The Sound of Secrets (Love Inspired Suspense #48)

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A note from Nerissa Blanchard:

Now that my twin has found love, she wants me to be as happy as she is. She doesn't know how blue coming home to this empty house makes me. And our poor mother—I found her in the library, murdered. I'm thankful that Drew Lancaster was one of the first officers on the scene. He's encouraging and supportive (and he's handsome, too!). Lately, I've been hearing strange things around the house, and I worry that Mother's killer—or maybe someone else—is ...

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A note from Nerissa Blanchard:

Now that my twin has found love, she wants me to be as happy as she is. She doesn't know how blue coming home to this empty house makes me. And our poor mother—I found her in the library, murdered. I'm thankful that Drew Lancaster was one of the first officers on the scene. He's encouraging and supportive (and he's handsome, too!). Lately, I've been hearing strange things around the house, and I worry that Mother's killer—or maybe someone else—is trying to push me over the edge of madness.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373442386
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 4/4/2007
  • Series: Love Inspired Suspense Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Irene Brand’s first inspirational romance was published in 1984, and she now has more than 40 titles, approximately 2 million copies, in print, including four non-fiction books. Her current publishers are Steeple Hill (Love Inspired) and Barbour Publishing; however, her first romances were published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Zondervan, Fleming Revel, and Kregel.  Irene, and her husband, Rod, live in West Virginia,
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Read an Excerpt

The Sound Of Secrets

By Irene Brand

Steeple Hill

Copyright © 2007 Irene Brand
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780373442386

With misgiving, Nerissa Blanchard strapped two bags on the luggage carrier and looked longingly around her trendy apartment. How she dreaded the upcoming visit to her family's home in Stoneley, Maine! It wasn't as if she'd been away for a long time. She had made two quick trips to Blanchard Manor in the past two months.

Since moving to New York City four years ago, the days that Rissa spent away from the exciting metropolis felt as barren as if she'd been stranded on a desert island. And this trip was also unwelcome because Rissa definitely didn't want to be involved in her twin's wedding.

But what else could she do? Portia had called a few days ago and insisted that she needed Rissa's help to complete her wedding plans.

She couldn't disappoint her sister—they had always been inseparable, and now she would be sharing her twin with Stoneley Police detective Mick Campbell. Rissa hadn't gotten used to the idea yet, but she wanted her twin to be happily married. Drew Lancaster, Mick's sometimes partner, a man she preferred to steer clear of, was her real reason for avoiding the wedding. However, she was determined to be Portia's maid of honor in spite of the fact that Drew would be Mick's best man.

She had only met Drew once—no more than a few hours during her last visit to Maine—so why didthoughts of the man infiltrate many of her waking hours as well as her dreams? Rissa couldn't understand. No one was less likely to fit into her life than a small-town cop without a literary thought in his head. Wrapped up in her career, especially the new play she was writing, she had almost succeeded in putting Drew out of her mind. If only Portia's fiancé hadn't picked Drew to be in the wedding party!

Rissa begrudged every minute she had to spend away from the city, but she and Portia had always been there for each other. There was no way she could refuse to help her twin plan the biggest day of her life.

As she finished dressing, Rissa put aside her personal problems and considered the latest news from home— another reason she dreaded going to Stoneley. She had believed all of her life that their mother, Trudy, had died in an automobile accident when the twins were only three. But their father had finally admitted to faking his wife's death to spare his daughters the grief of knowing that their mother had sunk into a severe case of postpartum depression following the birth of their youngest sister. This new development in the family's dysfunctional history was almost more than Rissa could bear, especially since their mother had escaped from the mental institution almost eight months ago. No one had heard from her since then.

Rissa took a last look in the mirror, satisfied with her appearance. She loved the old-world feel of her newest outfit—a long, black velvet tuxedo jacket and pants complemented by a frilly, open-necked white cotton blouse. She put on a pair of black-and-white leather-and-suede flats and pulled her long, curly black hair behind her left ear, fastening it securely with a silver clip.

Hoping that the newest family revelation would be handled by the time she arrived at her Maine home, Rissa locked the door behind her and took an elevator to the parking area in the basement. She ran her hands approvingly along the side of the sleek, navy-blue Porsche that she'd bought over a year ago. Except for Portia, who never questioned anything Rissa did, the family hadn't hesitated to give an opinion that she was foolish to spend so much money on a car that she seldom used. No one knew better than Rissa that getting around in the city was best done by subway, but when she wanted to go outside the city, she liked the freedom of owning her own car.

Hoping she wouldn't have to be away more than a week, Rissa pulled out of the garage and began her journey. Because she preferred to travel at night, long after rush hour, once on the interstate, the trip to Stoneley would pass quickly. After she started northeast and was out of the heaviest city traffic, Rissa inserted a CD containing the theme music of her off-Broadway play, Memories of the Past, which had become a smash hit. The miles passed quickly as she listened to the musical scores and plotted her next play.

Daylight found Rissa within fifty miles of her destination, and she reveled in the beauty of the quiet countryside. A misty sunrise highlighted the villages where powerboats were leaving secluded harbors for the turbulent fishing waters of the Atlantic. A solid mass of spruce trees crowned the bluffs to the west. When she passed through marshlands, black ducks and green herons took wing at her approach.

In spite of her love for the city, a thrill of pride in her native state swelled in Rissa's heart. The coast of Maine was rugged, powerful and breathtaking. God must have given an extra portion of His time to this area when He created the world.

