HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I wish I could show you what I'm writing right now, because it might be fabulous. Or not. But I'm not sure, and you'll be the first to know when I decide. (It has to be done in three months, so I'd better decide pretty darn fast.)
But I am thrilled thrilled thrilled to be about to go on the road with SAY NO MORE--which is getting one hundred per cent fabulous reviews! (PW called it "Engrossing" (among other laudatory words) with a "conclusion that thrills and gratifies" and Booklist called it skilled and compelling and timely! And Kirkus starts with "Boston's smartest and sexiest team is back.." and continues just as wonderfully.)
So see below to win an advance copy of SAY NO MORE!
Anyway. One of the things I love about his book (as the reviewers also do! :-) is not only the Jake and Jane team, but the three other major characters. One is Willow Galt. And in this part of the book, she's just witnessed a murder--or has she? And she called the police.
Now her husband is not happy.
So read this snippet below.
And then afterward, I have a question. Because I need your help.
from SAY NO MORE
“I’m so glad you’re home.” Willow buried her face in Tom’s shoulder, clutching his arm, breathing in his citrus and coffee fragrance, feeling the damp skin of his neck on her cheek. They’d be fine. They would. She’d done the right thing. The police were gone. She’d explained it all the moment Tom walked in the door. As they climbed the stairs to their bedroom, together, her voice following him, she’d told him the whole story. Most of it. And now she was safe, safe in his arms.
“They hardly stayed ten minutes.” Her words—fudging on the time just the smallest bit, but how could that matter--went into the wilting collar of Tom’s pale blue shirt. She felt the knot of his loosened tie against her own throat. He was home, and everything would be all right.
“Willow.” Tom’s voice had a knife edge, her name a slash as took one step away from her. “Why in hell would you do that?”
She felt his words, cutting through her very being. She couldn’t move.
“Honey? I’m sorry.” Tom came closer again, put his hands on her, one on each bare shoulder.
She could feel his heat as if he were the sun, her private sun. As long as he kept touching her, she’d be fine.
“I know it’s nerve-wracking for you,” he said. “But why would you call the cops? It’s the last thing… You allowed the cops into our house?”
“What else could I do?” She would float off the floor without those hands grounding her.
But Tom had turned away again, back to the window, flattening his palms on the pane, peering out.
Willow tried to look through his eyes, see the tree, Avery’s back yard, the forsythia hedge, that dark blue watery corner of the pool. Her brain revved with anxiety, she needed another pill, so maybe she hadn’t really seen it? But she had. The dog barking and barking. The dark shape in the water, and someone leaving. Maybe.
It was wrong, and awful, and she, a human being, could not ignore that.
“No one’s down there now,” Tom said, talking to the window. “Are you sure? What you saw? What time was it? The person who calls 911 is always a suspect, Willow. Haven’t you learned anything?”
She felt her resolve failing, her knees unreliable. Should she have turned her back on Avery?
“I had to call, didn’t I?” She needed to explain. “I had no idea she was dead. What if she wasn’t dead? What if there was a burglar? The dog was so upset, and I’m here by myself, and--”
Tom touched one finger to her lips. “Shhh,” he said.
He kissed her palm, then lowered her arm to her side. She stood, still feeling the ghost of his kiss as he moved away from her and went back to that window.
“I can’t cut myself off from the world, Tom,” she whispered. “No matter what happened back home.”
“We’re not talking about that.” Tom turned, then straightened the lampshade, tilting the white pleated fabric. “This is home. All the other is gone, over, in the past. No, not in the past. It never happened. It’s erased. We weren’t there. I’m Tom, you’re Willow, and so it shall be.”
Willow. She’d bend like a willow in the wind, whatever she had to do to survive, she’d do it. That’s why she picked the name. And maybe Tom was right. Maybe she’d been wrong to call. Maybe someone else would have called, and then the police would have gone to someone else’s house. But now she’d made her bed, their bed, and they’d both have to face the consequences.
“The police will come again. They said so.” She felt the tears welling, tears of fear and uncertainty. “What will I tell them? What will you?”
Tom pulled the tie from around his neck, then silently coiled the strip of fabric around his hand, pulling it, striping his hand in red and black silk. Willow saw his fingers flex. Then he unwrapped the tie, one loop, then another, then another. Hung it on a steel hook next to his others in his closet, smoothed it flat.
“We’ll tell them the truth.” Tom unbuttoned his shirt, one white button at a time, as if it were a difficult task, important and significant. “Our new truth."
HANK: So here's my question. Reds and readers: Do you think this would be a good section to read out loud if someone on book tour asks me to? Do you enjoy when an author reads from their book?
(And don't forget, Bouchercon-goers: WHAT YOU SEE is an Anthony nominee!)
And one lucky commenter will win an ARC of SAY NO MORE!