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FATAL AGREEMENTS by Ashley Fontainne, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller, 449 pp., $15.99 (paperback) $3.99 (kindle)


Author: Ashley Fontainne
Publisher: RMSW Press
Pages: 449
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Whispered rumors tickled the ears of the residents of an entire town
for decades about the disturbing secrets of the old Halstead House,
dating all the way back to the early 1920s. Most people didn’t believe
them. Several people will soon discover they should have listened.Three years after struggling to cope with the death of her beloved
father and escaping an abusive relationship, Samantha Chapman decides
it’s time to return to her hometown of Hot Springs. She buys the
ramshackle Halstead House, eager to transform the dilapidated, abandoned
piece of history into her new law office and residence, hoping it will
be the start of a brighter chapter and a safe haven to escape her
personal demons.Instead of newfound freedom, things take a dark turn when the
resurrection of the old home reveals the disturbing secrets hidden
within its walls. When youthful transgressions of numerous people come
to light, including ones some members of the Chapman family are
desperate to contain, it reveals the sins of the past. They collide with
the grave mistakes of the present, creating a perfect storm of chaos
and death for not only the Chapman family but others as well.

Some will survive.

Others will get burned.

Sam and her loved ones realize some family secrets should have remained buried.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, April 14, 1993
chat made my intentions clear about what I expect from you, Samantha. Another
incident like today will force me to contact your parents about your behavior.
Again. This is junior high not elementary school. The days of disrupting class
are over. Do I make myself clear?”
Biting her
lip to keep from saying something nasty, Sam nodded. Rather than look at the
irritated, sour face of Principal Townsend, she kept her gaze on her lap. She
understood the proper response was “Yes, ma’am,” yet the words wouldn’t form on
her lips. She was still too angry to play nice after Ms. Jolly sent her to the
The old hag
English teacher, one of many in a school overrun with them, should have sent
both guilty parties. Sam had no control over someone passing her something
during class. Resa should be sitting right next to her, forced to listen to
Terrible Townsend’s yammering about following rules and respect.
Sam tried to
talk her way out of the situation. The thought of spending more time in
detention or listening to yet another lecture from her mother made her mad. She
tried to reason with the principal earlier, but it was a waste of time. Sam
didn’t understand why she was the only one sent to the office. Resa passed the
note to Sam during a pop quiz, not the other way around. Of course, Resa’s
actions were sneaky. Sam’s loud argument in class with Ms. Jolly about the
existence of the note and the request to produce it earned the trip to Terrible
Townsend’s office.
“I can’t hear
your head nod, Samantha.”
Raising her
gaze, Sam stifled a laugh. Ms. Townsend’s ugly, beady eyes glared back,
awaiting the proper response. Eager to escape the office, join Suzy for lunch,
and read the note which started the mess, Sam caved. “Yes ma’am.”
“Thank you.
You’re excused.”
Jumping to
her feet, Sam strode toward the door.
“One more
thing before you leave, Samantha.”
Cringing at
the false assumption Ms. Townsend would let her go without some sort of
punishment, Sam’s fingers wound around the doorknob. Terrible Townsend was fond
of handing out detention as though it were Halloween candy. “Yes, Ms.
“When you
enter high school, you should enroll on the debate team.”
Shocked by
the words, Sam turned around. “Excuse me?”
removing her glasses, Ms. Townsend stood, smoothing out imaginary wrinkles on
her linen dress shirt. “Samantha Chapman, you have a way with words like your
sister, though she’s yet to come out of her shyness. You have the command of a
room like your parents; a perfect mixture of Big Sam’s joviality and
Charmaine’s cool elegance. For a few seconds, you almost swayed me over to see
your side of things. Your temper derailed you. It is something you need to work
on controlling. I believe you are a natural debater and would make a great
litigator someday.”
Sam had no idea what the term meant.
Coming around
from behind the desk, Ms. Townsend smiled, something she rarely did when alone,
much less around the student body of Lake Hamilton Junior High. The student’s
bright blue eyes were wild with curiosity and a hint of pride. As an educator,
Ms. Townsend had seen the look enough times during her career in the
public-school system. Samantha Chapman would go places if she learned to corral
her mouth.
“Have you
ever watched the TV show L.A. Law?”
“No.” Sam
wondered where the strange conversation was headed.
“Lawyers who
argue cases in front of judges and juries are known as litigators. I think you
