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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Why Do I Free Write?

I love to free write. 

Honestly, I should do it more often.

When my characters won’t “talk” to me, or when perfectly good scenes aren’t making sense, or when I’m just not feeling that novel anymore, I know the worse thing I can do is force it. So I take my notebook and a pen and I go away from the computer and I just wait... a voice will come forward. It might be one I already know or one I’ve never heard before but she, sometimes he, has a “life experience” to share with me, so I write it down.

To Plot or Not To Plot? Now that is the question and when it comes to plotting a novel I don't think there is a write or wrong answer. In my opinion it’s down to the individual writer. Well, if Stephen King avoids it as much as possible then it can't be a necessity right? 

 first, our lives are largely plotless... and second, I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren't compatible - Stephen King, On Writing 

I do plot my novels. I’ve said before I have a scene by scene road map. I know where my characters start, finish and how they plan to get there. But it’s their world, their life and they determine the detours along the way and if they don’t get the ending I planned then it’s because they didn’t want it.

But there’s something truly magical about writing freely. It’s like taking a walk inside your imagination which is awesome for me as a writer! Another great thing about just letting the imagination wander off on its own, for me, I find it cures “writers block”. The more I think about not writing the more I can’t write. But if I’m trying desperately to write one particular thing, it only makes it worse. There’s no pressure here. I just write down whatever comes into my head. It has no purpose. It is something that is simply between me and my craft. For the pure enjoyment of writing, and that is why I do this at the end of the day, and want to pursue this as a career, because I enjoy it.

I tried this when I’d finished the first draft of my first very novel Life’s A Ball? I was stuck, most probably a little burned out. So I sat down one day and just let the creative juices flow. It probably won’t surprise you that it was Elle from Life’s a Ball? who spoke to me. But she shared a scene with me which revealed a side to her she’d never had before.

This scene was so good and so much fun that I ended up including it in the rewrite. It’s since changed as the story has grown. The bits I loved about it are no longer included because the story has evolved and today as I take this nostalgic trip back and read that scene I’m actually wondering which scene is better the original or the newer version?

I guess the answer to this question will come when I sit down to do tackle the final rewrite of Life’s A Ball?



Monday, 20 August 2012

Novel Excerpt - Behind Closed Doors

While Tainted Love is going through the rigorous editing process prior to publication I am working hard on book 2 of the Valentina Secrets Series. Here's a sneak preview of what I'm working on at the moment.

Behind Closed Doors - Chapter 12

Late Friday night my now official fiancé brought a courier parcel through to the bedroom and dropped it on the bed. It’s a large parcel, it’s heavy and it’s the third one I’ve received this week. I have no idea what it is. The bizarre thing is I’ve had Mom on the phone this week. She’s acting like nothing happened and we spoke every day for the last eighteen months instead of not at all!
She’s already sent me a dozen brochures of what appears to be venues and wedding services across the entire state of California. How’s she’s found out these things so quick I have no idea but she’s made it clear that my parents think it’s time Wayne and I set a date and of course the Father of the Bride is paying for it. So I can have whatever I want.
I’m hesitant to open this new parcel. The last thing I want is another hint. I haven’t quite got around to telling Wayne the full force of my parents’ sudden change of heart. But this is a square black folder and I’m curious to flick through it. It’s a portfolio. It’s my portfolio!
The accompanying note says just five words; I was a bitch. Sorry. I knew instantly where it had come from and I wanted to wrap my portfolio around over publicized face and mangle up her too hot to resist girl next door features. Ashleigh!
She’d kept this from me for eighteen months. She’d claimed she had no idea what I was talking about when I asked my older brother to get it from her for me. She kept a rift between Sean and me because she was his best friend and she had a score to settle with me.
Well wasn’t she getting her just desserts now?! Karma was a bitch and she hated the idea of press attention the way us mere mortals hated the idea of the plague. It was why she had escaped to New York City, away from her mother who was soap land’s most evil villain and her twin sister whose first movie had recently died a thousand deaths at the hands of a public scandal.
So I hope she suffers long and hard because filling column inches dating television personalities and soap stars like Tristan Micheals, Fletch Wickham and Dex Leighton was a real hardship wasn’t it?

