CrossFire…with poem by Anita #MysteryThriller

CROSS X7.jpg

 

 

CrossFire

Snow has a target on his back

A female finger on the bow.

He may not have long to go

This life a clock ticking fast.

Blood and sand made of paint.

Does Kate still factor in his fate?

Alas, she is taken by the wind

A new female wants her pound of flesh

With arrow poised, she lets it fly

Snow is hit, his trap undone

Ruth has fled, now on the run…

©Anita Dawes

 

Excerpt from CrossFire

‘Do you know why we have brought you here today, Ann?’

Ruth thought she would ease her way in, rather than accuse her straight off, for triggering any hostility wouldn’t get them anywhere.

The woman stared at Ruth, her pale, colourless eyes searching for clues. ‘Nah… but I ‘spect you’ll get to it pretty quick…’

Ruth indicated a brown paper bag on the table beside her. ‘We found a pair of work boots at your house, Ann. According to your husband, they’re not his. Are they yours?’

Ann Taylor glared at Ruth. She seemed to be enjoying the interview, her arrogance showing through the previous nervousness. ‘Dunno, can’t see them can I?’

Ruth undid the bag and placed the dirty boots on the table. Most of the mud had dried and fallen off, but still didn’t seem like the kind of boot a woman would wear. ‘Are these your boots, Ann?’

Without looking at the boots, she shook her head. ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’

Ruth looked at Snow, but not for confirmation. She wondered why he was choosing to stay silent. What was the point of sitting in if he wasn’t going to contribute? Not that she cared, one way or the other. She had only looked at him to signify inclusion.

She looked back at the woman. ‘Are you quite sure, Ann?’

The woman shrugged her shoulders and refused to speak.

‘For the benefit of the tape, Ann Taylor has refused to answer.’

Ruth decided to read out the coroner’s report, detailing every bruise and damage to the child’s body. When she read the part about the boot imprint on the child’s back, she slid the photograph across the table in front of the mother.

‘Did you do this, Ann?’

When the woman didn’t answer, Ruth decided it was time to play the ace card, and she looked forward to it. This cold-hearted bitch of a woman was about to be arrested, but not before Ruth had enjoyed herself. ‘Are you aware that the person who wore these boots would have left significant DNA inside them?’

Ruth paused, watching as the realisation sunk in.  ‘And are you also aware that we have tested your DNA and it has been proved that you are the owner of these boots?’

The fear and shame were beginning to show on the woman’s face, and Ruth watched, wondering what she would do now. She didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Ann Taylor’s face seemed to implode, as the terror of being found out took effect.  ‘I swear I don’t remember that part… I know I were angry, but when she fell over and banged her head, I thought she was dead…’

‘So what did you do then, Ann?’ Ruth knew what had happened next, but not which one of them had done it.  ‘Were you aware that Amy was still alive when you dropped her into the canal?’

The horror was all-encompassing, as the woman realised the enormity of what she had done. She looked around the room, just once, before she started screaming…

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

 

 

 

#Throwback Thursday ~Two Brilliant Reviews for Let it Go!

aat.jpg

 

 

 

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!)

 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, basically 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. Right then, 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 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, 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 a 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 that 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…


Two Wonderful Reviews!

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for fans of family dramas and coming-of-age stories

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

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!

 5 stars A fantastic look at family relationships

Format: Kindle Edition

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 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!

#Writer’s Wednesday… #Simple by Anita Dawes #Mystery #PsychologicalSuspense

simple sddde.jpg

 

Chapter One

Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride.  Simple, sitting against the woodpile, 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.

 

Jack was Gran’s firstborn, a mean son of a bitch.  Then came Simple who was soft in the head and lived in a dream world.  Tommy, my favourite, was the youngest and nowhere near as bad as Jack.  They were supposed to make sure Simple stayed away from town.  Gran never could bear the thought of Simple going anywhere near there, but never let on why.  The beatings came when he forgot, and somehow Gran always found out.  I figured she should give up on the beatings; it wasn’t helping him to remember to stay away.

