"Everyone Elizabeth wishes dead starts dying"
Reviewed by Shellie Surles
Posted December 3, 2014
Elizabeth Ellis and her husband have not been having the
best of times. Actually she just found out about his
girlfriend and wished he would die. So when the police
showed up at her house to tell her he was dead, the shock
leads to a kind of relief. That is until the police start
suspecting her and more people around her start dying.
Ravinina was sent by her Aunt Catherine to find the
daughter she gave up years ago, Elizabeth. Catherine
believes that Elizabeth maybe in life threatening danger.
Ravinina, realizing she can't do it on her own and that
time may be running out, hires private investigator Rex
Kingston. When Ravinina tells Rex about the special gifts
that all her family members have he initially doesn't
believe her. But as things become more intense and it
becomes more obvious Ravinina isn't lying to Rex, he
decides to use these gifts to help save Elizabeth.
As I started WICKED WAYS my initial fear was that I was
reading another version of Gone Girl and I was initially
very disappointed, I almost put the book down. But my
were quickly erased as Ravinina was introduced and the
direction of the story line became clear. My relief and
introduction of character after character that you
help but love made me keep reading. Ravinina and Rex made
great team during their search for Elizabeth. The quirky
family and gifts made the story even more interesting. Not
to mention the twist at the end that shocked you.
WICKED WAYS is a great calibration between Nancy Bush and
Lisa Jackson. WICKED WAYS introduces great characters and
has a story line with a future that will keep you coming
back for more.
New York Times bestselling authors Lisa Jackson and Nancy
Bush join forces to craft this spine-tingling thriller in
which one woman's birthright holds the key to a rash of
Elizabeth Gaines Ellis is an ordinary suburban wife and
mother. That's what she tells herself as she flits
her realtor job, yoga class, and caring for her daughter,
Chloe. But for months now, Elizabeth has worried that
far from normal…that she's somehow the cause of a series
brutal, horrible deaths.
Her mean-spirited boss. A bullying traffic cop. Her
husband. Elizabeth had reason to be angry with them all.
didn't mean for them to die. No one will take her fears
seriously—except the private investigator prying into her
The more scared and angry Elizabeth becomes, the higher
death toll grows. But those who wrong her aren't the only
ones in danger. Because others have secrets too, and a
relentless urge to kill without mercy or remorse.
ExcerptElizabeth watched through her front window as the two
police officers trudged up her walk. She knew what was
about to come. And it wasn’t because she could sometimes
sense when danger or tragedy was about to occur. No,
she’d seen this walk to the door before in varying
incarnations on television dramas. It seemed like every
cop show had at least one scene where officers came to
talk to someone and deliver the bad news. A death, she
guessed, her heart hammering, but whose?
A wave of fear enveloped her. Twisting closed the
plantation blinds, she hurried away and down the hall to
the room where her daughter was sleeping. Of course she
knew Chloe was safe in bed but she had to see her.
Pushing open the door to Chloe’s room, she gazed in
fearfully, her pulse racing with premonition. Her
daughter’s golden-brown curls were splayed on the pillow.
She saw the sweep of her eyelashes, the way her arms lay
flung around her head in the abandonment of deep sleep,
the soft puffs of her breath.
The sound was so loud she jumped. Gently closing her
daughter’s door, she then race-walked back to the living
room, then flipped on the exterior light before
cautiously opening the door and eyeing the two officers
through the screen.
They stood in a circle of yellow light, their expressions
grim. The woman spoke first.
“Mrs. Elizabeth Ellis?”
“Yes.” Her throat was dry as dust.
“I’m Officer Maya, and this is Officer DeFazio.” They
already had their badges out and Elizabeth’s eyes
traveled toward them as Maya continued, “We regret to
tell you that there’s been a car accident.”
“Is it Court?” she whispered.
“Ma’am, may we come in?” the male officer, DeFazio,
Elizabeth wordlessly opened the door fully. Their faces
blurred in front of her. She was seeing something else.
The entire last week in bullet points.
On Monday she’d reluctantly kissed her husband, Court,
goodbye as he left for yet another business trip. They’d
had that fight. . .again. . .about what she referred to
as her ability to foreshadow. “You really think you can
sense danger?” her husband of six years had demanded.
The face she’d once thought so handsome had stared down
at her in scorn, his brown eyes simmering with fury, his
lips twisted into a snarl. “Don’t act like a crackpot,
Liz. I’m about to make partner at the firm, and I swear,
you’d better not get in the way.”
