Author Interview with Lillian Duncan

Today, I am taking a break from Flash Fiction Friday to bring you an author interview with Lillian Duncan, Christian Mystery/Suspense writer, who has a new book out, Game On.

Tell us a little about you.

My husband and I live in a small town in Ohio. I mean small—we only have 1 traffic light. But I love being back home. I grew up in the area, but moved to the big city of Cleveland for many years. Like Dorothy, I love being home again.

What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

The answer to both is Christian mystery and suspense with a little horror thrown in from time to time. I guess writing is sort of like eating. You are what you read, and for me that means I’m a suspense/mystery writer.

Tell us about GAME ON.

Game On by [Duncan, Lillian]

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that someone’s not out to get you!

That’s the premise behind GAME ON. Politician Lucas McMann believes he’s the victim of an elaborate stalking game. Since he has no proof, his friends and colleagues believe he’s being paranoid.

He needs someone to help him get the proof and that’s when he turns to Nikki Kent, someone from his past. She’s a private investigator now, but the last person she wants in her life is Lucas McMann. He deserted her years ago when she needed him most, but her new found faith won’t let her say no to him.

And that’s when the game begins!

Tell me a bit about your main characters.

Lucas McMann is a politician with a big problem–actually two. First, he believes he’s the victim of an elaborate stalking game. His second problem is that no one believes him because there’s no proof. He can’t move forward until he stops the game. He can’t stop the game until he discovers who’s behind it. To do that he needs someone who will believe in him enough to help him get the proof he so desperately wants.

And he knows just the person, if only she’s put their troubled past behind her.

Private Investigator, Nikki Kent makes a living finding out other people’s secrets, but she has one of her own. When Lucas shows up asking for her help, she refuses. She can’t take the chance of her secret coming to light. But her new-found faith won’t let her turn her back on someone who is desperate for her help—even if he was the first man to break her heart!

What’s the setting for GAME ON?

Most of the story takes place in Maiden, North Carolina which is a real place. But that’s the only thing that’s real. The specific places talked about in the story are a figment of my imagination.

Who is your favorite secondary character in this latest novel, and do you think you’ll include that character in a future story?

Lucas’s mother is my favorite secondary character. She’s a gun-toting Southern belle who believes in being able to protect herself.
Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?

Not in the least! My suspense stories are just that—stories I create.


What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?

Actually I was watching a TV talk show. This particular guest believed that many of his “friends” were actually stalking him. My writer’s mind took over from there and I created Lucas McMann, a politician who believes he’s being stalked but nobody else does. And it went from there.

What do you want readers to take away from GAME ON?

I think there are several lessons to be learned. One of the most important is that forgiving others isn’t letting them off the hook. It’s letting go of your own anger and bitterness so you can have the life God wants for you.

What is your writing process?

I never know what is going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.

When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.

Do you know who the bad guy is when you begin your story?

Not usually. Most of the time I have several characters who it might be and as the story comes to a conclusion, I’m surprised right along with my readers.

Most people don’t think of murder mysteries and suspense novels as Christian Fiction. What do you say to them?

I can certainly understand their point of view. And for some readers my stories might be a bit too graphic or edgy and that’s okay, I would say my readers are those who like traditional suspense and mystery novels but are tired of all the explicit language and sex scenes that aren’t necessary to a good story.

I don’t promote or glorify violence in my stories and show characters experiencing the natural consequences of their bad choices and bad actions. My characters are usually on a spiritual journey as well—but some are further along than others.

What are you working on now?

I just finished the final edits on the third in the Deadly Communications series. Its title is DEADLY SILENCE. In it, Maven will be back and facing some very difficult life circumstances.

Along with that, she’s working with a late-deafened adult as a client. A subject near and dear to me since I’ve lost all my hearing in one ear and a significant amount in the other because of the brain tumors.

I also have several other stories in various stages that I’m working on.

If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?

DON’T GIVE UP! It took me 15 years to get a traditional contract, and now I have almost 20 books published! If I can do it, so can you. But not if you give up. KEEP WRITING!


My website is and I have a devotional blog at My blog is TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at I’m also on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at

Paper or e-reader? There are certainly pros and cons to each. Which is your favorite?

I prefer a “real” book with paper. Unfortunately, I don’t read them that way very often because of my eyesight. So, I use an e-reader almost exclusively these days.

Do you have a favorite or “life” verse? Why is that one important to you?

Romans 8: 28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

In 2012, I was diagnosed with brain tumors. The treatments and the side effects wreaked havoc on my health! I was very sick but I kept repeating this verse over and over. It kept me trusting God and it kept me in peace and joy in spite of how bad I felt at the time.

