She escaped, but what will happen when she can't remember?
Stumbling into a stranger’s cabin, lost in the woods, isn’t what scares her the most. The fact she doesn’t even remember her own name, let alone why she feels compelled to keep running from…she honestly can’t remember. That’s what frightens her. Her memories are gone, but her instincts are strong. And her gut says she can trust the man who found her—Sheriff Logan Caldwell. Not only does he have a sweet protective nature and the gentlest touch, but he also makes her feel safe—very safe. Until her memories come back, she’s not leaving his side for anything. Because no recollection or not, she knows if he finds her, she’ll die.
The entire Lucky Town Novel series: (Each book can be read as a standalone.)
Escaping Memories (Book 1): Logan & Aubrey
Dangerous Memories (Book 2): Danny & Kat
Stolen Memories (Book 3): Seth & Pepper
Deadly Memories (Book 4): Deke & Charlotte
Release date: April 20, 2016
Publisher: Amanda Siegrist
Print pages: 312
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Sighing heavily, he closed the folder wondering why life had to be so cruel. Innocence, beauty, and a sweet abundance of happiness ripped from the little girl before she had a chance to live. Ten years old. Too young to have died.
“Knock, knock, Sheriff. I hate to bother you, but her uncle’s here.” Deputy Thomas Bolton pushed the door open a bit and stuck his head in.
“Thanks, Bolt. I’ll be right out,” Logan replied with a nod.
Bolt nodded back and popped his head out of the door. Logan placed a tiring hand on the folder, stood up, and walked out of his office to handle what he never thought he’d see in this small town. He grew up in Lucky, lived most of his life in this great town, only venturing out a few years in Minneapolis as a beat cop. That’s where reality slammed into him, sending him home to his tranquil sanctuary.
He saw death, hatred, abuse, cruelty, and just too many other things he wished to forget. Living in that ugliness had weaved a misery inside himself he didn’t like feeling. Peace, small-town happiness, the random idiocy, petty squabbles. Now that he could live with.
When he walked into the sheriff’s office just days after moving back, asking for a deputy position, Sheriff Bob Overly had jovially accepted him into their family—a tight-knit place with only two deputies, and Charlotte, the queen of the front desk. Five years later, at the age of thirty-three, Logan found himself in the sheriff’s position when Bob retired, and the small county of Fortune graciously voted him in. He hadn’t even put his name on the ballot, but the county took it upon themselves to do it for him. Or more like Charlotte had without his permission after he heard a few whispers around Lucky. The county had loved Bob as their sheriff, and two years into his term, they loved him as well.
Running a ragged hand over his face, he released a calm breath and pasted on a friendly smile as he turned the corner to the front area. The walk from his office, located at the hallway’s end, wasn’t far enough. The dreadful conversation he was about to have plagued him, it made him wish he could walk right out the door.
“Mr. Thomas, I’m Sheriff Caldwell. I’m sorry we have to meet under these circumstances,” Logan said, holding his hand out to shake hands with the man.
“My niece…where’s her body?” He choked the words out, barely speaking above a whisper.
“She’s currently at the clinic, sir. We’re a small town here in Lucky. We don’t have a coroner’s office or a hospital. Thank you for coming so quickly.”
“Does an autopsy need to be done? I want everything to...what the hell happened, Sheriff?”
“Would you like to talk in my office, Mr. Thomas?” Logan gestured a hand toward the hallway he just came from. Not that Charlotte would judge the man as she sat behind her desk, but sometimes privacy was called for.
“No. I want answers, Sheriff. Then I want to get the hell out of here with my niece,” Mr. Thomas said, his voice becoming stronger.
“I’ve never had a problem with your brother-in-law, Mr. Thomas. No calls of service to that residence. No reports from the school of anything unusual. I want you to know if I had come across any of that, it would’ve been taken care of. Unfortunately, nobody in town suspected anything. There’s no need for an autopsy. I witnessed most of it myself. Early this morning, we received a report of shots fired at their residence. Mr. Baxter was standing on the porch when I arrived, the gun pointed at his head. I saw your niece Brittany lying in the front yard with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. Before I could even utter a word to Mr. Baxter, he shot himself. Brittany was already dead, Mr. Thomas. If you would like an autopsy done, I can arrange that,” Logan said, looking the man in the eye the entire time. Talking about a death, any death, especially the death of a child was difficult. He was no coward. Looking the man in the eye was the least he could do.
