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Every picture tells a story, but this family secret could be deadly.

For Melody Maddison, life hasn’t been the same since her mother’s passing. When she discovers a photo of her mother and a mysterious child, she’ll stop at nothing to find the truth, even if the search makes her question everything she’s ever known about the beloved woman.

Noah St. Reeve has a soft spot for women in trouble. When he rescues Melody from an attempt on her life, he can’t turn his back on the fierce and beautiful woman in front of him. Torn between duty and passion, it will be up to Noah to keep his charge safe from harm, no matter the cost.

Melody’s quest for answers leads her from one dangerous path to the next. When the first shot is fired, the handsome and steady Noah is there to keep her safe. She knows she should back down, but Melody owes it to her mother to get to the bottom of a history that will rock her family forever. Except, the photo isn’t only a link to her mother’s past. It’s proof of a dangerous secret—a secret that someone is willing to kill to keep.
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How could one little photograph cause so much trouble?

Melody Maddison pulled into the car bay opposite Shingles Café. Had they followed her? Her pulse raced as she checked her rear vision mirror and scanned the surrounds of her car. Everything appeared normal, as if it were another ordinary day in the country town of Burrum Ridge. Melody knew better. Her life was fast spinning out of control, ever since she’d discovered the hidden photograph of her mother holding a newborn baby. She didn’t know what was worse, finding the photograph or the fact that her mother was in a birthing suite and had clearly just given birth to a baby, who was neither her, nor her siblings.

Grabbing her bag, she high-tailed it across the road and slid herself down at an empty table in the corner of the alfresco section. Growing up, Shingles Café had always been her favourite place to watch the world go by, and the new industrial-chic re-vamp meant it was more popular than ever, and they had the best Caesar salad this side of Perth. Searching her bag from her phone, she re-checked it for the twentieth time. No missed calls.

A monotone voice from behind made her flinch. “Would you like to see the menu?”

Her hand flew to her chest. “Um, no, thanks. Just a regular chai latte with skim milk.”

“No problem. Won’t be long,” said the young waitress as she strutted away.

Melody swallowed the lump in her throat. Are they watching me now? Do they know I’m here? She held tight to her handbag and her gaze scanned a hundred different directions, trying to see someone, anyone, out of place.

Normal. Everything around her seemed normal for a Sunday afternoon. The warm, afternoon-sea breeze sailed through the tall gum trees. Children played in the park. The pesky kookaburras were out in full swing, singing at the top of their lungs, determined to be noticed. If she hadn’t known better, she’d swear they were laughing at her. Mums were catching up on gossip over coffee. Tourists were walking up and down the main street. Just as it should be in any country tourist town.

Melody breathed a sigh of relief. “Get a grip, not everyone is out to get you.” No, just those behind the prank calls and anonymous notes.

A butterfly war was turning her stomach into a jungle of nerves. She pulled out the note she’d found under her windscreen earlier. A chill hit her square in the chest.  A new shrill of fear snaked up her spine, just as it had when she’d found the note. Melody double-checked once more that no-one was watching before she read it. Her hands started to tremble as the words screamed at her from the page.

Stop digging, bitch, or face the consequences. It won’t just be you six feet under the ground. I’ll make sure your sister joins you. Her blood will be on your hands.

The blood in her veins ran cold. She’d been okay when she’d believed she was getting simple prank calls. She’d been annoyed, but not scared. Now she knew it was more and her first concern was Riley. She had to protect her sister.   

All I need to do is forget I found the photograph and life will return to normal. She sighed knowing full well she was fooling herself.

“Here you go. One regular, skim-milk chai latte.”

Melody almost jumped out of her skin. She crushed the note hard against her chest and glared at the waitress.

“Um…thank you,” Melody said around the knot in her throat.

The waitress smiled and started clearing away empty plates from nearby tables.

Why was the photograph hidden and why the hell does someone want me to stop looking for answers? Melody’s hands shook but she managed to ease the hot coffee to her lips and blow. The sweet, spicy liquid ran smoothly, cascading down her throat. Damn that’s good. Just what she needed.

Melody fished the picture of her mother and the newborn child out of her bag. She’d stared at it for hours, trying to work out when it was taken. It’s not me, Riley or Lachlan so who then, Mum? God, I miss you so much.

Angry tears threatened to spill at the thought of her mother. She rubbed at the sudden burn of fury in her chest. Reasonable or not, she was angry that her mother had left them, and furious that God had taken her so young.
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Publisher: Gumnut Press

Date: 3rd April 2019

Burrum Ridge Series​ - Book 1

ISBN: 978-0-6483729-4-3  (Ebook)

ISBN: 978-0-6481800-9-8 (Print)​​​