Tag Archives: Book Extract

The Haunting Of Henderson Close Catherine Cavendish #Extact #BlogTour @Cat_Cavendish #RandomThingsTours @annecater @FlameTreePress

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in The Haunting Of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish blog tour. Like many book bloggers I’m snowed under with books waiting to be reviewed, so I haven’t been able to read the book but I must admit after reading the extract from the book (see below) I’m really intrigued and now desperate to read the whole book.

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PROLOGUE

November 1st, 1891

The tall woman lifted her skirt as she crossed the filthy, narrow street. Her nose wrinkled at the stench of human waste, rotting fruit and vegetables and all manner of foul remains that sloshed their way down the gutters of the open sewer that was Henderson Close, deep in the squalid heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Henderson Close. The very mention of the name sent shivers down the spines of most of the woman’s acquaintances. They couldn’t understand why she did this. Helping those too feckless, in their eyes, to help themselves.

A second-floor window rattled open. “Gardyloo!” Along with everyone else in the vicinity, the woman scurried for safety, just in time before a torrent of stinking night waste splashed onto the street. The stench hit her with a renewed force that made her eyes water and her stomach heave. Breathing through her mouth, the woman hurried on. The sooner she reached her destination, the sooner she could complete her mission and return to the safety of her cosy, lavender-scented flat in the more prosperous New Town.

As she quickened her step, she passed poorly dressed humanity of all ages. Children in little more than worn-out rags, on such a cold day as this too. She pitied them their filthy bare feet, pockmarked with chilblains, and scabs that wouldn’t heal for want of a decent diet. She averted her eyes from the young girls, barely in their teens, who cradled their swollen bellies. The woman knew what went on. Some of these girls knew the fathers of their unborn babies all too well. They were closely related to them. Others wouldn’t be able to pick the right one out of a police line-up.

She passed old women with no teeth and sparse grey hair. Yet most of them were probably barely past forty. Her age in fact. With her gloved hand, she adjusted the wire-rimmed spectacles a little higher on her nose, and arrived at number seventeen.A now-familiar clutch of apprehension tugged at her and she glanced around. No, everyone on the street was going about their normal business today.

She stared up at the dilapidated tenement, nine stories high, as she had done many times before. With land at such a premium in Edinburgh’s teeming Old Town, they built upward, as high as the foundations would stand, and through lack of proper maintenance these old buildings sometimes collapsed, killing and maiming hundreds of inhabitants. Number seventeen was no better nor worse than any of its neighbours. Doors, and any remaining windows that weren’t boarded up, had once been painted in a long-forgotten colour, now chipped and flaking off, revealing the rotten wood beneath. It used to be that the richer you were, the higher up you lived. Those at the top of the building could see the sky and were furthest away from the stinking street below. But, for the past century or more, the well-to-do had moved away to the elegant streets of the Georgian New Town. No noxious odours for them.

The woman shook her head. Back to the purpose of her journey. The family she had come to see – the McDonalds –lived a wretched existence on the ground floor, barely able to afford the single room the mother, father and the youngest five bairns all shared. And the mother had another on the way. It had been like this all the years the woman had known them. Babies came. Babies died. More babies arrived. Mrs. McDonald must be in her late thirties or even older. Still they came. Her older ones were off her hands now. Her oldest.…

Well, with any luck, at least what she had brought them would ensure food in the family’s bellies for the rest of the week. That’s why she came in the morning, when she knew the man wouldn’t be there or, if he was, he’d be sleeping off the last of the previous night’s ale. Not that Mr. McDonald was such a bad sort. At least, so far as she knew, he didn’t beat his wife or the children and, when he was sober, he would do anyone a kindness, but she couldn’t take a chance on the money getting into his hands. Too much temptation.

So lost in her own thoughts was she that she was unaware of the three youths who had formed a semi-circle behind her. As she raised her hand to knock on the worm-eaten door, they grabbed her. A fourth assailant – older, in his twenties – seized her. Shards of pain shot through her shoulders. She cried out as the four of them manhandled her round the corner into an alleyway. The older one spat at her, threw her to the ground and kicked her. “Give us the money, woman!”

