We welcome Alison Naomi Holt. Here is Alison's Excerpt:
The Door at the Top of the Stairs is a very difficult book to find an excerpt that makes sense because each part is very definitely connected to everything that has come before. Let me give you a brief outline of the book, then I’ll explain a little background for this excerpt.
In The Door at the Top of the Stairs undercover narcotics officer, Jesse Shaunessy, is kidnapped and tortured, then thrown away by her department as damaged goods. The mind is a powerful ally, and 26-year-old Jesse has no memory of the abduction or the subsequent torture. Inevitably, as Jesse drifts from one itinerant job to another, the protective walls carefully constructed by her subconscious are beginning to crumble.
Fate lands her on a farm owned by Dr. Ryland Caldwell, a retired psychologist and her partner, Morgan Davis, the master of the Myrena Fox Hunt club. Ryland suspects there is more to Jesse’s foul temper than meets the eye. When Morgan and Ryland accidentally discover vicious scars on Jesse’s back, Ryland knows that without their help, Jesse’s descent into insanity will rapidly overwhelm them all.
In the following excerpt, Morgan, who has no background in psychology and Ryland, who is a psychologist, are discussing whether or not they should continue to try to help Jesse. Jesse has become increasingly angry, moody, and just plain miserable to be around.
Morgan's anger hadn't cooled by the time one o'clock rolled around the next day. When she walked in the house, Ryland was sitting in her armchair reading a book.
Ryland set her glasses on the coffee table and moved to the couch. "Morgan, can we talk? You came in so angry last night....You just went in and went to bed, and you left today without having our morning coffee. Talk to me, please."
Morgan stepped into the kitchen, poured herself a glass of milk and came out to sit next to Ryland. Dust from the morning's work covered her hair, and when she rubbed her head, some of it drifted down onto her clothes. She fell back into the couch with a sigh. “I don't know what's wrong. I guess I just liked the way things were before she came. Everything was perfect: the farm is in the black, the club and the hounds are doing great, I have a great hunt staff." She set the glass on the table and leaned back again. "I've been on edge since the first day she came. I want her gone and everything back to normal."
Ryland moved close enough for their knees to touch and put her hand on Morgan's leg. “You might be surprised by this, but I wouldn't mind if she left either. I want to help her, and I know how to help her, but I retired for a reason. I haven't done a minute's work on my book since that day Jesse fainted behind the barn. I've done nothing but pore over these books, trying to convince myself I'm doing the right thing." She leaned into Morgan, resting her head on her shoulder. "You know, I need to apologize to you. I never did ask whether you would help. I just threw you into the therapy because I knew you were what she needed.”
"If we stop now, what happens?"
Ryland curled her arm around Morgan's, enjoying the familiar warmth she felt there. “You know I'm not about guilt trips, my love. If we stop, we stop. She goes on with her life, and she'll follow whatever path she can. We have our life, you and I, and that's more important to me than helping Jesse. If you want to stop, then I want to stop too." They sat quietly for a while, neither wanting to make the final decision.
"Ryland, if we stop, what happens to her? No guilt. I just want to know the facts from someone who's dealt with this before."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. What happens?"
"She'll continue to decompensate."
Morgan smiled. “Let's try the Psychology for Dummies explanation."
Ryland chuckled. “Okay. She won't be able to maintain the personal defense mechanisms she's built up. She'll become more and more angry. She might get into more and more fights, in which case she'll end up in jail—a lot. She’s basically a sane person who's been pushed into a psychological imbalance, and that imbalance will only get worse. The headaches will increase to an intolerable level, and she'll get rid of them in whatever way she can."
"You mean she'll put a gun to her head."
"Great." Morgan rubbed her face, then let her hands drop into her lap. "I couldn't live with myself knowing I could have helped her and didn't because she was an inconvenience to my perfect way of life. So at least tell me what we're in for if we help her."
Ryland shook her head. "I'm not sure. I don't know the extent of the abuse, so we're groping in the dark. She'll continue to have angry outbursts, that's a given. She'll continue to push you right to the edge, because she's reassuring herself that you're still in control. She'll start hating me, maybe even want to hurt me to get me out of her life."
"Whoa, stop right there.” Morgan sat up and glared at Ryland. “Not gonna happen."
"You asked what might happen. I'm just giving you all the possibilities. We're dealing with panic, terror. Who knows what she'll do? I do know she doesn't want to hurt anyone—that's obvious to me—and I think if we can distract her if she starts to get violent, just enough to bring her back to the present, she'll stop. I never said this would be a walk in the park. It'll be hell for all three of us. And I guarantee, it won't take a week or a month for all this to start. It's already here and it will only get worse before it gets better."
About the author: Alison Holt writes what she knows. Her stories reflect the twenty years she spent as an officer moving through the ranks of the Tucson Police Department. During her career, she worked patrol to investigations, commanded undercover units and riot control squads and trained as a hostage negotiator. Always the one to rock the boat, she took a voluntary demotion toward the end of her career to supervise the department’s eleven man K9 unit. Her characters talk like real cops, think like real supervisors, and react like real people.
Prior to joining the police department, Alison earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona. When she retired, Alison went back to doing what she had always wanted to do—write. Her first book, The Door at the Top of the Stairs combines her insights into human nature with her knowledge of the darker side of the human psyche.
Alison's life as a cop gave her a bizarre sense of humor, a realistic look at life, and an insatiable desire to live life to the fullest. She loves all horses & hounds and some humans…
To find out more, go to her website at www.alisonholtbooks.com & check out Alison's blog
We thank Alison Naomi Holt and Book Lovin Bitches Tours.