Read Death Falls Online

Authors: Todd Ritter

Death Falls (39 page)

Although they had been speaking in whispers, their voices were loud enough to wake James. He stirred in the chair, eyelids fluttering.

“I’m going to leave you two alone,” Eric said, backing away from the bed. “Take care, Kat.”

Although Kat hated to see him go, she knew she had made the right decision. There would always be a place in her heart occupied by Eric. But her heart was owned by the boy waking up a few feet away.

“You sleepy, Little Bear?”

When James nodded, she slid to the side of the bed to make room for him. He crawled in with her, burrowing under the covers.

“Am I still grounded?” he asked.

“Yes.”

Again, it hurt Kat to say it. But she had to be strong. James did something wrong, and he needed to be taught to never do it again. She knew he’d hate it. She knew he’d be mad at her. But it was for his own good.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” he said.

“I know. And you’ll do bad things again later. We all do. But you’re my son and I love you. I will always love you. And no matter what you do, I’ll never let go of you.”

Kat closed her eyes and pulled James close. Soon they were both asleep, sleeping soundly. James tossed and turned a bit, uncomfortable in her grip. But true to her word, Kat didn’t let go.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Most of the towns and places mentioned in this book are fictitious, including Perry Hollow. The major exception is Centralia, a modern-day ghost town that has passed into Pennsylvania legend. While it is true that Centralia did succumb to a long-burning mine fire, I toyed with the town’s timeline and its geography to better suit my story.

With the Apollo moon missions, however, I stuck to the script. All mission dates and details are according to official NASA records. If there is an error, it is mine alone and completely unintentional.

Now, on to the thank-yous. I am indebted to my editor, Kelley Ragland, her assistant, Matt Martz, and everyone at St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books. A special thanks goes to Sabrina Soares Roberts for her eagle eye and for dealing with my poor attempts at Vietnamese. I also must thank my wonderful agent, Michelle Brower, and Dana Kaye, publicist extraordinaire.

On a more personal note, I’d like to send love and thanks to both the Ritter and Livio families. Your support is inspiring and greatly appreciated. Same goes for Sarah Dutton, who kindly read the book and told me what worked and what didn’t, and Felecia Wellington, for reading it and telling me she liked it better than my first book. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the friends and family members who saw a lot less of me as I once again fell down the all-consuming rabbit hole of writing a novel.

Finally, the bulk of the thanks goes to Mike Livio for being a fantastic partner, driver, therapist, traveling companion, and sounding board. Once again, all the thanks in the world just isn’t enough.

Only a killer decides the time of death …

Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania, was always a sleepy little town … until the first body was found. Embalmed and with its lips sewn shut, the body is a horrific calling card from a killer on the lookout for their next victim …

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ALSO BY TODD RITTER

Death Notice

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