Shadowed Footsteps Chapters 1, 2 & 3

Shadowed Footsteps is being published September, 2021. New Release.

Writing Shadowed Footsteps was an interesting journey. It was one of those stories that wouldn’t leave me alone. Actually, it was the series idea that wouldn’t leave me alone. It started with some real life event, throw in my imagination and the story took off. If you haven’t read what sparked the idea, click here.

Here is Chapter 1, 2 & 3 of Shadowed Footsteps, for you to read.

I thought this would be a great way for you to get to know my work and read some of my latest book. You’ll know right away if it’s for you.

It is available for Pre-Order.

Shadowed Footsteps Book Blurb

Lana has found her child’s father. She thinks. But he’s homeless. Or is he? Unsure what to do, she finds herself sneaking around, snooping, dressing up in disguise. Something she would never normally do. All to find answers. But then she discovers her mom is not only acting weird and secretive but she is being followed.

Jordie has been running and lying his whole life. But now he is using his skills for one thing, to take down the notorious Joe Brown. His father. But he can’t do it alone. The last attempt almost got him killed.

Lana forces Jordie to work with her, partly because she needs his investigative and connected skills but also she needs to know who he is. And if she should let him into his daughter’s life. Is he sane? Or is he crazy? Is he dangerous? To protect her daughter, she will take any risk.

Sheila grew up in a Foster Home run by Mrs. Stephanos. Now, thirty-five years later, the bauble that she used to play with as a child, has arrived at her home. And it is worth over a million dollars. She is the second of the foster sisters to receive her jewelry. But who is sending them out? And what is their end game?

 

“Maggie Thom, writes such engrossing stories. You won’t be disappointed…” Kal B.

“Loved it. Kept me flipping pages. Ooh, there is one character I strongly disliked…” SKC

“I read a lot. This book has stuck with me. I think about some of the characters, still. I definitely recommend it.” Shana T.

 

Chapter 1

 

Ruby crawled out of bed, her gown soaked, her hands shaking. The nightmare had woken her again. It was always the same. A dark hole appeared and she got pulled into the abyss by something weblike and slimy. The nightmare had been with her since she was about three. She didn’t know how it started or why, but it wasn’t going away. Now, at twelve, she thought she should have been over it. She’d been with Mrs. Stephanos for five years, and for that entire time, she hadn’t had that dream.

Why did it come back? Is it because I’m leaving?

She reached under her pillow and pulled out the broach. She pinned it to her nighty before tiptoeing across the room to the window. They almost always left it open at night. Mostly because it got so hot in the upstairs room, but also because Ruby had insisted. She might not have been the biggest or toughest, but she was persistent. Such that every time someone closed it, she opened it. She hated the feeling of being closed in. And it was her escape to freedom. She eased through the window. Her feet easily fit on the narrow ledge. She’d been out there, many times. It didn’t scare her to be standing there in the almost pitch-black night, not able to see much. If she fell, she knew that the three stories would probably injure her badly, the rock garden below might even kill her.

She slid her foot sideways, not needing to look. Clouds partially covered the sliver of moon. She eased her way along until her foot bumped an outcropping. Turning carefully, she placed her hands on the railing, knowing to reach about a foot out from the building. She pulled and leapt at the same time, landing solidly on the lip of the balcony. Climbing over the shaky railing, she eased herself down.

If she got caught, she’d be in trouble. But sitting up here by herself was worth it. It was the only time she truly felt free. This foster home was better than most of them had been. She had regular food, got to sleep in her own bed, and even got some education. The fact that no family and no authority came to check on her or any of them was upsetting. Although, she wasn’t sure anyone would care what they were up to. Or what Mrs. Stephanos had them doing.

She reached up under the peak of the house, just to her right, and pulled out a small pillow she’d stuffed there. Setting it down, she stretched out and laid her head on it. It gave her the perfect view of the stars. The stars she hoped to visit one day. Her eyes tracked many of the constellations. Orion’s belt was her favorite. Maybe because it looked strong. But it was also easy to find.

Her mind drifted to flying amongst the stars in outer space. After a while, when she felt the pull of sleep, she reached up and touched the broach. It was so beautiful, even in the limited night light. In her mind, the red gems glowed as though held up to a bright sun. The clear ones sparkled too but didn’t impress Ruby like the red ones. It was strictly against the rules that she have it with her, but she couldn’t help herself. She’d had to take care of this piece, make sure it was safe. Make sure no one touched it. Not even her. Only once in a while to clean it, and that was truly rare. It was like a dangled cookie that you were to keep an eye on but not touch. And no one else could either.

