#Throwback Thursday~#Out of Time… with poem by Anita #MysteryThriller

Haiku Out of Time.jpg

 

Out of Time

Kate’s life, her mind, is out of time

A savage wind took all

But the brush from her hand.

Her thoughts crash like a wild storm.

She no longer has the will to speak

One last blow to strike

A fake wedding planned by Detective Snow

To trap the beast that waits without.

Will Jack be snared or run again?

The snowman, as Kate calls him,

Will stay with her until the end…

©Anita Dawes

Excerpt from Out of Time…

Kate sat at the table in the Vestry with her head in her hands. She couldn’t believe Jack had found her again, in spite of all the Snowman’s security. She kept seeing the ivory roses, blood dripping from the petals, laid on the altar like an offering. Only Jack could have thought of something that macabre.

The blood reminded her of what had happened to her beloved Dylan, her silver tabby. Jack had ripped him apart in her kitchen, strewing blood and fur all over the floor for her to find. At least this time, she wouldn’t have to clean up the mess.

Why had Michael gone outside?

She knew he was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that their relationship was over. After all this time it must have been a bitter pill to swallow. But going against David Snow’s specific orders was foolish and irresponsible. Maybe his depression had grown bad enough to warrant taking such a risk. Or had he wanted to die?

The voice disapproved. ‘I did ask you to try and be kind to him, Kate. Even though you couldn’t love him, you, of all people, should have treated him better than that…’

It was true; she could remember feeling that bad. Jack had that effect on most people. Just knowing he was out there somewhere had made her suicidal in the past, and the feeling wasn’t too far away at the moment.

The Snowman should have let her see Michael, her imagination couldn’t be worse than the real thing. Right then, it didn’t seem real, and she kept expecting to see him come through the door at any minute. She wished with all her heart that she had run away the first time she suspected Jack was back on the scene. Michael’s sudden reappearance had reawakened all her old desires and dreams, rendering her incapable of thinking straight.

Fate was too cruel. Why had it conspired to bring Jack back into her life at that particular time? If he hadn’t arrived when he did, her brother would not have died and the chain of destruction would have broken.

She wanted to run away but suspected there was no point. Jack would find her wherever she went. The knowledge sunk in that none of them were safe anymore, if they ever were. What would it take to be rid of Jack for good?

Kate heard the door open but realised the noise had come from the wrong side of the room. As she raised her head to investigate, a damp, sweet-smelling cloth covered her face. She struggled against it, but he was too strong.

The room went dark and then faded away…

 

#Wednesday Writers ~ Serialisation of Nine Lives by Jaye Marie #mysteryThriller

NL_banner.jpg

Death has been visiting Kate all of her life, leading her to imagine she has nine lives, like a cat.
With nothing to live for, no family, just a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away when her lives run out.
Death continues to speak to her, teasing her, yet will not come for her.  When people around her begin to die at the hands of a serial killer, she hopes to be next.
Has she finally run out of lives? Will she find a reason to live before it is too late?

 

Chapter Twenty-six

The next morning, Kate tried to telephone the hospital, and because she was not related to Janet, all they would say was she was as comfortable as could be expected; which could mean just about anything.

She grabbed her coat and headed for the High Street. If she was lucky, she could grab a taxi to save herself a long walk.

Half an hour later, she was trying to find out what happened to Janet Goldman in the emergency department of the local hospital.

Eventually, she managed to discover where she was and approached the hospital bed with a great deal of trepidation.

The old woman was propped up on a pile of pillows, and her eyes were closed. The sides of the bed were raised and Kate assumed it was to stop Janet from falling out. Did that mean she was unconscious?

Unsure of hospital protocol, Kate went looking for whoever was in charge. It should be someone in a dark blue uniform if her memory served her right.

She found just such a person, a diminutive woman who didn’t look strong enough to blow her own nose, let alone reason with the old man in pyjamas who was desperately trying to pour the contents of his water jug all over his bed.

Kate waited until the Ward Sister had the situation under control and piled in with her questions.

The woman might not look strong, but the scrutiny Kate was subjected to would definitely sort out the men from the boys. When she had ascertained Kate was indeed harmless she proceeded to answer the only question she thought mattered.  ‘Mrs Goldman is barely stable and unconscious. A bump on the head is quite serious in one of her years.’

Not to be put off, Kate asked one of her questions again. ‘Will she be all right?’  Knowing as she asked, it was probably in God’s hands.

The ward sister smiled, and Kate had the distinct impression she had just passed a test of some kind.

‘All we can do is hope for the best, dear, does she have any family?’

‘No, I’m afraid not. It’s just me. Can I give you my telephone number, in case she needs anything when she wakes up?’

The Ward sister nodded and her lack of words said more than Kate could bear at that moment. Was she about to lose another friend, so soon after Dylan?

