Toxic Attention –  Chapters 1 & 2

Toxic Attention new release, March 12, 2024 through my bookstore – GMT Books or April 10th at all other bookstores.

If you haven’t read what sparked the idea, click here

Here are Chapter 1 & 2 of Toxic Attention, for you to read.

I thought this would be a great way for you to get to know my work and read some of my latest book. You’ll know right away if it’s for you.

It is available for Pre-Order.

Toxic Attention Paperback

Toxic Attention is book 2 in The Prairie Crime Thriller Series. Each is a standalone story set in the real but fictitious place of Connemara, Alberta. A psychological thriller that will keep you guessing. Twists and turns until the end.

Toxic Attention Book Blurb

They seem like a normal family with normal issues but someone is trying to destroy that. Again.

Nia is there to save her niece. But she’s not clear from what. As she delves deeper into the mystery, some shocking truths about her family come to light. Is her brother telling her the truth or is he hiding his own dark secret? Her niece has been ill for years but is it really a medical mystery? Or something deliberate? With her brother now suffering the same fate, Nia is in a race against time to find answers.

Tim is also drawn into the quest to find out what is plaguing his stepsister’s family. His only hope is that history isn’t repeating itself.

Nia and Tim must join forces, putting aside the finger pointing and blame, to uncover the truth behind the disturbing events that threaten their loved ones. Who would truly want to harm their family?

In this gripping Prairie Crime Thriller, set in the fictional place of Connemara Alberta, prepare to dive into a psychological rollercoaster of heart-pounding twists and turns. Lose yourself in this engaging tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Enjoy.

 

“I loved this book. I really love your style of writing – the way you develop the characters and keep us guessing until the end about who did it…” SEKing

Chapter 1

 

“Hello, Michael. You’re calling awfully late.” Nia lay in bed as she glanced at the time on the clock radio her mom insisted she needed. 1 a.m.

“I need to see you. I need you to come here. Now.”

“What’s going on? Is someone hurt? Worse?” Nia sat up in bed, now wide awake. “Bentley? Oh my God, she’s not—”

“—no. It’s me. I’m in the hospital.”

“What? Why?”

“I can’t tell you over the phone. I need you here. I need you to do something for me.”

Nia swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up. “You’re scaring me.”

“I’m sorry.” His voice broke.

Nia started pacing. Never in her life did she remember a time when she heard her brother cry. There were times he’d been sad or upset, but she’d never seen or heard him break down. He had always gone to her, though, when he needed help with something. Sometimes it was the simple things—holding his hand and walking him to grade one, standing up to bullies, telling Mom and Dad he was quitting his degree in law to become a power engineer. And that it was a good thing. She’d been there for him until the day he’d gotten married. Then she’d been replaced.

“What’s going on? You have to tell me something.”

Silence.

“Please.”

Nothing.

“You have to—why are you in the hospital?”

“Because I’m sick.” His breathing was raspy. “Sick with something they don’t know… can’t figure out… what it is. I know what it is… but I can’t tell anyone. No one would… believe me. You’re… my only… hope. Please, Nia. Come.”

Listening to him try to get the words out was strenuous. The words were stilted. Slow. It really emphasized what he was telling her. He was ill. He sounded like he was at death’s door. Her brother, who’d had colds when he was younger but rarely had been sick.

“Anything, Michael. How long do you need me to be there for?”

“I don’t know. The summer?”

Nia swallowed forcefully. There was no way she could get the summer off from her job and still have it when she returned. And she couldn’t afford to quit. She loved her job as an office drone. She answered phones, added data to a computer, and had no real responsibilities. A waste of her talents, as her mother told her. There was only one way she could do this.

“Sure. I’ll be there as soon as I can. I love you.” She wanted to ask about his wife and child but knew that wouldn’t be a pleasant conversation. Or at least it hadn’t been in the past.

“Me too… Thank you. We never talked.” He hung up.

Which translated to his wife and child weren’t to know he called her. She was going to have to call her parents. But how to keep them from finding out the seriousness and flying out there themselves?

A later problem.

Nia held her phone while she stared off into space. The brevity of the situation was just starting to hit her. The picture on her dresser, her and Michael when they were five and seven, grabbed her attention. She walked over and picked it up. Both of them had tied towels around their necks and were wearing them like capes. They’d promised to be the mighty duo.

Sadness slithered down her spine, sinking into her soul. It had been a long time since they’d been much of anything. Somehow, she’d make sure she was there for him.

Even if it meant he was having a mental breakdown.

