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Blog Tour – ‘The Weekend Spa Break’ by Anne John-Ligali

‘The Weekend Spa Break’, the second part of the Friendship Online Series, was published as an eBook on the 30th April 2018 by Books and Authors UK.  Having enjoyed ‘The Big Event’, I was delighted when Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources invited me to take part in this blog tour.  I would like to thank both the author and Rachel for my review copy.

You will find out what I thought of this book soon, but first here’s what it’s about.

 

Book Blurb

Friendships Online Series
Part Two

After finally meeting in person at the publishing party of the season, Constance and Estelle are determined not to let their friendship return to mere virtual champagne bottles and uploaded pictures of food.

It’s been a busy year, and Constance feels it’s time to reward herself with the spa break Estelle gave her for Christmas. Naturally, Constance wouldn’t dream of taking anyone other than Estelle, and this will provide the perfect opportunity to bond with her new chum.

As the excited pair spend some quality time together, they realise it’s not just writing books they have in common, but something that goes much deeper. After a few Jacuzzi sessions, facials, pedicures, and a massage by sexy Senior Therapist, Julio, everything seems to be peachy until an unexpected visitor turns Constance’s weekend of bliss … on its head.

 

A two-day spa break.

Sparkling water on tap.

And the perfect massage.

But who’s rubbing who up the wrong way?

 

My Review

I don’t normally like reading books in parts, preferring instead to devour the whole novel, but I was really looking forward to reading ‘The Weekend Spa Break’ and catching up with Constance and Estelle. I really do like the idea of this series and I think it’s working out well. I love the way Anne John-Ligali describes things. I felt that I got to know a lot more about the characters this time too which was great.

I loved reading about Glitzys Hotel and Health Spa. It all sounded so nice. If only I could wave a magic wand right now and hey presto find myself standing in the same hotel with all that delicious food. The author has done a good job of tantalising my taste buds. Like Constance though I would probably sneak something in.

I think the spa break really brought Constance and Estelle closer together. They got to know each other properly and discovered that they actually had a lot more in common than they thought, leading to a number of possibilities in the future. It really is amazing how virtual friendships can develop. Social media played a big part in the story too of course.

I am really looking forward to reading the third part of this series.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

~~~~~

Do you like the sound of this book?  You can purchase it from Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2GVSnZX

 

Competition

To mark the release of part two in the friendships series, I’m giving away a Sanctuary Spa gift set and a signed printed and binded copy of The Weekend Spa Break to one lucky winner.  At present, there are no physical copies of The Weekend Spa Break available, so this is a treat.

To enter you only have to do is visit my Twitter page https://twitter.com/AnneJohnLigali and retweet the pinned tweet showing this GIVEAWAY.

A winner will be chosen at random by Tweet Draw and announced on Saturday the 19th of May at 20:00hrs.

Competition is open worldwide.

Good luck!

 

About Anne John-Ligali

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews. She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

Anne has always loved stories and read many books as a child, including the entire Sweet Valley High and Caitlyn series. Her interest in writing fiction came years later, when she began writing for pleasure in 2007.

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

 

Social Media Links

Author blog: http://annejohnligali.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/booksnauthorsuk/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneJohnLigali

Author FB: https://www.facebook.com/annejohnligali/

 

Books and Authors UK: www.booksandauthors.co.uk

Books and Authors UK Twitter: https://twitter.com/BooksNAuthorsUK

Books and Authors UK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Books-and-Authors-UK-674729805905507/

 

Trailer for ‘The Weekend Spa Break’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFdx5ZReGRU

Cover Reveal – ‘The Weekend Spa Break’ by Anne John-Ligali

I am delighted to be participating in the cover reveal for ‘The Weekend Spa Break’, the second part of the Friendship Online Series, which is being published on the 30th April 2018 as an eBook by Books and Authors UK.

There will be a blog tour to coincide with the publication of this novella from the 30th April to the 14th May 2018 and I will be just one of the bloggers taking part.

It’s time now to feast your eyes on the cover. Are you ready?

 

Isn’t the cover simply divine! I could literally look at it all day.

Here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Friendships Online Series
Part Two

After finally meeting in person at the publishing party of the season, Constance and Estelle are determined not to let their friendship return to mere virtual champagne bottles and uploaded pictures of food.

It’s been a busy year, and Constance feels it’s time to reward herself with the spa break Estelle gave her for Christmas. Naturally, Constance wouldn’t dream of taking anyone other than Estelle, and this will provide the perfect opportunity to bond with her new chum.

As the excited pair spend some quality time together, they realise it’s not just writing books they have in common, but something that goes much deeper. After a few Jacuzzi sessions, facials, pedicures, and a massage by sexy Senior Therapist, Julio, everything seems to be peachy until an unexpected visitor turns Constance’s weekend of bliss … on its head.

 

A two-day spa break.

Sparkling water on tap.

And the perfect massage.

But who’s rubbing who up the wrong way?