“I thought you’d be happy to get it back.”

What? I looked up. He’s noticed I’m pissed. Well, that must be a first for this week. He’s been off his game all week. He’s sullen. He keeps looking at the daily newspaper and tossing it to one side as he mutters. I think it’s a work thing. He’s usually restless when his job is on his mind. But he can’t talk to me about what homicide cases he’s investigating. We’re meant to go out for a walk along the beach tonight but I know he’s not in the mood.
But I don’t want to talk about Ashleigh. I know I stole her boyfriend but didn’t I make the first move towards fixing this? And she’s thrown it back in my face. She can go to hell. So instead I’m going to focus on whatever is bugging my future husband. 

“What’s the matter?”

Whenever I asked this question and he shrugs I know he isn’t going to tell me. “I’m fine.”

“No you’re not.” I close my portfolio and put it to one side. “Please, I hate to see you like this.”

He takes a deep breath through his nose and releases it was a long sigh before he admits. “I’m just not sure how I feel about Ash being all over the press like this, that’s all.”

By this, I’m perplexed. But then it hits me. His ex is dating celebrities and it’s like he never existed and that’s one helping of a major ego blow dished up and served to my fiancé. “Are you jealous?”
He frowns at me. I’ve thrown him off balance with the question. But he takes a second to consider it before he shakes his head. He has this tell tale little boy innocence in his expression when he’s genuine. So I believe him. “So what’s this really about Wayne?”

 “I wasn't good enough for her was I?” He sighed “The reason I was never invited to LA is because she’s practically royalty over here and has celebrities queuing up to date her. How could I ever compare?”

Wow. I think my heart just shattered into a million pieces. I wish I’d never asked because I didn’t need to hear that. I pull away and he instantly reaches for me. I think he knows he’s just done irreparable damage. I scramble to my feet. I don’t believe it.

“I gave up my life for you” It came out on a gush of air as my lungs started to grasp at oxygen I wasn’t taking in anymore. “And you’re still hung up on her!” I turned on my heels. I needed to get away from him.

“No of course I’m not!” Wayne chased after me and that’s the problem with our apartment. You step out of the bedroom and you’re in the lounge, the kitchen and the dining room all at once. So I can’t run away from the fight I started. “I’ve just found out this week the woman I was dating for six months was a child star and a major celebrity and I had no idea!”

What?! I stopped and turned around. Of course he knew. He must have.

“I didn’t know who her Mom is” He shouted “Her name’s not Valentina and she never let me meet them so how was I supposed to connect the dots from they’re kind of well known. But it just proves to you, doesn’t it? No matter what she said about falling for me, I was never good enough for her, was I?”

“What’s wrong Wayne?” I hissed “Have you just realized you picked the wrong friend after all?”

The back of a hand whipped across my face so fast I didn’t see it coming. Pain screamed through the side of my cheek as the force threw backwards. I hit the wooden floor with a thud. Didn’t that really just happen?
No. It couldn’t have. I closed my eyes for a seconded. When I opened them I was still sat on the floor. My ass was still smarting from the shock of landing with a thump. It did happen. Wayne had just hit me!

I had to leave. I scrambled to my feet. I had to get out of there. I needed to go somewhere I could think about what had just happened. I turned my back on him without so much as looking at him. I grabbed my bag and my keys and I headed for the door.

“Jules” He stepped in front of me.


“Where are you going?”

“Just move!”

“Please” He grabbed my arm and I just looked at his hand and then at him. He let go like my eyes had invisible lasers that had burned him. “I’m sorry. Please let’s talk about this.”

“Get out of my way.”

“Its been hard at work” He whispered “And I can’t talk to you. You know I can’t but… I love you. Please don’t leave me. I’m sorry.”

