The Duty Bound Duet - DUTY OF CARE - THE CARETAKERS
by Sydney Jamesson
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense (Psychological)
After eighteen years of sisterly devotion Emily receives some shocking news! Rita has committed suicide. When disturbing details start to surface, Emily puts her highflying career on hold to seek out those responsible. She hires an American private investigator Robert Blackmoor; a motorbike riding, no-frills, computer hacker who will use any means necessary to unearth the truth.
Not surprisingly, Robert uncovers secrets from Emily’s troubled childhood and chips away at the glossy veneer of deceit which masks the truth behind, not only Rita’s life, but Emily’s imperfect life too.
Together they assemble the pieces of a sinister puzzle, revealing a cruel and corrupt world of exploitation and murder: a Dark Web into which Rita has become entangled.
As dark forces encircling Emily tighten their grip, and with everything to lose, she must make a life and death decision that she may live to regret.
Emily Parsons is a product of a difficult childhood: self-reliant, fiercely protective and willing to do whatever it takes to safeguard the wellbeing of those in her care. She has even slayed a monster, or two … or three in the name of poetic justice, and yet she is haunted by the image of a beautiful blond girl.
Sixteen-year-old Louise Travis has been abducted.
Louise’ fate rested in Emily’s hands, but she let her slip through her fingers like gold dust, only to be swept away by a malevolent band of brothers.
By once again enlisting the help of computer hacker, Robert Blackmoor, Emily must find Louise before she is lost forever in a Dark Web of heinous crimes, cruelty and corruption. The clock is ticking, and Emily’s investigation is drawing the wrong kind of attention, but she will not back down. She is duty bound to protect those she loves.
With skeletons from her past being unearthed, who can she turn to, and who can she trust with her own sinister secrets?
DUTY OF CARE
“The whole world can become the enemy when you lose what you love.” Kristina McMorrris.
I STOOD ALONE in the graveyard the day they buried my sister. There I was, Emily Parsons, the hapless figure lurking behind a gnarled oak tree—an unwelcome guest.
A savage January wind gnawed at my cheeks. It made my eyes sting; eyes already brimming with salty residue left over from a night spent sobbing into a pillow. Sapped of all strength, I leaned against the trunk, held it between my hands; gloved fingers tracing rough edges. I breathed in its wild, woody perfume; rotting branches, unclaimed timber—a steadfast pillar of support in a surreal tableau.
At our parents’ request, I didn’t show my face. Did they fear I’d cause a scene, throw myself onto the coffin?
With or without their blessing, I had to go. I had to be there to witness my little sister’s departure from this mortal coil and, if that meant enduring sniveling platitudes caught on the wind—so be it.
Our parents, family members and some of Rita’s friends circled the cavernous hole in the ground like ravens; a flock of silhouettes set against a snowy backdrop. My watery eyes lingered on the word Rita formed in purple violas on the wreath—a tiny name for someone with a big personality and an even bigger heart.
Having endured the lamentations of the priest marking the passing of a life ended much too soon, I absconded. I sprinted like a bandit between gravestones, my feet slipping on ankle deep snow that shrouded everything, creating a clean, sterile landscape. Nothing seemed out of place. Nothing except my sister’s charred body lying six foot under in a mahogany coffin fifty yards away.
I took refuge in my car and sat in silence, refusing to acknowledge the shifting congregation. Concealed behind windows veiled with condensation, I left unseen.
In those days leading up to Rita’s funeral, I cried nonstop. I would wake from dozing and the world would be as it was. I would smile through cracked lips, but then I would remember and my heart would ache and my body would shake and tears would cloud my eyes once more.
The myriad of memories we had made were my only lifeline: phone conversations, photographs and texts existing in a vacuum, authorless—a cruel kind of comfort. For the sake of my sanity, I tried to come to terms with her passing, I really did, but the realisation that the one person I loved more than any other had gone and left me behind did not make any sense to me.
We had made a pact when we were kids to never be separated.
