Honor's Shadow

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Honor's Shadow is a story of betrayal and revenge. Dr Honor Sinclair, a psychiatrist and therapist, is forced to confront a long buried betrayal, when several small events converge to awaken disturbing memories. An anniversary of loss, a newspaper article about someone from her past, a new therapy client distraught by her husband's infidelity. How can Honor control her own pressing emotions and desires, as she attempts to contain the vengeful impulses of Tisi, her strange new client? 'Voula Grand is a writer to watch. Honor's Shadow, nourished by its author's professional work as a psychologist, grows to become a quite original and haunting work of fiction. It is rare for a first book to manage the difficult trick of being both wise and gripping so successfully.'- John Mitchinson, co-author of The QI Book of General Ignorance'Voula's experience as a psychologist is evident in the way she expertly gets under the skin of the characters she portrays. One is hooked from the first page, the twists and turns of the plot keep you guessing right up to the end.'- Leonie Mellinger, communication skills coach'Voula Grand's work combines a raw emotional honesty with a psychologist's insight into the human psyche. This novel is at once a real page-turner and a highly original portrait of the nature of betrayal. A must-read.'- Jacqui Lofthouse, author of Bluethroat Morning'A tale woven with twists and turns and compelling characters. You won't be able to put it down.'- Vanessa Woolley, Presenter, Marlow FM Book Club'This compelling psychological drama had me gripped from the first page. The past erupts with life-changing consequences for the characters in a powerful tale of retribution and justice. I couldn't put it down.'- Sally Potter, relationship therapist

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CHAPTER ONE

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Something wasn’t right.

Honor knew it before she’d even opened her eyes, as she drifted, dreamy, up to the surface of herself, waking to it, like a psychic nagging toothache. Turning restlessly, she tried to locate it, stretching, trying to shift—what? Yes, today, that’s it, this shadow date. Shuffling across to Eliot, she tucked her body against the warm length of his, sliding her arm around his waist. He stirred and murmured. Could I tell him? She asked herself the same question every year. Relieve myself of this secret? The same answer came: no, she couldn’t. That was the price of being married to a man raised in the strict Catholic tradition, even if he did pick and choose his commandments to suit his own convenience.

With a heavy sigh, she eased herself quietly out of bed.

At breakfast, listening to the chatter of her three children, and Thea’s eight-year-old excitement about today’s school dance show, she reminded herself why she did it: to protect them—and herself.

 

CHAPTER TWO

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Walking back to her office, for her final client session of the day, Honor felt dizzy. Twice, she had to stop, and steady herself; finally she sat down and leaned forwards, dropping her head down to counter the feeling that she might faint. Sitting herself back up again, the world around her seemed to dim and recede, as her inner sickening overwhelmed her sense of reality.

Her head felt full: Thomas, his family, the haunting face of Madalena; all of them jostling for her attention, a clamour of demands.

She looked in on Barbara, whose office was a shrine of cleanliness and order: her large glass desk held only the desktop computer and the office printer. Not a single piece of paper could be seen anywhere, not even a coloured post-it note; and not a pen or pencil in sight. Barbara worked almost entirely without paper, and had recently tried to convince Honor that she should use a mini laptop to take session notes: “We could get rid of your collection of tatty notebooks then, Honor.”

 

CHAPTER THREE

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Honor set off for work, a little earlier than usual, on the day of her second meeting with Tisi. As she turned into the road of her offices, she was struck by how attractive her building looked in the morning sunlight. The Georgian terrace was one of a crescent of private residences, apart from the three at her end, which housed a doctor’s surgery, a dental surgery, and a holistic health centre, where Honor had half the ground floor.

She was so early today that even Barbara, who always arrived on the dot of 8.30, was not there. Her influence was evident: the brass plaque to the right of the door had been polished to a brilliant shine by their cleaner, who was micro managed within an inch of her life by Barbara.

Dr Honor Sinclair MD; BSc; Dip Psych.

Psychotherapist

Consultant Psychiatrist

Letting herself in, Honor passed by the door of Ann, the Gestalt therapist who had the other half of the ground floor. She could hear the murmur of voices.

She and Ann had moved into the offices on the same day, ten years ago. They’d met in the hall and Honor had taken one look at Ann’s hair, hanging straight to her waist (What exactly is the right age to stop having long hair?) and her Indian print cotton skirt and sighed inwardly. Ann, smiling broadly, had held out her hand and shook Honor’s firmly, saying, “How great! A new office and another therapist across the hall. We can brew some spells together.”

 

CHAPTER FOUR

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I have no idea what I can reasonably expect from Tisi.

Until Honor had a deeper understanding of Tisi’s character dynamics it would be difficult to predict how she might react to comments and observations.

