Fear stiffened her spine, and she flattened against the wall, her breathing shallow,
hands clamped shut into tight fists. Merv honked again, sounding every bit as
alarmed as she was. A shadow fell over the living room window, paused for a
moment, and then disappeared again. Someone was out here, the power was out,
and the cold feeling of dread running up her back told her this was no
coincidence. The door handle rattled under a forceful hand, but held firm. Jessie
darted down the hallway and into the spare room across from the office. Until now,
its use had been limited to storage, a place to pile up donations of furniture and
goods until they could be sold. Shadows loomed in the darkness. With her hands
stretched out in front of her, she groped the air until she neared the desk wedged
into a corner. It had been placed there a couple months ago by the boys and,
since then, a few rickety chairs and other odds and ends had been piled up
against it. Her naked toe made contact first, jamming hard into the thick leg of the
desk, and she almost yelled out in pain. She clamped her hand over her mouth in
time to hear the splintering sounds of the wooden front door being kicked in.

Jessie hastily moved some of the chairs and backed into the space under the
desk. Kneeling down, she reached out for the small metal file cabinet nearby and
pulled it in front of her, stopping after every few inches to listen. The goose still
carried on, so she hurried her efforts until she was blocked in. Her heart pounding,
she leaned back against the wall and waited.

The intruder made no attempt at keeping quiet now. Jessie winced at the loud
thump of furniture thrown against the living room walls, followed by the harsh
sound of broken glass echoing through the house. His steps moved into the
kitchen where he stood cursing before she heard him yanking open cabinet doors.
An unsettling moment of silence followed, and she almost jumped out of her skin
with the racket of dishes hurled against the floor. Merv really went crazy at the
noise. She buried her head into her knees and prayed someone would hear the
animal and become concerned. But she knew better. Although there were
hundreds of homes nearby, in various degrees of completion, it was a city of
ghosts where no one lived yet, with the closest neighbor more than a mile away.

A stream of light from a flashlight edged past the door. The footsteps paused at
the door, and she waited for him to throw it open, but the light faded, and she
guessed he went into the office instead. Her shoulders tensed some more, as she
braced herself for his next move. The fan crashed to the office floor and she
flinched. Another short pause followed. All of a sudden, the cot hit the wall. Then,
maybe suspecting she was hidden in the closet, he kicked the doors time and
again, until she heard them give way.

With her body aching from tension, Jessie shifted her position and hit the side of
the desk with her elbow. All at once it was quiet, and her terrified mind knew he
must have heard her. Her chest tightened and she realized she was holding her
breath. She let herself inhale soft, short, rapid breaths between her clenched
teeth. She knew it would just be a matter of time. Nonetheless, she was startled
when the light barged under the door, its frightening glare creeping along the
floor, halfway to the desk. She sensed his hand on the handle before she even
heard him, and this time, she couldn't help it, she desperately gasped for air. The
door flew open and the room lit up in an eerie yellow glow. He stood still, and a soft
humming rose from his throat, mocking in its chilling message. I'm closer and I can
feel you now, it said to her. She barely suppressed a wrenching cry of defeat.

The beam of light danced around the room, lingered momentarily on the desk and
the cabinet, moved over the chairs, the lamps, the bags of food, the piles of linen
and the rolled up pieces of carpet before it came back in a terrifying game of hide-
and-seek.

Finally, he walked away and she breathed a sigh of relief. The momentary stillness
was broken by the loud moan of the garage door being raised. She opened her
eyes and blinked at the blackness around her. He would be done checking the
garage in a few minutes, then he would be back. She pushed the file cabinet away
and leaped forward, almost tripping over a wedge of carpet near the door, and
barely caught herself against the doorjamb. She stood still and listened. Agitated
by the intruder, the animals squawked and screeched in their cages. He cursed
loudly and the screeches became furious. Damn him, he was kicking the cages.

Jessie ran down the hallway, and bolted out the front door and down the steps.
She hadn't gotten halfway across the yard when she heard him, and her back
tightened as she anticipated the piercing pain of a bullet. But he remained on the
porch as his hysterical laughter, high-pitched sound, followed her down the path.

“You better run, Jessie, my little gasella. Pedro is going to get you!” he shrieked.
After Paul Cantor, a controversial journalist is found murdered in
his death is tied to a political plot by the Council of Ten, a
shadowy group of business men.

The young woman, a reporter at the Broward News is more than
skeptical until Roberto’s body turns up in a dumpster and she
suddenly realizes he may have been right.

Chasing down clues left by Cantor soon has Jessie in the cross
hairs of the killers and causes a painful breakup with her
boyfriend. The discovery of a massive money laundering
operation brings her closer to the truth and into the arms of
Franco Morales, a handsome Assistant District Attorney.

As the shocking reality of the conspiracy becomes evident, a
startling betrayal leaves Jessie and Franco fighting for survival. Is
it too late to stop evil?
Very intriguing and will continue to read her
books. Also have referred to my friends. Thank
you Henriette! -Charlene
Book Reviews
Excerpt
Fiction-Mystery/Suspense

Available in Print & e-book
June 2016

$13.95/ $4.99

ISBN-13:
978-1-940707-94-5
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At the Heart of Fear
Henriette Daulton