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New Mystery Excerpt: Till She Was Done
High school bullying leaves lasting scars and can imprison a person mentally long after high school ends. This week R. Barri Flowers brings us his psychological thriller, Till She was Done.
About the Book
Twenty years after a high school student’s bullying driven suicide, former students at Landen Creek High are being systematically shot to death in the town of Landen Creek, Oregon.
Homicide detectives Paige Lombard and Garrison Stanton investigate the crimes and search for the killers or a possible serial killer. The case becomes personal for Paige as she attended the high school and knew the victims, including being once romantically involved with the first victim, Ben Huxley.
One of the chief suspects in the case is Ben Huxley’s widow, Rachel Huxley. Garrison finds himself falling for the medical director of a women’s health center who could be a cold-blooded killer or accomplice in her husband’s murder.
Quinn Vogel, a real estate developer, returns to Landen Creek for Ben’s funeral, and finds himself attracted to Paige and vice versa; as Quinn harbors secrets about his high school years as a bully that may catch up to him.
Lily Aberdeen is Paige’s best friend and a bestselling author, who is leading a double life. Having been the victim of high school bullying that escalated into a sexual assault, Lily is out to settle some scores and no one will stop her till she made them all pay.
The spinetingling twists and turns leads up to the Landen Creek High twenty-year class reunion and a never saw coming conclusion in this psychological thriller.
Read an Excerpt
She showed him an old photograph. “Does she ring any bells?”
Ben peered at the overweight teenage girl with short, curly brunette hair and braces in the picture. She did look vaguely familiar. Should she? He strained his memory banks but still drew a blank. What was her connection, if anything, to Henry Cunningham? Studying further, she began to eerily come back to Ben, even if he tried to pretend otherwise. What the hell was her name? Lucy? Lily? Lori? Whatever it was, she was another person he went to high school with. Like Henry, she was a wallflower who was ripe for bullying. He recalled one time when they literally made her eat some dirty leaves, then buried her in a wet pile of them, leaving only her face partially uncovered. The bullying of her was only of short duration, as they grew bored with it and turned their attention elsewhere. Still, Ben admitted to himself that he and his friends were pretty nasty in messing with her and had fun doing it, even if obviously having second thoughts now that the years had passed by. But there was no going back for any of them. Her included.
The photograph was yanked away. “I can see in your eyes that you remember her as well, don’t you, Ben?”
He peered at his captor, looking past her gorgeous face and nice figure, picturing her as she might have appeared at a different time, long ago. Was this even possible? The similarities were there when he pressed hard enough, yet the differences in size, shape, and attractiveness were stark. Beyond stark. Yet when he put two and two together, it added up. “Is that you?” he dared ask the woman he knew as Melinda. “Lori…or, uh—”
“Bingo, asshole! For effort, if nothing else.” Her full lips pursed triumphantly. “Good to see that you finally figured it out. You missed the boat on the name, though. It’s actually Lily.”
“Sorry about that,” Ben muttered shamefacedly, while also a bit confused. “Why go by Melinda?”
“Oh that.” She chuckled humorlessly. “Didn’t want to tip my hand prematurely. On the slightest chance you might remember me.”
He felt even more uncomfortable at being tied up and essentially at the mercy of the crazed woman. “You’ve changed,” he couldn’t help but admit, even while trying again to break free, to no avail.
“You haven’t.” She grunted madly. “You’re still the same bastard you were in high school.”
He furrowed his brow, having enough of these silly games. Was that all this was? Reminding him of what he already knew? Or did she have something else in mind? “All right, you’ve got my attention. What is it that you want?” he demanded.
“Take a wild guess.” Her eyes narrowed dangerously.
He guessed money. She probably had checked him out as a wealthy man whom, in her demented head, she could extract cash from as payment for being wronged twenty years ago. Normally, he would have scoffed at the absurd notion. But at this point, while she had him at a decided disadvantage, he would agree to just about anything. At least till he could loosen these damned ties enough to get his hands on her.
Ben took a breath. “I can make your life easier, if that’s what this is all about.”
“You wish it was that simple.” She laughed hysterically. “This isn’t about your money. I don’t want or need blood money. You ruined lives, dickhead. You and the others who helped you make my life, Henry’s, and others, no doubt, a living hell. Now it’s time for payback.”
“This is about revenge?” His eyes widened with dismay.
“This is about justice,” she countered with asperity. “Justice for Henry, me, and the others you and your bully buddies picked on cruelly.”
Ben could see that she was serious, though never imagining just how much. “Untie me,” he ordered, feeling desperate, while trying to free himself to no avail.
“All in good time,” she said snidely. “But by then, you’ll never realize I did just as you asked.”
Ben hardly had time to digest this, when she lifted from her handbag what looked like a 9-millimeter pistol. She pointed it straight at his face. That was when real fear gripped him like never before. Did she actually plan to use that? Or was she hoping to extract a confession out of him for some perverse thrill?
“We can talk about this,” he said, his voice cracking.
“I don’t think so,” she countered flatly. “No amount of talking can change what you did. The only way you can ever atone for your sins is to die like the miserable form of a human being you are!”
Before Ben could try to find some way out of this, perhaps offer her some form of restitution, she pulled the trigger, and everything went totally black.
* * * Lily Aberdeen fired the silencer-equipped gun once, twice, and a third time for good measure. The bully’s head and face, or what was left of them, were bloodied and shattered at once. There was little doubt in her mind that he was dead and would burn in hell. He deserved no less. The same could be said for the rest of his callous friends. And another person or two she deemed as culpable for allowing them to get away with what they had done. Their time would come. She would see to it.
After untying him, Lily cleaned herself off, wiped everything she had touched, and removed any other evidence, such as the shell casings, that she had ever been there—tossing it in her crossbody handbag. As far as she was concerned, justice, long overdue, had finally been meted out on Ben Huxley. She calmly left the apartment and went down the back stairs for a successful escape, while already looking ahead to the next one on her list to suffer then die.
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