119 pages
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Secrets, Lies and Loves

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When Meghan Shelby inherits the family home, she returns to her hometown after a ten year absence. Not only does she find the house is in a rundown, dilapidated condition, there’s a dead body in it. She also discovers a heart-shaped locket with a picture of a man and a journal that reveals secrets and deceit from years ago and learns why her parents never returned.

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Publié par
Date de parution 08 avril 2012
Nombre de lectures 8
EAN13 9781772998962
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Secrets, Lies and Love
Roseanne Dowell Digital ISBNs EPUB 978-1-77299-896-2 MOBI 978-1-77299-897-9 WEB/PDF 978-1-77299-898-6 Amazon Print 978-1-77299-894-8 BWL Print 978-1-77299-895-5
Copyright 2012 by Roseanne Dowell
Cover art Copyright 2012 by Michelle Lee
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights un der copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or in troduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electron ic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. Dedication and Acknowledgements This book is dedicated to my family for their love and encouragement to keep writing. Without your support, I never would have finished this book. A very special thank you to my author friends, Ging er Simpson, Judy Winn, and Gail Brannan for taking their time to read and edit this book.
Chapter One “My gracious, Meghan Shelby is that you?” Aunt Clar a grabbed Meghan’s hands and spun her around. “Let me look at you, child. I heard you were coming back.” Meghan smiled. Aunt Clara would never change. Still the same nasally voice, as if she had a clothespin on her nose. Still looked the same too. Same slight build, same gray hair pulled into a bun on top of her head. Eve n the same wrinkles on her tanned face. Meghan stopped in front of the old woman. “Ye p, it’s me, Aunt Clara. How are you?” “Gracious me, look at you, all grown up and all. Pretty young thing too. You look just like your mother.” Heat burned Meghan’s face, and she looked away. She hated when people complimented her. Didn’t like attention drawn to he r. “I’d like a room for a couple of nights if you have one available.” Why people made a fuss over her she’d never know. Nothing extraordinary about her looks. Plenty of pr ettier girls than her. Probably had to do with her red hair. Although what difference that made was beyond her. Okay, so it was a tad redder than some she’d seen, but still. “Sure do.” Aunt Clara took a key from a hook behind her. “Number four, top of the stairs. Bath’s down the hall. You won’t have to sha re it since you’re the only one staying here. Come to settle the estate?” “Thanks.” Meghan ignored the question, took the key , signed the guest register, and handed Aunt Clara her credit card. “Dinner’s at six like always. Unless you have other plans.” Aunt Clara ran the credit card and pushed the receipt toward Meghan. “Actually, I don’t. I’ll see you then.” Meghan sign ed the receipt, picked up her luggage and headed toward the stairs. “Oh, do you h ave a newspaper I can buy?” Aunt Clara slid the newspaper across the desk. “No charge, I read it already.” “Thanks.” Meghan smiled and went upstairs. May as w ell check the classified right away, the sooner she found a job the better. After setting her bags on the luggage rack, she loo ked around the spacious room. Nothing different here either. Antique furniture fi lled the room, and the faded pink wallpaper showed its age. Unpacking could wait, fin ding a job held top priority. Meghan sighed and opened the paper. One ad caught h er eye immediately.School Secretary – no experience necessary – good head for figures. Must love children. Apply in person – Monday 9.00 A.M to 4.00 P.M. 149 Gilmor e Street Room 24. See Mr. Duncan. Hmm, sounded like something she might like. She lov ed kids, was a whiz at math. Would have taught it if she hadn’t dropped out of c ollege. Too bad circumstances hadn’t allowed her to finish. Not that Meghan regretted it , she’d do the same thing all over again. After circling the ad, she looked at the rest. Noth ing else appealing. Waitress, factory worker, dental receptionist, nope, not for her. Though what had she expected in a small town? She’d be lucky to get any kind of job . She hadn’t really thought this out.
Once the letter came from Mr. Blake informing her A unt Beth had passed away and left her the family home, there wasn’t any reason not to come back. Part of her always wanted to return. All she needed was an excuse. Meghan looked at her watch and hurried out to her c ar. Still time to apply. Who knew, maybe she’d run into Patrick along the wa y. Yeah, like that was going to happen. What was wrong with her lately? Patrick had n’t entered her mind for years. At least not until that letter came. All of a sudden, he became an obsession. Better shake these feelings and darn quick, or set herself up fo r a big disappointment. If Patrick was still in town, chances are he was married. Probably had half a dozen kids by now. Meghan giggled at the thought. Although it wouldn’t really surprise her. Kids loved him, even back then. Why was she so anxious to see him? What made her th ink he’d want anything to do with her, if he was single? Silly school-girl crush , that’s all it was. So why couldn’t she get him out of her mind? Why, after all these years , was she still pining after him? Meghan paused at the intersection. Already her insi des quivered. Just the thought of Patrick did things to her, things she’d never fe lt with anyone else. Patrick Michael MacShaunessy, Lord, how she loved that boy. Would h e remember her? She shook her head. He never paid much attention to her. Besides, he was probably married or moved away. Maybe both. Ten years was a long time. Heck, when he started college, she was only a fresh man in high school. Ran with a different crowd. More than likely, if he thought of her at all, he thought of her as a pest. Dumb kid down the block who showed up at the most u nlikely places. Time to put him out of her mind. She pulled into a parking space in front of the City administration building. Now, to get that job.
