Final Call (Paperback)
Autumn Rain is accustomed to using her ability to read imprints to solve seemingly unsolvable cases. Yet when she goes searching for the sister of a friend, she is embroiled in the make-believe world of live theater, where it's difficult to tell reality from playacting and where everyone appears to have something to hide.
Autumn must team up again with Detective Shannon Martin to learn the truth about and eight-year-old mystery that involves a new murder and more missing actors. Working so closely with the compelling detective further complicates their uncertain relationship and tests her loyalty to her once-boyfriend Jake Ryan.
When her sister, Tawnia, becomes involved in the case, Autumn finds herself in a deadly struggle to save them both from facing their own final call.
- Size: 6 x 9
- Pages: 262
- Released: 02/2012
About the Author
Rachel Ann Nunes (pronounced noon-sh) learned to read when she was four, beginning a lifelong fascination with the written word. She began writing in the seventh grade and is now the author of more than thirty published books, including the popular Ariana series and the award-winning picture book Daughter of a King.
Rachel and her husband, TJ, have seven children. She loves camping with her family, traveling, meeting new people, and, of course, writing. She writes Monday through Friday in her home office, taking frequent breaks to take care of kids or go swimming with them.
Rachel loves hearing from her readers. You can write to her at Rachel@RachelAnnNunes.com. To enjoy her monthly newsletter or to sign up to hear about new releases, visit her website, www.RachelAnnNunes.com.
When I’d first learned I had a twin, I tried to track down my birth mother’s family, but so far the only clue I had was from a former adoption agency worker, BervaDee Mendenhal, who had placed my mother with Winter and Summer Rain during her pregnancy and who later took my sister, Tawnia, to her adoptive family in Texas. Though BervaDee and Dr. Loveridge later became romantically involved, he never confessed his secret, and she hadn’t known Kendall had delivered twins until we appeared on her doorstep seeking our identity. After Dr. Loveridge’s death, BervaDee found a letter in his belongings from Kendall meant for her child but opted not to forward it to Tawnia, the one baby she was aware of, because it clearly stated that Kendall had changed her mind and wanted her child to be raised by her foster family, Winter and Summer Rain, and not the couple she’d contracted with in Texas.
In the end, Kendall received her wish, as I had been adopted by Summer and Winter. The contract with the other adoptive parents in Texas had also been honored by Tawnia’s placement. Only Tawnia and I had lost out on each other in the deal, though I wouldn’t have given up my life with Summer or Winter for anything, and Tawnia felt the same about her parents.
At first I was so grateful to have found Tawnia that nothing else really mattered. Tawnia had been the one who struggled more with anger and resentment about the separation, and I had to help her leave the past alone and focus on our future. Yet in the past year since my talent emerged, I found myself more and more curious about my biological family. Now it was I who struggled, while Tawnia expended her energy in caring for her husband and new baby daughter.
“Autumn?” Jake asked.
I wanted to rush out and question the woman, but Liam was staring rather desperately at the items he’d brought. “Can you ask her to wait?” I said. “I really do want to talk to her.”
“Sure.” Jake looked again at the table and at Liam. “I’ll be right back.”
I was going to tell him he didn’t have to return because I knew he had customers, but the truth is, I was relieved. I nodded, and he squeezed my shoulder before leaving.
“If you gotta go talk to her, I can wait,” Liam said, which was nice of him, since he was practically oozing worry. I can’t read people the way I can the imprints they leave, but I didn’t need any talent to read him.
“It’s okay.” I’d waited thirty-three years—what was a few more minutes? Besides, I really liked Liam, and his presence here told me he had nowhere else to turn.
I focused my attention on the worktable and stretched out my hands. My fingers tingled in anticipation.
Wait. Had Jake called the woman Suzy? In the letter from my birth mother, Suzy was the name of one of the owners of the café where she’d worked during her early pregnancy. I’d searched for the café, hoping the owners knew something about my biological family, but without luck. It had to be the same woman.
Concentrate, I told myself. I needed my wits about me to remember what I experienced. Imprints always repeated themselves in exactly the same way, so if I paid attention, I wouldn’t have to reread something in order to tell Liam about it. That was a good thing because reading imprints—at least negative ones—was exhausting.
I dropped my eyes to the script, which read For the Love of Juliet! in large lettering. This seemed the most likely to have imprints, or it would if she’d cared about the part. No reason for more delay. I picked it up and the imprint began.
