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Under Her Care: A Thriller

Under Her Care: A Thriller PDF

Author: Lucinda Berry

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer


Publish Date: June 1, 2022

ISBN-10: 1542035465

Pages: 283

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Blood isn’t sweet. Not like they say it is. In the books. Those ones Mama reads.
I didn’t mean to get it on my lips. That was an accident. Please don’t be mad. I hope she’s not mad. She’s mean when she’s mad.
I tried. Really did. My best. That’s what she says. Always do your best. My best. He used to say it too. She’ll never say anything again.
I don’t like her face. Her. Ugly. Those eyes too black. Big. I had to shut them. Stupid me. It’s on my hands. There’s no way to wash. I hate when I can’t wash. Oh God.

It’s starting. Please make it stop.

There’s never been a killer among us. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has lots of community sins; murder just isn’t one of them. The entire town is shook. It’s been that way since they found the mayor’s wife’s body on the riverbank of Hurricane Creek underneath the old railroad bridge. We don’t have those kinds of tragedies around here. We watch them play out on Dateline on Friday nights at eight o’clock on our flat-screen TVs. Not in our own backyards.
Gunner Banks’s fingers are sweaty as he grips my arm while we walk down the police station corridor. Cinder blocks line each side. He leans into me and whispers, “So what do you think about the Hill boy?”
“I haven’t even met him,” I say. Except nobody else has, either, but that hasn’t stopped them from forming opinions about his innocence, since Mason Hill was standing next to Annabelle’s body when they found her. Her blood was all over him. His mother, Genevieve, claims he stumbled on her while he was out for a walk and tried to save her. She’s got lots of people on her side supporting her, but there are plenty coming against her, and they’re convinced Mason was only there for one reason—he did it.
Gunner points to the door on my right and reaches around me to push it open. “Here you go, ma’am. The big boss will be with you shortly.” A wide smile spreads across his face, and for a second, he looks just like he did in fourth grade when he gave me the chocolate heart for Valentine’s Day.
“Thanks,” I say, returning his smile as I step into the room. “Tell Phoebe that I say hi.”

“Will do.” He dips his head like he’s tipping an imaginary hat before leaving me alone to wait.
I’ve never been in a police station before, and it’s impossible not to feel like I’ve done something wrong as soon as the door shuts behind him. I take a deep breath, trying to steady my nerves. Detective Layne has been assigned to the case. He’s local but graduated ten years before me, so I have no idea what to expect from him. He didn’t give me any clue to the reason for his call yesterday, only that I needed to come down to the station to talk.
The windows on the back wall are covered in grime. Two beat-up chairs rest in front of a sprawling aluminum desk, but I’m too nervous to sit. I gave my deposition to a lawyer once in a child-custody case, but that’s as close as I’ve come to working with the police. Why am I here? And then it hits me—What if they think I have something to do with it?
Marsha Seale posted all over Facebook last night that investigators have a list of new leads and they’re bringing people in for questioning. I assumed they wanted to talk to me about Mason, since he has autism and that’s my area of expertise, but what if I’m wrong? What if I’m on the list?Why would I be on that list? Just as I’m spiraling into frenzied worry, the door opens behind me, and I jump, whipping around.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” Detective Layne says as he moves past me and into the room.
My cheeks flood with embarrassment as I rush to take a seat in front of the desk, where I should’ve been in the first place. I smooth down my pants and straighten my shirt, quickly trying to recover as I give him a practiced smile.
“I’m Detective Layne,” he says, meeting my smile with a quick nod as he squeezes around the desk. He’s overweight and balding, with nothing but peach fuzz on the top of his head. He plops down in the seat. Air escapes the cushion. “Thanks for coming in to chat with me today.”

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