“With twists and turns as unexpected as an Arkansas thunderstorm, Tromp brilliantly explores the things war can change and the important things it can’t.” — Lynne Gentry, USA Today best-selling author of Lethal Outbreak
Shadows in the Mind's Eyes
Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on–responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand–but that everyone is learning to fear.
Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?
Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds–or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?
Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.
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Shadows in the Mind's Eye
A scramble in the haymow sent bits of straw raining down on me. The movement was too large to be any of the barn cats, and my fingers tightened around the leather reins, my rapid heartbeat loud in the silence.
The sound of a footstep on the planks above shattered my frozen stance, and I spun and backed toward the doors, my mind bouncing between escaping or protecting my girl. My foot caught on a rough spot, and I stumbled, falling in a scrambling heap.
Everything was silent. Even Elsie stood still as death in her stall.
Shivers crept down my spine. The devil himself had come out of the mountain, casting a cloud over everything. Peter had warned me that he’d caught a few drifters up on the farm.
Elsie kicked against the wall, and a scream clogged in my throat as I stumbled into the nearby grain store, searching desperately for a weapon. The cow lowed at me, rolling her big brown eyes like she wondered who’d let the crazy woman into the barn. The metal grain scoop wasn’t going to do much, but I held it in front of me nonetheless. Least it might protect me until I crossed the barn to get my shotgun out of the wagon.
“Who’s up there?”
My voice was run over by fear. Wasn’t sure even the cow could hear me. I’d read about blood-crazed men coming home from the war. We’d asked them to be killers over there, and some were having trouble giving it up. But as the calm, chirping cricket chorus started back up, the stories of those men not quite right and doing terrible, twisted things began to evaporate.
I’d near convinced myself I’d dreamed it all when a man-shaped figure peered over the ledge. I recovered my voice, the scream ripping through the air as I dropped the grain scoop, ran for the shotgun, and stood in the shadows between the intruder and my sleeping daughter. “Best stay where you are. I got a gun.” My shaking hands belied the confidence in my voice.
The man’s answer was muffled by his stumbling descent. Though I followed his movements with the barrel of the gun, I wouldn’t shoot him even if I’d thought to load the durn thing. Last thing I wanted was the law sniffing around the farm because I’d killed some drifter. Sure as the sun rises in the east they’d find something, and then Daddy would swoop in to smother me with his saving.
“We don’t have much food to share.” My voice sounded like an unsteady girl’s, cracking in the middle, but the footsteps stopped. “We’ll feed you, then you best be on your way.”
I shifted my sweaty grip on the shotgun. I could do whatever was necessary. Think of Rosie.
“Come on out.” My command echoed into the rafters.
The man stepped forward, the meager light behind him casting strange shadows across his body. His tattered uniform hung on him, and a row of medals glinted from the chest that had no doubt once been broad and strong. The poor man.
The tip of the gun dipped.
I heard a match strike and fizz, watched it sacrifice its light to the lantern by Elsie’s stall. The chest of the man leapt into color, and he brushed at the splotches of mud across his navy trousers. A gold wedding band caught the light, and I was so mesmerized by the meaning that I nearly missed him speaking.
“Annie?” He stepped toward me, squinting into the flickering light. “Annie?”
The shotgun clattered to the ground. I gasped for air, my fingers fluttering to my lips, praying I wasn’t dreaming. But then his arms were around me, his breath against my hair, my neck. Desperate. Lost. His body, skinnier than I ever thought possible, yet real, wrapped around mine. Please, God. Real.
His stubbly beard pricked my fingertips while his fingers explored my face, his calluses scratching my skin, anchoring me. He pressed my head into his chest, and his heart pounded against my hand, beating in rhythm with my own. The dovetail fit of our bodies—nearly forgotten, but precious and right.
My Sam was home.
I took a half-step back, brushing at my day-rumpled dress, wondering how he saw me, wishing I’d had time to change. Least I wasn’t in my blue jeans or overalls. I choked back a laugh, imagining him mistaking me for Rosie the Riveter. He wiped a tear from my cheek, and then he sketched the trail of the others down my neck, my skin burning under his touch.
“Are you real?” he whispered, echoing my own question. I’d thought for sure I’d be a widow at twenty-three. Took more than a telegram about a homecoming to make me believe, I guess.
My fingers ran up his arm, over his muscles and bone, the line of medals, exploring for the injury I knew was there somewhere. He winced as I reached his right shoulder.
“I’m supposed to be wearing a sling, but it gets in my way.” I heard the smirk in his voice. He never did let much slow him down. He lifted my hand to his lips, his breath warming my fingers before he kissed my palm. Life shifted back, and I took the first real breath I’d had in three long years.
Sam was home. And everything would be all right.
End of Excerpt.
Shadows in the Mind's Eye ©2022 Janyre Tromp. Shared with permission.
Meet the Author / Find Online
In case we get to meet in person some day, you pronounce that first name Jan-air. Kind of like the stove. I’m a developmental book editor by day and a writer at night.
And that all happens from my kitchen table when I’m not hanging out with my husband, two kids, and slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog. Unfortunately, I spilled coffee on my super cape and then the dryer ate it. So you’ll just have to imagine I can do it all!
I have four traditionally published books—a WWII era novel, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye; a juvenile fiction, That Sinking Feeling; and two board books in the All About God’s Animals series—and 2 indie books—Wide Open, a historical novella and It’s a Wonderful Christmas, a Christmas novella collection.
But my passion is writing about the beauty of the world—past and present—even when it isn’t pretty.
After all, isn’t it the beauty in the world that gets us through the day?
Hopefully after you hang out with me for a bit, we’ll be able to see things a little more clearly, find a little bit of meaning, and make a bigger impact.
With me what you see is what you get…all the Beautiful, all the Ugly, all the Me.
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Genre: Historical Fiction/Christian
Publication Date: April 19, 2022
Content Rating: R
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