#Wednesday Writer Serialisation of Nine Lives by Jaye Marie ~ Chapter 11

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When he decided to follow Kate to the Park, Jack had no real idea of what to expect. The weather was pleasant enough, she probably just felt like a walk. Didn’t quite fit with what he remembered about her. She didn’t usually just go for a walk, there was generally more to it than that. She looked as though she had a purpose though, as he watched her striding along the main pathway. Was she going to meet someone?

As far as he knew, she had no friends these days. He found himself remembering the one she had when she was younger, an old school friend called Eileen Jenkins. He had never approved of their friendship, as Eileen was what he called a ‘good time girl’ who spent most of her time hunting for the perfect man. If they didn’t have plenty of money or the prospect of getting some, she moved on to the next one. It was Eileen who had introduced Mr Perfect to Kate, discarded by her as his prospects weren’t up to scratch.

It was a pity she hadn’t lived long enough to see how wrong she was about me, he thought. He had gone on to be very successful in the property market and made a lot of money in the process.

Jack’s involvement with Eileen was simple enough. He wanted her to stop seeing Kate, to stop filling her head with ideas of finding a better husband. She made the huge mistake of arguing with him and he soon lost his temper. She ended up being the first person to die in his quest to get Kate back. She wouldn’t be bothering Kate anymore and that was a fact.

He ducked behind a tree as she slowed down and looked around with what seemed like a disappointment as if whoever she was expecting hadn’t turned up.

When she eventually sat down on a bench facing the lake, she looked decidedly miserable. She barely glanced at people as they passed and he could tell she was deliberately not looking at the children, obviously remembering her son, David.

It gave him a small glow of pleasure to see the damage he had inflicted all those years ago still causing Kate pain. It was only a small glow, for he knew he had so much more to give.

For a long time, he thought his chances were over. When she first ran away from him all those years ago, he thought he might have to give up on her as it was not much as much fun if he wasn’t there to witness the effect first hand. But new opportunities had presented themselves and with a few adjustments here and there, he was having as much fun as before.

It was interesting that she immediately thought it was Danny who had been stealing from her. The lock on the door wasn’t broken, so how did she think he had managed it? He was also unexpectedly annoyed that she didn’t automatically think of him, and made a mental note to rectify that mistake, sooner than later.

 

After a while, it seemed she wasn’t meeting anyone after all. He had fully expected the love of her life to turn up, even though there had been no sign of him in years.

The thought of Mr Perfect, all curly hair and blue eyes still made his blood boil. He had turned out to be a bit of a bastard after all. He suspected the real reason Kate ran away from him was down to the fact she still loved Michael and no one else would do. He would never understand the ways of women in a million years and Kate was no exception.

He often wondered why the thought of her still filled his every waking moment; especially when she so obviously didn’t care or notice all of the annoyances he had subjected her to. It was something of a miracle she had discovered the cigarettes were missing in the first place and then insisted on blaming her brother for their disappearance. It was as if she never thought of him at all. Could she have forgotten him so completely?

That was all down to her friend, the art dealer. She had somehow managed to remove all traces of Kate’s anger towards him and nearly created another unpleasant circumstance if his memory served him correctly.

Kate had seemed to forget all about that too. What was the matter with the woman?

He would have to think of something dramatic to shake her up a bit. More than a bit, if he could manage it.

He watched Kate leave the park and declined to follow her, his mind full of nasty possibilities. Thinking that way always made him feel so much better and he had enjoyed his visit to this park, full of an interesting mix of the human race. Watching them gave him all kinds of ideas.

His gaze didn’t linger on all the courting couples, their open displays of affection irritated him and shouldn’t be allowed in a public place. If he had a silent weapon, he would kill them all where they stood, ridding the world of all the sentimental slush that usually ended up meaning nothing to any of them. There were some tired looking mums with toddlers, doing their best not to be envious of the single people with dogs. What did they envy the most, he thought. The state of being single, or owning a dog? People did love their animals, didn’t they? A smile slowly spread across his face like the dawn breaking, as an idea arrived and took hold.

Here and there were older couples, touchingly holding hands or helping each other to sit down on the benches. He found himself watching an old man, sitting on a bench overlooking the lake. At first, he thought he was already dead, as he had been sitting in the same position for quite a while. The man was staring at the water, obviously lost in his memories.  He had a sad air about him as if he had lost someone? Or was he hoping to die as he sat there as if wishing could make it so? What kind of bargain was he prepared to strike to make it a possibility?

He knew all about the bargains people try to make, had made more than a few himself over the years only to realise there was nothing to bargain with. If you wanted something to happen, you had to do it all by yourself.

And that, he had discovered was the fun part. If he had a mind to, he could have helped him out, but he wasn’t feeling generous today.

When the day began to end and the sun started to slide down the sky into a sea of tangerine streaked clouds, he made his way home, his mind full of interesting and malevolent thoughts…

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#Wednesday Writers Serialisation of Nine Lives by Jaye Marie

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Chapter Ten

Kate set out to walk to the park and was no sooner there when she regretted her decision. She had forgotten it was Sunday; the one day she usually avoided going to the park. It was a lovely day, and there seemed to be young couples everywhere, all holding hands or gazing into each other’s eyes. Not exactly what she needed; more reminders she had no one special in her life. She tried to shut her mind down, trying desperately not to think of Michael.

After all these years, why was he still capable of affecting her? She had thought him so perfect and they had been happy. He had probably regretted it, he was always making rash decisions only to backtrack later when he realised what he had done.

What was gone was lost forever. It was too sad for words, but why did it still hurt so much?

Kate clearly remembered the day he had walked out of her life all those years ago, leaving her scared and pregnant. She hadn’t known what she was supposed to do. The morning sickness was bad and she had no idea if it was normal or not. How was she supposed to cope?

But cope she did, and if what happened after he left hadn’t damaged her image of him, she supposed nothing ever would.

It was her fairy tale, but they never come true, do they?


She was still in the habit of visiting Michael’s dad, doing his ironing and keeping him company for a while. She should have hated him for poisoning his son against her, but she just couldn’t. He probably didn’t have to try too hard; she had always known Michael was a little too good to be true. Besides, John was a lonely old man and had been on his own for a long time after his wife died of cancer.

Despite being pleased Michael was having nothing to do with her, he didn’t object to having his housework and ironing done and Kate had nothing better to do, did she?

Little did Kate know John had an ulterior motive right from the beginning. He had fallen for her hook line and sinker and wanted her to fill his lonely world. (And continue to do his ironing, of course).  She was happy to oblige, for it gave her something to do to take her mind away from her problems. The thought she might be able to move in was more than appealing, for her present landlord was making pointed remarks about her increasing waistline. Awkward questions were being asked at work too and Kate was fed up with all of it. She felt so sick all of the time, surely this was not normal?

When John made his declaration of love, Kate gritted her teeth and reminded him about the baby, fully expecting it to be the end of the matter. After all, what was he thinking?

You could have knocked her down with a feather when he said he already knew.

‘I suppose Michael told you?’

‘Of course he did. He doesn’t think it’s his, is it?’

She nodded. ‘And you still want me?’ Hoping he would say no, as she didn’t  want to live in the same house with the one person who had ruined the only good thing in her life, and it was beginning to look as if she had no other choice. It was as though the fates were making the decision for her.

Kate had moved into the spare room and became John’s unpaid housekeeper. She cooked (after a fashion) scrubbed everything clean and tried to make herself useful, the voice telling her all the time it was wrong. And for once she didn’t need to be told.

