Convicted by Aleatha Romig
Series: Consequences #3
on October 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Dark Romance, Psychological Thriller
Amazon • Goodreads
There were still lessons to learn and consequences for the truth!
When Claire Nichols met Anthony Rawlings, she didn’t know they had a past, or that he had plans for her future. Over time, the role of teacher changed—games became reality—and domination turned to desire. Despite an insurmountable history, Claire and Tony found their way back to one another.
Just when they seemed to have it all—love, respect, and the promise of a family—the game master exposed the truth. Claire’s world once again spun out of control. Unwilling to allow her child to suffer the consequences of an old vendetta, Claire fled...
At one time, Claire was held captive in an opulent mansion—then her incarceration was a cell inside a state penitentiary. Was her new prison—a tropical island—truly less lonely? Perhaps that was the game master’s plan, all along?
Who will save Claire from her oldest nightmare and her newest reality? Will it be Tony? Can he forgive her for leaving him—again? Harry? Will he utilize previously unknown connections to save the woman who infiltrates his thoughts? Maybe Phil? Will his devotion in keeping Claire and her child safe be rewarded?
As the cards are played—sins of the past, innocent victims, and truths are revealed. With compartmentalization no longer an option, is the reality too much? Could there be an even worse isolation?
With the game master dealing from a stacked deck, can this new high-stakes game possibly be won?
When it’s all over and their cards are on the table—SOME will discover their bets were too high—they have nothing left to lose—ALL will learn the crucial lesson—the most important rule—there are CONSEQUENCES for the TRUTH!
Aleatha Romig’s CONVICTED!
Be Sure to scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!
You’ve read Consequences. You’ve read Truth. Now it’s time for the third and final installment in the Consequences series, Convicted. I had the pleasure of reading the ARC and let me tell you, it was my absolute pleasure! Thank you Aleatha!
So if you’ve read my other reviews on Consequences and Truth you already know they tend to evoke strong emotions. J Convicted does the exact same thing except on an EPIC level.
It took me a week to read Convicted. Why you ask? Well not because it was a slow read. Not because I wasn’t interested. NOPE. It was because I didn’t want it to end. I dreaded the last 20%. I didn’t want to know the conclusion. I didn’t care how it ended (not true). I just didn’t want to know it was over. I cried big fat baby tears too when it finally happened. Not happy tears not sad tears. More like tears of contentment. I sat there for a while with my closed kindle in my hands just thinking about what had transpired. I had closure.
It was time to unbuckle my seatbelt and get off the ride.
To say Convicted was an easy read, would be a lie. There is nothing easy about Convicted. Shoot, there was nothing easy about Consequences or Truth. I felt so many different emotions reading Convicted that I can’t pinpoint one in particular. I can maybe list some of them for you though. This list encompasses all facets of the story and is in no particular order:
Maybe SPELLBOUND should be the word I use to sum up Convicted. I lost myself in the story. I didn’t need to sleep or eat or breathe, I just needed more. Even though I took my time reading it, it was pure torture putting it down. I wanted to devour it and lick my fingers when it was over. I had to force restraint. I honestly did not want it to end.
Convicted, had my stomach in knots.
Just when I thought I knew everything, BAM! Aleatha made sure I actually knew nothing.
Just when I thought things were going to be a certain way emotionally, BAM! Aleatha made sure I knew my emotions weren’t mine to control.
Just when I thought the story was over, BAM! Aleatha added just a little bit more.
I can only promise you one thing.
You will finally know the truth.
There will be no more secrets.
EVERYONE is exposed for who or what they are.
Loose ends are tied up.
Certain things happen to certain people.
Certain people do certain things.
Convicted is amazing. Convicted is the end.
Goodbye Claire and Tony.
CONVICTED CHARACTER INTERVIEWS
**Caution…these Character interviews contain spoilers, if you have NOT read Consequences and Truth**
A Series of Interviews in response to my 2011 Article about Anthony and Claire Rawlings which appeared in Vanity Fair
By: Anne Robinson
I met with Anthony and Claire Rawlings in their home for a Vanity Fair interview in February of 2011. On that cool February morning, I met with who appeared to be a loving newlywed couple.
