Little Black Lies: Exclusive Excerpt

Little Black Lies by Sandra Block is a psychological thriller about a troubled psychiatrist who takes on a new patient that remindeds her of the dark past that she barely escaped (available February 17, 2015).

This exclusive excerpt is reprinted by permission from Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

In the halls of the psychiatric ward, Dr. Zoe Goldman is a resident in training, dedicated to helping troubled patients. However, she has plenty of baggage of her own. When her newest patient arrives – a beautiful sociopath who murdered her mother – Zoe becomes obsessed with questions about her own mother's death. But the truth remains tauntingly out of reach, locked away within her nightmares of an uncontrollable fire. And as her adoptive mother loses her memory to dementia, the time to find the answers is running out.

As Zoe digs deeper, she realizes that the danger is not just in her dreams but is now close at hand. And she has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most. Because what she can't remember just might kill her.

Chapter Eight

Moonlight is spattered on the tile floor.

A whirring noise buzzes next to me, vibrating in my head. I am curled up, so they can't see me.

“Zoe?” a voice calls out. “Where are you?”

I don't answer, curl myself tighter. The smell of smoke tickles my nose, and I hold my breath. My heart beats in my ears.

“Zoe? Come on out, honey!”

Footsteps track outside the door and I watch them, still holding my breath. My lungs are blowing up, aching. I cling to Po-Po. My hands are smeared with blood, seeping under the cuffs of my nightgown. I wonder if I'll get in trouble for staining it, the way I did when I spilled hot chocolate on my new pants and Dad got angry.

Shadows of tree brances sway on the floor, like snakes.

I can't hold my breath anymore, my heart is thumping out of my chest, and I gasp.

The footsteps stop as the door opens.

A muscular man in a yellow rubber coat stands in the doorway, blocking the light. He has a huge ax over his shoulder as if he might be chopping trees. “Zoe?” he asks.

“Yes?” I say, hesitant.

His face is stoic, serious, but then he smiles. At first it is a kind smile, but it changes into an eerie, spooky smile, and he pulls back the ax in slow motion, and the sharp silver edge shimmers as it flies right toward me.

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” I scream out, falling to the floor as he winds up for another swing.

* * * *

“Hey!” Scotty takes my shoulder. I leap away from him as if he is on fire, smacking my elbow against the wall. Shocks race down my arm.

“Zoe, what the fuck?” He stares at me across the bed. “Seriously. What's going on? Isn't your psycho doctor helping you out with this shit?” That's his pet name for Sam, and all of my previous psychiatrists: “psycho doctors.” And now I'm becoming one.

I shrug, my mouth too dry to speak, and I'm too shaky to trust my voice anyway. He stares at me another long second, and his eyebrows soften into a look akin to tenderness. I feel a flood of love for him and understand in a flash what all these women are seeing in my annoying little brother, more than just a cheap James Dean imitation.

“I'm fine,” I say, throat sore from screaming. “Go back to sleep.”

He doesn't get up from the bed. “Are you sure?”

“I'm sure. Really. Go to sleep.”

Scotty turns up, stretching, looks at me a last time, and turns around to pad off to his bedroom. Whereas, I pad off to the bathroom, where my new stock of Xanax is patiently waiting to still my nerves. I do not yet have to ration my supply this month. Then I am in bed, lying on my back and waiting for the Xanax to kick in, like a bride waiting for her spouse. Without realizing it, I am plunging into another dream.

A panicky dream of looking for something, but I don't even know what I'm looking for. I'm asking everyone if they know where it is. I ask Jason, Dr. A, my mom, Scotty. It's as if they are all in some kind of “Zoe's subconscious” cocktail party, and I'm weaving my way through them. They are talking, trying to tell me where I put this thing, but I cannot hear them. I just see mouths moving, which sends me into a deeper panic. They are all milling around, ignoring me and talking silently to one another. Finally, I reach for Jean Luc. I ask him if he knows what I am looking for, and he opens up his beautiful mouth (I find it beautiful, even in the dream) and says, “Que sera, sera.

“But that's not even French,” I point out, but he doesn't hear me.

Copyright © 2015 by Sandra Block.

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Sandra Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York, for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan and lives at home with her husband, two children, and their impetuous yellow lab, Delilah. Little Black Lies (Grand Central Publishing) is her first novel. Like her on Facebook and Follow her on Twitter!

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