What’s your day job? Tell us a little about it.

I retired as an SLP from a large city school district in Ohio, then spent several more years working part-time in smaller, rural districts near where I live. Between the two jobs, I don’t think there is any type of child I haven’t worked with at least once.

I loved my job and miss it. Mostly I miss the children, not the paper work. If it weren’t for serious health issues, I would still be working.

What sort of serious health issues?

In 2012 I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors and subsequently a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 2. A long name that basically means I can develop tumors at any time on my nerves but especially in the brain.

It’s been a long, long journey but God is good. There’s a lot I can’t do these days, but I can still write!


How did your education or previous career impact your journey to publication and where you are now?

My day job was as a school speech pathologist, better known as a speech therapist. So for more than 30 years I listened…and listened…and listened some more. I think it helped me in a lot of areas but certainly with writing dialogue of my characters.

Anything else you need to tell us?

To celebrate the release of GAME ON, I’m giving away a virtual basket of goodies on my blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes including Amazon gift cards. For all the details, just click on that link. Simply leave a comment on the blog post GAME ON and you’ll be entered.

Also, my publisher outdid herself when she created this GAME ON book trailer

And lastly, thanks for having me.


Game On by [Duncan, Lillian]
Politics is no game when a stalker nears and there’s nowhere to hide.

A run for the senate is just a step on the road to the White House for Congressman Lucas McMann. But his public profile has put him in the middle of a crazed gunman’s twisted game of stalking. If he wants to win the election and reclaim his life, he’ll need the help of the one person who’d rather leave their past behind them.

Private Investigator Nikki Kent knows how to dig up secrets and discover those who exist in the shadows. She should. She’s good at hiding secrets of her own. Can she risk her own discovery for someone so desperate for her help? For the first man who broke her heart?

With new-found faith, she’ll help Lucas search for the answers. But with the truth comes a danger they must face together.


Lillian Duncan

Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in Ohio Amish country with her husband. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense and mystery with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian, you may visit her at or She also has a devotional blog at

Flash Fiction Friday: Who’s the Real Horse Thief

The horses galloped at a frightening speed.  The sleek black stallion quickly gaining upon the bay gelding.  The stallion’s rider pulled alongside the gelding and grabbed for the reins as the gelding’s rider jerked the reins hoping the horse would swerve to the right.

Too late.  The horses halted, the stallion’s rider jumped to the ground and pulled the rider from the gelding.  His grip was tight and through clenched teeth came the words, “You know what we do to horse thieves?”

The rider in his grasp twisted to break free, but he only gripped tighter.  A whimper assaulted his ears.  It was then he realized how much he towered over this rider.  He pulled the hood from the rider’s head.

“What the . . .?”

Fiery green eyes glared at him from a peaches and cream face with a perfectly shaped pink bow mouth.

“Unhand me, you brute!” She said.  “I’m no horse thief.”

“The horse you were galloping away on does not belong to you.”

“It most certainly does.  It was stolen from our ranch with several other horses two weeks ago.  I was simply taking back what belongs to me.”  Her gaze never left his and never faltered.

The sudden silence between them was electrified.  Their gazes locked.  His eyes were the deepest blue she had ever seen, his face a bit weather beaten but attractive.  The dark curls upon his head begged to have her fingers run through them.  She found herself holding her breath wanting him to kiss her while fearing that he would.

Approaching riders broke the spell.

A large man with red, curly hair and red beard came to a stop upon a white stallion.  There were two men on horseback behind him. The big man looked at the two people before him and let out a hearty chuckle.

“A woman!  A woman has almost managed to steal one of our horses?”

“It is not your horse!”

The man beside her put his arm around her waist.

The man on the horse raised a brow at the man on the ground.  “You know this little spitfire?”

“I’ve seen her on the rodeo circuit.  She’s had my attention for some time now.”  He grinned, revealing deep dimples.

“He . . .” The rest of her sentence was cut off as he pulled her closer to his side.

“Well, I’ll take the horse.  You can do with her what you will.”  The big man grinned at the man on the ground and reached for her horse’s reins.

The man next to her handed the reins, of her horse, to the big man. He and the other two rode away.

She pelted his chest with her fists with no effect.  “Why did you let him take my horse again?”

“If you wouldn’t have given up that horse, you would’ve been in terrible danger.  That man has no care for people and he will stop at nothing to obtain any horses he wants.”

“So you lied, and I suppose you see yourself as my hero.” Her eyes flashed.

A mischievous smile played across his lips and he bowed.  “At your service.”

