I’m not a mother myself, unless you’re counting my two beagles, which, let’s face it, I do. But I can appreciate that being a mother would be the most challenging job in the world. It would require a special strength and fortitude to protect children at all costs and keep them safe from the monsters out there—and I’m not talking about the ones living under their beds or peeking out of their closets. The monsters I’m referring to are real, and they prey upon their targets without mercy.
In Her Final Breath, I have a killer who is targeting mothers and their young daughters. He has a way about him that sets the women at ease, a certain type of relaxed charm. The girls fall in love with his black Lab. Sadly by the time they realize the trap he’s set, it’s far too late.
Readers live the horror of his current captives, Leanne, and Gracie Reilly, starting from the first page. The mother wakes up in a strange room. Upon seeing there are bars on the window, Leanne jolts from bed, searching frantically for her daughter…
Where is my Gracie?
The question ricochets in her head as a sob, as she now trails her gaze along the right wall. There’s another bed with a small form beneath the comforter and a little pudgy hand poking out over the fabric.
“Gracie.” A plea, a cry, not much above a whisper.
She shuffles to the edge of her mattress, throws her legs over the edge and stands. Pain flares in her ankle, blinding her vision, and she crumples to the floor. She crawls to the other bed, tugging herself up by clawing at the comforter. It comes toward her in massive waves of fabric. Suddenly it’s like she’s drowning, trying to keep her head above water.
She swims free, and her daughter is facing her. Lying on her side, her eyes pinched tight.
She stares at her motionless daughter. If she’s breathing, it’s so shallow Leanne can’t see her chest rise and fall.
Oh my God! Please no!
She shakes her daughter’s arm. No response.
She tries again. This time, near violently. The girl groans.
Leanne scoops her daughter into her arms and squeezes with what strength she can muster, tears falling.
She wants to tell Gracie everything will be okay, but she’s feeling hopeless and responsible. This is all her fault.
Leanne tries the door in the room, but it’s locked from the outside. Anger, frustration, fear, all wreak havoc on her—a mind game she’ll need to win if she’s going to figure a way out.
Any whispers of hope were blown aside by a storm of overwhelming chastisement. She was a horrible mother, who didn’t deserve Gracie. If she’d been a good mom, she would have seen the man for who he was in time to avoid this outcome. But it had been too late when she’d caught the darkness in his eyes. He had seen things, done things.
With each hour and day, Leanne’s light of optimism diminishes.
“I’m scared, Mommy.”
“Me too, baby. Me too.” She hugged her little girl, trying to conjure a single pleasant thought that put them somewhere far away from here.
The above are just a few excerpts from numerous scenes written in Leanne’s viewpoint that sprinkled throughout the book. Each one had my heart racing writing them as I put myself in their shoes. Would they be saved or would help arrive too late? I know the answer, but you will need to read the book to find out.