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What's Done in Darkness: A Novel

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Fan favorite villain Katrina is back in the romantic thriller What's Done in Darkness from USA Today bestselling author Kayla Perrin.

Jealousy is a strong motive. People kill for love every day...

Jade Blackwin feels like she's losing her mind. After burying both her parents-and being left by her boyfriend for her scheming best friend-she totally loses it. At college graduation, she confronts her man, slaps her BFF, then crashes her car. Now everyone thinks she's crazy. Even her sister, who convinces Jade to take a job in beautiful, restful Key West.

At first, Key West is everything Jade could hope for. The lime margaritas are heaven on earth. Her boss at the coffee shop, Katrina, is friendly as can be. And a gorgeous stranger named Brian is just the thing to help Jade forget her ex. But why is a crime writer asking so many questions? Why does Katrina explode into fits of rage? And why is a killer lurking in the shadows, ready to kill again? No one knows what's done in darkness. But Jade knows she's not crazy. She's next...

"Perrin weaves a compelling story...a great cliffhanger tale of suspense." -New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham on We'll Never Tell

"One wild ride! Perrin is an author who belongs on your must read list."-Romance Reader at Heart

ISBN-13: 9781250857521

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group

Publication Date: 11-15-2022

Pages: 352

Product Dimensions: 8.10(w) x 5.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Kayla Perrin is Essence bestselling author of more than twenty-five novels including The Delta Sisters, We'll Never Tell, and What's Done in Darkness. She was featured in the documentary Who's Afraid of Happy Endings. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Read an Excerpt

What's Done in Darkness

By Kayla Perrin

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 Kayla Perrin
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8833-3


Present day


Shawde Williams knelt onto the grass beside the tombstone, the tears already blurring her eyes. Five and a half years had passed. Five and a half years and her grief was still strong.

"Hey," she said softly, placing the bouquet of flowers in front of the tombstone. Five and a half years later and the fact that her brother was in a coffin six feet below this spot was still surreal.

Her eyes landed on the etching of her brother. Every time she came here, she was amazed at just how well his essence had been captured on the headstone. His handsome face lit up in a smile, those eyes twinkling, his dimples as charming as they had been live. She fingered the etching, the only way she could touch her brother now.

Then she fell onto her bottom, crying softly. She'd lost more than her brother on that horrible day in January. She'd lost her mother, who had become a shell of herself as the despair had ripped her apart.

And most recently, Shawde had lost her fiancé because of this tragedy. Maurice had told her that he couldn't take it anymore. Either she let go of her obsession, as he'd called it, or they were done.

Shawde had called the wedding planner the next morning to tell her to cancel all the plans. Then Shawde had met with Maurice to give him back the ring. As long as she lived, she would never forget the look on his face as she'd placed the stunning diamond into his palm. The look of despair had damn near brought her to her knees. But he'd stood his ground, and so had she. If she wasn't over her obsession, then they were over. And she could never be over Shemar's murder — not until the killer was brought to justice.

Maurice didn't understand, and maybe Shawde couldn't expect him to. He hadn't had his family ripped apart because of a murder.

"What proof do you have that it was murder?" Maurice had asked before they'd finally called it quits, exasperated when she'd failed yet again to get the police to reopen the case.

"Shemar knew cars inside out. There's no way he would have missed an issue with his brakes. He would have given his car a complete inspection before a long road trip. I'm one hundred percent certain of that. And it's not that the cops didn't believe the brake line had been faulty. They just can't prove that it was deliberately tampered with. According to them, Shemar could have hit debris in the road."


"But he didn't. That's not what happened."

"How can you know that?"

"Call it intuition."

"Intuition?" Maurice had thrown his hands into the air. "Do you even hear yourself?"

His patience had been wearing thin, and Shawde couldn't entirely blame him. Perhaps if their situations had been reversed, Shawde would feel the same sense of exasperation. But this was her brother, and she could not go on until she got justice for him.

"Why would his girlfriend want him dead?" Maurice demanded.

"Some people are evil at their core. They get off on hurting others. People like you and me can never understand them."

"I don't understand you," Maurice had mumbled.

Shawde figured he hadn't thought she'd heard him, but she had. Loud and clear.

She'd slept alone that night, and a week later Maurice was telling her that she had to either let go of the past or forget about their future together.

"Maurice and I are over," Shawde said now to the tombstone. "He wants me to give up trying to solve your murder. Of course, he doesn't think it was murder. Dad's convinced, but thinks it's eating me up. And Mom ... well, she can hardly talk about it. She's not the same, Shemar. She's ... cries all the time. She retired, because she's too depressed to work." Shawde wiped at her tears. "Which is one of the reasons I have to keep going. Once Katrina pays for what she did, we can all heal. Finally put this past us."

As Shawde so often did, she stayed quiet, listening to see if she could hear the voice of her brother on a whisper of wind. Every fiber of her being believed that he was looking down on her, that he could hear her. That he was with her at this very moment.

It was one of the reasons she couldn't give up her fight. Shemar had been her little brother. She'd protected him in grade school. When that bully in his second-grade class had been beating him up, Shawde had given the little bugger a beatdown. He'd never bothered Shemar again.

A smile touched her lips as she recalled the memory. But it quickly faded.

The time it had mattered most, she hadn't been there to protect him. From that bitch Katrina. The moment she'd met Katrina when she'd visited the university in the fall, Shawde hadn't liked her. There had been no warmth in the smile she'd plastered on her face. In fact, it felt as though all the positive energy had been sucked out of the room when she'd entered, replaced by something cold and unsettling.

Shawde had told her brother that she didn't like Katrina, that something about his girlfriend didn't sit well with her. But Shemar hadn't dumped Katrina. Not that Shawde had expected him to.

Nor had she expected Katrina to kill him.

The last thing Shawde's brother had said to her was that he thought she was right. He'd learned something about Katrina, something upsetting. He hadn't shared with Shawde what that thing was but said he'd update her when he'd gotten to the bottom of it. He was planning to fill her in on all the details in person when he got back home to Albany.

Then his car had lost control on the interstate. For some inexplicable reason, Shemar's car had crossed the center line and collided with a truck. That had sealed his fate.

A fate that Shawde was certain Katrina had maliciously planned for him.

At first, the cops had speculated it was suicide, as the witnesses all said that Shemar hadn't applied the brakes. Further investigation of the burned car had shown that the brakes had failed because the brake line had been ruptured, but there had been no conclusive evidence that the car had been tampered with.

"I know you want me to keep going," Shawde said to Shemar. "And I know you'd do the same for me."

Shawde fell silent again. It was weird how five years could pass and yet a part of you still couldn't quite believe what had happened.

Looking at her brother's name, it was never quite easy to believe.

Shemar Lewis Williams

Then she read the inscription below the dates of his birth and death, even though she knew it by memory.

Called to be an angel at the age of 21.
You left a hole in our hearts,
Where there hadn't been one.
Our loss is heaven's gain.
We try to remember that through our pain.
Oh, how we miss you!
And wish we never had to part.
Gone too soon,
But always in our hearts.

Every time Shawde looked at that inscription, she wanted to scream. She had wanted an inscription that reflected the truth. You weren't supposed to die or Taken before your time or even Murdered by a devious bitch would have indicated the reality of his death.

Shawde's anger was brewing, and she drew in a deliberate breath in an effort to calm herself. She had long ago stopped wearing an elastic band on her wrist, which she was supposed to snap against her skin when her thoughts began to overwhelm her. Such a stupid idea. It simply didn't work.

"One day," she said, smoothing her hand over her brother's face. "One day, Katrina will have to pay for what she's done. She's already killed again. I told you that. Her parents. I didn't realize it was so easy for people to get away with murder." Shawde snorted. "Hell, maybe I should just take her out."

She heaved a weary sigh. "Of course, with my luck, I'd get arrested. No, I'll just wait for her to slip up. Because I'm sure she will. The friggin' psychopath has killed and gotten away with it, so she's even more confident now. She'll kill again, but her luck will run out. And when it does, I'll finally get justice for you. I promise you that."


