#WednesdayWriters: Nine Lives ~ chapter15

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Chapter Fifteen

Later that evening, as Kate was sorting through her painting supplies to decide what she needed to stock up on, she thought she heard a child crying. She often heard all manner of sounds coming from the neighbours, and as far as she knew, no one had any children.

She looked around the room for Dylan, thinking it could be him and the silver tabby was nowhere in sight. It had sounded more like a child than a cat, she thought, and the memory of David suddenly burst into her mind.

He was so small when he was born, too small to have caused so much trouble.

The first hint something was wrong happened the morning after David was born. She awoke in the hospital bed and tried to move her legs, thinking she would get up and go to the bathroom. But something didn’t feel right. Her left leg felt heavy and awkward and didn’t want to move.

She pulled back the covers and discovered a red, angry leg, which had swollen considerably. She called to a passing nurse who took one look, told Kate not to move for any reason, and summoned the doctor.

It was a thrombosis, a blood clot, which apparently could travel to her heart or brain if she as much as moved an eyelash.

Being told she must not move on pain of death, so soon after the rigours of childbirth seemed to work the oracle. Kate simply froze, far too frightened and exhausted to think straight. They gave her medication, and over the next few days the swelling gradually went down and the danger passed.

Thinking about it now, Kate wondered idly if it counted as a life lost. They said she could have died after all. So how many was it? Possibly five or six, she thought.

Kate had tried to be a good mother, never complaining or resenting the demands of her tiny red-faced dictator. She was always a patient person but David pushed her to hell and back. He never seemed to sleep like other babies or behave as she thought a baby should.

She remembered him standing up in his cot every night, grinning at her like a Cheshire cat, almost as if he knew he was being infuriating.

Having a child had not worked for Kate. Instead of having the opportunity to show the world just how it should be done, she had managed to screw it up and do a worse job than her mother. Despite her struggle to do all the right things, David grew up hating her and she never knew why.

Surprisingly, John took to being a substitute father like a duck to water. He never spoke of Michael at all. It was as though his own son didn’t exist and Kate thought she understood. John kept hinting she should marry him and settle down. Forget any dreams she might still have about finding a better life. Kate couldn’t stop expecting to see Michael, couldn’t believe he could stay away. Surely, he would want to at least look at his son?

The time passed and David grew into a moody, rebellious toddler, and if she still had dreams of a better life, she tried to forget them. Which wasn’t easy, as the voice tormented her almost on a daily basis, constantly reminding her of the mess she had made of her life. Kate had started to think it wanted her to do something drastic, like jump under a bus, and she refused to listen, stubbornly holding on to the little bit of hope she had left.

Most people see life in black and white, and for Kate, there were a million shades of grey, plus some mystifying element that eluded her whenever she tried to concentrate on it.

Whatever it was, it was always tantalisingly close and out of reach at the same time. Why was it so difficult for her to find love? She had searched long and hard deep down inside herself, and the elusive answer simply danced away whenever she came close to it.

Kate tried to remember what had made David hate her so and her mind refused to cooperate. It was late; she should pack up and go to bed. No point worrying about any of it, was there?

The voice in her head stopped her in her tracks, asking if she had ever considered that someone else might have influenced her son. Why did it say that? It might explain why she could never quite put her finger on the cause of her son’s hatred. His feelings were strong, so he obviously thought he had a good reason to be so angry. It would also explain why she had always felt it was not anything to do with her. If it wasn’t her fault, why did he hate her so much?

Kate tried to switch her brain off as easily as she flipped the light switch on her way to bed, but the thought it might have been someone else’s fault went with her and she knew she would have trouble sleeping.

She had lain awake for most of the night, convinced she could hear a child crying. Dylan had not made an appearance, which was odd because he never stayed out all night. She would have to look for him when she returned from the art suppliers in Guildford.

She spent most of Tuesday morning carefully choosing the paint and canvases she would need, blissfully happy to be able to do what she loved so much, never regarding it as work. She decided to stop for lunch before catching the next train home and found herself in a smart new Italian place where the food turned out to be good and the waiters treated her like royalty.

