||DO YOU BELIEVE?
Reissued as eBook July 2013
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Times have really changed in the short time since I wrote this book, but I hope you’ll enjoy the story despite its lack of social media. I also wrote this when the photography world was being taken over by the digital world, and you could still find rolls of film in your drugstore! But Rose was ahead of her time, having made the leap to digital photography, but these are minor points. Shape-shifters and evil still abound in my fictitious English village, and I think you’ll still love Rose and Vic as much as I do!
DO YOU BELIEVE IN EVIL?
Rose Early is searching for her missing sister Joan. The only clue she has is a horror novel with her sister’s notes in the margins. The author of the book lives only a few minutes away and Rose can’t resist seeking him out. She understands why his book affected her sister: the author creates an evil so palpable it shakes even skeptical Rose.
Vic Drummond, the writer, knew Rose’s sister, and agrees to help Rose find her; Rose expected him to be reclusive and strange, but she didn’t expect him to be quite so . . . attractive. As their search intensifies, Rose finds herself inexorably drawn to Vic, but it seems to Rose that their feelings for each other are being influenced by some outside force—she knows love at first sight doesn’t exist.
As they come closer to finding Joan, Rose and Vic journey from the local church to a mysterious sex club whose members dress in demon costumes. The more they learn about what Joan was doing in the days before her disappearance, the more questions they have, until Rose must decide: Does she believe in real evil? And does she believe in real love?
At the publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
Originally published May 2005 in mass market paperback.
“Witty, sensual and brilliantly written novel . . .” —Fresh Reviews
5 Stars — Reviewers Choice
“Ann Lawrence shows her awesome talent with her newest writing foray. DO YOU BELIEVE? is a page-turning thriller masterpiece that had me guessing until the last. As always, Ms. Lawrence’s characterization is superb and had me rooting for the good guys...I recommend anyone who loves a thrilling read mixed with a satisfying romance to run out and get this book.” —Karen Larsen, Scribes World
"The virtue of the camera
is not the power it has to transform the photographer into
an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep on looking."
Brooks Atkinson, Once Around the Sun
Early considered the camera angle needed to capture the essence
of the English country lane. She thought about the shadows
beneath the eaves and how to enhance the vivid colors of the
flowers against the warm honey tones of the stone walls.
need to compensate for the dazzle of the sun on the stream
that wound along only a few feet from the brightly painted
doors. Too bad her camera was back at the bed and breakfast.
door she wanted was a bright, glossy blue. Roses arched over
it in a froth of white. To get to the door, she'd have to
cross a plank bridge no more than five feet wide.
hard could that be? Cross a bridge and knock on a door?
took a deep breath and forced herself to walk casually over
the bridge to the door that looked as if might open onto a
stage set in a BBC drama. She reached for the door knocker,
but then slowly withdrew her hand.
gleaming brass knocker was shaped like a gargoyle. The loop
of metal that formed the knocker was the gargoyle's finger,
crooked to pick its nose.
V. F. Drummond had a sense of humor.
knocked. The dull thuds of the heavy brass knocker intruded
on the country silence.
several tries, she looked over at her rented Rover and thought
of climbing into it and heading back to Heathrow and home
to Pennsylvania. The book under her arm kept her in place.
laughedclose by. She followed a stone path to the side
of the cottage and peeked into the back garden. It was bordered
with picture-postcard English flower beds. In the midst of
the waves of lush color stood small topiary animals.
man of about forty, wearing faded jeans and a grimy Rod Stewart
t-shirt, clipped at the ears of a boxwood rabbit. Another
man, blond and younger by about five years, laughed again.
He was not as tall as the gardener, but had a football playermake
that rugby playerlook about him despite his crisp white
shirt and tie.
men swung in her direction. The grubby one frowned, his shears
pointed at her like a weapon. "Yeah?"
looking for V. F. Drummond," she said. Her voice came
out high and squeaky. She offered the book.
He took a step closer, his eyes on the book. He needed a shave.
His brown hair looked more in need of a trimming than any
of the garden creatures. His manner bordered on hostile.
I mean, are you Mr. Drummond?"
the gardener." He gestured to the rabbit, his tone now
frosted with sarcasm.
far too rough to have created the Beatrix Potter world.
not in," he said and turned his back.
do you expect him?" She directed her question to the
man in the shirt and tie who shrugged.
your name," the gardener said. He made a decisive, and
ruinous, snip to the rabbit's nose.
