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Dark Memories by Linda Hope Lee Adult Romantic Suspense Paperback & ebook, 210 Pages March 25th 2016 by The Wild Rose Press, Inc Held responsible for a student's tragic death, teacher Deborah Kent was fired from an exclusive girls' school in Fairfield, Vermont and left town in disgrace. Now, she’s back in Fairfield with the intention of operating a bed and breakfast from her guardian's Victorian home. When threatening notes indicate someone isn’t happy with her return, Deborah suspects her student’s death was no accident. The man she turns to is the one least likely to help. Horse breeder Milo Jordan has long harbored anger toward the woman he blames for his younger sister's death. Too many questions have gone unanswered, but now Deborah appears to hold the key to the truth. Can he put aside his anger, and his growing attraction, and work with her to solve the puzzle of the deadly event?
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Chapter One, Part 5
Deborah studied her coffee cup as she considered what to tell him. She must be careful to not say too much. She feared he wouldn’t be interested in her if he knew about Carla and the accident. “The woman who owned the house was my guardian,” she said. “She passed away a few months ago and left me the house in her will.”
“I see.” He waited, eyebrows raised.
The gesture meant he obviously expected more. But as far as Deborah was concerned, she had already revealed enough. Of course, if they continued their association, he would eventually learn more. But not now. Not when they’d just met. She set her mug and empty plate on the coffee table. “This has been really pleasant, but I should be going.”
“Really? Well, okay. If you must.” Disappointment shadowed his eyes.
Oh, oh, maybe she was being too sensitive, too cautious.
But then he smiled again. “Come out some other time. We’ll go riding.”
“I’d like that.”
Their gazes met and they exchanged smiles. Warmth flowed through Deborah, renewing the hope that they might establish a friendship yet.
Milo put his plate and cup on the coffee table and stood. “Wait here while I get my car keys, and then we’ll be on our way.”
When she was alone, Deborah walked to the picture window and gazed out. Several maple trees shaded an expanse of grass. Lawn chairs, a picnic table, and a portable barbecue were grouped together, offering a place to relax and enjoy an outdoor meal.
She turned back to the room, and her gaze fell on the bookshelves. Curious to know Milo’s taste in reading, she approached the nearest section. Tipping back her head, she studied the titles. His taste ran from western and mystery novels to history and, not surprisingly, the care and training of horses.
On the shelf above, a gold-framed photo caught her eye. At first, she focused on the pretty frame, with its delicate, embossed flowers. Then she moved her gaze to the picture, a portrait of a teenaged girl. Dark, curly hair framed an oval face with large brown eyes and a wide, expressive mouth. Recognition clanged like a bell in Deborah’s mind, and she gasped.
But no, the girl couldn’t be Carla.
She was mistaken. She had to be mistaken.
With shaking hands, Deborah picked up the picture and gave it closer scrutiny.
No doubt about it, the teen was Carla Cassidy. But why was her picture on Milo’s bookshelf? Were they related? They could be. They had the same thick, black hair, the same brown eyes.
Deborah had met Carla’s mother and stepfather and heard Carla had an older brother. But at the time of the accident, he’d been overseas in the army. For some reason—illness, maybe—he did not come home for the funeral.
Milo said he’d been in the army. He must be the older brother.
Nausea churned in Deborah’s stomach and the room closed in. She must get out of there. Now.
“Okay, I’m ready to go.” Milo’s cheerful voice rang out from the doorway.
Deborah froze, gripping the picture so hard the embossed flowers on the frame dug into her fingers.
“What’s the matter?” Milo crossed the room to her side. “You look as though you’d seen a ghost.”
When she didn’t reply, she watched his gaze leave her face and travel to the picture. She braced herself for what he might say next.
His eyes clouded and his shoulders sagged. “That’s my sister, Carla. She died in an accident while she was attending Wainwright Academy. That’s an exclusive girls’ school nearby. Maybe you’ve heard of it.”
“Yes,” she whispered. “I have . . . heard of it.”
“She and her classmates were on a fieldtrip to Rainbow Falls,” Milo went on. “Carla fell from a cliff and landed at the bottom of the falls . . .” He looked away to gaze out the window.
A black cloud of despair settled over Deborah. No use hiding the truth any longer. She swallowed hard. “I k-know . . . about the accident.”
Milo’s narrowed eyes pinned her like an insect trapped by a collector’s pin. Trembling, she met his gaze.
Finally, he spoke. “Okay, I just figured it out. You’re Deborah Kent. And you know about Carla’s death because you’re the teacher who is responsible.”
Linda Hope Lee writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and mysteries. She enjoys traveling especially to small towns in search of story ideas. She's also an artist, specializing in watercolor, pen and ink, and colored pencil. Photography provides inspiration for both her writing and her art. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where many of her stories are set.
Other Books by the Author
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$50 Amazon eGift Card 3 copies of Dark Memories (print if US, ebook if international) Open internationally Ends April 16th