#Throwback Thursday ~ As it Was in the Beginning…

Although I used to dream about writing when I was younger, life came along and made sure I forgot to remember this, always finding new ways to keep my mind from straying.

Even when my sister, Anita started to write and needed help with transcribing and editing her own stories, my own dreams stayed dormant, while life continued to throw some major curve balls.

I learned to love working on Anita’s stories, mainly to keep from drowning under such a lot of misery and frustration. Her characters and stories somehow gave me hope that everything would one day be better.

I needed a lot of patience at that time, and editing is an exceptionally good way of teaching this!

I’m not sure where the first idea came from, but I began to think about writing a story about a woman called Kate Devereau. Someone remarkably like me, as it happens.

I refused to admit it would be a memoir or in any way autobiographical. She just happened to have similar life experiences, that’s all.

After all, they do tell us to write what we know, and I knew Kate very well.

Looking back, I think Nine Lives had to be written so I could move on to a better life. One with more hope in it than I ever thought possible.

Although I have moved on since then, Kate has followed me and has remained a haunting heroine in my first three detective stories, Nine Lives, Out of Time, and CrossFire. My favourite detective, DI David Snow fell in love with her and she haunts him too.

But will Kate Devereau and David Snow ever have a happy ending?

Book Description

Death has been stalking Kate all her life, convincing her that she has nine lives, like a cat.
With nothing to live for, no family to speak of, just a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away when her lives run out.
People around her are dying at the hands of a serial killer, so has Kate run out of lives?
Will she find a reason to live before it is too late?

“If you like the thriller genre that keeps up the momentum then Nine Lives would be a good read for you. The pace never falters, building up the plot and characters with timely intervention. The author cleverly keeps the story centred around the main character, with the other players coming into the story and yet there are no plot holes or false timings.” Amazon Reviewer

“The story is very mysterious and suspenseful, and I was left wondering if Kate would escape the murderer. The mysterious voice plays a big part in the story and the ending does a wonderful job of explaining the voice and it’s purpose in Kate’s life.” Amazon Reviewer

A Visitation…

 

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A Visitation

 

One of my characters has been in my head a lot lately, constantly nagging me about something. He has featured in three of my books, and I think anyone who has read my work will remember DI Snow. The detective who helped Kate Devereau in Nine Lives, saved her life in Out of Time, and failed miserably to forget her in CrossFire.

He turned up again in Silent PayBack, happily married and recovered from the serious life-threatening injuries he sustained in CrossFire.

I wondered what was on his mind.

I invited him to my office to find out.

‘You have exactly five minutes to say what is on your mind, David, as I am trying to work.’

He looked wonderful, but then he has always been one of my favourite people. Looking just like Tom Selleck from the Jesse Stone tv series, he sprawled in my writing chair, slowly moving it backwards and forwards, his eyes never leaving my face.

‘I want to know when you will be writing another story for me?’ The corners of his mouth lifted slightly, along with one eyebrow. ‘I have missed seeing you every day, Jaye.’

My insides were melting fast, and right then I would have agreed to anything.

‘There is the small matter of a decent plot…’

He shrugged, as if that was of no consequence.

‘Do you have any idea how hard it is to create a plausible detective story?’

He stood up, towering over me as I sat on the uncomfortable visitor’s chair. ‘You have managed it very well up to now, Jaye. Anyway, I do have an idea, or rather a desire. My marriage is over, mainly because I cannot forget Kate. I want to find her again. You do know where she is?’

I was speechless, which was just as well, for I was desperately trying to imagine what Kate might be doing now. The last time I saw her, she was going to find somewhere to paint herself better. Supposing I couldn’t find her?

There was also the not so small matter of the work I was supposed to be doing. Like Anita’s new poetry book, and the impending release of her new fiction book, Running Moon.

As if he could read my mind, David Snow sat back down in my chair.

‘I know how busy you are, Jaye. You probably have several projects on the go, but I’m hoping writing a new story could be one of them. I’m not leaving until we have an agreement.’

 

To be continued

©JayeMarie  2020

 

Best News of the Week!

Just received this wonderful and totally unexpected review for my very first novel…

Nine Lives and wanted to share my joy!

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Book Description

DEATH HAS BEEN STALKING KATE all her life, leading her to believe she has nine lives, like a cat.
With nothing to live for, no family to speak of, just a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away when her lives run out.
People around her are dying at the hands of a serial killer, has Kate run out of lives?
Will she find a reason to live before it is too late?

