The Last Orphan: Stolen Identity Book One Chapter Two

Samantha – or ‘Sam’ as she prefers to be called – returns to Toronto, Ontario to try and reunite with her young daughter after having been absent from her loved ones’ lives for ten whole months. The second chapter takes place at Huxley Station during a flashback, and this is where Sam suddenly witnesses a horrific tragedy unfold right in front of her eyes.

OrphanBlack1x01Claire Richards

 

Flashback: The first thing I remembered was stepping off a train at Huxley Station and searching for a phone box. Once I found the nearest one, I immediately made a call to my foster mother.

I demanded to speak to my own birth daughter, Katrina, who my foster mother was currently looking after. But my foster mother, Siobhan, wouldn’t allow me to, and she had already seen to it that I would be denied custody of Katrina.

I was furious, and slammed down the receiver angrily. ‘Bitch!’ I said in a rage. I felt really indignant.

Suddenly, I heard sobbing and turned around to see where the sobbing was coming from. That was when I spotted her. A young brunette of my age, pacing up and down the platform in a distressed and rather erratic manner. She was dressed in formal eveningwear consisting of a white blouse and black leather trousers with a matching black jacket. But she didn’t appear to be heading for a night out, or catching a train. She appeared to be distraught and very troubled.

My heart broke for her. I didn’t know what to do. Just as I approached the young woman to see if I could try to help her, I was about to ask what was wrong when she proceeded to remove her jacket and heels, placing them next to her handbag almost ritually. She was still sobbing as she did this. After she laid her clothing in a neat row, with only her leather jeans and blouse on, she turned around to look at me with tears of pain in her sad-filled eyes. As soon as I saw her face, I froze in shock. There was something very disturbing about her – she was the spitting image of me! Was I looking at my reflection in a mirror? For a brief moment, I thought I was. But whilst I felt stunned at having just met my potentially long-lost identical twin for the first ever time, the strange woman had nothing more than a melancholic expression on her face. It was as if she were unable to acknowledge me or anybody else. Could she have looked any sadder? She took no notice of me afterwards. What happened next would be burned at the back of my mind forever. The identical shed one last tear before walking towards the end of the platform as a train approached at full speed. And that was when she jumped.

 

Advertisements

The Last Orphan: Stolen Identity Book One Chapter One

The first chapter of this story begins with Samantha Branning meeting face-to-face with two other women Alison Hendricks and Melissa Niehaus, the latter for the first time. Samantha learns that she, Alison and Melissa are connected in the strangest way possible. And before she knows it, Samantha quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a deadly conspiracy and must race to find answers.

 

maxresdefault

 

It was precisely nine o’clock in the evening when I parked my car in front of the young woman’s house. I had the card with her name and address on it. Even though part of me was certain this was the exact place we were supposed to meet, I still had my doubts.  

‘Alison Hendricks,’ I read aloud. ‘Address 35 Harper Hill Road, Bailey Downs, Scarborough.’ This was the correct address alright.  

I eased my way through a shed and up to the French doors to Alison’s basement so that nobody else could see either of us. However, I hesitated before knocking on her back door. After all, neither of us had started on the right foot when I first met her. To me, it had felt more like a confrontation then a first-time meeting.  

I must have knocked at least twice, or more; I couldn’t quite remember how many times, before the stupid cow finally answered. ‘Samantha Branning,’ her voice said sharply behind the door. ‘You are late.’ I didn’t think I was. After all, I’d arrived at the exact time as she’d told me to.

Alison greeted me with a hard, mean look on her face. ‘Well don’t just stand there like a retard,’ she hissed. ‘Hurry up and get yourself inside. Close it and lock it straight away.’

I immediately did as she said. ‘Be quiet,’ Alison said frostily as she led me through to the lounge. ‘My kids are asleep.’

‘Damn,’ I said, under my breath, feeling a slight chill run down my spine. ‘You’re a real moody bitch, aren’t you.’ I never thought being related to this woman would actually suck.

I had no idea what was in store. As soon as I entered the lounge, sitting on the couch waiting for us was yet another brunette. But there was no need to be afraid or feel intimidated by this one. Unlike Alison, she had a friendly and somewhat bright demeanour about her.  She smiled at me in an awkward but welcoming manner from behind her geeky Specsavers glasses. ‘Hi. I’m Melissa.’

