Michael "River" Corbett -- Confined in the state mental hospital and heavily drugged since the death of his wife, River cannot remember what truly happened the night he was arrested for her murder. But now someone is trying to kill him, and he is forced to run for his life. A fugitive from the law and from someone who wants him dead, all he wants is the truth.
Cassandra "Jax" Jackson -- The uncompromising police lieutenant knows she's putting her career on the line when she encounters this desperate stranger and doesn't turn him in. Something in River's eyes has Jax convinced he's worth saving...whether he wants it or not.
Dawn Jones -- The daughter of a madman, Jax's young friend is haunted by voices she doesn't want to hear. But she can no longer ignore the curse she inherited from her twisted father -- because unless she listens to what the dead are telling her, Jax might be doomed to join them.
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1 . Very, Very good book!
Posted October 17, 2010 by El!z@Beth , LouisvilleThis book was a great that kept me reading and wanting to know what would happen next. I strongly recommend this book...... I will try another book by this author =)
October 31, 2005
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Excerpt from Darker Than Midnight by Maggie Shayne
River sat on the floor in the room's deepest corner, his back to the wall, his arms wrapped around his waist. He couldn't move them. The straitjacket held them too tightly for that. The room was white, its walls padded like the ones in the old Blackberry High School gymnasium. It didn't smell like the gym, though. No mingling of hardwood floor polish and B.O. Here, the smell was a sickening combination of urine and bleach. Aside from that minor distraction, though, his mind was clouded in an almost pleasant fog, and yet turbulence kept surfacing from its depths. Specific analysis was impossible at this point. He only knew he was in trouble. Terrible trouble. And that he had to do something or he was going to die. So he sat there, rocking and struggling to capture coherence, because he couldn't do anything unless he could remember what it was he had to do.
Sounds brought his head up; the locks on his door were turning. He strained his eyes as the door swung open, and slowly managed to bring the man who entered into focus. Ethan. Thank God.
Ethan crossed the room, a gentle smile on his face. He hunkered down in front of River, his white coat spotless and almost too bright, his name tag pinned neatly to a pocket. Dr. E. Melrose, M.D. Chief of Psychiatry. He put a hand on River's shoulder.
"How you doing, pal? Better?"
River shook his head slowly. "Worse," he said. "Getting worse, Ethan."
Ethan frowned, studying River's face, stared into his eyes. It made River think of when they were kids and they would stare at each other until one of them blinked. And then Ethan blinked and River laughed. "I win."
"I'll order more medication," Ethan said.
Ethan's reaction -- the way he jerked away from River -- made its way through the fog in River's mind enough to hurt. Enough to tell him that even his best friend was afraid of him. He licked his dry lips and tried again, though forming sentences was a challenge at best.
"No more drugs."
"I know you don't like taking the meds, Riv, but right now they're the only thing keeping you -- "
"You said...I'd get...better." He knew his speech was slurred; he lisped his s"s and dulled his r" s. He couldn't help it. "I'm getting worse."
"I know. I'm doing all I can for you." Ethan moved to one side, reaching behind River to unfasten the straitjacket. When the sleeves came loose, River lowered his arms, sighing in relief at finally being able to change their position. Then he sat forward and let his friend pull the jacket off him. "Do you feel like talking?"
River nodded. "Try." "I know. I know it's hard to talk. That's due to the drugs, but...I'm sorry, Riv."
River nodded. "Before Steph died..." His tongue felt thick and clumsy, and the words he formed in his mind didn't make it all the way to his lips. He felt much like he had on prom night a hundred years ago when he and the jocks from the team had spiked the punch and he'd drunk way more than his share. Ethan had saved his ass that night. Practically carried him home, poured him into bed and then covered for him.
"Wasn't this bad -- jus' the blackouts. And not rememememem..."
"Remembering," Ethan finished. "I know."
"Now...I can...barely...funchin...funchin...fun -- "
"Function," Ethan said.
Nodding, River lifted a hand to his lips, wiped and felt moisture. "Jesus. Ethan...I'm drooling."
"I know. I know. I didn't expect this, either."
"It's meds. Gotta be. Meds."
Ethan nodded. "It's possible. But River, you've got to stop getting violent with the staff here. It's only making things worse. They're here to help you. The way you've been acting the past few days, I'm afraid that without the medication, you might hurt someone."
River narrowed his eyes on his friend. "Someone... tried...kill me."
"Pillow...on my face. Couldn't see who. Came up sing -- sing -- "
"And...and they came in. I kep' fighting. I din't know...who -- "
"All right, all right. Calm down. Don't get agitated again." River took a few breaths, wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve. "Not a violent...man. Din't...kill Steph. You know that."
"I know," Ethan said, lowering his eyes.
"S'posed to get better...here."
Ethan sighed. "River, I'm going to review your meds, see where we can start lightening up the doses, and gradually bring you off them. Then we can get an idea where you are without chemical help. And I'll speak to the staff, make sure you're safe. I'll have them keep your room locked while you sleep, have them keep a closer eye on you. All right?"
"Can't jus' stop...meds? Jus' stop them?"
Ethan shook his head slowly. "Not all at once, no. You'd be a mess if we did that. I'll start lowering the doses today. I promise."
River sighed. "Okay. Okay." "Okay." Ethan clasped his shoulders one last time, then got up and went through the door.
River struggled to his feet, though he had to press his palms to the wall to do it. Then he clung to that wall, pushing himself along it, around a corner and to the door. Exhausted, he leaned against it, his head resting on its smooth, cool surface, his ear pressed tight, because he thought someone might be out there waiting to come in when Ethan left. He had to be careful. Be aware.
"...must be so hard for you, seeing him like this," a woman was saying. "He's not the same man he was when he came here. But I suppose it's eating away at him. He killed his pregnant wife, for heaven's sake."
"Doctor, he's drooling a bit," a second female voice said.
"Did you notice it?"
"Yes. I'm afraid he's getting worse," Ethan said. "Showing signs of increased paranoia. Brandnew set of delusions. We're going to need to increase his meds."
"But, Doctor, he's exhibiting extrapyramidal side effects," the second voice said. "Doesn't that indicate he should be taken off the Haldol altogether?"
"Excuse me, who are you exactly?" Ethan asked.
The first woman spoke. "She's new here, Doctor. Forgive her. Nurse Jensen, Dr. Melrose is an excellent psychiatrist. He knows his job."
"I know mine, too," the nurse said, but softly.
River heard footsteps, then the first nurse again. "I apologize, Doctor. I'll see to it she learns her place."
"Oh, don't be too hard on her. You know how overzealous new nurses can be. Uh, maybe it would be a good idea to keep her away from this particular patient, though. All right? I don't want anything interfering with his treatment."
"You're a good friend. He's lucky to have you," she said.
"I'll see to it immediately."
"Thanks, Judy." River heard scraping sounds, knew Ethan was taking his chart from the plastic holder there, probably writing in it. "Meanwhile, let's increase the Haldol. See if it doesn't help."
River groaned softly and gave up his hold on the door, letting himself sink to the floor. Ethan didn't believe him. His best friend didn't believe him. His head spun and he fought, fought hard to latch onto a thought. A single thought, anything, to save himself from the madness that was trying so hard to swallow him up.
He wasn't insane. It was the meds. The meds were killing him. Good. Good. What then? What could help him? He struggled; fog closed in but he pushed it back.
Nurse Jensen...she knew. But no, she couldn't help him. No one could help him. He was on his own. Okay. So he was on his own. And on his own, he had to get out of this place. There. That was it, that was the answer he'd been seeking through the fog. He had to get out of this place.