I’ve been writing for 13 years, nine of which have been
serious, with the help of three correspondence writing courses to guide me
towards where I am now, weaving tales for young adults.
My hobbies, outside of writing and researching for my
novels, are very few. Foremost, of course, for any writer is reading, but also
collecting books by timeless authors such as Enid Blyton and C S Lewis to name a
few, as well as a few modern authors too like Nora Roberts and Nicholas Sparks.
I also enjoy word puzzles and creating make-believe
creatures, people and places for my more... unique paranormal/fantasy stories
waiting to be written.
Family Secrets may be my second published novel
after By Touch Alone (published under Jean Chapman) but it was, in fact,
the very first novel I wrote when I made the decision to make my hobby a career.
I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I had while
I’d like to thank everyone at Zeus Publications for once
more seeing potential in my work and bringing Family Secrets to book
I’d also like to thank all my family and friends for their
support during the time in which this book was born and written, in particular
four special ladies: Ann Casey, Mum (Shirley Chapman), Helen Holmes and Helen
Bartels. Without their input through the first edit process, there would be no
Family Secrets novel.
Île Mystique in Family Secrets has no relation of
any kind – demographic, people, and such – to the Île Mystique situated in the
Caribbean. When I created the plot for this story, I had no idea the name I
chose for the D’Montfaire’s family already existed as an island.
Also, please realise any royal protocol, titles, historical
events, and the use of the languages – French and Spanish – in these pages are
of my own research, so if there are errors, they are my own.
FRIDAY, MARCH 9TH, 2007
The man at the large, imposing, red oak desk snatched
up the brass-handled phone before it could admit another shrill.
‘You’re late in contacting,’ he barked into the
receiver, and heard the quivering, apologetic voice reply on the other end of
the long-distance call.
‘Make sure it does not occur again. We cannot afford
As a bleat of confirmation to the order came, the man
behind the desk relaxed into his seat.
‘Now, what news have you got for me? Have you found
‘Yes,’ the voice whispered in reply. ‘The young woman
is without doubt the exact image of our Lady, the same wheat-blonde hair and
high, slender cheekbones, the markings, and she has the same round, brilliant,
sapphire eyes as his.’
Tense muscles relaxed further.
‘Good, good. You know what you must do and do it
delicately. Discreetly. You are to stay at a distance until she gives consent
for you to approach. Understand.’
‘Yes, sir. We begin correspondence tomorrow.’
The connection severed and the man at the desk raised
weary eyes to the life-sized portrait of an imposing, dignified-looking man on
the opposite wall to his desk.
He whispered, ‘It has begun once more. Pray it goes
better than the others did.’
TUESDAY, APRIL 3RD
From a fitful sleep, Eve Daniels woke to confusion,
her room full of gloomy shadows as dawn appeared to be just breaking outside her
open windows, and voices at a muted roar fell on her ears. They were muffled
because of her closed bedroom door.
With a hand to her head, wondering if she was hearing
the neighbours yelling at each other, she blinked at the discovery she was lying
on top of the bedcovers and still in the clothes she had worn to work yesterday.
Confused, she glanced at the red numbers of her alarm clock to find it was
She groaned and was about to fall back down to the
comfort of her pillow when the voices came again, sounding louder and more
familiar. Eve stumbled to the door, opened it a breath and stood, stunned.
Her step-parents were arguing, as they had daily for
the past two weeks. The shocking discovery of Janet and Greg arguing again, when
they had never seemed to argue at all before, forced her to creep from her room
and down the hall, on tiptoe, avoiding every creaking floorboard. She made it to
the corner just in time to hear her stepdad, Greg, snap, ‘You have to tell Eve
Eve froze and peeked around the corner of the
hallway, to see him standing in the archway of the kitchen, his back to her. She
swallowed in disbelief to find yet again that she was the cause of their
fighting. And given the way her stepmum, Janet, had refused to speak a word of
the other argument she (Eve) had walked in on, Eve sat down on the floor, her
back against the wall, around the corner and out of sight, to unashamedly
eavesdrop and see if she could hear what no one wanted to say in her presence.
* * *
‘I don’t have to anything, Greg Alistair!’ Janet
snapped. ‘As her mother, it’s my right to judge what’s right or not. And what’s
not right is telling Eve about her dad.’
‘And birth mother, Janet. Don’t forget her birth
mother. You know Eve isn’t rightfully your child.’
Janet went wild at the arrow of truth she had always
tried to forget.
‘How dare you! How dare you, Greg. I have been the
only mother she has ever known from the time when she was barely two weeks old.
So I may not have the same blood as her, but that doesn’t make a parent, it is
how you raise and nurture a child that makes you a parent.’
Greg glanced over his shoulder, down the hall, then
to the clock on the wall.
‘I know that blood doesn’t have anything to do with
raising a child, Janet. But think about it. You have always lied to Eve, even
now with her as an adult you still let the lies roll off your tongue. A mother
of any kind shouldn’t do that. Don’t you think for her sake, for her heritage,
you should tell her the truth, the proper truth of her past?’ Greg demanded.
