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Eyewitness (A Thriller)

Eyewitness (A Thriller)

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⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ A winning blend of psychological thriller and sci-fi that is simultaneously captivating, eerie and moving. Bestthrillers.com

It's not paranoia if they're really after you...

Blind music teacher Emily Warner regains her eyesight through a transplant. But her newfound vision catapults her onto a path that is fraught with danger. As she begins to investigate the strange things she sees, she realizes that the visions she has belong to her cornea donor…. and that her donor’s death was no accident.

When she decides to prove that her donor was murdered, she draws the attention of the killer onto herself. But no matter the danger she’s putting herself in, she has to expose him, before another young girl will die at his hand… and before Emily becomes his next victim.

A fast-paced, suspenseful thriller set among Washington D.C.'s elite.

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About the Book

Excerpt

1
Maryland – Fifteen Years Ago

EMILY WARNER SHOULD HAVE DIED in the crash, but she survived.

A week before the accident that changed her life forever, Emily had turned fifteen, and her acne had just cleared up. She saw it as a good sign. She had a mad crush on Kevin, a boy from her school, and she’d caught him looking at her during class. However, her dreams of being kissed by him never came true. She never saw him again. In fact, she never saw any of her classmates and friends again. All because two cars collided at an intersection, one speeding through a red light, the other innocently adhering to the traffic laws.

The red traffic light was the last thing Emily saw, before the seatbelt cut into her chest, robbing her of her breath. Glass shattered all around her. The collision’s sounds echoed in the night. The side impact knocked her unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she wondered for a moment whether she was dead. She felt numb, as if her body was gone. But then the pain receptors in her brain responded, and she realized she was still strapped in by her seatbelt, a sticky fluid covering her eyes. Sharp pain made her head ache worse than any migraine, while her body was tightly wedged between pancaked sheets of metal, plastic, and upholstery. She was trapped, unable to move.

Emily neither saw the blinking lights of the ambulances and the police cars, nor the flashlights of the first responders trying to assess the situation. She only heard the sirens and the police officers’ and paramedics’ voices, telling her to remain calm, assuring her that they would get her out. That she would be alright.

She wanted to believe them.

Emily felt movement and heard metal being bent or cut. Then somebody groaned, and she knew she wasn’t the only one who’d survived. But before she could sigh with relief, a paramedic whispered low to a colleague, obviously not wanting Emily to overhear him, “The passenger has no pulse.”

Her heart stopped in that instant. For an eternity, time stood still. But then her body reacted to the terrible news she didn’t want to be true. Tears mingled with the viscous liquid in her eyes, the blood so thick that no light could penetrate. She tried to wipe it away, but her arm was stuck. She didn’t know then that it wouldn’t have made a difference. The blood remained where it was. No amount of tears could wash it away.

Deep down, Emily knew what it meant, even though she didn’t want to acknowledge it at the time. Like a ragdoll, the paramedics pulled her out of the wreck. The morphine they gave her in the ambulance lulled her into a fitful dream, helping her push the memory of the crash out of her mind.

At the hospital, Emily heard the voices of the emergency physicians and nurses as they went to work on her. According to them, it was a wonder that she was alive.

She knew she should be grateful. But how could she be grateful for the nothingness that greeted her when she opened her eyes? Her future would be different from anything she’d dreamed of ever since she could remember. Nothing would ever be the same again. Her old life was over. A new one, one she hadn’t asked for, had begun. And this new life was overshadowed by an absence of light that swallowed everything around her like a black hole.

Yes, she had survived.

But the miracle came at a price.

She was blind.

2
Washington D.C. – Present Day - May 23rd

ERIC BOLTON PULLED HIS SILVER MERCEDES into a parking spot closest to the Emergency Department’s entrance. He jumped out of his car and ran inside, not even locking it, his heart beating like a jackhammer, but he knew he wasn’t having a heart attack. He was fit for his sixty-nine years, barely carried an extra pound around his midsection, and was as healthy as could be expected from an influential man who ate more meals in fancy restaurants than at home.

Inside the hospital, he oriented himself and quickly found a nurse’s station. He had no time to lose.

“Where is my daughter? Madeline Bolton, she came in an ambulance.”

The woman behind the counter looked at him. “What’s your name?”

“Eric Bolton. I’m her father. Where is my daughter?” he asked hurriedly, leaning halfway across the counter as if that would make the woman answer any faster.

“Please calm down, sir,” she said and typed something on her keyboard.

Calm down? How could he calm down? His daughter was hurt, badly hurt from what he could piece together from Lucia’s frantic phone call. Madeline’s housekeeper had cried, her words laden with sadness, alarm, and fear. It sent a shock through his body, and the resulting adrenaline pumping through his veins had somehow helped him drive back into the city and to the hospital without getting into an accident.

“Ms. Bolton was taken to trauma two,” the nurse finally said. “Please take a seat over there.” She pointed to the waiting room.

