Nothing less would have convinced Brenna Morgan to return to the Crescent Moon claim—to face the doubts she'd fled so long ago. But soon she discovered that prowlers, vandals and unnatural noises had invaded the isolated mining claim that had been in her family for generations. And her new neighbor, Tyler Ross, was not the first or the last to warn her of the dangers of remaining there alone.
As warnings turned to threats—and threats to violence—Brenna swore she would never abandon the claim. And when Tyler charged in to lend her his support, she accepted him with open arms. It wasn't until later that she had cause to wonder if his choice was for her benefit, or for his own....
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Hypnotic regression. Those were the only words to describe the feeling that washed over Breanna Morgan as she climbed out of her silver Honda and gazed at her grandparents' small cabin. In the dusky light, its yellow logs and tin roof looked postcard perfect against the tree-studded backdrop of Hungry Hill. Flashbacks buffeted her, some sweet, some nostalgic, others painful. She stood rooted until her mind could assimilate the shock.
With a determined lift of her chin, Breanna strode to the aluminum driveway gate and swung it wide. The night wind whispered, a decibel louder than the gurgle of Graves Creek, following the stream's course as it twisted and turned through the canyon to spill into the white water of the Rogue River five miles west. Above Breanna, a clapboard sign dangled by one corner from the arbor that formed an entry arch. Its rhythmic, forlorn squeaking underscored the surrounding gloom. Glancing at the encroaching laurel and oak trees, she drew in a deep breath and slowly exhaled. After spending most of her twenty-seven years in the mountains, as a child playing in the surrounding woods, as an adult doing wildlife studies, the remote location of The Crescent Moon mining claim shouldn't bother her.
But it did. Vague unease wrapped itself around her and refused to let go.
Turning back toward the Honda, she saw her black dog, Coaly, had exited the car. He seemed bent on exploring everything, and that was a mighty big order when miles of Oregon forests stretched in all directions.
"Come on, old man," Breanna called as she slid back behind the steering wheel. "It's time to get settled for the night."
The mostly Labrador mutt led the way down the drive, his incongruous plumed tail waving like a flag over his back. Some of his excitement spilled over to Breanna. She had always loved it down here. Once she settled in, maybe a little of the magic would return. It was a perfect environment for writing, much better than living in town with all the distractions that neighbors inflicted.
Parking near the retainer wall steps to facilitate unloading her hatchback, Breanna fished in the pocket of her faded jeans for her cabin key as she slid out of the car. Coaly ran circles around her for a moment, then veered away to sniff the foundation of the old barn. As she ascended the steps to the overgrown yard, Breanna could see the ravages of neglect everywhere. Weeds flourished in her grandmother's rose beds beside the house. The cement edges of the stone walkway were beginning to crumble. She didn't know what her cousin, Dane, had been doing during his visits here these last seven years, but it was clear he hadn't been caretaking. No wonder their grandmother had given the cabin to Breanna.