Honor had an extraordinary memory, not for facts and figures, but for a total experience. She thought of it as her magic memory, invaluable in her chosen profession. After a short meditation, she could conjure up a client in all their dimensions: how they looked, sounded, and felt, along with her own reactions and responses. In Tisi’s case, she’d been unable to clear her from her mind, so this magic was unnecessary.

Tisi arrived a little early, and Honor heard her profuse apologies to Barbara, who handled it professionally, maintaining a cool distance.

At the allotted time, when Honor went to collect her, Tisi greeted her with stammering apologies. If I could just get this woman to stop saying sorry, I’ll have given her some serious help: her fear of failure is crippling.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

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Tell Jack who Bella’s father is.

Madalena stared at the six words, in a child’s handwriting, on the single sheet of lined paper. She looked around the room, as though to check she was alone. Then she looked at the page again. Carefully, she turned the sheet of paper face down in front of her, on the table, and picked up her coffee cup, took a long sip, then replaced the cup on its saucer.

She picked up the small brown envelope that the note had arrived in, turned it over and inspected the childlike writing: Miss M Morris. Hadn’t she seen a similar envelope in Jack’s post on the hall table, ten minutes ago, when he’d left for work? She was sure of it: she’d seen him off, handing him his small pile of post. So how come it was in her post now? Were there two letters?

Turning the note over, she read it again. Did she imagine it would have changed while she wasn’t looking at it?

Folding the letter back into the envelope, she folded all of it, once, twice, into the palm of her hand. She was going to ignore it; just pretend she’d never received it.

 

CHAPTER SIX

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Madalena was lost in Dubai airport. She didn’t know what to do, or where to go next. Jack had brought her here, checked her luggage in, got her boarding pass, and seen her through the departure gates. Now she was alone.

She always travelled with Jack, who took care of everything, so she wasn’t in the habit of paying attention. She was returning home, because Bella was in trouble again. Jack couldn’t leave: he was in the middle of his business deal.

Madalena hadn’t enjoyed the last few days. Had she imagined it, or was there something slightly different about Jack? She had caught him staring at her once in a way she didn’t recognize, as though he was reading something in her face. Most uncomfortable. She hadn’t been sleeping well, often lying awake, listening to Jack’s contented breathing, staring into the dark night, wondering who could have sent that letter?

An encounter with one of Jack’s clients had led to a familiar argument. “How nice to meet your lovely wife,” he’d said, and Jack had laughed and said “She’s not my wife; I can’t get her to marry me.”

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

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Violent sunlight pierced Madalena’s eyelids. She raised a shaky hand to cover her eyes. Vague noises assaulted her ears: the stewardess raising the window blind, and the clink of glasses of iced orange juice being placed on trays. Why was it all so loud? There was a sound beneath it all, throbbing and thumping; was that the sound of her own heartbeat? In her head?

She licked her lips, several times. Sitting up slowly, every movement jolting her head, she carefully uncovered her eyes and opened them slightly. The flood of light made her squeeze them shut again quickly.

A low laugh came from close by, and a voice: “Good morning.”

In the course of her everyday life, Madalena had three straightforward categories to describe how she felt. There was Good—how she felt most of the time. There was Not So Good, which was how she felt in response to any obstruction to what she wanted, such as her (rare) inability to persuade Jack of something, or the failure of shops to stock the items she wanted. And finally there was Terrible, for anything to do with Jack’s mother and Jack’s refusal to marry her; and that was also how she’d felt (or possibly worse) since she got that damn letter.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

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Madalena gazed out of the car window, up at the sky, the grey clouds a perfect echo of how she felt. The family were on their way to their monthly Sunday lunch with Jack’s mother. She was feeling even more terrible than usual, as it would be the first visit since the publicity surrounding Bella.

Jack was clearly feeling the same. “Bella, don’t you wind up your Grandma, d’you hear me? She’s shocked by your behaviour, so just apologize and get it over with. I can’t face a long discussion.”

Bella, sitting next to Jack in the front of the car, puffed out her cheeks. “Oh for God’s sake.”

“I don’t want her upset, you just eat humble pie. You know how much she adores you. She’s an old lady, with traditional standards. Frankly it wouldn’t hurt you to think about your own standards.”

Bella turned around to exchange a look with her mother. Madalena raised her eyes heavenwards and shook her head slightly. Jack was right, if Bella simply smiled, apologized, and looked contrite, it could be over quickly. If she was feeling argumentative, the tension between Jack and Bella could drag on for days, with Madalena stuck in-between them.

 

CHAPTER NINE

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W“hat Honor? Whatever’s the matter?” Eliot looked from

Honor to the TV screen and back again. Turning her white face to Eliot, Honor pointed to the onscreen morning news.

