The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey @dianefjeffrey @HQDigitalUK #LoveBooks

She says she’s innocent.
DO YOU BELIEVE HER?

2013

Melissa Slade had it all: beauty, money, a successful husband and beautiful twin babies. But, in the blink of an eye, her perfect life became a nightmare – when she found herself on trial for the murder of her little girls. 

PRESENT DAY

Jonathan Hunt covered the original Slade Babies case for the local newspaper. Now that new evidence has come to light, Jon’s boss wants him back on the story to uncover the truth.

With Melissa’s appeal date looming, time is running out. And, as Jon gets drawn deeper into a case he’d wanted to forget, he starts to question Melissa’s guilt.

Is Melissa manipulating Jon or telling him the truth? Is she a murderer, or the victim of a miscarriage of justice?

And if Melissa Slade is innocent, what really happened to Ellie and Amber Slade?

Prologue

Melissa

October 2018

The screaming inside had stopped. But the thoughts in my head still clamoured for attention. I studied my hands, turning them over to examine my palms. Perhaps my future was written on them, along my lifeline. I started to twist an imaginary gold band around the third finger on my left hand. One, two, three times. The smooth skin here, where previously there had been a wedding ring, proved that I was once married. No, not once. Twice.

The nausea came in waves every time we went over a bump in the road. I wanted to tell the driver I thought I might throw up. The taste of fear was foul in my mouth and I needed some fresh air. But the driver couldn’t have heard me even if I’d shouted. You’re supposed to look out of the window when you’re carsick, but the one in here was small and too high. When I craned my neck, I could just make out flashes of grey sky between bare branches, or occasionally the upper floors of tall buildings we passed. Looking up made me dizzy. Lowering my head, I stared again, in shame, at my hands. Gnarled and dry- skinned, they might have been a sweet old lady’s hands rather than those of a cold-blooded killer.

I felt as though I was retracing my steps, travelling back in time. Five years ago, I’d been taken away in a white van just like this one, and now I was being taken back again. It wasn’t the same place, it wasn’t even the same city – this was London, not Bristol, but people here would scrutinise me and judge me and determine my fate, just as they had done before. At least this time there would be two or three friendly faces among the sea of hostile ones. Two or three people who believed in me.

I hoped it would be three. It was my lucky number.

When I’d been taken away last time, my only thought was that I’d never see Amber and Ellie again, never again hold them in my arms. This memory forced itself on me now. It still seemed so fresh and was so physically painful that I gasped.

Just as I was wondering how far we had left to go, we stopped. I was helped out of the van. We’d reached our destination, but my journey was far from over. I took in my surroundings. It was early and there were only a few people milling around in this side street. Maybe they weren’t even there for me.

I inhaled deep breaths of air as if I’d been starved of oxygen and gradually the queasiness abated. It occurred to me that I was more appropriately dressed for a funeral service in a church than an appeal in a court of law. I smoothed down my black skirt as best as I could with my right wrist now handcuffed to the female officer’s left one. Then, my legs feeling weaker with each step downwards, I was ushered to the holding area beneath the majestic court buildings.

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