In the Psychological Thriller, The Door at the Top of the Stairs, undercover narcotics officer, Jesse Shaunessy, is kidnapped and tortured, then thrown away by her department as damaged goods. The mind is a powerful ally, and 26-year-old Jesse has no memory of the abduction or the subsequent torture. Inevitably, as Jesse drifts from one itinerant job to another, the protective walls carefully constructed by her subconscious are beginning to crumble.
Fate lands her on a farm owned by Dr. Ryland Caldwell, a retired psychologist and her partner, Morgan Davis, the master of the Myrena Fox Hunt club. Ryland suspects there is more to Jesse’s foul temper than meets the eye. When Morgan and Ryland accidentally discover vicious scars on Jesse’s back, Ryland knows that without their help, Jesse’s descent into insanity will rapidly overwhelm them all.
In the following excerpt, Ryland and Morgan have accidentally discovered that Jesse’s back is riddled with scars and burn marks. Jesse, who is not present during the following dialogue and had been unconscious during the discovery, knows nothing about what they’ve uncovered.
Ryland was at the house when Morgan finished with the hunt. She sat on the couch, surrounded by books on post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative amnesia. Morgan walked through the door, pulled off her grey hunting jacket and reached into the hall closet to hang it up. “I saw Jesse after the hunt. She acts as though nothing happened."
Ryland put down the book and took off her glasses. She rubbed the bridge of her nose where the glasses had left an indentation. “As far as she knows, nothing did happen. The last thing she remembers is leaning up against the barn. And she doesn't remember why she was behind the barn, either."
Morgan sat next to Ryland who took a sip of wine then offered her the glass. Morgan took it, turned sideways and rested her arm on the back of the couch. She reached down to pick up the book from Ryland's lap. “Obviously, whatever happened to her back has caused some major emotional issues, right?"
"Morgan, she's not even aware she has scars on her back."
Morgan studied her friend's face, took a sip of wine, and leaned back into the couch. “Wow."
Amusement tinged Ryland's voice. “Wow is right."
"If only we could find someone who knows something about post-traumatic stress disorder."
Ryland playfully hit Morgan on the head with a pillow. Morgan chuckled, then turned serious again. “So what are you going to do?"
"I've been thinking about that while you've been gone, and unfortunately, it's a little more complicated than 'what am I going to do.' I'm afraid because of some complicated bonding issues that have been happening between you two the last several weeks, it has to be more like 'what are we going to do' if we decide to be the ones who help her."
Morgan sat forward to set her glass on the table. “Oh no...I am not getting involved in that. I do animals, not people. You're on your own on this one."
Ryland reached over and rubbed Morgan's back. “Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Do you remember our discussion several weeks ago about how Jesse needed your strength somehow? That she was pushing you to reassure herself that you were still in control? It's obvious to me now what's been going on. If I had understood it earlier, I might have been able to transfer that process to another object, maybe even to me, but I doubt it. It's your strength her subconscious is grabbing, Morg, because I think she's probably pretty close to a psychotic break. Her fainting and memory loss point that way. She needs the control you provide her."
"Ryland, I'm not a psychologist; I'm a farmer."
"I know that. I'll do the psychology. You'll be more of a tool for me to use, a way to ground her when her subconscious begins to lose control." She leaned forward and took Morgan's hands in hers. “Let me explain it to you this way: if we decide to help her, and if she accepts our help, she and I are going to be walking along the edge of a cliff blindfolded, and sometimes we'll be running flat-out. You're going to be the one who keeps her from falling off the edge."
"Why can't you keep her from falling off the edge?"
Ryland sat back. “Because I'll be the one pushing her over."
Meet Lt. Alison Holt, a cop for more than twenty years. She has arrested everything from homicide suspects to emus, the latter earning her a spot on America's Funniest Home Videos. She taught police procedures to officers, and now teaches writers how to write realistic police scenes and characters.
Check out the rest of the tour here:
9/6 author guest post @ Keeping Up With the Rheinlanders
9/6 review @ Immortality and Beyond
9/7 author guest post @ Jagged Edge Reviews
9/7 review @ Midnight Book Girl
9/8 author guest post @ Getting Naughty Between The Stacks
9/9 excerpt @ Reader Girls
9/12 giveaway @ Books Glorious Books
9/12 giveaway @ Immortality and Beyond
9/13 giveaway @ Midnight Book Girl
9/14 giveaway @ Jagged Edge Reviews
9/15 review @ Keeping Up With the Rheinlanders
9/17 review & giveaway @ Reviews by Molly