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A Chance Encounter




Rae Shaw

  A Chance Encounter

Julianna Baptiste Novel #1

Years ago, he chose a victim.

Now the wait is over.

Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?

Mark works for Haynes’ vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers.

His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret.

For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?

Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his past mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives on the line.


Published by Spare Time Press

Copyright © 2021 Rae Shaw

All Rights Reserved

ISBN: 978-1-9996307-8-2

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

For Mum and Dad

Part One





She raised her fists, swept her arm back and slaked her anger with a punch. By the time she’d worked up a sweat, she’d dealt with Alex’s fake smiles, his smirking lips and the dimple in his chin. The punch bag continued to dance on its rope, shaken by the force of her blows, then limped to a sway, the crimson cover sticky in places.

The album was empty. She had no more photos to tape to the shabby leather. She had punched her way through the wedding ones, and the honeymoon snaps, shredding them with her knuckles and kicking feet. There was always the weekend in Paris.

Another jab. Another kick. Forget Paris. Forget the walk along the Champs Elysees. The kiss under the Eiffel Tower. The nice Parisian who had caught them cuddling on the banks of the Seine and added a shot to the collection. She punished her wrapped knuckles, the blistered heel of her bare foot. Every inch of her had to hurt.

What mattered, what had to be expunged, was the night she had propelled him out of the front door with one powerful kick up the ass. The satisfaction of seeing his smile disintegrating, replaced by fury and humiliation, was worth the unneighbourly curtain twitches. What she felt had been there on his face for everyone to see. That was what gave her the idea for trashing photographs.

Julianna began each day in the cellar. It wasn’t much of a basement, more of a claustrophobic sliver under the mews house. To hide the crumbling brickwork, she had hung curtains rescued from charity shops across the walls and, to cushion her feet, she had laid a threadbare rug over the concrete floor, but it lacked any substance and occasionally her knees jarred as she hopped about on her toes.

The punch bag therapy lasted ten minutes. She buried her face in a towel and heaved a sigh of relief. There were more photos, things she could aim at, but nothing could remove the bitterness, the memory of finding the necklace on her bedside table, planted there because he had given up waiting for her to find out the truth.

She wanted to see things clearly again. But nobody would understand how hard it felt trying to recapture that skill, not even those she counted as friends or family.

During her police training, and the subsequent more in depth assessment she had undertaken when she worked for the intelligence services, her mentors had told her she was “insightful”, “observant”, able to “read between the lines and see the detail hidden in the big picture”. Oh, the irony of that excellent appraisal; the buzz it had given her equal to kickboxing. Alex had taken her out to an exclusive restaurant and applauded her with his usual wit and languid remarks. Again, she had missed the signs.

He’d taken that bitch to the same restaurant.

She had amassed numerous theories as to her failings. The obvious was her husband had drained her of her precious abilities. She had gone soft on him, pandered to what he needed, and in the end, all that self-effacing effort meant nothing to him. She quit working for the government, those secret agencies that Hollywood romanticised in spy films when in reality they relied on hard graft and few rewards. What good was she? The numpty on the money laundering desk who couldn’t even spot her husband’s duplicity wasn’t going to “see” the things criminals hid.

To her surprise, the misery of handing in her notice was salvaged by somebody she had heard of, but never met. Alex’s alumni friend, Jackson Haynes, had headhunted her and brought her to work for him at Haynes Financial Services, a thriving business that bought and sold lesser companies; it also happened to excel at exposing fraudsters.

She had the most unusual set of roles in the company and no authentic job title. It was exactly what she liked about it, although the job had yet to thrive in the direction she desired. There again, the circumstances weren’t right for pushing through her ambitions. God forbid somebody put her in charge of anything and promoted her to management. She wasn’t ready to deal with people. Not yet.

Versatility was the key to her success. Depending where she was needed, she migrated between tasks, such as fraud investigations,

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