#ThursdayBookBlog ~ an excerpt from Out of Time… #MysteryThriller

 Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.

Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.

With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.

Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.

Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?

Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…

 

Excerpt from Out of Time

 Detective Inspector David Snow looked down at the unconscious woman on the hospital bed in front of him, remembering the state of her when she had arrived, a few hours ago. They had done a good job of cleaning her up. She lay still, like a religious statue in a church, her pale skin the colour of finest marble. The gentle rise and fall of her breasts the only indication life still clung to her body.

So different to the wrinkled, dirt-ingrained body he had looked at earlier, of an old tramp, found dead in the hospital car park, bundled into a moth-eaten army coat and wedged under a car. What was originally thought to be a simple case of neglect, had taken on a more sinister tone when they discovered the tramps head had been cut off and shoved down the back of the old boy’s trousers.

Snow wondered what an old tramp could possibly have done to warrant such treatment, being well known around the hospital and described as a harmless old soul. The tenuous link to the woman in front of him indicated she might not be safe and would need his protection.

They knew very little about her, and he wondered again what kind of woman she was.  Now the dirt had been removed, she looked healthy and well cared for, which ruled out homelessness. A reasonably attractive, middle-aged woman, bordering on the ordinary, apart from her curly hair which would appear to have a life of its own, as even now it crept across the pillow like the roots of a willow.

Alone with the unconscious woman, Snow had an excellent opportunity to study her without feeling self-conscious about doing it. In all the years since his wife’s death, he missed looking intimately at a woman. He usually tried to do it surreptitiously to avoid the risk of being branded a pervert, or worse. He liked to imagine what kind of person they were, if they were kind or cruel, bossy or timid, but for once, there were no clues on this woman’s face. A slight determination in the set of her jaw gave him pause for thought.

According to Michael Barratt, the man who brought her here, her name was Kate Devereau, an artist, none of which gave him any clues as to her character. In the beginning, Snow had instinctively thought she might be the murderer in this case, due to the amount of blood found in the cottage.  Michael Barratt had found her unconscious in this cottage on the outskirts of Guildford. He said he knew her, but had no idea why she had found it necessary to be there. As an estate agent, he had been arranging to have the cottage ready for Miss Devereau to rent.

It was all a little mysterious, compounded by the fact Michael Barratt looked as if he had been barbecued. His clothes were burned black in places, apart from his jacket, which was clean and several sizes too small and obviously didn’t belong to him. The back of his head and hands were raw and blistered, suggesting there were probably more extensive burns to his body.

The estate agent had offered no explanation for his own condition but stubbornly kept asking after Kate, which might possibly indicate an emotional involvement. He had no answer for what had happened to her, except to say her health had not been good for a while. If it hadn’t been for all the blood, it would have seemed innocent enough.

So why didn’t Snow believe him?

 

 

 

 

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#TuesdayBookBlog ~ Secrets… #DarkFamilyMystery

 

SOME SECRETS WILL KILL YOU…
and some are about someone who is already dead.
A mother must find the truth before the secrets destroy her family…

Secrets, a haunting family drama, is about deeply buried guilt and all the secrets and suspicions that invade and control our lives.

Many children have an invisible friend, and sometimes they can be a necessary part of a child’s life for many reasons.
But when this ‘friend’ starts to cause more than just mischief, it is time for his mother to investigate further.

Maggie Swan loves her little boy Danny, but his new playmate was becoming something of a problem. It was almost as though something was wrong and he was trying to fix it.
Her husband Jack, was no help at all, dismissing her ideas as rubbish. But was he merely trying to hide a guilty secret? One that Danny’s new friend knew all about?

Amazon Review:

I’ve been thinking about this review for a few days. I finished Secrets a short while ago and I’ve been trying decide how to express what I felt about it, but now my heading really says it all. This is a strong and powerful story, very well told. The characters are well-drawn and empathic; you have to like and sympathise with them fully, and the main plot, being that of a child who has an invisible but somewhat malicious ‘friend’, is very compelling. If you enjoy and read a lot of paranormal suspense, then you will really love this book. It isn’t my usual choice but I still found myself ‘turning the pages’ on my Kindle till I reached the end. In fact, it is very good!

