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Undecided...

By Lilian Tait

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2018 Lilian Tait


Smashwords Edition Licence Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.This ebook may not be 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. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favourite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.






1. Chapter One


Okay, so, how many seventeen year old girls do you know, who, (in no particular order), could say that they’d fallen in love with a man almost double their age, faced far too many dangerous situations to count, encountered some really nasty people along the way, seduced a high profile pop star (all in the name of research), and risked their lives on several occasions?

Not many, I’ll bet.

But...if I were to tell you that everything that had happened to me, was due to, what I believed was a very worthy cause, the man I loved, then, I’m sure that you would understand.

Especially, if you knew Kris Van Helsen.

Who was, before I became his wife, an undercover Norwegian Federal Agent, working on a case.

Which was how we first met.

Our relationship, and inevitable marriage, had taken us on a roller coaster ride, full of twists and turns, with each and every one of them testing its stability and strength to the limit.

And...bizarrely, these trials and tribulations had made our relationship even stronger.

Some would put all of our unfortunate misfortunes down to good, old fashioned, bad luck, but, my older sister, Holly, had a much more logical explanation.

The Van Helsen Curse.

While we had experienced more than our fair share of bad luck over the past year, in the course of our relationship, there were still some positive aspects of our lives that we were able to fully appreciate.

My husband, at almost thirty years old, had gone from being a newly qualified Federal Agent with the CIB (Criminal Investigations Bureau), in his native Norway, to becoming Commissioner of Police for the entire country, the position having been made unexpectedly available due to the indiscretions of the previous Commissioner, and Kris’s heroic (but, quoting his father, Vincent, ‘stupid and thoughtless’) actions in Holmenkollen, which had prompted the authorities to put him forward for recommendation, to the government. After some consultation with me, and a great deal of consideration, he’d taken the job, and his vision for a corruption free police force for his country could finally be a reality, instead of just a possibility.

And, we also had a daughter, Jana, who was growing up fast. She was almost eight months old, and becoming more like her father with each passing day.

While Kris relentlessly strove to overhaul the country’s police force, by aiming to make it free from scandal and underhanded dealings, the same could not be said for his personal life, which had, in the past, been filled with more scandal and gossip than the average tabloid.

Before, and after he met me, Kris’s life had been a subject of endless fascination to the nation’s press and media.

Vincent, his father, was a famous gardening expert, who was much sought after, and starred in his own T.V show, Van Helsen’s Hagen.

So, growing up as the son of a celebrity, it was only natural that he would also receive attention from such quarters.

His younger sister, Anoushka, was a highly respected Archaeology expert, and she, along with her fiance, Henrik Wegersland, head curator of the museum in Oslo, had recently put together an Exhibition of paintings and artefacts.

The fact that the Exhibition was still running, two months after it had been officially opened, and continued to draw huge crowds of tourists and locals alike, was irrefutable proof of its success.

Meanwhile, Kris and I, after spending some time on holiday in England, about a month ago, had returned home, to Oslo, where we could hopefully pick up from where we’d left off.

The ‘holiday’ had been my husband’s idea, as we’d recently experienced a terrible loss, and this had been his way of taking our minds off it.

Only...it had turned out to be anything but a holiday.

The Van Helsen Curse had struck again, and I’d found myself in a situation where I could have lost Kris and Jana forever.

But, thanks to a noble action on Kris’s part, that was something that I would never have to endure.

However, it was the person I’d found myself involved with, during our ill fated holiday, who was the centre of attention at this moment in time.

Morten Hardanger.

He had been in the same place as Kris and I, and had been found guilty of being involved in a heinous murder plot.

My husband, in his newly appointed position as Commissioner, could officially make him pay for what Morten had done, and, not just because he was jealous of him.

But then, even though Morten was a huge pop star, and every bit as good looking and successful as my husband, I knew that Kris was the better man.

It hadn’t helped that I’d been attracted to Morten, and the feeling had been mutual.

And, during that holiday, I’d done something terrible.

Something...unforgivable.

I had cheated on Kris.

With his sworn enemy.

Morten.

But...I could justify my awful actions.

Kris hadn’t been entirely honest with me about a highly sensitive matter, the matter that had brought us to England.

And, in a blind rage, I’d stormed out of the hotel, very early in the morning, hoping that a walk would help me to cool off, get my head together.

Instead, purely by chance, I met Morten.

Still consumed with anger, I’d allowed myself to be seduced by him, on the beach. We’d mated like wild animals, my grief and fury momentarily forgotten as we’d shared a very primal and passionate encounter.

Which I’d later regretted.

Kris knew nothing about this, and I felt confident that, as Morten and I hadn’t taken any precautions,given the nature of my internal injuries, nothing would come of it.

And Kris would neverknow.

Because...I would never tell him.

But, I had vastly underestimated the extent of my internal injuries, as a result of the accident.

Over the past month, I’d been feeling really peculiar, but the symptoms were similar to that of being pregnant.

