I am deep in edits at the moment. ARCs will be distributed soon and then onto the release!
I'm still finishing things off, but for the moment I thought I could share the first chapter of the book. This is so different to anything I've ever written, and the first chapter is a glimpse of the darker side of the book.
I need to get back to edits, so here we go!
Today is going to be the happiest day of my life. My wedding day
I wake and smile to myself, but something’s not quite right. The air is chilly and this doesn’t smell like my bedroom. My eyes are heavy, and I struggle to open them.
I blink, Mum’s built in work desks coming into focus. Mum’s sewing room? When she moved in this space was for storage. She had a bathroom put in so she could spend her days working down here, as she picked up sewing jobs from others in the town.
I turn my head. I’m on a mattress on the floor, and her sewing gear is gone. There are still the cupboards she stored her fabric in, emptied with the doors wide open, and the table and machine have been moved.
A sharp pain tears through my left leg, and my back aches from the awkward angle I’ve been lying. I try and push myself up on my elbows to take a look, but my head swims and the whole thing is way too much effort. What the hell is going on?
It takes a lot of effort, but I manage to get myself up a little. Enough to push back the blanket and spot the large bruise coming up on my calf. What happened last night, and why don’t I know how I ended up down here? I have no idea what the time is, but I’m marrying Adam today.
Panic rises in me as I struggle to stay upright, and I let myself sink down into the mattress again.
The answers come in the form of my mother. The handle rattles as she opens the door, and her heels click as she walks down the wooden stairs.
“You’re awake, sleepyhead,” she says.
“What the hell is going on?”
She gets onto her knees beside the mattress and leans over, kissing me on the forehead.
“I’m taking care of you. I brought you breakfast.”
“Why am I down here?”
Mum sighs. “I told you. I’m taking care of you.”
“I’m not sick. I’ve got to get ready. What’s the time? I have to be at the courthouse by ten.”
As she shakes her head, her eyes so sad, I know I’m in big trouble. “Shhh.”
“I have to protect you Lily. That boy’s just going to break your heart.”
A sob breaks from me, hot tears spilling down my cheeks. “What have you done?”
She smiles, and I know she truly believes the words that come out of her mouth next. “I’m keeping you safe. I won’t have you go through what I did. He’ll get you pregnant and then he’ll leave, and you’ll struggle the rest of your life. Or, you stay here with me.”
“Adam’s not like that.” I’m so weak, I can barely protest. What did she give me? She’s been on so many different drugs over the years, it could be anything.]
Bile rises in my throat. I push to stand up, but I’m so weak my hand barely moves me. Inside, I rage to escape but my body fails and my fury only grows. Everything’s foggy and so many thoughts pass through my mind as I’m unable to act on them.
Mum … no …
I start counting the days, but it’s hard when you have no way of keeping record.
When the power gets cut, I know it’s been at least six weeks. In the past Mum’s missed a couple of bills before it’s got to that stage.
The lighting’s usually pretty good in the basement. Mum had this place refitted several years ago when she turned it into her sewing room. The only saving grace is that there’s a toilet with handbasin in the corner.
Now there’s nothing, and I lie in the dark and listen to my heart beating for company.
A handful of times a day I get to the bathroom and back, but I always end up back in the same place. There’s nothing else to sit on.
Adam knows I’m gone—he must. Does he not wonder where I am? Did he come looking for me? Or has he deserted me just like Mum said he would?
The odds had always been against us. His mother took an instant dislike to me, no doubt buying into the rumours about Mum. For Mum’s part, she hasn’t done too badly these past years until now. Apart from the mending work she does, she’s kept to herself. It helped a lot when she started getting a few jobs from that weird commune place up on McKenzie’s Mountain.
It isn’t really a mountain, more like a hilly area up in the bush. Commune or cult, I don’t know, but it’s somewhere where they all dress the same and act weird. Whatever. It’s funny the random things that pop into your mind when you have nowhere to go and no way to get anywhere.
It’s Adam that weighs on my mind the most. A few weeks ago he loved me more than anything else on the planet. At least that was what he said. Where is he now?
Instead of being Mrs Adam Campbell, I’m sitting or lying around and no one’s found me. I thought this place would be the first place anyone would come looking, that Mum’s reputation would be enough for someone check. She has a history of being a little eccentric, and thanks to the open mouth policy that some people in Copper Creek practice, people know about her different medication … and yet, nothing. No knocks on the door. Only the occasional sound of her heels on the stairs as she brings me food.
When I get out of here, I’ll ask him for answers, ask why he’s abandoned me. My mind twists everything, including the love I bore him. My heart still belongs to him, but did his ever belong to me?
Doubt is demoralising.
Being demoralised is scary.
It’s the kind of thing that can kill you in this situation. That overwhelming feeling that there is no hope.
I close my eyes and think about the dark house above.
Mum wouldn’t disconnect the power deliberately. Without fail she watches her soap operas, and how’s she going to catch her daily dose of drama with no power?
I pray she gets it back before she decides to light the house with candles. No one knows I’m here if anything goes wrong. So simple and yet so deadly.
This is a nightmare I can’t wake up from.
It’s the dark that haunts my dreams.
Part time writer, full time worker and mother. Will read almost anything. Enjoys writing and loves all her characters a little too much ...