Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been a little lax in posting the last week or so, compared to previously, and I’m here to apologise. I’ve been struggling with my various mental health issues recently and that’s made it difficult to find either the energy or the enthusiasm to provide regular posts while keeping up with my writing and editing.
It’s gotten to the point where I’m cringing at every loud noise from the TV and it’s taken me all day to recover from a trip to the shops this morning where I nearly had a panic attack and was left almost in tears for most of the afternoon.
To make up for this lack, I’ve decided to give you all a preview of my new book, Written In Blood, it’s been quite a while since I did so, I hope you like it.
Emily was on her bed, reading a book, one eye on the clock on her bedside cabinet so she wouldn’t be late putting the potatoes on, when she heard the vehicle pull into the yard outside. Pushing herself up, she craned her head round to look out the window to see who it was; it was too early for it to be her dad or her brother, they were unlikely to get home until just before dinner was ready to be served.
The moment she saw the Land Rover in the yard she leaped to her feet, pleased that Zack Wild had returned. As pleased as she was, she was also more than a little nervous. She knew she had caught Zack by surprise earlier, she had caught herself by surprise as well, to such an extent that she had forgotten to grab her bag when she got out of his car; she had now had enough time to think about what she had done and realise what a fool she had made of herself.
On her way out of the bedroom and down the stairs, Emily imagined the possible reasons for his return: he could be there to return her bag, or he could be there to make sure she was not going to tell anyone what had happened between them; he might even be there because he had changed his mind about what he had said earlier.
She hesitated with her hand on the front door catch, a little reluctant to open the door and discover how her next encounter with Zack Wild was going to go. After almost half a minute had passed, she took a deep breath, summoned her courage, and opened the door so she could step out into the yard.
Zack was nowhere to be seen. Emily had thought to find him outside the front door, about to ring the bell, but he wasn’t there. She looked around the yard, but couldn’t see him, which made no sense to her; she couldn’t think where he might have gone. She walked to each corner of the house to see if he had gone round one of the sides for some reason, but there was no sign of him. Bewildered, she walked to where the Land Rover had been parked in the middle of the yard.
She wasn’t normally the sort of person to go rummaging around in someone’s car without permission, it wasn’t polite, but on this occasion she thought herself justified in doing so since she was after her bag. Her bag wasn’t where she had left it, though. It should have been in the foot-well in front of the passenger seat, but it wasn’t there. Not sure why the bag wasn’t there, she leaned further into the vehicle so she could search under the passenger seat, where she found a number of items, none of which were her bag.
The desire to find out more about the man who lived down the road, and with whom she had made such a fool of herself, made her take out each item in turn so she could examine it. She discovered little, other than that Zack Wild was messier than she had previously thought, at least initially; the first few items she pulled out were a road map of the county, an empty crisp packet, a couple of chocolate wrappers, and a hammer – she had no idea why he had a hammer under the passenger seat, it seemed a strange thing for him to have there, but it wasn’t as strange as the next thing she pulled out, a pink mobile phone.
For several long moments, Emily simply stared at the phone in her hand; the phone was familiar to her, she was sure she had seen it before, but she knew it wasn’t Zack’s. She couldn’t work out where it was she knew the phone from, and that annoyed her because she was sure it was important; it came back to her in a flash, whose phone it was and where she had seen it before, when the voice sounded from behind her.
“What are you doing?” The voice that uttered the question was curious, but evidenced no concern, not until she turned round and its owner saw the phone in her hand. “Where did you get that? Give it to me,” he demanded, holding out a hand insistently.
In an instant Emily knew who had killed Georgina Ryder, and Lucy Goulding, and it was the last person she would have thought of. So great was her shock that she was left frozen to the spot, unable to react to her discovery except by standing there and staring at him in slack-jawed shock. Only when he lunged at her, demanding, “Give me that phone, you nosey bitch,” did she recover the ability to move.
At the last second, right before his grasping hand closed around her wrist, Emily twisted away. She felt a small amount of satisfaction when his momentum carried him into the side of the Land Rover, which he collided with heavily, but didn’t allow that to stop her racing across the yard to the still open front door. Once she was through the door, she slammed it closed and, with fumbling fingers, dropped the catch; she didn’t suppose that was going to keep him outside for long, but any delay was good.
When the front door, against which she was leaning, shook under the impact of something heavy, Emily left it and hurried up the stairs. Her fingers continued to show little willingness to properly obey the commands they were being given by her brain as she sought to unlock Georgina Ryder’s phone – she had seen it previously in the hands of her brother’s girlfriend, which was why she had found it familiar from the moment she picked it up – and call her father. She was beginning to think the phone was dead, after all it was more than a week since it must have been lost, when the screen lit up; unfortunately, that was as far as she got for Georgina had her phone secured with a password.
She was struck by a moment of inspiration as she closed the door to her bedroom with a bang and twisted the key in the old-fashioned lock.