I stared from a distance, the sickening sensation in my gut intensifying with every second. I watched the graduating class gathered on the lawn. My graduating class. It was a day of celebration on the University at Buffalo campus.

The action in front of me played out like a scene from some corny made-for-TV movie. Graduates smiling from ear to ear, giggling and chattering, prancing around on the pristine lawn, posing for photos with their smartphones.

I swallowed as I stared at Wesley Morrison, who was standing with his group of friends near the stone front steps. He looked especially handsome today, dressed in his graduation gown. I could imagine a photographer from the university paper, The Spectrum, wanting to use Wesley on the cover of the next issue. He looked that good.

He resembled a younger Boris Kodjoe, with that golden-brown skin from his biracial heritage, tall, lean frame, and goatee that looked so damn sexy. Unlike Boris, Wesley wasn't bald. He wore his hair closely cropped. Like Boris, Wesley had actually done some modeling as a kid.

I felt a pang of nostalgia as I stared at him now, remembering the first time I'd laid eyes on him in my creative-writing class. I hadn't been the only woman to be smitten by his good looks.

But I'd been the one to ultimately claim his heart.

Which made it all the harder to see him now. If he missed me, he was doing a good job of not showing it. Not with that huge-ass grin on his face.

I'm not going to your graduation.

It's not my fault you missed a semester. And no one cares that you're not graduating with the class. It's not the end of the world.

We need to talk about Seattle. About what I suggested.

And I told you already that won't work. Damn it, you make it seem like we're going to die if we don't see each other for a few months.

It's like you just don't care. How can I support your "big day" tomorrow if this is how you're talking to me?

Fine. Stay in your room and sulk, then. Seems that's what you do best these days anyway.

I had left him feeling that he didn't care. And indeed, he certainly didn't appear to right now.

I was standing behind the trunk of an old maple tree in the distance, unseen. Everyone was too absorbed with their own happiness to notice that I was even there, completely miserable.

I should be by Wesley's side. But after our argument yesterday, I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that I had come after all. That I had watched his proud moment from a distance.

Maybe I was being stupid. Maybe his reasoning about Seattle made perfect sense. He had to concentrate on work, and I had to concentrate on school.

My pride began to dissipate. If I didn't support him now, how could I ever expect things to work out between us?

I began to step out from behind the tree — until I saw Michelle appear out of nowhere and scurry over to him. Michelle, who until two days ago had been the friend who I'd believed would always have my back. The text message I'd found from her on Wesley's phone had changed all of that.

Halting, I stayed where I was, watching as my suspicion grew.

Wesley's grin widened, and I saw his eyes take her in from head to toe. Did he like her new look? She'd cut her hair into a short, cute bob with longer layers at the front, and I had to admit the new style had done wonders for her. But was Wesley seeing her as sexy and desirable? As someone he would date?

He opened his arms and wrapped Michelle in a hug that was too long to simply be friendly. Then, instead of releasing her, he pulled her close to his side. She was five foot five while he was six foot one, so her head rested against his shoulder. Extending his left arm to hold up his iPhone, Wesley lowered his face to press it against Michelle's. Both of them beamed as they posed for a picture.

My gut twisted. Would that be his new Facebook profile photo? Did his status already reflect IT'S COMPLICATED? Or, worse, SINGLE?

The picture was taken, but Michelle's hand was still looped through my boyfriend's arm. How often had she listened while I'd complained about Wesley, telling me he was a jerk or insensitive and encouraging me to move on?

Well, now I knew why. She wanted him for herself.

I moved out from behind the tree. My pulse thundered in my ears, sounding like a herd of angry elephants charging. The rage swallowed me whole, and I embraced it.

And here's the thing: You know how people always claim that they lose control at a critical moment, that their anger takes over and they couldn't stop themselves if they tried?

Well, I knew that what I was about to do — in front of Wesley's family and friends — was wildly inappropriate. In fact, as I marched across the lawn a big part of my brain tried to warn me against doing it. And yet my fury outweighed my reason.

