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The Whispers

The Whispers By Heidi Perks Summary

The Whispers: A Novel Anna loves Girls’ Night with her friends. With the kids safely in bed, it’s a chance for the women to let loose, enjoy some wine, and just laugh. But after one lively evening, Anna doesn’t arrive for school drop-off the next morning—or the next, or the next.

Everyone, especially her husband and young son, are frantic with worry but none more so than Grace, her childhood best friend. Grace is certain that someone is hiding the truth about Anna’s unexplained disappearance. As rumors fly and accusations are whispered among neighbors, Grace decides to take matters into her own hands and find out what happened to Anna…or die trying.

About the Author

Heidi Perks was born and raised in the seaside town of Bournemouth on the south coast of England. After moving up to London for a short stint, she has since moved back to Bournemouth where she now lives with her husband and two children. Heidi has been writing since she was small, though for too many years her day job and career in marketing got in the way. Now she writes full time and cannot think of anything she would rather be doing.

The Whispers By Heidi Perks Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday 11 December
Grace
It’s been nineteen years since Grace Goodwin last sat in the Old Vic. Nearly half her lifetime, and yet it still feels like only yesterday. It’s different now – less of an old fisherman’s pub, with pretensions to be a wine bar – and the crowd it has pulled in on a Wednesday night two weeks before Christmas is mainly young couples.

Scuffed, stained wooden tables have made way for polished oak ones, with purple and grey velvet armchairs tucked beneath them. Chalkboards with menus of cheeses and meats, and pairing wines, hang on the walls, draped with classy strings of Christmas lights.

Grace has to admit the interior looks much better than it did all those years ago. It is airier and brighter, though the evening feels more claustrophobic than it should.

When Anna had asked her if she wanted to join her and the girls for pre-Christmas drinks, she’d been a little surprised. In the three months since Grace had returned to Clearwater there had been no other invites, and she’d jumped at the chance to come. ‘We’re going to the Old Vic,’ Anna had told her, ‘about eight thirty.’

Anna and her three friends were already there when she arrived bang on the dot of 8.30, a bottle of wine opened on the table between them. She’d needed to steal a chair from one of the other tables, pushing herself in between Rachel and Caitlyn.

But Grace is pleased to be back here because the pub holds good memories for her. When they were still at school, she and Anna used to sit in the corner drinking Bacardi and Cokes. Even though they’d been underage, the bar staff had never once waved them away.

‘Do you remember the first night we came here?’ she asks Anna now, when there is a break in the conversation.

Anna turns to her and smiles but her lips are drawn into a thin, flat line. Her eyes are dark and seem to look right through Grace, even though only moments before she’d been laughing at something Nancy had said. Nancy is now playing with Anna’s hair, tugging it, twisting it into a plait at one side, hanging it over Anna’s shoulder and telling her she should wear it like that. Watching them, Grace feels as if she were back in school again.

Only an hour into the evening and she already knows she shouldn’t have come, but then she was keen to spend time with Anna. She has tried over the last three months. At the start there were occasional meet-ups but even they have waned. The other three are always around, like they have booked Anna up weeks in advance, and it isn’t enjoyable being in the presence of these four women, three of whom she still barely knows.

Their conversations always veer into in-jokes and shared experiences that she hasn’t been a part of. Their mannerisms mirror each other: the way they curl their fingers over each other’s arms as they speak, twirl strands of hair as they hang off words. As a group they make no effort to include her; in fact, Grace wonders why Anna bothered to invite her in the first place.

Suddenly Anna stands up and announces she’s getting another bottle of wine, though there is at least a third of a bottle still left on the table in front of them. Her legs, tightly squeezed into black jeans, wobble as she makes her way to the bar, her blonde hair still loosely knitted into the plait Nancy made. Her bra is showing through her black chiffon top and she looks glamorous, if a little too thin. There isn’t an ounce of the puppy fat she had when they were teenagers.

While Anna leans over the bar and points to a bottle in the fridge, Grace scans the group of women who are sitting at the table with her.

Nancy Simpson always looks immaculately groomed, and tonight is no exception. Her long, slender legs are pressed into jeans uncannily similar to Anna’s. She looks to be at least five foot eleven, though clearly her height doesn’t stop her from wearing heels. She’s slightly older than the rest of them – in her early forties, Grace guesses. There’s not a grey hair among the blonde curls that hang in perfect waves down her back.

Her daughter Elodie is a precocious child. Over the last four years Elodie has apparently taken all the leading roles in the school plays: Mary in the Nativity, and then Guy Fawkes, Oliver Twist, and finally Simba.

