Karen Fenech's "Gone" Chapter Three! Exclusive!

11/21/2010 Posted by Admin

Finally, we now can release the third chapter of Karen Fenech's best-selling suspense-thriller "Gone," which I'm highly recommending to my readers.

You can purchase her e-book here on Amazon.  It's just $2.99!

Karen has another e-book called "Betrayal," which you can buy on Amazon here.

Here is the book blurb for GONE:

FBI Special Agent Clare Marshall was separated from her sister Beth in childhood when their mother tried to kill them. Now Clare learns that Beth lives in the small town of Farley, South Carolina, but when she goes there to reunite with Beth, Clare discovers her sister is missing and that someone in the town is responsible for her disappearance.

Clare receives an offer to help with the search from fellow FBI Special Agent Jake Sutton. The offer is too good to refuse, though that is exactly what Clare wants to do. Jake is Clare's former lover, a man she cannot forget, and who has an agenda of his own.

Now while Clare tracks her sister, someone is tracking Clare, and finding her sister may cost Clare her life.


Also, here are some reviews of "Gone."

"Karen Fenech's GONE is a real page turner front to back. You won't be able to put this one down!"
--New York Times Bestselling Author Kat Martin

"Karen Fenech tells a taut tale with great characters and lots of twists. This is a writer you need to read."
--USA Today Bestselling Author Maureen Child

"Brimming with small town secrets and gritty suspense, GONE left an impression this reader won't soon forget!"
--Bestselling Author Debra Webb

"Readers will find themselves in the grip of GONE as this riveting tale plays out. GONE is a provocative thriller filled with a roller coaster ride that carries the suspense until the last page."
--- Deborah C. Jackson, Reviews Today

Here is the link to the first chapter.  Read this first.

Here is the link the second chapter.

And below is the third chapter.  Enjoy!


Chapter Three

“I found your sister,” Theresa repeated.
This was not the first time Clare had met someone claiming to know Katie’s whereabouts. Over the years, Clare had met hundreds of people purporting to have information about her sister. The recent press about her mother’s execution had resulted in a new slew of claims.
A preacher touting the good book had spouted scripture at her—proclaiming that if Clare gave up her life of violence, the path to her sister would become clear. Another, a self-proclaimed psychic, declared that Katie had appeared to him in a vision. To find her location, though, he needed money for expenses—to the tune of fifty thousand dollars. He’d quickly recanted his offer when he learned that Clare was a federal agent.
As time passed, Clare had followed each lead, no matter how half-baked, to its ultimate dead end. She’d met the crazies and the crooks. That last time, with the psychic, she had been just desperate enough to consider selling everything she owned and borrowing the rest to accept his offer.
And here was Theresa now, with another claim—one that she couldn’t elaborate on at the Bureau office. Her guise of coming forward out of gratitude was a new one, as was her claim of employment with Children’s Services, which certainly lent her credibility. Theresa hadn’t yet given up her angle, but Clare believed that she had one. In time, Theresa would reveal what that was. Fresh on the heels of the latest con, though, Clare was in no mood for more of the same. She didn’t want to give Theresa that time but, how could she turn the woman away without hearing what she had to say? Clare closed her eyes briefly. She couldn’t.
A rush of anger spread through her—anger that Theresa Sands had struck her where she was most vulnerable. Clare clenched her fists at her sides, welcoming the anger because, despite it all, she felt a little thrill of anticipation that she knew better than to feel.
She slammed the phone back in its cradle. “You have two minutes, Mrs. Sands.”
Theresa fumbled in her purse. So far, she hadn’t been violent, but Clare knew nothing about this woman who’d shown up at her door. Fearing that she might have a gun in there, Clare knocked the bag out of her hand then clamped her fingers around Theresa’s forearms.
“Wait!” Theresa shouted.
A compact, lipstick, wallet, and a folded piece of pristine white note paper slid across the wood floor. No gun.
“That’s it. The paper.” Theresa reached down as far as Clare’s hold on her allowed and stretched out her arm, fingers wiggling. She couldn’t reach the page with her hands and used the slim heel of her coral shoe to bring it within range.
“Please, Agent Marshall.”
Clare relaxed her fingers marginally, granting Theresa another couple of inches of distance. She snagged the paper from the floor and held it out to Clare.
“I found her. I promise.” Theresa’s voice quavered.
Clare glared at the paper as if it were a snake. Theresa unfolded it herself and held it up. In handwriting as lovely as calligraphy, Theresa had written:
Elizabeth Linney. 54 Daisy Lane, Farley, South Carolina.
“Hank and Gladys Linney adopted your sister and changed her name to Elizabeth,” Theresa said.
Clare’s grip on Theresa slackened. Questions—thoughts scattered as she stared at the words. The woman slid her arm from Clare’s grasp. Theresa rubbed the red imprint that Clare’s fingers had left on her skin.
Theresa placed the paper on the small square table by the door, atop the mail Clare had stacked there earlier. “I’ll show myself out,” Theresa said softly as she gathered the contents of her purse. “Good bye, Agent Marshall.”
Theresa left the apartment. Clare eyed the paper. A hoax? If so, why? Theresa hadn’t made any demands for money in exchange for the information. She had given up the name without requesting anything at all. What could she hope to gain by simply fabricating such a wild tale? Clare shook her head. It made no sense that Theresa would do that. And because of that, Clare couldn’t dismiss the claim.
Clare’s mouth felt dry as dust. She picked up the glass of iced tea from the table and drank deeply. She drained the glass, but kept it between her palms, needing something to hold on to.
Was it possible? Had Theresa really found Katie? Theresa said she was employed by Children’s Services. Clare didn’t know the workings of the department, but thought it unlikely that Theresa would have ready access to such old records. It wouldn’t be impossible, however, for someone who knew the ins and outs to obtain such information. Clare sank her teeth into her lower lip. Especially if proper channels were waived, as Theresa suggested they had been.
Did she dare hope? Her heart began to thud.
The name and address were twenty-five years old, if Theresa’s information was good at all.
Elizabeth Linney. 54 Daisy Lane, Farley, South Carolina.
Clare plucked the paper from the table and clutched it in a tight fist.

