Shadow of Suspicion (Haunted by the Past)

BOOK: Shadow of Suspicion (Haunted by the Past)
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Shadow
of Suspicion

Haunted
by the Past Book 2

By

Danielle
Rose-West

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and
incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

 

Shadow of Suspicion

Copyright © 2014 by Danielle Rose-West

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or
reviews.

 

Publishing History: First Edition

Kindle Edition

Cover Design by Danielle Rose-West

 

Books by Danielle Rose-West

 

The Fairy
Tale Match Series

Wild Fire
(book 1)

Forever You
(book 2)

Coming Soon

Phoenix
Rising (book 3)

 

Haunted
by the Past Series

Hidden in
Shadows (book1)

Shadow of
Suspicion (book 2)

Book 3 Coming
Soon

Chapter One

 

“So, what are you going to do about
it?”

Callie stared at the letter in her
hand; the words blurred together into one unintelligible mess. She glanced
across the kitchen table to glimpse the worried frown marring her flatmate’s
face.

“I really don’t know. This is so
completely unexpected, Jade.” She shook her head. “It’s been five years. How
can it have taken this long for her to respond?”

“If you ask me, I think you should
forget about it. Dump the thing in the bin and have done with it.” Jade bit
into her toast, her expressive green eyes glinting with anger. Her cheek puffed
out on one side as she chewed and talked at the same time. “If the woman can’t
even be bothered to answer you when you first wrote to her, why should you
bother with her now?”

Callie pushed her own breakfast plate
away from her. Her appetite had deserted her the minute she’d opened the post
and saw the correspondence she’d long thought would never come. She sighed and
stuck her head in her hands. Curling her fingers into her hair, Callie regarded
her friend.

“It’s not as simple as that and you
know it.” She ignored Jade’s derisive snort. “She’s my real mother. I can’t
just leave this.”

“She’s not your mother. She’s simply
the woman that gave birth to you and then gave you up for adoption before you
were even an hour old.” Jade flicked her long blonde hair over her shoulder and
scowled. “Why would you
want
to have contact with her?”

“I can’t believe you’re asking me
that. Sandra can give me answers that nobody else can.” Callie waved the letter
in Jade’s direction. “I thought you of all people would understand my need for
answers.”

Jade flicked her gaze away from
Callie, her expression darkening. She dropped her half eaten toast onto her
plate and licked the crumbs from her fingers, not once lifting her gaze from
the table. Callie’s heart squeezed.

“I’m sorry,” she said tentatively. “I
didn’t mean to upset you. It’s just with your own circumstances, I thought
you’d understand my need to fill in the blanks.”

“It’s hardly the same thing.” Jade’s
voice was so low, Callie had to strain to hear her.

“I know it’s not the same, but still
if you had the chance wouldn’t you reach out to find your missing past?”

“No, I’m not sure that I would.” Jade
finally met Callie’s gaze, her eyes burning with torment. “I was found
wandering along the road, covered with blood and completely alone. Nobody came
to claim me, no incident could be found that explained the state I was in, and
I can’t remember a thing about my life before the age of fourteen. I’m not sure
under those circumstances that I ever want to know what happened.”

“I don’t believe that’s true. If it
was, why do you still wear this?” Callie leaned over the table and gently
tapped the necklace hanging around her friend’s throat. “Surely it’s because
it’s a link to your past. Something in you must need to know what happened and
who you really are.”

Jade fingered the pendant, her eyes
distant. “I guess I wear it because if it wasn’t for the engraving on it, I
wouldn’t even know my first name.” Her lips twisted into a bitter half smile.
“But that doesn’t mean I want to know anything else.”

Callie lifted the letter and scanned
the words once more. She wished she hadn’t brought the subject up. She should
have known better than to raise Jade’s lack of a past.

“I guess that’s fair enough,” she said
awkwardly. “We are all different. Unlike you, I can’t stand the unanswered
questions. I need to know the things only she can tell me.”

“You know you’re setting yourself up
for a fall, don’t you? This woman didn’t want you. She didn’t even bother to answer
your letter for over five years. Surely that tells you something?” Jade snapped
open her handheld vanity mirror and applied a soft pink lipstick, her eyebrows
raised at Callie to emphasise her point.

