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Dead In The Water: A Psychological Thriller | Book 2 | The Water Series(Ebook)

Dead In The Water: A Psychological Thriller | Book 2 | The Water Series(Ebook)

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About The Book

Book Two | The Water Series

Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets Dexter. Jude and Kate are the perfect neighbors with the perfect cover…

He’s a contract killer. She likes to even the score. Smack dab in the middle of suburbia, few married couples are as competitive as Jude and Kate.

But then, most married couples don’t keep score in the form of body counts. Each hell-bent on a silent pact to out-do the other, the games begin.

Who ends up on top is anyone’s guess. But with these two, one thing’s for sure—not everyone comes out alive.

After all, there are a few things they can agree on: All is fair in love and war. And if they can’t make it work–they’re dead in the water.

In the tradition of Gone Girl and Behind Closed Doors comes a gripping, twisting, furiously clever read that demands your attention, and keeps you guessing until the very end. For fans of the anti-heroine and stories told in unorthodox ways, Dead In The Water delivers us the perfect dark and provocative villains.

Read a sample

Chapter One

AFTER


Do I love my wife? Of all the questions there are to ask—this is what the woman sitting across from me wants to know. It’s a simple question, really. Which should make the answer simple. But then, the truth is far from simple, and in our case, particularly lately, the answer’s not even close to black and white. 

It wasn’t always this way. But you know that. 

I don’t answer—at least, not right away. It isn’t her eyes I watch as she frames the next question, it’s her lips. They linger, moving slowly as she speaks, and it doesn’t help matters any that they’re painted a striking shade of red. This color is a stretch for a so-called professional, and then, of course, there’s the other issue—the fact that her top is unbuttoned two buttons below what I’d consider appropriate. Still, I pretend not to notice. But that’s not to say it doesn’t take effort. Pretending isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You know that too.

This woman, whom I’m not answering, she sits legs crossed, head cocked, and she studies me. I study her too. Because what else can you do when you’re avoiding things? We’re in a stand-off the two of us, and I’m familiar with this territory. It led me here. It helps that I find her interesting, from the smart blonde bob that frames her face, to her long, thin legs. I try to avert my eyes, and I do my best not to stare, although that is exactly what I’m supposed to do. It’s my job to make eye contact—it’s what she wants, it’s the other reason I’m here. And in any case, I’m married, not blind, and I won’t lie, she’s attractive for a woman trying to get in my head. 

This kind of woman is the worst kind. We’ve just met and already she’s trying to dissect me, as though I’m some sort of specimen, and she seems to sense that I see her for what she is.  I’ve known more than a few like her in my time. I can see what she’s thinking as she sizes me up, peering up at me as though I’m some sort of alien. It doesn’t matter that I’m silent. No matter what I say to her, it’ll be as though I’m speaking a foreign language, and according to her expression, she’s already decided that it’s one no one has understood, ever. Whatever the case, I can also see that she’s equal parts put off and intrigued. I’m wondering if now would be the time to tell her I already have one just like her at home, and I sure as hell didn’t come here looking for another. But, then, probably not. Every man knows that some things are better left unsaid. 

“Do you love your wife?” she repeats again, and it’s amusing. I know I could lie. It would be so easy just to tell her yes, I do; it would be nice to keep it short and sweet. But I can’t make myself say the word. Three letters could save me. And yet, I can’t make myself spit them out. 

You could. But you can do a lot of things. You can reduce a man to nothing. You’ve always had that effect on me. It’s what landed me here, in this office, in this position. 

Still, it’s far from over. You can knock me down, Kate. But don’t be surprised when I get back up. I’m not a quitter. You should know that. Maybe you’ve forgotten. But you’ll see.

She sighs, and she’s contemplating her next move. I can see the wheels turning behind her eyes. I look away. She isn’t good at hiding her feelings, and maybe she’s not like you. I shift in my seat, and suddenly my throat is dry, and I realize I’m still staring at her mouth. Also, I’m in trouble. It’s just, well, I’ve forgotten how much you can miss a person’s mouth. I’d forgotten how much I could miss yours. It’s coming back to me, now, here, at the most inopportune time, and suddenly I’m trying to recall the last time we kissed. I can’t remember. These days, we do other things. But not that. 

She clears her throat, and I glance up and meet her gaze. I wonder if she knows what I’m thinking. I think she does. My dick gets hard at the thought of kissing you, at the thought of the way it used to be. She smiles because she thinks it’s about her. 

Women like her always do. 

How hard a question is it, Mr. —” she starts. She pauses and looks down at her tablet. “Mr. Riley?” she finishes, and she meets my eye again. She’s toying with me. She hasn’t forgotten my name. This woman is smarter than that. I’d be stupid to think otherwise. Luckily, I’m experienced, not stupid, and this is a game I know well. Cheryl Edwards-Steinbeck, I study the letters on her nameplate and instantly my dick goes soft. Of course, she’s one of those women. You know, the kind who can’t settle on just one name. Such a thing would be incomprehensible for a woman like Mrs. Edwards-Steinbeck. Please, she’d say if her guard were down, one name is for plain folk, peasants—not a woman such as herself, one with stature. She has a reputation to uphold. She wants people to know she’s married—respectable— while at the same time neatly stating that she’s not dependent on a man, and she’s keeping her last name to prove it. It’s too bad for her that I know her husband, and he says otherwise.

