Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie

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Who is Tallis Steelyard?

Today we welcome Tallis Steelyard to our blog. He has kindly come along with another of his lovely stories.

frank_frazetta_thesorcerer

 

This image is a painting by the great Frank Frazetta, an artist my son adores and tries to emulate, and suits the story very well.

Over to you, Tallis!

Officers and gentlemen?

In a world of bitterness and evil where gross unpleasantness is rife, it is good to talk occasionally about the decent people one meets. Thus I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of my patrons. Now anyone would think that all my patrons are ladies, and to be fair a considerable majority of them are. But there are still gentlemen who feel the finer arts are worthy of support.
Two of them, Sir Stee and Sir Regald, lived together in a pleasant enough house on the edge of Dilbrook. They lived alone save for their
cook/housekeeper Solia and a handful of other staff who didn’t live in.
As patrons they knew what they wanted. Sir Stee liked something with a good steady rhythm and a strong rhyming pattern. He also felt that poems should commemorate stirring actions. I confess that whilst I could write what he liked, after a while, you run out of convincing rhymes for ‘gore’ or ‘slaughter.’
Sir Regald, on the other hand, liked something more lyrical. He appreciated the melody within the language, and for him, rhyme and rhythm should be subordinated to this. As you can imagine, it’s not an easy combination to achieve, and to be fair, they tended to accept this.
Solia on the other hand, I frankly adored. She was almost a surrogate aunt to me. The gentlemen kept a good table, and when you dined there with them, you dined heartily and well. Solia would always send me off with ‘a little something for your Shena.’ This little something would feed the pair of us for a couple of days.
What always irritated me over the years was the gossip that seemed to
circulate about this household. There were all sorts of unpleasant rumours, including one that claimed that the two gentlemen remained in the same house because of their common passion for Solia.
Now that the last of that household has taken their final journey I can
reveal the truth. They were three siblings. Their mother was a chambermaid who fell in love with a common soldier. Not even a horseman, but an infantryman. He marched south before they realised she was pregnant and with no sign of him returning it was arranged that the child, a boy she called Stee, would be adopted by a childless family nearby. The errant father returned, and when it was explained to him what had happened, he swore he would marry his beloved. Alas, there was trouble in the south, and he was swept away to the wars, leaving another child to be born. This boy, called Regald, was adopted by a second local family. When the father returned he
married the mother on the day he got back, got his discharge and became a cobbler. Their third child, a girl called Solia was born a year later. All three children knew of their siblings and to some extent grew up together.
The boys went for soldiers and not long after Solia, sharing their love of adventure, followed them. For many years they worked in Partann, signing on with this company or that company, or working directly for petty warlords.
This saw the brothers acting as sergeants and their sister in great demand
because of her command of logistics.
One story worth telling came from when the three of them were travelling in Partann, having finished one contract and whilst they were looking for the next. They arrived at a small village to find it in uproar. It seems that the minions of a local mage had arrived in the village to kidnap one of the village maidens and after something of an affray had taken not merely the girl, but also a young man who had been passing through and had got caught up in the fight. The three siblings put their heads together and in return for board and lodging, promised to see what they could so.
Now, in the best traditions of storytelling, I will transport you to the
dungeon in the tower of the mage. The tower was a simple affair with four stories above ground and a cellar which acted as a dungeon. Each storey was a single large round room. The cellar was illuminated by lanterns hung around the walls, with a burning brazier near a long work table. In the very centre of the room was a pit and over the pit dangled the maiden and the young man. The pit was of unknown depth, and from above could have been mistaken for a narrow opening to some fiery hell. Both the two potential victims were stark naked and hanging upside down, with the mage busily writing cabalistic symbols across their naked bodies in blue ink. A score of
the mage’s lickspittle henchmen clustered around, watching the process with unnerving attention.
From upstairs came a hammering sound, four sharp blows. A senior minion made its twisted way to the Mage.
“There is someone outside Master, they demand entrance.”
“Ignore them.”
There was another flurry of heavy blows.
“They are hammering on the door Master.”
The mage impatiently gestured around him. “Then take these upstairs. Then when the intruders enter, slay them.”
The senior minion made his limping way up the spiral staircase that ran around the outside of the tower. He was followed by a shambling crowd of twisted and misshapen creatures, clutching a selection of implements having blades, points, or both. Once the malformed brutes had left, the mage started marking out two pentangles on the floor. One enclosed the pit, the other the brazier next to the workbench. From above came another flurry of heavy blows.
The mage cast a handful of powder onto the brazier. The flames flickered green and purple. From the pit came a yammering and howling. The mage checked his pentangles. From above came an explosion.
Above the two brothers had exploded the petard which they’d fastened to the door. Shattered fragments of wood had scythed through the deformed guardians waiting for them so that when Sir Stee and Sir Regald burst into the hallway, they found no-one in any fit state to dispute their passage. With Solia close behind them, they headed down the stairs. The mage was waiting.
Tackling a prepared mage in his own workroom is not a task for the faint-hearted, but the siblings were also prepared. Even as the mage raised his hand, Sir Stee hurled a piece of the door at him. Instinctively the mage flinched, and the missile disintegrated into grey powder. As Sir Stee dropped down from the stairs onto the floor, Sir Regald hurled his piece of timber and then sprinted down the stairs. The mage was forced to duck the timber to conserve his powers and then rose to face the two soldiers. He raised both hands and started chanting. At this point, a heavy steel crossbow bolt, fired by Solia, tore through his chest and buried itself in the wall behind him.
The mage was hurled back by the blow, and Sir Regald leapt after him and struck off his head with his sword. Then, fastidiously and at sword point, he dropped the still chanting head into the brazier and waited until the flames had entirely consumed it.
After that, it was purely a matter of freeing the prisoners and letting the local peasantry loot the tower. Then they cleansed the tower with flame, burning it so that it collapsed, burying the dungeon.
Looking back, the three siblings never told this story to anybody. I often wonder how many more of their deeds have been forgotten. As it is, I can recount this one only because I was the young man dangling naked upside down over the pit with esoteric symbols scrawled across my buttocks in blue ink.
I am reliably informed that it took months for them to wear off.

At this point, it might be an idea to mention the publishing of another
collection of stories from Tallis Steelyard. Some have been on the blog, but some are completely new. Now you can acquire more of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. This work includes the unexpurgated account of the Mudfold and Cockeren feud, the dangers inherent in light music, and how Tallis first met and wooed Shena.

It is available from

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-harsh-winter-stories-ebook/dp/B071LH1THB

and

https://www.amazon.com/Tallis-Steelyard-harsh-winter-stories-ebook/dp/B071LH1THB

Tallis has come to the attention of a world not entirely ready for him through the actions of a mutual friend, one Benor Dorfinngil. Benor is a friend and one-time tenant of the Steelyards, and it is my unworthy self who has been fated to chronicle some at least of Benor’s career. (This is career as in ‘the coach careered downhill’)

It was when I sent some of my labours to Mike Rose-Steel he noted a snatch of verse from Tallis and toyed with it.

The results, which represent the sole example of Tallis’s work published in our time can be found at

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lambent-Dreams-Jim-Webster-ebook/dp/B01278WPWI

lambent-dreams-cover5

Further tales, including details of how they met may be found in ‘Flotsam or Jetsam.’

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flotsam-Jetsam-Jim-Webster-ebook/dp/B011VHS21Y

Obviously any lover of literature or even art in general will insist on acquiring copies, so I suggest you purchase now to avoid disappointment.

At this point Tallis has graciously allowed me, that is, Jim Webster, to mention some of my own work. Admittedly there is too many books to mention without trespassing too far on the generosity of mine host. Still if you wish to read the story in which Tallis is first introduced to modern literature I would recommend ‘Flotsam or Jetsam’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jim-Webster/e/B009UT450I/

 

 


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An excerpt from The Last Life…

ll-x-3

 

Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.

Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.

With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.

Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.

Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?

Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…

 

Excerpt from The Last Life

 Detective Inspector David Snow looked down at the unconscious woman on the hospital bed in front of him, remembering the state of her when she had arrived, a few hours ago. They had done a good job of cleaning her up. She lay still, like a religious statue in a church, her pale skin the colour of finest marble. The gentle rise and fall of her breasts the only indication life still clung to her body.

So different to the wrinkled, dirt-ingrained body he had looked at earlier, of an old tramp, found dead in the hospital car park, bundled into a moth-eaten army coat and wedged under a car. What was originally thought to be a simple case of neglect, had taken on a more sinister tone when they discovered the tramps head had been cut off and shoved down the back of the old boy’s trousers.

Snow wondered what an old tramp could possibly have done to warrant such treatment, being well known around the hospital and described as a harmless old soul. The tenuous link to the woman in front of him indicated she might not be safe and would need his protection.

They knew very little about her, and he wondered again what kind of woman she was.  Now the dirt had been removed, she looked healthy and well cared for, which ruled out homelessness. A reasonably attractive, middle-aged woman, bordering on the ordinary, apart from her curly hair which would appear to have a life of its own, as even now it crept across the pillow like the roots of a willow.

 

Alone with the unconscious woman, Snow had an excellent opportunity to study her without feeling self-conscious about doing it. In all the years since his wife’s death, he missed looking intimately at a woman. He usually tried to do it surreptitiously to avoid the risk of being branded a pervert, or worse. He liked to imagine what kind of person they were, if they were kind or cruel, bossy or timid, but for once, there were no clues on this woman’s face. A slight determination in the set of her jaw gave him pause for thought.

According to Michael Barratt, the man who brought her here, her name was Kate Devereau, an artist, none of which gave him any clues as to her character. In the beginning, Snow had instinctively thought she might be the murderer in this case, due to the amount of blood found in the cottage.  Michael Barratt had found her unconscious in this cottage on the outskirts of Guildford. He said he knew her, but had no idea why she had found it necessary to be there. As an estate agent, he had been arranging to have the cottage ready for Miss Devereau to rent.

It was all a little mysterious, compounded by the fact Michael Barratt looked as if he had been barbecued. His clothes were burned black in places, apart from his jacket, which was clean and several sizes too small and obviously didn’t belong to him. The back of his head and hands were raw and blistered, suggesting there were probably more extensive burns to his body.

The estate agent had offered no explanation for his own condition but stubbornly kept asking after Kate, which might possibly indicate an emotional involvement. He had no answer for what had happened to her, except to say her health had not been good for a while. If it hadn’t been for all the blood, it would have seemed innocent enough.

So why didn’t Snow believe him?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Amazon Link for The Ninth Life  myBook.to/TheNinthLife

Amazon Link for The Last Life  myBook.to/TheLastLife

 

 

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Secrets…

Another one of my favourite books from Anita, and this review shows I’m not the only one who thinks so…

Amazon Review:

4.0 out of 5 stars A strong and powerful story, very well told

By Rivergirl

I’ve been thinking about this review for a few days. I finished Secrets a short while ago and I’ve been trying decide how to express what I felt about it, but now my heading really says it all. This is a strong and powerful story, very well told. The characters are well-drawn and empathic; you have to like and sympathise with them fully, and the main plot, being that of a child who has an invisible but somewhat malicious ‘friend’, is very compelling. If you enjoy and read a lot of paranormal suspense, then you will really love this book. It isn’t my usual choice but I still found myself ‘turning the pages’ on my Kindle till I reached the end. In fact, it is very good!

I won’t say too much about the story as I don’t want to spoil the suspense and excitement for the reader, so this review is quite short. However, I think Anita Dawes has tapped into subjects that are very topical today and it’s well worth reading this book to see what can happen when we bury secrets for too long.

 

 

fun x4

Secrets, a haunting family drama, is about deeply buried guilt and all the secrets and suspicions that invade and control our lives.

Many children have an invisible friend, and sometimes they can be a necessary part of a child’s life for many reasons.
But when this ‘friend’ starts to cause more than just mischief, it is time for his mother to investigate further.

Maggie Swan loves her little boy Danny, but his new playmate was becoming something of a problem. It was almost as though something was wrong and he was trying to fix it.
Her husband Jack, was no help at all, dismissing her ideas as rubbish. But was he merely trying to hide a guilty secret? One that Danny’s new friend knew all about?
myBook.to/Secrett

Excerpt of Secrets…

Secrets_kindle (2)

Jack Swan sliced through his fried egg the same way he did every morning, precisely, like a surgeon. Cutting a piece of bacon and sausage, he proceeded to dip them into the bright yellow yolk in a very business-like manner.

Sitting opposite him at the breakfast table, Maggie watched him eat, remembering what he’d said at the beginning of their marriage so long ago; that a good breakfast was the only way to start the day. As far as Jack was concerned, if his egg was right, the day would be perfect, and not for the first time she wondered about this part of his childhood programming. According to medical science we are all supposed to have something we carry around with us from childhood. Something individual that makes us act the way we do. She wondered what hers was.

Deep in thought, Maggie started to play with her breakfast and it was Jack’s turn to watch fondly as she doodled with the egg yolk, spreading strange and bizarre patterns across the plate. The early morning sunlight streamed through the kitchen window bathing the breakfast scene in a cosy glow. She looked like a child sitting there in a pretty cotton housecoat, pale honey-coloured hair falling around her shoulders like a halo. She had something on her mind, he was sure. Knowing he didn’t really have the time and hoping she’d say it was nothing, he said, ‘What’s up, love, did you have another bad night with Danny?’

She slowly looked up at him from the mess on her plate, and he could tell by the way her usually bright blue eyes had darkened to the colour of the sea that he wasn’t about to hear anything like what he wanted to hear.
Looking back down at her plate, she said, ‘I’m very worried about him, Jack. These terrible nightmares are getting him down; and now this thing about an imaginary friend, I don’t like it, something’s wrong.’
Jumping straight in, hoping to get it over with quickly so he could get out of the house, he said, ‘You know what the doctor told us, he’ll grow out of it soon enough. It will only make things worse if we try and make Danny let go before he’s ready.’

‘Yes, I know what he said,’ an edge creeping into her voice, ‘but he’s not God. You don’t have to take everything he says as gospel. I don’t happen to think this thing with Toby is the same as a comfy blanket or a favourite teddy a child drags around with him. Can’t you see how he’s changed?
‘… he’s destructive, rude and downright messy. Don’t you think dragging half the garden into the kitchen last week was going a bit too far? You saw his face when I tried to tell him off, he wasn’t the least bit sorry. Judging from the skid marks all over the place it was plain to see he’d had a whale of a time, and what did he say when I asked him why he’d done it? … because Toby wanted him to.

‘… Jack, can’t you see we have to make him understand this Toby is only in his mind and he’s too old to play these pretend games?’
He took a deep breath, painfully aware the time was getting on. ‘Maggie, he’s only seven. You’re making too much of it. The doctor said to give him time and not to bully him into giving up Toby. It might make his nightmares worse.’
She opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, he reminded her again that she had agreed the gentle approach was best.
‘Plus, you haven’t given that idea of yours idea a chance. Having Cathy take Danny to school with Michael may work. He’ll soon see that having a real friend is lots more fun. Have you asked him again about joining the cubs?’
She snorted. ‘I did, and his answer was the same as before. Toby doesn’t want him to.’
‘Give him time, Maggie, he’ll come around.’

Maggie seemed to have run out of wind for the time being, so he took his empty plate over to the sink and left it on the draining board. Straightening his tie as he turned to her again, he said, ‘I’m sorry I don’t have time to talk this morning. I have four books waiting a final decision and what with the deadline and our new budget, I think I’ll have to reject two of them, you know how I hate sending out rejection letters. It doesn’t make for a nice day, especially when a book is worth publishing. If you’re that worried about Danny, we’ll talk about it tonight.’
Maggie frowned and gave him the kind of look that said, sure we will. Jack had seen it many times and responded in a way she had grown used to over the years. He pulled her into his arms, squeezed her gently, saying, ‘I promise we’ll talk about it later.’
Then he kissed her goodbye, grabbed his briefcase and left.

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Our Cornish Book…

Let it Go_Haiku

An excerpt from Let it Go…

My footsteps felt lighter once we were inside. I was surprised by what I saw. The room was small but clean and tidy. Dried herbs hung over the fireplace, and there were several pieces of strong wooden furniture. One soft armchair stood next to the hearth. There were no ornaments, and no dust or cobwebs to be seen. I had the feeling they wouldn’t be allowed in here. The air itself didn’t seem to move as if time stood still.

Samuel asked us to sit down. ‘I have been expecting you.’

I chose one of the wooden chairs that stood around the table, and as I sat down, a strong feeling of peace enveloped me, like being inside an empty church. My romantic side would describe it as a feeling of coming home. Mark, with his Sixties kind of mind, probably noticed it before we came in.

He sat down at the table, on the chair nearest to me. Samuel reappeared with a tray. He hadn’t asked if we wanted tea and I hadn’t even noticed him move to make it. I was too busy looking around the place like a local tourist. He put bone china cups and saucers in front of us. The orange liquid smelled slightly perfumed, a pleasant smell.

Mark noticed me wrinkling my nose.

‘Cinnamon,’ he said. ‘Drink it, it’s good.’

I took a sip, and it was spicy on my tongue. I put it down, rather too quickly.

‘No thanks.’

Samuel had sat himself down in the armchair. It was strange, but seeing him sitting down, I noticed how long his legs were. His clothes were almost threadbare, but his large black boots had a shine on them. When he spoke again all the fear in me slipped away. There was no harm in this man, this man born of fire. He must have heard the stories as he grew up but they hadn’t left their mark on him. Was it Ruth who had done such a good job of mothering, or was it Martha’s genes he carried into the Despite the fact, she had been playing with the fire, which eventually took her life.

He spoke without looking at us. Mark reached across the table and laid his hand over mine. I didn’t need the reassurance he offered, but I didn’t move my hand or look at him. My eyes were on Samuel, ears at attention.

‘You found Morgan’s diary, been letting the writing get to you. Asking too many questions and spending long hours in the house of books. There’s nothing in there to help, should have come to see me sooner. Save time and a lot of mixed up feelings.’

I found enough air in my lungs to speak and said I had plenty of time to spare, that my feelings were fine. ‘But I do believe someone should be held accountable for what happened to Martha,’

The sound of her name didn’t seem to mean anything to him. I saw no change in his face or voice.

‘Why?’ He said. It didn’t appear to be a question. ‘Keep pain alive, when living is pain enough for far too many people? I know the story of my birth and the things they have said about the mother who bore me. Of Ruth, who fed and clothed me and taught me how to help even when help was not asked for.’

Mark had told me all about the herbs being left on people’s doorsteps when they were needed. About one young girl who might have died had Samuel not helped her. They actually used these herbs while speaking so ill of him, yet leaving food outside his door as payment.

‘There are many good stories in the Bible. I will tell you something from it. Look to the living, leave the dead to take care of the dead.’

As he spoke these words, looking directly at me for the first time, I felt strange, all empty inside, as if some part of me had been scooped out. I knew what it was without him saying it. My need to punish them had simply left me. But what did ‘look to the living’ mean?

He looked at me with those pale grey eyes that darkened with the words he spoke next.

‘You have a sister, a small part of yourself.’

God, I had never thought of Sally like that, nor would she like me to. He was right though, she was a part of me.

‘You need to watch over her, keep her close to you.’

I told him then this wasn’t something Sally would let me do.

‘No matter. It’s to her you need to give your concern.’

Then I asked him why to say what was in his mind in plain English.

‘Sally appears to have been marked by an early death, one of her own making.’

This reminded me of something Nan had said, about Sally drowning in a storm of her own making.

Samuel couldn’t explain what he felt. ‘The visions are too vague as yet. They will come, and then I will find a way to let you know.’

It didn’t help me much. He had just told me Sally would die as if the Mafia had a contract out on her, and I had to wait?

I was getting more than a little annoyed at his Bible prophecies, as good as double Dutch when there was nothing you could do about them. My initial instinct had been right. I should have walked away. I shouldn’t have come here, shouldn’t have let Mark lead me through the door.

I knew Martha and the diary would all take a back seat now. That my stupid mind would play tricks on me, waking and sleeping about Sally. The hands of death reaching far too early for her immortal soul.

*******************************************************************************

People often ask us if we have a competitive partnership, and to be honest, I don’t think we do. So far, our achievements have been pretty equal, although I will always admit that Anita is the far better writer.

So, it came as a bit of a surprise, that when I mentioned how many hits my book The Last Life had just received on Amazon’s KDP, (137 plus one print copy) Anita came back with “I don’t usually get that many, do I?”

Not really a question I could answer, but it will really be interesting to see how many Let it Go gets as it is now #Free on Amazon for the next five days.

Will you make her day and prove my theory?

Universal Amazon Link:      myBook.to/LetGo

 

 

 


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The Last Life…#Free on Amazon!

LLsss

From today, 19th April to 25th, the second book of Jaye’s trilogy is #Free on Amazon.   This is a brilliant book, well worth a read!

 Amazon Link:  https://www.amazon.com/Last-Life-Introducing-detective-Thriller-ebook/dp/B017DNXBXE/

Book description

Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.

Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.

With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.

Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.

Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?

Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…

Book Excerpt

Kate sat at the table in the Vestry with her head in her hands. She couldn’t believe Jack had found her again, in spite of all the Snowman’s security. She kept seeing the ivory roses, Michael’s blood dripping from the petals, laid on the altar like an offering. Only Jack could have thought of something that macabre. The blood reminded her of what had happened to her beloved Dylan, her silver tabby. Jack had ripped him apart in her kitchen, strewing blood and fur all over the floor for her to find. At least this time, she wouldn’t have to clean up the mess.

Why had Michael gone outside?

She knew he was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that their relationship was over. After all this time it must have been a bitter pill to swallow. But going against David Snow’s specific orders was foolish and irresponsible. Maybe his depression had grown bad enough to warrant taking such a risk. Or had he wanted to die?

The voice in her head disapproved. ‘I did ask you to try and be kind to Michael, Kate. Even though you couldn’t love him, you, of all people, should have treated him better than that…’

It was true; she could remember feeling that bad. Jack had that effect on most people. Just knowing he was out there somewhere had made her suicidal in the past, and the feeling wasn’t too far away at the moment.

The Snowman should have let her see Michael, her imagination couldn’t be worse than the real thing. Right then, it didn’t seem real, and she kept expecting to see him come through the door at any minute. She wished with all her heart that she had run away the first time she suspected Jack was back on the scene. Michael’s sudden reappearance had reawakened all her old desires and dreams, rendering her incapable of thinking straight.

Fate was too cruel. Why had it conspired to bring Jack back into her life at that particular time? If he hadn’t arrived when he did, her brother would not have died, and the chain of destruction would have broken. She wanted to run away but suspected there was no point. Jack would find her wherever she went. The knowledge sunk in that none of them were safe anymore if they ever were. What would it take to be rid of Jack for good?

Kate heard the door open but realised the noise had come from the wrong side of the room. As she raised her head to investigate, a damp, sweet-smelling cloth covered her face. She struggled against it, but he was too strong. The room went dark and then faded away.

When Kate opened her eyes again several hours later, she was lying on a bed in what looked like a bedroom. It seemed familiar somehow as if she had been there before. Her memories stirred, and she began to recognise the bare walls and drab carpet, the austerity and soulless quality. It was or had been her son’s bedroom, the sad little room he had died in. On that morning, so long ago now, she had come to wake him for school. She found him lying on a pillow stained with vomit, and his skin felt cold. Too cold, she thought, pulling him into her arms to warm him. When she realised her son was dead, her hatred for Jack Holland finally overflowed, and she ran screaming from the house.  The house Jack had bought for her, where her dreams had died along with her son. How cruel to bring her back here, to remind her of everything he had done to her.

 


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Scarlet Ribbons for her Hair…

rev-sr

Scarlet Ribbons has to be my all time favourite of all Anita’s books. Inspired by the song, I think she was truly inspired when she wrote it…

It was all over at last. He would never hurt anyone ever again. If they had the police here, Annie’s mother had paid dearly, given away her own freedom. Murder was murder, no matter how necessary. But if it was up to me, I’d have given her a medal. I wondered when it had happened, and why we hadn’t heard anything. We must have fallen into a deep sleep, upstairs with Annie.

Alan carried Annie down the stairs, past her mother who was still leaning against the open front door. Her face was wiped clean of emotion, no tears as Annie was taken from her. She might as well have used the same knife on herself. She was dead inside, a lifeless husk with faded blue eyes. I couldn’t feel sorry for her though. It was too late for that.

I walked past her, following Annie, forgetting all about David until he called my name.

‘You can’t go with her, Mags. We’ve done our part, it’s over now.’

I kept on walking beside her, trying to touch her hand, her hair, whispering my goodbyes.

Alan sat Annie in the back seat of the car and we watched as it drove away. Half way down Stanley Road, Annie turned and looked through the rear window. Was she taking one last look at what had been her home, or was she saying goodbye to me?

I lowered my eyes, not wanting to see her disappear, that’s when I noticed the red ribbon lying in the road at my feet. For a moment I hardly dared touch it. What if it disintegrated or something? Slowly I plucked up the courage to pick it up, and holding it in my hand, I realised that it was the closest I had ever come to touching her, really touching her. Suddenly, tears were coursing down my face.

David put his arms around me, he didn’t speak and I was grateful for the silence. My tears became huge, gasping sobs as my heart emptied itself of all the pain, only to be replaced by another kind. As he led me away we heard sirens behind us. Not the kind we have today, but loud bells.

Somebody had called the police.

scarlet-ribbons-newI put Annie’s ribbon in my jeans pocket, wiped my face and said, ‘Where to now?’

‘You choose, Maggie.’

‘Home, let’s both go home. We’ve done what we came here for.’ I waited for a tremor, a sign. But nothing happened. We were still there.

‘This can’t be happening. You said I could go back if I helped. I have, now let me go!’

‘Who on earth are you talking to, Mags?’

‘The voice, the one that keeps me here. Haven’t you heard it?’

He shook his head.

‘Well, if it won’t let me out, I’ll find my own way back. I’m not staying here.’

I started walking double time. David had to run to catch up to me.

‘You don’t have to follow me. Find your own way out.’

‘There’s gratitude for you. Thanks a bunch, Mags.’ He emphasised the Mags. ‘All right, Miss Smarty-pants, how do you know which way is out? Or if there is more than one way out of here. We may be stuck with each other a while yet.’

I stopped walking and he bumped into me. Without turning around, I mumbled, ‘Sorry.’

‘Pardon?’ he said. ‘I didn’t catch that.’

I knew he had, but said it again anyway. Before I knew what was happening, he had turned me around and kissed me.

And I let it happen. It felt so good to have his arms around me, his lips soft and warm, so warm it was bringing parts of me alive that I had almost forgotten about.

As much as I wanted it, needed to be held and loved, I couldn’t let it happen. I loved Jack, but David felt so good, so familiar as if those arms had held me before.

. myBook.to/SRIBS

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Secrets…

 

 

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Excerpt from ‘Secrets’

She took a long hard look at herself in the mirror. Do any of us really know who we are, she asked herself. Are we the product of many lifetimes, like coloured plasticine all rolled together? All mixed up and confused, struggling with thoughts and feelings that might not belong to the here and now?

Maggie felt extremely sad but didn’t know why, there were tears in her eyes for no specific reason she could think of. It was a personal sadness, nothing to do with what Jack had done. Her life was pretty good, yet the feeling was there. She wondered if it could be an old sadness from another time that affected her, her mind not really thinking or remembering what it was.

When she thought about it, there had been many such days when she’d play a romantic record and the words would mean more than they should, perpetuating the sadness, the feeling of something lost. Did she have a secret, something bad that she had done, just waiting to be discovered?

She lay on the bed waiting for Jack and wondered if the strange world she’d been thrown into was more real than her mind would let her believe. It was hard to keep on denying it, what with Jack’s behaviour and poor Danny, tormented by this invisible world that seemed to have the power to inflict real pain and suffering. It was useless to even think about running from something you couldn’t see. She was remembering a passage from the Bible, when she heard Jack say good night to Danny. That the Good Lord sends no more than a body can bear…

She wondered if that was true, that the worst was over…

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