Under Hidden Skies from the Shadows Between Lies series
Book 3 – Readers Reviews
‘Another unique story about this extended family and their secrets. Good use of foreshadowing adding tension with cunning subplots to this great read.’ Tina Shaw, Editorial Assessor.
‘Several themes run through this book that ebb and flow, keeping the reader intrigued.’ Sue Hall, Editor.
‘I couldn’t put this book down. It was so compelling, I can’t wait to read the next one!’ Sharon Morrison – Beta Reader.
‘The emotional ride interwoven with the crime story makes for a gripping read. Loved the characters and how they’ve developed from Book One.’ Peter Marsden – Beta Reader.
‘What a great read Nicky, I couldn’t put it down, reading it all in a couple of hours! Can’t wait for your next one.’ Larraine Pita – Beta Reader
‘Once again, Nicky has skilfully succeeds in writing a compelling story which was hard to put down. The characters lives took some surprising twists and turns, heart-felt moments and nail-biting moments beautifully described. I’m looking forward to the next book.’ Sonja Konings
Book 1 From the Shadows Between Lies series. When We Believed.
Hawke slams his foot down as he speeds out of the corner. He swings the steering wheel to the right, the wheels barely gripping the winding road along the treacherous precipice. The second-hand black Corvette hugs the tarred surface, its rear back tires fishtailing in the night, flicking loose gravel across the snaking road.
He doesn’t care. Nothing matters anymore. His fury out-matches his racing heart as he grits his teeth, shoving the gear-stick backward into fourth and thrusting the accelerator to the floor. The engine roars as he spins the overheated vehicle into the next steep bend. The headlights scan back and forth as he swerves from one side to the other, powering up the vertical climb.
They are the only car lights for miles as he drives to the pinnacle of the mountain. He slows, skidding to an abrupt halt in a rest area on the cliff-side of the road.
He checks his cell phone at 2.33am.
Hawke wished he hadn’t given up smoking. This is the time to light up and calm down. His muscular forearms tense, clutching the steering wheel with both hands as he throws back his head and unleashes a loud groan. He could’ve killed himself driving like a maniac, but who cares? It’s a solution. He releases his grip and lets go of the leather-clad steering wheel a few times, attempting to slow his agitated breathing.
After several minutes, he pushes himself back into the leather seat and glances outside towards the deep valley below. The dark, rugged, sharp surfaces of the cliff-side seem pitted against his will. Small silhouettes of low shrub and tussock grass cast ominous shadows which cling to the cliff face, taunting him, enticing him to leap over the verge and into the narrow gorge far below. Within seconds, he raises his tormented gaze upwards, focusing on the dark horizon.
Reaching for the door handle, he sighs and moves out of the car. Hawke squints over the roof of the Corvette at the vast horizon, slams the door shut and walks to the cliff edge. Standing still for a few moments, he takes in the panoramic view, but it gives him no solace.
A low metal barrier with an obscure warning sign to his right is unable to stop him from stepping over it and onto the open cliff edge. He takes another small step and leans forward into the oncoming breeze. Looking down into the rocky gorge, he sees the occasional glint of the river slithering its way over hard-edged boulders. Flashes of silver remind him of the overpowering force of the rapids below, waiting for him only a few steps away. The expansive fall downwards pulls him, Hawke fights the yearning to step out over the edge.
He exhales and steps back, the low metal guard-rail presses behind his knees. The rising wind blows his hair across his face as his cell phone vibrates in his jeans pocket. The sound shakes him back from the brink of insanity. Had he lost his mind? Has he lost his sense of reality? He shoves his hand into his pocket, withdrawing the phone. It’s Tracy. He hesitates, thrusting it back in his pans, and steps over the barrier before walking back to the waiting car.
He slumps into the comfort of the warm leather driver’s seat and exhales a deep breath. Pressing the palms of his hands over his eyes, Hawke rakes his fingers through his hair and releases a loud sigh of relief. The escaping breath eases the rising tension as he turns the key and starts the ignition.
Chapter 2. Close Call
He recalls arguing with Tracy. He can almost hear her shouting in his head, while reversing the car and swinging back onto the mountain road. The previous day Hawke Davis had sat among the dry tussock grass, undulating like ocean waves along the California coastline.
His gaze drifted along the exposed sand dunes embracing the shore. He realized it was time to extricate himself from the relationship with his long-term girlfriend.
He glares at himself in the mirror. Grimaces as he passes his hand under his thirty-six-year-old chin. He already has middle-aged jowls: Where had the time gone?
