Shattered (LOST #3)

Shattered (LOST #3)

Cynthia Eden


This book is for my readers. For those wonderful romantic suspense readers who love to turn pages and find danger and romance and surprises. Thank you so much for your support. You have been absolutely fantastic!


AS ALWAYS, I WANT TO SAY “THANK YOU!” TO the amazing staff at Avon. I appreciate all of the help that you have given to me! The editors, the cover designers, the publicists—you are amazing, and it is a pleasure to work with you all.

For my husband and son . . . How can I thank you enough for your patience? When I disappear into my office and get lost in my stories, you always understand . . . and you are waiting for me when I come up for air. Thank you!

Writing this series has been a wonderful experience for me. I’ve loved being able to explore all of the characters. Jax was certainly a character who took me by surprise—and, confession time—he may just be my favorite all-time character to write. I really hope that you enjoy him, too!

Happy reading, everyone!


IT WAS THE SCREAM THAT WOKE HER. SIX-YEAR-OLD Sarah Jacobs shot up in bed, her heart racing and the echo of that terrible scream still ringing in her ears. The room was dark, but moonlight spilled through her window and illuminated her favorite teddy bear—he was right at her side. Her daddy always put the teddy bear close to her at bedtime.

She clutched that bear to her, holding it tightly, as she slipped out of the bed. The hardwood floor creaked beneath her feet. She wanted her daddy. He made her feel better after she had a bad dream. And she must have just had a bad dream. She must—

“Help me!”

That terrible cry had Sarah flinching. The teddy bear fell from her hands and hit the floor. Sarah’s fingers fumbled with the doorknob and it took her three tries to open that door. Then she was running down the hallway, rushing toward that sound. It had been a woman, crying for help. Sarah’s mommy had cried for help once. In that car accident. She’d been trapped, and Sarah hadn’t been able to help her.

The scream had died away again, but it had come from up ahead. The basement. The basement door was shut, but she could see the faint light shining behind the door. Who was in her basement? Why was the lady screaming for help?

Sarah’s fingers were shaking when she reached for the door. But before she could try to turn that knob, the door opened on its own. Sarah’s breath caught as fear swept over her but when she looked up—she just saw her daddy.

“Hello, sweetheart,” he told her, flashing her a big smile. “Did you have a bad dream?”

Sarah rubbed her eyes. “Someone’s screaming.”

He bent and picked her up, carrying her easily. Her daddy was so big and strong. “No, sweetheart. No one is screaming. No one at all.” He was humming as he carried her back to her room. Her daddy did that. He hummed his sweet tune and Sarah started humming with him. They went back to her room, and he tucked her in bed. He picked up her teddy bear and slid Mr. Fuzzy right in bed next to her. “Silly bear,” her dad said, flashing her a grin that she could see even in the dark of her room. “Was he trying to make a break for it?”

Sarah giggled.

He kissed her forehead. “Sleep tight. You know you’re safe tonight.”

He always told her that. Sleep tight. You know you’re safe tonight. And she was safe, as long as her daddy was near.

Sarah yawned. Her daddy brushed back her hair. “If you hear anything else tonight,” he murmured, “don’t pay it any mind. A storm’s coming, and that must be what you heard. Thunder and lightning. Branches scraping against the house. Nothing more.”

Sleep was already pulling at her.

“Stay warm in bed. No matter what you hear, it’s just a storm.”

She smiled and snuggled her bear closer.

Her daddy crept from the room.

Sleep was pulling at her, tugging harder and deeper and—

“Help me!”

Sarah squeezed her eyes shut. It was just the storm. Her daddy had said it was just the storm, and he never lied to her.

Two years later . . .

“THE WORLD ISN’T a safe place, sweetheart.”

Sarah was twirling around in her front yard. Her daddy was beside her, staring out at the street. He sounded so serious, so she stopped spinning.

“There are bad people in the world.”

Her hands were still over her head. She lowered them slowly, staring at her daddy.

“I won’t let them hurt you, though, don’t worry.”

No, he would never let anyone hurt her. Sarah already knew that.

“I’ll teach you how to be strong, how to spot the bad people.”

Sarah tiptoed toward him. She was still wearing her tutu, and it brushed against her legs. “How do I spot them?”

He tapped her on the nose. “It can be hard because they look just like you and me.”

Sarah bit her lip. “What do the bad people do?”

“They lie, sweetie. They steal. They kill. You have to be ready for them. I’ll make you ready.”

Her breath heaved out. “Thank you, Daddy.” He was always taking such good care of her.

“There are two types of people in this world. You’ll see that. The hunters and the victims.” His gaze held hers. His eyes were as dark as her own. “I won’t ever let you be a victim.”

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