The Secrets She Learns A Better Late Romance Sisters, Lovers & Second Chances Book 4
by Jacqueline Diamond
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Shocking secrets, unexpected love, a cold-case mystery—and a nosy beagle!
At the age of 50, nurse Anni discovers she has two half sisters, both of whom were hurt by a con man who has disappeared. Determined to bring her new family together and unravel the past, she hires a handsome P.I., and gets more than she bargained for. That includes his newly adopted dog, who isn’t shy about fostering a romance or digging up evidence.
Former police detective Jon, now in business for himself, is frustrated by the one who got away, a swindler who tricked folks including Jon’s own mother out of their savings. His new neighbor, appealingly warm-spirited Anni, is more than the perfect client. She’s also a woman who sends the barriers around his heart crashing to the ground.
Don’t miss this delightful entry in the Sisters, Lovers & Second Chances series by the author of the beloved Safe Harbor Medical romances and mysteries. #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber says, “Jacqueline Diamond writes stories from the heart with a wisdom and tenderness that remain long after the final page.”
Anni has discovered that Jon, now a private detective, has moved into the house next door to her—and just hired her grown daughter Libby as his assistant. Since hearing on the news that the missing con artist’s car was found at the bottom of a cliff, she’s anxious to learn more about the case, since the man harmed some of her friends].
She drove around the corner to see him and the beagle returning from a stroll. Next to his porch, he stopped to let the dog sniff a bird of paradise plant.
Zipping into her driveway, Anni parked her sedan, afraid he might vanish indoors before she could buttonhole him. As she exited, Jon turned and his blue eyes zapped into hers with a scary voltage.
Taking her measure? Preparing to grill her again?
Then he smiled, as if glad to see her. Or taking impish delight in the fact that she’d caught her purse strap on the gear shift and had to pivot in a kind of clumsy dance step to regain her balance.
Anni could go an entire day, maybe a week, without stumbling over her own feet when Jon wasn’t around. Darn it!
“You okay?” he asked.
She straightened, refusing to yield to her embarrassment. As if the flush heating her cheeks didn’t provide ample evidence.
“I’m fine, thank you.” Anni stepped across the intervening grass, focusing on the dog. “Hey, Digger, how are you adjusting to your new home?”
The beagle wagged and panted, eager for attention. Crouching, she rumpled the dog’s ears.
“I figured you for a cat lady,” Jon said.
“I like cats, too.” Unable to hit on a natural segue into questioning him, Anni chose the direct approach. “I guess you heard about Gavin Everly’s car. Was his body inside?”
“Doesn’t appear to be.” Eyebrows lifting, he added, “Unless it’s in the trunk. They won’t be able to get in there till things cool down.”
“Why would it be in the trunk?” That possibility hadn’t occurred to her.
“If someone murdered him.”
“Oh.” A detective’s brain went down dark paths, Anni mused. “What if it isn’t? I mean, what’s the next step?”
“You do realize this isn’t my case any more?” He tugged the leash as the dog began scratching the ground. “No, Digger!”
The dog stopped. To Anni’s surprise, he sat down and gazed adoringly at Jon.
“The police aren’t sharing any details?” she probed.
“Why do you care?”
“Don’t you?” she challenged. “It must bug you that you never solved the case.”
His jaw tensed. She’d scored a point. However, her goal was to enlist Jon’s aid, not antagonize him.
“That came out wrong,” Anni said. “The truth is, I care because some of my friends are having trouble moving on. They need answers.”
“Why is that your problem?”
She couldn’t believe he’d asked that. “Don’t you have friends? Don’t you care about their happiness?”
Jon blinked, as if he hadn’t considered the subject. “I have buddies, sure. They’re in charge of their own emotions.”
“That’s as far as it goes?” she asked.
“Caring about other people’s happiness, well, I learned from my ex-wife and stepdaughter that it’s a loser’s game.” He turned to go in.
