Into the Fire

By: Catherine Sue Morgan

Seeking Sanctuary Romantic Suspense Book Two





Dedication





I dedicate this book to all the women who have been victims of male partner violence,

both the ones who survived and the ones who did not.





Prologue





Bitch was going to pay.

Thought she could prance into town and convince wives to leave their husbands. No respect for marriage. No respect for the natural order of things. No respect for a man’s rights, by God. Doing the devil’s work, that one. She wasn’t going to get away with it.

She was scared but not scared enough to get herself gone—yet. That was soon going to change because playtime was over. Things were fixing to get rough. Or, as they said here in Oak Hill, Oklahoma the shit was about to hit the fan.

She might think being blonde and pretty would save her. She’d think wrong. Sure would be a shame to mess up that pretty face, now wouldn’t it? But if it came to that, she’d have no one to blame but herself.





Chapter One





Amber Burke shivered as awareness prickled the back of her neck. She stared straight ahead and forced her legs to keep walking. When it had first started, months ago, she’d stop and scan the street around her trying to spot whoever was watching her. Back then it had been a once-a-week occurrence. Now it happened daily, often several times a day.

She’d think maybe she was just paranoid after two years of working with domestic violence victims but other things had happened as well. She got hang up calls several times a week. Five times in the last month the bulb in her porch light had been unscrewed just enough that it didn’t work. A week ago someone had destroyed the vegetable garden she’d planted in her back yard, the young plants ripped out by the roots, strewn all over the grass and then trampled. Two days ago she’d arrived home to find the word ‘Bitch’ spray-painted on the front of her house.

She’d reported the hang-up calls and the vandalism incidents to Sheriff Wilcox. He’d taken her statement, speculated that some teenagers had been bored, said he’d look into it and added with a smug smirk that probably nothing would come of it. She’d gotten the message loud and clear: she was on her own. Twenty minutes ago she’d discovered that all the air had been let out of her car tires, which was why she was walking to work this morning.

The medical clinic housing Dr. Melissa Grimes, internal medicine, and Dr. Dana Ketchum, pediatrics, sat on the corner next to Hartman’s Drug Store and across the street from Good Eats Diner. The gods had smiled on her the day those two women had offered her an office in a back room of the clinic. The arrangement provided a safe cover to the women who needed help dealing with the violent men in their lives, mostly husbands and boyfriends, ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends.

Usually Amber parked in the lot behind the clinic and entered through the back but since she was on foot today she came in through the front door. Her first appointment of the day perched on the edge her chair in the waiting room, holding her two-year-old son on her lap and studiously avoiding eye contact with Amber.

Jana Lynn Robinson had married her high school sweetheart, Rusty, a month after graduation and within a few weeks her happily ever after had turned into a living nightmare. The first time he’d hit her she’d been pregnant with little Evan and Rusty had become increasingly brutal over the last two and a half years. Today Jana Lynn wore a long-sleeved blouse despite the spring warmth, doubtless covering up a new batch of bruises on her arms. She also had a scarf wrapped around her neck.

The sight of that scarf sent cold chills chasing down Amber’s spine and put a Texas-size knot in her stomach. She knew what it meant. Jana Lynn wasn’t ready yet but time might be running out for her, ready or not.



* * * * * *



Wade Jenkins whistled as he navigated his pickup through the streets of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Pretty town, although he wasn’t here to sightsee. He intended to thank the medic who’d saved his life in Iraq, face-to-face. Long overdue but JD Burke hadn’t been an easy man to track down. And after he’d finally located him, Wade had had another same old same old mess to clean up with his mom.

But he was here now. He parked the truck in front of a neat and tidy blue cottage, got out and pocketed the keys. When he stepped up on the porch the front door swung open and JD strode out to meet him with a big grin on his face.