John’s house was shabby and a bit run down but it could have been worse. After all, he had been on his own for a long time and had brought Michael up single-handed. Kate was literally the first female to have lived there for nearly twenty years. She moved out of her bedsit and quit her job. Her boss was sorry to lose her and said she understood, her round-eyed expression and pointed glances at Kate’s bump speaking reams. She made Kate promise to keep in touch, Kate thought it was a sweet thing to say even if she didn’t  mean it.

Despite feeling uncomfortable with the situation, Kate found herself having a certain amount of fun keeping house for the first time in her life. She started to adventure into the world of DIY and painted the small box room a pretty shade of blue.

She cleaned some of the carpets and removed the one in the box room, replacing it with a cheerful yellow lino, creating what she thought was a suitable nursery.

Spurred on by her efforts, she decided to lay turquoise lino tiles in the kitchen and was surprised at how messy the adhesive was, but she persevered and the result was worth it.

Her cooking didn’t improve much, but it didn’t matter, as John smothered everything she put in front of him in masses of brown sauce.

John was the milk supervisor at the local dairy and the fact he had all their food delivered with the milk didn’t surprise Kate, after all, what did she know?  She didn’t realise that he was effectively trying to stop her going out. He obviously didn’t want her finding anything or anybody better.

The voice in her head warned her about it repeatedly; but what else did it think she should do? She needed help and no one else had offered. It did seem like the only game in town.

As she grew bigger and the arrival of the baby was imminent, she was grateful just to be somewhere safe and warm, as the winter had turned bad with freezing fog and ice and snow. Despite all John’s precautions and conniving’s to keep her indoors, Kate went for a walk most days, needing to be out in the open air. She was still desperately trying to make some sort of sense of her life, still hoping for a miracle to save her from the boredom of living with John.  It wasn’t ideal, but then her life had never been, so there was no reason to suppose it would change now.


On a bitterly cold February day, the baby decided to make his way into the world. Kate was awake and uncomfortable most of the night, and it never dawned on her it might be something else.

When the penny did drop, there was no one to help her. John was at work and they had no telephone, so she put what she thought she needed into a carrier bag and walked up to the High Street, trying hard not to panic and barely succeeding.

It was still early and the only shop open was the newsagents. She managed to convince the owner to call an ambulance, and eventually found herself in the local hospital in an ugly grey painted room, alone, with the pain in her stomach beginning escalate into a real problem.

As the time slipped away and the pain increased to an unbelievable level, she desperately wanted to change her mind and would have done anything to make it all go away. Why couldn’t she do that?

Realising it was not an option, Kate felt more alone than she had ever done before. A cheerfully large bustling nurse seemed to choose the precise moment she wanted to scream the place down in her frustration to check up on her.

The hours dragged by, or so it seemed. She had never thought much about childbirth, and now she regretted not having the basic information on the subject. Was it supposed to last this long? Or be so painful?

She had no idea if anything could be wrong. The nurse she had seen seemed to think it would all happen without her assistance. As if she could tell just by looking at Kate that all was well, or she didn’t care one way or the other. Why had she allowed this to happen, didn’t she have more sense?

It was the last thing she wanted. Her life was a bad enough mess without throwing a baby into the mix. She had tried hard to lose it, taken enough Quinine to kill a horse, some foul black liquid and the sure-fire pills everyone swore by, but nothing had worked. A bottle of gin and a hot bath hadn’t worked either. It was obvious she was doomed, but Kate had never understood why. Had she done something so bad it warranted this much punishment?

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

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

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

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

Kate remembered looking at the baby, her baby, amazed at how ugly it was. Where was the cute little bundle she knew other people had? This scrawny screwed up thing was not what she had been expecting at all. It looked half dead. She had hoped to feel a surge of affection, and she felt nothing at all. Not even relief it was all over because she knew it wasn’t.

All her troubles had just doubled and she could see no way out of the mess she had made of her life. No one was going to rescue her, that was for sure. Realising real life was nothing like the movies was harsh, and timely.

Despair flooded in as Kate realised something else. She would no longer be able to keep herself invisible. With a screaming baby in tow, the whole world could see her and know what she was doing.

Why hadn’t she been more careful?


As Kate sat in the park, misery beginning to seep from every pore, she knew she would have to pull herself together and get a grip. Other people had a lifetime of sadness to get through and her life could have been so much worse. Brooding never helped anyone, she thought.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could put all your sad memories in a box and never open it again?

She sniffed. Avoiding the park at the weekends would be a step in the right direction though.

 

 Free PDF copies are available if anyone would rather read Nine Lives in one go…

#Wednesday Writers: Serialisation of Nine Lives by Jaye Marie #mystery thriller

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Chapter Nine

When Kate opened her eyes on Sunday morning, she decided to take the day off. No painting, housework or worrying about things she had no control over, like who had been in her flat. That last one might take a bit of work, she thought as she made her way to the kitchen to put the kettle on. A cup of tea would help her decide what she was going to do today.

She was nearly out of milk and noticed there wasn’t much to eat in the fridge. She should go shopping.

Sipping her tea, she watched the sun streaming in through the window, bathing the room with wide bands of gloriously golden light. She absently watched the dust motes dancing in a shaft of sunlight as though they were alive.

She had the idea to take her camera and walk to the park. She went there often, as the lake and trees had become a source of inspiration for her artwork, and Kate enjoyed feeling like a photographer. She could pick up something to eat on the way back.

For some reason, the sunlight was evoking memories of her childhood in Kent. It was one of the few memories that didn’t make her cringe whenever she thought of them.

After a long run of unsuccessful foster parents, she had ended up at a boarding school in a tiny village called Birchington, somewhere near Margate. She was just ten years old, skinny and withdrawn; and instantly felt at home for probably the first time in her life. Schooling was included for her age group and in the good weather, lessons were conducted out of doors, which were pleasant but didn’t help her to concentrate in the least.

Kate was the eldest and soon found herself helping with the younger children. She didn’t know it at the time, but an unpaid helper was just what the place desperately needed.

Coming from the disappointments and hardships of her life in London, Kate was in her element. When she turned eleven, she had to attend an all-girls school. It was close enough to cycle to, and although she had misgivings, Kate found she liked being in the all-female environment.

Little flashes of memory played like a newsreel in her head, and Kate found herself trying to think back to the two occasions when she thought she had nearly died. Were they as dramatic as she thought, or was she simply remembering things as a child would, filtering out the unimportant and focusing on the dramatic?

She remembered that first day of term when she awoke in pain and feeling sick. Matron had tried to drag her from her bed, thinking her a malingerer, but soon called an ambulance when it appeared Kate was not making it up.

Her appendix had ruptured and it was serious, they had to operate in a hurry, and wasn’t there a priest there somewhere?

She didn’t remember much about the occasion; only what she had been told. Another incident stood out in her mind like a beacon for the truth. It was when she caught one of those foreign influenza’s, and she must have been quite ill, for the following Sunday in church the vicar said a blessing for her in front of the whole congregation. So it must have been serious.

She also remembered her mother had not visited her on either occasion.

So that accounted for two lives, had she used up any more?


While she was growing up, Kate had tried to convince herself she did love her mother, despite the fact her mother demonstrated repeatedly she could not possibly love her daughter, not in the way that mattered anyway.

When she was a small child, it had been easy to explain away her mother’s behaviour. All those times she had been sent away, dumped on the mercy of strangers had seemed quite natural to Kate as if it was something all parents did. She wondered why she thought it was all perfectly normal, and then she had nothing to compare it to, did she? Many of the kids at school were in the same boat, or worse.

Kate had found it necessary to become a ghost, an invisible and silent ghost. The years she spent at school were the worst. The other children sensed there was something wrong with her and instead of avoiding her, drove her mad with their constant tormenting. She desperately wanted to be a grown-up, free to follow her own instincts, and she knew deep down nothing would make any difference, not then and not ever.

