Authors: Zee Monodee
Walking The Edge
Corpus Brides, Book 1
by Zee Monodee
Romantic Suspense/Espionage Romance set in Europe
Corpus Brides Trilogy:
Walking The Edge
Before The Morning
Let Mercy Come
Walking The Edge
(Corpus Brides, Book 1)
By Zee Monodee
Copyright 2007-2014 Zee Monodee
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
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As the story is set in Europe, the spelling and Grammar for this book is English (United Kingdom.)
Cover Artist: Zee Monodee
Editor: Natalie G. Owens
Walking the Edge - The next step might be the last...
A woman without a past.
Left amnesiac after an accident, Amelia Jamison’s instincts slowly rise from the depths of oblivion to question her life as the wife of a cold, manipulating, and distant man. Wisps of a dream show her another man she may have known intimately...but is he a memory, or a figment of her imagination?
A man with too much information.
After many aliases, today, Gerard Besson is simply a police
in Marseille. When a mysterious woman starts to follow him, he is suspicious. But things aren’t what they seem, and as he reluctantly gets closer to her, dredges of his painful, buried past spring to light to make him question her real identity.
Each seems to have led two different lives.
But neither is prepared for what awaits them when they cross the fine line between knowing your true self and that of your alter ego.
Danger is the name of the game, and as it catches up with them in the French Provence, both know they better be ready for the inevitable fall.
Available at most online retailers. Also available in print soon.
Table of Contents
Walking The Edge
London. Oxford Street
Thursday, December 13. 1:24 p.m.
Someone’s following me again.
Why did the certainty hit home so hard? Selfridges teemed with shoppers in a Christmas buying frenzy, bustling crowds swarming around her.
, though. She
. Maybe she tuned in to the hairs rising on her nape. Or to the little voice whispering in her mind, telling her eyes bore into her back to check her every move.
Could she be going insane? The question snapped into her brain like a tightly pulled elastic band being released, stinging her when it hit home.
. She stood in a busy department store, with an idiot tagging her every step. Nathaniel, the hulk of a fellow who’d been assigned as her chauffeur and man for all tasks. Or so it seemed—he could just be the watchdog her
had set on her trail.
A shiver racked through her and she froze. No, she wouldn’t think of the big doggie and the other cold arsehole waiting for her at home. Peter Jamison—the sad arse she didn’t even know, whom she couldn’t even recall, try as she might.
She toyed with the strap of a handbag on display in front of her, having no idea what brand it could be or even what shop she stood in. More important things to pay attention to, starting with the strange man who lurked a few paces away, across the corridor from her. He seemed familiar, dressed in dark corduroy trousers and a heavy sweater. A baseball cap hid his hair and threw shadows upon his face. She couldn’t pinpoint anything specific to identify him, yet, she knew, deep down inside, that she had seen him before. Had it been just a day earlier, at an art gallery she’d visited in Soho, when her heartbeat had accelerated in the same rapid pace as now? She’d sensed insistent eyes on her then, too, and caught sight of a tall man in jeans, a blazer, and a fedora, standing outside the wide glass panes and looking into the gallery.
The two instances weren’t the only times the probing stare had tickled her nape with a chilling touch—such strange, unnerving perception had happened almost every day in the past week, whenever she went out.
And, somehow, it seemed to her the same man watched her every time. Something about him, in the way he held his head, in the slight thrust of his chin, permeated every encounter she recalled of the mysterious ‘stalker.’
Who was he, and what did he want with her?
A soft gasp escaped her when a realization snuck in, and a stab of pain made her reckon she’d twisted the handbag strap too hard, both hands locked onto the leather and cutting off circulation in her fingers. She released the purse like a hot potato fresh out of the steamer and took a step back.
Could that man know who she was? Her real identity?
She travelled her gaze up the clear glass of the pane separating the shop from the main corridor of the first level of Selfridges, her reflection staring back at her.
reflection, or that of Amelia Jamison?
That’s who she was, apparently; she had no recollection of her identity. She’d come out of a dramatic accident some seven months back with amnesia and with—her medical record stated—a disfigured and burnt-beyond-recognition body.
Lord only knew how she had survived the explosion responsible for her condition. It’s what all the doctors said, and what her ‘husband’ had said, too. He’d been there in the sunny hospital room of a private clinic in Switzerland, a dark man with a countenance one could only describe as menacing, even when he lounged on a sofa, reading a financial magazine.
“You’re awake,” he’d said in a cold, detached voice. Not even the hint of a smile had showed on his pale face. Despite her drug-befuddled mind, she’d reckoned a real husband would greet his wife, whom he’d nearly lost, with more enthusiasm than what Peter had dished.
He went on to tell her his name. Peter Jamison. And she was Amelia Brockhurst Jamison, a South African Afrikaner exchange student he had met at a London university and whom he had married when she’d finished her degree in political science. At the time, she’d thought his story sounded rehearsed, and the feeling that their shared past resembled a fabricated lie struck her, enhanced by the indifference her ‘husband’ expressed towards her. She didn’t remember him or anything from her past, and had simply listened to whatever the medical team and the man she supposedly loved had fed her about her life before everything got erased from her memory.
But something felt wrong with their story—a burns victim from the kind of accident she’d had would need more than a year to recover. But here she stood, functioning normally and looking like a perfect, magazine cover girl a scant few months later. Some people in London had even mistaken her for actress Scarlett Johansson, so great was their resemblance.
Peter’s explanation, delivered in a bored, why-am-I-bothering tone, had stated she’d had experimental treatment at the clinic.
Some things didn’t mesh, and damn if she wouldn’t try to find out what parts of the puzzle didn’t fit into the whole picture.
Her gaze, lost in the distance while she replayed the scenes of her waking up, focused again on her reflection, the woman staring back at her a stranger. The doctors said she’d had plastic surgery to return her to her former likeness.... Then why did she feel no kinship with the person she met every time she looked in a mirror?
Amelia Jamison, the woman who stared back at her, was a beauty. Delicate features resembling the work of a master sculptor graced her face. Perfect cheekbones. Smooth, flawless skin. Sparkling blue eyes with thick, dark lashes. Wide, full mouth. Dainty nose. Short, golden hair.
Her hair had been long before, if she believed the pictures Peter so artfully displayed in the Hampstead Heath home she’d come to live in two weeks ago, after leaving the Swiss clinic. Snapshots of Amelia and Peter on their wedding day, on a trip to a winter ski station, on a tropical beach with a glowing sunset behind them, snuggled on a comfy-looking couch with a fire blazing in the background, and so on. And then there were photos of Amelia alone, smiling at the camera. Pictures in the same kind of elegant, gilt-edged frames arranged in tasteful, classy displays around the leather handbags and silk scarves sold in the shop she found herself in right then.
Shaking off the weird, disturbing feeling any trip down her nonexistent Memory Lane always brought on, she turned her attention back to the source of her unease. The man in the corduroy trousers.
There he stood, a few yards away, intently perusing an artful party-table arrangement. Yet, a man like him—who appeared too much in control of a ruthless energy and vigilance, evident in his stiff back and the casual glances he sent her way—would not really have much to do with Disney princess decorations, the theme of the exhibition.
Unless he watched her in the reflection of the big, Snow White magic mirror on the table.
What did he want with her?
Suddenly, the corridor cleared, leaving no one between them. She would see him clearly if—
A shadow fell over her. Damn it!
“What?” she snapped as the imposing figure of Nathaniel settled in front of her just before she made eye contact with the tall stranger.
“Time,” Nathaniel growled. “Home.”
Did the man ever talk in a full sentence? Sometimes, she wondered if he even had a functioning brain inside that huge, shaved skull of his. Why had Peter saddled her with such a thick idiot?
Stepping around him, she tried to catch sight of the man in the corduroys, but he was nowhere in sight. Just her luck.
“Let’s go,” she spat at the gorilla beside her as she moved towards the exit.
Some way, somehow, she would figure out if someone truly followed her. She could be going to Bedlam, yes, but something rose on high alert inside her, and, though she had no idea what that something could be, she would give it due consideration and follow through.
London. Hampstead Heath
Thursday, December 13. 2:15 p.m
The minute she got home, she headed straight to her bedroom.