“Unbelievable!  I don’t need a hero.  I need my horse.” Her words sounded biting even to her own ears, and when she saw a flicker of what? Pain? Flash in his eyes, she almost wished she could take them back.

“Look, I’m sorry about your horse.  Let me take you home.”

Again their eyes met and she couldn’t look away.  What was it about this man that had such an effect on her.  Why did she want to hit him and kiss him at the same time?

“Fine, but I’ll sit behind you.”  There was no way she was going to sit in front of him on that horse so that she would have to lean back against his broad chest and have his muscled arms around her to hold the reins.  The thought alone brought heat to her cheeks. She hoped he didn’t notice.

He smiled as her cheeks grew pink with her words.  “Have it your way.”

*  * * * *

When they arrived at the ranch, he brought his horse to a stop at the end of the lane where some low-hanging tree branches hid them from the house.  He dismounted the horse and reached up, put his hands on her waist and pulled her down.  His hands lingered on her waist longer than necessary and when she looked up, his mouth met hers.

The kiss was quick and tender but her pulse was pounding and her knees were weak.  She clung to his arms to keep her balance.  He put a finger under her chin and raised her head to look into her eyes.

“My name is Elijah Shepard.  I’m not a horse thief and I’d really like to see you again.”

She stood on her own now with many thoughts swirling through her mind.

When the thoughts cleared, she said, “If you’re not a horse thief, prove it.  Help me get my horse back.  That’s the only way you’re going to see me again.”

His lips formed a tight thin line.

She turned to go.

“Hey, you didn’t tell me your name.”

“Samantha.  Samantha Bennet.”

Top Ten Tuesday

This week on Top Ten Tuesday, as per The Broke and the Bookish, we are to post 10 Beach Reads, books we plan to read on the beach.  Not being a beach person, myself, I will post 10 Mountain Reads.  I would much rather spend a week or weekend in the mountains than at the beach, and mountains are as good a place to read as the beach.

So here are my top ten choices to take to the mountains:


This mystery/suspense is just the kind of book to keep me turning pages as I sit outside a cabin enjoying the sounds of nature.




Yes, I am a huge Dee Henderson fan.  I totally loved her O’Malley series.  I can’t wait to dig into this one and all of her other books that I haven’t read yet.


I have never been a big fan of fantasy, but I find a growing interest in that genre, and Magonia sounds like a good read.


Another fantasy novel that has captured my interest.  I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet, though.


We gave T.V. up a long time ago, but my parents still watch a lot of T.V. and sometimes when I visit, I catch a show or two.  Interestingly enough, many of the shows are based on books, which makes me quite happy because I’d rather read a book than watch a T.V. show anyway.  So, after seeing an episode or two of “Castle” with my mom, I looked up the books.


Yes, this too, is a book that a T.V. show is based on.


This book was suggested by a speaker at a writers’ conference I attended in November 2015.  It sounded intriguing and so it’s on my TBR list, and since the title is “The Poisonwood Bible”, it sounds like a good mountain read.


Thought the cover copy made this book sound fascinating.

So, do you prefer to read your books on the beach or in the mountains?

Top Ten Tuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday’s list as suggested by The Broke and the Bookish is: Ten of my Most Recent 5 Star Reads.

I have written reviews of all of these books on  However, I wouldn’t say that all of these are “recent” as I do not give out “5 Star” reviews easily.  To me, 5 stars are for books that are outstanding, in their story line, in having well developed characters that I love and care about and hate to say goodbye to and in the quality of the writing.

The last book on this list, I read and reviewed in September of 2013, #9 I read and reviewed in December 2014, #’s 1-3 are the most recent – I read and reviewed those in 2016, all the rest I read and reviewed in 2015.











Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble

I received a free copy of this eBook to write a review (my personal opinion) for BookLook Blogger.

This is the first romantic suspense novel I have read by Colleen Coble.  I read her “Journey of the Heart” series last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  You can read my reviews of each of those by searching for “Book Reviews” under Categories on the right sidebar of this blog.  They were western romance stories.  They had a bit of suspense, but not like Mermaid Moon.

Mermaid Moon is a Sunset Cove novel by Colleen Coble.  I have not read Inn at Ocean’s Edge which is the first book of this series.  But that is one thing I really like about Ms. Coble’s writing.  Even when she writes a series, you can read them out of order, or read one from the series and not the rest, and because of the information she includes in each book of the series, you do not feel lost or confused about the characters or the plot line.

Mallory Davis left her home on Mermaid Point in Maine years ago and never looked back. But when she receives a mysterious call from her father and later is informed of his death, she heads back to Mermaid Point immediately.

