When famous crime writer, Reece Cameron, discovers a strange young woman collapsed on the doorstep of his isolated Yorkshire mansion, he fears for her life. As he nurses Charlotte Hunter back to health, a drama deeper than his own fiction emerges when he learns that the traumatised girl has no memory of her past and her behaviour further deepens the mystery. As love starts to bind the unlikely pair, they have no idea of the stark tragedy that will overtake them when Charlotte regains her memory.
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Reece watched in amazement as her face contorted with some horrendous agony. He spread his hands in a placating gesture.
'I don't know you are Charlie. But you would appear to be in your mid-twenties and women don't normally wear a wedding ring unless they are married. No matter what, don't you want to find out?'
'No! Yes…Oh, Reece!' Charlotte hugged her arms, rocking backwards and forwards in anguish. 'What if I have little children - crying for me? They won't understand. They will think I don't love them.' Her voice cracked with emotion as despair swept over her. Reece pulled her against him, his hands cradling her as she cried deep, heart wrenching sobs.
'It's all right, angel,' he murmured, stroking her hair. 'You must stop this - you’re letting your imagination run riot and upsetting yourself possibly for no reason.' He held her away from him, studying her tearstained face. She had stopped crying but the desperation she felt was still near the surface. On an impulse Reece pressed a gentle kiss against her bruised forehead. Her skin was soft and his lips lingered, caressing and savouring the silky texture. When he drew back, her eyes held a haunted look as if she was remembering - perhaps remembering what it was like to be in another man's arms and feel his kisses, Reece thought churlishly. He had to back off - he was being as irrational as Charlotte.
'Charlie, you looked drained. Get some more rest. I'm going to fetch Mrs. Shelton but I'll only be away for an hour. Will you be all right?'
She nodded. 'Yes, I'll be fine. I'm sorry about this hysterical outburst. I'll try and sleep,’ she said, turning on her side away from him.
Charlotte waited until the bedroom door had closed and only then did she allow herself to think of her husband and children. Why couldn't she remember them? Why? She pressed her hands hard against her head until it hurt as if it would open the door to her memories.
Downstairs in his study Reece replaced the phone following his discussion with the Scarborough police. They had no report of a missing person answering Charlotte's description but said they would check across the country and let him know.
'Of course, it would be easier if we had a photo of the young lady, Mr. Cameron,' the Superintendent had said.
'I know. I know. But, as I explained, she’s very ill at the moment. When she is better I will drive her over and you can get all the details,' Reece had said.
'I'm sure someone somewhere will have reported her as missing - however, we could always call the media in,' the policeman had continued.
Reece had hesitated then. The media would no doubt have a field day once they found out he was involved. He couldn’t face that hype again. When Katie died he had been driven crazy by the story-hungry press who refused to let him grieve in peace. The only publicity to which Reece ever willingly agreed was the requests from his publisher to promote his books, but otherwise he preferred his privacy. Still, this wasn't to do with him - it would be for Charlie so that her family could claim her.
'I agree we should do that, Superintendent. But, for now, I would be grateful if you would investigate this matter in confidence,' he had said and the policeman agreed.
It had stopped snowing when Reece drove to the village and the sun shone brightly reflecting on the blanket of whiteness covering the moors. He still had chains on the wheels of his land rover to cope with the bleak road conditions, but Reece knew very soon that spring would arrive with a welcome flourish. It occurred to him that Charlie could have been involved in a car accident and walked to Grayland Manor from the scene. But he saw no abandoned vehicles - besides, why would anyone drive across the moors in that weather, he mused.