The Other Side of Darkness

The Other Side of Darkness

by Linda Rondeau


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611161380
Publisher: Pelican Book Group
Publication date: 11/18/2011
Pages: 332
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Award-winning author, Linda Rondeau, writes for the reader who enjoys a little bit of everything. Her stories of redemption and God's mercies include romance, suspense, the ethereal, and a little bit of history into the mix, always served with a slice of humor. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community. Readers may visit her web site at

Read an Excerpt

The Other Side of Darkness

By Linda Wood Rondeau

Pelican Ventures, LLC

Copyright © 2011 Linda Wood Rondeau
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61116-138-0


Three Months Later

Sam searched Bob's Bistro for Justine. A short ball of fire like her shouldn't be that hard to find in an empty diner. Sam spotted Justine's wave from the back of the restaurant, her perky demeanor hardly indicative of her frenzied call, begging Sam to meet for lunch.

Justine shoved the basket of greasy fries in Sam's direction. "Sit down long enough to eat and hear me out."

Sam's stomach flip-flopped. "I'm not hungry."

"You're never hungry. Don't argue. I thought we could split the fries, but I ordered you a hamburger ... no bread and Swiss cheese. Good grief, Sam, you need to eat more or you'll waste away to a vapor. I thought after the Styles case —"

Everyone thought Sam would return to normal after the sentencing. Normal, by whose standard? Normal was a word prosecutors found hard to describe. "This case will never go away, Justine. Scum always rises to the surface." Sam grabbed a fry, took one bite and put it down on a napkin.

"You have to let go, Sam."

"Are you talking as my friend or as Abe Hildernan's new paralegal?"


"Which one first?"

"Friend — look, Abe's had some private conversations with the DA, lots of them. That's all I know."

Abe's chats with the DA were nothing new, only their frequency caused alarm. "What did I tell you? Sometimes I wish I could curl up on my bed and sleep into next week — that I'll wake up and this whole ugly mess will be over."

"That's the other thing I have to talk to you about."

"This is Abe's assistant talking now?"

"Have you looked in a mirror lately? When's the last time you had a day off?"

"College, maybe? So what? Vacations are overrated. For a friend, you sound a lot like Abe."

Justine chomped on a handful of fries, took a sip of her root beer, then swallowed. "Abe has arranged for you to take a three week vacation — his orders ... his treat ... his itinerary."

"You have got to be kidding. Not now — not when Styles has filed another appeal."

"Abe's worried about you, and he thought maybe you'd listen to me better than you listen to him. You haven't slept in weeks."

True enough ... sleep was a rare luxury over the past three years. Might as well let Justine think Sam's sleeplessness had been caused by case worries. If Justine knew about the nightmares, she'd tell Abe, and he'd drag a shrink into the whole mess.

Justine leaned in like a period at the end of the sentence. "Besides, you know how slow Justice is. Chances are nothing will happen for months."

"Yeah. Slow, all right ... in Kiley Smith's case it crawls. She would have been five years old today." Rest in peace little girl.

"Abe thinks you've become obsessed, and frankly, I agree. You need to take a break."

"I don't —"

Justine glowered, and when she glowered, it meant only one thing — the fat lady had sung her last aria.

"Fine. I can't fight both you and Abe. So where am I going?"

"Vermont. It's all arranged."

Vermont? The other ADAs described the state like a wilderness ready to be discovered. Not for Sam. Vermont meant nature, and the closest to nature she ever came was a walk in Central Park to mull over her latest strategy against Styles's petitions. "What am I supposed to do in Vermont?"

"Ski. Your instructor will be Alonzo Altamont. Handsome and available, I expect."

"With my luck, gay or married. Besides, I don't have time for romance. I'd prefer to catch up on my reading."

"Read or ski. Whatever."

Skiing ... not a chance, not even if Mr. America waited for her at the end of the trail. "What if I refuse?"

"You can't."

Abe wasn't God, he was only her boss. "What does that mean?"

"It means you either go on this vacation, or Abe's writing you up for insubordination. He thinks you need perspective. You could pack your whole wardrobe in those bags under your eyes."

"That obvious?"

"Makeup stopped covering them about two years ago. Three weeks of fresh air will do wonders for your complexion, too. You're looking more like my great-grandmother every week."

Sam searched Justine's face for a hint of a smile or a flicker of amusement in her blue eyes. Nothing. Maybe she meant it, that Sam's face pickled in a brine of zealousness. Oh, well, Justice demanded its ounce of flesh, and if Sam wasted her bloom on its pursuit, so be it. "Thanks for the morale booster."

"I'm serious, Sam."

"Vermont, eh? Where?"

"Three weeks at the Top Notch hotel."

"The Top Notch? Isn't that the Niagara Falls of Vermont? Sounds like a place for couples, not a hot spot for single, available men."