Only...I couldn’t be.

Could I?

On that fateful morning, when I’d cheated on Kris, he’d pulled no punches, and had more or less told me, in no uncertain terms, if I were to fall pregnant, the pregnancy would never progress to full term.

So, for now, I had to wait and see.

After everything that had happened, Kris and I had immediately cancelled the rest of our holiday, and come home early.

Kris had the somewhat unenviable task of arresting, and charging Morten with, among other things, conspiring to kill his fiancee, Marsha, for what Morten believed to be an unforgivable crime.

Marsha had deliberately lied to him, to protect the unborn child of a man with whom she was still in love.

By claiming that Morten was the father of the child.

And Morten had sought retribution by enlisting the help of the man in question, who’d had a history of criminal activity.

Which, until recently, had been kept under wraps.

Miraculously, due to a case of mistaken identity, Marsha was still alive, and, when the news reached Norway, that her fiance had been accused of plotting to kill her, she ended the engagement, vowing, in a television interview on NRK, the country’s major T.V channel, that she would, ‘wait for the man she truly loved’, who was, at present, serving a life sentence in prison, the price he had to pay for making a noble sacrifice for her.

A noble sacrifice, that had saved her life.


2. Chapter Two


What a sorry state of affairs,I thought to myself, as, one morning, a few weeks later, while seated at the kitchen table, I unfolded the early edition of Dagbladet, as this publication had been granted exclusive rights to cover the Morten Hardanger Trial.

Kris had already left for work, to prepare the groundwork for Morten’s hearing, the date of which was still to be arranged.

Jana was asleep in her cot, tired out after I’d taken her round the park, as I did most mornings. Snoopy, Kris’s dog, was usually part of our little entourage, but he was currently on loan at the family home in Trondheim. Vincent and Helena were away filming for a new series of Van Helsen’s Hagen, and their housekeeper didn’t like to be alone in the house, so Kris and I agreed that Snoopy could keep her company till they got back.

Taking a sip from my mug of freshly made green tea, I reflected upon everything that had happened.

How had things come to this?

To think that, a year ago, I was just plain old Hazel Woodford, a sixteen year old schoolgirl, with very little to worry or upset me.

And now, I was a seventeen year old wife and mother, married to a wealthy, powerful man, who was also a celebrity, because of his famous father.

Love makes you do some pretty strange things.

But...it also makes you realise what’s really important.

What really matters.

Kris and Jana meant the world to me.

Of that there was no doubt in my mind whatsoever.

However, when I read the headline of the newspaper, doubts started creeping into my mind, jockeying for position, as I recalled what had happened, just over a month ago, during our holiday.

How close I had come to losing my husband.

And, possibly, my life.

All because of the man who was pictured beneath the headline on the front page.

I almost dropped the mug I was holding as the unwelcome reality of the situation sank in.

Above the photograph (which had clearly been sourced from an endless supply Dagbladet no doubt, had stored away in its archives), was the following sentence.

Pop Star Denies Involvement In Murder Plot.

Promptly setting the mug down on the table, I read the headline again, just to make sure that I wasn’t seeing things.

But...it was there, as plain as day.

Pop Star Denies Involvement In Murder Plot.

Now...this was unexpected.

The article accompanying the headline and photograph, was as follows.

Morten Hardanger, best known as lead singer of Tre Norske Nordmenn, having recently been detained at police headquarters amid rumours of being charged with conspiracy to murder his fiancee, Marsha Beslauer, has vehemently denied the charges brought against him. In a statement issued yesterday by his spokesperson, and bodyguard, Maxwell Calenstein, Herr Hardanger was ‘determined to clear his name’, and ‘prove his innocence’.

Commissioner Van Helsen, who is leading the investigation, was not available for comment,

According to sources, the hearing is rumoured to be scheduled for the end of this month.’

At this point, I threw down the newspaper in disgust.

Considering that Kris and I knew the truth about Morten Hardanger’s bizarre plan to rid himself of who he believed to be a traitorous fiancee, and that Marsha’s actions had prompted him to react in the way that he had, it seemed odd that, all of a sudden, he was retracting his confession.

I had an unpleasant feeling that, once again, Morten had some sinister motive as the driving force behind his retraction.

Instinct alone told me that.

It then occurred to me that, perhaps, Morten was attempting to claim that it was our word against his, and that, it was also possible, given our past associations with him, that, with my husband leading the investigation, Morten might have been trying to get him replaced by another officer.

An officer he could easily charm and manipulate.

All it would take would be for Morten to prove that Kris was jealous of him, and that this rivalry could only prejudice the outcome of his hearing.

But, I mused, resting my chin on my hand, gazing out of the kitchen window, there were also the testimonies of DI Sharkey and DCI Mulligan, who’d been with Kris at the hospital, and had also heard Clifford’s confession, and how Morten had blackmailed him into committing murder, to save the woman he loved.