Flash forward…now it’s October of 2013, and the world is discovering that all was not as it appeared. My Life As It Didn’t Appear by Meredith Banks, (which was originally scheduled to be released by Parrott Publishing on October 1 but has been delayed again due to legal battles) will eventually hit the market. The release is imminent and the snippet alone has revealed a peek into the depth of misinformation in my original interview!
My goal with these interviews is to attempt to set the record straight.
This time I’m not working with Mr. Rawlings or Ms. Nichols. Why? Because they are both missing!
Ms. Nichols was last seen September 4, and Mr. Rawlingswas reportedly in a plane that made an emergency landing on September 21. He has not been seen or heard from since.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is more involved than a soap opera. Over the next few days, I will be releasing my “unauthorized” interviews with friends, family, and employees of these two individuals and hopefully settingthe record straight.
Please join me in learning the real story…what were these two individuals hiding from me AND from you in 2011?
Today we planned to speak with Catherine London and Eric Hensley. They are both longtime trusted employees of Anthony Rawlings. As personal employees, they also worked for Claire Nichols, while she and Anthony were married. They would undoubtedly be able to give us insight into the real life of Claire and Anthony.
Unfortunately, our efforts were met with a resounding “no.” Apparently, all of the people employed by Mr. Rawlings’ estate have signed strict “Do Not Disclose” clauses. The only information we could gather was the confirmation of the last date Mr. Rawlings was on the estate, September 20.
Instead, we proceeded with our interview of Emily Vandersol, sister of Claire Nichols. Mrs. Vandersol was very anxious to speak with us. She has been very busy speaking with each and every news outlet that will listen.
Please join me in welcoming Mrs. Emily Vandersol.
Emily, may I call you that.
Emily, you are visibly distraught over your sister’s disappearance. Can you please tell us about the last time you saw her.
I saw Claire about a month ago. She came to visit my husband and me in Indiana.
Did she come alone?
She was with a body guard. That was what she said, but my husband and I knew the truth.
Mr. Rawlings didn’t come with her?
No! We aren’t, I mean weren’t exactly on speaking terms with him.
Isn’t it true that someone hurt her in California?
Yes, and that’s why she said she had a body guard. I believe it was because Anthony Rawlings didn’t trust her. The man is incredibly controlling; I’m sure this “body guard” was the only way Claire was allowed to visit us—her own, and only, family!
So, you don’t believe this man was hired for her protection.
I believe he was a spy, reporting every move that Claire made.
Why do you think that?
It was how he treated her when they were married. Well, kind of.
What do you mean, kind of?
When they were married, Claire never would have been allowed to travel to Indiana alone, or with a body guard.
You keep using the world “allow.” Do you believe that Mr. Rawlings truly had that kind of control?
Emily, have you seen what’s in the book that’s about to be released?
I haven’t seen Meredith Bank’s words, but I know, what’s in the book. I know, because my sister told me. It’s all true.
If it truly contains some of the maltreatment that I’ve heard, why would Claire go back to Anthony Rawlings? Why would she move back in with him?
I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Sometimes I think she isn’t thinking clearly.
Did you ever witness the things Claire told you about?
No. Whenever we were all together they both put on a perfect performance; however, things always seemed odd, like there was more. My husband even tried to question her about it before the wedding. Claire became upset by his questions and asked me to ask him to be nice. For Claire, we were.
Do you believe Mr. Rawlings was involved in your sister’s disappearance?
Without a doubt! I know he was. Before she decided to move back here, she told me specifically that he “took” her, “kidnapped” her, the first time, and she was afraid he may do it again. I promised her that I would have the police knock down his door if she ever disappeared again. I did. As soon as I hung up the phone from Anthony, I called the Iowa City police. They did nothing! Oh, they went to his house and asked a few questions, but you know how it is with people with money—multiply that bya billion! No one would touch him; he owns that whole town, probably the state and country! Now, he’s missing,too. I just know it’s related. I keep praying that she’s safe, but I fear she isn’t. I’m afraid that she finally realized what a mistake it was to go back to him, and he lost it. I have begged for the police to take dogs out to that estate and sniff around. What if my sister is buried out there somewhere? What if we never know?
Mrs. Vandersol ended the interview by asking us to publish the information for the missing person’s hotline. There is also a reward set up by Anthony Rawlings for information leading to Claire’s safe return. If you have any information please contact the numbers below.
Continuation of Personal Interviews by Anne Robinson-
Good afternoon Ms. McCoy, thank you for talking with us. May we call you Amber?
