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The Greatest Thing

The Greatest Thing

Автором Robbie McCauley

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The Greatest Thing

Автором Robbie McCauley

Длина:
251 pages
3 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Mar 4, 2015
ISBN:
9781310890918
Формат:
Книге

Описание

Australia Airlines Flight AQ15 disappears on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Australia. It is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean. But did it?
Dana Bell’s husband and her mother were on the flight. In this sequel to The Eleventh Hour, the family’s story continues. Before she died on the missing plane, Dana’s mother Eve Maddison wrote a book called ‘Secrets of a Mafia Wife’. Mafia links strive by any means, to ensure that the book is never published. When these efforts fail Mafia bosses take revenge. Meanwhile, the struggle to publish the book reveals more astonishing family secrets. Despite the loss of loved ones, love conquers all. Tolerance, understanding and forgiveness are found to be the by-products of love.
The passengers on the plane died. But how? Why has the plane never been found? Find out!

Издатель:
Издано:
Mar 4, 2015
ISBN:
9781310890918
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

When Robbie McCauley retired early from a varied working life, which included the duties of Secretary to Members of Parliament, Researcher, Primary School Teacher, and Bank Manager, she began to take writing classes and discovered the joy of writing short stories. At the same time Robbie decided to study for the Bachelor of Arts degree she had always wanted. This was the start of a new world. She now has many degrees including a Masters in Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism and a Post Graduate Diploma in Writing. Her qualifications provide an excellent background for story writing. At present Robbie teaches a writing class called "Let's Write a Book" with the University of the Third Age (U3A) and is happy to have finally written her own first novel, The Eleventh Hour, which is planned to be Book 1 of a trilogy. Robbie lives in Australia, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. She is divorced, has one lovely daughter, an excellent son-in-law, and three exciting grand children.

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The Greatest Thing - Robbie McCauley

THING

Book 2 in The Maddison Family Series

Robbie McCauley

2nd edition

Smashwords Edition

 Copyright 2015 Robbie McCauley

This book is available in print at most online retailers

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

For Millie, Ella, and Jack

Memoir of a Wedding

On Eve and Clive’s happiest day

Their

Song

Will be

Nature Boy

As recorded by Nat King Cole

because they now know

THE GREATEST THING

(Extract from their Wedding Invitation)

1

A Dreadful Task

He could feel his heart thumping against his chest as he waited.

Inspector Graham Norris was filled with dread at what lay ahead of him. He always hated having to inform relatives, but this was so much worse. She was strong — he knew that, but his experience as an Inspector with the Australian Federal Police told him that there was some news that was worse than death. It was his job and he had to tell her — he didn’t want anyone else to do it, he owed her that much.

He admired her so much for her strength and her dignity. They had become friends in recent years, and the friendship had grown to be a very strong one. But lately he could not stop thinking about her. He had been concerned by how often he thought about her. It was dangerous. The friendship could never be anything but that! He was well aware that she was married to someone else. Thinking about her all the time was totally inappropriate and unprofessional. He remonstrated with himself.

But now — this was terrible.

Dana Bell was travelling back to Australia from Kuala Lumpur accompanied by her two-year-old daughter, Alice, and Clive Hassett, who was her mother Eve’s new husband. Their flight had just touched down in Sydney.

Inspector Norris paced outside Customs. Although he wished he could avoid the moment, he knew that he must be the one to tell her and he must do it quickly, before she heard the news from any other source.

Dana smiled when she saw his face outside the doors. She was very fond of that face. He was such an honourable, but gentle man. They had become friends since the events of three years ago when she had first met him in his official capacity. Since then she had worked with him on many occasions as she started and built up the reputation of her DEW Investigations Agency.

And now here he was to meet her. She realised how he felt about her and now she secretly hoped he had plucked up the courage to meet her purely as a friend. But as she juggled child and luggage trolley through the door his handsome face betrayed him. He was here on business.

Graham, how lovely to see your friendly face as soon as I arrive back. But by your expression, I’d guess this isn’t a social visit — what a shame. I was hoping you were here because you missed us.

Hello, Dana. Hello, Clive. And hello there beautiful little Alice, as he patted her dark curls. Believe me I wish this was just a welcome back, and I am so glad to see you, but we have to talk urgently. I’ve got a car waiting.

A concerned look passed between Dana and Clive, as a couple of Graham’s men relieved them of their trolleys and they were rushed through the terminal to the waiting car.

Have you got a new urgent job for us Graham? Dana asked as they settled themselves in the car. I’m getting scared now. Why don’t I like the look on your face?

Dana, Clive, I’m so very sorry. I have some very bad news for you. Prepare yourselves, please. It’s very bad news. There’s no easy way to tell you, he paused and took a breath.

They stared and felt the fear of what he was about to say.

It’s the plane. The plane that … The Australia Airlines flight that Eve and Warren were on. I’m sorry. It has disappeared. There has been no contact for several hours. We believe it has crashed.

There was a long silence as the car took them towards Dana’s home.