Marsha Beslauer.

Surely, that was enough evidence to get Morten locked up in Staten for at least a few years.

Wasn’t it?

I had no idea what Morten was up to, but, I knew he was up to something.


3. Chapter Three


It was while I was trying to work out why he was doing this, that another, much more disturbing thought crossed my mind.

Thinking back to the day of the accident, two months ago, and Morten’s reaction to what had happened, and then matching it up with his seemingly ridiculous claim (which he’d made after our unexpected torrid tryst on the less than glamorous location of Blackpool beach), I wondered whether he’d been genuinely telling the truth.

That twins were genetically linked to his father’s side of the family.

At the time, before the accident, I’d been expecting twins, but, Sebastian, having conducted some tests, had stated outright that my husband was the father.

Now I was beginning to have serious doubts.

Was Morten messing with me?

Or, was Sebastian the person I should have been suspicious about?

Either way, I needed answers.

And, I knew that I had to talk to Sebastian.

Sooner, rather than later.

But, I didn’t want Kris to know of my intentions.

This was a problem only I could solve.

Alone.

Then, I had an idea.

Maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have to talk to Sebastian, who would naturally assume that I was questioning his professional judgement.

And, I didn’t want that.

Not after everything he’d done for Kris and I.

The previous owners of our house had converted the attic into an office space, which my husband had immediately taken over as his study, which already had all of the very latest technology installed, home computer, modem, printer, and, more importantly, internet access, complete with a wireless router.

Kris had also recently purchased a laptop, which he took to work with him.

He’d discovered that it was a useful piece of equipment, and was always trying to encourage me to get better acquainted with it. I actually had a basic understanding of how the internet worked, mostly through my husband’s impromptu technology tutorials.

Admittedly, I’d initially been bored senseless by them.

Looking after Jana and generally keeping the house in order usually took up, near enough, most of my day.

NowI was glad he’d shown me how to ‘surf the net’, to quote him directly.

With all of that knowledge readily available, literally, at my fingertips, it wouldn’t take long to look up anything I could find on Morten, and, possibly, his family, without needlessly contacting a busy medical professional like Sebastian, over something so seemingly trivial.

Unless I had good reason to.

Curiosity, as the age old expression went, killed the cat.

But, this particular cat wasn’t going to be put off by that.

Knowing the truth had suddenly become very important to me.

And, it was this need to know that made me vacate my present position, and instead, make my way upstairs to the third floor, and a whole world of knowledge that I could easily access, without raising any unwanted questions or suspicions from my husband.

Or...could I?


4. Chapter Four


I seated myself in front of the computer, and stared blankly at the monitor, with its screen saver image of, bizarrely, the comic strip characters of Spy Vs Spy, as featured in MAD magazine, standing back to back, the black and white spies each holding a bomb in their hands. I guessed that the white and black figures were supposed to represent the colours of the pieces used in chess, and the cartoon strip reflected the game in that their aim was to strategically outsmart each other.

I could see why it had appealed to Kris.

It served as a means of reducing the responsibility of his job, as Commissioner of Police, to a mere triviality or joke.

Although, given everything that had happened before and since his promotion, it was anything but a joke.

So, I decided to put all of that to the back of my mind, and thought more about how I was going to gain access to the information I so desperately needed.

Unfortunately, because I’d had no time to really pay attention when Kris was trying to engage me in the wonders of the internet, or, the ‘Information Superhighway’ as he’d called it, I realised that I had absolutely no idea what the password was.

So...I really had to think here.

Think about who had set it, who, in this instance, had been Kris.

And what mattered most to him.

Because, I reasoned, silently, wasn’t that the logic behind the choosing of passwords?

To select a name, place, anything that meant something to the person who had set it?

I sat back in the chair, and closed my eyes for a few moments, mentally emptying my mind. It had been a technique which had worked well for me in the past, whenever I was stressed out, or had a problem I desperately needed a solution for.

Then, it came to me.

But...surely my husband wouldn’t be that transparent.

That obvious.

Would he?

Taking a very deep breath, I typed in my name.

Incorrect Password’ flashed up on the computer screen in front of me.

I swore softly under my breath.

I tried again, this time, typing in ‘Jana’.

Again, the infuriating words, ‘Incorrect Password’, appeared on the screen.

Now, I had to admit that I was stumped, and yet, certain that I meant the world to Kris, as he did to me.

So, it stood to reason that, somehow, I would feature in his choice of password.

Suddenly, I had a brainwave.


5. Chapter Five


I had been right in thinking that my name would be the basis of the password, if not the password itself, but, I should have noticed it sooner.

That Kris never called me Hazel, unless I was in trouble, or whenever he was angry with me about something.

Which, thankfully, didn’t happen very often.

Smiling to myself, I typed in the name Kris always called me.

The words, ‘Incorrect Password’,vanished from the screen like magic, and, instead, I found myself looking at what my husband had been working on, before he’d locked the computer and set off for work.

