When Edie’s mother-in-law, Anna DeLuca, dies, she is relieved. Edie blames Anna for the accident that destroyed her family. So, when her will lures Edie to Sicily and the long-abandoned Villa della Madonna del Mare, she sees through Anna’s games.
Suspecting Anna is meddling from beyond the grave to try to reunite her and her ex-husband Joe, Edie is determined to leave Italy as soon as possible. But before she can, the villa starts to shed its mysterious secrets.
Who are the girls beside Anna in her childhood photos, and why has one of them been scratched out? Why does someone, or something, want them to leave the past untouched? The villa is a place where old ghosts feel at home, but does their legacy need to be laid to rest before Edie and Joe can move on…
The aircraft tipped to begin its descent and through the porthole I watched the southern side of the island of Sicily emerge from the glare of the sun. Beyond the breaching wing lay a hazy, mountainous land surrounded by turquoise water. Wispy clouds bunched around the summit of Etna, the shadow of a forest creeping up her flank. I saw the sprawl of cities, the pencil lines of motorways, the meandering loops of a river and the brilliant blue rectangle of a reservoir. My journey was almost over and Joe was somewhere down there, waiting for me. The last time I’d had a meaningful conversation with my ex-husband was ten years previously, and on that occasion, I’d told him I wished he was dead, and I’d meant it and he knew that I meant it. I’d watched him implode, emotionally, in front of my eyes. I’d turned away. I didn’t know how I was going to face him again. I didn’t know how either of us were going to cope.
It wasn’t as if we had anything in common any more, save memories too painful to revisit. I knew very little of Joe’s life now and I didn’t know how much, if anything, he knew of mine. He probably didn’t know that home, for me, was my friend Fitz’s two bedroom house in Southville and work, the Special Educational Needs department of St Sarah’s school, South Bristol. In my spare time, I walked Fitz’s dogs or went to the Watershed cinema to watch European films with subtitles. Sometimes I meandered around St Nicholas’ Markets and treated myself to a Caribbean wrap and a ball or two of knitting wool; some second-hand books. Most of my energy was taken up with keeping Daniel’s memory alive, that was my raison d’être; I would not let my son be forgotten – never. It might not look much of a life, but it was mine and I was happy with it. I felt safe and I didn’t have to worry about the worst happening because the worst had already happened. I was doing fine and if Joe thought I wasn’t, well, he’d be wrong.
All this anxiety was his mother’s fault. Anna DeLuca was the reason why I was on this plane and why Joe was waiting for me at the airport in Sicily. She was behind this, she couldn’t leave us alone, she had to be interfering in our lives, pulling our strings, moving us around like the pieces on a chessboard, even now, months after her death. Hadn’t she ruined our lives enough already? Hadn’t she caused enough heartache? Martha had said Anna’s death would be a line drawn in the sand for me, but Martha had been wrong. I thought of Anna’s small, heart shaped face, her black hair, her pretty brown eyes and little white teeth, the peppermints she used to freshen her breath, and the old fury began to rise in me.
Thank you, Louise Douglas and Boldwood Books
About the author
Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of 6 novels including The Love of my Life and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.
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