Shadows of His Mind The Shadows Series Book 2 by Loree Lough Genre: Romantic Suspense
Jase Brooks had been a 26-year-old Marine, stationed in Afghanistan when his parents were killed in a head-on collision. His anguish was compounded when, at the reading of the will, he learned they'd made him sole guardian of his 11-year-old brother. Jase gladly walked away from a promising military career to step into their shoes, a tough job made tougher by the boy's risky behavior: Petty theft to fund the addictions that led to the birth of his son, Luke... who also became Jase's responsibility.
Through it all, best friend Samantha (Sam) Finnigan set aside her own heartaches to stand beside him--even when he made the dangerous decision to become a professional recovery agent. It isn't until one of the criminals he'd rounded-up escapes prison--and kidnaps Sam and Luke as part of a twisted scheme to even the score--that Jase realizes Sam is more, so much more than a friend.
Now, he faces the greatest challenge of his life: Staying alive long enough to save them, so that he can finally admit just how much she has always meant to him...
Loree Lough, a USA Today bestselling author, has published over 140 novels. This is the second novel in The Shadow Series.
Michaels had to give himself credit. If you’d been this good at surveillance two years ago, Brooks never would’ve gotten the drop on you.
The woman and kid were in the store, and one of her two part-time employees. The mechanic was gone. He knew, because he’d overheard him, yelling into the phone, “It’s about time that part is in. I’ll pick it up in five minutes.”
Michaels parallel parked near the curb and exited the Ford, left the driver’s door open, opened the back passenger door, and pulled on his mask.
Inside, he grabbed the woman, pressed the gun barrel to her temple and snarled, “Open the register.”
She struggled, but only for a minute, before hitting the blue button on the keypad that released the cash drawer. He grabbed the twenties, stuffed them into his left front pocket.
“Get on the floor,” he ordered the teenage boy. “And you,” he growled, tightening his grip on the woman, “pick up that baby.” Increasing the barrel’s pressure on her temple, he growled, “Give me a reason, and I’ll shoot the boy, the baby, then you.”
She nodded, and he turned her loose. The instant she had the baby in her arms, he took it from her, which unleashed ear-piercing wails. “Get outside,” he ordered, and using the .44 as a pointer, added, “You’re driving.”
But she didn’t move. “You didn’t take all the money. Take it. There’s more in the back. You can have that, too.”
“Money ain’t the main reason I’m here, lady. Now get in the car.”
By now, the baby was screaming and lunging for the woman. Never would-a guessed a kid this small could be so strong!
“Please don’t hurt him. He’s just scared. So am I. We’re all scared. But thanks to your disguise, we can’t identify you. So take the money and go.”
“Shut up and get in the car or I’ll do more than scare the bunch of you.”
Eyes wide and lips trembling, she said, “Will you at least let me get his diaper bag?”
He almost shouted No!, but thought better of it. Anything to keep the kid quiet . . . and keep it from stinking up the car or the motel room.
“Fine. Grab it. And grab your cell phone, too.”
She took her sweet time, shouldering the bag’s strap, tucking the phone into a front pocket, walking out the door.
“What are you tryin’ to pull? Stop stallin’ and get a move-on!”
“If I run, I’ll draw attention to myself. You don’t want that, now do you?” Good point, he thought. Joe stood in stunned disbelieve as she stopped beside the teenage boy, still trembling on the floor behind the counter, “You’ll be all right, sweetie,” she told him. “Wait five minutes after we’ve left, then lock up and go home. Okay?”
“Okay,” he said, voice cracking.
It was smart, telling the kid to wait. Smarter still, not dropping a hint that he should call the cops. Maybe it wasn’t intelligence, but the Magnum that made her seem smart. He’d learned that looking down the barrel of a gun had a tendency to turn people—babies, teenagers, women, even grown men—into willing puppets. Why should she be an exception?
The instant she was in the car, he slammed the driver’s door and climbed into the back seat. Not an easy feat, holding the hefty handgun and a squirming, shrieking baby. After slamming the rear door, he leaned forward, and this time, rested the gun barrel on her shoulder.
“Now drive. And remember. Give me a reason, and I’ll use this.”
Her hand shook as she shifted into gear. Looking over her right shoulder, she said, “It’s okay, Lukey, please don’t cry.” Then, meeting Michaels’s eyes, she added, “Would it kill you to be a little gentler with him?”