Graham knew he would never forget the look on her face. My God, he thought, how much can one woman take? He had just told her that the plane carrying her husband, Warren and her mother, Eve had crashed. They were almost certainly dead. And beside her sat Clive — his head drooped like a puppet with broken strings. He was returning from his wedding in Malaysia. He had just married Eve, the love of his life. Graham was desperately sorry for their pain.

The driver is taking us to your place, Dana. I’m so sorry to be the one to tell you both. I’ll fill you in on the details when we’re out of the car. I’m so sorry …

Clive’s head hung low, and Dana stared straight ahead as tears began to trickle down her cheeks.

As they drove on in silence, Graham recalled the events just over three years earlier when they had first met.

He had just arrested Dana’s partner Gordano Lucini for money laundering and Mafia involvement, and he had checked out Dana’s background. The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) filled him in on her background as an Intelligence Analyst and her employment history until her resignation. They informed him that she had been one of their most trusted and admired employees, and they unreservedly vouched for her. They spouted nothing but praise for her character and her resilience. She had needed every grain of her character to get her through the events that were to follow that meeting.

Graham remembered vividly the events that followed back then, and knowing the background made today’s dramatic events so much worse.

But now his memories were interrupted as they drove through the large electronic gates of Dana’s house. Dana Bell was a very wealthy woman and her home in Sydney’s north was vast and could properly be described as an estate.

Members of Dana’s household staff waited outside to welcome them back. Well, it would normally have been a welcome back, but by the sombre expressions, they had already heard about the missing plane.

Millie, Dana’s housekeeper and close friend, embraced Dana for a long time as though trying to transmit some of her own strength.

Once inside Graham needed to get down to business. He asked the staff to stay for a moment.

"I wanted to be the first to break the news, but obviously the story has broken. I’m sorry for your shock. It’s the most terrible news, I know. But unfortunately, while I am a friend, I am also here in my official capacity. So I have to tell you officially that Australia Airlines Flight AQ25 has disappeared. Please all sit down and I’ll tell you the details, as I know them.

"The flight left Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday at 12.30am local time. It was bound for Perth. Shortly after takeoff it altered its course without notification to air traffic control. It took a course that would take it further across the Indian Ocean and it then made a turn and headed south. At that point it disappeared and has not been heard from since. It should have arrived in Perth three hours ago. I have to inform you that the worst must be assumed.

Experts believe the plane has crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Signals experts have tracked ‘pings’ from the plane’s inbuilt tracking device, which indicate that the plane continued flying for some time after it disappeared from radar. The pings indicate a southern course over the Indian Ocean but they eventually stop quite some distance north west of Perth. A search is being organised. The Australian Navy is on its way to the area. It would appear that something catastrophic has occurred on board causing the plane to veer off course and to eventually crash into the ocean.

All were silent as though lost for words. Then the questions began to tumble out.

I’m sorry, Graham continued. I don’t really know anything much more than I’ve said because it is so early in the investigation, and I really can’t enlighten you any further at this stage. But I have been tasked with heading the investigation into the passengers and crew of the plane. This is routine in the case of a plane crash when the cause is unknown. We need to try to understand what made the plane go off course and crash. It is usually found to be some form of mechanical fault, but there is always the possibility that the plane’s fate has been caused by hijack or terrorism or some other form of misadventure. All I can say is it seems certain that the plane has crashed into the ocean and I would advise you in your own best interests not to hold out any hope for the survival of any of those on board.

After a delicate pause, As you are painfully aware, Clive’s new wife Eve Hassett and Dana’s husband Warren Bell were on board. As they were passengers, it must therefore now be my duty to question all of you about them. I hope you will understand. So thank you Millie — if you and the staff could return to your duties now, I will talk to you later if it seems necessary.

As experienced as he was, Inspector Norris hated this part of his job. He looked uncomfortable.

Clive, Dana! I am so sorry for your pain and the shock you must be feeling. But I’m afraid there are questions that only you can answer, and I’d rather it be me to ask them, if that’s OK?

Graham, we understand. You must do your job. Please go ahead.

Thanks, Dana. First of all, for the record, why were you all in Malaysia?

For my wedding to Eve, Clive’s weak voice responded. We decided a long time back to get married there. At first it was going to be a double wedding. Dana and Warren were going to renew their vows at the same time. But then … well, anyway, that’s why we were there. And we got married and it was wonderful, and now she’s Eve Hassett, he finished with a sob.

Sorry Clive, I just …

It’s OK, Clive waved at him to go on.

And why did you two come back to Sydney? Why were Eve and Warren on the flight to Perth?

I had to get back here to work, and so did Clive. The University couldn’t postpone his lectures indefinitely. As you know, Eve and Warren and I are partners in DEW Investigations. Eve and Warren had been working on a case with a refugee family who had originally arrived in Perth where they met up with some suspicious characters who did them out of their life savings. The family is here in Sydney now, but they wanted us to try to get some of their money back. Warren thought the characters in Perth might have been members of a terrorist group. Since Warren and Eve are the most up-to-date with terrorism issues, they took the case. We decided that after the wedding, it would be best for them to fly straight to Perth, rather than come home first, and Clive and I would come home and get on with work.

