Hey! Here’s the first chapter of Snapped!

In celebration of its release next week!

 

Prologue

Week 9 – Saturday, November 1

 

“Can I…” I paused and cleared my throat. “Can I get some water?”

“It’s your home; you can do whatever you want. Tell me again what happened?”

Detective Trist sat across from me, his face expressionless but for the tic above his left cheekbone. Half an hour ago, I noticed the skin there would crinkle every time I finished a sentence.

This pattern fascinated me. I needed something to distract me as I went through the events of last night again. And again.

With his calm questions and lackluster demeanor, it was easy to believe every dead body looked the same to him these days, his jowls unflinching as he looked down onto someone’s violent, terrible end, took notes, and commiserated at the scene. To find some humanity in him, I imagined it was all an act; he knew what it was like to smell burnt gunpowder, to slip through pools of tacky, drying blood.

He understood what it was like to face the wrong end of a blade.

As I headed to my kitchen, I scratched at my forearms, having no sleeves to tug at, no buttons to play with, nothing to calm my nerves since I was in my pajamas—a simple blue tank and cotton shorts. I had to step over a shattered vase, its flowers shriveled and sodden on the floorboards, and I cursed myself for not cleaning up last night. What must this look like to him? Could he be connecting the state of my apartment to what happened last night?

At least he wasn’t seeing the worst of it. Most of the damage was in the hallway to the bedroom.

Detective Trist remained seated on the couch, calling over as I poured water into a glass, “You mind going through it one more time? We really appreciate you helping us out. You could be a key witness here.”

Water escaped from the corners of my mouth as I gulped down the cold liquid. I lowered the glass, staring at the cupboards across from me and inhaling deeply three times before saying as strongly as I could, “Key witness or top suspect?”

I sounded brave, but I wasn’t. I resisted the urge to cower in the face of authority the way I usually did when someone tougher, older, and possessing the muscle to do significant damage to me was near.

I rounded the corner.

“We’re asking everyone present at the scene these questions, not just you.”

“And I understand the need for questioning,” I said, the leather of the couch ice against my legs as I sat. “But I don’t understand the need for an interrogation.”

Tic. “This isn’t an interrogation. We’re in your apartment. The door is open.”

Liar. “I willingly gave you every detail I remember. And I’m doing that of my own free will, cooperating with you because of—because of what happened…” Damn it, I shouldn’t have faltered. “But I don’t appreciate you parading in here, separating me from my friends, asking me these loaded questions—”

“I’m merely trying to rule you out—”

“—and if I’m not under arrest, it means you remaining here is out of my goodwill. To help. I can terminate  this interview at any point, even ask you to leave if I want to.” I raised my chin, my drink rattling against the coffee table as I set it down.

He sighed, and the shift in his shoulders signaled this was one of the many free-to-leave threats he’d heard this week. “Alright, Miss Miller. If at any point you want to ask me to go, you can.”

“Good. Because I don’t appreciate having my credibility questioned.”

There. No voice trembling. Sickness churned in my stomach, and I pressed my fist hard underneath my ribcage.

He mumbled something akin to fucking law students, but I couldn’t be sure. His chin was pulled too low into his neck.

“I’ll go through it one more time,” I said. “Because if there’s anything I can say to make this right—I mean, there’s no way to make this right, but…Oh God.” I buried my face in my hands. Don’t think.

“One more time,” he said without a hint of concern.

“We were at a Halloween party,” I said, clasping my hands tightly in my lap.

“‘We’?”

“My boyfriend, me, and my best friend.”

“And your boyfriend is Jason Sladerman, correct?”

“Slade. Everyone calls him Slade.”

The skin under Detective Trist’s left eye scrunched up. Tic.

“Right. So you were at the party…”

“Yes. Rodger Hart’s. It was crowded—really loud. I wasn’t feeling great. I wanted to be alone for a while. Collect myself.”

“This was around eleven o’clock last night, correct?”

I nodded. “Because of that, I lost Lara in the crowd.”

“Lara Stalquist. Your best friend.”

“And Slade. I don’t know where he was.”

“Right.”

“And I didn’t see Lara until…after.”

Detective Trist mumbled his acknowledgment, the scratch of his pen against paper mixing with the ticks of the clock on my mantel. They came into hyper-focus, these snicks of sound that seemed to be anticipating my future. I rubbed my temples and closed my eyes against the subtle countdown to zero hour, where I would either stay strong in the face of such horrific death or buckle and blurt the truth.