“I’m not going to tell anyone else,” she’d assured him.
She’d just been scared, worried. After she predicted
Little Nate’s accident on the monkey bars before it
happened, her friend, Jade, had gazed at her with wonder,
awe and maybe a little horror. But when she’d tried to
tell her husband about Little Nate and other times
similar things had happened, incidents she’d dismissed as
coincidence – because honestly, what else could they be?
-- he’d shut down completely. Their marriage was
disintegrating, had been for a long time. She knew it,
but had been unable to put her finger on what was wrong.
“Make sure you don’t,” he’d said, then had left on a
business trip in anger.
On Tuesday Chloe had a fainting spell at school. It was
troubling, because she seemed to be having more and more
of them. Elizabeth picked up her daughter and brought
her home, and Chloe assured her that she was fine, fine,
fine, in a loud, five-year-old voice that never seemed to
have any volume control.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday Elizabeth kept Chloe home from
school and took her to the doctor who checked her out and
pronounced her good to go, a fact that made Elizabeth
slightly uncomfortable. Something was going on with
Chloe that no one seemed to be able to diagnose. But
maybe that was just Elizabeth being paranoid again, a
helicopter parent, as Court had accused her of often
On Thursday Elizabeth took Chloe back to her kindergarten
class, then met with one of the women from her Moms Group
for lunch. Tara Hofstetter was the closest to a real
friend that Elizabeth had in the group which had been
formed online and consisted of women in the area who had
delivered babies around the same time. Court had really
wanted Elizabeth, who’d always been somewhat introverted,
to meet people around the Irvine, Costa Mesa and Newport
Beach cities where he worked as an attorney in a high
rise business center near the Orange County airport.
Dutifully, Elizabeth had gone outside of her comfort zone
and joined the newly formed group after Chloe was born.
Since that time, a number of women had both left and
entered the group, but Elizabeth and Tara were two of the
original members, and Tara’s daughter, Bibi, played well
However, when Elizabeth, who was running late, blew into
the sandwich shop, she could tell by the look on Tara’s
face that something was wrong. Before she could even
ask, Tara reached across the table and grabbed
Elizabeth’s hand. It was a surprise as Tara, with her
bleached-to-hell blonde hair and taut, dancer’s body,
wasn’t exactly known for demonstrative displays. But
then she said, “I saw Court with Joyce Bellhard
“Joyce Bellhard. . . Where? What do you mean?”
Elizabeth asked. Joyce Bellhard was one of the parents
of Mason, a classmate of Chloe’s. She gave Botox parties
around the area and her picture was plastered on flyers
she passed out in every neighborhood around the school.
Joyce was big-breasted, big-eyed and about as subtle as a
“They were holding hands at this bistro I go to whenever
I’m in Santa Monica,” Tara revealed.
“Santa Monica?” Elizabeth had repeated faintly. “Court’s
in Denver.” Santa Monica was at least an hour away from
Irvine in good traffic, good traffic being a very short
window of time between about nine in the morning until
“Elizabeth, they were staring at each other so hard they
didn’t even see me. I ducked out and watched a little
while from outside the window.”
“Maybe they were. . .just. . .” But she hadn’t been able
to come up with any reasonable excuse for them being
together in a city far enough away that you wouldn’t
expect to be seen by someone you knew.
“They were acting like they couldn’t wait to get the
bill,” Tara had finally said in a reluctant voice, her
blue eyes regarding Elizabeth regretfully. At that
Elizabeth had nodded and silently accepted the unwelcome
realization that her husband was having an affair.
On Friday Court got home late after Chloe was already
tucked into bed. Elizabeth was lying in bed with a book,
reading one page over and over again as her mind ran over
what she was going to say when she saw him again. She’d
run the gamut of disbelief, to fury, to despair, to a
kind of angry acceptance. She tried to self-assess, ask
herself if she cared enough to try to save the marriage.
For Chloe, she wanted to, but for herself. . .? That was
a trickier question.
By the time Court entered the bedroom, loosening his tie
and telling her he’d come straight from a meeting and
really wanted a drink, and did she want something,
Elizabeth had put down the book and was simply waiting,
her hands folded on her lap. Court didn’t wait for her
answer. He went to the bar in their living room and she
heard the squeaking hinge that said he’d opened the bar
which was hidden inside a tall chest made of ebony wood.