Callie closed her eyes, seeing the
words scrawled across the page in her hand as if they’d been imprinted on the
back of her eyelids. An invitation to travel to Devon and meet the mother she’d
never even seen. After all this time, she had the chance to find out why her
mother had given her up for adoption and the identity of her father. Had he
known her mother was pregnant? Had he been in on the decision to give her up?
So many holes left unfilled. She had to go. There really was no choice.

“I hear what you’re saying, but it’s
not like I see her as my mother,” Callie assured her friend. “My parents are
and always will be Hilary and Peter Price. If I keep that in mind, what harm
can she do?”

Jade pulled away the tissue she’d
placed between her lips to blot any excess lipstick. She snorted rather loudly.
“Families can be the most damaging things in existence. Haven’t you ever
watched Jeremy Kyle?”

Callie rolled her eyes. Jade’s
penchant for watching daytime TV never ceased to amaze her. She was forever
telling Callie about some strange or horrifying thing she’d heard about. Callie
was sure it was down to the missing fourteen years of Jade’s life. She was
endlessly fascinated with families and their intricacies, probably because she
didn’t have a family of her own that she could remember.

“No, I leave that to you,” Callie
said drily. Jade pulled a face and Callie laughed. She drew her laptop closer
to her and opened it. She pressed the on switch and waited for it to boot up.

“So, you’re really going to go?” Jade
thrust her chin towards the letter. Callie nodded and tapped her password into
her computer. “How long for?” Her friend sounded worried.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to say how
long something like this will take.” Callie shrugged and sipped at her coffee.
She grimaced and shuddered as she realised she’d let it grow cold. She placed
the mug next to her forgotten breakfast.

“What about work?” Jade rose from the
table and slipped her feet into her high heeled shoes.

“I have a client that’s been
requesting my services for a large bed and breakfast in Devon. It’s actually on
the outskirts of the village where Sandra lives. It seems like fate really. I
am going to email him to let him know I am taking the project on.” Callie
clicked onto the internet and glanced up at Jade.

“That means you’ll be gone a while,
doesn’t it.” Jade grabbed her jacket from the back of her chair. Her face had
turned a nasty shade of grey. “Your interior design projects are never short.”
She slipped the jacket on. Guilt tugged at Callie’s heart at the misery she
could see on Jade’s face.

She scrambled to her feet and wrapped
Jade’s stiff body in her arms. She knew Jade found physical touch difficult,
but she really felt her friend needed the hug right now. Callie and Jade had
been friends for the past four years. In many ways, they were like sisters.
Callie had never had any siblings and Jade had no family at all, so they
fulfilled a role for each other that would otherwise be missing. They understood
what made the other tick. Callie knew it would be hard for her friend to be without
her for a while.

She pulled back and blinked away the
tears that blurred her vision. “I’ll call you every day,” she promised, tucking
a stray strand of hair behind Jade’s ear. She squeezed her arm. “I’ll be back
before you know it.”

Jade shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve
got a strange feeling about all this. Like things are going to change
dramatically for us if you go.” She sniffed and pulled a tissue from her
pocket. “I can’t help feeling our lives are undergoing a huge change and
neither of us are in control of it.”

Jade dabbed delicately at the corners
of her eyes. Callie’s heart sank in her chest like a stone at her friend’s
words. Now she felt bleak!

“I have to do this. Please understand
that I really don’t feel I have a choice in this,” Callie implored.

“I do understand. I just hope this
turns out the way you want it to.” Jade smiled grimly, her lips trembled ever
so slightly. Callie knew that was the only sign Jade would give to her inner
turmoil. “I have to get going or I’ll be late. We’ll talk later?”

“Sure.” Callie lifted her hand in
farewell as Jade hurried out of their apartment door and left for work.

She sighed and collapsed back onto
her chair with one foot hooked behind the other. Accessing her emails, she
quickly typed out a letter to her client, accepting the job for the B&B in
Devon. She would wait for Mr Cunningham to advise her of a start date before
she contacted Sandra Fuller.