might be blessed with the raw abilities I mentioned. Don’t waste them. Focus
your natural gifts and harness them while taming your tongue. If you do, I
assure you great things will happen in your life, not only for you, but for
those around you.”
Stunned by
the surprising praise, Sam blinked several times before responding. “Thank you,
“Go before
you eat lunch too fast. No need for you to get sick.”
out the door, Sam headed toward the cafeteria while extracting Resa’s note from
the front pocket of her jeans. A hint of smile danced on her lips while
thinking about Ms. Townsend, pleased she didn’t hand out any detention. Maybe
it was time to give the woman another nickname? She wished her mother would say
such nice things; be more complimentary, but the kind words were saved for Suzy
Opening the
crinkled paper, she paused in the hallway, ignoring the sounds of laughter and
clanking of dishes coming from the cafeteria. The aroma of sloppy joes and
coleslaw filled the hall, making her mouth water and stomach rumble.
“There you
are! Come on, hurry!” Resa’s long fingernails dug into Sam’s forearm. Her
blonde, frizzy curls bounced in time with her rapid pace while tugging her
friend toward the cafeteria doors.
“What’s going
The paper
slipped from Sam’s fingers, flittering to the floor.
Bending over,
Resa scooped up the note while continuing to drag Sam toward the doorway. “I
tried to warn you when overhearing Kathy and Tanya planning it out in first
period. I begged them not to do it, but Kathy wouldn’t listen. Hurry up because
he’s started! Kip’s at her table!”
game. Suzy’s today’s victim.”
Yanking her
arm away, Sam stopped inches from the double metal doors leading to the
cafeteria. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. He
plans on flirting with Suzy before asking her to the Spring Fling dance loud
enough for everyone to hear the words before he…”
“Oh, shit!”
Sam’s pulse quickened.
Kathy Poole
was known for insensitive pranks. Even the slightest annoyance like bumping
into her in the hallway was justifiable cause to be in her crosshairs.
Pushing Resa
aside, she peered around the doors. Kip Hale sat on the edge of the table,
peering down at Suzy, his smile fake and movements practiced. Suzy’s blue eyes
were laser-locked on Kip’s tan, gorgeous face, mesmerized as though the boy cast
some sort of hypnotic spell over her love-struck mind.
Sam spotted
Kathy Poole, Tanya Reynolds and the rest of the cheer team three tables over,
hands covering their mouths as bouts of laughter made their bodies shudder. Sam
didn’t care for any of the snotty cheerleaders, yet she despised Kathy Poole.
Tanya and the others were mindless followers—Kathy was the mean ringleader.
Every single
student at Lake Hamilton Junior High understood head cheerleader Kathy Poole
claimed track star Kip Hale as her own, including Sam’s twin sister, Suzy, who
had a massive crush on the hunk.
The “game”
would break Suzy’s love-stricken heart. Suzy tried out for next year’s squad
and made it, beating out one of Kathy’s friends.
Shoving her
books into Resa’s hands, Sam scowled. “If you’re the one who blabbed about
Suzy’s feelings toward Kip, I’ll whip your ass next.”
Resa said
nothing so Sam ran to Suzy’s aide.
The din of
laughter from the boisterous students disappeared after they let out a
collective gasp while watching Sam race across the floor, her unruly coppery
hair flapping behind her like fluttering flames.
Kip’s devious
smile vanished as Sam barreled toward him.
Suzy turned
her head at the commotion.
The flush of
embarrassment made Suzy’s normally pale cheeks vibrant burgundy. The smattering
of freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheekbones disappeared. A trail
of wet tears spilled from her sister’s eyes, rolling down the red cheeks in a
steady stream.
“What an
idiot! I can’t believe she fell for it! Like Kip would ever take
her ugly ass on a date or to the Spring Fling dance! She looks like Bozo’s
The snickers
from Kathy’s table ignited Sam’s fuse. She balled up her fist, never slowing
her pace.
Kip stood,
holding his hands out in mock surrender. “Hey, it was a joke…”
She never let
him finish the sentence. The sound and feel of her fist smashing into his face
made her own devious smirk appear even though the impact hurt like hell.
Kip flew
backward, head grazing the edge of the table behind him. He landed with a
loud thump on the stained tile floor.
Kathy stopped
laughing as blood squirted from in between her boyfriend’s fingers. “You crazy
bitch! Look what you did to him!”
“I’m not
finished yet.”
Sam turned
the focus of her rage on Kathy, splitting her lip before the faculty swooped in
to intervene. The metal braces on the girl’s teeth ripped open her knuckles.
She didn’t care. Wrapping her fingers around a wad of thick, brown hair, Sam
yanked, ripping out a large chunk.
Ms. Townsend
arrived, pulling the girls apart as another teacher helped Kip to his feet.
Kathy sobbed
on the floor.
“My office,
all of you! Now. Looks like our little chat earlier fell upon deaf ears,
Glaring at
