Fearless - Fern Michaels


Lubbock, Texas


Anna Campbell accepted the friend request from Laura Jones, a common enough name. Possibly, she was a friend of a friend, or someone who followed her vlog on YouTube, The Simple Life.

Accepting the request, she then clicked on the name to see if there were photos to put a face to, possibly reminding her who Laura Jones was.

She read through the woman’s Facebook bio, then once more. This was a mistake. It had to be. She drew in a deep breath, slowly letting the air of uncertainty pass through her dry lips. Chewing on her bottom lip, she pointed the cursor to the photo tab. Afraid, yet knowing she couldn’t stop now, she double-clicked on the link. Heart racing, she viewed the images. One by one, still shots of the woman’s smiling face grinned back at her. She clicked on one photo, realizing it had been taken just a few hours ago.

This whole thing was impossible, yet she couldn’t deny what she was seeing.

She clicked through the pictures, each image tearing apart the life that she was trying to put back together. She stared at the images again.

No way this could be real. Photoshopped, most likely. Yes, it had to be. Maybe one of her viewers had decided to play a cruel joke on her after all the publicity she had received lately. With over 6 million subscribers, it’s highly likely that some were haters. The vlogging community was like any other in that respect. People disagreed. Respectfully. Or not.

Clicking the white back arrow, she viewed the pictures a third time. With a few clicks of her mouse, she was able to enlarge the photos.

No. This was not some crazy subscriber trying to rattle her.

This was the face of a woman she’d seen on Daniel’s phone. The photos that were discovered in Renée’s luggage after the fire. Dark brown eyes, thin lips pressed together with deep grooves furrowing above her upper lip. Dull gray short hair, choppy, as if it had been cropped with blunt scissors, the ends uneven. In one of the photos, she smiled, showing protruding teeth yellowed from years of nicotine. Using her thumb and index fingers to enlarge the picture, Anna saw old acne scars and knew this was not Laura Jones. She closed the window, brought up the search engine, typing in her name, then hit PHOTOS. Almost 2 million hits according to the info displayed on her screen. She scrolled through several of the blue hyperlinks and clicked on the first page. Yet none of the Laura Joneses she saw matched the face in the photographs.

Anna pulled the Facebook pictures back up. In all, there were seven, each a different pose but with the same background, the same pale pink blouse. If this were a joke, someone had gone to great lengths. She recognized the Sun ’N Fun home and garden show, the charity fund-raiser she herself had been at earlier that night. It raised money for Habitat for Humanity, an organization near and dear to her heart. An auction open to the public. Laura Jones had obviously also attended it, given the background in the photos. Anna tried to recall if she’d seen her, or possibly spoken to her. Almost three thousand people had attended, and while she knew it was impossible for her to have spoken with that many people one-on-one, those whom she did speak to usually left an impression on her one way or another.

Searching her memory, she guessed she’d spoken to thirty or forty people, mostly women, but there had been a few men. She would have remembered if one in particular stood out. If they had, she would have mentioned it to Mandy during the drive on the way home, as they’d had a short chat. They’d gotten into this habit a few weeks after the accident.

Her days were long and the nights sometimes longer when Christina had one of her rough nights dealing with being cooped up in the den for so long. Though they weren’t as frequent as they’d been after the accident, she still had them once in a while. Long gone were the days when Christina would spend the evenings by herself in her room, reading Harry Potter books and texting with her best friend, Tiffany. It absolutely enraged Anna when she thought about what had happened. She wanted to kill the son of a bitch who had done this to her, but she knew these were idle daydreams and nothing more. Even so,