Hello, I hope you've had a good week.

I'm still trying to shift the dregs of covid but I'm getting there. I must admit to not thinking I'd still have the remnants of it after four weeks. Thank goodness for three vaccinations.

This week, I've mainly been rereading. I've read through Hidden Secrets after completing my copyedits, so that it's ready to go to the proofreader. This means I'm almost at the finishing line for book five and I'm already thinking and planning book six.

As I have a subplot running through books 4, 5 and 6, I've also reread Broken Promises so that I can make sure everything ties up nicely. It's been a good week to read my books as I'm feeling great one minute, and lousy the next. 

As Hidden Secrets doesn't have a prologue, and I shared chapter one last week, I thought I'd share chapter two with you.

This is where Allie appears, after a body is found... I hope you enjoy it. As usual, apologies for the formatting as I can't lay it out as a book page. 

www.melsherratt.co.uk Hidden Secrets

Chapter Two

 

Sunday 

 

Allie Shenton stretched across to her bedside cabinet, feeling for the phone whose ringtone had rudely interrupted her sleep. Her head came up from the pillow, and she sighed when she saw it was barely half past six. 

‘Turn that thing off,’ her husband, Mark, muttered, pulling the duvet over his head. 

The morning sun shone through the edges of the curtains, framing the window in a fiery glow. After a week of glorious weather, it looked like another fine day was on the cards. 

But it was her work phone that was ringing, which could mean only one thing. 

If she wasn’t busy with a case, Sunday mornings were always spent reading the newspapers, propped up in bed before they’d cook an oatcake breakfast. After that, at this time of year, it would be time in the garden or a long walk somewhere, perhaps shopping if she hadn’t had time to get any food during the week. Allie ordered most of her groceries online, or she or Mark called at the local shop on their way home. But when she wasn’t too busy, she loved a browse around the supermarket. 

‘DI Shenton,’ she said, her voice hoarse after sleep. Then she was wide awake, pulling back the covers and sitting on the edge of the bed. ‘Okay, I’m on my way.’

‘Why, why, why on a Sunday?’ Mark protested.

‘Because lots of people get drunk and lose the plot on Saturday nights.’ She gathered together some clothes before heading for a shower. ‘Things escalate a lot in summer, too. The sun brings out the best, and worst, in some.’ 

‘What’s happened this time?’ Mark removed the duvet from his head and looked at her.

‘A man’s body has been found with head injuries.’

‘I’ll do the shopping then.’

She turned to him with a smile, but his eyes were closed. 

Since they’d got over their rough patch, the last few months had been incredible. They were firing on all cylinders as a couple once more, going through the rounds of interviews and training required to become foster parents. 

They still had a few weeks to go before a decision could be made. Even so, Mark had bought champagne in anticipation. Allie had insisted it should stay in the garage until they had a definite yes. She didn’t want to tempt fate, in any way. 

‘Thanks,’ she replied. ‘We can make up for it next weekend.’

‘I hope we hear from the council by then.’ His eyes were open now, and he rolled over to face her. ‘I can’t bear the suspense.’

Allie sat down on the bed beside him for a moment. 

‘We’re going to make great foster parents.’ She leaned forward to plant a kiss on his lips. ‘Now, go back to sleep.’

‘Oh, I intend to.’

Thirty minutes later, Allie was driving towards Caverswall traffic lights. She was on her way to Fenton, in the south of the city, where the man’s body had been found. It was next to Richmond Academy, on the edge of the Seddon Estate, a school that was now doing well in the league tables after a terrible couple of decades. 

Despite the early hour, emergency vehicles were already in situ, and she pulled in as near as she could. At least there weren’t many people about to rubberneck yet. Allie hated that the public got to see so much nowadays. With the advent of the smartphone, anyone could be a roving reporter, shooting video and uploading it to social media within a matter of minutes. 

As she got out of her car, she spotted a familiar vehicle coming towards her and waited for its occupant to park up and get out. 

‘Morning, boss,’ DS Perry Wright greeted her, sunglasses already on. 

‘Morning, Perry. I can’t believe we got here at the same time.’ She smirked. ‘It’s obviously because it takes you less time now to do your hair.’

Perry had been touchy about losing his trademark blond-spiked style until his wife, Lisa, had likened him to Jason Statham. Allie couldn’t see the resemblance herself, thought that Lisa was being kind. 

But Perry had taken it to heart and embellished his baldness. He said it suited his all-year-round fake tan. Thankfully, that had gone alongside his hair as well. No more of the orange glow he’d been known for. 

And although she wouldn’t admit it, because she’d rather have something to tease him about, he did look much better for the loss of them both. 

‘Get much grief from Lisa?’ she questioned.

‘The usual. I was relishing family time over a long lunch, though.’

‘Yeah, me, too. Inconsiderate of the public.’ 

They shared a smile before sombre faces were needed at the crime scene. 

Arriving at the cordon, Allie didn’t recognise the officer on guard so held up her warrant card. 

‘DI Shenton, and this is my colleague, DS Wright.’

‘PC Plumber,’ the officer acknowledged.

‘Has the pathway been cordoned off each end?’ 

‘Yes, Ma’am,’ he replied. 

‘Who found him? The usual?’ Most crimes first thing in the morning were found by dog walkers or runners. 

‘A woman out jogging.’ He pointed to the other end of the pathway. ‘She lives in those houses there; found him here and called us.’

‘Is she at home now?’

‘Yes. My colleague is with her.’

Allie nodded her thanks. She and Perry signed into the logbook and prepped in forensic gear. Then they dipped under the tape and walked towards the murder spot. 

It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in a deep-blue sky and the temperature already hitting double figures. She cursed inwardly. 

They were going to ruin someone’s weekend.

I'm really excited to get this book out - only three weeks to go!


Hidden Secrets – Chapter Two
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