 

~~~~

 

Charlotte picked up on the first ring, glad of the distraction. Her mind was so busy lately, she just couldn’t shut it off. “Hello?”

“Hi, Charlotte.”

“Dad. Hi. What’s up?”

“I don’t know how to tell you this.” He took a deep breath before blurting, “She’s out.”

Charlotte was stunned. The shiver of fear shot through her like lightning. It took a moment to find her voice. “When?”

“A month ago.”

Her whole body went on high alert. “Why am I just learning about it now?”

“Don’t worry. She won’t find you. I’ll make sure of that. She doesn’t know where you live.”

“But she knows where you live.” He didn’t seem to think she was a threat, but Charlotte wasn’t so sure. The few other times they’d let her out, she hadn’t come near Charlotte. At least, not that she was aware. So maybe he was right. She hoped so. It made her feel good to know that he was watching out for her. Especially since he really was her stepdad. He’d protect her like he always had.

“I wanted you to know so you can keep an eye out, in case. If you see anyone strange around the house, call me. If you get any strange phone calls, call me.”

“Shouldn’t I call the police? We have a restraining order against her.” He was the one to have it put in place.

“Just live your normal life. They swear to me she’s reformed. I’ll have her watched. Do not worry.”

“I’m holding you to that. I have enough to deal with.”

“Hey. It’s been a month and nothing. And we can always send her away again.”

“Fine. I’ve got to go. Good night.” It was abrupt but his news was unsettling, no matter how much he was trying to appease her. At one time, she’d loved that woman. Felt she could do no wrong. Then to find out she was the reason Charlotte had almost died had changed everything. At times, it was hard to imagine the once loving but dominant force in her life was deadly. That her mother was actually trying to kill her. Not kill her but use her in a sick, demented game.

Charlotte shuddered to think about what the woman had almost done to her. There was no way she was letting her back into her life.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

“Thank you.”

Michael looked at her with such gratitude. Nia was glad she’d taken the drastic steps she had to get there so quickly. She sat down on the edge of the bed and hugged her brother. He struggled to sit up but managed with her help and with raising the bed. He swung his arms around her, wrapping her in what should have been a big, hearty bear hug. But it was weak, more like the ones her awkward cousin used to give her as a child, tentative and creepy. She knew her brother was trying to squeeze her tight but he had the strength of a new foal trying to stand minutes after being born—wobbly and weak. This was not the brother who used to chase her around as a teenager. Who climbed the side of Miller’s barn, just because he could. The guy who played every sport because he had that natural ability. The guy who was always trying to outrun… she shut down those thoughts.

Where had the last eleven… twelve years gone?

He’d gotten married. He’d withdrawn, gotten into his own new world. She’d been hurt, especially since they’d been so close. It was her that had always been there for him, through everything. But he’d stepped into married life, forgetting he had a sister. She’d taken his example and had pulled away from him, too. The mighty duo who had done everything together had gone their separate ways. They’d seen each other maybe twice a year at holiday family gatherings. The awkward events where everyone tried to be nice and not talk about the tension in the room.

It still gave her a sick feeling. He was what had been missing from her life. She held him tight. Holding him with a little more oomph than was needed, but she wanted him to know that she was there. That she wouldn’t leave him again. Definitely not like this.

His call a few days before had come out of the blue but had the effect he’d wanted. She’d dropped everything to be there for him. The secretiveness of it was what made her come. Not because she thought he was going to tell her a story that was so far beyond believing, but because she was concerned she might be losing her brother to something else.

He’d sounded… unlike himself. But then again, not. He’d hinted at something really bad.

She eased back, feeling his exhaustion and the distance of those missed years. He flopped back on the bed. His face was gaunt, white. Eyes sunken like they were trying to find the recesses at the bottom of a pit. Her insides shook with fear… fury… confusion.

“You’re—” She was going to say fine, but she could see that the dim light that was barely flickering in the depth of his eyes was threatening to blink out. “We are going to figure this out.”

“I need to tell you what’s going on.” He launched into a story. One that had Nia’s eyebrows raising and lowering like they were a bridge in a busy shipping lane.

“I know it sounds crazy.”

It had taken a long time for him to tell her what was going on and she was pretty sure she’d gotten the Coles Notes version. So many questions bombarded her, but it was the questioning look on his face that had her swallowing them. She took his hand and squeezed it.

“I believe you.” Well, sort of. What he’d told her was… a bit crazy. Wasn’t it? She’d never heard of anything quite like it, except in the movies.

Now he was sharing a plan, one that very much involved her. The almost begging honesty and sincerity in his eyes had her wondering how she could doubt him. He believed what he was telling her. There was only time he’d lied to her and gotten away with it.

But it’d been twelve years.

Tears leaked out of his eyes and ran into his hairline. Resting her fingers gently on the sides of his head, she used her thumbs to wipe away the tears. He looked at her with such hope. Such fatigue. His eyes closed. It was the first time in the last hour that she allowed herself a moment to let her shoulders drop and her body sag. She rubbed her hand over her face, before setting her hand over her mouth. It was purely unconscious, but the moment she realized it, she had a feeling it was to prevent the scream threatening to cut loose.

