The dark garage parking lot was dimly lit by a flashing light fixture above the wall. The concrete floor echoed with footsteps of those who made their way to their cars. Emilia Long stood in the shadows checking the time on her cell phone. She leaned against the cold cement wall and folded her arms in nervous anticipation.
She then heard the sound of heels clunking against the concrete floor of the garage. She peeked out from the shadows and waved over a tall blond woman who was dressed in a neatly tailored skirt suit. Emilia had been in communication with the woman for some time. She was on the brink of breaking a national story against one of the wealthiest men in the state of New York. The woman was the wealthy man’s Executive Assistant and mistress. She was the only one who could give Emilia what she needed to break the story.
As an Investigative Reporter, Emilia had broken many news stories, but this was going to be the biggest. She’d hope that the woman hadn’t changed her mind and had brought with her all the documents that Emilia needed to write her story.
The woman approached Emilia holding a briefcase in her hand. Emilia smiled at her but could see the uncertainty on the woman’s face.
“I’m glad you came,” Emilia said to the woman.
“Well, I almost didn’t,” the woman replied.
She opened her briefcase and pulled out a large file. She hesitantly handed it over to Emilia.
“Everything you need is in there,” the woman said.
“Thank you so much for this. What are you going to do now?” Emilia replied with gratitude.
“I told him that my mother was sick, so I was taking a leave of absence. When this hits, it’s probably going to be an indefinite leave of absence,” the woman said.
“I promise, I won’t use your name. I don’t want this to disturb your life. He never has to know that this came from you,” Emilia told her.
“My life has been disturbed for a long time. I’ve just been in denial about it,” the woman said.
“What do you mean?” Emilia asked.
“Is this going to be part of your story?” the woman responded.
“Absolutely not. It’s strictly off the record. Besides, it looks like you need someone to talk to,” Emilia said.
“I’m from a small town in Maine. It’s beautiful there. The water, the air, you can’t imagine anything more peaceful. As I look back now, I’m not sure why I ever left. I guess I was chasing something. Anyway, I came to New York for college and never looked back. I barely called home,” the woman explained.
“Home is always there. At least that’s what I hear,” Emilia said.
“That’s what I hear too. So, I’m finally going back. It’s time for me to figure myself out,” the woman said.
Emilia sat on a wooden bench holding a cup of coffee in her hand dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and short leather jacket. She wore dark sunglasses to hide the puffiness of her eyes from crying. She had gone back to her apartment after meeting with the fake Elizabeth Potter and cried the whole night. Thoughts of the real Elizabeth, her mother, roamed through her mind the entire night. She wondered what she sounded like, did she have a favorite color, book, or TV show. But she mostly thought about what happened to her.
“Why am I meeting you in front of a hospital this early in the morning?” Chanel said as she walked up to Emilia.
Emilia looked up at her through her dark shades, “To get some answers.”
“At this hospital?” Chanel asked as she sat down next to her sister.
“Because this may be the only place that I can get some answers,” Emilia said.
“Like what?” Chanel asked.
“Like, I was born in Arbor, North Carolina,” Emilia answered.
“Yeah so?” Chanel asked again confused.
“So, how did I end up at this hospital in Brooklyn, New York?”
Chanel looked around bewildered. She, like Emilia, had always assumed that Emilia’s birth mother was somewhere in New York.
“Here, this was in the folder too,” Emilia handed Chanel the newspaper clipping with the picture of Lizzie.
Chanel looked at the clipping and smiled, “She’s beautiful Em.”
“She was in high school when she had me,” Emilia said looking far off into the distance.
“Well, that explains why she gave you up. Same thing with my birth mother,” Chanel said.
“Yeah, I guess,” Emilia replied
“So, what are we going to do?” Chanel asked.
Emilia looked at Chanel. She took off her sunglasses to better connect with Chanel’s eyes. “There’s more to this story,” Emilia said. “There’s more to my story, and I have to find out what it is.”
Title: Secrets in the Woods: An Emilia Long Mystery
Author: J.E. Smythe
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Secrets in the Woods is a gripping tale about Emilia Long- an Investigative Reporter and her quest to find out the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. Long’s quest begins after reading documents left for her by her adopted mother revealing that she was abandoned as an infant at a Brooklyn hospital. The revelation led Emilia on a suspenseful journey to find her birth mother.
But finding her is not so easy. Her investigations reveal that her birth mother disappeared months before her birth and that the disappearance was linked to a murder. With the key suspect in her mother’s disappearance locked away in jail on unrelated charges and the townspeople, including the Sheriff, unwilling to help her, Emilia finds herself at a dead end. In an unimaginable twist of fate, Emilia discovers more than she bargained for. Some Secrets are really better left untold.
In addition to her 9 to 5 attorney job, Smythe is also the co-founder of the publishing company, Lady Esquire Group, LLC. The Attorney Author describes herself as a half analytic and half creative who was blessed to figure out how to join those halves together. Her other books include: Through Grandma’s Eyes, Zora’s First Day and a Few Good Friends. When asked about the motivation for writing her latest work, she explained: “I’m a lover of the Cozy Mystery genre but I found that there were not a lot of those books written by African American Authors with African American characters. I just wanted to put a whole new face on such a fun and exciting genre.”
Smythe’s adept writing style in Secrets in the Woods is enticing and captivates readers from the first page. The novel feature a cast of believable characters and numerous twists and turns that will have readers begging for more.
About the Author
J.E. Smythe is an award-winning author born in Liberia, West Africa, and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, and Gaithersburg, Maryland. J.E. is also an attorney who attended Allen University and received her Law Degree from Massachusetts School of Law. While working as an attorney, J.E. just could not let her passion to write die. She decided to take her legal writing skills and write her debut fiction novel “A Few Good Friends.” J.E. currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina where she has Co-founded Lady Esquire Group, LLC management, and publishing firm. She is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.