Who was Tammie Gardner, really?
She was never supposed to know she was adopted. Never supposed to uncover the secrets of her birth. But she had. And with God as her guide, Tammie Gardner headed cross-country to a sleepy New England town, determined to discover who she really was. Yet her arrival was met with odd double-takes and the dangerous attention of handsome stranger Dylan Montgomery. He insisted she was another woman entirely--and the key to his brother's mysterious disappearance. And now someone wanted to make Tammie disappear before either of them could ever learn the truth.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
November 05, 2007
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Cradle of Secrets by Lisa Mondello
"Take one step closer and I'll shoot!" Tammie Gardner shouted threateningly, putting her hands up like a shield.
Bill stood in her classroom doorway and frowned. "Tammie, we need to talk."
"Later, Professor Lewis," she said, lifting her head only long enough to catch his expression after the formal use of his name, which he hated but she loved to tease him with.
"I've just spent the last two hours sorting through all these papers. It's a mess, but it's an organized mess. I don't need you sitting on my desk and tossing things around like you always do."
This being only her second semester at Winchester College, she wasn't used to how hectic the end of the school year was, and time had gotten away from her. With her full class schedule, she was fighting time to get all her grades completed by the end of the semester.
She glanced up. Bill was still frowning. "I need to talk to you, Tammie. This is really important."
She chuckled. "Of course it is. It always is. But can it wait until I get these grades into the book?"
To keep the papers from flying around the room, Tammie had turned off the fan that normally bathed her face with a somewhat comfortable breeze in the oppressive June heat. This hundred-year-old university building seemed determined to remain hot, and her second-floor classroom felt like a sauna. Without the fan, sweat bubbled on her forehead and upper lip. She wiped it away as she glanced quickly at the door again.
"What are you doing back on campus so early, anyway? I thought you had some urgent, urgent errand to run." Not looking at him, she searched her desk for paperclips. When she found half a box, she started clipping and stacking papers until she could see her desk again.
"Tam, we need to talk," Bill said again. This time, his words came out in a rush. It wasn't like him to ignore her questions. Bill was too predictable to be someplace other than where he said he'd be. Ever since she'd met him in junior-high school, she'd been able to anticipate his every move before he made it.
He was the most levelheaded, even-keeled person she'd ever met--not one to get rattled about anything. But he was still standing at the door, his narrow shoulders slumped slightly, his expression drawn. Her blood ran cold.
Bill was the head of the department--her friend, but also her boss. Had the college decided not to renew her contract? Lord, please don't let it be more bad news. This job is all that's kept me together this past year.
"Do you really have to make it this scary, Bill?"
He didn't respond. After a moment of strained silence, save for the janitor whistling "Singing in the Rain" down the hall, Tammy said, "Bill...?"
It was then that she spotted the thick white envelope in Bill's hand. Somehow, she hadn't noticed it when he'd walked into the room.
He heaved a heavy sigh. "You're going to need to sit down for this."
She did, her heart hammering against her ribs, and the air in the room feeling like a vacuum squeezing the breath from her lungs.
A few quick strides across the room, and Bill handed her the envelope. She glanced at it, puzzled. The return address was that of the laboratory they'd sent their samples to, as part of their class DNA project. All the students had taken samples from a parent or sibling and matched it with their own DNA to show the genetic makeup of their families. Bill and Tammie had participated in the study with their students.
At first, it had been painful for Tammie. As an only child, she could only match her DNA against her parents'. But they'd been killed nearly two years before, so she'd used hair from a treasured brush set her mother had always kept on her dressing table. Tears welled up in her eyes again, just as they had that day, when she'd carefully plucked the thin blond strands from the bristles and placed them in a plastic bag. It had been the same when she scraped small shavings from her father's old razor.
She sighed, placing a hand over her rapidly beating heart, then laughed nervously. "Is this what you're all riled up about? I thought you were going to tell me I was fired."
"I was getting worried we wouldn't have the results of the study before the end of the semester. I would have had to completely restructure the final exam."
Bill swallowed and shook his head. It was barely perceptible, but that small movement brought the dread she'd felt earlier rushing back.
She slapped the envelope on her cluttered desk, bringing both hands up to her face. "Oh, don't tell me they messed up the test. They didn't lose someone's sample, did they?"
Bill reached across the desk to where Tammie had dropped the envelope, opened it and pulled out a small piece of paper.