‘Bloody hell!’ I gasped.

‘We spoke on the phone earlier, remember?’ Melissa said warmly.

‘How many of us are there?’

 

The Last Orphan: Stolen Identity Book One – Character Description

This is a list of the central protagonist and other main characters in the first book of the Stolen Identity novel series:

 

Samantha Branning: The main protagonist and a self-described British female con artist/hustler.

Appearance: Samantha Branning’s original outfit; Sam starts off described as dressed in a somewhat promiscuous manner; her original outfit consisting of a curvy and skimpy mini dress (similar to that worn by Curley’s wife in Of Mice and Men, except with a modern urban flavour), and high heeled peep toe pumps. However, her dressing style changes when she assumes the identity of Claire Richards after witnessing Claire’s suicide

Trait: High risk-taking behaviours and increased function in dangerous situations

 

 

 

 

 

Claire Richards: A mentally troubled policewoman with emotional and psychological scars; one of Samantha Branning’s clones and the first Samantha comes across at the beginning of the first novel. As her life abruptly ends by suicide, Samantha’s life changes forever

Appearance: Claire’s outfit is a woman’s tuxedo, consisting of a white shirt blouse and black trousers with satin stripes; she is wearing an evening jacket also, but she removes it along with her shoes before jumping to her untimely death in front of an oncoming train

Trait: Depression and suicide; mainly resulting from childhood trauma (especially childhood abuse) and also present PTSD

 

 

Alison Hendricks: An angry and tensed housewife who loses her rag very easily over the slightest matters, but who is very devoted to her husband and adopted children. She is also loyal to her clone sisters

Appearance: Alison has reddish brown hair and a fringe; her hair is usually held back in a sports headband. She dresses in sportsgear when working as a high school football coach; otherwise her everyday outfits consist of suburban-style clothing

Trait: Anxiety and paranoia not to mention chronic social stress; her heavy chain-smoking and daily alcohol consumption are thought to be brought on by these

 

 

 

Melissa Niehaus: A French-Canadian university student and science expert who is of high intelligence

Appearance: Melissa is one of only few clones who wears glasses due to her hereditary poor eyesight she has suffered from since birth; she wears her long dark brown hair in a french braided ponytail

Trait: Myopia (short-sightedness) due to various environmental factors; she is also battling a respiratory illness (this medical condition is common in female clones).

 

 

 

 

Helena: batshit crazy Russian-Ukrainian clone killer who has been brainwashed into believing she is the original

Appearance: frizzy dark-blonde hair with brunette roots due to decreased expression of melanin; failure for light hair to darken is possibly a result of extremely low exposure to UV radiation through puberty

Trait: High pain threshold; enjoyment in inflicting physical pain whether on herself or on others

The Last Orphan: Stolen Identity Book One – Novel Description

The central protagonist of my next novel is a young British woman by the name of Samantha Branning who discovers that she is one of several identical women who are clones; one of them is a brainwashed Russian Ukrainian named Helena. They are “someone’s experiment” (as described by fellow clone Alison Hendricks), each of them being killed off one by one.

 

The story starts off with Samantha witnessing the suicide of Claire Richards – a woman who looks exactly like her; Samantha wastes no time in assuming Claire’s identity, bank account, and life with intention of turning over a new leaf. Her plan is to clear out Claire’s savings in order to build a better life and future – only to find herself caught up in an illegal human cloning conspiracy.

 

 

False Rumors: Chapter Nine

My friends and I made our way back to Merseyside after the search ended. Nobody spoke to anybody else throughout the bus ride. Until Rebecca finally broke the silence. “What do you suppose is going to happen to Mike? Does anybody reckon he might have to undergo some psychiatric evaluation and start receiving therapy?”

Anna looked at Bex in disbelief. “Were you not listening to what the policeman just told us? Or maybe you weren’t present at the time? They were planning to take him to hospital and then have him transferred to a rehabilitation center.”

“Natasha reckons that He intended to jump off the bridge in order to commit suicide. He wanted to die in the exact same way Tracy died so that they could be reunited,” Rebecca said.

“Is that the reason why he scattered Tracy’s ashes in in the river before preparing to jump?” Anna cried in shock. “That is fucked up.”

“Oi!” the bus driver barked from the front. “Watch your language! Got it?”

