Cover of Night

Cover of Night

by Linda Howard

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Cover of Night by Linda Howard

For breathless action, gripping suspense, and intense romance, bestselling author Linda Howard never misses a beat—and her thrilling new novel will have your heart racing.

In the charming rural town of Trail Stop, Idaho, accessible to the outside world by only a single road, young widow Cate Nightingale lives peacefully with her four-year-old twin boys, running a bed-and-breakfast. Though the overnight guests are few and far between—occasional hunters and lake fishermen—Cate always manages to make ends meet with the help of the local jack-of-all-trades, Calvin Harris, who can handle everything from carpentry to plumbing. But Calvin is not what he seems, and Cate’s luck is about to run out.

One morning, the B&B’s only guest inexplicably vanishes, leaving behind his personal effects. A few days later Cate is shocked when armed men storm the house, demanding the mystery man’s belongings. Fearing for her children’s lives, Cate agrees to cooperate—until Calvin saves the day, forcing the intruders to scatter into the surrounding woods.

The nightmare, however, is just beginning. Cate, Calvin, and their entire community find themselves cut off and alone with no means to call for help as the threat gathers intensity and first blood is drawn.

With their fellow residents trapped and the entire town held hostage, Cate and Calvin have no choice but to take the fight to their enemies under the cover of night. While reticent Cal becomes a fearless protector, Cate makes the most daring move of her life . . . into the very heart of danger.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345486516
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 168,696
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, Dying to Please, Open Season, Mr. Perfect, All the Queen’s Men, Now You See Her, Kill and Tell, and Son of the Morning. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

The guest who was staying in room 3 of Nightingale’s Bed and Breakfast, which Cate Nightingale privately thought of as the He-Man room because it was almost unrelievedly masculine, stopped in the doorway of the dining room, then almost immediately stepped back out of sight. Most of the patrons who were enjoying Cate’s morning offerings didn’t even notice the man’s brief appearance; those who did probably didn’t think anything about his abrupt departure. People here in Trail Stop, Idaho, tended to mind their own business, and if one of her guests wasn’t in the mood for company while he ate, that was fine with them.

Cate herself noticed him only because she was bringing in a platter of sliced ham from the kitchen at the same time, and the kitchen door was directly opposite the open hall doorway. She made a mental note to go upstairs the first chance she got and see if he—his name was Layton, Jeffrey Layton—wanted her to bring up a breakfast tray. Some guests didn’t like eating with strangers, plain and simple. Taking a tray up wasn’t anything unusual.

Nightingale’s B and B had been open for almost two years. The Bed part of the business was often slow, but Breakfast was booming. Opening her dining room to the public for breakfast had been a happy accident. Instead of having one large dining table where everyone would sit together—assuming all five of her guest rooms were occupied at the same time, which had never happened—she had placed five small tables, each seating four, in the dining room so that her guests could eat in relative privacy if they wanted. Folks in the little community had quickly realized that Nightingale’s offered some fine eating, and before she knew it, people were asking if it was okay if they stopped by for coffee in the mornings, and maybe for one of her blueberry muffins as well.

As a newcomer she wanted to fit in, so because she had the extra seats, she said yes, even though mentally she had groaned at the thought of the added expense. Then, when they tried to pay her, she had no idea what to charge, because the cost of breakfast was included in the room rental; so she’d been forced to hand-print a menu with prices and post it on the side door, which most of the locals used instead of walking around to the front of the big old house. Within a month she’d squeezed a sixth table into the dining room, bringing her total seating capacity to twenty-four. Sometimes even that wasn’t enough, especially if she had guests in residence. It wasn’t unusual to see men leaning against a wall while they drank their coffee and munched on muffins, if all the seats were taken.

Today, however, was Scone Day. Once a week she baked scones instead of muffins. At first the community folk, mostly from ranch and lumberjack stock, had looked askance at the “fancy biscuits,” but the scones had quickly become a favorite. She had tried different flavors, but the vanilla was a runaway favorite because it went well with whatever jam the customer preferred.