Why had Rita broken it?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:Sydney Jamesson is a USA Today bestselling author by night and an English teacher by day. She is nocturnal by nature and loves nothing more than staying up late, listening to music and being inspired to write. She has always written creatively; in her home is one enormous wastepaper basket full of discarded phrases, opening lines and pieces of dialogue that have hit her like lightning in the middle of the night. Her USA Today bestselling trilogy, THE STORY OF US sold worldwide, and she has been thrilled to continue Ayden Stone's and Beth Parker's epic love story in The Story of Us Series: Into the Blue, featuring Blue Genes, Blue Hearts and Blue Moon.
More recently, Sydney has focused on psychological suspense. THE DARKEST CORNERS was her first venture into the new genre: a complex love story filled with lots of angst, emotional scenes and edge of your seat suspense as a single father and a troubled young woman confront their deepest, darkest fears together. The twists come think and fast and the ending is unforgettable!
DUTY OF CARE:
UNIVERSAL LINK: viewbook.at/DUTYofCARE
AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/Duty-of-Care-Sydney-Jamesson-ebook/dp/B08CNGJVGF
AMAZON: UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=DUTY+OF+CARE+%28The+Duty+Bound+Duet+%231%29&
UNIVERSAL LINK: viewbook.at/THECARETAKERS
AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/The-Caretakers-Sydney-Jamesson-ebook/dp/B08CNKPLH5
AMAZON: UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08CNKPLH5
What group did you hang out with in high school?
In high school I made a point of not hanging out with big groups. I tended to have a close group of friends, too few to call a gang, more like a private club. We would meet up, listen to music, go out for burgers, go roller skating and bowling like most teenagers. The bigger groups tended to hang out in the town center and move en masse—a tidal wave of rowdy teenagers not intentionally looking for trouble but fining it all the same. I was what could be called reserved; I was a reader, an academic and always asking questions in class. My English teacher said that I should set my sights on being a journalist or a writer. That way, I could ask all the questions I wanted, process the answers and come up with an entertaining story. In terms of careers, I can tick both of those boxes!
What are you passionate about these days?
Being in lockdown and shielding both parents since early March has made it virtually impossible to be passionate about any one thing. It almost feels like a selfish act to be single-minded when there has been so much suffering. I’ve been reading and preparing material for the launch of THE DUTY BOUND DUET. If anything, that has become my passion; a way of switching off from the daily grind and the never ending influx of figures and bad news. Only now in the UK are we starting to experience some semblance of normality. I know that will be a long time coming for millions of other people around the world, but we have to believe that we can get through this.
As release dates come nearer, I know I’ll become more excited and even more passionate about these two books. The subject matter means a lot to me. Yes, it’s serious and they were not easy to write and yet, within those pages there is light and hope; the belief that good will overcome evil and the devils who inhabit the ominous underworld which is the Dark Web, will be defeated. Until then, the young and the innocent among us will not be safe.
If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?
Ebook or print? And why?
I was asked this question a few days ago by a newbie author just starting out. This is what I told her:
If you want to get traditionally published then you should trawl through literary agents looking for your genre, follow their specific instructions and be prepared to wait and wait and wait for them to get back to you with—what is most likely to be—a polite rejection letter. The worse thing to do is assume that their rejection is an indication that your work is of inferior quality: you just didn’t get them on the right day with exactly what they were looking for.
Unfortunately, landing a literary agent is very difficult, I should know. I have a box full of rejection letters. Even so, I have gone on to have a USA Today bestselling trilogy, sold thousands and thousands of books around the world, attended signings and met friends, authors and readers I would otherwise never have met.
The moral of this story?
Don’t wait around and don’t assume literary agents will love your work as much as you do. You wrote it, you believe in it and you publish it … with a word of warning, don’t do it without having social media platforms, buying links and publicity in place or your book will go unnoticed in the barrage of bestsellers and weekly freebies.
Last tip, use a recommended cover designer so your book looks professional, have your book edited and proofread before you publish. I made the mistake of being rushed into publishing my first book and had to revise and republish it again once it was polished and ready to be scrutinized by beady-eyed readers.
Most of all, be proud of what you’ve achieved and when people ask, “Are you still writing your little stories?” You can answer with, “No, I write bestselling novels, thank you very much. Would you like a signed copy?”
What is your favorite scene in this book?
In every book I write, I always have a favourite scene. Sometimes it’s because it was hard to write and I’m pleased it turned out so well. Other times it’s because I cried when I wrote it, or it made me laugh.