ChapterTwo Meghan dusheb oden the boor anb lookeb for room 24. “Excuse me. I’m here to see Mr. Duncan, she saib t o the elberly recedtionist. Ethel Hawley, the namedlate saib. The woman lookeb ud. “Do you have an addointment? “No, I’m here aBout the secretarial dosition in the dader. “Name? “Meghan, uh, Meghan ShelBy. “Have a seat. The woman motioneb to a chair at the far enb of the room anb dickeb ud the dhone. Meghan sat anb lookeb arounb. Sdacious room - left a lot to Be besireb as far as bécor though. Coulb use some dictures on the wall. Hmm, mayBe they’b Be interesteb in Buying some of her dhotos. Once she got her comd uter anb drinter set ud, she’b see aBout showing them her dortfolio. The extra money w oulb come in hanby. “Miss ShelBy, Mr. Duncan will see you now. Ms Hawley interrudteb her thoughts. Meghan stoob anb took a beed Breath. Here goes noth ing. She followeb the woman to an office arounb the corner anb went insibe. Mr. Duncan helb ud one finger anb motioneb her to s it bown, while he continueb to dace anb talk on the dhone. utterflies flittereb in Meghan’s stomach. It hab B een a long time since she hab a joB interview. A very long time. ut how Bab coulb it Be. They’b biscuss her qualifications anb either he hireb her, or he bibn’ t. Meghan trieb to look elsewhere while Mr. Duncan talkeb. Lorb, she hodeb he bibn’t think she was eavesbrodding, But it was bifficult not to. He kedt walking into her line of vision anb certainly wasn’t sdeaking quietly. Not at all what she’b exdecteb. Small man, slight Builb. et he bibn’t stanb 5’4 in his stocking feet. His shiny Balb heab, with jus t a wisdy stranb of hair on tod anb a halo of bark hair arounb it, BoBBeb while he talkeb . “Now, Martha... He sigheb anb helb the dhone away from his ear. “I have an addointment. I have to go. The way he rolleb his eyes almost mabe her giggle. Meghan lookeb away quickly, Before he saw her grin. Addarently, Mr. Duncan wasn ’t enjoying the conversation. Strange, she habn’t Been askeb to fill out an addli cation? Guess they bib things bifferent here in Littleton. After all, almost ever yone knew everyone else anb their Business. The name Duncan sounbeb vaguely familiar. Something connecteb to the school, But barneb if she coulb rememBer what. Habn ’t really daib that much attention Back then. Mr. Duncan finally hung ud the dhone. “Sorry aBout that. He sat bown anb moveb the dencils arounb on his besk. “So you’re here for the secretarial dosition. Have you ever Been a secretary? “Uh, no, not actually. ut I can tyde. I know the c omduter. I’m a whiz at math, anb I love chilbren.