Cate set the platter of fried ham down in the middle of a table, exactly halfway between Conrad Moon and his son so that neither could accuse her of playing favorites. She had made that mistake once, putting a platter closer to Conrad, and since then the two had kept up a running commentary about whom she liked best. Gordon, the younger Moon, would be joking, but Cate had an uneasy feeling that Conrad was looking for a third wife and thought she’d fill the position just fine. She thought otherwise, and made certain she never gave him any accidental encouragement with the ham placement.

“Looks good,” Gordon drawled, as he did every day, stretching out his fork to capture a slice.

“Better’n good,” Conrad added, unable to let Gordon top him in the compliment department.

“Thank you,” she said as she hurried away, not giving Conrad a chance to add anything else. He was a nice man, but he was about her father’s age, and she wouldn’t have picked him even if she weren’t too busy to even think about starting to date.

As she passed by the Bunn double coffeemaker, she automatically checked the level of coffee in the pots, and paused to start a fresh batch. The dining room was still full, and people were lingering longer this morning. Joshua Creed, a rancher and hunting guide, was there with one of his clients; folks always hung around when Mr. Creed was there, just to talk to him. He had an aura of leadership, of authority, that people naturally responded to. She’d heard he was retired from the military, and she could believe it; he radiated command, from his sharp, narrow gaze to the square set of his jaw and shoulders. He didn’t come in very often, but when he did, he was usually the center of respectful attention.

The client, a handsome dark-haired man she judged to be in his late thirties, was just the sort of outsider she liked the least. He was obviously well off, if he could afford Joshua Creed, and though he was dressed in jeans and boots like most of the people in the room, he made certain, in some subtle and some not-so-subtle ways, that everyone knew he was Someone Important despite his show of camaraderie. For one thing, he’d rolled up his shirtsleeves and kept flashing the thin, diamond-set watch on his left wrist. He was also just a shade too loud, a shade too hearty, and he kept mentioning his experiences on a game hunt in Africa. He even gave everyone a geography lesson, explaining where Nairobi was. Cate managed to refrain from rolling her eyes at his assumption that local was synonymous with ignorant. Weird, maybe, but not ignorant. He also made a point of explaining that he hunted wild animals mostly to photograph them, and though on an emotional level Cate approved of that, her common sense whispered that he was just saying it to give himself an out in case he didn’t kill anything. If he was any kind of photographer, she’d be surprised.

As she hurried on to the kitchen, she wondered just when she’d started looking at newcomers as “outsiders.”

The dividing line between her life before and her life now was so sharply defined that sometimes she felt as if she weren’t even the same person. There hadn’t been a gradual change, giving her time to analyze and process, to slowly grow into the woman she was now; instead there had been jagged breaks, abrupt upheavals. The period between Derek’s death and her decision to move to Idaho was a steep, narrow valley into which sunshine had never reached. Once she and the boys had arrived here, she’d been so busy getting the B and B open and settling in that she hadn’t had much time to worry about being an outsider herself. Then, almost before she knew it, she was as much part of the warp and weave of the little community as she ever had been in Seattle; more, even, because Seattle was like all big cities, filled with strangers and everyone moving in individual little bubbles. Here, she literally knew every soul—all seventy-six of them.

Just before she reached the kitchen door, it opened, and Sherry Bishop stuck her head out, a quick look of relief crossing her face when she saw Cate approaching.

“What’s wrong?” Cate asked as she rushed through the door. She looked first to the kitchen table, where her four-year-old twins, Tucker and Tanner, were industriously digging into their cereal, but the boys were sitting on their booster chairs exactly where she had left them. They chattered and giggled and squirmed, as usual; all was right in their world. Rather, Tucker chattered, and Tanner listened. She couldn’t help worrying because Tanner talked so little, but their pediatrician hadn’t seemed alarmed. “He’s fine,” Dr. Hardy had said. “He doesn’t need to talk because Tucker is talking for both of them. He’ll talk when he has something to say.” Since Tanner was completely normal in every other way, including comprehension, she had to assume the pediatrician was right—but she still worried. She couldn’t help it; she was a mother.

“A pipe burst under the sink,” Sherry said, sounding harassed. “I turned off the valve, but we need the water back on fast. The dishes are piling up.”

