BOOK DETAILS

Family Lies (Augustus Family Trilogy) (Volume 1)

Family Lies (Augustus Family Trilogy) (Volume 1)

by Tamara Merrill

ASIN: B01F3T4SOQ

Publisher Tamara Merrill

Published in Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

$4.99

Read books 1 & 2 now. Book 3 will be released Aug. 26, 2017 The almighty Augustus family is rich, socially prominent, and hiding their secrets. Not just the current generation’s secrets but secrets from the past. In 1937, as the war approaches, the protected world of family is changing and the secrets they are keeping threaten to spill out of the family and on to the gossip pages. Patriarch, Walter Augustus, is more determined than ever to control his family and protect their good name.

Sample Chapter

The City Chronicle

September 30, 1944

Tattletales by Sharon Chatsworth

Despite the continuing ill health of their patriarch, Walter Augustus, this reporter is delighted to report that our fair city’s Augustus family will soon have reason to rejoice. I have it from a very good source that Minette Rothchild Augustus, whose whereabouts have been unknown by this reporter for more than five years, has arrived in England. While her stories of wartime in France will be interesting, I, for one, am much more interested in where Sylvia (Mrs. John) Augustus has been keeping herself these many months and what, exactly, she has been doing.

Chapter One

After the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, Minette began to believe that the Allies would soon liberate France, and she allowed herself to look forward to reuniting with her son and his family. She was dismayed when she realized that almost five years had passed without any contact with John or the Augustus family. It wasn’t that she hadn’t thought about them or worried about them, but she’d known that if she tried to contact them, it would be dangerous for her fellow Resistance workers, and so she had allowed the months to slip past.

Now, with the Allies in the war, and even as the French Resistance movement increased its activity against the Nazis, Minette began to make plans to leave France. On August 25, with the city of Paris safely in the hands of the Allied troops, she knew it was time to put aside her work with the Resistance and return to life with her son and grandson.

The mail was still confused and the phone service was minimal at best, so she didn’t worry when she found it impossible to reach John in England and let him know of her plans. They would see each other soon. As she crossed the channel, her heart lifted, and Minette allowed herself to rejoice in the work the Resistance had done and what they had accomplished. Too many of her brave friends were dead, captured, missing, or injured, but they had made a difference, a very real difference, and now it was time to return to her family in the States. She looked back at the receding French coastline and wondered when, if ever, she would return to her homeland.

Minette arrived in England with little more than the clothes on her back and a few francs in her pocket. There were no cabs at the dock, so she shouldered her duffle and walked to the AmCo office. All around her the bombing had smashed the buildings, but in the distance she could see the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the people she passed smiled and nodded and appeared to be going about the everyday business of life. Each and every person she passed seemed to have taken Winston Churchill’s admonition, “Never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in,” to heart.

Arriving at the office building, she was relieved to find that, despite some damage, the building was inhabited and the AmCo office was open. Her first indication that something wasn’t right came when the young woman at the desk, who had greeted her politely, became visibly flustered when Minette asked to see John Augustus.

“Who may I say is asking, madam?” she managed to stammer. But when Minette stated her name and her desire to surprise her son, the poor girl paled and rose from the desk. “Please make yourself comfortable.” She gestured toward the chairs. “I’ll be right back.” And she fled down the hall.

Minette stilled and for a moment she felt fear, but she pushed it aside. Obviously, John was not expecting her; perhaps his staff believed that she was lost to the cause or had even been killed. Although, she admitted to herself, it didn’t seem like John to have spoken about her work in the Resistance. She smiled slightly and imagined how happy John would be to see her alive and well and ready to return home.

Her smile faltered as the receptionist returned followed by a young man she’d never met. “Mrs. Augustus”—he held out his hand in greeting—“I’m Stephen Alistair. Please step into my office and we can talk.”

She followed him, refused his polite offer of tea, and braced herself for whatever he had to say. Even with the ability to conceal her emotions that she had developed over the war years, Minette’s felt her heart pound and the color drained from her face as she learned that John had been missing since January 1941. “That’s almost four years,” she managed. “Hasn’t he contacted anyone?”

“Not that I am aware of, madam. I’ve asked Kristina to place a call to the States and, as soon as she gets Sam on the line, she’ll let us know. I’m sure he can explain everything to you.”

Minette clutched her hands in her lap and took a deep breath. Unable to speak, she nodded slightly. Fear took her breath away and she began to tremble.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Sam was just leaving for his office when Chris called from the doorway. “Dad, you’ve got a phone call. Mom says it’s important.”

Sam smiled at his gangly, seventeen-year-old son and his newly deep voice, tossed his briefcase into the car, and hurried back to the house. One look at Helen’s face and he knew that something important was happening. “It’s Minette,” she said and handed him the phone.

“Minette?” He brought the phone to his ear and said again, “Minette? Is it really you? Are you okay? Where are you?”

Minette’s rich voice and charming accent floated out of the receiver. “I’m fine, Sam. I’m in London, and they are telling me that no one knows where John is living—that he’s been missing a long time.”

“Not exactly missing. He’s joined the RAF. I’m surprised he didn’t tell you.”

“He had no way to reach me.” Minette’s voice broke. “What happened? Tell me quickly.”

