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What She Gave Away
What She Never Said
by Catharine Riggs
March 10, 2020 Book Blast
What She Gave Away
Santa Barbara Suspense #1
Revenge is anything but sweet in this twisty thriller about two women with very different lives locked in the same deadly game.
Imagining the best way to destroy a person’s happiness is Crystal Love’s favorite game. Devious and unpolished, the plus-sized loan analyst couldn’t be more out of place in her new town of Santa Barbara, where the beautifully manicured women never age and the ocean views stretch farther than the million-dollar lawns. And yet her eye for the power dynamics at play in this tony community is dead accurate.
Kathi Wright, on the other hand, has made it her life’s work to fit in with the plastic people who surround her. But when her husband—a wealthy bank president—dies suddenly, she’s left with nothing. Then the FBI shows up, asking questions she can’t answer and freezing assets she once took for granted.
While Kathi struggles to outrun the mess caused by her husband’s mysterious death, Crystal seems focused on her game. But why? And who are her targets?
Spanning two years and told in Crystal’s and Kathi’s alternating voices, this tautly plotted novel reveals the power of choice and the price of revenge.
I’ve targeted the sperm donor. I blame him for the fat. Not the six-hundred-pound kind that shows up on TV. Or the curvy kind that’s trending in magazines. I’m talking about the basic kind that makes me invisible. Just fat enough that girls don’t hang with me and boys won’t take a second look. Just fat enough to get the glare when I climb onto an airplane or a crowded bus.
I try to avoid mirrors, but they’ve seated me in an office with a mirror directly behind the desk. It has a weird curve to it, warped on the sides and in the middle. It makes me look fatter than I am. I mean, why is the office designed this way? Do they want their clients to feel insecure? Will it make them deposit more money? Help them to choose a bigger loan? I paste on a smile. That usually lifts my fat pads so my cheekbones show through. But smiling in this mirror only makes me look crazy. The door squeals open, and I stand.
“I’m George Taylor. The bank’s chief lending officer.”
I hold out my hand to an aging hipster dressed in a tight black suit and pink satin tie. Dirty-blond hair, nicely textured. Blow-dryer and curling iron at work. That and a little gel. Stinky gel, the kind that wrinkles my nose. Should I tell him about the bit of salad stuck between his teeth?
“Please take a seat.” He picks up my résumé and gets right to business. “You’ve had five years’ experience as a loan analyst?” “Six if you count a year of training.” He’s disappointed, I know. I have the qualifications but not the look. “Why move to Santa Barbara?” “I’m tired of the Bakersfield heat.” “You have family here?” “A few friends.” He glances at my belly with a question in his eyes. I know what he’s thinking. I carry a lot of weight in my gut. But he’s taken his HR classes. He knows the rules. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. I do my best to sound earnest. “I’m one of those rare people who grew up wanting to be a banker. I love working with numbers. They mean everything to me.” “So you’ve taken accounting?” “I was an accounting major at Bakersfield College. Got my AA degree six years ago and went right to work at the local bank. I’ve never looked back.” He nods, staring hard at my résumé. Time to nudge him in the right direction. “I’m not looking for a job. I’m looking for a career. I’m a hard worker. I’m focused. I’m single. No children. I’m the most efficient person I know. I believe Pacific Ocean Bank is the right fit for me. Only five branches and ten years in business, but you’re the top-performing bank in the region. Impressive.” He forces a smile. “Our president’s an industrious man.” “So I’ve heard.” George taps his pencil on the table. “We prefer four-year degrees.”
“My accounting major and years of experience should more than make up for that.” “And we have a strict dress code . . .” “Which I will follow.” “No casual Fridays.” “I’ve never been a fan.” “The other analysts are men. Any problem with that?” “None at all.” Fish on the hook. Now reel him in slow. “Do you work well in high-pressure situations?” “I prefer them.” “Weekends?” “No problem.” “Team player?” “Absolutely.” “What about references?” He points to my résumé. “May we contact your most recent supervisor?” “I wish.” I make a sad face. “My ex-boss passed away a few months ago from a horrific accident. A terrible situation. He was a mentor to me. The head of Human Resources said to call her with any questions. She understands my need to move on.” He scribbles something before looking up. “When can you start?” “Next week.” There’s something wrong with his left eye. I’m guessing it’s made of glass. I bet it’s a flaw that bugs him. I file away the thought. *** Excerpt from What She Gave Away &
What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs. Copyright 2020 by Catharine Riggs. Reproduced with permission from Catharine Riggs. All rights reserved.
