Friday, June 12, 2015

Out of Control by Sarah Alderson Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway



The cop shoves the boy into a chair just a few feet away from me. The boy’s jaw works angrily, his eyes dart once around the room, taking me in with a narrowed look of suspicion before the cop barks something at him that gets his attention. It’s only then that I notice the handcuffs. He hunches over, almost as if he’s trying to hide them from me. I stare at him more closely, wondering what he’s been brought in for. Then I remember we’re sitting in the homicide department.
‘Name,’ the cop demands.
‘Jaime Moreno,’ he answers quietly, spelling it out. He says it with a slight Spanish inflection so it sounds like Hay-may. As the policeman writes it down, the boy looks over at me briefly and I see something flash in his eyes – pride or anger, I can’t tell which. Maybe it’s both.
‘You’ve been read your rights,’ the cop says now. ‘You got one phone call, Moreno. If I were you I’d use it to call your momma and tell her you ain’t gonna be home for a while.’ He stretches, reaches for a pencil. ‘You know, you could make this go a whole lot easier if you started talking.’
I watch the boy carefully. His face is turned in profile to me. His chin is lowered and he glowers at the cop through the shield of his lashes but doesn’t say a word.
The cop leans back in his seat. ‘Fine by me, if you don’t talk,’ he says, undoing the top button of his shirt. ‘No sweat off my sack. I’m not the one who’s facing twenty-five years in a New York State penitentiary. Maybe I wouldn’t be talking either in your shoes. Those some crazy mofos you messing up with. Hell, I’d probably be too busy shitting my pants too if I was the one sitting where you are right now.’ He pushes back from the desk, freeing his belly, stands up and stretches. ‘I’ll just go and see if a cell’s opened up.’
 Once he’s gone, the boy stays sitting there, his shoulders slightly hunched, his jaw working overtime. His lips are pressed together tightly and his hands are clenched in his lap as if he’s praying. I almost feel sorry for him. Then I see the board of open murder cases on the wall in front of me and my sympathy magically evaporates. I hope if this boy’s guilty they lock him up and throw away the key.
I sit with my back to the boy, my foot tapping, waiting for Detective Owens to return. By the clock on the wall it’s nearly five a.m. I’ve been here three hours, but I’m hoping the detective takes his time as I haven’t yet thought of anyone I can call, and I’m still wracking my brains when I hear: ‘Pssst.’
I don’t turn around.
‘Pssst. Hey.’
I do a quick scan but the three cops left in the room are all busy and I can’t catch anyone’s eye.
I turn fractionally towards the boy behind me who’s trying to get my attention. ‘What?’ I ask.
His eyes flit across the room before landing back on me. He keeps his voice low as he bends forwards. ‘I need a favour.’
I raise my eyebrows at him in disbelief. What makes him think I’m about to do him a favour? He’s a stranger. And he’s wearing handcuffs. 
As if he knows exactly what I’m thinking – which admittedly, given the look I’m fixing him with, wouldn’t be hard to guess – he raises his own eyebrows right back at me. ‘What happened to innocent till proven guilty?’
I frown at him. He has me there. But still, there’s the fact he’s a stranger and I have a feeling that whatever kind of favour he’s going to ask me it’s not going to be legal.
‘You get to walk out of here. I don’t. I’m not going to make bail,’ he says.
 I ponder this for a second. ‘How do you know,’ I finally say, ‘that I’ve not just been charged with a triple homicide?’
His eyes – a bewildering dark green – light up with amusement. He holds up his bound wrists and then nods at my free hands. ‘And besides,’ he says, ‘you don’t really fit the profile. You’re wearing a snazzy NYPD sweater. They don’t usually hand those out to murder suspects.’
 I hold his gaze for a few seconds. His eyes burn into mine – pleading. ‘Listen, all I’m asking is that when you walk out of here you call someone for me,’ he says.
‘Why on earth would I do that?’ I ask, incredulous.
He considers me for a beat then sits back in his seat. ‘Because you look like you got heart.’
I stare at him blankly. Heart? What’s that supposed to mean? ‘You get one call, remember?’ I say.
‘I need that for someone else,’ he mumbles.
‘Too bad,’ I answer with a shrug.
‘Please,’ he begs, and I catch the waver in his voice and realise this is hard for him to ask. That flare in his eyes – it’s pride, not anger. ‘I don’t want my mom to worry,’ he says.
That gets my attention. ‘Your mother? You want me to call your mother?’ I ask, somewhat sceptically.
He looks at me abashed, colour running into his cheeks. ‘I just . . . I want her to know that I’m OK. And that I’m sorry,’ he adds.
I flinch back in my seat. Sorry? Isn’t that as much an admission of guilt as waving a bloodied knife in my face? He scowls at me instantly, seeing my reaction.
‘How do I know that you’re not just getting me to call one of your friends to pass on some kind of message?’ I ask. ‘I’m not an idiot.’
The scowl vanishes. His expression turns deadly serious. ‘I give you my word. I just want you to call my mom.’
I study him. He looks genuine. I’d go so far as to say desperate in fact. But he’s a stranger. And as a rule I don’t break rules. If you discount climbing on to roofs. Not even for friends. I learned the hard way. I glance over my shoulder at the far door which Detective Owens disappeared through, hoping he’ll reappear and give me a get-out clause.
‘If you do this for me,’ the boy says, leaning forwards, his hands clasped together, ‘I will pay you back.’
‘When?’ I fire back. ‘In twenty-five years?’
He winces and sits up tall in his seat, and I immediately regret my sarcasm. I take a deep breath. Would it really hurt to do this? But before I can decide, the boy is out of his seat. He throws a quick glance around the room and then he’s standing in front of me, pressing something into my hand. ‘Please,’ he says, staring down at me, his expression begging.
I am too startled to do anything but stare up at him.
‘OK,’ I say quietly, kicking myself mentally as soon as the word is past my lips.


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