In the run-up to the release of Show Me Dead, I am busy creating a new FREE book that anyone who joins my Readers’ Club receives when they join. The new book is a novella in the Darker Minds series, called Beneath the Flesh and I’m having a lot of fun with it. This means, though, that I’m going to be retiring Till You Die as the exclusive Readers’ Club story.
Till You Die
The watch ball warned her. But why would heavily pregnant Joanna be in danger? And who could possibly want her dead? Not her own husband, surely…?
The story is a short domestic psychological thriller with just an inkling of the supernatural. I’m serialising Till You Die here over the next few weeks. That means anyone can read it as it appears. But if you’d like to get your hands on the e-book, and have the entire story in one place to read whenever you wish, I’ll explain how you do that at the end of this post.
The first part of Till You Die is below. I hope you like it! 😊
Till You Die (Part 1)
‘In here, Craig. Come on.’ Joanna Fowler yanked at her husband’s jacket sleeve. ‘Oh, I’ve got to look in this one.’
Joanna’s heart sank a little as Craig eased the suede out of her grasp, breathed hard through his nose, and smoothed down the material, stroking it as if it was a prize pedigree dog. She tried to pretend to anyone who was walking through the pedestrianized town centre that she hadn’t noticed. But it wasn’t the first time. And she had noticed.
‘Careful, Joanna. It creases. What do you want to go in another shop for, anyway? Haven’t we bought enough today?’
Joanna saw Craig’s eyes scan over the bags he was holding, and she searched for the shine in them that always used to be there when they were out anywhere together. But it was absent, in the same way that the summer sunshine she had been trying to enjoy over the last few weeks had taken refuge behind a solitary thick billowy grey cloud. A strange pang lodged itself in between her ribs and stubbornly refused to dissipate.
‘I can’t carry any more baby things, Joanna, and the car boot’s already full. What else can you possibly want?’ There it was: that false laugh Craig had a habit of using with her when he was actually being very serious. ‘You’ll soon get through all that money of your potty Granny’s if you carry on like this.’
Joanna smiled at Craig, whose hands were turning a shade of purple as the handles of the bags dug into his hands, and she pretended to herself that she forgave him – yet again – for the way he always spoke about her Gran. She swallowed hard and tried not to let her emotions begin to bubble to the surface when he muttered, so far under his breath she was sure he didn’t think she could hear: ‘Then there won’t have been any point in her snuffing it, will there?’
Joanna stroked the massive bulge where the view of her feet used to be.
‘I just want the house Gran left to be right. And if we don’t do it now, before the baby’s born, who knows when we will? She always wanted me to be happy there.’ Joanna touched Craig on the arm.
‘I want everything to be right. Is it?’
The huff was audible, and the roll of his eyes couldn’t have been any more obvious. Emerald eyes. Magic, she had called them, when they first got together. ‘More like a bloody Warlock’s,’ her brother, Mark, had grunted, when he had first been introduced to Craig. He still called him creepy.
‘Do you know,’ she said, trying to avoid watching the expression in his face, ‘that we don’t even own a single ornament of our own. And I’d like some before the baby comes, to make the house look nice.
Craig tried, amid all the shopping, to fling his hands in the air.
‘Whatever for, woman? The baby won’t care whether we’ve got ornaments or not.’
‘You mean you don’t.’ There was a prickly sting behind her eyelids and she blinked rapidly to stop it turning to tears. She felt his eyes upon here, looking her up and down, and then came the frown that he used when he was concerned. But Joanna couldn’t help wondering if the look was genuine. This time. Anymore. She sighed; maybe she was getting a bit too overwrought. Paranoid, even. Craig loved her. He had since the moment he’d met her in the solicitor’s office, with Gran, and he’d showed them into a private office.
‘It’s about time you sat down, anyway, or you’ll be giving birth outside that grotty little shop you’re so eager to set foot in.’ Craig grimaced at it. ‘What is this place, anyhow?’
Joanna turned to face the shop properly. Its crumbling brickwork was shockingly different to the studded artificial walls of the large department stores they had traipsed around all afternoon. She stifled an involuntary grin as she watched Craig screwing up his nose at the dark green paint that was peeling off the door and the weather-beaten window frames. Craig had painted over their front door as soon as they had moved into Joanna’s Gran’s house, removing the deep, dingy green and replacing it with black. He said it went better with the iron gate. In fact, he’d made a few changes to the house, so that it was how he wanted it. And she had let him, because she loved him, and because she hadn’t wanted him to think about the possibility of an amniocentesis.
‘Mustn’t have any green that might compete with his beautiful eyes, must we?’ Mark had said in his sarcastic way, when he came to visit. ‘Don’t let him take over, Joanna. He might well be married to you, but this house was left to you, not him.’ She shivered as she recalled Mark’s expression as he continued, ‘And so was your inheritance money.’
Joanna shrugged off her thoughts of Mark. He could talk. He was out most nights, down the pub or clubbing. How many of his conquests had left their knickers in the house Gran had rented out to students, or stuck their claws into his half of the money, she wondered? And she tried not to feel bad for retorting, ‘You’re only jealous.’ She really hadn’t meant that. She knew he wasn’t. Not really.
‘Okay,’ sighed Craig, ‘if you really want to go in there, then do so. I’ll go and dump all this stuff in the car. I’ll be back shortly.’
‘Oh, won’t you come in?’ Joanna’s disappointment showed, despite herself, as Craig sneered and cast his eye back over the shop. Joanna turned her gaze back to the window.
‘It’s not my kind of place. All weird figures and charms and stuff hanging there. And my fingers are about ready to snap with the six million things you’ve already bought. I’ll wait for you out here, when I get back from the car park.’
‘OK, then. I’ll see you…’ Joanna turned to kiss Craig, but he had already begun walking back through the precinct.
Part 2 will be on the blog in a few days. If you’d like to get ahead and claim a copy of the entire story as an e-book, you might want to join my Readers’ Club. It’s completely free to join and you get all my writing updates, early (and sometimes exclusive) news about my upcoming and latest releases, offers I might have from time to time, and other exclusive goodies. As a welcome gift, you can download your FREE copy of Till You Die, to read on any device of your choosing.
But the best bit is that, anyone who is already a member of my Readers’ Club by the time the new free book is released will ALSO be able to download their own FREE copy of Beneath the Flesh before anyone else! You won’t have to sign up again to receive it.
Ready to join? Just click the button below to take you to the signup page.