I’m so pleased to have been invited to participate in the blog tour for Payback with an extract. Don’t forget to check out the blog tour schedule for other wonderful posts on this tour. Many thanks to The Dome Press for the opportunity.
Charley Mann left Yorkshire for the Met and a fast-track career – but now she’s back, she’s in charge and the area’s first young, female DI.
Her hometown, the Yorkshire countryside, and her old friends all seem unchanged but appearances can be deceptive.
When a brutal murder is discovered, Charley is forced to question everything, and the interest of her ex reporter Danny Ray – doesn’t make it easier.
Charley knew almost nothing about the woman who had married her childhood sweetheart so soon after Charley’s departure, except what she had seen on Facebook. When the woman’s pictures started constantly showing sunnier climes, Charley guessed that the happy couple had emigrated to start a new life. She was relieved – especially when she heard the news that she was going to transferred home.
What was odd, though, was that Charley’s ex was conspicuous by absence on social media. It was especially puzzling given that his line of work normally required its considerably use.
She couldn’t remember ever not having trusted Danny. Older than her, and living on the neighbouring farm, he had taught her to climb trees and hurdle walls. He had soothed her when she tumbled. It was Danny who’d shielded her eyes when his father drowned the injured farm cat who was about to have kittens; Danny who’d wiped her tears when lambs were stillborn; Danny who disposed of the bodies of the dead animals they came across in the woods with respect and decency, always noting the place with a handmade wooden cross, sometimes made from lollipop sticks. They’d tickled trout together in the river and he’d shown her how to gut a fish so they could be cooked and eaten on a fire he built. Living alone with his dad on the farm after his mother left had taught him self-sufficiency at a very young age.
Danny had never failed her while she was growing up. One day he had appeared out of nowhere like an avenging angel to deal with Colin Jenkins, who had lured the unsuspecting Charley behind the bike shed. She’d watched in awe as Danny dragged the would-be Casanova to his feet and beat the much larger boy until he ran off snivelling. Danny Ray had been her safe pair of hands. He’d played the tough guy at school, but to her he was a protector. He had an innate inability to soothe her, assuring her he would always be there – and he always was…
When Danny had got a paper round, he’d saved for a whole year to buy her a season ticket for his beloved Town so she could go with him. She went as often as she could – she did love football, after all – but Sunday was also the only day she could see her best friend Kristine and ride the horses, the other love of her life, so she could never make all the games. Danny didn’t seem to mind, at first, but when the girls entered the local horse championships, and visits to the games got fewer, he started to seem less happy about it. Sometimes even angry…
As they got older, Charley became quite capable of looking after herself. She conspired with Kristine to apply to join the police force, like Kristine’s father, and they applied together. Charley had always been interested in the police. She wanted to work with people and do one of the things she loved best: help those who were less fortunate than herself. She loved her home town, but even she could see that in many ways it was declining. She wanted to help stop that. Something – she wasn’t sure what – made her hold back from telling Danny about her plans.
When she and Kristine had both been accepted, Charley had been surprised by the strength of Danny’s reaction. He’d yelled and accused her of going behind his back. He didn’t want her to go away for training. He seemed jealous of her new prospects and resentful that she didn’t need him any more. Then, when she backed away, he professed undying love, hoping to persuade her to changer her mind.
‘Anyway,’ he had said smugly a few days later. ‘You can’t be a copper because you’re a thief!’
Charley had looked at him, puzzled.
‘Don’t you remember we stole that bar of chocolate that you wanted so much?’
‘I was nine years old,’ she replied. ‘And I didn’t steal it, you did!’
‘Ah, but you were with me when I stole it for you, and that makes you an accomplice to the crime.’
Charley protested. ‘I was under the age of criminal responsibility.’
When his argument was lost, he didn’t leave it there.
‘Who else would have lied for you just so that you could pursue your dream?’
Charley rolled her eyes. ‘Not that old nugget.’
‘I never told a single soul that you were with me the night I stole a police car… Well, not yet anyhow.’
‘What on earth are you talking about?’ she’d asked, horrified.
He grinned, though it was more of a grimace.
‘Since when did you stop being able to take a joke? I’ll be a reporter and isn’t it every reporter’s dream to have a cop as a girlfriend?’
Still, Charley was puzzled, finding it hard to follow his train of thought. ‘Why?’
His smile was wide. ‘Well. For one thing, you could give me the low down on all those juicy crimes.’
She’d been prepared to miss Danny when she was told she had to move to London on her promotion to detective sergeant. Nothing could prepare her for his behaviour, though, when she tried to say goodbye. London was a big, lonely, frightening, intimidating place to Charley the country bumpkin and her loneliness was made worse by the horrible break with Danny.
At first Charley had just wanted to forget what had happened. She couldn’t understand it and she couldn’t deal with it. The only way she’d found to cope at all was to let the whole relationship die, because Danny’s actions that night had led to Charley to believe she had never known the real Danny Ray at all.
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Wishing you a bookish week,