What's Done in Darkness by Kayla Perrin is a romantic thriller about a woman who's escapes to Key West, Florida, only to become entangled in a killer web of lies and deceit (available October 6, 2015).
Jealousy is a strong motive. People kill for love every day…
Jade Blackwin feels like she's losing her mind. After burying both her parents—and being left by her boyfriend for her scheming best friend—she totally loses it. At college graduation, she confronts her man, slaps her BFF, then crashes her car. Now everyone thinks she's crazy. Even her sister, who convinces Jade to take a job in beautiful, restful Key West.
At first, Key West is everything Jade could hope for. The lime margaritas are heaven on earth. Her boss at the coffee shop, Katrina, is friendly as can be. And a gorgeous stranger named Brian is just the thing to help Jade forget her ex. But why is a crime writer asking so many questions? Why does Katrina explode into fits of rage? And why is a killer lurking in the shadows, ready to kill again? No one knows what's done in darkness. But Jade knows she's not crazy. She's next…
Shawde Williams knelt onto the grass beside the tombstone, the tears already blurring her eyes. Five and a half years had passed. Five and a half years and her grief was still strong.
“Hey,” she said softly, placing the bouquet of flowers in front of the tombstone. Five and a half years later and the fact that her brother was in a coffin six feet below this spot was still surreal.
Her eyes landed on the etching of her brother. Every time she came here, she was amazed at just how well his essence had been captured on the headstone. His handsome face lit up in a smile, those eyes twinkling, his dimples as charming as they had been live. She fingered the etching, the only way she could touch her brother now.
Then she fell onto her bottom, crying softly. She’d lost more than her brother on that horrible day in January. She’d lost her mother, who had become a shell of herself as the despair had ripped her apart.
And most recently, Shawde had lost her fiancé because of this tragedy. Maurice had told her that he couldn’t take it anymore. Either she let go of her obsession, as he’d called it, or they were done.
Shawde had called the wedding planner the next morning to tell her to cancel all the plans. Then Shawde had met with Maurice to give him back the ring. As long as she lived, she would never forget the look on his face as she’d placed the stunning diamond into his palm. The look of despair had damn near brought her to her knees. But he’d stood his ground, and so had she. If she wasn’t over her obsession, then they were over. And she could never be over Shemar’s murder—not until the killer was brought to justice.
Maurice didn’t understand, and maybe Shawde couldn’t expect him to. He hadn’t had his family ripped apart because of a murder.
“What proof do you have that it was murder?” Maurice had asked before they’d finally called it quits, exasperated when she’d failed yet again to get the police to reopen the case.
“Shemar knew cars inside out. There’s no way he would have missed an issue with his brakes. He would have given his car a complete inspection before a long road trip. I’m one hundred percent certain of that. And it’s not that the cops didn’t believe the brake line had been faulty. They just can’t prove that it was deliberately tampered with. According to them, Shemar could have hit debris in the road.”
“But he didn’t. That’s not what happened.”
“How can you know that?”
“Call it intuition.”
“Intuition?” Maurice had thrown his hands into the air. “Do you even hear yourself?”
His patience had been wearing thin, and Shawde couldn’t entirely blame him. Perhaps if their situations had been reversed, Shawde would feel the same sense of exasperation. But this was her brother, and she could not go on until she got justice for him.
“Why would his girlfriend want him dead?” Maurice demanded.
“Some people are evil at their core. They get off on hurting others. People like you and me can never understand them.”
“I don’t understand you,” Maurice had mumbled.
Shawde figured he hadn’t thought she’d heard him, but she had. Loud and clear.
She’d slept alone that night, and a week later Maurice was telling her that she had to either let go of the past or forget about their future together.
“Maurice and I are over,” Shawde said now to the tombstone. “He wants me to give up trying to solve your murder. Of course, he doesn’t think it was murder. Dad’s convinced, but thinks it’s eating me up. And Mom … well, she can hardly talk about it. She’s not the same, Shemar. She’s … cries all the time. She retired, because she’s too depressed to work.” Shawde wiped at her tears. “Which is one of the reasons I have to keep going. Once Katrina pays for what she did, we can all heal. Finally put this past us.”