Next she heard him slam a glass on the counter. She was
walking into the living room as he pulled out the stopper
to a bottle of scotch and splashed a healthy dose into
the old-fashioned glass. She watched silently as he
bolted it down and could almost read his mind as he
considered the bottle, wanting to pour a second drink but
thinking it might not be prudent based on his wife’s
uncertain mood. “What’s wrong?” he asked sullenly,
rolling the glass between his palms.
“Is it true that you met Joyce Bellhard in Santa Monica?”
Court jerked his head back as if he’d been slapped, then
tried to cover up the tell with a bunch of bluster.
Detached, she watched his florid face turn brick red and
knew he was going to lie to her. “Who the f**k told you
“Someone from the school,” she lied right back.
“I wouldn’t have that plastic bitch on a dare,” he
“No one said you had her. They just said you met her for
“Whatever nosy bitch told you that should just mind her
own f**king business and stop trying to stir up trouble.”
“It’s not true?”
“Of course it’s not true!” He slammed his empty glass
down on the bar and reached for the bottle of scotch
again, his misgivings gone in the face of bigger issues.
“So, if I check, I’ll find out you were still in Denver
on Wednesday, like it says on your itinerary.”
“Since when do you check on me?” he demanded, his dark
eyes glittering as he shot her a vituperative look.
Elizabeth had almost lost her nerve at that point. She’d
never challenged her husband before. Court Ellis was a
master arguer, a born lawyer, and she couldn’t compete
with him in any discussion. He loved talking circles
around her, and she hadn’t realized how little affection
there was left between them until that very moment.
“What’s the name of the bitch who told you those lies?”
he demanded as he took another healthy sip.
“What’s the name of the hotel you supposedly stayed at in
He’d slammed out of the house after that and didn’t come
home the rest of the night.
On Saturday afternoon he returned, but they didn’t talk
about Joyce Bellhard or Santa Monica or if he’d even
really been in Denver at all. They lived in icy silence
throughout the day. Chloe, picking up the tension, had
cried and fussed, and it was a relief when it was finally
late enough to put her to bed. Elizabeth told herself
that she should make herself talk to Court some more, but
she never found the energy and in the end, while Court
slept on the couch, she lay awake in their king-sized bed
alone, feeling a cool breeze come through the open
window, smelling the menthol scent of nearby eucalyptus
trees, watching palm fronds wave in the soft landscaping
lighting of their backyard.
About five the next morning Court entered their bedroom
and stood at the foot of their bed. Aware something
momentous was about to happen Elizabeth pulled her knees
up to her chest under the covers, automatically bracing
He was perfectly sober, the anger seemingly drained out
of him. “I didn’t want it to happen this way,” he said,
his voice curiously tight, as if he might break down,
though Court Ellis never showed any emotion. “I’m in
love with her,” he said then, shocking Elizabeth so much
she’d actually gasped. “I’ve been meaning to tell you
for months. Joyce and I have been meeting at a place in
Santa Monica at the end of my business trips. I wasn’t
in Denver. I haven’t been in the final cities on any of
my itineraries for almost a year.”
It was such a bone deep betrayal that Elizabeth couldn’t
find her voice. There was no love between her and Court;
maybe there never had been. But she was shocked, hurt
and cold. Frozen to the core. She stared at him and
thought terrible thoughts. I wish I’d never met you. I
wish I never had to see you again. I wish you were dead.
“Get out,” she ordered through gritted teeth.
“Elizabeth, you know I never meant to hurt you.”
“Get the hell out and don’t come back.”
“Jesus.” He stared at her as if she were being
unreasonable. “You’re such a bitch. When did you become
such a goddamn bitch?”
“You need to leave,” she said woodenly.
“This is my home, too, and – ”
“This is not your home,” she corrected swiftly.
“Be careful. Don’t push me. I can make your life a
“You didn’t just say that.” She was stunned by how
quickly he went on the offensive.
“I have a daughter, too, and when I get back from this
next trip -”
“You don’t have a daughter anymore!” she’d shot back in
fury. “You’re never going to see her again. Get the
hell out and never come back!”
“Cut the dramatics, Elizabeth.”
