Sneak preview from What's Left of Her

What kind of mother walks away from her family?

This is the question many readers asked after finishing Pieces of You, Book One of The Betrayed Trilogy. They wanted to know the real story behind the disappearance of Evie Burnes. What’s Left of Her offers an intimate glimpse into Evie Burnes’s life before her disappearance—and after.

Here’s a sneak peak from What’s Left of Her… (coming this month!)

It has been fifty-two hours and they still haven’t found her. Detective Olnowski came to the house yesterday morning and filled out a Missing Person’s report and took down all the necessary information to post a five-county search.

Quinn is lying flat out on his bed, stomach down, head buried between his arms. He tries to lose himself in his music, but even the Rolling Stones can’t blot out images of his mother, first quiet glances of her doing ordinary things: washing dishes at the kitchen sink, smiling at him over her canvas as he paints next to her, waving good-bye on her way to the grocery store. Simple snap shots. Normal life. And then the other visions intrude, the ones of her slashed and bloodied, dumped in a ditch, clothes ripped, body violated. He pushes them from his mind, wills them away, but they return, over and over, first in sleeping hours and now, during waking times.

He tries to remember the last time he saw her, tries to pull out the details but already they are fading. Was she wearing a red shirt that morning or orange? She had on a jean skirt, of this he is certain. He can picture her at the kitchen sink rinsing syrup off the dishes. She made them all French toast that morning but he slept in and only had time for a quick gulp of orange juice. Then out the door. Had he said good-bye?
She has to come back soon, wherever she is, they have to find her and bring her back. Maybe she fell, maybe she ran out of gas and was walking to the gas station when she fell and now she has amnesia and can’t get to them.

His father is a basket case. He’s been in the kitchen the past two nights with his Jack Daniel’s, one eye on the rooster clock over the sink and the other on the back door. Waiting. That’s what they are all doing; just waiting. The police have been to the house seven times, asking questions, taking information, borrowing one of his mother’s shirts. For the scent, Detective Olnowski tells them, the dogs need it. Quinn’s life has suddenly turned from routine to erratic in the span of fifty-two hours.
She’ll be back, he knows it and there’ll be a good reason for her absence, he knows this, too. It will all make sense the second he sees her face, hears her voice, then everything will be all right, back to normal.

He lifts his head from the tunnel of his arms, blinks to adjust to the light. The alarm clock on the nightstand reads 3:18 P.M. Annalise will be coming home from Aunt Rita’s soon, and then she’ll be looking for him, knocking on his door, peeking in, making sure he isn’t going to disappear, too. Quinn has taken to putting her to bed at night, removing the barrettes and elastic bands from her long brown hair, pulling the blanket to her chin, tucking her in with Penelope, the pink hippo, sometimes, even reading her a few poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends. Ten-year-old brains aren’t equipped to handle death, or loss, unless it is a squished worm or a sick hermit crab, and even then, the tears and questions can resurface for days. But parents don’t die in a ten-year-old’s mind and they never just disappear; washing T-shirts and underwear one day, gone the next.

No one has told Annalise they don’t know where her mother is or when she’ll be back – not if, but when. They say she’s gone on a trip to Philadelphia for a few days to visit a sick relative and Annalise, unfamiliar with the adult world of lies and deceit, believes them. There are no questions, not who the relative is, aunt, uncle, cousin, or why she’s never heard of this person before. It is all simply accepted.

Lies. They tell her lies, Quinn, too. He feels bound to expand on the reasons his mother isn’t home; a very sick aunt who’s bedridden and in danger of losing a leg. Mom had to leave right away, plane to catch, no time to say good-bye. On and on he goes with the convoluted tale, until Annalise yawns, curls up on her side, and pulls Penelope to her. He watches her until she drifts off wishing he could be ten again.

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