 

Sam arrived promptly at 1 o’clock, looking rather smart in a French navy trouser suit, her dark hair immaculate as always. Kate was putting the final touches to the lunch, so Sam went to inspect the canvases in the studio. She was so long in there Kate was getting worried. What if she didn’t like them?

Hearing a noise, Kate turned around to find Sam watching her as she assembled the food on the plates. Sam’s face gave no clue as to her reaction to the art and Kate felt awkward about asking.

Sam took one look at her face and laughed. ‘Oh Kate, you don’t have to look so worried. I love them all, they are absolutely brilliant. There is just one problem though.’

Kate stomach clenched and she suddenly had trouble breathing. She must have gone pale, for Sam rushed to her side and put her arm around her shoulders. ‘No, it’s nothing bad, you silly. It’s just that I’m going to need a lot more than I initially thought. The new gallery is huge.’

Relief flooded through Kate, then doubled back on itself.  ‘How much more, Sam?’

‘As many as you can get done in three weeks. We open at the end of September.  Is that a problem, Kate?’

Kate carried the plates to the table and offered Sam the corkscrew to open the wine.

‘Not a problem as such; and I’ll do the best I can of course. It’s just I am thinking of moving, that’s all.’

Sam stared at her. ‘Where did that idea come from? I thought you were happy here?’

Kate took a deep breath, knowing what would happen next.  ‘Michael turned up here last night,’ she said, waiting for the fireworks. She looked up at Sam and was dismayed to see her good friend was clearly upset.

‘It’s all right, I got rid of him. No harm was done.’

Sam put down her fork and blew her nose on a tissue.  Then she took a small sip of wine. Finally, she looked at Kate. ‘What’s going on, Kate?’

What was the matter with her, Michael wasn’t that much of a problem; was he?’

‘I ran into him in town, he’s been seconded to the local estate agents. I never expected him to turn up here. Turns out he knows his way around the electoral roll and thought he would come and visit. I chucked him out, of course.’

‘You did?’

‘Don’t look so surprised, I am well over him these days. What with everything else that has been going on, I need him turning up like a hole in my head.’

Sam’s face quickly changed from upset to worry. ‘What else has been going on, Kate?’

Suddenly, Kate didn’t want to be reminded about Dylan, not in the middle of lunch. ‘Should we eat first?’

‘That good, is it?’

Kate shrugged, and they ate the rest of the meal in silence.

 

Sam pushed her plate away from her and concern was written all over her face. ‘It’s no good, Kate. You have to tell me what’s been going on.’

Kate secretly agreed but was having trouble putting it into words. It would be as if her hands were covered in Dylan’s blood all over again.  Sam was insisting, so she would have to grit her teeth and get it over with.

Once she started, it became easier and before she knew it, she had told Sam all about the crying child, the dumped car, Janet’s accident, the death of Dylan and the meeting with Michael. How he seemed to know practically everything about her, despite not having seen her for years.

Sam listened in silence, glancing at her every few minutes, almost as though she was checking up on her.

When it looked as though Kate had finally spilt all the beans, Sam stood up and went to fill the kettle. ‘This calls for coffee, and a great deal of thinking,’ she said.

 

Kate wasn’t sure she agreed with her. Talking was not going to make any of it go away.  It did feel good to have company though; she didn’t feel so completely alone for once.

Sam plonked two mugs of strong coffee on the table and said, ‘Right. First things first. Are you sure Michael got the message?’

Kate nodded. ‘I think so. I tried to make it clear…’

‘That’s the reason you want to leave here, is it?’

‘Partly, but it’s everything really. The intruder started it and the rest… This place is just not mine anymore, it feels dirty, spoiled somehow.’

Sam looked sympathetic.  ‘I know what you mean. I don’t think I would want to stay here anymore either. We have to sort all this out and get organised.  What have you done so far?’

Kate had to admit she had done nothing. The visit to the estate agent didn’t count.

‘I wonder…’  Sam said slowly. Would you like to live with me for a while we sort everything out? You could catch up on the artwork and look for a special place without having to rush. You need to take things slowly Kate, you look tired. How are you feeling, by the way?’

Kate had to admit she felt dreadful and wasn’t looking forward to the hospital appointment the following day.

She thought about Sam’s proposal. Would that work, temporarily?  She wasn’t used to anyone making plans for her or trying to take care of her. It felt a bit odd, to say the least.

Kate desperately wanted to be somewhere safe, somewhere Michael didn’t know about, and she worried about her neighbour. Janet would need someone for a while until she recovered properly.

Was she being completely honest about Michael? She knew that a small part of her had responded to his presence, she still wasn’t sure if it was real or just loneliness that triggered it. She had loved him for so long, despite what he had done, making every excuse in the book for him but she knew she had been fooling herself all these years.

The voice was quick to agree with her and proceeded to pass the opinion that moving in with Sam couldn’t possibly be a good idea either.

What was that? What did he mean? Kate suddenly felt nauseous and the room began to spin, slowly at first, then faster. The pain was back in her chest and she was having trouble breathing. Oh no, not again.

