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The Truth About Rachel

A Rachel Emery Novel Book One

Copyright 2021 © Deanna Lynn Sletten

Kindle Edition

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the express written permission of the author.

eBook ISBN – 978-1-941212-58-5

Cover Designer: Deborah Bradseth of Tugboat Design

Novels by Deanna Lynn Sletten

The Ones We Leave Behind

The Women of Great Heron Lake

Miss Etta

Night Music

One Wrong Turn

Finding Libbie

Maggie’s Turn

Under the Apple Blossoms

Chasing Bailey

As the Snow Fell

Walking Sam

Destination Wedding

Summer of the Loon

Sara’s Promise


Widow, Virgin, Whore

Kiss a Cowboy

A Kiss for Colt

Kissing Carly

Outlaw Heroes


Chapter One

August 1985

Chapter Two

Thirty-five years later

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

About the Author

Chapter One

August 1985

Rachel pushed back her long, dark hair as she concentrated on braiding a friendship bracelet. The eight-year-old had recently learned to create the colorful string tokens and spent most of her time, and her small allowance, on making them in multiple colors. Her friend, Amy, sat beside her on the park bench, braiding the string for her own creation. It was a warm, sunny day, typical weather in central California. But the two girls were comfortable in the shade of a large oak tree that swayed gently in the breeze.

Two teenaged girls rollerbladed past them on the paved path that winded around the park and through the small grove of trees that lined the narrow river. Rachel looked up from her braiding and saw the tall, lanky form of her older brother, Keith. He was near the opening to the river path, his skateboard at his side, his dark, menacing eyes studying the teen girls heading his way. Beside him stood his sidekick, Jeremy Mitchell. Jeremy was two years younger and several inches shorter than Keith, but he was always following the older boy around. Rachel knew that her brother only tolerated Jeremy. He also used him as a punching bag whenever he had the urge to push someone around.

As Rachel studied her brother, his eyes caught hers, and he smirked. A chill ran through the young girl. Keith had been cruel to her for as long as she could remember. Only their father could control him because Rachel’s mother never paid them any attention. Quickly, Rachel turned her gaze back to making her bracelet.

A shriek broke through the serenity of the park, causing both Rachel and Amy to look up. Just as Rachel had suspected, her brother had scared the two girls who were rollerblading. One had fallen and scraped her knee, and the other girl was yelling at Keith. Rachel’s brother was laughing hysterically as if the girl falling down was hilarious.

Amy shook her blond head and returned to the bracelet she was braiding. “Your brother’s a jerk.”

Rachel sighed. “I know.”

“My mother didn’t want me at the park today. I had to beg her to come,” Amy said. “She said there’s someone scary around town, hurting women. It was something she saw on the news.”

Rachel raised her dark brown eyes to meet her friend’s blue ones. “I heard that on the news this morning. My mom was watching it.”

“Who do you think is hurting women?” Amy asked, her voice low.

Rachel glanced over to where her brother still stood by the shaded area. The path was thick with trees along the river, and Rachel avoided it. It scared her not knowing who or what could be waiting in the shadows on the path. “I don’t know,” she finally answered. “But as long as we’re together, we should be safe.”

Amy had brought along two cans of Coke and a fruit roll-up for each of them. The girls stopped braiding long enough to eat the long strips of sticky strawberry-flavored treats and sip their Cokes. Younger children were playing on the swings and slide as their mothers watched from nearby benches. Older children ran around, skateboarded, and rollerbladed. It was hard for Rachel to believe that their tiny town, which was surrounded by farmland, wasn’t safe. Everyone knew everyone’s business. Other than the migrant workers who came during harvest season, the same faces could be seen all over town, day after day.

As the girls went back to their braiding, a young girl with long, dark hair like Rachel’s approached them. Rachel looked up and smiled. She didn’t recognize the girl, but it didn’t matter. Rachel’s father had taught her to be nice to everyone.

“Hi,” Rachel said.

The girl drew nearer. She was the same height as Rachel, and her skin was tan from long days in the sun. Rachel thought she might be the same age as she was.

“Hi,” the girl said shyly. “What are you making?”

“Friendship bracelets,” Rachel said. She lifted her arm to show her the yellow and blue one on her wrist. “Like this.”

“Are they hard to make?” the girl asked.

“Not really,” Rachel told her. “Would you like me to teach you?”

The girl’s eyes lit up. “Oh, yes.”

Amy had been quiet, but now she nudged Rachel with her elbow. “Don’t,” she said under her breath.

Rachel frowned. “Don’t what?”

“Don’t ask her to join us. She’s one of the migrant worker’s kids,” Amy whispered, but it was still loud enough for the girl to hear because Rachel saw her smile fade and shoulders droop.

“Amy! That’s not nice. And who cares if she is?”

Amy sighed loudly.

“Come on over,” Rachel told the girl and saw her eyes brighten again. “What’s your name?”

She walked up to the picnic table. “Luna. Luna Hernandez.”

“I told you,” Amy said.

Rachel shushed her friend. “You’ll hurt her feelings.”


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