She tried in vain to curl into a foetal position as the four boys threw kicks and punches. Fists slammed into her face, knocking off her glasses. Blood poured from her nose. A sickening snapping noise and screaming pain tore through her jaw. She closed her eyes and prayed for them to stop. Pain burst through her chest as her ribs cracked. She pleaded for merciful death to release her. A man’s roar. The oldest thug stamped on her hand, breaking her fingers. He tore the purse from her broken arm and made off. Hobnail boots thundered as men pursued them.

Through the red mist of her agony, the woman recognised a familiar voice. Mr. McDonald was home, sober and here to help her. She felt him kneel beside her. He cradled her head. Shetried to open her eyes but they were already swollen shut. Or the effort was simply too much. She tasted blood, felt it drip down her cheeks, mingling with the tears that cascaded down her face, and the muddy, stinking wetness of the ground beneath her face.Mr. McDonald stroked her forehead. “Oh Miss Carmichael,what have they done to ye?”

Other voices joined his. Mrs. McDonald tried to wipe the blood off with the ragged hem of her rough wool skirt. “Lord preserve us. Who would do such a thing? Miss Carmichael too. All she ever does is out of the goodness of her heart.” The voices floated to the dying woman on echoing waves through the pathways of her mind, becoming fainter and fainter. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald leaned closer as Miss Carmichael struggled to speak. It was no more than a whisper, barely possible with her fractured jaw. “I am so sorry. They took it. Every penny.” A final tear tracked its way down Miss Carmichael’s face as the darkness enveloped her for the last time.

* *

In the shadows, a well-dressed young man moved, unnoticed by the crowd gathered over the dead woman. A smile creased his lips as he walked away.

The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: FLAME TREE PRESS; New edition edition (10 Jan. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1787581020
  • ISBN-13: 978-1787581029

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Book description

Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released. Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?

The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

http://www.flametreepublishing.com/

About the author

 

(From www.catherinecavendish.com)

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Hello, my name’s Catherine Cavendish and I write horror fiction – frequently with ghostly, supernatural, Gothic and haunted house themes.

Out now – from Flame Tree Press – THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE. Ghostly horror set in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

Available now from Kensington-Lyrical – the NEMESIS OF THE GODS trilogy: mWRATH OF THE ANCIENTS, WAKING THE ANCIENTS and DAMNED BY THE ANCIENTS – set in Egypt and Vienna and featuring the sinister Dr. Emeryk Quintillus whose obsession has stayed with him past the grave.

My novellas COLD REVENGE, MISS ABIGAIL’S ROOM, THE DEMONS OF CAMBIAN STREET, THE DEVIL INSIDE HER and THE SECOND WIFE have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.

My novels THE DEVIL’S SERENADE and SAVING GRACE DEVINE have also been released in new editions by Crossroad Press, as have my novel of the Lancashire Witches – THE PENDLE CURSE – and my novellas, LINDEN MANOR and DARK AVENGING ANGEL.

I live with a long-suffering husband and a delightful black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Who am I to argue?

When not slaving over a hot computer, I enjoy wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

Twitter : @Cat_Cavendish

Follow the blog tour…….

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**Blog tour** The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward #Extract @sarahrward1 @FaberBooks @joanna_brl

Good morning to you all, today I’m thrilled to be closing the blog tour for The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward and to celebrate the occasion I have a very intriguing extract from this novel, but first the book description……

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The past won’t stay buried forever.

November, 1957: Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five appear on the other side.

October, 2014: a dying mother, feverishly fixated on a friend from her childhood, makes a plea: ‘Find Valerie.’ Mina’s elderly mother had never discussed her childhood with her daughter before. So who was Valerie? Where does her obsession spring from?

DC Connie Childs, off balance after her last big case, is partnered up with new arrival to Bampton, Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a simple natural death, DC Childs’ old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to spiral increasingly close to home.

Buying link:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (6 Sept. 2018)

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Wednesday, 6 November 1957

The first week of November and Susan was already humming the Twelve Days of Christmas. She needed to get it out of her head before she reached home, as her dad would have no truck with carols until the night before Christmas. His Methodist upbringing had been left far behind as he’d gratefully abandoned the church services and interminable hymns. Some childhood habits are hard to shift, however, and the tradition of the tree going up with the minimum of fuss, and carols put on hold until after tea on Christmas Eve, was a convention from which he refused to budge.