She folds her lips and shifts just slightly. She’s displeased with silence. But then, so are you. Maybe all women are the same. 

I want to tell her how displeased I am that I’m here, now that I’ve come. I want to let her know how cliché it is that she wants me to think— hell, that she wants everyone to think— she’s unique, an island all her own, when she isn’t. But it gets worse. Now she’s trying to portray a level of incompetence in order to get me to let my guard down. Women: give them time, and they’ll show their true colors. One way or another, every single time. Despite my silence, I want to tell her this, too. But I won’t. Because this particular woman, I’m required to see, and she and I, we’re working on a points system. Which means in order to get what I want, I can’t tell her what I really think. It means I have to tread carefully, and believe me, it’s a minefield.

But it’s not as though I have much choice in the matter. Now that I’m in this position, now that I’m going to need to be around more, it seems I have no choice but to give her what she wants. She’s my ticket in. I sort of need this job with the firm. Even though I really don’t. Although nothing is as it seems, though, is it? Like Edwards-Steinbeck here, people can call themselves whatever they want and it won’t change the fact that a spade is still a spade. This particular spade, I might add, has done a very good job of luring me in. Which is in part why I’m avoiding and evading. That’s a skill, too. But then you know a thing or two about that. I just hope she recognizes this as a skill. I hope she sees how I am at holding out— almost as good as you. 

But not quite. 

This probing that she’s doing, it isn’t unusual; I don’t blame her. It’s her job. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Unfortunately, it’s par for the course in this line of work, psych-evaluations. Which is why, for now, I play their game. They want to know I’ve got it together. They need to know I can maintain control at all costs. Lucky for them, I am the epitome of control. But given that, right out of the gate, we’re talking about you, not me, I realize that revealing much of anything in the way of the truth won’t exactly play out in my favor. Not here. Not with her.

But this lady—she is relentless. So relentless, in fact, that part of me wants to warn her about the last shrink I spent time with.

Of course, I could just give her what she wants. As you well know— that much would be easy. In a sense, it wouldn’t be hard to tell the truth, that yes, of course, I love you. I’ve watched you carry and give birth to our child. I’ve watched you love the one you didn’t carry, more than life itself. But there’s also a lot I don’t know how to tell this woman. Things I can’t tell anyone, especially not you.

* * *

The therapist’s phone rings, interrupting my thoughts. She doesn’t stand to leave or ask me to excuse her; she simply holds up her index finger and takes the call. She isn’t polite, and this irritates me more than I want to let on. As she chatters away, she glances my way every once in awhile, just to ensure she has my attention. She wants to know I’m listening; she likes to wield her power, this one. But clearly she knows nothing about manners, HIPPA, or privacy in general, and so she rattles on. I wonder how much her husband tells her. Are they testing me? Trying to see if I’ll reveal too much? Surely, she knows what I am. Does she care? 

As I study her features, I consider how much to give when she stops being rude and starts in once more with the questions. Maybe I’ll tell her everything. Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. 

For now, attention is what she wants, and attention is what she gets. Her nose is narrow; her chin wide, her makeup painted on and I decide that she is at least a decade older than she’s trying to let on. For one, her pencil skirt is a tad too tight, and more than a tad too short. She wears it proudly though, and to that I say what the hell. If you’ve got it, you might as well flaunt it. Except she’s in a position where she needs to be in control, and dressing like a high-dollar hooker makes her seem less so. But then, that’s her problem. My gain. When she’s satisfied that she has my full attention, she ends the call. 

“Tell me about your relationships, Jude,” she says, and I haven’t given her permission to use my first name. We aren’t friends here— this is business— but then women like her aren’t the kind to ask for permission. I eyeball the rock on her finger, and I offer my slyest smile. She waits patiently for an answer.

“Tell me about yours, Cheryl,” I say, and her eyes follow mine to her left hand. She’s mildly amused. But she hides it well. It could be the three coats of makeup, though; it’s hard to tell. 

She laughs, and I know my assessment was right. She’s bored—with life, with work, in general and she wants to play. “That’s a story for another day, Mr. Riley,” she chides and suddenly she’s back to formalities. Despite her inherent sense of desperation—she can read people; I’ll give her that. 

She glances down at her tablet again. “I see here that your wife filed for divorce several years back,” she says and this one, she’s ruthless. Although, I have to admit, I do appreciate the way she chooses her words carefully. These things can be life-saving. 

“Really,” I tell her. It isn’t a question, but more of a statement. It’s a word that means nothing, and yet it saves lives in this moment. It buys us both time. 

“Really,” she answers and then she deadpans. I watch as she glances back at her tablet, and I can tell that I make her nervous and unsure, even if she’s not willing to show it. “Although… it was never completed,” she adds, looking up at me. She raises her brow. “The case was withdrawn from the courts… can you tell me about that?”

“I’d rather not.” 

“And why is that?” 

I try honesty on for size. “It’s painful.”

She frowns and it’s obvious she doesn’t buy my answer, which is really too bad. Finally, she exhales. “Ah, but Jude—you see, that’s what we’re here for. It’s important to get to the bottom of things.”

“Couldn’t we give waterboarding a try instead?” 

She laughs, but only a little. Then she lowers her gaze and then her voice. “In that case,” she says. “I think it’s time you bring her in.” 

I don’t laugh. I don’t say anything. I don’t know what I was expecting her to say. 

But it certainly wasn’t that. 

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