With bronzed skin, after basking in the last days of the Californian summer, Hawke is weirdly comforted by his soft white cotton t-shirt, pulling tightly across his chest. He grabs the front, pulling it over his baggy khaki shorts. Hawke’s dark hair ruffles in the offshore gust of wind obscuring his blue eyes.
The thrashing waves reach out and grasp the beach in a rhythm, mirroring the beat of his pounding heart. He re-lives the argument with his ex-girlfriend. She is immovable in her defiance. Hawke inhales the salty sea air through his nostrils and blows it out through his open mouth, attempting to ease his sense of remorse.
Tracy’s words still ring in his ears after the first time he tried to talk with her in their apartment. They were both seated on the pale gray designer sofa opposite a low flat chrome and glass coffee table. Their contemporary living room is minimalist, open, and uncluttered, with a compact modern kitchen at one end. They were both drinking a mid-morning coffee before heading out to the local shopping mall. Hawke hardened himself and started the conversation about the end of their shared living arrangement.
‘But we have been through so much together.’ Tracy’s plaintive voice pleads with him not to leave her. ‘How can you just throw me away like this?’
‘I’ve tried to explain,’ Hawke says, brushing both hands down the sides of his cotton clad thighs. ‘There’s no one else, Tracy. It’s me. I want out. I don’t know what else I can say.’ Hawke’s voice overflows with frustration. He only has imperfect words to explain his need to be alone. The more he attempts to avoid hurting her, the more she implores. He keeps his reasons to himself.
‘Yes,’ he agrees, ‘you helped me recover, and you were brilliant support over the past year. I wouldn’t be in full remission from lymphoma without you, Tracey.’
Back then, he clung onto her, sobbing with her, clutching onto every scrap of attention he could wring from her calm, healing words of reassurance. But now he’s a survivor and doesn’t need mothering. He wants to live a new life. His perspective has shifted dramatically. Marriage, white picket fences, and children are someone else’s dream.
He recognizes this is her fantasy and not his. ‘Life is terminal Tracy,’ he states, watching her shoulders slump back and her sandy hair fall forward, partly concealing her face. ‘I want to live life, every moment, and I want to be free from all restraints. I’m sorry, but I don’t want any relationship with anyone.’
‘Why? What’s wrong?’ Tracy asks again. ‘I’ve looked after you all this time, nursing you through the worst of your illness. I did everything I could to make you better.’
‘I know you did,’ he replies. ‘I’ll be thankful to you for the rest of my life, but I can’t handle being with anyone. It’s changed for me. I need something different. It’s been a wake-up call, and I’ve got places to go and a life to live.’ He shook his head, looking down at his feet as she fixed her eyes on him uncomprehending. ‘It’s over Tracy,’ he mumbles as an after-thought.
‘But can’t I share your new life? Can’t I be with you?’ she asks, her question tinged with bitterness and rising anger.
Hawke holds her anxious gaze in silence.
Unexpectedly, she shouts. ‘You’re unbelievable!’ Tracy’s face contorts with the fear of reality. ‘I hate you! You’re a pig! After everything I’ve done.’ He reaches his hand out to her waving arm, wanting to calm her growing fury.
‘Don’t you dare touch me!’ she screams, stepping away from him. ‘You talk of love, but you don’t know what love is!’ She reels around, about to storm out of the living room. ‘I’m not an idiot. I know there’s someone else. There must be!’ Tracy’s voice grows cold and calculating as she spits out the last words she will ever say to him. ‘You were a useless lay, anyway!’
Hawke’s taken aback by her abrupt change of heart. Sensing the venom of her pain but unable to resist stinging her back. ‘Why don’t you try being a lesbian? I think you’d enjoy yourself a lot more!’
She gasps in disbelief, turns, and storms from the room, slamming the door so hard the windows shudder in their timber frames.
Hawke shakes his head, eyes wide with surprise as her words knife him to shreds of his own broken promises. There was no point in arguing, and her rage confirms he’s made the right decision. He is leaving California and has already announced he is returning to New Zealand to stay with his Uncle Logan’s good friends, who have a vacant bach outside Whangamata. It’s a small self-contained log cabin, surrounded by native and exotic forest which he can holiday in for free. It’s no brainer, and he visualizes the small sea-side cottage he’s enjoyed during a few previous long Kiwi summer holidays.
Dense bush divided by dirt tracks, isolate the remote property from the tourist center of the small seaside town. A holiday haven of sea, sand, and solace enjoyed by cheerful crowds of locals and foreigners alike during the long summer months. This is another gold-plated escape-hatch, a lifeline thrown to him by his uncle again. After Tracy’s bitter exchange, there are only a few days left before Hawke is catching the long-haul flight. It’s no surprise she’s not at the airport to see him off.