Excitement. Rosemary/I had gotten the part, and now all she/I needed to do was to impress the right people and she/I’d be on my way to Broadway. No more second-rate theater companies or staying in rundown motel rooms crammed with other actors. My chance at last! I was going someplace. My parents would finally understand my dream. And Liam would be proud. A wave of love and longing for my brother filled me.
“What is it?” Liam asked anxiously.
I shook my head, indicating that he should wait. Another imprint was coming on the heels of the other, a slightly older one, as I always experienced the most recent imprint first.
Anger. Resentment. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to do my best, regardless. I deserved this chance. No way would I throw the audition because of a little threat.
The imprint faded, followed by others that were much older. At least four years. Apparently they recycled these plays, but the previous actors’ emotions hadn’t been forceful enough to give me an image. No matter. They wouldn’t have anything to do with Rosemary’s disappearance now.
I took my hands away before the imprints could replay. If imprints were really bad, I could get stuck in a loop and wouldn’t be able to let go. This one had been mild by comparison, and Rosemary’s love for Liam had actually strengthened me.
Jake had reappeared in the room and was staring at me anxiously, ready, I knew, to hand me something with a positive imprint if it looked like I should need it. I found his concern both touching and annoying, which made me feel sad. I hadn’t always resented him for knowing me so well. Or had I?
“Rosemary did get the part three days ago,” I said, “and was really excited about it. She thought it was her big break.”
Liam frowned. “Must be the connections then, because that place was kind of a dive. Not even as respectable-looking as the other theater place she was at.”
That was odd, but I put it in the back of my mind to think about later. “There was an early imprint from last week that was strange,” I continued. “Someone threatened her about auditioning.”
“Yes. I saw a sheet torn out of a small notebook in her hand and felt how upset she was about it, but I didn’t see what it said or receive any indication of who had sent it. She was determined to go through with the audition despite the threat.”
“Maybe she tucked it in here.” He picked up the script and flipped through it without finding anything. “Guess that was too much to hope for.”
“Maybe she didn’t keep it. Or it’s wherever she’s staying.”
“A threat could mean she’s in trouble.”
I hated to admit it, but he was right. “I’m sorry.”
“What about the rest?”
I touched the square makeup bag. Nothing but a feeling of hurry. Opening it, I felt the same hurry tinged with anticipation on the contents. I shook my head. Nothing from the gloves, as I’d expected, and the see-through mini purse with hair accessories radiated hurry and a hint of frustration. Only the hairbrush was left.
Brushes were often good imprint-holders. Not because people cared about them so much but because they had all sorts of strong emotions while using them and staring into mirrors. Thoughts about their appearances, the people they were going out with, the people they were angry with. This brush was no different.
He’ll hate this, but I don’t care! Rosemary/I stared into the mirror as I dragged the brush through my long brown hair. Who does he think he is, anyway? A mental image of a man with dark hair, but his face was in shadow, the way I’d last seen him. A noise and someone coming into the room. The briefest glimpse of a man’s face. Turning. Sudden darkness.
Had she let the brush drop, cutting off the imprint? Or had something happened to her? I’d felt no pain, but the cutoff seemed too abrupt for her to have simply let the brush go. One thing for sure, whoever the “he” was, she’d felt so strongly about him that I’d been swept up immediately into the imprint. There’d been no separation between Rosemary and me. I always saw things as though I was experiencing them, but only with the strongest feelings did I temporarily forget who I was. It was always strange, even if it happened only for a few seconds.
More imprints followed on the brush—a dissatisfaction with skin tone, frustration at a blemish, annoyance with another actress, anticipation of a performance. Nothing unusually important and already fading. I withdrew my hand.
“Well?” Eagerness filled Liam’s voice.
I shook my head. “She was really angry at someone two days ago—Thursday afternoon—but the imprint cut off. I can’t tell why. She could have dropped the brush.”
“That was the day after she got the part.” He frowned. “What should I do?”
“In light of the threat, I think you’d better go to the police.”
“What if they can’t find her? What if they think she just took off again?”
I felt for him. I mean really felt. Not the normal emotion I usually experienced for him but also the love Rosemary had left imprinted on the script. It had become my memory, and unless I wanted to consciously fight against it, I would keep feeling that way for him. I didn’t bother fighting the emotion. They say once you help someone, you become responsible for them. Maybe that had something to do with my feelings now.
“Tell you what,” I said. “You talk to the police—I’ll give you the name of someone—and I’ll go to the theater company this evening and see if I can find out more information.” If anything violent had happened there, I’d probably be able to pick it up. “Tell me where they are.”
He pulled out his cell phone. “I have the address here. Do you have anything to write it on?”