Despite her surroundings, she found herself thinking about the mysterious crying child, which in turn made her think of the day Michael did, in fact, turn up all those years ago. Typically, it had to be a day when she looked her worst. Her hair, longer and messier than ever, needed washing and David was being his most frustrating, throwing his toys all over the place one minute then demanding things and throwing them on the floor too.

Don’t do this today, she remembered thinking, but Michael wasn’t taking any notice of his child. He was staring at her, almost as though he hadn’t  looked at her before. John was at work, and Kate didn’t want to think what might happen if Michael was still there when he came home.

‘You’re looking good Kate.’ he said softly, his oh so blue eyes twinkling just as she remembered. Something inside her seemed to move and stretch its legs. What was she supposed to make of this visit? What did he want?

She stood up straight and looked him in the eyes. ‘Why are you here Michael?’

He smiled nervously and pushed his fingers through his hair, a habit that was all too familiar. ‘I wanted to see you.’

Kate was having a lot of trouble keeping herself detached. The way he looked and the things he was doing brought back so many memories she couldn’t concentrate. How long had it been? It must have been eighteen months since he had walked away. What had brought him back now? She had supposed he would be married by then as he was too good looking to stay single for long.

She had to sit down. Her legs were beginning to demand it and she hesitated, knowing he would take it as a signal to be all over her like a rash. She compromised and leaned against the windowsill. ‘Why did you want to see me, I would have thought you would have better things to do.’

He had the grace to look awkward and gave a nervous laugh. ‘I couldn’t stop thinking about you, so here I am.’

And just what do you expect me to do about that, she thought. The next thought slipped unbidden into her mind and made her swallow so hard, she almost choked. Did he still love her?

The voice warned her of falling for Michael’s charms again, and to remember how badly he had hurt her.

‘Oh shut up!’

‘Pardon?’ he said, looking anxious.

‘Oh not you, Michael, I was thinking aloud. Would you like a cup of coffee?’

Why had she offered hospitality? She should throw him out, and for some reason, she couldn’t bring herself to be angry with him. He always did have that effect on her.

It was getting late, John could be home anytime soon and she knew all hell would break loose if Michael was still there.

‘Your dad will be home soon, she said, pointedly.

He didn’t look at all worried. Don’t tell me he’s grown a pair since I saw him last, she thought. He had picked up one of David’s toy cars and was turning it repeatedly in his hands, seemingly without a care in the world. She waited for David to notice one of his toys was in someone else’s hands and go into his usual spoilt brat routine and scream to get it back, and he didn’t. She knew he had noticed, for he was watching Michael intently, studying him from behind the armchair.

‘Why are you here, Kate?’

As if you care where I am, she thought. ‘Where else would I go?’

‘There must be better places, than here with him…’

‘He has been good to both of us,’ when no one else was, she felt like adding.

Suddenly she decided she would not be playing his games again, not even for a social visit. ‘I think you should go now. I want you to leave.’

He stood up and crossed the room to stand in front of her at the window. ‘Don’t be like that Kate, I have missed you.’

Oh no, you don’t, she thought and pushed past him to get to the front door. He was right behind her and put out his hand to stop her from opening the door. ‘You don’t really want to throw me out, do you?’

He was standing so close; she could feel the heat coming off his body on the bare skin of her arm. The familiar smell of his aftershave washed over her, evoking so many wonderful memories of their romantic past.

With an extraordinary effort, she managed to pull herself together and gritted her teeth, desperately trying to remember she still hated him.

He leaned towards her and tucked a stray curl behind her ear. ‘Beautiful as ever Kate, I must visit you again and soon.’

He opened the door, which meant squeezing past her. Her body disobeyed every command she gave it and long forgotten sensations came back to life. It was all she could do not to grab him and melt in his arms.

By some miracle, she held herself together and managed to close the door behind him. She stood there for a moment, trying to decide how she felt. She didn’t have to think about it, it was obvious she still loved him. She just hoped it wasn’t obvious to him.