"And skiers, don't forget."

A cruise would have been more opportunistic, restful and would have been cheaper, too.

"If everyone thinks I need rest, why can't I stay home in bed?"

Justine pushed the fries back in Sam's direction. "You shouldn't be so unappreciative. Abe went to a lot of trouble to arrange this for you. Sounds to me like you need a lesson in gratitude."

"I don't need a sermon."

"Wouldn't hurt for you to go to church while you're on vacation, either."

Sam sighed again, this time with resignation. "If you weren't my dearest friend in the whole world, I'd walk out right now."


"Well, I haven't been to church because I've been busy with the Styles case."

"See? You are obsessed."

Sam stood. "I'm not obsessed — I'm merely doing my job. Special Victims prosecutors speak for those who can't speak for themselves, like Kiley Smith."

Justine leaned back in her chair, her posture like a tsk. "You're as noble as they come, Sam, but if you're not careful, nobility will hang you."

"Abe said that, didn't he?"

"Not in so many words —"

Sam laughed. She couldn't be angry at Justine any more than a buzzing fly. They both did what they had to do — flies annoyed and Justine preached. "If it means I won't have to listen to your sermons for three weeks, then I guess I'll accept Abe's offer and go. When am I supposed to leave?"

"Saturday morning."

"What about Styles's latest appeal?"

"Already done. Abe and I worked on the brief last night. Sam, you have to step down on this case, let Abe handle things for a while."

Justine called Sam obsessed. Maybe she was, but not over one case. She couldn't let go, not while children still suffered at the hands of abusers, and perpetrators went free. Like the rocks in a riverbed, every time she removed one, a dozen more fell in. "I can't promise I will, I can only promise to try."

"Call me when you get there. And tell me all about Alonzo."

"You've got no business tracking any man, no matter how good looking. Your wedding's in six weeks, or did you forget?"

Justine fondled her engagement ring. "I haven't forgotten my wonderful Robert Ferrari."

"I know ... every bit as wonderful as the car."

"I'm not looking. You're the one who needs to ogle once in a while."

Sam Knowles didn't ogle. Men were a distraction she could not afford. "I'll go on this stupid vacation, but that doesn't mean I have to be on the lookout for Alonzo the Beautiful, or anyone else for that matter."

"Methinks you need a new life, Miss Knowles — one where you curl up with a living, breathing male-type person — not the latest bestseller. I hardly need a calculator to add the number of dates you've had since you broke up with Johnny Miller after high school."

All were the crowning arguments of why Sam should never date again. Like Eric who was a cross-dresser, or Phil who forgot to mention his wife. Wild-eyed Jason rode a motorcycle into a department store window after downing a bottle of whiskey. Steve preferred his women in threes. And Tom ... well, Tom seemed nice, but had an operation and became Teresa. Romance no longer rode the crests of Samantha Knowles's future — that ship had sailed right past the port of opportunity.

The hamburgers arrived, and Sam took three bites before setting it next to her half-eaten French fry. She pondered as she chewed. Maybe a vacation wouldn't be so bad. Only three weeks. The world wouldn't change in that short a time.

* * *

Harlan Styles paced his dormitory room while his cellmate met with a therapist. Three months in this hole, and still no word from Brenda. This prison scene unwound like a bad dream, one where he never woke up. When they brought him here, he thought he could manage a month or two on a misdemeanor, for Brenda's sake, but not life, not for her, not for anyone.

Prison pummeled a man's spirit to a frothing blob. Promises ... that's all his lawyers gave him — promises that stung as much as his foster mother's belt while she spouted scripture with every lash, promises as useful as meatless bones tossed to a starving dog. First, they said he'd get out on a technicality, something about a mistake on the ME's autopsy report, a typo, wrong time of death.

Darnell Washington promised he'd figure out an alibi for the both of them at the corrected TOD. Whatever that over-paid excuse for a lawyer manufactured had to work soon so he and Brenda could go on with their childless lives. Too bad about the kid, but that brat should have known the difference between his coke and sugar for her tea party.

Brenda understood Harlan's rage when he found Kiley serving his stash to her stuffed animals. At least Brenda said she understood, and promised to stand by her man. More promises, three years and three months of hot air, full of sound and fury that signified nothing, Brenda's words as rehearsed as a grade-school poem.

The guard rapped on his cell. "Styles, you got company. Follow me."

Couldn't be Brenda ... not regular visitation hours. Though he hoped against hope, even if her visit meant listening to her nasally whining. He'd shut out her unpleasant rasps and leer at what he most enjoyed about her. He'd been crazy to tell her to stay away until this mess straightened out. Three months without so much as a whiff of her White Jasmine perfume, which he bought at a hundred dollars a pop.

