Mike Wingate, abandoned by his father at four and raised in foster care, is finally living the life he always dreamed of-he's happily married with a precocious 8-year-old daughter, and his construction company is about to finish a "green" housing development that will secure a solid future for them all. But then something from his own past, a past he doesn't even remember, comes back to visit terror upon him and his family. Shady characters begin threatening Mike and, when he reports them, the police seem more interested in Mike's murky past than in protecting him. Now, with Mike, his wife Annabel and daughter Kat suddenly under attack from all sides, Mike turns to Shep, a dangerous man-and Mike's only true friend- from his childhood days in foster care. Together they will do whatever it takes to protect Mike's family against the hidden men behind the terrifying warning, "You're Next."
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St. Martin's Press
July 01, 2011
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Excerpt from You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz
Mike lay in the darkness, his gaze fixed on the baby monitor on the nightstand. He had to be up in three hours, but sleep wasn't coming any easier than it usually did. A blowfly had been circling the bedroom at irregular intervals as if to ensure his continued alertness. His mother used to say that a blowfly in the house meant that evil was stalking the family--one of the only things he remembered about her.
He took a moment to catalog some less morbid memories from his early years. The few imprints he'd retained were little more than sensory flashes. The scent of sage incense in a yellow-tiled kitchen. His mother bathing him. How her skin always seemed tan. Her smell, like cinnamon.
The red light bars fanned up on the monitor. A crackle of static. Or was that Kat coughing?
He nudged the volume down so as not to wake Annabel, but she shifted around beneath the sheets, then said hoarsely, "Honey, there's a reason they call it a babymonitor."
"I know. I'm sorry. I thought I heard something."
"She's eight years old. And more mature than either of us. If she needs something, she'll march in here and announce it."
It was an old argument, and Annabel was right, so he muted the volume and lay morosely staring at the damn thing, unable to click it off altogether. A little plastic unit that held a parent's worst fears. Choking. Illness. Intruders.
Usually the sounds were just interference or crossover noise from other frequencies--a charge in the air or the neighbor's toddler snuffling from a cold. Sometimes Mike even heard voices in the rush of white noise. He swore there were ghosts in the thing. Murmurs from the past. It was a portal to your half-conscious mind, and you could read into its phantom whisper whatever you wanted.
But what if he turned it off and this proved to be the night Kat did need them? What if she awakened terrified and disoriented from a nightmare, sudden paralysis, the blowfly's evil spell, and lay stricken for hours, trapped alone with her fear? How do you choose the first night to take that risk?
In the early hours, logic and reason seemed to fall asleep before he did. Everything seemed possible in the worst kind of way.
He finally started to drift off, but then the blowfly took another loop around the night-light, and a moment later the red bars flared again on the muted unit. Kat crying out?
He sat up and rubbed his face.
"She's fine," Annabel groaned.
"I know, I know." But he got up and padded down the hall.
Kat was out cold, one slender arm flung across a stuffed polar bear, her mouth ajar. Chestnut hair framed her serious face. She had her mother's wide-set eyes, pert nose, and generous lower lip; given her looks and whip-smart demeanor, it was sometimes hard to tell whether Kat was an eight-year-old version of Annabel or Annabel a thirty-six-year-old version of Kat. The one trait that Kat had received from Mike was at least an obvious one--one brown eye, one amber. Heterochromia, they called it. As for her curls, who knew where she got those?
Mike leaned over her, listened for the whistle of breath. Then he sat in the glider chair in the corner and watched his daughter. He felt a stab of pride about the childhood he and Annabel had given her, the sense of security that let her sleep so soundly.
"Babe." Annabel stood in the doorway, shoving her lank hair off her forehead. She wore a Gap tank top and his boxers and looked as good in them as she had a decade before on their honeymoon. "Come to bed. Tomorrow's a huge day for you."
"Be there in a moment."
She crossed, and they kissed quietly, and then she trudged off to bed again.
The movement of the glider was hypnotic, but his thoughts kept circling back to the unresolved business of the coming day. After a time he realized he wasn't going to be able to sleep, so he went into the kitchen and made a pot of coffee. Back in the chair, sipping contentedly from his mug, he soaked in the pale yellow walls, the raft of dolls on the floating shelf, his daughter in angelic repose. The only interruption was the occasional buzz from the blowfly, which had stalked him down the hall.