Thinking about Michael usually depressed her but that wasn’t happening today. She felt almost elated and that was insane. It was all of thirty years ago, surely all thoughts of Michael and their ill-fated romance should have been buried long ago?

On the way home, she called in at the local supermarket for there was hardly any food in the flat and Dylan’s was running low too; which reminded her, she hadn’t seen him that morning. Where was he?

When she arrived home, she checked all his favourite hiding places and the silver tabby was in none of them. She checked the cat flap still worked as it had been known to get stuck occasionally, much to Dylan’s annoyance. You would think she had done it just to annoy him, the way he carried on.

Kate was getting worried now. She hadn’t seen him for at least two days and it wasn’t like him at all.

She walked across the road to her neighbour and knocked on the door, waiting patiently for the old woman to make her way to the front door,

‘Hello Janet, I was wondering if you had seen Dylan lately? And how are you these days,’ she added guiltily. Kate thought she looked a bit tired, not quite her usual perky self.

‘Oh I’m not so bad, and no, I haven’t seen his Lordship for a while now. How long has he been missing?’

‘About two days, I think. I hope he’s all right.’

‘I’m sure he is Kate, although there has been a strange car parked outside number ten for over a week now. Nobody ever gets out of it though, not that I’ve seen anyway.’

‘I’ll have to ask around. Do you need anything Janet?’

‘I’m fine; you go and find Dylan, that’s more important.’

‘He’s not more important than you, take care…’

None of the other neighbours had seen Dylan either and by the time she was back home she was worried. She had a quick look at the car Janet mentioned, it was a green Vauxhall and beaten up enough to be her brothers, but the inside was so clean and tidy she dismissed the idea. It had probably been dumped anyway.

It was possible Dylan had gone walkabout, although he had stopped doing that a long time ago. He was too old now, wasn’t he? Apart from ringing the local vet and reporting him missing, she couldn’t think what else to do. She knew cats do sometimes up sticks and move on when the mood takes them. She just hoped that wasn’t what had happened as she would miss him terribly.

 

Where is Dylan, the cat? And why is she remembering Michael, after all this time?

 

#WednesdayWriters ~ Nine Lives

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Chapter Fourteen

On her way home from her lunch with Kate, Sam found herself having to fight to hold back the tears. It seemed to be raining, the windscreen streaked with water distorting the view from inside the car. When she realised the water was in her eyes and not on the glass in front of her, she pulled over and parked the car on the side of the road.

She wished for the millionth time there were something she could do to help Kate, something to help her settle down and be happy. Misery seemed to follow her around like a stray dog, her life full of pain and disappointment and didn’t look as if it would be letting up anytime soon. Who was tormenting her, and what did they want?

Two obvious candidates stood out immediately. It had to be either Danny or Jack.

She didn’t want to think it could be Kate’s brother Danny. He was a bit of an idiot, but why would he want to hurt Kate? Then there was Jack, her ex-husband. She didn’t know him well, and on the few occasions, she had met him he had made her skin crawl. Always so courteous, most women would fall at his feet and Sam instinctively knew he was hiding his true colours behind all his mock chivalry. She had watched him with Kate and her son in the past and it was like watching a horror film. You just knew something awful was going to happen at any minute, and as hard as you tried to prepare yourself it was never enough. She was glad when Kate had finally left him and moved away, hoping that would be the end of it.

Jack had seemed to give in without a struggle, which had surprised Sam. She half expected him to move heaven and earth to get her back, but he didn’t. He contacted her a few times, contrite, humble, and pleaded with her to come home, promising her the world and more to make amends.

Kate would have none of it. Sam had expected a few pitfalls or fruitless reconciliations but Kate had not conceded. Something far worse must have occurred, Sam thought. Something Kate obviously didn’t want to talk about.

Whatever it was, Sam was pleased the marriage was over as she didn’t want Kate having anything to do with him. So the thought he might be up to his tormenting games again was annoying, to say the least. And why now?

She had a mental picture of him keeping an eye on Kate, watching and waiting for opportunities to arise. Sam had never understood how he could have been so nasty to both Kate and her son David. Was he lying when he said he loved her? It couldn’t be love, not the kind of love Kate needed.

Not the kind of love Sam had offered her either and suddenly the tears began again in earnest, threatening to turn into wholesale sobbing.

 

Sometime later Sam had composed herself just enough to resume her journey, deciding to put in a few hours at the gallery, as going home had not appealed in the slightest. Being alone in her tiny flat served to remind her just how lonely she was, but after a few minutes inside the gallery with all its empty spaces and concealed lighting, she realised she was just as lonely there too. She needed someone in her life, someone to share everything with. Over the years there had been some opportunities but none of them had meant as much to her as Kate. It was a great pity she didn’t feel the same in return.

There had been that time when Sam was sure Kate would finally realise how she felt about her, that their relationship could be more than just good friends. They had been at some function, she couldn’t remember much about it. The pair of them managed to get drunk and ended up alone together, and what should have been a romantic occasion had quickly degenerated into a one-sided show of affection from which Kate had rapidly retreated into her shell.

Sam often wondered if Kate had been too drunk to understand what she was offering, and had been too scared to bring the subject up in case it ruined what relationship they did have…

 

#WednesdayWriters~ Serialisation of Nine Lives Chapter13 #MysteryThriller

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Chapter Thirteen

Kate decided to ring Sam later, and tried to concentrate on a theme for a new canvas. She spread her collection of photographs out on the floor, but her brain didn’t want to work. She was having trouble doing much of anything these days, and housework was the least of her worries. She too tired to care, who would see it anyway?  She started to think about her health, something she didn’t usually bother about. Since the heart attack, she had been preoccupied with the idea she might not have much longer to live, and increasingly felt as though her body was giving up, one day at a time.

Despite all that had happened in her life, she had always felt invincible, as though nothing could affect her. Now that feeling was gone. It sounded ridiculous, but she could feel a degeneration happening to her, leaving her in no doubt her time was nearly up. She thought she was also developing angina, what did that mean? Was her heart going to stop again? She should try to remember to take the pills, for who knew just how much time she had left?

Then she started to think about all those hints she had been getting lately about the lives she had apparently lost. Was the voice trying to insinuate she had been using them up, like a cat? Surely, there hadn’t been that many. Had there?

She tried to count them and promptly gave up, dismissing it as total rubbish, just another one of its stupid remarks.

Sam answered the phone almost before it had a chance to ring, sounding pleased to hear Kate’s voice.

‘Did you ring earlier Kate?’

‘Yes, I did, and your junior said you were off sick or something.’

Sam laughed. ‘You must have misheard her, Kate. She wouldn’t have said that. And I was being a little mysterious with her; she is far too nosy you know.’

‘So where were you?’  Kate asked, trying to sound mildly curious.

‘I was in London, meeting with the owners of the building I am thinking of leasing.’

‘And…’

‘And it’s a done deal. It’s a lovely place, just right for a gallery. And it’s the perfect location too!’

Kate’s mind went into overdrive.  Now the new gallery was becoming a fact, Sam would need a lot more art for the walls. Things might be looking up after all. ‘Does that mean I shall be seeing less of you then?’

‘No, I’m getting a manager so I can stay down here. London is fine for the odd visit, and I wouldn’t want to stay up there.’

Kate was busily trying to predict how fast she could paint. ‘How soon will all this be happening?’

There was a pause and Kate could hear people talking in the background.

‘Look, Kate, I would prefer to have this conversation in person, how about lunch tomorrow?’


Sam had arranged to pick Kate up in her smart yellow VW beetle and they were headed for the local Harvester, with Sam was driving much too fast in her usual erratic manner. It was a good choice as the food was always delicious, with a vast menu, which catered for all possible tastes; which was ideal if you didn’t fancy anything particular or simply couldn’t make up your mind. The free salad bar was a great idea too and Kate looked forward to their meal almost as much as the chance to catch up with her friend.

The Harvester was busy, as usual; and they were seated and discussing the menu inside five minutes.

‘So Kate; how’s everything? Have you finished the commission?’

‘Yes, I think so. You can take it back with you.’

Sam thought Kate seemed to be in a weird mood, almost as if her mind was somewhere else entirely. ‘Are you okay Kate? You seem a bit off.’

Kate looked up at her friend; suddenly realising she didn’t know about her heart attack or the business with Danny.

As she relayed everything that had happened, she was amazed by Sam’s reaction. There was surprise, shock, concern and finally sadness. It looked as though she were about to cry.

‘Are you all right now, medically I mean?’

‘So they tell me. If I keep taking the pills, I should be fine. My heart apparently needed an MOT and they had to put these bits in to keep the arteries open, so I should be good for a while yet.’ She laughed. ‘They managed to talk me into giving up smoking…’

‘Good for you Kate. Now, what’s all this about Danny?’

Their food arrived, temporarily halting the conversation, and they ate in silence. And Kate noticed Sam was picking at her food. Surely, her news hadn’t upset her that much?

Sam put down her fork. ‘I’m not hungry today. Tell me about Danny.’

Kate described what had happened, keeping her voice low as she noticed the family at the next table were eavesdropping. ‘I’m absolutely sure it was him, who else could it be. He must have a key or something, nothing was damaged.’

Sam looked deathly serious. ‘Did you manage to change the lock yet?’ she asked, already knowing what the answer would be.

‘Err, no – do you think I should?’

‘Definitely, or do you want a return visit from your brother, or whoever else it might have been?’

Kate promised faithfully to replace the lock, and having finished their meal, made their way to Sam’s car.

‘For some inexplicable reason, Kate, I keep thinking about the time you had that virus. I never knew anyone could get so hot and survive, and you did and from what I know about you, you’re good at surviving.’

Kate had forgotten how bad the virus had been. It had turned out to be viral meningitis and she had been lucky to come through it without any brain damage. Her temperature had reached such high levels it was a wonder her brain hadn’t fried.

It had been a normal day, Kate had been painting off and on, and a violent headache was building to epic proportions. She had gone to bed early, hoping to sleep it off, and no such luck. She awoke shivering, the pain in her head and neck excruciating and she knew something had to be wrong.

Kate telephoned Sam to cancel their lunch appointment. She must have sounded so bad Sam had dropped everything and turned up on her doorstep. She took one look at Kate and called the doctor.

When he arrived, he tried to play down the seriousness of it all and stressed Kate had to cool down even if it meant throwing her into a cool bath.

Apparently, the first time Sam tried it was hilarious. Kate had ended up being dragged along the floor in the hallway, grabbing at every doorway she passed, begging Sam not to be so cruel. But  Sam had her instructions, and come hell or high water she would keep Kate’s temperature down if it killed them both in the process.

For nearly a week, she nursed Kate and dragged her to the bathroom every time her temperature went up another notch. It couldn’t have been easy, for Kate was bigger and usually stronger than Sam, and determination obviously won through.

Kate had never thought to ask her friend how she had managed so well. She knew she had slept a lot and not eaten for several days, but Sam must have been so worried. Kate had been so grateful she had stayed with her, for she knew she might have died without her help.

So that was probably another life used up and she hadn’t given it a thought until now. How much more had she forgotten about?

Kate laughed, and without enthusiasm. ‘So that’s what my friendly pest keeps going on about.’

‘You mean it’s still talking to you?’ Instant frown lines appeared on her forehead. ‘So what’s it saying now?’

‘It keeps going on about how many lives I have used up; makes me feel like a cat.’

‘And how many have you used?’

Kate frowned, trying to remember. Her memory was getting worse. ‘I can think of four, but there was that time when Jack’s car went out of control. That was pretty scary.’

Sam dropped Kate at her flat and went to park the car. As Kate unlocked the front door, she studied it closely to see if there was any damage to the lock. There was none she could see; wasn’t it supposed to be possible to open doors with a credit card? Well, that should rule Danny out; he wouldn’t get a credit card in a million years. And if it wasn’t him, who…?


The rest of the afternoon was spent discussing the new canvasses and the time just flew by. Kate was to paint four large seascapes for the new gallery. She wanted to include different water scenes, and Sam was adamant. ‘You can’t paint anything else for the grand opening Kate — the gallery is going to be called Seascapes, so that’s what I want to specialise in, at least at first. You can try other things later on.’ She smiled, her face lighting up with excitement. ‘You will come up to London next month for the opening, won’t you?’

It wasn’t  a question, Kate realised. She was expected to be there; come hell or high water. It reminded her of the frightening dream of Sam drowning in the water. It was symbolic of her latest enterprise, jumping in the deep end sort of thing.

She had always assumed her friend knew what she was doing and everything would be okay, never giving the financial risks any thought at all. But Sam was no fool. She must be supremely confident to consider setting up a brand new art gallery from scratch, and in London of all places.

‘Kate?’

‘Oh sorry, I was miles away. Yes, of course, I’ll be there. You couldn’t keep me away.’

‘You’re not still worried about Danny, are you? You probably won’t hear from him again, you know.’

Kate nodded, unwilling to spoil the afternoon with her thoughts about the break-in if that’s what it was. She couldn’t tell Sam how she felt about living there now. She was beginning to understand what she had to do, and now was not the time to discuss it.

She was haunted by the fact that her special place, her sanctuary, was not so special anymore. It felt used and dirty somehow, and try as she might, she could not get past that fact…


Is someone trying to hurt Kate, or is it all in her imagination?

 

#WednesdayWriter ~Serialisation of Nine Lives #Mystery Thriller

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Chapter Twelve

 When Kate returned from the park on Sunday afternoon, she had a splitting headache. She wasn’t sure if it was due to the bright sunshine or the uncomfortable stroll down memory lane. It was probably both.

She put a saucepan of water on to boil, intending to make some pasta for the convenience store had nothing that appealed to her, wondering all the time what it would take to make her forget Michael. God knows she had tried hard over the years to put him out of her mind, but nothing seemed to work. She was tempted sometimes to try and find him, hoping for a glimpse of him. She knew it was stupid, for his memory seemed to be linked to everything else that had gone wrong in her life. It would be impossible to flush all of it out of her mind, and she should try harder. Hadn’t Jack taught her that any relationship with a man was doomed to fail? The differences between men and women were just too great.

There might be a decent film to watch on the TV, or she could try and finish the painting she had been working on when her heart had screamed uncle on Friday night.

Thinking of the artwork reminded her she was supposed to call Sam about another commission. With a bit of luck, it would be a definite booking, not just an enquiry as her bank balance was looking a bit bereft.

Waiting for the pasta to finish cooking, Kate wandered about the flat trying to decide what she would do with the rest of the day. Dylan was snoring gently on the couch, seemingly oblivious to her presence. Well, that was cats all over. Humans were only supposed to be acknowledged when a need arose.

She stopped at her studio door, taking in the gentle clutter, but since the break-in, she couldn’t shake the feeling that everything was ruined. It looked and felt spoiled, almost like a rape, and she knew deep down she would have to find somewhere else to live and soon.  The thought of packing everything up, not to mention trying to find a place she liked as much as this flat was becoming a bridge too far. She didn’t think she could do it again, but she might have to, for like it or not, living here now was getting increasingly uncomfortable.

The intense colours of her painting glowed like a beacon, drawing her into the studio. There was something unfamiliar about it, almost as though someone else had painted it.

Looking closer, she found herself trying to focus on a particular spot in the waves. There was something there but it was so small. What was it?

There was a magnifying glass somewhere in a drawer but the question was, which drawer?

Of all the faculties you start to lose as you get older, Kate’s memory would be the one she would miss the most. Aches and pains, creaking joints, plus all the side effects from the medication she had to take for her heart, these were all the things she knew were inevitable. Two things she couldn’t afford to lose were her eyesight and her memory. Not the old memories, they could go to hell for all she cared. Just leave her with the day-to-day stuff, like where she left her keys, or what she did ten minutes ago.

She found the magnifying glass at the back of the drawer where she kept her photo collection. Logical place, she thought, wondering why she hadn’t looked there first. As she approached the painting, she wondered what she was going to see. It was probably nothing important. In the pain and confusion of Friday night, anything could have happened. It was some kind of miracle she hadn’t ruined the entire canvas.

She leaned closer, trying to focus on the tiny detail bobbing about in the water. What she saw almost made her drop the glass. It was a woman’s face.

Hang on, she thought, not just any woman’s face. It was Sam, and she looked worried, almost scared. What on earth? Where had it come from?

She didn’t remember doing it, but why would she paint Sam in the sea? She couldn’t swim. It had always been a joke between them, the fact they got on so well together but had such contrasting opinions about water. Kate loved it, whereas Sam loathed and detested it.

Kate would never imagine her going anywhere near any sort of water, so what was going on?

That night, Kate was plagued by nightmares. All she kept seeing was Sam, struggling in the water, panic distorting her face into that of a stranger. She opened her eyes in the morning, surprised she had managed to get any sleep, and resolved to call her friend and check up on her. She hadn’t hinted at any problems when they met up for lunch last week, none Kate could remember anyway.

She was always reluctant to call anyone on a Monday morning, remembering how disorganised the start of any week could usually be so she forced herself to wait until after lunch.

The office junior answered the phone and said Miss Cameron was having a few days off, and no, it wasn’t because she was ill.

Kate hung up, puzzled and worried in equal parts. As far as she knew, Sam hadn’t mentioned this either, or had she forgotten? She tapped her home number into the phone, and while she waited for her to answer, tried desperately to recall everything they had talked about.

Kate suddenly realised no one was picking up. There was obviously no one home.

Suddenly, what the voice had said earlier had a more sinister tone and she worried that something had happened to Sam.

Kate wandered into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, trying to think and thoughts of Sam kept getting in the way.

They had met when Kate had almost decided to quit her tailoring job. She had moved from tailoring to an executive position in a fashion firm, and although it could be exciting, most days it bored her to death and was not what she wanted to do at all. She was painting in her spare time and having a modest success at local fairs and exhibitions. People loved her art and she had sold several canvases, which told her it was time to concentrate on her passion full time, even if it meant sometimes going hungry in the beginning.

She smiled at the thought of losing some weight. Always a bit on the chunky side, she was always thinking about going on a diet but somehow it never happened; which was odd, considering how skinny she was as a child. The way her hips were aching lately, they would probably appreciate a little less of Kate.

Sam had been at one of the locally run art exhibitions and started a conversation with Kate about the paintings, unaware she was one of the artists. In turn, Kate thought Sam was somebody who lived locally and appreciated the artwork. Samantha, or Sam as she became, was roughly the same age as Kate, and that was where the similarity stopped. They turned out to be as different as chalk from cheese. Everything about Kate was on the verge of being out of control and not just her weight. She wore scruffy casual clothes, (comfortable, she called them) and her mane of mousy curls had a life all of its own. She was unorganised and messy, and magic seemed to happen every time she picked up a paintbrush.

Sam, on the other hand, could not have been more different. She was always neat and tidy with short dark hair that seemed glued in place. Never to be seen wearing anything remotely ‘comfortable’, always looking as though she was late for an interview or important meeting, and she usually was.

Like Kate, Sam also lived alone, and that was where the similarity ended. She was a social butterfly; having so many friends Kate couldn’t keep up, not that she wanted to.

Because they were so different Kate always wondered why Sam had bothered with her in the first place, but they got on like a house on fire right from the start, almost like sisters.

Sam ran a successful local art gallery and was thinking of opening another one in London. Their friendship had led to a business arrangement that worked well. There was that awkward time years ago when Jack was getting her down. Sam had strong feelings about that and became quite upset when it looked as though Kate’s work would suffer. At least, that’s what Kate thought it was…

Thanks for reading Chapter Twelve… all feedback is most welcome!

#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.


As always, we welcome your feedback… the support we receive from all you lovely people is making us better writers and bloggers.

So don’t be shy, tell us what you really think!

 

#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.

Cusp of Night by Mae Clair is Released today! Our 5* Review.#ParanormalMystery @MaeClair1

The truth hides in dark places . . .

 

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

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

Visit us at www.kensingtonbooks.com

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

Book Link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cusp-Night-Hodes-Hill-Novel-ebook/dp/B078LJX83X/

Our Review of Cusp of Night

“Equal parts monster and fallen angel…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

EXCERPT FROM CUSP OF NIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Preview and Early Review of Cusp of Night by Mae Clair #Mystery/Suspense #Supernatural Thriller @MaeClair1

 

 

Cusp of Night, Mae Clair’s stunning new book is released tomorrow, and we will be posting our review in the morning!

In the meantime, here is An Early Review of  Cusp of Night by Mae Clair

Thank you for having me as your guest today to share my newest release, Cusp of Night. A mystery/suspense novel with elements of urban legend and the supernatural, Cusp of Night uses dual timelines to tell two mysteries—one set in the past and one in the present. Naturally, both have to converge at the end, creating a tidy package. As an author, it involves writing two stories at once—something I found challenging to do, but also intriguing.

I’d like to share a snippet from a pre-release review today. After downloading a copy of Cusp of Night from NetGalley, Dianne, of the Tome Tender Book Blog had this to say:

Mae Clair takes us on a twisted journey through time and back in her latest mesmerizing read, CUSP OF NIGHT. The feel of the 1890’s comes to life, with its dark secrets, heinous betrayals and the jarring inner pain of a woman used for the very differences that forced her to grow up labeled a freak and a monster. What drives Maya to unearth the past with such obsessive fervor? Has Maya’s own past created a connection beyond the veil of death? One man is determined to help her, and together they will learn the nightmare called the Fiend is very much alive…was it ever dead?

Absolutely one of Mae Clair’s best paranormal mysteries to date! I could feel the change in eras, the emotions, I found my own monsters in so many of these characters and had to ask myself, who were the real victims? Deviously dark, this tale unfolds like a coiled snake ready to strike at any time and through it all, the webs that are woven grow into a barbed tapestry of suspense.

Too many riveting, entangled events to dismiss, you may find yourself dreaming of waking at 2:22 am a little cold and no longer alone…Fabulous reading intrigue from an author who knows her craft!

 

It’s so rewarding to find a review that makes all those late nights and long weekends juggling plot lines worthwhile. Many thanks to Dianne for posting her thoughts.

If Cusp of Night sounds like something that might interest you, perhaps you’d like to take a closer look at the blurb:

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BLURB

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

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

PURCHASE HERE

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

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My Favourite Villain…

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“Like a beautiful man who farts as he leaves the room, Dexter changed the world for the better, but left a noxious stink behind…”

 

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Dexter: The TV series. 2006-2013

I discovered this series as I was checking out the box sets on my TV. Eight series, each containing 12 episodes, enough to keep me happy throughout the long winter months.

Boy, was I in for a treat!

It turned out that what I had discovered was a lethal formula of black comedy and revenge-killing procedural. From its debut in 2006, Showtime’s adaptation of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter novels expertly marshalled its own absurdities to deliver a confident, darkly funny show like nothing around at the time.

It was television’s first serial killer procedural: a monster of the week format where Dexter assessed, tracked and killed whichever rapist, spree killer or assassin was in his sights. Rooting for the villain was nothing new, of course, but this took fanboying the bad boy to the next level.

Working as a blood-spatter analyst for Miami-Dade police offered Dexter the Intel and expertise to carry out his campaign. He was the psychopath you could introduce to your parents.

With every episode pored over in forensic detail, it only took the first episode to make me a devoted fan. As a budding crime/thriller writer, this series was like my own personal podcast, viewed from the comfort of my armchair. Every week, there would be something interesting to learn, some nuance or idea that could be utilised in a story of my own.

Dexter Morgan, bless him, played by Michael C Hall taught me so much about the perfect villain. One you could actually like and almost approve of.

And I did!