Susan’s mum let him have his way, although Susan had recently caught her listening to a festive medley on the Light Programme. Don’t tell your father, she’d cautioned with her eyes before turning the dial of the wooden console with a snap. The hymn book with its meagre selection of carols had already been taken down from the shelf by Susan’s brother and left on top of the upright piano in readiness for their father’s heralding in of the festive season. Come seven o’clock, Christmas Eve, the routine would be the same. Their father, after much bother looking for his glasses, would fumble over the keys to pick out a tune barely recognisable from the ones sung throughout December outside the closed front door. For even well-meaning carol singers weren’t immune from her father’s edict. No Christmas about the house before the 24th. Even on the doorstep.

But carols need to be learnt. Susan, a high alto with a knack for holding a note in the face of her classmates’ flat and occasionally sharp pitch, was expected at Wednesday evening choir practice in the hut near the school gates. Warmed by only a three-bar fire, she and the other members of the fourth and fifth forms who were willing to practise in time for the school concert breathed out cold air as their lungs ached and chests heaved with the effort of singing in the damp fug. Twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping.

The tune swirled around her head as she steered her bike through the autumn mist along the thin track that would take her across the bridge to her home on the other side of Bampton. The wheels bumped and squeaked over the uneven path, startling the few birds prepared to stay in the Peak District for the winter. Frost had begun to settle on the fields, giving the landscape a shimmering glow. As the temperature dropped, Susan tightened the ends of her headscarf under her chin, pulling the thin material away from her ears so that she could hear any encroaching sounds. Her thick blazer warmed her body and she dragged the sleeves of her jumper down over her cold palms, which grasped the metal of the handlebars.

Susan kept a wary eye on the fields around her. She’d been told not to come this way ever since her friend, Iris, had seen a man standing in the field far off, completely naked. Iris had rushed back to her house in the street next to Susan’s and some of the fathers, Susan’s included, had gone in search of the pervert. Of course, he’d gone by the time the men arrived. Disappeared into the mists but not forgotten by the community. Don’t go the back way home from choir, she’d been warned. First by her dad and afterwards, more sharply, by her mother, who’d looked like she wanted to expand the conversation into something more meaningful. Susan had hung about in the kitchen but nothing further had been revealed.

When she got home, she’d pretend she hadn’t come this way. Would tell her mother that, of course, she’d taken the way up Bampton High Street, cycled behind the cottage hospital and continued along the main road over the railway bridge to the entrance of the new housing estate. However, no matter how quickly she cycled, the fact was that this back way would get her home quicker on a cold November evening, despite the uneven path. The route was a direct line from her school to the back of her estate where she’d have to lift her bike over the chained five-bar gate.

She looked around the chilled landscape but could see nothing through the grey mist. She pinched the bike’s tyres to reassure herself that they were rock solid. Any problems and she’d hop on and make a quick getaway, confident she could ride faster than any man, especially a naked one, could run.

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Sarah Ward is the author of four DC Childs novels, In Bitter Chill, A Deadly Thaw, A Patient Fury and The Shrouded Path set in the Derbyshire Peak District where she lives. On her website, Crimepieces (www.crimepieces.com), she reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world. She is a judge for the Petrona Award for Scandinavian translated crime novels. Sarah was a 2015 Amazon Rising Star and A Patient Fury was The Observer’s Thriller of the Month in 2017.

Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahrward1

Find her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com

If you want to read reviews for The Shrouded Path check out the tour poster below there are some fab book bloggers on this tour.

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The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland #BookExtract @ShaliniBoland @Bookouture

 

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This evening I’m thrilled to be part of a group of bloggers who are sharing an extract of The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland. The Secret Mother is published by the fabulous Bookouture on the 9th November 2017, but you can pre-order right now so I’ve included the link futher down this post. Before you read the extract I’ve included a book description of The Secret Mother for you all.

Book description

Tessa Markham comes home to find a child in her kitchen calling her ‘mummy’. But Tessa doesn’t have any children.

Not anymore.

She doesn’t know who the little boy is or how he got there.

After contacting the police, Tessa comes under suspicion for snatching the child. She must fight to prove her innocence. But how can she convince everyone she’s not guilty when even those closest to her are questioning the truth? And when Tessa doesn’t even trust herself…

A chilling, unputdownable thriller with a dark twist that will take your breath away and make you wonder if you can ever trust anyone again. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Sister.

Buying links:     Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

What readers are saying about Shalini Boland:

‘Read in one sitting from 9pm last night until 2:15 am. I literally could not put it down!!!! The story line and the twists and the way it’s written just draws you in completely and you have to know where it’s going I couldn’t read fast enough… absolutely addictive and brilliant and an end I didn’t see coming. This is one book you have to read and it gets 5 huge stars from me!!!!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘What can I say? Just wow. I’m usually never surprised by an ending, but this one blew me away. I am totally in shock and think I’ll have a hangover from this book for a while. A great read that keeps you on your toes until the very last word.’ Stacey Harrell, Goodreads

‘If anyone can have me reading until 2am and finishing a book in less than 48hrs in the school holidays it’s this author… massive five stars from me.’ Sarah Mackins, UK Crime Book Club, 5 stars

‘The ending of this book blew me out of the water, you won’t be able to put this down.’ For the Love of Books, 5 stars

‘The plot is gripping and once you’ve started reading, you have to keep on reading, you need to know how the story will end.’ Bits About Books, 5 Stars

‘… one of the most chilling reads of the year for me.’Ajoobacats Blog, 5 Stars

‘This book should come with a warning… make sure you have enough time to read it in one-sitting because as soon as you’ll pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down!’ Bookishly Ever After, 5 stars

‘This is a brilliant psychological thriller. In fact, it’s one of the best I’ve read. It is full of suspense and has more twists and turns than a fairground ride.’ Jackie Roche, UK Crime Book Club, 5 Stars

‘I thought I knew the direction this story was going go. Then the jaw dropping moment happened!… unputdownable!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 Stars

‘Once again, Boland has managed to blow my mind with all the twists and turns… an outstanding explosive read!’ Mello and June, 5 Stars

‘Great book. I read it in less than 24 hours. I was unable to put it down. The story was fast paced and intriguing.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

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THE SECRET MOTHER
By
Shalini Boland

Chapter One

The street lamps flicker, illuminating the grey pavement mottled with patches of dirty snow and slick black ice. Slushy puddles hug the kerb, cringing away from the hissing, splashing car tyres. It takes all my concentration to keep my balance. My hands would be warmer if I jammed them into my coat pockets, but I need them free to steady myself on walls, fences, tree trunks, lamp posts. I don’t want to fall. And yet would it really be so terrible if I slipped on the ice? Wet jeans, a bruised bum. Not the end of the world. There are worse things. Far worse things.

It’s Sunday: the last exhale of the week. That uncomfortable pause before Monday, when it all starts up again – this lonely pretence at life. Sunday has become a black dot on the horizon for me, growing larger each day. I’m relieved now it’s almost over and yet I’m already anticipating the next one. The day when I visit the cemetery and stand above their graves, staring at the grass and stone, talking to them both, wondering if they hear my inane chatter or if I’m simply talking into the empty wind. In burning sunlight, pouring rain, sub-zero temperatures or thick fog I stand there. Every week. I’ve never missed a Sunday yet.

Sleet spatters my face. Icy needles that make me blink and gasp. Finally, I turn off the high street into my narrow road, where it’s more sheltered and the wind less violent. A rainbow assortment of overflowing bins lines my route, waiting for collection tomorrow at some ungodly pre-dawn hour. I turn my face away from the windows where Christmas tree lights wink and blink, reminding me of happier Christmases. Before.
Almost home.

My little north London terraced house sits halfway along the road. Pushing open the rusted gate, I turn my face away from the neglected front garden with its discarded sweet wrappers and crisp packets blown in from the street, now wedged among long tussocks of grass and overgrown bushes. I thrust my frozen fingers into my bag until they finally close around a jagged set of keys. I’m glad to be home, to get out of the cold, and yet my body sags when I open the door and step into the dark silence of the hall, feeling the hollow of their absence.

At least it’s warm in here. I shrug off my coat, kick off my boots, dump my bag on the hall table and switch on the light, avoiding my sad reflection in the hall mirror. A glass of wine would be welcome about now. I glance at my watch – only 5.20. No. I’ll be good and make a hot chocolate instead.

Strangely, the door to the kitchen is closed. This strikes me as odd, as I always leave it open. Perhaps a gust of wind slammed it shut when I came in. I trudge to the end of the hall and stop. Through a gap in the bottom of the door I see that the light is on. Someone’s in there. I catch my breath, feel the world slow down for a moment before it speeds back up. Could I have a burglar in my house?
I cock my ear. A sound filters through. Humming. A child is humming a tune in my kitchen. But I don’t have a child. Not any more.

