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SOME SECRETS ARE SHOCKING
When New Jersey police officer Ivy Sedgwick's fianc‚ bolts out of the church on their wedding day, she's stunned. ...
SOME SECRETS ARE SHOCKING
When New Jersey police officer Ivy Sedgwick's fianc‚ bolts out of the church on their wedding day, she's stunned. Declan loves her-doesn't he? Ivy's late father, a man she hardly knew, disapproved of the match, but Ivy never knew why-until a homicide detective named Griffin Fargo shows up. The man Ivy knew as Declan is really someone else-and "Declan" was just one of the aliases the police believe he used when he duped a string of other "fianc‚es" for their money.
OTHER SECRETS ARE DEADLY.
Breaking the news to Ivy is one of the hardest things Griffin has ever done, but he needs her to help him track down Declan before he strikes again. The trouble is, Griffin wants her, too. Protecting her becomes all too personal to Griffin, especially as the clues lead them to new suspects. With danger around every corner, all Griffin wants is to close the case-so he can convince Ivy that her future, and her heart, belong to him.
"Achingly poignant.a fine tale of rekindled love mixed in with a complex mystery."
-Romantic Times on Haunting Olivia
"Excellent.motives abound in this tale of dark suspense and romance."
-Romantic Times on Watching Amanda
Ivy Sedgwick, one of Applewood, New Jersey's finest, and her partner, an idiotic blowhard named Dan, got out of their squad car and headed up to the woman.
"Oh, Lord. It's not like her fiancé dropped dead," Dan muttered under his breath, which smelled garlicky, as usual.
Ivy shot him a look, something she did on a regular basis since getting paired with the jerk last month. Her previous partner, a great guy named Tom, had been promoted up the ladder. Soon it would be Ivy's turn. Detective. Her dream. And then she'd never have to listen to Dan's mind-numbing rants or watch him stuff half a dozen stereotypical donuts down his throat.
"Laura Mylar?" Ivy asked gently. "I'm Officer Sedgwick, and this is my partner, Officer Dan Wilmer. You reported a stolen wedding dress?"
The woman jumped up, her pretty blue eyes puffy and red from crying. "It was stolen right out of my car. I picked it up from the bridal salon, drove home, ran upstairs to install a hook on my bedroom door so the dress wouldn't dragon the floor, and when I came downstairs, the dress bag was gone! Who would steal a bride's wedding gown?" She slumped back down, burying her hands in her face.
Who, indeed. Ivy thought of the wedding dress hanging on a hook outside her own bedroom door. If it suddenly disappeared, Ivy would be uncharacteristically beside herself. She loved her gown, loved how she felt in it. Princess for a day wasn't Ivy's thing; she would have been happy in a fancy white pants suit, but her mother went off on one of her many speeches about waiting twenty-seven years to watch her daughter finally find happiness (as though Ivy wasn't happy before she and Declan got engaged!) and she simply had to wear a gown befitting a movie star.
Dana Sedgwick had dragged Ivy, kicking and screaming, to every bridal boutique within fifty miles, and Ivy had to admit, trying on dresses was more fun than she'd expected. She'd fallen in love with a simple white satin gown, strapless, with a row of delicate beading across the empire waist. When she'd looked at herself in the mirror the first time she'd tried it on, she'd been stunned by how . . . pretty she looked, how feminine. She had felt like a movie star.
Until she took it off and put back on her uniform to head back to work. Ivy Sedgwick, movie star. It was laughable. Four years after graduating from the police academy and Ivy's mother still thought Ivy was "finding herself." Her mother was also under the delusion that after the wedding, Ivy would quit the force and stay home to "provide a lovely home for her husband."
"Did you see anyone running away from the car when you came back?" Dan asked, barely able to contain his boredom.
"If I had, I would have chased them down," Laura said, her voice cracking.
"Not in those," Dan commented on a laugh, glancing at the woman's three-inch peau de sois white pumps.
