The Wife's Tale by Christine Wells

The Traitor’s Girl

‘I think I’m in danger. It’s a matter of some urgency. You must please come at once.’

After receiving a mysterious summons from her long-lost grandmother, Australian teacher Annabel Logan agrees to visit her home in the Cotswolds. But when she arrives at the magnificent Beechwood Hall, it appears abandoned and the local villagers have no idea where the reclusive Caroline Banks might be.

The one person who might know something is enigmatic journalist Simon Colepeper. He reveals that Caroline Banks was once known as Carrie Granger. A socialite’s daughter, Carrie became a spy and agent provocateur for MI5 during the second world war. But when British intelligence failed to investigate a dangerous traitor, she decided to take matters into her own hands …

Concerned that her grandmother’s secret past has caught up with her, Annabel stays on to investigate. But the more she uncovers, the more difficult it becomes to know who to trust. There are strange incidents occurring at Beechwood and Annabel must use all her ingenuity and daring to find Carrie before it’s too late.

From the streets of Seville, Paris and London in the thirties and forties, to the modern English countryside The Traitor’s Girl is a captivating story of passion, intrigue and betrayal.

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Excerpt ~ Carrie

My hands were shaking. I needed a drink to calm me down. The man I had been falling in love with was not only a spy who might know something about my mother’s death, but a traitor who might well have killed her.

I nearly crumbled at the thought; the hairbrush clattered into the sink. Gripping the edge of the marble vanity, I squeezed my eyes shut and took several deep breaths. I had not been falling in love with Peter Durant. It had all been an act.

Sylvia. I needed to be strong for my mother or her life would have been sacrificed for nothing. I opened my eyes. The Hollywood lights that studded the edge of the bathroom mirror illuminated my face to an unearthly degree. Wonder of wonders, no trace of my emotions showed in my expression.

I could do it. I must do it. If Sylvia’s suspicions proved correct, there was much more at stake now than any personal vendetta.

I stared into my eyes. They were blank and unrecognising, like a stranger’s. ‘You don’t matter,’ I told myself. ‘You don’t matter at all.’

Snatching up my hairbrush, I pulled my hair back tightly into a knot at the nape of my neck, securing it with a diamante buckle I fished out from the vanity drawer. It would have to do.

Suddenly, I noticed Peter leaning against the door frame, suave in his immaculate Savile Row tailoring.

He’d never come to my room before and I cursed that he’d chosen tonight of all nights to do so. Did he sense my turmoil? Had he somehow guessed its cause?

If my pulse raced before, now it was about to break the land speed record. Randomly choosing among the cosmetics ranged over the vanity, I picked up my powder puff and dusted it over my nose.

Some force beyond my control dragged my gaze to meet Peter’s in the mirror. Those hazel eyes betrayed no hint of anything amiss. I hoped mine were equally tranquil. I was a rank amateur at a game he had mastered long ago.

A crease appeared between his eyebrows. ‘I like your hair better down.’

I flushed. ‘I’m afraid this will have to do. I…’ I couldn’t admit missing a hair appointment. He’d wonder why. ‘I don’t have time to change it.’

This was the first occasion he’d expressed any opinion or preference about my appearance. Could it be coincidence that his manner toward me had altered, grown more intimate, today of all days?

I picked up the pot of rouge, touched a fingertip to the peachy-pink cream and dabbed a little along each cheekbone, working lightly to blend it into my skin. ‘Be a darling and get me a drink, won’t you? Before I put my lipstick on?’ Anything to put distance between us.

But instead of doing my bidding, he moved until he was standing close behind me. I felt crowded by him, aware of the heat of his body, the faint brush of his jacket rasping my bare shoulderblade.

Slowly, he pulled the scarf from around my neck. It hushed as it slid across my clavicles, leaving bright tingles in its wake. He wound the long length of gauze around his fist as if he’d tie me up with it, as if he’d strangle me in a lightning burst of violence.

My eyes went wide. Our gazes locked in the mirror. I put my hand up to my throat.

The scarf fluttered to the floor. His hands slid down my bare arms to cuff my wrists. He bent to press a hot, lingering kiss on my nape.