Secrets lies, p.1
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       Secrets & Lies, p.1
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           Gina Amos
Secrets & Lies
SECRETS & LIES

  By

  Gina Amos

  Secrets & Lies

  By Gina Amos

  Copyright © 2011 Kara Group Pty Ltd

  PO Box 277

  Hunters Hill NSW 2110 Australia

  ht@kara.com.au

  The moral right of the author has been asserted.

  All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic,mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of the book.

  This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  AKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  I would like to thank those who read later drafts of this book and offered support and constructive criticism: Kerry-Ann Aitken, Roslyn Diesner, Zoe Trussell, Alex Trussell and Julie Terrason.

  Thank you to Rachel Terrason for her invaluable assistance with police procedure and terminology.

  Thanks to Caroline Webber from Green Olive Press for her editorial services and her understanding of what it feels like to let go of a manuscript.

  And a special thank you to my husband, Mark, whose blind belief in my ability and his technical support helped me achieve my dream.

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  Gina Amos is married with two children. She divides her time between the Gold Coast and Sydney, Australia.

  Follow Gina on Twitter:- @AmosGina

  For Mark, Zoe and Alex

  Pride goeth before a fall and haughty spirit before destruction

  (Proverbs16.18)

  PROLOGUE

  This is the first book in the series that follows the career of Detective Jill Brennan. Each book can be read on its own or as part of a series, not in any particular order. Most of Jill Brennan's murder cases are located in or around Sydney although later in the series she ventures to the Pacific Islands and Europe. Jill's third novel Ayslum will be published later in 2014.

  KILLING SUNDAY

  Also available; Killing Sunday the second Jill Brennan Crime Novel.

  The body of a young woman is washed up on a harbourside beach. Sydney is in the middle of a heat wave and a killer is on the loose.

  Detective Inspector Nick Rimis is looking for clarity. Establishing the identity of the murdered woman is proving difficult, pressure is on for a breakthrough in a complicated art fraud case, and he just can’t shake the feeling that a suspect on a previous case got away with double murder.

  Rimis’s newest recruit, Senior Constable Jill Brennan is the perfect choice to go undercover in Sydney’s art heartland. The problem is, the prime suspect has gone missing, and her investigations uncover more questions than answers.

  Brennan and Rimis uncover a complex web of art, drugs, money-laundering, fraud and murder. What began as a straight forward case, turns into a major murder investigation with surprising consequences.

  Searching for the truth can uncover more than you bargained for.

  It was autumn, the season of change. The sun was shining but a distinct chill permeated the air. The deciduous trees put on a colourful display and the russet and mustard coloured leaves formed a backdrop to what was normally an average suburban street. Over time, the trees would be stripped bare, the streetscape would change and the leaves would clog the gutters and block the drains. They would become a nuisance, an inconvenience.

  CHAPTER ONE

  The walk home had seemed longer today, her throat was dry, her spirits low. Astrid, sauntered out from a crack in the laundry door and flaunted her tail in the air as she rubbed herself up against Rose’s leg. The old woman smiled, bent over and fondled the cat’s chin, scolding her softly as she reached up for the china teapot which sat on the shelf above the range-hood. The painted portrait of a young Elizabeth II etched upon the teapot had faded, her nose was missing and the gold trim around the handle had worn away. Rose shook her head as an acceptance that nothing lasts forever, threw a handful of tea leaves into the pot and lit the gas hob with a match. As she waited for the kettle to boil she realised that it had only been a week since Suellyn had told her that she was selling the house and the thought of that day haunted her still. It was a Tuesday; it was the day she had made the mistake of opening the door to her daughter-in-law. It had been raining...

  It was raining. Heavy, wet drops splashed against the verandah steps.

  ‘Oh, it’s only you, Suellyn,’ Rose said, as she stepped back from the screen door. ‘Come in out of the rain for goodness sake. I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon, especially on a day like today.’

  ‘You know I like to keep an eye on you, Rose, to see if you’re managing.’ Suellyn shook the rain from her umbrella, wiped her shoes on the ‘welcome’ mat and followed Rose into the kitchen. She sat down at the kitchen table in an uncomfortable, high back chair and watched as she filled the kettle until it overflowed.

  ‘I know it’s here somewhere,’ she said, annoyed by her own absent-mindedness. Rose searched the cupboards for the caddy filled with Earl Grey tea, Suellyn looked around her at the state of the kitchen and wondered how Rose could live like this and wondered whether it bothered her.

  ‘Ah, here it is,’ Rose said, as if she had just found something of great value. ‘You don’t mind if I have a cuppa do you dear?’ Suellyn didn't drink tea, she didn't like the bitter taste or the drawn out ritual that tea drinking involved. Rose reached into the biscuit barrel and carefully laid out four iced biscuits on a small, round plate.

  For the past two months, Suellyn Phillips had tried everything she could think of to persuade her mother-in-law to move from the house in Eden Street to a unit in a nearby retirement village. But Rose was determined to stay where she was. There was Astrid to consider and Rose knew her feline friend would not be welcome at the Bayside Retirement Village.

