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Fear of Shadows
by Stephanie Parker McKean

“I was about to lose my virginity against my will in a moldy smelling house with plaster falling off the walls—on a torn, stained bed with no sheets and rat droppings bouncing around me. I deserved better. I deserved the right of choice.”

Self-sufficient Texas Eugenia Thornhill espouses many rebellions, including giving any man authority over her heart or her life. She hates the mother who named her “Texas” after her birth state instead of giving her a real name. She hates the mother who ran off and left her young child with a cold, emotionless father.

Texas brags that she’s not afraid of anything—not even spiders or snakes. Her boast proves empty when she meets childhood friend West Strom and realizes she is deathly afraid of shadows, but clueless as to why. Time and again she shatters her nascent romance with West by mindlessly shrieking and running out of her childhood home, fleeing the shadows that terrify her.

Pranksters also seem intent on sabotaging the relationship. A dead raccoon is hung on the refrigerator; a rock is thrown through the window; furniture is trundled around the room in total disarray but righted again before West arrives to investigate.

Texas is tricked into holding a séance. West, a strong Christian, is appalled that Texas is involved in witchcraft. That almost ends their friendship.

But the most destructive force entering her life proves to be the seemingly harmless fun of frequenting a Texas dancehall with Thornhill Ranch manager Jason Peace. She finds herself accused of murder and forced into hiding. When she escapes and clears her name, it only adds to the dystopia at the ranch.

Texas exhibits her paintings in a feminist art show in San Antonio and meets a woman claiming to be her mother. Her mother apologizes, but does not explain her abandonment. When they say goodbye, Texas is saying goodbye to a stranger.

West arrives to rescue her from what Texas has realized is a nefarious art exhibit revolving around hate and discord. But although kisses Texas with stunning passion, how often can her childhood hero rescue her from her foolish choices and paralyzing fear of shadows?

When Texas finally solves the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and learns the truth about her fear of shadows, it is a truth that threatens to destroy every single person she loves.
 
 
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