“Text it to me.” I gave him the number, feeling a bit guilty that already I was thinking not about his sister but of the woman I hoped was waiting out in the shop for me. Not that I didn’t plan on helping him. I would—as soon as I talked to this Suzy. “And if you have a picture of Rosemary, text that to me, too. It’ll come in handy when I ask people about her.” Besides, I’d never actually met her in person, though I almost felt I knew her because of Liam, and it would be nice to see a picture up close.
Jake handed me my antique rings, and I automatically put them on, feeling the comforting buzz of positive emotions. Strange how this extra sense was normal to me now, like seeing or breathing. While it was often a curse, I wouldn’t want to live without it now.
I wrote down Shannon’s name and number for Liam, promising to let him know if I found anything at the theater. He gave me a weak smile as I walked him out into the store. “Thanks, Autumn. I didn’t know what else to do.”
“It’ll be okay. We’ll find her.”
Thera eyed Liam as we emerged, but when she spoke it was to Jake. “You’ve got a lot of customers. I don’t think Randa can deal with them all, and I’ve been too busy myself to get over there.”
Jake looked through the double doors that connected our stores for convenience. Winter and I had put the doors in when Winter had owned the Herb Shoppe. “I’ll go with you tonight,” Jake said. “Okay?”
“Sure. If you don’t have anything else to do.” I didn’t mind his company. He was a good friend to have in a questionable location. With his dreadlocks and nice physique, he looked tough, even though he was the most gentle man I’d known besides Winter.
He smiled and squeezed my arm. My stomach flopped a bit at the smile, which was why I was still confused about my feelings for him and for Shannon. Any way I looked at it, I loved Jake.
Tearing my eyes away from his retreating figure, I looked over my customers, finally coming to rest on the stocky woman standing near my antique music boxes. Her shoulder-length blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail, the hair thick enough for the style to be attractive, though she had to be pushing sixty and by rights should have thinner hair or at least outgrown that style. Her jeans and fitted T-shirt under her ski jacket were casual, but her confident bearing screamed self-assurance, as though she might be wearing a suit or designer outfit. She was paying more attention to us than the merchandise, so I figured she must be Suzy.
She met my gaze with a smile and came toward me. “Are you Autumn?” she asked, holding out her hand.
I nodded. “You’re looking for Kendall?”
“Yes. I’m Suzy. Kendall lived with us for a bit in Hayesville before she came here. I was hoping to talk to the couple she was placed with during her pregnancy. I thought maybe they’d kept in touch with her after she left. I’ve always wondered what she ended up doing.” Suzy stared at me with an unusual intentness that was unsettling.
“They’re no longer here,” I said, stumbling uncharacteristically over the words. “Summer died of breast cancer a long time ago, and Winter died last year in the bridge collapse. I’m their daughter.”
Suzy’s brow furrowed. “I’m so sorry to hear it. I didn’t know them at all, but the two times I did meet them, they seemed nice. Kendall wrote me a few times, and she spoke a lot about them. Good things. Excuse me if I seem to be staring, but you look a bit like Kendall. It’s kind of strange. Like going back in time. But I don’t understand how—”
“I’m Kendall’s biological daughter. I was adopted.”
Suzy’s smile returned. “That explains a lot. I thought she’d decided on a couple from out of state, but it’s great that you’re here. Have you had any contact with your birth mother?”
There was nothing for it but to tell her that Kendall, too, was dead. But I was glad not to have to explain it alone. The connection I always felt with my sister, the invisible line that seemed to link us and that I’d only ever felt with Winter and Summer, was becoming thick in my chest. I couldn’t explain where in my chest or what caused it, but I envisioned this link as a cord between us, and feeling it this way meant she was nearby. Tawnia wasn’t due to pick me up for dinner for a few hours, so Jake had probably called her.
I tried to be irritated that he’d been so presumptuous, but how could you fault a man like that? He was always looking out for me. The smothering was all in my imagination.
Sure enough, Tawnia was approaching the door to my shop now, her daughter, Destiny Emma Winn, in her arms. I’d won the battle against a boring name for my niece, but in the three months since her birth, her parents mostly called her Emma, a name I didn’t have anything against, but it seemed odd to give a child a first name and then not use it, so I called her Destiny. Tawnia didn’t mind—a good thing since it was the baby’s name.
Suzy followed my gaze. “I can wait if you need to help that customer.”
