I am currently in the process of editing a crime thriller that takes place in Seattle, Washington. Tarrin Grace has just come through a very difficult divorce, and just when things are beginning to look up, her young daughter, Lexie, is witness to a heinous murder. Suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, Lexie is unable to recall details of the crime or the murderer. However, the killer remembers her, and Tarrin must risk all she has to protect her family.
* Taken from Chapter Three:
Tarrin combed her fingers through her hair. She stood and stretched, then laid the Sloan International handbook on the kids’ dresser. She would start her new job on Monday, and she had plenty to learn before then. She knelt on Jake’s bed and glanced out the wide window. Her eyes dropped to the yard below and she could hear the loud, “Thwump, Thwump,” of Jake’s soccer ball hitting the side of the house.
After a quick lunch, the children had rushed outside to play while Tarrin had gone upstairs to finish unpacking and to sort through the kids’ toys and clothes. She had stopped for a short break and had taken a minute to review the handbook. The time was nearing five-o’clock. She wondered if Erin would be home at six. Maybe after dinner they would have time to search the city for a second-hand store. It would be nice to get a couch and a table set. She was getting tired of picnic-style meals.
She sighed softly and turned from the window just as Lexie’s shrill scream caught her attention. Tarrin spun around and rushed to the window.
“Lexie?” she called.
Tarrin raised a hand to her chest when Jake suddenly rushed across lawn toward the thick wall of trees. Is she in the woods? She thought frantically. She stumbled from the bedroom and rushed down the narrow stairs. She reached the sliding glass door and tugged on the handle.
“Oh, come on!” Tarrin yelled when the door stuck.
The sound of grating metal made her cringe as she jerked the door across the runners. The door finally gave enough for her to squeeze outside and Tarrin raced into the yard. Her eyes scanned the empty expanse.
“Jake?” she called, jogging toward the trees. “Lexie?” She stepped into the darkened woods. “Jake! Lexie!” Tarrin called loudly.
Her feet crunched audibly on the forest understory as she pushed through a barrier of ferns. “Ahh-ugh!” she moaned when she stumbled through a thick spider web. She brushed at the clinging web as she continued pushing through the undergrowth.
“Jake! Lexie!” Her voice rose in pitch.
“Mom?” Jake’s voice suddenly sounded from a short distance ahead, and the breath left Tarrin’s lungs in relief.
“Where are you?” Where’s Lexie?” Tarrin called. She turned in the direction of his voice. Tarrin’s shoulders relaxed when she caught of glimpse of Lexie’s bright pink shirt through the trees and ferns. “Jake, what is it? What’s wrong? I thought I told you two not to come in the woods.”
Jake turned to face her as she came through the trees, and Tarrin suddenly paused when she read the fear in his expression. Lexie sat on the ground. She remained still and unmoving. The little girl’s eyes were large as she stared toward a thick patch of brush. Tears coursed down her young face, but she made no sound.
“Lexie?” Tarrin’s heart rate increased and she rushed toward her daughter.
“Mom, there’s…there’s someone hurt,” Jake spoke, and his young voice trembled.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
Confused, Tarrin glanced around frantically. Jake pointed ahead, toward the edge of the spiny blackberry bush. “There in the bush…there’s a hand in the bush.”