Slowly I pull down the handle and push the door, my body tensing. I hardly dare breathe.
Here before me sits a little boy with dark hair, wearing pale blue jeans and a green cable-knit jumper. A little boy aged about five or six, perched on a chair at my kitchen counter, humming a familiar tune. Head down, he is intent on his drawing, colouring pencils spread out around an A4 sheet of paper. A navy raincoat hangs neatly over the back of the chair.

He looks up as I enter the room, his chocolate-brown eyes wide. We stare at one another for a moment.
‘Are you my mummy?’ the little boy asks.
I bite my bottom lip, feel the ground shift. I grasp the counter top to steady myself. ‘Hello,’ I say, my heart suddenly swelling. ‘Hello. And who might you be?’
‘You know. I’m Harry,’ he replies. ‘Do you like my picture?’ He holds the sheet out in front of him, showing me his drawing of a little boy and a woman standing next to a train. ‘It’s not finished. I haven’t had time to colour it in properly,’ he explains.
‘It’s lovely, Harry. Is that you standing next to the train?’
‘Yes.’ He nods. ‘It’s you and me. I drew it for you because you’re my mummy.’

Am I hallucinating? Have I finally gone crazy? This beautiful little boy is calling me his mummy. And yet I don’t know him. I’ve never seen him before in my life. I close my eyes tight and then open them again. He’s still there, looking less confident now. His hopeful smile has faltered, slipping into a frown. His eyes are now a little too bright. I know that look – it’s the one that precedes tears.
‘Hey, Harry,’ I say with false jollity. ‘So you like trains, huh?’
His smile returns. ‘Steam trains are the best. Better than diesels.’ He scrunches up his face in disgust and blinks.
‘Did you come here on the train? To my house?’
‘No. We came on the bus. I wish we did come on the train, the bus was really slow. And it made me feel a bit sick.’ He lays the sheet of paper back on the counter.
‘And who did you come with?’ I ask.
‘The angel.’
I think I must have misheard him. ‘Who?’
‘The angel brought me here. She told me that you’re my mummy.’
‘The angel?’
He nods.

I glance around, suddenly aware that Harry might not be the only stranger in my house. ‘Is she here now?’ I ask in a whisper. ‘Is there someone else here with you?’
‘No, she’s gone. She told me to do some drawing and you’d be here soon.’
I relax my shoulders, relieved that there’s no one else in my home. But it still doesn’t help me solve the problem of who this little boy is. ‘How did you get into the house?’ I ask, nervously wondering if I might find a smashed window somewhere.
‘Through the front door, silly,’ he replies with a smile, rolling his eyes.
Through the front door? Did I leave it open somehow? I’m sure I would never have done that. What’s going on here? I should call someone. The authorities. The police. Somebody will be looking for this child. They will be frantic with worry. ‘Would you like a hot chocolate, Harry?’ I ask, keeping my voice as calm as possible. ‘I was going to make one for myself, so—’
‘Do you make it with milk?’ he interrupts. ‘Or with hot water? It’s definitely nicer with milk.’
I suppress a smile. ‘I agree, Harry. I always make it with milk.’
‘Okay. Yes, please,’ he replies. ‘Hot chocolate would be lovely.’
My heart squeezes at his politeness.
‘Shall I carry on colouring in my picture,’ he says, ‘or shall I help you? Because I’m really good at stirring in the chocolate.’
‘Well, that’s lucky,’ I reply, ‘because I’m terrible at stirring in the chocolate, so it’s a good thing you’re here to help me.’
He grins and slides off the stool.

What am I doing? I need to call the police right now. This child is missing from somewhere. But, oh God, just give me ten minutes with this sweet little boy who believes I’m his mother. Just a few moments of make-believe and then I’ll do the right thing. I reach out to touch his head and immediately snatch my hand back. What am I thinking? This boy has to go back to his real mother; she must be paralysed with worry.

