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Lorana Hoopes

In the Dark of Night

In the Dark of Night

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Who wants to hurt Dr. Young?

In the picturesque coastal town of Fire Beach, Dr. Garrett Young seeks redemption from a troubled past by dedicating his life to healing. Little does he know that his journey toward salvation will lead him down a perilous path of unexpected love and life-threatening danger.

As Garrett rebuilds his life, he finds solace in the arms of Renee Mackey, one of his dedicated nurses. Despite her skepticism about love at first sight, Renee can't deny the magnetic pull between them. However, their budding romance takes a dark turn when Garrett is mysteriously kidnapped, thrusting Renee into a desperate search for the truth.

Caught in a web of suspicion, Renee faces a chilling dilemma—how can she save the man she loves when the authorities believe she holds the key to his disappearance? As the clock ticks away, Garrett must unravel the sinister plot against him, piecing together clues and dodging danger at every turn.

This heart-pounding romantic suspense novel by award winning and USA Today Best Selling Author Lorana Hoopes explores the depths of love, the shadows of betrayal, and the race against time to uncover the sinister forces threatening to tear two souls apart. Will Garrett Young escape the clutches of danger, and can Renee Mackey prove her innocence before it's too late? Prepare for a gripping tale of passion, mystery, and survival in a town where danger lurks beneath the surface.

First Chapter

Chapter 1 - Garrett

His eyes were open. He could swear they were, but nothing made sense. It was too dark for one thing. They say black is the absence of color and that’s what this room was - absent of color, of light, of everything. 

This certainly wasn’t his room. In his bedroom, there was a large window. One he’d had to cover with dark curtains because it not only faced east and the sun would wake him up too early but also due to his crazy work hours. Most days he worked a day shift - eight to four or nine to five - but occasionally he had to cover the night shift.  That meant recouping sleep during the day which required a room that could be darkened to keep out the invading light. Still, even with the dark curtains, his room was never this dark which meant either there was no window in this room or if there was one it was blacked out or walled up. Neither of those options elicited a warm fuzzy feeling.

It was also cold in here - too cold. The kind of cold that chilled all the way to his bones. He liked it cold at night so he could burrow under his downy comforter. But his kind of cold was sixty-eight, sixty-five at the lowest, and this place felt much colder than that. He had no doubt that if there were light, he would see his breath billow out from his mouth in tiny white wisps like it did on crisp winter mornings. But there was no light. And he could not see.

His hands patted the space around him, searching for his comforter but there was nothing. The area around him was hard and cold and definitely not his bed. His bed was a pillow top mattress. It was soft and comfortable, the kind you could sink into. He’d tested out every mattress in the store until he’d found the right one - a cushiony one that enveloped his body when he laid on it. It was the only kind he could sleep on anymore.Years of playing sports when he was younger had thrown his back out of shape and now he couldn’t sleep on hard things - floors, mattresses, cots. Yet this was hard and solid. Concrete?

But why would he be on concrete? There was probably concrete under the carpet at home, but the only bare floor was in the kitchen which was covered in hardwood and the bathroom which sported a linoleum floor. He supposed the garage had cement? But why would he be in the garage? He sniffed the air. There was a musty scent, but it didn’t smell like the lingering scent of gasoline that perpetually hung in the garage. But he had been home, hadn’t he? 

Although now that he thought about it, he didn’t think he had been at home. At least, that wasn’t the last place he had been. The last place he remembered was the hospital parking lot. He had climbed out of the truck and locked his door. There was plenty of concrete at the hospital, but not in the on-call rooms where doctors could sleep. And he hadn’t been tired. He’d just been starting the shift, right? 

He strained to remember. Why was it so fuzzy? There’d been the truck, the sound of it locking, the feel of the pavement under his feet, and then there’d been… The rest was hazy and he fought to push the mist away so that he could remember what happened. There had been a noise and then a sharp stinging sensation. Had he been drugged?

The need to bolt upright, to race out of there, coursed through his body, but with no idea what was around him, he knew that was a bad idea. What if there was a low ceiling above him and he shot up, banging his head and knocking himself out? Somehow, he doubted anyone would be arriving with medical help, and if he wanted a chance to escape this place, wherever it was, he needed to be in peak performance. So, he lifted his hands cautiously, feeling around. Nothing appeared to be directly above his head, so he pushed himself into a seated position. His feet landed on a floor of some kind, but he couldn’t quite tell exactly what it was, so he shuffled them back and forth, hoping for some kind of clue. There was no need to close his eyes due to the utter darkness of the room, but he did it anyway, hoping to focus on the sounds and the feel. A soft swish reached his ears, but it didn’t sound like feet on dirt. Nor did a scent accompany it. So there was a floor. Wood? More concrete?

Holding his hands out to the sides in all directions, he tried to ignore the feeling of vertigo in the inky blackness. He could feel a wall behind him. It was also solid and cool so most likely concrete as well. Shifting his hands to lift over his head, he slowly stood. Nothing. So the ceiling was at least seven feet. He bounced his knees a little to try and determine the construction of the floor. There wasn’t much give which made him think it was also concrete, but it could have been a hard wood. It didn’t really matter. He needed to get out of this room. 

With his hands in front of him, he shuffled forward until he touched the wall again. He decided to start to the left. His fingers brushed lightly over the scratchy surface of the concrete wall, but they didn't encounter anything and neither did his feet. 

After a few more steps, his left foot hit something solid. His hand did a moment later. Another wall. Shifting slightly, he followed this one as well. He tried counting the steps but it was hard to focus. Then the feeling beneath his fingers changed. A door perhaps? He moved his hands up and down this new surface and almost cried with relief when he felt the familiar shapes of hinges. Thank goodness. If there was a door, then there was a way out.

