#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…

 

 

#Poetry: Don’t Look Away…

I found this heartbreaking poem while sorting out some old papers.

It was written more than ten years ago by my granddaughter, Hayley.

 

 

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Image by Pixabay.com

 

Don’t Look Away

Rich or poor, thin or stout

You’ll know when bullies are about.

There’ll be eyes that are crying

And those that are looking away.

‘No Sir, I didn’t see what happened…

I really couldn’t say.’

Or the bullies will get me tomorrow,

When you are looking away.

When the bullies shout and push you about

And when you call for help,

I won’t tell you to go away,

Don’t make a fuss dear,

As grown-ups are prone to say.

I will stand beside you and say

My name is Hayley Steele

I will not look away…

©written by Hayley Steele

(Anita’s granddaughter)

 

 

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Image by Pixabay.com

 

 

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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Jaye’s Journal:10~16th September

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This past week has almost been the straw that nearly broken everything.

I mean, you can only struggle for so long, can’t you?

Bang your head enough times and something will break, and I guarantee it won’t be the wall!

I have recently discovered a new way (at least for me) of getting more book sales, but learning how to set it up is sorely testing what’s left of my remaining grey cells.

I managed to finish writing the interview with one of the characters from The Scarlet Ribbon for Lisa Burton, Craig Boyack’s amazing robot assistant. This aired on Thursday 20th.

This week was beset with gremlins and glitches, on the PC mainly. Caused, I believe, by an incompatibility with Chrome. Trouble is, I have run out of options, as I left Firefox for similar problems. There is always Internet Explorer of course.

Sometimes I am really fed up with everything not being quite right, despite working hard to make it so.

Then, Armageddon arrived.

We lost all connections with the phone line and the internet. And we don’t own a mobile phone!

We enlisted the help of Anita’s daughter and her mobile phone, and she managed to convince BT that we needed help and soon. I have to say that even if we did have a mobile phone, we wouldn’t have been able to follow all the instructions that she had to follow. From photographing the different parts of our phone system, (which involved downloading apps) to a series of complicated messages. Our minds were shattered and we weren’t doing any of it!

Somehow, we managed to get an engineer appointment for the following day, and this never happens!

To cut a very long story short, the engineer turned up this morning. When the light on our PC hub turned green, there was a big cheer. But our joy was to be short-lived.

For some reason, I couldn’t log on to our provider. At this point, I wanted to pull my hair out or run down the road screaming. I tried everything I could think of, every troubleshooting programme I could find, but the harder I tried, the more convinced I was that something was trying to kill my brain!

I tried to switch from Chrome to Internet Explorer, but this didn’t work either. I was almost resigned to telephoning BT and asking for help, but I hesitated. The last time I was forced to do that, I ended up more confused than ever.

In the end, I did manage to get Internet Explorer to cooperate and swiftly downloaded Firefox.

Within minutes, normality was restored and the rest, as they say, is history!

(Until the next attack by the ever-present gremlins, that is!)

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It Is Scarlet Ribbon Day Today!

Today is a very special day for Anita’s book, The Scarlet Ribbon!

We have already posted the wonderful interview with #LisaBurtonRadio today, and just had to go a bit mad…

To celebrate this madness, we are posting all things Scarlet Ribbon related, starting with a new poster, featuring new 3D cover image.

In the off chance that someone might want to read The Scarlet Ribbon, and /or leave a review, here is the Amazon Book Link:  http://myBook.to/SRIBS

And the Books2Read Link: https://www.Books2Read.com/u/b5rvY7

 

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Then we thought we would run the trailer, just for the fun of it!


Of course, we had to include a review…

 
It’s rare these days to find an original concept in fiction but Anita Dawes has created an unusual story here. Maggie has been knocked down by a car and is in a coma, aware of her surroundings but unable to communicate. While in the coma, she also occupies an alternate world somewhere between life and death. Here she meets David and Annie, two characters who will continue to haunt her when she emerges from her coma. The novel is beautifully written and the characterization is strong; the reader is rooting for Maggie from the start. It took me a little while to get into this story but from the point Maggie comes out of her coma I couldn’t put it down. The whole premise is thought provoking and I’d particularly recommend it to people who are interested in concepts of the afterlife. In particular, the ending will stay with me for a long time…

 

Next we have a new poem from Anita, called The Wishing Tree…

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The wishing tree stood alone by the still, white water,

Festooned with ribbons of every colour

A fallen rainbow reflected there.

I could see one scarlet ribbon hanging low

Its ragged edge touching the water

As if wanting to be washed clean.

I run my fingers down this lonely ribbon

Feeling the weight of sadness

Within the strand of red.