She suspects that her father was murdered, and a Downeast Maine game warden, Kevin O’Connor, confirms her suspicions.  Mallory doesn’t want to spend too much time with Kevin, but he wants to help her find out what happened to her father.  Mallory broke Kevin’s heart when she left Maine 15 years ago, and the history between them is something she believes cannot be repaired.

Mallory’s friend and neighbor, Carol brings her daughter, Haylie to Mermaid Point much sooner than planned and informs Mallory that someone showed up at her house in Bangor, Maine looking for her; someone who seemed quite threatening.

As the story continues, more questions arise and more suspicious characters emerge.  Whenever I thought I knew who was guilty, something else would show me I was wrong.  The story kept me guessing almost to the end.

Colleen Coble did a great job creating deep characters that made me care for them and cheer for them right for the start.  The plot line was suspenseful and kept me guessing.   The plot line kept me turning pages.  I look forward to reading more romantic suspense by Colleen Coble.

I recommend this book to all Colleen Coble fans, to anyone who enjoys a real page turner, to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense, and to anyone who likes a story with rich characters and a fast-moving plot line.



Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 12)

Bruce returned to Lexie’s apartment around ten that night.

“Bruce, what happened?”

“We got him, Lexie.  He’s in jail for now.”

“For now?”

“Until the arraignment where the judge will set the bail, and then Bigler may or may not get out on bail until the trial.  It depends on whether or not he is determined a flight risk or whether or not he can afford bail.  I’m sure after trial he’ll be going away for a long time with the evidence we have against him.”

Bruce didn’t want to tell Lexie about Candy.  He was sure she’d feel responsible.  “Can we talk about more pleasant things than my job now?”

Lexie smiled and Brad and Patty took that as their cue to leave.  Brad thanked Bruce for protecting Lexie and making the bust, and he and Patty both hugged Lexie and promised to talk to her early next week.

Bruce and Lexie sat on the sofa.  Bruce put his arm around Lexie and she snuggled into his side.

“I could get used to this,” said Bruce.

“What do you mean?”

“Coming home from a long day at work to the woman I love instead of to an empty apartment.”

“Oh, I don’t know.  I like coming home to peace and quiet and just Bo, who loves me without saying a word.”

“What?”  Bruce turned and saw the impish grin on Lexie’s face and then she began to giggle.

“You little tease.”  Bruce said, and then he was kissing her.

“What are we going to do this weekend?”

Lexie looked up at him questioningly.

“Since we wrapped up this case, I have the weekend off.”

“Can we go to the beach tomorrow and ride bike on the boardwalk, lay in the sun and swim in the waves?  And then walk hand-in-hand on the beach as we watch the sunset and wind it all up with a seafood dinner?”

“Sounds like a plan.”


Everything went as expected with the Kurt Bigler case, and when the trial ended, he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.

Bruce and Lexie spent every possible minute together.  Then one Friday evening Bruce took Lexie to a beautiful, romantic ocean front restaurant for dinner.  After dinner, they walked hand-in-hand on the beach.  As the sun began to set, Bruce took a tiny box from his pocket and handed it to Lexie.

When she opened the box and saw the beautiful diamond with a brilliant yellow beryl gem shining on the diamond like the sun, her eyes filled with tears.  Bruce got down on one knee before her.

“Lexie, I am deeply in love with you and have been for a long time.  You are the sunshine of my life, and if you will do me the honor of becoming my wife, I will love you, take care of you and protect you for as long as I live.  Lexie, will you marry me?”

Lexie smiled as tears streamed down her face, and she said, “Nothing would make me happier.”

Bruce place the ring on Lexie’s finger and let out a whoop of happiness.  He picked Lexie up and spun her around, and then, he kissed her.

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 11)

Bruce, Officer Watts, Officer Burke and one other officer arrived at apartment C without blaring sirens.  Bruce didn’t want Kurt Bigler to have a chance to run.  Bruce sent Officer Watts and the other officer around the back of the apartment building, while he and Officer Burke went to the front door.  Bruce rang the doorbell and pounded on the door with his fist while yelling, “Police, open up!”

After a few minutes with no response, Bruce nodded to Officer Burke, who tried the doorknob and found it locked, so he gave the door a good kick at the latch area, and the door burst open.  They proceeded up the stairs, one behind the other, one against the left wall and one against the right, guns drawn.

When they reached the top of the stairs, they found themselves in the living room.  They could see the kitchen and the hallway.  No one was in sight, but they heard whimpering coming from one of the rooms off of the hall.