  Max Gray lived around the corner in Dalgetty Street and arrived on her doorstep at nine am sharp on the first day of every month, regular as clockwork, just as he had done for the past eight years. Despite his surname, Max was outgoing and friendly. The sweat-stained hat he wore to protect himself from the weather was too large for his head and a red V from too much time spent in the sun was visible from his opened necked shirt. His monthly visits were a welcome diversion to Rose’s lonely life and she looked forward to their conversations over a cup of tea before he headed out to work in her garden. Rose enjoyed listening to the descriptions of his family’s get-togethers, of twenty first birthday parties, weddings, christenings and his recent eightieth birthday celebration at the local bowling club, which she had been invited to, but did not attend.

  Suellyn stood by the kitchen sink and gazed out the grimy window. She was watching Max Gray as he emptied a bag of weeds into the compost bin and was thinking of how she would tell Rose. She would choose her words carefully she decided. She turned away from the window and poured the tea, added three heaped teaspoons of sugar and a slip of milk. It was just the way Rose liked it, hot and sweet. Rose lifted the cup from the saucer and placed it on the table. She poured a small measure of tea into the saucer and blew on it before she brought it to her lips and slurped. This annoyed her daughter-in-law and perhaps that’s why she did it.

  ‘I might as well tell you now,’ Suellyn said, as she picked up the teapot and refilled Rose’s cup. She waited a moment, looked at her mother-in-law and set down the teapot firmly on the tea stand. Rose raised her eyes and looked at Suellyn squarely, noticing the tightness of her daughter-in-law’s lips.

  ‘Rose,’ she said and paused ag
ain, hoping to gain her full attention. When she was sure she had it, she continued. ‘I've decided. I‘m not going to waste anymore time talking about it, I’m selling the house.’

  ‘Whose house Suellyn, dear?’ Rose asked, as she placed the saucer on the table and looked expectantly at Suellyn.

  ‘Why, this house of course.’

  ‘Don’t be silly.’

  ‘I’m serious Rose. I’ve spoken to a real estate agent. Her name’s Ambah St John. Here’s her business card.’ Suellyn pushed the card across the table. Rose picked up the glossy, matchbox sized card and studied it. She couldn’t read the name on it; she needed her reading glasses for that.

  ‘Ambah works for the real estate agency in the village, the one next to the bank on the corner, near the traffic lights.’ Suellyn was speaking quickly now and Rose was having trouble following her. Suellyn was firing words at her like a Gatling gun, trying to get them out quickly, so she could say what she had to say and leave.

  ‘You might as well know I've put down a deposit on a unit at the retirement village. The one we’ve talked about. You'll be more comfortable there Rose, you know you will if you’re honest with yourself. Let’s face it - it has to be a damn sight better than all of this.’ Suellyn raised her arms and swung them around in a wide arc.

  Rose didn’t follow Suellyn’s gestures; instead, she poured more tea and placed both hands around the teacup to warm them. Rose suddenly felt cold and shuddered when she noticed a fine hairline crack which ran the length of the cup. Soft rose pink in colour, it was from her favourite set. It reminded her of another day, of a day long ago and of another conversation in a café in the city with her son, Billy. Overcome with sadness, regret and a sense of dread, she wondered why Suellyn wanted to sell the house.

  ‘Are you listening to me Rose? Do you understand what I am saying to you?’

  ‘I’m not deaf and I’m not stupid. This is my home and I’ve told you before, I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m happy living here and besides, what will happen to Astrid?’

  ‘Forget about the damn cat will you? Christ, you’re a stubborn woman Rose Phillips. Just remember, this house is in my name and if I want to sell it, I will. Anyway, it’s too late now, I’ve already made an appointment with Ambah. She said she’s going to drop by sometime next week to inspect the house. And Rose, I expect you to co-operate with her.’

  ‘Does Billy know about this?’ Rose asked. ‘Does he know that you want to throw me out onto the street?’ She demanded to know if Billy knew what his wife was planning. Rose looked down at the muddied tea and the dark shadow of tea leaves which were sitting at the bottom of the teacup.

  ‘He’ll know soon enough and I’m not throwing you out onto the street. Haven’t you heard a single word I’ve said?’

  Rose raised her head slowly and looked at her daughter-in-law. ‘I heard you well enough Suellyn, and you might want to listen to me for once. The only way I’m leaving this house is in a pine box, so go tell that to Billy.’

  Suellyn stared at Rose’s determined face and expelled a long, loud sigh. Rose folded her arms across her hollow chest and stared back at her daughter-in-law. Nothing more was said, there was nothing more to say. Suellyn placed her hands on the table, leaned forward and looked into Rose’s watery eyes before turning away when she saw the cold determination in them. In defiance, Rose took a large bite from an iced biscuit and sipped her tea which was now tepid. Suellyn grabbed her handbag and stormed out of the house.

  The front door snapped shut. Rose studied her swollen fingers as she placed her cup back on the saucer and reflected, not for the first time, on her son’s taste in women. Grim-faced, Rose thought about what Suellyn had just said to her. She knew her daughter-in-law and knew what she was capable of. The next time they met, she would have the real estate agent with her. But Rose didn’t see Suellyn again and she never did discover the reason why she wanted her out of the house.

  Suellyn grabbed her umbrella and stepped off the verandah onto the brick path which led to the front gate. She turned and looked over her shoulder, towards the neighbour’s hedge which was covered in clouds of white flowers and purple berries. The clicking sound of garden clippers suddenly stopped. He was standing there, quietly watching her. The sweet smell of cut branches and scented flowers drifted towards her and she spotted Rose’s neighbour behind the collapsed timber fence. Suellyn tried to recall his name then turned her back on him and walked quickly out through the gate and towards her parked car.

 
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