He continued to feel the door, and the relief built when he reached the metal handle, but it was short-lived. Though he tried both directions, the door would not budge. It must be locked from the other side.

With a sigh, he finished the exploration of the room. There was nothing else. At least not along the walls. He supposed there could be something along the floor, but he was reluctant to get down on all fours and crawl across it. If only he could see more. A memory from childhood popped into his mind. He and his brother Clay had been playing hide and seek, but he’d been afraid to hide in the dark closet where he couldn’t see anything. Clay had told him that if he closed his eyes for ten seconds and then opened them, he would be able to see. Though he couldn’t remember if it worked then, he figured it was worth a shot now. 

Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and slowly counted to ten. When he opened them again, things were clear enough to see that the “bed” he’d woken up on was nothing more than a concrete shelf. There was some contraption near the middle of the room that might be a bucket, but there was nothing else. 

Where was he? And who had done this? He was not the type to blow his own horn, at least not anymore, but he was generally a well-liked man. Especially by women. He was not blind to the fact that women found him attractive. And okay, in his past, he had dated a lot of women, but he had only dated one since arriving in Fire Beach, and even that was pretty recent. Plus, he’d made sure she didn’t have a boyfriend or husband. Doing that once had been enough. The man had slugged him, which he’d deserved, though to be fair the woman had never told him she wasn’t single. Still, he’d considered the man’s anger justified - that had been the day he’d decided to turn his life around - turn back to God and put Him back in control. He’d left town to make a fresh start, and while the man could still be angry enough to want to punish him more, kidnapping seemed a little extreme.

So… maybe a jilted woman? He had never classified himself as a player - more like a man in search of the right woman. But… he had kissed a lot of women in his past, and while he realized now that probably hadn’t been the smartest move, he had never slept with any of the women. And he’d always been upfront that he wasn’t interested in anything serious unless he felt it. So, an angry woman seemed unlikely. Plus, a jilted woman would have to be someone from his past who would have had to follow him to Fire Beach which seemed unlikely. Besides, while he was not what you’d call a gym rat (though only because he didn’t always have time), he was not exactly small, so a woman would have a hard time overpowering him. No, it had to be something different. 

Maybe he was overthinking this. Maybe it was something as simple as someone who knew he was a doctor and thought he would have the ability to pay a ransom. Of course that would limit the pool as he’d only been in Fire Beach a few weeks, but he didn’t have much money anyway. Yes, he was a doctor, but he was just starting his career and he had about a million dollars in medical school loans that had to be paid off. Plus, he sent money back to his sister in England regularly to help with their aging parents, so there wasn’t much money just lying around. 

Garrett made his way back to the concrete slab and sat down. It was time to pray. Before he came to Fire Beach, he had thought the idea of a relationship with God was weird. A relationship involved give and take, but praying to God was one-sided, or at least it had seemed that way to him. However, he’d felt a peace when he prayed then and he hoped for a similar feeling now. He needed God to take the wheel now. 

His eyes closed though there was certainly no need in this darkness. “Lord, I need help. I don’t why I’m here or who brought me here, but please don’t let this be the end for me. Give me wisdom to know what to do and give wisdom to those outside looking for me so they can find me.” He paused for a minute, waiting for more words to come to mind, but there was nothing else to say, and he figured since God was all knowing then He would hear even his silence.

Garrett had no idea how long he’d been gone, but he did know Yolanda would be going nuts when he didn’t show up for his shift. There was no doubt in his mind she would call his cell, then his home, and when she couldn’t reach him, she would send someone to his house. That was one thing he loved about her Southern spitfire spirit. Though he hadn’t worked there long, he hoped she knew him well enough to know he wouldn’t just skip work. Otherwise, it might be hours before anyone reported him gone. But there was always Renee. She would know he wasn’t flaking, but would Yolanda listen to her? He didn’t know what Yolanda’s issue with Renee was but there was something off between the two. Still, Renee would go to Clay if Yolanda didn’t listen. He knew she would. He just hoped the authorities didn’t take too long to start looking for him because he had no idea if his captive planned to feed him. But what if there were no clues to his disappearance? What if Clay knew he was gone but had no way to look for him? If Garrett didn’t know who’d done this, wouldn’t that make it even harder for Clay or any other cop?

“Lord, please help them. Let there be some clues or a sign or something.” Though he had no idea what else to pray for, he kept his eyes closed, hoping to hear something back from God or to feel the peace he’d felt when he’d prayed about taking the job in Fire Beach. 

Suddenly a grating sound of metal filled the air and Garrett’s eyes shot open. He hoped it was the door opening and he moved softly toward it. He didn’t know what was on the other side, but he’d take his chance and rush the person if he could.

A tiny sliver of light crept into the room, but it was not from the door. At least not from the door in its entirety. Instead, it came from a small square opening at the bottom that he hadn’t noticed in his examination in the dark. 

A tray appeared and was pushed through. It held a plate with what looked like a sandwich and a cup in the dim light. Then the door of the square began to close.

“Wait,” he called desperately as he crouched down by the square. “Who are you? What do you want with me?”

But there was no answer beyond the squeaking of the metal as the small door closed again.  With a sigh of frustration, Garrett leaned against the door and sank to the floor. The tray was somewhere to his right, but he didn’t bother to reach for it at the moment. It was there and that was enough. He could eat when he was hungry. At least this meant the person planned to keep him alive for a while. It wasn’t much hope, but it would do. For now.

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Lorana Hoopes

Lorana Hoopes is a USA Today Best Selling Author and now an Award Winning Author as well. She's had two books earn a Page Turner Award Finalist badge and she recently won the Reader's Favorite Book Award for Romantic Suspense.