Bruce made a couple of motions with his hand.  Officer Burke nodded and led the way into the hall.  They passed the first door on the right.  It was empty.  The whimpering was coming from the first door on the left.  Officer Burke opened the door quietly.  He moved to the right so that Bruce could enter, and Officer Burke held his gun on Kurt Bigler, whose back was to them.

“Kurt Bigler, you are under arrest.”

Kurt turned around, a shocked expression on his face and his pants hanging open.  It was obvious that they had caught him in the act of raping this young lady.  Officer Burke moved toward Kurt Bigler, ordered him to close his pants and then get down on the floor with his hands behind his head.

Bruce spotted a blanket on a chair near the doorway and grabbed it.  He opened the blanket and tossed it over the young lady, whose blouse was torn and there were the beginning discolorations of bruises forming on her breasts.  There was dried blood at the right corner of her mouth.

Bruce spoke softly and gently, “Miss, I’m Detective Bruce Rivers.  I’m with the local police department.”

The young lady began to cry and talk at the same time.  “He grabbed me outside the college library and forced me into his car.  He brought me here and he was . . . was forcing himself on me when you came in.  He hurt me.”

“I’m so sorry, but he won’t hurt you anymore.  What’s your name?”

“Candy Jamison.”

Just then, the only female officer on the force, Officer Tina Johnson, came into the room.

“Well, Candy Jamison, I’d like you to meet Officer Tina Johnson.  She’ll ride with you to the hospital and stay with you during the exam.  She’ll also ask you for details about what happened.  I know it will be hard to talk about, but we need you to try because we want to be sure this guy goes to jail for a long time, so he can’t hurt anyone else.”

“Okay.  Thank you for saving me.  I thought he was going to kill me.”

“You’re welcome, Candy.”  Bruce squeezed her hand gently as he helped her down from the table Kurt Bigler had forced her upon.  Officer Johnson put her arm across Candy’s neck and shoulders and led her out to the waiting ambulance.

“Officer Burke already took Bigler to the station.”  Officer Watts informed Bruce.  “Take a look at what I found in a desk drawer in the living room.”

Bruce looked as Officer Watts held up a large plastic bag that held a spiral bound notebook.  “What is it?”

“It’s Kevin’s journal.  There’s a little information about the relationships he had with the six girls he killed, but there’s a lot about him and Lexie.  That’s how Bigler knew so much.”

“How did Kurt Bigler get his hands on that?”

“I figure he must have found it hidden somewhere in this apartment.”

“Looks like we’ve got enough for a good prosecuting attorney to use to get a conviction on this guy.  Let’s wrap it up.”

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 10)

Friday evening Lexie was feeling a bit apprehensive.  She almost wished she would have agreed to Bruce’s plan because she just wanted this to be over.  She was eagerly anticipating moving forward with her life with the possibility of having someone to love and to love her, after eight lonely years.  She was glad that Bruce, Office Watts, Brad and Patty were all there, and she insisted on making dinner without any help from Patty.  It helped to keep busy doing something.

When they sat down to chicken and shrimp fettuccine alfredo with a salad and fresh homemade garlic bread, everyone was impressed with Lexie’s cooking abilities, and though they were all a bit tense, they ate with hearty appetites.  Then Lexie presented the grand finale.  Dessert was tiramisu that Lexie had made.

As they were devouring their dessert, the telephone rang.  Officer Watts took his place at the tracing machine, Bruce gave Lexie’s hand an encouraging squeeze, and Bo let out a whimper as he followed Lexie to the kitchen.

“Hello?”  Lexie answered the phone.

“I thought we had a dinner date,” replied the raspy whisper.

“Yes, well, I changed my mind.  I know you’re not Kevin.  Kevin’s dead.  So why don’t you talk in your normal voice and tell me your real name?”

Brad stood with his mouth agape, and Bruce was grinning.

There were several minutes of silence on the other end of the phone, then the raspy whisper spoke again, “You sound very sure of yourself, and you sound different this evening than the last few times I’ve spoken with you.”

“That’s because I have decided not to allow someone like you to intimidate and frighten me anymore.  So why don’t you cut the crap and come clean?  Who are you really, and what do you want?”

“I want you spending weekends with me, Kitten . . .”

“Don’t call me Kitten, Kurt.”

“What did you just call me?”  Suddenly the raspy whisper was gone.

“Kurt.  That is your name, isn’t it?  Kurt Bigler?”

Click.  The line went dead.

Lexie turned toward Bruce, a look of triumph quickly turning to a look of concern.  “I didn’t ruin your chances of arresting him, did I?”

“I’m sure we’ll still find a way.”  Bruce gave her a hug and a quick kiss on the lips.

“What did I miss here?”  Brad asked.