“Oh, no.” Other than the obvious difficulty of having no water to cook or wash dishes with, another problem loomed even larger: her mother, Sheila Wells, was en route from Seattle, for a weeklong visit, and was due in that afternoon. Since her mother wasn’t happy about Cate and the twins leaving Seattle to begin with, Cate could just imagine her comments about the area’s remoteness and lack of modern conveniences should there not be any water.

It was always something; this old house seemed to need almost constant maintenance and repair, which she supposed was par for the course with old houses. Still, her finances were stretched to the breaking point; she could use just one week in which nothing went wrong. Maybe next week, she thought with a sigh.

She picked up the kitchen phone and from memory dialed the number of Earl’s Hardware Store.

Walter Earl himself answered, catching the phone on the first ring as he usually did. “Hardware.” He didn’t need further identification, since there was only one hardware store in town, and he was the only one who answered the phone.

“Walter, this is Cate. Do you know where Mr. Harris is working today? I have a plumbing emergency.”

“Mistuh Hawwis!” Tucker crowed, having caught the name of the local handyman. Excited, he banged his spoon against the table, and Cate stuck her finger in her ear so she could hear what Walter said. Both boys were staring at her in delight, quivering with anticipation. The community handyman was one of their favorite people, because they were fascinated by his tools and he didn’t mind if they played with the wrenches and hammers.

Calvin Harris didn’t have a phone, but he customarily stopped by the hardware store every morning to pick up whatever supplies he would need for the day’s work; so Walter usually knew where he could be found. When she had first moved here, Cate had been taken aback that someone wouldn’t have a phone in this day and age, but now she was accustomed to the system and didn’t think anything of it. Mr. Harris didn’t want a phone, so he didn’t have a phone. Big deal. The community was so small, finding him wasn’t a problem.

“Cal’s right here,” Walter said. “I’ll send him your way.”

“Thanks,” said Cate, glad she didn’t have to hunt Mr. Harris down. “Could you ask him what time he thinks he can get here?”

Walter’s voice rumbled as he relayed the question, and she heard a softer, indistinct mumble that she recognized as Mr. Harris’s voice.

Walter’s voice sounded clearly through the phone. “He said he’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Saying good-bye and hanging up, Cate breathed a sigh of relief. With any luck the problem would be minor and the water would soon be on again, with minimal impact on her finances. As it was, she needed Mr. Harris’s fix-it genius so often she was beginning to think she would come out better to offer him free room and board in exchange for repairs. He lived in a room over the feed store, and while it might be bigger than any of her bedrooms, he still had to pay for it, plus she could throw in meals. She would lose a bedroom to rent, but it wasn’t as if the bed-and-breakfast had ever been filled to capacity. What held her back was the slightly unwelcome prospect of having someone permanently in the house with her and the twins. As busy as she was during the day, she wanted to keep the nights just for them.

Mr. Harris was so shy, though, she could easily see him mumbling something after supper and disappearing into his room, not to be seen again until the morning. But what if he didn’t? What if the boys wanted to be with him instead of her? She felt small and petty for worrying about such a thing, but—what if they did? She was the center of their young lives, and she didn’t know if she could give that up yet. Eventually she would have to, but they were just four, and all she had left of Derek.

“Well?” Sherry prompted, her brows raised as she waited for news, good or bad.

“He’s coming right over.”

“Caught him before he got started on another job, then,” said Sherry, looking as relieved as Cate felt.

Cate looked at the boys, who were both sitting watching her, their spoons held suspended. “You two need to finish your cereal, or you won’t be able to watch Mr. Harris,” she said sternly. That wasn’t exactly the truth, since Mr. Harris would be right there in the kitchen with them, but they were four; what did they know?

“We’ll huwwy,” Tucker said, and both resumed eating with more energy than precision.

“Hurry,” Cate said, emphasizing the r sound.

“Hurry,” Tucker obediently repeated. He could say the sound when he wanted to, but when he was distracted—which was often—he fell back into babyish speech patterns. He talked so much; it was as if he didn’t take the time to properly say the words. “Mistuh Hawwis is coming,” he told Tanner, as if his brother didn’t know. “I’m gonna play with the dwill.”

