Monday, March 3, 2014

Stolen Memories (Witness Protection, Book 3) by Liz Johnson


Attacked and left for dead, "Julie Thomas" has amnesia, and doesn't know why anyone would want to hurt her. But when surveillance video of that night shows Julie holding a baby—a baby nowhere to be found—she panics. Is the child hers? Where is she now? With no answers and no place to go, Julie accepts Detective Zach Jones's offer to help her solve both mysteries. The handsome, loyal cop makes her feel safe. But someone is trying very hard to make sure her memories stay buried forever.


Zach Jones ran his hand down his face until his fingers covered a yawn. Letting out a muted sigh, he stared through the windshield of his parked car, seeing nothing but the lights lining the Minneapolis street. After a long day of chasing down dead ends, he was ready for a couple days off.
            A quick glance at the clock on his dashboard revealed that his shift was almost over. Time to head back to the station before turning in for the night. He’d just put the unmarked sedan into gear when the police radio in his car squawked, and he leaned over to turn it up.
            “Possible dead body at the corner of Thomas Road and Gavel Drive at Webster Park.” His stomach lurched, his pulse flying. That was just a few blocks away.
            Tossing the radio handset into the empty passenger seat, he flipped on the sirens and pulled onto the nearly deserted road. Usually he was the last one to the scene. Homicide was always called in after a dozen patrol officers had swarmed the area.
            This close to the scene, he’d probably even beat the uniforms there.
            “This is Jones. I’m en route.”
            The dispatcher replied with a quick, “Ten four.” Then after a short pause she added, “Two boys cutting through the park found the body.”
            “Are they still at the scene?”
            “Good. Tell them to stay away from the body but not to move. I’ll have questions for them later.”
            Trees just beginning to sprout their spring leaves sailed by as he maneuvered around a car pulled over to the side of the road to get out of his way. The lights of the restaurants and stores of the commercial district to his left faded, his mind focused on the scene he was about to reach.
            Pulling off the road, he parked at the entrance of a walking path, turned off the sirens but left the red and blue lights flashing. He was the first on the scene. He slipped his phone into his pocket, tucked his flashlight into his belt and pulled on rubber gloves as he followed the beam of his headlights.
            Two boys, probably no more than twelve, sat next to each other on a wooden bench, hugging their hockey skates as though he was going to demand they give them up. He pushed back his jacket to show them the badge hanging around his neck, a late winter wind seeping through the fabric of his shirt. “You boys call the cops?”
            The bigger boy nodded a mop of dark brown hair and let go of his skates long enough to point behind him into the shadows.
            Zach squinted but couldn’t make out a form between the tree trunks. “Did you go near the body?”
            “No, sir.” Again from the bigger boy. The little one with the blond crew cut hadn’t blinked since Zach arrived. He was probably in shock from what he’d seen.
            How bad was it over there?
            His skin crawled, the hair on his arms standing up. It wasn’t from the cold. Or even from this case. This wasn’t his first day in the department.
            It was something in the air. Something that, after ten years with the Minneapolis PD, he could almost smell. Something that, after all this time, he still couldn’t name.
            “You boys stay here. Okay? Other officers are on their way. And I’ll be right back.”
            Swinging his flashlight across the grass at his feet to make sure he didn’t inadvertently step on a vital piece of evidence, he picked his way in the direction the kid had first indicated. After thirty yards, the light from his car was almost no help. A curtain of rich gray clouds had fallen in front of the moon, so he slowed to a near crawl.
            And then he saw it.
            A crimson pool coated a patch of lawn the size of a dinner plate.
            Shivers ran down his spine and he sucked in a quick breath as he flicked his light up to illuminate the body. It was a woman with long dark hair, which was matted across half of her face with her own blood. She lay on her side, one arm stretched out under her head and the other curled under her chin. Her full lips were nearly white.
            His stomach clenched.
            This part never got easier.
            Without a doubt this was going to be the worst night of someone’s life. That person was going to get a call that would change everything, that would shatter a heart.
            But Zach would do everything he could to make sure that the person responsible never had the opportunity to do this again, to destroy a family again.
            Stepping around the stain of evidence, he reached her side and squatted next to her. The part of her face that he could still make out was covered with scratches and already turning purple. A gash above her left eye disappeared into her hairline and looked to be the source of the blood stain he’d dodged. Someone had beaten the tar out of her.
            A drop slipped down her forehead, and he paused.
            Dead bodies in a position like this didn’t usually keep bleeding.
            He snapped his gloves at the wrists to make sure they were on tight and pressed two fingers against the spot where her left palm met her forearm. Holding his breath, he waited.
            There, beneath the skin and barely palpable, was a pulse.
            His heartbeat jack hammered just below his throat.
            “Ma’am. Ma’am, can you hear me?”
            No response.
            He grabbed his phone and punched in the number for the dispatcher. He didn’t even wait for an answer. As soon as the line was picked up, he said, “This is Detective Jones.” He spit out his badge number, standing and searching the streets for any sign of the ambulance that wasn’t going to be in enough of a hurry to get there. “I’m at Webster Park, and the possible homicide victim is not DOA. Repeat, the victim is alive. I need an ambulance and backup here ASAP.”
            His voice shook a little on the last word, and he took a steadying breath. He didn’t have live victims. He’d only seen one other in the three years since making detective and joining Homicide.
            This one was about as close to death, but still breathing, as he’d ever seen.
            “Ten four. Paramedics are en route.”
            “Three minutes.”
            He dropped back by her side, keeping his finger pressed against her wrist. The steady thumps under his touch kept his hope alive, but only just.
            Lord, please let this one live.
            He didn’t have an explanation for the intensity of the longing in his heart, but he knew she didn’t deserve to die like this, alone and abandoned in a city park that hadn’t seen much traffic since the city started massive construction on a walking bridge.
            Someone didn’t want her quickly found or able to tell her tale.
            Sirens carried through the trees, ringing between buildings as they drew nearer. The band around his heart loosened.
            “Don’t worry. Help is on its way.”
            Her only response was the steady beat at his fingertips.

