Just when Dana thinks she has found true love, her mother drops a bombshell that turns her world upside down. Now she must find a way to quench a love that was never supposed to happen.
After twenty-five years, Lorraine finds her missing son—just not in the way she’d expected—and is forced to reveal the plethora of family secrets that has remained hidden for decades.
Dana delves into her grandfather’s past to uncover the story of this one man’s destructive lifestyle, and how it ultimately led to the unraveling of the entire family line. At the same time, she must piece together the mystery surrounding herself and her brother—two siblings deliberately kept apart so they would never find each other.
With three generations of women affected, will Dana get to meet the man responsible and solve the mystery?
Dana sat stiffly in the passenger seat while Shaun drove them the short distance to Umdloti Beach on Saturday afternoon. She couldn’t stop her hands from shaking and her palms were sweaty. Umdloti Beach seemed like the perfect place to break the news—their special place to get away from the pressures of life and kindle their growing love.
But today would be different. They wouldn’t be leaving the confines of the parking lot this time, but could only watch other happy couples from a distance, laughing, playing, and frolicking in the waves or along the shore. Dana feared the process was going to be more heart-wrenching than she’d expected. More than anything else, it was the physical attraction that scared her, not knowing whether she’d just be able to turn it off. Was there something wrong with her that she still wrestled with those sorts of feelings? Her whole world had suddenly gone crazy.
Shaun knew her well enough to give her space when she needed it, but today she could see his trepidation as they drove the route in silence. They turned into the parking lot and pulled up alongside a wooden railing, the sound of seagulls squawking overhead and children playing on the beach. It was one-thirty, but already the sky was becoming overcast and turning an eerie gray, and a hint of thunder rumbled in the distance. Shaun started to open the door on his side and she touched his arm.
“We can’t . . . We have to talk here.”
The apprehension on his face broke her heart. “Honey, just tell me what’s going on. You’re starting to freak me out.”
“There’s something I have to tell you.” Her voice cracked. Lord help me, this is so hard. She drew a steadying breath and eased it out slowly, blinking back angry tears.
He took her hand and started weaving his fingers through hers. She pulled back.
“No, we can’t do that; it’s wrong.” How had she been able to hold back the flood of tears until now?
“Okay, honey, you’re worrying me. Whatever it is, we can work through it together.” His tone was tender but commanding. “It’s obviously about your mom because this all started last night.”
Dana gave a slow nod, desperate to stall him, wanting so badly to prolong the inevitable.
Action, intrigue, and deception make up this intensely human story.
Naïve Emily Garrett discovers that her safe, secure upbringing has been a devastating lie. Snatched on the day she was born, apparently by the same people she calls Mom and Dad, she is forced to learn the reasons for their desperate actions.
Ifetayo Ayassou finally finds the courage to escape her hellish existence as a trafficking victim and, coupled with the difficult healing process she must endure, she begins a search for the child she was forced to give away eighteen years ago.
Two women plunged into the underworld of human trafficking, both in search of freedom and truth…and each other. Will their paths collide?
Her plan was set in motion. Lea would take her usual long walk to the market as if nothing was different. But then instead of returning to the house at the end of the day, she’d go in the opposite direction. Destination Togo—wherever that might be.
A wave of terrifying exhilaration washed over Lea as she stepped out of her mistress’s house for the last time. A collection of painful memories was contained under that roof, each room telling its own horrific story. The idea of living alone on the street was beyond frightening. She’d done the unthinkable, and while the idea made her panic she had a plan, up to a point.
But, she was free.
For the first time in her life she had a purpose—to find her mother and see for herself if the woman still remembered her or cared about her. Until then, Lea would have to watch her back and find a way to survive. She bit back tears, too afraid to let them fall. For now, the sweet taste of freedom would be her main concern, and it was more gratifying than she could ever have imagined.
The congested marketplace drew her in with its roadside bukas, each stall taunting her with its enticing smells of smoked fish and snacks sizzling in palm oil. Despite the comfort of the familiar surroundings, Lea felt unusually restless today, second-guessing her decision for the hundredth time. She was still in familiar territory and it wasn’t too late to turn back. She took comfort in the busyness of the jostling vendors and the colorful stalls, a sight she knew so well. It would be tempting to return to a life that was at least predictable, even if it was horrendous. No! She had made up her mind. Perhaps there was still a trace of the spirited girl she once was, after all.
The unforgiving Nigerian sun sliced through a thick, gray blanket of cloud, enveloping the village in a shroud of dreary smog. Lea made sure she’d sold about half her quota of loaves, before immersing herself in the crowd and taking her first steps of freedom. The sense of exhilaration mingled with pure terror, but she had to keep going. Freedom must be foremost in her mind. She tried to picture her mother’s face, even though the memory was hazy. Perhaps that would keep her calm and help her to press on. She thought of Mother’s arms around her and wondered if she’d ever see her again. Lea swatted away angry tears. This was no time for pipe dreams; she had to be strong.