“Fucking move!”

I can’t believe he hit me. I run out of the apartment and climb into the car so fast. And the tires screech against the asphalt as a swing the vehicle backwards from our parking space. There’s only one person I know can make me feel like this really isn’t as bad as I think it is. I drive towards the Valentina Estate in Malibu. I know that Ashleigh’s Mom will be there if Ashleigh isn’t.
The highway is deserted so the drive should be relatively quick. It will be less than an hour. But my car starts to pull to one side. The wheels feel unbalanced. I pull over and the brand new tire’s gone down. I check my bag. Damn it. I haven’t got my cell phone. I’m stranded on empty road… and I’ve never change a tire before… And my fiancé’s just hit me… tears well up my eyes. This day really sucks!
Out of nowhere a car pulled up behind me. The driver is alone. He’s tall, well over six feet and well built. Something about him raises the hairs on my arms. He’s got those jaded dark eyes like the e-fit of the Homicide Highway Murderer. My heart rate quickens. I’m on the highway between LA and Malibu with a flat tire. 

“Need a hand?”

Boy his voice is creepy! I shake the thought from my head. My fiancé caught the serial killer and now he’s locked up on remand. Wayne caught the murderer and he celebrated by making our engagement official. He brought me a ring and everything! So if this isn’t a genuine offer of assistance then the homicide highway murderer has escaped from prison and I’m his next victim, obviously!

“My tires flat” I choke on my sobs as I explain “and I’ve left my cell at home.” He probably thinks I’m a total freak. Well I am aren’t I? Crying over a flat tire, I mean c’mon Julia get a grip! “S’pose I should check the spare.” I lean into the car to get my keys.
A strong hand wrapped around my throat. What the fuck? Panic balls in my stomach as my lungs began to burn. There was no air getting passed his fingers. I try to remember some of the moves Ash taught me in college but I’m just too stunned to react and getting weaker by the second. But the guy was locked up! Wayne had caught him.

“Do you know where you are?” He asked in the creepy voice all television and movie villains had. Of course, I know where I am. I’m on Homicide Highway and a flat tire was the murderer calling card. “Your future husband is soon going learn he has the wrong man, Miss Anderson.”


Posts You May Have Missed 

Sharing the Light with Laughter 

Novel Extract - Tainted Love 
(Sign up for notification when Valentina Secrets Book 1 is available to buy) 

The Basement - Short Story (Suspense) 

Monday, 13 August 2012

Sharing the Light with Laughter

I love all the things that are bad for me

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs... I DO COFFEE.

It gets me through the work day. I am more than willing to pay for my coffee. Now in the UK, I pay more than £3.50 for my caramel macchiato and at the current exchange rates that’s more than $5.50 for 1, yes one cup of coffee. I have no idea if that’s normal in the USA but you can buy at least 2 kindle books for that price.
I don’t mind though, because I love the smell of the sweet coffee and vanilla, the feel of the fluffy milky foam on my tongue, and the warm caramel coffee tantalising my taste buds for the first time. I enjoy every sip of that 20oz cup and it usually lasts for 2 hours because I can drink it lukewarm.... ice cold coffee? Ew!

BUT- and this is a HUGE but - I can’t drink COFFEE... I have to drink – ugh – DECAF! Now, you coffee lovers are hissing “don’t swear at me!” aren’t you? And you have my sincerest apologies. :-)

I also love melted cheese, especially Pizza, and pastries we brits call chocolate éclairs, caramelised and roasted hazelnut chocolate, some curries. But I can’t eat these either. Well, I can. But I’ll pay for it if I do.

