Excerpt from THE WOMAN UNDERWATER by Penny Goetjen

No one disappears without a trace….

Don’t try to tell Victoria Sands that time heals all wounds. It doesn’t work that way for a woman who’s lost her husband the way she did. She was never able to say goodbye. Never able to arrange a memorial. Receive friends at the service. Write thank-you notes for the flowers and donations sent in his name. Because it didn’t happen that way.

Victoria’s husband never returned home at the end of a work day. And no one seems to know what happened to him.

In the seven years since his disappearance, no witnesses have stepped forward and no credible evidence has been collected-not even his car. The few tenuous leads the police had are now ice cold. He simply vanished on a field trip with the private boarding school where he taught behind stone walls-the same school their son now attends.

But someone has to know what happened. And that someone may be closer to Victoria than she realizes.

The Woman Underwater

Excerpt from Chapter Two

Yanking the curtain open on its oval rod encircling the clawfoot tub, she cranked the faucet as high as it would go. As she waited for the water to get hot, she wrapped her arms around herself, trying to shake off a shiver. She knew better than to look into the mirror at that hour but couldn’t help herself—like gawking at an accident scene. Once you do, you can’t unsee the tragic mess.

A stranger looked back at her. Dark circles under her eyes seemed worse than usual. Puffy and bruise-like, faded red. Fortunately the intimate—what Vince liked to refer to as miniature—bathroom would steam up quickly and obliterate her image, but she’d have to remember to layer on the concealer thicker than usual in the morning.

The recurring dream only went so far. Was there more for her to see? Would it be revealed if she could hang in there and stay with the dream? She always woke up as she plowed headfirst into the water. Did she lose her balance and fall in? Did someone push her?

Then a more terrifying question crossed her mind; if she did stay asleep and see the dream to the end, would she never wake up?

Balancing on the curved porcelain edge, she peeled off her nightgown and eased her legs up over the side and into the tub, the water swirling at her feet. She leaned into the shower, the beads of water stinging her face. Pulling away to snatch a breath, she leaned in again. She imagined she was under a waterfall in a tropical getaway, willing the nightmare away.

But the images pressed to the forefront of her thoughts. Had the seven years of feeling lost without Robert manifested itself in her dreams? Or was it more literal and a harbinger of things to come?

Turning off the shower, she plucked a plush white towel from the hook next to the sink and blotted the quickly cooling water from her skin. By the time she slipped into her bathrobe, she felt a chill up her back again. Drawing the lingering thick steam into her lungs and letting it out slowly, she envisioned the dream swirling down the drain along with the sudsy water. A clear mind. Only positive thoughts. Restful sleep for what was left of the night. She needed to think it into existence.

Hitting the light switch and tossing her towel on the rack, she returned to bed. Vince’s side was empty, and she could hear him sleeping soundly across the hall. Running a hand across the sheet where his body had been, it was already cold. Sliding over to his side, she grabbed the larger of his two pillows and pulled it close, taking in his scent. She lay awake for what seemed like hours, listening to his even, heavy breathing while replaying the dream in her head, the details of which were evaporating from her memory the longer her eyes were open.

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