Daughter of Deceit (Family Tree Mystery Series #3)by Patricia Sprinkle
Katharine Murray's elegant Atlanta home has been viciously vandalized! She's prepared to devote all her time to getting it back in tip-top shape—until she meets Bara Weidenauer. Once a picture-perfect socialite, Bara has fallen on some hard times. Her husband, Foley, has hightailed it out of their marriage, and she's convinced he'll try to take her for every… See more details below
Katharine Murray's elegant Atlanta home has been viciously vandalized! She's prepared to devote all her time to getting it back in tip-top shape—until she meets Bara Weidenauer. Once a picture-perfect socialite, Bara has fallen on some hard times. Her husband, Foley, has hightailed it out of their marriage, and she's convinced he'll try to take her for every penny she's got. While scouring her house for anything of value to hide from her greedy ex, Bara finds a box of military medals that once belonged to her father, a beloved war hero. Eager to know the story behind these precious trinkets, she enlists Katharine's help.
But as Katharine digs deeper into Weidenauer family history, she discovers that everything Bara believed about her father may have been a lie. And when Foley is found shot to death, Bara's world turns to complete chaos. It's up to Katharine to expose this family's secrets from the past and the present . . . or the future will be very grim indeed.
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Daughter of Deceit
Bara Holcomb Weidenauer was on a mission to save her life. She sped through Buckhead on a hot August Monday, headed for the storage unit where she had sent her father's things after he died. Winnie had had a habit of tucking stray fifties and hundreds into desk and dresser drawers until he needed them. She desperately hoped she could find a few. Her husband had frozen her bank accounts and credit cards, and her cash was almost gone.
She groped for her father's silver flask in the glove compartment of her navy Jaguar. "A little something to steady my nerves," she explained. She unscrewed the top with one hand in a practiced motion and held the flask up, waiting for objections.
She got none.
She was alone in the car.
In fact, Bara was alone on the street—a rarity at that hour in Buckhead. Mornings in that privileged Atlanta community, where massive houses sit on acres of tree-shaded lawns, usually feature a parade of maids and lawn service trucks, delivery vans, and women heading to aerobics, meetings, and children's activities.
Taking her privacy as a sign—for Bara seldom took a drink when someone else could see her—she gulped down two big swigs of Wild Turkey's Rare Breed. That's what her husband kept under his bathroom sink. She felt no guilt about stealing Foley's bourbon. He owed her.
She didn't really like the taste of alcohol, but had learned young to appreciate the way it relaxed strictures her mother had imprinted on her brain: Be sweet, now. Pull down your skirt. Wear a hat, honey—your skin turns so dark in the sun. Don't letprofanity pass your lips. Don't stride so—ladies glide like swans. Don't be rowdy—nobody wants to marry a tomboy.
Bara lifted the flask to toast the invisible presence who hovered at her shoulder, as impossible to please in death as in life. "I was a tomboy, Mama, but two people still wanted to marry me. Foulmouthed losers, both of them, but they asked to marry me. Fool that I was, I let them."
Linking Ray Branwell and Foley Weidenauer in one thought required a large, fortifying gulp. The whiskey blazed down her throat but settled like a water balloon in her stomach. It never landed as easy as it went down. Her mother's disapproval accompanied every swallow.
She kept one eye on the rearview mirror as she drove out what she thought of as the back door to Buckhead. West on West Pace's Ferry Road where the governor's mansion, up near Peachtree, was by no means the largest house on the street. Left onto Moore's Mill and past several miles of houses that were smaller, but still beyond the means of most Atlanta residents. Across a railroad bridge far too short to prepare one for the sudden change to seedy strip malls, light industry, and a sewage treatment plant. Foley had no idea where Bara was hiding Winnie's papers. Bara had no intention of letting him find out.
She pulled into the parking lot, took one more short swallow, and continued her defense to an invisible jury. "I need a pickme-up this morning. If I don't find some money, I don't know what I'm going to do."
She left the flask in the glove compartment. Bara didn't carry whiskey in her purse. She was no drunk.
Heat rose in waves from the parking lot asphalt. Atlanta's morning temperature was eightyfive and rising. "Why did I put on long sleeves and silk?" she muttered, pulling her shirt from her body to let in some air. Because she hadn't been thinking clearly. She hadn't been thinking clearly since Winnie died.
As she unlocked the door to her unit, she protested, "I know it's been four months, Mama. I know I need to go through all this. I would have, if Foley hadn't demanded that divorce almost immediately. Fighting him has taken every bit of strength I've got."
She stepped into the dim, chilly unit separated from others by thick concrete walls. A sob caught in her throat as she saw the big leather chair and desk Winnie had used at home. A whiff of his scent glossed the musty air. He could have simply stepped out for a moment. His mahogany bedroom chest stood with its back to a wall, still full of clothes she could not bear to discard. Shoulderhigh stacks of boxes contained the contents of his library: books, awards, trophies, and knickknacks. Other boxes held files from his downtown office—files without which Foley couldn't carry out all of his diabolical plan. Had Bara had a premonition of what he was going to do? Was that why she had seized and hidden all Winnie's files immediately after his death? She was pleased to think she had been at least that smart.
"Pass 'GO' and collect two hundred dollars," she muttered hopefully as she sank into Winnie's chair. To appease her mother's pious spirit, she added, "Fervently do we hope, devoutly do we pray."
As she pulled out the bottom drawer, she had to overcome a surge of guilt. Her father's desks had been offlimits when she and her brother, Art, were small. "I need groceries," she whispered to Winnie's memory. "I will not beg Foley for milk money."
An old manila envelope lay on top. Bulky, it was faded to a dull gold—the kind of place Winnie might have stuffed cash and forgotten it. When she shook it, it rattled. The tape that once sealed the flap was brittle, provided no resistance when she slid a finger under it. Inside, she felt plastic, paper, and round hard disks. She sank into Winnie's chair and dumped the contents onto the top of the desk. Out fell old driver's licenses, political campaign buttons, and masses of yellowed newspaper clippings. Among them were all her report cards and letters to Winnie.Daughter of Deceit. Copyright © by Patricia Sprinkle. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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