Silent Night Sanctuary. Rita Herron

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Silent Night Sanctuary - Rita Herron

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      The temptation to kiss her overwhelmed him, and he lowered his mouth and brushed her lips with his.

      She felt so dainty in his arms, so tender, and his own hunger rippled through him.

      But her startled gasp made him pull back, and he cursed himself.

      He was a selfish bastard. The kiss hadn’t been for her, but for him. Hearing the despair in her voice had done something to him, stirring up feelings he didn’t want to feel, especially for her.

      “I’m sorry,” he said in a low voice as he backed toward the door. He couldn’t shake the unsettling feeling that he had frightened her with his kiss.

      Need, hunger, the desire to soothe her—to make love to her—churned through him. Needs he couldn’t pursue.

      Silent Night Sanctuary

      Rita Herron


      MILLS & BOON

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      To Allison & Denise, two great editors

       with fabulous advice!


      Award-winning author Rita Herron wrote her first book when she was twelve, but didn’t think real people grew up to be writers. Now she writes so she doesn’t have to get a real job. A former kindergarten teacher and workshop leader, she traded her storytelling for kids for romance, and writes romantic comedies and romantic suspense. She lives in Georgia with her own romance hero and three kids. She loves to hear from readers so please write her at P.O. Box 921225, Norcross, GA 30092-1225, or visit her Web site at


       Leah Holden —A woman desperate to find her missing sister and protect the past….

       Gage McDermont —A detective determined to solve the case, even if he has to expose Leah’s secrets.

       Ruby Holden —An innocent seven-year-old caught in a web of lies.

       Carmel Foster —She lost her child. Has she taken Ruby as a replacement?

       Amos Trevett —He has a record as a child predator but claims he’s innocent. Is he lying?

       Jerry McDermont —Gage’s adopted brother resented Gage. Did he hurt Leah as revenge?

       Dr. Donnie Burkham —He was furious at Leah for implying he abused his son. Has he done something to Ruby to get back at Leah?

       Warren Cox —A mentally challenged young man who befriends little girls. Did he kidnap Ruby?

       Charlie Driscill —The deputy will do anything to enforce the bond of silence the teenagers entered into, and to keep the past forgotten.

       Harry Wiggins —He was Leah’s friend. But did he protect her when he should have?

       Jameson Mansfield —The town lawyer who wants to keep the past quiet—how far would he go to keep the others from talking?

       Evan Rutherford —The high school football coach was a football legend in high school. Did he hurt Leah and cover it up?


       Chapter One

       Chapter Two

       Chapter Three

       Chapter Four

       Chapter Five

       Chapter Six

       Chapter Seven

       Chapter Eight

       Chapter Nine

       Chapter Ten

       Chapter Eleven

       Chapter Twelve

       Chapter Thirteen

       Chapter Fourteen

       Chapter Fifteen

       Chapter Sixteen

       Chapter Seventeen

       Chapter Eighteen

       Chapter Nineteen

       Chapter Twenty

       Chapter One

      The wind whipping through the paper-thin walls of Leah Holden’s North Carolina mountain cabin whistled, shrill and violent, jarring her from a deep sleep. Or had the sound been a scream?

      A child’s scream…


      Leah vaulted from her bed and raced to her seven-year-old sister’s room, praying she’d been wrong. Through the half-open door, Christmas lights from the tiny tree inside sparkled red and gold and silver.

      But when she rushed inside, Ruby’s bed was empty.

      “Ruby!” Her heart pounded as she scanned the interior, the dark shadows, the rumpled bedding, the closet where her sister had made a playhouse for her dolls.

      No Ruby.

      The curtains flapped wildly, the chill in the room sending icy fear through her.

      The window was open. It had been shut when Leah had gone to bed.

      Frantic, she flipped on the overhead light, her gaze landing on the teddy bear that had been slashed to pieces on Ruby’s bed. A note lay in the midst of the cotton stuffing, and nausea lurched in her stomach.


      She screamed in terror, panic clenching her chest as a dozen horrific scenarios assaulted her. Ruby, kidnapped. Being tortured. Abused. Molested. Murdered.

      The room swirled in a blinding sea of white and she gripped the edge of the brass bed, struggling not to pass out. This couldn’t be happening.

      Sanctuary was supposed to be a safe little town. A haven for families—a close-knit community.

      But a cold emptiness filled Ruby’s room. The sight of her Pippi Longstocking doll brought tears to Leah’s eyes. Ruby loved her Pippi doll just as Leah had loved the colorful character when she was a child. After her mother had died, Leah had moved back home to take care of Ruby, and they’d started reading the Pippi books together.

      Leah’s hand trembled as she ran to the den for the phone. The message on the note echoed in her head and she hesitated. Every horrific TV-show scenario flashed through her mind.

      Maybe she shouldn’t call the police.

      But time was important. And how could she handle this alone?

      She needed the police to issue an AMBER Alert, start searching, set up road blocks, put Ruby’s picture on the news, call the FBI…She needed them to find Ruby.

      Terrified, she punched in the number. Ruby was all the family she had left. She had to find her.


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