This brand new snippet comes from my mystery novel, Dead Locked, which is free to download from Smashwords until July 31!
* * *
She woke up later with a rock in her stomach. The last thing she remembered was sitting in the chair crying. She stared at the ceiling with no idea how she got into bed. She turned, inhibited by the black dress she still wore. Slowly the world came to and sizzling and crackling filled her head. She pushed the blankets off and walked the couple of steps to the kitchen. Chad pushed sausage links around on the griddle.
“This is a nice little place, Im,” he said as if she would think nothing of it. “You seem like you’re doing well here. Even Sebastian likes you.” He grinned.
Imogen smoothed down her hair, now glued in peaks around her head, and wrapped her arms across her chest.
“What are you doing here?” she said, her voice raspy.
Imogen frowned, sliding down into a chair. The wooziness hadn’t quite dissipated yet.
“You’re not making me feel better so just tell me what you want.”
Chad turned around, his blonde hair still slicked back off his forehead, his expression serious. “What happened last night,” he said, “I have a feeling the police will want to talk to me about.”
Imogen’s eyes went wide.
Chad toyed with the pink spatula he held.
“My gun is missing,” he said.
Imogen blinked, processing what he meant. “Did you…?”
“No! That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I didn’t. But it will probably look like I did.”
“You need to leave,” Imogen said and scrambled toward the front door.
“Wait!” Chad intercepted and pushed the door closed. “Someone stole it out of my room.”
“Their tanks are sabotaged, we’re threatened, and now Peter….” Imogen shook her head and struggled to control her voice. “What do you want from me?”
“I didn’t do any of it, Im. Sebastian hates me and Shazi and C.J. aren’t far behind.”
“So you want me to try and convince them you’re innocent?”
“If you believe me, maybe they will.”
“We’re not the judge and jury. If the police suspect you, what we believe doesn’t really matter.”
Chad leaned his head against the door and swallowed. Deep circles rimmed his eyes.
“I need you to believe me,” he whispered. “I know I look guilty but I swear on my life I’m not.” His eyes, more gray than blue, were filled with fear, a feeling Imogen never imagined he knew.
She sat on the bench by the door, looking down at her hands. “I can’t think clearly right now,” she said. “Please go.”
Chad kept his eyes fixed on her for a minute, then opened the door. “Enjoy your breakfast,” he said and slipped out.
Imogen walked back into the kitchen, crashing at the table. Right in front of her was the envelope in Peter’s handwriting.
* * *
Dead Locked is also available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other print and ebook retailers.