Friday, 26 March 2021

New Publication Spotlight with an Extract: A Chance Encounter by Rae Shaw

A Chance Encounter

Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, that is until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?

Mark works for Haynes’s vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers.

His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend whom she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret.

For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?

Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives in danger.

Julianna’s first encounter with new employee Mark is in his office, where he’s recently taken up residence, adding a few personal touches, like two paintings hung on the wall. Julianna’s gaze can’t help noticing the signature on one of the paintings entitled The Bower. Mark has a prized possession – a painting by Hettie Haynes, the boss’s wife.

‘A bower is also a lady’s apartment. A stark contrast to the other picture. She wouldn’t like that one.’ She gestured at the gory rose picture.

Mark stood next to her, scratching his chin. ‘Why not?’

‘Oh. Blood, you know. She has a phobia about blood.’ Julianna turned in time to see his eyes widen. ‘Shit, you didn’t know. I thought, having a gift, you knew her well. Don’t mention I said that, will you?’ The lie worked well; his mouth twitched nervously, weighing her up, no doubt.

‘No, of course not. I’m more of a friend of Mr Haynes,’ he said, slowly, a marked emphasis on “mister”.

Another one of Jackson Haynes’s friends. She hated the old boys’ network. There must be some secret cadre with a connection to Oxford; Alex had been at Christchurch.

Mark had only recently arrived in London, initially working at a different, smaller office, then suddenly he had been transferred to headquarters. The gift of the painting must have happened prior to his move. Where had Hettie met him? She was a talented artist who’d studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Before her marriage to Jackson, she fulfilled commissions for famous clients. She didn’t just give her artwork away to anyone and Mark probably couldn’t afford to buy one of her pictures.

As for Mrs Haynes, Julianna listened into the quiet conversations held in the back of the car and, as expected, offered no counsel. Hettie wasn’t always comfortable with the lack of privacy; she would attempt to codify her remarks and her eyes would flutter back and forth, occasionally glancing at the rear-view mirror to check whether Julianna was paying any attention to her phone calls. Julianna maintained her professionalism under duress – if only she could speak up and ask Hettie outright about Mark.

She tapped her finger on the folder Mark had handed her. ‘Well, I best follow this up.’ The meeting ended with another brisk handshake. ‘Good to meet you, Mark.’

She hesitated at the door for one last inspection of the painting and her new colleague – his fawn cheeks tinged with a hint of shame. Far from advertising his connection to Hettie Haynes, he had played it down, claiming Jackson was his friend, not Hettie. The lady’s bower, the secret apartment, was the clue to why a new employee had that painting hanging in his office. Chris had given her Mark’s personnel record a week ago. That bugged her too. Maybe it was so Jackson could use Julianna to keep an eye on his wife’s admirer. Cheeky of him, but probably in character.

From now on, she would pay more attention to Mark Clewer. She bristled with delight – somehow, she had created a mission of her own. What the remit was, she would devise during the project.

Amazon UK                Amazon US 

Rae Shaw is a pen name for the author Rachel Walkley.

Rachel is based in the North West of England. She read her first grown-up detective novel at the age of eleven, which proved to be a catalyst for filling many shelves with crime books, which still occupy her home and grow in number whenever she visits a book shop.

As well as crime, Rachel likes to unplug from the real world and writes mysteries that have a touch of magic woven into family secrets.

Rae Shaw Facebook page

Rachel Walkley