Newspaper reporter Luke Sorenson has recently moved to a new town in upstate New York. Despite the change in scenery, Luke cannot run away from a brutal, harrowing past driven by the death of his only child, Emily.
Soon, Luke is propelled into a dangerous case of child abduction, an eerie reminder of losing his daughter. An eight-year-old boy named Daniel Hadley is kidnapped from his own bedroom and it is Luke, battling his own demons, who is assigned the story of the year.
As pieces of Luke’s mysterious, violent past are revealed, so are the sinister secrets to his daughter’s demise, sending Luke into a tailspin of heavy drinking and self-torment.
The search for Daniel is on, but it may be too late for everyone involved.
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The Lost Child
Thomas Grant Bruso © 2023
All Rights Reserved
He watches her. She is alone.
She is six, maybe seven years old. She is having a picnic in the front yard with her dolls.
The girl’s hair is the color of spun honey. Her eyes, dark brown, innocent, come alive when he hears her talking to one of her plastic dolls.
Her voice is lively, soft, and gentle.
She laughs as the man shifts his footing in the shadowy woods across from her house. A small branch snaps underfoot, the sound of his weight on the thick twig imploding like fireworks.
She looks up from grooming her doll’s hair and stares in his direction. The man creeps behind a leafy spruce tree to hide.
Two vehicles pass along the quiet suburban street. The man stares around the massive tree, watching the young girl.
The sound of her humming to her dolls makes him smile. A splinter of electricity vibrates through his rangy limbs. Something mechanical surges through his veins and up and down his body to his scraggly face.
Trembling, he reaches a gnarled hand out against the thick bark of the tree to balance himself. His head is dizzy. His legs are unsteady.
He knows this feeling. It is familiar, like the blade of a knife skimming the surface of young flesh. Then he hears the sound of scared children panting and crying in the back of his head. He sees their frightened eyes, pleading for their parents, and he smiles.
He slips back into the brush behind the birch tree.
A dog walker passes two feet away. He skulks back into the coiling shadows so they won’t see him.
He wipes sweat from his neck with the back of his hand.
The man’s identity is almost discovered when the sizeable black lab points its nose toward the dense foliage. The owner tugs on the dog’s leash lightly and starts down the street, around the corner; now, they are out of sight.
The man waits for a second or two until he’s sure they’re gone. He hugs the tree limb and cocks an ear to the sound of the young girl’s mother yelling at her from the brightly lit porch.
“It’s getting dark, Susie. Come inside.”
Sweet little Susie, the cigar-smoking man muses.
Curly-haired Susie. Doll-grooming Susie.
When the time is right, he will be back.
Meet the Author
Thomas Grant Bruso knew at an early age he wanted to be a writer. He has been a voracious reader of genre fiction since he was a kid.
His literary inspirations are Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Ellen Hart, Jim Grimsley, Karin Fossum, Sam J. Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, and John Connolly.
Bruso loves animals, book-reading, writing fiction, prefers Sudoku to crossword puzzles.
In another life, he was a freelance writer and wrote for magazines and newspapers. In college, he was a winner for the Hermon H. Doh Sonnet Competition. Now, he writes book reviews for his hometown newspaper, The Press Republican.
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