“No, that’s fine, Sheriff. I should’ve known something was wrong. Her mother…my sister…dying last year. Brittany struggled with her death. I never really cared for Baxter, but he was her father. It’s not like I could just take her home with me. She never said he was abusive, but I knew she was unhappy. I should’ve known something like this would happen. I should’ve.”
Logan placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “It’s not your fault, Mr. Thomas. I wish I had known as well. But the sad reality is, how could any of us have known? You can’t blame yourself. Think of your niece with happy memories. That’s what she would want. I can walk with you to the clinic if you’d like to see her. I can help with the arrangements for her funeral. You tell me what you need, and I’ll help.”
“I’d like to walk myself, Sheriff. You’ve done enough. Throw some fire on Baxter’s body and let him rot in hell. That’s the only thing I need you to do.” Without waiting for a response, he turned around and stomped out of the building.
“Damn! You dealt with that on a daily basis in the Cities. I don’t know how you did it, Logie,” Charlotte said with awe.
Logan looked over at her. “Char-Char, I never dealt with that on a daily basis. If I did, I would’ve never lasted five years down in the Cities like I did. Did I see death? Yes. But that just now, that was hard. This is my town, and I can’t believe this happened.”
“Must you call me Char-Char?” Charlotte said with a sliced tone, even as she smiled.
“Must you call me Logie?”
Charlotte pierced her eyes in a measuring manner, then laughed. “I sure do love you, Sheriff. You can’t prevent all tragedies. Just like you told him, it’s not your fault.”
“It’s my job to keep the county safe, to keep it in peace. And I feel like I failed today.” He looked at the door where Mr. Thomas had walked out wishing he had never walked in to begin with.
He loved this small town with all his heart, and now it was tarnished with a horrible memory. Lucky, MN, population 381. Rarely did a newcomer move in and announce, “This is it. This is the place where I want to be.” Most people, if a chance presented itself, moved out. This town provided nothing for advancement, only peace, friendliness, and a sense of community. If that’s what a person wanted, they stayed. If they didn’t, they hightailed it out of town without a backward glance. He suddenly wanted to do that.
“Why are you still here? Leave already,” Charlotte said with annoyance.
“You are the bossiest woman I know, besides Kat. I thought I was the sheriff here.”
“You are the sheriff. A damn fine one, too. But if I recall correctly, which I have an excellent memory, your vacation started today. You shouldn’t even be in the office standing in front of my beautiful face.”
“I need to be here. A little girl died today. I’ll leave when I know Mr. Thomas needs nothing else from me.”
“I don’t know how you survived in the Cities. You’re such a damn softie,” Charlotte said with a grin.
“I don’t know how I did either, Charlotte.” He glanced one more time at the door with Mr. Thomas’s forlorn look imprinted in his mind. “I’ll be in my office if anyone needs me. Let me know right away if Mr. Thomas needs me for anything. And I mean anything, Charlotte. Don’t you dare take care of anything for me without asking.”
Charlotte placed a hand on her chest, feigning innocence. “Me...do that? Never.”
Logan shook his head, laughing, as he walked back to his office.
She saw the sun dipping down into darkness and wanted to scream to the heavens to stop the movement. The light was her freedom. It would show her the way out. She had suffered the darkness for far too long. She didn’t want to suffer in it anymore.
A twig snapped.
Turning her head slightly, she saw nothing in her vision, peripheral or otherwise. Focusing ahead, she tried to run faster through the woods before he caught up to her. He had to be in pursuit. She didn’t stick around to find out if he heard her finally get the door open. She just ran and never looked back. And she decided, as another twig broke, she wasn’t going to look back now either. Going back into that room was not an option. Seeing the darkness, living in the darkness again, was not an option.
A branch hit her cheek. A soft cry echoed around the brisk night as she stumbled. Correcting herself before she went head first into the ground, she continued to run. Her feet would give out before she stopped running. She would stop for nothing, or she would die. She knew it with every breath in her body. If he found her, he would kill her.
Stumbling again, over a small log this time, she thankfully managed to stay afoot. Each step brought her further away from the madness, yet brought the sun ticking down from the sky, cloaking her in a darkness that threatened to paralyze her. She couldn’t decide what was worse—difficulty seeing with the dark wrapping her up into the deep abyss. Or getting caught by the man who had been her daily terror for so long she couldn’t remember what day it was.
