Voices in Your Head?

 

 

My first book, Nine Lives came into being mainly because I became intrigued by the notion that most of us hear voices in our heads at one time or another.

From Pinocchio to Joan of Arc, people have been hearing things and sometimes a little voice can change history, and not always for the best.

Kate Devereau, the ageing artist in my book, has been hearing a voice all her life. Never sure if this is good or evil, she makes a point of ignoring everything it says. Would her life have turned out differently if she hadn’t?

Some people call this the voice of our conscience, a bit like Jiminy Cricket, but how many of us really listen or even obey its commands?

I personally don’t hear any voices, but sometimes I just know I should have done things differently, and have suffered the consequences…

When I researched this topic, I was amazed by just how many famous people have heard voices, going back as far as Moses. Some of these people were convinced they were hearing the voice of God; some thought a heavenly host had visited them. Whereas, on the other side of the scale, if a voice talked you into committing a crime, they usually lock you up and throw away the key.

Personally, I like the idea of a wise voice, advising and helping us with life’s problems. Pointing out the error of our ways would be very handy in our house.

But how many of us would dare to trust it?

 

Excerpt from  Nine Lives

… as the pain rolled on and on, Kate just wanted to die. She knew no one was going to rescue her, they never had before and it was a little late to start believing they would now. For some reason, she knew it was her lot in life to suffer, to be alone and be miserable, no matter how hard she tried to make her life any different. Surely, it was time for the curse on her life to stop? The voice in her head had said otherwise, apparently, there was much worse to come. But what could be worse than this, she thought.

Once the pain started to make her want to push, it all became a little more bearable. At least she felt more in control of the situation, not just lying there helplessly, being tortured.

The baby, a boy, was born that evening and nobody could have been more pleased it was over than Kate herself.

Throughout the ordeal, the voice had kept up a running commentary about her life being ruined. How she had wasted every opportunity and how sorry it was. The last bit surprised her, for she had always thought it disliked her. It had never said anything with any hint of kindness in it before. If it was simply trying to depress her even more than she was already, it had succeeded…

 

#Tuesday Book Blog: Secrets by A.Dawes #LiteraryFiction

 

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SOME SECRETS WILL KILL YOU…
and some are about someone who is already dead.
A mother must find the truth before the secrets destroy her family…

Excerpt

Maggie heaped three spoonsful of brown sugar into the frothy coffee, and Scott gave a gentle tut-tut as she watched it slowly slip through the bubbles.

Watching her stir the coffee for longer than was necessary, he asked, ‘Shall I fire questions at you or will you volunteer your troubles to old Scottie?’

The softening of his name was only for those he considered his true friends and he listened without interruption while she told him all about the nightmares, the mess in the kitchen, Danny’s destructiveness, burying Jack’s stuff in the garden and all the things that Danny attributed to his imaginary friend, Toby.

Scott pondered awhile, and then said, ‘You of all people shouldn’t think it so strange, where would you be without imagination, Maggie?  Pulling groceries on a check-out? Not that it’s a disgrace; someone has to do it… Danny is developing his mind, maybe he’ll be a great artist like his beautiful mother, or  write the books Jack couldn’t… then he’ll need all the power of his inner mind, much the way you do.’

She looked deep into her empty coffee cup as if it were a crystal ball. ‘Maybe I could believe all that if he were happy, Scott, but he’s not. He’s so moody and goes days without saying a word to anyone.’

She related Cathy’s story about hearing a dog in the car, and Scott looked puzzled.

‘From what you’ve told me about her, I’d say she’s prone to flights of fancy and you shouldn’t take any of it too seriously. It could have been anything, like that wretched noise when you speed past those wooden poles along the road. Maybe there was something stuck to the wheel of her car. Noises you would normally recognise have a way of sounding strange when you’re cooped up inside a tin-can on wheels.’

She didn’t believe Scott’s explanation, but it was enough to put a little doubt in her mind, she realised that she hadn’t thought the situation through as thoroughly as she might.

She didn’t tell him about the bite-marks and scratches that appeared on Danny during the nightmares until last. It wasn’t really all that bad, not enough to draw blood but marks none the less.

‘Could he have done it himself?’ asked Scott.

‘Yes, but he denied it.’

‘Someone at school, a fight? Boys get into them all the time.’

‘I don’t think so. Danny told the doctor that this Toby did it. When we asked him why he hadn’t said anything to us, he just shrugged his shoulders and clammed up. We’ve been advised not to push him too hard.’

Scott could see how worried she was, but he couldn’t really think of anything to allay her fears, real or imagined. It was high time to lighten the mood. Catching Kelly’s eye, he ordered two more coffees with hand gestures.

‘God knows what you’ve been letting your mind get up to, Maggie darling, but as far as I can tell, there are only two explanations. He either did it himself or he got into a fight and didn’t know how to tell you. There are times, darling when a young man can’t run to his mama. Losing a fight would be worse than telling you he had been in one in the first place…

‘Maybe that’s all he’s hiding from you, and as for the rest of it, it’s plain old-fashioned mischief born out of the sheer frustration of keeping things locked inside…’

~~~~~

 

Secrets

Danny’s secret goes back in time

How is this known to a child of nine?

No one believes him when he speaks

Of buried treasure the earth still keeps.

Yet stranger words are said in sleep.

His mother hears his sleeping moans

Afraid now, how can he know

Of secrets buried so long ago?

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#WednesdayWriters ~ Nine Lives ~ Chapter 24 #MysteryThriller #Fiction

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Kate has welcomed death from an early age. With no family to speak of and a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away.

It speaks to her. Teases her, yet will not come for her.

Death takes those around her, making her desire for it greater than ever.

She wonders how much longer it will take for her time to run out…

Chapter Twenty-four

On the way home, Kate picked up some lamb chops and some white wine for her lunch with Sam, inwardly still trying not to be angry with Michael. Who did he think he was? Regardless of the fact him turning up was something she had dreamed of for years, he still had the cheek of the devil.

There was an ambulance outside Janet’s house and Kate’s heartbeat accelerated as she walked towards it, wondering who it was for. As she drew closer, she saw Janet’s door was open and as she watched, a paramedic in a reflective yellow striped jacket was wheeling Janet out of her house in a wheelchair. She appeared to be asleep, her face pale and peaceful. What had happened?

She approached the ambulance. ‘Hello, how is Mrs Goldman? I’m her neighbour.’

The paramedic stopped for a second and looked at her. ‘The old dear took a tumble and we’re just taking her in to be checked over.’

‘How did she tumble, she has no stairs?’ Kate asked.

‘She must have been up on a chair, there was one overturned when we turned up.’  He grinned at her and climbed into the back of the ambulance. ‘She’ll be fine, see if she’s not.’

Kate had the strangest feeling Janet wouldn’t be ‘fine’.  She was far too old to be taking a tumble.

She decided to spend the rest of the day in her studio after she had something to eat and if Janet wasn’t home by tomorrow morning, she would go and see how she was.

The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing the next canvas. This one was going to be a night scene, with the moonlight like a pathway across the water. That was the plan anyway, and that sometimes changed as her paintbrush often had a mind of its own.

As the afternoon faded into early evening, Kate found herself thinking about Michael a little more fondly than she had that morning. She had almost seemed rude, hadn’t she?  God knows what he made of it.

She was in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil when there was a knock at the front door. Who could have that be, she thought, wondering if it was something to do with Janet.

Kate’s heart was in her mouth as she opened the door to find Michael standing there with a small bunch of carnations clutched to his chest. She almost choked, and her first instinct was to slam the door, but for some strange reason, she couldn’t.

‘I’ve come to apologise, Kate. I shouldn’t have carried on as though nothing was wrong between us. No wonder you had nothing to say. Please let me in, so we can start again and talk properly.’

She glared at him. ‘How do you know where I live?’

‘I felt so bad after you left, I had to find you so I could apologise in person. I had no way of knowing if you would turn up tomorrow.’

‘But how did you know where I live?’

He had the grace to look sheepish. ‘I looked you up on the electoral roll. Lucky you still use your old name, or I would never have found you.’

Kate still hesitated, unsure whether to let him in or not. This was her private space; did she want him touching everything?

She already knew she would let him in, the effect he had on her was the same as ever, regardless of the history between them. ‘You had better come in then,’ she said, standing aside so he could pass. ‘And don’t think I have forgiven you because I haven’t.’

He turned and offered her the flowers. ‘They’re not a peace offering Kate; I just thought you would like them.’

She tried to accept them gracefully, knowing she would prefer to wrap them around his neck, and made her way to the kitchen to put them in water.

He stood in the doorway watching her, and it all seemed the most natural thing in the world as if he had done exactly that dozens of times before.

It suddenly occurred to her just how much she resented him showing up on her doorstep.

‘Nice place you have here, Kate. Been here long?’

Why did she automatically think he already knew the answer to that?

‘Not long ‘, she said, non-committedly. ‘And I will soon be moving on, anyway’.

He smiled, and there was just a hint of nervousness in his smile. Was it possible he was a little unsure of his reception?

He nodded at the back door. ‘What happened to the cat?’

The hair on the back of her neck twitched and it was all she could do not to march up to him and slap his face hard. ‘Why assume something happened to my cat? He could be sleeping in another room.’

His smile vanished, and she could see he was trying to think of a suitable answer. Whatever he said, she wouldn’t believe a word.  It was as if he knew what had happened to Dylan, and how could he, unless… The possibilities that presented themselves didn’t bear thinking about, and she knew something was wrong. Nobody would say a thing like that by chance.

‘Come on Michael, say something to convince me you meant nothing sinister.’

‘I don’t know why I said that, Kate. The way you’re carrying on, something did happen to the cat. What was it?

The cheek of the man took her breath away, which was just as well for she had no intention of telling him anything.

‘It doesn’t matter, come and sit down and tell me the real reason you showed up here tonight.’

He followed her out of the kitchen and paused outside her studio. ‘Can I have a look?’

The door was open, so he already had a good look in her opinion. She leaned past him and closed the door. ‘I would rather you didn’t if you don’t mind,’ she said, not caring she came across as more than a little angry.

He looked surprised, but what did he expect? Had he forgotten how badly he had let her down, not to mention walking out on the child they had made together?

Her temper finally snapped and she turned on him angrily. ‘Don’t bother getting comfortable, Michael. I want you to leave, now.’

‘And…’

‘No buts, did you think I would fall into your arms again? You must be more stupid than I thought.  Please, just go.’

For a moment, he managed to look sad, but if that was supposed to mean anything to her, he was badly mistaken. Although a small part of her still loved him, a bigger part resented him for turning up like this, assuming she would forgive and forget.  She hadn’t been able to do it then and certainly wasn’t about to do it now.

Kate went to open the front door, desperate to get him out of her flat.  Just as well I’m leaving, she thought, as knowing he knew where to find her was annoying her a lot more than she thought it would.

‘Can’t we just talk about this, Kate,’ he said, trying to look sheepish.

She came up to him and shoved him not too gently towards the door. ‘Go away Michael, I don’t want you here.’

As he walked away, she waited for him to turn around, to appeal to her one more time. He didn’t, he kept on walking and for a split second it was all so sad she felt like crying.

He didn’t appear to have come by car. If he had, it must be parked somewhere else. Why would he do that?

As Kate stood on the doorstep, she noticed there were no lights showing at Janet’s house. Did that mean she was still in the hospital?  She would have to ring them in the morning and find out what was going on.

She didn’t feel in the least like painting, and went to the studio and stared at the canvas. She should work on it a bit more, after all, Sam was coming for lunch tomorrow and the more progress she could see, the better. It might help to get all thoughts of Michael out of her head, so she would have no trouble sleeping tonight.

She tried to empty her mind of him as she spent the next few hours pushing paint onto the canvas, and one question kept rattling around in her head. Why had he assumed something happened to her cat?  It might have just been a coincidence; after all, there was a cat flap in the back door. It could have been for the previous tenant’s cat. It was almost as if he knew something bad had happened, but how could he have done?

She decided to call it a night when her arm was so stiff she could hardly hold the paintbrush. Canvas number three was almost finished and Kate liked the way this one was turning out. Probably because it was such a peaceful, serene scene, it had gone a long way to soothing the savage beast Michael had awakened with his impromptu visit…

What does Michael want?

Did he kill her cat?

 

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Tallis Steelyard: Six Men in a Boat #ScienceFiction&Fantasy @JimWebster6

Joining us here today, is everyone’s favourite story teller, Jim Webster.

The famous Tallis Steelyard has a new adventure that we all want to read!

Over to you, Jim…

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Instead of his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with a gripping adventure.

Why is Tallis ‘run out of town’ by hired ruffians?

Why does a very sensible young woman want his company when plunging into unknown danger?

Who or what was buried in the catacombs? And why has there been so much interest in making sure they stay dead? Also featuring flower arranging, life on the river, and a mule of notable erudition.

Amazing what you learn as you grow older.

Meirdre, the oldest daughter of Garrat and Taffetia Drane was, by common agreement, a precocious child. After all, at the age of six, she was a full partner in ‘Peepers and Narks’, investigators of choice to the leading Port Naain legal partnership of Thallawell, Thallawell, and Thallawell.

Now, this might have been regarded by most as something of a formality, and to be fair, for the first three or four months it probably was. But her parents didn’t want to see their child cheated by older partners, and so they looked for ways in which their daughter could become more ‘hands on.’ Inspiration came when Garrat was reading a report written by one of the many peepers who worked for the partnership on a casual basis. He commented to his lady wife that a child of six would be expected to have better grammar and spelling. Taffetia, who was in point of fact quite proud of the education she had been giving her children, agreed entirely with her husband’s sentiments.

(I will pause here to discuss in brief the fact that some cynics have intimated that this entire agreement on the behalf of a wife to her husband’s comments is surely exclusive enough on its own to make this story worthy of recording. I merely state that it is not a unique occasion, several times my own wife has agreed entirely with something I’ve said. Admittedly, a number of these occasions will be when I restricted myself to ‘Yes Dear’ but by no means all.)

Still, parental agreement within the Drane household meant that before the age of seven, Meirdre was reading every report made to ‘Peepers and Narks’ by their operatives, and was correcting grammar and spelling. A couple of years later she started to do the same to those reports that the partnership sent on to their clients. In the course of this, she discovered that because she had read and scrutinised every statement coming in, she often had a better grasp of the situation than the other two partners. Thus, she started writing the final reports rather than merely editing them for grammar and spelling.

If this seems a lot for a girl of her age, remember that at this point she was also working as a wailer. This role she fulfilled entirely competently but was beginning to get in the way of her new profession. With little hesitation, she turned her back on it and concentrated entirely on office management. To be fair her partners were perfectly happy to leave the paperwork to her. They moved to supervising the fieldwork whilst Meirdre ran the office. This worked well; Dagly Ween had been considered one of the best peepers in the business. At the same time the other partner, Mirabelle Sobent, was the leading female ‘arm and a leg’ man in Port Naain. Whilst it’s unlikely that anybody actually boasted that they’d taken a punishment beating from Mirabelle Sobent, she was known for dispassionate efficiency. Word got round the business community, if you want somebody beaten up for asking difficult questions, poaching your staff, or stealing your ideas (or complaining when you steal theirs) then Thallawell, Thallawell, and Thallawell know the best people.

Yet a note Meirdre might get from a nark would often need action to be taken immediately. So inevitably, she drifted into management. By the time she was fourteen, she was regularly sending out instructions to peepers or arm and leg men, stating what action she wanted taken. Still, ever courteous, she made sure her partners would get a copy of the note to keep them in the picture. As her partners grew older, more and more of the work fell upon her shoulders until finally, she bought them out. Now in sole charge at last, she could run the business as she felt it ought to be run. She expanded the organisation’s operations into Partann searching for both economic and political information which could be sold to better paying markets than a lawyer’s practice. Closer to home, her long familiarity with the Port Naain criminal classes gave her a lot of information on the city’s politics and politicians. Slowly she began to gather more evidence and built up her files. By the time she was thirty-five she quietly dominated the city’s politics. Politicians relied upon her for information about what was happening both inside and outside the city.

Indeed she was being actively courted by four Sinecurists and it was widely expected that when she married she would become the richest and most influential lady in the city. Fate took a hand as her carriage, taking her to a ball, collided with a cart loaded with mott carcasses. She got out and fell into conversation with the driver of the cart. He was firm but courteous; her coachman had been too free with the whip which had left the horses jittery. Thus when they’d come round the corner and met his cart they’d panicked. She could see the correctness of his analysis and instructed her coachmen and postilion to load the contents of the cart into her coach. Meirdre and the driver of the cart, (now revealed to be the farmer who had fattened the mott whose carcasses were being transhipped,) then left the postilion to ensure that the cart and ponies were looked after whilst the coach made its way down the ropewalk to Bolidad and Offspring, butchers to the gentry. As the coach was unloaded, Meirdre and the mott farmer were in deep conversation, so deep that she dismissed the coach and the two of them sat drinking coffee in Slybooks. Two weeks later, to the surprise of the city in general, Meirdre married her mott farmer and went north to live with him on a pleasant enough holding perhaps thirty miles from the city. They live in a house with three books, and two of them are about mott husbandry. The height of their social calendar is the day they provide the young mott for the village fete’s ‘catch the greasy mott’ competition. And now the hard sell!

OK so perhaps the not so hard sell. It’s just that this is part of a blog tour which is peering into the lives of Garrat Drane, and his lady wife Taffetia Drane. Now we are meeting their various offspring, delightful people and pillars of the community. Or perhaps not. But still now is your chance to meet them and inadvertently you may discover their importance to our hero, Tallis Steelyard.

But actually, the purpose of this blog is to draw your attention to the fact that a new book has been published. ‘Tallis Steelyard: Six men in a boat.’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-Six-men-boat-ebook/dp/B07JPKYJJN

Rather than a collection of his anecdotes, this is indeed an ‘adventure’ as Tallis ventures forth from the city of Port Naain. Questions are asked that may even be answered, why is Tallis ‘run out of town’ by hired ruffians? Why does a very sensible young woman want his company when plunging into unknown danger? Who or what was buried in the catacombs? And why has there been so much interest in making sure they stay dead? Also featuring flower arranging, life on the river, and a mule of notable erudition.

Treat yourself; you know you’re worth it…

#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives ~ chapter 23 #MysteryFiction

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Death has been visiting Kate all of her life, leading her to imagine she has nine lives, like a cat.
With nothing to live for, no family, just a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away when her lives run out.
Death continues to speak to her, teasing her, yet will not come for her. When people around her begin to die at the hands of a serial killer, she hopes to be next.
Has she finally run out of lives? Will she find a reason to live after all, before it is too late?

Chapter 23

Saturday morning arrived and Kate felt better than she had for quite a while. The pain in her chest had gone and she was more like her old self. A little optimism was creeping in which she found most welcome. She had never been a miserable person, despite her turbulent life and the thought she might have nothing else to look forward to was depressing in itself.

Today was more like it. She felt in control for the first time in ages. Her first cup of tea tasted wonderful and she enjoyed every drop as she ran through what options she could think of to take full advantage of the day.  Shopping was high on the list for the cupboards were empty. She should telephone Sam with a progress report and possibly make a start on canvas number three. She idly wondered if the library was open on a Saturday and mentally decided to check when she was in town.

After an invigorating shower, Kate started to make a shopping list and wrote down cat food without thinking. As she looked at the words, the sharp pain sliced through her chest and she had to sit down. ‘Oh Dylan, I miss you so much,’ she said, her eyes filling with tears. She sat, waiting until the pain had gone, leaving an ache behind. She blew her nose and went back to the shopping list.

It suddenly occurred to her that the voice had been quiet for days, hopefully, it was a good sign.

 

The weather was trying desperately to match her mood.  It was early in September, and the trees showed no sign of the approaching autumn. Gentle sunlight and a light breeze made the walk to town a pleasant one. The library wasn’t open, so it would have to wait until next week. As she went past the estate agent, one of the men inside looked up at her from his desk, and for a split second looked so familiar. He had dark curly hair, greying at the temples, but she couldn’t see his eyes properly as he was wearing glasses. She walked on, deep in thought to the supermarket.

Later that morning, after getting back home with several bags of shopping, the image of Michael slipped into her mind and she found herself imagining what he would look like now. She stopped, with a packet of frozen peas in her hand, and realised it might have been him. ‘Don’t be daft, why on earth would it be?’  She shook her head as if to dislodge the notion and carried on putting away the groceries.

Kate expected the voice would have something to say about it. It never usually missed an opportunity to snipe at her but it remained quiet.

She rang Sam and made arrangements for lunch on Sunday for a preview. She should get a bottle of wine, or something nice for lunch.

 

When Kate crossed the street on her way to see if Janet was in, she noticed that the old green car was still there. Was that one more thing to worry about, she thought?

Although she waited patiently at Janet’s door, the old woman did not appear. She must be out or having a nap. As Kate drew nearer to the estate agent, her stomach was churning and she desperately wanted to walk the other way. What was she thinking? It couldn’t possibly be Michael, not here in Guildford. She always imagined him happily married and living the high life in London. After all, he was a good-looking man; women should fall over themselves to grab him.

She suddenly realised she was standing outside the estate agents and the picture of a picturesque cottage was right in front of her.  It’s too expensive, she thought, buying anything like that was out of the question, she had never had that kind of money and wasn’t about to end up in debt at her time of life. She wondered if they had rental properties too.

Her eyes began to focus past the pictures in the window and she studied the staff, but Michael wasn’t one of them, at least she couldn’t see him.

Her feet moved to walk inside and she went with them, safe in the knowledge there would be no embarrassing moment. Not if she was quick. She walked near the empty desk, looking for a nameplate or other identifying piece of evidence, but there was nothing. Then a soft female voice behind her asked if there was something she could help with, and Kate turned around, fully intending to ask about rental properties.

The woman who had spoken was quite short so Kate had a clear view of the man who had come up behind her.

‘It’s okay, Juliet. This lady is here to see me. Hello Kate. Long time no see.’

Kate’s knees had turned to jelly, how was she still standing up? It was definitely Michael, older, a lot older, but still attractive. He wasn’t wearing his glasses today and the familiar blue eyes had the effect they always had. She instantly felt she was the most important part of his life. How could he still do that, after all this time?

He took her by the elbow and steered her towards a chair.

‘I’ve just been seconded down here as they were short staffed. Funny how fate intervenes, don’t you think? You must tell me all about yourself. How are you and what are you doing these days?’

She stared at him, her mind a complete blank. Think of something to say, she thought, or he will think you’re senile. What were you supposed to say to someone who had broken your heart so many years ago?

He was looking at her the way he always did, and the magic had not died. Not in the slightest. She knew she was lost, so why try to go through the motions of being offended, or hateful. What would be the point? He probably wasn’t free anyway, so there was no harm in talking to him, was there?

‘Somehow, you look the same, Michael. How are you ?’

‘Oh, I’m fine. Getting older but nothing I can’t handle. Was there something you need, or did you know I was here? His eyes twinkled, reducing her nether regions into a pile of jelly babies.

‘I was contemplating finding somewhere to rent. Is that something you do here? She said, trying to hold on to her sanity.

He glanced at his watch. ‘Look, why don’t we discuss things over lunch; less formal than sitting here like any other customer.’

She remembered nodding slowly, but nothing else, and before she knew it, they were sitting in a quiet public house and there was a glass of white wine in front of her. Michael was looking at her as if waiting for the answer to a question.

‘I’m sorry, did you say something?’

‘I asked if you were well Kate, you look amazing, so I suppose the answer is yes.’

Kate picked up the glass of wine and took a sip, contemplating what to tell him, if anything at all. Something was telling her not to say anything and surprisingly it was her own idea. As she sat there looking at him, a frisson of annoyance nagged at her. How could he calmly sit there, looking gorgeous, as if they had no traumatic history between them? Had he forgotten he hurt her so badly it took years to heal? Added to that, the trouble with her ex-husband had turned Kate off any romantic encounters for life and there had been no one in her life since.

He is being patient, she thought. He must think she was too old to think straight, and maybe she shouldn’t enlighten him.

She declined any food, intending to keep the meeting short. He kept studying her and asking questions, obviously hoping one of them would make her talk.

She had fantasised about meeting him again, how they would be as wonderful together as they had been before, but somehow it didn’t feel right. He had no right to think she was still his for the taking.

He was talking again. ‘… must be something you can tell me about your life, is Jack still in the picture?’

So, he knew about Jack, what else did he know about her? ‘No, I divorced him and there is no one else.’ Why had she said that?

He smiled at her, his whole face lighting up like a little boy on firework night. ‘So, what have you been doing with the rest of your life, Kate?’

How can he just sit there as if they were old friends? She should hate him, and part of her probably did. She suddenly realised this meeting was not a good idea, and it was time to go home. ‘I paint’, she said and went to stand up. ‘I have to go now, I have things to do.’

He stood up and moved behind her chair, his hands brushing gently over the back of her coat as she stood up. She had to use all of her willpower to keep moving.

‘I might pop in tomorrow, to look at some properties. It was nice to see you again, Michael. Goodbye.’

His face was a picture. So many thoughts and emotions were flitting across his features, but he said nothing, just smiled forlornly at her. ‘See you tomorrow, then Kate.’

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The Scarlet Ribbon… #SupernaturalRomance #Fiction

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This week I thought I would share the first chapter of one of my favourite books with you. Anita wrote The Scarlet Ribbon in 1995 and yes, I edited it, but the fact that it stays at the top of my best-read list is proof enough of its excellence. At least I think so. Please feel free to comment, I would love to know what you think.

The Scarlet Ribbon… by Anita Dawes

I can still remember the icy touch of that cold September rain against my face and my husband Jack screaming, ‘Maggie, watch out! Run Maggie, run!

The sound of panic in his voice should have made me move, but instead, I turned to him, just in time to see a dirty blue car mount the wet pavement and come hurtling towards me. Everything seemed to slow down. I tried to move out of the way, make my legs carry me to safety, but it was as if time itself was gradually stopping. Biting shards of pain sheared through my body as the car smashed into me and carried me along the pavement.

The sound of breaking glass as I crashed through the supermarket window seemed to be happening somewhere way off in the distance. There was a sudden flash of noise and colour as people ran screaming in all directions, looking for cover. As I lay on the cold, ceramic tiled floor, I remember thinking, I have seen this film. The heroine wakes up in a clean hospital bed, her make-up hardly smudged and hair still neatly in place. There will be a handsome hero by the bedside, holding her hand and gazing adoringly into her eyes.

But it wasn’t a film star lying on that shop floor, it was me, and my Jack was holding me, his hands shaking, telling me that everything was going to be all right. I couldn’t tell him that I’d seen the film and knew they lived happily ever after, because just then someone turned out all the lights, leaving me in total darkness. Everything vanished, the blinding strips of fluorescent lighting, the chilly, rain spattered floor-tiles, and mercifully, all the pain.

The faces that had been looking down at me had gone, but I could still hear Jack’s voice, a long way off, saying my name over and over again. Someone else was talking now. A man was telling Jack that it was all right, ‘We’ll take care of her now, mate. Stand back and let us do our job.’

I felt my body being lifted and the pain returned in a blinding rush, tearing its way through my body. I screamed, and the darkness dragged me away to where there were no thoughts or memories, just a warm feeling of peace. In the darkness, time ceased to exist and I was in no hurry to find a way out, back to the pain.

I realised I had reached a place of safety. A place where there was nothing at all, no pain or hunger and I don’t just mean for food. That awful longing for something you can never put a name to, but know exists. Here in the dark, somehow I knew I was in the place where everything began, and this time I wouldn’t let them throw me back into the pain and the light. I wanted to stay, but the darkness was changing, fading, turning grey and growing paler. Like someone slowly washing the dirt from a window so you can see through it. I didn’t want to look; I knew what was out there. Pain, misery and hunger, even in a stranger’s eyes if you cared to look.

The light was getting stronger. Washing the last dirty marks from the window until I could think clearly again and the memories came flooding back. I’d been hit by a car, smashed through a plate glass window, but I wasn’t dead. Thoughts began to run through my brain like the rush hour at Waterloo Station. Why didn’t I feel any pain? Why couldn’t I see Jack? The darkness seemed to be gone, but I couldn’t see anything at all. There was a clean, empty sound and I could feel Jack’s hand on mine. He was talking to someone.

‘Look, there are tears on her face, Nurse, she must have heard me… it’s a good sign, isn’t it?’

His voice was all shaky and excited. I heard a young female voice answer him.

‘Mrs. Haynes is my first coma patient. I’d like to believe it’s a sign, but we just don’t know enough to be sure.’

Jack gripped my hand harder and whispered, more to himself than anyone else, ‘It has to be a sign.’

The word ‘coma’ flashed like bright neon lights in my brain. Was that what was wrong with me? How long had I been like this? Why didn’t someone say how long? If I can think and hear, why can’t I speak? If only I could open my eyes, Jack would know I was still here. It was like trying to fight my way out of thick, sticky syrup. My body had gone on strike and refused to obey any orders I gave it to speak or move.

There had to be a way to let them know I was listening, that I was coming back. I’d read too many books and seen too many films where they pronounced you brain dead, turned off the machines and the sad relatives are led away; all because their stupid machines weren’t clever enough to pick us up from where we were. They just didn’t understand. The young nurse had said it all and she was right. A sudden rush of panic threw me back into the darkness as if I’d been hit by the car a second time. It felt different now, not quite so safe and protective. I supposed it was because my mind was my own this time. I knew I had to beat this thing, find a way out, a way back to my life…

That was the first chapter and I hope you enjoy it. As I said, any comments would be appreciated, so feel free!
The Scarlet Ribbon has five star reviews and been downloaded over 400 times on Smashwords.

 

Paper Paradise… Bad Moon by Anita Dawes #PowerfulFiction #Horror

 

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I was a lonely child, and London was a lonely place to be when I was growing up there after the war. All around me, people were busily trying to put their lives and homes back into some kind of order.
I remember walking around the streets, confused by all the chaos that still had to be dealt with. All the piles of dusty bricks and rubble, all that remained of so many people’s lives might be what made me such a melancholic child, and the reason I retreated into the world of books.
My favourite book was a copy of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte and I would love to have that particular copy back in my possession. I remember it as being illustrated, full of hauntingly beautiful but tortured imagery that managed to scare the living daylights out of me (I was only eight years old)

I often wonder if my memory is at fault. Was this book really illustrated, or did the words simply conjure up what I thought I saw?
I do love a good book and I must have read thousands of them in my lifetime. One of my favourite authors of all time is Stephen King.  He wrote about everything, from a crazy car to a tormented child and just about every scary subject in between. I have spent so much time in his company.

Which brings me to one of my favourite authors, Anita Dawes. You meet her here most weeks as she shares this site with me,  and her work is not getting the recognition I think it deserves. I can see a similarity with Stephen King in everything she writes, for horrible things happen to her characters too, but you can’t help but love them anyway.
What follows is an excerpt from Bad Moon, my all time favourite…

“Watching the truck coming towards us seemed to take forever like Pa was going deliberately slow. We waited for Pa to get out of the truck and I could see from his dirt-streaked face that it wasn’t good. Nathan’s face looked worse.
Ma tried to stop me from running to the truck, but couldn’t hold me. I climbed on the back and didn’t see Nathan getting out. Suddenly he was there beside me. I remember kneeling and touching the blue check shirt that covered Josh’s face. I remember the touch of Nathan’s hand on mine and the gentle way he said, ‘Don’t look, Annie, please. Just let Pa bury him.’
 But I had to see for myself, had to know if it was the tree falling on him that had killed him. My eyes were wet, but the tears wouldn’t fall. I pulled the shirt back and a scream tore at my throat, trying to find a way out.

No sound came as I looked at what was left of his face, dark gaping holes looked back at me. Gone were his blue-grey eyes, the very thing I had like most about him had been gouged away.
His face was torn and bloody. Dried blood matted his hair and dead leaves were sticking to him.
Nathan tried to take me away, saying I had seen enough. I felt myself being lifted slowly from my knees and as Nathan carried me away, that’s when my mind registered what it had seen.
The torn flesh on his face hadn’t been caused by the fall. The skin standing away from the bone and all the dried blood made it hard to read, that was why my mind didn’t see it right off.
They had cut Pa’s name down one side of his face as if taking his eyes wasn’t enough.
The scream that wouldn’t come before finally broke through and shut down my brain like an axe blow…”

See what I mean? See you next week…

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A Magical Reminder of Simple…#Fiction #FamilyHorror

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Image by Pixabay.com

 

Saw this picture this morning and it really fascinated me. I know it’s probably not real, there is some jiggery pokey going on, but as I get older I like the unreal, or at least, what seems to be, so I will keep on looking for new and amazing things…

Anyway, back to what I wanted to talk about today.
I have been thinking about one of Anita’s books, Simple …

It has long been one of my favourites and the picture at the top reminds me of the central character, a huge bear of a man called Simple. He loves to be in the forest and seems to be at home among all the towering trees, away from all the people who torment him because of his size, his slowness, and his stutter.

I thought I would print an excerpt to introduce him to you  properly…

       Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride.  Simple, sitting against the wood pile, was in for another of her beatings.  I yelled for him to run, but he didn’t hear me.  Lost in one of his daydreams I guessed.

I watched in silence as Gran repeatedly swung the stick hard against the side of her son’s head.  There were no words to describe Simple’s pain, or the pain of watching.  He probably didn’t even know what it was for and I hated her for making me feel all the things he couldn’t say. He didn’t move or look her in the face, not until she let the stick drop from her bony fingers did he feel safe enough to close his eyes.  He slowly put his hands to his battered head, blood pushing its way through the gaps in his dirty fingers…

I know I edited this book so you could say I am a bit biased, but I don’t think so. I really love the story, even though it has savagely cruel elements, involving hatred and violence. But all of these elements are finely balanced with so much emotional determination and caring by Simple’s sister, Leanne that you get torn every which way as you read it.

This book is a roller coaster of a read but one that has been very hard to categorise. Mainstream publishers really couldn’t figure out what to do with it. They loved it but…

There always seems to be a but, doesn’t there? Well, we always seem to find one. But if anybody wants to see if they would like to read Simple , it’s on Amazon, and at the moment just 0.99p!

I would love to hear if you love it as much as I do…

Here is the latest review for Simple…

AEM
5.0 out of 5 starsLife’s Choices
20 October 2018Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

 

To Celebrate a Poem for Nine Lives #MysteryThriller #Poetry

 

Anita has written a poem for my first book, Nine Lives…

So I thought it only write and proper, to celebrate in style and create a post for the occasion!

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Nine Lives

Kate’s life in colour reflected on canvas

Each brush stroke a pain not healed.

Step into a nightmare that Jack has made.

A broken mirror that still stands

A face reflected, she understands

Each broken shard of glass is red with pain…

©Anita Dawes

 

Excerpt from Nine Lives

The day of the opening was getting closer. Kate had done well and several paintings were already installed on Seascapes walls. Sam wanted her to come up and see how everything was shaping up, but she declined, insisting she would prefer to wait until the opening when she could see it finished. She was also trying to complete one more painting, her masterpiece as she called it.

This painting was large, by Kate’s standards. The ever-present stormy sea was in the background for a change, seen through the branches of an old and gnarled windswept tree. Out of a turbulent sky, jagged lightning bolts of blue and lavender angled down towards the water, searching for something to hit. Something about the controlled passion in the painting brought a lump to Sam’s throat, as she realised the painting symbolised everything Kate was feeling, and in a way, it represented the three of them. She wasn’t sure if Kate was aware of what she was doing, for when she painted she switched everything off; almost as though she became another person, a person who didn’t want or need anything other than the brush in her hand.

Sam stood in the doorway and watched as Kate worked on the lightning. It seemed to tear through the canvas, letting a powerful light flow through and reflect on the water. Sam wondered which element she was; the sea, the tree or the lightning?

She knew if she could figure it out, it would help her to understand what she had to do to keep Kate with her. Something that seemed to be fading away, the closer they were to the opening and the moving in day for the cottage…

 

Breaking News! 5* review: Simple by Anita Dawes #FamilyHorror

Look what I found this morning….

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Image created by AEM

A wonderful poster, created by Amy Elisabeth Miller (AEM) @magicalworldweb to celebrate the arrival of her incredible review for Anita’s second book, Simple…

AEM
5.0 out of 5 starsLife’s Choices
20 October 2018Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

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