~~~~~

‘The Weekend Spa Break’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-
https://amzn.to/2GVSnZX

 

About Anne John-Ligali

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews. She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

Anne has always loved stories and read many books as a child, including the entire Sweet Valley High and Caitlyn series. Her interest in writing fiction came years later, when she began writing for pleasure in 2007.

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

 

Social Media Links

Author blog: http://annejohnligali.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/booksnauthorsuk/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneJohnLigali

Author FB: https://www.facebook.com/annejohnligali/

 

Books and Authors UK: www.booksandauthors.co.uk

Books and Authors UK Twitter: https://twitter.com/BooksNAuthorsUK

Books and Authors UK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Books-and-Authors-UK-674729805905507/

 

Short Story by Laura Wilkinson

Scary Stories Banner

We’re nearly coming to the end of this event now.  Here’s a short story from the lovely Laura Wilkinson.

 

The Whispering Wall

Laura Wilkinson

The first time Lucile heard the crying, it was the dead of a summer’s afternoon. She assumed it was her next-door neighbour’s son until she remembered they were on holiday. When she told Edward that evening, he smiled and shook his head.

‘You’re imagining it. Either that or the bloody woman’s invited some of her friends to use the house while she’s away,’ he said, returning to the Independent.

‘We’d hear them if there were visitors, wouldn’t we, Eddy?’

He peered over the pages, eyes bloodshot, and said, ‘Probably. I can’t imagine any of her lot being quiet. But look, Lulu, it’s all in your head. Not surprising after everything you’ve been through.’

‘We’ve been through,’ she whispered. ‘Anyway, I rather like her.’

‘You need to rest more, darling,’ he said, before disappearing behind his newspaper again. ‘You’re overdoing it.’

Lucile wondered how she could possibly be overdoing it. She hadn’t worked in six months, not since she’d been ill, and she’d done nothing in the house. The move had been Edward’s idea. She needed somewhere quieter, somewhere to build a future, he’d said. Highgate was perfect and the house backed onto the cemetery – a place they both loved. Had loved. Edward rarely went there nowadays.

Later, Lucile lay in bed staring at the walls, an open, unread book resting on her chest. She could hear only Edward, the soft whistle of his out-breath. She closed the novel, rolled over and watched him sleep. Flat on his back, the duvet pulled up to his hips, sweat beaded on his forehead, his lips fell apart and this slackness gave him the appearance of youth. She longed to stroke the fleshy rise of his belly, to feel his skin against hers. She reached out, and then stopped. Her hand hovered over his chest, the hairs tickling her palms. Sighing, Lucile turned over and closed her eyes; he would be furious if she woke him up.

She woke to the sound of whimpering. The room was clothed in shadow. Startled, she sat up. She held her breath and strained to hear more. There was a long pause, then it came again, louder this time. Lucile pulled the duvet aside and climbed out of bed, careful not to disturb Edward. She stood still for a moment, her feet welcoming the cool of the bare floorboards; a breeze wafted round her ankles and she realised that the bathroom window had been left open. She went to close it, looking out over the gardens first, half expecting to see Samantha and her boy.

Crazy. It’s the middle of the night. Of course they’re not there. They’re on holiday, you fool, she thought.

As she crept back to the bedroom, it came again: the sound of crying from the far wall. The party wall. A deep wardrobe covered its entire length; not quite walk-in, but large enough for the estate agent to mention it a few times. Lucile slid open the heavy doors. Dresses, jackets, shirts and suits swayed from side to side. She parted the clothes and leaned in. Nothing. She waited, but the crying had stopped. The only sound was the rustling of plastic covered shirts, fresh from the dry cleaners.

As she prepared Edward’s breakfast, Lucile decided not to mention the crying again. He would only think she was making a fuss. Since his recent promotion, he’d been more distant than ever.

He sat down at the breakfast bar smelling of aftershave. Lucile didn’t recognise the fragrance and was about to ask what it was when Edward said, ‘Lulu darling, I’m afraid I have to go away again. One of Iain’s clients, his mother’s had another episode. Needs twenty-four hour care, at least until he gets a home sorted. ’

‘God, how awful, poor Iain. And Teri. Do pass on my best wishes.’

‘I will, sweetheart. Bloody inconsiderate disease, Alzheimer’s.’

Lucile smiled at his feeble attempt to make light of Iain’s pain.

He came up behind her and squeezed her shoulders. ‘Sorry I didn’t mention it last night. I didn’t want to upset you after that crying business. You’ll be alright won’t you, darling?’

‘Yes, yes, of course, I’ll be fine. Are you going anywhere exciting?’ She turned the bacon in the grill.

‘God, no. Brussels, then The Hague – bloody boring places. I’ll bring you something lovely.’ He gave her shoulders another quick squeeze and sat down again.

‘Why don’t you get some of your old friends over while I’m away? It’d do you good.’

She passed him a breakfast of eggs, bacon and hash browns, and said, ‘I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. I don’t know if I can face the questions. What I’m up to, why the move, why we haven’t got children yet…’

‘None of their bloody business, that’s what you tell them. You’re trying to forget, move on.’

I don’t want to forget, she thought. ‘Calm down. It’s not as if they’ve actually said anything. I’m nervous, that’s all.’

‘Well, there’s no need to be. Look, darling, I’ve got to shoot. Sorry about the food. Have a good day.’ And with that, he was gone.

Another eleven, twelve hours to fill before he returned home. Lucile took a leisurely bath and drifted into the village. It was such a contrast to Chelsea. Intimate, higgledy-piggledy, leafy. It was a beautiful day and everywhere she went there were babies in buggies, mothers with small children on trikes, women with swollen bellies and happy, smiling faces. She turned round and walked to the cemetery.

It was quiet, hot and sultry. Flowers bowed in the heat on the graves of the recently departed, twigs snapped underfoot as Lucile inched into the heart of the graveyard. She sought respite in the shade of the Circle of Lebanon and walked it until she was dizzy, and, though she fought against it, she found herself drawn to the tombs and headstones of children. Precious, stolen children immortalised in stone etchings and watched over by angels.

 

Ten days passed before Lucile heard the crying again. It was night-time and Edward was away. She sat in the wardrobe for two hours or more, waiting and listening, an ear pressed against the wall. A mewling, at first plaintive and lonely, built to a demanding, angry howl before shrinking into exhausted sobbing. It sounded like a boy.

In the morning, Lucile knocked on the peeling paintwork of her neighbour’s front door. There was no answer. They had not returned from holiday.

For three nights Lucile rose and waited for the child, but he did not come.

 

Edward walked into the kitchen clutching half a dozen white lilies. ‘Christ, Lulu, are you all right? You look terrible.’

He offered the gift. The cloying scent of her favourite flowers hung in the close air. Lost for words, Lucile looked at him, silent.

‘What’s happened?’ he asked, fiddling with his keys, avoiding her eyes.

She turned her back to him as she lied, ‘Nothing. I’ve not been sleeping, that’s all.’

‘Are you out of pills? Ask the doctor for more. I could do with a few myself. I’m bushed.’

Edward certainly slept deeply. He retired to bed early and was asleep by the time Lucile emerged from the bathroom in a lace-trimmed baby doll nightdress. Disappointed, she exchanged the frills for cotton pyjamas. Brushing her hands over her wide hips and full breasts, she felt betrayed by the body which had promised so much.

That night, the boy returned. Lucile heard him crying through the wall, though his sobs were barely louder than a whisper. She sat on the floor and pressed her face and palms against the wallpaper. She could see him now. Blonde and pink with blue eyes and fleshy thighs. How she longed to hold him. To cuddle him, to comfort him.

For five nights he came, and then he stopped. Weeks went by and still the neighbours hadn’t returned. Edward was away on another business trip and Lucile was lonelier than ever. It hurt. She sat in the wardrobe for hours, day and night, waiting for the boy.

