Title: A Killing Among Friends
Author: Toni Morrow Wyatt
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Release Date: August 10, 2015
Publisher: Limitless PublishingSummary:
Sennie Lacefield has always felt safe at her family’s peaceful mountain lodge . . .
The only break in her tranquil life was the death of her boyfriend Patrick Devon, which left her heartbroken and unable to understand Patrick’s sullen, withdrawn brother Lonnie. But when her best friend Reatha Alcoker disappears, her sense of security is shattered. With the help of Reatha’s boyfriend Milo Durham, she launches a search for her friend.
More girls disappear, and bodies begin turning up . . .
When one of the missing girls is found dead in a swamp with a symbol burned into her forehead, Sennie focuses on her growing list of suspects. She can’t count on help from the lazy, lecherous Sheriff Warford Cackley. She also has suspicions the sheriff’s son Rex and his nasty friend Ottis know more than they’re willing to share.
Someone is watching Sennie’s every move . . .
Refusing to believe Reatha is dead, Sennie and Milo continue their frantic search, and Sennie is plagued with threatening messages. When another girl’s body is discovered, she and Milo visit the site and find evidence that Reatha has also been there. Some aerial photographs might hold a vital clue . . . if they can find them in time.
As Sennie unravels a tangled web of secrets, arson, burglary, and murder, could it be that a desire to help Sennie has warped the mind of a murderer?
She couldn’t imagine what had happened. She had played the scene in her head a hundred times. She was sure Reatha had said she had to go to the bathroom. That was what she had said, wasn’t it? She was getting confused. It wasn’t like Reatha to disappear and not tell anyone where she was going. It didn’t make sense that she would walk home alone. She would’ve at least asked Sennie to walk halfway with her, like they always did. They had just had a conversation about Sue Stimes that afternoon. Reatha wouldn’t have gone off in the dark by herself. She would never take that kind of risk.
Curtis came back to the lodge and insisted Miss Pearleen and Oldfield go home with him.
“We need to be there when she comes home, Mama,” he said.
Miss Pearleen aged in front of Sennie’s eyes. She followed them out onto the porch and watched them pull away. When she couldn’t hold her eyes open anymore, she went to her room and splashed cold water on her face. She looked at the clock. It was 5:00 a.m. The ringing of the telephone made her jump out of her skin.
“Hello?” came her mother’s voice from the hallway.
Sennie could only hear her mother’s end of the conversation, but it was enough to make her feel the knot in her stomach grow. She heard her mother say good-bye, and then there was a gentle knock on her bedroom door.
“Sennie, that was Miss Pearleen. They’ve got people hunting all over Mayrose, and they haven’t found a trace of Reatha. I’m gonna call Eva and Clarence. The more people we have looking for her, the better.”
Her mother left her room, but she couldn’t make her feet move. Her mind was racing.
“Reatha, where are you? Tell me this isn’t happening.”
Wild desperation raged through Sennie. She ran out of her bedroom, down the main lodge staircase, and out onto the porch. The sun shone on the horizon as it started to peek up over the eastern edge of the mountain, turning everything into a pale, yellow haze.
She bolted across the porch and down the stone steps. Her tears blinded her, and she missed the second step, landing hard on her knees and the palms of her hands. The shock brought her mind to a standstill, and the fear she had been running from caught up to her. She sat on the stone pavers and cried, not because of her bloody knees and palms, but because of the helpless lost urgency coursing through her.
“I should’ve gone with her. Why did I let her go alone? What was I thinking?”
Arlynn came down the steps, knelt, and cradled Sennie in her arms.
“It’s going to be okay. They’ll find her.”
“I’m scared. She said she would be right back. Please, Mama, what if something has happened to her? What if she’s missing like Sue?”
“Surely not,” Arlynn said. “You know, they found Lula safe and sound, and they’ll find Reatha and Sue, too. Don’t give up hope.”
“But Reatha isn’t like Lula Mae. She didn’t run off to Little Rock. She would never do something like that. She would’ve told me if she was unhappy and planning on doing something crazy.”
“Maybe she decided she needed some time alone to think. Miss Pearleen said she has been putting pressure on her to keep her grades up so she can qualify for a scholarship. Perhaps it got to be too much for her.” She wiped tears off Sennie’s cheeks and helped her to her feet.
“I’ve got to go look for her.”
“Wait for Daddy and Hazen. You can go with them. I don’t want you wandering off by yourself, do you hear? You can’t help Reatha by putting yourself in danger.”
As a child, Toni Morrow Wyatt's family spent nearly every summer visiting relatives in a small, rural community in Arkansas. Finding magic in this place, it is the setting for many of her novels. Her love for southern fiction led to the writing of her upcoming novel, A Killing Among Friends, and also, Return to Rocky Gap. Her work has appeared in From the Depths Literary Journal and Belle Reve Literary Journal. She writes an eclectic blog titled, A Pinch of Me, on Tumblr. She was previously an independent bookseller, owning and operating Kindred Books for seven years.