The Shadow

nobody

Nobody Bodine came from a nobody and will always be a nobody. He can disappear into the shadows—no one can see him if he doesn’t want them to. He exists on the edge, in neither the white man’s world nor the tribe’s, dispensing vigilante justice when he sees fit. There’s no other place for a man like him in this world.

Until Melinda Mitchell shows up on the rez. From the first moment he lays eyes on her, he can tell there’s something different about her. For starters, she’s not afraid of him. She asks where his scars came from, and why he has so many. But more than that, she sees him. For the first time in his life, Nobody feels like a somebody in her eyes.

Melinda has come west to run the new day care on the White Sandy Reservation. She’s intrigued by this strange man and his tattered skin, and when she discovers that he’s a self-appointed guardian angel for the boy in her care, she realizes that there’s more to Nobody than meets the eyes. But how far will he go to keep the boy safe? And will she be able to draw him into the light?

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NOTE: The Shadow was previously published as Nobody.

Men of the White Sandy: Book 3
ISBN-13: 978-1-941097-02-1




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Praise

  • 4 Stars! “Things are heating up as we head back to the Rez. In this the third installment of the Men of the White Sandy series we meet Nobody — the definition of tall, dark and sexy. With a mix of gritty realism and mysticism, Anderson delivers a great story that is just a bit unexpected. The plot is exciting and the characters are heartfelt and down-to-earth.”RT  Book Reviews
  • 5 stars! “Get ready to have your heart broken over and over… The struggle [Nobody] goes through to understand that he is worth loving and trusting is heartbreaking but so worth the journey that I’m honored to have had the chance to read it and gush over it to anyone who will listen. You want this story!“–Books-A-Holic Anon
  • Recommended Read! “Nobody is one of the best contemporary romances of 2014, thus far. This book held me in thrall from the first word until the last. The story has such heart – even amidst the starkness of life on the reservation. And Nobody is a hero to die for. He is unforgettable, in his quiet way. I encourage readers to read his story…”Romance Novel News
  • 5 Stars! Nobody is one of those books that reaches right to your heart and squeezes it.Love Romance Tales
  • 4.5 Stars! I have waited for Nobody’s story since the first book in this series and I loved it! The troubled hero is all that I imagined and I thoroughly enjoyed his tale…I absolutely love the tortured hero trope, and Nobody fits perfectly into my happy place.–Ramblings from a Chaotic Mind
  • 5 Stars! I absolutely love the tortured hero trope, and Nobody fits perfectly into my happy place.Tome Tender
  • Grade B! I adored this story…Of course, by the end of the story-Nobody really isn’t just a nobody anymore.  He’s definitely Melinda’s somebody.Smexy Books
  • 4 Stars! I was very happy and satisfied with this much anticipated story of my favourite hero in the Men of The White Sandy series, Nobody. As always, Sarah M. Anderson creates unique characters, beautiful settings but doesn’t take the easy route. She stays true to her protagonists and their attributes. They are distinctive and layered…I can’t wait to read the next installment!Swept Away by Romance
  • 4 1/2 stars! I loved finally reading Nobody’s story, and being able to visit with the various characters of the White Sandy again. Steamy and sweet with a lovely story and fascinating setting, Nobody is a gem of a contemporary romance. If you love a good tortured hero with a heart of gold, don’t miss this book!The Book Queen’s Book Palace
  • Nobody not only has bad boy sexy down he also has the “strong and silent” persona too. I love seeing guys like Nobody fall for the girl!Ramblings and Reviews
  • 5 Stars! “I’ve been waiting for Nobody’s book. The mysterious man with the bad reputation and grumpy demeanour has been on my want-to-read pile since he first graced the pages of this series and, by God, he was worth the wait.”Scorching Book Reviews
  • 4 Stars! “Oh, this story is just lovely, lovely and heart wrenching and heartwarming.”Erin Burns’ Bookshelf
  • 4.5 Stars! “I’ve enjoyed every romance that Ms. Anderson has put out in the Men of the White Sandy series but I have to say that Nobody is my absolute favorite.”Books-n-Kisses
  • Grade B! “Nobody is the kind of tortured hero I love.”Red Hot Books
  • “Nobody is everything that I have come to expect from Anderson, a wonderfully emotional and steamy romance with characters that are different enough, and developed enough, to really capture and keep your attention.”Rosie Reads Romance
  • “If you are looking for a different contemporary romance, this just might be it…This was a very powerful and emotional story. And I too, learned to love Nobody.”The Many Faces of Romance
  • 4 Stars! “I love the uniqueness of the characters this author writes.“–Guilty Pleasure Book Reviews
  • I enjoyed reading the story as a whole and being able to get caught up with characters from the first two books. Also, what I admire about this series is how Ms. Anderson doesn’t over glorify life on the rez, nor does she hide the ugliness from the reader. She makes it real with a good balance of the good and bad, while adding a nice, healthy dose of Native American mysticism to the mix.-Evermore Books
  • ADVANCE PRAISE
  • …Anderson’s new series and left me wanting more! I especially look forward to Nobody’s story. Oh my. Dark, quiet, mysterious…and with an air of “deadly” about him, I’m dying to know more! :D–TBQ’s Book Palace
  • …I’ll be watching for where Ms. Anderson takes the Men of White Sandy. I think I’m hooked. —Ava at Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
  • …I’m ready for more in the series especially…Nobody!!!Book-a-Holic Anon

