Black Out

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  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 4/28/2009
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

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When my mother named me Ophelia, she thought she was being literary. She didn't realize she was being tragic. On the surface, Annie Powers's life in a wealthy Floridian suburb is happy and idyllic. Her husband, Gray, loves her fiercely; together, they dote on their beautiful young daughter, Victory. But the bubble surrounding Annie is pricked when she senses that the demons of her past have resurfaced and, to her horror, are now creeping up on her. These are demons she can't fully recall because of a highly dissociative state that allowed her to forget the tragic and violent episodes of her earlier life as Ophelia March and to start over, under the loving and protective eye of Gray, as Annie Powers. Disturbing eventsthe appearance of a familiar dark figure on the beach, the mysterious murder of her psychologisttrigger strange and confusing memories for Annie, who realizes she has to quickly piece them together before her past comes to claim her future and her daughter. From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography

LISA UNGER is the New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Lies and Sliver of Truth. Her novels have been published in more than twenty-five countries. She lives in Florida with her husband and daughter and is working on her next novel.

From the Hardcover edition.





When my mother named me Ophelia, she thought she was being literary. She didn’t realize she was being tragic. But then, I’m not sure she understood the concept of tragedy, the same way that people who are born into money don’t realize they’re rich, don’t even know there’s another way to live. She thought the name was beautiful, thought it sounded like a flower, knew it was from a famous story (play or novel, she wouldn’t have been able to tell you). I guess I should consider myself lucky, since her other choices were Lolita and Gypsy Rose. At least Ophelia had some dignity.

I’m thinking this as I push a cart through the produce aisle of my local supermarket, past rows of gleaming green apples and crisp blooms of lettuce, of fat, shiny oranges and taut, waxy red peppers. The overly familiar man in meats waves at me and gives me what I’m sure he thinks is a winning smile but which only serves to make my skin crawl. “Hi, honey,” he’ll say. Or “Hi, sweetie.” And I’ll wonder what it is about me that invites him to be so solicitous. I am certainly not an open or welcoming person; I can’t afford to be too friendly. Of course, I can’t afford to be too unfriendly, either. I look at my reflection in the metal siding of the meat case to confirm that I am aloof and unapproachable, but not strangely so. My reflection is warped and distorted by the various dings and scars in the metal.

“Hi there, darlin’,” he says with an elaborate sweep of his hand and a slight bow.

I give him a cool smile, more just an upturning of the corner of my mouth. He steps aside with a flourish to let me pass.

I have become the type of woman who would have intimidated my mother. Most days I pull my freshly washed, still-wet blond hair back severely into a ponytail at the base of my neck. The simplicity of this appeals to me. I wear plain, easy clothes—a pair of cropped chinos and an oversize white cotton blouse beneath a navy barn jacket. Nothing special, except that my bag and my shoes cost more than my mother might have made in two months. She would have noticed something like that. It would have made her act badly, turned her catty and mean. I don’t feel anything about this. It’s a fact, plain and simple, as facts tend to be. Well, some of them, any- way. But I still see her in my reflection, her peaches-and-cream skin, her high cheekbones, her deep brown eyes. I see her in my daugh- ter, too.

“Annie? Hel-lo-oh?”

I’m back in produce, though, honestly, I don’t remember what caused me to drift back here. I am holding a shiny, ripe nectarine in my hand. I must have been gazing at it as if it were a crystal ball, trying to divine the future. I look up to see my neighbor Ella Singer watching me with equal parts amusement and concern. I’m not sure how long she has been trying to get my attention or how long I’ve been staring at the nectarine. We’re more than neighbors; we’re friends, too. Everyone here calls me Annie, even Gray, who knows better.

“Where were you?” she asks.

“Sorry,” I say, with a smile and a quick shake of my head. “Just out of it.”

“You okay?”

“Yeah. Good. Great.”

She nods, grabs a few nectarines of her own. “Where’s Vicky?”

All the women in our neighborhood, her teachers, her friends’ mothers, call my daughter Vicky. I don’t correct them, but it always makes me cringe internally. It’s not her name. I named her Victory because it meant something to me, and I hope in time it will mean something to her. True, I named her in a fit of overconfidence. But Gray understood my choice and agreed. We were both feeling overconfident that day.

Excerpted from Black Out by Lisa Unger
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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