A woman in her thirties, estranged from her husband, had suffocated her two small children, then hanged herself.

“The woman, from Newcastle,” intoned the newsreader “had been under psychiatric care for some time.”

Honor leaned against the kitchen counter, and put her hand to her mouth. “Oh thank God, thank God.”

“What Honor, what?” Eliot put an arm around her shoulders.

“For a dreadful moment I thought that … . Oh it doesn’t matter Eliot, never mind, I’m fine now, don’t worry.” Shaking away Eliot’s arm, she sat down at the kitchen table, where the children had paused, mid-breakfast.

“How could anyone do that? To their own children?” Eden looked to his father for answers. Eliot gave a despairing gesture.

“What about the father?” Celestine asked Honor. “What’ll he do? He might commit suicide now.”

 

CHAPTER TEN

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On her way home that evening Honor could feel the tension in her tummy, at the thought of what Tisi might do next. She felt nervous, and slightly excited, by the sheer thrill she was getting from Tisi’s wrath.

Driving down her road, she saw a car parked in her usual space on the drive. A jaunty little sports car, bright red, with the hood down. Who on earth was that? More to the point, why were they in her car parking space? She tutted with irritation and pulled into the kerb, in front of the driveway.

Stepping out of her Mini, she glanced towards the house and gave a gasp, and quickly ducked back inside the car. It was Amanda. She’d completely forgotten, it was the girls’ play date today. Through the window of the front sitting room, she could see Amanda standing right up close to Eliot, with one hand on his arm, leaning into him, laughing into his face and him laughing back. Just the two of them, alone together, not a child in sight.

She breathed deeply and leaned over the steering wheel. Come on Honor, calm down, don’t let your imagination run riot. But her imagination had already re-wound itself ten years, to a time when she was obsessed with suspicion of Eliot. She’d been convinced he was having an affair: too many unexplained absences, less sex than usual, deleting all his text messages from his phone. She had confronted him a number of times: she was sure she was right. He totally denied her accusations, with great irritation.

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN

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Parked across the road from Madalena’s flat, Honor watched the early morning sunlight glimmering across the glass panels of the tall building. The sun shone on the broad terraces: a woman sat, drinking her coffee or tea, in the fresh morning air.

Which flat was Madalena’s? Which floor was it on? She’d thought about going in, or approaching the front door, but the security guard at the gates put her off. She was also horrified at the prospect of being seen by Madalena or Jack; but she was safe enough here. The entrance to the underground car park was around the corner, out of sight, and she kept a broadsheet newspaper open on the passenger seat, ready to raise in front of her face in an instant, if the need arose.

Gazing up at the front of the building, a movement caught her attention, on the second floor, and a door opened onto a balcony. Honor leaned forward, picking up the binoculars she’d brought with her. She couldn’t pretend that this trip had happened unconsciously: she was well prepared.

 

CHAPTER TWELVE

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After dinner that evening, Honor excused herself to her study. She could see tension etched in the tight line of Eliot’s mouth. “Look, Honor, we have to talk.”

“Do we?” Honor sat back down, and looked coolly at her husband. “I’m listening.”

Eliot cleared his throat and shifted in his seat. “I’ve been thinking about what you said, and you’re right of course.”

Honor gave a regal nod and a slight smile.

“But honestly, are you ever going to trust me again? Am I ever going to be forgiven? It’s impossible for me, where my every slight action is interpreted as some kind of transgression. When are we ever going to put this behind us?”

“All I can say, Eliot, is it may be easy for you to put this behind us, but it’s not so easy for me. Remember what you used to say to me in our early years about this? Do you remember?”

Eliot ran his hands through his hair and nodded.

“Go on then. Remind me.”

Eliot took a deep breath. “I used to say that if I ever found you had been unfaithful to me, that would be it, it would be over.”

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

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Honor lay in bed, halfway between sleep and wakefulness. Eliot snuggled against her and nuzzled the back of her neck.

Sleepily, she turned her thoughts to the day ahead. She was seeing Tisi, and there were a number of things she needed to do to prepare.

She opened her eyes, looked at the clock, and pulled away from Eliot.

“Don’t go.” He pulled her back towards him.

“I have to, it’s an important day today.”

“What about me? Aren’t I important? You never have time for me any more.”

Honor leaned back and kissed him, hugged him. “Tonight let’s have dinner together, alright?”

Eliot was not so easily deterred. “Ten minutes stay, let’s have a cuddle.”

“We know where that’ll go.” Honor sat up, leaned down and kissed him. “I really don’t have time. Tonight, promise.”

He looked at her, serious. She couldn’t meet his eyes.

Honor dressed quickly and made her way to her study, trying to stifle her irritation with Eliot. He required a level of attention that could only really be provided by a woman without distractions. A job for instance. Or children. Sometimes she felt she was in the perfect trap. Your family needs your salary. Your husband demands attention and resents your career.

