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The First Cut - An Excerpt

From Chapter Three

Jane pulled the helmet onto her well-coiffed hair. She knew it would ruin the style, but she had rarely cared less. The power of the Harley Davidson throbbed beneath her, and the wheels tore along the motorway leading home to Edinburgh. She wove between the cars and vans that moved within the speed-limit.

Tears streamed down her cheeks as the warm air flew past her face. All these years she had longed for a family she could love, brothers she might cherish again, but she had found out it was just a dream, and her nightmare would continue. She was even prevented from doing the job she loved until the beast that was related to her was caught.

Jane was only permitted to attend court in a professional capacity in the few outstanding, unrelated cases where she was a witness. Could life get any worse? She opened the throttle and put her head down. Riding faster usually improved her mood, but not today.

Jane sped back to Fettes Station in Edinburgh. It seemed to be the logical place to go. She took off her helmet, thumped the door open, strode past DS Charlie Middleton, and ran upstairs to DI Hunter Wilson’s office.

Jane forgot to knock.

Her partner, DC Rachael Anderson, was sitting in Hunter’s room, weeping. Jane noticed Hunter frown and hand Rachael a box of tissues from the top drawer of the desk.

They both looked up and stared at Jane.

“Oh, darling. I’m so sorry,” Rachael said. She stood up, stepped towards Jane, and hugged her tightly. “How on earth did you get here so quickly?”

“Don’t answer that,” Hunter said. “You know you cannot be here and must take no part in this investigation either with your MIT colleagues or with us at local level. Superintendent Miller will have told you that.”

“He did. I only have a few witness appearances that I must attend in court on cases that have nothing to do with this nightmare. Boss, the thing is, I don’t know this man. It’s not as if we’re really family. I haven’t clapped eyes on him since I was five years old. Let me help. Please, just let me help.”

“You know I can’t do that, even if I wanted to. I know you have leave from MIT, Jane, so why doesn’t Rachael take some well-earned time off too? You are definitely due some.” Hunter’s gaze flicked over to Rachael. “It would allow you both to unwind, relax, and enjoy each other’s company. What do you think?”

Jane smiled at Rachael. She had never learned to cry neatly. Snot and mascara clotted on her cheeks. Jane reached for a couple of Hunter’s tissues and licked them before wiping Rachael’s face.

“That’s a good idea, boss. I think I better stop into the loo and wash my face before I go anywhere.”

“It’s settled then. Don’t worry about the paperwork, I’ll sort it. Look after each other.”

“Can I pop in to see the team while Rache gets cleaned up?”

“I’m sorry, Jane. You know that I can’t allow that,” he said. “I’ll have to escort you out of the station to your bike,” Hunter said. He stood up and turned to Rachael. “Will you drive yourself home, or do you want to travel with Jane? I can get a PC assigned to take your car back for you.”

“No thanks, boss. Riding with Jane is far too nerve-wracking for me. I like four wheels, within the speed limit, thank you very much.” Rachael smiled a weak, watery smile. “Thanks for the time, boss. Janey, I’ll just go and get cleaned up and see you back home.” She kissed Jane gently on the cheek before she left the room.

Jane swung her gaze slowly around to Hunter, one eyebrow arched “How did they find out he was related to me?”

“After the cases at the end of last year, our elimination DNA databases were recategorised to be routinely included in our investigations. DC Nadia Chan and DS Colin Reid wrote a report and suggested how we could check all the databases more efficiently going forward.”

“And there I was.”

“And there you were, full sibling to our suspect.”

“We know he’s my brother, just not his identity, where he lives or what he looks like. That’s insane. And because of that freak of nature, I am off the case, and now Rachael is too. It’s crazy.”

“You remember having two brothers, don’t you, Jane?”

“Yes, one older, one younger, but we got separated in the foster care system. And of course, I was only wee, but I remember my mother saying we were getting a baby for Christmas. None of us were that chuffed because there was little enough to eat as it was. It does mean there may be another child, even younger. I suppose there could be several. I never saw my parents after I was removed by the social worker.

“Okay, boss. I’ll go home now. I’ll phone to enter my court appearances into the diary. Thank you for giving Rachael the time off. We both really appreciate it.”

Hunter opened his office door and held it open for her. He patted Jane on the arm, and she put her motorcycle helmet back on. “It’ll sort itself out. You’ll see,” he said as they walked together through the station and to the carpark. Jane climbed onto her bike, put it in gear, and roared off towards the home she shared with Rachael in the popular suburb of Bruntsfield.

The Author

Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.

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