I knew why the others went to town so often.  The girls there let them do whatever they had a mind to.  I couldn’t figure why Simple sneaked off; not for girls, I knew that much.  Tommy and Jack had teased him enough about Lizzie, the day they caught him spying on her as she washed in the river.

Watching Gran beat Simple made me think back to the day I lay by the river. I was trying to catch hold of the whispers in my head while looking at the reflection of the clouds in the water.  It was something I liked to do and usually had the place to myself.

That particular day, I had company.  Lizzie was taking a bath and Simple was watching from the bushes.  Without warning, the boys appeared and dragged Simple out of the bushes he thought hid him from sight.  Jack grabbed Simple viciously between the legs, saying it was time he knew how to use it.  They called for Lizzie to come out of the water.

I hid behind a rock, too scared to run back to the cabins.  It wouldn’t matter if I told Gran anyway, she’d say they needed their fun and to let them be.

Tommy helped Lizzie up onto the bank.  She stood there naked, her dark hair dripping.  The water running down her skinny legs made muddy pools at her feet.  Jack stopped her from picking up her clothes.  ‘You won’t be needin’ them just yet, Lizzie.  We’re goin’ to have us a little fun.  It’s Simple’s birthday.’

‘No it ain’t, and I ain’t doing what you have a mind to.  Not with Simple.’

Jack took hold of her arms and roughly pulled her close to him.  ‘You’re mine and you’ll do like I say, missy.  You’re his birthday present.’

Simple tried to move away but Jack held him back; telling him he didn’t want to miss out on such a fine gift.  He threw Lizzie to the ground like a rag doll.  I watched, too afraid to move.  Jack had ears like a bat if I moved an inch he would hear me.  Fear and fascination swam together in my head; knitting an invisible chain that held me fast behind the rock.

Jack stood between her legs and unfastened his belt.  He undid his belt, pushed his pants down and fell on Lizzie, pumping his body up and down.  Tommy pulled Simple down on the ground beside them, slapping Jack’s bare behind.  ‘See, Simple, this is how you please the girls.’

There was much grunting and groaning before Jack let out an even bigger groan and rolled away from Lizzie, his thing still dripping as he pulled up his pants. Tommy pushed Simple down on top of Lizzie and he lay there like a big lump.  As Jack pulled him to his knees, a clump of Simple’s dark brown hair came away in his hand.

‘You see how I did it, now set to, before I tell Gran what we saw you tryin’ to do in town again.’

I wish I knew what Simple did that got Gran so mad, so fired up about him being in town.  He was crying like a baby, tears and snot sliding down his face.  Jack kicked him viciously and he fell forward, stopping himself from flattening Lizzie by putting his hands out, hitting the ground so hard the dry dirt sprung up between his fingers.

I wished there was something I could do to help Simple, but Tommy and Jack had been at Gran’s grog again and I knew if I showed my face, they would do the same to me.  Lizzie seemed to have gotten over the idea of Simple getting at her, giggling as Tommy pulled Simple’s pants off.  I couldn’t bear to watch anymore and turned my face away, but I heard every sound that escaped from Simple’s lips.  I wondered what thoughts were running through his head if any.

For days after, I couldn’t bear to look at Simple or talk to him and knew how much he missed that.  I was the only one who spent the time of day with him.  The others always teased him, saying words over and over before moving on to the next the way Simple did.  I spent hours getting him to speak slowly, and with me, his stammer wasn’t so bad. When Simple got worked up his words stuck, stretched out like an echo rebounding around the woods before finding the end of it.  Most times he gave up trying to say what was in his head.

The back of Gran’s cabin was the only place to find any shade unless you took off into the woods, which wasn’t always a good idea.  Folk around here tend to look out for their own and looking out for the neighbours wasn’t their way of doing things, especially the Spiers.  We’d been having trouble with them for as long as I could remember.