What She Never Said
Santa Barbara Suspense #2
People are dying at a luxury retirement community . . . and not from natural causes.
Ruth Mosby is the VP of operations at Serenity Acres, where the privileged elite go to die. For a hefty fee, wealthy retirees can live the good life in this posh Santa Barbara community—even after they outlive their money. Ruth thinks this is a fine arrangement, but the savvy new boss has a new rule: if you can’t pay, you can’t stay.
Ruth is deeply disturbed when destitute residents start dying at an alarming rate, as if on cue. Even more troubling, a macabre note accompanies each departed guest. Surviving guests whisper about an “Angel” who assists with suicides. Ruth has another word for it: murder.
Ruth enlists her neighbor, an ex-detective named Zach, to discover the Angel’s secret identity. However, the two have a painful history, and Ruth has dark secrets all her own. To solve the mystery, Ruth must descend from her golden tower—but can she bear the consequences of revealing her own sinister truths?
Some might call me a cold-blooded killer. I beg to disagree. I’m more like a kindly saint. A patron saint of crossings. One part Saint Christopher, two parts angel of mercy. Add a dash of Mother Teresa, and the recipe is getting close. I have a calling, and I’m good at it. I’ll keep it up until I’m stopped.
“Will it hurt?” The bedside candle casts a shivering shadow across Loretta’s sunken face. Tracing my fingers along the glass syringe, I gaze into her liquid eyes.
“Not for long.” I’ve administered a few insulin overdoses. It doesn’t seem like a bad way to go. But I never lie to my disciples. That would be morally wrong.
“It won’t be worse than the bone cancer?”
“It won’t be worse than that.”
“Then I’m ready.”
I tug her pink slip from my pocket and set it on the nightstand. “First, I need your secret.”
Tears slip along the folds of Loretta’s crumpled cheeks. “I don’t have one.”
I fight off a quiver of irritation. “You’re forgetting our agreement?”
“Of course not. But I can’t think of a single thing.” “Oh, Loretta. I’m disappointed. I can see the secret in your eyes.” She plucks at her satin bedcovers until a lavender scent blooms. “What kind of secret do you want?” I shrug. “Your choice. It can be happy or sad. Scandalous or glorious. I’m not picky. It’s totally up to you. But it must be something you’ve never revealed. A defining moment in your life.” Loretta is quiet for so long I wonder if she might back out of the crossing. But then she speaks with a trembling voice. “All right then. It’s something that happened on my fourteenth birthday. I’ve never told anyone—not even my husband. I’m still so terribly ashamed.” “Go ahead,” I say, nearly drooling. This side of me isn’t quite so noble. Less like a saint and more like a tick. “It was a hot summer day in Michigan.” Her voice cracks as she speaks. “My friends were busy with chores, so I walked to the lake on my own. When I entered the forest, I heard a rustling behind me, and . . .” Her words drone on from there. Closing my eyes, I sip on her secret. Her words are like a melody—the mournful notes of a dove. When she finishes, I have tears in my eyes. “Thank you,” I say. “That was beautiful.” “Beautiful? But it was such a terrible moment. So unspeakably dark.” “There are times when dark can be beautiful.” Loretta takes a choking breath. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. And I do feel better somehow. You promise you’ll never tell?” “I promise.” “Good.” She lifts an arthritic hand and swats vaguely at the air. “You’ll stay with me?” “Until you cross.” “Then let’s get moving. I’m ready to see my Charles.” Loretta folds her hands across her chest and takes a quivering breath. “Peace be with you,” I whisper, and then I inject the fatal dose. A half hour later, I head to my office, where I retrieve my crossing journal and write the seventh entry in my book. *** Excerpt from What She Gave Away & What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs. Copyright 2020 by Catharine Riggs. Reproduced with permission from Catharine Riggs. All rights reserved.
Catharine Riggs lives and writes on California’s central coast. She is the author of the twin thrillers What She Gave Away and What She Never Said, both set in Santa Barbara, California . Riggs has worked as a business banker, adjunct college instructor, and a nonprofit executive.
Get caught up on the progress of her Santa Barbara Suspense series by visiting the author online at:
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Catharine Riggs. There will be three (3) winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card, One (1) US ONLY winner will receive the series (print) and one (1) Worldwide winner will receive the series (audio). The giveaway begins on March 10, 2020 and runs through March 18, 2020. Void where prohibited.