Ruby just wanted to spend one more evening with it. One last moment with it. She held out the material so she could admire the beautiful piece of jewelry. It was heavy, drooping against the flimsy material of her nightgown. But the weight of it felt perfect. A hollow feeling crept in. Leaving this place was scary, but if she didn’t, she wasn’t sure she’d ever get out. Mrs. S would not be happy she left. That any of them would even think of leaving. To her, they were going to be a self-sustained, secluded from the real-world family, forever.

One day, she was going to make sure everyone had their own broach that made them feel good and worthy. Ruby smiled as she closed her eyes. With that thought, she fell asleep.

The harsh whistle, a foghorn-like sound, jolted her upright. The sun peeked over the horizon. She gasped. Normally, it was a view she loved and would take a few moments for the sun to warm her face but this morning, she knew that sound meant she was close to being late. She rolled over, the broach digging into her chest. She stood up, undoing it from her nightgown. The second blast of the whistle startled her. Her hands fumbled the broach. It slid out of her fingers. She scrambled for it, wanting to stop it from tumbling over the edge. It landed with a plop, at her feet. Her mouth dropped open. She quickly bent down and picked it up.

“Ruby. Get moving.”

Her foster sister, Amethyst, yelled out the window at her. It jolted her again. Her hand flipped upward, causing her to fumble the perfect piece of jewelry. It flipped out of her hands. She stepped forward, forgetting where she was. She leaned forward and managed to snag it out of midair. If she didn’t hurry, she wasn’t sure what story she’d tell.

“Ruby. What are you doing up there? Get down here.”

She snapped her hand behind her back as she looked down. Mrs. Stephanos was standing on the lawn, glaring up at her. She was not happy, which meant Ruby was late. She was never happy, but today she looked even more sour.

Ruby realized she was standing on the very edge of the ledge. The railing had long since rotted and fallen off on the left side. Her toes automatically curled over the edge. One step.

“Ruby!”

Closing her eyes, she said, “I’ll be right down.”

Her fingers curled around her broach. Leave it? Or take it?

She waited until she heard Mrs. S move away. Tempted to leave the broach behind, she knew if it was discovered missing there’d be hell to pay. Pulling out her nighty, she pinned the broach on the inside. It was cold against her skin. Moving slowly and steadily, she made her way back along the ledge and back through her window.

What punishment would be in store for her that day?

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Lana looked over her shoulder. He was still there. It wasn’t the first time, but it was getting harder to keep him at a distance. She slowed her pace, curious as to what he’d do. He copied her and slowed down, too. What did he want? Her mind filled with a lot of ugly details. He’d been following her for a few weeks now. But that’s all he’d been doing, every time she came down to see her mom at work. It wasn’t the safest part of town. She’d been there enough to know to be cautious, but she was always careful.

He’d never made a move toward her. And she was pretty sure he wouldn’t. She stopped in front of a store and looked in the window. He stopped ten feet away, not even trying to hide that he was staring at her. Or focused on her.

Taking a deep breath, she turned and walked toward him. His eyes widened. He stepped back, turning slightly into a more guarded position.

“You can’t keep doing this, Tom. I don’t like it.”

He gave her a sour look. “I’m not doing anything.”

“Stop following me. You wouldn’t like it if someone followed you.” As soon as she’d said those words, she clapped her hand over her mouth. She shouldn’t have said that. Not to a man who lived on the streets and who had some mental health issues.

His head whipped around, his eyes narrowed, became beady. He looked like a predator ready to pounce.

“Tom. Tom! No one is following you. I was trying to make a point. Do you need some help with something? Why are you following me?”

He didn’t respond but eyed her suspiciously. The worst thing to say to someone who had some untreated mental health problems and who was already acting paranoid was to give them something that would feed that paranoia. And if he was high on something… she didn’t even want to think about how irrational he might become. But he didn’t appear to be a danger to her. He just seemed to want to follow her. Throwing up her hands, she turned and walked away. But she was very conscious that Tom stayed ten feet behind her.

Just as she neared the end of the street, another homeless man came around the corner.

“You! It’s your fault.”

He was pointing at her, but she was pretty sure it wasn’t her he was talking to. It was something she’d seen from a few of the individuals. They often had arguments with someone in their head. But to them that person was very real. Lana moved closer to the building to give him room to pass. Whether it was the movement that caught his attention or just that she was there she wasn’t sure, but he turned on her. He moved toward her. Anger mottled his face with red splotches. His fists clenched and beat against his thighs. She’d made a big mistake. He hemmed her in. She jerked back only to find herself pinned against the side of the brick building.

