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Foxden Hotel @ 2017 by Madalyn Morgan

Published worldwide 2017 @ Madalyn Morgan

All rights reserved in all media. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical (including but not limited to: the Internet, photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system), without prior permission in writing from the author.

The moral right of Madalyn Morgan as the author of the work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.


Formatted by Rebecca Emin


Book Jacket Designed by Cathy Helms


Cover photograph of Misterton Hall:

Madalyn Morgan

Thanks to Heather Craven who invited me to Misterton Hall to take photographs of the Hall, the lake, and the grounds.

Thanks also to Dr Roger Wood for an in depth critique, to Tony Thresher and author Debbie Viggiano, my beta readers.

Thanks also to my friends, Jean Martin, Geraldine Tew, Kitty Jacklin, and Lynne Root, author friends, Theresa Le Flem and Jayne Curtis, and everyone at the Leicestershire RNA - The Belmont Belles - for their support and encouragement. To Pauline Barclay at Chill With A Book, Sarah Houldcroft at Authors Uncovered, Gary Walker at Look 4 Books, W.H.Smith, Hunts Independent Bookshop in Rugby, and the Lutterworth and Rugby Libraries.

Foxden Hotel is dedicated to my mother and father,

Ena and Jack Smith.


‘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,’ she said, dragging Margot across the crowded dance floor.

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.

‘Bess? Margot?’ Ena and Claire called, catching up with their older sisters. ‘The chap from the Lowarth Advertiser wants to take a photograph of the four of us,’ Ena said.

Bess stopped dead. Was she mistaken? Could it have been the photographer who wished her a happy New Year? He had taken a photograph of her immediately afterwards, so he was near enough. But the voice? A cold shiver ran down Bess’s back. The voice she had heard was not the friendly voice of the young man from the Advertiser.

‘Bess?’ When she didn’t reply, Ena turned to Margot. ‘What’s going on?’

Margot shrugged her shoulders. ‘I don’t know.’

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 and their sisters followed hers. ‘Dave Sutherland!’ she gasped. ‘His hair is longer and the stupid Hitler-style moustache has gone, but that monster is Dave Sutherland.’

Bess couldn’t hear what Sutherland was saying to the older man, but by the slimy way he was fawning over the girl it was obvious that she was the subject of their disagreement. All of a sudden Sutherland stepped forward, pulled the girl away from the older man, and squared

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