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Exceprt: The Longest Silence by Debra Webb

I am excited to be part of the TLC Tour for The Longest Silence by Debra Webb! My review won't be posted until mid-March, but I wanted to post a teaser excerpt.

Synopsis and praise for the Longest Silence:

“The twists and turns in this dark, taut drama make it both creepy and compelling.” —New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry
A killer stole her voice. Now she’s ready to take it back. Don’t miss the chilling Shades of Death series from USA TODAY bestselling author Debra Webb.
Joanna Guthrie was free. She had been for eighteen years–or so she needed everyone to believe. What really happened during the longest fourteen days of her life, when she and two other women were held captive by the worst kind of serial killer, wasn’t something she could talk about. Not after what they had to do to survive.
But when more women go missing in an eerily similar manner, Jo knows her prolonged silence will only seal their fates. She’s finally ready to talk; she just needs someone to listen. FBI special agent Tony LeDoux can’t deny he finds Jo compelling–he’s just not sure he believes her story. But with the clock ticking, Jo will do anything to convince him, even if it means unearthing long-buried secrets that will land them squarely in the crosshairs of the killer…
“This psychological thriller is rife with tension that begins on page one and doesn’t let up. It’s a race against the clock that had me whispering to the pair of flawed, desperate protagonists, ‘Hurry, hurry.’ A gripping read.”  New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown

Excerpt from the Longest Silence:
Federal law left the decision in the hands of local law enforcement, but few opted to hold out and be the reason a missing child or young adult became a homicide case. Tony held the older man’s gaze. Men like Phelps didn’t like veering outside the lines. They chose a path in their careers and they never deviated, kept it simple. But life wasn’t simple. Tony had seen up close what a psychopathic serial killer could do to a victim in a couple of hours. Time was always the enemy.
“Tiffany’s done this before,” Phelps reminded him. “The security folks over at the college are an outstanding team. They go through the same training as our state police so we’re not talking about a group of rent-a-cops. They’ve performed their due diligence. Frankly, they’ve already gone above and beyond—questioning other students, talking to her professors. They haven’t been twiddling their thumbs over there. In fact, I’ve spoken to the chief several times today. Based on Tiffany’s previous activities, he feels she’ll show up in the next twenty-four hours.”
“Her previous activities?” The headache had resurrected and started to throb behind Tony’s eyes. “You keep insinuating she’s done this before but I’m not hearing any actual dates or firm accounts.”
Phelps heaved an impatient sigh. “Twice last semester and a third time back in February, she disappeared for a couple of days. Her confidential contact confirmed that she left of her own volition after her final class last Friday. Bottom line, at this time we have no credible reason to consider her missing. If she does not show up or contact her family or confidential contact by tomorrow morning, we’ll move forward with a missing person report.”
“Confidential contact?”
“Each student has the option of designating a confidential contact that isn’t necessarily a parent or other next of kin. Typically, a confidential contact is close to the student and would be aware of his or her whereabouts.”
“Well.” Tony stood. He closed the button of his jacket. “I’ll see you first thing in the morning, Chief.”
Before Tony reached the door, Phelps said, “You’re that convinced she’s not going to show up.”
Tony thought of all Angie had told him. “I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
He reached for the door once more, and Phelps said, “Sit back down, Agent LeDoux.”
Tony hesitated for a couple of seconds, mostly to annoy the man. Finally, he turned and took the three steps back to his chair. There was only one reason to continue this discussion after such a lengthy discourse of reasons not be concerned. “You know something you haven’t shared with the family.”
“I’m speaking to you in a professional capacity.”
Could have fooled me. “I appreciate that, Chief.”
“This goes no further than this room. We have to consider the welfare of our students and the last thing we want is to have them unnecessarily unsettled.”
What he really meant was he didn’t want parents calling to demand answers. “I understand.”
“There’s another freshman who didn’t show up for class yesterday.”
The rising tide of fear Tony had been holding back for the past nine hours threatened to push past his defenses. He needed a drink. “Any similarities?”
Phelps nodded. “Her purse, other personal belongings as well as her cell phone are still in her room. Her car is still in student parking, just like Tiffany’s. Unlike your niece’s, this girl’s confidential contact insists that something is wrong. Since this student has no history of failure to show up for class or of disappearing for a couple of days without telling anyone, her parents have already been contacted. The chief over at campus security, Ed Buckley, has started the missing person protocol.”
“Are my niece and this other student friends? Classmates?”
Phelps reached for a manila file on his desk. He opened it and pushed it toward Tony. “As far as we can tell, they don’t know each other. Had no classes together and look nothing alike. No friends in common. About the only trait the two share is that they’re both students who maintain a steady four point oh.”
Tony studied the file. Vickie Parton was eighteen. Her black hair was one of those feathery short cuts and her eyes were hazel. Other than being model thin, Parton and his niece had nothing whatsoever in common—on the outside.
Phelps scrubbed a hand over his somber face. “No one has seen or heard from her since her final class on Friday afternoon.”
Tony pushed the folder back toward him. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Phelps nodded.
“You know,” the chief said, stopping Tony at the door once more, “I can already tell I’m not going to like you, LeDoux.”
Tony shifted to face him. “If it makes you feel any better, I was just thinking the same thing.”
One corner of the older man’s mouth quirked. “But if you can help, I’ll pretend for as long as it takes.”
Tony gave a nod. “Sounds like a plan.”
As he moved along the corridor, Tony gave himself a mental pat on the back. He might be out of the game but he hadn’t lost his touch. He would find Tiffany. If his niece had been harmed in any way, whoever did the deed better hope the locals found him before Tony did.

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