Here it is May already, and I hope everyone is ready for summer, as it’s it’s just around the corner, unless you live in Florida, in which case, it’s pretty much here already! While the rest of you are awaiting those muggier days, I thought I’d share another Bold & Blatant Self-Promo post with you. This time, I’m featuring the third (and possibly final) book in my Riverbend Series, That Darkest Place. I had a plethora of things to decide between for my excerpt this time, from funny to anger-inducing to downright heartbreaking. It was definitely a tough decision, but I hope you enjoy what I landed on. Happy reading!
“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.”
The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancée is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.
As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.
Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”
Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?
Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.
4:00 AM, Thursday,
January 2, 2014
(NOTE: After a long night of waiting for his older brother, Jackson Painter, to regain consciousness after his out of control drinking had caused a horrific car accident, Forrest was desperate to get out of that hospital room. He left his younger brother, Hunter, and his sister-in-law, Willow, keeping watch while he went to fetch them all coffee from the café downstairs.)
THOUGH HE’D ASKED Hunter and Willow to join him, he was relieved they’d opted to remain in the room. Someone should be there, in case Jackson woke up, but Forrest needed to get away. He’d been at the hospital all afternoon the day before, unable to reach Hunter while Jackson had been in surgery, and terrified that his big brother would die and he’d have to face it alone. Then, after Hunter and Willow had come home to find him sitting on their cottage steps, they’d all trekked back together to wait. And wait. And wait.
It was unreasonable to be mad that Hunter and Willow had gone out on the river for the day, unaware he’d been trying to reach them, but he couldn’t help it. Why was he having to deal with so much grief lately, with no one to lean on? Where were the warm, sheltering arms for him, comforting him in his misery?
He watched the light tick off each floor as the elevator descended to the cafeteria level, and he couldn’t help comparing this downward journey to the last year of his life. He was so immersed in his despairing thoughts, he didn’t even notice the elevator come to a stop. The doors opened, then slid closed again, and he looked up in surprise as the car began to climb. When it stopped again, he was back where he started.
Well, hell. How damn stupid was that? He figured there was probably a message in there, though. All this crap he felt was what Willow would call wallowing in self-pity, as though he was the only one suffering. He needed to stop it. She’d be ashamed of him, and that was reason enough to get a grip.
He valued Willow’s steadfast friendship above all else, except the love of his brothers, and he was determined not to behave in a way that would make any of them ashamed of him. He’d suck it up, do what needed to be done, and in the doing, maybe he’d get past his anger and grief, as well.
For the umpteenth time, Forrest wondered what the hell his brother had been doing, driving around so drunk he couldn’t control his car. Had Jackson still been pissed off at Hunter and him? Or was LeeAnn on the receiving end of his temper this time? Well, whatever had been causing Jackson’s out of control rants lately, he’d certainly paid a price for it, hadn’t he? And now it was time to put it all aside, and pull together.
Willow’d like that he was listening to her, and trying to do things better. Maybe she was right, and he really wasn’t the same man he used to be, when all he wanted to do was chase women and have a good time. He knew she cared about him, even if it wasn’t the same way she cared about Hunter, and by damn, he wasn’t gonna act like an ass and make her change her mind.
Fifteen minutes later, Forrest stepped off the elevator, juggling a cardboard tray with three large coffees and a bag of doughnuts balanced on it. He’d planned to eat in the cafeteria, and just take coffee back for Hunter and Willow, but he’d realized that even though he hated being trapped in Jackson’s room waiting for something to happen, he hated being alone even more.
Leaving the elevator behind, he turned down the first corridor on the left, and came to an abrupt halt, surprised to see Hunter and Willow standing in the hallway outside Jackson’s door. Panic gripped his heart, and his feet refused to move. What the hell was wrong, now? Oh, my God! Wasn’t losing their parents enough? He didn’t think he could stand it, if Jackson was gone, too.
Hunter waved him forward, offering a reassuring smile. “Nurse came.”
“It’s okay.” Willow patted Forrest’s arm. “She asked us to leave while she’s changing bandages and taking care of the catheter. It’s probably all right for us to go back in.”
She peeked inside. “Yep. The curtain’s open. She’s just rearranging his blankets and pillows, now.”
They trooped into the room, took their seats, and Forrest passed out the Styrofoam cups. In near-unison, they sipped the tepid coffee as they watched the efficient movements of the nurse.
When she finished, she gave them a painfully cheerful smile. “There. That’s better! He’s resting comfortably now, and all cleaned up for company.”
Forrest fought the urge to smack that perky grin right off her face. It seemed obscene in light of his brother’s condition. While he was contemplating telling her where she could stuff her syrupy sweet attitude, Hunter was contemplating something completely different.
“Where are the police?”
The nurse’s smile faltered. “I’m sorry? The police?”
Hunter cocked his head. “Shouldn’t they have been here by now? To talk to us?”
“I have no idea what you mean. Why on earth would the police be here?”
Hunter’s mouth tightened. “To press charges? Or make arrangements to do so.”
She still looked blank.
To Forrest’s surprise, Hunter, the gentlest of the three of them, lost his temper. “I could be wrong,” he snapped, “but isn’t killing a passenger while driving under the influence a crime? Negligent homicide, maybe?”
The nurse—Millie, according to her nametag—frowned and reached for Jackson’s chart. They waited in silence as she flipped through several pages, scanning back to his admission, then turned to them, puzzled.
“May I ask what your relationship with Mr. Painter is?”
“I’m Hunter Painter, Jackson’s brother. I’ve been here for hours. This is my other brother, Forrest. He’s been here even longer. We need answers. Now.”
To her credit, the nurse’s expression softened a bit. “I’m sorry, Mr. Painter. It’s just that I don’t understand why you think the police should be here at this point. My records don’t indicate anything about a DUI.”
As one, both brothers and Willow rose, all gaping.
Forrest spoke first. “What the hell are you talkin’ about? What do you mean?”
“I mean just what I said. At the time of the accident, your brother wasn’t drunk.”
Author Marcia Meara
Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years and four big cats.
When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.
Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish a book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?
Buy Marcia’s Books Here
Wake-Robin Ridge: Book 1
A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3
The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4
Swamp Ghosts: Riverbend Book 1
Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2
That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3
Riverbend Spinoff Novellas
The Emissary 1
The Emissary 2 – To Love Somebody
The Emissary 3 – Love Hurts
Summer Magic: Poems of Life and Love
Reach Marcia on Social Media Here:
Blog: The Write Stuff