Friday, September 7, 2012

Hush Little Baby by Deborah M. Piccurelli

Deborah M. Piccurelli is an advocate for sanctity of life, and tackles such issues in her novels, weaving them into compelling stories. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and their two sons.


You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or her website.


Back Cover Blurb:


Investigative journalist, Amber Blake, is a little person bent on payback for the death of her average-sized twin sister. Enlisted by her former partner and estranged husband, Evan, she poses as a counselor in an abortion clinic to expose the doctor responsible for fetal harvesting. As a Christian, she struggles with concealing her beliefs to maintain her cover, while the doctor’s overtures tumble her stomach. Amber agrees to date him for the sake of the story . . . but nothing prepares her for what’s behind a mysterious door in his office.


   She would be working for her sister’s killer.
   Amber’s skin goosebumped as she drove down the town’s main highway to the Cedarview Women’s Center for her first day on the job. To think the man responsible for Ashley’s death, Dr. Albert Hines, would be her employer.
   Her foot pumped the extender pedal for the brake, and her Honda Odyssey glided to a smooth stop at the red traffic signal. She sometimes wondered what it would feel like to be five-six instead of four foot tall and able to drive without the extenders, to live a life without the need for any adaptive products.
   She was about to find out. In part, anyway. Her last visit to the clinic for the interview revealed very few accommodations for a little person. Not that she expected there would be any, as they probably never had a dwarf working there before. Despite her size, Dr. Hines had shown her much respect. Because of that surprising courtesy, a tinge of guilt crept in at the thought that he would end up in prison because of her.
   Not enough to put her off, though. He had it coming.
   Amber pulled the minivan into the clinic’s parking lot and watched, mouth agape, as two lines of protestors shouted across an imaginary divide. Some of them resembled snarling cougars ready to pounce at the slightest provocation.
   Her heartbeat quickened. Her first day on the job and she had to deal with this? The big question was how to get through that crowd unscathed.
   A heavy sigh forced its way through her lips, as she rolled into an empty spot around the side of the simple brick building. Her dry mouth tasted stale. She turned off the engine and sat frozen for a moment. The overcast sky added to her sense of dread and doom.
   What am I doing here?
   Despite the cold weather, her palms were sweaty, and she rubbed them against the soft wool of her coat. She couldn’t go in. Crossing those picket lines could incite a riot. The pro-choicers would think she was on their side, and the pro-lifers would think she was against them. And what if something triggered Dr. Hines’s memory, causing him to recognize her from that long-ago day when she’d come here with Ashley? He hadn’t mentioned it, but he could have gotten a glimpse of her. A dozen years, youth, and shorter hair might not make a big difference. But the more time she spent in his presence, the higher the risk. She could well imagine what such a big guy could do to someone as small as her.
   She checked her hair in the rearview mirror, and her anxious blue eyes peered back at her. “You’re being silly,” she told her reflection. She opened the car door to a blast of cold air. She would do this. For Ashley and for the babies. As for the raging bulls around front? She’d leave them to the Lord.
   Amber climbed out of the van. She couldn’t see the mob from here, but she could hear them: a myriad of voices, some yelling, some chanting. Sounded like hundreds of people. Could there be that many?
   Her hands and knees trembled. She disliked large groups of people. Especially hostile ones. They didn’t mix well with little people.
   Mustering up her courage, Amber strode around the corner of the building and headed for the front door, a mere fifteen feet away. Fifteen feet. Her own personal green mile.
   There were two separate groups assembled in front of the clinic. Maybe a hundred and fifty people.
   As soon as she got near, a voice yelled out, “Don’t do it!”
   “Leave her alone!” cried another. “It’s her choice!”
   Soon both sides erupted into a crescendo of shouting that threatened to break the sound barrier and closed in on Amber.
   As she reached for the doorknob a sudden shove sent her flying sideways, and she hit the concrete like a sack of potatoes. Pain shot up her right arm. A hand yanked her up and ushered her back to the door but others clawed her in the opposite direction. “Murderer!” came a legion of voices, as she was jostled.
   Help me, Lord! Why are my fellow Christians behaving this way?
   She tried to pull free.
   “Break it up! Here, here, now!” She knew that deep voice. A pair of strong male hands gripped her shoulders and guided her to the door. She cringed at their touch yet grateful for the rescue. As soon as she crossed over the threshold, the door slammed behind her, muffling the angry cries of the people and the sirens of the arriving police cars. She squinted in the brightly lit waiting room from its contrast to the dreary outdoors.
   While straightening her clothes, she kept her eyes averted. How embarrassing, having to be rescued by the subject of your investigation. “Uh, thank you, Doctor.” Her hair had to be straggled after that scuffle. She patted it into place and winced with the movement of her injured arm. “This happen often?”
   “Protests? Yes. But never before has a new employee made quite an entrance as that, Miss Amber.”
   She might have thought the incident annoyed him but for the twinkle in his forest green eyes. She grinned through her aversion to this man. “It’s my mission in life to get noticed wherever I go.”
   Dr. Hines threw his head back and laughed out loud, his light brown hair fluttering with the gesture. “You’re a sassy one.” Then, in the next instant, his expression became serious. “Come with me, and we’ll get started.” He moved toward the back of the clinic.
   Dr. Hines’s sudden mood shift left Amber with a chill creeping through her veins.