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

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Harmony reigned again at the breakfast table.

Jack had agreed, reluctantly, after some extra special persuasion by Madalena, that Bella could spend more time at the London apartment without her parents, and she was going there this morning.

There were some stringent conditions: (a) she must not make the long drive herself, the chauffeur was to take her there and back; (b) no more than three days at any one time; (c) no visitors to the apartment without Jack’s express approval; (d) Bella must speak to her mother every morning and evening while she was in London; and (e) … Jack reserved the right to add further conditions as and when necessary.

Bella was her happy self once more.

“It’s nice to see you without that glower, princess,” Jack said.

Bella smiled at him sweetly. “Thanks Dad. I’m going up to London this morning.”

“You don’t waste any time, once you’ve got what you want. Just like your mother,” Jack grumbled.

“Have you done your packing?” Madalena asked. “Maybe now you’re going to spend more time in London, you should leave more of your own things there, so you don’t have to keep packing and unpacking.”

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

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Two days had passed since Madalena and Jack’s dinner date.

Madalena wasn’t sure if she imagined it, but Jack seemed to be talking to her less and less. Not that he’d ever been a big talker, but he usually chatted over breakfast. Recently, apart from the odd remark to Bella, when she was there, he seemed engrossed in his newspaper. She’d tried to seduce him one morning, when Bella was in London, and he’d laughed, and made a joke, but not actually responded.

This morning, conscious that she was off to visit Pat, she wanted to pacify him, as though he knew what she was up to.

“Jack … .”

He glanced up from the newspaper. Something was missing in his face. Interest? Care? What was it?

“Hmm?”

“The Skype thing on the computer’s great. It was a brilliant idea.” She smiled at him.

“Good.” He turned back to the paper.

“What are you reading?”

The paper rustled. “The paper.”

“I mean what story?”

He looked up. “Why on earth d’you want to know that?”

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

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Madalena sat at Bella’s desk and opened the laptop. It flickered immediately into life and she clicked on the Skype programme, feeling the increasingly familiar thrill of sitting at a computer, doing things, being capable, feeling smart. She wished she had a pair of spectacles.

She clicked on the green phone icon next to Bud’s name, held her breath, and crossed her fingers. One ring, click, the screen flickered and changed, and there he was. She breathed out and smiled, as his face appeared, smiling broadly at her.

“I was just about to call you, Mad, you’ll never guess, I’m coming to London on business tomorrow. Let’s have dinner the day after? It would be so great to see you.”

Bud’s simple request had revealed to both of them: Madalena’s life was not really her own. “However did you end up with a life where you can’t even have a friend?”

He was right. How had that happened? “What would I tell Jack?”

“The truth?”

“He doesn’t know about you, I didn’t tell him.”

 

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

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Madalena was lightly dozing in the back of the limousine, Jack next to her, reading the paper. They were on their way to Cardiff, after the casino opening the previous evening.

Slipping in and out of sleep, she was thinking about the party, a lavish affair, full of minor celebrities. Waking, she looked at Jack appraisingly. “That was quite a do last night wasn’t it?”

Jack glanced sideways at her. “Hmm.”

“You must have felt great; you worked so hard on that project.”

Jack lowered the newspaper and turned to Madalena. A slight, triumphant smile lit his face. “It did feel good, yes. I must say I felt really quite proud of myself. And there’ll be more business where that came from, especially with all the publicity.”

“Paparazzi everywhere; it’s going to be in Hello, an exclusive. We might be in Hello.”

“I’m sure you will be. You were the star of the show.”

Madalena warmed in the glow of approval. At the moment, she found herself grateful, pathetically so, for any small word of praise. She saved them up to comfort herself in the long sleepless nights of dread, fearing the collapse of the life she loved.

 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

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Jack liked his usual routine, whether the family were in London or Cardiff. Bella’s social life was busy and late, and it was getting increasingly difficult to rely on her to be at the table for breakfast at eight o’clock. This morning Madalena breathed an inner sigh of relief when Bella appeared, just on time and looking serene. She was trying to please her father: she wanted to persuade him to buy her a car for her use in London, having utterly failed to convince him that she could drive herself to and from Cardiff.

“Morning Dad … Mum … .”

She sat down and poured herself a coffee from the fresh jug on the table. Jinny hurried in from the kitchen to take her breakfast order.

“Just some muesli please, and some fresh-squeezed orange juice.” Bella wandered over to the door to the terrace. “What a gorgeous day. It’s like summer out here.”

She stepped onto the terrace and surveyed London, then sat on a sunbed and pulled up her skirt. “It’s hot enough to sunbathe,” she called to her parents.

 

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