On a fateful night in the dead of winter, an unimaginable
tragedy changes the lives of two families forever. How will they manage
to deal with reality while stopping the sociopath who is pushing them
toward the edge of sanity?Ten-year-old, Danny Madsen, has been missing for four days when Jesse
Carlton begins his own search for his godson on a frigid, snowy night.
Driving along a deserted rural road, Jesse hits a stretch of black ice
at the same time Danny appears from the thicket. Unable to control the
car, Jesse slams into the boy and watches helplessly as Danny’s body
flies back into the dark brush.When Jesse regains consciousness, he has no recollection of how he
and his car wound up in a ditch. However, there’s a witness: Charles
Hastings, the sociopathic kidnapper who chased Danny through the brush
and into the path of Jesse’s car.Hastings takes this chance to set up Jesse so he’ll take the fall for
both Danny’s disappearance and death. And so the mind games begin–an
onslaught of psychological manipulation that devastates Jesse, his wife,
Danny’s parents and the cops’ investigation. Inexplicably, the torment
continues even after the primary suspect is killed and the rollercoaster
of emotions and confusion seems never-ending until the final and
devastating truth is revealed.If you like gripping, suspenseful page-turners that keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end, this is a must read!
Danny Madsen had been missing for four days, and hope was fading faster than the weak sunlight giving in to the cold night ahead. Worse, there’d been intermittent periods of snow and sleet throughout the day, creating slick surfaces on unlit county roads and leaving behind asphalt without traction or boundaries.
Like every other evening since the boy’s disappearance, the approaching dusk put a damper on the search effort. Each was another day past the critical “48-hour window,” another night for Jesse Carlton to fight back tears of frustration as he crawled the icy streets of Hingham, Massachusetts in his silver BMW, looking for the ten-year-old boy the Amber Alert described over and over as white with blond hair and blue eyes, weighing fifty-six pounds and standing about four feet six inches. When last seen, they’d always add, he was wearing a bright blue North Face coat, blue corduroy pants, Nike sneakers and a backpack with the name “Danny” stitched into the left shoulder strap.
Danny’s description echoed in Jesse’s head as he made the right off of Main Avenue onto Forest, which passed the hundred or so square acres of conservation land. He didn’t need the Amber Alert to picture Danny. He’d recognize him the instant he saw him since he’d known the boy from the day he was born. Jesse had long been best friends with his parents, Becky and Don, and Danny had become the son Jesse and Melissa tried and tried for but could never have. They’d become so close to the Madsens, in fact, that they’d purchased a home up the block from them, sight unseen, when Becky and Don told them it had come on the market. It was apparent to all of them that the less distance between the families, the more fulfilled their lives would be.
It was this honorary parenting of Becky and Don’s only child that had Jesse driving the streets and highways in and outside of every neighboring town for the past four nights—pursuing leads he’d overheard cops discussing at the Madsen home, following up on hunches he’d get after scouring the Internet for clues from past abductions. Each evening as he began his search, Jesse prayed he’d be the one to bring Danny home safe, sound and emotionally intact.
Jesse knew his nightly searches were pointless, but he could no longer bear pacing the floor at home or sitting in the Madsen’s cop-filled living room waiting for another bullshit tip, another clue that led nowhere but deeper into heartache. Melissa spent her nights comforting Becky while Don worked with the police to pursue every potential lead. Jesse’s need to do something, anything, forced him into his car each night with dissipating hopes and, by the way things had been going recently, unrealistic dreams.
The last person to see Danny was the school bus driver who watched him jump down the vehicle’s steps four days earlier, just three blocks from Don and Becky’s. And that clue was as solid—and as clear—as mud.
Jesse turned off the radio and clicked on the high beams. The pavement was pure white from the newly fallen snow, and there wasn’t another car anywhere to be seen. In front of him was blackness; behind him was blackness; on each side, nothing but blackness. How did he expect to see anything out here, let alone find a scared and freezing kid? He didn’t know, but it didn’t matter. This was the only action he could take that made him feel like he was actually doing something to help.
The yellow light poles every 300 feet or so did nothing but offer a blurry glow that barely reached the road. And now that a smattering of snow had started again, the soft crunch of flakes beneath the tires filled the silence with an eeriness that sent a strange tingle sliding up Jesse’s neck.
On either side of Forest Avenue lay the Terrence Ford Conservation Land, acres and acres of brush, swamp and trees with a few neighborhoods dotting the outskirts. Since the homes were hidden behind the dense thicket and prodigious pines, they were usually invisible to Forest Avenue drivers. Tonight though, even in the deep blackness of this night, he could see their pinpricks of homey yellow light, which, like the rickety poles lining the road, was nothing he could see by.
As he passed the two-mile marker, his phone rang, jolting him from his concentration. The display on the dash showed Melissa’s cell. He took a calming breath and pressed the button on the steering wheel. “Hey, babe.”
“Where are you?” Melissa sounded almost panicked, her voice trembling.
“What’s wrong? What happened? Where are you?”
“I’m at Becky and Don’s. They just got a call from Agent Rivera…hold on.”
He tried to be patient, but after a few more seconds of muffled voices he couldn’t hold back. “Missy!” he yelled and banged his fists on the steering wheel. “For Christ’s sake, what did Rivera say?”
“Sorry, Jesse. I’m just getting more details.” The muffled voices he’d first heard faded away as though she was moving into another room. “Someone just called the hotline from somewhere out in Hingham. It was an older woman who lives—”
Jesse felt like his heart skipped a beat. “I’m in Hingham! Where in Hingham, Missy? Where?”
“Oh my God, Jesse. Wait, I wrote it down.” His pulse pounded against the side of his neck as he waited for the crumpling of paper to stop and her words to start again. “Okay, the woman lives on Tower Road off Route 228, on the east side of that conservation area.”
He brought up the GPS and frantically searched for 228. “I’m like five minutes from 228—five minutes. I’m literally on the other side of the woods.” His voice was shaky. “I’ll put Tower Road in the GPS.”
“She says she saw a boy fitting Danny’s description running past her house a couple of hours ago. She didn’t call right away because she wasn’t sure.”
Jesse let out a shout of frustration. His shallow breaths quivered in his throat. “Shit, it’s starting to sleet,” he said. “I’m on Forest right now. It runs parallel to Route 228. I’ll turn around and work my way toward Tower to see if I can meet up with one of the units.”
“Jesse, please be careful. I don’t want you getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.”
“This isn’t nowhere, Missy—it’s Hingham,” he said with a sigh, knowing there was nothing he could say to help quell her anxiety. She was a worrier, plain and simple. It was something he’d become accustomed to and had learned to be patient with, but tonight his nerves were too raw, his patience too thin.
“Jesse, sleet means ice. Ice means slippery. Slippery means…”
“Missy,” he snapped. He bit his lip and took another breath. “I’m going to turn around and head back toward 228.” He gazed into the darkness to his right, wishing there was a road that cut through the conservation area. “Once I get there, I’ll give you a call. Until then, sit tight. This could be the break we’ve been hoping for.”
“Oh God, Jesse. I hope so. Please be careful. I’ll wait for your call. I love you.”
“I love you, Babe,” he replied, making sure to sound as composed as possible as he disconnected.
Jesse was once again alone, the soft muffle of the car engine filling the otherwise empty silence. Keeping safety in mind despite his own anxiety to find the boy safe, he made a careful K-turn in the middle of Forest Avenue. The tires slipped a bit on the icy road, so he let up on the pedal allowing the car to straighten itself out. When he faced south, he stepped on the gas again and drove as fast as he could without completely losing traction.
Jesse could see the lights of Hanover Mall through the melting snow on the windshield. The liquid dripping down the glass made it look as though the lights were dancing, shimmying back and forth to the steady beat of the tires crunching the ice beneath him. He glanced at the speedometer: 25 mph. If he could keep up this speed, he’d be back at the intersection of Forest and Main within four minutes.
A faint smile crossed his lips as he remembered finding Danny’s favorite Spider-Man action figure in the back seat earlier that week; Danny must’ve dropped it the day Jesse helped out Don and Becky by picking him up from rehearsal for his school’s play. The toy had been right in the middle of the seat, and he wondered if he could reach it—maybe it would change his luck, somehow attract Danny to him.
Jesse reached back, fumbling around, trying to reach Spidey. Nothing. He leaned further and slid his open palm along the seat. Still nothing. Angling backward as far as he could, he patted the floor mat behind him in hopes that the figure had slid during a turn.
A quick glance showed the tiny superhero jammed into the corner of the back seat. Spider-Man was tonight’s lucky charm; the idea felt right, and it would help him find Danny. It was a superstitious and even desperate move, but doing things by the book had so far turned up nothing.
“Gotcha!” he cheered when he snagged the action figure’s foot. He turned back toward the road to see a black figure stumbling out from the brush in front of him. In less than a second, the headlights shown on the figure’s face—it was Danny.
Horror seized Jesse by the throat and he gasped as he slammed on the brakes. The car went into an immediate spin, flying directly at Danny whose eyes went wide in the headlights. Jesse felt a thud against the back panel of the car. He screamed, the view from every window only blurred streaks of light. He tried to focus, to spot Danny somewhere in the whirl of his surroundings. But the boy was gone. He screamed again, his cry now muffled by the airbag exploding against his face. He squeezed his eyes shut, feeling the BMW skid off the side of the road and nose-dive into a shallow ditch filled with snow.
As the car lay on its side, ruined engine still ticking, Jesse could barely hang on to consciousness. Images and sounds swirled through his head: the screech of metal dragging along the pavement, Danny’s face hitting the window, the sickening thump as the car smashed sideways into the little boy’s body.
“It didn’t happen,” Jesse whispered. “This is a dream,” he panted. “Just a dream.” He repeated the words again and again until the weight of his eyelids became unbearable and he closed his eyes, allowing the sound of his sobbing to lead him gently into his own personal darkness.
As a child, Rob Kaufman was always fascinated by the stories recited
by those around him and the words used to tell them. As he got older,
his need to tell his own stories grew, as did his ability to share them
in exciting and captivating ways.However, he wanted to share more than just stories. His primary
desire was to create characters with whom people could relate, while at
the same time bringing them through a journey from which most would
crumble.His degree in Psychology was the first step toward getting beneath
the surface of the people in his life. What followed was a lifelong
search for what makes people tick – what forces them to become evil when
deep down in their heart of hearts, they are yearning for love. Rob’s
characters walk this search with him, deep into the human psyche,
creating psychological thrillers from everyday events.Rob’s second book “One Last Lie” continues to receive great praise
and is selling well in both electronic and paperback formats. His
current book, “A Broken Reality” is much darker than his first, with
characters who hold bits and pieces of strangers he’s known, friends
he’s had and personal tragedy he’s lived through.“This book hits home for me,” says Rob. “There were a few pages that
made me laugh out loud as I wrote them… and many that made me cry. And
the great thing is, I’m finding that many readers of this book are
experiencing the same emotions.”Through social and other media, Rob hopes to get “A Broken Reality”
into the hands of millions, so that they, too, can experience the ups,
downs, twists, turns and final tragedy that has helped make this book a
Five-Star contender.Website Address:www.AuthorRobKaufman.comBlog Address:http://authorrobkaufman.com/blog/Twitter Address: @RobKaufmanCTFacebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobKaufman/
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