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If At First You Don't Deceieve

If At First You Don't Deceieve

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Kill him. Kill myself. Vanish into thin air.
Those were my options. I tried the first two and failed miserably…

Everly Sutton thinks she’s finally found the happiness she’s chased for so many years. Colton West is handsome, successful and charming, everything she hoped for in a man. When he proposes after mere months, she says yes without hesitation. It isn’t long after the vows are exchanged that 
Everly realizes she’s made the worst mistake of her life.

It’s hard to outrun a secret when it follows you around like a dark shadow…

Desperation and fear force Everly to disappear from her old life for good. She finds refuge on remote Winborne Island. She’s convinced she’s freed herself from her nightmare marriage until reminders of a childhood secret, a secret that she once divulged to Colton in a vulnerable moment, come back to haunt her. Everly was sure she’d escaped the man for good. But, she soon finds, 
evil is especially wicked when it comes from the heart.

Full of jaw-dropping twists and turns, fans of Frieda McFadden and Mary Stone will love this addictive and atmospheric psychological thriller!

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Kill him. Kill myself. Or vanish into thin air. Those were my options. I tried the first two and failed miserably. 

The bow of the slow, sputtering ferry boat, aptly named Sea Devil, lifts and falls. My stomach lurches, reminding me, unpleasantly, that I'd eaten the stale peanut butter sandwich too fast. I breathe in the briny sea air and am blasted with the various odors that only an ocean can produce. Mixed with the diesel-laced burps of the ancient, rusty ferry, it makes my nose run. Some people might call it pungent, but to me, it's the smell of freedom. 

"Winborne Island straight ahead!" the rotund ferry captain bellows from his wheelhouse. The deep lines on his face are like a story map of his years at sea. If you look closely enough, you can almost see the salt collecting in the deep crevices. He leans his massive shoulders out the side door of the wheelhouse. "You sure about this? I can always turn this tin can around. I won't even charge ya for the trip back."

In between his embellished tales about life on the high seas, Captain Will has been trying to talk me out of Winborne Island. He says it's not a place for a girl like me. The island popped up in my search one day, and I knew, instantly, it would be part of my disappearing act. Far enough out in the Atlantic that it required a one-hour ferry ride to reach its craggy shore, a population smaller than my high school's graduating class and rarely on a map, I knew I'd found my place in the world. A place no one else wanted to be. 

A frisson of excitement shakes my entire body. I've done it. I'd been stuck in the middle of a tornado and I found my path out, away from the vortex, the monstrous center that threatened to shred the tiny bit of soul I had left. I can never escape my past, but for now, I've freed myself from the man I was married to. Twelve months that left me a twisted, underweight and severely broken shell of the woman I once was. I consider pinching myself to make sure it's really happening, but the glacial breeze coming off the rippling, gray water has left my fingers so numb, I don't dare pull them from my coat pockets. I'm wearing an old bomber jacket I found in a thrift store. Even with the lambskin lining, it's no match for the icy chill blowing across the deck. But I don't mind the chin-trembling cold. My lips can turn as blue as they like. I am free. 

Some people call it starting a new chapter. Some might call it turning over a new leaf, but for me, it's starting life number four. The first three each started pleasantly enough, but the endings were disastrous. The first ending was heartbreak so deep it ached like a rotten tooth, and I was too young to understand any of it. The second was calamitous, life-changing, irredeemable. I was old enough to know that my life would never be the same again. The third ending was vile enough to put me on a boat that looked about as seaworthy as a sponge in the middle of the churning Atlantic beneath an ominous sky. And I am thrilled to be on that boat. I'm about to begin life four. Maybe this time I'd find my happy ending. That thought makes me laugh. I'd wear life two like a permanent, disfiguring scar, but with any luck, I've finally left life three behind … forever.   

"There she is!" Captain Will yells from the wheelhouse.

I follow his pointing finger and squint into the salty mist. At first, all I see is darkness and fog, then a silhouette comes into view. Jagged cliffs jut out over an angry snarl of ocean waves. Fierce black clouds cling to the pointed peaks like a great billowing cloak. This isn't a place where seagulls frolic on the frothy shoreline. This isn't a place where harried moms spend an hour setting an umbrella in the sand so their little ones avoid sunburn. This isn't a place where lovers tease each other as they play in the waves. This is a place where early century cutthroats and murderers came for refuge. This is a place where the wind chill gets so bad it settles permanently into your bones. This is a place where people come to avoid civilization. It's even more harsh and unwelcoming than I imagined. It's perfect. This is a place where he can never find me.

I've found my home, sweet home.

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