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Unseen Messages

Pepper Winters


  a survival romance novel


  New York Times Bestseller



  Copyright © 2016 Pepper Winters

  Published by Pepper Winters

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, including electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-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 person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it to the seller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.

  Published: Pepper Winters 2016: [email protected]

  Cover Design: by Kellie Dennis

  Editing by: Jenny Sims:


  “I should’ve listened, should’ve paid attention. The messages were there. Warning me. But I didn’t see and I paid the price...”

  Estelle Evermore morphed from nobody to somebody overnight.

  Galloway Oak put his past behind him and endeavoured to make his fortune using his trade.

  Two strangers.

  One plane.

  Multiple unseen messages.

  From sky to island, they find neither fame nor skills can save them. Stripped from society and left alone to survive the elements, the very task of staying alive outstrips all other needs.

  Until survival turns to desire.

  And desire turns to danger.


  Pepper Winters is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today International Bestseller.

  Her Dark Romance books include:

  Monsters in the Dark Trilogy

  Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark #1)

  Quintessentially Q (Monsters in the Dark #2)

  Twisted Together (Monsters in the Dark #3)

  Indebted Series

  Debt Inheritance (Indebted #1)

  First Debt (Indebted Series #2)

  Second Debt (Indebted Series #3)

  Third Debt (Indebted Series #4)

  Fourth Debt (Indebted Series #5)

  Final Debt (Indebted Series #6)

  Indebted Epilogue (Indebted Series #7)

  Her Grey Romance books include:


  Ruin & Rule (Pure Corruption MC #1)

  Sin & Suffer (Pure Corruption MC #2)

  Her Upcoming Releases include:

  2016: Je Suis a Toi (Monsters in the Dark Novella)

  2016: Super Secret Series

  2016: Indebted Beginnings (Indebted Series Prequel)

  Her Audio Books include:

  Monsters in the Dark Series (releasing early 2016)

  Indebted Series (releasing early 2016)

  Ruin & Rule / Sin & Suffer (Out now)

  Destroyed / Unseen Messages (releasing early 2016)

  To be the first to know of upcoming releases, please join Pepper’s Newsletter (she promises never to spam or annoy you.)

  Pepper's Newsletter

  Or follow her on her website

  Pepper Winters




  Note from Author


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-One

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Chapter Thirty-Four

  Chapter Thirty-Five

  Chapter Thirty-Six

  Chapter Thirty-Seven

  Chapter Thirty-Eight

  Chapter Thirty-Nine

  Chapter Forty

  Chapter Forty-One

  Chapter Forty-Two

  Chapter Forty-Three

  Chapter Forty-Four

  Chapter Forty-Five

  Chapter Forty-Six

  Chapter Forty-Seven

  Chapter Forty-Eight

  Chapter Forty-Nine

  Chapter Fifty

  Chapter Fifty-One

  Chapter Fifty-Two

  Chapter Fifty-Three

  Chapter Fifty-Four

  Chapter Fifty-Five

  Chapter Fifty-Six

  Chapter Fifty-Seven

  Chapter Fifty-Eight

  Chapter Fifty-Nine

  Chapter Sixty

  Chapter Sixty-One

  Chapter Sixty-Two

  Chapter Sixty-Three

  Chapter Sixty-Four

  Chapter Sixty-Five

  Chapter Sixty-Six

  Chapter Sixty-Seven

  Chapter Sixty-Eight

  Chapter Sixty-Nine

  Chapter Seventy

  Chapter Seventy-One

  Chapter Seventy-Two

  Chapter Seventy-Three

  Chapter Seventy-Four

  Chapter Seventy-Five

  Chapter Seventy-Six

  Chapter Seventy-Seven

  Chapter Seventy-Eight

  Chapter Seventy-Nine

  Chapter Eighty

  Chapter Eighty-One

  Chapter Eighty-Two

  Chapter Eighty-Three






  Note from Author

  The following novel is a blend of truth and fable. The messages truly happened; the outcome & subsequent fate did not.

  This story was inspired by my flight home in 2015. Each thing that happened, happened to me. Each issue and fear was my own experience, right down to the clothes Estelle wears, to what she shoves in her pocket.

  That’s complete truth.

  What happened afterward...

  I’ll let the characters tell you their tale.

  Once within a song, a music lover and a broken man fell from the sky.

  It changed their lives forever.



  E S T E L L E


  I’m a song wrapped in paper; a sonnet scribbled by a singer.

