The Deadly revenge ebook will be available on Amazon this weekend, and the paperback version should be out by August. Below are the first few chapters of the book. It is a little more gory than the first book in the series, so I hope that doesn’t put you off!
Ten years ago…
Grace stepped inside the lift, lowered her heavy shopping bags to the ground and pressed the button for the third floor. The smell of pine cleaning fluid was so strong, it made her nose twitch.
Mrs. Anderson, who lived on the floor above Grace and her father, must have been cleaning again. She had a thing about germs. Grace was always catching her polishing the handrails on the stairs, and the smell of bleach often wafted down to their floor when Mrs. Anderson was scrubbing her landing, which she did practically every day.
When Grace once commented on how the whole block of flats smelled of cleaning products, Mrs. Anderson took it as a compliment, and folded her arms underneath her matronly bosom and beamed. “Thank you, Grace. You can never be too careful with germs. As you know, after all the time you have had to spend in hospital with your troubles.”
Grace never mentioned the cleaning again. She didn’t like to be reminded of “her troubles,” as Mrs. Anderson called them.
When the lift reached the third floor, Grace bent down to lift up the plastic carrier bags. Just as she was about to step out of the lift, she felt one of the handles give way, and the bag fell to the floor with a thud, followed by an ominous shattering sound.
She quickly inspected the damage. A glass jar of pasta sauce had smashed open and the red sauce had leaked over the rest of the shopping. Grace held the bag out in front of her, so the sauce wouldn’t drip onto her clothes.
The little yappy dog next door was barking like mad. Mrs. Rainer, who owned the dog, was stone deaf and never seemed to notice the barking. Grace wondered what set it off this time? Something on the TV? Or a car alarm?
Swearing under her breath, Grace lifted her key to the lock.
The door was open.
That was strange. Her father wasn’t due home from work until after eight. Maybe he had come home early, and hadn’t closed the door properly.
Grace pushed open the door and stepped into the flat. She was about to call out when she heard voices.
It wasn’t her dad.
Had she left the television on? She entered the hallway and set down the bags, the leaking pasta sauce forgotten. She walked on, towards the voices. Maybe it was the radio?
There was a crash, followed by a laugh. Too late, she realised these were real voices, they weren’t on the television or radio.
For a second, she hesitated, something she would later regret bitterly, then adrenaline kicked in. She needed to get out of here; she needed to call for help.
She turned to run, but tripped over the shopping bags and fell against the hall table, sending the vase on top clattering to the floor.
“Who’s that?” A male voice shouted out from inside the flat.
Grace scrambled to her feet, her heart thumping, and clambered over the shopping. She made it into the hallway, but before she could get away, she felt hands grab her, pulling her back inside the flat.
“Let me go!” Grace struggled, turning to face the intruder. She kicked out at him. “Let me go.”
The man’s cheeks were covered in old acne scars. His eyes didn’t focus properly as he stared at her. “You’re not going anywhere.” He grasped a handful of her hair and yanked it hard.
Grace pushed against him, but he pulled her closer. She could smell his stale sweat and rancid breath.
“Please just let me go.”
The intruder smiled, pulling out a knife.
If he hadn’t been holding her up by her hair, Grace would have sunk to her knees.
He ran the knife along the hollow of her exposed throat.
“I’ve got plans for you.”
He nudged Grace forward with his body. “Get inside. Here, Gordon, look what I found.”
In Grace’s front room, another man stood in the corner, unplugging the television set.
He turned to face them, and his eyes widened when he saw Grace. “What are you doing? Don’t let her see our faces.” He pulled up his sweatshirt so it covered the lower half of his face.
“Thought she could tell us where she keeps the cash,” the first intruder said, grinning.
“You’re an idiot.” Gordon staggered over, clutching the DVD player. “She’s seen us. Now she can identify us. And if that’s not bad enough, you just said my name!”
They argued back and forth, getting more and more agitated, and Grace waited for her chance. When the first intruder released her arms so he could wave his arms about to emphasise a point, she took off.
She spun around and made for the door.
One of the men yelled in anger, and she could hear things being knocked over as they chased her.
She almost made it. She was almost at the door when she felt a heavy blow to the back of her head.
Grace slumped to the floor.
Ronnie sat in the squat, leaning back against the wall. He loosened the tourniquet on his arm and stretched out his legs in front of him. He looked over at Scott and grinned at him.
“It’s good stuff…” Scott said as his eyelids fluttered.
Ronnie agreed. This was good stuff. He settled back to enjoy the high, oblivious to the squalor of the room.
None of that mattered now. He didn’t care about the food wrappers and drink cans scattered on the floor, or about the toothache that had been gnawing at him all day. All that stuff just slipped away. He felt good. Really good.
