New release from Mandy Magro
Moment of Truth
Read an excerpt below
The past she can’t remember just won’t let her go …
Alexis Brown was thirteen when her parents were killed. The police labelled it a murder-suicide, but Alexis has grown up believing her loving father could never have hurt her mother. So when, seventeen years later, Alexis receives an anonymous note telling her the police were wrong and her parents were both murdered, she’s determined to return to Blue Ridge and find out the truth.
When Alexis arrives at the newly renovated cottage hoping to awaken her lost memories, she can’t help but notice how strong and handsome her childhood friend Ethan King has become. But she’s not here for love. As soon as the truth is uncovered she has to return to her life, and falling for him would only leave her with a broken heart.
For Ethan, getting to know the resilient woman that Alexis has blossomed into leaves his world upside down. But as they spend the days together and with their mutual love for horses, it doesn’t take long for Alexis and Ethan to discover their friendship is much more than they’d first thought … But will it all be threatened by a shocking secret from all those years ago?
Excerpt from Moment of Truth by Mandy Magro
Diamond Acres Horse Sanctuary, Blue Ridge, North Queensland
A resounding boom echoed throughout the cottage, sending a black wave of fruit bats soaring from the surrounding mango trees in search of safer perches. Kicking off the bed sheets, thirteen-year-old Alexis Brown stirred from a dream where she was travelling through a magical world.
For a split-second she fought not to return to reality, the wonderful feeling of her horse, Wild Thing, galloping beneath her as they rode across a luminous rainbow arch was enticing her to stay in dreamland a little longer. If only she could get to the end of it and finally see what treasures lay at the foot of the band of colours that arched across the bright blue sky – her mum was always telling her about the pot of gold and she wanted to know if it was true. But to her disappointment she tumbled back into the real world, her nightie stuck to her sweaty skin and her heart still racing from the invigorating ride. Resting her hands on her chest she took a few deep breaths, slow and steady, the rhythm returning to normal as she opened her eyes.
A deafening clash of thunder made her start and then a bright flash of lightning briefly lit up the room as if someone had just switched a light on. The wet season was finally upon them. The much-needed rain was here, the thirsty ground desperate for it. She almost clapped her hands in delight, but refrained so she didn’t wake her younger sister. Her mother’s many wind chimes jingled from the front verandah, the clangs melodious. The sheer white curtains flapped in the breeze, allowing the full moon to cast its silver–grey light through the window, illuminating the entire bedroom like the colours in an otherworldly dream. The big old fig tree she liked to climb so she could read her books in peace scraped its branches along the side of the house as the wind blew noisily through its leaves. The scent of the balmy summer night, of the jasmine blossoms and the freshly mowed grass, mixed with the scent of imminent rain floated in through the open window, all of it tantalising her senses – she truly felt alive when she was outside and she felt drawn there now. Her mother was always trying to get her to hang out in the kitchen; wanting her to learn boring things like baking, but she much preferred to be with her dad (if she wasn’t reading) – not because she didn’t love her mum, she loved her to bits, it’s just that her father worked outdoors and did much more exciting stuff, like fixing tractors and fences, and her most favourite job of all, helping Mister King take care of the wild horses that he and her dad brought here when they rescued them. Her father was the best horse trainer around, or that’s what the people at the local agriculture shop always said to her, and she liked to believe it was so.
Heavy raindrops suddenly hit the tin roof in a roar, making it almost impossible to hear anything else. Unperturbed by the noise, Alexis breathed in deeply – she loved the smell of rain. It was so new and pure, and made her feel super alive. She thought about how her Grandpa Bob had once told her that the rain was God watering his garden. But if it were the case, God had been a bit slack in that department, because they hadn’t had a drop for almost a month now.
Turning away from the window she gazed at the stars and moon that appeared to be dancing across the ceiling, projected by the revolving bedside lamp – her favourite gift from her favourite Nanny Fay. She couldn’t wait to see her again, and Grandpa Bob, in a few months time; it was going to be so much fun spending the Easter school holidays at their place in Townsville. She just hoped her mum came along because she didn’t seem to keen on the idea.
Wide awake now and with her mind wandering she thought about going for a ride on Wild Thing at first light, if the rain stopped, when loud voices caught her attention. Trying hard to hear over the storm Alexis caught words from a heated conversation. It was coming from the kitchen at the other end of the cottage. She could hear her father’s distinctive deep voice, but as much it made her feel happy to know he’d arrived home a day early from visiting her grandparents, his angry tone worried her. He rarely got mad. And her mum sounded like she was crying as she said things Alexis couldn’t quite comprehend. Instantly blaming herself for the argument, because her dad had gone to her great grandad’s funeral on his own, Alexis choked back a sob. She chewed on her bottom lip to try to stop it quivering. Although they sometimes grumbled at each other, she’d never heard her parents argue like this. Thinking back to the tension that had hung over the dinner table when her mother had said they wouldn’t be able to come along to the funeral because Alexis had to go to school made her feel as though this was all her fault. Luckily she’d had what looked like a billion peas on her dinner plate at the time, because she could focus on moving them around with her fork rather than thinking about the glare her father had given her mother.
Rolling on to her side so her back was now to the window she looked at the strip of light under the closed bedroom door, the pale moonlight shining on her Polaroid camera, which hung on the doorknob. Her heart jumped up to her throat as she tugged the doona in closer. She and her younger sister Katie never slept with their door closed. Her parents both knew how much it scared them. So who had closed it? The voices grew louder. Fear stabbed at her belly as she squeezed her eyes shut. Something wasn’t right. Part of her wanted to fix whatever it was, but another big part of her wanted to stay right here, where she felt safe. Katie was asleep beside her. She had crawled in with Alexis after having yet another bad dream, and being the big sister Alexis felt it was her job to make sure her sister was safe too.
Staying right here was the best thing to do.
But then the rain eased and her father’s voice got even louder, and all the more angry.
Where to buy Moment of Truth
available in paperback and eBook