#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!

Advertisements

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

NL_banner.jpg

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…

NL_banner.jpg

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…

NL_banner.jpg

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

NL_banner.jpg

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!

#WednesdayWriter Nine Lives

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

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

It might never be perfect, but your very first book is always special, isn’t it?

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

 

NL_banner.jpg

Chapter One

Kate’s days were too long, the nights never ending. She didn’t belong in this life, this face, this body. It was all wrong.

She had wished for death many times, and it passed her by so often. It cheated her yet followed her everywhere. It whispered to her. Black thoughts plagued her dreams, monsters wearing the face of her mother, brother, husband. She wished such evil for them and it had returned to sit like a monkey on her back.

Kate heard the teasing voice in her head and chose to ignore it, wondering again if she was going insane. Why was it still pestering her after all these years, why couldn’t it leave her alone?

None of what it said ever made any sense, so she filed it away in her mind as some sort of deviance she must have been born with, like colour blindness.

Friday had been a busy day like any other and Kate was tired and ready for bed, ready to forget the day and switch her brain off, but the heartburn that plagued her all day seemed to have another agenda.

Pushing the unruly mop of curly hair away from her face, she studied the canvas in front of her, trying to decide if the painting was good enough; or if she was wasting her time trying to be creative when she felt like crap.  It had most of the elements her customer loved so they should like it. A stunning waterfall was the focal point of the picture with ethereal greens and blues in every shade imaginable captured in the white froth of the spraying water. The image seemed to shimmer and move the more you looked at it.

She knew the place well, it was in Cornwall and she had been there many times. It was a truly magical place, for you could climb up the rocks and get close to the falling water. Close enough to get soaked, she thought, smiling at the memory. She knew she would have to go there again, and soon.

There was something about water; it seemed to communicate directly with Kate’s soul. She loved nothing more than being near, or in it at every opportunity. A simple boat ride would be so much more special if she ended up soaked to the skin.  She didn’t tend to analyse it too much though, water had the power to make her feel good and paint extraordinary artwork. This transferred to anyone who loved her paintings, and that was all she cared about.

Deciding to call it a night, she took a last look at the canvas, reasonably pleased with what she had accomplished. The wet paint glistened like moonlight on the water, and she wished as always the effect would remain when the paint was dry.

In the beginning, she thought the voice just wanted to confuse her as it kept telling her what to do, or usually, what she shouldn’t do.

Why was it she instinctively never took any notice of its instructions, or the seemingly sincere appeals or sarcastic quips? She knew from experience to refuse to cooperate sometimes led to a disaster of one kind or another, but something other than the voice told her that to obey was more than her life was worth.

Either way, she seemed powerless to do anything other than follow her own instincts, even when she knew deep down she was wrong.

It was almost as though she was meant to fail, to suffer. To know and feel just how stupid she was, as though she was born with something missing. She often wondered if the voice was, in fact, the devil, because sometimes it would seem as though it was. All that medieval temptation and mysteriousness – it could well be, she thought, but what was its business with her?

A small part of her brain always sympathised with the Devil. He had been cast out too hadn’t he, fallen from grace and all that? They did seem to have a lot in common. It didn’t explain why this voice had been annoying her for most of her life. There was no reason she could see or imagine, or was it the only thing that listened whenever she prayed for help?

The voice didn’t seem evil or cruel to her. Sometimes there was something else just underneath the surface; something she could sense, but never strong enough to make her toe the line. She never obeyed the slightest suggestion, and despite the consequences, she didn’t intend to start now. She often wondered if her life would have been any different if she had, or would it have been worse?

What could it possibly do to her anyway? It was just an annoying voice in her head and couldn’t  hurt her, could it?

She finished her cigarette, stubbing it out in the overflowing ashtray and looked at the painting again. Oh well, she had done enough for one night. She wiped the paint from her fingers with a piece of rag that smelled strongly of linseed oil and made her way to the kitchen.

The indigestion was developing into razor blades in her stomach and she pulled a face. Why was it bothering her now? She used to suffer a lot in the past when she was worried or going through yet another crisis.

Lately, though, her life had evened out and that was just as well for she was getting too old to put up with any more trouble. She was moderately happy and free from problems; at least she thought she was. There was no annoying pig-headed husband to drive her nuts anymore, no pestering family turning up at inopportune moments. She was her own boss, doing something she loved. If she could just sell more of her work, it would be perfect.

Then she could move to a remote island, somewhere she would not see or hear other people with all their noise, but she was content for now.

That’s if she could just get this indigestion to sod off.

While she was making the last cup of coffee before bed, she took another antacid tablet, hoping to knock the heartburn into submission so she could get some sleep.

A wave of nausea and dizziness hit her and she clutched desperately at the worktop, wondering how long it would last this time. This wasn’t like before; she felt hot and seemed to be moving in treacle. She sat down on the nearest kitchen stool, hoping it would pass or just ease off as it had in the past, but if anything she was feeling worse by the minute. There was no pain, apart from the heartburn which was trying to burn a hole in her chest; and when she checked her pulse it was dancing all over the place, seeming to stop altogether for long moments as she frantically tried to hold herself together.

This can’t be happening now, she thought. Was she finally going to die or was this just another one of its games?  She didn’t care anymore, she just wanted to stop thinking and feeling. Just stop.

The voice was busy telling her that she needed help, but Kate didn’t want to listen.  Please just go away and leave me alone. She didn’t need any insidious remarks tonight.

As she sat there, trying to decide what to do, Dylan, her silver tabby walked into the kitchen and wrapped himself around her ankles.

‘Hello boy, where have you been?’ She hadn’t heard the cat flap so he must have been asleep on her bed. He nuzzled her hand and stared up at her as if he worried about her. She loved him dearly but other things were on her mind just then. ‘I am okay, go back to sleep.’

She was probably right, this was nothing new. She had been having these ‘turns’ for a while now and they always stopped before. As she sat there, she began to realise that this time something was wrong. She was sweating and sleepy, and a strange thing was happening to the indigestion. Instead of the annoying pain of heartburn, it was turning into a clamping grip of iron that threatened to get worse. It was time; it seemed, to call an ambulance…