He smiles up at me again and my chest constricts.
‘Okay,’ I say, taking a breath and blinking back any threat of tears. ‘We’ll do the chocolate in a minute. I’m just going to make a quick phone call in the hall, okay?’
‘Oh, okay.’
‘Carry on with your drawing for a little while. I won’t be long.’
He climbs back up onto the stool and selects a dark green pencil before resuming his colouring with a look of serious concentration. I turn away and pad out to the hall, where I retrieve my phone from my bag. But instead of dialling the police, I call another number. It rings twice.
‘Tess.’ The voice at the other end of the line is clipped, wary.
‘Hi, Scott. I need you to come over.’
‘What? Now?’
‘Yes. Please, it’s important.’
‘Tessa, I’m knackered, and it’s hideous out there. I’ve just sat down with a cup of tea. Can’t it wait till tomorrow?’
‘No.’ Standing by the hall table, I glimpse Harry through the doorway, the curls of his fringe flopping over one eye. Am I dreaming him?
‘What’s the matter?’ Scott says this the way he always says it. What he really means is, What’s the matter now? Because there’s always something the matter. I’m his damaged wife, who’s always having some new drama or make-believe crisis. Only this time he’ll see it’s something real, it’s something not of my making.
‘I can’t tell you over the phone, it’s too weird. You have to come over, see for yourself.’
His sigh comes long and hard down the phone. ‘Give me twenty minutes, okay?’
‘Okay. Thanks, Scott. Get here as soon as you can.’

My heart pounds, trying to make sense of what’s happening. That little boy in there says an angel brought him. He says I’m his mummy. But he’s not mine. So where on earth did he come from?
I take a breath and go back into the kitchen. The air is warm, welcoming, cosy. Nothing like the usual sterile atmosphere in here.
‘Can we make hot chocolate now?’ Harry looks up with shining eyes.
‘Of course. I’ll get the mugs and the chocolate. You open that drawer over there and pass me the smallest pan you can find.’
He eagerly does as I ask.

‘Harry,’ I say. ‘Where are your parents, your mummy and daddy?’
He stares at the pans in the drawer.
‘Harry?’ I prompt.
‘They’re not here,’ he replies. ‘Is this one small enough?’ He lifts out a stainless-steel milk pan and waves it in my direction.
‘Perfect.’ I nod and take it from him. ‘Can you tell me where you live?’
No reply.
‘Did you run away from home? Are you lost?’
‘No.’
‘But where’s your house or flat? The place you live? Is it here in Friern Barnet? In London? Close to my house?’
He scowls and looks down at the flagstone floor.
‘Do you have a last name?’ I ask as gently as I can.
He looks up at me, his chin jutting out. ‘No.’
I try again, crouching down so I’m on his level. ‘Harry, darling, what’s your mummy’s name?’
‘You’re my new mummy. I have to stay here now.’ His bottom lip quivers.
‘Okay, sweetie. Don’t worry. Let’s just make our drinks, shall we?’
He nods vigorously and sniffs.

I give his hand a squeeze and straighten up. I wish I hadn’t had to call Scott. And yet I need him to be here when I ring the police. I can’t deal with them on my own, not after what happened before. I’m dreading their arrival – the questions, the sideways glances, the implication that I might have done something wrong. I haven’t done anything wrong, though. Have I?
And Harry… he’ll be taken away. What if his parents have been abusive? What if he has to go into foster care? A thousand thoughts run through my mind, each worse than the one before. But it’s not my place to decide what happens to him. There’s nothing I can do about any of it, because he’s not mine.
I don’t have a child. Not any more.

About the author

Shalini Boland lives in Dorset, England with her husband, two children and their cheeky terrier cross. Before kids, she was signed to Universal Music Publishing as a singer/songwriter, but now she spends her days writing psychological thrillers (in between school runs and hanging out endless baskets of laundry).

THE SECRET MOTHER (published by Bookouture) is now available to pre-order!

Shalini’s debut psychological thriller THE GIRL FROM THE SEA reached No 1 in the US Audible charts and No 7 in the UK Kindle charts. Her second thriller THE BEST FRIEND reached no 2 in the US Audible charts and No 10 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts. It also achieved number 1 in all its categories and was a Kindle All Star title for several months in a row. Shalini’s recent release THE MILLIONAIRE’S WIFE reached No 9 in the Kindle UK charts.

Be the first to hear about her new releases here: http://eepurl.com/b4vb45

Shalini is also the author of two bestselling Young Adult series as well as an atmospheric WWII novel with a time-travel twist.

http://www.facebook.com/ShaliniBolandAuthor
http://www.shaliniboland.co.uk
https://twitter.com/ShaliniBoland

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