Spittle ran out of his mouth and down his chin. His eyes were wild, unfocused, but that didn’t stop him from invading her space. He leaned within an inch of her face. His breath had the rancid smell of a decaying animal. His teeth were brown and black, like a rotting banana.

“YOU! It’s always you.”

Lana tried to slide to the side to get around him, but he stayed with her. His hands grabbed her shoulders. His face almost grinding into hers. His eyes bulged.

“I’m sorry if I got in your way. Just let me move and I’ll be gone.” She kept her voice soft and low.

“NO!”

His voice had to have been heard for blocks, but no one seemed to be coming to her rescue. Or even coming to see what was happening. Most of the individuals were homeless and they kept out of each other’s business. They avoided trouble when they could. Anyone else who was on that street was moving away, fast. Where had Tom gone? She couldn’t see him, but he’d probably vanished too.

Using some of the skills her mom taught her, she spoke softly and calmly. “What do you need?”

“Nothing. Nothing! You’re the problem.”

Every time he spoke, he emphasized what he was saying by shoving his nose against hers. The last time had been a little too close, a little too forceful. Spit trickled down her cheek, but she made no move to wipe it away. Her heart was pounding like it was its own marching band. She hoped he couldn’t hear it. It might feed his paranoia and anger.

He grabbed her arm. “You’ll pay.” He yanked her out onto the street.

She dug in her heels and reached for the sign pole that said: Parking—Two Hours Max. Thankfully, no one was parked there. Her fingers curled around the metal, holding on with all her strength.

“I’m not going.” Her tone soft but firm.

He kept pulling. She tried a harsher, firmer tone. “Stop! Now!”

It was enough to get him to release her. But not leave her. He turned on her, his arm arcing up like a pitcher’s throw before swinging at her full force. She ducked. But not in time. His hand clipped the side of her head, she stumbled backward. Her heel hit the curb. Her arms pinwheeled to keep herself upright. She took a few awkward fast steps backward but managed to stay on her feet. Finally, gaining some balance, she turned to flee, but he was right there. He shoved her against the side of the building. His hands went for her throat. She clawed at his fingers, trying to pry them off. He wasn’t choking her but was applying enough pressure to keep her in place. And make sure it was uncomfortable. Her hands ripped at his. She twisted and turned her body to try to gain an advantage. Her gaze was narrowed onto his face, onto what he was doing.

With all the strength she had, she grabbed his hand and twisted hard in one direction while forcing her body to go the opposite direction. Down he went. His hands didn’t immediately unlock, but she jerked back hard using his downward momentum against him. His hands slid from her throat. She jumped sideways and was turning to flee when she noticed he wasn’t moving. Carefully, moving toward him, she prodded him with her toe. Nothing. No reaction. About to reach down to check his pulse, a van came screeching around the corner and squealed to a stop haphazardly at the curb.

“Get back,” Mitch said, as he jumped out of the van. He dropped to his knees on the other side of the man. She’d never been gladder to see Mitch. He was a counselor who worked for Caring Matters. It was an organization that tried to provide food, shelter, counseling, and a safe haven for those living on the streets. She’d known him for years. He was like the big brother she never had. He gave her a once over before giving all his attention to the man on the ground. He still wasn’t moving. Mitch started CPR.

“Call an ambulance.”

She heard him but her mind was busy. Is he alive? Is he dead? Did I kill him?

“Call an ambulance.”

It wasn’t until he said it a second time that she realized he was telling her to do that. She pulled herself out of her fog and reached for her purse, only to discover it wasn’t there.

“Use mine.”

Mitch thrust his phone at her. Lana took it and stood up, moving back a few steps to give him room. Mitch got up and yanked open the side door of his van and grabbed a bag. She dialed 911 and told them the emergency and the address. She hung up. Mitch was injecting something into the man’s arm. There were a few gawkers hanging around.

“What are you doing?”

“Giving him naloxone. He’s overdosed.” He didn’t turn or look at her as he spoke. His focus stayed with the man he was working on.

“Put the phone in my pocket. And get out of here.”

“How did you know?”

“Tom.”

Suddenly, Tom was there. Between her and the scene. She took a step to the side, but he moved with her. Her nerves near their breaking point, she grabbed for her purse. It wasn’t there.  She looked behind her, trying to remember what had happened to the bag and the purse. As she turned back, there they were being thrust at her by Tom. With shaky hands, she took them.