My friends ignored the driver and continued their discussion about Mike’s mental health and wellbeing. “Apparently, he imagined seeing Tracy’s spirit in the water, calling out to him,” Vanessa said sadly. “He thought that if he jumped in the river with Tracy’s ashes in there, his dead body would come into contact with her remains. Because it would be the only way for them to meet again in the afterlife.”

“Wow,” Anna said.

“Wow indeed. There are too many screwed up people out there these days. And today’s society isn’t helping when it comes to handling those with psychological issues.”

“But at least he’s now in good hands.”

I remained silent, but listened to what the others had to say.

Rebecca put her arm around me. “You okay, Tash?” she asked.

I nodded. So much had happened in such short time. As a matter of fact, it had all happened too quickly.

The next day, somebody turned Paul Jacobs over to the police. The woman who turned him in had refused to give her name, but it didn’t take us all long to discover that she was another one of Tracy’s close relatives.

“What has Paul been arrested for?” one of his neighbours asked. “What does he have to do with any of it?”

The witnesses watched a policeman handcuff Paul before carting him off in the police car. And everybody – including myself and my friends – were shocked and horrified at the announcement the policeman made.

“Paul Jacobs,” he said sternly. “I’m arresting you for the destruction and vandalism of a local young woman’s grave. And for also spreading false rumours.”

 

False Rumors: Chapter Eight

Michael was at the River Thames where he stood at the bridge, tears welling up in his eyes. “Maybe they were right,” he wept, grief-stricken. “Maybe I am to blame after all. I should have at least tried to talk you out of it, but I didn’t. I didn’t stand by you when I should have. I’m sorry, Tracy. If you can hear me, I’m so very sorry.”

The tears eventually started to fall, almost like a small fountain. He was unable to stop the tears from flowing. Tears of guilt, because even though he wasn’t the last person to see Tracy alive, he still felt partly responsible for her death. Tears of sadness, because they were both robbed of what could have been. And tears of anger and bitterness because of the cruelty and unfairness of it all.

He took out the rest of Tracy’s ashes which hadn’t been interred in her resting place within the Garden of Remembrance. He scattered her cremated remains over the riverbank and watched them float on the water before drifting away. Seeing the last bits of Tracy fade away was almost an indicator that she would vanish permanently for the final time. Tracy loved to swim at the seaside and enjoyed the water theme parks in Blackpool. She also regularly rode the canal to the River Thames; therefore it was only fitting that she was given a final send off by being allowed to be laid to rest at the river. Somehow or other, he know that this was where she wanted to be.

Mike had just finished releasing Tracy when he felt her presence. “Michael,” Tracy’s voice said. “Michael, can you hear me?”

Mike tried to figure out where her voice was coming from. “Tracy?”

Tracy’s ghost then appeared before him. “Yes, it’s me. Please listen to me, Mike. I didn’t mean to hurt you or anybody else by killing myself. And you didn’t drive me to do so. None of this is your fault.

“It was brave of you to release me. I need you to be strong for all our other friends. It’s very lonely on the other side. I wish we could be reunited soon. Maybe someday we will.” Her spirit vanished into thin air.

Mike’s tears began pouring again as he tried to reach out and touch Tracy’s fading spirit. He then heard someone else call out his name. “Mike! Mike, it’s us.”

He turned around. “Leave me alone.”

Vanessa approached him, along with Anna and Nigel.

“Listen, I totally understand what you’re going through,” Vanessa said. “I lost one of my relatives to suicide also. And so did Rebecca. I know what it’s like.”

Michael still had tears in his eyes. “Do you? I don’t suppose you know what it feels like to be accused of causing the suicide of someone who was once close to you.”

“You can’t believe what everyone says.”

“The bloke that verbally attacked me the other night. He was one of Tracy’s family members. Her brother. He accused me of killing her. I didn’t kill her – but I may as well have done.

“If one of us was going to die by suicide that night then why did it have to be Tracy? Someone tell me why her?” Mike was sobbing uncontrollably by then. “I wish I could see her again and talk to her. I would do anything just to hold her in my arms, but I can’t because she’s dead. And all because I am one of the many people in her life who let her down. The night Tracy died was when my own life ended. And as far as I’m concerned, my life is over too.”