Laura let out a deep breath. "My mom told me to break them in, to wear them as much as possible before the wedding. But now I don't even have a dress. The wedding is next weekend. I'll never be able to afford another gown, no matter how many shifts I take on."
Ah, Ivy thought. That's why she looks so familiar. Ivy sat down next to her. "You work in Applewood Diner, right? I eat there all the time."
Laura nodded. "I've been working double shifts to pay for the dress and this veil."
Ivy and her best friend, Alanna Moore, had had breakfast at the busy diner just that morning. Alanna, fellow police officer at the Applewood PD, was working extra shifts to pay for her own wedding. She'd lost her mother years ago, and her father was who-knew-where. Alanna's fiancé was a resident at the local hospital and didn't earn much yet. Ivy had managed to save up a good nest egg, but her mother insisted on paying for her wedding, something Ivy very much appreciated.
As Ivy and Alanna had awaited their breakfast that morning, they'd been impressed at how well Laura had handled her tables-rude businessmen, disrespectful high schoolers, impatient elderly couples. But how she handled one table in particular was amazing-four-year-old triplets who were flinging scrambled eggs off their spoons at Laura and passing busboys. Instead of losing her cool, Laura got down on knee level and said in an excited voice, "Okay, guys, I want to see which one of you will be right. How many plates of breakfast do you think I can balance on my arms without dropping them?" Blessed silence for an entire half minute. Then each boy made his guess. Two! Four! Thirteen! Laura disappeared into the kitchen, the triplets silent as they watched her return with three plates balanced on each arm. "Yay, you all win," she said to their mother's relief, and handed them each a mini Rubik's cube, which she apparently kept a bunch of just in case. Everyone enjoyed a quieter breakfast after that, the triplets, their tongues out in serious concentration, twisting tiny colored boxes on their toys.
"I just wanted everything to be perfect for my dad," Laura continued, wiping at tears. "He has cancer and doesn't have much time left. It means so much to him that he'll get to see me marry a great guy and settled in my new life." She sniffled, then sobered. "I guess it doesn't really matter what I wear, right?" she asked, looking at Ivy. "My wedding is a celebration of love, and my friends and family will be there. That's what matters."
"Keep telling yourself that, honey," Dan whispered into an obnoxious cough. Dan was on his third wife. How he got anyone to marry him was beyond Ivy.
She would have jabbed her elbow back into her partner's beer gut if he hadn't moved suddenly to avoid getting run over by a group of skateboarding teenagers.
I just wanted everything to be perfect for my dad. For a moment, Ivy felt the familiar sting of envy. Her own father, the late William Sedgwick, had never been interested in fatherhood, marriage, or commitment to another human being. He'd married Ivy's mother in Las Vegas after knowing her three days, then annulled the marriage a week later because "he'd been drunk." He'd never had any interest in Ivy or her older half sisters, Amanda and Olivia.
Never had any interest until three months ago, that was. He'd surprised her early in the morning, before sunrise, on an ordinary weekday, by knocking on her door.
"Dad?" she'd said, so shocked to see him standing on her tiny porch. Her father had never been to her house, a tiny but adorable slate-blue Cape that she'd been so proud to buy.
The venerable William Sedgwick, chairman of Sedgwick Enterprises, which bought and sold corporations, wore a heavy black wool coat, a gray cashmere scarf wrapped around his neck, and an old-fashioned black hat. He'd always reminded her, physically, of the actor Sean Connery. He didn't smile, or step forward to hug her, or even offer a kiss on the cheek. There was no, You're looking well, Ivy. No, What a lovely home. Ivy had no doubt William Sedgwick, whose primary residence was on Park Avenue, would turn up his nose at middle-class Applewood and its small, tidy houses.
Ivy glanced around him to the black sedan parked in front of her house. A driver sat reading a newspaper.
Her father looked directly at her. "There's a serious matter I need to discuss with you, Ivy."
