Odessa stood up and looked Emilia in the eye. “You got the stench of city on you.”
“That’s lovely Odessa,” Emilia replied sarcastically.
“What the hell you want?” Odessa asked.
“Henry died last night,” Emilia announced watching the unchanged expression on Odessa’s face.
“What do you want me to do about it?” Odessa asked
“He was your father Odessa; I just thought you would like to know,” Emilia replied.
“Well, now I know. Now leave,” Odessa said.
“Why are you always in such a hurry to get rid of me? Is it because you’re scared I’ll find out the truth?” Emilia asked.
“Ain’t no truth to find little girl,” Odessa responded.
“Yes there is, and I think I’ve figured parts of it out,” Emilia said.
“Oh have you now?” Odessa said.
“Yes, I have,” Emilia leaned in closer to Odessa, “Lizzie was in the woods that night maybe to hang out with her friends, it was the hangout spot. Randel somehow ended up in the woods. I’m pretty sure someone called him and sent him there. Somehow Randel ended up dead, and Lizzie saw it happen. Maybe she took off scared and was hiding or maybe someone was protecting her from what she saw or from whoever did it. But all I know is Lizzie’s alive, at least long enough to give birth to me. My only question for you Odessa is, where’s Lizzie?”
Odessa began to laugh and started walking away from Emilia.
“Laugh all you want Odessa but you know I’m right,” Emilia said walking behind her.
Odessa stopped walking and turned to look at Emilia, “You don’t know nothing little girl. All you got is gossip.”
“I got me Odessa. The fact that I’m standing here proves that Lizzie didn’t die that night,” Emilia said.
“Don’t nothing prove nothing,” Odessa replied in anger.
“What are you so afraid of? Your mother died, Henry’s dead, all that’s left is us Odessa. So what do you think I’m going to do when I find Lizzie? What trouble do you think I’m going to cause? Why are you so afraid of me Odessa?” Emilia fired off questions at Odessa hoping that she would at least answer one of them.
“I ain’t afraid of you little girl. I just want you off my property.” Odessa was clearly un-phased by Emilia’s questions.
Odessa turned around again and walked into the house slamming the door behind her. Emilia looked around and noticed that from the backyard of Odessa’s house was a clear entrance into the woods. It was getting dark, and Emilia thought it best to head back to the bed and breakfast since she had walked to Odessa’s house. But something kept pulling at her to go
“I sort of snuck into the Sheriff’s archived records and there was a box about a boy who died the same date Lizzie went missing,” Emilia explained.
“That can’t be a coincidence,” Chanel said. “What’s his name?”
“Randel Jamison,” Emilia said.
Emilia could hear Chanel typing away again on her keyboard. She waited anxiously to see what Chanel would find out.
“The only article on him is that he was murdered in the woods there in Arbor. There’s not much else,” Chanel said.
“Oh,” Emilia replied sounding disappointed.
“Wait, let me check something else,” Chanel said.
“What?” Emilia asked.
“The FBI database,” Chanel replied.
“Are you crazy?” Emilia asked in a panic. “You know you could get in serious trouble for that, right? And what would a small town’s murder be doing in the FBI database anyway?”
“So, which question do you want me to answer first?” Chanel asked sarcastically. “How about you already know I’m a bit crazy, yes I know I could get in trouble which is why I keep bill money, and it’s in there because apparently it was classified as a hate crime.”
“Wait, what? Seriously?” Emilia asked.
“Yeah. According to this, he appeared to have been beaten and his skull smashed in,” Chanel said.
“Oh my God. Anything about Lizzie?”
“Yeah. According to witnesses, she was in the woods that night too. She could not be found. She was declared dead after weeks of searching for her.”
“So why did they think it was a hate crime?”
“The then Sheriff believed that a group of white boys who were known to be racist were the ones who did it. Guess they couldn’t prove it.”
Emilia turned around quickly only to be blinded by the headlights of what looked like a motorcycle. The engine roared louder and then the motorcycle started to come right towards Emilia at a high speed. Emilia took off running as fast as she could weaving through the trees and bushes, but the motorcycle kept coming. Emilia found a large rock and tried to hide behind it, but the motorcycle jumped right over, turned and started coming again. Emilia grabbed a large branch and waited for the motorcycle to get closer then she took a swing which caused the driver of the motorcycle to swerve on its side. Emilia didn’t wait around to see what happened to the driver she took off running again.
She found herself by the cliff overlooking the river. She slowed down from running to see where she was going. But she had dropped her flashlight and couldn’t see much. Before she could make a move, the motorcycle was back. This time coming much fast and Emilia was trapped between the cliff and the motorcycle. The motorcycle had her cornered, and without thinking, Emilia leaped over the cliff rolling down the cliff and landing on some bushes and rocks a few feet below. She turned her head in pain and looked up to see a hazy figure standing at the top of the cliff. Then the figure was gone and so was the sound of the motorcycle.
Emilia’s whole body was in severe pain, and she could feel something wet dripping from her head. Emilia knew she couldn’t stay where she was. She mustered up enough strength to pull herself back up to the top of the cliff, but she couldn’t go any further. She was just about to lose consciousness when she heard someone yelling her name. She recognized Sheriff Caleb’s voice, but she couldn’t yell back. All she could do was moan, “Help. Help me.”
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 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.