“But Tracy was one of my friends as well,” Anna said. “You’re not the only one who let her down.”

Sounded like something out of a soap opera such as EastEnders. Except that we weren’t in EastEnders. This was real life – even worse than some tragic episode plot in any soap opera.

Anna looked down below. That was when it suddenly dawned on her. “You’re thinking of jumping, aren’t you?”

“What does it matter if I jump off the bridge?”

“Michael, please don’t!”

“He’s over here!” Tracy’s brother Christopher – the same young man from earlier – arrived with the police. “That’s the bastard. Arrest him now.”

“Arrest him for what?” Vanessa cried. “He hasn’t done anything!”

“You want to tell me he hasn’t done anything? He’s the reason Tracy is dead! He killed my sister!”

“Tracy killed herself, actually,” Anna said. “Because she was depressed and extremely tortured. She was seriously ill and in need of help. Just as Mike here is in need of help.”

“Anna’s right,” Vanessa said. “Besides, don’t you reckon Mike feels guilt enough? Why make him feel even guiltier than he already does?”

“Who asked for your opinion, you stupid cow?” Christopher spat.

“Shut up, Christopher,” Anna spat back. “Otherwise, I’ll shut you up.”

“That is enough, you lot,” the chief policeman shouted. “I won’t tell any of you again! Tom, get him to the medical centre.”

The other policeman, whose name was Tom, came towards Michael. “Calm down, now, and get down from the bridge. Don’t do anything stupid. You don’t want to end doing something you’ll regret.”

Sobbing, Michael began to climb back down to safety, just as Bex and I arrived in the nick of time.

“Good. Now don’t worry. We don’t mean any harm to you. We’re just gonna take you to hospital.”

From a distance, Tracy’s ghost watched us. She had tears in her eyes as she looked on.

 

False Rumors: Chapter Seven

Meanwhile, Vanessa, Anna, and Nigel were outside the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral where their search party gathering was being held. Some of their other friends were there too, along with a few community members.

“What we need to do is have some of us go one direction and the rest of us go separately,” one young lady suggested

“But then how will any of us know where he went?” another young lady asked.

“That’s the major problem,” Vanessa pointed out. “Nobody knows his current whereabouts.”

“Well come on, then,” Anna said. “What are we waiting for? There’s no more time to lose.”

“You’re right. We need to get a move on.”

 

 

Local female police detectives Angela and Kate arrived at the antique shop to question Tiffany Mitchell, Rebecca’s store partner and best friend, about what she knew about Michael’s disappearance. “Have you heard about the disappearance of Michael Adams?”

“Michael Adams?” Tiffany wondered. “Who’s that?

Angela handed her a recent photo of Mike. “Now does that ring a bell?”

“Not really,” Tiffany admitted. “But Bex did mention something to someone about this bloke having vanished just a while after his ex-girlfriend topped herself. I had no idea this was the same guy.”

Angela looked satisfied. “Thanks for your help, anyway.”

The two policewomen shook hands with Tiffany before departing.

 

 

To me, Queen Square looked and felt unfamiliar, as I didn’t often travel around. But when she was alive, Tracy had once mentioned something to us about Queen Square being one of her favourite spots, because she enjoyed the fragrance-like aroma to it. Tracy had absolutely loved fragrances and perfumes, and had countless collections of them. Likewise, she hated anything that stunk or had too much of a strong and unpleasant smell.

Queen Square was where Mike and Tracy first bumped into each other whilst they were both visiting nearby galleries and museums whilst on high school trips with their respective Year Eleven and Year Nine classes. They were teenage students back then; Mike had just turned sixteen, and Tracy was fourteen. This had been their favourite spot ever since. Sometimes, Trace would meet up with Mike at Queen Square, or they would head off there together on a few dates. Maybe Mike was somewhere in mainland Queen Square Gardens. Maybe he was hanging around there reminiscing the short time they had together.

We saw a young Asian man somewhere in-between his late twenties and early thirties sitting at the park bench, reading a Sunday Times magazine. Because of our previous encounter with the unfriendly girl at the bus stop, we hesitated before approaching him. But surely, not everybody we came across was rude.

This was one of the many reasons why I wished I could speak up, rather than have to rely on sign language. But at least I had Bex as an ally.

“Excuse me,” she said. “We’re looking for a close friend.”

