#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.

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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:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

 

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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!

 

New Cover Release of Simple by Anita Dawes #FamilyHorror

Simple, the second book in Anita’s stable, has been re- edited and supplied with a brand new cover!  We would love to raise the profile of this book, finding new readers and hopefully new reviews.

To this end, free PDF copies are available! 

 

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SIMPLE’S LIFE is a painful nightmare.

A huge bear of a man, but with the heart and mind of an innocent child, he suffers terrible abuse from his vicious and uncaring backwoods family.

Together with his half-sister Leanne, they are hunted like wild animals and suffer the terror of nearly being burned alive as they try to escape.

 

SHADES OF THE WALTON’S MEET DELIVERANCE!

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

Simple is the follow-up book to Bad Moon, Anita’s first book and is another story about the backwoods people of West Virginia. At the time of writing, some 25 years ago, it seemed as though Anita was channelling actual people, the stories so disturbingly real. Neither Simple or Bad Moon are pleasant stories by any means, being full of raw, powerful emotions and unbelievable cruelty.

This was long before the world of Indie publishing, so we approached traditional publishers with the help of a well-known literary agent. They all said the same thing, that they were impressed with the strong powerful writing, and that it was well written. But it wouldn’t fit with all the other books on their list. I can appreciate this now, as finding the right category has been hard. If only those publishers had the courage of their convictions and made room for Simple!

Simple is a nickname his cruel family have given him, due to him being mentally challenged and cursed with a terrible stutter. His real name is Ethan, and although a giant of a man, he has the heart and mind of a child. He spends his time in the woods, tending to wounded wild birds and animals.

His grandmother and brothers beat him for everything he forgets to do, and many things he shouldn’t have done. When his half-sister Leanne cannot bear to watch any more cruelty, they make a plan to escape. But when they try to run, they bring the wrath of their vicious family down on their heads, and the results are terrifying…

Extract from Simple

I couldn’t be sure I was heading in the right direction, I had no choice but to follow where my feet led me, hoping my instincts were right.

I walked for hours, and just when I thought I would never find them, I smelled wood burning and there was a hint of voices carried on the wind.  Why had no one grabbed me?  Jack would never have let an outsider close enough to smell our fires burning.  Closer, I could hear a fiddle and someone singing a song, not something I heard too often at Gran’s.

They let me walk right into their camp.  It had been built among the trees and the land hadn’t been cleared much at all.  The cabins were much the same as ours, made with logs cut from the forest. The only thing different was the moss growing on the outsides where not much light could reach. The cabins looked green, almost as though they were still growing.  It felt a lot colder up here, even though I knew the sun was still up. It should be setting soon, and Simple would be lying where I had left him, in the dark.

The sound of the fiddle stopped and a woman about Gran’s age stood up.  My feet suddenly felt about three sizes too big.  I stumbled, and then came to a standstill, unable to move.  What was I thinking of, coming here?  Going to town would have been better, would have changed my life, Simple’s too, possibly for the better.

The woman spoke, her voice deep yet softer than Gran’s.

‘What ye be wanting’ so far from home, young’un?’

I must have looked half beaten.  My dress was torn and bloody, filthy arms and legs, scratched and bleeding.  I hoped they didn’t think I was one of the crazy stories come to life. My thoughts finally slipped into my mouth and my words sounded like the damp dirt I stood upon.  The woman picked up a cup of water from the table, stepped forward and offered it to me.  She said, ‘They call me Belle Spiers hereabouts.’

The cool water tasted good.  Then all my words came out in a rush. 

‘I need help. Simple’s hurt, please you have to help me.’

‘Slow down girl, your words are running’ together like my boy’s heads when I need to put them in their place.’

I took another mouthful of water. ‘It’s Simple, his leg’s broke.  Uncle Jimmy left him back there in the caves.’

She interrupted me and called out for someone called Jimmy.  I felt my heart freeze, turn to ice, expecting Uncle Jimmy to appear.  The frozen waste where my heart sat, slowly melted when the older Man who had been playing the fiddle limped to her side, along with another Man who looked nothing like Uncle Jimmy.

‘Go see what this young’un has got herself into.’

Suddenly I had the strangest feeling she knew right off who I was and where I came from.  Even the name Simple didn’t move her any.  A few other faces came to see what all the fuss was about.  One of them was a boy called Zach with yellow hair like the sun, older than me but not by much. The one called Jimmy told him to come with them.

‘Gonna need more than old pa here to bring a log like Simple back up from the caves.’

It took a while, but his words sunk deep like the roots of a tree sucking at my brain.  He knew Simple!

Then the woman was speaking to me again. ‘Come in girl, we’ll get you cleaned up while waiting’ for the menfolk.  Hungry too, I’ll be thinking’.’

Orders slipped from her lips much the same as Gran; save no one seemed to mind.  Least of all the young woman called Jolene with a baby on her hip, who had been told to fetch food while I waited for a tub to be filled with water, warmed over an open fire.

Belle carried the last of the hot water in a much-used pot to her cabin, where she poured it into an old tin bath and told me to get in. ‘I ain’t carrying’ this water for you to let it grow cold.’

There wasn’t anyone in the cabin but Belle and me, so turning my back I took off my dress.  The hot water felt like a blanket, one I knew Simple could be doing with right about now.  I asked Belle, ‘How come you know Simple?’

‘He’s a soft soul, wanders up here sometimes.  I reckon he needs time away from your Gran.’

I was going to say she wasn’t my Gran but decided to let it lay.  I needed them to help make Simple well and I wanted to see the boy with yellow hair bringing him back. Something about him had made my heart skip a little, even though it was frozen at the time.

Jolene brought a clean dress along with the food, and Belle held out a large cloth I knew to be bought from town.  Must have been the way I looked at it made her say, ‘I don’t mind using’ what feels good, makes life pleasing’.

Jolene said, ‘Belle don’t usually let anyone use them.  Old pa traded his best fiddle for two the same last Christmas.  Good to see them out of the paper they came in.’

Seems Jolene belonged to Jimmy, and the baby was his too. It seemed funny to be able to hear that name without shrinking inside.  What would they do now, if they could see me here in the Spiers camp, with Simple being carried here for fixing? 

 

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

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

 

Chapter Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Don’t forget, we value your opinions!

#WritersWednesday: Nine Lives #MurderMystery Chapter Four

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

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Chapter Four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

#ThrowbackThursday “All Good Deeds” by Stacy Green @stacygreen26

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For fans of Gillian Flynn, Lisa Gardner, and Karin Slaughter.
She’s no killer. She’s just taking out the trash.
Don’t call Lucy Kendall a serial killer. She’s fighting for the innocent, and she’ll do whatever it takes to bring justice.
When a child disappears, Lucy quickly discovers the link to a predator she’s faced before–a man the state of Pennsylvania decided to turn loose on the streets. Determined to find the little girl and put a criminal behind bars for good, Lucy forces her way onto the case.
As the search for the kidnapped child pulls Lucy into a web of evil beyond her darkest imagination, she’ll have to face her own dark truths to save the little girl–and herself.
Packed with suspense, All Good Deeds is a dark psychological thriller with a finely crafted mystery that takes readers into the deepest recesses of the human psyche.

 

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Biography
Stacy Green is the author of the Lucy Kendall thriller series and the Delta Crossroads mystery trilogy. ALL GOOD DEEDS (Lucy Kendall #1) won a bronze medal for mystery and thriller at the 2015 IPPY Awards. TIN GOD (Delta Crossroads #1) was runner-up for best mystery/thriller at the 2013 Kindle Book Awards. Stacy has a love of thrillers and crime fiction, and she is always looking for the next dark and twisted novel to enjoy. She started her career in journalism before becoming a stay at home mother and rediscovering her love of writing. She lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter and their three spoiled fur babies. Stacy loves to hear from readers! Visit her website at stacygreenauthor.com, or Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/StacyGreenAuthor.

Review
I was completely struck by how very real the main character is in this award-winning thriller. The story of Lucy Kendall, a former CPS officer turned private detective, is so brilliantly well written, this could almost be an autobiography. Every word and emotion rings so true, it must have been based on a very real person and is someone I would love to meet.
She has such empathy with the victims, frustration at their plight impelling her to dish out her own kind of justice. Understandable, when you discover the source of her motivation.
And boy, can she talk. I have a problem writing dialogue myself, probably because I’m not much of a speaker, but I was totally blown away by the complexity of this story and its cast of interesting characters. How compact and yet flowing it is, and so incredibly easy to read.

I haven’t read a book that was literally impossible to put down, and hope the rest of the series continues to be as good.

 

#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives chapter three

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

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

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Chapter Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What do you think of Jack?

#WednesdayWriter ~ Nine Lives ~ Chapter Two

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


See you all next week!