#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives ~ chapter 23 #MysteryFiction

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

Chapter 23

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I’m sorry, did you say something?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Scarlet Ribbon… #SupernaturalRomance #Fiction

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

The Scarlet Ribbon… by Anita Dawes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

See what I mean? See you next week…

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A Magical Reminder of Simple…#Fiction #FamilyHorror

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the latest review for Simple…

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

 

To Celebrate a Poem for Nine Lives #MysteryThriller #Poetry

 

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

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

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Nine Lives

Kate’s life in colour reflected on canvas

Each brush stroke a pain not healed.

Step into a nightmare that Jack has made.

A broken mirror that still stands

A face reflected, she understands

Each broken shard of glass is red with pain…

©Anita Dawes

 

Excerpt from Nine Lives

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

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

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

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

 

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

Look what I found this morning….

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

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

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#Wednesday Writer: Nine Lives by Jaye Marie Chapter22 #MysteryThriller

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Chapter Twenty-two

Jack Holland couldn’t shake the image of the old woman from his mind. The way she had looked at him replayed repeatedly in his head, making him believe she knew what he was about and what he had done. Normally, he had the greatest respect for old age. If you made it that far, he thought, you must be worth something. She had looked at him knowingly and he didn’t like it.

What if she mentioned him to Kate? She might just assume some old women sometimes create suspicion in order to make their lonely lives more interesting, but the seeds of worry were growing.

Could she have seen anything else? One sighting might be dismissed, but had she seen him on other occasions too?

He prided himself on always being vigilant on his frequent visits to Kate’s flat, but the idea of a nosy old woman unable to sleep at night who might have been at her window had not occurred to him.

Now it ate at him. The woman’s face haunted him; sneered at his stupidity until he was convinced she would tell Kate everything and ruin his chances. He couldn’t have that. The thought of Kate finding out and running away from him again didn’t bear thinking about.

 

It took careful planning to keep both women under observation and not be seen by either of them and in a way, he was enjoying himself. He imagined he could be a secret agent on a mission of grave urgency. Down to him to do whatever was necessary to put the world straight.

His world, that is. Nothing would be allowed to get in the way of his quest to get Kate back to where she had always belonged.

The fact it had been so long now and Kate had shown no sign of missing him, had not entered his mind. It had tried to, and he had dismissed the thought as unworthy of a man in his position. He had to get her back, nothing else would do and he was so desperately tired of waiting. He was also tired of all these interferences and still fervently believed he would win in the end, once he had eliminated every distraction. He would make her need him again, one way or another.

He had invested in a small ex-electricians van, complete with a colourful logo on the side in which to conduct his surveillance. Nobody looked twice at a tradesman’s vehicle and he felt less conspicuous than he assumed Kate’s brother did, in his shabby old car. He could sleep in there if the need arose. It was a convenient arrangement and quite fitted his image of detective-hood.

She was a sweet old woman, he thought. She kept herself busy, popping up to the shops several times a week. Remarkably agile for one of her age, although he suspected she could be a nasty piece of work should the need arise. He had witnessed the way she treated the postman when he tried to post an armload of junk mail through her letterbox. He kept getting a mental picture of one of those small annoying Jack Russell dogs, busily tearing a rabbit to shreds, reminding him he had to be more than careful with this one.

Having to watch two people at the same time was a new experience for him and was proving to be exhausting, as he had no idea what either of them would do. The strain was becoming annoying and he knew he would have to take a risk soon, as he had visions of sitting in the van forever and that wouldn’t do at all.

The right time arrived just when he was prepared to risk everything by forcing the situation his way. It was Saturday morning and Kate had gone out. The old woman’s front door opened and she came out with a bucket in her hand and started to clean the windows.

It was the perfect scenario, he couldn’t have wished for better. He casually crossed the road, looking out for any nosy parkers and slipped inside the open door.

When the old woman came back inside and closed the door, she didn’t seem at all surprised to see him sitting in her living room. She just stood quietly in the doorway, waiting for him to speak.

