A long-lost grandson…
A murder mystery that keeps you guessing….
“…Not only is the mystery aspect of this story well-written, the romance is equally interesting. If all this isn’t enough to make you want to buy this read, Burke and the publisher are donating proceeds to the American Breast Cancer Foundation. Brava!”
~ Romantic Times
Enjoy a “great read” while doing good
— all for just 99 cents!
Philippe LaFrance is a well known reclusive writer whose life is suddenly thrown upside down. The grandfather he never knew existed dies. Throughout his own investigation, Philippe learns that his family has kept secrets from him, deep, ugly secrets. A killer is murdering the men in his family. First his father then his grandfather have succumbed at the hands of another. This murderer is trying his utmost to keep secrets buried.
Bereft, Roxanne St-Clair is left to manage a restaurant when the only person who ever mattered to her, her foster parent and mentor, is murdered. She puts her life on hold to find his killer and bring him to justice.
Thrown together by circumstance and a mutual goal, Philippe and Roxanne fight their attraction and team up to find the killer, bring him to justice and unearth the truth. To stay alive, they must keep one step ahead of the assassin in order to prevent him from killing his next target, Philippe. Will they succeed in bringing to justice this killer before Philippe becomes his next victim? Will they be able to deal with the truth behind all the secrets?
Praise for Deadly Secrets:
“… Full of twists, loops, and unexpected turns, this book will appeal to anyone who enjoys the genres of mysteries and/or romantic suspense…”
“…romance…interwoven with action and suspense. Reads quickly from page one to the end. Philippe and Roxanne are well-developed characters, with nice chemistry.”
an excerpt from
by Leeann Burke
A cold September breeze whipped at the fallen leaves near where she stood in front of the mahogany coffin. Roxanne St-Clair’s curly long strands of hair were blown into her eyes. Unconsciously, she tucked them behind her ear as she glanced over at the lone man standing across the coffin from her. She turned her attention back to Father Joe, who was completing prayers for the final farewell of George Lafrance.
From his dark well-cut suit to his cold green eyes, this stranger, who resembled George, had to be the estranged grandson, Philippe Lafrance. The grandson no one knew existed until a few days ago.
Father Joe closed his bible and lowered his head in silent prayer. Roxanne took this moment to caress George’s mahogany coffin in her own final private farewell. She would forever be grateful and indebted to the compassionate man.
Ten years ago, he’d given her a chance at a better life when he took her in, becoming her last foster parent, her only family.
Father Joe straightened and cleared his throat. “Before we leave, I wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of George’s family, to invite everyone back to Rock Heaven, and toast George one last time.” He gave a curt nod to the stranger, then to Roxanne.
People nodded, mumbled and began to scatter. Roxanne accepted the odd condolence but from the corner of her eye she watched Philippe linger by his grandfather’s coffin. It looked as if he were saying his own farewell.
He raised his head, and their eyes connected for a fleeting moment. Was it sadness she saw in their depths? Quickly, he masked his angry jade eyes with aloofness. He acknowledged her with a curt nod, turned around and left without a backward glance.
Her best friend, Vanessa, leaned towards her. “You know Roxanne, in all the years I’ve known George, I never heard him mention a word about a grandson. He talked about losing his son to a heart attack and his wife to breast cancer, but not a word about a grandson. It’s kind of weird, don’t you think?”
Against her own better judgment, Roxanne wondered as well.
The grandson had inherited George’s build, from his broad shoulders and trim waist to chiseled face. The only difference was, George never made her heart flutter with a fleeting eye contact; his grandson did. She tore her gaze from Philippe’s retreating back and turned her attention back to Vanessa. “He must have had his reasons.”
As if reading Roxanne’s mind, Vanessa acknowledged her. “He does resemble George, don’t you think?”
“I bet that’s the only thing he has in common with George.” Roxanne couldn’t help but stare at Philippe crossing between the cemetery gates. He reached a blue Toyota, unlocked the driver’s door and slipped in.
A police cruiser crawled by, blocking her view of Philippe’s car. The police officers openly stared at the remaining mourners.
* * * *
In a secluded corner of the Rock Heaven restaurant, Philippe brooded. He struggled with the notion that so many people had expressed their sympathy for a man he never knew existed until his death. He checked the room, once again seeking the long dark brown curls and slim figure of Roxanne St-Clair.
He braced himself when he noticed her. She was heading his way her ankle-length black dress accentuating her slim waist.
She switched her cola to her other hand and extended her hand. “I’m Roxanne St-Clair.”
Despite noticing anger in her eyes, he shook her hand. He wondered how her soft hands would feel caressing the rest of his body. Philippe mentally shook himself. “Philippe Lafrance, but you already know that.” To his annoyance, silently she settled in the seat beside him and toyed with the straw in her drink.
Finally, she shrugged, “I didn’t know George had a grandson. Imagine my surprise when his lawyer told us the news a few days ago.”
Her comment hit a sore point. He averted his gaze. Past experience taught him raw emotions left a person vulnerable. It was the last thing he wanted this woman to pick up on, his vulnerability. Anger he could deal with, but sympathy infuriated him. He’d already spotted it on her face. If she knew how much he hurt…
Philippe drained the last of his beer. “That makes two of us.”
Her eyes widened in shock at the news, only to shrink into small slits. Sharp as a whip, she’d picked up on his sarcasm.
“I have a hard time believing that,” said Roxanne harshly.
“This will come as a surprise, but I really don’t care what you or anyone else believes.” He met her glare with one of his own. “So what was the bastard really like?”
He winced at her sudden sharp intake of breath and instantly regretted the slip. Her eyes darkened to a deep hazel. His words now lay between them like a heavy cloth ready to smother them both.
“Don’t you dare speak of George like that. You have no right to criticize him, especially on the day we buried him.”
A moment passed, gazes clashing. “What would you call a man who ignored his only grandson all his life?” he demanded, teeth clenched. “I would love to know why he never tried to contact me.”
Roxanne’s shoulders sagged. She sighed, “I don’t know. He must have had his reasons.”
“Well, we’ll never know now, will we?” He raised his empty glass. “To the man who made time for everyone but his only grandson.”
Before he knew it, she reached over and gently touched his forearm. He looked down at her blunt cut and clear fingernails lingering on his coat jacket, willing his body not to respond.
“I’ll leave you to your pity party.” Roxanne rose and walked away, shaking her head.
“Way to go, Philippe,” he muttered to himself, “you can be such an ass. You really know how to impress a lady.”
His mind quickly turned to the puzzle his grandfather had become. Could George be the wonderful man all these people were toasting? Why hadn’t he found room in his life and in his heart to give his only grandson some of the support and love he so generously dished out to others?
Philippe absently stared into his empty glass. It reflected how his heart felt, empty. He should find Roxanne and apologize for his inappropriate comment. She didn’t deserve getting the blunt of his anger.
His debate was cut short by a young woman slipping into Roxanne’s vacated seat. The voluptuous blonde had been talking with Roxanne when he’d left the cemetery grounds.
“Hi handsome!” She winked at him. “You must be the mystery grandson no one knew about until two days ago. I’m Vanessa Dixon.”
He shook her extended French manicured hand. “Philippe Lafrance,” he offered, scanning the room for Roxanne.
“If you’re looking for Roxanne you’re wasting your time.”
“What do you mean? Has she left?”
Vanessa shrugged her short curvy frame. “I’d say she’s probably out back, licking her wounds after your talk.”
“Licking her wounds?” His social skills were a little rusty, but he hadn’t been that harsh with her, had he?
“She mentioned that you’d been a bit harsh.”
He rose, intent on finding her, but Vanessa grabbed his arm, applying enough pressure to gain his full attention.
“I’d give her a little breathing room if I were you. She took George’s death pretty hard.”
“Why is it harder for her in particular?” Philippe dropped back into his seat. He wanted information, and Vanessa seemed willing to provide.
“She found him, dead, in this here kitchen.”
Philippe squeezed his eyes shut and mentally kicked himself.
“I take it by your reaction that you didn’t know.”
He shook his head.
“How come you never came to visit George?”
He had to give it to her, Vanessa didn’t beat around the bush. “Listen, we don’t know each other. Why would I confess to you?”
“I hear confessions are good for the soul.” She leaned back on the stool and smiled confidently. “Not that I’ve tried it lately.
Philippe squashed the urge to return her tantalizing smile. She was the type of woman who would interest him. No strings. However a particular brunette with plenty of strings and expectations captivated his attention right now. He might as well find out as much as he could about her. “How long have you known Roxanne?”
“Since she came to live with your grandfather.” Vanessa eyed him sideways. “Why?”
He ignored her question. “What kind of relationship did she have with my grandfather?”
Her eyes were an open book. He could see her internal debate on how much to reveal. Her glance traveled the room before landing back on him, giving him her full attention once more. “They were very close and good for each other.” She sighed. “If you talk to the regulars, you’d discover that when your grandmother died of breast cancer, a part of him died with her. His famous phrase being, she was his better half. Then his son, your father, died a few years later. Everyone feared the heartbreak would kill him.”
“Why is that?”
“George loved life. He lived it to the fullest, but after their deaths, he felt he no longer had a reason to live. He never came back to his former self, until he found Roxanne sleeping behind the restaurant’s dumpster. Raising her gave him a reason for living again. He, in return, gave her a chance at a better life, away from the streets.”
“What about Roxanne’s family? Where were they?”
“I don’t know,” Vanessa rose, “but if you want to know more, you’ll have to ask her yourself. You won’t get any brownie points with her by grilling her friends.”
Walking away, Vanessa threw her last words over her shoulder. “Roxanne will tell you, if and when she’s ready. Don’t push her.”
The voluptuous blond sashayed her way across the room. To his dismay, her sumptuous body left him cold. She exuded the kind of sexuality that always turned him on, but for once in his life, it didn’t entice him.
His interest lay fixated on another woman, Roxanne. He knew it the moment their gazes had clashed at the cemetery. He hated not having total control of himself and his surroundings but the feelings this slim woman evoked in him annoyed and scared him. He intended to be rid of it the moment he figured out how to do just that.
* * * *
Roxanne heaved a sigh of relief when the last mourner left the restaurant. However, she wasn’t completely alone. Throughout the entire evening, she’d felt Philippe’s gaze on her which provoked spine-tingling shivers each and every time he looked her way.
She leaned her back against the front door, exhausted. She needed to sleep for days on end but first, she had to deal with Philippe.
Philippe still occupied the same stool he had all evening long, at the far end of the bar. During the evening, he’d removed his jacket, dark green tie and undone the top two buttons of his white shirt. He looked handsome, in a roguish kind of way with his straight dark brown hair grazing his shirt collar, tapered waist and broad shoulders. This man spent time in the gym on a regular basis.
She lingered against the doorway, postponing the inevitable. Until he said, “I won’t bite,” and sipped from his beer mug.
“I’m not scared of you.” Her voice sounded weak even to her, but right now, she really didn’t care. She wanted to lock up, walk the few blocks to her apartment and cry herself to sleep. “I don’t want to argue with you.”
Philippe nodded in agreement. “One question before I leave. Can you explain why cops staked out the funeral?”
Roxanne sent him a ‘what-do-I-care’ look. No one else had mentioned their presence at the cemetery so she figured they hadn’t noticed them. It seemed Philippe didn’t miss anything. She forced her legs to move towards him. “They weren’t staking it out,” she said. “They were probably paying their respects. George donated a lot of money to their charities.”
Philippe shook his head. “I don’t think so. If they were paying their respects, they would have been standing among the mourners instead they remained in their car. Why is that?”
She remained silent.
He gave her a curt nod and changed the subject. “Look, about earlier, I was out of line.” At her raised eyebrow he added, “my comments about George were uncalled for.” He lifted his hand to hold off her interruption. “I shouldn’t have said anything to you, especially today of all days.” He looked away. “He was someone important to you, and I’m sorry if my comments hurt you in any way.”
He swiveled in her direction and raised a glance to her. “Do you always accept apologies from rude men so quickly or am I in luck?”
Loud raps on the front door saved him from her sarcastic response. Roxanne turned around and opened the door, assuming a patron had returned for a forgotten item. Instead, two officers filled the doorway.
In light of Philippe’s earlier question, she was taken aback by their presence. It didn’t bode well. By the business look on their faces, they weren’t here to pay their respects. She hesitated for a moment. “Please, come in officers.”
They marched in, surveying the room quickly.
“What can I do for you officers?” she asked them.
The older officer turned to her. “Are you Roxanne St-Clair?”
“I am.” Confused and a bit worried, her gaze went from one officer to the other. “Is there anything wrong?”
The younger officer ignored Roxanne’s question, having spotted Philippe. “Would you happen to be a relative of George Lafrance?” he asked Philippe.
“That depends who’s asking,” Philippe answered with suspicion. He rose and negotiated his way across the room to stand next to Roxanne.
She rolled her eyes. Now wasn’t the time to be cryptic and evasive. “Yes, he’s George’s grandson, Philippe Lafrance. Now that we’ve cleared that up, what can we do for you?”
“I’m Officer Sanders, my partner is Officer Johnson,” the younger man provided. “How well did either of you know George Lafrance?”
“I didn’t know him at all,” Philippe answered. “I just found out about him from his lawyer a few days ago.”