Judging by the series of various addresses with ‘.com’ and ‘.net’, I guessed that he had been dealing with his emails, and that I was now privy to privileged, and potentially confidential, information.

Naturally, I respected Kris’s privacy, and, on occasion, he’d leave his email account open, and I would immediately log him out of his account, just to keep everything right, and to also prevent anyone from hacking into it.

Using the mouse, I was poised and prepared to click on the ‘log out’ option in the top right hand corner of the screen.

But...something caught my eye.

Something that made me change my mind.

There appeared to be a few emails in his inbox which had been sent by a woman, in response to emails that he’d sent to her address.

The woman’s name, assuming that it matched the name she’d used as her email address, was Karen Fellowes.

Motivated by an emotion that I couldn’t quite pin down (jealousy, perhaps?), I guided the mouse away from the ‘log out’ option, and towards the most recent entry in his inbox, from Karen Fellowes, whoever she was.

And, before I even knew what I was doing, I’d clicked on it, and the page opened before me.

Upon reading it, however, I was beginning to wish that I hadn’t.

Especially when I discovered what it contained.

I mean, I swore that I’d never be the kind of wife who went through her husband’s pockets, checked the texts on his mobile phone, or, Heaven forbid, read his emails, because, there was a name for women like that.

And, I was determined not to be one of those women, or to gain a reputation for being one.

But, like the proverbial cat, my curiosity eventually got the better of me.

At the top of the page, was the response to the email Kris had sent this mystery woman, which, I noticed, had yesterday’s date, but, in order to make sense of it, I knew that I had to read the original email.

The email my husband had sent.

Hating myself for doing so, but feeling that I had to put my mind at ease, I scrolled further down the page to read it.

And, it made me realise something.

Kris had been lying to me.


6. Chapter Six


His email to the mysterious Karen Fellowes was as follows.


I know that we’ve been e-mailing each other for a few days, just to touch base, that sort of thing, but, I really need your help and advice. You’ve helped me out in the past, in dealing with my anger issues, and it’s thanks to you, and our sessions, that I’ve been able to move on with my life, and find happiness...’


Well, well, well, I thought, this Karen Fellowes must have been some sort of counsellor or psychiatrist, who’d steered him through his rough patch with Cassandra, his first wife.

I remembered that his arch enemy, Thomas Berg, who had often goaded and provoked him, a long time ago now, had alluded to my husband’s anger management issues.

To his credit, Kris had, at least, sought out help to exorcise this demon, and,

he’d never laid a finger on me the whole time that we’d ever known each other.

And, I’d trusted him.

However, it was what I read next that truly troubled me.


You’ve probably read, in the press, about my recent marriage to Hazel Woodford. I know you were sceptical at first, concerning the age gap between us, but, I love her. I will always love her.

That said, however, her recent behaviour has made me so furious that, when I look at her, every day, it takes a supreme effort, on my part, not to pick her up and shake some goddamn sense into her, and ask her why she did it. Why she betrayed me...’


What had I done? What was my husband accusing me of? How had I betrayed him?

Desperate for answers, I continued reading what sounded like a character assassination written out in the form of an email,


Karen, my wife, my understanding, beautiful wife had, not long ago, been implicated in a blackmailing plot, and I came into possession of some negatives that I managed to get from an associate of the man who was trying to blackmail her. The blackmailer was Morten Hardanger, the lead singer of the band Tre Norske Nordmenn. Hazel thinks that I never looked at what the negatives contained, because I burned them, right in front of her. Only, that’s not the whole truth. Karen, I had to know what had been going on, what was on those negatives. So, I had a set of photographs developed from the negatives, before I destroyed them. I called in a favour and I got them processed quickly. They are hidden away, where they won’t be found...’


I felt sick, and not because of the morning sickness.

What had Kris’s reaction been to the photographs?

He’d led me to believe that he’d never looked at them.

But...I should have known that his infamous copper’s hunch would make him curious enough to look at them.

As it turned out, he’d done more than just look.

I read on.


When I saw them, I was shocked and disgusted as well as angry. Herr Hardanger is a notorious womaniser who’d been lusting after my wife ever since he laid eyes on her, and I could tell that he was determined to have her, in any way he could. We’d had an argument that morning, Hazel and I, and she stormed out in a rage. I can’t get over what happened between the two of them that morning. My wife, and him, having sex with each other, on a public beach. I could have killed them both, but, I didn’t want to lose her. I forgave Hazel because she wasn’t thinking straight, and, given that I hadn’t been honest with her, I felt that I deserved it. It was like some kind of bizarre revenge hit. But,

it’s been eating away at me like a vicious tumour, and I need some kind of closure. What should I do? Please get back to me.’


I exhaled deeply.

This was serious.

Very serious.

This was classic Kris Van Helsen.

Appealing to the nobler objective.

Understandably, I was angry that he hadn’t been telling me the truth about the negatives, but, I hadn’t been entirely blameless either.

