Witness- An Excerpt from a Psychological Thriller By Maria Lavender

Taking out the fries and switching off the oven, she opened her mouth to call Detective Williams when suddenly the room went dark.

            Frowning, she felt around the counter for her phone. Using the display as a flashlight, she directed it ahead of her body. Damnit, had the power gone out? There hadn’t been a storm to knock it out. Perhaps this was just a random electrical surge.

            At the sound of a thump nearby, she jumped, squealing. “Detective, is that you?” When no answer came after a few moments, an eerie shiver crept down the length of her spine. What if something was wrong with the officers stationed here? Sensing she wasn’t alone in the darkness, she quietly and carefully sought for the knife handle she’d discarded in the sink, hoping she wouldn’t nick herself in the process. When she found it finally, Whitney grasped the knife hard. Her arm shook with nerves, but she crept softly while putting her other hand out for stability. As an extra safety measure, she tucked her phone in her waistband. It was so unnerving to be blind when everything had been well-lit before. But she knew it was wiser to move rather than risk being found where she was.

            Soon she reached the living room, at least judging by the shape of the furniture. Off the back patio, there was a scant light from the moon but it didn’t help much. What she did gather was that Williams had disappeared from his post. What happened? He’d seemed like a reliable man, and a highly trained cop. So, what went wrong? She hadn’t heard any gunshots.

            Creeping to the front door, she turned the knob slowly, inching the door open by degrees so it wouldn’t alert an intruder, if there was one. With the knife still clutched in her hand, tremors making it wobble, she managed to reach the hallway. Except that was when she had to catch herself against the wall, as she’d almost fully tripped over an obstacle. Crouching down, she froze. A body! His telltale ponytail informed her of the man’s identity. Oh, god…Detective Spencer! She felt around, checking for a wound, then sought out his pulse. When he seemed too motionless for it to be anything else, she covered her mouth, biting back a sob. Panic barreled through her chest, catching within each breath she drew.

            Oh, damnit…Somers had found her. She had to get out of here. Run, her mind screamed. Good plan.

Whitney outed her phone, sent a short text to Cole, then made her way down the dark hallway, aware she could lose the phone and her connection to the world at any time. Help might not reach her in time. She winced at the squeak as she depressed the button of the stairwell door, then used her phone again with the light to slowly navigate her steps.

            Finally, she reached the first floor. She considered knocking on neighbors’ doors for help, but it felt safer to get as far away from the scene as fast as possible. Exiting the building, Whitney broke into a dead run, shooting down the sidewalk toward the nearest structures. Her feet stung as they slapped the pavement. As she sped across the dark parking lot, she screamed as a pair of arms hauled her back and up against a solid chest. The knife she’d held skidded across the asphalt. And the distinctive crunch of her phone beneath his boot spelled out her fate.

            The man who held her was too strong. It couldn’t be Cole, not this early. His shift wasn’t for a while. She went wild, flailing her arms and kicking out at her assailant. She got one hand free, nails raking wherever she could land them.

The man hissed with a hoarse laugh, then she shuddered as he wrapped his arms across her, lips to her ear. “Oh, Whitney, don’t stir me up too early, babe. I want to savor this…”

She clenched her teeth, shutting her eyes against the inevitable. “You can’t have me.”

“Oh, you’re wrong about that. I have you now, and there’s not a thing you or that bastard Benson can do about it.”

She continued to struggle, but it did no good. “What did you do to them?” she demanded.

“Who? The cops? I gutted them. Don’t waste a moment worrying about it. No one will keep us apart, I promise. I’m not going anywhere, sweetness.”

Whitney bit her lip so hard, she thought maybe she tasted blood. Then she did the only thing left she could think to do. She opened her mouth to shout, but he clamped his palm across her face.

“Behave now. You don’t want this to be over too soon, do you?”

She bit down hard on his hand and he cursed, backhanding her until she dropped like a bag of laundry at Mama’s door. Whimpering, her vision dimmed for a second and her face stung. Jerking her head up to look at him, she didn’t have time to put up her hands in defense. The fist to her jaw came so fast. As she began to drift away, she registered his low, eerie voice.

“My sweet Whitney, you’ll learn who’s in control soon enough…”

The night hadn’t gone at all how she’d planned. It was a relief to sink into the black horror of the unknown.

Author Bio

Multi-genre author of Victorian romance, UPON YOUR RETURN, and 23 other books. Reached the Top 10 Authors list on AuthorsDB.com for the last 4 years. Featured interview in the January 2018 issue of Womelle Magazine. The Heiresses in Love Trilogy made the TOP 10 on the Anthology category on the 2018 P&E Readers’ Poll, and BLOOD INSTINCTS reached TOP 10 status in the Romance category. The Heiresses in Love Trilogy and DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART both reached the semi-finalist round in the 2018 AuthorsDB Book Cover Contest. Voted TOP BLOGGER for 2018 on the Romance Lives Forever Blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated and made it past the first round in the 2018 Author Academy Awards. UPON YOUR LOVE and THE MISSING PIECE placed in the TOP 10 on the 2017 P&E Readers’ Poll. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated for the 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards. The I Love Romance Blog became a finalist in StartDating DK’s Romance Blog Awards of 2017. ILRB landed on Feedspot’s 2017 TOP 100 Novel Blogs and TOP 100 Romance Blogs. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART placed in the TOP 10 Books of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013, 2014 and 2016. 2013 and 2014 Amazon Bestseller Ranking for UPON YOUR RETURN. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 24 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.

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