“Shut up and get going!”
She sounded more angry than scared. Good, he thought, because the whiny ones had always been trouble, and not nearly as much fun to break. Michaels had to give it to her for holding it together. In similar circumstances, he’d seen hardened criminals blubber like babies.
As she turned onto the highway, Michaels pulled off the mask and tossed it into the front seat. “Izza big skawy bad man a wittle wess skawy now?”
She said something under her breath, and he decided to let her get away with it. “Number twenty-seven,” he said once she’d completed the U-turn.
Except for the occasional hiccupping sniffle, the baby sat, stiff and quiet during the short drive to the motel.
“Okay,” she snapped, braking in front of the unit, “we’re here. Now what.”
“Now you cut the engine and get out, real slow, and give me the keys. Then you take this brat and look like you’re happy to be here while I unlock the door. Got it?”
“Yes,” she hissed.
He gave her shoulder another tap, a gentle reminder what would happen if she stepped out of line. Joe needed the reminder as much as she did: This was the make-or-break moment, when she could take off running, bellowing like a banshee, and attract attention. To his knowledge, the motel had just one other guest; the car in front of #29 was gone, but the guy could still be in there.
Once inside, she relieved him of the baby. Instantly, he realized that before leaving the room, he’d forgotten to close the curtains … because she’d planted herself right in front of the big window. In the bright sunlight, he got his first real look at the kid, red-faced and puffy-eyed, huffing ragged breaths as clung to her. Like baby monkeys cling to their mamas.
“You’re okay, you’ll be fine, it’s all good,” she crooned, and the baby buried its face in her throat.
Michaels snapped the curtains shut and she unshouldered the diaper bag. It landed on the bedspread’s playing cards … a royal flush. Had Lady Luck decided to switch her allegiance?
“Why are we here.”
A snarling, whispered demand, he noted, rather than a pleading question. It made him laugh a bit that she actually expected him to give her a straight answer.
He extended a hand, palm up, and wiggled his fingers. “Phone.”
“You know where it is. Get it yourself.” Better be careful with this one. She was tough and smart, and that spelled trouble. He gave a thought to cracking the side of her skull with the gun, remind her who was in charge here, but then who’d keep the brat quiet?
Michaels helped himself to the phone, saw right away that the battery was low. No matter. He only needed to make one call.
“Is his number programmed into this thing?”
He watched, grinning as she put two and two together. Finally, he thought, she looks a little scared. Maybe now she’d be easier to keep in line.
“Three,” she whispered.
Now, it was his turn to put two and two together: One, the old man; two, the store; three, Jason Brooks. It told him she knew how to prioritize, information that would come in handy … soon.
Brooks answered after just two rings.
“Hey, you,” he said. “Were your ears ringing? Jesse and I were just talking about you.”
It took considerable self-control to keep from pitching the phone against the wall … no, at her … because she was the reason Brooks sounded so content. I can fix that in one second flat:
“Hey, yourself,” he growled. “Recognize my voice?”
Beyond the Shadows
The Shadows Series Book 1
Elice Glasser is a widow with three young children to raise. Cabot Murray is an ex-cop who returns home to Freeland, Maryland, to deal with the pain of his own tragic loss: the death of his wife and daughter in a fiery explosion intended for him.
Grieving, their sorrow brings them together, and a friendship develops that leads then to explore the possibility of finding love again. But vengeful enemies and jealous rivals are determined to destroy the peace and happiness that Elice and Cabot have found in each other’s arms. Why are their rivals so intent on keeping Elice and Cabot apart? Loree Lough's latest suspenseful romance is a page-turner!
Cabot sat up with a start. Footsteps? Immediately, he turned out the light.
And there it was again. Yes. Footsteps. Definitely.
The kids were safe at the Glassers’ house, he’d told her; it’s the perfect opportunity to catch whoever is pulling these ridiculous, dangerous, stunts. It had taken nearly half an hour to convince her to let him stay. “The neighbors won’t know that you’re asleep in Danny’s bed,” she gasped. “They’ll think …” She’d blushed so deeply that he’d taken her in his arms so she couldn’t see his grin, and promised to park the Jeep behind the shed out back so the neighbors wouldn’t know he was there at all.