She considered suicide, desperate to leave a world she didn’t seem to belong in, never once considering there was nothing wrong with the world, it was she who didn’t fit.

As she grew older, her soul seemed to shrivel up and die and she became like a caged animal, eating and sleeping, doing only what was necessary. She loved no one, cared for nothing and knew she was different, an alien in an unforgiving world.

Kate always wanted to be part of a family; it seemed to be the perfect way of life. She would spend hours as a child out in the cold and dark, combing the streets of London or wherever she happened to be, looking in countless windows, searching for a family who might take her in. She was fascinated by everything she saw, the peaceful and normal life everywhere she looked. Sometimes people noticed her but when they didn’t, she would knock on the door and simply stand there, trying her best to look lonely and appealing. She didn’t have to try too hard; she must have looked as desperate as she felt.

People always treated her kindly and made her welcome, but still called the police to take her away. No one had ever wanted to keep her.

Most of what her mother subjected her to was sad, some  neglect and some simply child abuse. Would a mother get away with leaving a small child outside a public-house at night for hours on end these days?

Or those times when she vanished for days at a time, leaving Kate to fend for herself and take herself to school?

One such occasion resulted in Kate presenting herself at the local police station. She was about eight years old and had been on her own in the grotty bedsit with precious little food or money for the best part of five days, and for once she was sick of it.

Kate knew her mother would have a blue fit and she would be sorrier than ever to have involved the police, but she was hungry so something had to be done. What if she never came back, she thought. That idea didn’t seem to bother her as much as it should have done, as long as someone fed her now and again.

The police were kind but distant. They didn’t  know what to do with her and it showed. She didn’t remember much about what happened, just that they managed to find her mother and she was madder than a wet hen.

Kate was quite used to her mother’s anger as a rule, and on that occasion, she was scared she might kill her.

The worst times in her childhood were when she was left with strangers because her mother didn’t want her around. The best of them simply ignored her, and the worst of them considered her their new sexual plaything. When this started to happen more often, especially as Kate grew older, she knew she had to leave and make her own way in the world.

She was barely fourteen when she found a shabby little bedsit and for the first time in her life was officially on her own. She worked in a local greengrocers shop, living on chips and discarded fruit, as she started to make plans for her future.


The first few years were tough, and Kate didn’t care. She was making her own decisions, and if she made mistakes along the way, so what? The fact they were her own mistakes seemed to make all the difference in the world.

She had numerous jobs as she tried to find something to do. From the greengrocers she tried Woolworths, then Sainsbury’s. Office work was next and it bored her rigid.

Then she found a small and friendly tailoring firm where she learned how to cut patterns, use a sewing machine and create designer outfits that cost a small fortune. It was an interesting and different kind of job and she loved every minute of her time there. This was where she made her first real friend, a girl of the same age called Eileen Jenkins.

Through Eileen, Kate was introduced to a different kind of family. They were incredibly poor, living hand to mouth, but seemed to be happy with their lot. They were forced to live on benefits because Mr Jenkins wasn’t well enough to work. Their house was a mess and the younger children were always grubby, and there was so much love between them you didn’t notice the broken furniture and shabby surroundings.

Mrs Jenkins always insisted on feeding Kate, something that made her feel guilty, and though the place was shabby, all the children looked well fed and healthy. Unfortunately, this friendship was not destined to last long for Eileen was looking for a rich husband; something Kate didn’t  want to be involved with.  Despite all her best intentions, she was introduced to Jack Holland on the day of Eileen’s wedding. He had a good job, something to do with the property market and seemed nice enough, but she kept her distance as he was an old flame of Eileen’s, discarded when his prospects seemed inadequate.

The tailoring job was the first one to cater to her artistic side, but still didn’t quite satisfy the need in her to create something special of her own.  None of the jobs had paid much and though the rent on her bedsit was cheap, she usually found herself with nothing to eat long before the end of the week.

She found out quite by chance the local cinema needed an usherette, so for the first time was earning enough to live on.


Kate smiled as she remembered that time of self-discovery; she had experimented with many things and most had proved to be a disappointment. She didn’t make friends easily and most of the people she met seemed to instinctively know this and didn’t try too hard to be her friend. She met many men in her search for the right one and only succeeded in finding many wrong ones, as they all seemed to want just one thing from her. And after trying that too and being thoroughly disgusted, she gave up looking.

All her life, something had always been wrong, wrong place, the wrong person. Something was always wrong, never close to being acceptable. Some people called depression the ‘black dog’ and sometimes it did seem as though she had a pack of them following her around, sniffing at her heels. Almost as if she wasn’t meant to be happy and God knows she had tried.

Sometimes she would get close, managing to achieve a sense of calm, almost contentment, especially when she was doing something that called for total concentration like her painting.


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#Wednesday Writers: Serialisation of Nine Lives #Mystery Thriller

Despite the terrible pain in my back, I am trying to keep going. Doing what I love is really helping me cope and not get too depressed. Tests are on going, so might get some answers soon!

Hope you enjoy reading chapter eight of Nine Lives, and let me know what you think of it!

 

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Chapter Eight

The daylight was beginning to fade, although Jack hadn’t noticed. He wasn’t aware of anything, locked in his own private world of pain and anger. Not even the pain from his fingers as he chewed them unmercifully in his frustration.

Darkness was gathering in pools all around him as he sat at the kitchen table, Kate’s carton of cigarettes in front of him. He wasn’t seeing them anymore, her face occupied his mind again and no matter how he tried to distort her image with every ounce of hatred he possessed, he failed miserably as usual.

He had never understood the power she had over him, the way just looking at her made him feel unworthy. Kate was not beautiful in the classic sense, her nose was a little too big, her mouth lopsided, but a light seemed to glow inside her and the more you looked the more you were compelled to.

If he didn’t know any better, he would describe the aura that emanated from her as saint-like, for he could almost hear the soft chords of a church organ in her presence, he felt touched by something divine.

Anger sparked and flared again as he remembered the day she had vanished, throwing his love away and all he had given her. He reached out and grasped the box in front of him, gripping it so hard his fingers shook and began to bleed. She probably thought she had succeeded, even now.

He relaxed his grip and slowly stroked the packet, spreading a smear of blood and imagined her fingers touching the paper, fingers that should be touching him.

White-hot anger seared through his brain and he ripped the carton open, destroying the contents in a frenzied rage that seemed unending.

 

Sometime later, when the rage had abated, he stared at the rubbish in front of him. Of all the things to steal from her, he thought, why these? Because he knew she would miss them the most. She always seemed to need a cigarette much more than him and that had always infuriated him and driven him mad.

He ignored his own sarcasm, shaking his head as if to dislodge it, knowing as he did it was true. Had he been reduced to petty theft?

He had taken other things from her over the years; most went unnoticed to his constant annoyance. It would appear she went about in a dream most of the time, completely unaware of her surroundings.

The way she could remove herself from reality was what had attracted him in the beginning. He discovered quite early in their relationship she didn’t like the real world at all and wanted no part of it. Rejecting the pain and torment, the dirt and humiliation all living things had to endure and of which she had had her share. She had found a way to live, which reduced all the hostile friction to a minimum.

The fact he wasn’t included in her state of mind was what started to create his anger. Little by little, he resented her way of generating the calm she obviously needed more than him, until he found himself trying to destroy everything she held dear.

Most of his resentment was directed at Mr Perfect, his nickname for Michael Barratt, the so-called love of her life and father of her son David. She never mentioned it but he knew she still loved him and while that love existed, there was no room for him.