The young man turned around to face us. This young gentleman didn’t appear to be mean. As a matter of fact, his manners were a lot better than that bitchy fat slag’s.

“Hi there,” he said. I suppose you’re referring to Mike.”

Rebecca was surprised. “How did you know?”

The young Indian gentleman smiled sadly. “He came to me yesterday, in fact. Told me he still hadn’t gotten over her, and that he never would. I could tell he was overcome with extreme grief, poor sod.”

I watched carefully as they talked about Mike. “What do you suppose has happened to him?” Rebecca asked.

“He’s still alive, if that’s what you’re wondering. But he’s not in a very good state at the moment.”

My heart sank. Paul said that Mike should go and join Tracy and reunite with her in death if he missed her that much. What if he had gone to the same place where she killed herself and was planning to end his own life in the exact same horrific way?

I turned to to Bex.  “He’s gone over to the River Thames,” I explained to her in sign language. “He’s going to kill himself, just as Tracy killed herself. I know, because that was where her body and car were found.”

False Rumors: Chapter Six

Rebecca was struggling trying to read the local bus timetable. “What are these bleeding numbers supposed to mean?”

I could totally understand Bex’s frustration. If I had this much trouble coping with my deafness, how was she able to cope with her dyslexia?

We saw a moody young woman passing by who was close to our age, and she had frizzled out dirty blonde hair. She was overweight and she carried herself rather aggressively, glaring at us as she stormed past us. “What the fuck are you looking at?” she snarled. “Fucking special needs retarded bitches.”

Rebecca found the courage to hit back. “What in hell’s name is your problem with us?”

The angry young woman squared up to Bex. “Looking for trouble, then, are we? Because if you want to pick a fight, then you’ve come across the right person to fight with. Bitch!”

I tugged at Rebecca’s arm as if to tell her to leave it, that this cow wasn’t worth it. Then I saw the bus going. We quickly jumped on. We were both worried and terrified. “How will we even know if this is the right bus?” Rebecca asked.

I shrugged. To our surprise, the bus took the route to Queen Square Gardens. “What are we doing in Queen Square?” Rebecca wondered. “That is all the way in London. This is not where we wanted to go.”

The driver ordered us to get off the bus. “Well hurry up, then. I haven’t got all day.”

“Could you please tell me what that says?” Rebecca asked, referring to the sign at the gate’s entrance.

The bus driver gave her a funny look. “What do you reckon it says?” he replied.

“How should I know?” Bex shrugged. Seeing that I’m dyslexic. That’s why I need you to spell it out.”

“You are joking.” He rolled his eyes, but decided to help her anyway. “It says ‘Queen Square Gardens.’ Does that answer your question?”

“Thanks, anyway,” Rebecca muttered. We both jumped off the bus as quickly as we could.

 

False Rumors: Chapter Five

Following Michael’s disappearance as a result of hurtful rumours about him, Natasha digs up more mystery clues. When she uncovers the actual real reason behind Michael’s mental breakdown, she and Rebecca warn their other mates. They then form an immediate search party as they rush to save him from self-harm

 

Tracy had kept a diary in which she poured out her depression and suicidal thoughts. She had also mentioned in her diary that she felt someone was out to get her. She once told her psychiatrist about this. But one thing she never included was that her drug problem was also spiralling out of control.

I was determined to find out who it was that had been spreading all those vicious rumours about Michael. I let myself inside our computer office, using my own key that had been lent to me.

I discovered the private portfolio folder kept on the top bookshelf. I scanned through the contents and retrieved the copies of documents from the Suicide Investigation Centre. Their latest information stated that it wasn’t Michael behind Tracy’s suicide – but shockingly enough it turned out to be someone else. And that same person was also behind the false rumours about Michael and Tracy.

I had to let my friends know about this and expose the bastard culprit once and for all.

I met up with Rebecca and showed her the documents with the information. We both suggested finding Michael and bringing him back home to safety. And so we set out on our journey.

 

News of Michael’s disappearance immediately began to spread around town. Anna and Vanessa went to confront Paul after speculating about his spiteful behaviour and cruel accusations towards Michael a few days prior.

Anna knocked on Paul’s door. “Paul,” she said. “It’s us. We just want to talk to you.”