* * * * *

Three days after Theresa’s visit, Clare paced her living room. A clerk at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles had promised to send a fax of the driver’s license registration for Elizabeth Ryder of Farley, South Carolina. A problem with the department fax machine had delayed the transmission. Clare had chewed her thumbnail to the quick, waiting. Disgusted now, she looked away from it.
Somewhere outside a dog barked. The tantalizing aroma of steak grilling carried on the wind blowing in through the screen. Clare’s stomach rumbled, reminding her that she hadn’t eaten all day. Despite her intentions to keep her hope in check, she was strung as tight as piano wire, anticipating the fax from the DMV.
After her court appearance two days ago, Clare had returned to her office. She ran the name Elizabeth Linney through the Bureau’s database, and confirmed that one person by the name of Elizabeth Ryder was listed as a resident of Farley.
Further investigation through other registries revealed that Elizabeth Linney had married four years earlier and Ryder was her married name. Clare’s information revealed that Elizabeth no longer lived at the address Theresa supplied. She must have moved when she’d married. Clare wrote down the updated location.
So far so good, but she still had a long way to go before she could uncork the champagne. Clare kept a tight rein on her escalating hope. The Elizabeth Ryder in Farley may not be Katie.
Theresa’s information was accurate as far as she knew, but it was possible that a mistake had been made when the document was filled out or filed or at any point in between. Clare kept that thought at the forefront of her mind, and worked tight-lipped, contacting government agencies with requests for information on Elizabeth Ryder.
So far, though, she hadn’t seen a picture of Elizabeth, but a photo was mandatory with a registered driver’s license. Clare hoped a picture would reveal something to identify Elizabeth as Katie.
Her computer signaled an incoming fax. Clare whirled toward it and darted across the room to retrieve the message now being printed.
She closed her eyes briefly then focused on the fax. And there it was . . . a photo of Elizabeth Ryder, taken four years earlier when she’d renewed her driver’s license. The picture showed a face that was three years younger than Clare’s own thirty. Familiar wide brown eyes with dark stubby lashes glanced back at her. The face was angular, the features a little sharp with a nose that was slightly pointed at the tip, as Clare’s was.
There was no mistaking the resemblance. The woman in the picture had to be Katie. Clare snatched the fax from the printer.
She shrieked, then laughed. Hands shaking, she clutched the page. Tears filled her eyes and spilled onto Katie’s photo.
Clare was across the room, picking up the telephone to call directory assistance to Farley when she realized that Katie wouldn’t know her. She’d been a toddler taking her first steps when the sisters had last seen each other. Katie had certainly forgotten her. For all Clare knew, Katie may not even have been told that she was adopted.
Clare replaced the phone in its cradle. She had two weeks of vacation time coming from the Bureau. She would ask Benny to take care of her cases, and then she would catch the first flight out to Farley.

