Laurie Brandon isn’t crazy. It’s a bout of panic that has her muttering indecipherable sounds and crying out like a mad woman, an attack brought on by her infant daughter’s sudden disappearance from the town’s annual Apple Festival. Not insanity. She needs help to save Emily. Someone has to see that, do something.
But her recent history of psychosis coupled with witness claims that Emily was never at the festival with Laurie isn’t helping her credibility. Neither is recent suspension from her job as a school teacher over stability concerns. Perhaps most damaging, though, is Laurie’s insistence that her ex-husband, Jake, had something to do with the child’s disappearance. Any sane person knows a dead man can’t run off with a baby.
The town sheriff believes Laurie is, at best, unreliable and possibly something much worse. But Laurie knows what she saw. She knows other things, too, details too hard to believe and even harder to accept. Now, she needs to convince someone – anyone – that Emily is in danger before the sheriff locks Laurie away permanently.
Laurie seems to want to disappear into the wall, her back pressed firmly against it, her feet shuffling. I step closer to her, hoping she’ll catch sight of me instead of Tilton. “It’s Sheriff Tilton, Laurie.” I keep my voice soft. “But you just said Jake.”
She nods frantically.
I glance at the sheriff. By his expression, I know he’s thinking the same thing I am. Still, I play Laurie’s game, hope if she calms she’ll be able to speak to me again. “Jake has Emily?”
Those mumbled sounds tumble from her mouth again, gibberish I can’t even begin to understand. “J…J…J…” I think she’s nodding, but it’s hard to tell.
The sheriff steps forward, putting himself in Laurie’s line of vision. He puts his hands on his narrow hips, sticks out his ever-growing belly. “That doesn’t make sense.” At least he keeps his voice friendly. “You know that.”
She meets his eyes, her own widening. Tilton squints and shakes his head. “How could Jake have Emily?”
Laurie’s head is shaking and her teeth are chattering as if she’s standing in a freezer. “J…J…” She groans a little then blows out a frustrated breath.
Sheriff Tilton shakes his head. “Jake can’t have Emily, Laurie. He’s dead.”
Christine Barfknecht has a passion for weaving the darkest bits of the human psyche into page-turning fiction. She’s been crafting stories since before she printed her first word and credits her overactive imagination to a lifelong love of reading. She seeks out books that keep her hiding beneath the covers at night or turning pages long after her eyes begin to cross, and strives for those qualities in her own writing.
Christine lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, children, and pets where she is also a virtual bookkeeping entrepreneur. In addition to reading and writing, she enjoys gardening, crafts, time with family, and traveling. APPLE OF MY EYE is her debut novel.
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