Tangled Secrets: A Suspense Thriller (Hardcover)
Tangled Secrets: A Suspense Thriller (Hardcover)
Tangled Secrets: A Suspense Thriller (Hardcover)

Tangled Secrets: A Suspense Thriller (Hardcover)

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New to the Mirror Estates Series? Start with the prequel, Buried Secrets

Two women. One targeted by an unknown enemy. One accused of murder. Will they overcome their obstacles?

Twenty-five-year-old schoolteacher Grace Benson lives a quiet life until she receives a threatening note. But when the FBI becomes involved, her world really turns upside down.

Middle-aged wedding planner Sheila Mitchell suspects her husband’s up to something, but she never expects to find him dead—and be knocked unconscious near his corpse. When she comes to, the murder weapon’s in her hand.

Will Grace survive? And will Sheila’s ex-husband, an FBI agent, clear her name? Who is targeting these women?

Tropes: Secrets, Hidden Identity, Reunion

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In the bustling school auditorium, whispered chatter further tinted the air already thick with the scent of pine from the festive decorations. Grace Benson, her heart aflutter, perched at the grand piano, her fingers ready to dance over the keys. This was her moment, her first time directing the school’s Christmas program, and she’d embraced it with both hands.
As the lights dimmed, she took a deep breath, steadying
herself. No time for fretting now. The first class, a group of third graders, shuffled onto the stage, their faces alight. From there, the night progressed in a whirl of color and sound. Each class brought their unique flair to the stage, performing dances and songs they’d practiced for weeks.
Then the finale arrived—the nativity scene. She’d taken great care in selecting children from each grade, from kindergarten to fourth grade, to participate.
The stage transformed into a serene Bethlehem scene,
complete with a manger and makeshift stable. The children, dressed in their costumes, took their positions with a seriousness that belied their years. Mary and Joseph, played by a pair of fourth graders, stood by the manger.
As she began the gentle, familiar strains of “Silent Night,”
the children started their performance. The shepherds, a group of second graders, entered from stage left, followed by the wise men adorned in sparkling costumes. The angels, a chorus of kindergarteners and first graders, flanked the stage, their voices joining in the song to create a heavenly sweetness that seemed
to lift the entire auditorium.
Smiling, she watched from her piano. The children were
more than rising to the occasion—they were shining. Of course, the audience was mostly family members, guardians, and relatives. A lot of them slid their phones up to record when their kids took the stage.
As the evening’s last notes faded and the auditorium began to empty, parents approached her, each of them beaming. Their words washed over her, filling her with a warm sense of accomplishment. She greeted every compliment with a humble smile, her heart still racing from the night’s success.
Amid the departing crowd, Mrs. Montez, the mother of one of the kindergarten angels, made her way toward her. Her face was alight as she began in Spanish, her words tumbling out in a fluid, lyrical stream.
Caught off guard, Grace managed a smile. “Solo hablo un poco de español,” she inserted, her accent betraying her lack of fluency. The woman’s eyebrows shot up, a reaction she had seen before. She could almost read the thoughts behind that astonished look—her being Latina often led people to assume she could speak Spanish. After the last of the parents had left and the children were safely in their care, she began to pack her things up.
“Are you ready to go?” Jenny, one of the school secretaries, hollered from the back. “It’s dark out. Ned wants to know if you need help carrying things.”
“No, I’m good. But tell your husband thank you from me.
We’re coming back to clean up this mess tomorrow anyway.”
School closed for the Christmas break until the first week of the new year. But Grace and those who helped with the program had to clean up.
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
With the school quiet now, she stood alone in the empty
auditorium. As she locked the piano and gathered her music sheets, a shadow caught the corner of her eye. She turned toward the door. Did Jenny come back?
“Jenny, is that you? Ned?”
She was imagining it. That was it. She gathered her things and headed out to the parking lot. After dumping her stuff in the back seat, she got in front and started the car. The drive home was less than ten minutes, but a pair of headlights had stayed behind her since she left the parking lot. She turned into her apartment complex. The headlights stuck with her. Heart pounding, she remembered reading a post on social media about
situations like this. Instead of parking, she turned back around, headed to the closest police station, entered the lot, and honked.
An officer came out. “Ma’am, is there a problem?”
“Yeah, a car is following me.” She twisted in her seat to point it out, but it was, of course, gone.
He looked to where she pointed. “Stay here, ma’am.”
He walked to the curb, checked up and down the street, and came back. “Sorry, ma’am. I don’t see any car out there stopping or acting suspicious.”
The officer offered to escort her back to her apartment building. She accepted the offer. She knew the car was there. Or perhaps it was simply traveling in the same direction? But why follow her to her apartment complex? Then again, why would anyone follow her?

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