A Boxed Set feat. Silent Echoes and Silent Obsession
by Melissa Bourbon
Genre: Romantic Suspense
National Bestselling author Melissa Bourbon brings dark twists to two Latin-American urban legends guaranteed to keep you up into the wee hours. With riveting suspense, sigh-worthy romances with heart-stopping heroes, beautiful writing, and characters that jump off the page, these thrilling romantic suspense novels will have you believing in curses and ghosts.
For the first time, Silent Echoes and Silent Obsession are together in this boxed set. Get ready for a thrill-ride…
Something deadly waits in the shadows…
On a Texas night twelve years ago, Vic Vargas kissed Delaney West so deeply that she almost came apart. Later that same night, evil crept into Delaney’s room as she slept – and everything in their world fell apart. Now Vic is a rancher living a half-empty life punctuated by one-night stands and a strained relationship with his 11-year-old son.
Then Delaney returns to San Julio, and the past comes rushing back… along with the silent echoes of that night so long ago. Livestock are dying. Some say coyote, but others whisper another darker word. Chupacabra. Bloodsucker.
The past hasn’t disappeared – nor has the instinctive desire that snaps and crackles between Delaney and Vic. And as those emotions ignite, so does the evil that hibernated for the last twelve years. The evil that waited for Delaney to return to San Julio… and to Vic Vargas.
Johanna Rios is a woman whose past has come back to haunt her.
The ghost of la Llorona is said to haunt the riverbanks, always searching for her drowned child. She also haunts high school teacher Johanna Rios, whose own mother believed so deeply in the legend she tried to drown her daughters. And now the ghost has become real, a young woman murdered, and the safe world Jo created is falling apart.
Since returning home from his last tour of duty to become a school principal, Ray Vargas has fought his attraction for his employee, the sensual woman who’d once been the girl next door. But the Llorona Killer will not stop until he claims his final victim—Johanna—and Ray will do anything to protect the woman he’s come to love.
With a serial killer out to prove the curse is real, will Ray and Johanna’s future be drowned in the ghostly waters of the past? Or will the power of their love give them the strength to stop a killer…and heal their wounded hearts…?
San Julio River, Texas
21 years prior
Johanna Rios dug her feet into the dirt of the San Julio riverbank, gasping in deep the chilled Texas air. Overhead, dark clouds loomed, closing in and pressing down on her—a spring storm bearing down fast. “No! Mama, don’t!” She yelled at the top of her lungs, pulling against her mother’s hold on her wrist. But her mother jerked her forward until she was ankle-deep in water. Jo was strong for eleven, but not strong enough to stop a woman who had madness in her mind. Her mother. “I told you this day would come. It’ll be over soon, Joey.” Mama spat out the nickname she’d given her. “Johanna. Terrible name. He named you that, and then left me alone. They all leave.” Carmen, Johanna’s nine-year-old sister, stood on the north side of the bank, just visible in Johanna’s peripheral vision. She let out a high-pitched scream and ran to Jo’s side, tears spilling down her wind-chapped cheeks, but Mama yanked Johanna deeper into the river. “She promised me. Once you’re gone, she’ll let a man”—Mama cruelly twisted Jo’s hand and yanked her daughter down until Jo was on her knees—“come to me. And this time he’ll stay.” She. Mama was talking about the curse of La Llorona. But the ghost wasn’t real to anyone but her mother. Pain sliced up Jo’s arm and she grimaced, fighting back a scream. She dug her heels into the sludge, mentally willing Carmen to run. To save herself. But scared little Carmen came closer, unsure of what to do. And Mama grabbed her, too, then jerked Carmen into the river, shouting, “Stop crying!” The roar of rushing water in the San Julio River filled Jo’s ears. She sucked in a shaky breath and fought back, kicking her feet against the ground, splashing the shallow water until the hem of Mama’s torn, gauzy white embroidered dress was drenched. She clawed, finally managing to pry Mama’s fingers from her wrist, and then broke free, stumbling back. But Mama plowed into the river, her black hair flying out behind her, her dress floating up around her like an umbrella. Dragging Carmen in her wake. “No!” Jo plunged into the river. The cold hit her with a fierce burning, worse than jumping into a barrel of smoking coals. She fought to the surface and gasped for breath, then saw Carmen being dragged down into the depths of the river by the weight of her own white peasant dress. Mama spun around, pulling Carmen with her, the water rippling out around her. She jerked suddenly, and twisted Carmen until she was facedown in the water. The back of Carmen’s head bobbed up and down like an apple in a barrel. In a voice low and filled with wrath, Mama said to Jo, “She cursed you, too. She’s in your blood. In both of you.” Mama looked beyond Jo, as if she saw the five-hundred-year-old crying woman of legend. But there was only water and the central Texas woods filled with scraggly trees. “La Llorona,” she whispered hoarsely. Jo used Mama’s distraction and grabbed Carmen away from her mother, but the current was too strong. The San Julio grabbed her sister, sweeping her downriver. Jo plunged after Carmen, snatching her leg, pulling with all her might until she could grab hold of her wrist. She dragged her limp sister toward the bank, swallowing a belly full of water as she struggled. Her feet found the ground and she crawled onto the bank, dragging Carmen with her. A moment later, her sister coughed and water trickled out the side of her mouth. She sucked in a loud, desperate breath and struggled to sit up. “It’s okay,” Jo said, cradling Carmen. “It’s going to be okay.” But when Jo looked back to the river, Mama was floating. Face up, her hair cascading around her head in a silky mass. Air caught in Jo’s throat and her eyes burned. Nothing was ever going to be okay. “La Llorona.” Jo heard the name as if it were carried on the white tips of the current. She jerked her head around to look where her mother still stared, her heart drumming in her ears, praying that she wouldn’t see the weeping woman who’d drowned her children. There was nothing there. She turned back to see her mother being pulled swiftly downstream. Her eyes locked with Mama’s for a second, and Jo felt a whisper of sheer terror. Like Mama was passing on the curse. Mama’s gaze broke with hers and her eyes became lifeless. Dead. Her body rolled over in the water until she floated facedown. The water carried her downstream until all Jo could see was the flash of white from her dress mixing with the scattered whitecaps. Dripping wet and shivering, Jo stared at the river. Carmen sobbed and Jo struggled to fight back her own tears. She had her sister. They had each other. She was not cursed. La Llorona was dead. A ghost. Jo would not let the crying woman ruin her life. She would not be like her mother.
Melissa Bourbon, the author of the Magical Dressmaking Mysteries (A Seamless Murder, A Killing Notion, A Custom-Fit Crime, Deadly Patterns), sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name, Misa Ramirez. She gave up teaching middle and high school kids in northern California to write full-time amid horses and Longhorns in north Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love-hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.
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