This story from Anita has long been one of my favourites, about a huge bear of a man called Simple. He loves to be in the forest 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?
I would love to hear if you could love it as much as I do…
Here is the latest review for Simple…
5.0 out of 5 starsLife’s Choices
Simple is a story told by a young girl living in the woods with her family, which is made up of mostly harsh characters, who are contrasted by Simple, and then later Amber. It’s a story of love and loss and family and living with the decisions we have made. I had a very hard time putting this book down. I got the majority of it read in one day because I just had to know what all the mystery was. It snags you right away, and holds you tight for the ride. There were some harsh moments in the book, as well as some gems that made me think about life. Overall, what a great book! Well written characters, good depth of detail, and a driven plot.
Nothing quite like the unexpected review to brighten our days and remind us why write…
Lately, we have needed a break from the constant struggle to stay cheerful, what with our health problems and the terrible weather.
Miserable grey skies do little to cheer us up, so when something unexpected happens, it is very welcome.
This wonderful review from D L Finn really brought the sunshine back!
“Scarlet Ribbon” is a story that made me wonder about the afterlife and what is in between. Maggie was out with her husband when she was run down by a car. She ended up in a coma for two long years, but her time became relative as she found herself in a strange place. Her body was in the hospital, but her mind or soul was experiencing a different reality. While she was under, she could see what her husband was doing and was taken to other worlds and the past. She wanted to help, especially a young girl. There was cruelty and a blissful existence that coincided in the different places. As she seeks answers to her dilemma, she finds out more than she wanted to about how sheltered a life she had and people’s true side. I have always wondered what goes on when people are in a coma, and this was a fascinating idea of what could happen. There never seems to be one simple answer or outcome to Maggie’s desires. I love her determination to do what is right, but within her new world, I felt her confusion as she bounced from one situation to another. I was rooting for the person she connected with on the other side. The story picked up the pace when she emerged from the coma, and work began for her to heal and try to remember. The ending was a surprise but didn’t feel done just yet. I hope there are more versions of her life to come and I will be reading them.
Thank you so much, Denise!
Excerpt from The Scarlet Ribbon
I had no idea how long I lay there in the darkness, talking to myself, half hoping that someone or something would hear me and show me the way out. I felt like a defence lawyer, pleading my case before an invisible judge, promising all sorts of things for a second chance. I’d be more patient, and more caring and help all those who needed it. After all, thirty wasn’t a good age to die. That was my final plea. I’d be as good as anyone could be if they’d let me live out the rest of my life with Jack.
But who were ‘they’? Who the hell was I talking to? There didn’t seem to be anyone with me in that dark, empty void.
That’s when I realised I hadn’t left even a small part of myself behind. No children. For the first time, I felt regret. Jack and I had decided that we didn’t need children; we were enough for each other and didn’t want to share our lives with smaller versions of ourselves.
During our second year together, we had allowed one small invasion of our privacy in the form of a tiny black kitten. She’d been dumped in the rain in a brown paper carrier bag like unwanted garbage. It was soaking wet, skinny, and hardly able to walk. I remember taking her home and the look on Jack’s face when I took her out from inside my coat, her dark, spiky fur almost dry from the heat of my body.
It was love at first sight, and we took turns that night feeding her baby milk and comforting her. The following day Jack said he couldn’t stand the smell any longer.
‘She’s got to have a bath, Maggie. She’s a sorry state.’
So that’s what we called her, Sorry. And that’s exactly how I feel now, sorry that we didn’t have a child, someone to remember us, to talk about us when we were gone. But it wasn’t too late; I wasn’t too old, and there was still time…
When a dirty blue car mows Maggie down outside her local supermarket, she becomes trapped in the nightmare world of a coma patient. She manages to rescue an abused and neglected child in this very different world.
But when it looks like she will finally wake up, she cannot bear the thought of leaving the child behind.
But is this other world real, or was she just dreaming? And if it is real, can she help this child?
