Extract from You Belong To Me – part two

 

Today I’d like to continue sharing an extract from You Belong To Me. It continues on from part one. Again, I hope you enjoy it.

 

She trudged towards the door. She bent down and picked up the keys. Maybe if she did as he wanted, he might let her go. She’d read a case in a magazine once about a girl who’d been taken captive by a man in an underground bunker in the woods. Over time, she’d convinced him she was his friend. That she had feelings for him. He’d eventually trusted her enough to allow her certain freedoms. One day she’d escaped by persuading him to let her pick wild mushrooms for breakfast. The terrible level of abuse he’d subjected her to read like something out of a horror movie, but she’d outsmarted him in the end and lived to tell the tale.

She fumbled with the lock, hands shaking.

‘What the fuck are you playing at?’

Cassie wanted to turn around and throw the keys at him. Tell him to open his own door and let her go home. ‘I can’t get the key in.’

‘Don’t make me have to come over there and do it for you,’ he warned.

She finally pushed the key home and twisted it in the lock. The bar popped up. She removed it from the latch.

‘Go inside and wait by the bar.’

The place reeked of piss. She walked across broken glass, discarded wrappers and cigarette packets. She stood at the bar holding onto it for support. The mirrored glass behind the bar was smashed, displaying the optics in dozens of tiny reflections.

He took a torch from his combat trousers and shone the beam at her. ‘Don’t look so worried. Everything will be fine as long as you do as you’re told.’

Cassie wanted to tell him that her boyfriend would come looking for her if she wasn’t home soon. And her dad. Her brother. The whole town. But her tongue was glued to the roof of her mouth.

‘What’s your name?’

She shook her head, trying to stop her thoughts setting fire to her brain. He would rape her. Torture her. Kill her. This was all the worst stories she’d ever read about coming to life. The ones that scared the crap out of her on cold winter nights and made her feel grateful she had people around her who loved her.

‘What’s your name?’ He asked again, waving the torch as if trying to coax an answer with it. ‘I think we ought to get on first-name terms considering we’re going to be spending a long time together.’

‘I… want… to… go… home.’

‘And I want to be a millionaire, but you might as well want a mile as want an inch.’

Cassie forced herself to tell him her name.

He was silent for a short while as if savouring it. ‘That’s a strange name.’

‘It’s short for Cassandra.’

‘Makes you sound like a film star.’

She shrugged.

‘Mind if I call you Cass?’

You can call me what you like as long as you don’t hurt me. ‘I don’t care. I just want to go home.’

‘You are home. I know it needs fixing up a bit, and it’s a pain in the arse the electric’s off, but it’s all about making the most of what you’ve got, don’t you think?’

‘My mum will be worried about me.’

‘So you said. Now, put your bag on the floor and empty your pockets. I know how attached you girls can be to your mobile phones.’

Cassie dropped her bag on the floor. ‘I haven’t got anything in my pockets.’

‘Take your shorts off and put them on top of your bag.’

‘But—’

‘Now!’

Cassie peeled off her soaking wet shorts and kicked them towards the bag. The humiliation of standing almost naked in front of this vile man made her feel as if she was already dead.

‘I’ve got new clothes for you down in your room.’

‘I don’t want new clothes. I want to go home.’

He ignored her. ‘It’s only charity shop gear, but I ain’t exactly flush at the moment. Maybe when I’m better fixed I’ll get you something a bit more upmarket.’

Cassie stifled a sob. Coughed. Wiped her nose with the back of her hand.

He retrieved the padlock from the outside catch, closed the door and slid two bolts across the inside. ‘All safe and sound,’ he said, putting the lock in his hoodie pocket.

Cassie felt as if she’d just been locked inside a condemned cell. She clasped her hands in front of her crotch. ‘Why are you doing this?’

‘Because I can.’ He pointed the torch at a door to the left of the bar. ‘Off you go. Mind the steps on the way down, they’re a bit rickety.’

‘I’m claustrophobic,’ Cassie said. ‘Especially in the dark.’

‘It’s not dark. There’s some battery operated lights down there. Make sure you use them sparingly though. I’m not going into town for fresh batteries every five minutes. Your clothes are on top of the mattress.’

Cassie gawped at the door as if were the gateway to hell.

‘Get going. I’ve got things to do.’

Cassie trudged towards the door. She looked over her shoulder. Thought about making one last plea for him to let her go, but knew it was pointless. She would die in this stinking pub. And it was all Darren Clarke’s fault. If he hadn’t kissed that slag, they would be curled up on the sofa watching a film right now. Or making plans for what they would do after they’d finished college.

She didn’t know who she hated most–Darren or this vile man. She opened the door and walked down the cellar steps. Halfway down, the door slammed behind her and a key turned in the lock.

