Lost Christmas Memories

By: Dana Mentink

“I’m in this mess because I got shot at, too...”


Keegan cleared his throat. “Where do we go from here?”

“Can you drop me here?” Tracy asked. “I’ll get a ride home some other way.”

“Nope.”

She frowned. “I wasn’t asking your permission.”

“I know, but I’m going to go with you. I’m helping. I’m awesome like that.”

Again, she shifted. “Keegan, I’m involved in a mess and I’ll get out of it. By myself. Do you understand?”

He heard his mama’s voice in his head. Don’t be pushy, Keegan. Not everyone gallops through life like you do. Speed, excitement and danger were the stuff that made life worth living, and too much slow contemplation time could drive a man crazy.

He heaved out a breath. “This isn’t something you should face alone. You saw a murder and it’s possible the murderer is still out there.”

She didn’t answer but he knew she was thinking the same as him.

And he knows who you are.





Dear Reader,

I just love a good cowboy story, don’t you? It has been such fun to write the Thorn brothers’ stories, from oldest, Barrett, to youngest brother, Keegan. Throughout the series, Keegan has struggled to feel a sense of belonging, to find a place where he feels loved and valued. We all search for that kind of place, don’t we? Isn’t it nice to know that God has a room waiting for us where we will be fully loved and completely accepted? I can’t imagine a happier ending than that!

It has been my pleasure to gallop with you through Gold Country in this four-book series. I hope you will come along with me on the next adventure, too! As always, I love to hear from my readers. You can contact me via my website at www.danamentink.com and there’s a place to sign up for my quarterly newsletter. There is also a post office box listed below. Thanks again, dear readers, and God bless you!

Dana Mentink

P.O. Box 3168

San Ramon, CA 94583





Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

—Galatians 6:2





To Cheryl, a wonderful friend and an excellent mom to her fur babies.







ONE


Tracy Wilson jerked to a stop in the decorated lobby of the deserted Mother Lode Equestrian Center as a scream died away. At first, she’d doubted her senses. Perhaps it had been the whinny of a horse she’d mistaken for a cry. Then came the thud.

Had someone fallen? A worker unloading boxes after hours? She ran down the hallway to the one open door. Pushing into the dark space, she stopped dead. A figure, tall and wearing black, leaned over a dark-haired woman, hands on her throat, squeezing. Tousled hair screened the woman’s face and her hands gripped convulsively, clawing at the fingers throttling her. The attacker was in shadows. Was it a man? Woman? She couldn’t tell, but the person looked up at Tracy just as the choked woman went limp, her hands falling away, the life draining out of her. Irises black with hatred locked on Tracy.

The scream of horror died in Tracy’s throat as the attacker let go of the victim and dived for her instead. Panic fueled her. She raced back into the hallway, intending to make for the exit, but her pursuer was right behind. In her frantic flight, she knocked over a Christmas tree, sending it to the floor, where it smashed into a mess of silver fragments and gold beads. It did not slow her pursuer.

Tracy knew at that moment she would never make it back to the parking lot. Who could help her? The center was deserted, the Christmas decor gleaming oddly in the dim light. Surely even after hours someone would be around, tending to the horses, the steers? Was there not a single soul to hear her if she screamed for help?

She threw herself at the first door she came to, an office, which was locked. The second door, a storage room, was her only hope. Pulse thundering, she shoved her way inside. There was only a flimsy lock, but she managed to ram a dusty chair under the doorknob.

What she had just witnessed...brutal, incomprehensible, murderous...rocked her to the core.

A fist slammed at the door and booted feet began to kick at the flimsy wood.

Panic bucked like a rodeo bronc inside her. She reached for the phone in her pocket, realizing with a flood of despair that she’d dropped it somewhere. On her way in? In her flight down the hall?

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