* * *
   In her tiny, sparsely furnished office, Amber placed her purse in a desk drawer. As she pushed it closed, she glimpsed a step stool underneath the desk. Just like the one she’d always kept under her desk at The Tri-County Informer. The one Evan had kept there while she’d been gone for the past two years.
   With a shake of her head, she brought herself back to the present, and the business at hand. Nurse Maggie Bonner had to have left the step stool. Maggie had also been the one to tip her and Evan off about Dr. Hines and arrange Amber’s job interview with the doctor by putting in a good word for her. After meeting the nurse that first time, Amber could tell the woman was a caring and kind person.
   Marveling at Maggie’s thoughtfulness, Amber pulled the stool out and stepped up to hang her jacket on the naked coat tree in the corner. She’d remember to thank her new friend later, she thought, following the alluring aroma to the break room. Back at her desk, Amber looked forward to a good cup of coffee after what she’d just been through. She took a sip. Ugh. She could fuel her car for a week on the stuff. One thing’s for certain, she’d be arriving early each morning to make the coffee herself.
   The offensive-tasting liquid relegated to a far corner of the desk, Amber let her eyes peruse the room. Not much to look at. White walls, black metal desk with fake wood grain top, her fabric swivel chair, a couple vinyl visitor’s chairs, and the coat tree. If this were her real job, she’d bring in a few personal things to give the office a homier quality.
   A nervous shiver rippled through her. Although she’d worked undercover before, this time was different. She’d never had a history with the subject of her piece. Plus, a story of such importance rarely surfaced in this area of South Jersey.
   When she and Evan had met last week for the first time since their separation, he’d kissed her cheek. Everything she remembered about him had stayed the same: His warm brown eyes, thick dark hair, and quiet strength. But she was there about a news story, so she had pushed her memories aside and listened to what Nurse Maggie had to say.
   Now, her thoughts returned to seeing Evan again, that day, for the first time. A deep sigh escaped her lips.
   “Like your office, Miss Amber?” Dr. Hines’s voice cut through the fog she’d been in. Stealthy as a panther, he’d crept up without warning. The length of his pristine white physician’s coat emphasized his height and leanness as he propped himself against the doorjamb. The warm, welcoming tone in which he spoke oozed over her like heated oil. A smile accentuated his words. “I know it’s small, but . . . well, you don’t need much room.” His green eyes held a mischievous glint.
   A grin spread across her lips without any effort on her part, and she hated that his charm so easily affected her. Nevertheless, it made her job a little easier. “Ha-ha, very funny,” she said.
   “Did you find what I left for you under the desk?”
   Amber had to stop and think before the meaning of his words penetrated. The step stool. Maggie hadn’t done it after all. She smiled. “Yes, I did. Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness.”
   “My pleasure.” He winked. “Now that you’ve made yourself at home,” he said, nodding toward her coffee cup, “shall we get started?”
   For the second time that morning, he seemed to berate her without actually doing so. “Sure thing, Doc.”
   Time to get down to business. Amber’s stomach clenched along with her hands. Her fingers groped for her wedding band, which always provided a special comfort. There was no comfort, this time. Her ring finger matched the bareness of these white plaster walls.
   Dr. Hines walked fully into the office carrying a stack of paper, which he placed on her desk. “This is what you’re to do.” After taking a sheet from the pile, he extended his free hand, palm up, and wiggled his fingers. “Give me that clipboard, please.”
   Amber handed him the one on the corner of the desk. He placed the paper under the clip, then passed the board back to her. As she read the form, her tongue turned to flypaper. Dr. Hines wanted her to ask clients to donate their fetuses to research.
   Her surprise must have shown on her face, because Dr. Hines asked, “What’s the matter?”
   She looked up at him. “Oh . . . I’m sorry. I—I didn’t know this was part of the job. You only told me I was to advise patients, answer questions, or explain procedures.”
   “Is there a problem?”
   She hesitated. “No. Not at all.”
   “I want you to do everything you can to get our patients to sign that.”
   “Everything?” She heard the quiver in her voice and hoped he didn’t notice.
   Amber was cast in shadow by his height as he loomed over her. “Yes, Miss Amber. Everything.
   The way he said it left no doubt in her mind that she had no choice
   How could she stand doing that? She would be instrumental in the very thing she was trying to stop. Every time she sent a patient into the procedure room with one of those signed consent forms, she would have a part in the same barbaric practice as every other person working at this clinic.
   Dear God, what have I gotten myself into?


Purchase the book in ebook or paperback format at: Amazon or ask your local library to order it in for you!

Deborah M. Piccurelli is giving away a copy of HUSH LITTLE BABY. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


cjajsmommy said...

Reading the excerpt left me wondering how comfortable I would be reading the book. But then again, it is good to be made uncomfortable once in a while. Please enter my name for a copy of this book. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

ann said...

Enter me for this book please. It sounds like this book will be interesting to read because of the subject tho may be uncomfortable to some.

Carol Ann said...

Thanks for sharing this excerpt with us, Deborah!

Catrina Bradley said...

I THINK I'd like to read this - as hard as it may be. Please enter me! catrina at faithwriters dot net. thanks!

Anonymous said...

WOW! Sounds like this will be good. Please enter me.
Maxie ( )

Teela said...

Thank you for offering this giveaway and please enter my name to win.

Anonymous said...

You are very brave for tackling this subject!! God Bless You.
Thanks for the chance to win this book.
~Elizabeth N

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