But Bolton didn’t sit down. He couldn’t. He needed to know what had happened, what state Maddie was in. He needed to be by her side, tell her that she would be okay, that her daddy was here to make sure she got the best care. So he ignored the nurse’s suggestion and headed for the double doors that led to the trauma rooms.

“Sir, sir! You can’t go in there!” she yelled after him.

But he ignored her, even as she called for security over the PA system. “Security to trauma center, corridor B immediately.”

On the other side of the double doors, Bolton rushed along the corridor lined with a variety of medical equipment needed to monitor heartbeat, blood pressure, oxygenation and other vitals, as well as machines to shock a heart back into beating, and ventilators to take over a patient’s breathing. He heard various beeping sounds and hastily spoken commands between the doctors and nurses. The sterile smell of disinfecting liquids hit him, reminding him that the last time he’d been inside a hospital was when Rita had given birth to Madeline. Back then, he hadn’t minded the hospital smells or the sight of the many machines that helped sustain life. Today, the scene and its smells conjured up the worst possible outcomes.

A multitude of rooms, all with large floor-to-ceiling windows, some with closed curtains providing privacy, others with open ones, lay to his left and right. Many of the doors stood open, others were closed.

“You can’t be in here,” a firm male voice addressed him from behind.

Bolton ignored the reprimand and kept walking, reading the signs outside the doors. Trauma five, he read and headed farther down the corridor. But he didn’t get far. The security guard’s hand on Bolton’s shoulder jerked him back, forcing him to stop and pivot.

“Sir, you have to leave, or I’ll have the police arrest you,” the tall black man wearing a dark-blue uniform warned.

“You don’t understand,” Bolton pleaded. “My daughter, she’s here. She’s hurt. I have to get to her.” He tried to free himself from the man’s grip, but couldn’t. So he raised his voice. “Madeline, Madeline, baby, your daddy is here.”

“Let’s go,” the security guard said and dragged him back toward the double doors.

Bolton didn’t make it easy for him, using his weight against the man. “Damn it! Let me go! I have to see Madeline.” He looked over his shoulder and called out toward trauma room two. “Madeline! Maddie!”

All of a sudden, a middle-aged black woman in scrubs appeared in the doorway. With the authority of a physician who’d seen it all, she looked straight at him. “Mr. Bolton?” Then her gaze shifted to the security guard, and she gave him a subtle sign by moving her head to one side.

The security guard let go of Bolton. Bolton made a few steps toward the doctor, then stopped. It was written on her face, the expression that meant that the news wasn’t good.

She met him halfway. “I’m sorry.” Her eyes brimmed with compassion. “Your daughter didn’t make it.”

All life drained from Bolton’s body, and for a moment, the world stood still. The trauma surgeon was still talking. Words like cerebral hemorrhage and swelling of the brain echoed in the corridor. Bolton barely heard anything.

Madeline was gone.

Somebody led him to a chair where he sat numb from grief and pain. Everything seemed too quiet around him. And in the solitary pain of his grief, he realized that everything he’d achieved in his life, everything he’d worked for, meant nothing. He felt tears rim his eyes and forced them back. He couldn’t break down now, couldn’t allow himself to be weak. He had to be strong, for himself and his family. If he gave in now, if he allowed grief to swallow him, there would be nobody to comfort Rita, his wife of forty years.

But how could he comfort Rita when he himself felt more pain than he ever had?

He didn’t know how long he’d been sitting there, somewhere in the hospital, when his cell phone rang. Automatically, he pulled it from his pocket and looked at it. He wasn’t sure why he answered the call, when he could barely speak, but he did it anyway.

The familiar voice was cheerful. “Morning, Eric, how far out are you? The horses are saddled. We’re burning daylight here.”

“Mike,” Bolton said, his voice breaking.

Mike Faulkner, the President’s Chief of Staff had been his friend since they’d both been members of the same fraternity. While at first their career choices had taken them in different directions and to different locations, their friendship had only strengthened, until they’d both ended up in government, Faulkner in the executive branch, and Bolton as a defense contractor with ties to lobbyists, and as a major donor.

“Did you forget?”

“Mike…” Bolton collected all his strength to force the next words out of his mouth without breaking down. “Maddie… she’s dead. My little girl is dead.” A sob tore from his chest. It didn’t matter that Maddie was thirty-two years old and lived on her own in a swanky townhouse in Georgetown. She would always be his little girl. And now she was gone. Her infectious smile gone. Her laughter gone.

“Oh my God, what happened?”

Bolton pushed another rising sob down. “I don’t know. Lucia called me. She found her when she got in. They rushed her to the hospital, but it was too late. She’s…” This time, reality sank in even deeper, and he couldn’t get the word over his lips. The image was too raw, too painful.

“Eric, I can’t even imagine what you and Rita are going through right now.”

“Rita doesn’t know yet. She’s at home.” His voice broke, but he pulled himself together. He took a breath. “I don’t know what to do.”

“I’m here for you, Eric. Whatever you need. You just let me know. You have to be strong for Rita, and I can be strong for you.”

A sob tore from Bolton’s chest. “Maybe there is something you can do. The police… they’ll want to investigate what happened. And I need to know too. I need to know what happened and why. But I don’t want the police to drag her name through the mud.”

