Friday, June 18, 2010

Book excerpt for Rebound

I've been very busy preparing my next submission and publicizing my new book, Rebound. It's always an exciting journey, even when it takes a lot of juggling to keep up with life. I'm hosting a big giveaway next week on my regular blog, so come check it out and line up to win some great books and prizes!

Here's an excerpt from Rebound, which should be in most stores by now.

Her call went to his voice mail again.

In frustration, Lily Drake hung up her cell phone and ran her fingers distractedly over the soft, damp locks of hair on her son, Stephen’s head. His head was hot, warming her collarbone where it lay. His fist curled at the base of her throat and she adjusted the overloaded diaper bag on her shoulder and headed out of the babysitter’s house toward the car.

Her prenatal checkup had gone well enough, though the doctor had been concerned about her stress levels and how they affected her seven-month-old fetus. She shifted her attention back to the child in her arms. “Played too hard with Cindy, huh? Maybe you’ll stay down while I work on dinner then.” She brushed her lips over his soft head and inhaled the sweet scent of her child. “Mom could use a nap, too.” Her back ached and her arms were tired from hitching Stephen over and around her swollen belly.

The day was warm for mid January. The sun shone and the latest snow was disappearing into the grass. Before she knew it, early spring flowers would be popping into bloom. If Lily hadn’t had the dratted dinner party to prepare for in a few hours, she would putter in the yard after her nap. The roses needed pruning and a few other spring chores needed to be done before the crocuses decided to show themselves. Her advancing condition was another reason to get to the yard as soon as possible. Instead, she mentally checked off a list of preparations and felt the tension growing in her shoulders.

She used to enjoy entertaining.

As she handled her keychain one-handed, trying to maneuver the car key out from the rest, she wondered again where John was. She mentally reviewed her preparations for dinner. Her signature cheesecake and special strawberry glaze sat in the fridge. Hors d'oeuvres of cream-cheese herbed melba toast and stuffed mushrooms were prepped and ready for assembly. And the house sparkled.

Doubtless John would find something to keep him from being completely satisfied with the evening’s preparations, but Lily couldn’t think of anything else she could possibly do to. Still, the fact that John hadn’t called to grill her was unusual. Worrying even. It wasn’t unusual for him to let voice mail pick up her calls when he was with clients. However, it was not normal for him to be so quiet when they were having dinner with clients.

It took only a couple minutes to get Stephen settled in his car seat, untangling her long brown hair from his fist, and sliding behind the steering wheel of the Lexus John had bought new for her the previous spring. The car was comfortable, had lots of safety features, and most important to John, announced he was making plenty of money.

Pushing her thoughts of her husband aside, Lily turned her mind to something else. She considered new flowers she planned to plant in the yard, mused over some raised-bed designs she had seen in a magazine, and planned which vegetables she wanted to grow in the small kitchen garden in a back corner of the lot—her ‘potager garden,’ as John preferred the French term.

Her neighborhood roads wound around natural hills and valleys, making a confusing, twisting trail that she had long ago learned by heart. She came around the last bend, slowing down in anticipation of reaching her home.

The surprise of seeing three dark sedans parked in front of her home, and the front door standing open, slowed her reflexes so she nearly hit one of the cars. Just in time, she twisted the steering wheel to pull around them and into her parking space.

Her heart was pounding, the blood rushing in her ears as she tried to decide what to do. Did she go in when there were obviously strangers in her home? Should she call the police? It wasn’t like whomever was inside had bothered to conceal their being in the home. Did that mean they wouldn’t be aggressive, or did it make no difference? Before Lily could decide what to do, a man came out and walked over. He stood tall and rangy, his politely curious expression topped with a shock of dark hair.

Lily rolled down the window only a few inches, flipping the door locks. She looked into his eyes as he leaned over to speak into the window opening.

“Can I help you, Ma’am?”

“This is my home. What are you doing in it?” She heard her voice quaver, but tried to pretend she wasn’t disturbed by the questions swirling inside her.

“You’re Lily Drake then? Wife of John Sebastian Drake?” he asked. When she nodded, the man reached into his pocket and pulled out a black leather cover, flipped it open, and showed her his FBI badge. “I’m Agent Melton. I’m glad you’ve come home. I need to speak with you.”
Lily felt her brow wrinkle as she tried to make sense of his request. Why would the man want to speak with her? What were they doing in her home?

“What’s going on?”

“Please get out of the car so we can speak and I’ll tell you,” the man said.

Lily hesitated for only a moment before withdrawing her key from the ignition and hearing the doors unlock. Agent Melton opened the door as soon as the locks snicked, and backed away. Lily shut the door behind her and leaned back against it. “What’s going on?” She turned her head to steal a glance at her son, and saw him still sleeping peacefully. Small miracles, she thought as she wrapped her arms around her growing middle, suddenly cold, though the sun beat on her head.

The man stuck his hands in his pockets and put an understanding expression on his face. Lily distrusted him immediately.

“Mrs. Drake, what can you tell me about your family finances?”

That was one question she was not prepared for. Lily blinked. “What does that have to do with . . . anything? I . . . . ” she trailed off, not sure how to answer.

He sensed her confusion and came to the point. “Are you aware of your husband’s fraudulent activities?”


ali said...

Hey! I remember that chapter! Loved it then - love it even more now. Congrats Heather!

Heather Justesen said...

Thanks Ali!

prashant said...

what a great post

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