A Little Madness With Your Coffee

Hey All –

Murder Madness Such Sweet Sadness comes out next week (3/21/16). It’s the second of three books in the Kiss Kill Love Him Still series, and it’s oh-so-yummy, if I may say so.

Even better: the ebook of KKLHS IS FREE on most online retailers (Kobo, B&N, iBooks, Amazon). This is a great time to grab your copy now and read before book 2 drops.

One more goody for you: The first chapter of MMSSS! Enjoy.

xoxo~dawn

 

CHAPTER ONE

VAL

 It’s cold. The cement walls, the metal frame on my bed, the bars that keep me locked up. It’s bone-chilling cold, and I have no way of getting warm.

A week. That’s how long I’ve been in jail, and that’s how long I’ve been sober.

My hands shake, and I have cold sweats. There isn’t enough water to quench my thirst. I’m up most nights with a racing brain, but slowly, the all-consuming desire for booze has left my system.

I went cold turkey, and it’s been hell, but what choice do I have? It’s not like the cafeteria serves Jack and Coke for lunch. Or vodka…or a cold beer.

Damn it, my mouth is watering now with a familiar longing.

Why’d they have to take my flask? My clothes and phone I understand, but my flask? The only person who is going to get hurt with it is myself.

Dry for seven whole days, and it’s been hell.

A week seems like forever, and no time at all, if that makes sense. Time takes on no meaning when you have nothing to do besides sleep, wait, eat, wait, and sleep.

So far, my parents and my attorney have come to see me. Paul has too. He pressed his hand against the thick safety glass that blocked us from one another and tears dotted the corners of his eyes.

“Val,” he said. “I don’t know why you’re in there, but I’m going to find out. I’m going to get you out.”

It was all very noble, but really, what can Paul do for me that my parents and attorney aren’t?

I mean, the only way he’s getting me out is if he confesses. Which will never happen. Besides, he’s done nothing wrong. I, on the other hand, may very well have played a part in Jackson’s murder.

If only I could remember.

No one else has come to see me. It’s like everyone accepts the fact I killed Jackson. I was arrested, so of course, I must be guilty. Why waste time on someone like me? The campus drunk who is accused of killing one of the most popular guys on campus.

No, no one cares. In fact, they may even feel relief now that the killer has been caught and locked up.

I can only imagine what they’re saying on campus. Livie must be thrilled, and Haddie, well that sniveling dork probably laughed her head off.

As for Alicia Barnes…I’m still trying to figure out her role in all this. I don’t remember confessing to her, but I was drunk, and I’ve been known to have a loose tongue. But why would I confess to something I don’t recall?

Maybe, just maybe, Alicia is covering for Livie. Perhaps Alicia is worried about Livie being involved. After all, she didn’t seem surprised that Jackson cheated on Livie all the time. Could the two of them have plotted to kill Jackson and pin it on me?

What am I saying? I’m not a conspiracy theorist.  At least I don’t think I am.

God, I need to get out of here. I’m beginning to go crazy. There’s no one to talk to, so I’m in my head nine-nine percent of the day until a guard brings my meal or retrieves me for visiting hours.

Mostly though, I try to sleep. It’s dangerous. As soon as I close my eyes, images of Jackson running through the trees fill my mind. I was there. I know I was. Yet I’m positive I didn’t kill him. There was someone else with us. I know that – it’s the one thing I’m sure of. If only I could remember more – like whether or not the other person present was male or female.

Not that it matters. My attorney says the police have a strong case against me, but no one is telling me what it is. In fact, I’m in the dark about most things.

“Valerie Ortiz,” the guard yells. My brain shifts gears from Jackson and the past to what’s going to happen to me next.

“Here,” I say, walking to the steel bars of my cell.

The guard runs her eyes over me. The orange jumpsuit I wear is thick and scratchy. My hair is down and limp – no regular showers here. No razors, no rubber bands. No anything. I look like a wreck.

“Your attorney is here.” Kim comes daily to check in on me. Add her to the list of people I get to talk to.

I nod as the guard slips a key into the lock, and with a solid thunk, the door swings open.

I shuffle down the fluorescent-lit hallway toward the visitation room. It’s just as gloomy as my cell. Maybe more so because the people on the other side are free to leave, and I’m stuck here.

The first time I saw my parents, my mother burst into tears. She kept saying, “How, Val? How?” as if I were guilty. When I told her I didn’t do it, she wiped her tears and said, “I know, hija, I know.”

This time it isn’t Mamá and Papá waiting for me but my attorney. She’s seated on the other side of a three-foot wide cubicle with safety glass separating us. I plop down in the plastic chair, and Kim gives me a quizzical look.

“What?” I ask, picking up the phone the jail lets us use to talk to those on the outside. I want to run a sanitizing wipe all over the grimy handset. This place is disgusting.

“I thought for someone getting out of here you’d be a little more ecstatic.”

My eyes widen. “What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“The judge is releasing you due to lack of evidence.”

I knit my brows together. “Lack of evidence? I thought they had a strong case against me?”

“Obviously not. All charges have been dropped, and you’re free to leave.”

None of this makes sense. “How did we go from ‘strong case’ to ‘lack of evidence’?”

Kim leans forward, her ear glued to the phone. “I’m a damn good attorney, Val. I did the job your parents paid me to do. Now, go get your things while the paperwork finishes processing. Your parents are in the waiting room.”

I’m not about to argue. I want out of this place and the sooner, the better. I hang up the phone and signal to the guard that I’m finished.

“Why you smilin’?” she asks. “Is it Christmas, and someone forgot to tell me?”

“Something like that,” I answer. “Something like that.”

“Well stop it. You’re giving me the creeps.”

I haven’t exactly made friends with the guards like some of the other prisoners. In fact, I think most of them hate me. I get it. I’m an accused murderer; who wants to be friendly to that type of person? I certainly wouldn’t.

“Do you know how I get my belongings?”

The guard stops abruptly and turns to face me with hands on her hips. “Why would you need you your things? You’re locked up, remember?”

A smile spreads across my face. “I’m getting out today. My attorney just told me.”

“Well, I haven’t heard about that.” We pause before my cell, and she unlocks the door before ushering me inside. Knowing I’ll be leaving shortly makes it bearable. “Usually, the orders come to us before you find out. So I wouldn’t go making grand plans or nothin’ cuz you ain’t going no where as far as I’m concerned.”

I sit on the flimsy mattress that covers the metal bed frame. “We’ll see.”

“Yes, we will, won’t we?” she smirks.

I could care less. If Kim says I’m getting out, then I’m getting out. After all, she’s a damn good attorney according to my papá. And he would know, being a judge and all.

Oh. Shit.

I bet the newspapers have had me plastered all over them. “Judge’s Daughter Jailed for Murder,” or worse. Poor Papá, I bet that’s why he was so silent during our visits. Once again, I’ve made trouble for the family. I’ll need to make this up to him somehow.

I settle back on my bed, prepared to wait for the paperwork to process. It could come through at midnight, and I wouldn’t care. All that matters is that I’m getting out.

Oh, and I’m going to find out who really killed Jackson Landis.

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