Fatal Witness


As a child, artist and potter Dani Bennett witnessed the brutal murder of her parents. With no memory of the incident or her true identity, she was forced to take on a new name and a new life, hidden away in Montana for the past 25 years. 

Mae Richmond has spent the same stretch of time searching for her granddaughter, who went missing the night her daughter and son-in-law were murdered. Convinced the woman she saw in a pottery magazine feature is the woman she's been searching for, she enlists the help of K-9 officer Mark Lassiter of Pearl Springs, Tennessee, who tracks Dani down. 

Skeptical but curious, Dani sets out on a journey to uncover the secrets of her past and reclaim her true identity. But someone close to her is determined to keep the truth of what happened all those years ago hidden.

Read the first chapter below.




The back door slammed, and nine-year-old Danielle Bennett jumped. Her daddy was home. She held her breath, waiting to see which Daddy it was. The one who laughed and swung her up in the air or the one who yelled and broke things . . .

Her heart sank as he yelled at her mama to get things packed. When she yelled back that she wasn’t going anywhere, Danielle covered her ears, but it didn’t do any good. She prayed Daddy
wouldn’t be mean. Remembering the last time that happened made her sick to her stomach. She should have done something. Stopped him . . . or called someone.

“Danielle! Get in here!”

She flinched.


If she didn’t go, he would come after her. She laid her Barbie on the floor and trudged to the kitchen, slipping inside the room quiet as a cat.

Her dad shoved her mama toward their bedroom. “Get packed. We have to leave. Now!”

Mama turned and crossed her arms. “Why is he coming here, Bobby? What does he want?”

“His share of the diamonds,” he said. “We need to leave before he gets here. Now get to packing!”

“No! You have to take them back!”

“You’ve been talking to your mother, haven’t you?” He jutted his jaw. “Don’t you understand? They’re our way out—” He cocked his head as tires crunched in their drive. 


“He’s here!” He slammed his fist against the table. “If you’d done what I’d said, we’d be out of here.”

“Me? You’re the one who broke the law! And now you’re even stealing from your partner.”

His face was so red Danielle thought he might explode. Then his face changed, and he didn’t look so mad. “I’m sorry. I’m just . . .” He swept her up in his arms and turned to her mama.
“You stay here. I’ll see if I can talk our way out of this. But first, I’ll hide Danielle.”

She looked over his shoulder as he rushed her out of the kitchen. Her mama’s face . . . Danielle had never seen it so white.

“It’s going to be all right, Little Bit.”

Danielle’s stomach squeezed. Daddy smelled funny . . . he always smelled funny when he yelled at Mama. She buried her face in his shoulder, not wanting to remember.

They stopped at a row of cabinets in the hallway, and he opened the door to the one they put her in when storms were coming. “I want you to get in here, and no matter what happens, you stay
here until Mama or I come get you. Can you do that?”

“Why, Daddy?”

“Because it’s very important.” He knelt and pushed a board on the wall, and it slid open. Then he put something inside, but she couldn’t see what it was before he closed it. Her daddy motioned her inside the cabinet. “Climb in.”

Once she was settled, he stood and stared solemnly at her. “Promise me you’ll stay here no matter what you hear. Will you do that for me?"

Danielle nodded solemnly.

“I want to hear you say it—I promise.”

“You’re scaring me, Daddy.”

“Hurry! You have to promise.”

Tears burned the back of her eyes. “I promise.”

He shut the door, and darkness closed around her like a blanket. She scooted back against the wall and pulled her knees to her chest. It was hard to breathe . . .

Suddenly there was shouting. Someone was yelling at her daddy.

The house filled with booms. Then it was eerily quiet. Danielle’s heart beat so fast she thought it would jump out of her chest. She felt for the door and remembered her promise.
Maybe Daddy would come get her in a minute.

Danielle waited as long as she could, but she had to go to the bathroom. Daddy would be mad if she wet her pants. Slowly, she eased the cabinet door open and crept down the hallway in her bare feet, not remembering when she lost her shoes. A noise in the kitchen drew her. Maybe it was Mama and Daddy . . . 


Danielle eased down the hall, remembering not to step on the squeaky board at the door.

She rubbed her eyes, trying to make sense of what she saw. Across the room, her daddy lay on the floor beside her mama. A man knelt beside them. Danielle must have made a noise because
he looked up, right at her.

She whirled around and raced down the hall to the cabinet and pulled the door shut. Danielle curled into a tight ball and closed her eyes. Seconds later footsteps pounded down the hall-
way past the cabinet.

“No, no, no!”

A crying voice awakened her, and she blinked open her eyes.

Why was it so dark? She couldn’t see anything. She stilled as foot-
steps hurried down the hallway.

“Danielle?” a voice called softly. “Where are you, honey?”

Her body started shaking, and tears ran down her face. Suddenly the door flew open, light flooding the little space she was in.


She blinked at the brightness and shrank back.

“It’s me, honey. Are you all right?”

She didn’t answer, instead staring at him as a horn sounded in the distance.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” he said and reached inside the cabinet.

She wanted to fight him, but her arms wouldn’t move.

He pulled her out and carried her through the front door to a four-door pickup parked in the driveway. Once he settled her in the backseat, he said, “It’s going to be all right. I’ll take care of you.”

She stared at him. “Who are you?"



Patricia Bradley, Fatal Witness
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2024. Used by permission


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