It just made me realise that I was lucky to have a man like Kris for a husband, who could have, just as easily, let his anger get the better of him,instead of trying to work round it, as he was clearly attempting to do now, by sounding out his therapist.

I felt comforted by his assertion that he loved me, and that, he would always love me.

As I wanted to know what her response would be, I read her reply.


Kris, we’ve been down much darker roads than this one, and you made the right decision in consulting with me throughout the various challenges you’ve faced. What you really need to ask yourself, Kris, is whether you want to pretend that it never happened, and move on with your life, or, if you’d be better off talking things over with Hazel, and see if you can move on from there. If it’s ‘eating away at you like a vicious tumour’, and, if you’re finding it unbearable, another possible option might be to file for divorce...’


Not wanting to read any further, I directed the mouse towards the ‘log out’ option, and furiously clicked on it with a little more force than was necessary.

For me, divorce was not an option.

Kris and I loved each other too much to ever break up.

No, the third option the therapist had suggested was off the table.

I did wonder, though, about the, ‘much darker roads’ that my husband and his therapist had explored together.

It couldn’t have been an easy journey for him, given his difficult past.

And, this latest development hadn’t helped.


7. Chapter Seven


Then, I heard a key turning in the lock of the front door, and, looking at my watch, I noticed that it was lunch time.

Which could only mean one thing.

That, true to form, and being on time, Kris had arrived home for lunch.

(Which was usually a bowl of soup, or sandwiches. Sometimes both, if he was very hungry).

‘Haze...Haze? I’m home. Where are you?’ he called, as I heard his footsteps echoing in the hall.

Making a mental note to look up what I could on Morten later, I closed down the computer and went downstairs to greet my husband.

Taking care not to fall on the steep staircase leading down from the attic, I thought about the set of photographs that Kris had developed from the negatives, and where he might have hidden them.

Armed with all the information that I had found out through his emails, this also made me wonder if he’d held on to the real negatives as well, and had burned a reel of fake ones, as a means of lulling me into a false sense of security.

However, he’d mentioned to his therapist in his email, that wasn’t meant for my eyes, that he had indeed destroyed them.

So, I had to believe him.

All I had to work out now, were two things.

One, where he’d hidden the set of photographs he’d developed, so that I could see for myself, the full extent of the nightmare scenario that I had, in part, been responsible for.

And, two, whether it would be wise to inform him of my present situation.

My pregnancy.

I decided, at once, that the second thing could wait a little bit longer.

After all, there were some details I had to get straight on that matter, and I knew that Sebastian would be able to help me.

As for the first thing, Morten had only shown me two of the photographs from the reel of negatives he’d had, and, I felt that I needed to see the rest, to satisfy my own curiosity and see if I could find a way of convincing Kris that he was the man for me, despite the photographic evidence which may have suggested otherwise.

‘I’m upstairs Dearest!’ I called back, from the upper landing, where I was leaning over the handrail, allowing me the best view of the hall, where my gorgeous, if somewhat profound, husband, currently stood, with his briefcase in one hand, and the other pocketing his keys, which was no mean feat, as he had a newspaper tucked under his arm as well.

Presently, upon hearing my footsteps on the landing, Kris looked up at me.

But, instead of his usual, open, cheerful manner, I was met with that infamous, guarded expression that I had secretly nicknamed his ‘unreadable’ one.

Suddenly, I stopped, unsure as to how, or, more to the point, whether I should approach him.

However, he saved me the trouble, and merely regarded me in thoughtful silence for a few heart stopping moments, before turning, and going into the lounge.

Obviously, he must have had something on his mind.

Which was understandable, considering that he was one of the key players in the investigation into Morten’s involvement in the unfortunate, and tragic accidental murder of an innocent woman.

The fact that Morten was determined to retract his statement, and deny the truth regarding his part in the whole business was beyond our comprehension.

Even though Kris had overheard Mark’s confession to Dane, it wasn’t as if my husband hadn’t managed to extract a bona fide confession from Morten.

And, even if he had, Morten might have had his own reasons for denying all knowledge about it.

Knowing Kris of old, I was well aware of how persuasive and persistent he could be when it came to both his personal, and professional affairs.

So, I was fairly confident that Morten would no longer be a threat to us, or our relationship.

Well, apart from one little detail.

And, if Sebastian was right, that ‘one little detail’ would resolve itself in time.

And, my husband would never know.

It was only when I heard the unmistakable sound of ice cubes being carelessly tossed into a crystal glass, that I discovered I had cause for concern.

When I entered the lounge a few minutes later, my worst fears were confirmed, as I saw my husband lift the brandy filled decanter off the sideboard, before pouring a very large measure into his ice filled glass.

From this action alone, I could tell that something was bothering him.

Because, Kris rarely drank alcohol, and he never took it while he was ‘on duty’, to use his terminology.