The relief she felt when Georgina’s birthday unlocked the phone was amazing, she had never felt anything so powerfully before. That relief quickly disappeared, however, when she got no answer from her father’s number. Again and again she tried to get hold of her father, while she listened with one ear to the front door being smashed open, followed by the thunder of footsteps on their way up the stairs.
“Come on, dad,” Emily pleaded to the phone she had pressed to her ear so hard it was liable to stay there even after she let go of it. “Pickup, pickup, pickup. Where are you when I need you?” When the thunderous footsteps reached the top of the stairs and stopped, only to be followed by a crash as something heavy slammed into the door of the bedroom, Emily abandoned her efforts to contact her father and instead dialled the number for Oakhurst’s police station. She hoped, while dialling, that the solid, and old, oak door that she had always hated would prove to be strong enough to keep out Georgina and Lucy’s killer; so far it had stood up to the job – it shook and shuddered within its frame, but remained secure.
More than she feared being murdered, if it was possible for her to fear something more than that, she feared what he might do to her before he killed her. As she had told Zack on the drive back to the village, she knew what Sergeant Mitchell believed had been done to Georgina and Lucy before they were killed. Until about five minutes ago, she wouldn’t have believed that someone she knew so well could be capable of either rape or murder, and she certainly wouldn’t have believed Him capable of doing committing either act on her; having seen His face when he tried to get the phone from her, though, she found herself scared that he was prepared to do anything, to anyone, including her.
Sturdy the door might be, sturdy enough it wasn’t. Once, twice, three times, He threw his body against the door, and on the fourth time it burst open in a shower of splinters that made Emily duck for fear of being struck. When she straightened up, she saw the menacing figure of the man she had cared about approaching her through the ruins of her door. His face was a twisted, barely recognisable, mask of rage that made her tremble so badly she could barely keep hold of the phone.
“Gimme the phone,” he demanded in a voice that was so harsh and full of so much hatred that it combined with the look on his face to give him an air of insanity.
Emily could only wonder how it was that she had not seen before how crazy he was. It didn’t seem possible that he could have concealed what kind of person he was from her for so long; not only from her, but from everyone who knew him. Someone should have seen through the act he was putting on, she thought during the millisecond or so where she was able to think with some semblance of clarity.
“I said gimme the fucking phone.”
Emily twisted away as he lunged for her and the phone she was holding. She tried to slip past him and out of the room, thinking that she if she could get out of the house without getting caught, she stood a chance of making it to the village – once there she would be safe. The idea was good, but it failed at the first hurdle; she was caught before she could even get out of the room. She was almost at the door when she was brought short by a sharp jerk on her top, the back of which had been grabbed by the killer she was trying to elude.
“Where the hell d’you think you’re going?”
The question, which was all but shouted in Emily’s face, was accompanied by a yank that sent her spinning and stumbling across the room. She hit the bed and fell over it, landing heavily on the floor on the other side of it; unaware that her call to the police station had been answered, Emily lost her grip on the phone, it bounced from her hand and slid out of sight under the bed. Being far more concerned with protecting herself from the maniac who was obviously intent on causing her serious harm, and most likely on killing her, Emily struggled to her feet, at least she tried to, before she could make it further than her knees she was grabbed and thrown onto her back.
“What the hell were you doing looking around in my car?” he demanded, punching Emily in the face as she tried to sit up. “Why are you so fucking nosey? I said, why are you so fucking nosey?” Grabbing Emily by the front of her t-shirt, he pulled her up so he could punch her again, as a punishment for not answering him, not that she could have done so for the first blow had rocked her head back so that it struck the bedside cabinet behind her.
Again and again he repeated his question, voicing it in different ways, and again and again he hit Emily when she didn’t answer him. Finally, it sank in that he was not going to get an answer because Emily was incapable of providing one. Once he realised that, he let go of her t-shirt, leaving her to drop to the floor with a thud. While the thud echoed around the bedroom, the madness that had overcome him began to fade and sense, or some semblance of it, began to return to his mind, though not before he was struck by a last – for the time being – burst of open insanity.
“Look what you’ve made me do. Look at the mess you’ve made me make.” He kicked Emily in the stomach; he was tempted to kick her again, but forced himself to hold back. He couldn’t afford himself the luxury of wasting any more time; now that the madness was gone, and he was thinking a little more clearly, he realised that he had to move quickly if he wanted to avoid getting caught.
He had no idea how much time he had before Zara got home, and he had to get Emily’s body out of there before she did, before she could see what he had done. He didn’t know where he could take her – he certainly couldn’t dump her body where he had dumped Georgina and Lucy, that would be the first place the police would look, but having a destination wasn’t half as important as getting her out of the house.
He looked out of the window quickly, to be sure the yard was clear, then he bent to grab Emily by the front of her t-shirt. With a heave, He lifted her up from the floor; he had a good set of muscles, but it took all his strength to get the dead weight of her to his shoulder, even though she was not all that heavy, and he staggered a little as he made his way out of the room.
The above is still in the rewrite stage and hasn’t gone through editing, so I hope you will forgive any mistakes there might be.