When your life is a lie, who can you trust?
When Maggie Taylor accepts a new job in Manchester, she is sure it is the right move for her family. The children have settled well although her husband, Duncan, doesn’t appear to be so convinced.
But nothing prepares her for the shock of coming home from work one night to find that Duncan has disappeared, leaving their young children alone. His phone is dead, and she has no idea where he has gone, or why. And then she discovers she’s not the only one looking for him.
When a woman who looks just like Maggie is brutally murdered and DCI Tom Douglas is brought in to investigate, Maggie realises how little she knows about Duncan’s past. Is he the man she loves? Who is he running from?
She doesn’t have long to decide whether to trust him or betray him. Because one thing has been made clear to Maggie – another woman will die soon, and it might be her.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF RACHEL ABBOTT
I don’t think there is such a thing as a typical day for me, and in some ways I’m quite glad of that. At least life never gets boring!
As an independently published author, I wear lots of hats. While I like to think of myself primarily as a writer, I do have to think about marketing and that takes up a very significant amount of my time, particularly around the launch of a new novel. And, in common with all authors I suspect, there are the admin tasks and the accounts to take care of. So it’s not all a case of sitting thinking about my next book, sadly.
On an average day, I get up at 7 although I might give myself a lie in at the weekends until 8. Then I usually burn my porridge. I put it on and whizz into the office just to see what’s going on, check the emails, etc and I get totally absorbed. Suddenly I leap to my feet and scurry back to the kitchen to the aroma of cremating porridge, scrape whatever is edible into a bowl, make a quick cappuccino and rush back to the office. This isn’t a random occurrence. This is practically every day, and I don’t seem to learn.
After that, how the day develops depends on many things: the stage I am at with my writing; whether my PA is coming in to work; whether I have a launch approaching.
On days when I’m writing, I try to do nothing else, other than answer essential emails. I save the admin tasks up for the days my PA comes in to the office, because they don’t required quite such intense concentration. I drink several cups of cappuccino in the morning, but never in the afternoon.
There isn’t really any such thing as a typical writing day either. I may be planning, researching, defining characters or sending long, detailed emails to my police adviser to check that I’m not suggesting something crazy in my story.
I’m quite organised in my writing. I used Scrivener – a piece of software that allows me to write as if in a word processor, but it has a whole range of features that I use to keep control of my plot. I spend a lot of time on character definition – I like to know what my main characters enjoy in life and what their attitudes are to people around them. I even selected images from the web that I think represent how they might look. They need to be firmly in my head.
I don’t really break off for lunch – usually I eat that at my desk. Bad, I know, but I just get very absorbed. I usually have a bowl of salad that I can eat with a fork and use the time to do some reading – usually research.
The marketing days are a bit frenetic. I am a great planner, and I have detailed marketing plans – especially around launch time. There is a huge amount of preparation to do – not least for the launch party that I always hold on Facebook. This is actually less about marketing and more about thanking my fabulous readers for their support.
I won’t bore you with admin days – there’s nothing exciting and glamorous about filing and checking the accounts! I do enjoy them, though, because my PA is a hoot and we laugh from when she arrives until she leaves.
Depending on how thing are going with the book, marketing, and all the other tasks, I probably stop work any time between 6 and 8 in the evening, and I do generally work weekends too, squeezing in the shopping somewhere in all that madness.
Despite all of this frenetic activity, I also have a great social life. What Alderney lacks in number of inhabitants (about 1800, at the moment) it makes up for in enthusiasm for having a good time! There is always so much going on, and everybody is always up for a party, a dinner, a book club, singing, dancing, you name it. And of course, it’s the most beautiful place to live.
The important thing is that I look forward to getting up every morning. I can’t wait to get into my office and get started on whatever the day has in store for me. I work hard with very long hours, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Sonia Beecham almost didn’t recognise the eyes staring back at her in the mirror. They were still pale blue, of course, but the pupils were slightly dilated with excitement, and the eyelashes were tinted with grey mascara – an unusual indulgence, but she wanted to look her best because today was special. In fact Sonia thought it was her best day since starting at Manchester University six months previously. She had always found it difficult to make friends, and the eagerness on her parents’ faces when she came home each night was painful to watch as they waited to hear whether she had met new people. She knew it was out of love for her, but they didn’t understand the pressure it put her under.