Then, late one afternoon, he came. His voice was faint, as if he were at the end of a long tunnel and not the other side of a few bricks. Lucile huddled in the corner, listening. Here, the wallpaper was loose, bubbling, almost peeling. She picked at it with her fingernails and tore away a large strip to reveal another layer beneath. A dated pattern of blue and grey stripes, it was harder to remove. Lucile went to the kitchen for a knife.

She scraped at the wall. Away came another layer to reveal large pink flowers, roses or carnations, set in a yellowing background of stems, thorns and frayed leaves. Another layer came away, then another, and another, until she came to a dusty, faded print: sandy teddy bears with burgundy ribbons round their necks. A nursery paper.

She pushed her nose to the wall and sniffed. It smelt of talcum powder and camomile. As she pulled away, she saw the pencil mark: a squiggle, like a child’s handwriting, the message concealed by a layer of paper still attached to the wall.

The sun had set but Lucile was sweating. She clambered out of the wardrobe and raced downstairs, across the garden and into the shed. Amidst the chaos, she retrieved a torch, a scraper and a toolbox. Heart racing, she returned to the bedroom and began throwing clothes and shoes out of the wardrobe. Armed with a wet sponge and metal scraper, Lucile attacked the remaining wallpaper. It slipped off with ease. She followed the childish letters, jagged and scrawling. At first, she couldn’t decipher the message, but she persevered.

Help me. Help mummy help.

The crying filled her head. She tore at the teddy bears until her fingers were raw, exposing the brickwork beneath. She grabbed a hammer from the toolbox and chipped away at the crumbling red bricks. The crying continued, louder and louder. In despair, she threw down the hammer and bolted out of the house back to the shed for the pickaxe.

She knocked along the wall. It sounded hollow. There was a cavity; she was sure of it. She hauled up the pickaxe and swung it at the wall. Bricks cracked and fell to the floor in a cloud of dust. Coughing and spluttering, she pulled at the stone, blood trickling from her battered hands. The crying grew louder and more desperate until she could bear it no longer. Then, quite suddenly, it stopped.

Lucile was staring at the remains of a child, entombed in the cavity wall. Unafraid, she reached out a shredded finger to touch the skull. She felt an unmistakable flutter in her belly. The stirrings of a child. An unborn child. She looked at her bloodied hands and tried to remember the last time she had bled. It was weeks ago. Many weeks ago. Before the wall began to whisper. Laura Wilkinson, 2015

Copyright © Laura Wilkinson, 2015

 

 

Laura Wilkinson originally wrote this story for ‘My Baby Shot Me Down’, a collection of poetry and prose. Though the other stories in this book are not related to Halloween you may want to get yourself a copy.

This is the link:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Baby-Shot-Me-Down-ebook/dp/B00KY6OB2S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444233924&sr=1-1&keywords=My+Baby+Shot+Me+Down

 

Guest Post by Amber Foxx

Ghost

It’s time now for a guest post from Amber Foxx and a competition.

 

Halloween Guest Post

I’ve petted a tarantula, cuddled a snake, and stood blissfully among swarming bats at twilight. These creatures that many people find frightening are beautiful to me. Clowns don’t bother me, either. None of the usual fears apply. Public speaking? I love it. Heights? I like to look down at the view. What does scare me is the feeling of evil—the sense of a presence, of supernatural danger. The most terrifying part of a horror novel for me is not the monster or the alien or the gory mess, but the moment when the characters realize that reality has taken a turn for the worse, but they don’t know in what way yet.

Stories about monsters or sorcery have been part of human culture for centuries. One of my Apache friends has told me some chilling anecdotes about shape-shifting witches that he claims are true. Talking about them scares him as well as his listeners, and yet people ask him for more. These tales aren’t violent; they’re subtle, and to me that makes them more frightening.

The curious pleasure of being terrified or at least creeped out is puzzling at first, but it’s not entirely different from the enjoyment of movies that make us cry or thrillers that keep us turning the pages to see if the characters survive.

