I promised at the end of “Extreme Measures” to post a few excerpts of Book 7, “Hidden in Darkness.” I’m still editing but here’s my working summary:
Christopher Potter confesses to two grisly murders in the sleepy town of Clarkstown. Just days after pleading guilty in spectacular fashion, he demands an interview with Winston Chronicle reporter Emily O’Brien, who reluctantly agrees to meet with him. The tale he spins brings into question what actually happened that night and whether Potter acted alone – and whether he’s really guilty at all. As Emily tries to track down the truth, tragedy strikes close to home, forcing her to evaluate her relationships and her future. But not everyone wants the truth of what happened in Clarkstown to come to light. And someone is willing to kill to keep that secret.
And here’s a blurb. Please remember this is still a work in progress but I’m pretty happy with how it’s shaping up. Happy reading!
I didn’t like that I was going back to see Potter the next day without some more information about Patrick Billings. Somehow that seemed to give him the upper hand. This whole thing was already becoming more of a headache than I wanted. I imagined some journalists would be salivating over the opportunity to interview a confessed murderer, but all I could see were the pitfalls, all the places this could go wrong for me and the paper.
I was still thinking about that when I walked through the metal detectors at the jail the next day and let the guards search me and my stuff. Again, I’d left my purse in the Jeep and just brought in the bare minimum. We met in the same room, and Potter didn’t look much different than he had before, slicked hair and clean shaven.
I sat down and opened my notebook. He looked at me expectantly.
“This is your chance to tell the truth,” I said finally. “I’m not going to keep coming back indefinitely.”
“But you did come back,” he said smugly.
“Because my boss told me to. But, eventually, when he’s not getting any ink out of this, he’s going to tell me to do something more important, like interview a crossing guard.”
He frowned. “What about Patrick?”
“Patrick Billings? Yes, what about him?”
“You found him.”
“I found his name. I guess right now he’s keeping a low profile.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. He has to know the police will find out about him eventually.”
“Find out what about him?”
“That he was with me that night.”
“I thought you said you acted alone.”
“I told you. I was having an episode. It’s all coming back to me now. Patrick and me needed some cash. We used to hang around with Teddy Less, and he said his parents always kept money in the freezer. So we were going to check it out.”
“And you were both high?”
“Higher than a kite, baby.”
“Don’t call me baby.”
“So why go at dinner time? Why not wait until after the Lesses went to bed?”
He looked startled. “It was after they were in bed. That’s how we surprised them.”
“No, I saw the crime scene photos. They weren’t in their pajamas. The kitchen looked like someone had just finished dinner.”
“Maybe they were letting the cleanup go until morning.”
“The rest of the house was spotless. People who keep their houses like that don’t leave dishes all over the counter overnight. It draws bugs. In a pinch, they might rinse dishes and stack them in the sink, but they had a dishwasher so they’d at least load the glasses, silverware and plates.”
“Maybe we had the time wrong.”
“It would have been daylight. How could you have the time wrong?”
His lip curled back in a snarl. “You’re here to tell my side of the story.”
“No, I’m not. I’m not here to listen to your bull. If that’s all you have to say, then I’m leaving. I’ll get all the chance I need to hear your bull in court.”
I closed my notebook and started to get up. My stomach clenched with the hope he wasn’t going to stop me, that I could go back to work and write about fires and court cases and police investigations, not sit here in this room with this person who was off his rock.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Don’t leave. You’re right.”
I sat back down tentatively.
He ran his hands through his hair. “I have a really hard time focusing sometimes. All these thoughts just flit through my head, and I can’t always tell what’s real and what isn’t. If you say it was dinner time, it probably was.”
“Why did you quit taking your meds? If you have trouble thinking, then why would you forego something that would help?”
“I hate those things. They make me feel even worse.”
“Your mom said they were helping. It takes some time to find the right combination. You should have talked to your doctor, not just quit them entirely.”
“My mom couldn’t afford a real doctor. We just had that quack that did pro bono work through the school. He wasn’t interested in adjusting my meds. And I don’t have insurance now.”
“Chris, you really need to think about helping your mom get a lawyer. Or work with the public defender’s office. You really shouldn’t be going this alone.”
“What the hell do you know?”
“I know that if someone can’t tell the difference between night and day he shouldn’t be representing himself.”
“Go screw yourself. I’m just as capable as anyone else.”
“Not from where I’m sitting.”
I thought – still hoped – he’d tell me to leave. We were treading on dangerous territory here and I didn’t want to get too involved with this case.
“Let’s talk some more about Patrick,” he said.
“Like it was his idea to hit that house. He planned it and he picked the time. So he would have known it was daylight and they’d be awake.”
“Or maybe he thought they wouldn’t be home. Maybe they went out to dinner.”
“No way. Old Man Less was the biggest cheapskate around. Teddy said he took his mom out like once a year on her birthday. Why do you think she was still working?”
“So Patrick wanted them to be home? No offense but that sounds pretty stupid if the plan is to steal money.”
“Maybe that wasn’t his plan. It was my plan. I needed more cash to get high. But maybe he planned something else.”
“Why would he do that? By your own admission you didn’t hang around with Teddy anymore.”
“I don’t know. You’d have to ask him.”
“Why would I need to talk to Patrick at all? The police should be the ones talking to Patrick, but you already confessed to the murders by yourself. So the police aren’t going to do that. Not a very good plan.”
“Why can’t you go talk to him?”
“I can’t arrest him. Why don’t you want the police to talk to him?”
“Because it will be just like last time. He’ll get off with a light sentence because his mom and dad are rich. I’ll get the shaft because I come from nothing.”
“Well, right now Patrick doesn’t want to talk to me. He ditched work last night to avoid me. I can’t compel him to talk either. So this might be the end of the line.”
I glanced at the clock and our hour was winding down.
“I think he wanted to do it,” Potter said quietly.
“Wanted to do what?”
“Wanted to kill them. Wanted to beat them to death. It was like he just went crazy and he beat them and beat them and beat them. He brought the hammer, you know. It wasn’t mine and he didn’t find it there. He brought it with him. I just stood there and watched.”
The hairs on the back of my neck began to prickle.
The guard poked his head in. “Time.”
I got up, a little shaky. Potter couldn’t have planned it any better if he’d had the guard hooked up to a button. To say that right when I had to leave. He knew he’d set the hook and I’d be back.