Earlier this week, Tami Hoag delivered yet another spine-tingling read with Cold Cold Heart, the follow-up to The 9th Girl. In the book, Dana Nolan returns to her hometown to recover after escaping from and killing Doc Holiday, a serial killer who held her captive. But all is not quiet at home, and as Dana struggles to regain her full memories, she discovers she may be the key to finally solving the disappearance of her best friend. Today, we have an exclusive excerpt to put you smack on the edge of your seat. Take a look:
The Weidman Recovery Center Indianapolis, Indiana
Dana woke as she always did: panting, drenched in sweat, her heart pounding in her chest; confused, and afraid of something she couldn’t remember — a dream, a nightmare, a memory of the ordeal she had been through months earlier? She didn’t know. All that remained was the emotional waste — fear, anxiety, apprehension. Without moving, she looked to one side and then the other of the dimly lit room to see if she was alone. She saw no one.
The world was dark beyond her window, but forty watts of amber security glowed on an end table in the corner, next to her chair. Beside the lamp was the book she had been trying to read for the past three weeks. She tried to read it before she went to bed at night when she was exhausted and her brain was full of fog, and she had to reread and reread to get the words to penetrate and make sense.
Had she tried to read the book last night? She wondered as she sat up and propped herself against the headboard. Had she slept a few hours or a few weeks? Was it a bad dream that chased her from her sleep, or a memory forever shrouded in a black shadow?
The questions and all the possible answers brought a flood of emotions. Fear, panic, grief and anger came all at once, like a rushing wave inside her head.
That was in fact what the doctors called it: flooding. A tsunami of emotions that crashed through the injured brain, short-circuiting logic and the careful strategies the brain-injured person worked on every day in the attempt to put her life back on some kind of simple track.
Dana knew she had to stem the tide. She grabbed her four-by-six note cards off the nightstand and fumbled through them for the right one. As she found it, she called to mind Dr. Dewar’s soothing voice:
1. Breathe slowly, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
2.Concentrate on the mechanics of filling your lungs. Hold the breath for two beats, then exhale slowly. Four beats in, four beats out.
3.Work to find the connection between the mind and the body. Feel the energy in your toes, slowly moving up your legs. Move your fingers. Feel the energy slowly move up through your arms . . .
If she could stay focused on the exercise, she could keep at bay the flood and all the debris that came with it. Sometimes she succeeded in this. Sometimes she didn’t. Sometimes the flood crashed over her, and she panicked and froze, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t move. This time the flood receded slowly, leaving her feeling weak from the effort of fighting it.
She had been told time and again during her stay here that the key to success in dealing with her issues was all a matter of routine. If she could consistently repeat the routines of each day, the thoughts and actions would become automatic and she wouldn’t feel so fatigued from having to remember every detail of every task.
She looked at the digital clock on the nightstand: 3:17 a.m. Shuffling through her note cards, she found the one she wanted, and she read through the same list of questions she asked herself every morning to establish her routine.
Where am I? In my room.
Where is my room? The Weidman Recovery Center.
Where is the Weidman Center? Indianapolis.
Why am I here? Because I have a traumatic brain injury.
Who am I? Dana Nolan.
Who is Dana Nolan?
Curious to read more? Then pick up a copy of Cold Cold Heart from your favorite retailer today! And check out the Everything Mystery page for even more excerpts, authors and books.