It’s been two and a half years since I was diagnosed with Chronic Daily Migraine with Aura. You’ll see at the top of the screen a tab referring to the ‘M Word’. We don’t talk about it around here. But today I’m going to break the silence because today I wanted to think not about my lifelong debilitating condition. No, not about me, I’m incredibly lucky to have the life I have and it can all change in a second so I won’t complain.  But I wanted to think about those who don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know your situation. So I can only tell you what helped me and how I managed to see the light at the end of tunnel with a condition where I spend up to 2 out of 3 days with a migraine and at my worst I spent weeks in bed. A condition that put me on the verge of losing my job. A condition that prevents me from not only leaving my house but from watching television, listening to music, reading books, opening curtains, using the telephone, doing domestic chores, there are days when my symptoms make personal hygiene a major difficulty. So I hope that in sharing my strategy I can help you in some way with yours.  

I learned to change the way I thought about my situation. It started with Big brother like posts. “Day 37 and the migraine is...” I was so fed up with the permanent migraine and the situation I started to poke fun at it on social networking sites.

“Is fed up of having a headache. Yes I've DOWNGRADED it to a headache to p off the migraine and yes the migraine has a personality of its own and I do fight with it LOL! ;-)”  

I began to amuse myself at the migraine’s expense, stopped taking it so seriously all the time because frankly, I was cracking up. Or maybe I did crack up. Either way I was the best thing that happened for me because after this life did get hard and humour helped me through. I was able to detach the end of the world effect the migraine had had for eighteen months and take my life back. Become pro active, gain control and start figuring out what my new limitations were. After all, my condition isn’t going away. It’s part of who I am. How I handle it is how I define the person I am.

Two weeks before I was due to start studying at university I had a migraine so severe they suspected I’d had a stroke. Now I have tremor in my right hand. It’s a permanent symptom that varies from barely noticeable to uncontrollable depending on the migraine day. It was a setback. But I was able to start my course. I rule my life, although I’ll admit the migraine has a say and on those days when I can’t get my symptoms to shut up I don’t want to listen but I do.

These are the hardest days. These are the days when I’m cut off from the rest of the world, from my family, from my friends, my colleagues, and my classmates. I can’t bear to hear the children playing on the street and its torture twofold. They make so much noise, they cause me so much pain and still I want go out there to enjoy the day like they are. But I can’t and I can be like this for weeks.

I understand how hard it is to keep your head up high. When day after day, week after week, month after month there is a constant reminder that you aren’t completely whole. And other people remind you that you aren’t completely whole also, regardless of the laws which are supposed to prevent this.  But the constraints placed around you are there simply for you to break free from. You only have to find a way to work around them.  I love coffee... Now I drink decaf. LOL! Okay, okay, but seriously the tremor in my right hand... it’s so bad at times I can’t hold a pen, not good for a right handed author, so I learned to write with my left hand.

My symptoms are affected by natural light rather than artificial light. So when I’m at my worst I live in our attic room away from the noise that the rest of the world creates. I talk to people in the online communities. My online friends keep me sane. I’ve found a profession I enjoy which I am pursuing a qualification in that won’t be hindered by my migraines because I can work from home when I’m suffering.

I am also a soon to be independently published author. I take some powerful meds daily to control my migraines and find that sometimes a distraction works just as well as a pain medication. For me, writing is a fantastic escape from the real world and to forget what holds me back. When my symptoms subside and I can go back to my life again, I’m more positively minded than I used to be.

This is my life and I am in control. I eat pizza, but only freshly made pizza because frozen ones trigger migraine. I eat chocolate when I’m at my peak of non-migraineous symptoms. I eat chocolate éclairs but only on Tuesdays and Fridays or on annual leave because I can’t always guarantee they won’t trigger a migraine. And I went on the search for the best coffee house whose DECAF tastes like their regular coffee. And as frustrating as they are, I take each acute migraine with aura attack as it comes. I don’t worry about when the next one is going to come because I can’t change it.

As I said, these are the tools I use and they work for me. Please share my story with your family and friends and anyone else who doesn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. I hope I help.


Read an excerpt from my debut novel Tainted Love

Read my migraine story at 

email me: 

The Basement - Part Three - Finale

Wednesday I posted Part One of my 3 part short suspense The Basement. And on Friday I posted Part Two Today we conclude Andie's journey. 

“I don’t understand what we did” Andie’s eye searched the rugged features of his face. Surely they had to be familiar to her? But as he stood there, hands causally tucked into the pockets of his jeans, he could be anyone she’d passed on the street.
   Andie brought her eyes to meet his dark vengeful stare she. “Maybe I can rectify it for you”
   “It’s not your mistake to rectify. Your parents tried. They offered money, lots of money to spare their lives but this has nothing to do with Max and Catherine.”
   A gasp broken from Andie’s dry lips “But you killed them”
   “Their death was nothing more than sadistic revenge.”
   Andie’s hand smothered the horrified screech that escaped from her lips. Her parent’s death was meaningless. Tears filled her eyes. This man was sick. Pure evil fed his veins.
   “You’re all just pawns in this.” He cackled “Didn’t you think it was strange that you won a brand new car?”
    A chill ran down Andie’s spine. No one would believe her when she said the car crash was no accident. It was a coincidence they said! But there hadn’t been enough left of the car to determine an actual cause.
  “Hadn’t expected it to happen at eighty miles an hour on the corner of the valley...” His thrilled tone trailed away. His excited eyes momentarily distracted by the same memory that chilled Andie to the core. He smiled. “…I hadn’t aimed to hit two birds with the one stone either.” His eyes filled with amusement as he looked at her again “… poor Zachary and Cassia.”
   That accident had been meant for her! But Cassia had fallen down the stairs and Andie’s older brother was driving her to the hospital. Everyone told her she was crazy! But Andie knew it was no accident. Her parents’ murderer had come after her and instead he’d killed her brother and cousin. They said she was paranoid.
   She’d lived for two years behind the six foot walls. She’d guarded the house that her great grandfather had built. There was fingerprint identification on all doors. She’d memorised the electronic pass codes to open each and every reinforced glass window. She had CCTV which covered every inch of her land. She never left the grounds without her security team. She was terrified. She was next. And they told her she was crazy!
   “Call for him” He instructed and Andie frowned. “Call for Sebastian” Why did he want her head of security? “Call him!”
   Andie lifted her chin defiantly. There were cameras down here too. Someone must have seen her walked through the door. If he was going to kill her why would she distract the only people who could save her from their rescue operation? “No.”
   His sadistic guffaw rattled along the cave-like room. “Have you ever heard of a video loop, Andie? These cameras and those in the hallway have been playing the same thing for three days. No one knows you’re here.”            
   A spec of light brightened in the corridor that led out to the gardens it was gone within seconds. Her heart rate peaked. Someone else had entered the basement. If her team didn’t know she was here then he wasn’t alone. Of course, no one could mastermind the cull of one of the wealthiest families in the city single handed and get away with it.
   “Tell me why you picked us and I’ll call Seb.”
   “You’re in no place to negotiate with me.”
   “Because you’re going to kill me..?” Andie laughed as a shadow moved behind her parents’ murderer. “I don’t doubt that you will.” His expression faltered “but this time you want Sebastian to see you do it.”
   Andie tried to maintain focus on the maker of her nightmares as Seb crept from the shadows. Her heart stuttered for the briefest of moments. Sebastian was his accomplice? But he’d been with her family since her Uncle George and Aunt Jacqueline’s murders.  Then he lifted a gun, not his usual and preferred gun, towards the back of the intruder’s head
   “So it seems I am in a position to negotiate with you after all.”
  “Touché, Miss Montgomery” He nodded “But it would be much more fun if Sebastian told you the truth, don’t you think?” The villainous cackle echoed around the cavern again. It chilled Andie to her core. Her head of Security was in on this after all?
   “Jack, you don’t have to do this.” Seb spoke like a negotiator at a bank siege.   
   “Don’t tell me you’ve gone all doe eyed for this one too?” Sebastian’s eyes met and held Andie’s. “What is it with you and the Montgomery ladies Seb?” Andie gasped. “That’s every single one of them.”
   “Jack, give it up. The police are on their way.”
   “Aren’t you missing something?” Jack twirled a familiar black hand gun in his latex covered fingers “You might want to note the latex clad fingers holding said missing item of yours. So drop the gun or I’ll do to you what you did to me.”