“I see. So, Miss ShelBy, what kinb of work have you bone? Mr. Duncan leaneb Back in his chair. “I workeb in a newsdader office for a year. He sur e wasn’t making this easy. “Actually, I haven’t workeb at all the last five ye ars. I went to college for two years But broddeb out to take care of my mother. She hab canc er. After my father dasseb away, there was no one to care for her. She bieb six mont hs ago. Meghan bibn’t know why she felt the neeb to exdlain, But something aBout M r. Duncan dromdteb it. Hodefully, she bibn’t sounb like a BluBBering ibiot. aBBling was a nervous haBit she’b never Been aBle to control. Meghan Bit her lid to keed from go ing on. “I see. I’m sorry. ABout your mother I mean. Mr. D uncan ran his fingers along the insibe of his collar anb squirmeb. “Thank you. Meghan leaneb Back anb relaxeb a littl e. He was just a man like any other. Okay, so he hab the dower to hire her or not, But still. “So you went to college for two years. What was you r major? “Math, I wanteb to Be a teacher. “So why bibn’t you go Back to school after your mot her bieb? I mean why come Back here? “My aunt dasseb away anb left me the family home. Mr. Duncan nobbeb. “I hearb aBout that. ut still – why not continue your ebucation? So he hab hearb aBout her. Coulbn’t get away with a nything in a small town. Meghan shruggeb. “I guess I figureb I was too olb. esibes I wanteb to come Back to Littleton. I always loveb this town. “You’re never too olb for an ebucation. Littleton c an use some goob teachers too. Okay, he hab her there. “MayBe I will go Back someb ay. Just not now. “I see. So you can tyde, work the comduter anb you love chilbren. You seem dretty goob with deodle skills. How much accounting knowle bge bo you have? “Enough to bo my householb Bills. I took care of my mother’s accounts, settleb her estate. I took some accounting classes in high scho ol. “Do you know anything aBout running an office? “I know how to answer the dhone anb make addointmen ts. Anything else I can learn. Mr. Duncan stoob ud. “Okay, as far as I’m concerneb you’re hireb. ut you’ll have to talk to Mr. Mac. He’s the drincidal anb has the fin al say. Until you, the only addlicants have Been darents. Mac bibn’t like that ibea. So I think you’ll bo just fine. Meghan stoob, dredareb to leave. “Thank you. Mr. Duncan lookeb at his watch. “Don’t see any reas on why you can’t go over to the school now. The sooner the Better. School starts in three weeks, anb I’m sure your services are neebeb. You can start right away, can’ t you? “Sure. Nothing to holb me Back. I mean, I bo have t o get settleb in my house. ut Mr. lake can’t see me until Fribay, anb I unbersta nb it neebs some work. “Okay then. Go over to Littleton Elementary anb tal k to Mr. Mac. I’ll call him anb let him know you’re on the way.
“Thank you. Meghan left, relieveb the interview wa s over. Still one hurble to go. Somehow she hab to convince Mr. Mac that she was ri ght for the joB.
Chapter Three
Meghanloved this time of year, though a little too hot to start school in her opinion. Why they felt the need to go back in August was bey ond her. She remembered her mother complaining about it years ago. “What was wr ong with starting after Labor Day like they did in my day?” Her mother used to rant a nd rave for weeks before school started. Even got on the School Board. Not that it changed anything. School still started the last week in August. Meghan smiled at the memory. Now that she thought about it, it was silly. Like t hey took the last week of vacation away from the kids. Bet the teachers didn’t like it either. Meghan pulled into the school parking lot. Not much had changed here either. New landscaping, new windows, but that was about it. Th e old building looked pretty much the same. Her footsteps echoed in the empty hall. She’d never been in the school when it was empty before. The strong odor of wax and other clea ning products prickled her nostrils. The clean smell lingered through the first few days of school. It had been a long time since she’d been to the pri ncipal’s office and she stopped outside, took a deep breath and held it. Here goes nothing. Mr. Duncan said look for Mr. Mac. He must be new in town. It wasn’t a name she r emembered. So, what was the worse he could say? Letting out her breath, she hurried inside, before her nerve left her. A man stood with his back to her, unpacking a box o f books. “Excuse me. I’m looking for Mr. Mac.” “I’m Mr. Mac.” He turned toward her. Meghan’s breath caught in her throat. “Patrick!” Th e word slipped out of her mouth, before she could stop it. The love of her life stoo d in front of her, even better looking and sexier than she remembered. Her heart skipped a beat, her legs turned to jelly, and she grabbed the edge of the desk to steady herself. Patrick smiled at her. That easy smile she remember ed from long ago. The smile she used to love. It lit up his eyes. “Little Meghan Shelby. Not so little anymore I see.” Heat burned her cheeks as Patrick looked her up and down, apparently taking in every inch of her. He remembered her. After all thi s time he knew who she was. Would wonders never cease? “Uh, um...” Oh, crap. Now wasn’t the time to get to ngue tied. “You’re the principal here?” Lord, could she work for him. See him every day? “Yes, I am. I heard you were back in town. Are you staying then? Do you want to register your child?” “Huh?” Her child, was he nuts? “Uh, no, I’m here ab out the secretarial position. Mr. Duncan was supposed to call you.” “Really? You want the job?” “Yes, didn’t Mr. Duncan call? He told me to come right over.” “If he did I didn’t hear the phone. I’ve been in an d out of the office.” He nodded toward the stack of books. “Too busy around here th is time of year.” Patrick grinned and
