I haven't done a sneak peek day for a while, so I thought I'd share a tidbit from Lies in Chance. I know we're not supposed to have favorite children, but as an author, I think this is my favorite book. It's certainly the one I put the most work into!
Enjoy! And remember, you can get this book and any of my others, in print or digital form by clicking here!
Shara Brandt opened her eyes and stared at the gray clouds drifting overhead. More curious than concerned, she tried to blink away the gloom and change it to the ruffled pink canopy bed she’d awakened in every morning since she was ten. Not only did the clouds not disappear when she blinked, but Shara was suddenly very aware of the fact that her eyelids were covered with something sticky and, as she touched them gingerly and looked her fingers, red.
Am I bleeding?
The cobwebs brushed away from her mind and three facts because abundantly obvious. First, she had a cut, no, several, criss-crossing her face. Second, there was a spot at the back of her head and one just above her right eye that were very, very tender. Finally, she was sitting in cold, wet mud at the edge of a creek and ice water rushed over her feet, her bare feet.
Why am I outside? Where is Grandmother? Where is Richard?
Where am I?
She tried to move, tried to get to her feet, but a sudden wave of dizziness washed over her. Closing her eyes to stave off the whirling white that threatened to spin her into unconsciousness, Shara took a deep breath and tried to remember the last several hours.
I was in a car.
I was in the trunk of a car.
No, that’s ridiculous.
The scent of a new car fluttered in her memory, comforting only in that it was something familiar. She’d grown up around new cars. She always equated the smell with her grandmother. It was not a pleasant smell.
Okay, I was in a car.
She opened her eyes, but the unfamiliar creek and trees yielded no answers. Closing her eyes again she tried to picture her grandmother’s office at the car dealership, the last place she remembered clearly.
I was at her desk, looking at magazines. At bridal magazines.
She eased one eye open and glanced at her left hand. No ring. There were plenty of red welts and a bright red spot on her knuckle just above where the ring should have been. That ring was too small. Richard was supposed to get it sized over the weekend, but he forgot. I must have taken it off.
She stared at her knuckles, as if expecting the bruised, torn skin to tell her where her engagement ring was. I didn’t take it off very gently, did I?
Come on Shara, think! You were in Grandmother’s office. You were waiting for Richard. You were working on plans for the wedding. And then someone came in.
An involuntary shudder of dread shook her. She hugged her knees and tried to focus.
Then Richard came in with Grandmother.
There was a horrible flash of memory, and Shara opened her eyes, looking for the source of the screams that shattered the quiet morning air. She bit her lip, realizing she was the one screaming.
It’s all a dream. It’s got to be. It’s all a dream. None of this is real.
She curled herself more tightly against the cold mud, waiting to wake from the nightmare.
Bryan Jacobs looked forward to mornings with a relish that made his students nervous. The thirty-two-year-old fifth grade teacher loved the early morning quiet in the halls of Rock Harbor Community School, the stillness of the teachers’ lounge. He could not bring himself to tell anyone, not even his best friends, not Drew, not Joanna, and certainly not Molly, why. Not even they could understand how mornings reminded him of Jenny more than any other time of the day.
Bryan settled into his favorite leather armchair, and reached for the remote control. A news junkie who watched CNN religiously, Bryan once a week ignored the national news and focused on the local news for his Current Events class. Local news for Rock Harbor students meant Green Bay news, focusing on the Packers, or the grittier big city reports from Milwaukee. While Milwaukee was four hour and a cultural lifetime away from the rural confines of Rock Harbor, Bryan found that the students in his class felt in touch with any news that originated within the boundaries of their home state.
Bryan did not need to look up. The only other person awake and not milking cows at this hour was the principal of RHCS, Drew Shepaski, a quiet man who spent most of his life in the shadow of his perpetually verbal, and currently pregnant wife, Joanna. “How’s Jo?” Bryan turned down the volume on the TV.
Drew switched on the coffee maker. “She sees a doctor today. A Green Bay channel? Did the cable go out again?” Drew tapped his coffee mug on the counter; a nervous habit picked up from every other teacher in the building who survived long night meetings by drinking a gallon of the bitter brew spewed out in the teacher’s lounge.
“Current events class.”
“Oh. So what’s the big story?”
Bryan shrugged. “Nothing earth shattering. We have Packer news, of course. Sunday’s win makes the whole season seem rosy again, what’s new? I was actually about the change it to a Milwaukee station. You want four or twelve?”
“Doesn’t four have that blonde traffic woman?”
Bryan grinned. “Yes.”
Drew filled his coffee mug and stared at the dark brew. “Better go with twelve, then. Jo’s got enough paranoia about how she looks right now. Word gets out I’m watching the blonde traffic woman on four, I won’t be allowed in the house.”