  Every composition takes a part of me until I’m nothing more than crotchets and quavers. My story began on paper on sheet music. A fresh page of bars and ledgers, governe
d by a sturdy treble clef. But my life ended changed. And the things of importance faded from superfluous to survival.

  I’m a writer. I’m a singer.

  Not anymore, I’m a survivor.

  Taken from the notepad of E.E.



  Either unnoticeable or obvious, it’s up to us to pay attention.

  I didn’t pay attention.

  Instinct tried to take notice; the world tried to prevent my downfall.

  I didn’t listen.

  I’ll forever wonder what would’ve happened if I had paid attention to those messages. Would I have survived? Would I have fallen in love? Would I have been happy?

  Then again, perhaps just as the messages exist, fate exists, too.

  And no matter what life path we choose, fate always has the final say.

  I didn’t listen, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t live.

  I lived and breathed and cried and laughed and existed in a totally different tale than the one I’d envisioned.

  Away from my home.

  Away from my family.

  Away from everything comfortable and familiar.

  But I wasn’t alone...

  I was with him.

  A stranger turned lover. An enemy turned friend.

  I was with him.

  And he became my entire universe.

  Chapter One


  E S T E L L E


  No one can truly soothe your fears, your tears, your Rolodex of emotions. No one can truly make it right, fix the wrong, or make your dreams come true. Only you.

  Only you, only you, only you.

  You’re the anchor in rough seas, the roof in churning storms. You’re the survivor in adversity.

  You are trust. You are home.

  Only you, only you, only you.

  Lyrics: ‘Only You’ Taken from the notepad of E.E.


  THE FIRST MESSAGE warning my life would end came ten minutes after the taxi dropped me off at the airport.

  I didn’t know it would be my last car ride. My last grumble over a fare. My last foray on a road, in a city, in a society surrounded by people and chaos and noise.

  My last taste of normalcy.

  Not that my life had been normal the past two years.

  Ever since my ‘supposedly’ best friend secretly uploaded an original song of mine, I’d gone from a simple retail assistant to an internet sensation.

  The whirlwind career change was both a good and bad thing.

  Good because I could now afford the things I’d never dared dream of, brought security to my family (not that I had a family anymore), and formed a nest egg for retirement. And bad because such wonder came at great cost and I feared I didn’t have enough in which to pay it.

  After two months on the road—on a self-funded and mostly organised by ‘supposedly best friend’ singing tour, I was a masticated piece of chewing gum with no flavour left to give.

  Not that I wasn’t grateful. I was. So, so, so grateful. Meeting fans, singing until my throat bled, signing postcards and hastily printed posters—it had been surreal.

  I couldn’t get my head around how quickly my world switched from helping rich housewives spend their husband’s money on unneeded fashion to blinking in spotlights and performing secrets (pieces of my heart and soul bound in lyrics) that people seemed to connect to. They connected enough to want me to sing for them. Me. An utter nobody suddenly traded the safety of non-recognition for high-risk fame.

  I could handle sharing myself and my songs. I could handle chipping away at my secrets and giving them to others to glue their patch-worked souls. What I couldn’t handle were the endless airports and suitcases. The constant noise and chatter and calamity of living on tour.

  I never wanted to stay in another hotel again. I craved space and silence with the passion of a million wishes.

  Madeline didn’t understand how hard being in the limelight was for me. Even working in retail (while I decided what to do with my life now I was alone) had been a struggle: the constant dealing with people, the endless questions, the draining nature of mingling. Add loud music, screaming fans, and countless demands for social events, encores, and media obligations, I was wrung dry. I was worse than chewing gum. I was the grime left over from a well-trodden shoe.

  I’m shoeless.

  My fingers itched to write the line down. The beginning of a new sonnet wisped into creation. I deliberated over dropping my suitcase and grabbing my notepad. But it was a single sentence. I’d remember it.


  Besides, I had something much more important to think about.

  It’s over now.

  My lips turned from sad frown to happy anticipation.

  I wasn’t unappreciative for the rapid notoriety and vocal success I’d been given. But I couldn’t change who I was at heart.

  I was a homebody.

  A girl who kept to herself, preferred to curl up with her flat-faced Persian than attend a party, and had a hard time making small talk with strangers, which meant singledom wasn’t a choice but a by-product of being an introvert. Add a recent funeral for the three most important people in my life and...well, the outside world was as enjoyed as much as bug spray was to a butterfly.

  Crossing the threshold into the airport terminal, I forcibly removed all thoughts of drudgery and schedules and relaxed for the first time in seventy-two days.

  This was it.

  This had been my only requirement which Madeline (said best friend and slave driver) didn’t understand. No matter we’d been friends for almost two decades, she still didn’t ‘get me.’ She didn’t understand my pathological need to be alone after months of belonging to other people.

  I’d agreed to eight singing venues; I’d bowed to her every whim of newspaper interviews, blogger podcasts, and high-society power dinners. But I’d stood firm on two things.

  Number one: I refused to share a hotel room with her. I loved her but after monopolising my time eighteen hours a day, I needed an empty space. It was my recharge station after others drained me dry.

  Number two: I wanted to travel back on my own.


  Just me.

  For seventy-two days, she’d tried to convince me to amend my itinerary and celebrate with her in Bora Bora. In her mind, the money pouring in from endorsements and a newly signed record deal meant we should live large. In my mind, I should save every penny, because, as fast as luck had shined on me, it could eclipse me just as quickly.

  Look at how swiftly death had visited when supposed perfection reigned.

  I hadn’t budged—no matter how hard she moaned—and here I was.

  A single person in a whitewash of crowds and mayhem.

  Slamming to a stop, I narrowly avoided a bulldozer conveniently dressed as a man. He charged past, sweaty and swearing, obviously late for his flight.

  Not me.

  I had plenty of time to meander through security, grab a coffee, read my book, and then slip quietly onto the plane to unwind on my journey home.

  I sighed in bliss.

  Feeling much happier, I dragged my suitcase to the Fiji Airways check-in desk. They’d been the best value in ticket prices when I’d booked from Sydney three months ago. The aircraft had been clean and staff attentive. And the fact that the service had been half-full made me happy. Fingers crossed they’d be quiet on the way back, too.

  There wasn’t a line, which made my day even brighter.

  “Hello, Miss?” The elderly gentleman waved me toward the first class check-in, even though I wasn’t first class. “I can check you in over here if you’d like.”

  I’m going home.

  I smiled as genuine joy and relaxation fluttered. Carting my heavy suitcase to his counter, I fumbled in my handbag for my documentation. “Thank you.”

  He grinned, tapping a pen on the keyboard. �
��Don’t mention it. Happens I don’t like being bored and you’re the first one to check in. I’m assuming you’re on the service flying to Nadi?”

  I managed to yank my passport and ticket from my overstuffed handbag without turfing out every other item and handed it over. “That’s right.”

  The man eyed my paperwork. “Going onward to Sydney from there?”


  His blue eyes warmed. “Been there myself. Great place.”

  “Yes, it is.”

  Small talk...once again, I sucked at it.

  I’d adored every minute of meeting my agent and recording manager in New York—doing my best to chat about important things. And now, knowing I was only two plane rides away from my own bed made my willingness to engage with strangers more bearable.

  “I’m dying to get back to the Northern Beaches. That’s where I’m from.”

  The guy beamed, treating me like his new best friend. “It’s a special existence having the ocean so close. I live in Venice Beach and there’s something about waking up and seeing an empty horizon that helps balance city life.” Pointing at the scales, he said, “If you can put your luggage there, I’ll get you sorted.”

  I placed my weighty suitcase—full of gifts from aspiring songwriters and appreciative listeners—onto the scales. At the same time, I subtly shoved my carry-on behind the counter where he wouldn’t see. Most of the heavier stuff was in there.

  Glancing at the scales, his eyes crinkled. “Glad to see you’re under the maximum weight.”

  “Me too.” I laughed softly.

  That had been another argument with Madi. She couldn’t understand why, after the success of the tour, I hadn’t upgraded my economy class ticket for business. She’d shaken her head as if I were a freak for not spending my new wealth. But I couldn’t. It didn’t seem real. If I was honest, it didn’t feel like I’d earned it.

  I’d made it doing something I loved. Weren’t you supposed to scrimp and slave in a job you hated to save up as much as I’d made in the past year?

  Either way, I wouldn’t waste a penny. Economy class was good enough for me—just like it had been for the past twenty-five years of my life.

  Tapping on his keyboard, Mark, according to his nametag, said, “Your bag will go all the way through to Sydney, so you don’t have to worry about it in Fiji.”

  “Great. That’s good to know.”

  He focused on his computer screen. His smile slowly morphed into confusion. “Eh, are you sure you have the right day?”