by Debbie De Louise
Twenty-five years ago, Lauren Phelps and her sister Patty were kidnapped from their backyard on Long Island. Lauren escaped her captor, but Patty was killed.
Ever since, Lauren has suffered from nightmares of the “Shadow Man.” Trying to recall his face and avenge her sister’s murder, Lauren, now a kidnapping investigator, enrolls in a clinical trial for a new memory drug.
At the offices of Memory Makers in California, she receives the injections of the Memory Makers’ serum, and begins to experience flashbacks of repressed memories. Along with the flashbacks, she receives threats from an anonymous source that point back to her childhood trauma.
Soon, Lauren becomes involved with a fellow trial participant who seeks to recall his own traumatic past. But can Lauren discover the identity of the “Shadow Man” before history repeats itself?
When I returned to my apartment that night, I remembered that I had my cell phone back and that Brian said that Rick had left a message about Corey. I played the voicemail.
“Hi, Lauren. You don’t have to call me back. I just wanted to update you on our lead. I’m afraid it didn’t pan out. There’s still no sign of the boy, and the parents haven’t received a ransom request. It’s not looking good. Sorry.”
I lay down on my bed. Tears of frustration welled in my eyes. If I was there, maybe I’d have located an additional clue or had some instinct that proved helpful. But being so far away, I was helpless. Then I remembered my mother. I’d promised to call her. Drying my eyes with a tissue from a box near my bed, I dialed her number.
“Lauren, you remembered,” she said after she heard my voice.
“Yes. I promised, Mom. How are you?” I expected her reply to be the same negative response that she was terrible until I came home. Instead she said, “I’m managing. Your father called last night. He said he wants to talk to me about a few things. I don’t know what to do. I haven’t spoken to him in years, and I’m not sure I want to now.”
“Maybe you should. It’s not healthy to keep a grudge.”
“A grudge? Lauren, it’s because of him that I lost my little girl.” Her voice broke. “I know you don’t remember that day, but I can never forget it. They found her body in the woods after they found you. Oh, dear God, what was Robert thinking leaving you two girls outside alone?”
“Mom, don’t you think Dad has paid long enough?” I hadn’t spoken with my father in several years either, but I knew he was in therapy after attempting to commit suicide several times.
“No, Lauren. He hasn’t paid quite enough, but God will dole out his judgment as it will for the person who killed Patty.”
While my father had turned himself inward from guilt after my sister’s murder, my mother had turned herself outward toward religion. She attended church daily and had made her home a shrine to her dead daughter with photos and all her toys and clothes that she still kept.
“Does Dad know I’m in California?” I asked changing the subject. “Does he know what I’m doing?”
Mother sighed. “Yes, I told him, but he didn’t seem to care. Why would he? He’s only concerned with himself. God knows I should be the one cutting my wrists, but I have you to live for. I’ve tried to protect you, and I wish I still can.”
Mom didn’t realize that she’d been as guilty as Dad over Patty’s death. After all, she’d left us with him while she’d gone shopping that day.
“I have to go, Mom,” I said trying to avoid the conversation about my father. “I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
“There’s one more thing, Lauren.” Her voice lowered as if she was about to tell me something serious. “I can’t find your cat, Harry. I was very careful when I came home from shopping today, but he was so fast. I’m afraid he got out.”
“Oh, no.” I had grown very fond of the black shorthair kitten I’d nicknamed “Handsome Harry.” I knew there were lots of dangers to cats outside from cars that could run them over to people who could hurt them. What made it worse was that Harry was only a few months old and had never been outside since I adopted him from the shelter. “Have you looked around the neighborhood?”
“Yes. I went around calling him, but I’m not sure he responds to his name. Hermione knows her brother’s missing. She’s been crying for him.”
“Keep looking. Check near my apartment. He may have headed there.” My apartment was only a few blocks away. My mother had a key and picked up my mail there twice a week.
“I’ll go after I hang up with you. I have to get the mail, anyway.”
“Let me know if you find him.”
“I hope I do. Call me tomorrow.”
“I will, Mom.” Feeling frustrated that I was so far away, I said goodbye and hung up.
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About the Author
Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her seven published novels include the 4 books of her Cobble Cove cozy mystery series: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Written in Stone, and Love on the Rocks, her paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, her mystery thriller Reason to Die, and her latest psychological mystery, Sea Scope. She also published a romantic comedy novella featuring a jewel heist caper, When Jack Trumps Ac. Debbie has also written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres. She is currently querying agents to represent the first book of a new cozy mystery series. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and three cats.