She was shy. Painfully, embarrassingly shy. If anybody spoke to her, she blushed bright red. It was an instant reaction, and one that made her turn away. Never in her wildest dreams could she imagine starting a conversation with anybody. She would rather stick her head in a vat of boiling oil, if the truth were known.
She had heard her parents talking once, a few years ago. They wanted to know what they had done wrong – why their daughter had grown up the way she had. So now she had that guilt to bear as well. If only she could make some friends so they would know they had done nothing – nothing, that is, except love her and shelter her from anything and everything that would be considered by most people to be a normal experience.
Now, though, things were changing. Her mum had been so concerned that she’d persuaded Sonia’s father to stump up for some counselling. Sonia had been horrified. The idea of sitting in a chair telling a complete stranger how embarrassed she was to open her mouth in company made her legs go weak. She had resisted for months, but after Christmas not only had her mum arranged the counselling sessions, she had insisted on going with Sonia for the first few meetings to be sure that Sonia was over her initial embarrassment and was happy to carry on alone.
Sonia had hated it to start with, but gradually her counsellor had given her some tools to help build her confidence. The best of these was the name of a website designed for people like her. She had heard of chat rooms but never been in one. Within a month she had realised that she had plenty to say as long as she could keep it anonymous and nobody could see her face. The best of it was, people wanted to listen. She didn’t have her own computer to access the site, but there were plenty she could use at the university, and that was better because nobody would know what she was doing. If she had had a personal computer at home her mother would forever have been looking over her shoulder.
What she hadn’t told a soul – because he had asked her not to – was that she had met somebody online who was as crippled with shyness as she was. He had told her he was surprised he could even type without stuttering, and that had made her laugh. That was his issue, the burden he had to bear. He couldn’t get a whole sentence out without this dreadful stammer halting him in his tracks. They had been talking online now for a couple of weeks, and he said that he thought he might possibly be able to speak to her. They had agreed that if she went red, or if he stuttered, it wouldn’t matter. They were both in the same boat. And tonight she was meeting him for the first time.
She had lied to her parents. She had never done that before, but Sonia had known what her mum would say: ‘Bring him home, first, love. Let me and your dad meet him – do it properly.’ Her mother didn’t seem to have any concept of how things were done now. Not that Sonia wanted to behave like some of the girls on campus, but having to be vetted before he could even go for a drink with her was a sure way to frighten a man off – especially one as shy as Sam.
Sam was a good name. Solid-sounding, reassuring. He had said it wasn’t a good idea to meet anywhere too public. Having other people around was sure to make them clam up and not be natural with each other. So she was going to meet him in a little park just off the Bridgewater Canal towpath. He said it would be okay there, because there would be people on the other side of the canal at the cafés and bars, but nobody would be able to hear if they made complete fools of themselves.
Sam had even told her which tram to get and where to get off. She had followed his instructions to the letter. The walk along the canal was fine to start with. It was quite pretty, and she thought it was wonderful the way places like this were being brought back to life. But as she walked further on it all changed. There was a lot of redevelopment of old mills, their blank windows facing onto the canal. There were no cafés and bars. And no people.
Sonia hurried along the towpath, ducking to walk through a long, low tunnel. She was nearly at the meeting place. As she neared the end of the tunnel, a tall figure stepped out onto the path and for a moment Sonia felt a jolt of fear, but he gave her a little wave so she carried on walking. She knew who he was. He was taller than she expected, and as she got closer, she could see him smiling at her.
‘Hi, Sonia,’ he said. ‘I’m Sam.’
He didn’t stutter once.
KILL ME AGAIN – universal Amazon link is http://myBook.to/Kill-Me-Again