 Chapter One

“You didn’t tell me we were going to have a campfire tonight!”

Nobody Bodine stepped to the edge of the shadows, his gaze focused on the woman who’d spoken. He knew she wouldn’t see him. No one ever did. The thin stand of pines was more than enough cover for him. He stayed back in the darkness, watching from a safe distance. He always kept his distance.

“We have a campfire every night.” Rebel came into view, carrying more logs for the fire. He dropped them and then turned to scan the trees. Damn it, Nobody was going to need a better spot to hide. “Everybody is welcome to sit with us.”

Nobody’s skin prickled. Had he thought this was a safe distance? Safe would be anywhere but here. Safe would be heading to a bar to make sure Lou didn’t go home and beat the hell out of his wife. Safe would be going to make sure Jamie was gonna be okay for the night. Safe was anything—everything—but watching the woman.

But that’s what he was doing. He’d never seen her before but he sure as hell wanted a better look. Proof positive that Nobody was an idiot.

She was crouched down in front of the fire, feeding small sticks into the flame with a wild grin on her face. She wore a long skirt and a tank top. Nobody leaned forward. He could see her bra straps.

He snapped his eyes away from that. He didn’t know who she was but she obviously wasn’t the kind of woman who would give someone like Nobody a second look.

“Melinda!” There was Dr. Mitchell, marching toward the fire with purpose. “What are you doing?”

Melinda. That was a pretty name. Matched her pretty face.

“We haven’t had a campfire since—well, since we were kids! Can we make S’mores?”

What the hell was a somore? Nobody took a step forward so he could hear better. If he had to guess, he’d say the two women were related—sisters, maybe? But this new woman didn’t look much like Dr. Mitchell, who was tall and willowy with that wild mass of yellow curls.

Nobody watched as Dr. Mitchell came to stand next to this Melinda. Melinda put her arm around Dr. Mitchell’s shoulders and leaned against her. They were sisters. They had a lot of the same face, the same pale blue eyes—although Melinda’s were brighter, like the wide-open sky. Melinda was a few inches shorter than her sister, but considerably more . . . shaped. It was hard to miss the curves of her body in that thin tank top she wore over a skirt. Her bra straps were hot pink, although he was trying not to think about that. He wasn’t doing a great job.

Another way she wasn’t like her sister was that Dr. Mitchell didn’t wear anything she didn’t have to—no jewelry, no decoration. Just her doctor’s coat and something to pin her hair back. Melinda was wearing necklaces. He wasn’t close enough that he could tell how many she had, but the firelight was catching on the metal around her neck. And in her ears. And on her fingers. She seemed to single-handedly be making up for the lack of accessories for her sister.

