Thank you to all who blogged with me on my mini blog tour last month, celebrating the release of GONE.
The winners of the Amazon gift certificates are:
Mari M., Sue H., Elizabeth W., and Holly D.
If you haven't read GONE, an excerpt can be found below. I hope you enjoy it.
As always, thank you for your letters and e-mails. I wish all of you a happy and safe holiday season and all the best in this new year.
Until next time, warmest wishes,
Excerpt from GONE:
In seven minutes, her mother was being executed.
FBI Special Agent Clare Marshall watched the clock mounted on the wall above her cubicle in the New York City Bureau office. After twenty-four years, three months and four days on death row, the state of Texas had grown tired of providing her mother, convicted murderer Jolene Marie Marshall, with room and board and was going to enact the death sentence handed down almost a quarter of a century earlier. Jolene would die by lethal injection at ten a.m. this July morning.
. . . in six minutes.
Clare had been five when her mother pointed a gun at her head and fired.
Though Clare couldn’t recall it, she’d landed on top of the body of her older brother, Owen. Mama had shot seven-year-old Owen first. She would have shot the baby, Katie, too, if police hadn’t broken down the front door of their government-subsidized apartment before she could.
. . . three minutes.
Sweat broke out on Clare’s upper lip and along her hairline. Her heart pounded. Someone in the outer office laughed. A phone rang.
The clock now read ten a.m.
Clare pushed her chair back from her desk with a screech. The air conditioner kicked on, blowing a gust of cool air down on her, yet the office felt stifling. Her chest felt weighted down. It was hard to breathe.
She had to get out.
She stumbled to her feet and staggered out of her cubicle.
“Clare . . .”
It was her team member, Benita Sanchez, calling out to her. Dimly, Clare recalled they had a meeting to go to. Clare ignored Benny and brushed by a trio of her colleagues grouped in the carpeted hall, waiting for an elevator.
The stairs would be the quicker way down. Clare took them at a run. Her heels tapped against the tile in a staccato beat that echoed in the stairwell.
At the bottom, she headed for a rear exit—away from the smokers who gathered out front to enjoy a cigarette on the lawn.
She shoved the door open and charged into the alley beyond. Hazy sunlight beat down on the cracked asphalt and the faded brick of the old building.
Clare squinted in the sudden brightness.
Fetid fumes from the overflowing dumpster wafted on a slight breeze. Clare didn’t care about the stench. She inhaled deeply, filling her lungs. In. Out. In. Out. When her breathing was regular again, she leaned back against the building. Her white jacket fell open, and a ray of sunlight glinted off the gun in her shoulder holster.
She’d just had what the psychologists who’d treated her in childhood called an “anxiety attack.” Though she hadn’t had one since her teen years, she hadn’t forgotten the symptoms, or what brought them on: vivid thoughts of the day her mother shot her.
The psychologists she’d spoken with over the years had blamed the attacks on fear. She’d certainly been terrified when Mama pointed the gun at her. But it wasn’t fear that triggered her panic, it was the awful emptiness of being completely alone in the world.
Her hands were almost steady now and she pushed damp strands of brown hair back from her face. Her first attack had come on when she awakened in a hospital bed weeks after her mother shot her and was told that her brother was dead, and that she couldn’t see her sister again. Katie had gone to live with a new family forever. At two years old, the baby had been promptly adopted.
The only thing that had calmed Clare was knowing that Mama was in prison. The officials from Child Welfare Services who spoke with Clare believed it was the reassurance that her mother would not be able to hurt her again that had given Clare ease, but they’d been wrong. Clare had been comforted knowing where her mother was—knowing where she could find her.
In the twenty-five years since the shooting, Clare had never gone to the prison to visit her mother, had never written, had never called. What her mother had done was horrific and Clare had not forgotten, yet . . . yet Jolene was her mother. The one person she belonged to and who belonged to her.
Now Jolene was gone and Clare was truly alone. She felt abandoned by the mother who’d tried to kill her. What did that say about her?
She closed her eyes, tight, tighter. Tears trickled from between her lids.
A sound—like the clang of cymbals—drew Clare’s attention.
She opened her eyes.
A convenience store was located behind the FBI office, separated by the alley between the two buildings. The door of the store was flung open. A gangly man, dragging a sobbing woman by her black curls, charged out. The woman wore a sleeveless yellow dress, but despite the heat, Clare could see she was trembling. The man held the barrel of a .45 to the woman’s head.
excerpt - copyright 2009 by Karen Fenech