Yes, please. I’m happy to do anything I can to help find Claire.
Can you first tell our readers how you came to know Claire Nichols?
I met Claire for the first time at my fiancé’s funeral.
That seems like an unlikely place to meet someone who would later come to live with you.
Yes, I suppose it does.
Isn’t it true that after Claire’s unexpected release from prison, she came to live with you in Palo Alto?
That’s right. She didn’t have anywhere to go, and she was trying to get away from Mr. Rawlings.
“Get away from”? Does this have anything to do with the information in the book, My Life As It Didn’t Appear?
It does; however, I never forced the issue with her, and she never told me all about it. I just got the feeling that she was deathly afraid—well at first.
Can you explain?
When she was first released from prison, she seemed truly frightened of him. I remember the first time he called her. He’d hired a private detective to find her—creepy, right? And once he found her, he called. Claire went pale as a ghost while she was on that call. My brother and I were afraid she would pass out!
Did she willingly move back to Iowa?
I think so. I know that it doesn’t make any sense. But, over time he worked his way back into her life. At first she rebuked all his attempts—she threw away flowers and sent back gifts; then, something changed.
Oh, I remember. It was after she said he blackmailed her.
What? Did you just say he blackmailed her?
Yes, at least that was what she told us. She said that he arranged for something to happen at SiJo Gaming that caused my brother to miss going with her to an annual charity gala. Once she was there, according to her, he promised that nothing would happen to my company, only if she agreed to pretend they were reconciling.
Did you believe her?
I didn’t have reason not to. Admittedly, it was pretty farfetched. Besides the problem that occurred at SiJo was fixed and determined to be just some kind of computer glitch. Maybe she was just making it up to lie to my brother. They were kind of dating at the time.
Do you think she would lie? Could the things in the book be a lie, too?
Oh, I didn’t mean that. No, I don’t think so. I mean, she was really scared when she first got here. But seriously, if it is all true, who in their right mind would go back with him? I mean, she even believed Mr. Rawlings was responsible for other crimes. I don’t think she was thinking straight…unless, she did it to protect SiJo, or she thought she was. I really don’t know.
Where do you think she is today?
I don’t know. I know neither my brother nor I have heard from her. Harrison received a call from Mr. Rawlings when she first went missing. The only other news that we’ve received was from the news outlets, just like everyone else. I hope she’s all right. It is weird that Mr. Rawlings is also missing. None of it makes sense.
Thank you Ms. McCoy.
Continuation of Personal Interviews by Anne Robinson-
In an attempt to get the most accurate information, I interviewed Amber McCoy and her brother Harrison Baldwin separately.
Here is my discussion with Mr. Baldwin. (Let me add, I’m damn glad I didn’t do this interview over the phone! Those were some of the prettiest blue eyes I think I’ve ever seen!)
Thank you for talking with us, Mr. Baldwin
Please, I’m Harry, and I’m happy to do anything to help find Claire.
Harry, please tell us about your relationship with Claire Nichols.
I met Claire when she came to live with my sister. We became friends. I haven’t spoken with her since she moved back to Iowa.
I’d love to clarify a few of your comments…can you define “friends”? I believe I’ve seen more than one picture of the two of you together while she lived in California. I think I even read that the two of you were living together?
Claire lived with my sister Amber. We all live in the same condominium building; however, we never lived together in the same unit.
There was a time when Claire couldn’t walk to the curb without someone taking her picture. Yes, we ate at local restaurants and were often photographed. She was a fun person to be around, and we enjoyed one another’s company—friends.
And yet, as friends, you haven’t spoken in months?
My number hasn’t changed.
All right—enough said. Let’s discuss her past. Are you familiar with the book that is about to be published.
I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard about it.
Do you believe the information is true?
Since I haven’t seen it, I’m not sure. I know that her first marriage had issues.
“Issues”? Do you believe that Anthony Rawlings was abusive?
I only know what I’ve been told. With that information, I worry about Claire now. I’m concerned for her safety.
Ms. Nichol’s family seems to believe that Mr. Rawlings’ disappearance is connected to Claire’s. Do you agree?
I don’t want to believe that Claire would take off and scare her family after all they’ve been through. So, if she didn’t leave of her own free will, then I believe foul-play could be involved. It does seem suspicious that he too is missing.