He was in no hurry to tell her anything, in fact, he might not say anything at all. Pointless anyway, she couldn’t possibly understand just how important his mission was. He noticed she was nervously plucking at the handle of the bucket, trying not to look at him. It was almost as though she knew why he was there, and that was ridiculous.

After what seemed like an eternity, the old woman finally moved. She walked past him to the kitchen and he heard her rinse out the bucket and put it away.

He stood up and followed her, grabbing her by the elbows and throwing her to the floor. He had no real plan of action, no thought as to how to be rid of her, but he had no idea how strong an old woman could be. He had fantasied that the mere sight of him might have done it, but she was looking up at him, fiercely defiant blue eyes determined to see through whatever was coming. He took her head in his hands and contemplated crushing her skull. It didn’t feel strong. Her hair was soft against his fingers and he paused for a moment.

‘Shame about this, old girl, but no good ever came of being nosy, now did it…hmm?’

Then the sweet old woman with the soft hair and defiant eyes became an obstacle once more, something that had to be removed.

He closed his eyes and lifted her head away from the blue patterned lino. Her hands were clutching desperately at his sleeves, fluttering like birds wings. He thought of Kate, and how much he missed her, and the familiar mist seeped into his brain as he pounded the woman’s head against the floor repeatedly until her eyes closed and she stopped breathing. He left her lying there and went back to his van…

 

 

Rosie’s #Book Review Team #RBRT No One Can Hear You by Nikki Crutchley #Mystery&Thriller @NikkiCAuthor

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‘He said that they’d let me go on purpose. That they could easily find me if they wanted to. He said that they didn’t want me. That I was too much trouble. He said if I went to the cops, he’d know. If I told Sonya, he’d know. If I talked to friends or teachers, he’d know. He told me to pretend it didn’t happen. He told me to consider it a compliment, that I was too strong. His last words to me were, ‘Just forget’.

Troubled teen Faith Marsden was one of several girls abducted from Crawton, a country town known for its picturesque lake and fertile farmland. Unlike the others, she escaped, though sixteen years on she still bears the emotional and physical scars.

Zoe Haywood returns to Crawton to bury her estranged mother Lillian, who has taken her own life. As she and Faith rekindle their high-school friendship, they discover notes left by Lillian that point to two more young women who recently disappeared from Crawton. But Lillian’s confused ramblings leave them with more questions than answers.

As Faith and Zoe delve deeper into the mystery, they become intent on saving the missing women, but in doing so are drawn into Auckland’s hidden world of drugs, abduction and murder.

And then Faith decides to confront the mastermind – on her own.

 

Our Review

A brilliant opening prologue, the story opens in a foster home in 2001.

Faith Marsden had been in worse places, but a late night escapade finds her in somewhere much worse…

Sixteen years later, Zoe Hayward, a teacher at a boys school, is unfairly sacked because of an incident with one of the boys. Her mother, who she hasn’t seen in years, dies and Zoe must return home to arrange the funeral, so she is unable to stand her ground over the dismissal.

Zoe is just doing her duty regarding her mother but gradually becomes involved in the mystery of the missing girls in her hometown. The authorities seem to want it all to disappear, but she isn’t about to let that happen.

Fast paced in the beginning, the thread of this story alternates between the characters and their chapters, which vastly increased the tension.

Such a complicated and skilful plot, you really need to be on your toes with this one. The story unpeels like an onion, each layer full of frustrating clues and red herrings. By the time I was just over halfway through, the tension had built to an almost unbearable level.

The story slowly descends into a gruelling hell as the author describes the extent of the missing girl’s trauma with painful precision.

The climax of the story begins when Zoe makes an important discovery, triggering one of the best finales I have read in a while…

 

Excerpt

Her eyes began to burn from staring unblinkingly into the dark. She shut them tight again. Her hands wandered further, cautiously, off the edge of the mattress. A concrete floor, chilled and unforgiving. She stretched her hands out either side. One side touched hard wood. Shelves maybe? The last time she remembered any contact with people was sitting in Garth’s office at the Crawton Tavern, having a few drinks after work on Sunday, with … who?

She stood on shaking legs, the dark playing with her balance. She hardly knew which way was up, and a whimper escaped her lips. The sound, desperate in the stillness, chilled her. She edged forward, hands in front of her, hesitant, not knowing what to expect. After she’d counted six steps from the mattress her hands found a door. She had performed the same actions days or hours ago. She knew what the result would be but grasped the handle anyway, daring to hope, and turned it.

Locked.

She stumbled to the side and her foot kicked something. A bucket? It skidded across the room. She knocked her elbow on what she guessed was more shelving. Rubbing at it the tears came, wretched, choking sobs that echoed around her prison. Her head thumped as she tried desperately to piece together what had got her here. They’d taken her like she knew they would. She’d told herself what she’d overheard was nothing, even when Tania disappeared. Deep down she’d known she was in danger.

But there hadn’t been anywhere else to go.

Thank you to the author and to #RBRT for my #free review copy…

 

CrossFire…with poem by Anita #MysteryThriller

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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…

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#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives~chapter 20 #MysteryThriller

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Jack wished he could have been there to see the look on her face when she found what he had done. Imagination was a powerful thing but no substitute for being there.

It wasn’t planned either, he had originally intended to wreck a painting or two, just something to get her a bit rattled. When the blessed cat had started hissing at him the minute he opened the front door he just saw red, quite spoiling his appreciation at finding Kate had not changed the locks.

He managed to corner the animal in the kitchen and picked it up, stroking its head and ears until loud purring ensued. Such a pretty little thing, with its silver and black fur and green eyes. It was enjoying being petted.

‘Where has all your anger gone now?’ he asked, his voice soft and soothing. ‘Why aren’t you afraid of me anymore, hmm?

The animal looked up at him, green eyes gently opening and closing in some kind of feline ecstasy. When it stretched up and pushed its head against his hand, some secret switch flipped in Jack’s mind and he slowly tightened his grip around the animal’s neck. In no time at all the animal was a limp rag in his hands and he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop there.

He laid the limp body of the cat on the floor and stared down at it while he decided what he wanted to do. For some inexplicable reason, he decided he wanted to keep the fur so he undressed, removing all of his clothes and making a neat pile of them on the kitchen counter. He found the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer and tried to teach himself to skin an animal. He had never done it before and didn’t manage to remove the skin cleanly or in one piece. There were lumps of fur and blood all over the floor; his hands, arms and legs were glistening red. Who knew a small animal would have so much blood?

It turned out to be quite invigorating, as it happened. The sight and smell of all the blood stimulated him to a frenzy and he thoroughly enjoyed making as much mess as possible.

He knew she thought a lot of the animal, always did have a soft spot for anything small and furry, so she should be suitably distraught. Might just cause another heart attack if he was lucky. He was still kicking himself for not having enough time to finish her off when she was in the hospital last time.

All things considered though, he didn’t want her dead. It was so much more fun to make her suffer and even more fun to watch. Pity he couldn’t rig up a camera in here, he thought, looking around the bloodied kitchen. Should be something, pity he wouldn’t get to see it. It did, however, give him plenty of new ideas for the future.

He stood up, the frenzy long gone now, replaced by the satisfaction of a job well done. He glanced at his clothes; quickly deciding a shower was in order and walked to the bathroom. He would have to be quick, as he had no idea how much time he had.

He didn’t want her to find him there, as he wanted this game to go on a lot longer. He was nowhere near finished with her yet.

As he left, he noticed an old woman in one of the houses opposite eyeing him suspiciously. That was all he needed, a nosy neighbour. He turned on the full extent of his favourite icy glare and she shot indoors like a frightened rabbit.

He smiled, slightly amused he still had the power to frighten old women, but he had a sneaking suspicion he might have to take care of this particular woman before she ruined all his plans…

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Jack is a really nasty piece of work, but I loved writing about him…