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You’ve got one shot…

Alexia Falls is eighteen, living in her parents’ New York penthouse and working with superstar boyband The Keep. But with her heart set on independence and a career behind the camera, she trades it all for a take-it-or-leave-it internship at London’s Bright Star Productions.

There, she meets fellow intern Greta. Greta’s East End upbringing couldn’t have been more different from Alexia’s, but she’s every bit as hungry for her big break.

But both girls have secrets.

While Alexia doesn’t want anyone knowing about her privileged connection to The Keep, Greta has been anonymously running their #1 social fan-feed since she was at school. And when the gossip columns somehow get news of the band’s latest scandals, suspicions and accusations start flying…

Real art demands integrity. But staying in the music business requires the opposite. Can you stay true to yourself when your heart follows a secret beat?

The Secret is out… 3rd May! 

Posted on Thursday, April 19th 2018

Are you ready to fall in love with a Stranger?
Astor, Ontario. 1904.
A boy staggers out of the forest covered in blood and collapses at the feet of 16-year-old Emmy. While others are suspicious and afraid, Emmy is drawn to him. Is he really the...

Are you ready to fall in love with a Stranger?


Astor, Ontario.
1904.
A boy staggers out of the forest covered in blood and collapses at the feet of 16-year-old Emmy. While others are suspicious and afraid, Emmy is drawn to him. Is he really the monster the townsfolk say he is?

Astor, Ontario. 1994.
Megan arrives from London for her great grandmother Emmy’s 105th birthday. It should be a happy family occasion, but Megan is nursing a broken heart and carrying a secret she fears might consume her.

One family. Two women. A century of secrets. A timeless love story.

CHAPTER ONE
1904
EMMY


I thought it was kinder to keep the truth from you, but now I’m doubtful. I was only trying to protect you. I was only trying to do the best I could. Forgive me, my darling. Forgive me. 

He was naked and bloody as a newborn baby, and just about as ugly too. He was so skinny that his head seemed oddly big for his body, his features too large for his face. His hair was shoulder length and tangled, matted with dust and twigs. His face and limbs were scratched and scarred and rotten with dirt. The mud and blood had dried and mottled like rust on an iron gate, all apart from a fresh wound to his side which bled rapid and red. He gripped it with one hand, trying to stem the flow, but the blood oozed through his fingers. 

Sadie had seen him first. Or at least she saw something, some movement among the trees at the edge of the forest that near- surrounded our little town. We’d been walking back from school, chatting about this and that, when she stopped dead, mid- sentence and gripped my arm.

‘Emmy! What’s that?’

I looked carefully, but all was still and dark. 

‘Was it an animal, Sadie?’ Surely, I thought, a bear or a wolf would not come so close to town. The winter had been unusually mild. There should be plenty of food in the forest for predators.

‘I don’t—’ Sadie’s voice faltered, and she stared and blinked as the shadows moved, became flesh, stumbled towards us.

‘Sadie!’ I breathed. Fear and disgust were sour in my mouth, but I have never been one to panic. 

The creature took another step towards us and Sadie clasped my hand tight. Then he made a noise in his throat,a whimper like a dog’s whine, and Sadie shrieked. She let go of my hand and ran, splashing through the mud in her best button boots.

‘Come on, Emmy!’ she shouted, but I could not move.

He needs help, I thought. He is hurt.

I stood listening to the squelch of Sadie’s progress through the quagmire that was North Road until, eventually, all I could hear was the wind in the trees, a woodpecker’s drumming, and the boy’s ragged breath.

‘Do you speak English?’ I asked, in a shaking voice. ‘Do you understand me?’ 

He nodded slowly, but said nothing, gaping like an idiot. His free arm dangled loose at his side – injured, I assumed. But I was wrong. His hand gripped a pistol.

‘Drop the gun!’ I ordered, though he’d made no move to use it. 

He looked down at his hand, as though I had surprised him. He made a strange sound, a strangled cry, and flung the weapon into the long grass as though he could not wait to rid himself of it.

I felt powerful then, and vastly superior to Sadie who had turned tail and run. ‘Good,’ I told him. ‘Well done.’ His face twisted and he fell to his knees. His hand clutched at my shoe and I stepped backwards.

