Into the Dark Forest
Into the Dark Forest
Perfect Bound Softcover
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Olivia Clayton, a work-from-home book editor, and Alyssa Walton, a forest ranger in western Montana, have been best friends their entire lives. As close as sisters, the two have shared all their life experiences, including birthdays. This year, as they celebrate Alyssa's, a black Humvee runs her down, and she is left to fight for her life in a comatose state.

Crushed by grief, Olivia tries to figure out who would want to kill Alyssa and why. She remembers conversations she had with Alyssa before the attempt on her friend's life. Taking clues from their talks, she enlists the help of Detective Sheldon and figures out that Alyssa's brush with death is the result of a chance meeting in the forest nearby.

As local man Joe Little Hawk comes under suspicion, Olivia fights her growing romantic feelings for Sheldon. Meanwhile, an attempt is made on Alyssa's life at the hospital, thwarted by Olivia who now becomes a target, as well. A final standoff is coming in the deep, dark forest of Montana, and there's a good chance someone is going to end up dead.

Heart racing, she ran to the window and cautiously peeked out. A red SUV was stopped behind her car. Panic threatened to overcome reason. Olivia fought to stay calm and think about what she should do. She put the laptop on the breakfast bar next to her purse, and glanced toward the front door again. There was no way she could go out the way she came in now, and even if she could she wouldn't be able to get her car out of the driveway. Her only options were the garage door or the patio door. He surely would look in the garage. So that left the patio door, but then what? I'll think of it while I'm running, she thought. She was out the back door, down the deck stairs, and starting across her backyard to the edge of the forest as the front door opened. She could hear the man calling her name as he went from room to room looking for her. Without looking back she plunged toward the shelter of the trees. "I know you're here somewhere," Joe called as he calmly searched each room. "I will find you, and when I do you'll wish you had never stuck your nose into my business to begin with. Why don't you just come out so we can get this over with quickly?" Olivia shivered as he spoke these last words. Then she realized she had left the sliding door open. It was the only way she would be able to hear him. It was also a giant clue telling him that she had left the house through it. Her very next thought was that she had left her purse on the breakfast bar, with her gun in it. IShe kicked herself mentally and kept running, not sure where she was going. "I'm coming for you," she heard Joe yell from the back deck.

Jeanine Fricke was born and spent most of her childhood in Montana, where this story takes place. She has a BA in journalism from South Dakota State University and is a former Cultural Affairs Reporter for SDSU. She and her husband, Dan, currently live in southwestern Minnesota, where she teaches piano and voice lessons.


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