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I’ve come a long way in this journey. I’m especially proud and excited that the first book in the second series (Reardon Files) is now released (27th November) and selling well with some gratifying reviews.
A bit of background: I’d always been afraid of publishing, figuring trolls would jump on my first attempt at fiction, despite being a commercial writer for 20 years. It’s scary baring your soul and showing it to the world and asking them to pay you to read it.
I’d dreamed about doing so for most of my life, so in October 2014 I published my first title Gypsy Hunted. Yeah, the trolls came, but I survived (thanks to my other half, the lovely Steve). He showed me that even some of the greatest writers got bad reviews from faceless strangers so suppressing the desire to hide under the desk and never write again, I kept going. The result was three more books.
This one is special though. I wanted Connor to come out of the shadows as a main character, and in this series he has. He’s an ex cop, disillusioned with bureaucracy and struggling with not only his supernatural abilities, but the darkness within himself. It’s his first criminal case since becoming a private investigator, and he’ll need every ounce of reserve of strength and persistence to find the murderer.
Here’s a sneak peak of Sentinel Rising: (Just 0.99 until 1 December!)
He hadn’t meant to kill the love of his life. As he stared at the lifeless form, a mess of tangled limbs on the soft carpet, a chill seeped up his spine, through his veins, and deep into the marrow of his bones.
He missed her so much, his darling Lauren. The love of his life, mother to his only child. How could she betray him? After all they’d been through, how could their life together be forgotten and dismissed as if none of it had ever happened? The secret conversations, the gossip, the problems solved together, the whispered moments before they drifted off to sleep—none of it mattered anymore. The loving Lauren he’d known had been caring and affectionate. Not the cold unfeeling bitch from hell that had screeched like an animal, told him he had no say in her life or in their child’s life. When had she become uninterested in what he had to say?
When he had tried to explain why they should stay together, her eyes had glazed over and shifted to her computer, to a picture on the wall, to the clothes he was wearing, but never to his face, never to meet his gaze.
Her bright blue eyes had no longer reflected anything. She’d moved on a long time ago and taken her soul with her. He hadn’t realised how screwed up and selfish she had become until their final confrontation.
He hadn’t meant to kill her, but now she lay still next to the filing cabinet where she had hit her head. She was gone forever and never coming back. At first, he’d tried to wake her up. He’d told her he was sorry, and that he never should have yelled at her like that or pushed her. When she hadn’t responded, he’d gone into panic mode, wrapping her in a sheet he’d pulled from the bed. But then he’d had no idea what to do with her body. He had knelt beside her, brushing her hair and removing the smeared makeup from under her unseeing eyes. Then the rush of what he’d done strangled him, closing his throat and filling him as he bellowed her name.
The immediacy of the moment, the reality of it hurt, ears ringing and the reverberations in the room pushing back at him. The loss of all he held dear, everything that truly mattered to him had been taken as if it never existed. He should have controlled himself better, and positively should never have pushed her so hard she fell backwards and hit her head on the corner of the cabinet. A fierce dark beast had possessed him, burned its way inside his ribcage somehow, demanding to be heard, to be avenged, to win.
Now he’d lost, really lost. There would be no coming back from this. The emptiness wouldn’t leave, his chest a brittle shell of nothingness, like the dead animals he saw by the side of the road before they’d been splattered to a pulp, their fur matted and blowing in the back wind from each passing car. He almost wanted the searing pain back, the fury, something to reassure him he still retained some essence that made him human.
He pulled the sheet over her face and lifted her in his arms. She was heavy. He held her there, swaying for a few seconds, suffering under the weight, wishing for more pain to ease his guilt, penance for a crime that could never be repaid.
The clock beside the bed said 11.49pm. It was Sunday night, so few people would be on the roads. The neighbours pretty much kept to themselves, and no lights from the local industrial estate were twinkling in the distance. No one would see them.
He carried her out to his car, pressed the automatic unlocking device on his keys, and laid her carefully in the boot. He wished he had a pillow to put underneath her head, but she’d be safe for now.
He opened the passenger door and climbed in, and then started up the ignition. They had both loved it out here, and sometimes they’d sit at their favourite look out spot on the cliff, gazing out to the coast, surrounded by the city lights below them. There were still some reminders of civilization but not enough to distract them. He would take her there now. She would be happy with Wilson’s Point as her final resting place.
Sweat prickled up his arms. He pushed down on the button to his right and the pane of glass from the driver’s side window disappeared with a whir. Memories pushed their way in: their first meeting, the first time they made love, and the first time they’d planned a future as they lay in bed, their feet intertwined.
He didn’t know how long he drove, but eventually he recognised the turnoff for their special spot. As he stepped out of the car, the bright moon watched over him, lighting the area for the task ahead. It had to be done quickly. Opening the back of the car, he reached over for the shovel, and walked eight steps to a low hanging tree. Testing the ground for softness, he found the perfect place for Lauren to rest a couple of metres away where tree roots weren’t poking through the earth.
He began to dig, tentatively initially. Then he thought about Lauren waiting in the back of the car, sleeping inside her pink sheet. He dug harder, the hole small at first, and then he lengthened it until there was enough room for her to rest in. Droplets of sweat formed on his spine, and then gathered into a trickle. He put down the shovel and returned to the car. Placing one arm under the back of her knees and the other just under her shoulders, he heaved her into his arms. At five foot four, she’d never been a big woman and, at that moment, he was thankful for her slender figure.
He trudged over to the hole and squatted down to lay her in it.
“Goodbye, darling. I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “Forgive me, please. I’ll never forget you.”
He began shoveling dirt from the pile beside the hole to cover her. Once done, he patted the area down as best he could, brushed the dirt off his hands, and got back into the car for the return trip to Melbourne.
It had been so long since Connor Reardon got a late-night call—more than two years, in fact. In a previous life, he’d accepted the calls at ungodly hours as par for the course. It was always one dispatcher or another, telling him in a bored tone there had been another murder and he needed to get his butt to the crime scene. Eventually he’d quit in disgust, tired of the red tape and politics from the brass.
When he’d initially awoke, jolted from sleep by the sudden noise, he’d been in the middle of a bizarre vision, one in which his brother was still alive, and his nephew hadn’t been incarcerated for killing a detective.
He opened his eyes and let them adjust to the dim light from the window. The still form of his fiancé, Gypsy Shields lay to his right. It would take more than a ringing telephone to wake her. His phone continued to buzz its way across the dark laminated top of his bedside table. He dragged his left arm from beneath the covers to find the lamp. The phone screen cast a glow, and he sat up in bed. Finding the lamp, he flicked the switch and grabbed the phone. He stared at the screen, which said 11.49pm.
Had someone died? Where the hell was the fire?