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Lorana Hoopes

Safe in My Arms

Safe in My Arms

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First Chapter

An eerie stillness floated in the air, hanging like an invisible curtain, blocking the silence but not the pervasive danger that Melissa could feel prickling her skin. This was not the quiet comfort of a night in the country. No, this quiet felt forced and fabricated as if to hide the feeling of a thousand eyes watching her every move. She held her breath, pausing long enough to peer into the inky darkness, her eyes searching for any sign of movement, any sign of them.

She would not let them get her. Not her baby. Melissa’s heart thudded as she cuddled  the baby to her chest, willing her not to cry or make a sound. If she made even a small peep, they would both be caught. Melissa wasn’t sure what would happen, but she’d seen other women break or disappear. She’d heard cries of faceless women in the night.  The punishment was nothing good, of that she was sure. Nothing good had happened to her since she’d arrived. Nothing except Chloe, and they’d had nothing to do with her anyway.

A loud crunch split the silence, and Melissa’s heart rate doubled. The hairs on the back of her neck and along her arm shot to attention, as if she were in a sea of static electricity. Though she could see no one, she knew they were out there. She’d known they would come after her, and from the proximity of the sound, they were close. Too close for comfort. Forcing her feet to move once again, she darted among the shadows, hardly daring to breathe in case it was loud enough for them to hear.

When she emerged onto a lighted path, she pushed her feet faster, but she could feel her strength draining. She couldn’t outrun them, not with a baby in her arms. There would be no way for both her and the baby to escape, but maybe she could save Chloe. Maybe there would be enough time to hide Chloe before they caught up to her.

She chewed on the inside of her cheek, desperately searching for any other solution, any other option than Chloe falling into their hands. A crevice in the side of the path caught her attention. It wasn’t a deep hole, but it was deep enough to place the bundled baby, and there were pieces of asphalt she could cover the hole with. Then she would just have to trust that Chloe would be found before anything happened to her and by people who could help her.

Fighting back tears, she stared down at the face of her angel. The pregnancy had not been an easy one, not from the day she’d found out she was pregnant but it had been worth it when she glimpsed the beautiful face of her baby girl. 

“I’m so sorry, Chloe,” she whispered to the sleeping newborn. “I hope I’ll be able to come back for you and if not, that we’ll meet again someday. Know that I love you, and while I wish I had made different choices after finding out about you, I have never regretted having you.”

There was more she wanted to say, a lifetime more, but emotions constricted her throat, and she knew she was losing time. She glanced around one more time to make sure they hadn’t found her yet. Then, with quivering lips, she placed a kiss on the baby’s head and situated her in the crevice. Then she stacked the asphalt pieces so the baby was hidden but not crushed.

Leaving the baby took every ounce of her strength, but she knew it was Chloe’s only hope of survival. Though she had never been a believer, she lifted her eyes to Heaven as she began to run again. “God, if you are real, please protect Chloe. Don’t let her die out here. Please.”

“There she is!” 

The voices were too close behind her, and though exhaustion pulled at her bones, she pushed herself to run faster. She chanced one glance over her shoulder in hopes they would not have seen her drop the baby, and when they ran past the crevice, her heart breathed a tiny sigh of relief. Chloe was safe. For now. And that was all she could really ask for.

She could feel her legs getting heavy. Her lungs screamed with every breath she took, and she knew that she wouldn’t make it much farther. A large building came into view, and with a desperate glance behind her, she forced her body to its limits as she ran for the door of the building. The doors were large and solid and she barely had time to register the sign above the door before she was inside. A church. How on earth had she ended up in a church?

“Can I help you?” A man dressed all in black except for the smallest white square of fabric under his chin hurried toward her.

“Hide.” She doubled over, trying to catch her breath and give her words life. “I need to hide.”

His eyes scanned her for the briefest of seconds before he nodded, took her arm, and led her down the hallway. She paid attention to nothing except the maroon carpet beneath her feet, trying to inhale breaths and keep the tears at bay at the same time. 

“Hide in the wardrobe here. It’s not the most comfortable quarters for which I apologize, but I think you’ll be safe. There are people looking for you, am I right?”

Melissa nodded, still unable to make her throat work.

“Okay, if they come, I’ll take care of them and then we can talk.”

Talking was the last thing Melissa wanted to do, but as he was putting his life on the line to protect her, she figured she owed him the truth at least. And who knew? Maybe he could help her. She climbed into the wardrobe, pulling her knees to her chest to fit into the cramped space. He was right. It wasn’t the most comfortable arrangement, but her body was exhausted and it wasn’t long after the darkness enveloped her that she found herself drifting to sleep.


A firefighter’s life torn apart by unspeakable crimes in bestselling author Lorana Hoopes’s new page turning novel of romantic suspense…

Could you let your family believe you were dead if you thought it was the only way to save them?

Five years ago, Billy “Bubba” Campbell had a different name, but after narrowly escaping an attempt on his life, he fakes his death and leaves town to keep his family safe. He’s adjusted to life in Fire Beach, but when Makenna re-enters his life, he is forced to make a gut-wrenching decision: Continue living his lie or return to his hometown to help her catch the killer.

Captain Makenna Drake believed she was saving Matt Fisher’s life when she convinced him to leave his life behind, but now the fires have started again. As the only victim to survive, she hopes seeing Matt will fluster the killer enough to make a mistake. But can she protect him this time or will the killer finish the job started five years ago?

USA Today best-selling author Lorana Hoopes takes you on another fantastic ride full of secrets, romance, and suspense. A page-turner until the end, this story will send your heart racing and having you reading late into the night as you work to figure out the killer. With over 1,648 copies sold and over 615,943 pages read, find out why The Men of Fire Beach is the hottest new series in Christian Romantic Suspense. Includes questions for a discussion group. Grab your copy by clicking above, but be sure to hang on to your hat.

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