Behind Closed Doors [NOOK Book]


For twenty years, they had been closer than sisters, sharing girlhood secrets, their hopes and dreams for the future--and a soul-searing promise. Melissa was the only one who knew what had really happened to Jannie beyond the sacred walls of the Mormon Temple the night that changed her life forever….
Now Melissa has gone missing, just days after ...
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Behind Closed Doors

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For twenty years, they had been closer than sisters, sharing girlhood secrets, their hopes and dreams for the future--and a soul-searing promise. Melissa was the only one who knew what had really happened to Jannie beyond the sacred walls of the Mormon Temple the night that changed her life forever….
Now Melissa has gone missing, just days after entrusting Jannie with a mysterious box that someone would kill to possess. And someone has--leaving in their murderous wake an innocent victim and a trail of blood that leads to the heart of Jannie's hidden burden. Desperate to protect her secret, and to find out what has happened to Melissa, Jannie trusts no one. Not the stranger whose piercing green eyes have already seen too much, nor the family and friends whose familiar fold may be shielding a cold-blooded killer who is lurking

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Intense, suspenseful…page-turning."—Allison Brennan, author of The Kill

"A riveting look at the very heart of contemporary Mormonism."

—Cornelia Read, author of A Field of Darkness

"Dark, powerful…[a] searing tale of one woman's search for justice."

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner on Wives and Sisters

"An intense, suspenseful, character-driven mystery that I couldn't put down. Collins expertly weaves a journey of self-acceptance with a page-turning mystery….A gripping story from the chilling opening to the startling conclusion."—Allison Brennan, author of The Kill

"With Behind Closed Doors, Natalie R. Collins doesn't just treat readers to a taut, compelling mystery, she gives us a riveting look at the very heart of contemporary Mormonism. This book is not, however, fired by an apostate's anger, but rather by one pilgrim's bittersweet search for true justice, faith, and community in the wake of her own brutal loss of innocence."—Cornelia Read, author of A Field of Darkness

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429991711
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/2/2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 375,947
  • File size: 328 KB