Come to think of it, the only time I could ever recall him reaching for the ‘Emergency Brandy’ (again, his terminology), during the day, was when he’d received the news about Richard Svendson, his predecessor.

That had not been one of his better days.

(And, that statement could have been applied to both my husband and Richard Svendson).

So, Kris’s uncharacteristic silence, coupled with his turning to the ‘Emergency Brandy’, in the middle of the day, meant that he must have had a very bad day at the office.

Not wanting to disturb him, I sat down on the sofa, and silently observed him.

He then took his brandy glass, and, to my surprise, knocked back the large measure of brandy, as if it were a shot of Tequila (instead of a specially imported French cognac) and, noisily slammed the glass down on the sideboard.

I wasn’t exactly sure if I’d misheard him, but, it sounded like he’d sworn under his breath.

And, if it was the word I thought it was, it was one of the most offensive oaths in his native language.

Finally, Kris turned round to face me, looking, for all the world, like a man possessed.

I had to admit that, this was new to me.

This was a side of my husband that I’d never seen before.

I wondered about what could have possibly happened that morning, to make him behave in such a peculiar way.

Once he’d been given time to cool off, I was sure that he would explain the reason for his actions.

But...not before filling up his glass again, and repeating his earlier action of knocking back its entire contents in one go, and exhaling deeply.

Throughout this bizarre and unsettling display on my husband’s part, I kept my composure.

But, inwardly, I was worried.

And, the suspense was killing me.

What was going on?


8. Chapter Eight


At length, he refilled his glass for a third time.

Luckily, this time, Kris took a small sip of brandy, before sitting down beside me on the sofa.

At this point, I breathed an audible sigh of relief.

Now I was on familiar territory.

This was the Kris I knew and loved.

Briefly, he stared into his glass, then set it down on the glass coffee table in front of him.

Turning to face me, my apparently troubled husband sent me a meaningful look, which automatically put me on high alert.

Something was wrong.

‘Kris...what’s wrong?’ I asked, figuring that the direct approach was the best one to take.

In reply, Kris maintained this tense, uncomfortable silence, but, I noticed that his previously meaningful gaze had changed slightly, and he now appeared to look embarrassed, or, guilty.

But, I couldn’t be sure.

Maybe he was going to tell me about the photographs he’d kept, but I dismissed that theory as, whatever had happened, had taken place earlier that morning.

‘Haze,’ Kris started, pausing while he thought about what he’d say next, ‘I did an incredibly stupid thing this morning.’

I stared back at him, completely dumbfounded by his statement.

Granted, really intelligent people were capable of doing really idiotic things on occasion, that’s just how they were.

But, Kris was different.

He was astute enough to know that, in his current position, he had to keep himself in check, and, so far, he’d succeeded.

Therefore, slip ups on his part were exceptionally rare, and practically unheard of.

I couldn’t contain my surprise.

You, Kris? You’re far too self aware to ever make a mistake. It can’t be that bad.’ I contradicted.

He smiled slightly at this.

‘I would be very much inclined to say that you are far too generous with your compliments, Haze, but, I’m human, and therefore susceptible to making the odd mistake every now and then.’ Kris elaborated, reaching for his brandy glass, taking a large amount from it, cradling the half empty glass in his beautiful hands, regarding it with a thoughtful gaze.

‘So...what did you do, Dearest?’ I ventured, deciding to ditch the direct approach, and opting for a much more subtle line of questioning.

I could tell by my husband’s reluctance to talk, that he wouldn’t be easily drawn out. Having served as a police officer who’d earned his stripes, so to speak, questioning suspects and the like, he would know every trick in the book when it came to interrogation strategies.

So, I’d just have to wait for him to spill the beans in his own time.

Unexpectedly, though, instead of composing himself and preparing to unburden his mind, as he’d done so many times before, Kris kissed me lightly on my cheek, got up off the sofa, and turned to face me.

‘Haze, I’m sorry,’ he stated apologetically, ‘I’m not really ready to talk about this right now. I’ll see you tonight.’

And, with those parting words, he packed up his briefcase, lifted his keys from the coffee table, and left the room.

Leaving me to mull over what could possibly be going on in my husband’s head at that very moment, which was an impossible feat at best.

The sound of the front door closing, a few moments later, told me that my pensive husband had left the building (although, in a much more low key manner than the late Elvis Presley would have done) and, aside from Jana, I was alone.

Not a good position to be in, considering everything that was currently going around in my mind.

In addition to Kris refusing to confide in me, there was also my pregnancy to think about, and there were some blanks concerning that particular matter, that needed filling in.

Don’t get me wrong, deep down, I was certain that I was pregnant, basically, women know the signs, and it wasn’t as if I were new to all this, but, I needed details, namely, the father’s identity.

In a bizarre twist, I’d found myself confronted with the same parental (or, should that be paternal?) puzzle I’d experienced before the devastating news

I’d received about a month ago, while on holiday.

Ironically, it had proved to be one of the most stressful experiences of my life to date.