“Headache?”

“No.” I dropped my hands to my lap. “Yes. I can’t—it’s so hard to believe…”

“I know it’s tough. But let’s continue. Talk to me so I can get out of your hair and allow you to grieve. Okay? How long did it take for her to find you?”

I swallowed, blinked. I didn’t want to relive this. Third time around, and it hadn’t gotten any better.

“Lara? Fifteen minutes, I think.”

“So all in all, you’re saying you were separated from Mr. Sladerman and Miss Stalquist for approximately twenty-five minutes?”

I wasn’t sure. “Yes.”

“Twenty-five minutes you were unaccounted for.”

I lifted my gaze from my lap. His tone was flat as always, but something had changed. I focused on the tic.

“I was separated from them, yes.”

Detective Trist closed his notebook. He paused for a moment, staring at the wall behind me before contemplating me once again. He stuck his pen in his inside jacket pocket.

“How about we go back to the weapon?” Detective Trist opened his notebook again, his bald spot shining in the overhead light as he read. He ran his finger down the page. “You were threatened?”

I choked. I wasn’t speaking, but emotion was building in my throat, strangling me. “I just—I was trapped. I couldn’t help—I couldn’t stop this!”

I couldn’t see Detective Trist through the hot, salty water, and no matter how many times I blinked, the tears kept building. It was a fight to not sink into the memory and fall to my knees, screaming. Screaming that this wasn’t real. Wake up. WAKE UP!

“Okay, easy Miss Miller. Take a couple of deep breaths. There you go.”

My hand trembled against my throat. I still felt the rawness of those screams.

He tucked his notebook in with his pen. “Did the victim say something to incite you last night?”

“God.” An image burst into my vision, a flash of silver nicking my chest, and I closed my eyes. “We’ve been through this.”

“Yup.” He pulled out his pen again.

I glanced from his face to the notebook. “Is there something wrong?”

He glanced up. “Why would there be?”

“I don’t know.”

“It’s just I’m a little perplexed here.” He sounded friendly, concerned even. “Because the facts aren’t adding up.”

I shook my head. “Then I don’t…how aren’t they adding up? I’m not even sure what this has to do with—”

“Look around you, Miss Miller.” He motioned to the state of my living room, the cracks in the wall, the tangled mass of damp flowers on the floor. “You understand why I’m a little suspicious here.”

“I’ve explained that already. This wasn’t a fight. This was a—”

“Temper flare?” He pointed to the remnants of the vase with his pen. “Letting out a bit of frustration? Rage, maybe?”

“No.” Too late. He caught my hesitation. “I told you. It wasn’t like that.”

“I understand you’re tired, Miss Miller. I do. But you gotta give me a better excuse if you want me to believe you.”

I wished he would stop saying my name. “I’m not tired. I’m exhausted. And I’m telling you everything I know.”

“Are you, though? How ’bout you explain that cut on your collarbone—” His phone buzzed in his pocket, and he held a finger up to me before answering his call. “Yeah?”

Something was wrong. Detective Trist kept flicking his attention over to me as he grunted his uh-huhs and oh yeahs, and I did everything except meet his eyes until the bang of his phone dropping onto the table made me jump.

“You’ve been lying.”

The detective’s friendly, concerned manner was gone. Now he was all cop. And  contrary to my belief an hour ago, denying his suspicions wasn’t going to work because honesty was not the best policy. It was so stupid to think the police would be on my side with the facts as they were. Worse, I should have known better.

Don’t forget the guilt. That festering thing inside you is what’s keeping him here.

“I have a feeling we’re going to find your prints all over the crime scene. Doors,” he mused, his eyes on mine. “Drawers. The floor. The bed. Where else do you think?”

I hesitated at his change of tone, which went from bored to dry to alive in the span of a few words. And oh, those words. They tore the courage right out of me.

“You missed a crucial detail in your retelling of the events from last night. We have someone who saw you struggling with the deceased before using that knife.”

My stomach dropped so suddenly I rocked back. He tucked his notepad back in his pocket and folded his hands across his middle as if he’d done nothing but tell me what he was craving for breakfast.

“Lara Stalquist,” he said. “Your best friend and our eyewitness.”

I almost didn’t hear his words through my hammering heart. For the second time that morning, a rushing sound burst into my ears, boiling waves that burned my bones and seared my vision. But sifting through the terror, I managed to utter the only words I could.

“I want a lawyer.”

 

– Copyright 2014 Ketley Allison LLC