Bonded by Blood - By Laurie London


Because this is my debut novel, I have so many people to thank.

First and foremost, thank you to my sister, talented author Rebecca Clark, for her unwavering encouragement, even when I thought she and her “feelings” about this story’s potential were crazy.

Thank you to my agent Emmanuelle Morgen and my editor Margo Lipschultz for taking a chance on this new author and for their enthusiastic support of this series. To all the people at HQN Books, including the ьber-talented art department, thank you.

To Alexis Morgan, thanks for your friendship and for telling me, early on, to write the story I want to write.

Thank you, Cherry Adair, for your encouragement, your wisdom, your generosity and your belief in me. I’m truly humbled.

To my dear friends and beta readers, Shelley, Mandy, Kandis, Kathy and Janna: your friendship and feedback mean the world to me. You made this reader think she wasn’t nuts when she nervously told you she’d been writing. Barb, muchas gracias for your help with Spanish words and cultural details. Thanks to my GIAM friends, my Lex buddies, the writing community of Greater Seattle RWA and the Bookinville ladies for your hearty enthusiasm.

Hugs and kisses to my two awesome children for their love and support, and for picking up the slack around the house because Mom had to write “just one more page.”

Last, but not least, thank you to my real-life hero, my husband, Ted, for supporting my dreams and managing more than his share of the chaos so that I can write. Oh, and for agreeing with Emmanuelle that a guy wouldn’t use such expressive words in a particular scene. The final version is much better.


MACKENZIE FOSTER-SHAW spotted the cemetery sign at the last minute and squeezed the brakes, spinning out her white Triumph motorcycle in a spray of dirt and gravel. She meant to lean into a sharp, controlled turn, but the back tire lost traction and she almost had to lay the thing down.

Crap, the rocks hadn’t looked that loose. Irritation at her carelessness momentarily replaced the uncertainty riding in with her as she sprang from the bike. After examining the chrome for chips and seeing no damage, she felt the hard lump of anticipation return, but she swallowed and tried to ignore it.

She yanked off her helmet and squinted into the shadowed interior of the cemetery. Even in the late afternoon sun, little light penetrated the heavy canopy of fir trees.

“I’m liking this so far,” she said to herself as she tossed her sunglasses on the seat. But she knew better than to get her hopes up too soon. Hope didn’t pay the bills, nor did wishful thinking.

Situated on a forest access road, miles from the main highway, the cemetery was certainly ancient enough. The county register listed it as one of the oldest in the region. How long had it been since anyone visited this place? Ages ago, probably.

She started to unzip her leather jacket, then hesitated. Like most people in the Pacific Northwest after months of gray skies and the unending wetness of winter, she didn’t need much of an excuse to strip off the layers. But with one glance at the bushes she’d need to traipse through, she zipped it back up. Those vivid green leaves couldn’t camouflage the barb-covered vines eager to hook anything within reach. Especially bare skin. Besides, it was probably cooler and wetter inside the trees.

She grabbed her camera from the saddlebag and fiddled with the settings, not bothering with the flash attachment. The client was adamant the pictures needed to portray the ambient lighting and convey an oppressive, haunted feeling. “Hopefully, this location will work for them.” It was the fourth or fifth graveyard she’d visited in the past two weeks. If it didn’t, she was screwed because she was totally out of ideas.

Bear Creek Pioneer Cemetery was etched in once-white paint on a crooked sign at the side of the road. After shooting a few pictures, she scanned the area for a pathway and noticed a slight indentation in the underbrush. She’d do her sketches and take measurements of the road later.

Her boots crunched on the gravel as she slung the camera strap over her shoulder and plunged into the blackberry bushes. Good thing she’d kept her riding leathers on. Both the jacket and the pants. Sharp thorns and stickers grabbed hungrily at her arms and legs, but they weren’t able to gain purchase on the thick hide.

As she stepped into the small clearing, the still, dank