He came around the bed so swiftly it scared her. She’d
tried to scramble away, suddenly afraid. When he placed
his hands on her shoulders and glared down at her, she
felt threatened. She sensed that he wanted to put his
hands around her neck. They held each other’s gaze for a
moment, then he’d suddenly released her and left the
room. They’d suffered through the rest of Saturday and
into Sunday not speaking to each other and now it was
Sunday night and there were two officers in her living
In a hollow voice, she said to the woman officer, Maya,
“Court’s dead, isn’t he?”
Her careful expression said it all. “Yes, ma’am.”
You wished this on him. You made this happen. It’s
happened before. . . Elizabeth swallowed. “You said it
was a car accident.”
“That’s right.” It was Officer DeFazio who answered her.
“A single car accident.”
“So, no one else was hurt?” she asked, hopeful.
Maya, who was somewhere in her thirties with blunt-cut
dark hair and a no-nonsense expression, shared a look
with DeFazio, who was at least ten years older and a
whole lot grayer than she was, before turning back to
Elizabeth. “There was a second fatality.”
Elizabeth’s head swam. “Oh, no. . .”
“It appears your husband was driving and there was
another person in the passenger seat.”
“Excuse me, I have to check on my daughter,” she said in
a strangled voice, then left the two officers hanging as
she hurried on rubbery legs down the hall to Chloe’s room
and opened the door a crack again. The night light
bathed the room in a soft circle of illumination. Of
course Chloe was still breathing easily, sleeping
soundly, but Elizabeth clung to the door knob for
support, fighting down a rising panic.
It can’t be your fault, she told herself. Things like
this don’t happen.
But she knew she was lying to herself.
She carefully shut the bedroom door tightly once more and
then returned to perch on the edge of the couch. The two
officers were still standing in the center of the room.
Elizabeth wasn’t sure what emotion they could read on her
face. Grief? No. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Numbness?
Definitely. Fear? Yes. . .a little of that, too, though
she would never be able to explain why, and even if she
could, she knew they’d look at her as if she were stark
“Who. . . .?” she asked, picking through the words that
seemed to be shuffling around in her brain, not
connecting in sentences. But then she thought she knew
already anyway and she didn’t want to hear the name yet,
so she changed direction. “Wait, no. . .how did it
They’d been about to tell her about the other victim; she
could see the way they both drew a breath, but they
checked themselves. DeFazio said, “That’s still to be
determined. It looks like your husband lost control of
the vehicle. A BMW. It appears to be his car.”
Elizabeth nodded. Court loved his silver BMW while she
was happy with her Ford Escape.
“The car was found near San Diego,” Maya supplied.
“San Diego?” She’d half-expected to hear Santa Monica,
thinking maybe this time Court had decided to meet Joyce
Bellhard at the beginning of his trip, not the end.
“South of San Diego. Almost to the border,” Maya said.
“Court wouldn’t go to Mexico,” Elizabeth responded with
certainty. “He got a bad case of Montezuma’s revenge
once, and he swore he would never go there again.” And
he would never drive his beloved car across the border,
“We have a receipt from a Tres Brisas Hotel in Rosarita
Beach from last month,” DeFazio stated.
Elizabeth could feel herself staring and had to force
herself to drag her gaze away. “You sure it was Court?”
“A man and woman were registered as Mr. and Mrs.
Bellhard,” DeFazio told her.
Elizabeth felt near collapse. So, he had been with Joyce
again. Of course he had. What had she expected.
Clasping her hands together and squeezing so tightly it
hurt, “The other fatality is. . .?”
“Mrs. Joyce Bellhard,” Officer Maya confirmed.
Not only Santa Monica, then, Elizabeth thought dully,
though why she should care she had no idea. If Court had
been meeting his lover from Los Angeles to Mexico and
beyond, what did it matter? They were both gone now.
“One of our detectives will be here soon,” DeFazio said
into the silence that followed. Elizabeth felt
dissociated from the action around her, as if she were
far away looking down on them, watching a play, maybe.
Someone else’s troubles.
“We spoke with Mr. Bellhard before we came here,” Maya
said. “He told us he’d suspected his wife was having an
affair with someone for about a year. He apparently
followed her to Rosarita Beach and saw her with your
husband, but he didn’t know who he was,” Maya explained.
