Hold Back the Dark

 

Devoted to her troubled clients, clinical psychologist Aimee Gannon never thought she'd be entangled in a murder investigation. But a middle-of-the-night phone call from the Sacramento PD delivers a shock: Aimee's rebellious seventeen-year-old patient Taylor Dawkin could be a suspect in the gruesome murder of her own parents. Traumatized by the events of that fatal night, Taylor is left catatonic...and Aimee is desperate to reach beyond her silence to uncover the truth. 

 

Detective Josh Wolf needs Aimee's help to decipher the clues behind a pattern of rectangles and circles that

Taylor drew in blood at the crime scene. Unfortunately, he can't keep his mind off the beautiful psychologist -- those long legs, that irritating stubborn streak. But he can't afford a moment's distraction. After Aimee is attacked, she and Josh must race to uncover Taylor's terrifying secret...before the deadly shadows of the past strike again.

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REVIEWS

 

“Carr’s romantic suspense debut starts off like a rocket . . . “

- Publishers Weekly

 

"HOLD BACK THE DARK is a darkly riveting tale that peeks into the evils of men’s hearts."

- Kwips & Kritques

 

"Suspense lovers will be delighted with Carr’s tightly woven and tense plot."

- Romantic Times

 

“ . . . an extremely vital and exciting novel that keeps the reader turning the pages as fast as they can.”

- Fresh Fiction

 

“ . . . Eileen Carr takes readers on a captivatingly suspenseful ride.”

- Singletitles.com

 

“Filled with nail-biting suspense, and full of mind games, the reader will have a hard time closing this book."

- Romance Reviews Today

EXCERPT

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Phone calls at two a.m. were never good news. So when Aimee Gannon’s cell phone rang, vibrating its way across the bedside table early Tuesday morning, she woke with a knot in her chest.

 

She’d been swimming at the edge of a nightmare, getting caught in its currents and then fighting her way clear, never quite waking but not resting, either. It was almost a relief to be woken by the call. She groped for the phone. As she struggled upright, Aimee flipped the phone open. "This is Dr. Gannon."

 

"Dr. Gannon, this is Detective Josh Wolf of the Sacramento Police Department."

The police? "What can I do for you, Detective?" Aimee swung her feet over the side of the bed onto the cool wood floor. Why the hell were the cops calling her in the middle of the night? She stretched her shoulders, trying unkink her neck and readying herself to find out who was in trouble and why.

 

"I think I have one of your patients in custody and I was hoping you could come help us with her. She’s . . . uncooperative at present," the man said, his deep voice crackling over the cellular connection.

 

Uncooperative plus custody definitely equaled trouble. Janelle, maybe? She was an angry drunk, and altercations at bars often led to police custody. Or maybe Gary, her sex addict, had been picked up in a prostitution sting? Wait – the detective said "she."

 

"Who are you talking about, Detective?" Aimee rubbed some of the sleep from her eyes.

 

"The girls name is Taylor Dawkin," Wolf said.

 

Aimee sat upright. "Taylor? In custody?" Crap. Taylor had plenty of problems, but Aimee felt they were making progress. Big progress.

 

"Can you come?" Wolf asked, ignoring her question. "She’s at Mercy General."

 

"Why is she at the hospital? Has she been hurt?" Aimee tucked the phone against her shoulder and grabbed a pair of jeans out of the dresser.

 

"I’d prefer to explain things in person," Wolf said, his staticky voice hard to read.

 

Shit. This guy was going to give her zero information. "Are her parents already there? Can I speak to them?"

 

Taylor was only seventeen. Her relationship with Orrin and Stacey was everything ugly that a teenage girl’s could be, but they would certainly be at the hospital with her.

There was a pause at the other end. "That not an option at the moment. I can send a squad car for you. Someone could be there in ten minutes."

 

Aimee froze for a second. Not an option – what the hell did that mean? "Has Taylor done something? Is she under arrest?"

 

Another pause. "I’d really prefer to explain in person." Wolf’s impatience was clear despite the bad connection. "Shall I have an officer pick you up?"

 

"I can get myself there, Detective," Aimee said curtly, fishing a tank top from a drawer. Impatience was a two-way street. "Give my thirty-five minutes." She snapped the phone shut.

 

The bright bathroom lights hurt her eyes when she snapped them on and their faint electronic hum made the muscles of her neck tense up. She pulled her hair back into a ponytail, quickly brushed her teeth, then threw a jean jacket on over her tank top and hoodie. It had been in the sixties that afternoon, but the night would be cool ad the hospital would be freezing.

 

Aimee took a deep breath at her front door. She hated the anxiety that formed in the pit of her stomach at the thought of walking through the parking garage alone in the middle of the night, but Taylor needed her. Push through it. You’re bigger than the fear.

 

She locked the condo and took the elevator down to the parking garage. Even wearing sneakers, her footsteps echoed in the deserted garage. The harsh lights cast stark shadows that seemed to leap out, and the low ceiling felt like it was pressing down on her. Checking behind her, she pressed the keyless entry and her Subaru gave a welcoming double beep. She got in and locked the door as fast as she could, then stopped and made herself breathe. The locked secure garage was part of why she’d bought the condo after she and Danny had split up. She was safe here.

Still, as she drove up 18th Street to J and then headed east, she shivered as she drove past all the darkened houses. She reminded herself that her problems were much smaller than whatever had landed an already traumatized teenaged girl in the hospital with no one but the police looking after her.

 

Aimee pushed the gas pedal a little harder toward the floor.

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