BY: DANIELLA BERNETT
If the answer is a lie…the truth is murder
Journalist Emmeline Kirby is reeling from the recent discovery that her parents were murdered while on assignment, when she was five. She flirts with danger as she sets off on the long-cold trail to find their killer. At the same time, her probing questions about the suspicious death of Russian national Pavel Melnikov gain her a coterie of enemies. To complicate matters, her path crosses with prominent industrialist Victor Royce, who turns her world upside down.
Gregory Longdon, her dashing fiancé and jewel-thief-cum-insurance-investigator, has grave problems of his own. His past has caught up with him. Alastair Swanbeck, a ruthless entrepreneur with ties to Putin and the underworld, is alive and intent on revenge. Swanbeck’s cat-and-mouse taunts reveal that he can get to Gregory—and Emmeline—anytime he desires. When evil’s poison lurks in things that are better left alone, the quest for justice could prove fatal for Emmeline and Gregory.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In When Blood Runs Cold by Daniella Bernett, Emmeline Kirby is still reeling from the discovery that her parents were murdered. Determined to find the killers, she risks her life in pursuit of the truth. But what she uncovers is enough to make her question everything she believed about herself. To make matters worse, her fiancé, Gregory Longdon, has problems of his own. A villain from his past wants revenge, and he doesn’t care who he hurts to get it.
Well written, fast paced, and intense, this is one you won’t want to put down.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: When Blood Runs Cold by Daniella Bernett is the fifth book in her Emmeline Kirby/Gregory Longdon Mystery series. This time Emmeline is dealing with Russian thugs; an evil criminal from her fiancé, Gregory’s, past; and dark family secrets. Her search for the truth in the cold case of her parents’ murder involves her in a more recent death, where she is the prime suspect for that murder. This time her smarts and Gregory’s cunning may not be enough to save her.
When Blood Runs Cold is packed with tension, fast-paced action, and a number of twists and turns that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end.
London, July 2010:
My parents were murdered. Murdered. This tormenting thought careened around Emmeline’s head for the millionth time in the two weeks since Yoav Zielinski, the Israeli cultural attaché, had sent her that damned letter and file. She pulled them out of her desk drawer and slowly read through them once again, although she could recite every word in her sleep—that is, when she had been able to sleep.
Zielinski was a kind man who sincerely believed she should know the truth. After all, wasn’t the search for truth and justice the very tenet by which she lived and breathed as a journalist and now as editorial director of The Clarion? Yes, of course it was and it always would be. And yet…and yet this was different. These were her parents. This disturbing new knowledge had shaken her more than she was willing to admit. She was drowning, plunging deeper and deeper below the water’s surface. She was being suffocated by her utter helplessness. She had to find her parents’ murderer. But how? It had all happened twenty-five years ago when they had been on assignment in Lebanon.
Emmeline shoved the file away from her and fingered the photo of her parents, which sat on her desk next to the ones of Gran and Gregory. All the important people in her life. Where should she start? If there had been any clues, the trail had gone cold by now. So very cold. Who would want to kill her parents and, above all, why? She rested her chin on her hand. Her gaze strayed across her office to the window. However, she saw nothing of the lovely London skyline. Her mind was trapped in the past. A past she was ignorant of because she had been a mere child of five. At that time, her world had been filled with happiness because she had been secure in the knowledge of her parents’ unconditional love. She didn’t need anything else. They were everything anyone could ever want and more. Then one day, her world was shattered and they were gone. Just like that in a blink of an eye. But they didn’t simply die, they were murdered.
Emmeline stiffened. This terrible weight on her shoulders didn’t affect her alone. She knew Gran had a right to know, painful as it was. She had reached for the telephone a dozen times in the past week, but her courage had deserted her at the last second on each occasion. She had to find the right words. She couldn’t keep it from Gran. But how did one tell a mother that her daughter and son-in-law had their lives snatched away?
Emmeline shook her head. A long sigh escaped her lips. With a trembling hand, she picked up the receiver and punched in the number. Her heart was in her mouth when her grandmother’s voice came on the line. “Hello, Gran. It’s me.”
“Well, hello, Emmy.” Helen Davis’s voice was laced with love and warmth. “What a pleasant surprise. MacTavish and I just this instant returned from a long, lovely ramble. Didn’t we?” There’s a muffled woof, woof in the background.
Tears stung Emmeline’s eyelids. She could picture her grandmother and that rascal of a Scottish terrier tramping about the woods in the Kentish countryside. “That sounds nice.” She hoped Gran couldn’t hear the tremor in her voice. She sat up straighter in her chair and said in a rush, “Look, Gran, the reason why I rang is because…well, I need talk to you about something. Something important.”
“So talk. I have all the time in world, love.”
Emmeline cleared her throat. “It’s…it’s a bit involved. I was wondering if it would be all right to come down to Swaley this weekend. I know it’s all last minute, but—”
Helen cut her off. “Silly girl, since when did you have to ask? You know that you’re welcome any time of the day or night.” She paused and then excitement tickled her voice. “Wait a minute. I know what this is all about.”
“You do? But you can’t have found out,” Emmeline stammered.
“When are you going to learn that there’s not much that gets past me? You and that devilishly attractive scoundrel have finally come to your senses and set a date. Haven’t you? It took you long enough. I don’t know what you were waiting for—”
Emmeline had to nip this in the bid before it got out of control. “No, Gran. Gregory and I haven’t set a date yet.”
She could hear the irritation creeping into Helen’s tone. “Sometimes I despair of you. I really do. Why are you holding that poor boy at arm’s length? He’s proved his love to you a thousand times over. The past is the past, Emmy. You have to let go. Otherwise, it’s going to eat away at you until there’s nothing left.”
This was too much. Her eyes were swimming and a lump had lodged itself firmly in her throat. “That’s just it, Gran,” she whispered hoarsely. “The past doesn’t want to let go of me. It keeps coming back to haunt me with a vengeance.”
There was silence at the other end of the line for a long moment. Then, Helen said softly, “Come whenever you like. Don’t worry. There’s nothing we can’t sort out together. You’ll see.” She paused. “But I’m warning you that if you don’t bring Gregory, MacTavish will not allow you to cross the threshold. Do I make myself clear?”
For the first time in a week, laughter bubbled up to Emmeline’s lips. “Yes, Gran. Message received and understood.”
“I’m glad to hear it. By the way, I’m not going to allow the two of you to leave until we settle on a date for your wedding.”
“Of course, we. Much as I love you, I’m sad to say that the two of you have been a complete and utter disappointment. You have proven that you’re quite incapable of accomplishing this simple little task. I blame myself. I left you to your own devices for far too long. But no more. You need a firm hand to guide you. Someone has to show you the error of your ways. Maggie thoroughly agrees with me.”
Emmeline bit her lip. She was certain that Maggie, her best friend, and her grandmother were on the phone plotting round the clock. Seeing her and Gregory married had become their sole mission in life. And heaven help the person who stood in their way. They made a formidable pair. “I see. Do you really need me and Gregory? It sounds as if you and Maggie have already set the date and arranged the honeymoon.”
“That’s quite enough of that. I’ll have none of your cheek, my girl,” Helen replied. Although the words were stern, there was an undercurrent of amusement in her tone. “I’ll expect you and you-know-who on Saturday for lunch.”
Emmeline’s mouth curled into a smile. “I love you, Gran. I’m the luckiest girl in the world because I have you.”
Helen chuckled in her ear. “Indeed you are. And you know how much I love you, my precious darling girl. However, you will feel my wrath if—”
“Yes, yes. I know. A date.”
“Good. I’m glad to see that we understand each other. Cheery bye until Saturday.”
There was a soft click as her grandmother severed the connection. Emmeline’s mood sobered. Until Saturday. She had three days to find the right words. But murder was so vile and sinister. Were there any right words?
The minute Gregory stepped into his sumptuous two-bedroom flat in the sleek 1920s Art Deco building on Albert Road in Primrose Hill, the hairs on the back of his neck prickled with the unsettling certainty that somebody had been there. Or still was there. He quietly dumped his keys on the Queen Anne console table.
His body tense, every nerve tingling and straining, he crossed the entrance hall on the balls of his feet. His not-so-old métier as a jewel thief stood him in good stead. His tread was so light that his footfalls barely disturbed the air. The only one who would be taken by surprise would be his hapless intruder.
His fingers curled around the doorknob. He took a deep breath before he flung open the door to the spacious living room, which had a picturesque view of Regent’s Park.
No one. He made a slow circuit of the room. Not a single piece of furniture or painting escaped that shrewd cinnamon gaze. Nothing was out of place, not even the objets d’art on the mantelpiece.
He repeated the same exercise in the study, the dining room, kitchen, the guest bedroom, and the bathroom. Nothing. And yet he couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that someone had been there.
He stood in front of the master bedroom and pushed the door open with his foot. It creaked slightly on its hinges making him cringe inside.
His gaze locked on it instantly. A single, perfect coral rose nestled on his pillow.
He was across the room in two strides. He stared down at the delicate bloom. His fingers reached out and grazed its velvety petals just as the telephone on his night table began to ring. He fumbled for the receiver.
No one responded. His back stiffened. He could hear someone’s steady breathing.
He gritted his teeth. “Swanbeck.” It wasn’t a question. “I got your present.” He held the rose out in front of him and twirled it between his thumb and forefinger. “You can’t hide forever.”
The silence was broken by a deep-throated huff of smug laughter and then the line went dead.
Gregory slammed the receiver back in the cradle, making the crystal glass on his night table jump. Damn and blast, he thought. Why couldn’t the bloody bastard have remained dead? Things were finally falling into place with Emmy. Why did Swanbeck have to surface from the mire again?
The strident peal of the telephone interrupted these unsettling ruminations. Right.
He snatched up the receiver. “I’m not impressed by your little games. In fact, they’re rather childish. Only a coward clings to the shadows.”
“What are you on about, Gregory?”
The unexpected sound of Emmeline’s voice unbalanced him for a minute. “E—Emmy? Is that you, d—darling?” he stammered.
“Yes, it’s me. Are you quite all right? You sound distinctly…odd. ”
He recovered his equanimity and said smoothly, “Do I, darling? It must be the connection. You know what modern technology is like. The more sophisticated it is, the more prone to problems. I’m perfectly fine. Better than fine actually, since you’ve agreed to become my wife. Why would you think otherwise? I was simply sitting here daydreaming about you.”
“Uh, huh,” she replied skeptically. “I don’t believe you. You’re up to something. I can hear it in your voice, but I don’t have time right now to worm it out of you. I have to run into a meeting. I wanted to thank you for the roses. They were a lovely surprise. They just arrived.”
The smile vanished from Gregory’s lips. His fingers tensed around the phone. “Roses? What roses?”
“What do you mean what roses? The enormous bouquet of coral roses, which you know are my favorites. They came with a card. ‘To the love of my life. I am nothing without you.’”
Long, tapered fingers of cold fear wrapped themselves around Gregory’s heart and his mouth went dry.
Emmeline continued to chatter on, but he had no idea what she was saying.
“You aren’t listening, are you? I can feel it.”
He cleared his throat. “Of course, I am, darling. Every word is etched in my mind.” He hoped he sounded lighthearted. “It simply slipped my mind about the roses. I’m glad they brightened your afternoon. Remember, the reservations are at eight. I’ll collect you at seven-thirty.”
“I haven’t forgotten. This is my last meeting of the day and then I’m going straight home to change. There’s just one thing I wanted to tell you. We’re going down to Gran’s this weekend. It’s a command performance I’m afraid.”
Gregory’s body relaxed a little. “Ah, Helen. The other great love in my life. How can a man be so lucky?”
“Dearest, you can turn off the charm. This is me you’re talking to. You don’t have to extoll my grandmother’s virtues. Just listen. I’ve put it off too long. I have to tell her about…well, about Mummy and Daddy. But I have to do it in person.”
“Of course you do. I’ll be there by your side. I won’t let you do this alone.” His voice was gentle and full of affection.
“Yes, I know. And I love you very much for it,” she replied shakily. “I’ve never needed you more. I feel like I’m stumbling around in the dark.” She paused and then went on in a stronger voice, “However, prepare yourself for battle. Gran has plans with a capital P. Apparently, she is going to keep us prisoner—under the watchful eye of that brute of a guard dog MacTavish—until we set a date for our wedding.”
The laughter rumbled forth from Gregory’s throat. “Is she now? A woman after my own heart. I should have enlisted her services long ago. Perhaps if I had, we would have been an old married couple by now.”
“Ha. Ha. You know very well that Gran and Maggie are putty in your hands. They’ve been in your corner since the Ice Age. They don’t need any encouragement to enthusiastically take up your cause.”
“What can I say, my love? They are two extremely discerning women and recognize quality when they see it.”
Emmeline groaned. “Right. I’ve had quite enough of your ego for one afternoon. I’ve got to run. I’ll see you later.”
“I’ll be counting the minutes,” he replied, but she had already rung off.
Gregory sank down heavily onto his bed. He frowned as he stared malevolently at the rose.
“Touch one hair on her head, Swanbeck,” he said aloud, “and I’ll kill you.”
He squeezed the rose so hard that a thorn pricked his thumb and drew blood.
© 2019 by Daniella Bernett
“Emmeline and Gregory both battle ghosts of the past in a fast-paced adventure that takes their relationship and the series in unexpected directions.” ~ Tracy Grant, author of The Glenister Papers
“Danger and a dash of romance…Daniella Bernett provides an action-packed, thought-provoking adventure as Emmeline and Gregory deal with Russian thugs, a family at one another’s throats, and a secret from Emmeline’s past that changes everything she believed about herself AND makes her a prime murder suspect! This installment in the series is not to be missed!” ~ Alyssa Maxwell, author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries