The Earl's Daughter is a paranormal mystery and the sequel to The Viscount's Son. You can now add it to your reading list at Goodreads.
You can read Chapter One here.
The Earl's Daughter – Chapter Two
Extract from Emma’s blog — The Viscount’s Son (First Entry)
My name is Emma. I work at a very large and famous museum, in a city that is also large and famous. My job entails the conservation, restoration and translation of ancient Latin texts. I'm a book conservator. This may sound as interesting as watching the man who is scrubbing the smog off the workshop window as I write, however, writing about my job, while it will be necessary at times, is not the purpose of this blog.
So I come to the purpose – I wish to translate a book …
Michael sat on the hard wooden seat in the foyer of the Police Judiciaire de Paris. He flipped through Emma’s blog entries on his tablet as he waited. The police had accessed the blog during their investigation and made it private, but Susan asked them not to take it down. Susan provided him with the password and sent him an offline version of the blog along with other documents detailing all of the evidence. There wasn’t a lot.
Emma Farleigh disappeared after becoming romantically involved with a man called Nathaniel Chartley. In her blog, she revealed Nathaniel was the same man who had written the Sixteenth Century diary she’d translated. It was impossible of course. And that’s why Michael had to take the case.
“Find out what kind of monster he is,” the earl had said. But what was Nathaniel?
Michael didn’t jump to conclusions. There was every chance Nathaniel didn’t even exist. But Michael had encountered a number of extraordinary things in his life, particularly in his short career as a P.I. He had ‘P.I.’ printed on his business cards. People thought it stood for ‘Private Investigator’, but he used ‘Private’ and ‘Paranormal’ interchangeably, depending on whom he was speaking with. Most people denied the existence of ghosts and gremlins, and Michael understood why. He often wished he could deny them too.
That word frequented his thoughts now. Hardly surprising given the content of Emma's blog. He didn’t deny their existence, he didn’t deny anything, but he’d never had a case that dealt with them. He’d never even heard of them outside the stories that recurred in popular culture. Although something tugged at his memory.
Michael snapped his tablet cover shut and looked up to see a middle-aged policewoman, slim with dark hair pulled back in a tight bun and a stony-faced look.
“Ah, bonjour, Madame. Je suis ici pour voir Inspecteur Roulier.” Michael stood as he summoned his best French; so far it had enabled him to order a hotel room and warm meals, but the Parisians seemed less than impressed. If only the case had taken him to Rome. His Italian was near perfect.
“Inspecteur Roulier is busy,” she replied in flawless English. “I am Detective Schleck. I assisted the Inspecteur on the Emma Farleigh case.” She glanced at her watch. “Please follow me.”
“Ah, merci beaucoup.” Michael had to walk double time to keep up with Detective Schleck. The sound of her square heels rang through the high halls of the police headquarters. Michael noted other officers turning to glimpse at her before moving subtly out of her way.
Finally, she came to a glass door and opened it. “Entrez,” she said, and Michael stepped into the small office.
Schleck sat down at her desk and gestured for Michael to sit opposite. “Monsieur Farleigh tells me you were a priest.”
Michael adjusted his glasses. There it was again. “Yes, that’s right.”
“And you’re a PI now.”
“Of a sort.” Was he being interrogated?
“Why did you leave the priesthood?”
Michael blinked. It was the first time anyone had asked him outright. He didn't want to answer but didn’t have to as the door opened and a young officer entered; a solid woman with messy blonde hair and a crumpled uniform. She handed a file to Schleck and turned to Michael, smiling.
“You are investigating the Farleigh Case, non?” Slightly out of breath, her voice and rosy cheeks conveyed heightened enthusiasm. The officer’s hair was even messier from the front, and a sprinkling of crumbs adorned her shirt.
Michael nodded. “I am here on behalf of the family to—”
“C'est tout, Georgette. Merci,” Schleck commanded, then snapped open the file and jotted a note.
Georgette scratched her hair, shrugged her shoulders at Michael and left the office.
Schleck looked up, her grey eyes assessing him under two perfectly manicured eyebrows. “So, you left the priesthood because—?”
“Ah—I left for personal reasons.”
Awkward silence filled the office as Schleck finished writing in the file.
“I see,” she muttered. “I myself am Catholic.”
“Oh,” Michael managed.
“So, you have questions?” She put the pen down and leaned back in her chair, looking at him with one of those perfect eyebrows arched.
Michael cleared his throat. “Well, as you know I am here on behalf of the Farleighs to investigate what happened to Emma. I was wondering if you would tell me what you found.”
“We sent the Farleighs a summary of the evidence.”
“Yes, and they have passed it on to me. I wondered why you stopped investigating after just a month?”
Schleck pursed her lips. “Inspecteur Roulier is a genius with his work. I am efficient. I work our team hard and smart, Monsieur.”
Michael believed her. The small office was neat and ordered, not one paper dared to shift out of place. Two filing cabinets stood to attention against one wall, a couple of shelves along another with journals and books, upright and perfectly aligned. Not a speck of dust to be seen. Only her coffee cup upset the balance – a hint of red lipstick had smeared near the rim.
“We collected all the evidence by the end of the first week. Every stone was upturned I can assure you. But the case ran cold. There was nothing more we could do. It seems Mademoiselle Farleigh eluded us all.”
“You think she has—run away?”
Schleck plucked a tissue from a box on her desk and wiped the lipstick smudge off her cup. “That was our conclusion. She was a smart young woman. We believe she may have orchestrated her own disappearance.” She threw the tissue in the empty waste paper basket and returned her attention to Michael.
“But why would she do that?”
Schleck pursed her lips again. “Perhaps her family put pressure on her to return. Her father was angry that she had been working in Paris at all.”
Michael frowned. He'd detected the earl's displeasure about Emma's living in Paris, but was that enough to make Emma run away? “And, the file you gave to the Farleighs, it is comprehensive?”
Schleck blinked and looked to the side. “It is everything we can share, yes. We are confident in our conclusion of this case, Monsieur.” She locked eyes with him again. “Emma Farleigh wanted to disappear. She was living an imaginary life and she left to pursue a fairytale world that she had dreamt up. It may be that she had a psychiatric illness. We have posted several alerts to authorities, including hospitals, throughout the country. If she is still in France there is a strong possibility that she will reappear somewhere.” She looked at her watch. “Now, if you have no more questions …”
“Of course.” Michael stood. “Thank you for your time, Madame.”
He walked back through the echoing corridor, wondering what it was Schleck hadn't told him.