Ms. Townsend, Sam yanked her arm from the woman’s grip. “They deserved it,
trust me. No one messes with my sister. No one.”
EARS ringing from her mother’s yelling, Sam stared at the ceiling while Suzy
finished brushing her teeth in the bathroom. Ms. Townsend suspended her for
three days, which ended up getting her grounded for three weeks. She didn’t
care. The punishment was worth it because Kathy, Kip, and Tanya were suspended
as well. She won her argument this time with Ms. Townsend.
After Resa
showed the note to the principal, their plan in black and white doomed them.
Less than twenty minutes after the battle in the cafeteria, several students
humiliated by the trio in the past came forward. Once they spilled their
stories, Kip was kicked off the track team, Kathy and Tanya stripped of being
cheerleaders, and they all received a week’s suspension.
A soft knock
on the bedroom door made Sam smile. Suzy slammed the bathroom door shut.
“Hey slugger.
I brought some ice for your hand.”
Daddy.” Sam noticed the gleam in his baby blue eyes. It looked like he had some
new grays, making his fading auburn hair shimmer under the overhead light.
“Does this mean you aren’t mad at me anymore?”
Easing down
on the edge of the bed, Big Sam smiled after handing the ice pack to his
daughter. “Your ma’s the one who’s got her feathers all ruffled. Not me. I’m a
preening peacock. You stood up for your kin when the bullies attacked. I’m
proud of you.”
Sam’s mouth
dropped open. “You are? Why didn’t you say something when Mom was tearing into
“Because over
the years, I learned when to try and battle your ma and when to let her have
the reins and run amok. Tonight, I picked the latter.”
resituating the ice pack, Sam asked, “When my grounding’s over, may I start
watching L.A. Law on Thursday nights?”
Big Sam
raised an inquisitive brow. “Fine by me but TV ain’t my preferred entertainment
choice. You know your ma watches Knots Landing on Thursday
nights. Good luck convincing her to give up her nighttime soaps. Why the sudden
Sam shrugged
her shoulders. “I’m thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. Being a
lawyer sounds like fun.”
Ruffling the
mop of dark auburn curls on his daughter’s head, Big Sam smiled. “You can be
anything you want, darling daughter. Put your mind to it and stay focused. I’m
behind you, and your sister, one-hundred percent with whatever career choices
Yanking the
door open, Suzy stormed out of the bathroom and jumped into bed. “I hope you
aren’t letting her off the hook, Daddy. What she did was wrong.”
Sam gaped at
her sister.
Big Sam
chuckled, rising to his feet. He found it rather amusing the twins looked
identical yet had polar-opposite personalities. One’s attitude was courtesy of
his wife, and the other was more in tune with his laid-back style.
He sensed an
epic battle looming between his girls. “Well, enough raging estrogen for one
day. Time for me to retire to the back porch with a good book and cigar. Try
not to leave marks on each other or make a mess, girls. Love you both.”
sister spoke for a full minute after their father left. Sam sensed Suzy’s anger
from the across the dark room. She couldn’t fathom why in the world her twin
was mad at her instead of the mean kids at school.
“You ruined
my life.”
“My turn to
talk, Sam! You did enough gabbing all day, and when talking didn’t work, you
acted like a boxer. Don’t stick your nose into my personal life again. Ever.
I’ll handle things on my own. You may not mind being a social outcast, but I
do, so butt out.”
Stung by the
harsh words, Sam remained quiet. Suzy had never, ever, spoken to her like that
before. For thirteen years they were consumed by the tight, twin bond between
them. Silent tears trickled from her eyes, soaking the pillowcase while fuming
over the day’s events.
Streaks of
lightning lit up their bedroom, followed by a crack of thunder so loud their
beds shook. Sam was terrified of storms and Suzy knew it. Closing her eyes, she
counted to ten, waiting for her sibling to come snuggle next to her like she
always did when thunderstorms came.
Suzy never
moved a muscle.
When the
second boom rattled the bed, Sam’s eyes popped open. “Are you…?”
“No, I’m not.
Deal with your fears while I handle mine.”
Sam sensed
things would never be right between them. The knowledge made her sad and angry
at the same time. She did nothing wrong and yet was being treated as though she
She wouldn’t
grasp until many years later the devastating effects of the day’s incident, and
how her actions to protect her sister would end up being the downfall of her
entire family.





Ashley Fontainne writes in multiple genres ranging from
mystery/thrillers to suspenseful paranormal to dark comedy. The
recipient of numerous awards for her gritty, no-holds barred style of
writing, her stories will captivate and pull you inside the lives of her
characters and intricate plot lines.Website Address: www.ashleyfontainne.com
Twitter Address: www.twitter.com/AshleyFontainne
Facebook Address: www.facebook.com/AshleyFontainne






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