Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Exclusive Excerpt - Say You're Sorry

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Her last words to her grandparents had been angry. She’d lied to them. If she didn’t make it out of this, that argument would be their final memory of her. They weren’t perfect, but they loved her. Now there’d be no way for her to say she loved them back, that she hadn’t meant what she’d said, that she’d been upset about the mess she’d made of her life and she’d lashed out at them.

She wouldn’t have a chance to say she was sorry.

She had to get away. She had to live. To apologize for hurting the two people who loved her the most. She pushed to her feet. Her thigh muscles shivered, and her head swam. Instead of running all out, she picked her way to the trail. With no idea where he was, the less noise she made the better. If she didn’t know where she was, maybe he didn’t either.

Underbrush snatched at her bare legs as she stepped onto the path and eased into a slow jog.

The packed dirt under her sneakers felt familiar. She rounded a bend and quickened her pace. A twig snapped, and she bolted like a rabbit. A cloud drifted in front of the moon, dropping a shadow across her path. Tessa’s foot caught, and she fell. Pain zinged through her kneecap as it struck an exposed tree root. On hands and knees, she paused, catching her breath and swallowing the terror that clogged her throat. Tears ran down her cheeks.

Keep going!

She got one foot under her body and stood. Forcing her shaky legs to move, she stumbled up the path and drew up short as she recognized the scorched tree. She’d run in a circle. She stumbled as she realized she was headed back toward the clearing.

Toward him.

The rustle of dead leaves echoed, loud as a crack of thunder.

Please. Please, don’t let him catch me.

Tears blurred her vision. Swiping a hand across her face, she cleared her eyes, then broke into a weak run.

A shadow stepped out from behind a fat tree. She skidded to a stop, the worn soles of her canvas high-tops sliding in the dirt.

Her bones trembled as she stared up at him. He wasn’t panting or sweating or the slightest bit out of breath.

And she knew. The truth struck her like an open hand against her cheek.

She was going to die.

Panic wrapped around her neck and tightened its grip until breathing was as hard as sucking air through a straw.

“Did you really think you could get away?” He shook his head.

She turned and ran, blindly shoving at the branches in her way. She couldn’t outrun him. She was tired, and he was fresh. Her breaths dragged in and out of her lungs in ragged gasps. Behind her, his footfalls were even and sure.

She burst from the woods. The lake glimmered in front of her. At the edge of the dark water, a thick patch of cattails waved in the breeze. The ground was soggy underfoot as she bolted into the thick stalks. One thought dominated her brain:


The wet ground pulled at the soles of her sneakers, the squishing sound betraying her. A hand shot out and grabbed her bicep. He dragged her toward him.

“No.” She pulled back, dropping her butt toward the ground.

But resisting proved as futile as it felt.

She opened her mouth and let out a wild scream.

“Shut up!” He struck out, the movement of his arm quick and sure.

The fist connected with her jaw. She blinked. The cattails around her blurred.

She’d been right all along. The dark was not her friend. It would not save her. It was an abyss from which she’d never emerge. Never again.

This was the end.

She fell to the marshy ground. Above, cattails waved against the night sky. Then a figure was silhouetted. Something metal glinted in the moonlight and pain sliced her into pieces.

The world faded into a cold and dreaded darkness.


After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.


Author Biography
Melinda Leigh abandoned her career in banking to raise her kids and never looked back. She started writing as a hobby and became addicted to creating characters and stories. Since then, she has won numerous writing awards for her paranormal romance and romantic-suspense fiction. Her debut novel, She Can Run, was a number one bestseller in Kindle Romantic Suspense, a 2011 Best Book Finalist (The Romance Reviews), and a nominee for the 2012 International Thriller Award for Best First Book. She is the author of the Midnight Novels, including Midnight Exposure (a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) and Midnight Sacrifice.

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