“Maggie is a likeable character who is easy to engage with, and I found myself willing her to find the courage to embrace happiness. If you like a story that is more than just your average romance then I thoroughly recommend this one…” Amazon Reviewer
“Excellent reading, excellent writing with several unexpected twists that lead to…well, that is for others to find out too. A heart-wrenching and gripping story. Well done, Anita Dawes!” Amazon Reviewer
Excerpt from The Scarlet Ribbon
I felt the sheets being straightened, and deft fingers checked my tubes and wiring. I still seemed connected to the real world, but for how long? How long would I be allowed for goodbyes, even though I couldn’t say them?
It was childish, but if I couldn’t say goodbye, maybe it couldn’t make me go. I held on to that thought, hoping it would somehow make it true.
I heard the sound of rubber soles crossing the floor, then the metallic click of the door latch. I hoped Doctor Marsden hadn’t left the hospital. I would be very interested in his explanation.
Jack smoothed the hair from my face, and his lips touched my cheek. He whispered in my ear, ‘Where are you, Maggie? If you can hear me, please come back. I love you so much. Whatever it is, Maggie, fight it. Don’t let go. I’m not leaving this hospital without you.’
As I listened to him, wondering if he meant it, I drifted away again.
I had no idea how long I’d been lying beside Annie. Days and nights here seemed normal, but back in my world, I knew time seemed to be faster. I was so confused. I didn’t understand why I was incapable of touching Annie, yet the arm I wrapped around her hadn’t fallen through the mattress the way it did everything else. I couldn’t catch the belt, yet it had marked my skin. Why didn’t any of it make any sense?
All I could think of was that some inanimate objects were different.
Annie’s arms and legs looked sore, but the skin wasn’t broken. Her mother hadn’t even come to see if she was all right. God knows how long she would be left on her own. I could hear muffled voices from below, another fight brewing. Why on earth did some people have kids? If they were so capable of hurting them, they must have known beforehand, had some little clue that they didn’t really want them.
Annie had relaxed a little. Her breathing was easier, hardly punctuated by the remnants of the sobbing, although a shudder would disturb her every now and then. One small, grubby hand lay open while the other was closed in a tight fist. I could see a piece of red ribbon sticking out between her first finger and thumb. I reached for it but couldn’t move it. The determined way she held on to it even in her sleep, I knew it meant something special. I wondered if somebody had given it to her. I doubted if those things downstairs masquerading as parents had anything to do with it. It had to be someone nice by the way she clung to it.
I wondered if she had built up some false hope that the giver might come back and save her from the misery she lived in. I knew it was possible. It was also possible that the accident had damaged my mind, that this was all a dream. Whatever the truth was, I had no choice but to go with what I was being shown…
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeking answers on the other side
Reviewed in the United States on 17 May 2022
“Scarlet Ribbon” is a story that made me wonder about the afterlife and what is in between. Maggie was out with her husband when she was run down by a car. She ended up in a coma for two long years, but her time became relative as she found herself in a strange place. Her body was in the hospital, but her mind or soul was experiencing a different reality.
While she was under, she could see what her husband was doing and was taken to other worlds and the past. She wanted to help, especially a young girl. There was cruelty and a blissful existence that coincided in the different places. As she seeks answers to her dilemma, she finds out more than she wanted to about how sheltered a life she had and people’s true side.
I have always wondered what goes on when people are in a coma, and this was a fascinating idea of what could happen. There never seems to be one simple answer or outcome to Maggie’s desires. I love her determination to do what is right, but within her new world, I felt her confusion as she bounced from one situation to another. I was rooting for the person she connected with on the other side.
The story picked up the pace when she emerged from the coma, and work began for her to heal and try to remember. The ending was a surprise but didn’t feel done just yet. I hope there are more versions of her life to come and I will be reading them.
Many thanks to Denise for her wonderful review!