She reached the bottom of the steps. Only one light was on. It cast a dim glow across the cellar. Metal beer kegs lined one wall like a pub’s version of tombstones. A wine rack took up most of another wall. The floor was littered with debris. Broken bottles. Upturned crates. A mattress with a small pile of clothes scattered on top. Something scurried behind the beer kegs. Cassie didn’t need an overactive imagination to conjure up an image of rats. And spiders. And cockroaches.

She fell onto the filthy mattress and buried her head in the clothes. No one knew she was here. He could do exactly as he pleased. Her parents would probably call the cops as soon as it became clear she was missing. Ping a million questions at Darren. Go frantic with worry. And there was nothing they could do to help her.

Welcome to hell.

 

 

I hope that you’ve enjoyed these extracts and will enjoy reading the rest of the book.

You can also see what early ARC reviewers have thought of the book, and add it to your TBR over on Goodreads.

You can now pre-order your copy of You Belong To Me from Amazon for 99p or 99c.

 

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Mark.

Extract from You Belong To Me – part one

 

Today I’d like to share an extract from You Belong to Me. The book is being published by Bloodhound Books on 4th February and will be available to pre order from 28th January.

 

Cassie usually walked home through town and along St George’s Road. It was a practice born of her mother’s frequent warnings not to go anywhere isolated on her own. But the track was familiar. The school used it as a route for cross-country runs, and it didn’t seem very threatening in daylight.

With the rain driving into her face and rendering her glasses useless, she didn’t notice the man standing under the back porch of the pub watching her. There was little point removing her spectacles because the world just existed in a series of fuzzy ill-defined blobs without them.

Cassie’s mind hopped from wanting to kill herself to wanting to kill Darren. How could he even consider going near a slag like Hailey Connor? And she was a year older than him. Not to mention ugly as sin beneath that barrier of war paint she always slapped on her face. Why were boys such weak pathetic creatures? One smile and they were anyone’s.

How could she have been stupid enough to think Darren loved her for who she was? Didn’t care about the bump in her nose, or the gap in her front teeth. Didn’t give a hoot she had a slight lisp when she talked too fast. Darren had seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to most boys. Now, it turned out he was worse than all of them. He’d taken her heart and thrown it in a muddy ditch.

So, you’re just going to throw your whole life away over one stupid boy? A voice whispered in her head. He’s the one who ought to jump off the water tower.

Cassie stared at her trainers. White Nikes with a pink trim. The muddy lane had turned them as black as her mood. She wasn’t aware of the man stepping out of the porch and onto the track. He was maybe twenty yards behind her, dressed in a dark-blue hoodie, combat trousers and black trainers. Hands thrust in his jacket pockets. Face like a slice of moon beneath the dark hood.

The track was about a mile long. It was a dried up brook, but heavy rainfall could rapidly restore it to its former glory. It ran from the river to the back of the park, and from there it was just a short walk along St George’s Road to her house.

The rain had slowed to little more than a light drizzle by the time she was halfway along the track. She stopped and swatted at something buzzing around her head. The man stopped and stood as still as the trees lining the trail.

Cassie checked her airspace for more invaders. Birds and butterflies aside, she hated anything that flew. A wasp had stung her in the garden when she was twelve, and the experience had left her with a pathological hatred of airborne invaders.

As her tears subsided to an occasional sniffle, she opened her bag and took out a packet of tissues. She plucked three from the plastic wrapper, blew her nose and wiped her face. She dropped the tissues back in her bag and snapped it shut. She threw the strap over her shoulder and started walking again.

Why did her mother have to choose this week of all weeks to take a holiday? Now, she would face a salvo of questions the minute she stepped through the door. And it was no good thinking she could make it upstairs without being spotted; her mother had an inbuilt radar fine-tuned to Cassie. Both emotional and physical.

What does it matter what she says if you’re going to kill yourself?

Cassie ignored the voice. She would have a shower and change her clothes before she did anything else–including leaping off the water tower.

The man gained a few yards on her. He kept his head down, as if fascinated by his trainers. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand and then rubbed it on his trousers.

Cassie stopped to negotiate a fallen tree blocking her path. It wasn’t too big to clamber over, but awkward, greased with rainwater and moss. She noticed brambles had scrawled a bloody signature on her bare legs.

The man took his chance. He closed the gap in a matter of seconds like a lion moving in for the kill. Cassie had just got her leg over the trunk when he told her to keep still.

At first, she thought he was going to warn her that there was something dangerous lurking on the tree. A scorpion. Maybe even a rat. She turned her head round to see him standing a few feet away. She couldn’t make out his features beneath the hoodie. He was wearing mirrored sunglasses, and a beard obscured the bottom half of his face.

Cassie felt her stomach tighten. ‘What is it?’

He didn’t answer. He pulled a gun from the waistband of his combat trousers and pointed it at her chest. ‘I want you to come with me.’