As Shawde so often did, she stayed quiet, listening to see if she could hear the voice of her brother on a whisper of wind. Every fiber of her being believed that he was looking down on her, that he could hear her. That he was with her at this very moment.
It was one of the reasons she couldn’t give up her fight. Shemar had been her little brother. She’d protected him in grade school. When that bully in his second-grade class had been beating him up, Shawde had given the little bugger a beatdown. He’d never bothered Shemar again.
A smile touched her lips as she recalled the memory. But it quickly faded.
The time it had mattered most, she hadn’t been there to protect him. From that bitch Katrina. The moment she’d met Katrina when she’d visited the university in the fall, Shawde hadn’t liked her. There had been no warmth in the smile she’d plastered on her face. In fact, it felt as though all the positive energy had been sucked out of the room when she’d entered, replaced by something cold and unsettling.
Shawde had told her brother that she didn’t like Katrina, that something about his girlfriend didn’t sit well with her. But Shemar hadn’t dumped Katrina. Not that Shawde had expected him to.
Nor had she expected Katrina to kill him.
The last thing Shawde’s brother had said to her was that he thought she was right. He’d learned something about Katrina, something upsetting. He hadn’t shared with Shawde what that thing was but said he’d update her when he’d gotten to the bottom of it. He was planning to fill her in on all the details in person when he got back home to Albany.
Then his car had lost control on the interstate. For some inexplicable reason, Shemar’s car had crossed the center line and collided with a truck. That had sealed his fate.
A fate that Shawde was certain Katrina had maliciously planned for him.
At first, the cops had speculated it was suicide, as the witnesses all said that Shemar hadn’t applied the brakes. Further investigation of the burned car had shown that the brakes had failed because the brake line had been ruptured, but there had been no conclusive evidence that the car had been tampered with.
“I know you want me to keep going,” Shawde said to Shemar. “And I know you’d do the same for me.”
Shawde fell silent again. It was weird how five years could pass and yet a part of you still couldn’t quite believe what had happened.
Looking at her brother’s name, it was never quite easy to believe.
SHEMAR LEWIS WILLIAMS
Then she read the inscription below the dates of his birth and death, even though she knew it by memory.
CALLED TO BE AN ANGEL AT THE AGE OF 21.
YOU LEFT A HOLE IN OUR HEARTS,
WHERE THERE HADN’T BEEN ONE.
OUR LOSS IS HEAVEN’S GAIN.
WE TRY TO REMEMBER THAT THROUGH OUR PAIN.
OH, HOW WE MISS YOU!
AND WISH WE NEVER HAD TO PART.
GONE TOO SOON,
BUT ALWAYS IN OUR HEARTS.
Every time Shawde looked at that inscription, she wanted to scream. She had wanted an inscription that reflected the truth. You weren’t supposed to die or Taken before your time or even Murdered by a devious bitch would have indicated the reality of his death.
Shawde’s anger was brewing, and she drew in a deliberate breath in an effort to calm herself. She had long ago stopped wearing an elastic band on her wrist, which she was supposed to snap against her skin when her thoughts began to overwhelm her. Such a stupid idea. It simply didn’t work.
“One day,” she said, smoothing her hand over her brother’s face. “One day, Katrina will have to pay for what she’s done. She’s already killed again. I told you that. Her parents. I didn’t realize it was so easy for people to get away with murder.” Shawde snorted. “Hell, maybe I should just take her out.”
She heaved a weary sigh. “Of course, with my luck, I’d get arrested. No, I’ll just wait for her to slip up. Because I’m sure she will. The friggin’ psychopath has killed and gotten away with it, so she’s even more confident now. She’ll kill again, but her luck will run out. And when it does, I’ll finally get justice for you. I promise you that.”
Copyright © 2015 Kayla Perrin.
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Kayla Perrin has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Sociology and a Bachelor of Education, having entertained the idea of becoming a teacher—but she always knew she wanted to be a writer. Teachers were being laid off in Toronto when Kayla graduated with her B. Ed. Frustrated, she used her time to pursue her life-long dream of becoming a published author and proved that dreams can come true! Indeed, not landing a teaching job was a blessing in disguise. Today she is a multi-published, award-winning USA Today and Essence ® bestselling author with close to 50 novels and novellas in print as of August 2013.