Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Excerpt: Second Chances by Valerie Maarten

Kadi Crowe has spent her entire life believing in the innocence of her father, convicted of murder. But could she prove it?
Dain McKnight waited for the day to come when he could wield his own brand of justice. The only justice he believed fitting for a cold-blooded killer.

That is today's excerpt - romantic tale, Second Chances by Valerie Maarten:

Hanna tucked Little Kadi Crowe in her bed and told her one of her favorite bedtime stories, but before she got to the end of the tale Kadi was fast asleep…a serene smile on her cherub-looking face. Kadi always loved a story with a happily ever after.

Hanna leaned over and kissed her tenderly on the forehead. Of all the children she’s babysat for over the years, she loved Little Kadi the most. Kadi was kind, considerate and compassionate and she was adored her spirit.

She looked down at the sleeping child. Her heart swelled with pride knowing that in a small way she was responsible for what type of woman Kadi was going to become. And Hanna wanted great things for her…and one day she wanted her to have her own personal happily ever after.

Hanna turned off the light and left Kadi to her pleasant dreams. In just a little while Mr. & Mrs. Crowe would be coming home, so she only had a short time to do what needed to be done. Something that becoming harder and harder to put off.

She picked up the phone.


Hanna’s heart thundered in her chest. She wasn’t sure if it was merely anticipation or trepidation. At this moment, it was probably a mixture of the two.

“Hey Bobby, it’s Hanna,” she said.

There was an uncomfortably long pause on the other end of the phone before he spoke. “What’s up?”

Dread…that’s what Hanna was feeling right now. She knew she loved Bobby, but she wasn’t sure how he felt about her…truly felt.

Sure he said he loved her in the heat of passion, but did he mean his words now when his true feelings were about to be tested. Or, was he just confused as he said before? She needed to know…she was desperate to know. Now more than ever.

“We need to talk,” she said.

She held her breath. She had come to learn that he did not appreciate being told what to do, but she hoped that he would hear her desperation and concede to see her…to hear her out.

Bobby blew into the phone in exacerbation. “Hanna, we’ve been through all of this before. There’s nothing else left to say. Why can’t you just let it go and move on?”

He was referring to their recent break up. A break up that he insisted upon when he began dating someone else. Hanna’s ire rose at the thought of the other girl that took her place and though she didn’t know her, she hated her just the same.

In that moment she didn’t care about Bobby’s vile temper or his penchant towards violent rages. She wanted to hurt him like he had hurt her.

“Well, you had better talk to me or everyone, including your new girlfriend, is going to know that you’re going to be a father,” Hanna threatened.

Though her words came out harsh, she didn’t mean them. Right now, she was speaking from the sense of pain and betrayal that she was feeling. Yet, her words did catch his attention. He was listening now.

“What’s that supposed to mean? Are you threatening me?” His tone changed from a bland curiosity to a bone-chilling coldness.

“ I’m not threatening you. I just think we need to talk about…”

He cut her off. “Meet me at the park at ten o’clock tonight.” He said this in a deadly calm voice. “And don’t keep me waiting.”


The next morning, the gossip was rampant about the young girl’s body that was found brutally and savagely beaten to death in the local park. It was called a crime of passion.

Yet, it wasn’t long before the Crowe’s learned the identity of the girl that was splashed across the news all morning. They were one of the first families that were interviewed after the tragic news was broken to the McKnight family. Hanna McKnight had met with a vicious and violent end. The nature of the crime was enough to unnerve the most hardened law enforcement agents.

“Mr. Crowe, you were the last person to see Hanna alive. Are you sure she never said anything about meeting with someone after you dropped her off?” The Detective asked for, what seemed like the millionth time.

“She never said anything. Like I said earlier, I dropped her off at her house like I do every time she babysits for us.

“Did you wait to see if she went into the house to make sure she arrived safely inside?”

Ryan Crowe closed his eyes, trying to remember, but nothing stood out in his mind. He could see the pleasant but strained smile on Hanna’s face as she bounded up the front stairs…then she turned and waved. That’s when he drove off. He didn’t remember her going into the house. Did she ever go into the house?

“I don’t remember her going inside,” Ryan Crowe finally said, a faraway look in his eyes. “I remembered that she waved and I drove off.

The Detective looked at the other Detective in the room, his eyes displaying nothing, except to his partner that learned to read his unspoken thoughts over the years.

They both got up and left Ryan Crowe in the small room…alone.

“What do you think?” The lead investigator asked.

“He’s hiding something. He was the last one to see her alive and I don’t believe his story that she waved and went into the house. Even her mother said she never made it home because she waited up for her.”

“What about the boyfriend? Do you believe his story?”

He thought about it for a moment. “Yeah. His mother seemed credible enough and what reason would he have to beat her to death. From what he’s said, they were already broken up and seeing other people. I think we can let him go. Mr. Crowe on the other hand has some serious explaining to do.”


Three days after the funeral an announcement was made that the police were close to making an arrest in the case of Hanna McKnight’s murder. On the fourth day, the police came knocking on the door of Ryan Crowe, charging him with her murder and hauling him away from his hysterical wife and wailing daughter in handcuffs.

Six months later, in a packed courtroom full of news media, family and spectators, he was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He never said a word in his defense, believing that justice would prevail. His wife could be heard bawling in the distance…the McKnight family could be heard crying silently as the sentence was read.

It was a thirteen year old Dain McKnight that broke through the quiet order of the court. His outburst was a startling revelation of the anguish felt by his entire family…voiced by him.

“I’M GOING TO KILL YOU! I don’t care how long it takes. As soon as they let your miserable ass out of jail, I’ll be waiting…and when you next see me, I will be the last person you’ll ever see. I hate you! I will never forgive you! You’re going to pay for what you did…do you hear me? You’re going to pay with your own miserable life.”

Dain McKnight made his declaration as he was being ushered out, by force, by the bailiff and his distraught father. It was a promise and a rage that would grow and fester inside him and he would carry for the next twenty years like a cancer eating away at his humanity.

And he waited…and waited, until…

What readers are saying: "I was sitting at lunch with my arms around myself only letting go to turn the page on my Kindle. Sigh. When I got to the end without bloodshed, I went home and re-read the end so I could write this review. It was a very good book. I enjoyed weeping over it, being terrified by parts of it, and loving Dain, Kadi’s knight." - Teresa Miller



L.C. Evans said...

Wow, poor Ryan. Valerie, you certainly built up the tension with that opening. I like your cover, too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for featuring my Excerpt on your blog. It looks wonderful.

@L.C., I'm glad you liked the excerpt and thanks for the compliment on the cover, though I can't take credit for it :-)

Markee Anderson said...

Great job, Valerie!!! You're doing a GREAT job! I can't wait to find the time to read this!