Winter Flower, Chapter 5-3. Sam.


Note: This is an unedited preview of my upcoming novel Winter Flower, releasing June 22, 2019. Pre-orders are available at all major retailers. Click here to read previous chapters.

After the press conference, Mom and Dad disappeared into Dad’s office with Lori and Mom’s friend Angela, who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. I’m not sure they even noticed I was still standing there—not that my being invisible was unusual—so I followed them back inside and started to my room.

I felt—scared. Numb. Empty. I couldn’t get my mind around what they’d said. Her phone smashed, car abandoned. Brenna missing. It was like saying the ground was missing. It just didn’t make any sense. How could Brenna be missing? She was my world.

“Sam?” I turned around. It was one of the cops, a white guy with curly hair. He’d been talking as we planned the press conference, but no one bothered to introduce me to him.

“I’m Stan Wilcox. I’m with the FBI.”

I nodded, but didn’t say anything.

“Can I ask you a few questions, Sam?”

“Of course.”

He smiled, maybe trying to reassure me. It didn’t help. He gestured toward the living room. “Can we sit in here?”

I followed him in and sat down in one of the chairs. He sat down opposite me. He looked tired, his suit jacket gone, tie untucked. It didn’t look like he’d slept either.

“Sam, I need you to know that these are routine questions. Part of my job is to explore any possibility for what might have happened to Brenna. Okay?”

I nodded.

He smiled. “Good. I’m glad you understand. So… tell me about your parents. Do they get along?”

I didn’t know how to answer that. How do you tell a complete stranger that your family has been falling apart? That you’ve lost your trust in your father?

Then I thought of Brenna, somewhere out there possibly in danger. If it could help her, I would tell him anything he needed to know. I took a deep breath, then said, “It’s not just lately, it’s the past couple of years. They’ve never told us what it was about, but there was a lot of fighting and screaming.”

I felt a twist in my stomach. I wasn’t going to say it. But then I thought—what if there was something important? What if there was something that I didn’t know, some tiny detail they needed to find my sister and bring her back to me. I took a deep breath. “I’m pretty sure Dad had an affair.”

Wilcox’s eyes widened just a little. “I see. Did you and your sister talk about that much?”

“A little. Both of us were tired of them fighting all the time.” I swallowed and looked away. “It seemed like… like maybe things were getting better lately. Like… they weren’t fighting quite as much. And… they were even nice to each other at the birthday party.”

Wilcox made some notes in a small pocket-sized notebook. “Did Brenna get along well with your parents?”

I shrugged. “I guess. She fought sometimes with Mom. Especially about Chase. “

Wilcox tilted his head. “Why was that?”

“Cause… he’s pretty old compared to her. He’s like twenty.”

“Did those fights ever turn physical?”

I shook my head. “No… of course not. It wasn’t like that.”

“And your Dad?”

“What about him?”

“Did he fight with Brenna?”

“Not really. He and Mom argued a lot when he was home, but he’s been traveling a lot the last couple of years. We don’t see him that much.”

Wilcox said in a quiet tone, “Oh, that’s tough. How do you feel about that?”

I shrugged. That was a stupid question.

Wilcox leaned close to me and said, “Listen… I know Detective Hunt has already asked you a lot of questions. And I have too. But if you think of anything, I want you to call me. I promise you, we’ll do everything we can to find your sister.” As he finished saying the words, he passed me a business card. 

So weird. It really said, in all capital letters, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION.

I needed to be alone. “Can I go now?” 

Wilcox nodded, and I fled to my room.

Note: This is an unedited preview of my upcoming novel Winter Flower, releasing June 22, 2019. Pre-orders are available at all major retailers.



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