Something wasn’t right. What weren’t they telling them? Roxanne looked at both officers, “I’ve known him for the last nine years. What’s this about?” She bit the inside of her right cheek in anxiety while she waited for their answer, but none was forthcoming.
“Did you know George Lafrance had food allergies?” Sanders asked.
Roxanne nodded without hesitation. “He had many allergies. Why do you ask?”
“Did you know he had a deadly allergy to nuts?” Sanders prodded.
Obviously, the police officers were gauging her reactions.
“Yes! Everyone knew he did. Why do you…” Startled by what the officer’s question implied, her heart skipped a beat. She startled when Philippe laid a heavy hand on her right shoulder. Part of her wanted to lean into him for support, but straightened away from him. For her own sanity, she put some distance between them. “The hospital told me he died from a massive heart attack. Were they wrong?”
“What the hell is going on here?” Philippe demanded. “What aren’t you telling us?”
“Your grandfather did die from a heart attack, Mr. Lafrance.” Johnson raised his hand to stop Philippe’s obvious objections. “We have a few more questions that need to be answered.”
Roxanne’s desire for some much needed sleep plummeted. “Why don’t you speak with the officers who responded to the call the night he died?”
“We did, but they can’t provide the answers we need.” Johnson eyed the empty baskets on the bar. “Are there any nuts in the restaurant?”
Roxanne vehemently shook her head. “Rock Heaven is a nut free environment. We serve our patrons corn chips with salsa instead of nuts.”
Roxanne’s narrowed gaze went from one officer to the other. “Please tell us, why this is so important?”
These officers behaved differently, rougher around the edges than the ones who responded to her 9-1-1 call. She eyed the older officer. “What division do you work in?”
Roxanne felt the blood drain from her face, she forgot her earlier resolve and leaned back against Philippe’s frame for support. This couldn’t be happening.
Incredulously, Philippe helped her to the nearest table. He pulled out a chair and forced her to sit. He put himself in between Roxanne and the officers. “Are you insinuating my grandfather was murdered?”
“At the moment, we’re looking at every angle of this case,” said Officer Johnson.
Roxanne regained her composure and asked, “Why are you asking about George’s allergies? What aren’t you telling us?”
Sanders sighed in apparent annoyance. “A preliminary autopsy revealed traces of nuts were found in his system. Do you know why anyone would want to kill him?”
“No! Everyone who knew him loved him. I don’t … I don’t understand how this could happen.” Confused, she turned to Philippe.
Astonished by the new information, Philippe prodded the police for more. “Do you think someone fed him the nut substance,” he paused for effect, “in his own restaurant?”
Johnson somberly nodded. “There’s a strong possibility.” He turned to her. “Miss St-Clair, you were the one who discovered Mr. Lafrance’s body. Is this correct?”
“Were the two of you alone in the restaurant at the time?” the officer asked, pulling out his notepad and pen.
Johnson nodded, scribbling on the blank page. “Where were you on the premises when he died?”
“At the bar preparing the nightly deposit.” She pointed to the stool at the far end, the one Philippe had occupied all night.
The older officer raised a brow. “Isn’t 2 a.m. a little late to be doing a deposit?”
Roxanne bristled at his implication and straightened in her chair. “I always do a preliminary calculation every night. Then lock the money in the safe. The money is deposited the following morning.”
Philippe moved to stand behind her chair.
“Do you suspect Ms. St-Clair of killing my grandfather?” Philippe asked in a somber tone.
Roxanne gasped and stiffened with such force her back hurt. How dare they suspect her? Didn’t they know how much George meant to her? She’d have given her life to save his.
Johnson shook his head. “No, we don’t, Mr. Lafrance.”
Roxanne exhaled deeply then relaxed in her chair.
“At the moment she’s our only link to the killer.” Johnson turned his attention back to her. “Did you see anyone suspicious on the premises that night?”
Roxanne concentrated, trying to remember who had been in the restaurant that night. A few seconds went by then she shook her head. “None I can remember. The regulars stayed until closing, leaving soon after last call, around midnight. Only the staff remained.”
The older officer nodded curtly. “We’ll need a list of their names.”
Roxanne gaped at the officer. “Are you insinuating a staff member killed him?”
“We’re not ruling anything or anyone out at this point,” answered Saunders.
“You do think someone murdered George, though?”
Johnson met her gaze. She knew his answer before he replied. “Yes, we do.”