“She’s not a customer.” I watched Suzy from the corner of my eye as Tawnia approached and saw her do the familiar double-take. Since losing weight after her pregnancy, Tawnia and I looked more alike than ever. She had medium brown hair, a slim build, freckles on her narrow face and upturned nose, and her eyes were large and oval, set slightly too far apart for perfect beauty. She kept her hair long, and I opted for short, with red highlights on the top, but our identical facial structure was unmistakable. Not to mention the color of our eyes.
“I don’t understand,” Suzy murmured.
“You wouldn’t be the first.” I greeted Tawnia by taking Destiny out of her arms. “I have someone I want you to meet, but let’s go to the back room to talk.”
Destiny cuddled into me. Besides her mother, she loved me best, even before her dad, which wasn’t too surprising since biologically I was practically her mother. Tawnia and I must feel similar to her. Of course it helped that I spent every moment I could with the baby.
Suzy kept looking between us. As we passed the counter, Thera gave me a wink, amusement and curiosity on her face. “I’ll be in the back, if you need me,” I said unnecessarily. We both ignored the fact that she needed my help now.
After Tawnia and Suzy had shed their coats in the back room, I invited Suzy to sit in the easy chair while I took the table and Tawnia chose the folding chair. I tucked my feet under me, Indian style, and laid the baby in the cradle formed by my legs before making the introductions, gratified at the surprised expressions on their faces. For Suzy’s benefit, I also explained our separate adoptions and about Kendall’s death shortly after our birth.
By the time I finished, tears stood out in Suzy’s eyes. “That poor thing. She was never given a fair shake. First to be assaulted in her own house and get kicked out by her mother. Then to separate her babies . . . Oh, that poor, poor girl.”
A tight feeling squeezed my chest, but I wouldn’t let that get in the way of what I wanted to know. “What about her mother? She left us a note that mentioned her mother was willing to take her back if she chose adoption. She claimed to have stopped drinking. Do you know anything about that? Or where she lives?”
Suzy shook her head. “Not really. I mean, I saw her mother when she came in. I heard the fight—everyone in the café did, even though they took it outside—but Kendall didn’t want to put her baby up for adoption. It was only later when she realized she couldn’t do it on her own and that it wasn’t fair for her baby that she changed her mind. She was only fifteen, you know.”
I stroked Destiny’s soft arm, conquering the urge to squeeze her to my chest.
Tawnia nodded. “We searched for your café,” she told Suzy, “but we didn’t know where Kendall was from, except that she had to get to Portland by bus or that sometimes you drove her. We’d hoped to find Kendall’s mother, but the last name we had—Eaton—didn’t go far. There were too many listings, and without a location, it was impossible. The agency wouldn’t give us an address. We were lucky to get the name from a former worker.”
“Kendall told us her last name was Drexler. Not that it mattered; we paid her in cash.”
Had Kendall purposely given the adoption people the wrong name, or were either of the names actually hers?
“So how did they allow a minor to give up a baby for adoption?” Tawnia asked. Between us, she was always the more detailed. “Wouldn’t they have needed her mother’s signature?”
“She became a ward of the state after her mom kicked her out,” Suzy said with a shrug. “They weren’t as rigorous about those things back then. Not like now.” She paused. “My, this chair sure is comfortable.”
I laughed. “Wait until you try to get out. So, did you ever notice Kendall having any odd sort of . . . talent?” I could feel Tawnia’s eyes on me and wondered if she feared I’d spill her secret. She didn’t need to worry. I wouldn’t tell Suzy mine, either, despite how good she’d been to our birth mother.
“I’m not sure what you mean. She was a capable worker. She learned all the meals and drinks within a few days. She was friendly, though shy around men—especially those who tried to flirt. She spent a lot of time reading under the tree behind the café. But I knew her for only a few months. I regret to say we weren’t too close.”
So if Kendall had a strange gift, she’d kept it secret.
“Close enough,” I said. “You gave her a place to work and saw that she was taken care of. That’s more than her family did.”
“What made you look her up now?” Tawnia asked. I’d been wondering the same thing.
Suzy shrugged. “My husband died a few years ago, and I sold the café. Too much trouble to run alone at my age. I’ve spent a lot of time visiting our children, and my daughter moved here last year. That’s why I’m in town now, visiting my grandchildren. I drove by the other day and recognized the Herb Shoppe. I started wondering about Kendall. I really liked her. She was a good kid, and that’s why I tried to help her. I knew Dr. Loveridge, and I figured Portland was far enough away from her mother that she could start fresh. I’m just sorry things didn’t work out better for her.”
There was nothing we could say to that. Kendall had been a victim, but she was also a hero to us.
