Out of the Storm
It was the infant’s wail that called her out into the killer storm racing toward her and her name called on the wind, but it was more than that that pulled Alissa until she stepped through the doorway in time and found herself with a family her heart and soul recognized even though she didn’t.
Length: Full Novel
Word Count: 97,728
Genre: Paranormal/Romantic Suspense
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Alex DeShanks, April 2008
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
Alissa Montgomery never really knew what drew her attention first—the calling of her name in the wind or the child’s cry.
She only knew she was called outside, into the gathering storm. Outside the back door on the wide porch, she stopped to listen again.
There, she heard it again. It really was the sound of her name on the wind. The call was followed by a low rumble of strong, approaching thunder. Then, once the thunder was over, Alissa heard the child’s cry again. It was a baby’s cry, and it caused her heart to pound. Who would leave a baby out here?
Even the door on the old red barn banging closed along with the building wind could not drown out the sound of a baby crying. It had to be close and there were no other houses within sight. For a long moment, Alissa stared at the old barn, the building that had been her reason for buying the house. She hoped to someday fill that building with horses.
Neither her name called on the wind nor the baby’s cry came from that direction.
Filled with dark, angry clouds of gray, green and black that rolled at a pace that left Alissa slightly dizzy, the sky looked frightening. Lightning touched down in the distance and the loud crack of thunder that followed caused her to start. She had been so caught up in the story she was trying to put together that she hadn’t even realized a storm of this magnitude was drawing close. She should be in the dank basement she put off cleaning instead of out on the porch. It was, after all, not uncommon for tornadoes to touch down here in the heart of Illinois.
The baby’s cry was like a cold hand that kept her from fleeing to the safety of the basement.
The wind blew her hair wildly, and she was forced to brush it out of her face as she searched the field before her for the baby she heard. She saw nothing but the grass blowing in the strong wind. The baby let out a loud wail, and maternal instinct called her, compelled her to move. Following the sound of crying, she left the porch. The freshly cut grass was soft and cool beneath her bare feet. She wouldn’t normally be out barefooted in April, but the storm was closer and the baby’s cry was closer so it was too late now to go back for a pair of sneakers.
Away from the shelter of the house, the air was charged with energy that caused the hair on the back of her neck to stand up. Also the air was cool, much cooler than Alissa remembered it being before. Doing her best to ignore the threatening weather, Alissa followed the calling of her name and the crying toward the meadow, that strange place where the purple flowers grew in the spring and summer and even up to the first snowfall. The wind whipped her hair about even more than before. Fighting against it, she wished she’d tied it back. Then her name was called again, and she ignored her hair and continued to the meadow.
Lightning struck, touching down just ahead of her, startling her enough to nearly knock her off her feet as it blinded her momentarily and hurt her ears with its crash as the ground shook beneath her feet.
The baby’s crying grew louder, telling her she grew close to its origin.
“Where are you, little one?” she asked out loud, yet her own words were quickly lost in the sound of the wind. It amazed her she could still hear the baby when she could hardly hear her own voice.
The clouds rolled together in a terrifying force, and Alissa felt hot and cold at once. Her face was warm, burning. Still, she shivered against it. She worked to ignore it, just as she tried to ignore the terror of the storm as she moved on, desperately needing to find the baby and bring it comfort.
Suddenly she heard the baby behind her. How could she have passed it by? Having no idea or time to dwell on that question, she turned back, feeling deep in her heart she had to find this child. Now. She had to get the two of them away from the danger of the storm.
Then she saw it. There on the ground amidst a thousand violet flowers was a pink blanket. She ran, despite the chance of lightning. It seemed like forever before she reached the blanket, and when she did, she found herself oddly out of breath as she dropped to her knees beside it.
Her eyes filled with unexplainable tears, blurring her vision and for a moment, she thought it was nothing more than a pink blanket. And the relief she’d felt when she thought she had found the baby was washed away by an overwhelming sense of dread when she saw there was nothing more than a blanket.
She must be crazy, she thought. To be drawn out in the midst of a wild, dangerous force of nature thinking she needed to find a crying baby only to find a blanket. Yes, she must be losing her mind. Her loneliness, and her inability to put herself back into life after Porter’s death had finally sent her over the edge to a point where she heard voices and babies crying.
“Bloody hell,” she muttered, refusing to believe she was crazy. Her time here in her farmhouse had healed her. It hadn’t made her worse than before. She was over her fiancé’s death. She’d made it nearly a month now without wondering where she’d be had he lived.
She blinked away the tears and her vision cleared as the wind grew even stronger.
And she saw the small form beneath the blanket. It moved.
Quickly, she pulled the blanket back and stared down in shock at what had been hidden beneath it.
She was beautiful. A girl baby wearing a pink sleeper, Alissa recognized, with little hands balled up into fists and feet and arms and legs that kicked and moved more now that they were free of the slight weight of the blanket. Her fuzzy, dark curls blew in the wind.
“Oh my,” Alissa breathed, staring at the baby, a thousand questions flowing through her mind. This was impossible. The house was nearly eight miles from the resort town of Valley, Illinois, and almost a full mile from the nearest house or neighbor or the shores of the lake. There was nothing here but meadows and fields, Alissa’s house and barn.
The baby stared up at Alissa just as she stared down. She had large, bright blue eyes, and then she offered a toothless grin.