“In Morning’s Light” — Excerpt from BURDEN OF PROOF

Burden of Proof Final

HE WANTED JUSTICE,

BUT AT WHAT COST?

Assistant District Attorney Justin Blakely believes only in the letter of the law. When asked to prosecute a dangerous woman accused of killing her husband with sixty-four stab wounds to the chest, he sees only a butcher who should be locked away for her depraved act. But when he comes up against the woman’s driven, feisty attorney, he knows Chelsea Hanover has the power to change his mind. And, as he realizes her aim is truth rather than law, he can do nothing but respect her integrity. Knowing she’s stumbling into trouble, he’ll do anything to save her from herself, even if the casualty of his crusade is the law in which he believes

“In Morning’s Light” — Excerpt from BURDEN OF PROOF —

Justin blinked awake to the feel of warm fingers on his face. Opening burning eyes, he looked up to see Chelsea sitting on the edge of her hospital bed, fully clothed, with her right arm in a sling. The fingers of her good hand traced his stubbly cheek again, as a soft smile touched her face.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look disreputable, before.” The soft lilt of teasing in her husky voice twisted his heart in the best way. She frowned, then. “I think I remember talking to you, last night. Have you been here all night?”

He sat up straighter, stifling a yawn as he glanced at his watch. Six-thirty. “Yeah, you did. And yes, I have.”

Her frown deepened, confusion and fear written in its lines. “You’ve been here every night when I go to sleep, and every morning when I wake up. Why?”

He tensed in surprise. He hadn’t expected to be cross-examined about his motives.

“Because I l–” He stopped, sucking in the words he was about to say. She wasn’t ready to hear how he felt. Not yet.

“Because I promised you I’d stay,” he answered instead, his voice husky with sleep and emotion. “The doctor says you have nightmares when I’m not here. I promised you I’d be here for you, and so…”

He managed an awkward shrug. He couldn’t tell her how important helping her was to him.

She shook her head slowly, as if having trouble thinking. With the amount of blunt force trauma she took to the head, he wasn’t surprised. Fresh anger shot through him, and he squeezed her good hand gently.

“You still haven’t told me what happened.” Her worried gaze searched his.

“Don’t you remember?”

“I… I think so. I just don’t know what’s real, and what’s a nightmare.” She pressed slim fingers to her forehead, eyes squeezed shut in effort. “I remember coming to your office. Talking. We were trying to reach a deal on Marlene’s case.”

He nodded, silently encouraging her to continue. The doctor told him to let her recall things at her own pace. Telling her what happened would force her to face the attack before her psyche was ready, and could be even more damaging.

“We had to go see the D.A. I remember that. And seeing–“

She cut off sharply, sucking in a shaky breath.

He straightened, alerted by her response. “Chelsea? What do you remember?”

She shook her head. “Running. I had to get away. I,” she stopped, thought. “I went home. I needed to hide.”

“From what? From who?”

“From… from everything! From him!”

Look for BURDEN OF PROOF, coming soon from Esther Mitchell and FyrRose Productions!

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“Unfinished Business” – Excerpted from BURDEN OF PROOF

Burden of Proof FinalAssistant District Attorney Justin Blakely believes only in the letter of the law. When asked to prosecute a dangerous woman accused of killing her husband with 64 stab wounds to the chest, he sees only a butcher who should be locked away for her depraved act. But when he comes up against the woman’s driven, feisty attorney, he knows Chelsea Hanover has the power to change his mind. And, as he realizes her aim is truth rather than law, he can do nothing but respect her integrity. Knowing she’s stumbling into trouble, he’ll do anything to save her from herself, even if the casualty of his crusade is the law in which he believes.

“Unfinished Business”  – Excerpted from BURDEN OF PROOF

As the paramedics loaded Chelsea onto a stretcher, Justin dug the number Sally gave him out of his pocket and punched it into his cell phone.  The line picked up on the second ring and Sally’s breathless, anxious voice answered, “Hello?”

“It’s Justin Blakely.  I found your sister.”

He heard her shuddering sigh of relief.  “Thank God.  Where was she?  Let me speak to her.”

“Sally…” He stopped, swallowing hard.  Damn.  He wasn’t any good at this stuff, and he was still too torn up inside to be objective.

“Oh, God,” she whispered.  “She’s not dead… Please tell me she’s not dead.”

The plea in her voice tore at him.  He knew how that fear felt.

“She’s alive,” he assured her gently.  “Sally, she was attacked, here at her apartment.”

“Damn it!”  The sudden, violent oath from Sally surprised him, but not near as much as her next angry, unguarded statement.  “I told her she had to put him away.  I told her…”

“Put who away?”  Justin demanded harshly, gripping the phone tight as he followed the paramedics out of Chelsea ’s apartment.  “Talk to me, Sally.  Tell me what’s going on.”

“I can’t,” she said miserably.  “I promised Chels her secret was safe with me.”

“Damn it, Sally,” he ground out the words in fear and frustration.  “I found her in the damned closet, bleeding and nearly catatonic, with her clothes shredded.  I want to know who the son of a bitch is!”

“No.”  Sally’s voice rang with steel.  Then, softening her tone, she confided, “Don’t you think I want a piece of the bastard?  I’ve been trying for years to get Chelsea to let me track him down. But she doesn’t want her battles fought for her, and she’s convinced that one’s already lost, anyway.  She doesn’t want anyone’s help with this.  Not mine, not her friends’, and especially not yours.  I’m sorry — I can’t tell you anything more.  Mom and I will be there soon.”

Before Justin could ask why not him, Sally had hung up.  Grimly determined now, Justin ignored the protests of the paramedics as they loaded Chelsea into the ambulance, and climbed in beside her.  He’d told her he wasn’t going to leave her and, dammit, he was going to keep that promise.

 

Look for BURDEN OF PROOF, coming from Esther Mitchell and FyrRose Productions in 2016. (50% of the cover price of this book will be divided between RAINN and The Rape Foundation)

If you, or someone you love, has been the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault,  please know you are not alone.  Domestic violence and sexual assault crimes are the  largest number of unreported crimes in the US and Europe. Break the silence, and help take back the night.  For help, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or  RAINN at 1-800-656-4673. 

Get involved, and help take violence out of our homes, and rapists off the streets. Contact  your local shelters and domestic crisis organizations.  Together, we all make a difference.