Soon Lea was in unfamiliar territory. The crowds thinned and she was alone in a labyrinth of back streets with old, neglected buildings and overgrown gardens. Obeche trees drooped overhead, pinning her with dense overgrowth. She felt claustrophobic and trapped in this strange, lonely world. She kept going, the early stage of blisters searing her swollen feet. She rounded a corner and was thankful for the bustling activity up ahead. An elderly man buzzed past on a whining scooter and a pair of stray dogs chased each other across the street. A family of six sat on the side of the road sharing an afternoon meal. Lea had never been this far down the end of town and she started to panic. It was too late to turn back now. In a few hours it would be dark and Alina would know she wasn’t coming back. She determined in herself that she could not—would not—get caught.
As the crowds thickened, she clutched the baskets carrying the remaining loaves of bread. They were her only possessions, apart from the threadbare notebook wedged deep in her waistband. She kept checking to make sure it hadn’t fallen out along the way, and walked until her feet ached.
Before long, buildings cast elongated shadows across the narrow street and darkness wrapped its arms around her. Lea’s anxiety multiplied as her mind wandered to Auntie Alina. Did the woman know yet that she wasn’t coming back? The thought choked her with fear.
Praise for Finding Freedom…
- I found this book while searching for something to read. I was actually in the middle of another book but thought I would read the beginning of this book to see if it would interest me. I could not put the book down once I started and ended up reading into the wee hours of the next morning. My heart goes out to the victims described in Sue’s book. Be ready to have an emotional rollercoaster ride. I would love to read more from Sue Searles!!!! (H. Smith)
- This is a story that I recommend that everyone reads as I couldn’t put this book down. This is one of those books that will forever change the way I think of abuse and living conditions in other parts of the world to include human trafficking and slavery – that still goes on today! This story really makes me analyze and appreciate my own life and gives me some motivation to reach out and try to help others – even more than I already do. As an avid reader of at least five books a week, this is the first time I felt compelled to write a review. I highly recommend this book! (Leah Raeon)
- Sad but true story of child trafficking, children being used as sex slaves children being abducted from one country and send to another. Please read this book, this is the story of so many young children who are being enslaved. (DeeDon)
- This is a book that is difficult if not impossible to put down! You find yourself grieving with and rooting for Ifetayo and also wanting Emily to get with it! Emily is a very sheltered young woman who doesn’t really understand what human trafficking means. Because of this, she is quite put out with her parents for rescuing her (kidnapping her) from human traffickers and wants to return to Nigeria to “find herself”. Along the way the author includes quite a bit of information about human trafficking, etc. and it is appalling that this is such a grave concern still today. One piece from the book that I really liked was the following “If you look at a tapestry and turn it over, the back looks like a mess — you’ll see little knots and bits of frayed wool and strange colours splashed all over the place. Then turn it over and it becomes a masterpiece. And that is how God the Father sees you. You are His masterpiece…” The story is well written and all the threads are woven together in the end — I thought the ending was wonderful! I believe that this book showed that despite the darkness of what people can do to other people (especially women and children) — God uses other people to bring the enslaved out of darkness into the light. (J. Kingon)
- Kudos to Sue Searles for taking the reader on a beautifully written roller coaster ride. This author weaved these two parallel tales together seamlessly. We were taken on Emily’s ride and Ifetayo’s journey with such detail. As one looking for my own birth mother I was able to feel the pain in this book. I will never look at another working child the same after learning about child trafficking. This is one of those books I couldn’t put down and a book all should read. (Rosa L. Ferguson)
- This book was well written. It kept your interest and left you wanting to read more. (Bymari Bartleyon)
Ali Duncan advertises for two tenants to share her upmarket apartment, but a sheltered upbringing leaves her unprepared for the weird and interesting housemates she’s about to take on.
When one turns out to be a quirky nonconformist, the other a Gothic misfit, she has to rely on her own defective judgment to find her way. A confusing burglary coincides with a series of cryptic notes she receives, leading her to suspect everybody from her best friend, to the house cleaner, to the love of her life.
But, there’s one dodgy suspect who stands out from the rest. Ali must uncover the secret surrounding the strange and sinister Lucia James, but will the truth be more than she can handle?
I sucked in a deep breath and held it, then wiped sweaty palms on my trousers. I’d only arrived home ten minutes ago and hadn’t relaxed enough to freshen up or change out of my work clothes.
Get a grip, Ali. I shouldn’t be so nervous—this was my apartment, my advertisement. So I was in charge.
It took me a little over eight seconds before I snapped myself out of my trance. If Lucia James had seemed distant and sociably inept on the phone, meeting her in person only solidified my impression of her.
Pin-straight hair, dyed jet black with purple streaks, hovered just above a sorry pair of sagging shoulders. A thick, black fringe fell across an insipidly white face, barely hiding brown eyes bordered top and bottom with a heavy band of eyeliner. Black lipstick sapped the girl of any natural color and made her look deathly pale. She clutched a brown leather bag across her chest, and a black leather jacket and studded jeans rounded off the look. The girl bit her lip and dipped her chin, her nervousness palpable.
