It’s my pleasure to welcome Karen Fenech to MurderSheWrites today. Karen writes contemporary and historical romantic suspense. Her novel Betrayal has been translated in Japanese, and her short fiction has been translated in Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian. Karen lives with her husband and daughter. Visit her website at: www.karenfenech.com.
Thank you to Debra and the wonderful authors at Murder She Writes for having me here. In addition to giving up her blog today, sometime ago Debra read my recently released novel GONE and provided a quote for the book. Imagine my delight at receiving a quote from an author whose work I had long enjoyed and admired.
Debra’s kindness and generosity, and that of other writers I am privileged to know, has made me think of our community of writers as a family. In our family, a call for help when a plot stalls or a character misbehaves brings fellow writers with sleeves rolled back, ready to pitch in and solve the problem. It’s these same people who are cheerleaders and champions of our work and, when something in our writing world derails us, they are the ones who give us a much-needed kick in the butt to get up, get going, and move on. No one else really “gets” this part of our lives.
My latest release GONE explores the subject of family. My heroine, FBI Special Agent Clare Marshall, is searching for the sister she was separated from in childhood when her mother tried to kill her. Clare has known the hope of promising clues to her sister’s whereabouts and the crushing despair when those clues reveal themselves to be false leads. Now, she tracks her sister to a small South Carolina town. This time it’s for real and Clare knows that a reunion with her sister is imminent. When she arrives in town, however, she discovers that her sister is missing and that someone from the town is responsible for her disappearance. Fearing for her sister’s life, Clare launches an investigation into her disappearance. Fellow FBI Special Agent Jake Sutton offers help, but Jake is Clare’s estranged lover and has an agenda of his own.
Here’s an excerpt from GONE:
Clare left the nursing facility and stepped into bright sunlight. She shielded her eyes with the back of one hand and with the other reached into the purse dangling from her shoulder, digging for sunglasses. A man was walking across the parking lot toward her. A trick of the light, he looked like . . .
She hadn’t realized she’d spoken his name aloud until she heard it.
He was close enough to have heard as well, though he didn’t speak. His eyes, narrowed against the sun, fixed on her with an intensity she remembered all too well.
Too late to pretend she hadn’t seen him. It wasn’t too late to walk away, though. She wanted to walk away, really wanted to, and because she did forced herself to stay put and meet his gaze.
Jake now stood in front of her, blocking the sunlight. Clare lowered her hand. His chin was at her eye level. He hadn’t shaved. Black beard shadowed his jaw, made his tanned skin look darker.
The last time she’d seen him, from the other side of her bed, he’d looked a little pale. Tired from working too hard. Tired from going another ten rounds with her.
That was three years ago. He didn’t look to be suffering from sleepless nights anymore. He looked rested and fit. The blue T-shirt he wore over jeans showed his hard, tough body. Was he still with the Bureau? If so, by his casual attire, he wasn’t working today.
“I could say the obvious ‘small world,'” Jake said.
It had been big enough for her until a moment ago. But in response, she said only, “Must be.”
In the awkward silence, a group of women in hospital uniforms dashed by, causing a slight breeze that smelled strongly of spicy perfume.
Jake cleared his throat. “Don’t tell me the Bureau’s sent you to make sure I’m not lazing my days away fishing?”
He said it with a smile, an obvious attempt at lightness. Clare didn’t return the smile.
“You’re assigned to the Columbia office?”she said.
“Resident office in Farley, actually.”
That surprised her. After they’d stopped seeing each other, Jake had put in for a transfer out of the New York office. They’d been members of the same squad for a time and had been paired off. Working together after things ended had strained them both. Jake was very good at what he did and had earned the commendations to prove it. He could have aimed a lot higher than Farley. She couldn’t understand why he hadn’t.
She didn’t know where he’d gone—didn’t want to know—but she would never have imagined him choosing Farley. He was a city boy. She wouldn’t have figured he would come here voluntarily. He must have been desperate to create distance between them for him to accept this post.
“Just me, one other agent, and an admin assistant,” Jake went on. “How about you? What brings you to our fair town?”
When she’d known him, she’d never mentioned Katie. On the nights he’d stayed at her apartment, she’d stored her cork board and files on her sister in a closet. She had no reason not to tell him about Katie at this time. Her being in Farley and the reason for it was likely climbing the town grapevine at lightning speed. But there was no reason to bring Katie up to him now, when she hadn’t before.
“Vacation,” she said simply.
He heard the lie. The humor in Jake’s gaze vanished and in an instant his gaze grew razor sharp.
“I recall you had a preference for sand and surf,” he said.
No doubt he was referring to the one brief getaway they’d taken together—a spur-of-the-moment jaunt following a particularly gruelling assignment. They’d both been wound tight. He’d asked her where she’d like to go.
White sand beach. A pounding surf. No one else around for miles.
Her words returned to her. The next morning, she’d awakened and found he’d packed her suitcase and had found the perfect place for them to go. She didn’t care for the reminder of how perfect it had been between them once.
“Not this time,” she said. “Good-bye, Jake.”
Before he could say anything further, Clare walked away from him.
Have you read or written about the subject of family? As a token of my gratitude for being here with all of you, I’ll be drawing a name from one of the commenters to win a $20 gift card at Amazon.