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Lorana Hoopes

Safe in My Arms

Safe in My Arms

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Could you leave your baby if you thought it was the only way to save her?

No one has noticed the women going missing in Fire Beach. That is until one escapes and manages to hide her baby in a desperate attempt to save her. Her story will set the town on fire.

It was supposed to be one date, but before they even make it to the restaurant, Ivy and Luca find a baby on the side of the road. Her maternal instincts kicking in, Ivy does everything in her power to keep the baby safe, but dangerous people are after this baby, and she has no idea what she's up against.

When the baby’s mother is found and reveals the danger she was running from, Luca and Ivy know they have to take the baby away to protect her, but will the people who killed the foster parents find them?

If you like a little danger with your clean romance and authors like Alana Terry, Sara Blackard, and Christy Barritt, then you will not want to miss this exciting page-turning suspense from Award Winner and USA Today best selling author Lorana Hoopes. Though it's the sixth book in the Men of Fire Beach suspense series, each book can be read as a stand alone.

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.

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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.