I sat with my back against rough, weathered timber that had been cut from the woods, grateful to be alone to hear the wind rush through the trees, whispering my name.  Emily, the name my heart recognised. Not Leanne, the one they called me.  I got to thinking that Gran would have renamed me, not wanting anything to do with town folk or the names they called their children.  Seeing as how Uncle Jimmy had let slip that my folks had come from the town, I got to thinking how on earth Gran could be mine.  I figured the only way was one of my parents must have been kin to my grandpa.  That could account for the way she looked at me sometimes as if I didn’t really belong.  Part outsider; which is how I felt most of the time.

This got me looking closer at Gran’s boys.  They didn’t look like they come from the same seed either.  Jack, mean and dark, had the best looks. Tommy was the just the opposite.  Fair and plain, as if they forgot to give him character.  I’d been told that Simple was soft in the head because Gran had been too old for birthing. That couldn’t be the true reason, for Tommy was all right. Didn’t matter to me though, I liked him the way he was; all soft and gentle, yet big enough to make me feel safe.  Big enough to squash the rest of them flat should he take a mind to.  Reckon that’s why Uncle Jimmy keeps clear of Simple.  I heard him tell Jack one day that Simple would snap soon enough with all the teasing he gets.

I told Gran once that sometimes I thought I could hear my Ma calling me by another name, could feel her reaching for me and almost make out her face.  Gran said I must be getting soft in the head like Simple and warned me not to talk rubbish again.  I knew better than try.  She would whop me like she always did when something didn’t please her.  It didn’t pay to have an opinion or argue with Gran about anything.

Lizzie said it was just my imagination playing tricks on me, but I didn’t believe any of it.  I felt it in my heart, not my head, and it wasn’t the summer heat frying my brains as Tommy suggested.

Gran said she would be making one of her rare trips to town soon.  I would be twelve next month and according to her, a young woman needs new clothes.  This meant material for Gran to make a new dress, two if I was lucky.  Gran hated going to town, but she knew you couldn’t trust men folk to choose anything.  I knew how hard this would be for her and my heart reached out to hug her, my body slow to follow.

Gran waved the air in front of her to keep me away.  ‘No need to thank me, girl.’

I wished what I felt inside didn’t always show so quick on my face.  My life would be a mite happier if it didn’t.

Lizzie had told Gran about the young’un she was expecting and Gran wasn’t best pleased.  Didn’t matter who the pa was, she didn’t ask.  All she said was, it had better be stronger than the last one. ‘You ain’t made for young’uns, Lizzie. Age has taken your best chances. This has to be the last one, that’s if you can keep it from falling away before its time.’

In the past, Lizzie had managed to keep one until it was three months old.  It was sick from the start, Gran said.  And Lizzie too foolish to give it the right kind of care.  No milk to speak of and she forgot about it for days on end.  Took off with Jack and left it crying.  I asked Gran why she didn’t take care of it, seeing as how she knew better.  It was a stupid question and I almost felt the heat from her eyes singe the hair on my arms.

‘The brat’s Lizzie’s, not mine,’ she snapped.

I couldn’t understand Gran’s way of thinking or feeling.  All hard and shrivelled, weren’t any softness about her, not even around the eyes.  Something bad must have happened to make her so hard.  There wasn’t anything I could do, no way for me to change her.  The child Lizzie lost had been buried just outside the clearing by a big old redwood.  I would sit there sometimes and lay a few wildflowers on the makeshift grave.  All Lizzie said was I was too soft to live in the woods. She didn’t seem to care about the loss.

‘Gran should’ve taken you to town years ago, left you outside the church.’  She often said that when feeling particularly mean.

When Gran didn’t ask who the pa might be, I wondered if she might have something to say if she knew it might be Simple.  I found myself hoping this one would be strong.  Having a baby around would be real nice.  I could help Lizzie take care of it.

Just then, Jack stormed into the cabin behind me, yelling about the Spiers’ messing with his traps again, taking his kills.  That I knew to be one mistake they would pay for.  Gran told him to hush up and let Jimmy take care of it when he got home.  Jack went on and on about the Spiers, he had a thing about them. Every time anything went wrong or the still broke, he would say they had been at it.

Gran told him he was too thick to take care of any one of them.

‘It’s no wonder you lost your kill, shouting your mouth off in town. Makin’ out like a big man, letting’ on where you left the traps.’

I heard Tommy ask how she knew.

‘It ain’t hard to figure, when she knows you couldn’t keep your mouth shut if she was to stitch it.’

Jack must have lost his temper and thrown a chair across the cabin, because something hit the side where I sat, listening.  The thought of Uncle Jimmy coming made the cool spot behind the cabin too cold and I moved off into the sun.

I wondered what he wanted, what brought him down from the mountains.  Jimmy was a mean one, even meaner than Jack was.  Tall and quiet, he liked killing, hunting things.  Animals, men, even bugs weren’t safe.  He would flatten anything that crossed his path, his hands quick as lightning, grabbing winged creatures from the air.  Didn’t seem to matter some of them might sting.

I saw him swallow a wasp once after teasing Simple with it.  Mostly he liked pulling the heads off his kills.  Said even a man ain’t nothing without it, get rid of the head, you get rid of trouble.  That’s what he believed.

His visits were always too long.  Tommy hated him and swore he would take off one day and never come back.  Gran laughed.  She’d heard him say it so often; she didn’t believe he had a mind to do it.  I could see in his eyes that one day he would, he was tired of living in fear of Jimmy and being in Jack’s shadow.

I thought about taking off some days.  Thing was, where to?  I guess Tommy had the same trouble.  Town was good for letting off steam, but the woods were home.  Clarksville was growing speedily, too fast for Gran’s liking. She said it was getting closer to the woods each year.  Full of outsiders thinking they can wander where they please and look down their noses at the way we live.  The sheriff was up here just last week, telling Gran I should be attending school.  She sent him off, saying I knew all I needed to.  School didn’t have anything she couldn’t put in my head.

There were times when I wondered if she was right.  Maybe I would have liked school, made friends of my own age.  Throwing the idea at Gran did no good at all; she had a thing about town folk.  Strange, when I’d heard Jimmy say that grandpa had been from Clarksville.

‘Your Gran liked town folk fine back then.  Never did say what changed her mind.’

Jimmy said grandpa died one winter, caught by one of his own traps. Wolves ate most of his body.  I could understand how this would make Gran sad, but I couldn’t make sense of the way she spoke about town and the folk that lived there. Outsiders, she called them.  There had to be a reason for the way she hated them.  I knew better than to ask, but by keeping my ears open, I would hear most things soon enough.

Jimmy had brought down two headless deer for Gran’s larder.  I wondered what he did with the heads.  Tommy said he ate them, but I figured he buried them, although I half wondered if Tommy was right.

Uncle Jimmy hadn’t been with us for more than a week, when the sheriff turned up again, warning Gran to have a word with her boys.

‘Ned Harrison’s been shooting’ his mouth off about Tommy, if he sets eyes on him again he’s gonna kill him. Says he’s been messing’ around with his wife.’

Jimmy stood there the whole time, his rifle cracked open across his arm.  The sun lighting up the fact the barrel weren’t empty.  It didn’t seem to worry the sheriff, he had his hand on the butt of his own gun, looking Gran in the eyes.  I could see Tommy hiding behind the water barrels while the sheriff tried explaining to Gran that he couldn’t keep an eye on Ned all the time.

‘Wouldn’t want your boy to lose his head over a piece of pussy.  Have a word with him, Ma’am.’  Touching the rim of his hat, he bid Gran good day.

I reckon he saw Tommy because he doffed his hat again as he passed the water barrels.

Tommy tried to get out of a beating by telling Gran the sheriff wanted to get it on with Ned’s wife himself.

‘Jealousy is all, Gran.  Ned ain’t gonna shoot no one, too full of grog mostly. When he ain’t drinking’ he’s sleeping’. ‘Lizabeth’s real nice Gran, I like her and old Ned ain’t gonna last forever the way he’s carrying’ on. I figured on movin’ in when he passes.’

