Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press
An Impostor in Town
Peyton Chandler has done everything to protect her son Jake from the evil men that would destroy her by destroying him. For years, she has allowed another woman to raise her son, kept herself apart from him, and hidden behind her dead sister’s identity, never allowing herself to get close to anyone—not even Sheriff Brian Parker, the one man whose love and respect she craves. When Brian receives a note claiming there’s an impostor in town, he doesn’t know where to start his investigation. Peyton fears she will lose the man she loves if he discovers she’s not the woman she claims to be.
Here's an excerpt:
Peyton Chandler entered her house through the carport door and dropped her purse on the kitchen counter. A pile of unwashed dishes awaited her in the sink. Tackling the housework would have to wait another day. Every muscle in her tired body groaned.
She glanced at the envelope in her hand postmarked New Orleans. Johanna’s letters arrived twice a year without fail. The return addresses were always a post office box—the zip codes from all over the country. She ripped the envelope open with a shaky hand. A picture of Jake nestled between the folds of a short note. I need four thousand dollars. J. She would have cut the woman off years ago if it weren’t for the boy.
Her eyes riveted on Jake’s likeness. He had slate gray eyes, sandy brown hair, and attractive Powell features like his biological father. Trim and tall. Handsome already. Nothing about Jake resembled her husband, but then Jake wasn’t her husband’s child. She was already pregnant when Mason Osborne married her.
Thoughts of Mason sent shivers down her spine. She wondered if he was still looking for them. His anger with her when he discovered her pregnancy by another man was only the beginning of his animosity toward her. Mason’s abuse only grew harder when he discovered Jake’s biological father was his nephew.
She left Mason before Jake was born, but he’d found her and dragged her back to the ranch with him. He had promised her he’d kill her if she left him again. Worse yet, he’d take her child away from her. She couldn’t let that happen, so she took the chance, got some help from Johanna, and ran anyway.
She counted the years. Jake would be eleven years old now. It’s been so long since I’ve seen him. He was so young when we left Albuquerque. She trudged down the hallway to her bedroom and laid the picture on her nightstand. The photo would go in the album with the others—an album she didn’t dare show anyone.
Guilt pressed down on her psyche. She needed a shower. Running the water as hot as she could stand, she scoured her skin until it was raw and allowed the cleansing liquid to sluice over her body and wash her remorse down the drain. But no matter how hard she scrubbed, there was still plenty of regret to stain her conscience.
She stumbled out of the stall and tripped on the surround. The heat dizzied her. She wrapped her robe around her and leaned against the bathroom counter, unwilling to face her reflection in the mirror.
The phone rang in the other room. She raced to catch it before the last ring, but picked up a second too late. Out of breath, she dropped onto the edge of the bed and clutched the comforter. Her skin throbbed from the abuse in the shower. She grabbed a bottle from the nightstand and smoothed on lotion to soothe the abuse. With a weary sigh, she gazed out the window. The nearby mountains rose in the distance, but the scene’s usual therapy provided no comfort. Jake's picture beckoned her to take another look.
Thoughts of her baby snatched at her heart. She wiped a stray tear from the surface of the photo. Everything she did, she did for him—to hide him and protect him from the evil men that would destroy her by destroying him.