I read horror, but never thought I’d be writing it. My other books are mysteries without murder, and they have a paranormal element—a psychic protagonist. Suspenseful, yes. Scary—no. My venture into horror fiction began when I shared some publishing industry sales data with one of my Goodreads groups, and a horror writer commented that he would have to switch to writing romance because that was where the money was. I replied, “Horror-romance?” We were joking, but a few other writers began to play with the idea and one suggested we should create an anthology of horror-romance short stories, each based on one of the seven deadly sins. My choice: sloth. I enjoyed the challenge of making laziness frightening.

The first thing that came to mind was the Apache concept of bear sickness, a supernatural illness manifesting as lethargy and weight gain, triggered by contact with a bear. While I was researching it I came across other myths about bears, including one about the origin of the Pleiades that struck me as a true horror story. The fluidity between human and animal form in Native myths includes one of the most bone-chilling concepts I’ve come across: the skin-walker. I pulled these mythical elements together in my horror romance, setting it in present-day New Mexico.

It turned out more than three times as long as the other contributions to the anthology, far exceeding the word count limit, so I withdrew from the project. But I couldn’t forget about the story. It’s just come out in time for Halloween. I hope it makes you shiver.

Bearing

A tale of paranormal horror based on Native American myths.

Mikayla, young Apache woman attending a powwow with her family, becomes entranced by an outsider, a Cree man who shows up without his Apache girlfriend. As her fascination consumes her, Mikayla changes in ways both pleasurable and frightening, powerless to overcome his dark magic until it may be too late.

Sales links:

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/buy-books-retail-links

Web site:

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com

 

Competition

Bearing - book cover

Amber Foxx is kindly given 10 x eBook copies of her book, ‘Bearing’, a short story.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you thought of her guest post.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 14th November 2015.

The winners will be chosen randomly and notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their email addresses will be passed on to Amber Foxx.

Short Story by Catherine Hokin

Halloween Stories

Who is ready for another short story?  I know I am!

 

Stolen Moments

By Catherine Hokin

Alice Morgan liked to steal. “You’re such a little Magpie!”

Her mother had been highly amused by the treasure trove of shiny trinkets she’d found burrowed into the tummy of five year old Alice’s teddy bear. A jumble of old coins and broken necklaces mostly and, yes, her eternity ring which she thought she’d lost for good, but nothing really important. All children did it and Alice would grow out of it so no need for a scene.

But Alice didn’t grow out of it and her mother’s laugh lost its sparkle when other parents muttered about ornaments that vanished and the party invitations began to dry up.

“You do understand that this is wrong, don’t you dear?”

Mrs Drake, the well-meaning head-teacher at Alice’s Primary School always smiled when she posed the question but, as the pile of hair slides and toys that Alice acquired and other children cried over, grew larger, the smile gradually grew more strained. It only reached her eyes again when Alice’s parents agreed with the gently unmovable suggestion that, yes, a new start would be best for everyone.

“I know you know it’s wrong so why do you do it?”

A more direct question from the harassed form tutor as she waved her hand across another heap of purses, watches and rings tipped out from Alice’s bag. But Alice merely smiled and eyed her teacher’s pretty brooch and the tutor had too many other challenging pupils to deal with to push the matter.

“If you’re going to do this, maybe you should at least try to hide the evidence or do you actually want to go to prison? You’re sixteen, Alice, we can’t protect you anymore and the world outside certainly won’t. But the choice, my dear, is yours.”

Head-teachers at secondary schools are far more direct and far less interested in solving the problems of pupils who choose to follow their own paths. It was that very lack of concern that finally caught Alice’s attention. Consequences were, to be honest, usually of little consequence to her but a lack of control over her comings and goings? That was worth a thought or two. So she looked at the mobiles and IPods gathered from her locker and concluded he was right: the choice was indeed hers and there must be more interesting options open.

***

“You can’t have him!”

Karen’s mascara-streaked face made her look like a clown, the cliché of a clown. “He’s my husband and you can’t have him!”

Alice shrugged, “That’s fine; I don’t want him.”

She watched with interest as Karen’s face seemed to collapse in on itself, barely listening as the older woman bleated out the usual litany.

“But he wants you…You made him fall in love with you and now you don’t want him… You stole him from me…why would you do that if it meant nothing?”

Better people than you have asked that question, thought Alice but she simply smiled and moved on.

