I love getting inside a villain’s head. There’s just something really intriguing about finding out what motivates them, even when you don’t agree with what they’re doing–even when you’re utterly appalled by it.
I think that’s why I enjoy this excerpt from Death by the River, by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor, as much as I do. It gives us a sneak peak into the mind of the main character, a young boy who is described right in the novel’s summary as a psychopath intent on making people suffer. There’s so much tension in this little but of text, and it definitely leaves me wanting more.
Before you take a look for yourself, though, stop over at Alexandrea and Lucas’s rafflecopter, where they’re giving away a $20 Amazon gift card.
Alright, ready to take a look?
Hunched over a bowl of homemade mac and cheese, compliments of their cook, Beau sat at the copper breakfast bar in his parents’ kitchen, watching a zombie movie on his laptop. The only light in the room came from above the gourmet stove his mother never touched.
He couldn’t remember a time when his mother had ever cooked or cleaned. He’d even had a nanny until his father insisted Elizabeth Devereaux take an interest in her son.
Family dinners were something he’d seen on TV shows but never experienced. He’d gotten a taste of it at Dawn’s house when he’d eaten dinner with the Moores, but after his incident with Leslie earlier in the week, he wanted to give her some space.
He preferred to break her slowly, tearing her apart a bit at a time. Rushing her to the end he had in mind would only take away from the pleasure of the experience.
A soft overhead light above the kitchen island came on, the copper pots hanging from the rack above twinkled.
“What are you watching?”
Elizabeth glided into the light from the outer hallway, wearing her favorite yellow robe. Her drinking robe, as Beau called it.
Noticing the black coffee mug in her hand, he guessed she’d run out of ice to go with her whiskey.
“A zombie movie.” He went back to his mac and cheese, not bothering to turn down the volume.
Her slippers shuffling across the floor were like fingernails on a chalkboard. He couldn’t remember a time in his life when she hadn’t dragged herself around the house like one of the zombies in his movie.
He watched her out of the corner of his eye. After getting ice, Elizabeth walked back to the counter and stood staring down at him.
He tried to ignore her, but her damned gray eyes were like crab claws when they dug in.
“What?” He paused the movie.
Her expression was flat—not a hint of happiness, sadness, remorse or concern lifted the muscles in her face. She’d been that way for the past two years.
His mother used to smile. He remembered how her full red lips would ease back, highlighting her dimples and carved high cheekbones. When she smiled, her eyes reminded him of the light at dawn spanning the night sky.
“Is that all you’re eating for dinner?” A tapered finger tapped on the counter close to his bowl.
“What else would you recommend?” He grinned, feeling cocky. “The brisket you cooked?”
No reaction. Nothing. The same dull stare she gave him night and day. He didn’t know if she was rubbing off on him, but lately, a certain emptiness had permeated his ability to give a shit about anything his mother said or did.
“Leah also made roast chicken. And there’s steak with baked potatoes in the fridge. Your father grilled tonight before he went back out.”
Her deadpan delivery irked him more than missing out on the steak.
“Who’s he with tonight?”
A hint of life shone in her eyes. She pulled the lapels of her robe closed.
“What are you talking about?”
Suddenly, beating his mother up over his father’s screwing around didn’t appeal to him. He had a new interest, one who would be a hell of a lot more satisfying.
“Forget it.” He stood and took his bowl to the sink.
Elizabeth stepped toward him and swept the hair from his brow.
Beau jerked back. “Don’t touch me.”
His growl came out more menacing than he’d intended, but he was glad. It would keep her away from him.
The eyes frantically searching his face were not the lifeless ones he’d grown used to. Fear dilated her pupils, almost covering the gray.
“What’s wrong with you? Every time I think I know you, you turn into a stranger.”
Beau leaned against the kitchen counter, a smugness surging through him. “That’s good.” He pushed away, and his mother took a cautious step back, which pleased him. “Because if you don’t know me, then no one else ever will.”
“What is that supposed to mean, Beau?”
The fake motherly concern in her voice pissed him off.
“You know what it means.” He went back around the counter to his computer. “Isn’t that what you and Dad want? Don’t let anyone know who I really am.” He picked up the computer and, needing to destroy something, threw it against the far wall.
His laptop exploded into shards, plastic clinking against the floor until silence blanketed the kitchen once more.
Beau closed his eyes, avoiding his mother’s terror-stricken gaze, furious with himself. He’d lost control. He had one ironclad rule, and he’d broken it.
“Beau, baby, perhaps we should talk to your father about—”
He willed his sense of discipline back into place, fighting the urge for more destruction.
“No. I won’t talk to him.” He could not look at her and stepped away to the pantry.
Her shuffling slippers followed him. “You need to talk to someone.”
Mindful of his still-seething rage, he gently opened the pantry door and got the broom.
“Take your ice and go back to bed, Mom.” Clutching the broom, still not able to face her, he went around the counter to what was left of his computer. “I’ll clean up my own mess.”
About Death by the River
A high school “American Psycho.”
SOME TRUTHS ARE BETTER KEPT SECRET.
SOME SECRETS ARE BETTER OFF DEAD.
Along the banks of the Bogue Falaya River, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river.
And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux.
The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Handsome. Charming. Intelligent. The star quarterback of the football team. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch.
He is also a psychopath.
A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the ruined St. Francis Abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize.
As the victim toll mounts, it becomes crystal clear that someone has to stop Beau Devereaux.
And that someone will pay with their life.
Abouth Lucas Astor and Alexandrea Weis
Lucas Astor is from New York, has resided in Central America and the Middle East, and traveled through Europe. He lives a very private, virtually reclusive lifestyle, preferring to spend time with a close-knit group of friends than be in the spotlight.
He is an author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but right next door behind a smiling face.
Photography, making wine, and helping endangered species are just some of his interests. Lucas is an expert archer and enjoys jazz, blues, and classical music.
One of his favorite quotes is: “It’s better to be silent than be a fool.” ~Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Having been brought up in the motion picture industry, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans.