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Authors: Hannah Alexander

Sacred Trust

BOOK: Sacred Trust
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Hideaway novel

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River Dance novel

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Hideaway novel

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Hideaway novel

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Hideaway novel

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Hideaway novel

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Hideaway novel

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Hideaway novel

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Hideaway novel

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Hideaway novel

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Hideaway novel

Critical Praise for
HANNAH ALEXANDER'S
Novels

SACRED TRUST

“Alexander is great at drawing the reader into her story line and keeping them hooked until the resolution of the plot.”

—
Christian Retailing

A KILLING FROST

“Running dialogue and a few twists will keep romantic suspense fans coming back for more.”

—
Publishers Weekly

DOUBLE BLIND

“Native American culture clashes with Christian principles in the freshly original plot.”

—
Romantic Times BOOKreviews

GRAVE RISK

“The latest in Alexander's Hideaway series is filled with mystery and intrigue. Readers familiar with the series will appreciate how the author keeps the characters fresh and appealing.”

—
Romantic Times BOOKreviews

FAIR WARNING

“The plot is interesting and the resolution filled with action.”

—
Romantic Times BOOKreviews

LAST RESORT

“The third novel in Alexander's Hideaway romantic suspense series (after the Christy Award-winning
Hideaway
and
Safe Haven
) is a gripping tale with sympathetic characters that will draw readers into its web. The kidnapped Clarissa's inner dialogue may remind some of Alice Sebold's
The Lovely Bones.

—
Library Journal

Other books by
HANNAH ALEXANDER

Love Inspired Suspense

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Note of Peril

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Under Suspicion

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Death Benefits

Hidden Motive

Steeple Hill Single Title

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Hideaway

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Safe Haven

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Last Resort

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Fair Warning

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Grave Risk

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Double Blind

**
A Killing Frost

Love Inspired Historical

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Hideaway Home

HANNAH ALEXANDER
SACRED TRUST

To the Great Physician,
the Author and Finisher of our faith.

In memory of our fathers:
Johnie R. Cook & Ralph B. Hodde

We wish to thank Joan Marlow Golan and her excellent staff for giving us this opportunity to share our books with a new reading audience.

SACRED TRUST

Prologue

F
rankie Verris held the plastic cup in his trembling left hand and stared out the bedroom window. Broken limbs from winter storms littered an unmowed lawn. Weeds lay flattened in the vegetable garden. The jonquils and tulips, which Doris had always loved so much, had refused to bloom this spring. It pretty well summed up Frankie's life over the past year, with Doris gone. Another sleepless night, filled with pain and loneliness, had brought him to this despair.

He looked at the easy-open prescription vial in his right hand, cherishing even the look of his wife's name on the white label. Why hadn't he cherished her more when she was alive?

With unsteady fingers, he flipped off the cap and poured the pills onto the dusty chest beside the window. They had helped Doris sleep. Would they work for his pain?

He gagged on the first swallow, but it finally went down. He sank into the bedside chair and took two more. They went easier. He watched the silent flight of a hawk as it winged over the horizon of forest past the yard. Everything
seemed to remind him of Doris these days. She'd loved the hawks because of “the poetry in their wings.” She'd loved so many things. She'd loved him, unworthy as he was.

She'd loved God most of all.

For years Frankie had been jealous of God, often resentful because of the special relationship Doris seemed to have with Him. And now God had taken her and there was nothing left.

He swallowed two more pills, then kept going, two at a time. It grew easier and easier.

The drug was fast acting, and he appreciated that. He didn't want to sit around and wait for it to work. In fact, he thought he might be feeling the first effects already….

 

Jacob Casey gripped the telephone receiver hard, fighting back another wave of pain in his upper thigh. “Hello, emergency room? This is Cowboy again. I'm coming in with another injury.” It had been a few months since they'd seen him, and he'd never been there in the daytime. Maybe today's would be a different staff, and maybe this time the doc on duty wouldn't give him the familiar three-hour sermon about being careful around wild animals.

He grimaced as the secretary questioned him. “Nope, no ambulance. I'll do it myself.” He'd called an ambulance once—last year when the bison had kicked the paddock gate over on him. It had taken him longer to get to the hospital then than ever before or since.