Boyfriends, married men (she’d married one of those in a registry office with witnesses pulled in from the street and left within a month); all so very easy to acquire and just as easy to leave. Everything she’d ever wanted: she simply took it until she didn’t want it anymore, whenever that might be. There was always something else to be had, something new. Alice never planned anything: that would have caused too many complications. She just waited to see what would fall into her lap. It always seemed to work out.

Her latest acquisition had been no different.

Alice had been in London for a week, slipping away from her latest boredom to another place where no-one knew her. She’d taken a short let on a flat in an anonymous block through an agent, paying in advance from the bonus her last boss had paid her to leave her post, and not heard never mind seen her neighbours. Now she was starting to think about getting a job, nothing too demanding just enough to pay the rent while she waited to see what might happen next.

The café had attracted her because it was so quiet, the staff too busy with their mobiles to care much about her. She had settled herself with the local paper and they had left her to it, taking her order without bothering to make eye-contact. The one waitress who hadn’t slipped out back for a cigarette had barely looked up from the delights of her screen when the door opened again.

The woman who entered was exhausted: the dark circles under her eyes gave her the look of an abstracted panda and the lank hair drooping round her pale face spoke of too many broken nights. But the child, Alice couldn’t take her eyes off her. She was such a darling, about 6 months old, all chubby face and giggles topped off with a hat that looked like a strawberry. Alice grinned and the mother, grateful for any human contact, smiled back.

“Don’t be fooled by the angelic appearance, she cries like a banshee half the night.” The woman was weighed down by shopping, struggling to balance the load with the heavy pram.

“Here, let me help.” Alice pushed back a chair to make room for the buggy and took some of the bags, stowing them under the neighbouring table. The waitress looked up for a second and glanced away again as quickly; this wasn’t the type of customer to tip.

“Thank you.” The woman sat down heavily; she was bigger than Alice had realised, still slow with baby weight. “It’s always such a challenge to get out and get anything done, even the simplest things…” She looked at Alice without really seeing her, responding to the tiny kindness she’d been shown. “I don’t suppose you could watch Chloe for a moment could you? I shouldn’t ask and it sounds silly I know but just to be able to pop to the Ladies without juggling everything would be the highlight of my day!”

“Of course.” Alice nodded towards the back of the café, “it’s just over there. She’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

And it really was that simple. As the door closed behind the mother, the waitress slipped away from the counter behind the dividing curtain. It was the easiest thing in the world to pluck the baby from the pram, slip the changing bag over her shoulder and leave. Two minutes later Alice was on the underground, the baby perfectly content against her shoulder; thirty minutes later she was walking down the deserted street to her flat.

The baby had napped happily on Alice’s bed while she packed, soothed by one of the bottles her careful mother had stowed in with the spare nappies and change of clothes. Chloe (a pretty enough name but not one Alice could live with) hadn’t even stirred when Alice had popped out to the local High Street to buy a car seat and a travel cot from the bored teenager in a branch of Mothercare that had seen far better days.

The car packed up and Chloe (Emma?) strapped in, Alice had driven north; Manchester was somewhere she hadn’t been yet. The first couple of nights were spent in a Travelodge while she practised a story no letting agent was interested in hearing. Emma (Laura?) was soothed by a dummy but became fractious at night; no one in the hotel seemed to care. Alice had seen the story of the abduction breaking on the news but neither the distraught mother nor the defensive waitress had been able to give a clear description of the woman and the baby looked like any baby: lose the strawberry hat and the little red coat and who could tell one from the other? Alice had switched the television off, it held little real interest.

Two days in a confined hotel room where she couldn’t escape Laura’s (Kerry’s?) gaze was enough. This time Alice rented a little house with a garden. It was winter now but she could imagine sitting outside when the summer came with the baby crawling on the grass. Such a lovely thought and she would have made it happen, she really wanted it to happen; it was nice to want something. But the baby was so much harder to manage than she expected: it never slept and it pushed against Alice with such a frown sometimes it was as though it knew.

Staying and playing mommy was really too difficult and Alice didn’t like difficult, she never had. It was such a relief when she closed the door behind her and got back into the car. She’d tried, she really had; time to move on.

Copyright © Catherine Hokin, 2015

 

Links

Catherine Hokin’s Website – www.catherinehokin.com

Twitter – @cathokin

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cathokin?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

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