Now, he slipped out of the bed and stepped into his shoes. It was a good thing he hadn’t yet removed his pants and shirt. He tiptoed through the quiet hall and into the living room. Someone’s out there, all right, he told himself, and not a small someone, either. The silhouette looked strangely familiar, and then he remembered the shadow in his pines.
She’d taken his advice and changed the locks. He tried to remember where she’d put the key that unlocked the double-deadbolt. Once he’d found it, hanging on a tiny nail beside the door jamb, he cautiously stuck it into the lock and turned slowly, wincing when it clicked into the open position, shattering the silence.
His palm was sweating, and when he grabbed the brass knob, it made opening the door impossible. Cabot wiped it on the seat of his pants and tried again. He’d thought about oiling that squeak in the hinges several times. Now, as the high-pitched squeal grated in his ears, he wished he’d followed through.
Finally, the door was open far enough for him to slip onto the porch. He stood there for a long moment, studying the blackened yard for another glimpse of that shadow. In the dim light of the moon, he could see the tree swing, swaying slowly in the breeze. Beside it, a red plastic sand bucket rolled lazily left, then right. Annie’s tricycle caught a moonbeam and reflected it onto the fender of Danny’s dirt bike, leaning on the shed wall. The toys reminded him that three innocent children lived in this house. Children, and an vulnerable woman.
Something moved near the clothesline, and his eyes riveted to the spot. Crouching, he made his way into the yard and watched it move, show and steady, toward the north side of Elice’s house. And then it disappeared into the inky darkness.
There were three windows over there: one in Danny’s room, two in Elice’s. He was on the lawn now, nearly running to keep up with the quickening pace of the shadow, being careful to stay behind shrubs and tree trunks. A bead of sweat stung his eye, and Cabot swiped it away.
Black leather-gloved hands rested on the window sill. One booted foot balanced on the brick garden wall below it. One good push, Cabot realized, and the shadow would be inside. In her room. Only the screen separated her from this maniac.
He had no choice. If he didn’t grab it shadow now, he may not get another chance. Cabot darted forward and lunged.
Pain shot through his side. Looking up, he saw the gleaming, toothed blade of a hunting knife. As darkness had been his partner up until now, the moon’s glow was now his nightlight, and he saw that blood that covered the blade. His blood.
Rolling over, he managed to escape further injury. But his wound was more than superficial. He’d been hurt enough times in Chicago to know that much. He’d have to act quickly, before he passed out from loss of blood or shock or both.
It surprised him that the guy didn’t run off, that instead, he made his way to Elice’s window.
Would he stab her, too? Is that why he’d come here tonight … to kill her?
With more than 14M copies of her books in circulation, USA Today bestselling/award-winning author Loree Lough has 125 books in print (contracts for 6 more), 7 book-to-movie options, 68 short stories and 2,500+ published articles. She and her real-life hero split their time between a home in Baltimore's suburbs and a cabin in the Alleghenies. She loves interacting with readers and answers every letter personally.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
When Larry’s job took us to Richmond, I wrote a few letters to the editor, and they turned into simple assignments for The Gazette. Pretty soon, other area newspapers and magazines were calling to see if I’d write about EMTs, tilt-up construction, and other miscellaneous stuff. By the time we were transferred back to Baltimore, I had a couple hundred articles to show the editors in this area. Then I noticed a disturbing trend: Editors, making salient changes to the work in order to appease advertisers. I was stewing about that over supper one night, and Larry said, “Hmpf. If you’re gonna write fiction, why not try your hand at a novel?” So I did. The result? Pocketful of Love, released 28 years and 140 books ago!
What is something unique/quirky about you?
There are few things I love more than spending time with family, especially my husband, daughters, and grandkids. I also enjoy dabbling in art (which explains all the paintings and sketches in my house). And cook and bake (which explains my lifetime Weight Watchers membership). Once upon a time, I earned my living, traveling with my trusty Yamaha guitar all over the US and Canada, singing in pubs and lounges. Oh, and I’m a houseplant addict.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
While conducting research for a novel, I got to be a passenger in an F-17 fighter jet!
What are some of your pet peeves?
Oh, the usual stuff: Lies, pettiness, rudeness …
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Wisconsin, and lived there until my dad’s job with the V.A. took us to the Chicago suburbs.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
With the loves of my life: Larry, the girls, and the grandorables.