‘Show her the letters you received last month.’
‘No! I can’t show her the letters. I won’t lose her!’
Janet cried, panic creeping into her voice. ‘A mother would lie if it meant
protecting her child and I am protecting Eve by doing this. As long as Eve
lives, the truth isn’t going to be told and she’ll be safe.’
Frustrated, Greg shoved a hand through his peppered
‘Janet, be reasonable. Surely you’ve noticed a change
in her since she caught us arguing?’ he ventured.
‘I have, and that’s because of just that. Us,
‘No, it isn’t.’
‘Yes, it is, Greg,’ Janet repeated, stubbornly
turning to the sink to fill the kettle for her morning Earl Grey tea.
‘Fine, but Eve should know. She has a right to know
her heritage; the one you have been feeding her all these years is just a bunch
of lies. I...’
‘Don’t you dare tell Eve!’ Janet shrieked, spinning
around, forgetting Eve could even be awake. The panic she felt right then
blanked her mind of everything but keeping life as it was, keeping Eve oblivious
to the truth she was hiding. ‘She can’t know. I won’t let what happened to...’
‘Her parents happened to her. Ah, at last, the truth
is coming out!’ Greg exploded. ‘For goodness sake, Janet, how do you even know
there’s a sinister side to that accident – what happened to her parents with
that drive-by? You can’t keep using that as an excuse.’
‘I can because of what was told to me.’
‘That information could be wrong; her parents’ death
could have been coincidental and have nothing to do with who Eve’s true family
is. She could be completely safe from whatever harm you think will happen to her
if you tell her the truth. Heritage is too important to be kept a secret.’
Greg stared at Janet and saw he was getting nowhere.
The stubborn glint still shone in her eyes. He tried a different approach. He
had to get her to see reason.
‘How would you feel if someone did what you’re doing
to Eve about your life, parents and ancestors? Spin lies to suit themselves?
Tell me that. Life isn’t about guarantees. Nothing is set in stone; you have no
control over it, so stop trying to have it.’
‘Greg Alistair! All that is beside the point. This
isn’t about me trying to make guarantees, setting things into stone. It’s about
‘Yes, it is about Eve and the right she has to know
everything about her true past. You have to tell her or I will.’
Janet gasped as if mortally wounded, turning deathly
‘You have no right to say such things to me. Threaten
me like this. Eve is my daughter and you have no right to interfere. She isn’t
even your stepdaughter since she wouldn’t take your name! She’s nothing to you
as you’re nothing to her. She’s mine!’
The angry, selfish, hysterical words hung in the air
and tension pulsed in the room as now, equally white-faced, Greg stared at his
wife of 11 years as if she were a complete stranger.
Without a word, he turned and walked down the hall
towards the bedrooms. Janet took flight after him, fear consuming her that he
was going to carry out his threat.
‘Greg... You’re not... Please don’t tell Eve... You
can’t! Her life...’ she stuttered.
Greg turned the corner and went into their bedroom.
He pulled a bag from the wardrobe and began stuffing clothes inside. He ignored
the fact Janet was at his side, begging him not to go when she realised what he
was doing. With the bag full, he stormed to the front door and slammed it behind
* * *
Eve had just made it back to her room and closed the
door when she heard Greg angrily reach the other bedroom and pack his things.
She listened for what seemed like hours, with half an ear pressed to her door,
while her mind churned over what she had heard of the argument. So much had been
revealed and… like what the phone call at work, and the text messages had warned
The front door slammed and silence descended, only to
be broken by Janet’s wailing sobs. The words of Eve’s call and text messages
spun in her mind.
You need to know the truth. Those you love cannot
be trusted. They tell lies. You are not who you think you are. Those you have
trusted for so long are liars. Questions need to be asked.
As the last passages circled twice in her mind, and
with hurt growing at hearing straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, that
Janet was lying to her, Eve decided to do just that.
Very carefully, with minimal noise as possible, she
changed into fresh clothes, brushed her knotted hair to neatness and slipped out
of her room to find the door of Janet and Greg’s room open. Her stepmother was
lying on the bed, head buried in the pillows that did nothing to muffle the
sounds of her crying. Slowly, Eve walked down the hall, knocked loudly on the
doorframe and softly said, ‘Mum?’
Janet bolted upright and scrubbed at her face but it
seemed the moment she saw Eve, the tears ran again.
‘Greg’s left me!’ she whimpered.
Just the tone of her voice and the fast-flowing tears
had Eve doing what she had always done when Janet was upset; she sat down beside
her on the bed and took Janet into her arms.
Very gently, she murmured, ‘I know, I know, I heard.’
Then with hesitancy, mainly due to Janet’s distraught state at Greg’s departure,
although propelled by the reason behind that action, she said, ‘I heard why too.
Me and my biological family...’