* * * * *

Clare turned again in the bed. With a loud sigh, she plopped down onto the pillow. She should sleep. The numbers on the nightstand clock glowed two a.m. She had a six o’clock flight into Columbia, South Carolina, the nearest airport to Farley, then a seventy-five mile drive in a rental car to the town itself. She should sleep, but sleep eluded her.
She’d sweated through the dark tank top and bikini panties she opted to sleep in, in deference to the heat and lack of air conditioning. The sheet beneath her was damp and she’d moved so many times in the hours since she’d gone to bed that there wasn’t a dry spot to be found.
To hell with it. She sprang up and left the bed in search of a cool breeze.
She stepped through the sliding door onto the small balcony that overlooked the building parking lot and leaned over the railing. She was on the sixteenth floor. Clouds covered the moon and no light reached her from the lot below. She blended in with the darkness.
The night air was comfortable and cool. A lounge chair where she could catch some sleep was angled in a corner. She made no move toward it. More than the heat was keeping her awake.
By this time tomorrow she would be reunited with Katie. After all these years, she would finally be with her sister again.
Her pulse picked up with the thought but along with it, her stomach fluttered with fear.
She wanted to be with Katie, but would Katie want to be with her?
Katie had a life in Farley—a husband, children maybe. Clare was about to turn Katie’s world upside down. If she didn’t know of her adoption, how would she react to learning of it? How would she feel about the truth of where she came from?
Unlikely, she would welcome that information.
It was also possible that Katie’s adoptive parents had told her that she wasn’t their biological child. If so, Katie—Elizabeth—hadn’t registered to receive word of anyone inquiring about her. Maybe she didn’t want to know about her life before the adoption, or the people in it.
Clare closed her eyes tight against a sudden sharp pain.
Katie may not be happy that Clare reentered her life, and may regard Clare’s arrival as an intrusion. It was possible that she would turn Clare away.
Clare heard a meow and opened her eyes. Tilly, the cat that belonged to Clare’s elderly neighbor, leaped onto the balcony railing that ran the length of both apartments. Her green eyes glowed in the darkness.
Deftly, the cat crossed the narrow railing, a path she was well acquainted with, stopping where Clare’s arms rested.
“Can’t sleep either, I see,” Clare said softly.
Tilly rubbed against Clare’s wrist.
The cat was very loved by her owner, and spent much of her day on the elderly lady’s lap. Tilly liked to be held. Clare obliged and lifted her into her arms. The cat’s tawny coat smelled of her owner’s floral perfume.
As she cradled the feline, Clare pressed her forehead against Tilly’s soft fur. Katie would not turn her away. That was not how their reunion would play out.
Tomorrow she would meet with her sister and they would be a family again.