Even the sound of Letitia in the bedroom down the hall, servicing one of her clients, faded into the background.
He floated into his little bit of paradise. He felt warm and safe and knew everything was going to work out just fine. Soon, his life would turn around, and he would get himself a job and a nice place to live, and when his ex saw just how well he had sorted his life out, she would be impressed. She would want him back, she would let him see his little girl, and they would be a family again.
Some minutes later, Ronnie heard the sound of retching. He tried to block it out, to get back to his high. He didn’t want to come down yet. Reality sucked.
But the sound got worse.
“Here, Ron. I don’t feel so good,” Scott said.
Ronnie opened his eyes, blinked and tried to focus on Scott, who was swaying from side to side. At least he thought Scott was swaying, maybe he was the one swaying?
Suddenly Scott groaned and doubled over, clutching his stomach. He cried out in pain. “It hurts!”
Ronnie rubbed a hand over his face, willing himself to snap out of it. He shuffled over on his knees to Scott who was crouched on the floor.
“What’s wrong?” Ronnie asked, trying to get Scott to face him. “Come on, mate. What’s the matter?”
But Scott stayed clenched in a tight ball, trembling and muttering, “It hurts,” over and over.
It was probably a bad trip, Ronnie thought. He put a hand on Scott’s shoulder. “It’s all right, Scotty. Just try and relax.”
Scott stayed like that for a little while, and Ronnie felt himself drifting again, so nice and so peaceful. He kept his hand on Scott’s shoulder.
Just when Ronnie thought Scott was over the worst of it. He felt Scott’s entire body shudder violently.
He was having a fit.
Ronnie tried to pull Scott onto his side. He thought that was right. He had heard about the recovery position, but wasn’t there something about making sure the person having the fit didn’t bite through their tongue? Or maybe that was just an old wives’ tale?
Scott relaxed and his body flopped back against the floor.
“Scott?” Ronnie shook Scott’s arm. “You all right?”
Scott rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling with blank, un-seeing eyes.
Ronnie looked down at him, and saw a miracle.
From the corner of Scott’s eyes, two red teardrops appeared. Ronnie reverently made the sign of the cross. It was just like that statue of the saint Ronnie had read about. Scott was crying tears of blood.
Ronnie stood, transfixed, stunned into silence.
Then the silence was broken by a roar from Scott.
The veins in Scott’s temples bulged and the tendons in his neck strained under the skin. He vomited blood. It splattered everywhere.
It was like a horror film. Ronnie had never seen so much blood. It was on his clothes, even under his shoes. The floor was slick with it.
Ronnie staggered out of the room, trying to control his rapid breathing. This isn’t real. This is just a bad trip. It can’t be real.
He went into the filthy bathroom, ignoring the dirt-encrusted floor and stained sink. He turned the taps on full, then splashed water on his face.
Come on, Ronnie, think!
He looked down at his shirt. It was covered in blood. Oh God, it was real. This was really happening. What the hell was he supposed to do?
Ronnie hammered on Letitia’s door.
“Go away.” Letitia’s shrill voice carried through the thick door.
Ronnie tried the handle, but they’d locked it. “It’s an emergency. I need a phone.” He kicked the door. “Open up. Now.”
The door was wrenched open, leaving Ronnie off balance. He staggered, then steadied himself against the door frame.
In front of him stood an obese man, wearing only a pair of white, grubby boxer shorts. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he snarled at Ronnie, getting in his face, before suddenly taking a step back. “Is that blood?” he asked, pointing at Ronnie’s shirt.
Ronnie nodded. “I need to use your phone… to call an ambulance. My friend…” Ronnie’s voice trailed off as he looked back along the corridor.
“You’re not using mine. No way.” The fat man yanked on a pair of black trousers. “I’m not getting involved. I’m out of here.” He picked up his shirt and pushed past Letitia, heading out of the room.
Letitia handed Ronnie her mobile phone. “You can use mine.”
Ronnie took the phone and called for an ambulance. The operator asked him to stay on the line, but Ronnie hung up. Letitia had disappeared.
Ronnie found Letitia kneeling over Scott. As Ronnie entered the room, she turned. “He’s still alive. I think I can see him breathing.”
Ronnie leaned over, and sure enough, he could see the faint rise and fall of Scott’s chest, along with bubbles of blood foaming at the corners of his mouth.
Doctor Anna Sorensen was sleeping in the on-call room when her pager went off. For a moment, she looked around the poky little cubicle, no bigger than a cupboard, and wondered where on earth she was.
She had been dreaming about suturing a wound, which kept getting bigger and bigger, no matter how long she worked on it. She groaned into the pillow. She would give almost anything right now to be in her own bed, with nothing to do for the rest of the night, but sleep.
