Only love can heal a heart betrayed… Harriet Burke has long been haunted by a family scandal. Abandoned by her mother as an infant, she has grown up in the shadows of the events that led up to that scandal. But all changes when she meets the future Viscount of Daneford. The dashing young Lieutenant Arthur Hammett defies his grandfather. Professing his undying love, he proposes to Harriet. Harriet quickly learns that all is not what it seems. Secrets, lies, and betrayal shatters Harriet’s life, leaving Harriet little choice. She has to begin life anew… They were destined to be together but fate had other plans… Lord Arthur Daneford made a rash decision years ago that cost him greatly…his biggest regret. Now, though, his past has reemerged. Chilling information has been called to his attention that Harriet’s life is endangered. He will stop at nothing to ensure her safety, but will she accept his help before it’s too late? ABOUT: Family scandal…Forbidden love…Ghosts and Curses Harriet Burke has been cursed or so says her grandfather. In her youth, a gypsy’s blessing gave Harriet the ability to disregard the boundaries of death. Lord Arthur believes it is total nonsense, but he cannot deny there is no explanation for her knowledge. Haunted by visions of wrongs once done, Harriet fears there will be no escape. Book Rated: R Mature Audiences Secret Lives series: Seductive Secrets, Book One Broken Legacy, Book Two Seductive Lies, Book Three Boston’s Crimes of Passion series: Fragmented, Book One REVIEWS: Every ingredient needed for an historical romance you won’t forget is in this book. The level of deceit and treachery will astound you. You can tell this book was a labor of love. Ms. Connelly gives us a book that could easily become a series. The writing is amazing and the characters relatable. Your heart strings will be pulled and you’ll feel the anger and rage- it’s that well written. You must get this book, but be warned, it will leave you breathlessly waiting for the next one.—Have You Heard My Book Review, Reviewed by Melanie
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Prologue Chapter 1….Thursday 5th June ….11.00am Chapter 2….Thursday 5 th June….5.30pm Chapter 3….Thursday 5 th June….7.15pm Chapter 4….Friday 6 th June….11.00am Chapter 5….Saturday 7th June….12.30pm Chapter 6….Sunday 8th June….10.00am Chapter 7….Monday 9th June….9.00am Chapter 8….Monday 9th June….3.30pm Chapter 9….Tuesday 10th June….12.30pm Chapter 10….Tuesday 10th June….9.30pm Chapter 11….Wednesday 11th June….8.30am Chapter 12….Wednesday 11th June….8.30pm Chapter 13….Thursday 12thJune….9.00am Chapter 14….Friday 13th June….6.30am Chapter 15….Friday 13th June….8.00pm Epilogue Prologue The woman in the black skin tight wet suit was clinging to the side of the building five floors up. She was free climbing and had no means of attaching herself to the surrounding structure….no ropes….no clips….no suction cups. She had climbed with these aids in the past but residential buildings, like the one she was on now, presented no problems to someone who had climbed sky-scrapers in New York, Chicago and London. Her mother had always called her a dare-devil from the time when at six years old she had climbed up on to the roof of their two storey home. Since then she had tried everything….mountain climbing, rock climbing, bungee jumping, hang gliding, sky diving, base jumping….you name it…. at twenty eight years old she had done it all …..as long as it was dangerous….that was the only criteria. Free climbing sky-scrapers was about as dangerous as it gets and yet she had become bored with it….after all it wasn’t as if she was the first. As soon as someone built a second storey….someone else climbed it. Harry H. Gardiner….the name floated into her mind as she continued the climb….in 1916 150,000 people turned out to watch Harry, dubbed `The Human Fly` (by no less a person than the President of the day, Grover Cleveland), free climb the Majestic building in Detroit….and….what was that guy’s name?…..he climbed the Sears Tower in Chicago in a Spiderman suit in 1981….all 1454ft of it using suction cups….all the while being chased by the Fire Department intent on preventing him getting to the top of what was then the worlds tallest building…..this Keystone Cops image of a Spiderman being chased by fireman on this huge building brought a smile to her face behind her ski-mask…..and what about that French guy?