I'm excited to share the romantic suspense novel Forbidden - Book 4 (Lady Sotheby's Curse) with you all, once again coauthored with Amazon-bestselling author Mike Wells. Stay tuned for a post on each weekday!
That's when the malicious envelope arrives in the mail.
It's a blackmail letter.
And the criminal behind it threatens to destroy everything.
Free Daily Read, Part 1
These were the emotions cloying the air as the shocking blackmail letter slowly took form. The text had already been composed, on the plane to Geneva, Switzerland, written in pencil on a legal pad with many corrections until the tone and language were perfect. The damning letter was sophisticated yet nasty at the same time. Oh yes, it would achieve the desired results.
Now, hunched over a desk in a Swiss hotel room, the blackmailer was using a pair of tweezers to painstakingly glue individual letters, cut from British tabloid newspapers, onto a blank sheet of paper. Of course, in these modern times there were other ways to send such a missive—safer ways, perhaps—but the impact would not have been as powerful. Even half finished, the letter was shocking simply in its appearance, with the different type fonts and colors, some letters in capitals and others in lower case, arranged in not-quite-straight lines across the paper. There was something vicious about the way it looked, as if the person sending it were slightly deranged, and perhaps dangerous.
This was good. This was very good.
Also on the hotel room desk were two high quality color photos that had been torn from tabloid newspapers. According to the captions, one picture showed “international socialite Celeste Sotheby” frolicking on the beach with one of her young lovers. The other photo, from an article that had been published a year later in the same tabloid, also appeared to show Celeste Sotheby in the companionship of a man—in this picture, she was sitting next to her “fiancé,” the young, dashing British aristocrat Robert Astor. They were dining together at a Paris restaurant, a few months before their wedding. Such a lovely couple, exchanging adoring glances, oozing money and status from every pore.
But there was a big, delicious secret, a secret that no one in the world except Robert and his family knew about. The smiling, well-dressed girl sitting there next to Robert Astor was not Celeste Sotheby but a girl who simply looked exactly like Celeste. Said girl was, in fact, Jayne Clark, a nobody from Wichita, Kansas. Separated at birth, Jayne was Celeste’s twin sister.
This mysterious twin had come over from America, to her sister’s rescue, because her stupid sibling had gotten herself pregnant by another man while engaged to Robert Astor. Jayne had posed as Celeste while the real Celeste was hidden away in Southern France and secretly gave birth to the child.
Such a devious plan, one had to admit that.
But alas, the wedding had never taken place. Jayne and Robert had fallen in love, and apparently, even though the bitch had scammed him by impersonating her sister, he had forgiven her and they were now quietly living together in Oxford, England.
She and Robert were going to pay, or the whole world would know about their sordid past.
If you studied the two tabloid photos very closely, side-by-side, with the aid of a magnifying glass, there was one slight but crucial anatomical difference between the two females in the photos. This subtle difference had been highlighted with bright red circles of magic marker, courtesy of the criminal mind so diligently at work at the moment.
* * *
The following afternoon, the blackmailer entered Terminal 3 of Heathrow International Airport pulling a carry-on, wearing dark sunglasses, a stylish hat, and a light knee-length coat. To the casual observer, the outfit did not look like a disguise but rather like the attire of an air traveler with bad taste who was trying to appear chic.
The damning letter, addressed with a computer-printed label and affixed with two self-adhesive postage stamps, was inside the coat pocket. A piece of blank paper was folded in half around it so that it would not have to be touched with bare fingers, which might leave prints on the envelope. Wearing gloves in the airport, in June, would attract too much attention—even bad taste would not account for that.
The mastermind behind this wicked plan casually headed towards the post office, but not without some hesitation. The CCTV cameras scattered everywhere around the airport would not be a problem, because only the police could access their recordings. Although Jayne would immediately tell Robert about the letter when she received it, neither Robert nor his socially-prominent parents—the esteemed Lord and Lady Astor—could afford to get the police involved. If they did that, all bets were off. Robert Astor would most likely hire a private detective to investigate. The risks were minimal.
On the other hand, if caught, extortion was a serious crime—in the UK, you could go to jail for up to fourteen years if convicted for it.
A few minutes later, the criminal entered the post office.
...with a pounding heart, approached the letter box...
There were a few annoyed-looking people standing in line at the counters.
…no one paying any attention...
This is it, the blackmailer thought. Once I push this envelope through the slot, there’s no turning back.
Don't want to wait? Pre-order the book now (release date is June 30th)!