Rissa hadn't told her family that she was making a night drive to Stoneley, so when she was within twenty miles of home, she pulled into a rest stop to call them. Her oldest sister, Miranda, answered the phone.

"Good morning," Rissa said. "I'll be home in a half hour. You can warn Andre that I haven't had any breakfast!"

"Rissa! You surely didn't drive all that way alone, and at night! It isn't safe," Miranda said, giving her usual unsolicited advice—as she always did—to her younger siblings.

"But I made it!"

She had expected a long lecture on the subject, but Miranda said, " We haven't had breakfast yet. Something terrible happened here last night. Be careful!"

Rissa held the phone away from her ear. Miranda had hung up on her! What could possibly be wrong at Blanchard Manor to cause her always socially correct sister to be rude? She had hoped that this short visit would be more peaceful than previous ones, such as when her family had been under suspicion in the murder of Garrett McGraw, a private detective her sister Bianca had hired to learn about their mother's death. Sensing that wouldn't be the case, Rissa sighed, joined the flow of traffic on the highway and headed for home.

Despite the sadness that had infiltrated the house as long as Rissa could remember, her heart swelled when Blanchard Manor came into view. She gazed fondly upward at the huge stone mansion with its castlelike facade, though she dreaded what new trouble had descended upon the Blanchard family.

Rissa punched in the security code at the gate and started toward the house.

Aunt Winnie, her father's sister—the only mother Rissa could remember—never failed to be standing on the small porch, waiting expectantly when she returned home. Aunt Winnie was waiting, but she wasn't her neat, usual self. She still wore her pajamas and robe, and her hair obviously hadn't been combed since she'd gotten out of bed.

Instead of driving to the six-car garage at the side of the house, Rissa swung her Porsche into the circular drive and stopped abruptly. Leaving the door ajar, she ran toward her aunt as Miranda and Portia stepped into view, leaving the huge, wooden stained-glass door open.

"What's happened?, she asked.

"Come inside, dear," Winnie said as she leaned forward to kiss Rissa's cheek. Rissa's shoes clacked noisily on the marble-floored foyer. Inside the spacious hallway, her eyes were drawn toward the walnut staircase supported by heavy, ornate balustrades—a sight that had welcomed visitors to Blanchard Manor for years.

With an anxious glance at Ronald's office, Winnie motioned toward the room to the right of the hallway.

"Let's go to the living room," she murmured, and they walked quietly into the room that hadn't changed much in appearance since Rissa could remember.

Her sisters and Aunt Winnie sat on the twin settees grouped around a large coffee table.

"What's happened?, she repeated when the door closed behind them.

Winnie motioned for Rissa to sit beside her. "I've been sitting all night," Rissa said, leaning against the closed door. "I'll stand for a while. Don't keep me in suspense—what's wrong?"

"There was a terrible scene in the gazebo last night," Miranda said.

"Terrible? What do you mean? Has someone else been killed?, Rissa demanded, irritated that they seemed to be beating around the bush.

"I don't think so," Portia answered. "We couldn't see in the dark, but I checked as soon as daylight came. There wasn't a body in the gazebo. The woman must have gotten away."

"It happened about midnight," Winnie said. "Ronald was in the gazebo with a woman. He shouted at the top of his lungs and woke the entire household. There must have been a terrible argument. I don't suppose anybody slept after that."

"Another woman? What's happened to Alannah, his latest flame?"

With a disgusted sniff, Miranda said, " Oh, she's still around, unfortunately. This definitely wasn't a romantic tryst."

"That's right. He threatened the woman's life if she shows up here again," Portia said. "Father didn't come upstairs after that, but spent the night in his office."

A disturbing thought popped into Rissa's head and fearful images built in her mind. "But he is all right, isn't he?, she asked hesitantly.

"I've listened at the keyhole a few times," Miranda answered. "He's muttering and pacing the floor like a madman, and it sounds like he's kicking the furniture when it's in his way."

Was her father deranged, too? Her mother had experienced serious postpartum depression. Now that Rissa's psychiatrist had prescribed an antidepressant for her, Rissa feared that she had inherited her mother's instability.

What if her father's mind was also unbalanced? Dr. Pearson, her psychiatrist, had assured Rissa that she had only a mild case of clinical depression and had prescribed a low dose of antidepressants to combat her symptoms. But recalling some of Ronald's temper displays, and his uncaring attitude toward his six daughters, she wondered if her condition was worse than the psychiatrist had diagnosed. And her grandfather, Howard, had Alzheimer's. What chance did she have against such odds? Would she eventually lose her mind?

Rissa had chosen a Christian psychiatrist, one who counseled her patients with Biblical teachings along with traditional treatment. During the therapy sessions, Rissa often felt as if she were a child again in her Sunday school class at Unity Christian Church. Upon Dr. Pearson's advice, Rissa had memorized a few Bible verses that she called to mind anytime she became depressed. The doctor had insisted that a daily dose of Scripture would be an added benefit to her medication.

Rissa suddenly realized that her aunt had spoken to her twice and that her sisters were staring at her in concern. She forced a slight laugh.

"Sorry! I've had a long night. What did you say?"

"We waited to have breakfast with you," Aunt Winnie said. "Are you ready to eat?"

"Sure. Give me a minute to run upstairs and freshen up."

"I'll bring your luggage," Portia said.

"Put it in our bedroom. I'll wash my hands and face and then join everyone in the dining room."


Excerpted from The Sound Of Secrets by Irene Brand Copyright © 2007 by Irene Brand. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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