Fiction Karen Rose Don't Tell

ISBN 13: 9780755371150

Don't Tell

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9780755371150: Don't Tell

It was a desperate plan. But Mary Grace Winters knew the only way to save herself and her child from her abusive cop husband was to stage their own death. Now all that remains of their former life is at the bottom of a lake. Armed with a new identity in a new town, she and her son have found refuge hundreds of miles away. As Caroline Stewart, she has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. She is even taking a chance on love with Max Hunter, a man with wounds of his own. But her past is about to collide with the present when her husband uncovers her trail and threatens her hard-won peace. Step by step, he's closing in on her- and everything and everyone she loves.

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About the Author:

Karen Rose is a RITA Award-winning author who fell in love with books from the time she learned to read, with Jo from Little Women and Nancy Drew becoming close childhood friends. A former chemical engineer and high school chemistry and physics teacher, Karen lives in Florida with her husband of twenty years, their two children, and the family cat, Bella. For more information, visit her website: www.karenrosebooks.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue

Asheville, North Carolina,

Nine years earlier -

The sounds were soothing. The gentle beep of the monitors, the quiet scrape of nurses’ shoes on the tiled floor, muted voices in the corridors. She was lulled away from the pain into a restless sleep. Safe, she thought as she drifted away.

"Where’s my wife! I have to see my wife!"

The frantic voice startled Mary Grace from her doze. She tried to open her eyes then remembered they were still swollen shut. He’s here.

Someone had detained him. Someone with a deep voice that carried across the small room. Perhaps the doctor. Yes, that must be it.

"You need to go slowly, Officer Winters. Your wife needs you to be calm."

"What happened? Let me go! I’ve got to see Mary Grace!"

"Your wife has had a serious accident. She doesn’t look very good."

"What..." She heard him clear his throat. "How bad is she hurt?"

Mary Grace strained to hear. How bad was she hurt? The sharp pain in her head and arm threatened to fill her consciousness. The rest of her body felt numb. Probably the painkillers, she thought, battling the fog that loomed.

"She has a broken arm, so severely broken we had to pin it in two places. Her right leg is broken. We had to pin it as well, right above the knee. Multiple contusions on her face and to the back of her head. She has a deep cut over her eye. A fraction of an inch lower and she might have lost her eye."

Mary Grace fought the shudder. It hurt far too much to jar her head, even involuntarily.

"But she’ll be all right." She heard the desperation in her husband’s voice.

The long pause set Mary Grace’s heart racing.

"She’ll be all right, won’t she? Dammit, Doctor, tell me the truth!"

Yes, please do, Mary Grace thought. And hurry. The numbness was already enveloping her once more.

"Your wife fell down a flight of stairs, Officer Winters. She fractured her back at the ninth vertebrae. She lay there unconscious a long time, her spinal cord pinched."

"Oh my God."

Her racing heart went still. It was a moment before she took another breath and that one was forced.

"She has ... there is some paralysis."

Oh my God, Mary Grace thought. Oh my God.

"Is it ... permanent?"

"That’s hard to say at this stage. We need to let the swelling subside, then we’ll get a spinal cord injury specialist in from Raleigh to take a good look at your wife."

"Can ... can I see her?"

"Only for a few minutes. I’ll just wait here."

She could hear him shuffle into the hospital room, his cowboy boots rasping against the tile. Then she could smell him, that intense aftershave he’d always worn. Then she could feel his heat as his large body hunkered down.

"Gracie," he said sorrowfully. "Mary Grace, what have you done to yourself, honey?" His big fingers brushed over the back of her hand, sending chills up the back of her neck. Then he was leaning forward, his lips brushing against her cheek. His mustache tickled her skin as he kissed his way from her cheek to her ear.

Then it came. She’d been waiting, knowing it would come. The knowing never lessened the dread.

"One word," he breathed into her ear, so low no one would be able to hear. "One word from your idiot mouth and next time I’ll finish the job, I swear t’God." He nuzzled, his lips seemingly caressing her outer ear. "Understand?"

Mary Grace managed to tilt her pounding head enough to please him and he straightened, his hand passing over her hair, imperceptibly tightening to yank. Nausea rolled through her stomach.

"Oh, Gracie, darlin’. I just can’t stand to see you this way."

Her body instinctively shrank from his mournful tone, aching with every clench of her muscles.

"That’s all the time you have today, Officer Winters. Why don’t you just go on back to the station and we’ll call you if there’s any change? Or better yet, go on home."

"I will." His heavy sigh rent the air. "Where’s the boy?"

Her racing heart jittered to a stop once again. Robbie. Where was Robbie? A dim memory mocked. Robbie, holding her hand, begging her not to die, begging her to wait for the ambulance. Was that this time or the time before? She struggled against the mind-numbing effects of the medication, needing to know who had her son.

"He’s with the hospital social worker. He found her, you know. That kind of shock can cause a great emotional trauma in a boy his age."

Rob’s harsh voice carried across the room. He’s standing by the doctor now, she thought. He’s leaving. He’ll be alone with my son. "He’s a strong boy. He’ll survive."

Mary Grace felt her hands grip the sheet, twist it until her fingers ached. Detached. She felt detached from her own mind. Helpless in her own body. He’ll survive. He has to. Please, Robbie, just hang on ‘till I can get home.

And then life will be different. She would protect herself. She would protect her son. She vowed Rob Winters would never hurt them again. But how?

I’ll find a way.

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