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Fear is Good

Twelve days and counting till the Valentine's release of Don't Let Go, the third in my Tyack and Frayne series. I thought I might feel better if I looked that deadline in the face instead of trying to peer around it, through it, under it, anywhere but into its cold, remorseless gaze. :-D

Of course I don't feel better at all. I do feel more motivated, though,and I'll take that. Fear is good! Although I'll be terribly relieved once the book is finished and out there, I will miss Gideon and Lee a lot. I've lived with them pretty much constantly for the last five months and I've loved writing their story. Don't Let Go will finish up their plot arc for now and I'll move on to other projects, but I'll certainly return in future to find out what's going on in their lives.

For those of you who like excerpts, here's a little extra preview of my work-in-progress. (For those of you who don't - hide your eyes! ;-D ) It's a dark and scary dream sequence, in which Gideon encounters a monster and an unexpected friend....

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The hallway was cavernous and dark. Gideon would never have tackled it, but he’d woken up urgently needing to pee. On his way back from the bathroom he stopped. His bare feet were chilly on the floorboards. Silvery television light flickered up at him from the living room below, whose door was ajar. His father so seldom allowed the set to be left on that Gideon crept across the landing and crouched, curious and fearful, at the top of the stairs.

The stair rods were as tall as he was. The banister rail sloped above his head. He was wearing yellow pyjamas with tiny ducks on them, and so he concluded that this was a dream. Nothing to worry about. He’d wake up soon in his own bed with Lee beside him. He just hoped he wasn’t talking in his sleep about the ducks.

He leaned his brow against one of the carved wooden posts. He couldn’t hear the TV broadcast very clearly but he picked out a couple of words. The sense of dreaming vanished and he was just a seven-year-old boy, shivering in his skin. The Cornish Panther, the newsreader said. Another child abduction. Devastating the small rural community of...

“Elizabeth, switch that off.”

“Please, John. I need to hear the end of it.”

A long gaunt shadow crossed the TV light. That was Gideon’s father, stalking across the room to snap the set off. “Why do you need to?”
His mother’s voice came faintly through the new silence, weak and unsure of itself. “These child-snatchings... They’re getting closer to us. First Penzance, then that place near Drift... It’s as if he’s working his way east.”

“As if who is?”

“Why, the... the Panther.”

“Elizabeth, the newspapers are well aware of the power of finding a name like that for a criminal. The Moors murderers, the Yorkshire Ripper... Make an effort not to fall for their sensationalist labelling.”

“It’s not the name I’m worried about. He’s taken eight children now, and he’s still somewhere out there. What kind of monster is he?”

“He may not be one man at all. The press may be making a many-headed monster out of several. Don’t be prey to fearful fantasies.”

“It isn’t reassuring to me that he might be several men, John. What about our children? Ezekiel’s old enough to take care of himself, but.. May I borrow the car tomorrow?”

“For a good reason. Not to take Gideon back and forth to school.”

“But it’s over a mile for him to walk. What if the Panther took him, John? What if he was out walking alone, and the Panther came with his red eyes and his great claws and took him, John? What if the Panther comes into our house at night, and creeps up the staircase, silent in the shadows, and...”

Pastor Frayne’s silhouette appeared in the doorway. “No son of mine should be such a bloody little fool,” he said, and slammed the door.

Gideon scrabbled upright in the sudden dark. Now everything was silent downstairs. Inexplicably, his parents’ voices were now coming from their bedroom. There was one line of light under the door. He wanted to run for his mother. But if he crept into their room – even after his worst nightmares – his father would pick him up silently, turn him so Gideon couldn’t see his face, and carry him back to his own bed. Never harshly, never cruel. Just cold, cold, cold.

Ezekiel’s door was shut tight. Gideon had learned better than to bother him. His bedroom was off-limits, the one private space he could have in this house where his every action came under unforgiving scrutiny by the pastor. With no other refuge, and the Cornwall Panther padding step by step towards him up the stairs, Gideon fled back to his own room.

He dived beneath the bed. The lino was chilly and damp under his belly but he lay flat, burying his face in the crook of his arm. His breathing rasped and he struggled to be silent – more than anything, not to sob out loud in fear and loneliness.

“Is it coming?”

He jerked his head up so hard he banged the back of his skull off the bed’s underside. He scrabbled backwards in terror. There was someone here beneath the bed with him. He inhaled for a howl: let the breath go in a shaky rush. It was just another little boy. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

“Is it coming – the monster?”

The boy was dark haired like himself. He was skinny, and everything about him was ordinary except his eyes. Somehow they were green and silver at the same time. Gideon thought they were lovely, and they distracted him from his fear for long enough to speak. “Yes,” he croaked. “It’s coming up the stairs.”

“I won’t let it get you.”

That seemed a large claim, for someone in Star Wars pyjamas and a pair of bright pink socks, but Gideon kept quiet. Star Wars was a lot less embarrassing than ducks. “How can you stop it?” he asked, more in curiosity than doubt.

“You have to hold my hand.”

Gideon hesitated. Little boys who held hands in kindergarten got away with it, but something had happened in his first year at junior school, some bewildering shift that meant those same boys got called names. But the kid held out his palm with such fearless warmth that he reached back on reflex: held tight. “Okay. Now what?”

“You have to hold on. Don’t let go.”


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 2nd, 2014 10:41 pm (UTC)
Great excerpt, thank you! And it wasn't so frightening as I imagined.

BTW I'm spending one week in Cornwall before going to the UK Meet in Bristol. I'm looking forward to it, I haven't been to Cornwall for some 15 years, I think.

Be well!

Feb. 8th, 2014 10:05 pm (UTC)
I'm still trying to figure out if I can afford to go to Bristol myself. It would be fun for sure, though I'd be scared! :-D Regardless of that, if you're around in the southwest, we should try to meet up for coffee! (If we haven't blown into the Atlantic by then, of course) xxx
Feb. 8th, 2014 10:10 pm (UTC)
It would be great to meet, let's keep in touch.

I can imagine that the meet in Bristol might appear scary to you: you would be perennially surrounded by fan-girls ;-)

Stay safe! Hugs!
Feb. 12th, 2014 09:42 pm (UTC)
LOL, I'm not sure that's the scary aspect for me - I'm a complete tart and would probably adore the attention. I'm a bit more worried about "Harper Who?" :-D
Feb. 12th, 2014 09:54 pm (UTC)
Come on! Do you pretend to ignore the fact that in a short time you managed to get very appreciated and much loved in the small world of m/m? Or are you fishing for compliments? ;-)
Feb. 4th, 2014 10:53 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing :)
Feb. 8th, 2014 10:06 pm (UTC)
My great pleasure, rapidess x
Feb. 8th, 2014 03:55 am (UTC)
I just devoured Gideon's and Lee's two novellas yesterday and was so glad I popped on here to find out there will be one more. Love the boys. Well, men, to be technical about it. They're so much younger than me, so to me they're boys. Hell, I'm old enough to be their mother!
Since I found you with my trusty Kindle, now almost two years ago, I believe, you have never disappointed. You are definitely a trusted commodity.
Thanks so much for your wonderful imagination, creative storylines, and hard work. It is much appreciated.

Maine, (USA)
Feb. 8th, 2014 10:07 pm (UTC)
Wow, Daphne, that is so lovely to hear. I'm really delighted you've discovered my work and that you're enjoying it - to be a trusted commodity is a huge honour. x
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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