriend who had left her years ago to be a detective in Dallas. The last time they had seen each other she had been begging him not to leave. Well, she had no intention of doing any begging now! Circumstances conspire against her as someone comes after her! Destroying her car, dognapping her old, treasured dog. Then a little boy in danger draws her even deeper into danger. John is there fighting her tooth and nail to let him help and protect her. Will his efforts be enough? I won't spoil the end, but it won't be what you expect!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just reread this book. It was even better the second time. Valeri has a writing skill that keeps you reading. Her use of adjectives and discriptons enhance the story line. It is a clean read and of course a child, a dog and a hero!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
This is the second book about mystery, romance, and CASA, Samantha Rochard, in the small town of Serenity, Arkansas.  But Serenity is anything but peaceful when nurse & CASA, Samantha, finds herself in the crosshairs of someone who is determined to 'get their package' or kill her trying.  Samantha doesn't have the package, but her life is in constant danger just the same.  Her old boyfriend & policeman has returned to town, and is assigned to protect her. While all this is happening, 7year old Billy has returned to the hospital, having been beaten once again by his father.  Samantha's CASA role kicks in to get protection for this child.   This story masterfully follows the characters through danger, many prayers sent heavenward, budding romance, and trials with a small child & Samantha's faithful old dag.  Those who enjoy Christian mystery & romance will thoroughly enjoy this fast passed story.  And once again, the addition of CASA ( Court Appointed Special Advocate) makes this book especially unique!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago