FOXDEN HOTEL – Book 5 – A stand-alone sequel to Foxden Acres. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071LDYD2D/
The fifth novel is a story of intrigue and secrets, threats and blackmail, romance, happiness and love. Foxden Hotel brings the Dudley sisters together along with their husbands and friends to celebrate the opening of the hotel on New Year’s Eve 1948 (ten years after Foxden Acres opened on New Year’s Eve 1938).
As the countdown to 1949 begins, a terrifyingly familiar voice from Bess’s past rasps a New Year’s message in her ear. Bess turns, a camera bulb flashes – and the man has gone.
The uninvited guest, an enemy from the war years, threatens to expose a secret from Bess’s past that will ruin her happiness and the new life she has worked so hard to create. Bess’s husband, Frank, throws the man out, but Bess and her sister Margot follow him. Is that the last they will see of him? Or will he show up again when they least expect?
An excerpt from Foxden Hotel. Opening lines of Chapter One
‘Happy New Year, Bess!’
A voice, as hard as granite and terrifyingly similar to one from Bess’s past, sent panic searing through her body. She spun round. A camera bulb flashed, temporarily blinding her. She stumbled backwards. Someone grabbed her hand, the lights dimmed, Big Ben began to chime, and the party goers started the countdown to 1949. “Ten! Nine! Eight!–”
‘Happy New Year!’ Bess’s sisters shouted above the chanting, kissing her and then each other.
‘What is it, Bess?’ Margot was the last of her sisters to greet her. ‘You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.’
‘I have. Or rather, I’ve just heard one.’ Bess put on a smile and waved across the room to her husband, Frank, who had been in charge of tuning the wireless for the run-up to midnight. Happy New Year, darling, she mouthed. Frank raised his arm to wave, but Bess’s two youngest sisters, Claire and Ena, had arrived at his side and were smothering him in kisses.
‘Come with me. I want you to look at someone and tell me if you’ve seen him before.’ Taking Margot by the hand, Bess led her around the ballroom searching for the face that she felt sure would match the menacing voice that rasped the New Year message in her ear. ‘He isn’t here. He must be in the public bar.’
The public bar, which was open to non-residents as well as guests of the Foxden Hotel, was opposite the ballroom. Bess and Margot made their way across the hotel’s elegant marble hall and past the traditional Christmas tree. The hall was bustling with people. Those staying in the hotel were making their way up the sweeping staircase to their rooms, others were putting on coats and hats and preparing to leave, and some were still celebrating – shaking hands and kissing each other.
‘Happy New Year, Bess!’ someone shouted. And ‘A great party, Bess!’ called someone else, raising their glass. Unable to find her voice to return the greeting, or even to say thank you, Bess forced herself to smile as she edged her way through the jubilant throng.
The door to the public bar stood open. From the entrance, Bess’s attention was drawn to two men leaning against the bar, arguing. One of the men, in his mid-thirties with a broad face, cold grey eyes, and blonde greased-back hair, was holding the hand of a pretty girl with fair shoulder-length hair. Observing him nervously with big blue eyes, the girl looked as if she was in her late teens, early twenties. The other man – middle-aged with a square jaw, sharp features and receding grey hair – had a protective arm around the young girl’s shoulders.
Bess began to tremble; her legs felt weak. Without taking her eyes off the younger of the two men, she gripped the doorframe with one hand, seizing Margot’s hand with the other. Margot followed Bess’s gaze. ‘Dave Sutherland!’ she gasped. ‘His hair is longer and the stupid Hitler-style moustache has gone, but that Nazi monster is Dave Sutherland.’ She beckoned the newspaper photographer. ‘Any chance of you taking a picture of those two men?’
The photographer winked. ‘It would be my pleasure.’ A second later he was standing next to them at the bar.
Distracted by the exploding flash bulb, the two men turned from each other and faced the photographer. Sutherland’s nostrils flared with anger. The older man put his hands up in an attempt to hide his face. He was too late.
‘Give me that camera,’ Sutherland slurred. The photographer stepped back. ‘If you know what’s good for you, you’ll hand it over.’ Sutherland took a swing at the photographer, but the photographer reacted quickly and stepped back again. Sutherland overreached, lost his balance, and fell to his knees.
Bess let go of Margot’s hand and pushed herself off the doorframe. ‘And if you know what’s good for you,’ she said, looking down at Sutherland as he scrambled to his feet, ‘you’ll leave my hotel.’
Sutherland turned at the sound of Bess’s voice, an evil grin on his face. ‘Your hotel, is it? Well, well, well, haven’t you done well for yourself,’ he smirked, pulling on the sleeves of his jacket and doing his drunken best to regain his composure. ‘Do your fancy friends know what you got up to in London, Bess?’ Sutherland said loudly, surveying the crowd. ‘No? Perhaps I should tell them.’
Bess felt sick. Fearing the consequences if Sutherland opened his drunken mouth, she turned to the barman. ‘Close the bar, Simon.’