I won’t say too much about the story as I don’t want to spoil the suspense and excitement for the reader, so this review is quite short. However, I think Anita Dawes has tapped into subjects that are very topical today and it’s well worth reading this book to see what can happen when we bury secrets for too long.

Excerpt of Secrets…


Deep in thought, Maggie started to play with her breakfast and it was Jack’s turn to watch fondly as she doodled with the egg yolk, spreading strange and bizarre patterns across the plate. The early morning sunlight streamed through the kitchen window bathing the breakfast scene in a cosy glow. She looked like a child sitting there in a pretty cotton housecoat, pale honey-coloured hair falling around her shoulders like a halo. She had something on her mind, he was sure. Knowing he didn’t really have the time and hoping she’d say it was nothing, he said, ‘What’s up, love, did you have another bad night with Danny?’

She slowly looked up at him from the mess on her plate, and he could tell by the way her usually bright blue eyes had darkened to the colour of the sea that he wasn’t about to hear anything like what he wanted to hear.
Looking back down at her plate, she said, ‘I’m very worried about him, Jack. These terrible nightmares are getting him down; and now this thing about an imaginary friend, I don’t like it, something’s wrong.’
Jumping straight in, hoping to get it over with quickly so he could get out of the house, he said, ‘You know what the doctor told us, he’ll grow out of it soon enough. It will only make things worse if we try and make Danny let go before he’s ready.’

‘Yes, I know what he said,’ an edge creeping into her voice, ‘but he’s not God. You don’t have to take everything he says as gospel. I don’t happen to think this thing with Toby is the same as a comfy blanket or a favourite teddy a child drags around with him. Can’t you see how he’s changed?
‘… he’s destructive, rude and downright messy. Don’t you think dragging half the garden into the kitchen last week was going a bit too far? You saw his face when I tried to tell him off, he wasn’t the least bit sorry. Judging from the skid marks all over the place it was plain to see he’d had a whale of a time, and what did he say when I asked him why he’d done it? … because Toby wanted him to.

‘… Jack, can’t you see we have to make him understand this Toby is only in his mind and he’s too old to play these pretend games?’
He took a deep breath, painfully aware the time was getting on. ‘Maggie, he’s only seven. You’re making too much of it. The doctor said to give him time and not to bully him into giving up Toby. It might make his nightmares worse.’
She opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, he reminded her again that she had agreed the gentle approach was best.
‘Plus, you haven’t given that idea of yours idea a chance. Having Cathy take Danny to school with Michael may work. He’ll soon see that having a real friend is lots more fun. Have you asked him again about joining the cubs?’
She snorted. ‘I did, and his answer was the same as before. Toby doesn’t want him to.’
‘Give him time, Maggie, he’ll come around.’

Maggie seemed to have run out of wind for the time being, so he took his empty plate over to the sink and left it on the draining board. Straightening his tie as he turned to her again, he said, ‘I’m sorry I don’t have time to talk this morning. I have four books waiting a final decision and what with the deadline and our new budget, I think I’ll have to reject two of them, you know how I hate sending out rejection letters. It doesn’t make for a nice day, especially when a book is worth publishing. If you’re that worried about Danny, we’ll talk about it tonight.’
Maggie frowned and gave him the kind of look that said, sure we will. Jack had seen it many times and responded in a way she had grown used to over the years. He pulled her into his arms, squeezed her gently, saying, ‘I promise we’ll talk about it later.’
Then he kissed her goodbye, grabbed his briefcase and left.

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Not So Simple?

Draft2Digital Link: https://books2read.com/u/3nYYQB     FREE this week!

Excerpt from Simple…

Walking towards Gran, I could feel the blood draining from my body, trying to find some place to hide.  It felt as if it had all gathered in my feet, making each step I took the hardest thing I had ever done.

Gran got up from her rocker and I watched it continue to move, as if she had left some part of herself sitting in it.  She walked inside the cabin and waited for me. She had never done more than cuff me across the back of the head, but I figured I had to be in for more than that this time.  I was trying to think of the worst she could do.

It was cool inside the cabin.  Gran was sitting at the big wooden table grandpa had made.  She might as well have been the town judge, sitting behind the high bench.  She didn’t move or look at me as I sat opposite, waiting for judgement.  I knew better than speak first.  I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to, my mouth had dried up.  Gran finally spoke, her voice hard, as if she had eaten gravel.  ‘You’ve done a bad thing, Leanne. Taken our trust and pissed it in the wind.  Jimmy says he should be the one to punish you, says you had no right taking Simple anywhere near the Spiers. Reckon I should turn you over to him, save my words for someone who can hear them.’

I said, ‘I can hear real good,’ with more grit in my voice than I intended.

Gran fixed me with one of those looks that made me wish I could turn to stone. ‘Seems to me, young lady,  if your ears still work, then your brain’s gone soft like Simple’s. Fancy interfering in business that aint yours. You know right enough, he needs telling more times than the sun wakes us and then some. You want him took off for takin’ town young’uns?’

‘Course not, Gran.’  My voice came out as a whisper. ‘Simple was hurt real bad.  I couldn’t just leave him . . .’

Amazon Review

Disturbing, but compelling and heartwarming

By Rivergirl

5.0 out of 5 stars

This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heartwarming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.

 

 

Not So Simple?

Draft2Digital Link: https://books2read.com/u/3nYYQB     FREE this week!

Excerpt from Simple…

Walking towards Gran, I could feel the blood draining from my body, trying to find some place to hide.  It felt as if it had all gathered in my feet, making each step I took the hardest thing I had ever done.

Gran got up from her rocker and I watched it continue to move, as if she had left some part of herself sitting in it.  She walked inside the cabin and waited for me. She had never done more than cuff me across the back of the head, but I figured I had to be in for more than that this time.  I was trying to think of the worst she could do.

It was cool inside the cabin.  Gran was sitting at the big wooden table grandpa had made.  She might as well have been the town judge, sitting behind the high bench.  She didn’t move or look at me as I sat opposite, waiting for judgement.  I knew better than speak first.  I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to, my mouth had dried up.  Gran finally spoke, her voice hard, as if she had eaten gravel.  ‘You’ve done a bad thing, Leanne. Taken our trust and pissed it in the wind.  Jimmy says he should be the one to punish you, says you had no right taking Simple anywhere near the Spiers. Reckon I should turn you over to him, save my words for someone who can hear them.’

I said, ‘I can hear real good,’ with more grit in my voice than I intended.

Gran fixed me with one of those looks that made me wish I could turn to stone. ‘Seems to me, young lady,  if your ears still work, then your brain’s gone soft like Simple’s. Fancy interfering in business that aint yours. You know right enough, he needs telling more times than the sun wakes us and then some. You want him took off for takin’ town young’uns?’

‘Course not, Gran.’  My voice came out as a whisper. ‘Simple was hurt real bad.  I couldn’t just leave him . . .’

 

Amazon Review

 

Disturbing, but compelling and heartwarming

By Rivergirl

5.0 out of 5 stars

This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heartwarming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.

 

Scarlet Ribbons for her Hair…

 

The Scarlet Ribbon has to be my all time favourite of all Anita’s books. Inspired by the song, I think she was truly inspired when she wrote it. (Don’t tell anyone, but there may be a sequel!)

Excerpt from The Scarlet Ribbon

It was all over at last. He would never hurt anyone ever again.  Annie’s mother had paid dearly, given away her own freedom. Murder was murder, no matter how necessary. But if it was up to me, I’d have given her a medal. I wondered when it had happened, and why we hadn’t heard anything. We must have fallen into a deep sleep, upstairs with Annie.

Alan carried Annie down the stairs, past her mother who was still leaning against the open front door. Her face was wiped clean of emotion, no tears as Annie was taken from her. She might as well have used the same knife on herself. She was dead inside, a lifeless husk with faded blue eyes. I couldn’t feel sorry for her though. It was too late for that.

I walked past her, following Annie, forgetting all about David until he called my name.

‘You can’t go with her, Mags. We’ve done our part, it’s over now.’

I kept on walking beside her, trying to touch her hand, her hair, whispering my goodbyes.

Alan sat Annie in the back seat of the car and we watched as it drove away. Half way down Stanley Road, Annie turned and looked through the rear window. Was she taking one last look at what had been her home, or was she saying goodbye to me?

I lowered my eyes, not wanting to see her disappear, that’s when I noticed the red ribbon lying in the road at my feet. For a moment I hardly dared touch it. What if it disintegrated or something? Slowly I plucked up the courage to pick it up, and holding it in my hand, I realised that it was the closest I had ever come to touching her, really touching her. Suddenly, tears were coursing down my face.

David put his arms around me, he didn’t speak and I was grateful for the silence. My tears became huge, gasping sobs as my heart emptied itself of all the pain, only to be replaced by another kind. As he led me away we heard sirens behind us. Not the kind we have today, but loud bells.

Somebody had called the police.

scarlet-ribbons-newI put Annie’s ribbon in my jeans pocket, wiped my face and said, ‘Where to now?’

‘You choose, Maggie.’

‘Home, let’s both go home. We’ve done what we came here for.’ I waited for a tremor, a sign. But nothing happened. We were still there.

‘This can’t be happening. You said I could go back if I helped. I have, now let me go!’

‘Who on earth are you talking to, Mags?’

‘The voice, the one that keeps me here. Haven’t you heard it?’

He shook his head.

‘Well, if it won’t let me out, I’ll find my own way back. I’m not staying here.’

I started walking double time. David had to run to catch up to me.

‘You don’t have to follow me. Find your own way out.’

‘There’s gratitude for you. Thanks a bunch, Mags.’ He emphasised the Mags. ‘All right, Miss Smarty-pants, how do you know which way is out? Or if there is more than one way out of here. We may be stuck with each other a while yet.’

I stopped walking and he bumped into me. Without turning around, I mumbled, ‘Sorry.’

‘Pardon?’ he said. ‘I didn’t catch that.’

I knew he had, but said it again anyway. Before I knew what was happening, he had turned me around and kissed me.

And I let it happen. It felt so good to have his arms around me, his lips soft and warm, so warm it was bringing parts of me alive that I had almost forgotten about.

As much as I wanted it, needed to be held and loved, I couldn’t let it happen. I loved Jack, but David felt so familiar as if those arms had held me before.

 

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#Throwback Thursday Secrets… #FamilyDrama

 

SOME SECRETS WILL KILL YOU…
and some are about someone who is already dead.
A mother must find the truth before the secrets destroy her family…

 

book promo post for Secrets

Excerpt from ‘Secrets’

She took a long hard look at herself in the mirror. Do any of us really know who we are, she asked herself. Are we the product of many lifetimes, like coloured plasticine all rolled together? All mixed up and confused, struggling with thoughts and feelings that might not belong to the here and now?

Maggie felt extremely sad but didn’t know why, there were tears in her eyes for no specific reason she could think of. It was a personal sadness, nothing to do with what Jack had done. Her life was pretty good, yet the feeling was there. She wondered if it could be an old sadness from another time that affected her, her mind not really thinking or remembering what it was.

When she thought about it, there had been many such days when she’d play a romantic record and the words would mean more than they should, perpetuating the sadness, the feeling of something lost. Did she have a secret, something bad that she had done, just waiting to be discovered?

She lay on the bed waiting for Jack and wondered if the strange world she’d been thrown into was more real than her mind would let her believe. It was hard to keep on denying it, what with Jack’s behaviour and poor Danny, tormented by this invisible world that seemed to have the power to inflict real pain and suffering. It was useless to even think about running from something you couldn’t see. She was remembering a passage from the Bible, when she heard Jack say good night to Danny. That the Good Lord sends no more than a body can bear…

She wondered if that was true, that the worst was over…

 

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Dreaming of Another Life…

 

Dreaming sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?

All too often, it can be anything but. Not exactly nightmarish, but many weird confusing images that can make you feel uncomfortable.

You find yourself worrying about them, what do they mean? Is there a message there somewhere? Why do we dream?

Doctors and psychologists have come up with some interesting theories over the years, but do they really know?

Common sense would seem to suggest that it is just the brain sorting through the days images when we are asleep, and most of the time it does sound likely. But what about all those dreams that seem to mean something? Or those that seem to warn us of danger?

Then there are those that appear to predict the future, which then come true. What are we supposed to think about those?

Personally, I don’t dream much, not that I can remember anyway. The odd romantic fantasy about whomever I fancy at the time, but these are getting rarer. (unfortunately!)

Sarah Curtis, the lead character in Not My Life, is being driven slowly insane by upsetting and confusing dreams, where she seems to be someone else entirely. Someone very real and in a lot of trouble.

This excerpt picks up the story when Sarah has wandered into the woods and gets lost…

I didn’t know where to go, so I let fate lead me off towards the woods. I walked for a while, trying not to think of anything. I told myself I should be feeling the beauty of the place.
The trees in their splendid autumn colours, leaves falling here and there making little drifts under the trees. I had heard somewhere that to catch a falling leaf was supposed to bring good luck. I tried and it was impossible. They seemed to fall gently towards you, and then at the last minute, darted away on a capricious breeze.

Trying to catch one frustrated the hell out of me. I gave up and sat for a while on a dry log, eating some chocolate I found in my pocket. Then I realised I had no idea of where I was and it was getting dark. I should have brought a loaf of bread with me to leave a trail, like Hansel and Gretel.
I didn’t feel too afraid; they would find me sooner or later. And later might be better. I walked on between ever-thicker undergrowth, hoping it was the way out. That a path, any path, would appear soon.

I found myself in a clearing with a pool, large rocks and slow running water. My throat was dry enough for me to scoop up a handful and it was surprisingly good. Deciding I was definitely lost and too tired to walk any further, I gathered up as many fallen leaves as I could to lie down in, and buried myself for the night.

The temperature dropped considerably and my bed of leaves gave little warmth. I slept fitfully, dreaming of who I really was. A girl called Kelly. And Tommy, my four year old brother, who once again had been sent to the coal cellar as punishment for wetting his bed. It wasn’t his fault. Father had made him drink far too much water; he must have known he would wet the bed. And mother, she did nothing to stop his cruel games.
There had been times in the past when she did, only to be cruelly beaten herself, without saving Tommy or myself from whatever punishment he saw fit. I knew the house I was in, these people, my parents as well as my own skin. Yet there was another place with gentle people I could sense, but somehow couldn’t reach.

Soft cold rain washed the dream away and I awoke, alone on a bed of wet leaves. Lost, waiting to be found. Too tired to move. Too dark to try to find my way out. Morning couldn’t be too far away; I would try again then…

We would love some feedback for this book, and free review copies are available…

Voices in Your Head?

 

 

My first book, Nine Lives came into being mainly because I became intrigued by the notion that most of us hear voices in our heads at one time or another.

From Pinocchio to Joan of Arc, people have been hearing things and sometimes a little voice can change history, and not always for the best.

Kate Devereau, the ageing artist in my book, has been hearing a voice all her life. Never sure if this is good or evil, she makes a point of ignoring everything it says. Would her life have turned out differently if she hadn’t?

Some people call this the voice of our conscience, a bit like Jiminy Cricket, but how many of us really listen or even obey its commands?

I personally don’t hear any voices, but sometimes I just know I should have done things differently, and have suffered the consequences…

When I researched this topic, I was amazed by just how many famous people have heard voices, going back as far as Moses. Some of these people were convinced they were hearing the voice of God; some thought a heavenly host had visited them. Whereas, on the other side of the scale, if a voice talked you into committing a crime, they usually lock you up and throw away the key.

Personally, I like the idea of a wise voice, advising and helping us with life’s problems. Pointing out the error of our ways would be very handy in our house.

But how many of us would dare to trust it?

 

Excerpt from  Nine Lives

… 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 had said otherwise, apparently, there was much worse to come. But 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 even more than she was already, it had succeeded…

 

To Celebrate a Poem for Nine Lives #MysteryThriller #Poetry

 

Anita has written a poem for my first book, Nine Lives…

So I thought it only write and proper, to celebrate in style and create a post for the occasion!

index.jpg

 

Nine Lives

Kate’s life in colour reflected on canvas

Each brush stroke a pain not healed.

Step into a nightmare that Jack has made.

A broken mirror that still stands

A face reflected, she understands

Each broken shard of glass is red with pain…

©Anita Dawes

 

Excerpt from Nine Lives

The day of the opening was getting closer. Kate had done well and several paintings were already installed on Seascapes walls. Sam wanted her to come up and see how everything was shaping up, but she declined, insisting she would prefer to wait until the opening when she could see it finished. She was also trying to complete one more painting, her masterpiece as she called it.

This painting was large, by Kate’s standards. The ever-present stormy sea was in the background for a change, seen through the branches of an old and gnarled windswept tree. Out of a turbulent sky, jagged lightning bolts of blue and lavender angled down towards the water, searching for something to hit. Something about the controlled passion in the painting brought a lump to Sam’s throat, as she realised the painting symbolised everything Kate was feeling, and in a way, it represented the three of them. She wasn’t sure if Kate was aware of what she was doing, for when she painted she switched everything off; almost as though she became another person, a person who didn’t want or need anything other than the brush in her hand.

Sam stood in the doorway and watched as Kate worked on the lightning. It seemed to tear through the canvas, letting a powerful light flow through and reflect on the water. Sam wondered which element she was; the sea, the tree or the lightning?

She knew if she could figure it out, it would help her to understand what she had to do to keep Kate with her. Something that seemed to be fading away, the closer they were to the opening and the moving in day for the cottage…

 

#ThrowbackThursday ~ Excerpt from Let it Go…

Let it Go is Anita’s sixth book, and one we have been neglecting to promote for some reason. My routine as editor/publisher has proved to be totally inadequate of late and it had to change. So many things kept getting in the way last year, but I have a new system in place now to keep track of what I am doing. Organisation has finally arrived at our house!

 

 

Excerpt from Let it Go…

We hadn’t seen dad for nearly a week, and that was a long time, even for him.

Mum was going spare, ranting on about what she’d do to him when he finally came home. Poor dad, it could mean another black eye, or a nose which wouldn’t stop bleeding for hours after mum landed one of her punches. Pretty normal behaviour for my parents and had been going on for years. Considering my mother’s temper, you would think he would stop rolling home drunk and penniless, but he never did.

It was late Friday night when he finally came home. We knew it was him, even though it sounded as if something had been thrown at the front door. We listened to him fumbling with the key for ages; mum with arms folded, waiting for him to fall through it. How she controlled her temper and didn’t rush at the door and tear it from its hinges, I will never know. I think I would have done; it would have been quicker.

I heard the lock turn and dad swung in like a gust of storm wind, holding on to the key that was stuck in the lock. His dark, shaggy hair hadn’t seen a comb in days and his clothes appeared to have been slept in. He stood there swaying, grinning at mum like an idiot.

She slapped his hand from the key, sending him flying across the hall, skidding on the mat that never seemed to want to stay in one place. I had a ringside seat at the top of the stairs and watched as she calmly removed the key and slammed the door…