“Twelve it is.” Bryan grinned as he changed the channel. “Here we go.”
“Breaking news from the northern suburbs this morning. Prominent local businesswoman, Lydia Brandt, was found shot to death in the Shorewood Lexus dealership she owned early this morning. The cleaning crew found her body at about two…”
“It’s always those poor cleaning people who walk in on stuff like that, isn’t it?” Drew commented over the female newscaster’s voice as he sat at the table.
“Seems that way, doesn’t it.”
“Police confirm that Mrs. Brandt was killed by a gunshot wound to the face.”
“Oh that’s messy.” Bryan jotted a note on his note pad and looked back up at the screen.
“Also seriously wounded was Mrs. Brandt’s sales manager, forty year old Richard Bennett. Mr. Bennett spoke to our reporter, Blair Dailey, from his hospital bed at Froedert Medical Center this morning.”
“Ya know, I’ll probably get in a ton of trouble for saying this, but there are days I almost wish Rock Harbor had some kind of interesting news going on, just so Blair Dailey could come up here and interview the locals.” Drew stirred three sugar cubes into his coffee, his gaze never leaving the TV screen.
“You’re worried Jo will find out you’re watching the traffic girl on four and you’re sitting here wishing from some kind of drama in this town just so you can meet—ho-ly hell!” Bryan leaped from his seat and turned up the volume to maximum.
“What?” Drew stared at the man’s face on the screen. “You know that guy?”
“That’s the guy…the guy from the loft.” Bryan nearly gagged on the words.
“That’s Jenny’s guy?” Drew threw a glance at Bryan. “Sorry. I mean, that’s the guy…from the loft? Someone shot him?”
“I’ll bet it was some poor slob who just happened to have an attractive wife.” Bryan backed up from the television and stared at the face. He tried to ignore the twisted sense of satisfaction that washed over him as he studied the man who stole Jenny from him three years ago. Sucks to be you…
“Yes, Blair, I am blessed to be alive. Losing Lydia like that…” Richard Bennett stared right into the camera lens, a tear glistening in the corners of his blue eyes.
“Were you able to get a look at the assailant?” Blair Dailey, roving reporter, stuck the microphone back to him.
“No. It all happened so fast. And now…Shara is missing. And if anyone has Shara, please bring her back…to the people that love her.”
“Oh shut up you…you lying…sack of…bastard.” Bryan’s voice was a deep, heavy growl as he glared at the face on the screen. So smooth, even from a hospital bed. Ass.
Blair Dailey, obviously now outside the hospital, continued her report. “Mr. Bennett refers to Miss Shara Brandt, Lydia Brandt’s twenty-three- year old grand-daughter, who is also Mr. Bennett’s fiancé. Miss Brandt is wanted for questioning in the murder of Lydia Brandt, but she is currently missing. Police are asking for your help in locating this woman.” Here a picture, what looked to be a high school senior portrait, of a thin, pale girl flashed on the screen. The face didn’t register with Bryan, who was still stuck on the fact that Richard was engaged…and not to Jenny. “Son of a bitch.”
“Hey, Bryan? Take a deep breath and remember we’re at school.” Drew said in a low voice as he looked over his shoulder at the door. “We don’t need the rest of the staff thinking you’ve had a relapse, right?”
“Yeah, okay.” Bryan turned off the television. “Pity they didn’t get him in the face…One less wife stealing bastard on the planet wouldn’t be a bad thing.” His steps to the coffee maker were measured, almost painful. He noted the worried expression on Drew’s face. “Sorry. I wasn’t planning on airing out old wounds this morning.” He gave Drew what he hoped was a reassuring grin.
“I’m thinking maybe you should stick with the Packer news.”
“You’re no fun.” But you’re probably right.
“I know. The fine families of Rock Harbor Community School appreciate that fact,” Drew replied with a grin. “Not to mention the even finer folks of Rock Harbor Community Church, you know the group that pretty much signs your checks?”
“Daddy! Come quick!” Six-year-old Nathan Shepaski burst into the lounge. The dark haired boy was a younger, louder version of his father.
Drew, unflappable, reminded his son of the rules. “Nate, you’re not supposed to come in here. And what do you call me when we are at school?”
Nate swallowed hard, trying to catch his breath. “When we’re at school, I’m supposed to call you Mr. Shepaski. But Daddy-”
“Mr. Shepaski, Mrs. Hunter says to come quick. There’s a girl, just walked out of the creek like a ghost or somthin’.”
Both men followed the boy out the door without another word.
Side note, if you don't like Amazon, friends, you can get Lies in Chance, and all my books by clicking here! (It'll take you to Smashwords, where you can download my books to pretty much any reading device, including your computer!)