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A freak accident takes away every memory of Allison Adams's life for the past decade. It also leaves her sightless. She isn't sure of anything, not even who she has been for the past ten years, but when the man claiming to be her husband holds her, it feels familiar and right. How can she be certain this is where she belongs?
Sharing his life with the woman he adores and their two children has given A.J. Adams the strength to keep his demons buried. When a murderous specter from the past rises, igniting new challenges, everything A.J. cherishes hangs in the balance. To win Allison's love again, he'll battle those demons. Fortunately, surrender has never been in his vocabulary.
Is there any chance to regain sight of their past and see a way to a shared future?
Page Count: 360
Word Count: 94209
Town of Federal, Wyoming Territory, Mid October
The ride into town from the Heart Bar A had done precious little to cool Allison Adams’s temper. While she selected the items she needed to bake her husband’sfavorite pie, she silently berated herself for even considering crafting the confection. It shouldn’t matter if it was for his birthday. How dare he accuse her of not taking his wishes into consideration? To the best of her knowledge, it still took two for a woman to find herself in a delicate condition.
No matter how much she tried to impress on A.J. that every pregnancy was different, he remained adamant. No more children. How could he be certain she would have the same problems this time as she had delivering Jamie? Unconsciously, she covered her abdomen with her forearm, as if she could shield this child from the hateful words she and A.J. had hurled at one another a few hours before.
“Are you Mrs. Allison Adams?”
The unfamiliar voice interrupted her angry thoughts. Allison stopped, shifted the burlap sack full of items she had purchased, and turned. The lowering sun behind the man’s shoulder hid his features. A little taller than she was, sturdily built even though his stomach appeared to be going to paunch, nothing about him lent itself to a sense of recognition. He stood deep enough in the shadows of the small alleyway between the milliner’s and the general store that she hadn’t noticed him. The hair on the nape of her neck lifted and she instinctively took a step back.
“I’m Mrs. Adams.”
“Ma’am, I’m Dale Thompson and I’ve been asked to deliver a message to you.” Thompson drew a long breath, then said, as if he was reciting a soliloquy from a stage play, “Mr. Gene Oakten requests the honor of your presence—”
If that vile man thought she was going to willingly see him ever again…
“Oakten can go straight to hell.” She didn’t even flinch with her own use of vulgarity.
Without even batting an eye, the man continued. “—to negotiate the return of your children, Pamela and James.”
Pammy. And Jamie. She clutched the burlap sack convulsively. Her stomach sank past the soles of her shoes. “Where are my children?”
“I have been instructed to take you directly to them. Please come with me. Quietly.”
Allison looked up and down the usually busy Federal Avenue, the main street of the town. Panic stole her ability to think. Several blocks away, the bell on St. Margaret’s Catholic Church tolled four times. Where was everyone? Surely the whole town wasn’t already at supper. Desperation tightened her throat. “I have to go to the livery to get my mare.”
A mocking smile twisted Thompson’s face. “Ma’am, your horse is hitched in front of the bakery. I’ll walk you to that flashy sorrel of yours.”
No matter how angry they had been with one another, as soon as A.J. realized she and the children were missing, he would turn the town upside down. That certainty did nothing to relieve the panic twisting her insides into knots. Her mind raced. How could she alert A.J. she had been abducted and even leave a marked path to follow? As inconspicuously as possible, she let one of her riding gloves slip from her fingers. If she pretended she didn’t notice it falling, hopefully Thompson wouldn’t either.
As she swung up into the saddle, Thompson handed Allison her thin leather glove. “I believe this is yours.” His hand dropped onto the hilt of a terrifying large knife at his waist.
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