“Wait!” Anni couldn’t bear to end the conversation on that note. “This business of Gavin’s car—the implications are driving me crazy. What do you think the police will do?”
Considering he was about five inches taller to begin with, Jon loomed over her from the porch. “If I were in charge, I’d request cadaver dogs to search the area as soon as it’s safe.”
“He must be there,” Anni said. “I mean, why would he or anyone else push his empty car off a cliff?”
“To mislead us.” Jon inserted his key in the door. “He couldn’t have known it would stay hidden for years, or that it wouldn’t catch fire right away. It’s useless to speculate until we, I mean they, can examine the vehicle.”
“Okay.” Still, it was hard to let the subject go. “Will you tell me what you learn? I mean, once they’re able to search. Or tell Libby? No, don’t involve her. I could cook you dinner, if that would help.”
“Tempting.” Jon smiled again. From this angle, it might have been a self-serving smirk. “Please don’t tell me you’re a vegetarian.”
“Not entirely.” Anni ate fish occasionally. But in exchange for clues, she’d fix the man an entire pot roast. “I promise a meat-eater-friendly menu.”
“I’ll be in touch. When and if there’s anything to report.” Into the house he went.
It might be simpler to hire him, Anni thought. Then she’d be the boss. Well, kind of. And he’d have to do his own investigating, rather than wait for his buddies, whoever they were, to throw him a few crumbs. You must be out of your mind, she thought, and went to fix herself a salad.
USA Today bestselling author Jacqueline Diamond has sold more than one hundred titles, including medical and contemporary romances, romantic comedies, mysteries, Regencies and more. A former Associated Press reporter and TV columnist, Jackie has been honored with a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. She is best known for her Safe Harbor Medical romances and mysteries, and for her series Sisters, Lovers & Second Chances. You can learn more about Jackie’s books and audiobooks at jacquelinediamond.net.
Have you ever wondered what you’d find if you signed up for a DNA ancestry test? I did, and the results helped spark an idea for my latest romance novel.
In The Secrets She Learns, nurse Anni hires a sexy private investigator to find out what happened to a con man who disappeared, and whose victims include some of her friends. Also, via DNA testing, she accidentally uncovers a different kind of secret—the existence of two half-sisters.
Of course there’s a story behind how that came about! Both threads weave together, while Anni and her detective receive the help of a rescued beagle who digs up clues.
So, what did I learn from my own DNA test? For one thing, that I have a larger-than-average amount of Neanderthal heredity. Since I’ve heard they were believed to have been very creative, that sounds good to me.
Also, among a number of distant relatives, I “met” a previously unknown second cousin who told me details I hadn’t heard about my father’s family.
This cousin is close to my age and grew up just one state over from where I was living, yet we had no idea the other existed. While my mother had told me a lot about her family near and far, I never suspected my father had any living relatives on his father’s side, except for one elderly fellow who’d never married.
It turns out, my father’s father (who died before I was born) had a number of siblings, at least one of whom was a shady character. My dad and granddad were shiningly honest and kind; my father never drank alcohol and, as the only doctor in the county where we once lived, treated everyone regardless of race, religion or ability to pay, which was unusual in the 1940s and 1950s.
From my newly discovered cousin, I learned that my grandfather’s brother was an unscrupulous fellow, a gambler and an alcoholic.
Why would members of one family differ so greatly? That’s a fascinating mystery, to me.
My only insight is that the brothers apparently were far apart in age and were born during turbulent times, in the decades just after the Civil War. It’s possible the family was in difficult financial straits and that their own father was frequently absent. But that’s just supposition.
I still get notices that new DNA relatives have turned up, and I’ve exchanged information with a few of them, but this was the only real surprise.
As for my heroine, her discovery leads to some startling facts and a confrontation with a family member that changes her life. And yes, her detective does solve the case mystery of the vanished swindler, while falling in love with his new client.
I hope you enjoy reading about their emotional journey, and the secrets they uncover.
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