“Got him!”

“What?”  Bruce turned to Officer Watts.

“Because of Lexie’s shock factor during the conversation, he hesitated several minutes, and he ended up on the line just long enough for the trace to go through.  The call came from the library at Grater College.”

They all shared high fives.  Then Lexie said, “Brad, Patty, why don’t we sit in the living room and I’ll tell you about last night?”

They all moved to the living room and Lexie explained to Brad and Patty how she had finished reading the Book of John and how she had spoken with Bruce last night about Christ, and how she had shared about her past.  She told them how she had prayed and was now saved.

Bruce’s cell phone rang before Lexie was finished.  He moved to the kitchen to take the call.

“Detective Rivers, this is Officer Burke.  I just received a call, here at the station, from a young lady named Sabrina Duncan.  She said she needed to talk to you immediately.  She said it was urgent.  I promised I’d have you call her right back.  She sounded frantic.”

“Thanks, Officer Burke, I’ll get right on it.”

Bruce ended the call with Officer Burke and immediately dialed Sabrina Duncan’s apartment.  Sabrina answered on the first ring.  “Detective Rivers, you’ve got to get over here with some cops right away.  The wacko in apartment C drug some girl out of his car and into his apartment about twenty minutes ago.  She was struggling and trying to put up a fight, but she’s not much of a match for him.  I heard her scream and heard some loud thuds coming from the apartment, but it’s been quiet for the past five minutes.  Please hurry!”

“I’m on my way.”

Everyone was looking at Bruce in silence.

“Watts, let’s go.  We’ll be back later for the tracing equipment.  No time for explanations.”

After a few moments of stunned silence, Lexie said, “Well, that will take some getting used to.”

Brad and Patty looked at her quizzically.

“Let me finish my story.  I believe the strength I had during that phone call came from the Lord.  I’m sure he’s the one who took my fear away.”

“Lexie, I am so happy that you answered the Lord’s call.  It’s wonderful to catch a glimpse of the old Lexie again.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.”

“Thanks, Brad.  It’s such a relief to not have to carry the burden of my past sins on my shoulders anymore.  I also want you to know that I’m going to give Bruce a chance.”

“A chance for what?” Bruce asked, and Patty smiled knowingly.

“A chance at building a relationship with me.  He’s caring, tender and protective.  I am comfortable with him.  I can talk to him, and I feel safe with him.  He can make me laugh too.”

Brad hugged his little sister.  “Welcome back to life, Sis.”  Lexie smiled and hugged him back.  Then she hugged Patty too.

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 9)

When they got back to Lexie’s apartment, Lexie made them each a cup of hot chocolate and they sat in the living room.  For a while they sat in a comfortable silence, each lost in their own thoughts.

Bruce finally broke the silence, “Lexie, I hope when this is all over you won’t shut me out again.  I know that eight years ago things were different and you needed help when it all ended, but . . .”

“Bruce, you’re right, things were different and I was too young, and yes, I needed medication and counseling for quite some time.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since we talked on Tuesday evening.  I also finished reading the Book of John.  I believe Jesus is real and I want to learn to talk to him.  I want to ask for his forgiveness, and I would like you to help me seek his forgiveness.  Besides, there are things you need to know before you decide that you want to pursue a serious relationship with me.”

“Do you want me to help you seek forgiveness from the Lord now?”

“No, I need to tell you everything first, while I think I’ve gathered enough courage to do so.  My sins are the worst kind because they were sins against others and against myself.  They are all sexual sins, and the first one is the most horrifying.  I was fifteen years old and my mother died in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.  Dad, Brad and I all took it hard.  We had always been a close family.  The night after the funeral, Brad had gone out with some friends, dealing with his grief by trying to forget it.

I was in the dining room looking through old family photo albums.  I heard my dad sobbing heart wrenching sobs so I went to try to comfort him.  He was in his bed.  I stroked his hair and spoke softly to him, telling him it would be all right, and he fell asleep.  I sat in the chair by his bed, and I must have dozed off, and I was jolted awake by Dad calling mom’s name.  I reached out and touched his arm and told him that mom was gone.  He was so distraught and filled with grief.  I’m sure he wasn’t in his right mind and he thought I was my mother.  I look very much like her.  He called me by my mom’s name and he held me for a long time, but then he started kissing me, and, at first, I tried to stop him and I kept calling him ‘Daddy’ and telling him it was me, Lexie.  I was scared and I was hurting and grieving for my mom.  I was in need of comfort too, and I didn’t have the strength to stop him.