My absolute favourite story of Anita’s, The Scarlet Ribbon is 2.99 for the next two weeks, and can be found HERE
The basement door was easy to overlook, it looked like a cupboard. It opened easily, revealing a dark hole leading down into the bowels of the earth. I looked for a light switch, my hand searching where my eyes could not but found nothing.
As we made our way down the stairs in the dark, I used the torchlight on my phone to see the way. I found the light switch at the bottom of the stairs.
The air in the basement smelled old and musty, with the faint odour of tobacco. We were in a large room, set out like an office with an old desk and overflowing bookcases. An even older leather armchair sat in the corner surrounded by a neat stack of cardboard boxes.
Laurie must have read my mind, saying exactly what I was thinking. ‘Phew, thank God there’s no freezer, nowhere to hide a body…’
My next thought I kept to myself, maybe the body had been cut up and was in all those boxes.
A loud noise made me jump and Laurie shriek, and that was when the light went out.
‘What was that? Snow, where are you?’
‘I’m here, Laurie. Stand still while I switch on my phone light. I don’t suppose you remember seeing any torches when we were here before?’
The limited light from my phone isolated us as we stood at the bottom of the stairs. I strained my eyes, trying to see the further corners of the room. It looked as it did moments ago, but it didn’t feel the same. Weird rustling sounds, creaking and what sounded like whispering came at me from all the corners of the room.
Laurie must have heard it too, for she turned away from me. ‘I’ll go look for a torch, shall I?’ And shot up the stairs like an athlete.
I wanted to follow her, but something kept my feet rooted to the floor.
The whispering came closer and seemed much louder. Something brushed against my face and the image of a bat flew across my mind. This was unlikely, as there didn’t seem to be any access to the outside, something bats had to have.
I shone the light around the room again and as it reached the leather armchair in the corner, the light flickered and went out but not before I thought I saw someone sitting there.
I barely had the time to consider this when something shoved me.
I felt hands on my lower back, strong enough to cause me to stumble.
Instantly, my arms thrashed around, expecting to contact whoever touched me, but found no one.
‘Laurie, is that you?’
The room was silent, the creaks and the whispering stopped as if waiting for someone or something to answer my question.
I tried to move, to make my way up the stairs but my feet refused to move.
I felt the hands on my back again, a growing chill spreading from the site of contact. ‘Who are you?’
When the voice began to speak, the whispering grew louder, creating a tornado of sound, circling around me.
‘You don’t want or need to know who I am, MR Snow. Get out of my house!’
When the shove came, it sent me flying across the room and I found myself in the leather armchair, pinned down by the hands that sent me there.
As I sat there, stunned and very disorientated, I tried to make sense of what had just happened. A flickering light appeared, bobbing up and down. Now what, I wondered. My rational mind not quite accepting any of this.
‘Snow, where are you? I found a torch, it’s a bit feeble but better than nothing.’ As she shone the light around the room, she found me sprawled in the armchair.
‘What are you doing? Don’t tell me you wanted to take it easy, what are you like?’
A small laugh escaped from my mouth as I thought about trying to explain what I thought had just happened.
I did my best to describe what happened to me in the basement. Laurie listened, but I wasn’t sure she believed everything I said. One thing we did agree on, we were trying to help a lonely and confused woman, not get involved with ghost hunting.
That’s what I think, but is it really? ( all opinions gratefully welcome!)
I was reminded today of just how far we have come with our writing and all that is involved with it and wanted to share our pride in our accomplishments.
Still, a long way to go, but loving what you do is a lovely way to do it!
(we didn’t do it all by ourselves, so we thank everyone who helped us along the way!)
About the Book
You read about families where everyone is happy, and life is wonderful. That wasn’t my family. My mother coped patiently with a drunken, obsessive gambler of a husband and a daughter with an insatiable sexual appetite. I loved my father, but he kept us one step away from the poor house. Loving my sister was harder because she hated me and constantly brought trouble to our door. Me? I couldn’t wait to grow up and live my own life. Then everything changed. Dad won a guest house in a card game, and suddenly we were off to a new life in Cornwall. A beautiful place steeped in legend and mystery. Would trouble leave us alone now, or was it merely biding its time?
