We’re hosting something a bit different today. To celebrate the publication of Jessica Barry’s Don’t Turn Around, I am joining a host of fantastic bloggers in sharing some chapters of the book, and exclusive content from the author.
To read the first chapter, check out A Little Book Problem.
To read the chapter before this one (Chapter 9), check out Brown Flopsy’s Book Burrow.
To read on in the next chapter, check out Beverley Has Read from tomorrow.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Patrick sat down heavily on the hotel bed and rubbed his tired eyes. The conference had promised a four- star, but from the feel of the cheap linen, it was probably more like three. It didn’t matter much to him. The places where they held these events were always the same: marble foyers— this one with a tinsel- laden artificial Christmas tree, to mark the season— and long echoing corridors and tiny soaps wrapped in paper. Tomorrow morning, there’d be breakfast with limp bacon and congealed eggs, and he’d eat it while people came up to his table and shook his hand. Some of them would linger, hoping to be invited to sit. He didn’t mind. This was what it was all about, wasn’t it? Connecting with people. Touching lives.
He checked the clock. Half past ten. It would be after midnight in Lubbock. She’d be asleep by now, or at least in bed. He knew she didn’t sleep much these days.
He reached for the phone. He wanted to hear her voice, even if it was just for a minute. The way things had been with them recently . . . it tore him up inside, it really did. If he could just make her see things the way he saw them, if he could just make her believe, they wouldn’t have to be like this with each other. He wouldn’t have to be like this. They could be happy, like they were before. Like they’d been back in San Francisco, all those years ago.
He clicked the call button and listened to the phone ring. She usually picked up on the second ring. Maybe she’d fallen asleep. Still, the phone should wake her up. He waited for the answering machine to pick up, but instead he heard the monotonous drone of an automated service. “We’re sorry, your call cannot be answered at the minute. Please leave a message after the tone.”
He held the phone in his hand for a second before disconnecting the call. Why hadn’t the answering machine picked up? Maybe the power had gone out and the machine had reverted back to factory settings. But that automated voice . . . he’d heard it before.
It was her cell phone. She’d tried to set up voicemail when she’d first gotten it, but she’d given up. “There are too many buttons on this thing,” she’d said, brandishing the Samsung in the air. “I give up. I’ll just have to be a robot.”
He checked the number he called. Definitely the house phone.
He scrolled down to her cell number and hit dial. It rang a few times and then the same robot told him to leave a message after the tone. He hung up and tossed the phone across the bed.
Why would she have forwarded the house phone to her cell? She’d promised him that she would stay at home while he was away. She needed rest. There was no reason for her not to be picking up the phone right now.
He put his head in his hands. God, no. Please. No.
He reached over and grabbed his phone off the comforter, scrolled through his recent calls until he found Rich’s number. He’d still be awake. From what Patrick could tell, his campaign manager never slept.
Rich picked up on the first ring. “Hey, champ! How’s California? Did you knock ’em dead?”
“The conference went fine. Look, I’m sorry to call you this late— ”
“No apology necessary. You know I’m available to you twentyfour/seven.”
“I tried calling Rebecca at the house and she’s not answering. I think . . . I think we might have a situation on our hands.”
“Leave it with me. The wheels of justice are already in motion.”
“It might be nothing. She might be at home, asleep. She might have accidentally turned the ringer off or left the phone off the hook . . .” Even as he said the words, he knew they weren’t true.
“I’m probably just wasting your time.”
“You did the right thing by calling. Now go get some shut- eye, okay? You’ve got an early flight tomorrow, and we need you looking fresh for the judge.”
“Could you let me know when you find her?”
The line went dead. Patrick cradled the phone in his hand for a minute before placing it on the nightstand and walking across the room to the minibar. He took out a couple of miniatures, poured them into a glass, and bolted the whole thing. And then got down on his knees and began to pray.
If this has encouraged you to read on, you can do so with Beverley Has Read at the link above, or you can buy the book from 15th April. You can also check out my review of the book on 15th April.