“Thank you.” She bit her lip to stop them from quivering. It didn’t feel right leaving the scene, but Mitch knew what he was doing. Unfortunately, he’d had to deal with situations like this more than anyone should have to. Turning, she walked around the corner and down the block to her mom’s place of work. A place she’d been to many times. She forced herself to focus on just walking. But it felt like every eye was on her. And she was very aware of Tom’s heavy footsteps behind her. It felt like someone was going to jump her, again.

What happened with the man who had overdosed was something that happened on occasion. Although her mom had always tried to shelter her while growing up, she’d seen many things she probably shouldn’t have. A man being stabbed. A man overdosing with the needle still in his arm. Fights. Arguments. Thefts.

None of the danger had been aimed at her. They were just things that happened. This one hadn’t been aimed at her either, she just happened to be the poor soul who’d stepped into his path. Knowing that, and dealing with it, was going to take a bit of sorting out.

She approached the two-story building where her mom was working. Normally, she would have greeted a few of the homeless people who were stretched out or camped out on the sidewalk. Today, she couldn’t. She walked by but felt the void of not saying hi. With every step, she was aware of Tom behind her, grateful that he’d gotten her help.

“You shouldn’t be here.” A voice came from the shadows beside the stairs.

Frank had been saying that to her since she was at least thirteen and had been going to work with her mom on occasion. He was always looking out for her. What broke her heart was that he’d been there so long. He had no desire to move on or change his lifestyle. She had no idea of his age; he looked the same to her now as he had when she was young. He could be anywhere from forty to sixty. His face was grizzled, malnourished, puffy from too much alcohol. She didn’t know much about his story, but he had quit drinking a few years before. The look though hadn’t gone away.

Today, she agreed with him. She shouldn’t be there.

He didn’t step out so she could see him, but that wasn’t abnormal. He liked hiding in the shadows. He’d made himself the self-appointed guard for the homeless shelter.

“Thank you, Frank.” She stepped onto the first step. She looked over her shoulder and realized that Tom had disappeared. Obviously, he felt she was now safe.

“Your neck.”

Her hand immediately went to her throat. “Please keep this to yourself. Don’t tell others. Please. For now. Okay?”

Frank didn’t respond, but she hoped he would help keep it quiet.

There were no lumps or bumps, but her neck did feel a bit tender and warm. There were probably bruises or at least redness. She could not go and see her mom like that. The new project they were working on would be stopped if anyone thought it was dangerous in the area.

Now what? She wasn’t about to see a project she had been working on for over a month be stopped.

Her mind was coming up with a lot of stories to tell. Then an idea popped into her head that made her smile. Just cover your neck. End of story.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Jordie’s eyes opened. It took a moment for his sleep-fogged brain to wake up but when it did, he took a deep breath, rolled over, and sat up.

“Oohhhh.”

His body ached, every muscle, every bone, and every joint telling him he’d been an idiot. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, then stopped and listened for a second. It was quiet. He carefully got up and peeked around the curtain hiding his bed from the doorway. The door was closed. He crossed the room to his private bathroom. As he passed by the sink, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He turned, squaring to his reflection. Yellow, green, dark purple. His chest and arms were covered in dull, faded colors. The good news was that the bruises were fading. They just looked sickly. In fact, they looked worse now than when he’d first seen them a few days after his attack. Something he’d been avoiding thinking about. And looking at.

Not because he didn’t want to see what damage was done to him but because of who he would see. The eyes always gave him away. There was a time he would have plucked them out so he wouldn’t look like that man. His father. At times, he’d worn aviator sunglasses, to keep from seeing that ugliness. The side of him he wished he could get rid of. It had also kept others from seeing it.

It had taken a long time, but he finally felt like he didn’t need to hide. As he stared into the mirror, realizing it had been a long time since he’d stopped to look at himself, his eyes narrowed in on his features. The mouth, the nose, the black hair. Those were Damien’s. And maybe his mom’s but it had been so long since she died, he couldn’t remember. And with no pictures of her to look at, he just had his brother to compare to. Bracing his hands on the edge of the sink, he dropped his head down. His brother. The one he’d spent his life protecting but hadn’t done a very good job of it.

One part of him argued: You managed to keep your father away from him for almost eight years. That has to count for something. But the fight Damien had with their father never should have happened.

Their father had conned, forced, and threatened Damien into doing a heist for him. And then had the gall to try to set him up. To fight with his own son. Whose father did that? The man was so warped. He had so much to pay for. Getting Jordie hooked on drugs and being his mule had been one thing, but to hurt Damien? That was unforgivable. The man was truly going to pay this time. He was going to rot in jail, in the worst hellhole Jordie could shove him into.