* * * * *

Clare checked the map of South Carolina she’d brought with her, then took the next exit. After a considerable drive that had her questioning if she’d taken a wrong turn, despite the map, she came to a sign that read: Welcome to Farley.
She tossed the map of the state on the passenger seat. On it, Farley was a dot she’d needed a magnifying glass to see. None of the roads within the town were depicted. She’d obtained a diagram of Farley’s streets through the Bureau’s database and retrieved it from the glove box now.
The town of Farley was in Blane County, a rural area that was primarily agricultural. Clare drove past farmland and fields where cotton and soybeans grew tall. The road went on and on. She needed to find out just where she was and searched for a street sign she could look for on the map, but there wasn’t one. A white clapboard colonial house came into view. It stood against the blinding yellow backdrop of the sun. Clare squinted at the sign on the front lawn: Connie’s Inn.
A patch of yellow flowers grew around a flag pole in front. Yellow Jessamine, South Carolina’s state flower, according to the wooden plaque staked into the dirt. A card table with four chairs around it and two half-filled glasses of what looked like lemonade were centered together on the white verandah. Someone there should be able to tell her what road she was on. Clare turned onto the driveway, turned off the ignition, and stepped out onto a pink flagstone walkway.
After being in the air-conditioned car, the heat outside hit her like a blast from a furnace. She raised her hand to shield her eyes from the glare reflecting off the upper story windows and made her way up the three steps to the porch.
Welcome to Connie’s. Come in was painted in yellow on the glass door. Clare rang the bell then, following the instructions, went inside.
Cinnamon scented the air inside the house. Clare strolled over gleaming wood floors, passed a living room where a floral print sofa backed against an ivory wall. Someone had left knitting on the arm of the couch. The atmosphere was homey. There was no one in the room now though, and Clare continued down the hall.
“Hello,” she called out.
Soft music played somewhere in the back of the house. A country tune that Clare didn’t recognize.
No one answered her call. She was about to call out again when she heard footsteps and creaking wood. She turned in the direction of the sound as a woman appeared at the top of the stairs.
She appeared to be around seventy and was small and spare. Her gray hair was pulled back in a tight bun that emphasized prominent features. Her gnarled hand gripped a three-pronged cane.
Leaning heavily on the cane and the banister, the woman began a slow descent of the blue carpeted steps. When she was halfway down, she stopped. Her eyes widened on Clare and she gasped. The woman’s face went deathly pale.
“Are you all right?” Clare asked.
The woman looked about to faint. Clare rushed to the stairs.
“I never thought you’d have the nerve to show your face back here.” The woman said in a low, guttural voice.
The woman’s face flushed sunburn red. “How dare you come back here?”
“I’ve never been—”
“The last thing my son needs is to see you again.”
“I don’t know you,” Clare said, “or your son.”
The woman’s pale eyes narrowed. “You can bet he’s wished he never knew you.”
Okay, this was getting odd. “My name is Clare. Clare Marshall. You’ve made an error and mistaken me for someone else.”
“An error?” The old woman tilted her head and regarded Clare down the long length of her nose. “Fancy talk. Guess you’re getting yourself some of that college you was always wanting.” Her gaze lowered to Clare’s silk blouse and pleated walking shorts, then lifted to Clare’s face. “Fixed yourself up real classy. That why you come back? To show my boy how you’re doing better without him? Figured he might finally be getting over you and you just couldn’t let him do that.”
Clare crossed her arms. “Look. I stopped here to get my bearings. Clearly, that was a mistake.” One that she intended to correct immediately. So much for Southern hospitality. She turned to leave.
“That’s right. Go on. Get out. Go back to where you come from, and stay there!”
The woman was shouting now. As far as Clare was concerned, she couldn’t leave the inn fast enough. A door at the end of the hall opened. Clare glanced toward it. Another woman, bearing a basket of wet towels on her hip, entered the hall.
Clare took the newcomer’s measure. Mid-thirties. A couple of inches shorter than Clare’s own five-foot-eight. Dark hair was pulled back from her round face in a tight ponytail. She had a solid, sturdy build that suggested a lifetime of hard work.
“What’s going on in here, Mama?” The new woman was puffing slightly. Perspiration beaded on her forehead. “I could hear you shouting from the base—” The woman’s gaze went to Clare and she stopped speaking.
“She’s what happened Connie-girl,” the elderly woman said. Her lips pulled back, baring her teeth. “She’s back.”
Connie’s lips quivered briefly. “That’s not her, Mama.” Her mouth tightened. She set the basket on the floor at her feet. “She looks like her, but it ain’t her.”
The statement was uttered in a harsh tone. The younger woman was as hostile as the older, Clare observed. Was everyone in this town a nut?
If she drove long enough, she’d come to a street with a sign on it. She’d knock on every door in Farley if she had to to find Katie. Clare turned her back on the two women.
The old woman shouted. “You keep going, and this time, Beth Linney, don’t you never come back!”
Beth Linney. Elizabeth Linney. Clare’s heart pounded and she whirled to face the women again.
Addressing the elder of the two, Clare asked. “You know Elizabeth Linney?”
It was Connie who responded. “Mama’s a little confused.” She crossed her arms. “Don’t pay her no mind.”
Clare eyed the old woman. “You called me Beth Linney. Elizabeth Linney. I’m Clare Marshall. Elizabeth Linney is my sister.”
Connie shook her head hard. Two red spots colored her cheeks. “Beth don’t have no sister.”
“I won’t go into the details of it with you, but yes, she does.” Clare squared her shoulders in defense of the statement. “Now. How do you know my sister?”
Connie’s gaze sharpened on Clare. “Sister, huh? Well, well, I wouldn’t have figured Hank Linney for stepping out on his missus, but there you go.” Connie propped a hand on her hip. “Well, sis, Beth was married to my baby brother till one week ago when she up and left him. Run off with a trucker that delivers fruits and vegetables to Dawson Foods.”
Clare’s throat tightened. She ignored the other woman’s incorrect assumption about Katie’s parentage. “Are you telling me that Katie—ah—Beth isn’t in Farley?” Clare’s voice came out thin.
Connie curled her lips in a sneer. She lowered her eyelids, looking at Clare as if she were something she’d scraped off the bottom of her shoe. “You heard me. Beth is long gone.”

© 2009 by Karen Fenech.  All rights reserved.

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