Her stomach twisted, the enormity of
what she was about to embark on hit her full force. Her hands shook as she
clicked the send button and watched as her email disappeared from the screen of
her computer. It was done. There was no turning back.

She lifted the letter once more and
re-read it for what felt like the hundredth time. Her brow wrinkled. Why now?
Why after five years had her mother decided to write back to her? What had
changed? Anxiety gnawed at her insides and she wondered if she was doing the
right thing.

“I guess I’ll soon find out,” she
whispered as she folded the letter and stuffed it back into its envelope.

Chapter Two

 

“I don’t believe it!” Lucinda glared
at Jason as if he was personally responsible for the interruption. Her short
dark hair sprang up around her head, even more spikey than usual. It made her
appear like an angry hedgehog with its quills raised. Jason sighed and sat up.
He pulled his t-shirt over his head as the doorbell rang through the small flat
for the second time.

“What’s the betting it’s your
sister………….
again!
” Lucinda continued to rant. She hit the bed with her
fists. Her large breasts bounced with her ire.

Jason ignored the shrill note in her
voice and pulled on his trousers. He couldn’t be bothered to respond when she
was in this frame of mind. Lucinda could be petulant or manipulative when she
didn’t get her way. Sure enough, she rose off the bed and threw her arms around
his neck, giving him a coy smile.

“Can’t you just ignore it? She’ll go
away,” she purred. “I’ll make it worth your while.” She wiggled her hips into
his groin.

Jason untangled her arms and pushed
her away with a small pat to her bare behind. “If it is Fay, there is no way
I’m ignoring it. You know she needs a firm hand right now. I can’t trust my
father to be the one to do it. Now, put your clothes on.”

He picked up her clothes and threw
them to her. They slapped her chest and landed in a pool on her lap. A low
growl emitted from her throat and her eyes narrowed into slits.

Jason quickly left the bedroom before
she could start a new tirade. He shut the door behind him to afford her some
privacy while she dressed. He crossed the living room and opened the front door
just as the bell rang again.

“You took your time!” A small figure
stomped in. Her black boots thumped across the floor, sounding like a herd of
elephants had just invaded the flat. She flung the coat draped across her arm
at his head. Jason caught the garment in mid-air.

“Nice to see you too, Fay,” Jason
remarked drily.

Fay ignored him. He hung her black
leather jacket on one of the hooks he had up on the wall by the front door. Not
for the first time, he wished his sister wouldn’t wear the gothic style she was
apparently so fond of. She was such a pretty girl, it was a shame to spoil
herself with the heavy dark make-up and piercings she favoured so much. Jason
continuously told her that looking as if she’d been punched in both eyes was
not really attractive to most guys. Fay simply laughed and ignored him.

“Well, what can I do for you?” Jason
eyed her with misgivings. Usually when Fay turned up, it meant trouble wasn’t
far behind.

His sister stood in the middle of the
living room with her hands planted on her hips. Her small freckled nose
wrinkled up as she drew in a deep breath.

“Oh, no.
She’s
here, isn’t
she? I can smell that stench she calls perfume!” Fay rolled her eyes, disgust
written all over her face.

“I’m not happy to see you either,
sweetheart
.”
Lucinda swept out of the bedroom and sent a withering glare at Fay. Jason
closed his eyes briefly and silently prayed for deliverance. He hated it when
the two of them were in the same vicinity. They always brought out the worst in
each other’s nature.

“Don’t start, either of you.” Jason
cut his hand through the air, but he may as well have been talking to the wall.
Neither one paid him the slightest bit of notice.

“If you don’t mind, I would like to
talk to my brother
alone.
” Fay pointed at the door she’d just breezed
through.

“Don’t think I’m leaving just because
you order it, you stuck up little minx!” Lucinda’s eyes narrowed dangerously.

“Well, I need to speak to Jason about
an urgent
family
matter. It doesn’t concern you, so I think it’s best
that you go.” Fay turned pleading big brown eyes in his direction. “I wouldn’t
have come over if it wasn’t important.”

Jason sighed and braced himself for
what came next. He turned to Lucinda. “I’d better hear this. We’ll catch up
tomorrow?”