Yes. Here's my card." She fumbled in the pocket of her
jacket and withdrew an ivory business card.
she extended it to the more civilized man, the gardener plucked
it from her fingers.
do you want with Drummond?" he asked, shoving the card
into the pocket of his jeans.
imagined her card would remain there to be washed illegible
at some future time. She dropped the book. As she picked it
up, it fell open to the final page.
wanted to ask Mr. Drummond a question."
question?" Shirt-and-Tie asked.
shifted her gaze from the book to him. He had an interesting
crook to his nose. Maybe he'd been tromped in a rugby scrum.
She thought he would not photograph well, whereas the gardener,
with his angular cheekbones, dark hair and frown, would make
an interesting subject just as he was, dirty t-shirt and all,
surrounded by hedge-work animals.
a photograph was not what she'd come for. Gently, she closed
the book and took a deep breath. "Ask Mr. Drummond if
he believes in evil."
turned her back and walked along the stone path, across the
miniature bridge to her rental car. As she drove away, reminding
herself to keep left, she glanced in her rearview mirror.
The two men stood at the side of the cottage, staring after
her. insert appropriately sized griffin here
was that about?" Trevor Harrison asked as he opened a
bottle of mineral water.
don't know." Vic Drummond said, accepting the bottle.
He hooked a chair out from the wrought-iron garden table and
slumped into it. He plucked the business card from his pocket.
Early Photography, Family Portraits for over Fifty Years,
along with the woman's contact information.
from bloody Pennsylvania, of all places," Vic said.
what's needed, another Yank." Trevor launched into a
familiar monologue on American tourists who made life in quiet
Marleton Village more pain than pleasure for several months
of each year.
might change your mind," Vic said. "She's from the
Early Photography Studio."
Photography?" Trevor looked over Vic's shoulder at the
card. "Then I take it all back; I love Americans."
He opened another bottle of water. "Why'd you tell her
you were the gardener?"
read the woman's information again. "I'm tired of people
coming over here as if I'm some tourist attraction."
if she's Joan Early's sister"
don't care if she's the archbishop's mistress. I came here
for peace and quiet. I need a drawbridge."
he smiled as he slid the card into his back pocket.
Early. A man would be happy to rise early for such a pretty
woman. Trev was right. He shouldn't have sent her off so soon.
the new book coming?" Trevor asked.
clicked back into the here and now. "Why do you care?
You didn't read the last one. In fact, do you read?"
coppers haven't the time, what with all real the crime about.
So tell me what I'm missing, condensed version, of course."
new premise is the same as the last," Vic said. "Objects
owned by evil people become imbued with their evil"
a load of rubbish," Trevor interrupted, grinning.
grinned back. "And those objects can pass the evil on
to the next owner just as"
rubbish. I'm picturing a car driving around on its own killing
people or an umbrella stabbing"
interrupting. And the car bit's been done. Aren't miracles
and goodness attributed to objects owned by the holy? France
is rotten with shrines."
made a snorting noise.
a serial killer in the last book who gives his ring to a priest
just before execution. The moment the priest puts on the ring,
he begins to go through life-altering events, ultimately becoming
as evil as the killer."
the thought." Trevor finished off his mineral water.
"I'm glad I don't have your imagination. It'd keep me
awake at night."
the new book heading?"
passing the killer's ring onto another victim."
could pass that ring around a long time, but I suppose that's
saluted his friend with his bottle. "At least until the
stood up. "I better head back to Stratford. I'm assigned
this religious symposium on youth crime, you know. Real work,
suppose someone has to protect the holy from having their
pockets picked. Sounds tame." Vic hauled himself to his
feet as well.
religious event is tame since the Iraqi conflict. And with
a royal expected, we're overrun with senior police officers
and press. At least I'm safe from evil amidst all that holiness."
My Aunt Alice would have argued that."
looked over the burgeoning rows of flowers. His Aunt Alice
had taken great pride in her garden and it had been in the
garden they'd found her, struck down by heart attack.
too young to die.
opened and closed the secateurs, inspected a spot of rust.
It was hard to accept that his aunt was gone. She had viewed
his success with wry amusement. And been one of his toughest
walked Trevor down the garden to the back gate. They shook
over to Stratford for a bit if you can," Trevor said.
if the press is about. I'm allergic to publicity."
watched Trevor walk along a public footpath that ran behind
the row of cottages and up to Marleton village proper.
Trevor disappeared from view, Vic headed into the cottage.
His laptop sat on his Aunt Alice's desk in the sitting room.
He turned Rose Early's card over and read it again. Early
Photography. King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
far from Marleton, yet she'd come to see him and ask him the
one question he was uncomfortable answering.
up a new e-mail message and typed in Rose Early's address.
The blank screen with its blinking cursor teased him. His
fingers suddenly felt stiff and cold.
one word, hit send, and snapped the laptop closed.
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