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About the author:
A member of Romantic Novelists’ Association since 2009
What inspired you to write your book?
While on holiday in Florida, I sat on the beach admiring the multi-million dollar beach homes and started thinking what if someone left me one in their will? And what if that person was someone who’d been killed in a road traffic accident? How and where did the money come from to purchase it and why hadn’t he told me about it? Thus the idea for Ring of Lies was conceived.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Mrs Elliott. Please take a seat. I’m sorry to drag you here, especially today of all days, but it’s best for all concerned if these matters are settled quickly. I hope you’ll accept my condolences on your husband’s untimely demise. It must have been a terrible shock for you.”
“Yes, it was. Your letter came as a surprise. I hadn’t been aware that Daniel had made a will.” Grace’s hands twisted in her lap. “I didn’t think it was necessary as we purchased the house in joint names and have a joint bank account.” To her dismay, her voice cracked.
“Mr Elliott made his will quite recently. Of course, it simplifies matters from a legal point of view, but I am surprised he didn’t discuss it with you first. He leaves the bulk of his estate to you. Applegate Cottage, as you pointed out, is held in joint names so your husband’s share passes to you automatically. I am sure it will come as a relief to know there are ample funds from his life insurance to pay off the outstanding sum on the mortgage, so you needn’t worry about that. There is only one other legacy, to a Miss Gwen Peterson.”
“Gwen? Daniel included my sister in his will? Do you know why?”
“A will is a very personal thing, Mrs Elliott, as I’m sure you appreciate. It is not my place to ask my clients the reason behind their decisions.”
“No, no, of course not.” Grace bent her head and studied her hands as she half listened to the solicitor. Anger and confusion surged through her. Why had Daniel felt it necessary to make a will? And why did he feel it necessary to make Gwen a beneficiary?
“—Probate should take four to six weeks to obtain and everything should be finalised within six months. I’ve already spoken to your Bank, and arranged to transfer your husband’s savings account into your name. You’ll need to make an appointment to see the manager and sign some papers, but it’s all very straightforward. With regard to the beach house in Florida, I’m afraid your attorney in America will have to handle the transfer into your name.”
Grace’s head jerked up. “A house in Florida? An attorney in America? I don’t understand.”
“It’s quite plainly in the will.”
“Then there’s some mistake. We don’t own any property overseas.”
The solicitor examined the papers in front of him. “I’m afraid you do, Mrs Elliott.” He took off his reading glasses and smiled at her benevolently. “I can assure you there’s no mistake. Your husband purchased the beach house on Gasparilla Island some months ago. I have a copy of the purchase contract here in the file. As I mentioned, Mr Parous, your American attorney, will be able to handle the transfer into your name. Now, is there anything else you’d like to ask me?”
“Yes, that’s right.” He handed Grace a business card. “I’ve already spoken to him and faxed him a copy of the will. He sounds like a very competent chap. I’m sure he’ll deal with the legalities in a prompt and professional manner.”
Grace glanced at it. Zachary Parous, Esquire, Attorney at Law. Beneath the neatly typed name were a telephone number and an address in Miami. She sat dumbfounded. A house in Florida? Why had Daniel kept it a secret from her? Her mind refused to accept what she’d been told. She was about to ask how Daniel could afford a second home when the solicitor pushed a pile of papers across the desk.
“Now if you’d just sign these, Mrs Elliott, I can get started. Mrs Elliott?”
“I’m sorry? My signature? Yes, of course.” She signed every sheet without reading it. Daniel always told her what she was signing. Daniel—
It was dark when Grace left the solicitor’s office. Numbness had finally set in. It was as if she was watching a movie of someone who looked like herself flag down a taxi and give the driver her address. The woman who looked like her, who wore her clothes and shoes thanked the driver, and paid him. Elegant hands inserted the key into the lock and the door to Applegate Cottage opened.
Flicking on the hall light, she came back to herself, the pain returning in a torrent. She dropped her bag on the table, and went straight to the study. Daniel’s study, the one room in the house she never entered, not even to dust.
Grace rested her hand on the door knob, and half expected to hear his deep-timbered voice reminding her not to enter. She’d ignored his warning only once, the ensuing argument had left her reeling. Ever since then she’d respected his wishes. All of them.
But Daniel was no longer here to wish for anything.
She pushed open the door and stepped inside. The air smelt stale. She told herself that the lingering aroma of pipe tobacco was permanently embedded in the furniture, but her feelings told her otherwise—that he was here, alive somehow, yet invisible to her. She fumbled with the catch on the window and threw it open, impervious to the frigid air that flooded the room. An old leather chair, which had once belonged to Daniel’s father, stood next to the soot-stained limestone fireplace where ashes of a half-burned log lay in the grate. A large oak desk filled the bay window; a faint film of dust covered its surface. The date on the desk calendar showed the twenty-seventh of November, the day Daniel had left for his business meeting. She tore off the pages without bothering to read the proverb printed underneath, and threw them into the wastepaper basket.
Daniel’s face, and that of her own, smiled back at her from a small silver framed photograph on the corner of the desk. She picked it up and wiped the dust from the surface with her fingertips.
“What other secrets have you kept from me?”