I got up and went to my own room after he fell asleep, but hadn’t stopped to grab my jeans, and in the morning he asked me why my jeans were in his room.  I was afraid to answer him, but he came to the realization of what had happened without my having to say anything, and he was horrified.  He told me to take a hot shower and scrub myself as hard as I could.  He kept apologizing and saying what an awful thing he had done, and he kept telling me it wasn’t my fault.  Then he took a hot shower, dressed and left the house.

He returned a while later.  He had purchased a deadbolt lock, and he installed it on my bedroom door.  He gave me both of the keys that came with it and made me promise that from then on I would lock myself in my bedroom every night.  Then my dad started drinking heavily.  He became an alcoholic, and he died five years ago.  Brad never knew what happened that night.  He thought Dad drank because he couldn’t get over the loss of mom, and I’m sure that also had something to do with it.  I don’t want Brad to ever know about this.

After that night, I realized how deeply my Dad loved my mom, and I felt disgusted with myself because what happened should have been repulsive to me, but instead I thought it was beautiful, because in Dad’s mind he had been loving his wife, and I wanted a love that amazing for myself.

That’s when I started sleeping with any guy who got romantic with me.  Most of them didn’t last long after they had their way with me.  Then I met Kevin.  He was a college man, no more of those stupid high school boys for me, and he was extremely handsome, and he talked to me.  He wanted to know what I was interested in, what I liked to do.  He held my hand, wouldn’t even kiss me good night on our first date.  We went on bike rides, he took me hiking in the woods.  We went for walks on the beach, roller skating, and he took me sailing on his boat.  That was the first time we slept together — in the sailboat’s cabin while rocking on the water.  I was so sure he was THE One.

I spent every weekend with him for six months before I had to sneak a peek in the only room in the apartment that always had its door closed.

Imagine my horror as I saw six dead young women dressed in fancy gowns sitting at a fancy dinner table where there was one chair, at the head of the table, that remained empty.  And suddenly he was right behind me and he whispered in my ear, ‘You shouldn’t have opened that door, Kitten.’

I turned toward him and he was smiling down at me.  He said, ‘You’re the special one, Kitten, lucky number seven.  I’ve been enjoying you so much more than the first six.  I was beginning to wonder if I’d have to change my plans, but now that you know, I won’t have to.  You will get to be the queen of my ladies and take your place of honor at the head of the table.’

I was terrified and the door to the apartment was behind him, so I turned and ran for the bedroom because there was a fire escape outside the one window.  Kevin grabbed me as I opened the window.  I screamed, ‘someone help me!  He’s going to kill me.’ He threw me to the floor and in a menacing voice told me not to scream anymore.  I scrambled to my feet and ran for the apartment door, but he caught up with me before I got there.  He tied me to a chair and gagged me.  He told me he’d be back, said he needed to get my gown and jewelry and then he’d be back.

He left the apartment and I managed to maneuver the chair I was tied to, over to a wall and I kept rocking the chair so that the back of it kept hitting the wall.  It accomplished my goal, as the neighbor was annoyed and called the police, but Kevin got back before the police arrived.  He found me against the wall and said, ‘You’ve been a naughty girl, Kitten.  I will have to punish you.’  He pulled my hair and yanked my head back against the wall, pulled the gag from my mouth and kissed me hard and rough.  He was rough with a few other body parts, but nothing that would show visible bruises in the stupid gown.

Finally, you arrived with a couple of police officers.  We heard you speak through the bullhorn, commanding Kevin to come out with his hands up, and Kevin grew more agitated.  He untied me and twisted one arm behind my back.  He led me to the kitchen and grabbed a large butcher knife.  He held it to my throat and pushed me out the door in front of him.  You know the rest.”

“Yes, he tried to tell us it was a domestic disturbance and that we didn’t belong there, that he would work things out with you alone.  I told him to drop the knife, but instead, he put the point of the knife right against your throat.  Then, you stomped on his foot, loosening his hold on you just long enough for you to get away from him and I shot him.”

“He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and I was in shock.  When I came out of the shock, I had a breakdown.”  Lexie had gotten up and was looking out the window.

Bruce walked over and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind.  He whispered in her ear, “Lexie, you were a victim, with your father and with Kevin.”

Her voice was hoarse when she responded, “I chose to have sex with many guys and the last one was a serial killer.  How did I not know?”

“Lexie, it’s typical that the people closest to serial killers don’t know what monsters they are.  The people closest to them are always shocked the most when the truth comes out.”

Lexie turned and looked into Bruce’s eyes.  “Now you know the horrors of my past.  Do you still think I can be forgiven?”

“I’m certain Christ has forgiven worse things.”

Tears were streaming down Lexie’s cheeks as they got down on their knees at the sofa and Lexie confessed her sins to the Lord and asked him to forgive her and to help her forgive herself.  She asked for strength and guidance for her life.

When her prayer was finished, they stood up, and again, Lexie looked into Bruce’s eyes.  “What about you?  You still think you want to have a relationship with someone like me?”

Bruce leaned close to her face, so close she thought he was simply going to kiss her, but he whispered, “Absolutely”, and then he kissed her softly and tenderly.

“You were right, you know,” said Lexie.

“About what?”

“I feel light as a feather.  God has surely lifted my burden.”  Lexie smiled and the smile reached her eyes for the first time in eight years.

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 8)

All day Wednesday, Lexie’s thoughts swung back and forth between the hope of forgiveness and thoughts of Bruce.  She found herself eagerly anticipating the next time she’d see Bruce, and her mind kept replaying his sweet kisses.  Yet she was afraid to dream of a future with him.  Could she really find forgiveness and move forward, leaving her past behind her?

She didn’t see Bruce Wednesday evening though.  Wednesday evening was quiet.  It was just her, Bo and Officer Watts, and the phone never rang.

Thursday was very similar to Wednesday, except that Thursday evening Lexie went over to Brad and Patty’s for dinner.  They had just sat down to dinner when the doorbell rang.  Brad went to the door and returned with Bruce.  It was obvious that Bruce was forcing pleasantries because he didn’t want to disturb dinner.  Patty quickly set a place for him across from Lexie.

Dinner conversation consisted of superficial small talk, and as soon as the dishes were cleared, Brad looked at Bruce and said, “What’s the problem?”

“We struck out with the phone records.  The calls to Lexie’s apartment weren’t made from Kurt Bigler’s apartment, so either he used a cell phone or he made the calls from another location.”

“So what now?”

“I have an idea, but you’re not going to like it.”

Brad’s gaze met Bruce’s as he waited for Bruce to continue.

“Tomorrow’s Friday.  He invited Lexie to come to his apartment.  I was thinking that we put a wire on her and she goes.  We’ll hear everything and bust through the door at the first sign of trouble.”

“Are you crazy?  Send Lexie back into the same apartment that Kevin lived in to meet some other psycho?  No way!  I won’t allow it!  That would cause her to relive the whole thing again, if not in every action, certainly, in her mind.”

“It would be a sure way of making an arrest that will stick.”

Brad had stood from the table upon hearing Bruce’s suggestion.  Now he began to pace back and forth.  He ran his hands through his hair.  No one spoke for several minutes and the air in the room was thick with tension.

Finally Brad spoke, “So this guy’s expecting her tomorrow night.  What if she doesn’t show?  He’ll probably call again, right?”

“Brad, he could call a million times and it wouldn’t lead to an arrest.  Not as long as he’s using a cell phone or calling from somewhere other than his apartment.  He’s smart.  He doesn’t stay on the line long enough for our tracer to pinpoint his location.”

“Yeah, but what if Lexie could get him to agree to meet her somewhere public?  She could still wear a wire and ask him questions that would get information that could lead to an arrest.”

Lexie’s fear-filled expression had been glued to Bruce, but now she turned it to Brad.

“Lexie, don’t worry.  I would never let anything happen to you.  Just hear me out.  I know you met Kevin at some college party, but didn’t the two of you go to a restaurant once or twice before you started going to his place?”

Lexie thought for a minute.  “Oh, yes.  We used to like to go to Finnigan’s.  It was like a real Irish Pub and the food was really good.”

“Do you know if Finnigan’s is still in business?”

“It is,” Bruce said, “Some of the police officers like to go there on Friday nights.”

“So Lexie sets up to meet him at Finnigans the next time he calls, and Patty and I will be there at a table nearby where I can keep an eye on Lexie, and you and your officers can be outside listening and either come in or arrest him on the way out.”

“Okay.  We’ll try your plan first, Brad.”

“Thank you.”

Bruce followed Lexie to her apartment.  Bo greeted them at the door, and Lexie grabbed his leash and they went for a walk.

“Are you okay with Brad’s plan?”

“It’s better than yours.  Did you really expect me to go into that apartment?”

“It was the only idea I could come up with.  I just want to get this guy.”

“Do you think this guy is a serial killer or just a wannabe?”

“I don’t think he’s a serial killer.  We don’t have any missing women with connections in their cases right now.  I think this guy studied Kevin and admires him.  I think he just started where Kevin left off — with you.  I don’t believe he’s made a kill yet, and maybe he doesn’t have the stomach for it, but if he does, you’re his first target, and I have no intention of giving him that opportunity.”