She laughed at something Rebel said as he walked back around the side of the house. Nobody had hardly seen Dr. Mitchell smile, much less laugh, but Melinda threw her head back and laughed with a wild kind of abandon. She didn’t care what other people thought, Nobody could tell. She would wear what she wanted and do what she wanted. The light of the fire caught her hair, making the colors even wilder. He’d never seen hair with red and white streaks painted in it before, but it made her look like she was born in the fire.

Hell, he was starting to feel a little hot himself.

Rebel looked toward the trees again, but he didn’t push the issue. Instead, he settled into his normal spot, telling Melinda Mitchell about life on the rez.

Nobody shouldn’t be here. He didn’t have a place in his life for pretty, fearless women. He should be keeping an eye on Jamie, or, at the very least, checking on his herd of horses. Those two things had been more than enough to keep him busy.

His feet wouldn’t move. Melinda Mitchell was poking at the fire with a stick. Every so often, she’d look at Rebel, but instead of her sister’s devotion, Nobody swore she was rolling her eyes at him. Would she roll her eyes at Nobody? Or would she just cower in fear?

She sat back on her heels, that wild joy all over her face. Damn. He leaned forward to get a better look. Her eyes snapped up, right to where he was. She stood up and moved away from the fire. Toward him.

“What?” Rebel asked, following her gaze.

“Is someone out there?” She pointed—right at him. Not even Rebel could find him in the dark—and this strange white woman was staring at him.

“No,” he heard Rebel say. “Nobody’s there.”

Nobody moved, pulling back into the shadows until he couldn’t see her wild hair or her pretty face. The hair on his arms stood up straight and the hair on his head tried to do the same, despite the tail he wore it in. The darkness wrapped around him until he was nothing but a shadow himself, backing away from the light of the campfire one silent step at a time. When he was far enough away that he could run without worrying about making noise, he turned and raced to where he’d left his horse.

He didn’t know how he did it. Hell, he didn’t even know what ‘it’ was. It wasn’t anything that anyone had ever taught him. All he knew was that if he didn’t want to be seen, he wasn’t seen.

Most of the time, anyway.

He wasn’t a sica, a ghost. For one thing, he was pretty sure he’d never died. Come close a few times, but never actually went over. For another, when he ran, he always had feet. That was the big proof—feet hitting the ground, the earth pushing back against him. Same thing when he got into a brawl. Sicas didn’t break other people’s faces with their bare hands.

The only time Nobody had ever had the same weird sensation had been one time when a storm had blown in over the Badlands. One moment, the sky had been relatively clear as he’d brushed his horses. The next, lightning had struck nearby at the same moment a fierce wind had almost knocked him over. Every single hair on his head had stood straight out. That had almost felt like when he moved into the shadows.

Almost.

Nobody found his horse, Red. Red was a good horse—quiet and careful. She could move through the uncut prairie grass without blowing snot or shying in fear from every little noise. She wasn’t the fastest horse Nobody took care of, but speed wasn’t everything. Plus, she had a tendency to stay put, so Nobody didn’t have to hobble her.

Nobody wasn’t much for fancy names. Most of his horses had names like Spot or Star. Red was red. None of this Whispering Wind of the Plains crap or whatever the people who eventually bought his horses named the animals.

Red came to him with a low whistle, half a mouthful of grass hanging out of her mouth. Nobody patted her neck and then swung himself up on to her bare back. He didn’t own a saddle. Or a bridle for that matter. He didn’t need them.

Something pulled at the edge of his consciousness. That was the other thing he did without knowing how or why—he felt things. Things he shouldn’t feel.

For a moment, his mind turned back to the wild sister of the not-wild doctor. He’d felt something then, too—a pull. Hadn’t that been the whole reason he’d stayed so long?

Not something. Someone. Someone named Melinda.

But the pull he felt right now—he shook Melinda Mitchell from his head. No, it wasn’t her. He tasted fear.

Shit.

Jamie.

Nobody urged Red into a flat-out gallop toward the center of the rez, silently cursing the whole time. What the hell was wrong with him? He shouldn’t have gone to Rebel’s tonight.