When he ignored them and refused to answer the door, Vanessa got extremely angry. “Paul, come out now,” she shouted furiously. “I know you were the last person to see Mike. You might as well admit it.”

Paul finally opened the door ajar. But he kept his distance. “Come to harass me and accuse me of all sorts, have you?!” he said sharply.

“Nobody is harassing you or accusing you of anything,” Anna said. “Now, for Christ sake, just calm down.”

“Oh go away,” Paul snapped. “Piss off, both of you.”

“First of all, you don’t ever tell me or Anna to piss off,” Vanessa said angrily. “Second of all, I’m not leaving until you tell us what you said to Mike that made him take off.”

Paul violently thrust the door open. “What is it that you want to know?” he shouted in a fit of rage.

“Don’t shout at us either!” Vanessa barked.

“Well then leave me the fuck alone. I’ve already been through enough with the fact that I’m fucking grieving because that cocaine-addicted bitch killed Katherine. I don’t need anybody else adding to my grief.”

“In case you didn’t know, nobody is interested in what you’re going through, because you’re not the only person whose life has been turned to shit by grief. Now why don’t you come clean about what happened between you and Mike, and the reason why he took off.”

Paul looked Vanessa in both eyes, his face as hard as granite. “If you want to know what I said to Mike,” he snarled. “I told him if he really loved Tracy and missed her that much – then maybe he should go and join her.”

 

 

Vanessa and Anna drove back to Anna’s apartment. Vanessa was in a fit of rage and seething uncontrollably. “The heartless cruel bastard,” she cried, extremely livid. “How could he have said all those horrible nasty things to Mike’s face, just to make him feel even worse about what happened to Tracy? How dare he?!”

“We’ll have no choice but to file a missing person’s report,” Anna said. “We need to gather up everyone in the neighbourhood that’s available. He can’t have gone far. Mike probably needs time to get away.”

Once inside the house, Anna put the kettle on to make them both some tea. Vanessa scanned through her phone diary, her mobile in her right hand. “What good would it do to file yet another missing person’s report?” Vanessa replied. “It won’t give any of his loved ones any closure. It’s best we form a search party.”

“Why? Nobody will know where to look.”

“Listen, we can’t have Mike end up like Tracy. Otherwise there will be two people dead.”

 

False Rumors: Chapter Four

Natasha has yet to inform her other close friend Rebecca Owen about Michael’s potential connection to Tracy’s death/alleged suicide

I located Rebecca Owen’s address somewhere in Woodchurch. From what I already knew, she lived close to Vanessa and was currently living with her boyfriend in a shared small bungalow. Something told me that she was not yet aware of Michael’s possible connection to Tracy’s disappearance and death.

I already knew she might not understand sign language – so I had a handwritten letter at the ready.

I handed the letter over to Bex. It read that Michael had been arrested and held in questioning over Tracy’s suicide. Oh God, I thought. I hope she doesn’t have too much trouble reading my shaken handwriting.

Fortunately, she didn’t. Judging by her response, she understood everything and immediately realized something very serious had happened.

 

Tracy’s ex-boyfriend Michael is being held in the local interrogation room following his altercation with her brother

Michael was being interrogated. He maintained his innocence the whole time and claimed he had nothing to do with any of the things he had been wrongfully accused of.

“And what did you say your name was?” the police officer recording the statement asked.

“It is Michael. Michael Adams. But I have done absolutely nothing wrong. I’m telling you the truth.”

“Mr. Adams, you are being investigated over a possible connection to Miss Preston’s death. Her family and most of her friends believe you played a part in her suicide. You do realize these accusations will lead to very serious consequences.”

“I’m already aware of that.”

“Did you know about her disappearance?”

“One of her friends informed me, and I helped them file a missing person’s report.”

“Were you the last person to see Miss Preston alive?”

“No, I wasn’t. I was at the local pub at the time.”

“Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Adams.”

 

Natasha’s other friends all have doubts about Michael’s innocence. They all accuse him of messing up Tracy’s life and brand him a murdering scumbag. However, deep down inside, Natasha has a feeling that he is anything but capable of murder

A few days later, Michael was released. Nigel, Vanessa, Anna, and I were at the bookstore discussing about it.

“How do any of us know if what has been said about Mike is true?” Nigel asked.

“That is the problem,” Vanessa said. “Nobody knows. But there is still something about him I don’t trust.”