Even though he loved Maddie more than his own life, he wasn’t blind. She’d been a wild child in her twenties, and had experimented with drugs. Her lovers spanned the globe. Not all of them decent men. He didn’t want that to be her legacy.

“Don’t worry about anything. You let me handle this. I’ll make sure she’ll be treated right. I’ll send my own people in,” Faulkner promised.

“The Secret Service? Can you do that?”

“Ordinarily, no. It’s not within our jurisdiction. But I can call in some favors so DC Police won’t take point on this. The Secret Service will make sure nothing leaks that you don’t want the public to know about. And they’ll be thorough. I promise you. That’s the least I can do for my goddaughter.”

“I don’t know how to thank you.”

“No need to thank me,” Faulkner said. “Take care of Rita. She needs you now more than ever.”

Before Bolton could utter another thanks, Faulkner disconnected the call, and shoved his cell phone into his pants pocket.

Faulkner stopped at the stable door. He’d looked forward to riding out with Bolton. He didn’t get to ride his horses much anymore since he’d become President Robert Langford’s Chief of Staff over two years ago. In fact, he didn’t get to stay at his equestrian estate in rural Virginia much at all. Instead, Faulkner spent most of his days and nights in his house in Washington D.C. It was close enough to the White House so he could be in the Oval Office with fifteen minutes’ notice, traffic permitting.

Sometimes he wondered why he’d taken the job. Was it because he liked the power the position afforded? The prestige? Or had he given in to the President’s offer because they’d been friends since college? Like Bolton, the President had been a member of the same fraternity Faulkner had pledged to. Maybe it wasn’t either of those reasons. Perhaps not remarrying after the unexpected death of his wife when their son was still a child had contributed to his quest for more professional challenges. He’d been no good at raising his rebellious and grief-stricken teenage son.

“Morning, Mr. Faulkner,” the groom said.

Robert Woolf looked like a crusty old sailor, his face leathered from the time he spent outdoors whatever the weather, his hands calloused from the hard labor he performed without complaint. Faulkner knew a good man when he saw one. And Woolf was a good man, honest, reliable, invaluable.

“Morning, Robert.”

“Has your guest arrived?” Woolf asked.

“I’m afraid he had to cancel. Something came up. And I have to return to Washington D.C. immediately.”

Woolf sighed. “Hmm. The President sure rides you hard, if you don’t mind my saying so. He never lets you enjoy a day off.”

Faulkner let out a bitter laugh. “Normally you’d be right, but this time, I have to help an old friend out.” He rubbed his hand over the horse Woolf had already saddled. “Perhaps you and Caleb can ride out instead. I’ll call him and see if he has plans to come out.”

Before he could reach for his cell phone, Woolf waved him off. “Don’t think so. He was here yesterday.”

“Caleb? Good!” Though his only son wasn’t as much into horses as Faulkner and his wife had been, he occasionally did show some interest.

“He didn’t take any of the horses out. He wasn’t here long enough. I was ready to saddle Lucky for him, but he said he didn’t have time.”

Faulkner’s forehead furrowed. “Then what did he do here?”

Woolf shrugged. “He said he forgot something last time he was here.”

“Oh well, why don’t you ride Lucky then? And maybe that boy who helps out here occasionally wants to ride the mare. I don’t mind. He seems responsible enough.”

“Will do, sir.”

“Thanks, Robert.”

Faulkner turned and marched out of the stable, pulled his cell phone from his pocket, and scrolled through his contacts.

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Reviews for Eyewitness

Review by Bestthrillers.com: A winning blend of psychological thriller and sci-fi that is simultaneously captivating, eerie and moving.

Fifteen years after a car accident destroyed her eyesight and her family, 30-year-old Emily Warner regains her vision through a miraculous cornea transplant. It’s actually her second procedure. The first was a failure, and not just because her body rejected the donation. Shortly after the operation, Emily saw visions that nearly drove her mad.

A second procedure has restored her eyesight, but once again, Emily experiences disturbing memories that aren’t her own. While her doctor pooh-poohs the theory of cellular memory, that doesn’t stop Emily’s determination to find the identity of her donor – and her alleged murderer.

Author T. R. Folsom has created a high-concept thriller that fires on all cylinders. Set in Washington D.C. the book’s cast includes a who’s who of Washington insiders including a defense contractor, a member of the American president’s inner circle and local detective Adam Yang. In a book filled with fascinating characters, Yang is wisely drawn as a rock solid, if somewhat predictable investigator, down to his broken marriage and jurisdictional squabbles. Yang is the blunt instrument through which Folsom drives the narrative, and his dogged investigative nature – along with Emily’s supernaturally-informed sleuthing – are a winning combo.

Folsom also understands the power of keeping her powder dry. Rather than dump Emily’s entire backstory and psychology up front, Folsom reveals evocative pieces at timely moments as the story progresses, at times directly to the reader, and at times to Emily’s BFF.

The result is a fast-paced thriller filled with surprises throughout.

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