by Chris Patchell
Deadly Lies is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Husband and wife stand on opposite sides of a divide created by lies and rooted in a dark and deadly past…
As a teenager, Jill Shannon fell victim to her stepfather's cruel abuse. Now as an adult, Jill's made it - she has a successful career and a solid, if not static, marriage to Detective Alex Shannon. Together they live out what seems to be a perfect life in Seattle.
The vow she made as a teenager to never again be a victim lies dormant - until one day a reporter lures her to his hotel room under the pretense of an interview - and suddenly all of it comes rushing back. Jill seeks revenge on the reporter, triggering a series of events that leads Jill down a wormhole of retribution, forcing her to spin an ever-widening web of lies.
Meanwhile, Alex is pulled into a case of a series of murders that began as cyber relationships. There seems to be a familiar fingerprint on these crimes, but Alex refuses to believe the murderer could be someone close to him.
Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen.
She ticked the seconds off silently in her head. Her heart hammered painfully, the desperate waves of panic making it impossible to think. Stay calm. Stay calm, she repeated as she rifled through the drawers of what once had been her mother’s dresser.
Twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four.
Shit. It had to be here. This is right where her mother always kept it.
She slammed the drawer closed. The clap of cheap wood echoed in the quiet house. The jarring noise was a dead giveaway.
It didn’t matter though. She was out of time.
His boots rang hallow on the stairs. He was coming. She pushed back the waves of panic and tried to focus.
Thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five.
It took a total of forty-five seconds for him to climb the stairs and reach her bedroom door. She should know. She’d counted it enough times, lying awake in bed listening to the heavy tread of his footsteps and dreading what would come next.
He passed the top of the landing and headed down the narrow hall. She could feel the reverberation of his boots on the bare hardwood floors as he drew closer. Maybe five more seconds, if he’s drunk. Maybe. And then he would burst through the door.
Panic overwhelmed her defenses and struck her full force. She knew hiding was futile. She knew he would find her. Unable to stop herself, she ducked into the closet.
The dark welcomed her, and she slid through the curtain of her mother’s clothes. Her back softly collided with the wall. Inch by inch, she sank down until she sat hunched on the floor. Waiting.
“Ready or not, here I come,” her stepfather, Master Sergeant Samuel Morris, called out in that creepy, singsong voice, like this was some kind of sick game.
Her hands shook, and she clasped them in a tight knot under her chin. Her mother’s scent—baby powder and cinnamon—filled the small space, enveloping her like a warm cloak, and she wished she could hide here forever. Safe. Untouched.
Tears stung her eyes. God, she missed her mother. It was bad before. His punishments had always been harsh, but since her mother’s death, everything had changed.
Hot tears poured down her cheeks. She brushed them roughly away with trembling hands and cursed herself for being weak, for giving into her fear. She had to be strong. She must not cry. If there was one thing Sam liked more than the chase-me game, it was her tears, and she had no wish to give him what he wanted. He could take, but she would not give.
She bit the inside of her cheek until the rusty tang of blood filled her mouth.
Sometimes the pain helped her focus. She couldn’t win, of course. He was too powerful, too relentless. But she refused to give up. There had to be a way out of the trap. There had to be. She just had to live long enough to find it.
Heavy footsteps stopped outside the door. The light bulb overhead clicked. Harsh yellow light filled the closet. She pulled her knees close, shriveling back into the shadows.
“Time’s up, Jill,” he said in his rumbling baritone.
Despite her steely resolve, thin tendrils of fear unfurled in the pit of her stomach, and she knew he was right. The game was over. And he had won. Again. Hatred burned in her eyes as she stared at the heavy beige boots encasing his size-twelve feet.
Sam parted the clothes. The hangers squealed against the metal rod, reminding her of fingernails on slate. The sound made her teeth ache.
She could smell his sour mash breath, and a wave of nausea rolled through the pit of her stomach. Tears threatened, and she forced them back behind a frozen wall. Like a caterpillar, she withdrew inside her icy cocoon to a place far beyond, where he couldn’t touch her.
“Were you looking for this?” he asked.
Master Sergeant Morris dangled a twenty-two caliber sub-compact pistol from a thick finger. Jill’s gaze shifted from the gun to the grotesque smile on his broad face and back again.
The gun. Yes. Every night as he opened her bedroom door, she’d thought about the gun, and pictured a bullet hole centered between his thick black brows. But as usual, he was two steps ahead.
Like Jesse James, he spun the pistol around his finger and tucked it neatly into the back of his fatigues.
“You like games, do you?” he asked.
“Not as much as you,” she said, in a voice that sounded steadier than she felt.
His cruel lips flattened into a thin line. Jill remained perfectly still, her face a stony mask. Sam hunkered down. His meaty hands snaked toward her. Hot fingers slithered around her neck. She shuddered and waited for them to constrict, squeezing off her airway. But they didn’t tighten. Goosebumps dimpled her icy skin as he caressed the long column of her slender throat. Their eyes locked, and as much as she wanted to, she refused to look away.
Never again, she promised herself. Never again would he touch her like this. He would pay. Somehow this sick game would end.
And no matter what the cost, she would win.
Praise for the Book
"Chris Patchell's debut novel, Deadly Lies, is a taut, fast-paced thriller that grabs you from the start and doesn't let go. Patchell is a master storyteller with a real talent for creating pulse-pounding suspense." ~ Kevin O'Brien, New York Times Bestselling Author of Tell Me You're Sorry
"Admittedly, I'm not a suspense novel but did find myself riveted by this book. The plot moved quickly making it easy to read and one of those books I just couldn't put down. The main character, Jill, is unique. I found her to be quite complex and it makes for an interesting discussion. I believe this was the first book by this author and I am certainly interested in getting the next one as soon as possible! If you like suspense, this is a must read." ~ Giovanna Baldassarre
"The pace is literally murderous. Especially taut thriller with many unexpected plot twists. And how Patchell brings the two major story lines together is ingenious and unexpected. Looking forward to the next Jill Shannon murder mystery!" ~ Kindle Customer
"Fast paced novel that I couldn't put down. I especially liked the parallel story lines of Jill and Alex - each pursuing justice for different crimes, their individual journeys driven by deeply personal reasons. The two stories intersect and finally intertwine for an unpredictable and satisfying ending that has my interest piqued for book 2 in the series. Terrific novel from a debut author." ~ Molly R
"I loved this book from the very start. I love the complexity of the main characters. They are believable. I love that it is written from a female perspective! Can't wait for the sequel!!" ~ Terry Warnock
About the Author
When Chris Patchell isn't hiking in the Cascade Mountains or hanging out with family and friends, she is working at her hi-tech job or writing gritty suspense novels. Writing has been a lifelong passion for Chris. She fell in love with storytelling in the third grade when her half-page creative writing assignment turned into a five-page story on vampires. Even back then Chris had a gift for writing intricate plots that were so good her father refused to believe she didn't steal them from comic books.
Years later, Chris spent long afternoons managing her own independent record store and writing romance novels. After closing the record store and going to college, Chris launched a successful career in hi-tech. She married, had kids but amid all the madness, the itch to write never really went away. So she started writing again. Not romance this time - suspense filled with drama, and angst, speckled with a little bit of blood.
Why suspense? Chris blames her obsession with the dark on two things: watching Stephen King movies as a kid and spending ridiculous amounts of time commuting in Seattle traffic. "My stories are based on scenarios I see every day, distorted through the fictional lens. And my stories come with the added bonus of not having to be restrained by socially acceptable behavior."