“So, he followed her again today. She left her car in
the parking lot of your husband’s law firm and got into
his vehicle. Mr. Bellhard then followed them to the
juncture of I-5 and 405 south, but then turned around
because he had a dinner meeting with his boss at The
Bungalow in Newport Beach. He was still at the
restaurant when officers contacted him. Detective Bette
Thronson has taken a statement from him. She sent us
ahead to contact you.” She hesitated, as if she were
deciding if she should say anything more, and then added,
“Mr. Bellhard followed them because he wanted to use
their affair as leverage in the pending divorce between
his wife and him. They’ve been separated for several
Elizabeth didn’t give a damn what happened between the
Bellhards. She was having trouble processing that Court
was dead. Gone. Never to trouble either her or Chloe
again. She should care more that Chloe had lost her
father, but right now she couldn’t summon up the emotion.
“A detective is on her way here?” she asked.
“Yes. Detective Bette Thronson.” Maya’s dark eyes
studied Elizabeth. “Can you tell us where you were
“Yes, ma’am,” Maya said.
“Well. . .uh. . .I was home with Chloe in the morning,
but I went into work for a while. Misty was here. She
lives down the street.”
“You’re a real estate agent,” Maya said.
In a distant part of her mind Elizabeth realized the
officer was stepping outside her bounds a little. This
wasn’t part of her job, but maybe she wanted to be a
detective herself. “I was at the office for a while.”
“From when to when?” Maya questioned.
They wanted her to account for her hours. “Umm. . . .I
went to a couple of open houses. . .” she said vaguely.
In truth, she’d only been at the office for a short time
and then had gone to a local park where she sometimes
took Chloe and sat at a table under a tree, lost in
thought. When she got home Chloe had practically been
done in from all the fun she’d had with Misty who was
fourteen going on ten and who had lots of energy.
Elizabeth had fed Chloe and put her to bed at seven-
thirty, her thoughts still on her fight with Court.
She’d thought about leaving him a text on his cell that
he could read once he’d landed in Chicago but hadn’t
gotten around to it. Now she knew he’d never made it to
It was another thirty minutes before the detective
finally showed and the officers departed. Detective
Thronson was tall, iron-jawed and intense. She had short
gray hair and a body built like a barrel. She didn’t
stand on ceremony and almost immediately began asking
questions that made Elizabeth feel like she was under
attack. She asked the same questions Detective Maya had,
then started in on her family.
“Your daughter goes to school?” Thronson asked. She also
chose to stand and took center place in the middle of the
room while Elizabeth was once again seated on the edge of
“Preschool until this fall.”
“She was with a babysitter this afternoon while you were
“Did you know your husband was heading south of San
Diego, possibly to Rosarita Beach?”
“He was supposed to be flying to Chicago. That’s what
his ticket said.”
“Did you know Joyce Bellhard?”
A trick question, said off the cuff as if the answer
didn’t mean that much to her, but Elizabeth knew the
detective was keyed into her response.
“I knew of her. She. . .advertised around the
neighborhood with flyers, and she has a child at Chloe’s
preschool. A boy, I believe.”
“Her husband said she was an aesthetician.”
“Yeah. . .she advertised Botox and facials and skin
peels. I never went to her.”
Elizabeth’s mind was starting to wander into dangerous
areas again. You wished him dead. . .just like you
wished bad things on Mazie. . .just like you wished ill
on that other cop, Officer Unfriendly. . .and they both
died, too. . .
But how could thoughts kill?
Detective Thronson then asked questions about her
relationship with Court which Elizabeth answered
dutifully. Yes, there were some problems in the
marriage. No, she hadn’t known he was having an affair
with Joyce Bellhard until. . . .this was where she
stumbled and lied, saying, “. . .until the officers told
me.” She didn’t bring up Tara’s revelation, nor her
fight with Court, nor the true deteriorated state of
their marriage. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to
determine there was something fishy about the accident by
the probing questions the detective was asking her.
Something wasn’t right.
Finally, Detective Thronson wound down and slowed her
questions. When she ended the interview she told
Elizabeth she would be in touch with her later.
Elizabeth thanked her and showed her out, then nearly
collapsed against the door panels once the woman was out
of her house. With an effort she gathered her strength,
then made her way to the bathroom, staring in the mirror
at her own drawn face.
You shouldn’t have lied. You should tell them, right
now, what you know. Before they learn it some other way.
Let them know he’s dead because of you. That you knew
this was going to happen. That it’s your fault. That
it’s happened before. Tell them before it’s too late.
But it was already too late, and she knew she wouldn’t
say a word.
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