For the first time shared on my website >> Read Chapter 1 from The Silent Witness. Enjoy!
Someone was in the house.
Angela’s eyes sprung open, and she looked around the dark room. Her heart was hammering, but the bedroom door was still closed, and all she could make out were the familiar shapes and shadows of the furniture.
Then another small thump.
The thunderstorm might still be raging outside and playing tricks on her mind. She strained to listen but didn’t hear the storm. The noise had to be her imagination.
She looked over at her daughter, who was wedged between her and her husband, Brett. Zoe’s fear of thunder always sent her running into their room, and even though she was six, they didn’t have the willpower to turn her away. Zoe was in a deep sleep, her favorite stuffed doll, Lucky, hugged to her chest. Her breathing was heavy, and her eyelashes were fluttering against her cheeks. Nothing like a child’s carefree slumber.
Angela glanced at the clock on the nightstand beside her. 4:03 AM.
She should be asleep herself, floating in a fictional world where there was no stress or worries, no doubts or concerns about the future. Even Brett was lightly snoring, off in some dreamland, escaping reality. This was ridiculous. She had to get some rest because she had to be at work in less than four and a half hours.
She closed her eyes.
The door banged against the jamb.
She bolted upright. The bedroom door only vibrated like that when an exterior door was opened and the air pressure changed. That wasn’t in her head. Someone was in the house.
She strained to hear anything else but was met with the haunting assault of silence.
Still, she had this horrible feeling something wasn’t right.
“Psst, Brett.” She reached out, over Zoe, and poked his shoulder.
He mumbled something incoherent. Zoe squirmed, tugged from her dreams but not fully waking up.
“Brett,” she repeated more urgently.
“Yeah… Huh… What?” Groggy, he flipped onto his side to face her.
“I think that someone is—” Fear froze her vocal cords, her words lodging in her throat.
Someone was on the staircase. The unmistakable groan of the third step from the bottom hit her ears.
Brett jumped from bed—he must have heard it too—and proceeded to nudge Zoe awake. “Come on, honey, time to wake up.”
Zoe moaned. “What?”
Angela could feel her husband’s gaze drilling through her in the dark, urging her to act.
“Zoe, let’s play hide-and-seek,” she said.
“Yes, Mommy’s right. Let’s…” Brett was now talking at a whisper, as was she. “Come on, it’s important,” he added.
“Yes, and you can bring Lucky with you,” Angela told her daughter.
Another groan on the staircase, this one about halfway up. They had to move.
“Hide,” Brett pushed out urgently.
Angela grabbed her cell phone from the nightstand and pulled Zoe from bed. She looked around the room, thinking about places where Zoe could be protected. Even if whoever it was got to her and Brett, Zoe needed to be safe. They only had a matter of seconds. Her gaze landed on the perfect spot, and she got her daughter secured just as the landing creaked. Whoever was in the house was just on the other side of the bedroom door.
Her breath remained trapped in her lungs.
“Go!” Brett hissed and shoved her into action.
She ran past him to the walk-in closet and ducked into the corner behind a rack of clothing. She was having a hard time getting her fingers to work. It was just three digits that could save them, but her hands were shaking so badly.
9… 1… 1…
She held her phone to an ear. No ringtone. What the hell?
She tried again as the bedroom door was opened. She heard Brett and the intruder talking, but her heartbeat was pounding so loudly in her ears she couldn’t make out what they were saying.
There was a bang, followed by Brett screaming. Two more cracks, and a thump on the floor.
Her brain was slow to process what had happened, but layer by layer the stark reality sank in. Brett had been shot! Probably killed!
Oh my God!
She gasped and slapped a hand over her mouth, shoving herself as far back into the closet as she could. She tried to hold her breath, but her body wasn’t listening, and she was heaving in air.
Why is this happening?
Footsteps approached the closet door, and as she heard the handle turn, she knew she was next. The clothes were swept back, and she came face to face with her killer. Tears streaked down her face, but she no longer feared her fate. She closed her eyes and heard the click of the gun—three taps in quick succession. Time slowed right down. At first it was like nothing had happened. Then, for the briefest of moments, a searing pain overwhelmed her entire system. Following this was a warmth accompanied by an incoming darkness. But just before she left this world, she sent up a silent prayer.
God, please, please let my little girl live. Please.
The Silent Witness is available in e-book, paperback, and audiobook from popular retailers.