            “Hang in there. You just have to hang in there a little while longer. Then we’ll find whoever did this, and he’ll pay. I promise.”

About The Author

By day Liz Johnson is a marketing manager for a Christian publisher, and she finds time to write late at night. She is a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist and the author of six novels for Love Inspired Suspense and a New York Times best-selling historical novella. Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys theater, exploring local music, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nieces and nephews. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. 

Purchase Stolen Memories at:

Liz Johnson is giving away a copy of Stolen Memories. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


cjajsmommy said...

Almost burned my breakfast because I couldn't tear myself away from the excerpt! Please enter my name to win a copy of this book. cjajsmommy (at) gmail (dot) com

Lisa Lickel said...

I've learned to love Liz's books since I met her at Clash of the Titles! This one sounds super.

Jackie McNutt said...

Loved the excerpt from Stolen Memories.
Thank you for featuring it

Susan Johnson said...

This looks like a very interesting book. I would love to win a copy.
susanmsj at msn dot com

Liz Johnson said...

@cjajsmommy, I'm glad you didn't burn your breakfast! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt though.

Lisa, you're so kind! I'm delighted that you've enjoyed my books.

Good luck to everyone!

JackieW said...

Your book sounds interesting. I think I would enjoy reading it. Have a great day.
JFWisherd at aol dot com

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like an interesting story that I would enjoy reading.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Hi Liz. sounds like a very good book. First the Title caught my attention, then when I read the excerpt, then I knew I really need to read this book. Seems like you are a very busy lady, with a full time job then writing at night. And, I know there is other stuff that has to be done. Oh my ! Please put my name in the drawing for a chance to win. For I can't just go buy a book when I want it like some people can. Beet your other books are just as good. Please keep up the good work. Thanks to Barn Door Book Loft for your blog.
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Jennifer said...

Hi Liz, I can't imagine losing my memory that would be scary because who could you trust. I had a friend who was in an accident and had lost her memory. Sometimes I'd forget that she couldn't remember and I'd ask her a question that she couldn't answer.
jennydtipton at gmail dot com

sam said...

I like the plot in your book. Imagine having amnesia and not knowing you had a baby! Anxious to read your book to see the outcome. sharon, wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Emma said...

Stolen Memories sounds wonderful. Please enter me in contest. Thank you for the opportunity to win.I enjoy reading your books.Have a wonderful week.

sam said...

The witness protection program is an interesting topic to read about. love to win. sharon wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Merry said...

Thanks for the little peek!
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

cynthia said...

This sounds like an interesting story. I can't wait to find out why someone would want to hurt her.
cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

Anonymous said...

This looks great!

Melissa Oldaker said...

Sounds great! I love romantic suspense! Thanks!

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009 Design expanded and personalized by 2011.

Back to TOP