MARRED, by Sue Coletta
MARRED is a adult psychological thriller/mystery. This interview contains violence.
Amos walks to the guest room where the interviews take place scanning the area around him. Even the soft footfalls of his booted feet are barely heard on the soft grass. Moving to a nearby shadow, he stops and cringes.
“What are you doing here?” Amos stammers.
Ezra takes a deep breath. “We’re here to make certain you present yourself like a gentleman.”
“The high and mighty older brother. But this is my interview so get out.”
Alexis comes out of the kitchen with Ettie. Cora carries a teapot behind them.
“What are they doing here? And what are you doing with my wife. Get away from them Henrietta.”
Ettie pat’s her hair. “I’m just getting to know the girl who will be my sister in law.”
Amos grunts, and Ezra growls under his breath. The doorbell rings and everyone turns and stares. As Cora answers the door and a woman with sable brown hair and radiant green eyes enters the room.
Cora takes her coat and Alexis lays a hand on her arm and ushers her in.
“What are you doing?” Amos says. “Get away from my guest.”
Amos pulls a blade hidden under his coat, but Ezra seizes it without anybody else noticing. He places a hand on Amos’ shoulder, and smiles. “Welcome Mrs. Quintano.”
Amos pushes him away. “This is my interview!” he hisses through his teeth.
Mrs. Quintano holds a tight smile as she sits, steeples her hands over crossed knees.
Ezra gives Amos a warning look but sits quietly beside Alexis to watch.
Amos lifts his hand to shake. "Mrs. Quintano."
"Please, call me Sage."
“Thank you for being with me today.” Amos clears his throat. “The paperwork your publicist sent said you had a run in with some kind of killer?”
"Umm... Two, actually, but I was under the impression I was here to discuss my latest novel."
Amos pushes forward. “You lost your baby. How did that affect you?”
"Seriously? What kind of show is this?" She stands to leave. "I think there's been some sort of mistake."
“You don’t think your husband did it do you?”
Sage raises an open hand to her chest. "My husband? Heavens no."
Ezra stands and shakes his head. “That’s enough, Am—“
Ettie pulls him back to the sofa. “Sh, I want to hear what Amos has to say.”
Ezra sighs, and Amos tips his hat to his wife, smiling. He turns his attention back to Sage, but speaks under his breath.
“The reason I asked ... I don’t know if you read my story, but I sent an assassin to kill Ezra. It isn't uncommon for such--”
“Enough, Amos.” Ezra rubs his eyes.
Sage sits back down. "Actually, he's correct. In my research for "HURT"-- which stayed on the NY Times Bestsellers' List for twelve weeks, I might add-- I discovered 54.3 percent of people are killed by someone they know, be it neighbor, lover, or friend, 24.8 percent by a family member." She bristles, rubs her arms. "Brr... Scary stuff."
Amos sits back in his chair and pulls his hat from his head.
“Okay then, tell me more about your story.”
"My story?" Again, she holds a tight smile, her eyes shifting between Amos to Ezra. "That's why I'm really here, isn't it? My agent told me nothing about this." She pauses, mumbles, "Dammit, Jess." Sage bites her bottom lip, seems to compose herself. "Okay, fine. It all started three years ago when an intruder broke in through my bedroom sliders while I was writing in my downstairs office. When I went to the kitchen for a cup of tea I was so focused, wrapped up in my own thoughts I suppose, I didn't realize a masked man was standing in my living room-- a gun trained at my head." She wipes a lone tear away. "I don't know if you've heard about the murders on the news? What am I saying, of course you haven't. Alexandria is small rural town in New Hampshire. Quant. Beautiful. Blink and you'll miss it." She giggles. A split-second later a seriousness rolls over her face. "Women are being slaughtered. Suspended from rafters of abandoned buildings in long, flowing gowns, like angels, their eyes and mouth X'd out with black wire, erased from their ghostly pale face." She waves her hand in front of her face, as if erasing her comment. "Anyway, the one responsible for the killings has my twin sister Chloe. The same man who. . . who. . ." She clears her throat. "The man who broke into my home. I think. Well, I'm fairly sure."
"Do you love your husband?"
"I love Niko dearly."
"Well, that's my fault, really. I haven't exactly told him yet." Sage's eyes get big and round. "When did you say this interview airs?"
"You don’t think he hired an assassin to kidnap your sister, do you? That’s what I would do if the girl got on my nerves, but my Ettie is almost perfect, a proper woman to be sure. She lost a baby too, but she died with him. It was Ezra’s fault.
Amos’ Father stands. “Stop blaming your brother for everything, Amos.”
Sage's gaze ping-pongs between Amos and his father. "Niko's the sheriff of Grafton County. A good man... usually. Besides, the kidnapper called me. He tried to disguise himself with a voice box, but made the mistake of saying something that told me exactly who he was-- a cold-hearted killer."
Amos rolls his eyes as his Father, folds his arms and sits back down.
“If anymore else interrupts me I’m kicking the lot of you out,” Amos says.
Alexis laughs. “As if we would leave you alone with Sage."
“Please excuse my brothers betrothed. She’s from the future and doesn't know what manners are.”
He leans in. “I almost killed her too. But I digress. What does your husband hope for?”
"Niko? He's busy working his case. If I tell him about Chloe he'll think... It's bad enough he treats me like a fragile piece of glass that can crack at any minute. Admittedly, we've had a few problems lately. Secrets. They can kill a marriage. Now, about my book..."
“Do you think you’ll get your sister back or will Sue kill her off?”
Sage rises up. "Kill her? Sue would never--" She seems to mull it over, sits back down. "If anything happens to Chloe it won't be Sue's fault. I could never blame her."
Do you know if this is a stand-alone story or is it a series?
Sage leans in, lowers her voice. "Sue doesn't know, but I heard her talking about another book. From what I gather, Frankie, Niko's partner, will take the lead in that one." She straightens, presses a palm on her cheek. "Good Lord, I hope she keeps me out it. I don't know how much more I can take."
I was just thinking your chances of survival are less in a stand alone story because she has to end everything so soon. A series? You probably have more time.
"Like I said, I'm hopeful I'll find my sister. Besides, I can't imagine Sue stretching out my torment. She wouldn't do that to me." Sage picks at her cuticles, then glances back up. "Do you know something I don't?"
“Very well then. The rudeness of our audiences interruptions has taken up our time. Is there anything else you want to add?”
“Gossip. You forgot to ask her about gossip, darling,” Henrietta bursts in.
Sage throws her head back and laughs. "I mentioned we live in a small town, right? Gossip runs rampant there. Heck, even the librarian knows when I have the sniffles. Something this major... murders... she's probably in her glory. Snooty bit-- Pardon me. I just get so..." Again she waves her hand. "Ah, it's not important. Now, about my book."
Amos bows slightly and stands. Sage rises with him.
"Thank you for joining us today Mrs. Quintano."
Sage moves toward the door, then straightens the collar on her blouse, turns toward the audience.
"You can find my novel "HURT" online and in bookstores near you." She turns back toward Amos, shakes his hand. "Thank you for having me." Swings her hand toward Ezra, then quickly withdraws it. "Ah, nice meeting you, too."
Author of four crime novels, MARRED, Timber Point, Silent Betrayal, A Strangled Rose-- soon to hit the shelves. Sue is a proud member of Sisters In Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and contributes to three authors’ blogs: