I’m completing the final edits of my debut novel and hope to have it finished very, very soon. It all depends on on my final beta readers’ comments, and on the speed with which I whip this house into shape, decorate for Christmas and for visitors and all that jazz.
I feel a great sense of completion and gratitude and am so looking forward to continuing with one of my other half-written novels in 2016.
Here’s the first page of Where She Belongs:
Roisin Delaney looked out of the window onto the arid dusty piece of land with gnarled trees and unrelenting sunshine from her Spanish home. She could see her husband Javier dozing under the old porch as a scraggy chicken pecked in the dust, an optimist considering the fact that all it was likely to find were a few windswept seeds. A few strands of Javier’s thick black hair fell onto his face, giving him a roguish but endearing appearance. The slight bulge of his belly rose and sank in rhythm to his breathing. She could almost hear the sound of a thin whistle with every exhaled breath. He shifted his position and turned to look at her. Uncanny how people seemed to know they were being watched.
“What’s for dinner, love? He called.
She sighed and shouted back at him. “Rice or eggs, dear. Nearly ready.”
He looked at her as if to protest but seemed to think better of it and mumbled something under this breath.
She moved away from the window and sat down at the table, flicking through the holiday guide that came with the paper. There were times when she felt so restricted and so in need of a change of scene she thought she would burst. This was one of them. They were in deep trouble and if she didn’t make some sort of a move, they’d go even deeper into the downward spiral of the past few years.
Up until five years previously, Javier had always been a highly motivated person, the type who’d roll up his sleeves and tackle any job. It seemed as if there was nothing he could not do. But then he had taken one risk too many by putting all their money into the construction industry. Nobody could have foreseen its rapid collapse, least of all him. The consequences and speed with which this financial tsunami had struck left them with shattered faith and depleted spirits. Some recovered faster than others from such a shock, but Javier was not one of those people. He reminded her of a deflated balloon slowly losing air. The holiday house they had built in the next village was close to being repossessed by the bank and their funds were dwindling rapidly, hence the almost empty cupboard. Roisin felt like she was in a bad nursery rhyme and she couldn’t change the words, never mind the storyline.
and here’s another:
“Now you tell me.” This was a lot of information to digest, and Roisin’s thoughts were busy flitting to and fro. She remembered Maggie’s strange behaviour that first day at the pub and she looked at her incredulously. “Are you trying to make yourself feel better?”
“Well, you’ve benefited too.”
Roisin gasped in utter shock and disgust. “How can you say such a thing? Please, don’t try to implicate me. That’s ridiculous.”
Maggie shot up from the couch and began pacing the room again. She spoke into the room without looking at Roisin. “I’m sorry. You’re right. It’s just that…I feel like such a fool, and I curse the day I ever met up with Shane.”
Roisin was fuming, but she let her talk.
“This past week I’ve been getting threatening notes. Anonymous, of course. I didn’t know who to turn to. I mean, who could I tell?”
“Well, you could have told me. Do you still have them? Maybe it’s time you showed them to the police.”
“That bunch of incompetents.” She almost spat out the words. “But yes…as it happens, I do have those notes.” She grabbed her bag from the couch and opened a notebook, extracting three crumpled pieces of paper. She handed them to Roisin. “Here, what do you make of these?
Each of the notes held a different message, short but menacing. She was no graphologist, but, unless the blackmailer had deliberately tried to disguise his writing, it was obvious that he was not comfortable with a pen in his hand. Small, untidy and disjointed letters formed the words: “Open your mouth and you’re history.” Not exactly the most brilliantly formulated note he’d ever read. Not that she’d ever seen such a note before…except on crime shows. The second note, written in the same narrow handwriting said: One word out of you, bitch, you’re done for. The third note was written in a different script. This was certainly no private school felon. “If you don’t want to have your name in the papers, keep your trap shut. Just so as you know we mean business, you’ll be getting a little warning. Shame about the pretty face.”
Roisin repeated the last words. “You must show these to the police. Tell them everything. You owe it to Darius, if nothing else.”
Maggie plonked down again. “What if they don’t believe me? I could end up in prison. All I’ve worked for.” She sighed. “I suppose you’re right though. I deplore these bastards. How could I have known they’d harm Darius? Believe me, if I had thought they meant you or Darius, I would never have left.”
“So, that’s why you were so quick to take us up on our offer to go away for a few days.”
“Yes, that was one of the reasons. I wanted to have time to think things through.” She took out a tissue and wiped the mascara from her eyes. “But I also wanted to see Seamus again.”
“What about your ex? Where is he now?”
“The last time I saw him was three months ago. I have no idea where he is. I don’t want to know either. I’ll see him in court when he testifies against Jimmy the Boxer, the one he claims ruined his life.”
Roisin felt sorry for her friend. It couldn’t have been easy bearing that burden alone.
“No matter what, Maggie, you’ll have to tell the police. Besides, they probably already know about the court case. All they have to do is put two and two together. Don’t let yourself be frightened off by these idiots’ cowardly threats.”
Maggie was near to tears again. “Yes, they’ve shown they mean business. I feel so guilty about Darius. You could be next, Roisin. Have you thought of that?”
Roisin put her arms around her friend. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. If you give in to them, they win and everything will have been in vain. Why don’t you talk to Darius again? Tell him everything and see what he says.”
Maggie sighed, a deep, heavy sigh filled with regret. “I think you’re right. I’m going to the police. This time I’ll tell them everything. Even if I have to lose the shop, or pay back that 5,000 Euros Shane invested in the business. It’ll be worth it.”
“It’s not as if you deliberately did anything illegal. Now, off with you. I don’t think you should waste any more time.”
Her friend put a brave smile on the situation and left with a new resolve. Roisin hoped she wouldn’t change her mind on the way to the police station.