My tears fall, tiny ripples spread across the water

My tears mingled with those of the child

Who had placed the scarlet ribbon here?

My fingers are numb from having touched it

I left, feeling as if someone had touched me

Calling for help…

Anita Dawes

 

No Angels…

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Death screamed around me, tearing at my mind. A sound no one should ever hear. Hot nails clawed at my skin, tearing the wings from my back.

A voice whispered close, “There are no angels in Hell. You must find your way out before you become one of us. The sins of those here will stick to you, if you let this happen you will be here forever…”

I heard myself screaming, “How do I get out?” But the voice was gone.

The screaming faded into the background of my mind. My wings were could feel the bleeding stumps, hot burning remains of what I once was. Why did I try to rescue Lucifer? He chose his path and I should have left him to it.

My companions tried to warn me. Could they help me to find a way out?

I could hear their voices high above me. Safe, free from sin.

I had not set eyes on God’s favourite angel and felt he might be hiding from me. Was he as afraid as I felt? Was he trying to find his way back?

I had the feeling this was wishful thinking for Lucifer had a strong mind, one not easy to change. There was no way he would help me out of here.

The thought barely left my mind when I saw his shining face. Why was he so untouched by the flames of Hell? Was he master here now?

He spoke with the same sweet voice and placed his hand upon my shoulder, he said, “You should not be here, Michael…”

Suddenly I was back where I belonged, my wings as white as snow. Doing what I always do, looking out for those of you on Earth. You see, angels have nightmares too…

Anita Dawes

Jaye’s Journal 26Aug -2 Sept.

 

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Earlier this year, I had my annual eye check-up. Not something I was looking forward to as I had the feeling that the slowly growing cataract in my left eye would finally be big enough to warrant being removed.

And it was. My optician said she would send her recommendation to the eye clinic at the Queen Alexander Hospital in Portsmouth. They would then, if they agreed with her, agree to see me to discuss the next stage.

Ever since that day, despite my eyesight fading fast, I have not been able to stop the nightmare of having someone slicing away at my eyeball.

But wait, the nightmare was about to get much worse.

The hospital duly agreed to see me, so it would seem I wouldn’t be escaping the knife after all. The day of my appointment arrived and the eye specialist, after administering drops to my eyes, proceeded to make his own judgement.

You could have pushed me over with a feather when he started going on about my right eye. How bad he thought it was and how he would be glad to sort it out for me. At first, I thought I had made a mistake (it does happen these days) but after a quick think, I realised it was he who had made the mistake. Of course, being a stroppy cow at the best of times, I wasn’t about to smile sweetly and thank him, was I?

Not on your life.

When I mentioned what my optician had said, he listened and then repeated what he was going to do, to my right eye. My turn to listen, and then I asked if he had received her letter. To be fair, he did find it in my file and read it but didn’t change his mind. He did, however, offer to see me again to conduct more tests.

To cut a long story short, I thanked him and left in a dignified manner. Straight round to my optician to see what she thought I should do. Her opinion was unprintable, but she did recommend that I go for the tests just to see what would happen. He is the only eye specialist around here, so it was worth checking out. If I didn’t like what he said, he wouldn’t see me for dust!

Two months later (this was last week) I presented myself for these tests. To say I had misgivings would be putting it mildly, but I needed to check this out, as my eyesight is getting worse by the minute.

Drops were administered and I waited for the tests to begin. But I was shown into the inner sanctum and told to put my chin on this contraption. After the briefest of inspections of both of my eyes, he sat back and I swear he was smirking and said they would be doing nothing to my eyes this year and maybe not next year either.

I stared at him with admirable composure, my mind turning somersaults. So many things could have happened then, and in my mind, I was tearing his hair out with my bare hands. After the briefest of pauses, I stood up, thanked him politely and turned to leave. As I reached the door, he said, “So good to see you again…” and this time he was definitely smirking.

Now, was I imagining all those things he had said about my right eye way back at the original appointment?

It would seem that I must suffer from my diminishing eyesight indefinitely unless I see someone else next year.

I wonder if this is even possible?

Apologies…

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I am not sure how it happened, but all I can do is offer everyone involved my heartfelt apologies. It may not even be my fault, what with Amazon ditching people’s reviews all over the place.

This blogging business is sometimes very complicated and although I am an idiot even on a good day, I thought I was keeping a handle on all the important bits. I mean, I had all my notes and prompts, lists and instructions, to ensure I don’t forget anything important.

But it is beginning to look as though I have been forgetting one of the most important parts of reviewing some of the books we read. Most of you will know the basic premise when you have finished reading a good book. We write a blog post about it including our review, and then we post this review to Amazon and Goodreads.

Now, unless Amazon has been eating some of our reviews, it would appear I have been missing out one of these important steps. I have done an extensive check of our reviews and these are my findings. Eighty reviews have found their way to Amazon, but about twenty or so have not. Some of these were arc copies and I wondered if that had something to do with it, but then I discovered that others were copies I had bought, so no solution there.

I cannot tell you how mortified I am, or how I have allowed this to happen. I cannot think of any reason or excuse for these omissions.

We will, of course, repost all of these reviews and notify the authors concerned.

I am sure someone must have noticed this error and chose not to comment, and for those who were kind enough to spare my feelings, I am grateful. But if you had pulled me up I could have put this right sooner.

As it is, I am sure I will not forget again.

If Amazon did have something to do with this, it will be interesting to see what happens when I repost these reviews.

PS:   One thing I haven’t been doing, is stating clearly that our reviews have been written from an arc copy, gifted by the author for an honest review. Something else I will not forget to do in the future…

Honesty in WorldWar2 by Chris-Jean Clarke #ContemporaryFiction/History@ChrisJeanClarke

 

WW2 through the eyes of a child: It is mid-summer, 1944 and Britain is embroiled in war.

A large percentage of city and town dwellers are being killed; homes bombed, and personal belongings destroyed. The people not only fear for their own safety, but they also realize, that even if they are fortunate enough to survive there is a slim chance their offspring will not.

They feel they have no choice but to send their children to remote country villages to be raised by strangers, in the hope they will have a better life. The only adults permitted to travel with the children are mothers with youngsters under five years old, the infirm and the elderly. Meantime, the community of Honesty Brook Dale feel it’s their duty to rally together to help the evacuees by sharing their homes and limited food and clothing supplies. 

Our Review

I was only a child during WW2 and evacuated out of London to Northampton, but probably a little too young to remember much of what was going on around me. I knew I had been taken somewhere strange, but didn’t feel alone or scared, unlike some of the children in these circumstances.

Reading this book, listening to the children as they tried to cope with being uprooted or worse, have their homes and family destroyed in front of them, must have been terrifying. Making me realise I was a lot luckier than most.

The people who took in these evacuees found themselves taking a very different role in the war effort. For most, it wasn’t easy, squeezing extra people into their lives when food was already rationed. People who must have resented being treated like lost luggage.

I loved the name of the village in this book, Honesty Brook Dale. Honesty is one of my favourite flowers and is mentioned several times, reminding me of the shiny silver seedpods I loved as a child.

I know you’re not supposed to have favourites when it comes to children, but I couldn’t help loving Cyril Blessum. A typical boy, into every mischief, desperately trying to understand everything, and not making a very good job of any of it.

“If only me Dad were able to come home, George wouldn’t have to be so tired from working long hours … and we could have fun again,” he added as new tears threatened to spill down his cheeks.

Unbeknownst to Cyril, George had been standing at their bedroom door, listening. “Nobody wants change, our kid, but we have to make the best of what we’ve got,” George said as he joined Cyril by the window.

He gently squeezed Cyril’s shoulder and continued, “Remember when we used to walk for miles over the fields. We would play by the brook and go as far as the entrance to the coalmines or walk across the fields in the opposite direction towards the cottage hospital. That’s how far I biked today looking for ya. I was real worried, our kid. I thought something bad had happened to ya … that’s why I got so mad.”

Cyril slipped his hand into George’s and said, “I am sorry, honest … but I don’t know what to do to make things right with Mam.”

 “Ya know I was thinking Cyril. Mam used to love it when we picked a few flowers for her while we were over the fields. Her favourite is honesty because she loves the delicate shades of pinks and purples. I remember she always managed to find a spare jam jar to put them in. We can pick a few at the weekend if ya want?”

 “Yeah, it will be just like old times … only without Dad.”

This heart-warming but sometimes sad story reminded me of The Railway Children, waiting for the war to end and their fathers and brothers to come home…

About the Author

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Chris-Jean Clarke grew up in the West-Midlands (UK) but now resides in South Staffordshire (UK) with her husband, Geoff and children, Nathan and Kyrsten.

Prior to giving birth to her two beautiful children, Chris-Jean worked for twenty years with people with learning and physical disabilities.

She studied the art of writing children’s stories @The Writing School, Oxford Open Learning.

Chris-Jean also donates stories & poems twice yearly to the Peacock Writers to benefit various charities. (NB She does not publish her contributions in any other form.)

November 2016, Chris-Jean was accepted as a paid reviewer for Readers’ Favorite. During this month she was also accepted as a Publishing Assistant for the Books4Kids program, South Dakota.

Early 2018, Chris-Jean transitioned from Publishing Assistant to author with the release of her educational story: To Dye For.