And, all because of two men.

The two men being my husband, and Morten Hardanger.

I hated using such a tired, hackneyed expression, but, it seemed appropriate.

Who’s the Daddy?

In order to get an answer to that all important question, there was only one person I could ask.

Sebastian.

And...that wasn’t the only thing I wanted to ask him.

Thinking back, it was Morten’s earlier claim, that, genetically, twins ran in his family.

While I knew Morten had a dubious track record, in relation to his past behaviour, I had to know for sure whether Sebastian had been telling the truth the evening he’d conducted the paternity test at the hospital, and informed Kris that he was the father of the twins I’d been expecting at the time.

But...what if that wasn’t true?

And...how would Kris take it?

By my own personal estimation, I could safely assume that he wouldn’t take the news well.

And, neither would I.

Also, would we ever be able to trust Sebastian again?

Stop it, I told myself. That kind of reasoning wasn’t going to do Kris, or me, any favours in this situation.

Before going off on some irrational, unnecessary tangent, I needed to know the facts.

And Sebastian was the only man who could help me.

Help us.

Then again, if Sebastian had been telling the truth, then I would almost certainly go gunning for Morten in much the same way that I’d gone for Cassandra the night the bridge outside the Fjellhus gave way, sending Cassandra, Kris’s evil ex wife, plummeting to her death.

Or...so I’d thought at the time.

Her miraculous resurrection and subsequent going into hiding had been the last thing Kris and I had expected.

Until she’d ambushed us, and held us captive, along with Kris’s parents, and Anoushka, at the Fjellhus.

What was that expression?

Criminals always returned to the scene of the crime.

And Cassandra had probably always believed, in that sick, twisted mind of

hers, that what had merely been a tragic accident, had been a deliberate attempt on her life, and that my motive was that I viewed her as a threat to my relationship with her ex husband.

On reflection, I mused, there may have been more than a grain of truth in her logic.

But...not much more than that.

Besides, I had been defending Kris, and it was just, well...unfortunate that the bridge had collapsed, sending her to Hell, even though, personally, I thought Hell was too good for the likes of her.

In fact, Satan would have cleared out his desk the moment Cassandra arrived, knowing that he wouldn’t have been a match for her.

However, Satan’s reprieve, if it could be called that, had been short lived.

Because, Cassandra entered his domain not long after her near death experience at the Fjellhus that night.

Well, he could only put off meeting her for so long.

I smiled to myself, thinking that, while having such sinful thoughts would undoubtedly mean a one way ticket to Hell when it was my turn to go, hopefully, God would see things for what they were, and know that I was generally good, and that the odd wicked thought didn’t make me a bad person.

Well, I was only human.

Although...I did have serious doubts as to whether Cassandra was of the same species.

Bringing myself back to the present, I knew that I had to tackle the matter at hand.

Which was to get my pregnancy officially confirmed by Sebastian.

And get some answers.


9. Chapter Nine


There were two ways of approaching him.

I could either turn up at the hospital unannounced, and wait until Sebastian was available for a consultation.

Or, I could phone him, and let him know that I was coming.

I had his mobile number and the number of the main switchboard at Ulleval hospital, where he worked, programmed into the contacts list of my mobile phone, at Kris’s insistence. After all that had gone before, he wasn’t taking any chances.

One advantage of turning up unannounced would be the element of surprise, and Sebastian would be caught off guard, and, if he hadn’t been telling the truth, he wouldn’t have enough time to come up with some kind of creative excuse.

But, if I turned up at the hospital without telling him beforehand, it was possible that he might not be on duty, and I’d have travelled all the way across town for nothing.

So...what could I do?

As Kris had returned to work earlier than he usually did, this gave me some extra time.

Time I was prepared to use wisely.

Then, I had an idea.

Remembering that I had the hospital’s switchboard number, it would be relatively easy to just phone it, and ask the receptionist manning the desk, if Sebastian was working today.

Nobody would have to know that it was Hazel Van Helsen, the police commissioner’s wife, who wanted to know his whereabouts.

That would raise all kinds of questions with the staff, not to mention gossip that would reach Kris’s ears, sooner or later.

And, if he were on duty, I could contact Sebastian on his mobile, when I arrived at the hospital,arrange a private meeting with him, and tell him my concerns.

The last thing I wanted was for Kris to find out about all this.

Besides, he had secrets of his own.

Secrets that I’d come across purely by chance.

But, I had to get my priorities right, and sort out my biggest problem first.

Once I had all the information I needed, I’d be able to see the way forward.

And...if Morten had been lying to me, there would undoubtedly be a very unpleasant conversation between us in the not too distant future.

I would make sure of it.

In the meantime, I had to get my head together, and carry out my intended plan of action.

But...there was someone else I needed onside.

Someone who would help me.

Someone I could trust.

Someone who’d be able to keep a secret.

Taking my mobile phone out of my pocket, I pressed the phone book icon on its screen, and selected the contact number I needed.