In the three months that Grace’s daughter has attended the school, she has clocked the way Nancy sits in the front row at every assembly, every parents’ meeting, every choir competition. Her coat and bag are always draped across three other seats, for when her comrades arrive. And when they do, she beckons Anna, Rachel and Caitlyn to join her, while Grace sits in the row behind.

The first time this happened Grace had hoped Anna would seek her out and sit with her – she’d expected it, even – but then she’d seen her old friend arrive with Rachel, and glance guiltily at the one seat beside Grace before indicating that there wasn’t enough room for the two of them to sit there. As if she couldn’t possibly part from Rachel. How was it that she couldn’t do that, when Rachel clearly had two other friends to sit with, and Grace had no one?

Tonight Rachel has drunk the lion’s share of the wine and is getting louder as the evening wears on. She is wearing a gold glitter shift dress: too dressy for a night at the Old Vic, Grace thinks, but then clearly the woman is up for a party. She has a dark bob of almost black hair that is neatly tucked behind her ears, and she doesn’t stop twiddling a finger through it as she chats with Nancy.

Rachel is possibly the one Grace knows the least. She catches flashes of her on the school run, often late, and so it’s interesting to see her tonight. She is actually more fun than Grace realised at first, as she tells her entertaining stories.

Caitlyn keeps giggling at whatever Rachel is saying. She is by far the quietest of the group, seemingly the most sensible out of them, and yet also the nicest. She doesn’t have Rachel’s coolness at the school gates or Nancy’s control.

Grace can see the appeal of both Caitlyn and Rachel. She could be friends with them too, she thinks, if she is given the chance. It is one of the reasons she was keen to come tonight: to get to know Anna’s friends better. But not Nancy. Their dislike for each other is mutual. Nancy made it clear in the early weeks of term that she had no time for Grace, a hostility that has only flourished as the term progressed.

With Anna at the bar, the other women’s voices have dropped a note and Grace struggles to hear what is being said from the other side of the table. She edges her chair a little closer, if only to remind them she’s still here, and as she does so Caitlyn turns to her with a pitying smile.

It isn’t hard to see which way the evening is heading, with all of them diving into their drinks like they don’t have to get up for a school run in the morning. Anna had told her it was ‘just a few’ before school broke up for Christmas, but for all Grace knows, this is the way their nights always end up.

Now the women are discussing a holiday the four of them had been on back in May. A weekend in Majorca without their families. ‘Do you remember that waiter?’ Nancy is laughing. ‘He couldn’t keep his hands off you, Rach.’ At the bar Anna turns round as she waits for the wine, laughing too.

Grace smiles, though of course it’s one more conversation she can’t join in. She leans back in her chair as her thoughts turn briefly to Matilda and the sitter she’d hurriedly found through the babysitting service she’d signed up to at the start of term but had barely used. She wonders if she should call to check on them. Matilda’s behaviour had been challenging tonight and Grace thinks some of it is because she hasn’t made any noticeable friendships. All Grace wants is for her daughter to have one special friend like she’d had in Anna.

She has so many memories of her own that she wishes she could share them tonight with her friend. Grace has tried to remind Anna of them, but in recent weeks Anna has clammed up on her, shut her down. Maybe Grace was also hoping that by joining the group tonight she would have a better chance of talking to her and reliving moments from their past, the way you do when you are out drinking.

She remembers the two of them circling around the monorail at the motor museum when they were young, laughing, refusing to get off it as Grace’s parents waited below, calling them down, horrified when the train started again and they were still on it. They must have completed at least six loops, or at least that is how it felt back then. ‘Can you believe you are eight today?’ Anna had kept giggling.

Grace wants to share this happy memory with Anna when she comes back to the table, but as soon as her friend plonks the bottle of wine down, Rachel stands and links an arm through hers.

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The Whispers

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN1529124255, ‎ 978-1529124255
Posted onApril 15, 2021
Formatpdf
Page Count320 pages
AuthorHeidi Perks

The Whispers By Heidi Perks PDF Free Download - HUB PDF

The Whispers: A Novel Anna loves Girls’ Night with her friends. With the kids safely in bed, it’s a chance for the women to let loose, enjoy some wine, and just laugh. But after one lively evening, Anna doesn’t arrive for school drop-off the next morning—or the next, or the next.

URL: https://amzn.to/3w1Kpqg

Author: Heidi Perks

Editor's Rating:
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