Straightening, Jordie plowed his hand through his unruly black hair. It was way past the need for a haircut, but it was all a part of the game. The game he hated but had also chosen on purpose. It had taken years of planning but finally he’d taken down the man who had made his life hell, his father. His father who had put him in the hospital. His father who was on another floor of that hospital, in a coma. He hoped.

Damien came to mind. Damien the good one. How he had turned out to be such an honest, hardworking man Jordie wasn’t sure. But he was grateful. Jordie was going to have to come clean, and soon, with him though. Damien had been texting him daily. Hourly. Asking questions. Jordie had the hospital tell him he was put back into an induced coma due to swelling on the brain. He’d even had them drug him so that Damien could come and visit and see that he was out of it. There was a doctor and a few nurses who were the only ones treating Jordie. There was always an undercover nurse watching out for him. Just in case others came to ask questions. The only one who would have was their father. And now, hopefully, he was taken care of, but Jordie knew he couldn’t let his guard down yet. Not until he got the call that confirmed they had gotten his father.

Gingerly, he touched his ribs. A bit tender but healing. The first beating had done a lot of damage to his whole body. His head chose that moment to send a pounding pulse from deep within his skull out through his right temple, as though to say, ‘You were lucky.’ He winced. Leaving the hospital to help Damien hadn’t done any of his injuries any good. He’d had to, though. The setup had been perfect. The plan was that they were going to catch their father with the stolen goods. It hadn’t gone quite as planned, but it had worked.

No, it didn’t.

His fists clenched as he ignored that voice and let a jolt of excitement of finally feeling like he’d achieved the unachievable fill him.

He lifted his head and looked in the mirror. Black eyes looked back at him. Eyes full of anger. Of wanting justice. Of frustration. Of years of hate. Of determination. Of wanting something more. All of him was healing. At least physically. His body sagged. He wasn’t sure if it was from the beating or from the lifelong fight he’d been living. The one that had finally come to an end. He shoved aside the niggling feeling that it wasn’t over.

Giving himself a nod in the mirror, he stripped off his pale hospital-sexy blue pants and stepped into the shower. His nurse was going to have a problem with that as he was supposed to tell them when he was going to shower so they could monitor him. But he didn’t care. And he didn’t wince. A few days before, he couldn’t even lift his arms to half-mast without pain.

His mind wandered to all that had happened. Not everyone had been in on the plan. Many thought he’d been at death’s door. Which it had felt like at times. He wasn’t as bad off as was being made out. The last thing he had wanted was his father knowing that his son was alive and well and gunning for him. The fewer who had known how he was really doing, the better. That had included Damien.

But now that they had their father in custody, he could come clean with his brother.

As he reached to wash his hair, the muscles on his left side protested. He turned his face down and plunged his head under the shower head and let the water pour down over him, for a long time. After showering, he dried off and pulled on a clean, pale blue pair of bottoms and made his way back to his bed and sat down.

His father had moved him to a Victoria hospital from a Vancouver hospital. Jordie could have stopped that move, but it would have given away his hand. It did tell him that his father wielded a lot of power to make that happen. Especially since it made more sense for someone in a coma to be in a much bigger center with more resources. What had his father promised the hospital? An MRI machine? They weren’t cheap. And what else was he paying to have his son there? Why? Why did he want his son, whom he’d beaten the crap out of, on the island?

Jordan wanted to think it was because his father cared. Or felt a bit of remorse for what he’d done. But he knew that wasn’t the case. His father had an alternative plan. To make sure he died this time?

Here’s what other’s are saying about Shadowed Footsteps:

“This is a cracking thriller, full of twists and turns all the way through. To an ending you don’t see coming. This author certainly knows how to weave a fantastic thriller that’s for sure. What are we going to get next I wonder. Highly recommended.”

Silver

“Fostered Identity is a fast-paced book with intricately woven plots and subplots.  The characters are believable as they come to life on these pages.  I can’t wait to begin the next book in the series!”

Patricia Salser

Get your copy of Shadowed Footsteps, today.

 

Maggie Thom

Multi-Award winning author, Maggie Thom. Author of The Caspian Wine Series – Captured Lies (Book of the Month - LAS Reviews and Reader's Favorite Finalist), Deceitful Truths and Split Seconds (Award Winning) – and her other published novels, Tainted Waters (2013 Suspense and Thriller Book of the Year through Turning the Pages Magazine) and Deadly Ties.

Her motto: Read to escape… Escape to read…

"Maggie Thom writes a fast paced thriller laced with romance that keeps the reader interested and on edge!" InDtale Magazine

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