Another sound ricocheted around the towering trees, louder than a twig breaking. Swiveling her head, unable to stop herself, she saw nothing. It didn’t matter. That movement was her undoing. Her foot stepped into a hole, plunging her forward and messed with her rhythm. With no time to correct herself, she fell hard to the ground. Dirt and leaves coated her body as she rolled, waiting for the momentum to stop, to get up, get back in her fluid pace of escape.
But only the raging speed of rolling increased. She knew she hit trouble, hit her last thread of life, as she tumbled down the hill.
Logan shut the truck off, his hands lingering on the keys as he stared at his cabin. He loved this place. The town provided peace and a sense of home, but nothing could compare to his cabin. Nestled nicely fifteen miles out of town, deep in the woods with nothing but wildlife and the fresh outdoor air surrounding it, this place was his haven. If he truly wanted peace, this was where he came.
Another heavy sigh left his body. How many times had he done that today? Too many. What a shitty way to start his vacation.
Mr. Thomas had come back red-eyed and distraught from the clinic. Logan had taken over from that point on. He had arranged for the transport of Brittany’s body to Mr. Thomas’s hometown. He had filled out all the paperwork, made all the calls, and provided Mr. Thomas the relief that nothing would be left undone.
He had also made a call to Mr. Baxter’s family, offering the same helpful gesture to them as he had for Mr. Thomas. It wasn’t their fault that Mr. Baxter was a bastard and killed his own daughter. Even with a few reminders of that to himself, he couldn’t shake the malicious feeling Baxter deserved nothing. No sympathy whatsoever. But in the end, they declined his help and his sympathy. They were ashamed, embarrassed to know what their son had done. The guilt had poured out in every word they spoke, just as it had in Mr. Thomas’s voice.
Rubbing another hand over his face, he resisted the urge to slam his hand against the steering wheel. Wallowing in pity, if that’s what he wanted to call it, wouldn’t change the facts. It wouldn’t bring her back.
He yanked the keys from the ignition and opened the door. This was his safe haven. The place he came to find peace. Allowing the day’s tragedy to fester would only ruin that. He had to move on. Brittany wasn’t coming back. He needed to accept it.
He grabbed his bag from the cab of his truck. How could he move on? How could he live with himself? He was the sheriff, damn it! It was his job to see these things. To see the first signs of trouble and stop it before it turned into the ugliness he walked away from.
Strolling to the cabin door, the cool night air swept through his hair and a little toward his heart. Nothing like a bit of the woods’ peacefulness to calm his soul. This was what he needed. A week of fresh outdoor air, mingling with nature and putting that horror behind him. Even though his vacation officially started the moment he left the office, he had his phone strapped to his hip just in case a call came through. He was the sheriff, after all.
He had left Deputy Derek Graham in charge. He trusted him with the authority. Not to mention, Derek had the most experience within the department. The county should’ve voted Derek as the sheriff, not him. Except, Derek hadn’t wanted the sheriff’s position. He had kindly congratulated Logan on the win and breathed a sigh of relief. He liked deputy status and had no desire for anything else, even playing active sheriff while Logan was on vacation. Logan wouldn’t let him argue, reminding him that he had the most experience.
Logan climbed the steps to the cabin, glancing around to appreciate the wilderness at its finest. A small disappointment swept through when he saw no wildlife—one of his favorite parts. How many times had he come up here with his father and seen a deer walk through as they sat on the porch? Too many times to count. A beautiful memory, each and every one. Rabbits, foxes, and even a few coyotes had walked by as well. It was always a sight to see. Why couldn’t one of those gorgeous creatures cross his path now? Something else to take the horrible sight of the little girl’s body out of his mind. He needed something to erase it all.
Another small breath released as he made the last few steps to the door. The knob twisted with ease. It never crossed his mind to lock it. Nobody ventured up here. His little cabin was hidden from the world. Just as he liked it. He had formed the habit of locking his door in town, something he developed from the small stint in the Cities, but not here, there was no need. And if a wandering stranger felt the need to take refuge while Logan was away, then so be it. As long as they left it in the same state he had, he didn’t mind.
