The Avalon authors have been very successful over the years winning or placing in many contests. Each Friday we thought we would showcase those authors and their Award winning books beginning with Instant Family by Elisabeth Rose.
With Avalon’s recent transition to Montlake Romance and Amazon I’m really pleased this and my other backlist books will soon be available as e books.
My next release for Montlake will be Love On the North Shore Line. Have a sneak peek on my website
I also have an August release Eve’s Passion with Whiskey Creek Press but be warned ( or tempted), this one is a sexy read.
Alex sat up abruptly in bed, wide-eyed in the darkness. A noise. Outside.
A siren wailed in the distance. Not that, something else. Closer. Loud enough to wake him.
A thud, scuffling feet, a scraping sound.
Ears straining he tossed back the sheet. Two strides and he was at the window peering carefully through the slats of the vertical blind at the narrow view of the front garden. Nothing.
Hot. Dark. Still. Deep shadows from the liquid amber created black holes in the night.
Frowning, he let the blind fall into place and groped for the bedside light switch. Better check on Steffie while he was awake. No real need, just the freely admitted pleasure of having her under his roof on their fortnightly weekend together. Short snatches of time to delight in his daughter.
Alex padded across the passageway to the spare room where the elephant shaped night light cast a soft yellow glow. One softly rounded hand rested on the pillow, a tumble of dark silky hair obscured her face. A smile stretched his lips as he touched fingers to his mouth and blew her a kiss from the doorway.
At the side. Glass breaking. Steffie stirred, rolled over, settled back into sleep.
Alex darted for the family room and the sliding door. The outside sensor light hadn’t come on but the quarter moon cast enough of a silvery glow to show darkly fleeing figures, maybe three.
Precious moments lost fumbling with the lock, a muttered curse, the door dragged open.
Alex sprinted across the tiled terrace, leapt the low hedge of ornamental lavender and thyme, landed on grass, prickly and dry underfoot. Ran.
The catch on the side gate slowed them, gave him time for a desperate lunge amid swearing and panicked cries of, “I can’t open the gate”, “Hurry. He’ll get us.” Kids.
The gate swung wide, the dark mass of bodies moved. Alex’s fingers clutched cloth and hung on.
* * *
Briing—briing. Briing—briing. Briing –- briing.
Chloe stretched out a leaden arm, flopped it about in search of the phone, made contact, somehow managed to find the button, silenced the unbearable shrieking.
“Hello,” she croaked, eyes closed.
“Constable Brent Burrows from the City Watch House. Sorry to disturb you. Is that Chloe Gardiner?”
“Yes.” Chloe’s brain and body sprang to alert. Her pulse rate trebled in an instant, the hand holding the phone began to tremble. Cold sweat beaded her face and body. A suddenly closed throat choked the words. “Has something happened? An accident?”
Unbearable, unthinkable, that such crushing disaster could happen again.
Her mind ran frantically through the possibilities in the second it took him to respond. Katy. Asleep. Julian and Seb. Asleep. Grandmother Simone. Definitely at home at -- Chloe’s fearful gaze shot to the red numbers on the bedside clock--three fifteen. She switched the reading light on, blinked painfully at the onslaught of vision.
“Not an accident, Miss Gardiner. We have your brother Sebastian here. He was caught trespassing and there’s been some vandalism. We’d like you to come to the station, please.”
Chloe sprang out of bed, body stiff with indignation. “That’s impossible. He’s at home, asleep.”
“Would you check, please, Miss?” Patient almost to the point of boredom.
But Chloe was already charging along the corridor to Seb’s room. The hall light came on and Julian stood yawning and rubbing his eyes, straw colored hair amok.
“What’s up? Who’s on the phone?”
“The police think Seb’s a vandal.” Chloe pushed the bedroom door open. “I told them he’s asleep.”
But her voice faded on the last word because Seb wasn’t asleep, he wasn’t in bed at all. He wasn’t in the room. She raised the phone slowly to her ear, hand trembling. “He’s not here.”
“I know,” replied Constable Burrows. “He’s here.”
“I can’t come,” she said, floundering in the waves of disbelief. “I have children. Eleven and fourteen. In the house.” She stared at Julian. What did he know about this?
“We’ll be all right. Go, please, Chloe.” Julian’s eyes brimmed with tears. He jammed his fists into his eyes, blinked, sniffed. Was brave.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.” She disconnected. “Did you know, Julian?”
A surge of rage overtook the fear. “Did he tell you he was sneaking out? How often does he do that? What did he say to you?”
He shook his head. Too quickly. Her eyes narrowed. Julian didn’t tell lies. Neither did Seb . . .
“Don’t cover for him.” Her voice rose on a crest of anger. “It won’t do him any good. Who was he with?”
“I don’t know.” Almost a wail.
Chloe didn’t know either. The boys had lives she knew nothing about and the realization came with the shock of a sandbag in the chest. They weren’t frightened nine year olds any more, clinging to her, trusting her as their lifeline for survival in a world turned completely and cataclysmically upside down.
“But you can guess, can’t you?”
His clear blue eyes skated away from hers and his mouth took on a very familiar, stubborn line. He scratched his elbow absentmindedly, a nervous reaction. The stalling tactic fuelled her rage.
“Come on, Julian. You’re twins. You share everything, you always have.”
“I don’t know,” he insisted with a rare flash of anger.
“Think about it while I get dressed” She turned away with a pounding heart stealing her breath and a deep sense of dread sitting malevolently in her belly.