When Jack was trying desperately to find her all those years ago, he visited all the places he could think of, questioning anyone who might have a clue as to her whereabouts. He tried to talk to Mr Perfect’s father, John Barratt, something he didn’t enjoy for the man seemed hell-bent on keeping the fact he knew her a well-kept secret. It wasn’t until later when his temper had been satisfied he saw the old man’s stubbornness for what it was. He had loved her and was jealously guarding her memory from all comers.

Kate had run away from him too and the father seemed to blame his son with a barely concealed hatred that matched Jack’s own.

At least he wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore, he thought; remembering the way the old man’s eyes had gradually closed as he squeezed the life out of him. It was almost as though he welcomed death as the end of his suffering.

Did the suffering end when you died, he wondered? Or did you take it with you into the afterlife? He hoped it was the latter, for in a complicated way he enjoyed the pain. There were just so many ways you could enjoy it.

He would have killed Michael too if he knew where to find him, but the man proved to be more elusive than smoke and he had to content himself for the moment with the knowledge he was no longer in the picture. It wouldn’t remove him from her heart, and then, killing him probably wouldn’t either.

For some reason, all the hatred he felt for Michael Barratt transferred to the child, a pale and pathetically weak child. Constantly clinging to his mother and demanding her attention and the fact he seemed to cry at the slightest touch, drove Jack insane. Just looking at him monopolising Kate caused white-hot anger to flow through Jack’s body, an anger that had to be quenched.  Using the sedatives helped a lot but he still fantasied about smothering him with a pillow, but she always seemed to be in the way. He had to make do with vicious mental games and rough play, most of which frightened the child witless, forcing him to appear withdrawn and miserable. Eventually, the child stopped clinging to his mother, blaming her for not protecting him enough.

It was easy to plant cruel ideas in the child’s head and before too long he hated his mother; refusing to let her touch him, causing the kind of pain he found satisfying. He decided to postpone killing the child until his usefulness ran out.

#WednesdayWriters Chapter 7 of Nine Lives by Jaye Marie #MysteryThriller

Struggling to do even the basics, I am trying to keep my schedule going…

As always, any feedback, especially the good kind as I’m trying not to get emotional about everything, is very welcome!

 

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Amazon Universal Link:  http://myBook.to/NewNineLives

Chapter Seven

Dylan was sitting on the arm of the couch, and she could swear he had a disapproving look on his face. She sat down beside him and rubbed gently behind his ears. ‘Did you miss me, or are we still sulking?’

He shrugged her hand away and jumped gracefully down to the floor, heading for the kitchen. She knew exactly what he was doing, he would go and sit by his food bowl and glare at her.

Why did she care about him so much, she thought, deciding not to play his game. She had never been sorry she found him one rainy night not long after she moved in, but sometimes he could try the patience of a saint!

She switched the kettle on and checked the letters Janet had put on the hall table. A quick glance told her there was nothing important; she could safely bin the lot.

She didn’t know why, but she almost convinced herself that Danny might have sent a card or something. He wasn’t supposed to know where she lived, so how did he know what happened to her? There was no logical answer to that question and tried to put it out of her mind. But the mysterious voice had other ideas. The thought he might come there, to her own private place, filled her with dread.

Thinking back to her childhood with Danny, she remembered how mysterious he liked to be, revelling in pulling the wool over her eyes at every opportunity. Like hiding from her, sometimes for hours on end, only to reappear from the first place you looked.

The oddest occasion was when Matron swore she had seen him in the village, and Kate knew he had not left the house.

Danny loved to play tricks, sometimes quite cruel tricks carefully orchestrated to make her cry even though she was the older than him by several years.

There was that time he lured her to his favourite hiding place in the woods. He tied her up and terrified her; she thought he wanted to kill her, but she couldn’t recall exactly why.

Knowing all these things about him never helped her to remember exactly what it was that made her dislike him.

She knew all his faults, that he could lie and cheat, be selfish and cruel, not to mention deliberately getting her into trouble, but despite all that, she was sure there must be something else.

The kettle boiled and she made a cup of coffee, determined to stop thinking about Danny. With a bit of luck, she wouldn’t see him again.

She found herself thinking about the time she had that bad influenza when she was a child. It was a nasty virus, killing hundreds of people old and young, and surprisingly she seemed to be the only one in the village to get it. She didn’t remember much about it, but Matron constantly moaned about how she sat up with her for three nights, desperately trying to keep her temperature down or she might have died.

The voice in her head mumbled something about a fourth life, and Kate groaned. Not that again, and what did it mean; fourth life? Did it think she was some kind of cat?

Her mind travelled back to the boarding school. Why was she the only one to get the flu, what was so special or different about her? The one thing she did seem to remember clearly was Danny coming into her dormitory and whispering to her she should have died and seemed angry she had not.

She remembered feeling sad, frightened and alone that day, and swore as soon as she grew up her life would be different.

She started to think back, forcing herself to try to count all the times she had nearly died. Her memory wasn’t what it was and she soon gave up. What did any of it matter anyway?

Kate was putting her medication in the bathroom cabinet when she suddenly remembered her cigarettes. There was an unopened carton in her bedside cupboard she should throw away. The fact she had no desire for one was surprising and unexpected. She wouldn’t push it though, a promise was a promise.

She had wanted to quit for a while now, along with the diet she never quite managed to start. It was time to turn over a new leaf, better late than never, or so they say.


Kate opened the cupboard door next to her bed, expecting to see the familiar royal blue carton inside, but it wasn’t there.

She stared into the cupboard, fully expecting them to materialise at any minute. When they didn’t, she slowly sat down on the bed, trying to remember exactly when she put them there. She brought them on her way back from having lunch with Sam. That was on Thursday and she remembered it clearly because she almost ran out and wanted to be sure there were enough for the weekend. Today was Saturday, so where were they?

Kate systematically checked every hiding place and came to the obvious conclusion they had gone, and where?

She noticed other things too; things had been moved as if someone was looking for something. She became aware of a faint trace of tobacco smoke laced with a flowery scent that seemed to be lingering in every room. Gradually a horribly creepy sensation began to seep into her mind and body. She felt sick; trying desperately to deny the fact someone had been in her flat and taken her stash of cigarettes. She couldn’t deny the fact the cigarettes had gone and somebody had taken them. Someone had touched her things and ruined the perfect peace and tranquillity of her private place, her sanctuary. It will probably never feel the same, she thought, sadly.

Who could have done it?

Her brother’s smiling face floated into her mind, chilling her to the bone. As far as she knew, he didn’t smoke. Could it have been him?

How did he get in? The lock wasn’t broken, so did he have a key?

She wandered around the flat and looking around her perfect living room, she shivered, realising she had always felt safe there, but not anymore. Someone had spoiled everything she worked so hard to achieve, and her first impulse was to run…


 

#WednesdayWriters Serialisation of Nine Lives by Jaye Marie @jaydawes2

Today, we are posting Chapter Six of Kate’s story. She is to blame for my writing Nine Lives in the first place and I suspect she thinks she is my alter ego. Not sure about that, but she sure was bossy during the writing of her story. I am having a similar battle at the moment with two of the characters in my next book, PayBack.

No one ever told me that creating all these people would be so complicated. I always imagined it would be fun, but some of mine are managing to drive me to drink!

(I am secretly enjoying their antics, but for God’s sake, don’t tell them that!)

I hope you are all enjoying Nine Lives, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Chapter Six

On her way home in the taxi, Kate racked her brains to come up with a reason for Danny’s appearance. She hadn’t seen or thought of him for years and hadn’t missed him one little bit.

Try as she might, she couldn’t think of a single way he could have known about what happened last night. The thought he might be up to something was making her uncomfortable and more than a little angry. She simply couldn’t have him sneaking into her life again.

She hadn’t thought to take anything with her when they carted her off last night, so she knocked on her neighbour’s door for her spare set of keys.

Janet was a small woman, wrinkled and ancient, almost embalmed, and most days she seemed to be a lot fitter than Kate. She always wore a lavender body spray Kate knew was her favourite and reminded Kate of the fairy godmother in Disney’s Cinderella, tiny, amusing and cuddly, the perfect grandmother. It was a shame she had no grandchildren.

Kate looked around the room; discreetly checking that the old woman was indeed managing. She usually declined all help, especially from the Welfare. She always said the day she needed help was the day they could slide her into a coffin.

Bright as a button, she seemed to sense good people from bad and instinctively knew in which category Danny belonged. One of the reasons Kate knew she wouldn’t have told Danny anything about her.

‘Hello Janet, how are you today?’

‘Oh, I’m fine. How are you would be more to the point? What did they say the problem was? You didn’t look too good when they took you off last night.’

Kate smiled at her. ‘Oh you know, a lot of fuss about nothing.’

The old woman looked up from the china ornaments she was dusting and frowned. She instantly looked about ten years older. ‘You didn’t check yourself out, did you? I know what you’re like.’

Kate laughed, knowing her reputation had gone before her. ‘No, I was a model patient, just wasted their time, is all.’

She could tell Janet didn’t believe her, she knew Kate too well. Changing the subject, she asked, ‘How has Dylan been? Did he miss me?’

Janet stopped frowning at the mention of the silver tabby. ‘I’m sure he didn’t know you’d gone, and you back so soon, no harm was done.’

Kate smiled. She was probably right. Dylan fussed her when she was around, and she knew where he went when she wasn’t. Sometimes she thought he was fonder of Janet than herself.

‘By the way, Janet, have you seen or heard from my brother at all?’

Janet turned her head sharply at the mention of his name. She looked intently at Kate, her shrewd blue eyes peering out of all the wrinkles. ‘No, I have not. Did someone say I had?’

‘He did, he said you called him and said I was in the hospital.’

Kate could see the indignation bristling from every fibre of the old woman’s demeanour.

‘I’d have a job, wouldn’t I? I don’t know where he’s at, or his number. And,’ she said pointedly, ‘I wouldn’t tell him if I did. You know that Kate.’

‘Yes, I know, just checking. He turned up last night at the hospital like the bad penny he always was’.

The voice commented on her lack of affection for her brother, and that she might miss him if anything happened to him. She pretended not to have heard. She wouldn’t miss Danny for a moment, and as common sense reared its ugly head she knew if anything did happen to her brother, the guilt would probably kill her.

Kate often wondered if she had a screw loose because of the voice in her head. When she was growing up the thought having something that talked to her was amusing, even a little exciting. She had a name for him back then and called him the Joker.  These days the novelty had worn off and most of the time she regarded him as a nuisance.

Kate remembered weird coincidences, like people seeming to vanish or dying when they annoyed her. In her childhood fantasies, she liked to think she had something to do with it; that she was psychic or something, but it was all rubbish, wasn’t it?

There must be something wrong with her. She never socialised, never seemed to get on with anybody. None of that was normal, was it?

More to the point, none of it seemed to bother her much either, and that wasn’t normal.

This voice or whatever it was, filled her sleep with nightmare visions of every death it could imagine, and Kate would wake up with horrifying images in her head of being stabbed, burnt and dying in ways she didn’t want to think about.

Although these dreams distressed her, she stubbornly refused to believe they were a message of any kind, from the voice or anything else. If she thought anything coherent at all, she supposed they could just be images from a previous life and promptly put them out of her mind.

The telephone was ringing as Kate approached her front door and she wondered idly who it could be; probably Samantha or possibly a customer. It didn’t matter; she would let the machine pick up. She was in no mood to talk to anyone.

As she opened the front door, the telephone switched off and the place was quiet.

She closed the door behind her and leaned on it, drinking in the peace and tranquillity of her own private place. She loved living in Guildford, Surrey. It was just far enough away from London to be reasonably quiet. It was quite a small flat, just three rooms and a kitchen and shower, but it suited her and she felt safe within its walls, probably for the first time in her life, even though it was draughty and hard to heat in the winter.

It had the added advantage of the extra space for Kate to use as a studio, and she could simply close the door and walk away from all her untidy painting clutter, removing the necessity of always having to clear up whenever she was finished for the day.

The voice questioned her conviction that she was safe, curious as to what she based it on.

What was it talking about now, she wondered. Some of what it said never made any sense and she didn’t usually lose any sleep worrying about it. Anyway, she did feel safe there, no matter what it said.

The flat was a wreck when she moved in, and she enjoyed making it her own. There wasn’t much furniture, and to Kate, the colours she used were more important. The walls were white, the perfect colour to hang her canvases on, and the woodwork was a delicate shade of turquoise, which perfectly complimented the carpets, which were the glorious colour of a tropical sea.

For such a small flat, the windows were quite tall which seemed to increase the sense of space. Kate used sheer white curtains to let as much light in as possible and sanded the floorboards back to the bare pale wood.

She moved to the living room doorway and her eyes found the painting hanging over the fireplace. It was her favourite and she would never sell it. A large seascape, it dominated the room with its vision of wild, seething water. Instead of coming across as a hostile image, it was at once uplifting and beautiful. You could almost hear the sound of the wind whipping the waves and sometimes Kate could swear she heard seagulls.

To Kate, the painting epitomised the raw and powerful beauty of Nature, the only thing ever to make her soul sing.

It was probably an antidote against her feelings for human nature, which had never been kind to her. It was a sad admittance, and in all her life, only one person stood out for being truly kind to her, and she didn’t know his name.

She was quite young, about six or seven years old, and her mother had taken her to Brighton for the day. There was usually an ulterior motive for any trip, probably to do with a man. It had been snowing and the weather was freezing cold and not the day for a trip to the seaside. Kate didn’t remember much about it, just that she was cold. So cold, she was trying hard not to cry with the misery of it.

She wasn’t dressed for the weather at all, just a thin coat, sandals and nylon socks which were soaked through. Her mother had dragged her onto a tram and she was sitting there trying desperately not to cry, a punishable offence, when this older man nodded at her mother and proceeded to take off her socks and sandals. What was he doing, she thought, watching through her tears as he wrapped her frozen feet in his big warm hands, mumbling something about her being a poor bedraggled kitten.

It was such a kind thing to do; she was in danger of having a good cry and managed to smile her thanks. For the first time in her life, she felt truly cared for by someone who was a stranger, someone who knew nothing about her. It was a beautiful moment in time never to be repeated. Kate didn’t remember what happened next, but she never forgot his kindness.


 

I forgot to mention that if you would prefer a digital copy of Nine Lives, so you can read it in one go, free copies are available. Just mention this in the comments!

The Serialisation of Nine Lives by Jaye Marie Chapter Five #WednesdayWriter #MysteryThriller

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Before I post the next chapter of Nine Lives, I would like to thank everyone for the support and helpful suggestions I have been receiving. All of which will help me make Nine Lives a much better book!

 

Chapter Five

Danny watched his sister walk defiantly away. She was carrying extra weight but still agile. She didn’t look as if she was getting old, and by rights, she should have done. With all the crap she had stuffed into her life, she was lucky to be breathing.

He hadn’t expected her to make it through the night. They said some of her arteries were completely blocked and the surgeon had to work hard to restore the circulation to her heart.

And yet here she was, striding down the road, looking for a taxi. They must have been wrong or talking about someone else. He shouldn’t  be surprised, after all that was Kate all over. Nothing fazed her for long and was just as well. Some of what life had thrown at her would have a lesser mortal reaching for the razor blades.

He watched her get smaller and smaller as she left the car park, wondering if she was all right. With Kate, it was hard to tell, one way or the other. She wouldn’t tell him, that’s for sure.

He tried to remember the last medical incident. Was it the gallstones or the hysterectomy? Neither was life-threatening and she sailed through with hardly a backward glance. Danny wasn’t there, of course, he kept a low profile when she was married to Jack, but he had his own way of keeping an eye on her.

He remembered the time she was rushed to the hospital when they were kids. She must have been about eleven years old. Kate nearly died that day when her appendix ruptured; it was touch and go there for a while. He also remembered how much he hated Matron for dragging Kate out of her bed that morning, thinking she just didn’t want to go to school.

He played up for weeks afterwards, trying to get some kind of childish revenge on the stupid woman, and ended up being thrashed with a coat hanger for his trouble. He often wondered if Kate ever loved him. She always said she never loved anyone. She certainly didn’t now and barely bothered to hide it.

 

As he slid behind the wheel of his car, he saw the state of it through Kate’s eyes. Christ, he was such a slob. He looked up in frustration and saw his reflection in the rearview mirror. Bloody hell, he looked like a slob. If he cleaned up his car (and his life too) he might stand a better chance with Kate. There was so much about his life that didn’t bear close inspection.

He sometimes thought Kate must be a sociopath, someone who couldn’t stand people, for she was never close to anyone. There were relationships in the past and none of them worked or lasted. There was her agent Samantha, and he would dearly love to know that story.

He tried over the years to forget the time when he was supposed to have hurt Kate when they were kids, but he couldn’t remember what happened. It was as if something had stolen all memory of that day. Did she remember? Was that why she didn’t like him? He did wonder if she just didn’t like him as a person, but weren’t you supposed to love your brother, warts and all?

Danny often wondered why he couldn’t remember what happened, was it that bad? He’d never been able to get Kate to tell him either so he always imagined it must have been dreadful. He felt guilty about something so there must be a reason.

He leant his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes, memories of when they were kids flooding back, like the incoming tide on a sandy beach. There were some good times, and those memories faded quickly along with the rest of their childhood.

It was a shame that other things didn’t, he thought sadly as he fought to stop himself drowning in the flood of recent pain and heartbreak. Why couldn’t he make himself forget it all?

The drug-ravaged face of the only other person he ever loved was never far away in his mind, haunting him and driving him insane with unspoken questions. Questions he tried hard to answer since that awful time when he lost both Angela, his wife and their baby son, and he never quite managed to come up with anything approaching a good enough reason.

He thought he must be to blame, or maybe there was something he should have done? More like something he hadn’t done, if the truth be known, that was usually the way of things. He had a complete catalogue of situations where he could either have salvaged something or simply avoided it if he thought to do something at the time.

He opened his eyes in a vain attempt to stop the images that were cramming themselves into his brain and making him giddy, but Angela’s face refused to move. Her face captured his soul that first day, a face both beautiful and incredibly sad, a face that pleaded with you to love her and save her from herself.

In seconds, the desire to rescue her from whatever bothered her outweighed caution of any kind. Angela was a slightly chubby, bubbly girl with a wild mane of multi-coloured hair and incredible eyes and being with her was like having a party every day. The signs were there, desperately waving red flags at him, and he chose to take no notice, confident he could carry her through anything even though he was far too busy trying to keep up with her.

The first time he found her collapsed on the floor of his bathroom, he should have realised she wasn’t just drunk but with one look at her mascara-streaked face and haunted eyes, all he wanted to do was take care of her and keep her safe. It never occurred to him until it was much too late she might have needed serious medical help.

So he dedicated himself to taking care of her, oblivious to the harm he was helping to hide and most of the time they were happy. He managed to keep his ‘angel’ as he called her, on the straight and narrow for long periods and didn’t condemn or accuse whenever she slipped from his care. He never knew why she needed the drugs or where she found them, despite following her everywhere.

For long periods, he completely forgot about his sister and this was probably a good thing, although he simply swapped one obsession for another. It didn’t matter, he found the one thing he always wanted, someone who needed him and wasn’t afraid to show it and for that alone, he would have forgiven her anything.

He smiled as he switched on the ignition, remembering how much he loved her. When it ended badly he never blamed her, not for a minute.

As he drove out of the car park, he tried again to think of a way he could establish a better relationship with Kate and knew he was wasting his time. She was the most stubborn person he ever met and today served to remind him of that fact.

He would keep an eye on her from a distance, as he always did, just in case she should ever need him. He could hope, couldn’t he?


 

Don’t forget, we value your opinions!

#WritersWednesday: Nine Lives #MurderMystery Chapter Four

Another chapter from Nine Lives for your critical eyes, and I am very pleased with everyone’s response so far! Be aware that you are helping a very grateful author with some of the finer points! And I love you all for this…

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Chapter Four

Kate awoke on Saturday morning and found herself in the hospital, practically chained to the bed by a mass of wires. She had the feeling she had come closer than ever to dying and was unimpressed to find herself still breathing.

She hadn’t slept well, despite all the morphine. Hospitals were noisy places and on top of everything else, she could swear she saw her brother Danny’s face last night or was it her imagination?

Kate needed to go to the bathroom and the machine bleeping alarmingly every time she moved made her feel like a prisoner. At least the uncomfortably tight clamp-like contraption was gone from her wrist.  She didn’t feel any different at all and she wondered why she thought she might, after all, she had been here before. Waking up when she shouldn’t have, continuing to breathe against the odds. Defeating nature seemed to be one of the things she did best, or was this just some melodramatic notion planted in her head by the annoying voice, or was it from all those spooky films she loved to watch?

She was beginning to think it was some kind of conspiracy but it wasn’t funny anymore.

In her youth, the idea she might be somehow invincible was a little exciting, a kind of payback for all the misery.

All her life, something had tried to kill all her hopes of happiness, replacing them with the awful knowledge that nothing would ever change – except to get worse. Little by little, it left her an empty shell and now she was getting older, she knew she would welcome death with open arms.  Something this voice didn’t seem to grasp.

She never connected the voice to any of this until recently, when she began to realise that whatever was talking to her seemed to know an awful lot about her, almost as if it was part of it.

Just how long had it been tormenting her? How many more times would she almost die before it left her alone because what kept happening to her was not of her doing, at least she didn’t think it was.

The hospital room had its own private bathroom, something Kate appreciated as she was in no hurry to socialise with anyone.  She would have loved a shower, but that would have to wait and made do with finger combing her hair and splashing her face with water. She was forced to dress in yesterday’s dirty clothes, so one way or another couldn’t wait to get home.

Studying her wet face in the mirror, she didn’t look any different; last night’s ordeal left no trace. She looked tired, but that was how she always looked these days.

Kate had been called attractive in the past, but there hadn’t been many suitors beating a path to her door. She had never loved anyone but came close once. The image of a young man materialised in her mind and she smiled, unable to help herself.


His name was Michael and he was special. She often wondered how he was now, and if he was happy. Kate was seventeen and on her own when they met. Her mother had died the year before and she was working as a part-time usherette in the local cinema to make ends meet. Michael was the trainee projectionist.

He had come down to the foyer to speak to the manager about a problem in the projectionist’s booth. Kate couldn’t hear what the problem was, and he smiled at her over the manager’s shoulder and in that moment she was smitten.

He looked like a Greek God and he had smiled at her!

His problem reported, Michael followed Kate into the storeroom where she was filling the tray with ice-cream tubs and lollies, ready for the intermission. He leaned against the doorframe, watching her. ‘What’s your name then?’ he asked, a smile lifting the corners of his mouth.

‘Kate.’ The word came out of nowhere as she realised she could speak after all.

He offered to walk her home after work and their relationship was born. He was the perfect gentleman, kind and considerate and once carried her in his arms over the mud when they were out walking. He was everything Kate ever wanted.

It was the classic love story. He was gorgeous to look at, tall with dark curly hair and incredibly blue eyes. For the first time in her life, Kate was so happy, but within a few short weeks, she was pregnant.

Kate couldn’t believe it, how could it have happened? They were so careful.

She seemed to know instinctively that the baby would ruin everything and tried to avoid telling him. He could tell something was wrong and put two and two together.

‘Is the baby mine?’ he said, suddenly interested in something outside the window. And in that moment Kate’s world collapsed completely.

She found out later his father had been sowing the seeds of suspicion right from the start. That she was ‘unsuitable’, working in a cinema. How many men had she already slept with… and where were her parents? What sort of person was she?

She didn’t understand his attitude towards her at all. She knew that father and son didn’t  get on and despite Michael’s warnings about his father being a stubborn old goat, he seemed a pleasant enough middle-aged man with greying hair and faded blue eyes. He appeared to like her when they met and liked her doing things for him. Why had it all gone so horribly wrong?

When Michael walked out of her life, Kate was devastated. What was she supposed to do? Despite her upbringing, or because of it, Kate knew nothing about the world she lived in, apart from the sure and certain knowledge it wasn’t a pleasant place to live in. She had no idea what a young, penniless and pregnant girl should do, and there wasn’t  anyone she could ask.

She tried to remember how her mother coped, but all she could recall was that food seemed to appear as if by magic. She knew her mother never paid the rent, simply looked for another room every time they were evicted.

Some man or other always seemed to be involved with her mother’s activities, was that how Kate was supposed to manage?

She needed time to get over the brutal pain of Michaels’s rejection; time to figure out what to do and where she could go. And time was not an option. A life was growing inside her, a life that would need her full attention in no time at all.


The young doctor who battled to save her life knocked on the open door; pushing all the old memories back into their box and bringing Kate back into the present. He seemed pleased to see her.  Did that mean he hadn’t expected to?

He shook her hand and said if she took the medication regularly and stopped smoking she would probably live considerably longer.

Longer than what, she thought, suddenly amazed she wasn’t desperate for a cigarette yet. She hadn’t given them a thought, what was that all about?

She vaguely remembered promising to stop when in her morphine delirium last night. After all the work they put in on her behalf, it seemed fair.  She thanked him and collected her medication from the Ward Sister. Kate found herself walking towards her brother who was waiting for her just outside the ward doors. So he was here last night. How did he know?

She hadn’t seen him in ages and didn’t  want to see him now. He seemed a lot older than she remembered, his face beginning to look creased and grey hair was appearing at his temples. He also looked as if he spent the night in a chair. Again, she wondered what he was doing there as he didn’t usually care whether she lived or died, and she had enough proof of that.

As they walked down the corridor leading to the main doors of the hospital, two nurses pushing a trolley rushed past them. Kate tried not to look at the person lying under the sheet, but it was too late. She saw the grey face of an old man who seemed already dead, reminding her of just where she was. A shiver ran down her spine and she started to walk faster, desperate to get out of there.

Her brother took her arm as they walked down the entrance steps. ‘You look great, Kate; a bit of a false alarm was it?’

She looked at him and shrugged, unwilling to share what happened to her, wondering how quickly she could get rid of him. ‘Why are you here Danny?’

He had the gall to look offended. ‘Your neighbour called me, the nosy one who always stinks of mothballs…’

She didn’t believe it for a second, and it was good to be out in the fresh air after the stuffy sterile atmosphere of the hospital. The day looked promising, weak sunshine was struggling to make itself known, but it was better than no sunshine at all.

As she followed Danny to his car, an ambulance sped past, its siren blaring a warning that some other poor soul needed to get to the hospital in a hurry. She wondered if they used the siren for her last night, but she couldn’t remember.

The old green Vauxhall was parked haphazardly and looked exactly how she expected it would. Bashed about, rusty and badly dented. A bit like herself, she thought, trying not to smile.

She didn’t  want to get inside, for she could see he’d been using it as a dustbin amongst other things. He was probably sleeping in it too if his circumstances had not improved in the years since she saw him last. He certainly smelled as though a change of clothes and a shower would be a good idea. His dark hair was filthy and he needed a shave, not too far removed from looking like a tramp.

She glanced around the car park, hoping to see a departing taxi. She didn’t care about hurting his feelings for he never considered hers. What was it about men?

Was it in their DNA, or didn’t they care?

No taxi was forthcoming, so it looked as though she would have to accept a lift home, but right then she would prefer to stick pins in her eyes.

‘Come on sis, get in,’ he said, opening the door, letting an obnoxiously stale odour drift past her nostrils.

‘My God Danny, do I have to? It stinks in there!’

‘Suit yourself, but it’s a long walk.’

He looked at her, hoping the little boy lost look would work on her once again.

Kate was not impressed and avoided looking into his eyes. He wasn’t her baby brother anymore; did he think his charm would work on her after all this time?

It was a long time since he’d been anywhere near charming. Now he was just a middle-aged old man with disgusting habits. The thought of being anywhere near him was making her feel slightly sick and a small sliver of shame crept in uninvited. Should you feel this way about your own brother?

She needed him to go away, and at that precise moment she realised for the first time since her promise to quit, she desperately wanted a cigarette. Oh to hell with him, she thought. And on the spur of the moment, she decided she would walk to the high street and find a taxi, despite the fact she could hardly put one foot in front of the other. She must be weaker than she realised and felt drained, all her old energy missing.  But she would find a cab if it killed her.

Kate started to walk away, trying not to laugh at the expression on his face.

‘Don’t be like that Kate; you must let me take you home.’

He looked upset by her rejection, and she didn’t care. She would do things her way or no way and that was that.

She was also going to find out exactly how he found her, for she knew for sure her neighbour had not told him.


 

#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives chapter three

I would dearly love some constructive criticism for the first book in my trilogy, Nine Lives.

So, if anyone has the time to read a chapter and let me know what you thought of it, I will be eternally grateful…

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Chapter Three

Hospitals are quite different places at night, Jack thought, as he searched through storerooms and cupboards for something to wear that would identify him as someone with a right to be there. Even though no one seemed to notice him, he didn’t want any awkward questions.

He found a crumpled white coat which almost fit him and started his systematic search for the woman that was brought here earlier. She was supposed to have died, and from the pace the ambulance staff displayed, it was obvious they were not going to let her go without a fight.

He knew all about fighting. He fought to keep her too, for all the good it did him. She was never happy with their relationship, always hoping it would turn out right, refusing to believe she had made yet another mistake.

Knowing she thought of him in that way made him more determined than ever to find better ways to hurt her.

He promised that life with him would be different, and never explained quite how different it would be. In the beginning, she hadn’t questioned the way he treated her, but she made tentative, careful remarks about him being a bully every time his rough games left bruises on her skin.

The child, David, was more of a problem. More of a problem than he realised at the time and he found himself trying hard not to hurt him too much as this tended to make Kate angry. Instead, he began to slip sedatives into the beaker of juice Kate insisted the child needed to have to hand at all times. Eventually, the child stopped whining; becoming quiet and withdrawn, even from his mother.

An orderly pushing a hospital trolley along the corridor in front of him interrupted his thoughts. Someone was lying on the trolley with a sheet draped over them, was this her? Had she died? Then he noticed the foot peeping out from under the sheet. It was old and gnarled, definitely not belonging to Kate.