Cassie legs lost all their strength. She thought about trying to scramble over the tree. Make a run for it. Only a few hundred yards to the park. If she wailed like a siren all the way, perhaps he would back off and give up.

Or shoot you.

‘Turn around slowly and face me.’

‘Why?’

‘Just do as I say.’

Cassie turned around, barely able to stand. A tear slipped from the corner of her eye. ‘Please don’t hurt me.’

‘I won’t–as long as you do as you’re told.’

‘My mum’s expecting me home.’

‘If you tell me where she lives, I’ll go round later and pay her visit. Tell her you’ve been held up.’

Why was this happening to her? She’d already had the shittiest day imaginable. ‘Please, I just want to go home.’

The man shook his head. ‘You can’t always get what you want. They ought to teach that in school to stop all that disappointment later. Now, walk past me and head off back towards the river. And don’t think about legging it. I ain’t seen no one outrun a bullet yet.’

‘My feet hurt.’

‘And so does my head. Now move!’

Cassie took a wide berth around him, eyes trained on the gun. He wasn’t as tall as Darren, and thin enough to suggest she might have stood a small chance of fighting him off under normal circumstances. But these were not normal circumstances. The gun seemed to wink at her in a shaft of emerging sunlight.

Cassie shuffled forward. There was a nightclub just before the bridge. The Millhouse. It boasted a beautiful riverside terrace. Maybe she could get someone’s attention if she screamed loud enough.

You might as well run, a voice whispered in her head. You’ve got nothing to lose. Better to get shot than to end up somewhere with him.

She could hear him behind her, breathing heavy, sniffing.

‘Where are we going?’ She asked again. ‘Please tell me?’

‘Home.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘You will.’

Cassie walked past her own footprints as she headed back towards the river. The ones made before the man had appeared out of nowhere and turned her heart to dust.

He told her to stop at a wooden gate leading to the pub garden.

Cassie glanced behind her. Stared at the gun.

‘Go through the gate.’

‘Why?’

‘You ask me one more question, and you won’t see tomorrow. You’re mine now. That’s all you need to know.’

She could see huge banners on the wall outside the Millhouse declaring the latest offering from Sky Sports. Someone walking along the wooden terrace which wrapped itself around the building to the riverside view at the front.

Do it, Cassie’s mind screamed. Run. For Christ’s  sake, run

But she could barely move. She stifled a sob as she walked into the overgrown garden. The place resembled a cross between a jungle and a tip. Overturned tables, two fridges and a sofa bleeding its stuffing nestled among the tall grass and brambles. Most of the fence surrounding the garden was leaning over and broken.

‘See that door over there?’

Cassie nodded. She felt as if she would throw up any minute.

He threw a bunch of keys at the door. ‘The silver one’s for the padlock. Open it.’

 

 

I hope you enjoyed reading the first part of the extract. Continue reading in part two.
If you did enjoy it and would like to add the book to your Goodreads TBR list, you can find You Belong To Me here.

You Belong To Me is now available to buy or download on Amazon.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Mark.

 

Near-Death Experiences – Fact or Fiction?

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are profound psychic experiences commonly occurring in life-threatening conditions. They include feeling a sense of peace, of seeing a bright light, encountering deceased relatives or religious figures, and of transcending space and time. NDEs may occur in adults or children, have been reported from the time of Plato, and in a variety of cultures around the world. They are one part of a spectrum of significant human spiritual experiences.  An experience can be deeply significant and meaningful to the person going through it, without meeting the strict definition of NDE.  Such experiences may be referred to as “NDE-like experiences”.

In my fifth novel, The Key to Death’s Door, 14 year old Lee Hunter drowns and has a NDE. Here’s a small extract:

I tried to call out to Charlie. Tell him what was happening, but the words were washed down my throat with another mouthful of the river. Then I sank. No more sky. No more riverbank. No more Charlie. Just greenish-brown slimy water everywhere. My mind screamed at my legs to work, demanded one last push, but all my legs delivered was an excruciating pain that reached right up into my groin and squeezed my balls.

       Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it, my mind chanted. I tried to use my hands to pull upwards, but you can’t grip water, even when your life depends on it. My heart thumped in my throat. Continue reading

The Hammer Falls by Andrew Barrett – Bloodhound Books Blog Blitz

 

Book Description:
Some secrets, no matter how well buried, refuse to die.

When the remains of a woman are found in a burnt-out car, Eddie Collins reluctantly teams up with his enemy, DI Benson, to untangle the knot of lies behind this apparent suicide.

In the midst of all this, Eddie’s life grows more complicated by the day; his perfect relationship is suffocating him. As a CSI in the Major Crime Unit, he is also being forced to accept a promotion that he doesn’t want, leading a team that he can’t control or tolerate.

Even when the mystery is solved, proving it turns out to be deadly.