* * * *
Philippe squeezed her shoulder, but Roxanne stiffened under his strong yet gentle touch. She didn’t relax until he released his hold.
She looked up at the officers, troubled. “I don’t know why someone would want to kill George. I can’t believe that one of his own employees would kill him. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Saunders smiled, conveying his compassion. “It’s hard to believe, but these situations happen all the time. Employees turn on their employers for all kinds of reasons.”
Roxanne bristled. “Not here, they don’t.”
Philippe took a seat next to Roxanne at the table. “What do you need from us?”
“We need Miss St-Clair to answer a few more questions.”
Roxanne nodded, ready to comply. She glanced at her white knuckles and stopped herself from gripping them tighter together in her lap.
Johnson stepped up to the table and took a seat across from her. “What’s the first thing you did when you found the victim’s body?” He looked right into her eyes, unwavering.
Was he attempting to intimidate her? If so, the strategy worked.
“I performed CPR right away.” She took a deep breath to stem the flow of tears. “When George didn’t respond, I called 9-1-1.”
“Were you aware he’d had an allergic reaction?”
“No! Absolutely not. I told you before I thought he’d suffered a heart attack until the two of you showed up, telling us otherwise.”
“Do you have any idea how the victim could have ingested the nut substance?” the older police officer asked.
“He has a name, George Lafrance.” She took a deep breath to control her increasing temper. “Not a clue. He always prepared his own food. Someone must have brought nuts into the kitchen that night.”
Johnson gave her a puzzled look. “Why do you say ‘that night’?”
“We have a strict policy that states staff cannot bring in food containing nuts or nut by-products. George always checked the kitchen, every night, before he headed home.”
” Perhaps George skipped that night?” Roxanne shook her head in objection.
“George took every conceivable precaution against his allergies. He did all the ordering for the restaurant and inspected the products upon delivery. If the supplier sent him an item from a new company, he would have the delivery man wait while he read the ingredients on the label. If it listed ‘may have traces of nuts’, he’d refuse the item.”
“Did this happen often?”
“It used to. James and Sons, our current supplier, understands and accepts George’s nut free policy. They have accommodated his orders.”
Johnson’s jotted down her statement. He raised his head. “Who were the last employees in the kitchen that night?”
Roxanne bit down on her bottom lip. Saunders wandered around the room, distracting her. When she didn’t answer the question immediately, Saunders glanced back in her direction.
Roxanne cleared her throat. “Two new employees were scheduled for closing, Sam Bothwell, the assistant cook, and Nick James, the new dishwasher.”
Johnson darted his gaze from her to Philippe, addressing them both. “How well do either of you know both of them?”
Philippe leaned back in his wooden chair. “I haven’t met any of the employees, yet.” He turned to Roxanne.
“Nick started with us a few days ago and Sam’s been with us for about five weeks. He works well, but keeps to himself. I can’t even tell you if he has a girlfriend or who his friends are. Since he’s been here, he hasn’t once been late for work or mixed up an order.”
“How well did Sam Bothwell get along with the rest of the staff?”
“Alright, I guess. He hasn’t lost his temper with anyone. He doesn’t socialize with the others after shifts, if that’s what you mean. Sam comes in, does his job and leaves. He’s a good, hard worker.”
“What about Nick James?”
“Not much.” She shrugged. “He’s only worked a few shifts.”
“Did he know of George’s allergy and was he told of the rule against nuts in the kitchen?”
Roxanne bristled and, leaning forward, she folded her arms on the table. “We don’t have a lot of policies here, but everyone is expected to follow the ones we do have. Every new employee must read our rule book and sign it. One of the rules states that no one is allowed to bring any food that may contain traces of nuts into Rock Heaven, due to George’s allergy.”
The older officer flipped his notepad closed, slid it and his pen back into the breast pocked of his coat. “We’ll need their contact information so we can speak with them.”
Roxanne rose and walked around the bar, jotted down the requested information on a bar napkin and gave it to him.
He handed her his business card. “If you remember anything, however insignificant it may seem to you, please contact us.”
Roxanne escorted the officers to the front door in silence.
When she’d locked the door behind them, Philippe spoke up.
“I need a drink.”
Philippe felt her disapproval through her stare boring into his back until he reached the bar. He lifted the bottle of whiskey and paused, looking over his shoulder. “Do you want one?”
She shook her head, making her curls bounce around her face. “You won’t find the answers you’re looking for in the bottom of a bottle.”
“That may be right,” he shrugged his shoulders and poured himself a shot, “but it certainly won’t hurt either.” He downed the shot and served himself another healthy dose.