“If you like the thriller genre that keeps up the momentum then The Ninth Life would be a good read for you. The pace never falters, building up the plot and characters with timely intervention. The author cleverly keeps the story centred around the main character, with the other players coming into the story and yet there are no plot holes or false timings.” Amazon Reviewer

“The story is very mysterious and suspenseful, and I was left wondering if Kate would escape the murderer. The mysterious voice plays a big part in the story and the ending does a wonderful job of explaining the voice and it’s purpose in Kate’s life.” Amazon Reviewer

And then there was this…

 

Mae Clair
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Suspense

29 September 2019Published on Amazon.com

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

 

Thank you again, Mae, you really made my week!

#TuesdayBookBlog ~ Nine Lives by Jaye Marie #MysteryThriller

DEATH HAS BEEN STALKING KATE all her life, leading her to believe she has nine lives, like a cat.

With nothing to live for, no family to speak of, just a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away when her lives run out.

People around her are dying at the hands of a serial killer, but has Kate finally run out of lives?

Will she find a reason to live before it is too late?

 

“If you like the thriller genre that keeps up the momentum then Nine Lives would be a good read for you. The pace never falters, building up the plot and characters with timely intervention. The author cleverly keeps the story centred around the main character, with the other players coming into the story and yet there are no plot holes or false timings.” Amazon Reviewer

“The story is very mysterious and suspenseful, and I was left wondering if Kate would escape the murderer. The mysterious voice plays a big part in the story and the ending does a wonderful job of explaining the voice and it’s purpose in Kate’s life.” Amazon Reviewer

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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 ~ chapter 25 #MysteryThriller

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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…

Amazon Review

 

#WednesdayWriters ~ Nine Lives ~ Chapter 24 #MysteryThriller #Fiction

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Kate has welcomed death from an early age. With no family to speak of and a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away.

It speaks to her. Teases her, yet will not come for her.

Death takes those around her, making her desire for it greater than ever.

She wonders how much longer it will take for her time to run out…

Chapter Twenty-four

On the way home, Kate picked up some lamb chops and some white wine for her lunch with Sam, inwardly still trying not to be angry with Michael. Who did he think he was? Regardless of the fact him turning up was something she had dreamed of for years, he still had the cheek of the devil.

There was an ambulance outside Janet’s house and Kate’s heartbeat accelerated as she walked towards it, wondering who it was for. As she drew closer, she saw Janet’s door was open and as she watched, a paramedic in a reflective yellow striped jacket was wheeling Janet out of her house in a wheelchair. She appeared to be asleep, her face pale and peaceful. What had happened?

She approached the ambulance. ‘Hello, how is Mrs Goldman? I’m her neighbour.’

The paramedic stopped for a second and looked at her. ‘The old dear took a tumble and we’re just taking her in to be checked over.’

‘How did she tumble, she has no stairs?’ Kate asked.

‘She must have been up on a chair, there was one overturned when we turned up.’  He grinned at her and climbed into the back of the ambulance. ‘She’ll be fine, see if she’s not.’

Kate had the strangest feeling Janet wouldn’t be ‘fine’.  She was far too old to be taking a tumble.

She decided to spend the rest of the day in her studio after she had something to eat and if Janet wasn’t home by tomorrow morning, she would go and see how she was.

The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing the next canvas. This one was going to be a night scene, with the moonlight like a pathway across the water. That was the plan anyway, and that sometimes changed as her paintbrush often had a mind of its own.

As the afternoon faded into early evening, Kate found herself thinking about Michael a little more fondly than she had that morning. She had almost seemed rude, hadn’t she?  God knows what he made of it.

She was in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil when there was a knock at the front door. Who could have that be, she thought, wondering if it was something to do with Janet.

Kate’s heart was in her mouth as she opened the door to find Michael standing there with a small bunch of carnations clutched to his chest. She almost choked, and her first instinct was to slam the door, but for some strange reason, she couldn’t.

‘I’ve come to apologise, Kate. I shouldn’t have carried on as though nothing was wrong between us. No wonder you had nothing to say. Please let me in, so we can start again and talk properly.’

She glared at him. ‘How do you know where I live?’

‘I felt so bad after you left, I had to find you so I could apologise in person. I had no way of knowing if you would turn up tomorrow.’

‘But how did you know where I live?’

He had the grace to look sheepish. ‘I looked you up on the electoral roll. Lucky you still use your old name, or I would never have found you.’

