Sneak peek of book 3 – Check Mate – out February 11th.

So as promised here’s a slightly longer sneak peek of the soon-to-be-published book 3 of the Posh Hits trilogy than currently available:

new powerpoint cover

Saturday April 25th—10.30am

Dear Journal, it’s been six months since my last confession.

Well, I don’t know what to write. Why my family and my therapist think this will do any good is beyond me. As if. In fact, I’m sick of them all telling me how to feel, what to do, how to cope. I am sooo not one of those women who bleat on about their feelings and how life has treated them and explore all their traumas! And looking back over all the tedious entries in my old journals, it looks like that was all I ever did—whine about my life and my family and my f*****g feelings. Well I’m not going to start doing all that again. I’m not that woman anymore. But, because I don’t want to upset everyone—and because my moronic therapist wants me to do it, I will haul this bloody journal around with me everywhere I go and pretend to write in it. That way, maybe they will all just back off and leave me alone.

I did take a quick peek through the two old journals. Most of the time I seemed to be planning and plotting to kill Monica, my one-time bosom pal, more recently my would-be murderer—but without actually ever achieving it. So here is my entry, folks, if it means so bloody much to you:

Day 1. I will find Monica Pearson-Jones and I will kill her! The End. Das Ende. Finito. Bon soir.

Tuesday May 5th—3.45pm

I think they’ve worked out I’m not really writing in here. And now I’ve got to, because I brought it with me into the garden room, and Matt and Lill keep popping in with drinks and questions and little tastes of the baking, but really what they are doing is checking up on me. When Lill came in the last time with a morsel from the kitchen for me to ‘test’, she looked so relieved to see me writing. I predict one of two things will happen…either Matt will also pop in one some trumped-up pretext in a few moments, or…

Bingo! He just stuck his head around the door to ask if I needed anything. He definitely saw the writing on the page and gave a little smile of relief.

The other thing I was going to say might happen is that I would then be left in peace for a decent interval, allowing sufficient time for me to ‘express’ myself and explore my feelings.

What the hell did I used to do with my time? I’m bored. So bloody bored.

They all have their routines, and their family life, all these people who live in this house with me. Yesterday, when I was feeling really low, and so, so angry, I wished it was just me living here. All alone. How nice it would be, I thought, to have one’s house to oneself. They don’t need me, anyway, they’ve got used to me not being here. And now I am, and all they do is clamour round me with questions about cups of coffee or where I want a particular planter positioned. Like it matters.

Matt has gone back to sleeping in his old room along the hall. Thank God. The last thing I want is any kind of intimacy. I let him kiss me, and I let him put his arm around me, but I have to grit my teeth, it’s so hard not to push him away because I just can’t bear anyone to touch me, especially not him.

God! I’ve just realised. I’m actually doing it, aren’t I? What they wanted. I’m talking about it all, talking about my feelings. Well no more!

Friday May 15th—7.15pm

Drove to Monica’s house. No one there. It looks as though she’s moved out. And possibly someone else is living there; the flower-pots by the front door are different. I’m not sure, but I think the curtains have changed too. I think someone else lives there now. Not sure what to do. How can I find her? If I can’t find her…

Sunday May 17th—4.10pm

Jess rang. She wants to know if we’ll be going up to Scotland for a visit in August. I said no. Then she wanted to chat. I love her to bits, but as usual I didn’t really feel like talking. She wanted to know if there was another time we could go up, would we like to all go up for Christmas? I made the excuse that I had to dash, I had a hospital appointment. No idea what I’m going to tell her. How do you say to someone who loves you, I don’t even feel like going as far as the breakfast table, let alone all the way to effing Scotland????

Every time the phone rings, I jump out of my skin. It’s the same if someone comes to the door. I get a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. I feel sick and shaky. I can’t bear the thought of talking to anyone. From the moment I get up to the moment I crawl blissfully into bed and solitude, I am terrified someone will want to see me or talk to me or something…

Madison is another case in point. She keeps asking me to go for coffee, for dinner, for any bloody thing. I’m running out of excuses. Ditto Steve. Ditto everyone. Why must they hound me? I just want to be left alone. It’s a major shock to the system just being at home again after all those months.

It’s easier with the children. I can sit them on my lap and read with them, or sit at the table and do colouring or play-dough. We can look at bugs in the garden or watch TV. They don’t seem to feel I’m different. They are so undemanding. Even Tom is easy—which surprises me a bit actually about a baby, but once he’s been fed and bathed and cuddled and changed, that’s about it. He will happily gurgle on his mat on the floor for an hour, or snooze in his buggy if I go for a walk. The children are so undemanding and they don’t keep asking me to analyse my experiences every effing five minutes. They don’t keep trying to prove to me that they are still the same. They don’t keep checking up on me.

Unlike the adults, who are making my life hell. I don’t know what they want from me. Why don’t they understand, no matter how much they tell me otherwise, nothing is the same? Everything, but every single thing has changed forever.

I thought about ringing some of my old friends—I thought that perhaps somehow I could try to find out if any of them have seen or heard anything from Monica, or if they know where she is or what she’s up to.

I’ve tried to find out—and obviously it’s not easy because I’ve been trying to avoid everyone—whether any strange cars or women have been seen in the village recently. Or late at night. But it’s all so frustrating, I’m getting nowhere, and I can’t sleep because I have to keep going from one room to another during the night, checking the doors and windows are locked, checking the children are safe, checking no one is lurking outside in the front or back gardens. If Matt wakes—I just tell him I had to pop to the loo, or go downstairs for a glass of water. And of course when I do finally fall asleep, there are the nightmares. I feel like I’m hanging onto the cliff-face by my fingernails with a roaring drop beneath me, and the waves.

Wednesday May 20th—9.25am

So here I am, forced into this journal-writing lark. Privately I can admit that now I’ve stopped kicking against it and just resigned myself to doing it, I don’t really mind. Not that I want them to know that.

But it’s been so long. I hardly know what to write. It all feels a bit idiotic and pointless. But on the other hand, I’m exhausted from resisting everyone’s enthusiastic encouragement, and also from carrying around all these thoughts inside my head. If I write it all down, who knows, maybe it really will help me feel better, though that seems pretty bloody unlikely at this stage. My therapist said it would be, and I quote, ‘just like setting down heavy luggage after a long journey’. Tosser. Thinks that talking about how I feel and coughing down vitamin B-complex tablets is all it will take to get me back on the road to good mental health.

But now I can’t think of anything to write. All those things that have been swirling round in my head seem to dissipate like summer mist as soon as get my journal and pen out.

I shoved my old journals into the back of one of my wardrobes. I don’t want to read them. I can’t bear it. I don’t know why I’m doing this, it was a stupid, ridiculous idea. It’s time to feed Tom, anyway.

Later same day—7.35pm

Finally screwed up the courage to phone my old friend Cherub Bryston-Harrison. I’m a bit surprised to say that we had a nice chat. It was pleasantly normal for once—she hadn’t heard about my ‘accident’ so it was easy to leave all that out and just act as if I was normal. She congratulated me on the arrival of Tom, so of course I felt an obligation to gush a bit over the joys of motherhood etc and to tell her how simply wonderful everything is, blah blah blah. Finally, I asked her if she had any contact details for Monica. She hadn’t. I felt as though I had hit a brick wall, but then she said,

“But of course, she’ll be at the Mayburys’ Ruby Wedding bash next weekend.”

Of course. V. interesting. Cherub said she and Garrison were going, then she seemed a bit embarrassed about the fact that I hadn’t been invited but I glossed over that by saying I lost touch with so many close friends following my lovely first hubby, Thomas’, death and my subsequent move out into the sticks with new man and instant family.

She gave me a few more useful details, and of course I already have the Mayburys’ address somewhere. I asked her not to mention me, as I didn’t want “Poor dear Daphne to feel embarrassed about not inviting me,” and I also said that Monica was not talking to me since I married Matt—of whom she had been secretly enamoured, so again, Cherub sweetly promised to be the very soul of discretion.

No doubt she will blab, but hopefully not until the actual event, by which time it will be too late.

Saturday May 30th—10.15pm

A marquee in the garden—very nice! Very sensible in view of the mercurial nature of the British weather in Summertime. It would be typical of this green and pleasant land if, just as the hired waiters and waitresses in their smart uniforms began to make their way round the guests with the hors d’oeuvres and champers, the heavens opened and a deluge descended.

My SatNav sent me in completely the wrong direction, so I missed everyone arriving—was absolutely fuming by the time I’d found somewhere to park—miles away from the house. Couldn’t see a damned thing, especially once the predicted downpour began. As a stake-out, it was a total waste of time.

But it was quite cathartic to sit here in my warm, dry oasis. Windows wound up. Doors locked on the inside. Radio murmuring softly but unintelligibly in the background. And the rain, beating, beating down on the roof and the bonnet and the windows, drowning out my thoughts.

I fell asleep. Woke up suddenly with a stiff neck and a numb bum. But I feel a little better. I didn’t dream or if I did, the memory of it floated away as soon as I opened my eyes. And now, somehow sitting here within sight (possibly) of my quarry, I feel safer than at home, trembling behind the curtains. What am I talking about? If recent events have taught me anything it’s that I’m the quarry—she’s the hunter, at least I suppose that’s what she is.

I opened the window a little for some fresh air and turned up the radio, hopefully that will help me to stay awake. My leg and hip are aching. I didn’t bring my stick, so I can’t get out and go for a little walk. I found an old Mars bar in the glove compartment—still reasonably okay! That was my dinner.

It looks as though this party is going to last half the night. It’ll be dark soon, and I still have nothing to show for my trip. Every now and then I hear little cheers and wafts of laughter or snatches of music. Why did I think this was going to work?