She sat up, and slipped on her shoes. Rubbing sleep from her eyes, she looked at her pager. It was Accident and Emergency.
She left the on-call room and walked along the corridor to Accident and Emergency. The junior sister on duty greeted her and told her they were expecting an emergency admission, ETA five minutes.
Anna thanked her and headed to the ambulance bay.
Claire, an experienced nurse, was already out there, waiting. She rubbed the goosebumps on her arms.
“What are we expecting?” Anna asked.
“Drug overdose. Breathing problems and vomiting blood.”
Anna sighed. “Sounds like a GI bleed. Looks like it’s going to be a long night.”
Sirens sounded in the distance, and both Anna and Claire turned as the ambulance pulled into the bay.
The first paramedic clambered out of the back and secured the doors open. “It’s a bad one.” He adjusted the pulleys on the trolley.
They got the patient out of the ambulance and started to wheel him inside while the paramedic reeled off information. They’d already started a drip to maintain the patient’s blood pressure.
“There was so much blood,” the paramedic said, shaking his head. “I can’t believe the poor bloke has any left.”
They entered the double doors to the department.
“First name’s Scott. Got that from his friend here.” The paramedic nodded behind him, indicating a short, black man with an afro.
It looked like Scott’s friend had taken something, too. His eyes were glassy, and his pupils were like pinpoints. He followed them in a daze.
“Last name?” Anna asked.
The paramedic shook his head. “Don’t know.”
Anna turned to Scott’s friend. “What’s your name?”
The man blinked. “Uh, Ronnie.”
“Okay, Ronnie, can you tell me what your friend has taken?”
Ronnie opened and closed his mouth a couple of times.
“It’s important, Ronnie. I can’t treat him properly if I don’t know what he has taken.”
Ronnie looked down at his shoes and scratched his arms. “I think he took heroin.” He rocked slightly, his eyes closing as he spoke.
And so have you, by the looks of it, Anna thought.
After the paramedic left to fill out his paperwork, Anna asked Ronnie to wait outside. Inside the trauma room, Anna checked Scott’s vital signs, which were better than she expected from the look of him.
She took four blood samples. The first had a light pink lid. She would send that to haematology, to find out how much blood Scott had lost. The second vial had a red lid, and this sample would be used for cross-matching donor blood, as Scott would need a few units soon if he were going to make it through the night. A third tube, with a yellow lid, would go to biochemistry for standard analysis, and the final tube, with a purple lid, was the sample for the coagulation tests, which would hopefully tell her why Scott was bleeding.
Anna labelled each tube of blood with a bright yellow “danger of infection” sticker. Claire took the samples and a request form and packed them inside a plastic capsule. She inserted the plastic capsule into the pneumatic tube, which was directly linked to the laboratory downstairs.
Once they had managed to stabilise Scott and get the O-negative blood hooked up, Claire took some damp cotton wool and tried to clean away some of the blood from his face. “Poor kid,” she said. “He looks so young. Not much older than my son, Tom.”
Anna took off her gloves and plastic apron. “Will you be okay for a minute? I want to go and speak to his friend. I’ve got a feeling he won’t hang around for long.”
Anna found Ronnie sitting on one of the hard plastic chairs outside the trauma room. He was shaking and he kept scratching his thin arms. Anna sat down next to him.
Ronnie’s hands, clenched into tight fists, rested on his knees. “Is he going to be okay?”
“At the moment, he is stable. But his condition is extremely serious. We are trying to replace the blood he has lost with a transfusion.”
Ronnie nodded. “Then he’ll be okay?”
“I hope so, Ronnie,” Anna said. “But you know, every time he takes drugs, he is taking a risk.”
“It’s never happened before.”
“Ronnie, tell me, did Scott inject the heroin or smoke it?” Anna had already seen track marks, but she wanted to get as much information from Ronnie as she could.
Ronnie’s lower lip trembled so much that Anna knew tears weren’t far away. “That’s good. Really helpful. Now I need to find Scott’s next of kin. His parents? Do you know how I can contact them?”
Ronnie shook his head. “Scott told me he hasn’t seen his parents in years.”
“You have no way of contacting them, at all?”
“No. I mean he’s a… friend… someone I hang out with, but I mean…” Ronnie buried his head in his hands. “I don’t even know his last name.”
Anna waited for a moment, to give Ronnie time to collect himself. She put a hand on his shoulder. “There’s something else I have to ask you, Ronnie.”
Ronnie looked up at her through bloodshot eyes.
“Did you use the same heroin?” Anna asked.
Anna knew the answer before Ronnie opened his mouth. The horror was etched on his face. “You mean that’s going to happen to me?”