“Drill,” Cate corrected. “And you will not. You may watch him, but leave the tools alone.”

His big blue eyes filled with tears, and his lower lip trembled. “Mistuh Hawwis lets us play with them.”

“That’s when he has time. He’ll be in a hurry today, because he has another job to do when he leaves here.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Cover of Night 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 102 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Widow Cate Nightingale runs a bed and breakfast in Trail Stop Idaho, an isolated community boxed by mountains and a dangerous river. Cate¿s guests are sparse, consisting of rock climbers, hunters and fishermen, and Cate struggles to make ends meet. If it weren¿t for shy handyman Cal Harris, the B&B would fall apart and Cate would be bankrupt. But Cate is determined to raise her two, four-year-old twin boys in a safe environment and this charming town seems the perfect place. Cate¿s nightmare begins when one of her guests climbs out of a window and disappears, leaving behind his personal effects. A few days later, two men show up and demand she turn over the man¿s belongings. Held at gunpoint, Cate fears for her life until Cal intrudes and forces the men to leave. Cate hopes that¿s the end of it, but soon she and the entire town find themselves held hostage by these two men, with the aid of four others. And there¿s no way to escape the road leading into town has been blocked and the bridge over the river has been blown up. Cate and Cal team up to try to save their community. Their forced camaraderie leads them into not only danger but reveals the two share a hidden passion for one another. Linda Howard is tops at romantic suspense. Although holding an entire town hostage seems implausible, she manages to make it real and provides a good read along the way. The chemistry between Cate and Cal is fun as it unfolds over the course of the book. With plenty of suspense, great characters, and a fast pace, Cover of Night will provide plenty of entertainment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry to hear that some of the reviewers here were disappointed - I wasn't. Action/suspense with some romance thrown in for good measure suits me just fine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not stand this book. One word to describe this book, BORING
bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
CD/Abridged/Romance: What a stinker; and a boring one too. This novel may be better as a book because the abridged CD was too vague. This version was only five discs and probably should have been six. It was very empty and the motives of the bad guys was just plain stupid. SPOILERS: The town has limited mobility of a road, a bridge, and mountains. The owner of the B&B is a widow with twin boys. She has the convenient handyman who happens to be a retired super soldier. The mysterious guest slips out with his mysterious flash drive and the mysterious bad guys show up. After getting the sleep and dash guest's luggage, they find no flash drive. Instead of going back "in the cover of night", they decide to take the town hostage. Without knowing who lives in the town, the BGs blow up the bridge, cut phone & electricity, block the road, and use high powered rifles to shoot into the town. With no bullhorn to tell the townspeople their demands, they sit around. Did I mention this takes place in Idaho. Are you stupid? You may have high powered rifles, but for all you know, the residence could be survivalist. Like the kind with a bazooka in the basement just itching to use it. The B&B owner just happens to be a former rock climber. With the help the soldier, she goes less than halfway over the mountain. During a night of snow and sex, she (who never had a problem figuring things out) realizes the BGs may want the shaving kit she forgot to give them on the first gun toting meeting. The bad guys basically turn on each other so our hero doesn't have to kill them all. Bad, very bad. One star. Skip it.
piratejon More than 1 year ago
While the plot is too far-fetched for belief, the characters are charming and believable. This is the first romance novel I have read that deals with Recon Marines with any basis in reality. Ms. Howard obviously knows what they do and how they operate. While I am sure that is because she is talking to an expert, at least she has done some research. A good love story set in a sort of silly situation. I read it twice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never read anything by Linda Howard, and this was a great book to start with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by this author, but will not be my last. Very enjoyable, good imagination and I look forward to reading as many of her books as I can.