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TOR Books
ISBN: 0-765-34888-8
May 2005
Reissued as eBook July 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1466848092

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Dear Reader,

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!

Ann Lawrence


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

Chapter 1

"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

     Rose 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.

     She'd 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.

     The 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.

     How hard could that be? Cross a bridge and knock on a door?

     She 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.

     The 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.

     So, V. F. Drummond had a sense of humor.

     Rose knocked. The dull thuds of the heavy brass knocker intruded on the country silence.

     After 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.

     A man laughed—close 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.

     A tall 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 player—make that rugby player—look about him despite his crisp white shirt and tie.

     "Hello," Rose called.

     The men swung in her direction. The grubby one frowned, his shears pointed at her like a weapon. "Yeah?"

     "I'm looking for V. F. Drummond," she said. Her voice came out high and squeaky. She offered the book.

     "Yeah?" 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.

     "Yes. I mean, are you Mr. Drummond?"

     "I'm the gardener." He gestured to the rabbit, his tone now frosted with sarcasm.

     He looked far too rough to have created the Beatrix Potter world.

     "Drummond's not in," he said and turned his back.

     "When do you expect him?" She directed her question to the man in the shirt and tie who shrugged.

     "Leave your name," the gardener said. He made a decisive, and ruinous, snip to the rabbit's nose.

     "Oh. Yes. Here's my card." She fumbled in the pocket of her jacket and withdrew an ivory business card.

     Although she extended it to the more civilized man, the gardener plucked it from her fingers.

     "What do you want with Drummond?" he asked, shoving the card into the pocket of his jeans.

     Rose 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.

     "I wanted to ask Mr. Drummond a question."

     "What question?" Shirt-and-Tie asked.

     She 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.

     But 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."

     She 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

     "What was that about?" Trevor Harrison asked as he opened a bottle of mineral water.

     "I 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.

     It read: Early Photography, Family Portraits for over Fifty Years, along with the woman's contact information.

     "She's from bloody Pennsylvania, of all places," Vic said.

     "Just 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.

     "This might change your mind," Vic said. "She's from the Early Photography Studio."

     "Early 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?"

     Vic read the woman's information again. "I'm tired of people coming over here as if I'm some tourist attraction."

     "But if she's Joan Early's sister—"

     "I don't care if she's the archbishop's mistress. I came here for peace and quiet. I need a drawbridge."

     But he smiled as he slid the card into his back pocket.

     Rose 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.

     "How's the new book coming?" Trevor asked.

     Vic clicked back into the here and now. "Why do you care? You didn't read the last one. In fact, do you read?"

     "We coppers haven't the time, what with all real the crime about. So tell me what I'm missing, condensed version, of course."

     "The new premise is the same as the last," Vic said. "Objects owned by evil people become imbued with their evil—"

     "That's a load of rubbish," Trevor interrupted, grinning.

     Vic grinned back. "And those objects can pass the evil on to the next owner just as—"

     "More rubbish. I'm picturing a car driving around on its own killing people or an umbrella stabbing—"

     "Stop 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."

     Trevor made a snorting noise.

     "I've 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."

     "Perish the thought." Trevor finished off his mineral water. "I'm glad I don't have your imagination. It'd keep me awake at night."

     "I'm awake already."

     "Where's the new book heading?"

     "I'm passing the killer's ring onto another victim."

     "You could pass that ring around a long time, but I suppose that's the point."

     Vic saluted his friend with his bottle. "At least until the public bores."

     Trevor stood up. "I better head back to Stratford. I'm assigned this religious symposium on youth crime, you know. Real work, it is."

     "I suppose someone has to protect the holy from having their pockets picked. Sounds tame." Vic hauled himself to his feet as well.

     "No 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."

     "Maybe. My Aunt Alice would have argued that."

     "I'll miss Alice."

     Vic 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.

     Sixty-one, too young to die.

     Vic 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 critics.

     Vic walked Trevor down the garden to the back gate. They shook hands.

     "Get over to Stratford for a bit if you can," Trevor said.

     "Not if the press is about. I'm allergic to publicity."

     Vic watched Trevor walk along a public footpath that ran behind the row of cottages and up to Marleton village proper.

     When 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.

     A place far from Marleton, yet she'd come to see him and ask him the one question he was uncomfortable answering.

     He set 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.

     He typed one word, hit send, and snapped the laptop closed.

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