Kate still hesitated, unsure whether to let him in or not. This was her private space; did she want him touching everything?

She already knew she would let him in, the effect he had on her was the same as ever, regardless of the history between them. ‘You had better come in then,’ she said, standing aside so he could pass. ‘And don’t think I have forgiven you because I haven’t.’

He turned and offered her the flowers. ‘They’re not a peace offering Kate; I just thought you would like them.’

She tried to accept them gracefully, knowing she would prefer to wrap them around his neck, and made her way to the kitchen to put them in water.

He stood in the doorway watching her, and it all seemed the most natural thing in the world as if he had done exactly that dozens of times before.

It suddenly occurred to her just how much she resented him showing up on her doorstep.

‘Nice place you have here, Kate. Been here long?’

Why did she automatically think he already knew the answer to that?

‘Not long ‘, she said, non-committedly. ‘And I will soon be moving on, anyway’.

He smiled, and there was just a hint of nervousness in his smile. Was it possible he was a little unsure of his reception?

He nodded at the back door. ‘What happened to the cat?’

The hair on the back of her neck twitched and it was all she could do not to march up to him and slap his face hard. ‘Why assume something happened to my cat? He could be sleeping in another room.’

His smile vanished, and she could see he was trying to think of a suitable answer. Whatever he said, she wouldn’t believe a word.  It was as if he knew what had happened to Dylan, and how could he, unless… The possibilities that presented themselves didn’t bear thinking about, and she knew something was wrong. Nobody would say a thing like that by chance.

‘Come on Michael, say something to convince me you meant nothing sinister.’

‘I don’t know why I said that, Kate. The way you’re carrying on, something did happen to the cat. What was it?

The cheek of the man took her breath away, which was just as well for she had no intention of telling him anything.

‘It doesn’t matter, come and sit down and tell me the real reason you showed up here tonight.’

He followed her out of the kitchen and paused outside her studio. ‘Can I have a look?’

The door was open, so he already had a good look in her opinion. She leaned past him and closed the door. ‘I would rather you didn’t if you don’t mind,’ she said, not caring she came across as more than a little angry.

He looked surprised, but what did he expect? Had he forgotten how badly he had let her down, not to mention walking out on the child they had made together?

Her temper finally snapped and she turned on him angrily. ‘Don’t bother getting comfortable, Michael. I want you to leave, now.’

‘And…’

‘No buts, did you think I would fall into your arms again? You must be more stupid than I thought.  Please, just go.’

For a moment, he managed to look sad, but if that was supposed to mean anything to her, he was badly mistaken. Although a small part of her still loved him, a bigger part resented him for turning up like this, assuming she would forgive and forget.  She hadn’t been able to do it then and certainly wasn’t about to do it now.

Kate went to open the front door, desperate to get him out of her flat.  Just as well I’m leaving, she thought, as knowing he knew where to find her was annoying her a lot more than she thought it would.

‘Can’t we just talk about this, Kate,’ he said, trying to look sheepish.

She came up to him and shoved him not too gently towards the door. ‘Go away Michael, I don’t want you here.’

As he walked away, she waited for him to turn around, to appeal to her one more time. He didn’t, he kept on walking and for a split second it was all so sad she felt like crying.

He didn’t appear to have come by car. If he had, it must be parked somewhere else. Why would he do that?

As Kate stood on the doorstep, she noticed there were no lights showing at Janet’s house. Did that mean she was still in the hospital?  She would have to ring them in the morning and find out what was going on.

She didn’t feel in the least like painting, and went to the studio and stared at the canvas. She should work on it a bit more, after all, Sam was coming for lunch tomorrow and the more progress she could see, the better. It might help to get all thoughts of Michael out of her head, so she would have no trouble sleeping tonight.

She tried to empty her mind of him as she spent the next few hours pushing paint onto the canvas, and one question kept rattling around in her head. Why had he assumed something happened to her cat?  It might have just been a coincidence; after all, there was a cat flap in the back door. It could have been for the previous tenant’s cat. It was almost as if he knew something bad had happened, but how could he have done?

She decided to call it a night when her arm was so stiff she could hardly hold the paintbrush. Canvas number three was almost finished and Kate liked the way this one was turning out. Probably because it was such a peaceful, serene scene, it had gone a long way to soothing the savage beast Michael had awakened with his impromptu visit…

What does Michael want?

Did he kill her cat?

 

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#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives ~ chapter 23 #MysteryFiction

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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.’