His face drooped as the officer opened the door to the private visitation room. Not Brenda ... only Washington, who lifted his head toward the guard in a yank of authority. "I'll need ten minutes with my client."

The guard stepped outside.

Harlan blinked away his hatred for all things legal, even this mound of flesh disguised as a friend, the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing and Harlan's only hope. "What's up? I didn't expect you until tomorrow."

"I had an inspiration, Harlan. The private eye we hired handed me our best out, yet. I'm filing a motion for mistrial, maybe even a civil suit against the city."

"Don't mess with me, Darnell." Harlan put his hands on his head, squeezing until he winced from the pain. "If you don't get me out of here, I swear, I'll kill myself. What have you got?"

"The ME angle isn't going to fly. Judge Normandy hasn't budged one iota, and the cops have punctured every alibi I've been able to come up with. I could go to appeals court, but I don't know if I can prove harmful error." Washington held up a folder. "But, this ... this is a gem. How does prosecutorial prejudice sound?"

"Prejudice? Is Knowles a racist?"

"Not racism, Harlan. Gender."

"She some kind of man-hater or something?"

"It's a stretch, but eventually I could prove her psychologically unfit to try your case."

Harlan cringed at the word, eventually, a word that smacked of more stalls, more hearings, more thin promises. He swiped a trembling hand over his brow. "Do whatever you gotta do, Darnell. Just get me out of here."

Prosecutorial Prejudice. Pretty words, whatever they signified, and the way they slipped off Washington's tongue jump-started Harlan's hopes. Like kindling, the phrase ignited new purpose; Samantha Knowles would regret the day she signed on for the case. She'd pay, one way or another, an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

The more maddening thing, the thing that wrung him inside out, wasn't so much the thought of losing Brenda, as hard a pill to swallow as any — only a matter of time before she found another golden goose, regardless if Harlan was in or out of prison. But for three years, he'd been Knowles's target — a scarecrow holding a wafer-board shield while she slung her thousand arrows.

Like Lot's wife, fire and brimstone turned his life to a living hell — all because of Knowles.

She had to pay for killing his soul, suffer as he had suffered — a death for a death.


Sam turned on the car wipers and drove the next hour to a rhythmic clip, clap in sync with her off-key rendition of "Me and Bobby McGee." Lucille, her Cavalier, didn't mind a few sour notes now and again. All the assistant district attorneys scoffed at her refusal to trade the old girl in. But how does one sell a friend — a first car — Sam's only car. The day she turned eighteen, she walked on to the car lot, said that she wanted to buy a Cavalier and that she didn't care what color. And that was that. Never asked questions, paid in cash, named it Lucille and drove her off the lot. Something powerful in that experience ... like she'd become a grownup.

She patted Lucille's dashboard. "You're still a right smart-looking car, as good as the day I bought you."

Sam avoided singing in public places, only daring to let loose when in the shower or the car, and she never sang in church. She supposed God didn't need to hear her voice to know her heart. Besides, Justine sang loud enough for the two of them. Though she never bragged about her short- lived professional singing career as a Christian rocker, she showed off her talent at every chance, ripping into harmony and hitting high notes challenging any diva. Who dared to render their sour notes when standing next to perfection?

Sam snapped on the radio, filling the air with a mix of oldies while the morning mist thickened into torrents, rendering visibility to near zero. Common sense told her to pull over, not try to push her way through to Vermont in this weather. Common sense said that Stowe Mountain could wait a few more hours. For thirty-one years, Sam obeyed common sense, but what was a vacation for if not to escape the dictate of common sense?

Common sense aside, Lucille would not run without gas. Sam scrunched herself forward; the road signs still no easier to read. Logic, common sense's sister, said there should be an exit ramp soon — a fill-up for Lucille, a bite to eat, and a cup of coffee, prudent objectives even for the weather-resistant driver.

Or —

She could use the weather as an excuse to turn around and go back to Manhattan, tell Abe thanks, but the rain melted all the snow and that maybe she could go skiing next year. She'd tried one more debate with Abe last night, but his ultimatum punctured her thoughtful rebuttals. "You're going, Sam, or you won't have a job to come back to tomorrow."

Justine had to get one more sermon in, too. "Don't look a gift horse ..."

Horses were something else Sam avoided.

There had to be better places to go in April other than the Green Mountains. Shivering with the sudden drop in temperature, Sam hit the defrost button and wiped the window with her sleeve, swerving to the right slightly when she saw the sign. "Ah. There. Haven — two miles."

The icon underneath the exit sign indicated only one hotel and one gas station. Where there was gas, there had to be coffee, although she could try to push on through to Whitehall. Or, maybe there'd be better choices on I- 89. She couldn't be far from the junction. Her stomach groaned like a disgruntled defendant. Sam glanced at her gas gauge — Lucille was running on fumes.

