‘THE ACCUSATION‘ by ZOSIA WAND
FIRST LINES / BOOK BEGINNINGS
I know something about fear. I know it can be red and urgent, the roar of a dragon, flames in your face. We all recognise that. You will know it as something brief and fierce, leaving smoke and ashes, sometimes scalded flesh. This fear is different. My fear is not hot and fiery, but grey and quiet, lingering in the shadows. It’s a chill breath on my neck, a whispered warning in my ear…
THREE DAYS EARLIER
The ferry, from Bowness-on-Windermere to Brockhole, is crowded with families, young lovers, older couples and dogs. A large party of sleek Japanese tourists look at the world through their iPhones, framing, snapping and sharing. They followed us around the Beatrix Potter museum, exclaiming over Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbit with an infectious enthusiasm that intrigued Milly more than the exhibits themselves. ‘But they’re growed up,’ she said, frowning. ‘Peter Rabbit is for children.’ We agreed it was a puzzle.
Milly is watchful, squinting in the late-August sunshine, head cocked to one side, taking it all in, her little hand in mine. The soft grip of her fingers is a new delight and I can’t help stroking my thumb up and down her plump flesh. This precious little girl. Our daughter…
After years of trying, and failing, to become parents, they are in the final stages of adopting four-year-old Milly.
Though she already feels like their daughter, they just have to get through the ‘settling in’ period: three months of living as a family before they can make it official.
But then Eve’s mother, Joan, comes to stay.
Joan has never liked her son-in-law. He isn’t right for Eve; too controlling, too opinionated.
She knows Eve has always wanted a family, but is Neil the best man to build one with?
Then Joan uncovers something that could smash Eve’s family to pieces…
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