Excerpt from Let it Go
We hadn’t seen dad for nearly a week, and that was a long time, even for him.
Mum was going spare, ranting on about what she’d do to him when he finally came home. Poor dad, it could mean another black eye or a nose which wouldn’t stop bleeding for hours after mum lands one of her punches. This is pretty normal behaviour for my parents and had been going on for years. Considering my mother’s temper, you would think he would stop rolling home drunk and penniless, but he never did.
It was late Friday night when he finally came home. We knew it was him, even though it sounded as if something had been thrown at the front door. We listened to him fumbling with the key for ages, mum with arms folded, waiting for him to fall through it. How she controlled her temper and didn’t rush at the door and tear it from its hinges, I will never know. I think I would have done; it would have been quicker.
I heard the lock turn and dad swung in like a gust of wind, holding on to the key that was stuck in the lock. His dark, shaggy hair hadn’t seen a comb in days, and his clothes appeared to have been slept in. He stood there swaying, grinning at mum like an idiot.
She slapped his hand from the key, sending him flying across the hall, skidding on the mat that never seemed to want to stay in one place. I had a ringside seat at the top of the stairs and watched as she calmly removed the key and slammed the door.
Sally, my older sister by two years, came out of her room to see what was happening. At seventeen, she thought she’d been around the block and knew everything. As for the block, she’d been around it all right. There was no good way to describe my sister other than to call her a tart. She looked the part, too, with her smeared makeup and messy hair. Hanging over the bannister in her underwear, she told mum to kick his no good arse back out the door. Mum looked up at us with rage in her eyes and we both fled, creeping back when we felt it safe, even sliding down a few stairs to hear better.
They were in the kitchen now and something wasn’t right. Mum’s voice sounded cold, as though talking through ice cubes. We heard her say she was leaving him. After twenty years of going nowhere she’d had enough. Then silence. Why weren’t they speaking, shouting or smashing things like they normally did?
I sat there wishing I could see through the walls. I wanted to go in and say something, remind her that dad wasn’t a bad man. Stupid and unlucky, maybe, but it wasn’t his fault all his schemes and dreams came to nothing.
The silence frightened me. Mum couldn’t possibly leave him. She loved him, had stood by his crazy ideas all this time. Turning to Sally, I whispered, ‘We’ve got to do something. Put some clothes on, hurry, before Dad passes out and mum goes to sleep on the thoughts in her head.’
Sally stopped me from standing up, pulling me backwards, knocking the lower part of my back against the stairs. ‘We can’t, Mary. He’ll say something stupid in a minute, then she’ll go for him. You know what happened last time. You got mum’s elbow in your face, couldn’t see for a week.’
I looked at her, seeing her differently for a moment. Unable to stop the words from coming out of my mouth, I said, ‘I didn’t know you cared.’
‘Of course, I care, you stupid cow. You’re my kid sister.’
Was that a hurt look I saw or another of her acting games? I tried again to stand. Feeling her hand on my shoulder, I moved faster, not wanting to be pulled down again. My foot slipped forward on the edge of the carpet and gravity did the rest, pulling me headlong down the rest of the steps. I heard Sally yell, and then a chair scrape against the kitchen floor. My head hurt. I tried to move, and then someone turned out the lights.
I woke up on our living room sofa with dad holding my hand. Mum was putting a cold flannel on my head. Trying to move shot pain through the top of my head, much as I imagined dad must feel when mum slaps him with whatever comes to hand.
‘Lie still, Mary.’ Dad said. ‘Everything’s all right. Hard heads run in the family.’
From somewhere in the room, I heard Sally scoff. I struggled to sit up and could see her leaning against the doorframe, picking at her nails.
Looking dad square in the face, I said, ‘It’s not all right. Didn’t you hear mum say she’s leaving you? Couldn’t you hear the difference in her voice?’
Dad put the palm of his hand on my cheek and smiled. The smile made you believe in angels and held mum to him all these years.
‘Not to worry, Mary. I have something here that will put the warmth back in her voice.’ Taking some legal papers and a bunch of keys from his pocket, he gave them to mum and said, ‘Read it, Margaret.’
Waiting for mum to say something, to let us in on what could only be another of dad’s get-rich-schemes, seemed like waiting for hell to freeze over.
She read them once, and knowing dad of old, read them again. ‘Cornwall,’ she said finally. ‘A broken down guesthouse.’ She waved the paper at dad. ‘How did you get this with no money?’
‘Playing cards.’ Dad said. ‘I won it from old Tom. That’s where I’ve been, Cornwall, to look at the place. Margaret, it’s beautiful. Overlooks the ocean – a lick of paint, and it’ll be good as new.’
‘So, Michael Flanagan. How long has this place been closed, did you think to ask?’
‘A year or so.’
‘Right. So with eyes full of beer, you managed to figure out it’s a lick of paint we’ll be needing, nothing more?’ The temper still showed on her face and her words had thorns. It was no accident she had been born with red hair.
‘Don’t start, Margaret. Can’t you see that luck has finally found us? It’s what you’ve always wanted, to run our own place. And the money we get from this house will get us started. The girls can help out, even get paid for the work they do around the place.’
‘I don’t see myself as a chambermaid.’ Sally moaned, folding her arms across her chest like mum. She straightened her back, trying to look tough.
Dad spun on her. ‘Better than lying on your back with God knows who, whenever the mood takes you!’
Sally stormed off, and I heard the bedroom door slam shut as dad went on about her going the same way as his sister, Aunt Vivian, known hereabouts as the local bike.
Mum said he should hold his tongue.
‘Can’t do it, woman. I won’t see one of my own daughters end up on the same road. I’ll be putting the house on the market first thing in the morning. We’ve talked about nothing else for the past ten years. Now, it’s been handed to us on a plate.’
From the look on mum’s face, I could tell she was beginning to think it might be a good idea. After all, we had nothing to lose. It had plenty of rooms and hadn’t cost dad a penny, and this house would give them the money to do it up. But what on earth did they know about running a guest house? I decided that now wasn’t a good time to ask…
Fifteen-year-old Mary’s life is turned upside down when her father wins a large house in Cornwall in a card game, and her parents decide to up sticks from South West London, move down to Cornwall, and run a bed & breakfast boarding house. Mary does not have a good relationship with her sister Sally but is particularly close to her elderly and infirm grandmother (Nan). Nan decides to make the biggest change of all and move with the family to live in a caravan at the end of the garden. Mary finds an old diary written by a girl her own age who used to live in the house. She reads of a particular event in the diary that happened years before, which she cannot get out of her mind. Mary has a need to follow up the event and finds a new friend, Mark, who has knowledge of the local area and all its mysteries to help her in her quest. The author has an obvious love of Cornwall, and this is evident throughout the book. I enjoyed reading about the shifting family dynamics, Mary’s relationship with her sister, and the new life experiences that she had to learn to cope with. I can recommend this four star read for fans of women’s fiction, family dramas, and coming-of-age stories. There are a few grammatical errors, but they did not distract me from the story. Well done!
A fantastic look at family dynamics through the eyes of Mary, a fifteen-year-old who is older and wiser than her years. When her father wins a guest house in a card game, Mary’s has to adjust to a new life in Cornwall. In addition to her parents and sister, Mary also has her beloved grandmother, Nan, to aid in that adjustment.
This book is filled with wonderful characters and effortless writing. I adored the relationship between Mary and Nan. As narrator, Mary does an excellent job in allowing us to see the world through her eyes. From the vivid place descriptions to the strengths and weakness in the people around her, including her own family, the reader sees scars, faults and triumphs.
The plot thread with Mary’s sister Sally, and how the family rallies around her when she runs afoul of three local women is especially strong. I also liked the thread with Spike, an unexpected “lodger” and how his storyline turned out. The author has a great style and hooked me immediately. I plan to seek out more of her books. Consider me a fan!
These reviews for Anita’s book really thrilled us and made our writing life so much more rewarding. Everyone should review the books they read. It is easy to do and brings so much joy to writers everywhere!
When Julie Crenshaw is offered a news reporter’s job on beautiful Vancouver Island she didn’t expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial killer. Connor O’Rourke has seen his share of human depravities during his fourteen years as a homicide detective, but is still sickened by the murderer terrorizing his island shores. And threatening his key witness. As the stakes rise, can two people get a second chance at love? Or will a killer become the winner?
From USA Today Bestselling Author Jacquie Biggar, Can two displaced angels save a woman from the clutches of a vicious psychopath?
The twists and turns in this story are amazing. Just when you think you know where the adventure is going, it switches to the unexpected. Definitely kept me entertained and on my toes! Jacqui Nelson
I found the opening paragraph of The Beast Within painful to read, but it did set the tone for the rest of the book very well.
I love a good mystery thriller, and the premise for this book promised to tick all of my boxes. It has a strong emotional and romantic element, warring guardian angels and an evil serial killer, all combining into one of the best suspense novels I have read in a while.
Add to all of that, an unrelenting pace, beautifully descriptive writing and multiple storylines, in short, a book that will not allow you to stop reading.
The Beast Within is the first of Jacquie Biggar’s books I have read, and it didn’t take me long to realise I would have benefitted from reading the first book in the Mended Souls trilogy. The story itself stands alone, I just felt the need to know the characters a little better.
I will be reading the first book in this trilogy while I await the conclusion to this amazing series…
Excerpt from The Beast Within
Mike sank into the chair his wife had recently vacated in the conference room at the police station. He stared at the door and pictured the cop holding Jules pressed up against its smooth surface while he locked lips with her like she was in need of CPR.
And she’d let him.
His head fell back, and he closed his eyes, desperately trying to erase the preceding minutes from existence. Moisture leaked down his cheeks and into his ears. The heart that he’d thought was frozen in time, cracked. Great fissures of agony and sorrow spilled into his chest, filling his soul with darkness and rage. Why was this happening to him? Why was he being tortured this way? Wasn’t it enough that he’d lost his family and then was given the task of teaching his enemy repentance? How was he supposed to stand by and watch the love of his life move on with another man? Maybe even raise his children?
Mike erupted from his seat, and the chair flew against the wall before bouncing to the floor. He strode for the door, determined to bust the cop’s face and then grab his wife, throw her over his shoulder, and head for home where she belonged. Then the memory of what he was drew him up short. A freaking angel. It didn’t matter how much he ached to stake his claim, it wouldn’t do any good, would it? Unless they were going to re-enact that sappy chick flick Jules used to pick every other month for their date night, it wasn’t going to work. He was a ghost—and she wasn’t.
His stomach sank. That meant he was going to have to learn to accept other men entering her life, and maybe even staying.
She deserved happiness.
About the Author
JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males who know what they want, that is until they’re gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls. She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters. Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂
This is book two in my DI Snow Series, and having just received an amazing review for CrossFire from Colleen Chesebro, HERE I thought you might like to know a little more about Out of Time…
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 Out of Time
Kate sat at the table in the Vestry with her head in her hands. She couldn’t believe Jack had found her again, despite all the Snowman’s security. She kept seeing the ivory roses, 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 disapproved. ‘I did ask you to try and be kind to him, Kate. Even though you couldn’t love him, you, of all people, should have treated him better than that…’
It was true; she remembered 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 now.