She should have been there for him. She shouldn’t have been so selfish. She could have at least talked to him. Forced him to talk to her. And not waited until he’d reached out, on what might be his deathbed.

His eyes popped open, shocking her so much that she snapped upright. The sunken orbs looked so desperate. It hit her like a smack to the chest. She squeezed his arm before getting to her feet. She needed to move or she might curl up beside him. A headache was starting to drill at the inside of her skull. The last twenty-four hours were taking their toll. Moving her stuff to her parents’ over the last week, closing up her apartment, trying to explain to her parents that Michael was ill but they needed to stay out of it for now, and then boarding a plane were making her body shake with fatigue. Or maybe it was what Michael had just told her.

One look at her brother and she knew she had to gather her strength and be there for him. She tried to sort out what she’d heard.

“There are a few flaws in your plan but I… don’t know if I can pretend…”

Her brother snorted with laughter. It was wheezy and haunting, but it brought a genuine smile to her face.

“You, who used to run around as a kid pretending she was Sonic the Hedgehog from that video game we used to play? Now, that was first-class acting.”

She mock punched him. “Well,” she pretend-flipped her short hair past her neck in a very dramatic gesture, “I wanted to be a superhero and thought the hedgehog was underrated. It was fast, like me. It was crafty, like me—”

“—it was blue like you.”

“Ha. They’ve made not one but two movies about it. So, I’m not the only one who thought he was worthy.”

Michael smiled but it wasn’t long before his eyelids drifted down again, hiding his once beautiful blue eyes that now had a darkness lurking around the edges. She walked around the bed to look out the window. His view was that of the mechanics of the building—rooftop units, metal, brick, birds, and bird poop. Not much to look at but then she wasn’t really seeing it anyway.

Her brother looked like a skeleton. Not quite that skinny but sunken, sallow, sick. She couldn’t remember the last time he’d been physically sick. But she also hadn’t seen him in years. He looked horrible.

If he dies

The guilt would crush her. The relationships between her brother, her, and her parents hadn’t been the same since he’d gotten married. He’d met his wife, Charlotte, at university and had fallen head-over-heels for the blonde, blue-eyed student who was looking for her MRS. Degree—a man to marry and take control of. She’d bewitched him. And had taken him from his family. He’d willingly and wholeheartedly gone, though. Not all the blame fell on her. Not even having a child had brought him back into the folds of the family. He’d moved a thousand kilometers away, to a little town called Connemara. So, not an easy visit. At least, not without a lot of driving and/or flying involved.

If he dies

She didn’t want to believe it but glancing back at him, he looked awful. She really had little experience with sick people. Both sets of their grandparents were alive and doing well. They had some health issues but nothing that would suggest they were going to die soon.

Should she believe him?

His story was crazy. She leaned her forehead against the glass. A popular song started playing. Nia jerked back. Michael struggled to reach for his phone on the bedside stand. She wanted to rush to help him but knew he wouldn’t appreciate it. Her thumbs rubbed the pads of her fingers as she watched. He finally picked up his phone.

“Hello?”

He didn’t have much to say but the other person seemed to. Nia couldn’t quite make it all out, not without moving closer. She took a step. His hand flopped down beside him. Nia ran to his side.

“Michael. Are you okay?”

He slowly rolled his head in her direction. His face told her everything. The spitting anger she saw in the depths of his eyes gave her hope. The tightening of his jaw gave her hope. It was the most life she’d seen from him in the hour plus she’d been there.

“She’s here.”

 

 

Here’s what other’s are saying about this novel:

“I loved this book. I really love your style of writing – the way you develop the characters and keep us guessing until the end about who did it…”

SE King

“Wow, that was a fabulous read. I loved the twists and turns that pulled you this way then the other way around. Maggie has a wonderful way with words, keeping you enthralled throughout the book.”

Connie Nixon

Get your copy of Toxic Attention.

 

Toxic Attention
Maggie Thom

Take an adventure beyond your fingertips...

Whether her thrillers are set in a real town, city, or countryside, or one made up from her imagination, Multi-Award-Winning Author Maggie Thom writes engaging suspense thrillers that delve into a family’s lies, ties, and deceit. They are rollercoaster stories featuring strong women fighting for what they know is right but having to wade through a maze of twists and turns. Maggie believes in happily ever after but will take you on one heck of an adventure to get there.

Buckle up, you’re in for quite a ride.

Maggie grew up in a house full of books, often making a weekly trip to the library to get more. Reading was her go to when it was too cold outside to play. She started experimenting with writing at a young age, letting her imagination take her away on many adventures. She has done many real-life adventures with her family – white water rafting, sky diving, traveling, mountain hiking, kayaking… Now, she writes to ensure that you get to go on a thrilling adventure as well.

Maggie

Her motto: Read to escape… Escape to read…

"Maggie Thom… proves her strength as a master of words, plots and finely chiseled characters… she weaves a brilliant cloth of the many colors of deceit.”Dii - TomeTender

"Maggie Thom writes a fast paced thriller laced with romance that keeps the reader interested and on edge!" InDtale Magazine

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