Ivy laughed; she couldn't help it. He hadn't considered her appendix almost rupturing when she was fourteen a serious matter. He hadn't made an appearance at the hospital, even though she'd worked up the courage to call his office during her recuperation. His secretary had assured her she'd pass along the message. He hadn't visited, nor had he sent a card. When her mother had barraged his home and office with calls until he did respond, his answer to Ivy's mother was: Is she dead? Then, it's hardly serious. If you continue to harass me, I will pass the matter on to the police.
"A serious matter?" Ivy repeated. "What serious matter could you possibly-"
"Don't marry Declan McLean," he interrupted.
Ivy's smile faded. Declan had worked part-time at Sedgwick Enterprises-until he'd been abruptly fired a couple of days prior to her father's visit. Ivy's mother was an old friend, well, acquaintance, really, of Declan's late mother. A few months before she'd died in a car accident, Declan's mother had made use of the contact by calling William directly and asking about a job for her son. When he and Ivy met at one of her mother's many parties (Ivy never went to her mother's parties, but her mother had tricked her into going to that one specifically to meet Declan), and she'd heard he worked for her father's company, she'd been even more attracted. Her own six degrees of separation. Well, one degree. But she and her father couldn't be farther apart.
Ivy had shivered and wrapped her arms around herself; it was a cold winter morning and she was standing there in the doorway in only her uniform. "Come in," she said.
William didn't step forward. "Right here is fine. I'll only need a moment of your time."
Whatever, Ivy thought angrily. "How did you know I was engaged?" she asked. She certainly hadn't called him to share her happy news. Experience had taught her well.
"Your mother informed me, of course," William said coldly. "She wanted to 'rest assured' that I would pay for the wedding and even suggested The Plaza as a venue."
Ivy's face burned. As if she'd expect, let alone want, William Sedgwick to pay for her wedding! "I-"
He held up a hand to shut her up. "As I told your mother, I will not contribute one dime toward the wedding. Declan McLean is an unacceptable choice. You must not marry him, Ivy. You should end the relationship now."
An unacceptable choice. Right. Because he was still a student at thirty. Because he'd been working part-time at Sedgwick Enterprises in an entry-level capacity as a junior analyst and that wasn't good enough. Because he wasn't wealthy. Because he came from old money that had been lost generations ago. William was new money. He respected new money. And Declan, with his part-time salary, barely had any money. He even lived in a dorm with a roommate. Declan had a new job almost immediately at another corporation in the same capacity.
William suddenly winced in pain and clutched at the lapel of his coat.
"Dad? Are you all right?"
Dad. She never called him that.
He regained his composure almost immediately, but Ivy could tell he was in pain. "Do not marry him, Ivy," he said again.
But as usual, there was no expression in his eyes. He might as well be telling her not to buy white bread, that wheat bread was healthier. But perhaps this was it, all there was to William. Perhaps there was no other dimension to his personality.
No, there had to be. He'd gotten three beautiful women-Ivy's, Olivia's, and Amanda's mothers-to fall madly in love with him. Not to mention countless others. Then again, he was rich as hell. Ivy loved her mother, but the woman valued money. Ivy had been surprised her mother had pushed for her to meet Declan, a struggling MBA student without a dime to his name. Until Ivy realized that her mother thought Declan's family still had money. Declan's mother had been too proud to come clean about the family's financial situation. Ivy still hadn't bothered to set her straight.
Based on how Ivy felt about Declan, how in love she was, she wondered how her mother could really have married William at all. She tried to picture her mother, so young, so beautiful, with William in some ritzy Las Vegas hotel, where he gambled without a care in the world and-according to her mother-slept with three other women, strippers, hostesses, whoever he found physically appealing. She tried to imagine her mother walking in on him with another woman in their hotel suite. William, annoyed, waving her out when she gasped.
Her mother still married him that very night! Just hours after he'd been having sex with someone else in their hotel bed, her mother's tears and William's bottle of scotch resulted in an impromptu wedding ceremony at an all-night chapel with a ridiculous name: The Gamble On Forever Wedding Chapel.