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 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…
ABOUT US: For those new to our website and blog, we would like to thank you for visiting. Between us, we write in several different genres, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy. Anita cannot abide computers, so I (Jaye) do all the technical (oily rag) stuff! Our books tend to be varied, from horror to supernatural romance and coming of age, and mystery thrillers. We try to keep our website interesting with guest posts, bloggers, poetry, and reviews for all the books we read. Our books are shown in the right-hand sidebar and clicking on the images should take you straight to Amazon.If you enjoyed your visit, we would love you to leave a comment…Hoping to see you again!
The Scarlet Ribbon 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. (Don’t tell anyone, but there may be a sequel!)
Excerpt from The Scarlet Ribbon
It was all over at last. He would never hurt anyone ever again. 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.
I 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 familiar as if those arms had held me before.
Kate Devereau wakes up in hospital unable to speak or move after the brutal attack by her ex-husband.
Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge the misery of her dark and disturbing past.
A past that conceals a web of painful secrets.
Michael Barratt, Kate’s old flame, 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.
With the help of DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her shattered life back together,
only to discover her nightmare is far from over.
Her first instinct is to run, but Snow convinces her to stay to help him put an end to the nightmare.
A nightmare that will get a lot worse before it gets better…
An excerpt from Out of Time
When he discovered Michael Barratt’s location, Snow didn’t have to ask what happened as the constable’s face said it all. A lovely shade of green was indicating the man was having trouble hanging on to his breakfast.
The churchyard resembled a scene from a horror movie with blood everywhere. The victim had been attacked from behind. A single knife wound to the neck, causing him to bleed out in a matter of seconds. What had possessed the man to leave the safety of the church? You had to wonder at his mental state, for he didn’t appear to have had a death wish.
Snow looked down at the man lying on the grass, an attractive man, despite the scar tissue and missing hair. He felt a little sorry for him, not for dying, but for spending too many years searching for Kate Devereau, only to fall flat at her unforgiving feet. He thought again about the other woman in his life and the child. Michael Barratt sure liked to complicate his life, but to what end? Still, the fight was over for him now.
The area behind the church had been checked as soon as the body was found, but there was no trace of Jack Holland. Snow wasn’t fooled, he had to be around there somewhere, as he wouldn’t rest until he had Kate Devereau in his clutches.
She almost knocked him down as he opened the door to the church. ‘Where is he?’ she said, trying to sidestep around him. He put his hands on her shoulders. ‘You cannot go out there, Kate. I will not allow it. You will have to say your goodbyes later.’
Her face contorted with either rage or upset, he couldn’t tell which. ‘He is dead, Kate. He went outside against our instructions and paid the ultimate price. At least it would have been quick …’
She started to walk backwards away from him, a stunned look on her face as the truth sank in. Snow caught the attention of a WPC and indicated Kate shouldn’t be left alone. He watched them walk away and wondered what would happen next. He tried to reach Jim Harris on his phone but there was no answer. He left a constable to guard the door and went to find him.
Snow marched around outside the church, looking for Jim Harris. He refused to consider losing anyone else. He was so angry, if he could get his hands on Jack Holland, they wouldn’t need to lock him up.
He found his sergeant checking the cars outside in the street. ‘You need to answer your phone, Jim before I have heart failure …’
‘Sorry, Boss, it must be on silent. Saw a man hanging around out here, so thought I’d check.’
‘Since when do you leave the scene of a crime, Jim, whatever the reason?’
A scream from inside the church drew their attention, and they hurried inside, expecting the worst. Kate and Sam were sitting on the floor in front of the altar, and Kate was the one who had screamed. Sam looked up as they approached and pointed towards the altar. ‘Present from Jack Holland …’
Snow had to look hard to recognise what had been left on the velvet altar cloth, and his heart sank when he realised what it was. Kate’s flowers were lying there, soaked with blood. The most obvious message from a killer, intended to strike fear into the soul of his next victim, and from the look on Kate Devereau’s face, it had worked…