 

My Review:
In this, the third book in the series, Eddie has a promotion he doesn’t want and a team he’d rather not be part of. His people skills can be lacking at times, and his reactions can seem unlikely for someone in his position, but he comes across as realistic and all too human.

The humour that was in the previous book is here again, and better than ever. Barrett has done an excellent job of weaving the seriousness of a criminal investigation with dark humour and sarcasm. Whoever said sarcasm is the lowest form of wit obviously hasn’t read this series!

A lot of time and attention has obviously gone into checking facts and procedures, and creating a character in Eddie that many readers will be able to relate to. Another great addition to the series.

Thanks go to Sarah Hardy and Bloodhound Books for inviting me to take part in this blog blitz.

Author Bio:

Andrew Barrett has enjoyed variety in his professional life, from engine-builder to farmer, from Oilfield Service Technician in Kuwait, to his current role of Senior CSI in Yorkshire.

He’s been a CSI since 1996, and has worked on all scene types from terrorism to murder, suicide to rape, drugs manufacture to bomb scenes. One way or another, Andrew’s life revolves around crime.

In 1997 he finished his first crime thriller, A Long Time Dead, and it’s still a readers’ favourite today, some 200,000 copies later, topping the Amazon charts several times. Two more books featuring SOCO Roger Conniston completed the trilogy.

Today, Andrew is still producing high-quality, authentic crime thrillers with a forensic flavour that attract attention from readers worldwide. He’s also attracted attention from the Yorkshire media, having been featured in the Yorkshire Post, and twice interviewed on BBC Radio Leeds.

He’s best known for his lead character, CSI Eddie Collins, and the acerbic way in which he roots out criminals and administers justice. Eddie’s series is four books and two short stories in length, and there’s still more to come.

Andrew is a proud Yorkshireman and sets all of his novels there, using his home city of Leeds as another major, and complementary, character in each of the stories.

Links:Contact: andrew@andrewbarrett.co.uk

Website: http://www.andrewbarrett.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewBarrettUK

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndrewBarrett.author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andrewbarrettauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andrewbarrettauthor

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Andrew-Barrett/e/B0055888Q0/

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Barrett/e/B0055888Q0/ 

 

As always, thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Mark.

The Key to Death’s Door Blog Tour Thanks!

Last week The Key to Death’s Door was published and a 6 day blog tour took place. I want to say a BIG thank you to all the fantastic bloggers who gave their time to write and share reviews about the book. Also, thanks go to everyone else who helped spread the word about the tour across social media. It was much appreciated.

Below is a list of the bloggers who took part in the tour with links to their reviews. Please take some time to have a look around their great blogs. Their reviews may lead you to discovering new books and authors.

Amy Sullivan @ Novel Gossip.
Read Amy’s review here. And you can read Amy’s Saturday Shoutout interview with me here too.

Eva Merckx @ Novel Deelights.
Find Eva’s review here.

Sean Talbot @ Sean’s Book Reviews.
Read Sean’s review here.

Gemma Myers @ Between the Pages Book Club.
Find Gemma’s review here.

Sarah Hardy @ By the Letter Book Reviews.
Read Sarah’s review here.

Sassy Brit @ Alternative Reads
Find Sassy’s review here.

Karen Cole @ Hair Past a Freckle
Read Karen’s review here.

Lorna (LJ) @ On the Shelf Reviews
Find Lorna’s review here.

Simon Leonard @ Black Books
Read Simon’s review here.

Sharon Bairden @ Chapter in my Life
Find Sharon’s review here.

Caroline Vincent @ Bits about Books
Read Caroline’s review here.

Jessica Bronder @ JBronder Book Reviews
Find Jessica’s review here.

Diane Hogg @ Sweet Little Book Blog
Read Diane’s review here.

Steve Robb @ Bookie Wookie
Find Steve’s review here.

Jill Burkinshaw @ Books ‘n’ All
Read Jill’s review here.

Mark Wilson @ Mark Wilson Books
Find Mark’s review here.

Bev Eaves @ Reading for Pleasure
Read the first chapter of The Key to Death’s Door here.

Philomena Callen @ Cheekypea Reads
Find Philomena’s review here.

Abby Slater-Fairbrother @ Anne Bonny Book Reviews
Read Abby’s review here.

Chelle Baker @ Chelle’s Book Reviews
Find Chelle’s review here.

Heather Anne Osborne @ Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne
Read Heather’s review here.

Neats Wilson @ The Haphazardous Hippo
Find Neat’s review here.

Donna Maguire @ Donna’s Book Blog
Read Donna’s review here.

Kerry Ann Parsons @ Chat About Books
Find Kerry’s review here.

 

If any of the above reviews have made you think you’d like to read The Key to Death’s Door, you can find the book here on Amazon.

As always, thank you for you continued support.

Best wishes.

Mark.