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#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives~chapter 20 #MysteryThriller

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Jack wished he could have been there to see the look on her face when she found what he had done. Imagination was a powerful thing but no substitute for being there.

It wasn’t planned either, he had originally intended to wreck a painting or two, just something to get her a bit rattled. When the blessed cat had started hissing at him the minute he opened the front door he just saw red, quite spoiling his appreciation at finding Kate had not changed the locks.

He managed to corner the animal in the kitchen and picked it up, stroking its head and ears until loud purring ensued. Such a pretty little thing, with its silver and black fur and green eyes. It was enjoying being petted.

‘Where has all your anger gone now?’ he asked, his voice soft and soothing. ‘Why aren’t you afraid of me anymore, hmm?

The animal looked up at him, green eyes gently opening and closing in some kind of feline ecstasy. When it stretched up and pushed its head against his hand, some secret switch flipped in Jack’s mind and he slowly tightened his grip around the animal’s neck. In no time at all the animal was a limp rag in his hands and he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop there.

He laid the limp body of the cat on the floor and stared down at it while he decided what he wanted to do. For some inexplicable reason, he decided he wanted to keep the fur so he undressed, removing all of his clothes and making a neat pile of them on the kitchen counter. He found the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer and tried to teach himself to skin an animal. He had never done it before and didn’t manage to remove the skin cleanly or in one piece. There were lumps of fur and blood all over the floor; his hands, arms and legs were glistening red. Who knew a small animal would have so much blood?

It turned out to be quite invigorating, as it happened. The sight and smell of all the blood stimulated him to a frenzy and he thoroughly enjoyed making as much mess as possible.

He knew she thought a lot of the animal, always did have a soft spot for anything small and furry, so she should be suitably distraught. Might just cause another heart attack if he was lucky. He was still kicking himself for not having enough time to finish her off when she was in the hospital last time.

All things considered though, he didn’t want her dead. It was so much more fun to make her suffer and even more fun to watch. Pity he couldn’t rig up a camera in here, he thought, looking around the bloodied kitchen. Should be something, pity he wouldn’t get to see it. It did, however, give him plenty of new ideas for the future.

He stood up, the frenzy long gone now, replaced by the satisfaction of a job well done. He glanced at his clothes; quickly deciding a shower was in order and walked to the bathroom. He would have to be quick, as he had no idea how much time he had.

He didn’t want her to find him there, as he wanted this game to go on a lot longer. He was nowhere near finished with her yet.

As he left, he noticed an old woman in one of the houses opposite eyeing him suspiciously. That was all he needed, a nosy neighbour. He turned on the full extent of his favourite icy glare and she shot indoors like a frightened rabbit.

He smiled, slightly amused he still had the power to frighten old women, but he had a sneaking suspicion he might have to take care of this particular woman before she ruined all his plans…

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Jack is a really nasty piece of work, but I loved writing about him…

 

 

 

 

#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives~ Chapter 19 #MysteryThriller

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Kate had welcomed death from an early age. With no family to speak of and a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away.

It speaks to her. Teases her, yet will not come for her.

Death takes those around her, making her desire for it greater than ever.

She wonders how much longer it will take for her time to run out…

Chapter 19

On the way home from her walk around the park as she approached the bakers, she wondered idly if they had any doughnuts. The sight of her old friend and neighbour Janet standing at the counter made her walk inside the shop.

‘Hello Janet, I wondered if I would see you today. How are you?’

Janet was buying a small loaf of bread; she was so short she had to stretch to pay the woman. ‘I’m fine Kate, though I could do with a box to stand on in here. This counter is far too high for me.’

Kate held out her hand for Janet’s change and asked, ‘Have you heard a child crying near us lately?’

Putting the change in her purse, Janet shook her head. ‘No, can’t say I have. Someone might have visitors… has that silly cat come home yet?’

Kate shook her head and bought two doughnuts. As they walked to the door of the shop, she realised it was raining heavily. Janet fished an umbrella out of her shopping bag and with a quick wave; toddled up the road looking like a little pixie in her boots and raincoat.

Kate made her way home, looking in every doorway and behind all the bushes and bins. There was no sign of Dylan. Tears ran down her face as she willed the missing cat to appear. It was as though she knew he was gone for good, and she would never see him again.

Once back indoors, Kate had to change her clothes as she was soaked through and cold. She didn’t want to turn on the central heating, so she wrapped herself in her old fleece dressing gown and rubbed some of the water from her hair with a towel. She wandered into the kitchen, intending to put the kettle on for a cup of tea to go with the doughnuts when something about the cat flap made her stop short.