motioned her into his office. “So tell me about you rself. What qualifies you for the job?” Qualifications? Think, damn it. What was the matter with her? She’d lost all train of thought. “Well, I’m computer proficient. I’m good w ith math. And I love children.” What more could he want? “I see. So why do you want the position? Tell me ab out your education.” His deep voice sent shivers down her spine. Meghan couldn’t take her gaze from him. All sense of reason flew out the window. She h ad the most God awful urge to reach up and push his dark hair out of his eyes. “I’m a f ormer math major, have two years of college. I’m a quick learner.” Finally, she looked away. The phone rang. * * * “Excuse me,” Patrick turned to answer it. “Littleto n Elementary.” He stood and walked across the office while he spoke. His gaze w andered back to Meghan. Even prettier than he remembered. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Hunt, the teachers won’t be back until next week. You can call back then. Okay, goodbye.” He went back to his desk, hung up the phone and looked at Meghan. “I see,” Patrick said as if the conversation hadn’t been interrupted. He leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. “An d you want this job, why?” He’d already decided to hire her. Not because of her loo ks, but because he needed a secretary and quick. Work was piling up, and school started in three weeks. He needed to get organized. The only other applicants were pa rents. Not that they weren’t qualified, but he didn’t like the idea. Could get sticky. Nope , an outsider with no direct contact to any of the students or teachers was what he needed. For Meghan to walk in here right now was a godsend. He liked her confidence, the way she sat poised. Sure of herself. A take control kind of a woman. Just what he was look ing for. “I just moved back, and I need a job. This one appe aled to me.” Patrick leaned forward. “Can you start tomorrow?” She seemed to hesitate for just a second, as if to make a decision. Then she shrugged and smiled. “Sure, what time?” Patrick stood, ending the interview. “Be here at eight.” Meghan stood and walked toward the door. “Eight it is. See you tomorrow.” “Oh, and, Meghan, wear comfortable, casual clothes, jeans, tennis shoes. We have a lot of books to unpack.” Damn, she looked good. “Okay, see you tomorrow.” Patrick sat, leaned back and watched her walk out o f his office. Pretty little Meghan Shelby, who would’ve thought she’d walk through tho se doors. He couldn’t help but smile. Nice, very, very nice. Her thin hips swung w ith just the right movement. Her curly red hair bounced. Would be a pleasure having her in the office. Not just because she was sexy, but she seemed to have brains too. He’d b etter get himself together and get those thoughts out of his head. This was a professi onal relationship. Besides, she was probably engaged or had a boyfriend or something. B ut, if she was looking for a job in
Littleton, maybe not. Surely a fiancé or boyfriend wouldn’t want a long distance relationship. Memory of her hanging around years ago came to mind . He knew she had a crush on him, but was too young for him. Cute little thin g back then. Turned into quite a beauty. He leaned so far back in his chair, it topp led over. Hell. He stood and brushed himself off. Time to get a grip. He didn’t need ano ther woman in his life. Patrick looked at the clock. Four o’clock, may as w ell pack it in. Tomorrow promised to be a better day. Besides, he promised to take Olivia to dinner tonight. * * * After the interview, Meghan got in her car. Patrick hired her! Just like that, she had a job. And he remembered her. She circled the block a nd headed toward town, looking for the library. The pizza shop was still there. Probab ly not owned by the same people, but one never knew. Not much had changed in ten years. Nope, Littleton would never change. People might come and go, though most stayed or came back, but Littleton wouldn’t change. Even the new buildings looked old, like they’d been there forever. Some kind of code the town council insisted on. No progress for Littl eton. At least no progress that was visible to the eye. They did have the newest techno logy, computers and such and cable TV. Although, she hadn’t noticed any satellite dish es either. Probably another code. Even the park looked the same. She guided her car t hrough the narrow, winding streets. No fancy wood play sets for Littleton’s ki ds. Same old-fashioned metal swings, slides and monkey bars. Looked like they added that new cork stuff on the ground though. At least they took some safety precautions. Meghan smiled as she passed Rich’s Meat Market. No big grocery stores in Littleton, either. Nope, small shops still flourish ed here. Sam’s Hardware Store, Mattie’s Fabrics and Miller’s Bakery lined up along Main Str eet, just like they had ten years earlier. In fact, like they had for generations. Yo u had to drive twenty-five or thirty miles for a mall. Not that she cared. She liked the perso nal little shops. Shopping wasn’t her favorite past time, and thirty miles wasn’t all tha t far once you got on the highway. What prompted her parents to move away? How many ti mes had her mother said what a great place Littleton was to raise kids, yet they moved when she was a senior in high school? No matter how many times she asked, th ey evaded her question. What happened? Now she’d never know. Even Aunt Beth couldn’t tell her. Pulling into the parking lot of Aunt Clara’s, she l ooked up at the old house. Really looked at it this time. Still the same old place, o ther than it had a fresh coat of paint, maybe a few new flowers out front. She always loved this house. Loved the floor to ceiling windows and the wraparound porch, not to me ntion the gingerbread and rounded tower room. Not all that different than Grandma and Aunt Beth’s house. Her house now. Even the rose garden out back. Aunt Clara’s pride a nd joy – her rose garden. Meghan sat for a minute and stared at the old house . How many times had she sat on that porch with Clara Blackwell, Aunt Clara to e veryone in town? Aunt Clara wasn’t