Nobody may be a nobody who came from nobody and would always be a nobody, but he’d finally found a purpose in this world. Most people—excepting Rebel and his wife—didn’t look at him. They were either afraid of him—with good reason—or they refused to acknowledge he even existed.

Kids were different. Oh, they were afraid of him, especially the ones who’d been hurt too many times, but it was a lot easier to change a kid’s way of thinking than it was a grown-up who only saw what they wanted to see.

He shouldn’t have let himself get distracted by a woman. He should have been watching over Jamie. That was his job.

The taste of fear got stronger. Panic.

Nobody rode harder.

By the time the lights of the small cluster of houses came into view, Red was foaming with sweat, her sides heaving. Nobody slid off her, mentally promising to give her a good rub-down when they made it back home, away from the porch lights and people.

He slipped into the shadows, edging his way around the houses. A dog lifted its head as he passed, but didn’t bark. They never did.

Jamie’s house didn’t have a porch light, but light spilled out of the windows on the side of the house. From thirty feet away, Nobody heard the shouts of Lou Kills Deer, the screams of Myra Kill Dear, the shattering of glass.

Damn it, he should have been here. Lou was a mean snake when he was sober; Myra wasn’t much better. Together they were one hell of a pair of vicious drunks. Sooner or later, they’d beat each other to death or drive into oncoming traffic or pick the wrong fight in a bar and that would be the end of them. Which would have been fine with Nobody.

Except for their son, Jamie.

Jamie’s light wasn’t on. Nobody prayed that the boy had gone to bed before the drunken arguments had started, that he’d gotten his door locked and the dresser moved over before Lou started punching things.

But that pull told him that hadn’t happened.

He tapped on the window—once, then paused for ten seconds, then quickly two more times. If Jamie was in there, he’d recognize the signal.

A minute later, the window opened. At first, Nobody was relieved to see the kid—but then he saw the blooming bruise over Jamie’s left eye.

Damn it all to hell. He’d let himself be distracted by a woman and Jamie had paid the price.

“It doesn’t hurt,” Jamie said, but his voice wavered and he scrubbed the back of his hand across his nose. “I didn’t cry.”

Nobody nodded, glad that the kid hadn’t given Lou what he wanted.

From the front of the house, Myra screamed.

Nobody slammed his hands on the windowsill and started to heft himself up. He didn’t like Myra Kills Deer. She was a shitty mother who used her son as a shield while taunting her husband. In that, she was a lot like Nobody’s mother. The only real difference was that Myra didn’t hurt her son. Much.

Still, Nobody couldn’t listen as Lou killed her.

Then a crash shook the crappy little house, followed by Lou howling. Looking terrified, Jamie put his hands on Nobody’s shoulders and pushed. “No—he’ll kill you too. Can we just go? I want to go.”

Not likely. Lou was a savage drunk, but Nobody had ten years and thirty pounds of muscle on him, not to mention stone-cold sober reflexes. He could go inside and put an end to Lou Kills Deer and be gone before anyone was the wiser. No one else besides Jamie would know he’d been here. No one would be able to find any proof that he’d been involved, even if they suspected him. And they would only suspect him because of his record.

Nobody stood there, half off the ground, listening as the fight escalated. He wanted nothing more than to show Lou exactly what fear felt like. But Jamie’s eyes pleaded with him.

He hated this, hated knowing that Jamie lived in the same hell Nobody had grown up in. But most of all, he hated that he didn’t do more.

“Please,” Jamie begged. “I want to go home.”

Finally, Nobody relented. He wasn’t here to kill Lou. He was here to protect Jamie, just like he’d always dreamed of someone protecting him.

He dropped back to the ground and turned around. Jamie scrambled out the open window and hung onto him, piggy-back. Jamie buried his head into Nobody’s neck as he ran for Red.

Assuming no one died in that awful house, Lou and Myra would probably spend the next few days drunk and sleeping it off. They wouldn’t even notice that their son was gone. And if they did, Nobody didn’t think they’d care.

He wanted to ride hard for home to put as much space between Jamie and his parents as possible. But Nobody had already pushed Red as far as he dared. So he lifted the kid off his back and onto Red’s.

Then he began the long walk home.

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