We’re really lucky to have with us today my friend and fellow author Cathy Perkins. Cathy is sharing a teaser from her new release CYPHER.
But first, here is a little more about Cathy!
BIO: An award-winning author, Cathy Perkins works in the financial industry, where she’s observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters’ lives. A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, handles the blog and social media for the ITW Debut Authors, and coordinated the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.
When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for CYPHER, HONOR CODE and THE PROFESSOR, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.
Cara Wainwright thinks life can’t get tougher when her mother’s cancer becomes terminal—until she returns home from the hospital and finds a courtyard full of police officers and her houseguests dead.
Greenville, SC Detective David Morris, is unsure if Cara is the suspect or the intended murder victim. As he searches for insight into her family, their mounting secrets, and the conflicting evidence from multiple crimes, his attraction to Cara complicates his investigation. Is the lure need, manipulation—or real?
While David pursues forensic evidence, Cara pushes for answers about her father’s possible involvement, for at the center of the mystery stands Cypher—the company her father built and will take any measures to defend.
When the assassin strikes at the heart of the family, Cara and David have to trust each other and work together to stop the killer before he eliminates the entire Wainwright dynasty.
In this section, against her attorney’s instructions, Cara Wainwright has arranged to meet Detective David Morris at the hospital where her terminally ill mother is a patient. Newspaper coverage speculating about her murdered friends, Natalie and Reese, and Cara’s role in their death prompted her give him a different perspective on all of them. Through his investigation into Cara’s life and personality, David is already fighting his attraction to her. He doesn’t know if she’s the murderer, a co-conspirator—or innocent.
Morris led Caroline through the ordeal, in detail this time, from Natalie’s arrival on Friday to this meeting. After probing for details about the various relationships, he took her through the weekend several more times, looking for holes, but her story matched the evidence he’d found. He made notes as she talked, listening for the little signs that indicated she might be lying. All he heard was her bewilderment and determination to find the murderer.
“I still can’t believe they’re dead.” She traced a circle on the table with her finger.
“Ms. Wainwright, there’s one area we haven’t discussed.” He waited until he’d recaptured her attention. “This took place in your home. Is someone trying to hurt you?”
She met his eyes. “I don’t know.”
He waited for more.
Her hands rose and fell in a frustrated gesture. “Don’t you think I’ve asked myself that a thousand times? Ever since it happened, I’ve asked why? Was it random? Were they after me? One of them?” A flush climbed her cheeks, but her eyes didn’t waver. “Natalie looks a lot like me. She was in my bed.”
She stopped, her lips pressed tightly together. He was intently aware of her—how she held her head, her hands. The way she stood and sat. He didn’t want to be aware of her on that level, knew it couldn’t go anywhere. He also recognized the sensation wasn’t going to go away.
“Nothing makes sense.” Her fingers clenched the edge of the table. Her expression said she was remembering more than she was saying. She was finally feeling the events. Until now, her emotions would’ve been too numb. Her friends had died, violently. Nothing he said could touch that pain.
Biting her lip, she again blinked back tears.
Morris stalled, reading through his notes. He sometimes felt awkward when a victim or witness cried, but Caroline’s struggle to control her emotions punched through his professional skin. He wanted to take her into his arms and let her sob, but he couldn’t. Instead, he had to be heartless. “Caroline, I know this is hard, but I’m not the enemy. I need your help to find whoever killed your friends.”
Swallowing hard, she whispered, “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry for your losses. All of them,” he said—and meant it.
She took a deep breath, visibly setting her grief aside.
He waited a beat, but she didn’t speak. “Can you think of any reason someone would want to hurt your friends?”
“No.” She looked up. Her eyes were red-rimmed but focused. “I’ve tried to think through the possibilities.” Her forefinger flicked out. “One, Natalie got mixed up in something in Atlanta. Trouble followed her up the road.”
“That’s possible,” he said. They hadn’t really considered that angle. He needed to call the Georgia officers.
Caroline shook her head. “She never mentioned any problems. And believe me, Natalie can’t keep a secret. If something were wrong, she’d have told me.”
Another finger came out. “I’m sure you’ve heard the stories—Reese and his women. That was before Natalie, but even if he made a massive error in judgment about some woman’s mental state, I can’t believe she’d break into my condo. Or if he slipped up and got involved with a married woman, her husband would have the same problem. How would he know where to go, that Reese would be at my place?”
Before Morris could ask her to explain the “error in judgment” or prod her about Reese’s drugs, she said, “There may be another possibility.”
“Oh?” His attention immediately sharpened. They’d already covered his primary motives.
Her fingers drummed the table. “As far as I know, no one hates me. My family has money, but most of it’s tied up in Cypher. The company’s never been an active target before.”
Before? “Is something different this time? Have there been threats?”
“I’m not aware of any.”
She was hedging. “Anything from a disgruntled employee?”
“It’s just a feeling. That something’s going on. With the company.”
He found himself in the uncomfortable position of pulling a Pennell. He couldn’t take her instincts to court. He needed something solid. “You aren’t involved in the company?”
Caroline shook her head. He tried to focus on the subtext of her words rather than her perfume and the way her chest rose and fell sharply when she tried not to cry.
“It was a mutual decision. I enjoy my work with Robeshaw Advertising. I called Crystal earlier today. She said the police were there. Was that you?”
He wasn’t going to let her off that easily. “I could talk to your father about threats to the company.”
Her body language said, Good luck with that one.
The corner of his mouth twitched. “Already tried that, huh?”
“He’s big on Need to Know.”
“What about you?” He tried to say it neutrally. He didn’t want to be attracted to her, but he wasn’t looking forward to hearing about her love life either.
“Me? I’ve already told you, nobody’s threatened me.”
“This could be directed at you personally rather than your family. Maybe an old boyfriend?”
She recoiled as if he’d slapped her. “Bill would never—”
“If it is directed at you,” he interrupted, “the guy could try again. We need to consider the possibility.”
For a long moment, she stared at him. Then she released a slow breath and relaxed her shoulders. “You can take my old boyfriends off your suspect list.” A wry expression twitched her mouth. “I can think of one guy who broke my heart back in college, but I didn’t exactly leave a trail of crushed men in my wake.”
Don’t sell yourself short.
More About the Author
To find out more about Cathy and CYPHER, you can go here: