Monday, May 20, 2013

Deceive Me Once by Valerie Massey Goree

Maricella McDonough, known simply as Chella to her family and friends, has been living a life of deception in Hanson Ridge, Texas, ever since the day of her QuinceaƱera in Eagle Pass. Riddled with guilt over the part she played in the death of her parents, her best friend Eva, and Eva’s parents, she stuffed it all down into the deepest recesses of her mind and moved on with her life.

Now, many miles away and more than 25 years later, it has all finally caught up with her. The body of a young woman is found on the edge of Chella’s property. As she investigates the mysterious death, she discovers the woman is connected with her hidden past. Will Chella’s dark secret be her undoing and ruin the life she has built with her husband and sons? Will they ever forgive her for lying to them all these years?



     I scrubbed her blood off my hands and face. My tears mingled with the water escaping down the drain. The abrasion on my forehead still stung from the alcohol cleanse, and my stained clothes lay bundled in a heap on the bathroom floor.
     Brutus pushed the door open and sniffed at my clothes. The stench of death clung to him. Without thinking, I grabbed the startled puppy and placed him in the tub. I used my shampoo to bathe the blood and odor away and rubbed his short, brown fur vigorously with an old towel.
     After dressing, I plodded to the kitchen and closed the pet door leading outside, then paced the living room on wobbly legs. The sheriff had to drive only fifteen miles from Bandera, the county seat, to Hanson Ridge. What was taking him so long?
     A booming car horn shattered the silence. Brutus barked and ran to the kitchen. I attached his leash and secured it to a cabinet handle, and opened the back door.
     I traipsed toward the taupe patrol car. The sun glinted off the white caliche stones in the driveway. An officer climbed out of the car and straightened his brown trooper hat. He was probably close to my age, mid-forties, medium height, with solid arms and chest bulging under a khaki shirt, tucked into his brown slacks as if it had been glued down. His purposeful movements and demeanor inspired confidence.
     A brief smile creased his bronze cheeks. “Afternoon, ma’am. I’m Chief Deputy Carlos Quintanilla.” His deep voice sounded more like he should be in broadcasting and not investigating this sad crime.
     I extended my hand, but he removed his mirrored sunglasses, slipped them into his shirt pocket and rested his hands on his thick leather duty belt.
     “I believe you found a body, Mrs. McDonough?”
     His direct question and accusing gaze made me realize for the first time I might be considered a suspect.
     I lowered my hand. “Yes . . . yes, sir. And a bag filled with money.”
     His penetrating stare sent ripples swirling in my already queasy stomach.
     “Where are they, ma’am?”
     I stepped around his patrol car and headed down the driveway. “This way, Deputy.”
     His long stride brought him beside me. “How’d you get that gash?”
     I reached under the hair I’d pulled across my forehead and touched the scraped area. I must not have hidden it as well as I’d thought. “I fell on the driveway. On my way to the house to call your . . . you.”
     He grunted.
     Our footsteps crunched on the gravel and startled two vultures lingering on the dead branches of a Spanish oak. The skittish birds spiraled in circles above us.
     He eyed them for a second, then focused on the brush ahead of us. “How’d you discover the body and the money?”
     “Brutus, my puppy—”
     “Puppy. Where’s he now? Not by the body, I hope?”
     “No, no. He’s locked up in the house. The dispatcher told me to keep him away.”
     “Good. Now, tell me what happened.”
     I stopped and pointed back to the house. “I was weeding that flowerbed and Brutus brought me the corner of a hundred dollar bill. That got my attention, so I followed him. He keeps a stash of treasures on the lawn over there. I saw bits of money littering the area. Dirty, chewed bills. We think he must be part goat, because—”
     “Mrs. McDonough, the body, the money?”
     I cleared my throat. “Sorry, I talk when I’m nervous. My husband says—”
     The deputy pushed back his hat and rubbed his forehead. “What happened next?”
     “I followed the paper trail.” This time I pointed to the caliche. “See. Pieces of money.”
Quintanilla squatted and examined a scrap of paper. “This looks like part of a twenty.” He picked it up and stood. “Show me where you went next.”
     We trekked along the driveway peppered with bits of money and veered off into the brush. This time my feet were protected by boots and my legs covered in jeans. My earlier wardrobe of sandals, T-shirt and skirt had proved no match for the rough terrain.
     My husband had cleared a few of our nine acres in the Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio. The rest had been left raw. Quintanilla and I trudged through the un-cleared land south of the driveway. We stepped over rocks, clumps of dried grass and scraggy bushes. He reached an embankment before me and stopped.
     I indicated the general direction and said, “We have to go up there.”
     “Lead the way.”
      I pulled myself up using the rough branches of the mountain cedar trees. Quintanilla followed. Even though I knew what to expect, the unpleasant odor of old boiled cabbage smothered me. I gagged and gasped for air in the stifling August humidity.
     We pushed through the thicket of cedars and stepped into the small clearing. In the middle, half hidden by tall, dry grass, the zipper on the charcoal gray canvas glinted in the sunlight. Flies teemed over the bag.
     The deputy stopped, surveyed the area and frowned. “Did you disturb anything, Mrs. McDonough?”
     “Please call me Chella or Maricella.”
     “I asked you a question, Mrs. McDonough.” He ignored my plea for less formality. His professional tone reminded me again of my precarious situation.

About The Author

American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award winner Valerie Massey Goree lives in the Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband of forty years, two dogs, and two cats. She grew up in Central Africa, in Rhodesia—now Zimbabwe. After receiving her Master’s degree in the USA, she and her Texan husband served as missionaries in Zimbabwe where their two children were born. When the family returned to Texas, Valerie worked in the public school system for 25 years. Now retired, she focuses on her writing career and spoiling her grandchildren.

Purchase Deceive Me Once at:

Barnes and Noble  

Valerie Massey Goree is giving away a copy of Deceive Me OnceTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting life. But, I can't imagine living over there. Bet you are glad to be retired. Not that you aren't still busy. I would love to win your book.
Another Texan now, I see. I live next to Houston.
MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

Teela said...

Suspense. Mystery, Valerie I would love to read this book! Teelayoung at hotmail dot com

Patricia Bradley said...

Wow! This book is just what I love to read. pat at ptbradley dot com

Cindi A said...

When I finished reading the first chapter, I wanted to turn the page to continue reading. This book has me hooked already!

I'd love to win a copy.


ann said...

Sounds like a interesting book one I would enjoy. Im sure yous have experienced alot as missionaries in your time.

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win/read this book. It sounds terrific.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Rose Milligan said...

I really enjoy mystery novels. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this looks like an excellent book!

Katie J.

Anonymous said...

Hello Valerie, So you live in TX. I can't imagine living in Africa, Sounds scary to me Guess I just don't know enough about it. I live near Houston. I would love to win your book. Please enter me, Karen.
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Thanks for sharing your story with our readers,Valerie.

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