‘Kate, what is it, what’s the matter?’

Sam’s voice seemed to be coming from a long way off as Kate felt herself slide of the chair to the floor.

Then someone turned all the lights off…


#WednesdayWriters ~ Nine Lives by Jaye Marie ~ Chapter 25 #MysteryThriller #Serialisation

NL_banner.jpg

 

Chapter Twenty-five

 

Michael Barratt was having trouble believing just how stupid he had been. After all this time, after all his searching, what had possessed him to come on so strong and ruin whatever slim chance he had with Kate. He might have known time and distance would not mellow her in the slightest, that she would be as stubborn as ever.

It was always the way he was with her, never thinking before he spoke, always rushing headlong into stupidity. And the worst of it was he couldn’t think of a single way to improve matters between them. She was right to be angry after the way he had behaved. Again.

To this day, he still didn’t know why he had run away the minute he knew about the baby. Enough time had passed for him to try and figure out what he had obviously thought was wrong, and he was no smarter now than he was then, as only an idiot would have risked his one chance by behaving so stupidly.

Why did he think time might have changed things? It had probably made it more of a mess if anything.

There was a moment when the Kate he knew so well had surfaced. Not for long though, she had pulled back into her shell in a flash, but not before he glimpsed how she felt about him.

That tiny spark, that glimpse of what could be, gave him hope. More hope than I deserve, he thought wryly. He thought he had lost Kate forever when she had suddenly vanished from his father’s house all those years ago. He had the gall to ask him where she had gone, that’s how desperate he was. His father must have sensed it too, for he was uncharacteristically civil towards him, although he didn’t know where she had gone either.

The old boy had looked so lonely and sad, Michael almost felt sorry for him, but something kept the normal father and son relationship at bay, and he walked away without once looking back.

When he found out she had married Jack Holland he became badly depressed, feeling all hope was gone. He had hidden away believing there was no point in anything anymore. He couldn’t remember how long that state of mind had lasted and it seemed like a long lonely time, where all he could think of was losing the one good thing he had ever found.

Gradually, he remembered starting to worry about Kate. Was she happy? Did this Jack Holland treat her right? This made Michael feel worse, for if this man was hurting her there was nothing he could do about any of it, as he didn’t have a clue where she was.

Eventually, he managed to pull himself out of his depression and started to look for her. He had no other clue than the surname and this turned out to be no help at all. It was almost as though this Jack Holland didn’t exist and the fact he obviously did, meant he must have changed his name and at that realisation, the alarm bells started clanging.

His job as an estate agent came in handy, as he could move around to different areas quite easily. It also gave him access to property records, although they turned out to be no help either. He started systematically travelling around the south of England, giving himself six months in each location to check out every living soul in the neighbourhood.

He thought he caught glimpses of Kate as he made his rounds, but it was never her. He found himself looking at children, wondering if one of them was his son.

Sometimes women would mistake his interest for something more, and no matter how attractive they were, or how accommodating, he always politely declined their offers. Kate had become an obsession, one he would live with in the absence of the real thing.  The thought of what he had thrown away still cut deep like a knife.

The day she walked into the estate office in Guildford, his heart seemed to stop beating. It was all he could do to breathe and appear normal when he felt like shouting the place down with all the joy he felt at the sight of her. He never doubted it was she; it couldn’t possibly be anyone else. The proud way she held herself, the uncontrollable hair still wild although now streaked with silver. The way she looked at him, daring him to speak to her.

She gave herself away with all the hesitations and awkward pauses, could it be she had missed him? Against all hope, he wondered if she could possibly still love him?

Their meeting was short-lived and Kate ran away from him again. She said she would come back the next day but he had no intention of waiting that long. He found her address easily enough when he realised she was probably using her maiden name and when he later turned up at her flat, flowers in hand, he knew his suspicions were right. She was nervous, trying desperately to keep him at arm’s length, but the chemistry was still there. He could feel it crackling in the air like electricity between them…

watermark xjj.png

 

#Jaye’s Journal Week Three

JAYE'S JOURNAL.jpg

 

PayBack Poster x 1.jpg

Jaye’s Journal. Week 3

 

Despite still feeling like the remains of a dog’s dinner, I am determined to sort out the mess that is masquerading as my WIP, PayBack.

I knew it was a mess, but not how bad it really was. The experts say you shouldn’t worry about the state of your first draft, that it is more important to just get it all down on the page. You get to make it shine during the editing process.

I kept trying to tell myself this, but obviously wasn’t very convincing, so over the weekend, I tackled the first Act, all twenty sprawling chapters. After much rearranging and second thoughts, I reduced it to twelve chapters and felt quite smug pleased with my efforts.

This week has not been like that. All I can think is that some other idiot must have written the second Act. Although I was an editor long before I became a writer, this did not prepare me for the shambles I found. Continuity was simply not present. It looked for all the world like I had completely forgotten the basics. Instead of throwing it away in disgust, I kept reading, as a good editor should. There can be a brilliant story hiding under the waffle and confusion.Well, that’s what I hoped!

Gradually, I began to see what needed to be done to create a better story. The thread was there all along. PayBack would need substantial editing, but the framework was taking shape and I felt so much more confident about it.

I’m not sure how it all went so wrong, but my other books didn’t give me so much trouble.

 

Something else has been happening too. Even though I have been spending a lot of time sorting out PayBack, I seem to have more time available for other things too. I know this doesn’t make sense, but I have noticed before that time can stretch if you lose yourself in a project.

For all we know, time is not constant. This would explain why some days seem so much longer than others. All I can say, is I am grateful for the help, wherever it came from…

 

 

I am trying to discover just how good D2D is. They talk the talk and it sounds wonderful. So easy to have all your books on there and all that, but can they walk the walk?

Some of our prospective buyers have reported problems when they try to buy our books, so I am wearing my detective bonnet!

Has anyone else experienced problems with these people?

watermark xjj.png

 

Our 5* Review for Double Blind by Dan Alatorre#FastPacedMurderMystery @savvystories

Two detectives hunt a serial killer. The killer is hunting them.

 

double-blind-ebook.jpg

 

A lone trucker is ambushed, shot, and brutally stabbed. A tourist meets the same fate while out for a jog. Facing two crime scenes that could have come from a horror movie, Detectives Carly Sanderson and Sergio Martin search for the crazed serial killer.

Five more attacks happen in a week, launching the entire city into a panic and causing the mayor to throw all of the city’s resources into stopping the rampage. But while the detectives work around the clock, they don’t know the killer has upped the game—by making them his next targets.

 

Our Review

At first, the killings seem random, just the actions of a deranged mind.

I found the descriptive powers of the author, combined with the smell of blood quite stomach churning as I searched for clues. I knew it would be a bit gruesome going in, but wasn’t quite prepared for the intensity of the murder scenes. The author has a very powerful imagination!

I loved the easy relationship between the two main characters, detectives Carly and Sergio. A most unusual pair, but real people, warts and all!

The casual dropping into the story half way through of a major clue as to the killer’s identity almost ruined the story for me, but it was cleverly done and hard to spot.

If I have one criticism about this book, it has to be about the killer. I can normally empathise or sometimes even admire most killers. I mean, they are usually damaged in some way, driving them to murder. Try as I might, I could find no redeeming feature in this man.

Here’s hoping the sequel finds Carly and Sergio with a far more interesting antagonist…

 

Excerpt

The wind gusted, sending the trash into the street in a tiny tornado. Lifting and dropping a McDonald’s hamburger wrapper, the little vortex danced and raged; then, as quickly as it had come, it was gone. The pieces of trash twitched and were still. The chill in the air remained, though. That wasn’t going anywhere tonight.

He glanced down the street. In the darkness, a shadow moved. Sergio held his breath. Opposite side of the street. The motion indicated walking. Tall. Probably a male.

This is our pedestrian.

Moving his gaze back to the sidewalk before anyone could tell him to, Sergio watched the stranger while keeping his face pointed at the ground. The man walked with his hands in the front pockets of his hoodie. The stride was long but not fast. The pedestrian seemed to intentionally sway his shoulders, as if he was walking up a steep hill.

When he’s closer, let him see you see him, then immediately look away. Head down, submissive.

The stranger kept coming. Sergio kept walking, his heart pounding.

What if this is our guy?

If it’s our guy, he will approach you. Keep walking. Casual.

The stranger got closer. He was larger than Sergio had originally estimated. Thicker, and taller.

Maybe six foot two, maybe a little more.

Eyes down. Don’t act like a cop.

He’d have to be big to do all that stabbing, to overcome a big guy like Leo.

But he used a gun to help.

Sergio glanced at the hands in the hoodie pockets. Could that conceal a .38? The man looked Sergio’s way.

Eyes down!

He didn’t think eye contact was made, but if the man had seen Sergio looking, maybe that was the time to walk faster.

Maybe we’ll speed up a little anyway.

On opposite sides of the street, the two men neared each other. Forty feet away, then thirty.

Sergio’s head was humming. This is how he did the jogger. Right on the street. A shot to the chest and then he started stabbing.

The bulletproof vest will protect you from both for a while. Long enough for the teams to get here…

Sergio forced himself to take a long, slow breath and walk slower without appearing to be trying. Sweat gathered on his forehead.

The man had heavy movements, a clumping kind of stride like someone might do when they were wearing new construction boots that don’t quite fit. The stranger stayed on one side of the street; Sergio stayed on the other. The sidewalk turned to gravel and then to mud. Sergio stepped around a big puddle and into the street.

“Hey, bro.”

The stranger’s voice cut the quiet night like a knife. Sergio didn’t look up. He kept his head down and kept walking.

“I got fives and tens, my man. If you lookin’ to party.”

Drug talk. Could be a street seller and nothing more. And if the killer was watching, what would he expect Sergio to do? Or if it’s the killer, what would work best?

Sergio halted.

The sergeant was loud in his ear. “Do not engage, Walking Boss. If it’s our guy he’s not trying to sell you drugs. Keep walking.”

Sergio did not move.

“Walking Boss, do you copy? Please respond.”

Sergio turned toward the stranger, keeping his head low and peering upward. He took a step toward the big man.

“Walking Boss, we are not receiving your signal. Please respond.”

His eyes. I want to see his eyes.

The man crossed into the street, dropping his hands to his sides. Sergio held his ground. Sweat dripped down the side of his head and into his ear. To wipe it free might draw attention to the earpiece. He let it go, taking a step toward the stranger. “What kind of stuff you got?”

“Walking Boss, do not engage. Do you read me?”

“Just the basics right here. Fives and tens.” The stranger pointed to the hoodie pocket. “But I can get something else if you want.”

The shadow of the hoodie kept the man’s face dark, but his features were coming visible. The man’s teeth were yellow and his eyes were red. Could be a drug addict or could be a killer.

“Walking Boss! Do you read me?”

The red eyes moved forward. “What you want, bro?”

The way he said it made the hairs on the back of Sergio’s neck stand up. The sneer, the thickness of the voice, like he dreamed it. He fought to not react, holding his breath. His racing pulse throbbed in his ears as a drop of ice cold sweat trickled down his back.

It’s not him. It’s not him. It’s not him.

#####

 

Biography

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages.

From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heart-warming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry – or hang onto the edge of your seat – has been enjoyed by audiences around the world.

And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time.

“That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.”

Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe.

His unique writing style can make you chuckle or shed tears—sometimes on the same page (or steam up the room if it’s one of his romances). Regardless of genre, his novels always contain unexpected twists and turns, and his endearing nonfiction stories will stay in your heart forever.

25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew, co-authored by Dan, has been a valuable tool for upcoming writers (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping new authors is evident in his wildly popular blog “Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR.”

Dan’s success is widespread and varied. In addition to being a bestselling author, he has achieved President’s Circle with two different Fortune 500 companies. You can find him blogging away almost every day on http://www.DanAlatorre.com or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week, Writers Off Task With Friends.

Dan resides in the Tampa, Florida area with his wife and daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives ~ chapter 23 #MysteryFiction

NL_banner.jpg

Death has been visiting Kate all of her life, leading her to imagine she has nine lives, like a cat.
With nothing to live for, no family, just a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away when her lives run out.
Death continues to speak to her, teasing her, yet will not come for her. When people around her begin to die at the hands of a serial killer, she hopes to be next.
Has she finally run out of lives? Will she find a reason to live after all, before it is too late?

Chapter 23

Saturday morning arrived and Kate felt better than she had for quite a while. The pain in her chest had gone and she was more like her old self. A little optimism was creeping in which she found most welcome. She had never been a miserable person, despite her turbulent life and the thought she might have nothing else to look forward to was depressing in itself.

Today was more like it. She felt in control for the first time in ages. Her first cup of tea tasted wonderful and she enjoyed every drop as she ran through what options she could think of to take full advantage of the day.  Shopping was high on the list for the cupboards were empty. She should telephone Sam with a progress report and possibly make a start on canvas number three. She idly wondered if the library was open on a Saturday and mentally decided to check when she was in town.

After an invigorating shower, Kate started to make a shopping list and wrote down cat food without thinking. As she looked at the words, the sharp pain sliced through her chest and she had to sit down. ‘Oh Dylan, I miss you so much,’ she said, her eyes filling with tears. She sat, waiting until the pain had gone, leaving an ache behind. She blew her nose and went back to the shopping list.

It suddenly occurred to her that the voice had been quiet for days, hopefully, it was a good sign.

 

The weather was trying desperately to match her mood.  It was early in September, and the trees showed no sign of the approaching autumn. Gentle sunlight and a light breeze made the walk to town a pleasant one. The library wasn’t open, so it would have to wait until next week. As she went past the estate agent, one of the men inside looked up at her from his desk, and for a split second looked so familiar. He had dark curly hair, greying at the temples, but she couldn’t see his eyes properly as he was wearing glasses. She walked on, deep in thought to the supermarket.

Later that morning, after getting back home with several bags of shopping, the image of Michael slipped into her mind and she found herself imagining what he would look like now. She stopped, with a packet of frozen peas in her hand, and realised it might have been him. ‘Don’t be daft, why on earth would it be?’  She shook her head as if to dislodge the notion and carried on putting away the groceries.

Kate expected the voice would have something to say about it. It never usually missed an opportunity to snipe at her but it remained quiet.

She rang Sam and made arrangements for lunch on Sunday for a preview. She should get a bottle of wine, or something nice for lunch.

 

When Kate crossed the street on her way to see if Janet was in, she noticed that the old green car was still there. Was that one more thing to worry about, she thought?

Although she waited patiently at Janet’s door, the old woman did not appear. She must be out or having a nap. As Kate drew nearer to the estate agent, her stomach was churning and she desperately wanted to walk the other way. What was she thinking? It couldn’t possibly be Michael, not here in Guildford. She always imagined him happily married and living the high life in London. After all, he was a good-looking man; women should fall over themselves to grab him.

She suddenly realised she was standing outside the estate agents and the picture of a picturesque cottage was right in front of her.  It’s too expensive, she thought, buying anything like that was out of the question, she had never had that kind of money and wasn’t about to end up in debt at her time of life. She wondered if they had rental properties too.

Her eyes began to focus past the pictures in the window and she studied the staff, but Michael wasn’t one of them, at least she couldn’t see him.

Her feet moved to walk inside and she went with them, safe in the knowledge there would be no embarrassing moment. Not if she was quick. She walked near the empty desk, looking for a nameplate or other identifying piece of evidence, but there was nothing. Then a soft female voice behind her asked if there was something she could help with, and Kate turned around, fully intending to ask about rental properties.

The woman who had spoken was quite short so Kate had a clear view of the man who had come up behind her.

‘It’s okay, Juliet. This lady is here to see me. Hello Kate. Long time no see.’

Kate’s knees had turned to jelly, how was she still standing up? It was definitely Michael, older, a lot older, but still attractive. He wasn’t wearing his glasses today and the familiar blue eyes had the effect they always had. She instantly felt she was the most important part of his life. How could he still do that, after all this time?

He took her by the elbow and steered her towards a chair.

‘I’ve just been seconded down here as they were short staffed. Funny how fate intervenes, don’t you think? You must tell me all about yourself. How are you and what are you doing these days?’

She stared at him, her mind a complete blank. Think of something to say, she thought, or he will think you’re senile. What were you supposed to say to someone who had broken your heart so many years ago?

He was looking at her the way he always did, and the magic had not died. Not in the slightest. She knew she was lost, so why try to go through the motions of being offended, or hateful. What would be the point? He probably wasn’t free anyway, so there was no harm in talking to him, was there?

‘Somehow, you look the same, Michael. How are you ?’

‘Oh, I’m fine. Getting older but nothing I can’t handle. Was there something you need, or did you know I was here? His eyes twinkled, reducing her nether regions into a pile of jelly babies.

‘I was contemplating finding somewhere to rent. Is that something you do here? She said, trying to hold on to her sanity.

He glanced at his watch. ‘Look, why don’t we discuss things over lunch; less formal than sitting here like any other customer.’

She remembered nodding slowly, but nothing else, and before she knew it, they were sitting in a quiet public house and there was a glass of white wine in front of her. Michael was looking at her as if waiting for the answer to a question.

‘I’m sorry, did you say something?’

‘I asked if you were well Kate, you look amazing, so I suppose the answer is yes.’

Kate picked up the glass of wine and took a sip, contemplating what to tell him, if anything at all. Something was telling her not to say anything and surprisingly it was her own idea. As she sat there looking at him, a frisson of annoyance nagged at her. How could he calmly sit there, looking gorgeous, as if they had no traumatic history between them? Had he forgotten he hurt her so badly it took years to heal? Added to that, the trouble with her ex-husband had turned Kate off any romantic encounters for life and there had been no one in her life since.

He is being patient, she thought. He must think she was too old to think straight, and maybe she shouldn’t enlighten him.

She declined any food, intending to keep the meeting short. He kept studying her and asking questions, obviously hoping one of them would make her talk.

She had fantasised about meeting him again, how they would be as wonderful together as they had been before, but somehow it didn’t feel right. He had no right to think she was still his for the taking.

He was talking again. ‘… must be something you can tell me about your life, is Jack still in the picture?’

So, he knew about Jack, what else did he know about her? ‘No, I divorced him and there is no one else.’ Why had she said that?

He smiled at her, his whole face lighting up like a little boy on firework night. ‘So, what have you been doing with the rest of your life, Kate?’

How can he just sit there as if they were old friends? She should hate him, and part of her probably did. She suddenly realised this meeting was not a good idea, and it was time to go home. ‘I paint’, she said and went to stand up. ‘I have to go now, I have things to do.’

He stood up and moved behind her chair, his hands brushing gently over the back of her coat as she stood up. She had to use all of her willpower to keep moving.

‘I might pop in tomorrow, to look at some properties. It was nice to see you again, Michael. Goodbye.’

His face was a picture. So many thoughts and emotions were flitting across his features, but he said nothing, just smiled forlornly at her. ‘See you tomorrow, then Kate.’

Signature Jaye.png

 

 

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…

 

#Wednesday Writer: Nine Lives by Jaye Marie Chapter22 #MysteryThriller

NL_banner.jpg

Chapter Twenty-two

Jack Holland couldn’t shake the image of the old woman from his mind. The way she had looked at him replayed repeatedly in his head, making him believe she knew what he was about and what he had done. Normally, he had the greatest respect for old age. If you made it that far, he thought, you must be worth something. She had looked at him knowingly and he didn’t like it.

What if she mentioned him to Kate? She might just assume some old women sometimes create suspicion in order to make their lonely lives more interesting, but the seeds of worry were growing.

Could she have seen anything else? One sighting might be dismissed, but had she seen him on other occasions too?

He prided himself on always being vigilant on his frequent visits to Kate’s flat, but the idea of a nosy old woman unable to sleep at night who might have been at her window had not occurred to him.

Now it ate at him. The woman’s face haunted him; sneered at his stupidity until he was convinced she would tell Kate everything and ruin his chances. He couldn’t have that. The thought of Kate finding out and running away from him again didn’t bear thinking about.

 

It took careful planning to keep both women under observation and not be seen by either of them and in a way, he was enjoying himself. He imagined he could be a secret agent on a mission of grave urgency. Down to him to do whatever was necessary to put the world straight.

His world, that is. Nothing would be allowed to get in the way of his quest to get Kate back to where she had always belonged.

The fact it had been so long now and Kate had shown no sign of missing him, had not entered his mind. It had tried to, and he had dismissed the thought as unworthy of a man in his position. He had to get her back, nothing else would do and he was so desperately tired of waiting. He was also tired of all these interferences and still fervently believed he would win in the end, once he had eliminated every distraction. He would make her need him again, one way or another.

He had invested in a small ex-electricians van, complete with a colourful logo on the side in which to conduct his surveillance. Nobody looked twice at a tradesman’s vehicle and he felt less conspicuous than he assumed Kate’s brother did, in his shabby old car. He could sleep in there if the need arose. It was a convenient arrangement and quite fitted his image of detective-hood.

She was a sweet old woman, he thought. She kept herself busy, popping up to the shops several times a week. Remarkably agile for one of her age, although he suspected she could be a nasty piece of work should the need arise. He had witnessed the way she treated the postman when he tried to post an armload of junk mail through her letterbox. He kept getting a mental picture of one of those small annoying Jack Russell dogs, busily tearing a rabbit to shreds, reminding him he had to be more than careful with this one.

Having to watch two people at the same time was a new experience for him and was proving to be exhausting, as he had no idea what either of them would do. The strain was becoming annoying and he knew he would have to take a risk soon, as he had visions of sitting in the van forever and that wouldn’t do at all.

The right time arrived just when he was prepared to risk everything by forcing the situation his way. It was Saturday morning and Kate had gone out. The old woman’s front door opened and she came out with a bucket in her hand and started to clean the windows.

It was the perfect scenario, he couldn’t have wished for better. He casually crossed the road, looking out for any nosy parkers and slipped inside the open door.

When the old woman came back inside and closed the door, she didn’t seem at all surprised to see him sitting in her living room. She just stood quietly in the doorway, waiting for him to speak.

He was in no hurry to tell her anything, in fact, he might not say anything at all. Pointless anyway, she couldn’t possibly understand just how important his mission was. He noticed she was nervously plucking at the handle of the bucket, trying not to look at him. It was almost as though she knew why he was there, and that was ridiculous.

After what seemed like an eternity, the old woman finally moved. She walked past him to the kitchen and he heard her rinse out the bucket and put it away.

He stood up and followed her, grabbing her by the elbows and throwing her to the floor. He had no real plan of action, no thought as to how to be rid of her, but he had no idea how strong an old woman could be. He had fantasied that the mere sight of him might have done it, but she was looking up at him, fiercely defiant blue eyes determined to see through whatever was coming. He took her head in his hands and contemplated crushing her skull. It didn’t feel strong. Her hair was soft against his fingers and he paused for a moment.

‘Shame about this, old girl, but no good ever came of being nosy, now did it…hmm?’

Then the sweet old woman with the soft hair and defiant eyes became an obstacle once more, something that had to be removed.

He closed his eyes and lifted her head away from the blue patterned lino. Her hands were clutching desperately at his sleeves, fluttering like birds wings. He thought of Kate, and how much he missed her, and the familiar mist seeped into his brain as he pounded the woman’s head against the floor repeatedly until her eyes closed and she stopped breathing. He left her lying there and went back to his van…

 

 

Jaye’s Journal (from the middle of insanity)

 

JAYE'S JOURNAL.jpg

 

My brain needs a disciplinary, as I can no longer make it behave.

Mind you, it must be contagious, for my laptop and tablet are exhibiting similar tendencies.

I have just spent the best part of an hour, first with the laptop and then the tablet, trying to run through my emails from the comfort of my armchair.

The laptop was on a go-slow, so I switched to the tablet.

This annoying piece of crap had decided not to respond at all. Patience personified, I kept trying, only for the battery to drain away faster than a chocolate teapot. Something it shouldn’t have been able to do, seeing as it wasn’t actually doing anything.

 

I can feel the day coming when I will take a hammer to the both of them, as I am not sure how much longer my brain can cope with these insanity-inducing contraptions.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t aware of all the wonderful things they can do. When in a good mood, of course.

But I ask you, is it asking too much to have a piece of equipment that actually does what it says on the tin?

We wouldn’t stand for such substandard performance from any other electrical object, so for all that’s Holy, do we put up with it?

The main desktop PC is not immune to such shenanigans, it’s just sneakier. Its favourite trick at the moment is ignoring whole sentences while I am busy typing them.

I get no warning, no sign that something has gone awry. The first I know about it is when I try to read the work back, only to find yawning great holes where parts of my story are missing.

I tell you, it is beginning to feel like a conspiracy…

On the bright side, and I do try to find this, even on those grey days, nothing can affect my pen and paper. Sometimes I am so glad that I can write, blissfully, as far away from technology as I can get. As happy as Larry, knowing that I am in total charge of the creative process.

FIN PB Template xx.png

 

So, to end on a much happier note, I have to report that the first draft of PayBack, my WIP, is almost finished. I have enjoyed writing it so much, that even the thought of all that editing is not denting my good mood in the slightest!

Rosie’s #Book Review Team #RBRT No One Can Hear You by Nikki Crutchley #Mystery&Thriller @NikkiCAuthor

Rosie's Book Review team 1.png

 

‘He said that they’d let me go on purpose. That they could easily find me if they wanted to. He said that they didn’t want me. That I was too much trouble. He said if I went to the cops, he’d know. If I told Sonya, he’d know. If I talked to friends or teachers, he’d know. He told me to pretend it didn’t happen. He told me to consider it a compliment, that I was too strong. His last words to me were, ‘Just forget’.

Troubled teen Faith Marsden was one of several girls abducted from Crawton, a country town known for its picturesque lake and fertile farmland. Unlike the others, she escaped, though sixteen years on she still bears the emotional and physical scars.

Zoe Haywood returns to Crawton to bury her estranged mother Lillian, who has taken her own life. As she and Faith rekindle their high-school friendship, they discover notes left by Lillian that point to two more young women who recently disappeared from Crawton. But Lillian’s confused ramblings leave them with more questions than answers.

As Faith and Zoe delve deeper into the mystery, they become intent on saving the missing women, but in doing so are drawn into Auckland’s hidden world of drugs, abduction and murder.

And then Faith decides to confront the mastermind – on her own.

 

Our Review

A brilliant opening prologue, the story opens in a foster home in 2001.

Faith Marsden had been in worse places, but a late night escapade finds her in somewhere much worse…

Sixteen years later, Zoe Hayward, a teacher at a boys school, is unfairly sacked because of an incident with one of the boys. Her mother, who she hasn’t seen in years, dies and Zoe must return home to arrange the funeral, so she is unable to stand her ground over the dismissal.

Zoe is just doing her duty regarding her mother but gradually becomes involved in the mystery of the missing girls in her hometown. The authorities seem to want it all to disappear, but she isn’t about to let that happen.

Fast paced in the beginning, the thread of this story alternates between the characters and their chapters, which vastly increased the tension.

Such a complicated and skilful plot, you really need to be on your toes with this one. The story unpeels like an onion, each layer full of frustrating clues and red herrings. By the time I was just over halfway through, the tension had built to an almost unbearable level.

The story slowly descends into a gruelling hell as the author describes the extent of the missing girl’s trauma with painful precision.

The climax of the story begins when Zoe makes an important discovery, triggering one of the best finales I have read in a while…

 

Excerpt

Her eyes began to burn from staring unblinkingly into the dark. She shut them tight again. Her hands wandered further, cautiously, off the edge of the mattress. A concrete floor, chilled and unforgiving. She stretched her hands out either side. One side touched hard wood. Shelves maybe? The last time she remembered any contact with people was sitting in Garth’s office at the Crawton Tavern, having a few drinks after work on Sunday, with … who?

She stood on shaking legs, the dark playing with her balance. She hardly knew which way was up, and a whimper escaped her lips. The sound, desperate in the stillness, chilled her. She edged forward, hands in front of her, hesitant, not knowing what to expect. After she’d counted six steps from the mattress her hands found a door. She had performed the same actions days or hours ago. She knew what the result would be but grasped the handle anyway, daring to hope, and turned it.

Locked.

She stumbled to the side and her foot kicked something. A bucket? It skidded across the room. She knocked her elbow on what she guessed was more shelving. Rubbing at it the tears came, wretched, choking sobs that echoed around her prison. Her head thumped as she tried desperately to piece together what had got her here. They’d taken her like she knew they would. She’d told herself what she’d overheard was nothing, even when Tania disappeared. Deep down she’d known she was in danger.

But there hadn’t been anywhere else to go.

Thank you to the author and to #RBRT for my #free review copy…