   Andie looked at Sebastian again. “You were there?”
   Why didn’t she know? She trusted Seb, she respected him, and despite his past failures she had faith that when the day came he’d save her life. She felt more for him than she would ever admit because he was hired to protect her life and she wouldn’t complicate that for him and he was involved there that night? He knew who the murderer was? Sebastian was involved all along?
   “We were on the biggest protection case of our careers and you bottled out when it mattered the most. You stayed with the girl and left me to handle the attack alone.”
   “We weren’t partners, you were hired to protect Jacqueline and I was hired to protect Cassia.”
   “How many times did I cover for you and Jackie though Sean? You framed me because I knew about the affair and then you used me to get to Max and protect his family.”
   “Seb…?” Andie’s eyes flickered between the two men holding guns. Distorted family history pouring from their lips and none of it Andie knew. She was eight years old when this happened.  “What’s going on?”
   “Oh Princess Andie of Montgomery Enterprises you really should have checked out Seb’s background before you fell for him.” Seb gasped. His eye held Andie’s for a second. “He has a history of falling for the ladies he protects.”
   “Andie don’t listen to his bullshit” Seb warned her. “I was twenty-two. Just finished my three years service and the army wasn’t for me. George hired me as a glorified baby sitter because I’m fast on my feet and know how to shoot a gun. My instructions were to pick up, run, and fire only if Cassia’s life depended on it. I promise you Andie I wasn’t having an affair with your aunt. She’s twenty years older than me and its instant dismissal. Jack knows this.” Seb looked at Jack “It’s why George fired him.”   
   Jack smiled at Andie in a way that told her Sebastian was telling the truth. “Yes I was very fond of Jacqueline, though she wasn’t that fond of me. But Seb used my gun to shoot George and when she dialled 999 he shot her too.”
   “You’re crazy.” Andie shook her head. Seb wasn’t a cold blooded killer.
   “Seb had a fling for your mother too and he provided lots of comfort to Cassia after your parents died, Andie. He must have thought all his birthdays had come at once when you decided that your bodyguard would have to sleep in your suite with you, it’s only natural that a relationship would develop in such close proximity.”
   What? How did he know all this? Creases pulled along Andie’s forehead. They’d never been intimate, never kissed. They’d come close once. But he was ever professional. She hated that she doubted him now. But how else would this mad man know if he didn’t have an informant on the inside and didn’t they go way back? “Is this true?”
   “Of course it is, all of the evidence is in the safe in his office.”
   “You’ve set me up.” Sebastian gasped.
   “So he’s going to shoot himself, Andie. Then he’s going to shoot you. Then I’m going live a very happy life knowing that the police will find this document-” he held up a plastic wrapped folded piece of paper “-which says you hired me to sniff out the rat in you security team and I’ll be exonerated. I’m sorry but you’re just a pawn in all this too.”
   A deafening explosion erupted in the basement. The noise ricocheted off the walls. A second explosion caught up with the echoes and sounded like rapid gunfire in wartime. Time slipped into slow motion. Andie’s pupils widened. She watched as Jack’s body fell dropped to the ground and a bullet sliced the air towards her.
   Her breath caught in her throat. Her head screamed at her to move. She couldn’t. Her feet were frozen in fear.
   A sharp burn ripped into Andie shoulder and her heart felt like it was about to burst. The searing pain exploded inside. Andie grabbed at the wound. Her fingers began clawed at the agony, begged for relief as the cotton absorbing the clammy dampness against her hand. She was going to die.
   A stream of white light filtered down from above. It caught the speckles of dust glittering under the beam. Her vision was swallowed by the brightness. Was that it? Was her time up? Is that ‘the light’?
   Andie’s legs weakened. Her entire body went limp and dropped to the hard floor awash with a cold sensation. Her eye lids lowered as her vision blurred. Her breath shortened. Her chest tightened and her mind started to mist.
   Someone was calling her name. They were telling her she had to hold on. She had to stay with him. She needed to stay with Sebastian. She needed to protect Seb. The voice was coming from inside the light. “Andie! Andie its Detective Lambert. Speak to me!”
   “No...” Andie muttered on the edge of darkness “Not Sebastian.”

   “I knew he was coming for you.”
Sebastian whispered into the damp autumn afternoon. He shouldn’t be here. The Executor of the Montgomery Estate would not appreciate trespassers but once the news had hit the media last week he had to come.
   He stared at the newly engraved headstone. Her life was the hardest loss to bear. Promises he’d made in her hours of grief, pledges he made in her time of need, and broken them all.
   He’d known, Jack had bragged how he’d fool George's psychiatrist with his covert ops training to get the security gig with George Montgomery. But no one would believe a kid when he said Jack wasn’t stable. Or when he’d said Jack would be back.
   And despite Andie’s last words Seb had been a suspect for months. They wouldn’t let him see her. But this... her death, it was his fault. “I should have been better prepared.” Seb sighed and placed the wildflowers on the newly disturbed ground. “Your whole family died because I failed to protect you. All of you.”
   “They died because of some nutcase and his vendetta.”
   Seb gasped at the sound of her voice. He spun around, tumbled to his knees as he looked up. It couldn’t be! She looked the same. She spoke the same. She stood in that same regal ‘I’m always right and you’re always wrong’ prissy stance that wound him up because she was wrong nine out of ten times. “Andie?”
   “Not anymore.” She corrected him.
   The air gushed from his lungs as Sebastian leaped to his feet. He wrapped his arms around her. “You’re real.” He muttered when his arms didn’t go through her apparition. “You’re really real.”
   “You sound disappointed” She muttered and then laughed at his scowl “He survived his bullet” She whispered “its better that he thinks I didn’t survive mine.”
   Sebastian nodded. But what happened now? Was he expected to go on with his life knowing she was getting on with hers without him? That their almost kiss earlier in the year hadn't meant as much to her as it had to him? Or maybe it had and the circumstances had torn them apart? He couldn't live like this. The 'what ifs' alone would drive him crazy. 
   He followed her eyes as Andie looked over her shoulder. “Lambert trusts you." She whispered at his eyes found the detective leaning against the hood of an unmarked car "I trust you.” She turned back to him with a smile that made his pulse race. “It would be one hell of a first date, don’t you think?” Was she asking him to give up everything and go with  her? “Once in a lifetime offer, Sebastian, are you in?”