….he had, reputedly, climbed the Empire State Building but this was un-substantiated…. this structure being, so far, considered un-climbable….it was thought that the windows were so old they may shatter if suction cups were applied to them plus there was an awful lot of flat plain concrete between floors….if he had done it….well it was a feat to be justifiably proud of. She had found a new and novel way to get her adrenaline flowing….it had come about by accident a year or so earlier when she had been challenged to base jump, in the dark, from the top of Blues Point Tower, just on the north side of the Harbour Bridge, a feat that had ended in disaster for a previous jumper. But she had known that jumper….knew he was very good and therefore something very much out of the ordinary must have occurred on that occasion…. equipment failure being most likely. Anyway, looking at the building, it did not present any real problem so, to make it a real challenge, she had doubled the bet saying she would free climb up and parachute off. Two thirds of the way up the 25 storeytower, she felt the worst pain in her stomach that she had ever had. She had an urgent need to visit a bathroom…. fortunately an open window presented itself at that moment and she slipped into the apartment, used the facilities and was about to clamber back through the window, when she noticed a bulging wallet on the bedside table. She completed the climb, jumped off and was five grand richer when she touched down on the grass at the foot of the tower….four from the sleeping occupant of the apartment, who would forever wonder where his money went, plus a thousand from the bet….not a bad night’s work she thought. The media had discovered her six months later and labelled her ‘Spiderman’….well they got that wrong big time and she thought they could have come up with something more original….that’s what happens when you have no say in the matter but she was pleased that they didn’t know that it was a female that was taking their money. By then she was doing a building every two weeks or so….she would usually find balcony doors unlocked or open even, as residents found it hard to imagine they could be burgled living on the fifteenth floor. She had tried not to be predictable by choosing targets in varying parts of the city…. consequently, the police had no idea as to where she would strike next…. Her only rule was that she only took money – nothing more….she had robbed buildings from Chatswood in the north, to Parramatta in the west…. tonight it was Darling Point’s turn and this was a very easy climb, an older building, only eighteen storeys but she had chosen this building because of it’s location in one of Sydney’s wealthiest up-market suburbs, the building had a high proportion of rich older residents. She had watched the building for several nights noticing that the lights went out in most of the apartments by about eleven, this had enabled her to get to work earlier than usual. Her slender build was a definite asset for climbing and she had no trouble hauling herself over the balustrade onto the sixth floor balcony….already she had been in four apartments and her small back pack was stuffed with cash. She was about to try the handle on the balcony door when the lights clicked on inside. ‘Wow….they didn’t get that lot at K-Mart.’ She muttered. The room was beautifully decorated with two large soft looking off white sofas covered with bright multi-coloured cushions….the carpet was the type that came up to the ankles when you stepped on it….original paintings covered the walls and oriental vases and ornaments were scattered, seemingly at random, on occasional tables around the room….the large table lamps had all came to life as one, a feature she had seen in America but not in this part of the world, a large glass topped designer coffee table sat between the sofas ….Vogue and Marie Clair magazines featured on it’s surface….The screen on the wall could have been used for replays at the football stadium. She flattened herself against the side wall of the balcony, hoping that the two people who had entered the room would not venture out for some night air. She was reasonably sure they would not see her if they stayed inside, even if they looked out through the glass, as she was covered from head to toe in the wet suit with thin skin tight gloves plus a full face ski mask, all jet black….only her eyes were visible….as long as she stayed still she would be fine….this had happened a couple of times before and she had got away with it. The glass doors and windows ran the whole width of the large balcony affording her an uninterrupted view into the apartment. The pair were talking in an animated fashion….the woman in the white dress was waving her arms about. She’s attractive, she thought, in spite of the black eye and livid bruising on the left side of her face. The other person seemed to be emphasizing a point, with a clenched fist pumping the air….she couldn’t make out the gist of it, just catching occasional words through the glass doors. She closed her eyes