I was pissed. Pissed that Wesley could treat me with so little regard after dating me for two years. And I was equally as pissed off with Michelle, the bitch I had once considered a friend.

I stalked toward them, no one noticing me until I was a few feet away. Michelle was the one to look in my direction first, and her smile instantly went flat. Wesley noticed me next, and shock came over his face. Shock that was quickly followed by panic flashing in his eyes.

"So, Wesley is an insensitive ass and I'm better off without him?" I said, facing Michelle. "Was this your grand plan — to move in on my man?"

Michelle stepped toward me, both hands up in a sign of surrender. "It's not what you think."

I slapped her across the face, sending her flying backward on the lawn. I heard Wesley's parents gasp — two people who had said that they loved me like a daughter. If only for their sakes, I should have tried to keep my cool.

But what was done was done, and I felt great.

Instantly Wesley went to Michelle, who was crying. He helped her up from the grass before turning his attention to me. "Have you lost your mind?"

"Have you?" I countered. "You're screwing my best friend!"

"Oh dear God," Wesley's mother uttered. I could see her look of disdain from my peripheral vision, hear the embarrassment in her voice. She was a churchgoing woman who had grown up in Barbados, and she'd always hated public displays of emotion — amorous or otherwise.

Wesley helped Michelle to her feet, then stepped toward me and placed a hand on my shoulder. "You need to calm down."

"Don't touch me!" I yelled. I violently wriggled from his touch. "Last night, you told me you needed space, that you didn't want to be in a relationship with anyone right now. And now here you are, with Michelle?"

Michelle was sobbing and clutching her cheek, perhaps hamming it up for effect. And her act was having the desired result. Because Wesley turned from me abruptly and took Michelle into his arms, offering her comfort.

"That's right, bitch. Cry your crocodile tears. That's the only way you can get a man."

"For God's sake, Jade," Wesley's father said. He was tall, blond, and, at fifty, still lean. Wesley had definitely gotten his height from his dad.

I whimpered, feeling a pang of regret as I looked at him.

"This is graduation day," Mr. Morrison went on. He gestured to the crowd at large. "You're embarrassing yourself."

"Do you know what your son has done to me?" I challenged. "What he's had me do for him?"

"That's enough," Wesley said, his tone a warning.

"You think he's perfect," I said, addressing both of his parents now. "He's not. He's far from it."

Wesley glared at me. "Jade, stop."

"Why? You don't want your parents to know the truth about your life?"

"She's off her fucking pills," someone in the gathering crowd said, and I whipped my gaze in that direction. I saw people snickering, their eyes wide with amusement.

The laughter, the comment ... suddenly I could see myself from a different vantage point. As if I were a spectator in the crowd.

I was becoming unhinged.

I didn't like it.

Wesley's mother took tentative steps toward me, as if she feared I would slap her, too. "Oh, sweetheart. We know this year hasn't been easy for you. Which is why we told you that you could call us at any time. Any time at all."

"That's not what this is about," I said, but my voice faltered. "This is about Wesley sleeping with my best friend!"

The buzzing among the crowd was louder now, people openly giggling as though I were a circus act.

"Jade, do you hear yourself?" Wesley asked, angry. "And you don't see why I need a break from you?"

"You owe me," I said, wanting to say more but knowing that I couldn't. Oh, I wanted to. But if I told his parents and the world what he'd had me do for him, he would never forgive me. I would never get him back.

A tear spilled onto my cheek. Didn't he see how I was hurting? And yet it was Michelle he was cradling.

I couldn't stomach it anymore. I moved toward them, grabbing at his arms, clawing at them with one hand while I tried to wrench Michelle free from his grasp with the other hand.

Michelle wailed, and Wesley's father got into the mix. He grabbed ahold of my arms from behind, allowing Wesley the time to whisk Michelle away.


Excerpted from What's Done in Darkness by Kayla Perrin. Copyright © 2015 Kayla Perrin. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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