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Dying to Tell

By:Rita Herron

prologue




From the moment I decided to kill him, I began to feel relief.

It had to be done. There was no other way to escape.

No turning back.

He had led me to the secret room so many times. He’d taken my soul and left me empty inside.

Ting. Ting. Ting.

The chimes began to ring. Crying. Shrill, grating sounds like a knife scraping bone.

No, he shouted.

Crying wasn’t allowed.

I heard the tears anyway. Silent streams of pain. Pleas for help. Prayers to die.

But no one came.

Were the screams just in my mind? Or were they real?

It didn’t matter.

I had to save myself.

The screech of the metal door echoed in the night. The bright light seared my eyes. The gruff sound of his voice whispering that he loved me.

My fingers curled around the knife as he walked nearer. So close, I saw the whites of his eyes.

The black pupils where his soul should have been, if he had ever had one.

The smell suffused me. Seeped into my pores.

The antiseptic. The cleansing soap. The faint hint of sweat.

Sickening.

Then he leaned over me.

Ting. Ting. Ting.

Emotions left me, bleeding out like the crimson life force I intended to take from him.

I raised the knife and jammed it in his chest. His grunt of pain and shock echoed in the icy cold chamber.

His blood spurted onto my face.

Then his body collapsed against mine, and I waited for him to die.

It was the only way I could survive...





Chapter 1




San Francisco, California, one week earlier

He told me not to tell.

The little girl’s voice echoed in Sadie Nettleton’s head as the judge polled the jury for the verdict.

“Guilty.”

“Guilty.”

“Guilty.”

“Guilty...”

As a forensic interviewer, Sadie had convinced the child to reveal the details of her abuse, and thankfully, now the jury had convicted the bastard. He would rot in jail.

But the child trembling in the seat next to her mother would have her own hell to live with. Maybe counseling would help, but would her internal scars ever heal?

Dammit, she knew about internal scars.

And secrets.

Lord, she had her own share of those.

Secrets she would never tell.

Two reporters rushed toward the DA and the family as they exited the courtroom. A third reporter, a clean-cut twentysomething who’d hounded Sadie for a personal interview after the last two trials in which she’d testified, made a beeline toward her.

“Miss Nettleton, you interviewed Melanie Norman.” He pushed the microphone in her face. “What do you think about today’s verdict?”

She cleared her throat and forced the rage from her voice, rage born on the child’s behalf for the innocence that had been destroyed at the hands of a man she’d trusted. “The family can rest easier tonight. Justice was served.”

“You’ve become quite the child advocate. Would you share with us what drove you to become a counselor and forensic interviewer?”

Not in this lifetime, she wouldn’t.

Sadie’s phone buzzed, and she pushed away the microphone. “I’m sorry. I really have to go.”

Desperate to escape personal scrutiny, she hurried down the hall and out the door, then jogged toward her VW. She needed space, distance, time to regroup. Channel her emotions.

Bury the past that taunted her daily.

Her phone buzzed again as she slid into the seat, and she checked the number.

Slaughter Creek, Tennessee. Home.

The site of her worst nightmares. The town she’d left years ago and swore never to return to.

Ignoring the call, she peeled out of the parking lot and headed toward the pier. Five minutes later she parked, climbed out, and breathed in the fresh ocean air.

San Francisco: beautiful, scenic, full of life, vitality, and tourists.

And as far away from the East Coast as she could get.

The wind whistled. From a shop nearby, wind chimes tinkled. Musical, soft, restful. Then an almost violent symphony as the breeze picked up.

Her sister had an obsession with wind chimes, had hung them everywhere, on the porch, her bedroom ceiling, above her door...

Suddenly the hair on the back of Sadie’s neck prickled. She glanced around, searching to see if someone was watching her. She’d had that feeling all her life, as if she was never alone.

And not just because she was a twin. Because she sensed someone watching her.

Music blasted from a group of teens nearby. A toddler squealed as his mother pushed him in his stroller. Two women jogged by. There were other locals on the street and several tourists snapping pictures. But no one that struck her as suspicious.

Yet the tinkle of the chimes echoed in her head again, reminding her of her sister. Poor Amelia had been diagnosed with DID, dissociative identity disorder, when she was twelve.

Honestly, her first episodes had started when she was only three. Amelia had talked about her friend Bessie, and Sadie played along, thinking Bessie was Amelia’s imaginary friend. By the time Amelia was eight, and continued to talk about Bessie, her grandfather had become worried. Then at age twelve, her second personality, Viola—a flirtatious side of Amelia—had emerged. Psychiatrists had deemed that she was suffering from multiple personality disorder, DID. Then at fourteen, another personality had appeared, a sullen teenage boy who called himself Skid.

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