Sorry this blog is a bit late but today, 1st September, is an important day. It is the official publication date of my first Jasmine Frame novel – Painted Ladies, available from all good booksellers, online and from the publishers – http://www.troubador.com.
Anyone puchasing it from Amazon I would be delighted if you would write a review.
I’ve been away at the National Association of Writers’ Groups conference at Warwick University. I’ve had a great time, learnt a lot from the workshops and met many wonderful and helpful people. Some even bought Painted Ladies so I am eternally grateful.
So here, as a taster, is the opening of Painted Ladies. There’ll be more original stuff next week.
Painted Ladies, chapter 1
Her leather soles and stiletto heels clattered and slipped on the smooth stones embedded in the towpath. Sandra peered through the darkness looking for her next step. The canal glittered with reflected moonlight and with the lights of the industrial estate glimpsed between the trees that lined the bank. There were distant muffled sounds from traffic on the main road but here it was quiet, peaceful even. She was alone. Usually there were one or two joggers or dog-walkers when she was out for a walk and they gave her a feeling of security, but she was later than usual tonight.
It must be gone eleven by now, she thought, taking a few more steps forward. She stopped and listened for a moment. What was that scraping on the path behind her? Probably a rat. She held her handbag tight to her side, straightened up on the four inch heels and took her small steps more quickly. She knew it was silly to be taking the towpath at night, she could easily slip and fall and break an ankle, but her route avoided the pubs on the main road and the crowds of rowdy youths smoking on the pavement outside. She didn’t want to find herself amongst the hyped up youngsters.
She rounded a bend. To her left water gushed into the empty lock, its depths hidden in the darkness. To the right was a small copse of closely packed trees. The street lights of the road bridge shone a couple of hundred yards ahead. A half mile from there was the housing estate and home. Sandra held her head up, straightened her back and looked ahead.
A hand clasped her mouth and pulled her head back. A long slender knife blade glistened an inch from the corner of her left eye. Hot breath wafted across her left cheek. Her fear made her sob.
‘Don’t struggle or you’ll get it,’ he hissed.
The tip of the blade wavered threateningly. He pulled her off the path and through the trees. He gripped her head firmly against a rough woollen jacket. Her feet stumbled over loose branches. She moaned and groaned but she was too scared to try to free herself. A shoe slipped off and she struggled to keep her footing. Just a few yards from the towpath they were surrounded by tall trees and it was even darker. He stopped when they reached a small clearing within the coppice. He released her with a shove and she tumbled into the leaf litter. She found herself on her hands and knees but before she could start to think about standing, he was on her. He spun her on to her back, pushed her legs apart and knelt between them. The knife was pressed against her silk blouse. She could feel the point digging in just below her ribcage. Her arms had flopped to the ground above her head. She moved a hand.
His right hand grasped her left breast then slid down her left side to her waist and on down the skirt that covered her hip and thigh.
‘A slut, aren’t you, with your short leather skirt.’