Before he could drink it she grabbed the drink from him and poured it down the sink nearby. She appropriated the bottle and returned it to the shelf behind them.
“This is not the time to get drunk.”
Philippe leaned against the polished bar and crossed his arms. He had no intention of getting drunk, but telling her so would only diminish the image she had of him. Far be it for him to do that.
“Do you share Johnson’s theory? Do you believe a staff member killed George?”
She sagged against the bar next to him. “I don’t want to believe it, but it’s starting to look that way, isn’t it?” Her voice matched the deep sadness Philippe saw in her glistening eyes.
Philippe somberly nodded.
She stared at him and he had to resist the urge to stand up straighter. She threw him for a loop when she changed the subject entirely.
“What are your plans now?”
He cocked his head to one side, deciding what to tell her. He chose the truth. “I came here today to find out about the man who didn’t want me in his life. I was livid when his lawyer told me about George. A part of me wants to walk out the front door and never look back.”
He looked away, masking his emotions. It no longer mattered to him how George lived his life. He still had unanswered questions and needed closure of sorts. Finding his killer would help him do that. “Tempted as I may be to leave, I can’t. He may have ignored me while he lived, but he certainly didn’t deserve to be murdered.” He glanced in her direction. In her eyes he saw relief.
He wasn’t doing this for her or her gratitude. He simply wanted to wake up in the morning with a clear conscience and be able to look at himself in the mirror.
“What should we do next?” she asked.
He threw his hands up in the air. “Hell if I know.”
“Maybe your mother could tell you now why George stayed out of your life.”
“I can’t see that happening.” Philippe sighed, frustrated.
Maybe, just maybe, Roxanne was right. George could no longer give him the answers he sought, but perhaps his mother could, despite her lies. She’d lied to him before, harping on about how there was no living relatives other than herself and his stepfather. Why? What did she gain keeping him from his grandfather?
Yes, he needed to talk to her, and he just hoped she would for once tell him the truth.
“I’ll give her a call, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.” He grabbed his trench coat from the barstool.
“If you need to talk to someone, you know where to reach me.”
For a moment Philippe stared at her, startled. No one had ever offered him a shoulder to lean on, not even the nannies who had raised him.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” He headed for the door before he weakened and took her up on her offer.
All the way back to the hotel, he pondered his conversation with Roxanne. Once at his hotel, he drew his key card and let himself into his room.
He threw the key card on the desk then reached for a bottle of water from the bar fridge. Nothing about today had turned out as he’d expected.
He sat on the bed and, after swallowing a big gulp, he put the bottle on the night table, took a deep breath and then called his mother.
She answered on the third ring. “Lebeau residence.”
“Mother, it’s Philippe.”
He heard her sigh heavily. “This isn’t a good time, Philippe, I’m on my way out the door.”
He ignored her evasive technique and forged on. “Why didn’t you tell me George Lafrance was my grandfather?”
“You told me I had no living relatives. Why the lie, Mother?”
“Philippe, this isn’t the time. I’m running late and I don’t have time to waste.”
“Make time. It’s not every day a man finds out he had a grandfather. I really don’t care if you’re running late. You owe me answers.”
Silence greeted his outrage. He took a deep cleansing breath. “Why? Why did you lie to me, Mother?”
“I did it for your own good.”
Philippe let out a dry and sarcastic laugh. “Is that the best you can do, Mother?” Philippe heard her flick a lighter and take a deep drag of a cigarette. She only smoked when stressed; he’d rattled her good.
“You want the truth, well here it is.”
He heard her ever-present bracelets irritatingly bang against each other indicating she was tapping the cigarette against an ashtray.
“Your father and I did what we thought best for you, which included cutting off all contact with Pierre’s family. As your parents, we believed you would adapt better to your new life without any reminders of the past.”
“Roger Lebeau is not my father, never has been and never will be. Pierre Lafrance was my father.” The muscle in his neck twitched from him clenching his jaw.
His mother snorted. “Roger has been there for the two of us—for the past twenty-three years.” Angela’s voice shook with anger, and grew louder. “Give him the respect he deserves.”
Philippe rubbed his forehead with his right hand and attempted once more to get through to her. “You may want to forget about my real father, but I don’t.”
Angela laughed haughtily. “You never showed any interest in him before now. Maybe if you had while growing up I might believe you now.” He heard a rasping sound. “Now if you don’t mind, I have better things to do with my time than talk about a past that’s better left where it belongs, in the past.”
She cut the connection before he could say anything else.
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