Welcome to my promotional post for the Thicker Than Water Blog Tour. To see the full schedule, click on the banner above. Read on for an excerpt and be sure to enter the Giveaway!
Thicker Than Water
by Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: December 29th 2015
Summary from Goodreads:
On his own
Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.
Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.
The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.
Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…
I don’t know what I’m doing here. When we moved in with Stan, I left my friends three hours away. Now we’re way on the south side of Salisbury, in the middle of nowhere, at this frigging church with death scenes embedded in the walls and a bazillion cops who are all here for him, not her. I yank at the collar of my shirt and feel someone watching me.
At first I think of the guy with the cell phone, but when I glance across the parking lot, he’s gone. It’s a girl in a purple dress. She stands with an older woman, and by older I mean that there’s a chance her wrinkled skin might give up the fight and slide the rest of the way down her body. Ol’ Wrinkly is wearing an honest-to-god navy blue hat with a veil. She looks emotional while she talks to Stan, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.
What a joke. If she knew my mother, she didn’t know her well. I’ve never seen her before.
I’ve never seen the girl before either, but since she’s looking at me, I look back at her. She’s got to be about my age. Thick, curly caramel hair, skin too pale for summertime, dark framed glasses, curves in all the right places. She’d be a challenge to sketch, because the tiny waist and the curves would make her look like a superhero comic, especially with that rack.
I jerk my eyes away. I shouldn’t be checking out a girl at my mother’s funeral. Mom would cuff me on the neck and tell me to behave myself.
But the girl peels away from the overwrought woman and heads my way. She’s wearing high-heeled sandals, and she stumbles a bit on the crooked pavement. The movement makes her hair sway, and she brushes it out of her eyes. I’m staring.
Then she’s in front of me, holding out a hand. “I don’t think we’ve met.”
I shake her hand, and it feels too formal, like I’m meeting a college recruiter. But I can play this game because it’s better than thinking about my mother rotting inside a wooden box. “We haven’t.”
She doesn’t let go of my hand. “Tom?”
She could call me Princess Sparklepants if she wants. I couldn’t care less about my name at this point. “Whatever.”
She finally releases my hand. Her expression says she’s picked up on some of my tension. “Thomas, then. How do you know Stan? Is one of your parents on the force?”
Of course she thinks I’m here for him. No one in this place knows Mom.
I have to clear my throat, because my answer will embarrass this girl, but it’s not like I can lie about it. “He married my mother.”
Her face goes more pale, if that’s possible. I don’t like that. It reminds me of another pale face, which makes me start thinking about bruised necks again.
“It’s fine,” I say, even though it’s not. I try to keep the anger out of my voice, because she doesn’t deserve it. I don’t even know what good it’s doing me. My voice comes out all gravelly. “I’ve only lived here a few weeks. I don’t know anyone.”
“I’m so sorry,” she says softly.
What am I supposed to say to that? I don’t even know this girl. I find myself shrugging before realizing that makes me look indifferent. People are watching me again. The attention weighs on my shoulders. Do they know who I am, or are they wondering like Charlotte? Which would be better?
I’ve been quiet too long. My jaw feels tight. She reaches for my hand again. Her fingers are small and gentle and soft against my palm, such a contrast to the businesslike formality of her handshake. “You don’t need to stand here by yourself. Come meet my family—”
“I’m fine.” I hold fast, jerking my hand away from her. I can keep it together here, alone, by the wall, but I can’t take a dozen strangers talking at me.
“Okay,” she says softly.
I take a long breath, then blow it out through my teeth.
“Sorry,” I grit out.
We stand there in silence for a moment.
“Do you want me to get Stan?” she finally asks quietly. “You don’t seem . . .”
Her voice trails off, and I frown. “I don’t seem what?”
Again, my tone is rougher than she deserves, and she licks her lips, recalculating. Her spine straightens, but she doesn’t move away. “You don’t seem like you should be alone right now.”
Stan is thirty feet away, talking to two other guys in uniform. They’re doing the guy version of sympathy, clapping him on the shoulder.
I knew her longer, I want to shout.
Mom would shush me and tell me to be more respectful. I don’t miss her yet. It doesn’t even feel like she’s dead. It feels like she’s on vacation or something. I keep thinking I need to store all these thoughts and memories for later, when she gets back.
I look back at Charlotte. “No. Leave him.”
“Is anyone else here for you?”
I laugh humorlessly. “None of this is for me. I feel like I’m crashing a stranger’s funeral.” I sound like an angry freak, and I rub my hands down my face. “I don’t know anyone.”
Now I just sound pathetic.
“Is that your tie?” she says suddenly, and I realize she’s looking at my pocket. “Too hot?”
“I couldn’t tie it,” I admit without thinking, and then I feel like a real moron. What kind of guy can’t tie a tie? And then brings it with him, like he’s waiting for someone to get around to helping? I glance away, embarrassed. “She bought me the suit. Made a big deal about matching it—”
I have to stop talking. Pathetic has reached a new level. I want the anger back. Anger was better than this tight, choking feeling in my throat.
Charlotte tugs it out of my pocket and threads it between her fingers. “May I?”
It takes me a moment to figure out what she’s talking about. She’s too short to get the tie around my neck without my cooperation. I could refuse. I could grab the tie and shove it back in my pocket and send her scurrying back to her people.
But it’s a needed distraction, and I find myself ducking down, letting her loop it over my head, enjoying the soft feel of her fingers as she tucks it below the collar of my shirt. She’s close, and I catch her scent, something clean and citrusy.
About the Author
Brigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel” was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the same boys living in the pages of The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years. (Though sometimes that just makes her sound nuts.)
Brigid writes anywhere she can find a place to sit down (and she’s embarrassed to say a great many pages of The Elemental Series were written while sitting on the floor in the basement of a hotel while she was attending a writers’ conference). Most writers enjoy peace and quiet while writing, but Brigid prefers pandemonium. A good thing, considering she has three boys in the house, ranging in age from an infant to a teenager.
While writing STORM, it’s ironic to note that Brigid’s personal life was plagued by water problems: her basement flooded three times, her roof leaked, her kitchen faucet broke, causing the cabinet underneath to be destroyed by water, the wall in her son’s room had to be torn down because water had crept into the wall, and her bedroom wall recently developed a minor leak. Considering SPARK, book 2 in the series, is about the brother who controls fire, Brigid is currently making sure all the smoke detectors in her house have batteries.
Brigid loves hearing from people, and she probably won’t refer to herself in the third person like this if you actually correspond with her. She has a smartphone surgically attached to her person nearby at all times, and email is the best way to reach her. Her email address is email@example.com.
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