Welcome to the blog, and to Till You Die, Part 4.
This is the story that is retiring as the FREE e-book that you get when you sign up to my Readers’ Club. It’s free to read in serialised parts here, but no longer as a freebie for my Readers’ Club members. There’s a brand new FREE novella from my Darker Minds crime and suspense series, which I am giving away to anyone who signs up to my Readers’ Club. More details at the bottom of this post.
Things are beginning to grow into a nightmare for our poor Joanna. I’ll let you find out how…
Happy reading! 😊
Joanna’s next few days were taken up with trying to listen in on every phone conversation Craig had. Her nerves were on edge, her breath felt shallow and often she found her hands shaking. She hid it from everyone, especially her brother, Mark. She didn’t want to have a conversation about Craig with him. When he’d brought her a Danish pastry and a bag of cheese straws from the bakery, he’d sat there with a cup of tea, and said, ‘There’s something wrong, isn’t there, sis? Don’t try and kid me. Is it the baby?’ She’d shaken her head and smiled, but her lips felt wobbly, and she’d cried on Mark’s chest while he’d growled, ‘It’d better not be that bloody husband of yours who’s upsetting you.’
And she began to convince herself – in fact she was sure – that the watch ball appeared, to her eyes at least, to be changing. Whenever she went into the nursery, she noticed that the threads inside emitted a vivid shimmer, until they combined in the middle to form a kind of glitter, similar to descriptions she’d read on the Internet. It made the glass looked rather like a snow globe. She remembered getting a glitter ball with a resin image of a winter wonderland inside when she was a child.
But she wasn’t living in a wonderland. She was living through a nightmare. It didn’t escape her notice that the only time the watch ball looked different was when Craig was in the house. The rest of the time, when she held it up to the light as she had done in the shop, it looked just like a harmless and beautiful glass ornament. She knew she shouldn’t be uneasy – scared – of her own husband, but that was just how she was beginning to feel. It was stupid, basing her every waking moment on craziness like this, but she couldn’t help it. Something was going on. She knew it.
Joanna should have been making her final preparations for the baby’s arrival – all those things she wrote on her list and stuck on the inside of the wardrobe door when she’d been for her twenty-week scan. But only her suitcase was packed. She watched, elephant-like and helpless, whenever Craig moved. If she’d seen the watch ball glow, she’d examine every expression, every flash of those magic eyes, every smile (was it a smile or a grimace at being with her?). She’d invent ideas about what Craig was thinking, and it left her with awful, disturbing dreams whenever she dozed off in the chair. And she couldn’t shake that feeling which had begun to engulf her in every waking moment that he was watching, waiting, biding his time to do – she didn’t know what. She was beginning to be petrified to be in a room with him. She jumped if he touched her.
‘My God, Joanna, you’re a wreck.’ Craig stood there, shaking his head, as she screamed when he entered the bedroom. She watched his green eyes glow as he continued, ‘What’s on earth’s the matter with you? You’ll end up with a shrink if you carry on.’
Maybe that was what he was trying to do – send her mad, so he could do as he liked while she suffered from a breakdown. And he would be in her Gran’s house, with her money. Stories of Victorian women who had been incarcerated by their husbands filled her fantasies. At night, she imagined scraping her nails on brick walls in the darkness, screaming where no one cared.
Other times, between the bouts of indigestion she dreamt of Craig, hiding in the shadows, waiting round corners, sometimes with a knife in his hand or sometimes, as she came through the door, he just grabbed her by the mouth. She would wake up sweating and the baby would be kicking as if it was trying to get out. All of this was why Joanna began sleeping in the nursery. She told Craig it was better for her back, which was beginning to really ache, and that he would get more sleep without her tossing and turning next to him, seeing as he had to drive to work in the morning. And every time he left the house, she turned the key and left it in the lock the moment his foot was off the doorstep. He couldn’t get back in unless she opened the door. She was sure he couldn’t.
I really hope you’re enjoying this story, and the darker turn that it’s taken!
And if you’d like to take a look at Show Me Dead, the first novel I’ve written in the Darker Minds series, you can find that here.