Kicking off the week with an excerpt from a chance encounter.
Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, that is until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?
Mark works for Haynes’s vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers.
His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend whom she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret.
For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?
Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives in danger.
Overhearing conversations in a car is an occupational hazard for a bodyguard and chauffeur. Julianna has to hide her feelings, and her curiosity, when Jackson Haynes infers things to his wife, knowing that Julianna, his secret spy, is listening in.
‘You invited Mark. Why?’ Hettie asked.
‘You know why,’ Jackson said, in an off-hand manner.
‘I don’t. You know I don’t understand these games you play with people. It’s cruel. If you’d help—’
Jackson spoke softly. ‘It’s for the best. He has to find out for himself. I’m just keeping an eye on things.’
The frustrating snippets of information seemed almost for Julianna’s benefit, not Hettie’s.
‘He thinks you’re his friend. Our friend. I don’t like it,’ Hettie said.
‘He’s a grown man. I’m giving him opportunities, contacts. It’s his choice if he uses them.’
Julianna’s heart skipped a beat when he mentioned contacts. She flicked the A/C vent towards her face and hoped the icy blast masked her reaction.
Hettie made no attempt to lower her voice. ‘But now you say his sister is involved.’
‘Ellen? She’s on the fringe. Chris pointed out the family is partly estranged. In any case, she’s barely out of her teens.’
Julianna smothered a gasp. His sister! So she had overheard Mark arranging to meet his sister. It made a difference. A big difference. If he was free…
‘Well,’ Hettie said markedly, ‘I’m just saying all this because I like Mark. He’s a good accountant. I gave him a painting when you took him off me for this new job.’
‘Good with numbers, yes. People? He needs more guidance. He needs to meet the right people.’
‘And what if he meets the wrong people? Isn’t that just as dangerous after what happened?’
Jackson made a “pfft” sound. ‘I made sure the police didn’t expose him. I need him to stay sharp, though.’
Against her wishes, the hairs on the back of Julianna’s neck stood on end.
‘Well, don’t let this get out of hand, Jackson, or I shall be very cross.’
Rae Shaw is a pen name for the author Rachel Walkley.
Rachel is based in the North West of England. She read her first grown-up detective novel at the age of eleven, which proved to be a catalyst for filling many shelves with crime books, which still occupy her home and grow in number whenever she visits a book shop.
As well as crime, Rachel likes to unplug from the real world and writes mysteries that have a touch of magic woven into family secrets.