for a few moments wondering how long before she would be able to move on up the building to the roof, or sideways, or whatever….she just had to get off this balcony. When she reopened her eyes the woman was backing away from a gun, her hands held up in front of her as if to ward off bullets….she didn’t hear the shots, just saw the woman stagger slightly then fall back….her full weight coming down onto the glass coffee table which smashed into a thousand pieces. She could see blood spreading across her breasts and stomach, staining her white dress a dark crimson….the killer stood over her for a few seconds and then looked straight out through the window at her. What had caused the killer to look through the glass, she would never know….she was sure that she had not moved….not even sure she had been seen….she was in fact frozen to the spot at that moment… ….perhaps it was sudden paranoia on the killer’s part that someone might be out there watching….in any case the killer was headed for the balcony door….gun in hand ready to shoot….the fact that it was locked probably saved the cat burglar’s life, as in the few seconds it took the killer to figure out how the door unlocked, she went over the side of the balcony and clinging by her finger tips dropped onto the balustrade of the balcony below then repeated the manoeuvre down to the next balcony and then the next at twice the speed she would normally go…..she was hanging off the second floor balcony when she felt a rush of air go by her left ear and saw a chunk of brickwork break off and fall to the ground….she threw all caution to the wind and dropped the last six meters rolling over as she did when sky diving….she sprinted to the motorcyclefifty meters away and unleashed the full horsepower of the powerfulbike, leaving her helmet dangling from the handlebars as she fled as fast as she could from the scene she had witnessed…. She was doing over a hundred twenty kilometres an hour up New South Head Road, heading for Vaucluse, when she realized two things…. firstly, that going at twice the speed limit through traffic and red lights was a fast way to get picked up by the law and secondly, that she was headed in the wrong direction. She slowed the bike to a crawl, turned into a side street, stopped and forced herself to breathe deeply to get her heart rate down….she hadn’t sweated like this since that day she had lost her footing on that building in Hong Kong three years ago and was hanging by her finger tips. She pulled the helmet onto her head and made her way home using as many back streets as she could. Chapter 1…..11.00am Thursday June 4th No one has called me James since primary school when it was discovered that my middle name was Kelly which of course can be a girls name and that triggered the usual consequences. I had a lot of fights and eventually I was winning them all at which point the sobriquet became affectionate rather than insulting. It toughened me up, like Johnny Cash’s ‘A Boy Named Sue’. Kelly was my mother’s maiden name and they wanted it to be hyphenated as in Kelly-Wynton but someone screwed up at Births Marriages and Deaths and left out the hyphen. In my teens I discovered a coincidence when I started listening to jazz and Miles Davis in particular and found out that for several years his piano player was a giant of the era called Wynton Kelly….if you’re looking for good jazz, it doesn’t come any better than Wynton Kelly. My full name is James Kelly Wynton and I’m a private investigator with Busby Investigations, and at thirty two I’m still single having avoided making the required commitment for marriage and resisted the idea of anyone moving in with me, although that’s been on offer several times, the timing never seemed quite right and the ladies moved on to someone more in tune with their ideas. A Mrs. Deborah Hayes had called us and Max Busby and I had gone to her Longueville home to be briefed on the state of play in the case of the missing schoolgirl. Maddie Hayes had disappeared after school two weeks earlier and as a fair amount of her clothing was missing it was presumed that she had run away rather than met with foul play. The police had conducted an inquiry but came up empty and the case was pretty much on the back burner, she was sixteen and they thought that as she was a runaway, then given time she would show up. So Deborah Hayes called us to see if we could do better. Max only came with me to show we were serious about the job as in fact I would be working this one solo. Deborah and her husband Glenn, told us that there was no boyfriend that they knew of and that her best friend, Danielle had denied all knowledge of Maddie’s disappearance. ‘Mrs. Hayes, tell me more about Danielle.’ Already I was thinking that the BFF would know more than she was letting on. ‘Well she’s in the same year as Maddie and they do everything together….I can’t help thinking that this has to do with the trip to the States she’s going on.’ ‘Trip to the States?’ ‘Yes, Danni and her parents are going to Los Angeles in a couple of months time and asked if it was ok for Maddie to go with them but we had already made arrangements for our trip to Europe and Maddie would be coming with us….it was all booked and paid for months ago and you don’t get any refunds if you cancel and anyway I was not happy about Maddie going overseas without us.’ Max headed back to the office and I headed to Danielle’s address after getting Mrs. Hayes to call Danielle’s parents to ok a chat with her. Of course the parents would want to be there when we had the chat but I needed to talk to Danielle alone as she would never give up the information with her folks around and it would be impossible to put any pressure on her with them in the room so first thing after the introductions were over it was time to tell them the facts of life. ‘Danielle and just about any girl of her age will not give up any information with her parents present….I need to speak with her alone…..’ There was a flurry of buts which I ignored and pressed on. ‘Were you present when the police spoke to her?’ ‘Yes, but…’ ‘And did she tell them anything?’ ‘Well no but…..’ ‘And do you think she knows anything?’ ‘Maybe….probably.’ The answers were predictable and they weren’t happy but knew I was right and I waited in the living room for Danielle to come down from her room. ‘Hello Danni, I’m Kelly Wynton I’m looking into Maddie’s disappearance for her parents.’ As I shook hands with her I couldn’t help but think that when I was sixteen girls just didn’t look like this, more is the pity. The skin tight jeans were like cling wrap over her hips and butt and I wondered what they had been feeding her that caused her to grow breasts like large water melons protruding out front, she looked more like twenty two than sixteen and I had to keep reminding myself of that fact. I had already figured out an angle. ‘I hear you’re off to Los Angeles soon.’ ’Yes and Las Vegas and New York.’ Her voice and tone betrayed the image, she was definitely sixteen. I breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Nice….have you got your visitor’s visa yet?’ ‘Visa? I don’t know my dad does that sort of stuff.’ ‘Well, did you know that if you have a criminal charge or conviction the Americans won’t let you in?’ ‘I don’t have any criminal charges against me.’ ‘No you don’t, well not yet anyway but when Maddie turns up, as I’m sure she will quite soon, then the police, who have invested a lot of time and manpower into looking for her….did you know they have divers searching the river?….anyway they will be looking for some sort of result that will justify the cost….you know arrest rates, conviction rates they are important for a Detective Sergeants’ career and when they realize that you knew stuff and didn’t tell them you’ll be in handcuffs before you know it and you can kiss Disneyland goodbye.’ ‘But I haven’t done anything.’ ‘Withholding information is the same as hindering a police investigation…they really hate that….when they realize that they could have cleared this up in one day instead of the two weeks using god knows how many police officers….they even had a helicopter out for few days….do you know how much it costs to fly a helicopter?….well the book they will throw at you will be mighty heavy.’ I was bluffing about the divers and the chopper but figured she would buy it, but I still hadn’t convinced her, I was almost there but needed something else to push her over the edge. ‘What are going to do when you leave school?’ ‘I’ll be going to Sydney Uni to study law….my dad’s a lawyer.’ Beautiful. ‘Well there’s another thing you can say goodbye to….you can’t be a lawyer if you have a criminal conviction….common sense really as you are supposed to uphold the law…..the Law Society will never let you in.’ I didn’t know if that was true or not and I hoped she wouldn’t run out and ask her dad about it, but my gut told me that if she did that, dad would be asking questions she didn’t want to answer. Danni was biting her lower lip and her forehead was all creased up as she wrestled with her problem. I decided she was ready to spill the beans. ‘I can keep you out of it Danni….tell me about her boy friend.’ I find it’s always best to act like I know something when in fact it’s a total stab in the dark. Danni looked at me, her apprehensive blue gaze now making her look more twelve than sixteen. ‘What do you mean by that, that you’ll keep me out of it?’ ‘I will not tell anyone what you tell me, not your parents, the police no one. It will be just between me and you and as long as you keep your mouth zipped up you’ll be fine, and when I find Maddie I will see to it that she does the right thing as far as you’re concerned.’ She gave a huge sigh and the tension went out of the air. ‘What do you want to know?’ I had noticed that she hadn’t denied the existence of a boy friend. ‘What’s his name and where do I find him?’ ‘Damian, his name’s Damian…he works at the Ford dealers up on the highway, he’s a mechanic.’ ‘Do you know where she is?’ ‘His parents have a holiday home on the Central Coast somewhere….she’s there.’ ‘Have you spoken to her?’ ‘No she turned her phone off because she thought she could be traced if she left it on.’ ‘Clever girl, she’s right about that…..why did she go off? ‘She’s peed off about her parents not letting her go to Los Angeles with us and she’s in love with Damian.’ ‘Ok…do you know where he lives? ‘It’s around here somewhere but I don’t know exactly.’ ‘How old is he Danni?’ ‘He’s twenty.’ ‘What about his last name, do you know what it is?’ ‘Yes it’s Black, Damian Black same as the colour of his car.’ ‘Do you know what make and model it is?’ ‘Oh it’s a Nissan something or other….it’s an older car and as I said, its black.’ I took a stab at what a twenty year old mechanic might drive. ‘Skyline?’ ‘Yes, that’s it Skyline’ ’Ok….hopefully I’ll have her home by tonight but should she call before then do not and I stress this to you, do not say anything to her about this….ok?’ Otherwise all bets are off, understand? ‘Ok.’ ‘I’ll tell your folks that we’re all done and you know nothing, you’ll be all right.’ ‘Ok thanks….I’m glad I’ve told you….I don’t like to lie.’ Ten minutes later I eyeballed a mid nineties Nissan Skyline with a matt black wrap in the employee’s car park at the Ford dealers and settled down to wait for Damian to show. It was a quarter to four and I felt pretty sure they would quit work at five so I amused myself checking the news on my iphone and listening to ‘The Poll Winners’, Barney Kessell, Ray Brown and Shelly Manne. Timeless music from the fifties. It was just getting dark when the skinny kid showed up at five past five. I followed him thinking he would head to the Central Coast but he pulled off into a shopping centre and I went to plan B. It would be lot simpler for him to be in my car showing me where to go than it would be for me to tail him for eighty or ninety kilometres. Chapter 2….5.30pm Thursday June 4th The kid looked left then right in that furtive way that people do when they don’t want to be seen doing something and I almost laughed out loud as he grabbed the packet of tampons from the shelf and dropped them into the shopping cart. It was conformation that I was on the right track and I went over the next move in my mind as the kid tried not to make eye contact with the checkout girl. I guess he was feeling relieved as he crossed the supermarket car park but that was about to change. He arrived at his black Nissan Skyline and stowed the shopping bags in the back of the car. ‘Damian’ I was about four feet from him when I spoke and he predictably did a startled jump at the unexpected sound of his name. ‘Hi Damian, I’m Kelly Wynton.’ I held out my right hand and he had little option but to take it and shake. ‘Oh, ah, hi….how?….I mean what…?’ I decided to help him out and get straight to the point. ‘No we haven’t met before, I just wanted to ask you where you have Maddie hidden.’ ‘What do you mean? I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ ‘Damian, don’t mess me around…how long have you been using tampons?….Don’t answer that I know they’re for Maddie, where is she?’ ‘Who?…I don’t know what you mean.’ I had hoped that I would not have to hit him but the kid brought it on himself, I didn’t have time for this….I landed a solid right to the middle of his face hoping it was not hard enough to knock him out but hard enough to make him realize that, to borrow a phrase, ‘resistance is futile’. He staggered back against the side of the Nissan clutching his bleeding nose and with a few ‘Oh fucks’ and ‘shits’ slowly slid to the ground, where I guess he felt safer. ‘Here’s the deal Damian, you’re what? Nineteen?’ ‘Twenty’ ‘Right, twenty and Maddie is how old? Fifteen?’ ‘She’s sixteen.’ ‘Right three weeks ago she turned sixteen. And you’ve known her how long? Three years?’ ‘Two.’ Asking the questions when you already know the answers is the way I figure out when someone starts to lie. So far Damian had passed with flying colours. He slowly got to his feet and I handed him a couple of tissues that were scrunched up in my jacket pocket. ‘Two years…so that means you were fucking her when she was fourteen…right?…And you were eighteen?’ He didn’t answer and continued dabbing at his nose hoping the bleeding would stop and I could tell even in the poor light of the car park that he was turning an interesting shade of red. ‘What that means Damian, is that for every time you fucked her, and that would be, let’s see two years, even at say only twice a week with a bit of time off for Christmas and Easter, that’s about two hundred charges of child molestation that the cops will bring down on you and the judge will show no mercy for that sort of activity…you’ll get five years minimum for each offence and that adds up to one thousand years which equals about fifteen lifetimes in jail.’ I had no idea of what the sentence would be for this type of offence and I was of course banking on him not knowing either or what the phrase ‘concurrent sentence’ meant. ‘It’s only been about eight months since we….started doing it….she wanted it…she started the whole thing, she came on to me…’ ‘That won’t wash Damian, the cops, the judge, the jury they have heard it all before…you see this is the situation, Damian, at fourteen or fifteen you are considered to be too young to fully understand what you are consenting to, and us older folk, like me and you, as you were then eighteen and therefore considered an adult, must understand that you have to wait until the day they turn sixteen when magically, over night, they do understand and then it’s ok to fuck them.’ I could see he was trying to figure out what this might mean for him but he had no answers. ‘I’m sorry I hit you Damian, you ok?’ ‘Yeah it’s ok I’m glad it’s out in the open, I’ve been worried about it from the start.’ ‘I am only interested in getting Maddie back to her parents ….two weeks she’s been missing and I’m thinking that she was the one who thought this would be a good idea…right Damian?’ ‘Yeah that’s right….she wanted to teach her parents a lesson because they wouldn’t let her go to America with Danni.’ ‘Well I think they’ve learned it by now don’t you? I mean two weeks not knowing where she is ….they are going crazy with worry.’ ‘I’ve told her that but she won’t listen to me….I wanted her to go home on the second day, but…..she’s turned into a…I don’t know what, but I can’t reason with her …..’ He trailed off shrugging his shoulders unable to articulate his frustration. Had to hand to this girl, sixteen and already knows all the moves….Damian was wrapped around her little finger and it was clear the kid wanted her back home. ’I can help you Damian, if you help me….ok?’ ‘How?….how can you help me?’ ‘We’ll take my car and drive up to the Central Coast….’ ‘How did you know she’s there?’ ‘….never mind how I know, I’ll talk to her, get her to come home and keep you out of it….she’s a smart girl, I think she’ll see what’s in her, and your, best interest.’ After reassuring him that I would not give him up to the cops we transferred the shopping bags to my Ford Territory and headed north. Chapter 3….7.15pm Thursday June 4th We made good time to Ettalong Beach considering the time of day and Damian poured his heart out to me on the way about Maddie. I was glad that he didn’t hold any grudge over the bloody nose as he was basically a good kid struggling to pay his rent after his flat mate had moved on and he was genuinely worried about Maddie’s parents. I didn’t want to see him up before the courts over this. We pulled into the driveway of a single storey timber framed house a couple of streets back from the beach. I had called Mr. and Mrs. Hayes to let them know their daughter was ok and that I hoped to have her home soon. They had a million questions and I avoided them with a ‘sorry you’re breaking up’ line and hung up. Damian had a key and called out as we went in. ‘Maddie….Maddie I’m here.’ ‘Damian I’ve missed you so mu….who are you?’ I had thought that Danni was a looker but this girl put her into the second division. Her long dark hair and matching eyes that flashed plus her high cheekbones gave her a permanent sultry look and combined with an occasional pout and a figure that would stop traffic all added up to one word …. sensational. Damian was punching way beyond his weight. If she turned up in court dressed as she was in spray on jeans, bare midriff, four inch stiletto heels and low cut top with it’s eye catching display, Damian would be instantly acquitted of all charges but of course they would put her in her school uniform and no makeup and hair in pigtails and he’d be mincemeat. ‘Hi Maddie….my name’s Kelly Wynton….how are you?’ ‘What do you want? Why is he here Damian?’ ‘He’s a private detective hired by your parents.’ ‘And you brought him here? You idiot….why did you do that?’ Maddie was losing it and I needed her to be calm. ‘Not his fault Maddie, I didn’t give him any choice….we can salvage something out of this if you care to listen to me for a couple of minutes.’ Maddie stopped pacing and flailing her arms around and gave me a piercing glare. This girl was used to getting what she wanted so my strategy had better be good. I carefully explained the underage thing to her and what that would mean to Damian and also her friend Danni for withholding information. It seemed to make no impression on her and I knew she would sell them down the river to save herself. ‘And then there’s you…’ ‘What about me?’ ‘Well if Damian is charged you would have to testify in court and Damian’s lawyer will want you to give a detailed blow by blow description of each and every one of the hundred and one times that you had sex with him in the last year and when I say detailed I mean detailed…..sorry about the pun.’ Maddie didn’t get the pun but was waking up to the problem she had created. ‘I don’t want to go to court…..do you mean they’d ask about ….well, intimate questions?’ ‘Yes they would Maddie, they would want you to describe everything the pair of you have done in the last two years since you’ve known him and your parents would be sitting in the front row listening to every word.’ ‘Well I can insist that they are not allowed in can’t I?’ ‘No Maddie, you can’t insist on anything this is the law you’re dealing with and they have a set of rules and one of them is that they decide who gets into the courtroom and who doesn’t and your parents will be the ones insisting that they are there.’ ‘I don’t want them hearing that kind of stuff…..What can I do?’ ‘Ok we need to keep the police from arresting Damian….the only way that can happen is if your parents never ever hear of him, is that clear?’ ‘How do I do that, I have to tell them I’ve been somewhere and with someone?’ ‘Somewhere yes but with someone no….you have been alone for the whole two weeks.’ ‘I don’t think they’ll believe that.’ ‘You tell them that you wanted to be alone to think things through about not being allowed to go to the States with Danni and you now realize that they are totally right and you’re now looking forward to going to Europe with them.’ ‘But they’ll let me go with Danni now, I know they will.’ ‘Maddie we either do this my way or your way and I’m telling you that your way means jail time for Damian and Danni will never become a lawyer and you will be revealing the sordid details of your sex life in court after which your parents will probably put you under lock and key….which is it to be?’ Predictably the tears started flowing but I was un-moved by them as I was sure she had an on off tap to start and stop them at will….. Damian tried pleading with her. ‘Maddie please you have to listen to him, he’s right I could go to jail.’ The tears and sobs subsided as quickly as they had started but she finally capitulated. ‘What do want me to say?’ ‘I’ll tell you again for a start you do not mention Damian or Danni as being connected to this, only you, me and Danni know about Damian so let’s keep it that way and don’t think that I’m condoning under age sex….he’s done the wrong thing but I know if I was his age and you offered yourself up on a plate to me I don’t know that I’d be able to resist…’ ‘I didn’t….’ ‘…..shut up and listen…..I’ve got a pretty good idea as to what went down between you two and for that reason I don’t want to ruin Damian’s life….so you don’t mention Damian, and Danni knew nothing is that clear?’ ‘Yes it’s clear.’ She was pouting and sounding petulant. ‘Ok…here’s the story you are going to tell….you stayed at a girl friends house who is overseas somewhere with her parents ….they went for a two week skiing holiday to New Zealand …..she gave you the key to her house so that you could feed the cat. She is someone you have met recently so your parents don’t know her, and you don’t want to tell them her name because she will be in big time trouble because the cat was meant to be boarded out at a cattery while they were away and she has already had a row with her parents about this because she wanted the cat to stay home but they didn’t want anyone to have keys to the house….. the girl doesn’t know that you stayed there and would be grounded for the rest of her life if her parents found out….. ok? ….the cat’s name is Fluffy and they arrive home tomorrow and you left the key at the house…..only tell them those last two things if they ask……ok get your things together, we’ve got an hour or so in the car to go over it.’ She had it down pat by the time we dropped Damian at his car and I had made her vary the story very slightly each time she told it so that it didn’t sound rehearsed and she was good at it but I wasn’t surprised as I suspected that she was on a professional level when it came to lying.