About the Book
A picture, they say, is worth a thousand word. But Joanna Holbrook-Sutherland senses that a photograph of a homeless woman she sees at an exhibit in a trendy London gallery can change her life–if only she can locate the woman, whose haunting face has been also haunting her dreams.
With a compulsiveness that amazes her family and friends and frightens herself, Jo assembles the crumbs of information that leads her to a frigid park in Whitechapel and to Rocky, a young woman with fearful secrets. But the hardest part is still ahead, as Jo deals with Rocky’s debilitating physical and mental consequences of living on the street for five years and with the horrors that drove Rocky there in the first place.
“I first read this story online years ago and have read it several times since. I loved it then, just as much as I love it now. This is a story that gripped me from the first page right through to it’s climatic ending. I was so pleased to see this re-published as I feel this is one story that new readers to lesfic deserve to have the pleasure of reading.” — Terry’s Lesfic Reviews
THE GALLERY DOORS opened at ten, and Jo stood beside her mother to welcome the invited throng into the fashionable venue.
The Gallery had been Lord Collingford’s gift to his wife when she complained of boredom. She had hosted exhibitions, parties, and fashion shows at the venue, and it had become one of the fashionable places to be seen in.
By noon, the small gallery was heaving with the young, famous, and hangers on.
Jo turned and was relieved to see Harry pushing her way toward her through the crowd. She smiled at Harry’s tousled blonde head and wide grin.
“Harry, I’m so glad you made it.” She bent and embraced Harry—Harriet James—the daughter of her father’s business partner.
“They wouldn’t let me in,” Harry said. “You didn’t leave my name on the door.”
Jo shook her head. “I forgot. Four hours sleep.”
“Yeah, I saw you leave. Good night?” Harry asked, grinning.
Jo put an arm across the Harry’s shoulders. “You know me,” she whispered into her ear. “Come on, let’s get a drink.”
They managed to find a quiet corner with a small sofa, and both collapsed onto it with a glass of Bucks fizz each.
“So what’s this all about?” Harry asked, indicating the milling crowd with her glass.
“Mother’s latest discovery.” Jo looked through the crowd. “There.” She pointed to a tall, willowy man deep in conversation with two women. “That’s Charles De Burgh. She thinks he’s the next David Bailey or something.”
“So what does he photograph?”
Jo shook her head. “No idea.”
Harry choked on her Bucks fizz. Jo leaned against the arm of the sofa to keep her drink out of range of Harry’s cough.
“You’ve been here for two hours, and you haven’t looked at the bloody pictures?” Harry asked.
“Come on, let’s go see.” Harry stood and hauled Jo to her feet.
Joanna went to the first set of pictures. “Oh . . . my . . . God.”
“What?” Harry walked up behind her.
“I can’t believe my mother dragged me out of a perfectly good bed on a Saturday morning to look at pictures of,” Jo peered at the black-and-white pictures, then straightened up and turned to Harry, “vagrants.”
“I guess it’s what they call art.” Harry peered at a picture.
“No, art is the body that I left back on my futon.”
“That was as far as we got.”
“And you left her there?”
“Not my fault if she lost the ability to walk.” Jo was pleased with herself. “I have a reputation to uphold.”
Harry chuckled, and they enjoyed a moment of silence as they studied the photos.
Jo moved ahead, turned a corner, and looked at a set of pictures on another wall.
Harry caught up with her. “I really don’t see the attraction of a picture that shows some guy sitting in a pool of vomit.” She looked up at Jo. “Jo?”
Jo stared transfixed at a photo of a young woman, no more than a girl. She had some sort of scarf about her neck, partially covering her chin. The lips were full, but unsmiling. The girl’s eyes stared unrelentingly from the picture, almost defiantly. Blonde hair fell haphazardly across her forehead, just reaching her eyelids.
“Makes you realise how lucky we are,” Harry said without looking up. “Jo?”
Joanna turned to her. Harry’s lips were moving, but she couldn’t hear the words. Then Harry’s face seemed to grow smaller and smaller, and blackness encroached from the edge of her vision.
Jo’s knees buckled, and she felt Harry grab her arm and topple to the ground with her.
Jo’s head fell back again something, Harry’s arm maybe. Everything was swimming too much in front her eyes. She gazed up at Harry as the black returned. “It’s her.”