Conveniently, it was the hospital’s policy to put patient’s names on the door of their respective rooms, so he managed to find Kate quite quickly. As he peered through the small window in the door, he was keenly aware of all the possibilities that presented themselves. It was the middle of the night in an almost deserted hospital and he couldn’t believe his luck.

The room was dark, barely illuminated by a small lamp shining dimly on the bed. His pulse increased and his breathing became rapid as his eyes became used to the gloom and he found what he was looking for.

There was no one else in the room, so he quietly opened the door and walked to the foot of the bed, his eyes devouring every detail. She was asleep and hopefully would not awake and see him there. The machine was bleeping gently, the display changing slightly as he watched.

He was mesmerised by the image in front of him. She looked the picture of health, and unexpectedly beautiful.  Her wild, untameable hair framed her face with lazy curls; and of all the times he had looked at her, this image would stay with him forever. He expected to find her broken and beaten; looking every one of her forty-nine years and was gravely disappointed.

He couldn’t believe that just a few hours ago she was grey and deathly still, slowly dying, with people busily trying to save her life. Never the fittest person in the world, she smoked, was overweight and hardly ever exercised properly, how had she survived?

She was wearing a pastel coloured hospital gown, which seemed far too big. Thin plastic wires snaked from beneath the gown and made their way to the machine that was beside the bed, the display of shining numbers recording the state of her health.

He stared down at her face, peacefully unlined as sleep relaxed her muscles. The face he had once adored to the point of insanity and madness. They had been so good together, more than good, it had been amazing and he never understood how she came to walk away from him, leaving him inconsolable.

He could not stop staring at her face, the face he would once have willingly died for before his adoration turned him into a hateful monster that was capable of anything.

He wanted to touch her, needed to touch her and knew what would happen if she awoke and saw him.

The familiar heat started to rise in his chest, making its way slowly up his neck until his face glowed scarlet in the gloom. His fists clenched and he raised them, looking at his fingers turning white with the pressure.

‘Why did you have to leave me, Kate, hmm…?’ he said quietly, knowing as he said it that he had no idea what he wanted to do if he was honest. Most of the time he wanted her dead and constant scenarios played in his head of how and when it could happen. If the power of thought could do anything at all, she should be dead, not lying peacefully in a hospital bed looking more beautiful than he remembered.

His eyes were drawn to her arms lying on the sheet, tubes and wires attached at several points. A large clamp-like device on her right wrist appeared to be leaking, the red stain spreading out on the sheet, growing larger by the minute. That doesn’t look good, he thought. If it was trying to control an artery, it wasn’t working. He knew that a person could bleed to death in a matter of minutes from an arterial bleed and he studied the growth of the stain with interest. It was getting bigger, much bigger and he felt a weird kind of excitement beginning to build. He wanted to loosen it a bit more somehow and started to look for a way to make this happen. Just as he thought he discovered a way, he heard a noise in the corridor outside. Someone was coming.

Outside, in the cold air, he felt deflated. A few more minutes were all he needed. It was becoming more than annoying to be denied so many times. Was it time to stop playing around and do something about Kate once and for all?


What do you think of Jack?

#WednesdayWriter ~ Nine Lives ~ Chapter Two

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Nine Lives was my debut novel, one I made such a lot of mistakes with.

Feel free to comment, advise or criticise, as I am very interested in improving my craft.

Chapter One received some valuable advice last week, please keep it coming!

Even though it might never be perfect, your first book is always special, isn’t it?

To this end, I will be posting a chapter every Wednesday…

Chapter Two

What happened next was a bit like trying to watch a film through a heavy net curtain. There seemed to be far too many people in her flat, and no one appeared to be talking to her or each other. Foul tasting pills were pushed into her mouth. She wanted a drink of water but couldn’t seem to get anyone’s attention. Then something was wrapped around her arm and she was dimly aware of someone looking at her.

Something warm and fluffy gently pushed against her hand and she realised it was Dylan, back to check on her again. He was an intelligent animal and always seemed to know when she needed to fuss him. What would happen to him if she weren’t around?

Then she was pulled to her feet, what was happening now? Where were they taking her? Two men in bright Day-Glo jackets led her outside to a waiting ambulance. She didn’t understand how she was walking; she wasn’t in control of her legs. How was she moving? What was happening to her? Worry about finishing her latest artwork tried to take shape in her head, but she couldn’t seem to make herself care about anything. She was glad she had cleaned the paint from her fingers earlier and that was all that seemed to matter.

Once inside the ambulance, more pieces of equipment were attached to her and machinery hummed and bleeped. One of the men was talking, and it all sounded far away and very technical. Then the ambulance started up and the ride to the hospital was a nightmare. There didn’t seem to be enough room to swing a cat what with all the equipment, and the ambulance man was not exactly skinny. He seemed to be putting his hands all over her to keep his balance. The driver must be a maniac.

When she arrived at the hospital, she expected to see the emergency department, but they took her to what appeared to be a state of the art operating theatre. She didn’t know it at the time but this was where they usually took people who were having a heart attack. This was technology at its finest but she was in no state to appreciate any of it. By this time she was pumped so full of morphine she literally didn’t care if it snowed. Nurses tried to reassure her, but she didn’t care what they did. They asked if there was anyone she wanted them to call, and she shook her head. There was her brother Danny, or her agent and friend Samantha Cameron, but she didn’t want either of them there, so she said no, there was no one. That suddenly seemed so incredibly sad she felt like crying.

The pain in her chest was bad, and for some peculiar reason, it wasn’t bothering her much. Whatever the doctor was doing was nothing worse than someone holding her arm tightly. She looked in his direction and all she could see above the mask he wore were his dark eyes, concentrating hard on something in front of him. They seemed to be kind eyes if a little young. She wondered if he was tired. It was late after all, she heard the nurses talking about being woken up to come and help her.

All the machines and equipment around her seemed to be wrapped in plastic bags, and it struck her as funny they hadn’t unwrapped everything when they bought them. No, that wasn’t right, was it?

Something was happening to her arm, he was squeezing it harder than before and then he said something about feeling something cold. Was he talking to her?

Then she felt it, a weird coldness was slowly creeping up her arm and into her chest. What was he doing? She was so tired and desperately wanted to fall asleep and it wasn’t happening.

A strong waft of a familiar fragrance drifted over her as she lay there, and she struggled to open her eyes, expecting to see a nurse close by, but no one was close enough, so where had it come from?

For some inexplicable reason, the scent of flowers made her think of her mother. She died when Kate was sixteen and because of her miserable childhood, made infinitely more miserable by her mother, Kate should have hated her. All the time she was growing up, Kate thought she did.

Now, all Kate felt was sadness for the woman who clearly hadn’t been happy either, never managing to find anything to make her life worthwhile.

After all this time, Kate still missed not having a proper mother.  She never had a dad either; he died during the war so he had the ultimate excuse. Try as she might, Kate could never come up with a decent excuse for her mother’s behaviour. She had always been achingly absent whenever Kate needed someone to comfort her and it would have been nice to have someone to rely on, no matter what.


A long time seemed to pass, with all the people in the room busy doing something and calling out to each other, and she couldn’t quite figure out what they were saying. It was as though she was seeing things with the wrong glasses on. Everything was blurred and out of focus. Then she was moved again, the trolley she was lying on pushed down seemingly endless corridors ending up in a dimly lit room, being made comfortable by an attractive, dark-haired nurse dressed in what looked like blue pyjamas. There were plastic stickers with wires attached all over Kate’s chest and something tight and painful clamped to her wrist. Apart from this, she felt much better. The pain had stopped, so that was something.

The nurse brought her a cup of tea and nothing had ever tasted so good. Suddenly she knew she was going to be all right, she was not going to die after all, and might finally be able to go to sleep, even with the machine bleeping gently by the bed…


See you all next week!