The bond between twins is a fascinating subject, and the link is an important one in Millie West‘s new novel, Catherine’s Cross. Jenk Ellington’s unfounded sense of panic tips her off that something isn’t quite right with her twin, Gigi; but when Gigi’s phones go to their messaging systems, all Jenks can do is wait.
Learning of her sister’s death from a diving accident is only the beginning of the mystery for Jenks. Her search for the missing pieces of her sister’s life leads Jenks deeper into her sister’s secrets and closer to the handsome Detective Mason.
You can see a sneak peek of the first chapter here:
Just before one in the afternoon, while Jenks was watering her ferns, she felt a strange sensation run through her body, like a chill that went to her bones. She’d had these feelings before. Both Jenks and her identical twin, Gigi, experienced them when they sensed the other was in trouble. Their mother called these instincts a gift. “God has given you two the ability to look out for one another,” she would say.
This time the chill gripped her more intensely than ever before. She reached for the telephone, and dialed Gigi’s phone. The answering machine picked up. Gigi’s cheerful voice said, “Leave a message, and I’ll call you back. . .” When she dialed her sister’s cell phone, she was forwarded to voice mail. “The owner of this cell phone is unavailable.”
Jenks left a short message. “Gigi, please call me as soon as you get this.” For the rest of the afternoon, Jenks could not stop thinking of her sister, and her continued attempts to reach her by phone were met with failure.
Just before midnight, the doorbell rang at her home. She cautiously walked
to the threshold and asked, “Who is it?”
“Jenks, it’s Mom and Gregg. Please open the door.”
When she opened the door, fear rushed through her limbs as she looked into her mother’s eyes. She knew immediately what was wrong.
“What’s happened to Gigi?” Jenks choked as she spoke.
“Baby, can we come inside?” her mother, Linda, asked.
Behind her mother and her mother’s neighbor, Gregg Mikell, were two men. They were dressed in suits and both had police identification badges on lanyards around their necks.
Her mother moved quickly to Jenks and took her in her arms. Jenks could feel her mother tremble as she pulled her close. “Baby, I have terrible news,” her mother said with a shaky voice.
Her mother stroked her hair back and looked into Jenks’s eyes. “Gigi drowned this afternoon in the Beaufort River.”
Jenks felt as if the wind had been knocked from her lungs. Her knees buckled, and she collapsed to the floor.
One of the men who had accompanied her mother and Gregg to the house rushed forward and helped her into an armchair.
“Jenks, these are detectives with the Raleigh Police Department,” Gregg said, nodding toward the two men. “They were kind enough to come see your mother and me. A Detective Seth Mason with the Beaufort County, South Carolina Police Department contacted them this evening, and asked them for help. Gigi was diving for artifacts with Frank Hiller.”
Jenks felt numb to her very core. She had known all afternoon that something was wrong, but not this. She tried taking deep breaths, but her strength failed her. Tears began to well in her eyes, and she nearly choked while speaking. “What happened to her?”
“Miss Ellington, I’m Detective Taylor and this is Detective Turner.” Both men looked sad and worried. Detective Taylor continued, “I’m very sorry about your sister. When the lead detective, Seth Mason, called us from Beaufort, he was very concerned about this news coming to you on the telephone. He asked for our assistance. Apparently, Gigi was with her diving partner, Mr. Hiller, when something happened. She became overdue on the dive, and he began to search for her. He called the police when he realized she had to be in trouble.” He paused for a moment. “Divers with the Beaufort Sheriff’s Department found her this evening. I have Detective Mason’s phone number. He said he would like to assist you and your mother, and for you to please phone him.”
“Thank you,” she said as she choked back tears.
Detective Taylor nodded his head to acknowledge her statement. Jenks looked at her mother, who was sitting in an armchair, staring into space. Tears were rolling down her cheeks and she sat motionless, her face lacking expression. Detective Turner went into Jenks’s kitchen and returned with two glasses of water, giving one to Jenks and the other to her mother.
Linda took one sip of the water and then set the glass down on a table. Herneighbor, Gregg, went to her side and softly said, “Linda—the detectives may have some other work they need to do. They can give us a ride back home.”
She nodded her head, and then softly said to Jenks, “Would you please call the investigator in Beaufort. I don’t think I can.”
Gregg helped Linda from her chair, and the police officer assisted her toward the front door. Detective Taylor turned back and put a couple of business cards in Jenks’s hand. “This is Detective Mason’s phone number and my business card. We’ll help you in any way we can. Don’t hesitate to call us.”
Gregg left Linda standing beside Detective Turner, and he returned to speak with Jenks. “Are you going to be all right here?”
“Yes, Gregg, thank you.”
“I’ll look after your mother tonight, so don’t you worry. I’ll call you in the morning to let you know what time we’ll be picking you up to go to Beaufort. I’ll drive.”
She nodded as she wiped tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand. Gregg closed the front door behind him and the room became intensely quiet. Drawing a deep breath, she picked up the telephone beside the couch and dialed Detective Mason’s phone number.
It rang a couple of times before a firm voice answered, “Detective Mason.”
Jenks had a difficult time beginning the conversation and she choked on her words.
The detective responded after a few moments. “Miss Ellington?”
“The Raleigh Police Department informed me that they went to see your mother and you. I’m very sorry about your sister, Gigi.”
“I just don’t understand how this could have happened,” Jenks said in a high-pitched voice.
“She was with her diving partner, Frank Hiller. According to Mr. Hiller, they were diving in an area where they had recovered numerous artifacts. An old wharf used to be there. Mr. Hiller lost contact with her, and when she didn’t surface, he said he began to look for her . . . when it became clear she was in trouble, he called the police. We searched the river for her . . . I’m sorry, but we recovered her body this evening.”
Jenks drew in a deep breath. “Where is she now?”
“She’s been taken to the Medical University of South Carolina—for an autopsy.”
Jenks could barely get her words out, but she told him, “I’ll be riding to Beaufort in the morning with my mother and her friend.”
“I’ll be available to assist you—the sheriff’s department is at 2001 Ribaut Street. Just ask for Detective Seth Mason.” The last thing he said was, “I’m sorry. I know how you feel.”
As she hung up the receiver, Jenks felt like she was in a daze. Could this really be happening?
She dropped to the floor and slammed her fists onto the hardwood floor. Wails of grief came from deep within her. She sobbed until her body shook. “God no, don’t let this be true!”
This was surreal. The shock was debilitating, and she lay on the floor for a long time, unable to move, weeping tears of inconsolable anguish. Her only thoughts—of Gigi and the fear she must have felt as she drowned.
Catherine’s Cross is available for through BQB’s online store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookseller. You can also download the eBook version through Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo, OverDrive and very soon . . . Sony too!