Read An Excerpt from the Novel "White Hot"

Introduction: Upon the sudden and mysterious death of her brother, Danny, Sayre Lynch is called home to Destiny, Louisiana, for his funeral. Having fled the town and her iron-fisted father, Huff Hoyle, ten years earlier, she must now return to confront him, her spoiled brother, Chris, and their unscrupulous lawyer, Beck Merchant.

The church parking lot was already overflowing into the surrounding neighborhood streets. [Sayre] had to park several blocks away from the picture book church with the stained glass windows and tall white steeple. Just as she stepped onto the columned porch, the bell chimed the hour of eleven.

The vestibule was cool compared to outdoors, but Sayre noticed that many in the sanctuary were waving paper fans to supplement the inadequate air conditioning. As she slipped into the back row, the choir finished singing the opening hymn and the pastor stepped up to the pulpit.

While everyone else bowed their heads for prayer, Sayre looked at the casket in front of the chancel rail. It was simple, silver, and sealed. She was glad of that. She didn’t think she could bear her last image of Danny to be his lying like a wax doll in a satin lined coffin. To prevent thoughts of that, she concentrated on the elegant purity of the arrangement of white calla lilies on top of the casket.

She couldn’t see either Huff or Chris for the crowd, but she supposed they were seated in the front row pew, looking appropriately bereaved. The hypocrisy of it all made her nauseous.

She was named among the surviving family members. “A sister, Sayre Hoyle of San Francisco,” the minister intoned.

She wanted to stand up and shout that Hoyle was no longer her name. After her second divorce, she had begun using her middle name, which had been her mother’s maiden name. She’d had her name legally changed to Lynch. That was the name on her college degree, her business stationery, her California drivers licence, and her passport.

She wasn’t a Hoyle any longer, but she had no doubt that whoever had supplied the minister with the information had intentionally given him the incorrect name.

The homily was straight out of a how-to clerical textbook, delivered by a shiny-faced minister who looked too young to vote. His remarks were directed toward mankind in general. There was very little mention of Danny as an individual, nothing poignant or personal, which seemed particularly sad since his own sister had refused his telephone call.

As the service concluded with the singing of “Amazing Grace,” there were sniffles among the congregation. The pall bearers were Chris, a fair-haired man she didn’t know, and four others whom she recognized as executives of Hoyle Enterprises. They carried the casket up the center aisle of the church.

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