Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Judgment: Sneak Peek

Happy Halloween! It's a day for scares, and that means it's perfect for unveiling my newest excerpt from Judgment (Deck of Lies, #4). The fourth and final installment in the Deck of Lies comes out next month. If you buy Death (Deck of Lies, #3) from Amazon, Smashwords or B&N, you'll get an excerpt from the first chapter. If you haven't already read the first three books in the Deck of Lies, you probably shouldn't read this sneak peek!



Chapter 4


The day’s mail arrived about forty minutes after my tutoring session ended. It was 3 PM, so it was Morales who came to the cell with a stack of envelopes and magazines in his hands. “Mail call,” he announced. “Please stand back from the bars in the center of your cell.”
I knew this, of course, and I rolled my eyes as he made the requisite announcement. Minutes ticked by in silence as he sorted through the pile. The magazines he shoved between the bars, where they landed on the concrete floor with lazy slapping sounds. The envelopes he saved until last, looking into each one before he either dropped it into the mailbag on his shoulder or slid it between the bars into my cell. They were all slit open, and earlier in the day someone had already looked at every single piece of mail sent my way. Everything I sent out was examined, too.
The guards used to give me every single piece of mail, even the ugliest stuff. My upcoming trial, and Laurel’s murder, had been national news for weeks. The story wasn’t being covered as vigorously as it had been in the very beginning, but I was still getting plenty of what the guards used to mockingly call “fan mail.”
It started arriving for me two days after I was locked in jail in July. The first “fan mail” was written in bold red marker on a crisp white page. It simply said “you will burn in hell.” Other letters were more intricate, and more threatening. I’d even received artwork, graphic caricatures of myself sitting in an electric chair or hanging from a rope around my neck.
They terrified me and haunted me, those pictures, until I finally broke down and told River about it. He assured me it couldn’t possibly happen. “They do lethal injection in California,” he’d said.
So the picture of me in the chair, with my hair sticking up all over my head and my eyes bulging out of my skull, shouldn’t frighten me at all.
Morales was the first guard to start sorting the mail for me, throwing away the hate letters and horrible drawings and leaving only the stuff I might want to see. By the time August was coming to its end, none of the guards still subjected me to the horrors the came to me in the mail each and every day.
The world hated me…because it loved Laurel.
I’d read all the articles that I could get my hands on, and managed to pull some information out of River and Asher. The press were treating Laurel like she was some sort of angel, and I was this totally messed up girl with a messed up past. Laurel was the queen of the Debate Team, she was on the volleyball team, she ran marathons for charity, she was active in teen activities at one of the big LA churches. She was beautiful, and she was tall, and she was apparently incapable of taking a bad picture at any point in her brief life. The media had printed the entire Riordan family album in the last few weeks. Pictures of baby Laurel, toddler Laurel and school girl Laurel were splashed on the front pages of People and the like. Teary quotes from volunteer organizers and teachers were printed and re-printed.
Every picture they’d ever printed of me showed wild hair, reddish eyes and a twisted facial expression that made me look like Satan’s daughter. The worst one of them all was one of the pictures taken at my hearing – I was wearing county jail orange and staring into the crowd with an angry, intense look on my face.
“Just one letter today,” Morales chirped. He’d thrown most of my stack back into the mailbag. “Anything outgoing?”
“Not today.”
“Be back to check on you later.”
I nodded, and waited for him to get to the end of the hall before I rushed forward to gather up my remaining mail. The one letter I still had was from River, and as usual it contained very few words. It was another pencil sketch, this one an elaborate design of curving lines that reminded me of flowers, with a short note on the back: see you soon.

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