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Because I have been disappointed in Linda Howard's last few novels, I waited for this one to come out in paperback. Now I wish I would've waited to pick it up at a used book sale. Though I'm repeating what many of the reviews here state, the plot was unbelievable, the characters not easy to relate to, and the ending was too abrupt. I miss the ¿old¿ Linda Howard stuff. Whatever happened to characters like the Mackenzies in A Game of Chance and Mackenzie¿s Mountain, and plots like those of Mr. Perfect and After the Night. Maybe it¿s time for some sequels of these well-established characters and interesting plot lines!! They might be worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Granted, I always wish for more character 'time' in all of Linda Howard's books but she has yet to fail me. I've read everyone of her books that I can find in the bookstores or ordered used on-line and I love everyone single one of them, Cover of Night included. I loved the characters and isn't fiction supposed to be a little bit unbelievable? That's why I read it, to be entertained and I could visualize the words in this book as if I'm watching a movie except better, so I do recommend this book and all her other books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the premise of an entire town being held hostage seems far fetched, the variety of characters make this story work. I enjoyed the way the community worked together to defeat the bad guys.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I Loved it! I thought the characters are great and the story line were a good fit. To have gone into greater details and lenghten it, would have made the story to long. I liked the ending, but would have liked to had alittle more.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Fans of Linda Howard's previous works ((Killing Time, To Die For, etc.) will relish this story of a small town in crisis, especially as read by Joyce Bean and Dick Hill. These are two of the most talented voice performers behind a mike today, always bringing authenticity plus professionalism to their narratives. Life is good for Cate Nightingale, not plush but good. True, it's a bit of a battle to balance her budget every month but she has two fine four-year-old twins, Tucker and Tanner, and runs a B & B in Trail Stop, Idaho, barely a dot on the state map. It's a rather unique place as it can only be entered or exited by one road. Cate has been in Trail Stop for about two years now, and she's beginning to feel like a native. Deciding to open the dining room of her B & B to locals was a good idea - more hard work but profitable. This was almost a necessity as her six rooms were seldom filled. She had little need for a 'No Vacancy' sign. From time to time, the B & B, which was in an old house, was in need of repair. For this there was the local handyman, Calvin Harris. On one particular day her morning was not at all unusual - she was bustling from kitchen to dining room with platters of ham and hot coffee. Little did she realize how dramatically her life was about to change - definitely for the worst. She had a single guest who suddenly disappeared, without taking his belongings with him. That was mystifying enough but when armed men broke into her house a few days later asking for the man's personal effects she was shocked - and so frightened for the safety of her sons that she acquiesced. Calvin to the rescue! He sends the intruders off into the dense forest that surrounds Trail Stop. As it turns out chasing them off is one thing, getting rid of them is quite another. It's not long before the entire community finds itself imprisoned, with no way to contact the rest of the world for help. Cover of Night offers action, suspense and, of course, doses of romance. Enjoy! - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cover Of Night by Linda Howard is another fast-paced, gripping, emotional tale. B & B owner Cate Nightingale is quietly raising her twin four-year-old boys in Twin Stop Idaho. She moved there after the death of her husband over three years ago. Cate wanted a quieter, simpler life. She has slowly made some friends and making a go of her business. The local handy man Calvin Harris seems to be dropping by all the time to fix one thing or another. When a guest leaves suddenly without taking his processions Cate is at a loss. Soon there are strangers demanding at gunpoint the missing guest things. Saved by a protective Cal, they think that things will get back to normal. But the strangers have other plans for Twin Stop. They decide to hold the whole town under siege. It will take all of Cate and Cal¿s strengths to get them and their neighbors out alive. Along the way Cate realizes that Cal is someone she and her boys need in their life. Linda Howard¿s Cover of Night draws you into the quiet little town then pulls you further into their world when it is turned upside down. The dynamics of the characters shines on every page. I couldn¿t read it fast enough.
Anonymous 20 days ago
A wonderful story by Linda Howard. I have read several of her books and this story has adorable twins and a soft spoken Alpha Man/Hero. Loved the story!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Linda Howard never disappoints! I read this one in a single day.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Loved it. Fast paced. I am a great fan of the author.
Anonymous 6 months ago
A good read. A bit predictable in spots, but satisfying.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Love this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really love Linda Howard's books and this one is no exception. The characters are awesome and well matched. I could really hear 2 four year old twin boys saying and doing these outragous things. Good romance and great story. The town under seige was very well written. Take a chance on this book and look forward to a book you just can't put down.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh come on lighten up people!!! it was a fun fast read its fiction fun to read dont over think it likesome book critic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago