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

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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…

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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!

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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

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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…

 

 

#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives ~Chapter 18 #MysteryThriller

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Chapter Eighteen

This canvas is turning out well, she thought, casting her professional eye over the composition. She had tried to capture the glory of a sunset on a calm sea, and the flood of colour across the water was almost right. She put down her brush, needing a cup of coffee.

While the kettle boiled, she thought about what the voice had said about her needing company. It obviously didn’t  know her at all, for she had always preferred her own company. Pity, she hadn’t remembered that when she met Jack. Michael too, come to think of it. Why had she broken her own rules so many times?

She had always attributed her momentary lapses to plain stupidity, for who knew better than she there was no Mr Right lurking about anywhere.

She went back to her studio, still thinking about how badly their marriage had turned out. She had often heard women discussing how men would change once they put a ring on your finger, and surely there must be some kind of clue, some sign you were making a mistake before you walked down the aisle? If there was, she never saw it.

Jack must have been one clever bastard, that’s all she could think, for she fell for his charm like a ton of bricks. The first time he had spoken to her as if she was the worst woman he had ever met had wounded her deeply. After Michael, she didn’t think she could be hurt like that again, especially by someone like Jack. She had been so wrong.

He had literally become someone else, someone she didn’t recognise at all. He became rude, sarcastic and moody. He started to instigate rough games, which always resulted in her getting hurt. Even now, her hip hurt most days where he had viciously kicked her off the bed.

The one thing that broke her heart was the way he treated her son, David. He had promised to be a good father and seemed to care for him before the wedding, but that changed, along with everything else. He did still play with him sometimes, but he played rough and she was terrified he would hurt him the way he usually hurt her.

She increased the intensity of the orange paint near the horizon so that it seemed the sun had just slipped out of sight. The dying light streamed across the sea, spreading shades of peach and salmon pink that gradually faded into the cobalt sea. Kate nodded to herself, finally satisfied the sunset before her was as splendid as she could make it.

Something made her think of Sam’s face appearing in one of her other paintings. What was that all about?

The voice was talking about Sam, asking if Kate really knew her at all.

What was it going on about now? Of course, she knew how she felt about Sam. She was a good friend as well as a big help with her art, and there had been the time when it was all a bit emotional. She thought at the time they would have to go their separate ways, for Sam had become so upset by her relationship with Jack. She was simply being overprotective, wasn’t she? After all, Kate knew by then he was a bastard, so Sam was right.

And what was all that about her suddenly vanishing?

She thought of Dylan, and it suddenly felt as though her stomach had just dropped to the floor.

 

Kate awoke with another splitting headache. The night had been full of nightmares, bloodied babies, cats screaming in agony, and the angry face of a man she didn’t recognise. She nearly gave up in the early hours and thought about getting up, but she must have gone back to sleep again. Not that she felt at all rested.

She staggered into the kitchen and switched the kettle on. While it was coming to the boil, she looked for some painkillers. She hated taking pills of any kind and only conceded with the antacid tablets because she usually ended up being violently sick if she didn’t.

Kate remembered Sam’s raised eyebrows when she couldn’t convince her she had been taking her medication after the heart attack. She couldn’t help it, she just didn’t remember. She didn’t see the point in prolonging the inevitable, always assuming she would die one day anyway. She hoped so. When she was younger, the thought of living forever seemed like a great idea, but not if you couldn’t drag yourself out of bed. Something which was getting harder to do, pills or no.

Every bone in her body ached, and mysterious shooting pains were starting to worry her. She should be taking the pills after all because she wasn’t quite ready to shuffle off just yet.

Right now though, she was having trouble deciding what she was going to do today. She wasn’t completely happy with the first canvas she had done, and she should do some housework, the place was filthy.

She suddenly felt emotional, tears were not far away, as she remembered how much she was missing Dylan. Where was he? She couldn’t bear to think he might be hurt or shut in somewhere. Oh for a crystal ball, she thought. Wouldn’t that be handy?

The next thought to push its way past her emotions was Danny, smiling at her with that soppy grin he always thought was cute. Why had she suddenly thought about him?

The voice blamed Danny for being in her flat, and it could have been him, remembering the smell of cigarette smoke. He would be stupid enough to smoke in her flat. The thought of him, nosing around in her belongings was making her skin crawl. He was her brother; she shouldn’t be feeling like that about him. It might help a lot if she knew why she did, and the truth refused to escape from the dark recesses of her brain.

After a shower, Kate went to her studio. Housework had been voted against, after all, no one would see the place so what did it matter?

She studied both canvases, trying to be objective. The sunset was good, but the dark, edgy one was not. It would have to be done again. She had the idea in her head of a magical lake scene with mist rising from the water.  It wasn’t a seascape, so Sam might not like it, but it was what she wanted to paint and wouldn’t be able to move on to the next one until she had transferred it from her head to the canvas.

With the day planned and the problem solved, she set to work; suddenly realising she could hear the child crying again. It seemed to be more insistent now as if it was alone, uncared for, and wasn’t helping Kate concentrate.

During the morning, the crying intensified and Kate began to feel as if something was wrong. She couldn’t remember David ever crying like that. Quite the opposite, he was a happy child, infuriatingly happy most of the time. As he grew older, the moods and bad tempers began to take over. Which puzzled her at the time, for weren’t children supposed to take after their parents?

She couldn’t blame everything on the crying child. The flat hadn’t been the same since the break-in. She wondered if it might have happened before. Not that she had noticed anything anyway as she was not the tidiest person on the planet.

The feeling the flat was no longer her special place was growing stronger, almost too strong to ignore. She knew she would have to move, even though the thought of doing it all over again filled her with dread. She was too old to move house again.

The voice changed tactics, saying she should stay where she was. That whoever had broken in would find her wherever she went.

Oh, no you don’t, she thought. ‘Quit using reverse psychology on me, I’ll do what I want, not what you think I should…’

She stopped mid-rant, realising she was shouting at something that wasn’t real. She should check herself into the funny farm, that would solve most of her problems, wouldn’t it?

Oh get a grip, she thought. She moved house before and thoroughly enjoyed it, she could do it again if she had to; of course, she could.

Suddenly, the need for fresh air was overwhelming. She had to get out of there if it was only a walk around the block.

Once outside the front door, Kate didn’t know what she wanted to do or where she wanted to go. The green Vauxhall was still parked outside number ten and didn’t appear to have been moved. It couldn’t possibly be Danny’s, could it?

She contemplated dropping in on Janet to see how she was, but her need for fresh air was more insistent. She began to walk, hoping something would occur to her as she made her way to the High Street.

Dark clouds were slowly building into a menacing mountain, not just rain if they had anything to do with it. It matched her mood perfectly, so the thought of getting wet didn’t bother her at all…

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#WednesdayWriters ~ Nine Lives

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Chapter Fourteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

#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.

#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?