OK. I’ll need details of that case, Dana.

Yes, of course. I’ll get them to you.

I’ll have more questions for you later. That’s enough for now. I’ll leave you alone to get over your shock. But I did think that your DEW Investigations staff could help me by investigating some of the passengers — especially since you are experts in the area of terrorism. There are a lot of people to investigate and it needs to be done as quickly as possible. I understand if you two don’t want to …

I most certainly do want to …

I’m with Dana. Count me in. Please let me help in any way I can to find out what happened. I can use the University’s resources for research if that can help, and as an ASIS member too, I might be helpful.

Thanks, both of you. I’ll go to your office, Dana, and meet with your staff later and give them the names of passengers or crew I’d like them to investigate. You two will need some time, I know …

Yes. We’ll need time. But time won’t bring them back this time, will it? I’m angry now. The best we can do for them and ourselves is to help to find out what happened. Clive’s eyes showed his determination.

We’ll take some time together, but I can hear what Clive’s saying. We’ll be in the office later.

Graham looked at them again. I’m so very sorry.

As he walked away, Dana called, Graham, if you can fit us in, could you possibly join Clive and me here for dinner tonight. We could both do with a friend.

He smiled, I’ll see you then.

2

The Pain

Dana turned to look at Clive. They walked to each other and embraced in silence. They stood holding each other and time passed until at last the tears of each began to fall. They cried for a long time until exhaustion began to set in.

Clive and Dana had been good friends for many years, and she had been delighted to have him now as her father-in-law as well. It had been three years since Eve and Clive had announced their secret love to the world. They had then moved into an apartment in Dana’s large house, but had only just got around to marrying. She realised how much Eve meant to him, and his pain now made her own even worse.

Millie quietly delivered coffee and brandy.

It’s been the best three years of my life, Clive finally said. Whatever happened, I hope it was quick. I hope she didn’t suffer.

Do you think there’s a chance …?

No, Clive said quite firmly. No, Dana. I don’t think there’s a chance they’re still alive somewhere. It wouldn’t make sense. The plane should have landed hours ago. It couldn’t still be flying around somewhere, and there’s nowhere in that area that it could have landed. There’s only ocean. Very deep ocean!

Yes, of course. Logically, it must have crashed. It’s just that … well, you want to have a bit of hope …

It’s kindest to yourself not to, Love. You must be realistic. There is no hope. There is nowhere else it could have gone but down — down into the ocean. They may never find it, it’s so deep there.

Yes.

And Dana, I feel it. This time, I feel it. Three years back when Eve went missing, I didn’t give up hope because I just didn’t feel that she was dead. Back then I strongly felt that she was still alive and well somewhere. But this time, I don’t feel that. This time I only feel a terrible deep emptiness. Her soul has left me, Dana. I feel it!

Oh, Clive! Dana began to cry again.

Dana was as heartbroken for Clive as she was for herself.

"Clive, I feel your pain, and I wish I could help you now as you’ve helped me in the past.

My dear old friend! On that terrible night years ago when you told me that Mum was missing, I was distraught — but I didn’t understand your own pain. You kept your pain to yourself so you could keep your relationship with Mum a secret. And through all that terrible time, you were so brave and such a comfort to me. I don’t know how I would have survived it all without your strength and your warmth and your friendship. And Clive, she went on, when Mum was returned to us, and you both revealed your love, I was as happy for you both as I was for myself. You had become my close friend, and I got my lovely mother back. You know, Clive, I loved her so much. She was always my best friend, and my confidant no matter what the issue. I was so happy then. I was deliriously happy for me and for you and Mum. But now … Oh, Clive, she threw her arms around him once again. I can’t believe this is happening, Clive. I feel I must be just having a nightmare.

Yes, Love, it is like a terrible nightmare, he patted her head on his chest gently. But my little Love, it is real! It is so hard to believe that we have lost them again. But it is real, Dana. And we must accept it.

Yes, she sobbed.

We must just be thankful for what we have had. They were returned to us three years ago, against all odds. And we’ve had three happy years with them. We must think ourselves lucky for that. I’m just so glad Eve and I married. It was a wonderful day, wasn’t it, Dana — just perfect.

He went on, "Dana, I know your loss is so great. You’ve not only lost the mother you idolised, but you’ve lost your husband as well. Warren was a lovely bloke and we will all miss him. They were both exceptional people, and everyone who knew them will feel deep sorrow at their loss.

All I can think now, for both of us, is that it was somehow not meant to be, he paused with the thought. And then he went on.

We thought we had lost them before, and despite everything, they came back to us. We had these last three years with them — time we didn’t think we would have. For me they were the best three years of my life. More of the same would have been good, but accidents happen, fate takes over. I think we must be grateful for the extra time we were given with them.

Mummy! Mummy! Maisy wants to take me to the beach house. Can I, can I, please? Maisy Beecroft, Alice’s Nanny, followed the tiny leaping child into the room.

Dana and Clive quickly wiped their tears and did their best

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