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Scorched Heart

Book Four of the Firebrand series

Helen Harper

Book Cover by Yocla Designs

Copyright © 2021 by Helen Harper

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Created with Vellum


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30


Also by Helen Harper

A sneaky peek at The Noose of A New Moon

About the Author

Chapter One

I sat in Tallulah’s driver’s seat, clutching my already cold takeaway coffee, and gazing out of the window. The car park was busier than I’d expected. I watched as a tight-faced woman gripped the hand of the crying toddler beside her and marched back to her own car. A few spaces down, two grey-suited men stepped out of their vehicle with briefcases in one hand and phones in the other. They strode towards the entrance of the building with the sure-footed purpose of people who’d trodden this path many times before and knew exactly where they were going.

It was my first time here, but I’d been to places like this during my two years of detective training. No matter how different each building looked, or which part of London or the surrounding countryside they were located in, they all maintained the same atmosphere. Desperation mixed with satisfaction. Hope combined with fear. Justice coupled with revenge.

Her Majesty’s Prison Galloway was no different.

My fingers itched and I was sorely tempted to turn the key in Tallulah’s ignition and speed away without looking back. I hadn’t expected that my visit request would be agreed so quickly. With no active investigation taking place, I’d assumed that the bureaucratic wheels of England’s correctional system would grind slowly and that it would be several weeks – if ever – before I gained the access I required. And yet here I was, less than seventy-two hours later, with an approved appointment to meet with my parents’ murderer.

I’d told Lukas that I wanted to do this alone and that it would be easier without his brooding presence at my shoulder. That had been a mistake. I’d have given half the blood in my body to have him there right now. I shouldn’t have under-estimated the importance of moral support.

The two men, who were probably solicitors, had passed through the main doors fifty metres ahead and were no longer in view. The woman had clipped her child into the back seat of her car and was muttering to herself with a dark expression as she climbed behind the wheel. She caught me staring at her and gave me a scowl and her middle finger. I didn’t react.

‘Is this a mistake, Tallulah?’ I asked aloud.

Needless to say, the car didn’t respond. I sighed. Time to quit stalling and woman up. I stepped out and pulled back my shoulders. I was Detective Constable Emma Bellamy and I’d been face to face with murderers before. When I died, I was reborn twelve hours later in a cloud of burning, sulphurous flame. According to a certain book of enchantments that had caused as many problems as it had solved, I was the one and only phoenix. I spent my days immersed with supernatural beings who were far more powerful than any of those incarcerated in the building in front of me. And since last week, I spent my nights with the leader of the London vampires.

I could handle one human male, no matter what he was responsible for. I was more than strong enough. I adjusted the waist on my best suit jacket and marched to the prison entrance.

The interior was brighter than I’d expected, with cheerful walls painted in warm amber tones and artwork apparently created by the inmates, alongside posters detailing the prison rules for visitors. I dug out my visiting order and handed it over to a uniformed guard behind a perspex screen, together with my driver’s licence and warrant card.

‘Good morning, DC Bellamy,’ he said, with the same professional smile I’d received from the barista when I’d ordered my coffee earlier this morning. ‘We have a note of your visit. Before you enter, I must ask you to complete this form.’ He passed over a clipboard with a sheet of paper attached. I checked over the details and scrawled down my date of birth and address before signing it at the bottom.

‘And I must take your photo for our records as well.’

I nodded and waited. Unfortunately, the flash was brighter than I expected and I was forced to blink rapidly to clear my vision. The guard smiled at me, clearly used to that reaction.

‘As this is an official visit,’ he said, ‘you’ll be directed to a room where you can talk to the prisoner privately. He has agreed to speak to you, but please note that he will be handcuffed at all times and that you will be separated by a screen. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t be the case but, given the delicacy of your situation, such separation is appropriate. The allotted time for your visit is one hour. If you require longer, you will need to speak to the assigned prison officer and—’

‘I won’t need longer,’ I interrupted.

The guard’s eyes met mine. There was a trace of sympathy in his expression that proved he knew exactly who I was and what Samuel Beswick had done to my family. ‘Very well.’ He licked his lips. ‘He doesn’t often get visitors, you know. His mother visited him for a time, but she’s in a care home now and doesn’t travel any more. Nobody’s been to see Mr Beswick for at least three years.’

Maybe I was meant to feel

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