Meet the Author

Natalie R. Collins is an author and journalist with more than twenty years' writing experience, including a long stint with the largest daily newspaper in Utah.  She served as an editor for the 2001 and 2002 Sundance Film Festivals, and is also a managing editor of, an interactive Web site for readers.  A lifelong resident of Utah, and raised a member of the Mormon Church, she still resides there with her husband and two daughters.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One Five years later I got the call that changed my life forever around two p.m. on Tuesday, June 28. The coffee I had poured thirty minutes before had gone cold as I stared into my computer screen and talked on the phone, arranging for a restraining order against the husband of one of my repeat clients. Debbie Talon floated in and out of our shelter every several months, convinced her husband, Brandon, was going to kill her. I was convinced, too, but it made no difference. Debbie always returned to him, and they always paid a reunion visit to their bishop, who praised their decision to keep the family unit together. In another couple of months Debbie knocked on our door again, dragging with her a four-year-old son, eight-year-old daughter, and, once, a fetus that didn't live through the night, having been punched and kicked to death while still inside his mother's body. The Salt Lake City Police Department had finally gotten involved after the last one, even though Debbie begged everyone, including me, not to tell them. She loved Brandon. He was her eternal companion. Somehow, her eternal companion convinced them she was clumsy and fell down the stairs. No charges were filed, but they were watching him. Without Debbie's testimony, they could do little because there was no proof that anything except a terrible fall had happened. She backed up the "clumsy" story. They knew what I knew, even though they couldn't--and some wouldn't--move against a fellow priesthood holder without black-and-white proof. Apparently, black-and-blue was not enough. Yesterday, she had shown up with a new complaint--a multicolored patch on her daughter's back. This time, she swore she wouldn't return, wouldn't put up with this, wouldn't even call her bishop. I knew better, but maybe Brandon didn't. So for now, I would try to get her the restraining order, even while knowing it was probably pointless. I arranged the order and wrote down instructions for Debbie--which she would undoubtedly ignore. After I was done, I picked up the mug and took a sip of tepid coffee and almost spit it back out. Blah. Coffee was evil. I knew that. If anyone from my past life--the one I led before I first attended a session in the Mormon LDS Temple--could have seen me, they would have been shocked. I was not honest with those who knew me from before. It pained me, but it was necessary. I could not handle their pressure. It was just easier to pretend I still believed, that I attended church on a regular basis, that I never drank coffee or alcohol, or even thought about sex. Of course, the last was not true at all. I thought about it all the time. I just wasn't doing it. I stood up to refresh my coffee, the phone rang, and I sighed. Some other disaster, some other abuser, some other horrible omen or event to attend to--maybe even Sunday dinner at my parents' house, where I would be grilled endlessly about the singles ward I told them I attended, and about any possible prospects for marriage, and--worst of all--whether or not I had considered going on a mission. Since I wasn't married, and showed no signs of ever being so, that was expected of me. It was the fate of all old maids. Next month I would be twenty-six years old. "Oh, Jannie," came my mother's voice over the line. I'd been right. Somebody give me a quarter and call me Madame Zelda. But I didn't correctly predict what she would say next. "Jannie, something terrible has happened. Lissa is missing. She's been gone half the day. She never showed up for work, and Jannie? Jannie, are you listening?" My mother needed constant reinforcement that everyone within miles was attuned to the sound of her voice. The scary part was they usually were. "I'm listening, Mom. I'm just in shock." Melissa, my longtime friend, had been missing for six hours and everyone was getting frantic. Steady, dependable Melissa, who always reined her emotions in, would not just up and disappear. She would never just not show up for work, or fail to call in, so we all knew that something was wrong. "Please come," my mother said, her words compact and tight, her unusual brevity a sign that things were horribly out of kilter. I left my desk at the YWCA Women's Shelter, hurried down the long hallway to my boss's office, and popped my head in the door, quickly explaining that I needed to leave, to join the search party combing the canyons behind Michael and Melissa's apartment. Millicent Stone, a fifty-year-old former Catholic nun who had saved more women from monsters than any knight in shining armor could ever claim to have done, understood completely. Millie was small of frame and stature, with short, close-cropped gray hair, a heavily lined face, and eyes that expressed more than she could ever say in words. There was usually a touch of sorrow in those eyes. In our line of work, disaster is always little more than a phone call away. We've learned to adapt. As I drove my Honda Civic toward the Canyon View Stake Center, where the command post for Melissa's search had been set up, fear raced through my mind. Surely Melissa had just lost track of time, or thought she had arranged for sick leave because she had a prior engagement. But what if that wasn't the case? What if she had been kidnapped, taken by an unknown assailant for nefarious purposes? Although I knew the odds of that were slim, the case of Elizabeth Smart still loomed in my mind. The obvious suspects are those closest to the victim. Stranger abduction is rare. Look first at the family. These were my mantras, as a domestic abuse counselor. But Michael and Melissa had a strong relationship. She laughed sometimes, and I frowned and fought to keep from speaking my mind, because he always wanted to know where she was, who she was with, what she was doing. He bought her a cell phone and then had to up the minutes because he called her so often they were hit with huge overage charges. Sometimes, when we were together, she'd sigh when the phone rang. No one else called her. It was always Michael. But she loved him. And he adored her. I remembered him serenading her, back when we were in high school, singing silly, sappy romantic tunes and then sulking when she