She turned on her directional. "Haven, it is."

Merging onto a two-lane thoroughfare, she followed the white lines until she came to an intersection. The sign said to turn right onto a narrower road, more like a cow path, a tarmac trail through the forest. What next, a dirt road leading to Ma and Pa's Boarding House? Wilderness stretched to the right and to the left, as far as she could see through the downpour, anyway.

Logic could not be silenced as easily as common sense. Something had to be wrong. Even a town she'd never heard of couldn't be that isolated. She should turn around now and chance it to Whitehall.

The mountainous mammal came from nowhere, a mammoth brown blur that stood directly in front of her. Sam screamed and braked, but too late. The wheels locked, and Lucille screeched forward, a two-ton bullet. Metal crunched and glass blasted. Sam's head snapped forward then backward, a limp appendage as Lucille slid down the embankment, the crumbled, blood-spattered moose stuck to her hood. Car, driver, and beast came to a rest at the bottom of a ditch in the middle of God-only-knows-where-I-am-ville.

Fingered antlers pressed against Sam's right shoulder.

She could do nothing except mentally assess the damage and raise her left hand to the hole that was once a window. A sharp pain shot up her leg, and Sam noticed a large piece of glass jutting from her upper thigh. Instead of emitting a scream, she squealed with delight. "Yahoo. I can feel! And you can talk, too. Though no one's going to hear you except that thing on your hood. Hey you, if you're alive, say something."

Dead eyes glared back.


Excerpted from The Other Side of Darkness by Linda Wood Rondeau. Copyright © 2011 Linda Wood Rondeau. Excerpted by permission of Pelican Ventures, LLC.
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.

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The Other Side of Darkness 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, one I didn’t want to put down. I love Rondeau’s vivid characters, many of whom I’d want as friends. From the court room to a boarding house to cobblestone streets, heroine Samantha Knowles grapples with life and what God is leading her to do. Love, hatred, life, death, friendship, animosity…the reader is caught up in the intrigue of a great story. I hope Linda Wood Rondeau entertains us with another book and continues Samantha’s journey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sara_Goff More than 1 year ago
I don't normally read suspense novels, but the title caught my attention. At first glance, I expected something dark and menacing, but then the answer came to me, before even opening the book. The other side of darkness is hope. There is suspense in Rondeau's story; after meeting our protagonist Samantha, a hard-working D.A., we meet the man who swears he'll kill her, but the plot doesn't stop there. In fact, Samantha's worst enemy is herself. She's working herself into an early grave trying to keep the man who wants her dead behind bars. It's a dark circle that only a major life-change can break, and that's just what is in store for Sam when she is forced to take a three-week holiday in the country. Hope is introduced in the first chapter, but that doesn't mean Sam's journey in The Other Side of Darkness is an easy one. Her only hope to finding happiness, actually, is facing her resistance to feeling happy...and falling in love. As Sam fights to save her life, in more ways than one, an uplifting story unfolds in a quaint all-American town. The Other Side of Darkness is a focused, confidently-written read and a real pleasure.
ebm More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderfully written - i was hooked in right from the beginning and was sad that i finished because i wanted the story to continue - wishing the author would write a sequel.
GingerS219 More than 1 year ago
The Other Side of Darkness sounds sinister and evil, but in reality it is a very inspirational suspense story because on "the other side of darkness" is "a place where hope" dwells and that hope can only be found in Jesus. Sometimes, you know you like a book, but can't quite put your finger on the exact reason, or reasons. That's where I am. I enjoyed every moment of reading the story. I didn't find it frightening, but definitely eye-opening. Haven sounded like a wonderful place to hide and recover and I, too, love the smell of hyacinths. It reminded me of my childhood home. If you like suspense, with just a touch of romance, you will like The Other Side of Darkness.
jennysreveiw More than 1 year ago
Just got done reading, "The Other Side Of Darkness", by Linda Wood Rondeau! Such a good read! The heiroin, "Samantha Knowles", is going through life blaming herself for her dad's death! It takes God's intervention, with the help of a moose, to make her realize she's not in control of her life. Assistant D.A. Samantha Knowles is forced to take a vacation by her boss and ends up in Haven a small town in the Adirondacks! Everything in her life starts to unravel: a murder conviction, (that took three yrs of hard work), a troubled childhood and two men vying for her attention. Will Sam turn back to God in time or will danger find her before she can. Jenny's Review
Running_Writer More than 1 year ago
If you like romance, suspense and inspiration, The Other Side of Darkness has it all. From the time you meet Sam Knowlton on page 1, you're hooked. Follow her to Haven, her encounter with a moose and the odd people of this small town and you will have to turn the pages until you're done. And if you've ever carried around a "knapsack of guilt," this book will help you shed it. Fabulous read.