I closed my mouth when I realized I’d been staring. “Um, sorry…come on in.”
I stepped aside to let Lucia enter. Her brown eyes darted furtively around the spacious lounge, then focused on an invisible speck on the hardwood floor.
“So, do you live nearby?” My eyes remained on her as I asked the question and tried to size her up.
“No, I’m not from around here. I don’t know many people in Umhlanga yet.” A shoulder raised two inches, then went back down.
“Where are you from?” I studied her, trying to draw the girl out of whatever spell she was in.
“Eastern Cape.” Her eyes remained averted, the brown leather bag clutched like a lifeline across her chest. The long fringe hung like a thick, black curtain over her right eye, and I had to resist the urge to reach out and pull it aside.
“So, what brings you to Durban?” I honestly wasn’t trying to sound pushy, just curious. Besides, it was a reasonable question, not so? When Lucia didn’t reply, I crossed the room and closed the front door to give her time to answer. Just as I turned back to face her, she jerked her head away and averted her eyes back to the floor. I felt my frustration levels start to rise. So Lucia could quite easily look at me, as long as I wasn’t looking back at the same time?
I held my palms together and tried to shake off the girl’s unsettling presence. “All right, so…the rent is fourteen grand, split three ways. With water and lights, say an extra grand, we can round it off at five grand each. How does that sound?”
Lucia bit her lip hard and her eyes darted around the room briefly. “Sure. Whatever.”
“Rent’s due by the first of each month.” I tried to keep it upbeat, to sound much friendlier than I felt. “I’d like to check references before I make a final decision.” I gave Lucia a pressing look, one intended to communicate that I wasn’t too convinced about her yet. And in case she hadn’t been looking, I’d made sure she heard the threat in my tone.
“That’s no problem, you don’t have to worry about me not paying or nothing.” My warning didn’t seem to rattle her one bit.
I drew in a deep breath and gathered my thoughts. “Right, so we have a domestic worker who comes in once a week. Name is Thandi.”
Lucia met my eyes for the first time since she’d stepped foot in the place. “A-a cleaning lady?” There was measured trepidation in her voice.
“M-hmm. That’s okay, right? With all three of us girls working—”
She waved her hand. “That’s okay, I’ll clean my own room.” Lucia returned her grip to the bag and her gaze to the floor.
I narrowed my eyes at her, unsure how to respond. For somebody trying to gain approval, she was being surly and aloof, if not downright rude. “Well, if you’re sure. Just let me know if you change your mind.”
She gave a quick nod, obviously just to appease me.
Lucia’s tone was as colorless as her complexion, and lacked any kind of verve or energy whatsoever. The girl was as insipid as a jellyfish, with a personality to match.
Praise for Lucia’s Web…
Lucia’s Web is a suspenseful, electrifying tale complete with a relentless, edgy plot and irresistible characters; thrilling to the end. (Stephanie Lasley, The Kindle Book Review)
This is the second book of Sue Searles that I have read, the first being Finding Freedom, which I loved immensely. I started reading Lucia’s Web feeling not sure what to expect, as the book has such an interesting cover picture and title. I love that Sue Searles has a way of making the reader connect with all the characters that she introduces in the book, as she is gifted with using adjectives to describe each person and their unique personalities. Throughout the book I was wondering how it was going to end and had to restrain myself from going to the back page. I was not disappointed with the ending, as in true Sue Searles fashion she wove the ending of the book masterfully. I never wanted Lucia’s Web to end. I am EAGERLY awaiting her next masterpiece. Thank you Sue for taking the time to entertain your readers in a most delightful way!
Lucia’s Web by upcoming Bestselling author Sue Searles is one that I could not put down. With each page turn I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what came next. This story will keep you guessing and wondering. Beautifully written and deeply suspenseful plot takes you on many twists and turns. Searles’ characters are well developed with deep and unique personalities that make you feel as if you know them personally. Her use of descriptive settings and scenery draws the reader in and welcomes them into the story. Lucia’s Web is a book you will not want to miss. Lucia’s Web starts off with heroine Ali Duncan advertising for two tenants to share her flat with. The two she chooses are as different as night and day. One is quiet and gothic in nature and the other is outgoing and enjoys having fun. As the story continues, Ali becomes uncomfortable with gothic roomie Lucia and questions many of the strange occurrences begin to take place. Ali wonders what Lucia’s’ motives are until things begin to unfold and she learns the truth of just who and what Lucia really is.
My other books, currently in the editing phase…
Dream Chasers (Dream Series part 2)
Season of Dreams (Dream Series part 3)
Encounters (3 short stories)
An Adventure with Little John and the Coaspies (part 1)
An Adventure with Little John and the Coaspies (part 2)