laughed at him, even though she did it kindly. They had problems, but who didn't? I couldn't even stay in a relationship for twenty minutes. Michael would never lay a hand on her. So who would hurt Melissa? Was she dead? No, no, don't think that way. No! She's fine. She just got busy and forgot to go to work, and to call in and tell them, and to . . . Everyone loved her. She was the type of person who really listened, who met new people and immediately knew everything about them, all their secrets spilling out. They walked away, saying, "What a nice person," without even realizing they knew absolutely nothing about her. Melissa even knew my secret, one I had shared with no one else. My cell phone rang, and I answered with a quick and breathless hello, praying it was someone calling to tell me that Melissa was fine. "Jannie, it's Brian. Melissa is missing. Have you seen her?" His voice sent a cold chill down my spine, and I felt the fear, the anger, and the claustrophobia return. God help me, I really hated him. It wasn't healthy. I kept my voice calm and modulated. "No, Brian, but my mom called me. I'm on my way." "Good. Michael needs support. Lissa's car has been found in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven close to their house. It doesn't look good." I felt as though someone had punched me in the stomach. I didn't want to hear this. "Why would she have gone there?" I asked, after a moment's silence. "She went to buy milk. Mike says they were out of it, and she told him she was going to go get some, even woke him up, since he was sleeping. She left, he went back to sleep, and when he woke up again it was ten a.m. He just figured she had let him sleep and gone to work. And you can find out more when you come here. You're great at supporting your friends. You've always been good at supporting everyone but me." He disconnected. I guess he hated me, too. I'd broken his heart. His lack of spirit and chivalry had broken mine. If only my relationship had been more like the one Mike and Melissa shared. Melissa . . . Flashes of the last time I saw her played through my mind. It had been an odd encounter. She'd shown up at my doorstep around seven-thirty one evening the week before. We hadn't seen each other in months and had only talked on the phone once or twice. So, to open the door and see her standing there was a bit of a shock. Her long brown hair was swept back into a harsh ponytail, and her dark brown eyes seemed deeper set than normal, surrounded by hollows that spoke of sleepless nights and stresses I, in my single and unencumbered state, could not begin to imagine. I knew Michael and Lissa struggled for money--her job working as a secretary for an insurance company was not terribly high-paying, but she'd never gone to college, opting instead to marry young and support Michael while he attended first college and then medical school. "Can you keep this for me?" she asked, without even a hello. She thrust a medium-sized shoe box toward me, and I reached out and grabbed it, stumbling a bit from the force of her movement. I put my hand on the doorway to steady myself. "Geez, Liss, what's up? You don't look great. Why don't you come in and I'll--" "I can't stay. I need to get home. Mike will be home soon for dinner. Just keep it for me, okay? Someplace safe?" "What is it?" She tightened her lips and shook her head twice, standard Melissa posturing for things she did not wish to discuss. I was used to this type of behavior with her. When we were growing up, it had usually signaled one of her mother's bad spells. What that could possibly have to do with the box I held I didn't know, but I knew I wasn't going to get it out of her until she was ready. Eventually, she would tell me. She always did. "Okay, it's not anything live, is it?" I asked jokingly, trying to coax a smile out of her. "Something that will smell my place up if I ignore it for too long?" She finally smiled--not the full, open, wide-mouthed smile she usually displayed and for which she had received one of those silly Senior Spectacular awards at graduation--but a smile, nonetheless. "Are you sure you don't want to talk?" "Not today," she answered. "I have to go. Thanks, Jannie. I really appreciate it." And she turned and left. "Oh, my God. The box," I said with a gasp, as fear gripped me. Could the box she left with me be connected to this? Her behavior had been strange, her conversation terse, her smile forced. Now she was missing. What, if anything, did the box have to do with it? Instead of heading straight up 400 South in downtown Salt Lake City, I flipped on my blinker and moved over to the right-turn lane and headed south on 700 East. I had a small apartment in Sugar House, and although it seemed a long shot, perhaps I would find the answers to Melissa's disappearance there. I had to open that box and find out what was inside it. Copyright © 2007 by Natalie R. Collins. All rights reserved.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012



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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    chilling thriller

    She grew up in the Mormon faith believing in its tenets until the night her fiancé Brian raped her in the temple. The bishop says both contributed to the rape as Jennie wore provocative clothing and let things go to far and he should have had the strength to not give in to temptation. Unable to believe the bishop¿s ¿words of wisdom¿ she walked out on Brian and never returned to a temple or a church. She counsels abused and is fearful when she learns her best friend Melissa disappeared. The two women along with Michael and Brian were childhood friends until she left her fiancé, but kept close connections with the other two. Jeannie doesn¿t want to believe Melissa is dead even though all evidence points to Michael killing her. The more she digs the close she comes to getting murdered from a killer who is determined to keep his identity a secret. --- This is a chilling thriller that exposes the dark side of religious extremism and intolerance. Even though the heroine walked away from a religion that she now believes treats women as second class chattel, she feels guilty that she no longer accepts the Mormon faith that was her bedrock as a child and teen. The characters are believable and the pace swift and action packed while the romantic sub-plot between the lead detective on the case and the heroine adds spice to a fabulous romantic thriller. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

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    Posted August 16, 2011

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