Something dark was smeared all over the plastic flap. It looked like blood, dripping down the door into a puddle on the floor.

‘What the..?’

She didn’t want to look, but knew she must and edged closer. The blood seemed to be all on the inside, she would have to open the back door.

She reached out her hand, but it refused to grasp the handle or the key that was in the lock. She stood, frozen, for what seemed like an age. Desperately wanting to run away and knowing she couldn’t, not yet.

It began to filter through to her brain that someone had been in her flat again. Her stomach dropped to her knees, what if whoever it was, was still there, hiding somewhere?

She couldn’t do this. Her knees had turned to jelly and there was a real risk of her falling to the floor right where she stood. The smell of the blood was making her feel sick and she knew if she didn’t open the door soon, there was a great possibility she never would.

‘Get a grip, girl, what’s the matter with you?’ she said angrily, reaching out for the handle once again. This time she managed to unlock the door and open it, stifling a scream with both hands as she saw what was on the other side of the door.

There was more blood and a lot of blood-soaked silver fur scattered over the doorstep. She knew what it was, but there was nothing she could identify. Just bits and pieces as if he had been hacked to pieces.

She stood there staring, not knowing what to do, so she shut the door, hoping her brain would come up with some plan of action all on its own. She should start by checking the flat; although if she found anyone, she knew she could quite easily kill whoever it was. The shock was wearing off, being replaced by an incredible sadness and anger. Who could do such a thing to a defenceless animal, and more to the point, why? What reason could they possibly have?

The voice sarcastically remarked that the cat had run out of lives too.

What was all this nonsense about lives?

She finished checking the flat but there was no intruder, just the faint smell of cigarette smoke in the living room. Danny! Why would he do this?

She was not looking forward to cleaning up what was left of her beloved old friend. As she willed herself to move and take charge of the situation, she knew her life had just changed dramatically. There was no way she could stay in the flat any longer than was necessary.

She filled the bucket with hot soapy water and walked towards the back door. The sight of the blood turned her stomach over and she just made it back to the sink, heaving up nothing but bile. She retched so many times her muscles began to cramp. With an extraordinary effort, she tried to pull herself together. Dylan deserved that much of her at least, she thought, splashing her face with cold water.

Clearing up took a long time because she had to stop so many times to wipe her face and blow her nose. There seemed to be far too much blood for one little cat. It was so unfair, he was her friend, probably her only friend, as Sam didn’t count, being work-related. She would have to tell her soon she would be leaving, and it was going to be awkward, as Kate didn’t want anyone knowing where she was going. She thought of just leaving and not telling anyone but that felt wrong somehow. Sam was relying on Kate to produce exceptional art for her new gallery.

Anyway, Kate thought she could trust Sam. She had proved herself a good friend in all kinds of circumstances. Depending on where Kate moved to, their relationship would be tested to the hilt. Sam wouldn’t want to work with someone who wasn’t conveniently located.

Kate tried to make a cup of tea, but her hands were shaking so much most of the tea and sugar went everywhere. She gave up and sat down on the kitchen stool, her head spinning. She did feel ill. The room was slowly revolving and she thought there was a chance she might faint. Everything she looked at seemed strange. What was that thing you supposed to do, she thought, put your head between your knees?

The thought of bending over or moving in any direction didn’t seem like a good idea at all, but she managed to pull herself together and walk to the bedroom. She slammed the door behind her, the loud noise triggering something inside her, and she collapsed on the bed and sobbed her heart out…

Amazon Review:

4.0 out of 5 stars
Suspenseful Story
Kate is an artist who’s had a very painful life and a few close calls with death. After a heart attack, Kate tries to go on with her life, however trouble lurks in the form of her vindictive ex-husband. One by one Kate’s friends and loved ones meet mysterious deaths and Kate, fearing she’s next runs for her life.
Adding to Kate’s dilemma is a the mysterious voice that’s been plaguing her her entire life, which at times proves to be more of a nuisance than of help.

At times Kate comes across as standoffish, but after reading about her history and the tragedies she suffered in the past, gives you a better understanding for her attitude. After reading about her past, I was wishing she’d find the peace that she wanted.

The story is very mysterious and suspenseful, and I was left wondering if Kate would escape the murderer. The mysterious voice plays a big part in the story and the ending does a wonderful job of explaining the voice and it’s purpose in Kate’s life.