. She snorted. More like a mausoleum. The humongous manor looked like an impersonal hotel or a perfect reproduction of a page torn from an interior decor magazine. It certainly didn’t look like a home to her. She threw up a little in her mouth every time her gaze landed on the huge, crystal chandelier, massive mouldings along the ceiling, the champagne-coloured, silk-finish wallpaper, thick cream carpet, and ornate marble table with a disgustingly ostentatious arrangement of white lilies in the middle of the entrance hallway. Flowers that reminded her of death, of funerals and burying...
Peter said she’d handpicked the split-level mansion from all the outstanding offers in this posh area of North London. Ha! She would’ve needed to have her head checked a long time ago if that were the case, since no one in their right mind would desire such a dead shell of a house, however luxurious. But what did she know? Maybe the woman she’d been before had been a total snob who thrived on keeping up with the Abramoviches.
Though she heavily doubted she could’ve been such a stuck-up cow. If that were the case, then thank goodness she had amnesia.
She flew straight to the bedroom and its adjoining bathroom the minute she stepped into the cold dwelling, wanting to get to the pills she had to take—pills scheduled like clockwork every six hours, and the reason why Nathaniel had said they needed to get back before Peter came home. She could ditch them down the drain while Nathaniel struggled to get in with the mountain of shopping bags she’d piled on him back at Selfridges, and thus escape the drugs’ heavy, losing-control sedation.
As she closed her hands on the vials in the medicine cabinet, she froze. The plastic tubes rolled with a clatter of shaking pills into the sunken marble sink.
Someone stood there.
Her breath hitched in her throat as she sensed more than heard his approach, his Italian loafers making no sound on the bedroom carpet, then on the polished floor tiles of the en-suite. Like a stealthy big cat, a predator on the move... The closer he got, the more she recoiled and cringed, dreading the feel of his cold, slimy paws should they touch her.
He dipped his head so his mouth would be level with her ear, and the whisper of his breath teased her skin with a malevolent reek.
“There’s a good girl.”
His tone thrummed low, soft, chilling...with a hint of mockery, a distressing reminder that
called the shots around the house. Gone was the distant, detached man who had been by her side at the hospital. In his place had settled a manipulating monster who took pleasure in making her jump out of her skin.
Against her will to not give in to his silent threat, her body shook with subtle tremors. The one vial of medicine still in her palm rattled with a nerve-wracking jangle as the pills inside danced from the involuntary movement. Couldn’t she be made of sterner stuff? Why did he have this effect on her, damn it?
Peter placed his cold hand onto hers and rubbed his long fingers along her wrist. She yearned to shrink back from the creepy, reptilian touch, but she couldn’t move. He’d make her do what she didn’t want.
He’d make her take the drugs.
Misery threading an icy path down her spine and into her soul as he reached for the small bottles. Her lower lip trembled to contain a sob, and she bit down on the flesh so hard, the coppery tang of blood flooded her taste buds, making her yearn to retch even more.
“Seems like you need to rest, Millie.”
His still-low voice sliced her like a thousand shards of sharp crystal, stabbing into her gut and at her pounding heart. He took one pill from each of the white vials, and two from the pink one, before he cradled her hand in his and placed the little spheres in her palm.
After putting the medicine bottles back in the cabinet, he swung the door closed. The mirror on the panel reflected their images. She stifled a gasp when the visual confirmation that he stood so close drove home. What a devastatingly handsome man; tall, with pale skin as flawless as the most precious Italian marble. His eyes had a unique, deep green hue, and locks of his expertly cut dark hair—the shade as intense as gleaming mahogany—brushed his wide forehead, which tapered down to an otherwise lean face. But no soul existed behind that façade. Nothing but darkness... And she couldn’t let him win. Ever.
She tore her gaze from his reflection to stare at her own. For all the racing heartbeat and thundering blood pounding in her veins and at her temples, her face betrayed no hint of the fear and pooling dread inside her. No, she appeared detached, regal, as if she didn’t give a damn.
Peter filled a glass at the tap and placed it in her other hand. His stare caught hers in the mirror, and she shook inwardly at the empty hollowness of his soul that darkened his bottle-green irises.
, they seemed to order, a barely concealed command obvious in the penetrating gaze.