Fortunately, Kris’s younger sister, and, by marriage, my sister-in-law, Anoushka, was at the top of the list, as hers was the only contact number on my phone listed under ‘A’.

The only other problem that remained,was, how I was going to explain my predicament to her, without drawing her attention to the fact that, while she knew all about my first encounter with Morten, en route to Bergen (when I’d been unable to hold my drink, and how her older brother had foolishly put me up to it, for reasons of his own), there was a distinct possibility that she had absolutely no idea that I’d met up with him again, in Blackpool. Kris would have confided in his sister, to a certain extent as to why Morten had actually been there, because there would have been no getting out of that one.

As for the photographs, and the dangerous situation I’d been in, thanks to Morten, because he believed himself to be in love with me, well, maybe my husband had lied by omission, to avoid any speculation or gossip that might ruin his sterling reputation as Commissioner.

Which made perfect sense.

Kris was usually very open and honest, but, his secrecy, while honourable (because he was protecting his family, and those closest to him) might be perceived as hypocritical, by the nation’s press, as my husband had implemented new measures in an attempt to create a police force free from corruption.

A police force the nation could believe in.

Corruption always involved some element of secrecy.

So...how would it look if the one man leading the charge was experiencing problems in his private life, and that he and his new wife had been keeping secrets from each other?

It wouldn’t look good.

Kris would no longer be taken seriously by the media, no longer respected by his country, unable to set a good example for the law enforcement contingent, when he couldn’t even get his own house in order as far as his personal life, outside of work, was concerned.

And, by association, there was every chance that everything that had happened during our time away would come to light, and, as the devoted wife who’d cheated on a very good man, who had fame, looks, power, and money, I’d be made out to be as bad, if not worse, than Cassandra.

And...I couldn’t let that happen.

Not if there was something I could do, to save his reputation, and our marriage.

Then I realised that there was no point in trying to determine the course of future events when I didn’t know how things stood now.

Putting aside my worst case scenario thoughts for the time being, I selected Anoushka’s number, thinking that if I told her that I suspected I was pregnant, and that I needed to see Sebastian at the hospital, as soon as possible, to confirm my suspicions, then she wouldn’t question my motive for going there.

After all, Anoushka didn’t know the full story.

Did she?

After a few heart stopping moments, my sister-in-law answered on the third ring.

‘God Dag, Hazelnut! Hvordan har du det?’ she inquired cheerfully, addressing me by the quirky nickname she’d given me, when we’d first met.

‘I’m fine, Noush,’ I replied, in an equally upbeat tone of voice, trying not to let my inner anxiety show.

I really didn’t want to draw any unwanted attention to myself by giving away my true feelings.

Well, not before it was absolutely necessary.

I recalled another age old expression, something about, er, discretion being the greater part of valour.

Or...something like that.

‘Listen, Noush,’ I went on, before I completely lost my nerve, ‘I need to ask you if you’d be able to do me a massive favour. Something’s come up, and I don’t want to talk about it over the phone. Would you be able to come over and look after Jana for a while?’

There was a slight pause at the other end, before Anoushka responded to my request.

‘It just so happens, Hazelnut, that I was about to come over and see you, my favourite sister-in-law, and my adorable niece. My meeting with the board of directors at the museum about our latest proposed Exhibition finished much earlier than expected because there were some legal matters concerning some of the exhibits, that need to be ironed out, before Henrik and I can get the go ahead to use them, So, the board are going to meet with ‘their people’, and set another date, once everything has been resolved. To be honest, it should have been dealt with ages ago, Hazelnut, but, you know what lawyers are like.’ Anoushka surmised.

‘That’s great, Noush. I’ll see you when you get here, okay?’ I said, before ending the call.

Now that I knew that Anoushka was already on her way over, I could turn my attention to making my second phone call of the day.

And, I didn’t know what I was going to say to Sebastian about what was worrying me.

I was afraid that it would look like I was questioning his integrity and honesty, if I simply asked him outright, if he’d been, as my Dad would say, ‘economical with the truth,’ about the paternity test results.

Briefly, I cast my mind back to the night of the Exhibition, at the museum, when Sebastian had accidentally put Kris and I on the spot, because he’d wrongly assumed that I’d told my husband about my pregnancy.

For reasons best known to myself, I had wanted to pick the right moment to tell him.

Unfortunately, for me, there hadn’t actually been one.

And that had opened a whole can of worms between Kris and I, and, I genuinely thought our marriage was on the line because of it.

Thankfully, we’d managed to work things out on that score.

But...I didn’t know if I’d be able to say the same about what might occur as a result of my meeting with Sebastian.

In fact, I was afraid, really afraid that, instead of leaving things well alone, letting sleeping dogs lie, so to speak, that I’d end up causing even more trouble between us.

Looking at our lives to date, I didn’t want to be the cause of any more heartache for Kris, as I felt that he’d been through enough.


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