Posts You May Have Missed 

The Basement - Part One 

The Basement - Part Two 

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Basement - Part Two

Wednesday I posted Part One of my 3 part short suspense The Basement. Today we continue with Andie's journey.
Their murders permanently stained Andie's memory like the blood on her white linen slacks. A scream as fresh as the day her parents died snapped Andie back into the present and the cold basement. The dark concrete floor was still empty and still silent. There's no one here!
   Andie took another step down the stairs and something rustled beneath her.
   “Hello” Her calm voice echoed in the cavernous dark like replies from the ghosts that haunted there. Her pulse thumped at the base of her neck. She was not alone this time. “Is someone down here?”
   A breath whispered on the air. The faintest of sound uttered the word ‘Xandra’
   Andie’s breath turn into ice. It froze at the back of her throat. No air coming in and no air going out. Her eyes darted in the many directions as the name bounced around the room. Her heart pounded as she searched for whoever had called her name. But there was no one there.
   Maybe I Imagined it. Andie thought. But still, she scanned for any signs of movement, a shadow, a trickle of water leaking, even blood. But that wasn’t possible. There was no one left to kill.
   A draft blew through the basement. Behind her the door slammed shut. The fear bolted through Andie like lightning. She spun on her heel and ran back up the stairs.
    “Andie?” A distressed voice called to her “Andie help me.”
   Her hand fell away from the door. The voice was familiar. Andie spun around. The voice was too familiar. “Cassia?” Her voice shivered against the silence.“Cassia!”
   She ran down the steps and into the centre of the empty room, spun a full three hundred and sixty degrees as her eyes crossed the shadows, and sought out the dark spots. There is no one here!
   “Cassia?” Andie called again as she shook her head. The voice couldn’t be her cousin’s. It just couldn’t be! But hadn’t the basement had always been Cassia’s favourite place to hide?
   “Cassia” The innocent voice of an eight year old called to Andie through her memory “Cassia, are you down here?”
   They weren’t allowed in the basement and they’d get into a lot of trouble if they got caught. It was the reason her cousin always hid down here. She would never be found in the basement. No one ever looked for her in here.
   Andie looked around the hallway and listened for signs of her parents before she slipped quietly through the door. Safe in the knowledge she hadn’t been caught Andie joyfully run down the stairs and into the centre of the cold and dark room.
   She skipped in and out of the new boxes that were full of old and interesting things from the attic until she spotted exactly what she was looking; Cassia’s waist length blond hair fanned across the top of a stack of boxes she had climbed behind. “One two three Cassia I’ve found you” Andie called dashing up the stairs towards the door.
   “Xandra Montgomery!” The booming sound of her father’s voice bounced off the stone walls “What are you doing down here?”
   Andie froze. She gripped the railing as she almost clattered into her father’s legs in the doorway. “I’m sorry Father I… I -”
   “Xandra you are not to come into this basement.” He wasn’t angry. But he was going to reprimand her anyway. He had that tone in his voice that said she was grounded indefinitely “How many times do you have to be told this?!”
   “I… I was playing.” Andie tried to explain.
   “Not down here young lady” He scolded “Now go to your room!”
   Andie scurried up the remaining steps and passed his legs before the grounding could come. She flew through the house not stopping until she was safe inside her bedroom.
   Moments later Cassia walked into the room. “You’re the best Andie.” She smiled and sat on the bed beside her. “You could have gotten me in loads a trouble.” Cassia wrapped her arms around Andie and held her tight. “I’m scared of Uncle Max when he shouts.” She sighed “He reminds of the man that killed…” Her voice trembled for a second “…my Mum and Dad.”
   The memory faded into the dark, empty basement. Her eyes scanned over the room. She could have sworn she heard Cassia’s voice. It wasn’t. Andie turned around on the concrete floor. She felt slightly more comfortable in the room now she was down there. It couldn’t have been Cassia. She was dead.
   Something moved. The toes of a large trainer clad foot slipped out from behind a box. Andie’s Heart began to race again. The fear turned in her stomach. She moved backwards. She couldn’t turn around. Her eyes were glued to the shoe. Her footsteps echoed in the room. She tried to tread more carefully but her feet scraped louder. 
    What is with these shoes? Andie lifted herself up onto her tip toes. Used her years of ballet training to step soundlessly backwards.
   “Hello Andie” A deep male voice echoed around the room.
   Andie’s feet fell heavily to the ground as the fear turned her every muscle to ice. Fear that tasted like blood. Her blood. Her life. This was it. “W-wh-who are you?”
   “You know who I am and you know why I’m here.”
   Yes, of course she did. This was the man who’d been snapping away at the branches of her family tree for thirteen years. Each broken branch was a new grave in her family’s private cemetery until only one twig stood defensively on its own before him; her.


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The Legal Bit

All characters have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation to anyone baring the same name. They are not inspired by an individual known or unknown by the author and all incidents are pure invention.

The articles, excerpts, and other written work published under the pseudonym Erin Cawood are copyright protected by the author. Guest articles are published by arrangement and also copyright protected by the guest author.

Images of Erin Cawood are provided by Paul Miguel Photography.

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