He looked down to find more blood dripping from his thigh. “Can't take the time to talk. Just be ready for me. My pet cat bit me. No rabies, so don't even think about shots.” Leonardo was well vaccinated.

With a short grunt Cowboy hung up the phone and
reached for his hat. The room started to go black on him, and he lowered his head.
Must be losing more blood than I thought.
Forget the hat. He picked up his keys from the kitchen table and flung one last, angry glance out the window toward the cage outside where Leonardo the lion paced from end to end. Let him go hungry if he was going to behave like this.

At this rate there would be blood all over Cowboy's beautiful vintage Mustang. That cat had a lot to answer for.

 

Frankie stood up unsteadily from his perch at the un-curtained window. The sun had passed the tree line and now blasted through the bedroom with unrelenting force. Dust particles danced in the sunbeams, and Frankie stared at them for a moment, fascinated. The neighbor kids would want to see this. He'd have to show them the next time they came over….

No, he wasn't planning to be here to show them. He was going to be with Doris by then.

He would be with Doris, wouldn't he? She was dead and he'd be dead, in the ground.

His mind worked through that thought slowly. Doris had never believed she would just end up in the ground. She was sure she was going to heaven. He'd gotten sick of listening to her talk about heaven so much. But it sure had comforted him after she was gone.

Frankie's hands felt numb. He wiggled his fingers and tried to shake the muzziness from his head, but it just made him dizzier.
Man, oh, man, this drug is working fast.

Maybe he didn't want it to work so fast. What about the kids next door? He hadn't thought about them. What if this drug worked and he died, and those little kids found him?

He did not want that to happen.

Using all his strength to force his feet to move, he walk-stumbled from the bedroom toward the living room. He'd better try to reach that phone. He could call 9-1-1 and stop all this. Then, even if he died, the kids wouldn't be the ones who found him.

 

Ivy Richmond sat on the chair closest to the front door and listened to the siren. Soon the ambulance would pull up outside. They'd take care of everything. She pressed her hands against her chest and tried to breathe slowly, as if that would help normalize the crazy rhythm of her heart. This was not a heart attack. She wouldn't let it be.

So what was it? Stress? She could get philosophical about it and say she had a broken heart. It would be true. Her heart was breaking more and more every day, but she hadn't expected to get so physical about it. She'd experienced grief before, but maybe it was different every time. Maybe it dug deeper each time until it finally destroyed either the mind or the body. Or maybe she was just being melodramatic. She needed to snap out of this.

The siren stopped as the ambulance pulled up outside. She could see the reflection of the lights against her living-room drapes. Time to let them in.

She stood up and opened the door just as they stepped up to knock.

“Mrs. Richmond?” It was the big guy she'd seen before.

She nodded and stepped back. “This way. She's in the first bedroom.” She gestured down the hallway, and her hand shook.

The man stopped in front of her. “Are you okay?”

“I didn't call for me,” she snapped. “It's my mother. Cancer. Get her to the hospital!”

 

Frankie never realized how much effort it took just to walk. He could not concentrate long enough to form his steps. He finally leaned against the wall and pulled himself down the hallway that seemed to stretch for miles. If he could just get to the phone…

Doris would be so ashamed of him, trying to buy his way out of life like this. He couldn't do it. He wanted her to be proud of him when they greeted each other again.

Would they ever see each other? What if she was right about heaven and hell?

He needed time to think about it. He had to reach that phone.

There it sat on the end table. Frankie teetered as he stepped away from the wall and reached forward. His foot caught on something, and he fell as if in slow motion.

Yes, he should have thought about this to begin with. He could crawl so much easier than he could walk. He inched across the remaining space on his elbows and knees and raised his hand toward the phone. He knocked off the receiver, and it fell next to him. He squinted at the face of the dial pad and realized he'd lost his glasses. He peered closer, fighting the heavy darkness that rushed in toward him like a hard wind. He hit the first button: nine. He found the one and poked it, then raised his finger to hit it again, but the black wind grabbed him.

The receiver slipped from his hand, and his head and shoulders slumped helplessly onto the carpet.

BOOK: Sacred Trust
11.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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