“What!” Her screech hurt his ears.
“You’re not seriously asking me to leave? Don’t you want to carry on what we
started before we were rudely interrupted by an annoying,
unwanted
visitor?”

“Ewww, too much information!” Fay
pulled a face and plopped down onto the sofa with all the grace of a sumo
wrestler. “It would seem you owe me big time, brother. I’m saving you from a
fate worse than death.”

Jason stepped quickly forward to
intercept Lucinda’s charge at his sister. Fay smirked and stuck her tongue out.
Lucinda’s face turned an unbecoming shade of red and her fingers curled into
fists.

“Why don’t you take that little madam
to task?” she hissed at Jason. “She needs a good slap! Then maybe she’ll be
more respectful to others.”

“Oh, I am respectful………….to those
that deserve it.” Fay leaned forward in her seat, her little face grim. “And
I’d really love for you to try and slap me. Just see what you’ll get if you
do.”

“Nobody is hitting anyone.” Jason
manoeuvred Lucinda to the door. He grabbed her bag and shoes, and pushed them
into her protesting arms. “I’ll call you.”

He shut the door in her angry,
disbelieving face. He could hear her sputtering in the corridor. A loud thump
echoed around the room and the door shook violently. Boy, was he going to pay
for this.

“You’d better be here with something
important, shrimp.” He glared at Fay, but she smiled at him cockily.

He might have known she wouldn’t take
him seriously. A full ten years younger than him, Fay knew she could wrap him
around her little finger. All his attempts to be stern with her generally fell
on deaf ears. At the end of the day, she knew he was a soft touch when it came
to her.

Jason sank onto the sofa next to her
and balanced one foot on the opposite knee. He propped his elbow on his leg and
tucked his chin in his hand. “Well, what is it?”

“I just wanted to get away.” She
stared down at her hands and twisted one of the numerous rings on her fingers
in a continuous circuit. “Dad and Sandra are having a major fight right now and
I didn’t want to be caught in the middle of it. It’s awkward.”

Jason stared hard at her face. If he
hadn’t been watching her so closely, he would have missed the small, satisfied
little smile that twitched on the corners of her mouth.

“What have you done?” He glared at
her sternly. She glanced up at him, all innocence.

“Why do you always think every fight
they have is down to me?” She clasped a hand to her chest with a wounded
expression.

“Because it usually is,” Jason said
wryly. He arched a brow at her, conveying silently for her to tell him the
truth. Fay threw her hands up.

“It’s not me this time. Dad’s the one
who’s blundered.” She clapped a hand over her mouth, but her giggles still
spilled out. “Although, I am enjoying the results immensely.”

“Fay!” Jason fought to keep a
straight face, but his sister’s laughter was very infectious. He coughed to
cover his own amusement. “So, what’s he done?”

Fay held her sides and let her mirth
tumble out for several minutes. She sucked in a breath and blew it out before
she could speak. “You remember I told you Dad found a letter stuffed into that
box he dropped when Sandra moved in with us?”

“The one from Sandra’s daughter?”
Jason quirked a brow at her.

“That’s the one. Dad got it into his
head that if she kept the letter all this time, she must secretly want to get
in touch with her long lost little girl.” She started giggling again. “He only
went and wrote to the woman, inviting her to come down and visit in order to
meet her mother. When he broke the news that she has written back to say she’s
coming, I thought Sandra was going to explode. They are having an almighty blow
up even as we speak. I reckon they’ll be over before morning.”

He half expected Fay to rub her hands
together. “And you had nothing whatsoever to do with this?” He sat forward and
gripped her chin so she couldn’t evade his scrutiny. Her lip poked out
mutinously, the small gold stud gracing her mouth winked in the lamplight. She
pulled her face out of his grip and dropped her gaze.

“Okay, fine.” She shifted about on
the seat and pulled her short black skirt further down her legs. “I may have
planted the idea in Dad’s head about contacting Sandra’s daughter as a
surprise.”

“Why, shrimp?” He kept his tone
light. He didn’t want to discourage her from opening up to him.

“Why do you think? While Dad is with
Sandra, he and Mum will never work things out.” Her voice broke slightly with
her confession.

Jason sighed, his heart heavy. He
wasn’t surprised at her reason. He just didn’t know what to do about it.

