Every Fifteen Minutes: New Excerpt

Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline follows the Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital, Dr. Eric Parrish, whose life unravels as he puts himself in danger looking for a high risk seventeen-year-old patient under his care that goes missing after a girl he likes is found murdered.

Dr. Eric Parrish is the Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital outside of Philadelphia. Recently separated from his wife Alice, he is doing his best as a single Dad to his seven-year-old daughter Hannah. His work seems to be going better than his home life, however. His unit at the hospital has just been named number two in the country and Eric has a devoted staff of doctors and nurses who are as caring as Eric is. But when he takes on a new patient, Eric's entire world begins to crumble. Seventeen-year-old Max has a terminally ill grandmother and is having trouble handling it. That, plus his OCD and violent thoughts about a girl he likes makes Max a high risk patient. Max can't turn off the mental rituals he needs to perform every fifteen minutes that keep him calm. With the pressure mounting, Max just might reach the breaking point. When the girl is found murdered, Max is nowhere to be found. Worried about Max, Eric goes looking for him and puts himself in danger of being seen as a “person of interest” himself. Next, one of his own staff turns on him in a trumped up charge of sexual harassment. Is this chaos all random? Or is someone systematically trying to destroy Eric's life?

Chapter One

I’m a sociopath. I look normal, but I’m not. I’m smarter, better, and freer, because I’m not bound by rules, law, emotion, or regard for you.

I can read you almost immediately, get your number right away, and push your buttons to make you do whatever I want. I don’t really like you, but I’m so good at acting as if I do that it’s basically the same thing. To you.

I fool you.

I fool everybody.

I’ve read that one out of twenty-four people is a sociopath, and if you ask me, the other twenty-three of you should be worried. One out of twenty-four people is 4 percent of the population, and that’s a lot of sociopaths. Anorexics are 3 percent, and everybody talks about them. Schizophrenics are only 1 percent, but they get all the press. No one’s paying any attention to sociopaths, or they think we’re all killers, which is a misconception.

It’s not being paranoid to worry about us. You should be more paranoid than you are. Your typical suburban mom worries all the time, but she worries about the wrong things.

Because she doesn’t worry about me.

People think evil exists in the form of terrorists, murderers, and ruthless dictators, but not in “normal” people like me. They don’t realize that evil lives on their street. Works in the cubicle next to them. Chats with them in the checkout line at CVS. Reads a paperback on the train next to them. Runs on a treadmill at their gym.

Or marries their daughter.

We’re here, and we prey on you.

We target you.

We groom you.

I took a sociopath test, not officially, of course. Only trained professionals can administer the real test, called the Hare test, but I found a version of it online. The first two questions went like this:

1. I am superior to others.

Circle one: Doesn’t apply to me. Partially applies to me. Fully applies to me.

And:

2. I would not feel sorry if someone were blamed for something I did.

Circle one: Doesn’t apply to me. Partially applies to me. Fully applies to me.

There were twenty questions, and forty was the top score. I scored a thirty-eight, which means I would be graduating with honors if I majored in being a sociopath.

I didn’t need the test to tell me who I was, anyway.

I already knew.

I have always known.

I don’t have any feelings, neither love nor hate, no like or dislike, not even a thumbs-up or thumbs-down like on Facebook.

I do have a Facebook account, however, and I have a respectable number of friends.

Ask me if I care.

Actually, I think it’s funny they’re my friends, because they have no idea who I am. My face is a mask. I hide my thoughts. My words are calculated to please, charm, or undermine. I can sound smarter or dumber, depending on what you expect to hear. My actions further my self-interest.

I’m neither your friend nor your frenemy, unless you have what I want.

In that case, I’m not only your enemy, I’m your nightmare.

I get bored easily.

I hate to wait for anything.

Waiting makes me so restless, and I’ve been in this room for hours, even this video game is boring. God knows what idiots are playing online right now, forming their pimple-faced teams, exploring dungeons, going on quests, killing dragons, hookers, and Nazis, all of them playing a role.

I wonder if whoever invented World of Warcraft realizes it’s practice for sociopaths.

The gamers I play online name themselves KillerCobra, SwordofDeath, and Slice&Dice, but I bet they’re in middle school.

Or law school.

If one out of twenty-four people is a sociopath, I’m not the only gamer who tried to burn the house down.

My character name is WorthyAdversary.

I role-play every day in real life, so I’m very good at gaming.

I’m always a step ahead, maybe two.

I plan everything. I set everyone in motion, and when the moment comes, I strike.

I always win in the end.

They never see me coming.

Know why?

Because I’m already there.

 

Copyright © 2016 Lisa Scottoline.

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Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author of twenty-three novels. She has 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States, and she has been published in thirty-five countries. She has served as the president of Mystery Writers of America, and her thrillers have been optioned for television and film. She also writes a weekly humor column with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and those critically acclaimed stories have been adapted into a series of memoirs, the first of which is entitled, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets.

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