Couldn’t see a car matching the description of the one that hit me—but if Monica has any sense at all she probably got rid of it months ago—right after the accident. So I’ve got no way of knowing if: a) she’s even here, and b) what her mode of transport is, or c) what she looks like.

Why did none of this occur to me before I left home?

I feel so stupid and ridiculous, sitting here on my mad stake-out like this—and I can’t make up my mind whether to brazen it out and gate-crash the party or if I should just carry on sitting here like an idiot and hope I somehow catch sight of her or if I should be honest and admit to myself that this is a colossal waste of time and just jack it in and go home.

I’m crying. I’m so tired. Will I ever recover? Will this ever be over? I just want everything to go back to normal.

I don’t want to go home.

If only I could rewind the months and go back to last Hallowe’en all those lifetimes ago…

The only thing I’m holding on to is this: when Thomas died, I didn’t want to go on living. And that’s how it’s been this time too, since I woke up those three months ago in the hospital and found I’d missed the birth of my baby. But gradually, after Thomas, gradually I came back to life and even laughed again and was happy. I’m just hoping that somehow, miraculously, the same thing will happen again, because if it doesn’t—I can’t live like this. I’m so scared, so hurt, I can’t do this anymore. I’m all adrift and nothing feels like it can get through to me or touch me, not even my family. Not even poor Matt or the children. Not even my desperately-wanted baby.

Saturday June 6th—11.05am

I still don’t know what to do now. Nothing useful was gleaned from my daft stake-out at the Mayburys’ last week. This week I’ve been in a daze, unable to determine on a course of action. Now what? I am completely clueless. I don’t have the faintest idea what to do now.

Matt has taken Lill and the children shopping. I find the weekends so hard, with everyone around all the time—God knows what it will be like in a few weeks when the children are on their summer hols, there will be a lot less time for me to hide away or be on my own. I’m dreading it but at the same time, I know it might be a good thing. Lill said something about Sid being engrossed in something in the workshop and not wanting to take time out of his busy schedule to take her shopping, so she nabbed Matt, though I suspect it could be an opportunist collaboration. I shall expect them to return looking as though they have something up their sleeves.

So here I am, with the three cats, a pot of tea and a plate of the crystallised ginger and white chocolate cookies Lill created yesterday. I’m a bit surprised that there are any left—but fortunately the children don’t like ginger, so I suppose that explains that. These cookies are rather addictive. Now I’m actually doing what everyone has been trying to make me do for weeks—relaxing and writing in my journal. But there will be no deep reflections on my life, no introspection. No, I am sitting here in this solitude and I am wondering how to find Monica and kill her.

A bit later same day, 11.55am

Sid just came in and cut my maundering short. And now I realise I was half-right, this whole thing was all a set-up. This whole situation was planned. The others all left specifically so that Sid could have a ‘quiet chat’ with me. I feel a bit annoyed by the conspiracy, but as Sid said, it’s only because they love me and want me to be happy.

Like it’s that simple.

I laughed when he said that—but it wasn’t a merry chuckle.

“I can only be happy when Monica is dead.” I said.

He sat down on the chair opposite me and nabbed one of my cookies. Flaming cheek.

“Yes,” he said, crumbs flying everywhere, “I thought you’d say that.” He put the remaining two-thirds of the cookie in whole, chomped briefly, then selected another. Then he said, “They’re worried about you, Cressida.”

“Yes, I realise…” I began.

“But I’m not,” he said. I stared at him. Surprised. More than surprised. He never fails to surprise me, my father-in-law. He’s an odd chap.

“You’re not worried about me?”

“No,” he said, “I know all you need is action. Seen it before on active service. When you’ve done what you need to do, you’ll feel better and life will be worth living again. S’obvious.”

Hmm. A little light-bulb glowed softly in my mind. It’s always nice when someone else, someone you really respect, confirms your half-formed instincts. He has always got my back, Sid. At the same time, I was thinking active service? Sid?

“So,” he said, reaching for a third cookie, “what are you going to do?”

I sighed then. It would be such a relief to unburden myself.

“I want to kill Monica,” I said, “but it’s so hard to know where to start. I don’t know where she is. I tried sitting outside the house of some friends in the hope she’d turn up to their party. But if she did, I didn’t see her. And I’ve been to her house—but she’s not there; I think she may have moved. So now I’m completely stumped, I just don’t know what to do next. Where do I go from here, Sid? How can I kill her when I don’t know how to find her?”

“I know where she is,” said Sid. He stuffed a fourth cookie whole into his mouth. I stared at him again, then had to look away. I poured myself another cup of tea and offered him the cookie plate.

“No, fanks, I’m cutting down. Gotta watch me figure,” he said, patting his hangover complacently. Surely he was kidding? Then I set myself to calmly addressing the elephant in the room.

“What do you mean, you know where she is?” I asked. “How could you know that?”

 

*****

Hopefully that has whetted your appetites. For those who don’t like journal-style novel, all I can say is, soz!