“Even if Sandra and Dad broke up, he
wouldn’t get back with Mum. Surely you know that, Fay.”

He hated having to be the one to
always deal with the tough stuff where his sister was concerned. Fay had been
an unexpected pregnancy at a time when his parents hadn’t wanted any more
children. His mother had thought she was going through the change. It had been
a nasty shock when she’d realised she was having a baby and it was too late to
do anything about it. As a result, Fay had been more or less left to her own
devices. At fifteen, she needed guidance and a strong hand and he was the only
one willing to do it.

Fay sprang out of her seat and paced
the room. She wrung her hands, her eyes firmly clamped to the floor. “You don’t
know that things are completely over with them. People do make a second go of
relationships, you know. Lots of couples get back together all the time!”

Jason climbed to his feet and pulled
her resisting body into his embrace. He hugged her close and tucked her head
under his chin. Their parent’s break up had hit Fay a lot harder than she was
willing to admit. She still needed her mother, even if she pretended she
didn’t.

Jason cursed silently. What was he
supposed to do with a young girl on the brink of becoming a woman? Why his
mother had to up sticks and head to France, leaving them all behind, he just
couldn’t imagine. There had only ever been one child in her life and when he’d
died, the rest of them had ceased to exist.

“I hate Jenna Mansfield!” Jason
wasn’t really surprised at Fay’s vehement declaration. Every time the subject
of their parents’ separation rose up, Jenna’s name did too.

Jason sighed. It was time to talk
frankly with Fay. He couldn’t let this carry on. He pulled back and gazed into
her deep brown eyes, so like his own.

“You have to stop blaming Jenna for
what happened with Adam,” he told her bluntly. “She was not at fault. Adam was
and to a degree, so were our parents.”

Fay flung his arms away from her and
shot back several paces. “How can you say that? If it hadn’t been for her, Adam
would still be alive. Mum and Dad would still be together! You know that!”

“No, that’s not true. Jenna simply
told Adam that she didn’t want to be his girlfriend. Was that really so
terrible? Would you go out with a guy you didn’t have feelings for?”

Fay glared at him, but he forged
ahead. “Adam should have taken her rejection with good grace and simply been
happy with being friends. He didn’t. He threw a huge tantrum. It was his own
idiocy that killed him.” He shook his head sadly and hooked his thumbs into the
waistband of his jeans. “If Mum hadn’t spoilt him so much and made him think he
could have anything he wanted, maybe he would have dealt with Jenna’s rejection
better.”

“Is that what you really think?” Fay
asked, her face white and strained.

“It is,” he assured her.

He only wished he’d had the guts to
say it before, especially to Jenna. It bothered him no end that the poor woman
had suffered such a terrible breakdown and still thought every member of Adam’s
family blamed her for his death. Jason never had and he should have told her
that at the time.

“Why did you never say this before?”
Fay’s eyes shot accusations at him.

“Because nobody ever wanted to hear a
word against Adam. He’s been immortalised as a hero who died tragically instead
of the truth.” He sighed. “He was spoilt rotten because of his talent as a
diver. I doubt you remember that about him, considering you were so young at
the time. I’m tired of hearing Jenna blamed when all she did was stand up for
herself and tell him no. Heaven knows, it would have done him good if a few
other people had done the same throughout his life. I truly believe he would
still be alive now if they had.”

Fay sank back onto the sofa, the
fight seeping out of her body. She leaned her elbows on her knees. A tear
slipped down her cheek and she wiped it away impatiently with the back of her
hand. She opened her mouth but the doorbell rang and stopped her words.

“That better not be Lucinda back
again!” Fay growled, her hands curling into fists.

Irritated, Jason stomped to the door.
He didn’t have the patience to go through another round with Lucinda. He peeked
through the spyhole and groaned.

“It’s Dad,” he told Fay as he opened
the door. His father marched in and dumped a bag onto the living room floor.
Douglas Hawkes ran a hand through his thick silver grey hair. His furious gaze
landed on Jason and his lips pursed underneath his thin handlebar moustache.

BOOK: Shadow of Suspicion (Haunted by the Past)
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