Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) - Linda Castillo

Acknowledgments

One of the highlights of being an author is having the opportunity to get out and meet readers. Every summer I travel to Ohio’s Amish Country and beyond for a book tour. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful librarians, booksellers, and others who make it possible: Jim Gill at the Dover Public Library; Dawn Groves at the Massillon Public Library; Jodie Hawkins at the Stark County District Library, Lake Community and Perry Sippo Branches; Pam DeFino at the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Berea Branch; Holly Camino at the Medina County District Library; Sharon Kelly Roth at Books & Co. in Dayton, Ohio; Barbara Peters at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona; Jill Miner at Saturn Books in Gaylord, Michigan; Robin Agnew at Aunt Agatha’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan; John Kwiatkowski at Murder by the Book in Houston, Texas; all the fine members of the Dover Rotary Club (and those great lunches!); and of course I would be remiss not to mention radio personality and all-around fun guy Bob Scanlon at WJER Radio in Dover for those fun-filled mornings at Williams Furniture. Thank you so much for supporting me and the books, for making every event such a success, for spending time and sharing stories with me, and for making all of it so very enjoyable.

I also owe much gratitude to the brilliant and dedicated publishing pros at Minotaur Books: Charles Spicer, Sally Richardson, Andrew Martin, Jennifer Enderlin, Sarah Melnyk, Jeanne-Marie Hudson, Kerry Nordling, Paul Hochman, Kelley Ragland, Marta Ficke, April Osborn, David Rotstein, and Melissa Hastings. Many heartfelt thanks for all you do to bring the books to life. (And for always showing me such a fabulous time when I’m in New York!)

I also wish to thank my friend and agent, Nancy Yost. For everything—thank you!

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked.

—Holy Bible, Psalm 1:1

PROLOGUE

She waited until three A.M. She’d tried to sleep, but it was a fruitless endeavor. Instead, she spent five hours twisting in sheets damp with fear sweat, heart pounding, her mind running the gauntlet of the myriad things that could go wrong. Finally, too wired to lie still a moment longer, she tossed the covers aside, rose, and stripped off her nightgown.

Kneeling, she pulled the neatly folded clothes from beneath the bed where she’d hidden them: Long underwear. Blue jeans. Sweater. Two pairs of socks. Insulated gloves. Wool hat. It had taken her weeks to amass those few simple necessities; she’d been forced to delay her escape twice. She’d stolen for the first time in her life. Lied to people she loved. But she’d finally collected enough cold weather gear to get her through. The rest was up to God.

Shivering in the darkness, she pulled on her clothes and tucked the gloves into her pocket. She listened for signs that someone else was awake, but the only sounds were the hiss of cotton against her bare skin and the quick in and out of her breaths. She’d wanted insulated boots, preferably with some tread, but she hadn’t been able to afford them, and they were too unwieldy to steal. Her muck boots were going to have to do.

Fully dressed, she slid the cell phone from beneath the mattress. She never risked leaving it on; cell phones were strictly forbidden by the Ordnung. The punishment for such a transgression would be brutal and swift. Hopefully, she had enough battery left for the only call she needed to make.

Shoving the phone into the rear pocket of her jeans, she padded in stocking feet to the bedroom door. A