BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison
Tear Me Apart
by JT Ellison
The follow-up to her critically acclaimed Lie to Me, J.T. Ellison’s Tear Me Apartis the powerful story of a mother willing to do anything to protect her daughter even as their carefully constructed world unravels around them.
One moment will change their lives forever…
Competitive skier Mindy Wright is a superstar in the making until a spectacular downhill crash threatens not just her racing career but her life. During surgery, doctors discover she’s suffering from a severe form of leukemia, and a stem cell transplant is her only hope. But when her parents are tested, a frightening truth emerges. Mindy is not their daughter.
Who knows the answers?
The race to save Mindy’s life means unraveling years of lies. Was she accidentally switched at birth or is there something more sinister at play? The search for the truth will tear a family apart…and someone is going to deadly extremes to protect the family’s deepest secrets.
With vivid movement through time, Tear Me Apart examines the impact layer after layer of lies and betrayal has on two families, the secrets they guard, and the desperate fight to hide the darkness within.
I remember the day she arrived so clearly. What quirk of fate led her to me? I wondered about this for years. If only I had stepped right instead of left at the corner, or taken the stairs instead of the elevator at the hospital, perhaps ordered chicken instead of steak for my last meal with my father before his death, the principles of chaos—the butterfly effect—would have altered the course of my life enough that she wouldn’t have appeared. But I did step right, and I took the elevator, and I had the steak, and she did appear, and I will never recover from her.
It’s my eighth Turkey Tetrazzini Tuesday. I push the food around on my tray, not hungry. The meds they give me make me in turns nauseous and lacking in appetite and dinner is at five, anyway, only a few hours away. If I feel better then, I’ll eat.
Everyone else is happily communing with the glob of gray matter on their plates. They don’t know any better. Half are drooling in their trays, the other half are tracing the voyage of little green men through the gravy or wadding the tinfoil wrapping from their rolls into bouquets they hang on their bedsteads to keep away the government spies. Suffice it to say we don’t have anything common. I have no exciting diagnosis. I haven’t committed a crime. I’m just depressed. Like, suicidal ideation with three attempts under my belt depressed. Yes, it’s the bad kind.
I wander back to my room, glancing in the doors of the rest of the ward. Occasionally, the occupants leave out fun things to play with. Magazines. String. Cards. I’m not picky, anything to break the tedium. I’m out of luck today. The rooms are spotless. Beds are made, towels hang straight and even, the whole ward smells of Pine-Sol. The janitors have been through. They will have pocketed anything of worth.
I bail on the reconnaissance mission and swing by my small hole for my cigarettes. Four times a day, I am allowed to stand in a tiny six-by-six hutch off the back steps and smoke. I can see the sky and the huge brass padlock that, if opened, would give me my freedom, allow me to step into the parking lot and disappear into the world, but nothing else. Sometimes, I wonder if cigarette privileges are worth it. It must be how cows feel, penned in day after day, never able to cross to the other field.
My room, 8A, is white. White as week-old snow, the kind of white that isn’t crisp and clean, but dirtied, institutional. You won’t see the exact shade anywhere else. White walls, white bedding, white linoleum. White gowns. White long-sleeved jackets with shiny silver buckles if we’re naughty.
Normally, we’re all double-bunked, but I haven’t shared in a month, not since the last roommate was sent home. As much as I hate her for getting out, I’ve found I enjoy the silence of having my own space. Being alone always frightened me before. I despised the dark and its creeping pulchritude. Now, I crave its simplicity. Its emptiness and solitude. Caring about fear is too hard anymore.
I stop in the doorway. There is someone in my room.
Her hair is dark and cascading, freshly washed; she reeks of the squeaky-clean scent of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. The hospital passes it out to all new inductees in their plastic “welcome” bucket.
She sits on the bed, head cocked to the side, her back to the door, staring out the four-by-two wire mesh screen window, which looks at the parking lot—bleak gray asphalt and a never-ending parade of cars. It’s a strange torture, this taste of freedom they give us. We are fish in the aquarium; we can see the rest of the world passing by, disinterested people living uninteresting lives.
This intrusion into my private space infuriates me, and I slam back out to the nurses’ station. There is a nurse named Eleanor Snow who runs the ward, but we all call her Ratchet because she is a bitch. No one said we had to be original.
Ratchet is calmly doing an intake form. Probably for my new roommate. Her serenity infuriates me further. I don’t get serenity. My mind never quiets and allows me to sit, smiling, as I fill in forms.
I snarl at her, “Who is in my room?”
“Your new roommate. I suggest you go introduce yourself. And keep your hands to yourself. You don’t want me to cut your nails again.”
I shudder. I don’t, and she knows it.
“You didn’t ask my permission to move someone in.”
“We don’t have to. Now scat. I have work to do. And eat your dinner, or I’ll talk with Dr. Freeman about your lack of eating.”
“Be sure to tell him the meds he gives me make me puke.”
I storm off. It’s the only power I have, not eating. They force the drugs in me, tell me when to sleep, shower, and shit; make me sit in a circle with the other drooling idiots to share my story—you’ll feel so much better after you’ve talked it out, dear. No. No!
To hell with the cigarette break. I head back to 8A, and the girl is still sitting in the same spot, her head cocked the same way. She has long hands. They prop her up, to the sides of her hips, as if they are grounding her to the world.
I make noise, and she doesn’t turn. I step in front of the window, looming over her so she’ll look at me. I snap my fingers under her nose, and she barely flinches.
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband.
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