ABOUT THE BOOK:
Twelve years earlier, Olivia and Joel Cameron invited the family to spend the weekend at their new country home. Olivia hoped to provide them all with a much-needed escape from their anxiety over the recession crippling the nation; instead, the visit ended in tragedy when Scott, Joel’s wild and outrageously sexy youngest brother, was found dead. The repercussions tore the family apart.
Now, Olivia’s sister Violet has persuaded her to host a reunion. She claims it’s time they finally put the past behind them and laid their ghosts to rest. However, some wounds run too deep to heal, and some secrets are too destructive to remain hidden. Still grieving for the man she loved, Violet is determined to uncover the truth behind his death—a truth she believes lies within her own family.
As the web of deceit and hostility begins to unravel, family ties are tested to the limit, and no one will emerge unscathed.
With every mile, Scott seems to retreat farther inside himself. He glowers out of the window, shoulders rigid, fists clenching and unclenching on his knees. Watching him from the corner of her eye, Violet’s heart grows heavy. Her initial joy at seeing him again descends into a dull acceptance. At any moment he will disclose what’s on his mind and blast her hopes to shrapnel.
A few minutes later, Violet pulls up on the sweeping driveway and kills the engine. Without the music, the silence is thunderous. Scott shakes his head as though emerging from a trance. For an age he simply gazes up at the house, breathing deeply as though psyching himself up for an ordeal.
At length, he reaches for the door handle. “Well, cheers for the lift.”
With the reflexes born of her days on the school netball team, Violet shoots out a hand to stop him. “Don’t rush off. We have to talk.”
“Not now, Vi. Everyone’s expecting us.”
“Please, just five minutes. You owe me that much.”
“Okay.” Scott leans back in his seat, tone wary. With the porch light casting his face into relief, Violet notices for the first time how tired he looks. Purple shadows stand out like bruises beneath his eyes and his skin has an almost grayish tinge. The result of strain, or merely too much sex and booze? Is she already forgotten, obliterated by a string of other bodies more beautiful and just as willing?
Violet stares down at the steering wheel, stomach churning. How to say what is uppermost in her mind without sounding like some nagging wife? Does it make a difference what she says? Perhaps it’s too late. Get a grip, Vi, this isn’t the courtroom. You’re not on trial now.
“It’s just—” She stalls, then wades in. “Well, I thought I might have heard from you after the other week.”
Scott looks away. “Sorry about that. I meant to call, but things have been crazy.”
“We’re all busy, Scott, but most people find the time to answer their phone.”
“Yeah, well, there’s been a glitch with the line, friends calling and not getting through. Only just got it fixed.”
A chill closes over Violet’s heart. Trained to read the body language of witnesses, she knows when someone’s lying. Did that wild, magical night mean so little to him? Violet won’t forget it for as long as she lives: how they met by chance in a bar one evening and stayed long after their friends had left; how they went dancing till dawn, before tumbling into Scott’s bed in a haze of wonder and discovery.
“Look at me,” Violet says. When he remains unmoving, she seizes his face in her hands and forces him to meet her gaze. “Come on. Look at me and say it meant nothing.”
He doesn’t reply, but the mingled longing and helplessness in his eyes tells her everything she needs to know. Still holding his face between her hands, she leans forward and kisses him. Scott stiffens, but only for an instant. Then his arms slide around her, pulling her close, and Violet’s senses once again roar to life at his touch.
“I love you,” she murmurs against his mouth. “I’ve loved you from the moment I saw you throwing up in the punch bowl at Liv and Joel’s wedding.”
Scott winces. “You mustn’t say that.”
“Why not? It’s the truth. I don’t make a habit of telling men I love them, you know. In fact, you’re the first.”
Scott shakes his head, looking upset. Violet opens her mouth to speak, but he presses a finger to her lips and pulls her against him, staring over her shoulder so she can’t see his expression. She lets him hold her, drinking in the warmth of his neck against her cheek as their hearts beat in time. For the moment, it’s enough simply to have him close.
“We’d better go.” At last, Scott pushes her gently from him and opens the car door. “We’ll talk later, I promise.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” Violet says, though too softly for him to hear. “You won’t get rid of me that easily.”
Jessica Chambers has been inventing stories even before she was old enough to hold a pen. She has a passion for writing contemporary novels packed with emotion, complex relationships and often a touch of mystery.
Visually impaired from birth, Jessica currently lives with her family and Staffordshire bull terrier in the English town of Windsor. In addition to devouring fiction of all genres, she loves watching TV quiz shows and admits to being extremely competitive when it comes to a game of Trivial Pursuit.
Her latest book is Dark is the Sky.
You can visit her website at www.jessicachambers.co.uk.