‘Is that so?’  Gran said.  ‘Got a mind to help him on his way, bring more trouble that ain’t my doing’?’

‘No Ma.’  Tommy said, his eyes and voice pleading for her not to reach for the stick by her feet.  I could see in her eyes it was no good, she needed to whop him for reasons of her own…

Simple is just 99p this week… just saying!

#TuesdayBookBlog: Secrets by Anita Dawes #Psychological Suspense

We have decided to catch up with promoting some of our books that need a little extra feedback. I think Secrets is an unusual story for Anita,  in that it crosses several genres.

We would love to know what you think, so don’t be shy!

 

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 childish mischief, it is time for his mother to investigate.
Maggie Swan loves her little boy Danny, but his new playmate was becoming something of a problem.
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?

Amazon reviews

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 …

 
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary + Well Written
 This was a beautifully written novel and flowed from chapter to chapter. Many children have an invisible friend and sometimes that can be a necessary part of a child’s life for various reasons. But when the “friend” starts to cause more than childish mischief, then it is time for the adults to do something about it. The characters in this book were well defined and I liked them all and felt empathy for all of them. This was a page-turner for me and I kept thinking there might be more sinister things going on, especially with the neighbor. I don’t want to give away too much, but I’d like to hear from other readers what they thought about the ending. An entertaining read. A 5 star from me.

Excerpt from Secrets…

The men began to dig, just to one side of the old barn by a broken down fence. She could just make out what was left of an old tree. Her curiosity strained just enough to keep her watching as Janet stepped out from the shadow of the house and took a few steps towards the men.

‘What you got there, buried treasure?’ she called to Tommy.

‘You hold your noise woman, I could always make this here hole big enough to put you in, now get on with you!’

She shrugged, picked up an old basket and walked off round the side of the house.

‘I couldn’t have done that,’ breathed Cathy. ‘I would want to have a look.’

‘Maybe she believes what Tommy said…’

‘Could be, I wouldn’t want to bump into him on a dark night. Did you get a load of his teeth?’

Maggie smiled in spite of herself. ‘I did, every dentists nightmare.’

The word sent a shiver down her spine.

After quite a pile of earth had been dug up, Jack threw his shovel aside and began pulling at something that was stuck in the ground.

Maggie felt sick. Where was the dignity? All she felt was the shame and sorrow of it all.

Tommy gave something a kick with his boot and Maggie felt herself flinch as a large, earth covered bundle came free from the grave. She couldn’t believe her eyes when Jack simply picked it up and carried it back across the field to the car. She watched him put it in the boot and noticed that Tommy was watching him too, before throwing the shovel and pick into the barn. He rinsed the mud from his boots with a hose outside the back door, then he came in and they heard him open the Aga.

‘He’s going to eat his lunch, for Gods sake!’ she said to Cathy. ‘How can he?’

Even as she said it, she realised that today of all days, anything was possible.

Jack was on his way back to the house when Janet appeared again. Waiting until she was sure he’d hear her, she asked,

‘Got what you came for, then?’

Trying to wipe the mud from his hands, he nodded.

‘Come inside and wash up.’ she said.

Jack looked up and caught Maggie’s face at the window. He felt sick to his stomach and didn’t want to look at her. He couldn’t believe what he had just done.

Janet squirted the hose over his shoes, soaking the bottom of his trousers and he held his hands under the stream of freezing cold water to get most of the mud of.

‘We’d better sit down.’ Maggie said, nudging Cathy towards a chair. ‘They’ll be here in a minute.’

They heard Janet tell Jack to use the sink in the small room behind the Aga. ‘But then, you’d know about that, wouldn’t you.’ she said. Seeing Tommy getting stuck into his food, she asked Jack if they would like some lunch before they go.

‘For God’s sake, don’t say yes.’ Maggie whispered, and Cathy held her breath waiting for his answer.

‘No thanks, we really do have to go. I’d like to get back home before it gets dark.’

Jack came into the living room and brought the smell of freshly dug soil with him. It was a smell Maggie usually liked, but not today. In her minds eye she could see the shallow grave, dark and forbidding, with white bones sticking out of the mud. How was she going to get into the car, knowing what was in the boot?

Our #Review for The Beast Within by Jacquie Biggar ~ #SuspenseActionThriller @JacqieBiggar

51RezZJNUaL._UY250_.jpg

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

THE BEAST WITHIN by Jacquie Biggar did not disappoint! These books are a great blend of contemporary romance with added suspense and the paranormal element of guardian angels that have ties to the main characters.
Avonna

Our Review

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?

No.

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. 🙂

 

#Throwback Thursday ~Cusp of Night by Mae Clair #ParanormalMystery @MaeClair1

The truth hides in dark places . . .

51VlpKzC2EL.jpg

 

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, triggers Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

Visit us at www.kensingtonbooks.com

Cusp_AvailableNow

Forli, Emilia Romagna, Italy: narrow dark alley in the old town – ancient Italian street at night with lampposts and cobbled pavement

Our Review of Cusp of Night

“Equal parts monster and fallen angel…”

I knew when I read the blurb for CUSP OF NIGHT that I had to read the first book in Mae Clair’s new series, and I wasn’t disappointed.

It is an unusual story, beautifully written, dripping with a chilling mystery that draws you into the dark world of spiritualism and myth. Mae Clair skilfully blends and intertwines the chapters, connecting the reader to the 1900’s and the present day and the mysteries of both.

I especially loved the way the mysteries from the past begin to resonate with the present circumstances, leading the hero, Maya Sinclair into the paranormal discovery of an evil that somehow can live forever.

Why would an evil entity visit the present, dragging tragedy and horror with it?

This is the mystery that Maya needs to solve, as disaster begins to strike the people around her. Would she be able to solve the mystery and discover the truth behind the legend?

The tension had me chewing my nails, and then the unexpected sadness had me reaching for a box of tissues, but I thoroughly enjoyed every word.

Already described as  “unique, addictive and creepy…” this new series promises to be a best seller and I can highly recommend Cusp of Night to anyone who loves a haunting and formidable story…


 

EXCERPT FROM CUSP OF NIGHT

She’d left her purse on the dresser, keys by her jewellery chest. A half dozen shoeboxes that had yet to find a place in the closet were stacked beside a white rocking chair. Made from distressed wood, the chair had come from Mrs.Bonnifer’s antique shop. Maya had bought it on the spot after hearing it dated from the 1880s. She’d placed it in the parlour initially, then moved it to the bedroom, where it fits perfectly in the corner by the fireplace. Almost as if it had been made for the spot.

The fireplace had long ago been converted to gas, but the charm of the elaborate Victorian mantel had been one of the deciding factors prompting her to sign the lease.

A soft creak broke the stillness, and the rocker pitched slowly back and forth. The runners bobbled up and down as if someone sat in the chair, controlling the movement. A finger of cold traced Maya’s spine. Secondcrept into second as the deliberate rocking continued, the floorboards creaking in unison with the lurch of the runners.

 Barely breathing, Maya stood. Ever since those few seconds in the Aether, she’d grown sensitive to ripples on the fringe of normal. She didn’t believe in ghosts or hauntings but couldn’t deny the existence of vibrations that breached barriers between life and death. She was living proof of a “between” world. Ivy was the only person she’d ever told what she’d experienced while EMTs fought to revive her.

Shock. Trauma, they’d said. You were lucky.

Be careful here. Mrs Bonnifer’s warning echoed in her head. This place has a history.

Maya stepped to the foot of the bed, her gaze glued to the rocker. Its movement stopped abruptly as if an unseen hand had clamped down on the back…

 

mae author box.jpg

Not So Simple?

Draft2Digital Link: https://books2read.com/u/3nYYQB     FREE this week!

Excerpt from Simple…

Walking towards Gran, I could feel the blood draining from my body, trying to find some place to hide.  It felt as if it had all gathered in my feet, making each step I took the hardest thing I had ever done.

Gran got up from her rocker and I watched it continue to move, as if she had left some part of herself sitting in it.  She walked inside the cabin and waited for me. She had never done more than cuff me across the back of the head, but I figured I had to be in for more than that this time.  I was trying to think of the worst she could do.

It was cool inside the cabin.  Gran was sitting at the big wooden table grandpa had made.  She might as well have been the town judge, sitting behind the high bench.  She didn’t move or look at me as I sat opposite, waiting for judgement.  I knew better than speak first.  I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to, my mouth had dried up.  Gran finally spoke, her voice hard, as if she had eaten gravel.  ‘You’ve done a bad thing, Leanne. Taken our trust and pissed it in the wind.  Jimmy says he should be the one to punish you, says you had no right taking Simple anywhere near the Spiers. Reckon I should turn you over to him, save my words for someone who can hear them.’

I said, ‘I can hear real good,’ with more grit in my voice than I intended.

Gran fixed me with one of those looks that made me wish I could turn to stone. ‘Seems to me, young lady,  if your ears still work, then your brain’s gone soft like Simple’s. Fancy interfering in business that aint yours. You know right enough, he needs telling more times than the sun wakes us and then some. You want him took off for takin’ town young’uns?’

‘Course not, Gran.’  My voice came out as a whisper. ‘Simple was hurt real bad.  I couldn’t just leave him . . .’

Amazon Review

Disturbing, but compelling and heartwarming

By Rivergirl

5.0 out of 5 stars

This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heartwarming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.

 

 

Not So Simple?

Draft2Digital Link: https://books2read.com/u/3nYYQB     FREE this week!

Excerpt from Simple…

Walking towards Gran, I could feel the blood draining from my body, trying to find some place to hide.  It felt as if it had all gathered in my feet, making each step I took the hardest thing I had ever done.

Gran got up from her rocker and I watched it continue to move, as if she had left some part of herself sitting in it.  She walked inside the cabin and waited for me. She had never done more than cuff me across the back of the head, but I figured I had to be in for more than that this time.  I was trying to think of the worst she could do.

It was cool inside the cabin.  Gran was sitting at the big wooden table grandpa had made.  She might as well have been the town judge, sitting behind the high bench.  She didn’t move or look at me as I sat opposite, waiting for judgement.  I knew better than speak first.  I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to, my mouth had dried up.  Gran finally spoke, her voice hard, as if she had eaten gravel.  ‘You’ve done a bad thing, Leanne. Taken our trust and pissed it in the wind.  Jimmy says he should be the one to punish you, says you had no right taking Simple anywhere near the Spiers. Reckon I should turn you over to him, save my words for someone who can hear them.’

I said, ‘I can hear real good,’ with more grit in my voice than I intended.

Gran fixed me with one of those looks that made me wish I could turn to stone. ‘Seems to me, young lady,  if your ears still work, then your brain’s gone soft like Simple’s. Fancy interfering in business that aint yours. You know right enough, he needs telling more times than the sun wakes us and then some. You want him took off for takin’ town young’uns?’

‘Course not, Gran.’  My voice came out as a whisper. ‘Simple was hurt real bad.  I couldn’t just leave him . . .’

 

Amazon Review

 

Disturbing, but compelling and heartwarming

By Rivergirl

5.0 out of 5 stars

This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heartwarming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.

 

Scarlet Ribbons for her Hair…

 

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.

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 familiar as if those arms had held me before.

 

Save

#Throwback Thursday~#Out of Time… with poem by Anita #MysteryThriller

Haiku Out of Time.jpg

 

Out of Time

Kate’s life, her mind, is out of time

A savage wind took all

But the brush from her hand.

Her thoughts crash like a wild storm.

She no longer has the will to speak

One last blow to strike

A fake wedding planned by Detective Snow

To trap the beast that waits without.

Will Jack be snared or run again?

The snowman, as Kate calls him,

Will stay with her until the end…

©Anita Dawes

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, in spite of 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 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…