Who is your hero and why?
I wish I could name just one! Over the years, random acts have put a lot of people on my Heroes list. Most recently, Larry, for the reasons outlined below …
What kind of world ruler would you be?
A tyrant! (I’m OCD, see …)
What are you passionate about these days?
Taking care of Larry, recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer that spread to his liver, stomach, lungs, bones, and lymph nodes. He’s earned the title Warrior!
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I watch black and white episodes of Gunsmoke, and The Andy Griffith Show.
How to find time to write as a parent?
Even when the kids were young, I didn’t have much trouble finding time for my work. I don’t require a lot of sleep. (I’m OCD and hyperactive, see …)
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Loyal, stubborn, organized, hard-working … and a bit of a rebel.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I cashed my first check, issued by a legitimate, well-recognized newspaper.
Do you have a favorite movie? Secondhand Lions!
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Over the years, 7 of my titles have earned book-to-movie options, but if I could just choose one that’d actually ‘hit the screen,’ it’d be 50 Hours, because it speaks to the subject of Cancer in so many positive and hopeful ways.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Larry and I build ‘book research’ into a lot of our vacations, which allowed us to see Europe, Canada, Alaska, and a whole bunch of the U.S. Of those places, I think Ireland is my favorite.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
The wolf has long been a favorite of mine. These magnificent animals are loyal to a fault, and have literally fought to the death to protect members of their pack. I like to think that, in a pinch, I’d do the same for my loved ones.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve met a lot of fascinating people on Facebook. One of them, a bounty hunter (for real!), shared some spectacular stories about his experiences. Although he never had an escaped convict try to get even with him for the capture and testimony that put them behind bars, but my writer’s mind could imagine it!
What can we expect from you in the future?
There are a few more “Shadows” books, simmering in the back of my mind. And book #1 in my new “Sundown Diner” series is working its way to completion.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Every book features characters—good and bad—based on people I know, personally. In one, my mother-in-law ‘stars’ as the feisty secretary to the novel’s hero. In another, my grandson ‘plays’ the lead. My youngest daughter’s pal runs the show in two stories. Several reader and Facebook friends became an actual friends, and played integral secondary characters. Here’s the thing: If I know you and we interact on a regular basis, chances are pretty good you’ll end up in a book … if you haven’t already!
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Shadows of His Mind?
Jase Brooks, bounty hunter, had intended to dedicate himself to the U.S. Marine Corps. When his parents were killed in a head-on collision, he learned they’d named him guardian of his much-younger brother, Jesse. Though he did his best, straddling the line between best buddy and disciplinarian, Jesse had some rough years, and during those years, fathered a baby boy named Luke. Fortunately for all three, best friend Samantha was always available to help. Life gets complicated when Joe Michaels, one of the fugitives Jase had captured, escapes prison. He’s hellbent on making Jase pay for the misery he’d experienced behind bars. The best way to do that? Kidnap Sam and 10 month old Luke …
Who designed your book covers?
With rare exceptions, I’ve been blessed with covers, designed by my publishers’ talented art departments. That was my experience with PRPP, not only for Beyond the Shadows, book #1 in the “Shadows” series, but for Shadows of His Mind, and the upcoming Shadows of His Past (coming soon).
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’d make it longer by adding more detail about how the friendship between Sam and Jase deepened. I’d also spend more time talking about Alzheimer’s Disease, which is slowly taking her grandfather from her.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I found out a lot more about Alzheimer’s. Enough to inspire me to add anyone who suffers from the dreaded disease to my prayer list. And their caretakers, too.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I can see Chris Hemsworth in the role of Jase. Billy Magnussen as his younger brother, Jesse. Amber Tamlyn would make a terrific Sam. And Joe Michaels? Well, Clive Owen can ‘do’ terrific dirty looks!
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Mostly, I’d say, just pick up a book, any book, and let the story transport you away from the world and all its problems. Picture yourself in the time period and setting. Allow yourself to compare the characters to people in your real life. If you learn a thing or two while reading, great. If not, just enjoy the hours of escape it delivered!
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
If I told you that, I’d spoil the ending!
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Right this minute, I’m wearing one of my favorite t-shirts. It features the picture of an old-time typewriter and says “I Make Stuff Up.” So … they’re straight outta my fiction-addicted brain!