Just then, Mike entered the shop.

“You’ve got a fucking nerve, showing your face here!” Anna said angrily.

“Oh shut up, Anna,” Vanessa snapped.

“Don’t tell her to shut up, actually,” Nigel pointed out to Vanessa. “Anna has a point. He has no right to be here, the scumbag.”

“Before you start throwing all sorts of accusations at me, please listen to what I need to say,” Michael implored.

“Why should we?” Nigel replied. “What could you possibly say to us that would be worth hearing?”

Michael hesitated. He didn’t feel comfortable with the icy stares being thrown at him, particularly by Anna and Nigel.

“Well go on, then,” Vanessa said. “You’ve got what you need to get out into the open. Spit it out.”

“The only reason Paul has had you lot convinced that I’m to blame for Tracy’s suicide is because I didn’t support her in the way I should have,” Michael began. “He and the other locals have a habit of spreading rumours.”

“But then how do you explain the altercation with that bloke the other night?”

“Tracy’s brother had heard from one of her neighbours that I had thrown her out and then told her to kill herself because nobody wanted her around anymore. That was around the time I had ended things with Tracy.”

At least that explained everything. Almost.

“Of course the part about my throwing her out and telling her to do the rest of the world a favour by leaving this earth is not true,” he continued. I would never have done that, especially when I already knew she was severely depressed and that she was struggling with her alcoholism and cocaine addiction. You’ve got to believe me.”

I believed him, even if the others didn’t. There was no reason to suspect he was lying.

“Was there anything else you might not have filled us in on?” Vanessa demanded.

“Such as what?” Michael asked, bemused.

“The fact that it was you who got her involved in the drugs.”

“We were doing cocaine and other drugs together, yes. That was the whole reason why our relationship suffered.”

So before Tracy’s life had spiralled out of control even further, she and Michael had both been dabbling in drugs and binge drinking together. Something was telling me that this played a major part in Katherine’s death and Tracy’s suicide. And because it was Michael who had introduced Tracy to drugs in the first place, he probably felt that nobody could trust him anymore.

 

Natasha, Vanessa and Anna once again head to the Garden Of Remembrance where an unexpectedly horrifying scene awaits them…

The next time we would all visit Tracy’s cremation plot headstone at the Garden Of Remembrance there would be yet another horrific shock. Her headstone had been vandalized by a bunch of angry locals. The words “SELFISH COW!” and “BITCH!” had been written on the embedded stone plaque in felt-tip marker.

There was a note left next to the damaged headstone. It read: “You should have just killed yourself only and not taken Katherine with you. Thank God you were burnt to ashes, which is what you deserve! You should have been obliterated a long time ago. Fucking mad cow!”

Anna read through the heartless messages through tears. “Why can’t they just let the poor girl rest in peace for crying out loud?” she cried in despair. “Why make her suffer even more in death?”

“Maybe because suicide is considered a sin,” I said to her in sign language.

“What are you trying to say?” Anna asked me, bemused and perplexed.

I completely forgot that she didn’t understand sign language. I looked at Vanessa for help.

“Natasha reckons that their reason for vandalizing Tracy’s grave in anger is because she committed suicide,” Vanessa said. “And suicide is a sin especially in Christianity.”

“However they want to look at it, she had no future anyway. Her future had been taken away from her a long time ago.” Anna sounded bitter as she examined the vandalism. “And just when we all thought she was finally getting her life back on track.”

“According to what Natasha found out, Paul was spreading false rumours, making people think Michael had something to do with it,” Vanessa revealed.

“To do with Tracy topping herself, you mean?”

Vanessa nodded sadly. I saw Anna’s devastated and dismayed reaction, as she struggled trying to take it all in.

 

And just when it seems things can’t get any worse…

Rebecca was at her antique shop when the phone suddenly rang. She immediately answered. “Hello? How can I help you?”

It was one of Michael’s friends. He sounded distraught. “Mike has gone missing. Nobody’s seen him since yesterday.”

Bex dropped the receiver in shock. Missing? This could not be happening again!

She called out to her store partner and best friend, Tiffany. “Tiff,” she cried. “Something serious has come up. I need to head out right now.”

“Why, what’s happened?” Tiffany asked.

Rebecca didn’t have time to reply. She had already left.