“In October 1940, the house where he was living with Valerie was destroyed in the Blitz. John and Michael survived, but Valerie was killed.” Sam took a deep breath and continued speaking into Minette’s silence. “He took it very hard. At first, he didn’t return our calls, and when I finally was able to speak to him, he asked to be left alone to handle it in his own way. The office was shut down through the holidays, and we all assumed that he’d be back at work in January, but instead he sent a telegram saying he’d joined the RAF.”

“And Michael, where is he?”

“He’s in London with Annie. We don’t have an address and have been unable to locate them, but John assured us that all was well.”

“Sam, all is not well. My son and my grandson have been allowed to disappear.”

“John is an adult, Minette. He makes his own decisions.”

“Perhaps, but we are family. And family does not allow family to disappear.”

Sam wanted to protest. After all, Minette had been out of touch with the family even longer than John, but a wave of guilt overwhelmed him and instead he said, “John hasn’t disappeared, Minette. He’s serving in the military, in a war. And I’m sure he knows that we are taking care of things at home. AmCo is producing supplies for the military at a greater rate than ever, supplies that all the Allied troops need.”

“Taking care of business perhaps, but you are not taking care of Michael and John, or even Annie.”

“I tried to find them, Minette. No one in London could tell me anything. The staff was unaware that Valerie was living with John or that she was pregnant.” Minette caught her breath on the word pregnant, but Sam hurried on. “John had somehow managed to keep his private life a secret. The staff didn’t even know that Michael and Annie were in London. The landlord and the few neighbors I located spoke highly of Valerie and of what a lovely couple they were and how sad it was that she and her unborn child had been killed in the bombing. No one seemed to know them well, but everyone seemed to feel that it was natural that John would be laid low by his grief, and they weren’t surprised that he’d gone away with his son and the nanny. No one could tell me where they might be. In fact, the general agreement seemed to be that he had returned to the States. When we finally heard that he’d joined the RAF, we decided to leave him alone. He seemed to be doing what he needed to do, following in your footsteps and giving his all for the war effort in order to heal himself. I can tell you that he has not been killed in action, and I’m sure that Michael is being well cared for by Annie.”

“What about Sylvia? Has she heard from John? Hasn’t she tried to find Michael?”

Sam paused and took a deep breath. “A lot has happened since you moved to France, Minette. Too much to explain in one phone call, but Sylvia is not able to search for Michael, and I’m sure she hasn’t had any contact with John.”

“But she’s his mother. Surely, she must be worried.”

“Sylvia was hospitalized about four years ago, and she has not asked about either Michael or John in all that time. In fact, the doctor has felt it best that they are never mentioned to her.”

The line hummed as Minette digested this. In her silence, Sam could feel her shock and decided not to add any details of Sylvia’s treatment until Minette was back in the States. After a long pause, Minette said carefully, “I’ll find them, Sam. I’ll find them and bring them home.”

“Tell me what I can do to help.”

“Right now, I need money and a place to stay.”

“That’s no problem. Stephen will take care of everything you need and he’ll help arrange transportation back to the States when you are ready.”

“Thank you, Sam. I’ll keep you informed, but I won’t be back until I find my family.”

There were shortages in London but Minette reveled in the hot water and scented soap provided by the hotel where Stephen had found her a room. The long, hot bath was a luxury she hadn’t enjoyed in years, and, as she lay back against the rim, she allowed herself to remember life in the States, life as a member of the wealthy Augustus clan. A life filled with plenty, where there were no hardships and no real problems, as different as possible from the life even the wealthiest people in France had endured during the Occupation. Those days of long ago almost seemed like a story, a fairytale, a dream. Even so, she was glad her mother had journeyed to the States and found her. The time they had been able to spend together in Paris had been so precious and had healed so many wounds. Minette finished her bath and began to create a plan for finding John and Michael. Tomorrow, she’d talk to the neighbors again. Surely someone would remember something.

Early the next morning, Minette asked for directions at the hotel desk and then hailed a cab to take her to John’s last-known address. Immediately after giving the cab driver the address, it was apparent that this might not be as easy as she’d believed.

The cabby pushed his hat up and scratched under the brim. “You can’t go there, Missus. There aren’t any houses anywhere around there. They’ve all been blown up or torn down.”

“All?”

“Yes, ma’am. All. The damn Krauts—pardon my language—have been bombing that area over and over. Everyone has moved away.”

“Can you take me close?”

“Certainly, but there isn’t much to see.”

“That’s all right. I just think I need to see it for myself.”

Continues...

Excerpted from "Family Lies (Augustus Family Trilogy) (Volume 1)" by Tamara Merrill. Copyright © 2014 by Tamara Merrill. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Tamara Merrill

Tamara Merrill

I am a reader. I read too much. I read every day. I know it interferes with other things but I love to read. I chronicle my reading on my blog - A Book A Day Habit. In addition to reading, I enjoy a bunch of other stuff; walking on the beach – I live in Coronado, CA, crafts, painting, dining with friends, and travel - to name a few. And… I’ve certainly enjoyed writing the Augustus Family Trilogy. Book one FAMILY LIES introduces you to the family starting in 1937 as the world is posed on brink of war and ends in 1944. Book two FAMILY MATTERS begins in 1944, as World War II draws to a close and takes the family and their problems to 1959. FAMILY MYTHS, book 3, continues the saga through the tremulous 60’s and 70’s and draws to a close in the 1980's.

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