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
Nope. Never. I’m a die-hard Plotter. They do what they’re told. (Told ya I’d be a tyrant!)
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Not many people know much about the personal lives of bounty hunters. My hope is that, after reading Shadows of His Mind, readers will have a better understanding about how the work impacts the rest of their world.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
No, but I’ve made quite a few ‘false starts’ that’ll continue gathering dust on the closet shelf!
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
That candle would deliver the aroma of a spent match: Crisp and pungent, with a hint of danger.
What did you edit out of this book?
Not much, because, ol’ tyrant me follows my plot outline very carefully.
Is there an writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Jack London. Or Dean Koontz. I’d love to ask both men how they learned to tweak readers’ emotions.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
In one scene, Jase is looking for his missing brother, Jesse. He drove down a dangerous street in Baltimore’s ghetto. I wanted to describe what he saw, how he felt, alone on a rainy night. So I took that drive, all by myself. (Don’t tell Larry!)
How long have you been writing?
Started writing, mostly for fun, in the mid-80s, and professionally, since the late 80s.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
They come to me before I start Chapter One. I need to know who the ‘players’ are, so I can get deep into my characters’ heads and hearts as they interact with one another and react to each other.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Lots. I mean, lots. Hours and hours of reading about the time period. Interviewing people who hold the jobs my characters will perform. Visiting the places where some of the scenes will take place. Studying the weather, the business climate, and finding just the right type of home and car for the hero and heroine.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, and I have, since the late 90s.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
It’s crazy out there, I tell ya. Between book pirates and companies going belly-up, or merging with other companies, it’s tough to find publishers that’ll pay a fair wage. Editors come and go. So do distributors. Bookstores. Writing organizations. Despite all that, the competition is fierce.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I’ll read anything and everything, from the back of a cereal box to a matchbook cover. I don’t have a favorite genre, though.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Silence is my preference, but because it’s such a rare commodity, I’ve taught myself to tune out background noise. I’m not one of those writers who listens to music, either. (See? Tyrant!)
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Right now, I’m working on 3 separate projects. Fortunately, they’re all fiction.
Pen or type writer or computer?
When my trusty laptop isn’t handy, pen and paper work just fine.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Gee, that’d be like admitting which child or grandkid is my favorite!
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
Letters from readers, telling me why they enjoyed a story, a character, a setting, definitely whet my whistle for more. Often, readers share personal stories to explain why they identified with a particular character or storyline. Hearing that I helped someone, even in some small way, makes me certain that yes, I made the right decision.
A day in the life of the author?
Up early. Say my prayers. Coffee and breakfast. Shower, dress, make the bed and clean the house. Make a ‘to do’ list for the day. Then, fire up the computer; read and edit the last chapter written, and add scenes until Life interrupts.
Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
Read. Your favorite genre (and stuff you think you’ll hate), and how-to books.
Attend classes and workshops.
Network at conferences.
Join a critique group, either in person or online.
And while you’re doing all that, write. And writewritewritewritewrite.
Describe your writing style.
Casual, down to earth, easy on readers’ eyes (I hope).
What makes a good story?
Something that grabs you by the throat on page one and doesn’t let go until that last satisfying page.
What are you currently reading?
Nonfiction research for my next novel.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
Characters jobs, families, friends
Objective of main characters
How each character helps/impedes other characters’ objectives.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Invitations to attend far-away, expensive writers conferences, or register for online classes. And published authors who, with just a book or two to their credit, consider their advice THE pathway to publication. Most offensive are people—whether published or not—who sabotage writers with meanspirited critiques.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I believe that to give readers what they want, authors must be original. That isn’t as tough as it sounds, thanks to the fact that each of us, coming from varied backgrounds, forms one-of-a-kind opinions and viewpoints.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Stick to the plan, no matter what … don’t give up!
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?
Despite the world’s nonstop attempts to make us all exactly alike, we’re not. Men use different words to describe things than women do. They react to life differently, too. Keeping that in mind when writing from a male character’s point of view, or when crafting dialog for him, makes it easier. A little. Usually.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I once wrote a 55,000 word novel in a weekend (and it won Best Contemporary of the Year after its release). Normally, it takes about 4 months, from Idea to Research and Interviews to typing The End.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Nope! (Told ya … tyrant!)
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