“Are your eyes a different color?” Suzy broke the silence, looking from me to Tawnia.
Heterochromia was what she meant. Our right eyes are hazel, the lefts blue, a hereditary condition in our case, though we didn’t know who gave it to us. Before meeting me, Tawnia had used a contact in her left eye to make both eyes hazel.
“Did Kendall have eyes like ours?” Tawnia asked.
Suzy shook her head. “No.”
So far we hadn’t learned anything. “Is there something you can tell us about Kendall that might help us find her mother?”
“I dropped Kendall off at her house once. They lived in Hayesville, too, on the other side of town. I don’t know the exact house, but I can pinpoint the area more or less, if you have a map. That is, if they haven’t torn it all down. It was bad thirty years ago. I’ve been living in Salem the past few years since I sold the café, so I really don’t know.”
“I can show you a map,” Tawnia said, rising. “Autumn has Internet access on her computer. If you’ll come out here with me—?”
I left them to it. Tawnia was the computer whiz, doing much of her design work from her computer. She’d gone part time since the baby and now mostly worked from home.
I looked down at Destiny, who’d fallen asleep in my lap, and thought about the young girl who’d given me life. She’d taken the harder, selfless path, and for us it had worked out. I was grateful.
I adjusted my position on the table, my hand coming against the script that Liam must have left. Rosemary’s emotions flooded me again. I sighed. Whatever Tawnia and Suzy Olsen came up with would have to wait until tomorrow. Tonight I had a theater to visit and a missing woman to find.
For the Love of Juliet! I wondered if the play was related to the original Romeo and Juliet. If so, I sure hoped Liam’s sister didn’t face as tragic a fate as the character in Shakespeare’s play.
by Evelyn - reviewed on March 14, 2013
I love this series of books, and this one is no exception! I enjoy the characters, and the underlying mystery in their family dynamics, as well as the twists and turns in the current adventures. I can't wait for more - I hope the series goes on and on...
by Customer - reviewed on March 09, 2012
I could not finish it since it was soo similar to the others in this series. Sorry
by Marianne - reviewed on February 21, 2012
I’m not going to tell you the synopsis of this book. You can read the publisher’s take below. But I will tell you I loved it. I have read the two previous books in this series (Shades of Gray and Imprints) and enjoyed them immensely. Sometimes, as a series progresses, the characters lose steam and likeability. This was not this case. Autumn and Tawnia are vibrant and deep. They aren’t surface characters where their emotions and actions are predictable and “cookie-cutter”. This book is going on my favorites list. I stayed up all night to finish this book. I just had to know what happened! If reading were a drug...this would be the ultimate fix.
Keep them coming
by Erin - reviewed on March 22, 2012
This has been a fun series to read. I was nervous at first about the paranormal twist to the books, but it has been a fun addition to the stories. I really hope more books are coming. I can't wait to learn more about her biological family.
Kick Your Shoes Off and Enjoy!
by susan - reviewed on March 09, 2012
Imagine that if you touched an object that had been held during an emotional moment you could not just feel that emotion, but sometimes, depending on the degree of how powerful that emotion was--love, hate, contentment, jealousy, peace, anger, etc.--you actually relived the moment as if it were you. Confused? Well suppose there was a glass and when you touched the glass you suddenly saw yourself stirring a white powder into the lemonade that was now in the glass. And your thoughts were suddenly those of the person who had done that very thing at an earlier time--thoughts of murder. Autumn Rain's abilities to feel "imprints" have both tormented her and driven her. In the two previous books, "Imprints" and "Shades of Gray" she was able to use her abilities to help solve murders--to where she now consults with the police department. However, this time it's complicated. The imprints are on props that a theater company has used for years. Reality is getting confused with acting. The story is filled with conflicts. With one girl murdered and another missing, both in the same acting company, and within hours of each other, logic says the two would be connected. However, none of the suspects (that seem to multiply every hour) appear to have motive for both. She finds herself torn between protecting her family and helping a friend--hopefully in time to save a life. And then there is the personal confusion Autumn needs to sort out--whether she wants to be with the devastatingly good-looking man that is her best friend, or the police detective whose eyes unnerve her. I enjoyed "Final Call." It is fast paced and keeps the reader guessing, though I found myself wishing Autumn would just kiss the right guy already! I liked Autumn's quirky preference to go barefoot. I worried about her choice of a black sweatshirt over cargo pants, but I reasoned that she must be adorable to have two men competing for her. Because it was intriguing, as were the characters, I read this book much quicker than usual.