There have been occasions when I’ve written late into the early hours and come back to review what I’d written the following day and had no recollection of having written it. That’s when I know my characters have become independent, are thinking for themselves and are almost writing themselves—through me.
This is my favourite scene from DUTY OF CARE, a strange choice for a psychological suspense novel, but a moment of light to contrast with the dark undertones which pervade the novel. It’s when Emily Parson, the self-righteous protagonist, meets Robert Blackmoor, an American, no frills hacker—her soon to be ally.
I arrived at two minutes to one—I hate being late, it implies indifference in my book. I requested a quiet table away from execs expostulating over economic downturns and embargos and was happy to be seated by a leaded window overlooking a beautifully furnished courtyard, formerly a graveyard. The gravestones had been removed but the original stone slabs remained, perhaps as a reminder of our own mortality.
I ordered a medium dry Chardonnay and checked my phone. When I looked up I saw a tall, broad, oak tree of a man, in his mid-thirties with wild hair and a well-established black beard approaching my table; he looked as if he had slept in his clothes, woken up late, realised he had a business meeting and left the house, all in one unbroken sequence. Thankfully, he had grabbed a jacket and a tie on the way out.
I was not in the habit of censoring my disapproval. “Oh! You must be Robert Blackmoor?” It was customary to shake hands but in view of his unkempt appearance, I thought better of it and tipped my hand to the chair opposite for him to join me. “Thank you for coming, Mr. Blackmoor. Pleased to see you made such an effort…” I held up my hand and caught the eye of the waiter.
He glanced down at his checked shirt and mismatching tie. “Oh! These old things. No worries.” He reached for the wine menu and leaned across to me. “Just checking, but are you insinuating that I might not have showered today, Mrs. Parsons?”
I was lost for words. Who asks that?
“Because if you come a little closer you’ll be able to smell my shampoo and expensive cologne.”
“I’d rather not, if you don’t mind.” What a strange and disconcerting man.
“FYI, I shower once a day, sometimes twice a day when I’ve been working through the night.” He smiled, appearing too close for comfort with his Saint Christopher medallion dangling over the table.
“I’m pleased to hear it.” I looked across to the waiter, silently begging him to come over. I needed a drink or a distraction…
Mr. Blackmoor’s attention shifted from the menu to me. “How about you? How often do you shower?”
“I’m sorry?” As the waiter approached, I wanted to waft him away and spoke quickly. “For your information, I shower once a day, every day.”
He took an enormous breath, expanding his broad chest several inches. “Well, there you go. We’ve only been talking for …” He checked his watch. “For two minutes and already we have something in common.”
I found that very hard to believe. “I assume you don't get out much, Mr. Blackmoor?” I asked, determined to get the measure of him
He raised a brow. “I’m sorry. Was that a question?
He played with the hair on his throat. “I get out plenty.”
I pressed him. “I don't mean for your job, I mean socially. You don't socialise much?”
“No. Not much.” He shrugged.
“Well clearly you don't spend hours working on your abs or styling your hair.” He couldn’t deny it.
“By the look of you, I'd say you spend all day looking at a screen, punching in passwords.”
He smiled, minus teeth, causing the skin around his eyes to wrinkle. “You got me all figured out.”
I lowered my napkin onto my plate, he watched me do it. “Then I don't see how we can do business.”
He took a slug of water. “Isn't that for me to decide?”
I gave a stifled laugh. “Do you seriously expect me to believe that you would turn away my business?”
“Believe what you want, but you'd be the fourth knockback this week. No offence.” He eyes were fixed on mine.
“None taken. You said over the phone that you're the best. Are you? Or is it just something you say, to people like me? Or maybe a line taken from your website. Simply the best?” I said it in a sing-a-long style.
He grinned once more, clearly finding our conversation amusing. “Sounds like a good title for a song. And, I don’t need a website.”
That couldn’t be true. “Everyone needs a website.”
He pressed his lips into a tight line and shook his head. “Nope. Not me. I’m the guy who has the luxury of being able to turn business away.”
I rested my hands on my lap, wondering if I had misjudged him—just a little. “Then let’s hope you don’t turn my business away.”
He tipped his glass of water toward me. “This could be your lucky day, Mrs. Parsons. Cheers.”
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