Today I’m thrilled to be hosting the next leg of The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt blog tour. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to read it yet as my TBR pile is in danger of suffocating me! But I do have an intriguing extract from the book. Billed as a gripping, suspenseful, page-turning thriller The Good Daughter is published by Avon and it’s available now. I also have a giveaway for a paperback copy of The Good Daughter, so don’t forget to enter, link to the competition can be found at the bottom of this post
“Have you heard what happened?” I repeat, my voice louder than I want it to be.
“You had some sort of an accident. They wouldn’t tell me anything else,” she says.
“I found a body in the woods. A woman. She’s alive but in a coma.” I shudder at the mental image of my Jane covered in forest debris.
My mother shifts in place as if she is trying to find a way to perfectly position herself, like she is expecting a blow. “You should’ve stayed home and taken care of those crickets. You never listen to me.”
I stand next to her, pass the dish soap, and watch her swirl her hands around in the water.
“I was running but my leg hurt and I went into the woods and—”
“Where did you find her?”
“Let me tell you the story from the beginning.” My mind is still attempting to make sense of everything and recalling the moment. Allowing me to relive what happened might help me do just that, might help me separate truth from imagination. But as always, my mother won’t have any of it.
“What woman and where?” She scoops up dirty silverware and immerses the pile into the sudsy water.
“Will you just be patient,” I say and then lower my voice. “If you’ll allow me to tell the story without—”
She stomps her foot on the linoleum, and it strikes me how silly the gesture is. I watch the sudsy water turn into a pink lather. It takes me a few seconds to realize what has happened.
“Mom,” I say gently, “you cut yourself.” I grab her by the forearms and allow the water to rinse off the blood. There’s a large gash in the tip of her middle finger; a line of blood continuously forms.
“I don’t understand,” she says, and I realize she’s begun to sob.
I hug her but she remains stiff, her arms rigid beside her body. She has never been one for physical affection, almost as if hugs suffocate her. I rub her shoulders like she’s a little kid in need of comfort after waking from a bad dream. There, there. You’ll be okay.
I speak in short sentences; maybe brevity is what she needs. “I found a woman. She’s okay. I’m fine. Everything’s okay,” I say as I wrap a clean kitchen towel around her fingers.
“The police came to my house.” She pulls away from me, dropping the bloody towel on the floor. “I don’t like police in my house. You know that.”
“I’m not sure you understand. A woman almost died. I found her while I was running and they took her to the hospital. If I hadn’t-“
“You’ve been here long enough,” she says and starts banging random dishes in the sink, mascara running down her cheeks. “You came for a visit and you’re still here.”
“Mom.” She doesn’t mean to be cruel—she’s just in a mood, I tell myself. She needs me. I don’t know what’s going on with her but I can’t even think straight and all I want is to go to bed and sleep. “Please don’t get upset.”
“Can’t you just … lay low?”
The tinge of affection I just felt for her passes. I recall the time I didn’t lay low, years ago, right after I started school in Aurora. It was the end of summer, the question of enrollment no longer up in the air. I wondered how she had managed to enroll me in school, how she had all of a sudden produced the paperwork. “But remember,” she said, “stay away from the neighbors. I don’t want anyone in my house.” The girl—I no longer remember her name but I do recall she had freckles and her two front teeth overlapped—had chestnut trees in her backyard. One day, I suggested we climb the tree. When I reached for the spiky sheath that surrounded the nut, it cut into the palm of my hand and I jerked. I fell off the tree and I couldn’t move my arm. I went home without telling anyone my arm hurt. The next day a teacher sent me to the school nurse. They called my mother—I still wasn’t caving, still telling no one what had happened, still pretending my swollen arm was nothing but some sort of virus that had gotten ahold of me overnight—and an hour later my secretive behavior prompted them to question my mother regarding my injury. When I finally came clean, her eyes were cold and unmoving.
Laying low is still important to her. “What did you want me to do?” I ask with a sneer. “She’d be dead if it wasn’t for me.”
Even though she hardly looks at me, I can tell her eyes are icy. Her head cocks sideways as if she is considering an appropriate response. Her responses are usually quick, without the slightest delay in their delivery, yet this one is deliberate.
“I don’t need any trouble with the police,” she says.
“That’s what this is about? The police? What did you want me to do? Just leave her in the woods because my mother doesn’t want to be bothered? You can’t be serious.”
“I’m very serious, Dahlia. Very serious.”
“I have to go to bed. I’m exhausted. Can we talk later?”
“I’ve said all I had to say.”
I lie in bed, staring at the ceiling. I don’t want to think anymore—just for a few hours, I want to not think. I envy Jane in her coma. I wonder if she’s left her body behind. Has she returned to the woods, reliving what’s happened to her? And did she hear me when I spoke to her? Can one slip out of one’s body and back into the past, removed from time and space?
My mind has been playing tricks on me lately—all those childhood memories that have resurfaced, at the most inopportune moments, memories I didn’t know existed. I haven’t even begun to ask my mother the questions that demand answers.
Aurora; a phenomenon. A collision of air molecules, trapped particles.
I’m exhausted, yet sleep won’t come. I didn’t think coming back to Aurora was going to be so unsettling. There is no other explanation. It must be this town.
Alexandra Burt was born in a baroque town in the East Hesse Highlands of Germany. Mere days after her college graduation, she boarded a plane to the U.S and worked as a freelance translator. Determined to acknowledge the voice in the back of her head prompting her to break into literary translations, she eventually decided to tell her own stories. After three years of writing classes her short fiction appeared in online magazines and literary reviews.
She currently lives in Central Texas with her husband, her daughter, and two Labradors. She is an outspoken animal welfare supporter, and a proud vegan. One day she wants to live in a farmhouse and offer rescue dogs a comfy couch to live out their lives.She is a member of Sisters In Crime, a nationwide network of women crime writers.
What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?
Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.
In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighbouring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…
To win a paperback copy of The Good Daughter enter here……
Competition closes at midnight Friday 10th March 2017, sorry but this giveaway is open to UK residents only. Winner will be contacted within 24 hours of competition ending
Check out the rest of the blog tour