How did Claire end up hospitalized before she moved back to Iowa?
She was attacked by a man. Security saved her before she was too badly hurt.
I believe I read that you were the hero who saved her.
I got to her only seconds before security. It was the guard who shot and killed the perpetrator.
Ms. Vandersol mentioned that Claire was pregnant. Do you know if that’s true?
I would assume that if anyone would know the truth about that, it would be Claire’s sister.
So, you’re confirming that she’s pregnant.
I’m confirming that she is missing and we need to do anything possible to assure that she’s safe. If what Emily says is also true, then we should all be more concerned, not just for Claire, but for her child.
Do you truly believe that Mr. Rawlings would harm his child?
I’m not sure what Mr. Rawlings is capable of doing. Thank you for keeping Claire in the spotlight. I must be going.
One last question, Harrison, are you seeing anyone new?
New? No, I’m not.
Thank you. (I almost asked him if he wanted to see anyone, and then I remembered I’m married!)
Continuation of Personal Interviews by Anne Robinson-
**Mrs. Weston contacted me when she read that I was doing this series of interviews. She asked to be interviewed, claiming “inside” information regarding the Rawlings’ inner circle of friends.**
Hello Mrs. Weston, thank you for contacting me.
You are so welcome. As a member of the inner circle of Rawlings friends, I’d do anything possible to find Claire and Tony. I just think it’s the right thing to do.
Can you please tell us how and when you met Ms. Nichols or Mr. Rawlings?
We all met on Labor Day, 2010, in Iowa, at a barbeque.
In Iowa? I thought you lived in California.
Yes, I do. My husband works with Eli Summer, you know, the director/producer. Well, we were with them when we all went to this barbeque. It was before anyone knew much at all about Claire Nichols. I mean, before Tony started dating her, she really was a nobody.
I’ve heard what they say is in that book. I don’t believe a word of it. And I never understood Tony’s fascination with her. I mean seriously, none of us—you know, close friends—understood it. He had/has so much going for him. Like seriously, a man like him would need to kidnap a woman. Let me tell you, she sure didn’t look kidnapped back in 2010! I mean, she was dressed in all the best and hung on his arm like she was afraid to step away.
Not like scared of him. No, like she didn’t want to give him a chance to forget about the young hot woman throwing herself at him! It worked, too. He couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. Well, and as you know, they were married by the end of the year.
As such “good friends” you were probably at their wedding. Was it as beautiful as everyone said?
Oh, well, we would have been there, but Chance, my husband, yeah, he couldn’t get away.
So, you don’t believe the information in the book.
Well, I haven’t read it, since it’s not out yet, but no. I also think she really did try to kill him. I think it all makes perfect sense. If you would have seen the way he was head over heels in love with her and the way she was enjoying all his money had to offer. I mean we were together at a party at Eli’s house in Malibu. Yes, with my husband’s line of work we are often with the cream of society. So, anyway, when we were at Eli Summer’s party,I heard she’d gone to Rodeo Drive that day to buy a new dress for the party!
She didn’t wander far from him at that party either. In my opinion, there was just too much competition with all the actresses and models there. Maybe he decided he didn’t want such a clingy wife—after he got to know her. She obviously pushed him into marrying her real fast! Maybe he was tired of the married thing. I bet that’s why she tried to kill him.
You remember—she admitted to it.
Actually, Mrs. Weston, Claire Nichols pleaded “no contest.” That isn’t an admission of guilt.
Well, it might has well been. The whole country knew she was guilty.
Even Mr. Rawlings made a public statement saying that he didn’t believe she was guilty.
I’m guessing she bribed him somehow. Like maybe with the lies that are in that book. You know, try to make him look bad. They’re saying on the news that the book can be published because of some agreement between the two of them and because she’s missing. She probably set the whole thing up. I bet she’s sitting on some island enjoying his money and laughing at all the trouble she’s stirred up!
All right, thank you for speaking, SO candidly, with us today.
Continuation of Personal Interviews by Anne Robinson-
Courtney Simmons agreed to a brief telephone interview. She lives in Iowa City, near the Rawlings estate, and is admittedly a good friend of both Claire and Anthony.
Thank you for speaking to us today.
I’m concerned about my friend. If this will help find her, I’m willing to talk.
Why are you concerned?
Because she’s missing.
Do you feel that Anthony Rawlings could be responsible for her disappearance?