I took off my coat to cover his body as he lay on the ground. ‘Help is coming,’ I told him.

I laid my hand gingerly on his forehead. Although the wind was bitterly cold, he was burning hot with a fever.

‘What has happened to you? Where do you come from?’

His mouth moved and I bent down closer to hear his words.

‘What are you?’

I was confused, but relieved that he spoke English.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked.

He didn’t answer. He seemed to be listening very intently to something – exactly what, I could not say. Then he scrambled to his feet, looking from side to side. My coat lay crumpled on the ground.

I was horribly aware of his nakedness. I knew that most girls would have screamed and ran, but I prided myself on being no ordinary girl. And after all, my mother had told me enough times that bodies were bodies. Nothing to be scared of.

‘What are you doing? Stay still, you are hurt!’

‘They are coming … they will kill me.’ His voice was little more than a groan.

‘They?’ I said, and as I did, I heard a noise behind me. I turned around to see Adam’s cart approaching through the mud, two men riding abreast. Sadie must have run all the way to her family’s farm, and sent her father and brother to find us.

‘Whoa, Ben, stay back!’ Mr Harkness shouted to his dog, his voice booming through the trees. ‘What in the name of God is this?’ I saw that he was carrying his rifle.

The boy’s whole body tensed. He reached out and grabbed me, holding me tight to his chest, as if to shield him from harm. His arms were thin and rough, his body burning with fever heat. I felt his trembling breath on the back of my neck – the smell was overpowering.

I stared at Mr Harkness, then at Adam. The set of their faces told me I should be terrified but somehow, I was not. Not for myself, anyway – rather, I was scared for the boy.

‘Tell him you will not hurt him,’ I shouted. ‘Don’t you see that he’s afraid?’

Adam ignored me, jumping down from the cart, his face grim.

‘Take your hands off her!’ he growled. His voice, usually so kind and comforting, shocked me.This was a person I no longer recognised. I was flung into fear again, a state that had less to do with the boy who was holding me than the change in someone I thought I knew.

‘Emmy!’ roared Mr Harkness. ‘What is this?’

‘He’s injured and needs our help. He is bleeding; he needs to go to the hospital – quickly!’

‘Let go of her!’ Adam was nearly upon us. Suddenly, the boy’s grip weakened. He staggered backwards and Adam pulled me away by the arm. ‘Run to the cart, Emmy,’ he ordered.

‘No, Adam, I—’ I gasped, but Adam wasn’t listening. He let go of me, his hand made a fist and his strong arm went back – ‘No! Adam, no!’ I screamed – and he struck the boy hard in the face. Blood poured from the boy’s nose and he crumpled to the ground.

Adam paused. ‘Emmy! Are you all right?’‘Never mind me!’ I shrieked. ‘He is injured, he needs a doctor. Get him to the cart right away!’

‘But you – there is blood on your skirt and blouse.’

‘There is nothing wrong with me,’ I said, so angry that I wanted to make a fist of my hand and hit Adam with it. ‘Why did you hurt him?’ I was furious, tears burning my eyes.

Adam was bemused. Maybe he was expecting me to fall into his arms and call him my hero. ‘Sadie said he was dangerous.’

‘Sadie was wrong,’ I spat back. God would forgive me for my falsehood. The boy was in trouble enough, and the gun was lying safely in the long grass now.

A look passed between Adam and his father. Reluctantly, they hauled the boy up into the cart and wrapped him in a blanket. I mounted alongside them and we set off for town, the boy moaning softly as the wheels bumped along the track.

Mr Harkness shook his head at me. Just because I had no father of my own, he thought it was his responsibility to tell me how I should behave.

‘Emmy, you shouldn’t have stayed alone with a madman. It wasn’t safe, and you know it.’

He treated Sadie and me as though we were twelve years old, not young women of sixteen, poised to leave school. 

‘What will your mother say?’ He meant well, but sometimes his concern was oppressive.

‘He is wounded and in need of help. She would’ve done the same,’ I said firmly. We both knew I was right.

‘You may be correct,’ he conceded. ‘But you are not your mother and don’t have her expertise in these matters. Be careful, Emmy, or you’ll end up in trouble.’


Stranger by Keren David is out 5th April 2018. Order your copy TODAY! 

Posted on Tuesday, March 27th 2018