Seven months later, Ivy came along. Which was why her mother had married William despite everything. But he'd had the marriage annulled a week later. According to her mother, William Sedgwick had met Ivy for the first time when she was seven-seven!-and only because he instituted his annual vacation for offspring at his summer house in Maine. There, she'd met her older half sisters for the first time, the stunningly beautiful and impossibly kind Olivia, with her light blond hair and peaches-and-cream complexion. And Amanda, raised by a poor mother in one of the New York City boroughs, who carried herself with such self-respect, something Ivy had noticed immediately, even as a seven-year-old.
Ivy could recall being so excited to be invited to her father's summer house, to finally get to know him, to feel her hand in his, to feel his love. It wasn't until she was a teenager that she realized he didn't love her or her sisters. It had been Ivy's own mother who'd pointed that out, who'd angrily informed Ivy that her father didn't give two figs about her, that he only invited her and "those other girls" to the house every summer because his public relations manager told him it would look good for him when he interviewed with reporters from Forbes and the New York Times about his personal life.
Billionaire William Sedgwick is also a loving family man whose three daughters spend two idyllic weeks every year with him at his Maine cottage, where they boat and fish and barbecue....
Girls, there's nothing like the fresh Maine air, William would say every morning. That was actually all he'd say for the day before going off to golf or lunch with an associate. Then he'd repeat it the next morning. Suffice to say, the Sedgwick girls did not get to know their estranged father one iota during the annual summer, two-week vacations. It had been something, though. Something to make Ivy feel "normal," like every other girl. She did have a father.
A father who didn't think she should marry her fiancé, yet wouldn't say why. Why was obvious, though. Declan, a business student, a low-level employee-whom he'd subsequently fired, of course-wasn't good enough for William Sedgwick's daughter. Only in the "Your daughter is marrying whom?" sense. The reality was that William Sedgwick didn't give a rat's butt whom Ivy married.
She'd faced her father, shoulders squared. "I am going to marry Declan," she told him, feeling the defiance in her eyes, in her tone. "I love him and he loves me and that's all I need to know."
He winced again, and the driver rushed from the black sedan. As William went back to his car, he turned again. "Do not marry him, Ivy."
That was the last time she saw her father. Weeks later, he died from heart failure and complications from cancer that no one knew he had. He'd died just a few months ago, and Ivy was still waiting to feel grief. She often wondered if that meant she was cold, but the more she thought about it, the more she knew that she couldn't love, couldn't grieve a stone. And that was what her father was and always had been.
A car horn blasted Ivy out of her thoughts. She dashed over to her squad car and retrieved a heavy cardigan sweater, then ran back and draped it over Laura's shoulders.
"You're absolutely right, Laura," Ivy told her. "It doesn't matter what you wear. But I know where you can get an absolutely stunning white wedding gown for free-in three days."
Laura brightened. "Where?"
"I'm getting married Saturday night," Ivy said. "I won't need my dress on Sunday." She'd actually already offered it to Alanna, but Alanna had totally different taste and had her heart set on a Victorian-style dress with a high, lacy neckline and puffed sleeves. She had it on layaway and put twenty-five dollars down on it each week.
Laura's mouth dropped open. "You'd give me your wedding dress?"
Ivy nodded and smiled. "What am I going to do with it? Get it dry cleaned and store it in the back of my closet for twenty-five years until maybe or maybe not the daughter I might or might not have might or might not want to wear it?"
Laura bit her lip. "I can't believe you'd really give me your dress. That's so unbelievably nice. And I think we're even the same size," she added, glancing over Ivy's thin figure.
"Well, even if you have to do some fast sewing and altering," Ivy said, "you'll have a beautiful dress. I'll drop it off at the diner around ten Sunday morning."
"Really?" Laura asked again, the color returning to her cheeks. "I can't believe you'd do that."
Ivy smiled again. "I'm happy to."
Excerpted from Shadowing Ivy by Janelle Taylor Copyright © 2007 by Janelle Taylor. Excerpted by permission.
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