I do not. Right after Claire’s disappearance, my husband and I spent a lot of time with Anthony. He was inconsolably distraught. You may have noticed, he’s also promised a large reward to information leading to Claire’s safe return.
Mrs. Simmons, you spent a great deal of time with Claire before, during, and after she was married to Anthony Rawlings, isn’t that true?
What is your opinion regarding the impending publication of Meredith Bank’s book, My Life As It Didn’t Appear?
I think it is a travesty. I know, from Claire, that she did not want the book published. She even went directly to the author and asked that publication be stopped.
Why do you believe she wanted publication stopped?
Claire was, I mean is, not comfortable with all of the attention that surrounds Anthony. She didn’t want it or like it. The press has not been kind to her.
I noticed that you didn’t say that she wanted it stopped because the information was false.
I haven’t read the book. I don’t know if it’s false or merely embellished. From the media ruckus that’s going on, you’d think there was no other news occurring. I wish they would spend more time looking for Claire than gossiping about her. That is why I agreed to this interview.
For the record, Claire Nichols is a beautiful, kind, loving person. She needs to be found and brought home safe. She does not need you, Meredith Banks, or anyone else’s disparaging remarks that are tarnishing her reputation.
Isn’t it true that your husband is employed by Rawlings Industries?
So, wouldn’t it also be true that if you were to confirm the information in Meredith’s book that your husband’s job may be at risk?
Ms. Robinson, I am speaking to you to help my friend. Do NOT turn it around to mean anything more! Good day.
Continuation of Personal Interviews by Anne Robinson-
It is a great honor to have the opportunity to speak one on one with Meredith Banks, the author of the soon to be released My Life As It Didn’t Appear –Memoir of Mrs. Anthony Rawlings.
Meredith, this must be a very busy time for you.
It has been wild.
Well, everyone is talking about your book! And I must admit, I feel duped!
Your book sounds like it will null-in-void my exclusive article from 2011.
If it makes you feel any better, your article is mentioned in my book.
Hmmm, yes, I guess that does make me feel a little better. Hasn’t your career been primarily in journalism?
So, what made you decide to write a book?
Originally, when Claire and I began talking about her story, we planned on an article. Then it was a series of articles. Once I realized the magnitude of her information and the depth of her story, a book made more sense.
I believe I read that you received a handsome advance. Are you at all concerned that the book may be caught in legal battles for so long that no one will care to read it?
I would actually like to return my advance and stop publication.
Claire entrusted me with her story for one reason—we’re friends. She came to me about a month ago and asked me to bury the book forever. I would like that to happen.
I don’t think the world wants you to do that. People are very excited about what you have to say.
Before we began discussing her past, we made a legally binding agreement. In that agreement, it specifically states that if anything were to happen to Claire or others, whom she listed, the book will go into publication. Since she has disappeared, that clause has been brought to light. Parrott Publishing is ready to release, as soon as the courts put a stop to the Rawlings attorneys’ grandstanding.
Do you believe in the accuracy of your work?
Could it be possible that Claire Nichols was lying to you? Perhaps to get back at her rich ex-husband who left her penniless?
It could be possible; however, I feel unlikely. Claire was eloquent and brave as she relayed the history of her past relationship with Mr. Rawlings. I don’t believe she could be that good of a liar.
What do you want to accomplish with this kind of a tell-all book?
Like I said, I’d like to stop its publication. That doesn’t seem to be possible; therefore, I hope to accomplish bringing the attention of the world on my friend who’s now missing. I hope that as the world reads about her difficult past, they help to bring her home.
Do you believe after all that she told you, that she wanted to be back in Iowa with Mr. Rawlings?
I do. When she came to see me last month, Claire was the happiest I’ve ever seen her. Despite their past, they’d reached a new level of togetherness.
I don’t mean to be argumentative, but could it have all been an act? I mean, could this all have been a ruse to trick Mr. Rawlings into allowing her back into his life to then publicly disgrace him—as he’d done to her?
I don’t believe so.
But, it could?
No. I believe every word I wrote and I believe that they had overcome.
And, as long as she is missing, we will never know.
Then, I hope as your readers read this interview, they take the time to say a prayer for Claire’s safe return.
Thank you, Meredith. Good luck with your book.
Ms. Robinson, I’m hoping for no publication. Luck is not what I need.