Snippet Sunday 03.15.15 - Cross Examination

This week's snippet comes from my romantic suspense novel Cross Examination.

No longer able to tolerate her husband Scott’s abuse, Tamara Slay packs up her daughter, Gabby, and moves to Louisiana, hoping a new life and a new identity will give her a fresh start. An unexpected phone call from a Sheriff’s deputy in Florida shatters her sense of security. Scott hides a much darker secret than abusing his wife. Above all else, she must protect Gabby from Scott.

Lt. Martin Beck of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating the death of Brandy Fuller for years. Sidetracked for a while by his wife’s murder, Beck finally reopens the cold Fuller case and discovers a thin lead. The new evidence takes him to Louisiana to meet the estranged wife of his primary suspect. Together, Beck and Tamara conclude that Scott not only murdered Brandy Fuller, but seven other women on the Florida Gulf coast.

As Beck dives deeper into the investigation, he draws closer to Tamara. Passions ignite as the one woman who wants Scott dead the most allies with the one man who wants Scott dead the most. Can Beck protect Tamara and Gabby from Scott and stop a serial killer from killing again?

Here's the snippet:

She peeked around the door and then started down the stairs. As she descended the back flight to the floor below, she stopped and listened. Moved a few steps. Stopped and listened. Whoever was rummaging around her things no longer tried to muffle the noise he made. Thuds, bumps, and scrapes punctuated her fear. Her instinct screamed at her.

Without a doubt, the intruder was Scott.

Did he think she wouldn’t hear him? Maybe he imagined her cowering in her room waiting for him to do his worst. Maybe he still thought of her as the submissive little woman, powerless to oppose him, or perhaps he believed fear immobilized her as it so often had in the past. He was a fool and he didn’t know her anymore. She was stronger for having spent so much time away from him on her own, learning to cope with life’s everyday problems without him. Never would she allow a man to control her again as she had let Scott. Her emotions were her own. He would not dictate to her how she would react.

Gabby was in her arms before Tamara caught another breath. The tote dragged on her arm as she tried to lift the child.


“Shhh…” She placed her pointer finger over Gabby’s mouth.
Fear reflected in her daughter’s eyes. Surely Gabby heard what she had heard. Her heart hurt for her child. They had once before left in the middle of the night. That escape had been difficult for Gabby. She’d had a hard time sleeping for weeks after that. Just when her Daddy had found them, her Mommy took her away again. Of course, Gabby wouldn’t understand.

Out in the hall, Tamara didn’t have to strain to hear. The intruder made no effort to hide his ascent up the front stairs. She descended the back. On the landing, she paused once more. Something crashed to the floor in her bedroom. She imagined him pulling out all her dresser drawers, yanking her bed linens from her unused bed. She slept in Gabby’s room for fear Scott would find her, that he might sneak into her house when she was unaware and snatch her child away from her. She had been right to do so, despite all the parenting books that told her not to sleep in the same bed with her child.

She rushed down the remaining steps and ran for the kitchen door, no longer mindful of the racket she made. As she passed the counter, she grabbed her purse. Her compact, lipstick, brush, two pencils, and a pen, plus a few wadded up receipts spilled across the countertop from the open flap. She hadn’t left it unsnapped. Had he searched the contents? She stuffed the scattered items back into the handbag with one hand. One glance around the kitchen and she was moving again. She slung the purse strap over her shoulder, rushed toward the back door, and wrapped her fingers around the doorknob.

“Tamara,” he yelled down the stairs. “Where are you? Quit hiding from me.”

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