He dropped his bag to the side and fumbled for the switch on the wall to his left. This was becoming ridiculous, the tension, the guilt that wouldn’t go away. He knew this cabin like the back of his hand. Why wouldn’t the pain go away already? Charlotte was right. It wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t have known that Mr. Baxter would kill his own little girl this morning. But he should’ve. That was the problem.
No light illuminated the cabin when he flicked the switch up, and he cursed under his breath. Figures. Nothing wanted to go right for him today. That would make it easy. And nothing about this day had been easy.
Heading to the kitchen on the right, he maneuvered to his left, walking around the table that he knew sat in the way, and bee-lined it to the cupboard below the sink. Grabbing the handle a little harder than necessary, he nearly fell on his ass when the knob flew off.
“Are you...kidding me?” He threw the knob to the floor.
He grabbed the other doorknob, opened it with less force than the first one, and shuffled around. The first smile of the day lit up his face when he found the box that he knew would have light bulbs. Triumph zapped his bones as he opened the lid. Just as swiftly, a nasty groan escaped. Completely empty.
Tossing the box, perhaps even landing near the damn knob he threw, he slammed the door shut and ran a haggard hand over his face—no big deal. There were light bulbs in the bathroom as well. This wasn’t a bad sign of his first day of vacation. His first clue would’ve been the loss of the sweet innocence he had the misfortune to lay eyes on.
Already adjusted to the darkness, he hustled to the bathroom down the hallway to the right. He didn’t bother to turn on the light, because really, the way his luck was going, it wouldn’t work anyway.
Wrong choice. He stumbled as he collided with something solid.
“What the hell?”
Before he could process anything, he went down in a heap of pain as the woman lying on the bathroom floor kicked him in the knee.
A painful moan escaped before he barely managed to dodge another kick issued by the woman. “Quit kicking me.”
“Get out,” she screamed as she kicked again, nearly hitting him in the crotch.
He managed to scramble back, jumping up with a quickness he learned from the many years of running track in high school, and groaned as his knee almost gave out. The woman’s leg geared for another shot at him. Instead of jumping back like she probably expected him to do, he jumped forward, landing on top of her. Her head hit the toilet’s bottom with a soft thud as he pressed his weight over her body and pinned her arms to her sides.
“What the hell is the matter with you?” He inhaled a ragged breath, trying to find the strength to get through this ordeal. How much worse could this night get? The soft body beneath him made him sick to his stomach. He didn’t want to hold her down, but he also didn’t want to experience any more excruciating pain in his knee.
“Get off me!”
“No. You attacked me. For no damn reason, I might add. Who are you?”
“I don’t have to tell you. Get off me.”
Logan inhaled a patient breath. “I am not releasing you until you tell me who you are and what the hell you’re doing in my cabin.”
“Yeah. I’m trying to start my vacation out right, and it’s been shit from the get-go. I can’t take much more. Now, I’m going to repeat it one more time, nicely. What are you doing in my cabin?”
“Nicely? You’re pinning me to the floor. I wouldn’t exactly call that nicely.”
Her body trembled. The wrenching sickness in his stomach increased. This was not his idea of a great vacation.
“Well, you attacked me first. How can I be that nice if I have no idea if you’re going to kick me again? Are you going to kick me again?” He tried to relieve a little more of his weight off her but still maintained a good grip on her arms. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her, regardless of the fact she had been kicking him.
“Are you going to hurt me again?”
“What are you talking about? I never hurt you to begin with. You kicked me first.”
“You’re hurting me now. Your hands...they hurt where you’re holding me,” she whispered in a painful breath.
He immediately let go of her wrists without issue, but made no move to lift his body off hers. Some answers first, and maybe a little more reassurance she wouldn’t kick him again. “I’m sorry. My intention was never to hurt you. Now, please. What are you doing in my cabin?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know.”
“Work with me here. I don’t want to hold you down, but I want answers.”
“Why should I tell you anything? Get off me. Maybe I will.”
Logan leaned down. A few faint scratches littered her cheeks and forehead. If he had to guess, she was in her twenties, but it was hard to confirm his suspicions with the lights off. “You’ll tell me. I’m not getting off you until you do.”
“Who made you the boss?”
“I’m the sheriff. Doesn’t get much bossier than that. Now, who the hell are you?” Logan’s tone issued no argument.
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t say that to be smart. I truly don’t know. I have no idea where I am. I found this cabin and the door was open...” she paused as tiny tremors flowed beneath him. “I don’t know who I am. I can’t remember anything.”
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