An Excerpt From The Image of Her

cropped-theimageofherbylornapeel-fbbanner.jpgRachel Harris was abandoned as a baby on the steps of a church-run children’s home in England and later adopted. Who was her birth mother and what were the circumstances which led her to give up her baby?

Searching for someone who doesn’t want to be found seems a hopeless task until Rachel meets Matthew, a Church of England clergyman.

Then the anonymous and increasingly frightening attempts to end their relationship begin. Are these actions connected to the mysterious events surrounding Rachel’s birth?

Excerpt:

This is the room,” she said, opening the door. “Delightful décor. Circa 1940, I’d say.” She fought to control a smile when she saw his lips part in horror as his eyes travelled across the faded floral wallpaper.

“Delightful is one word for it,” he said in an attempt to be diplomatic.

“I’ll be decorating as soon as I can,” she assured him.

“What colour?”

“Well, something warm…maybe a deep yellow?”

His eyebrows rose and he nodded, pushing the door open further, and stepping inside to get a better look. The old door swung around on its hinges, hit the wardrobe standing behind, knocking a box off the top. Rachel watched as, naturally, the lid flew off and the contents scattered across the floor. Both fell to their knees and began to gather the sheets of paper together.

“Oh, God, trust me.”

“It’s all right.” She caught him glancing at one of the many microfilm print-outs from the local newspaper in his hands. Plea for Abandoned Baby’s Mother to Come Forward. “She didn’t. My adoptive mum couldn’t have any more children after my brother, Rick, so she and Dad adopted me when I was a year old.”

“A year old?” He sounded puzzled.

“I was in a children’s home and then fostered in case my birth mother did turn up. But she never did.”

“Have you ever tried to find her or your biological father?”

“I began to but didn’t get very far.” She sat back on her heels. “According to my file, I was abandoned on the steps of the children’s home in Telbury with a birth certificate tucked inside the shawl. The certificate stated my name, date of birth, and place of birth—which was Aldabury Maternity Hospital—and my birth mother’s name and address. All I have is my first name and date and place of birth. Everything else regarding my birth mother on the certificate seems to be false.”

“I see.”

He reached for the last printout and glanced around the room again.

Rachel followed his gaze. With the wallpaper removed and a bit of TLC it would make a very pleasant bedroom. Above the seldom-used dining room, it was at the front of the cottage, across the landing from her own bedroom, and offered stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

“I keep meaning to try and do more but it seems to be such a dead end. Kathy started her family tree the same time as me and because I got nowhere, I started to help her and we managed to go back almost three hundred years on her father’s side. I loved the process—going back one generation and another and another—so I trained to be an archivist. Mum has no interest in genealogy and thought I was bonkers but I didn’t care. So, I’m a wannabe archivist but a wannabe archivist with no family history. Ironic or what?”

“Yes, I suppose so.” He passed the sheet of paper back to her. “Apologies for trying to demolish the place.”

She returned the box to its home on the top of the wardrobe. “It serves me right for hiding the box in here so I’m not reminded all the time that I’ve no idea who the hell I am.”

TheImageofHerbyLornaPeel-500

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