FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO CAN’T WAIT
Here is a preview of the opening chapter of
ONLY ONE WOMAN
published by Accent Press
Only One Woman coming 23rd November 2017
May 24th 1968 – late
What a flipping nightmare of an evening. I really thought I’d never get home in one piece. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Someone up there hates me I’m sure.
If only Selina hadn’t lost her handbag at the Top Rank, I’d have caught the last bus back from Reading and I would’ve been home on time. Instead I’d gone back with the others to look for it – thankfully it had been handed in at the cloakroom and nothing was missing. Luckily I had just enough money for the train, which I’d had to run for. Selina’s dad took the others home in his brand new car as arranged, and there wasn’t room for me as well. I reckon he could’ve taken me but Yvette refused to let me sit on her lap in the front, in case I ripped her Mary Quant stockings. Sometimes I really want to do her a mischief.
They’ve got to do something about our local station, it’s just too creepy for words. Steam from the train almost suffocated me as I crossed the bridge to the exit on the opposite platform; all very ‘Brief Encounter’ I remember thinking, in an effort to stop my mind wandering off into ‘Hitchcock-land.’ Talk about cough myself silly, and my eyes stung something rotten as I tried to find my way in the pitch black; the two over-head lamps didn’t help much, they should do something about those flipping lights, I could’ve broken my neck, or even worse, tripped over in my new pink kitten heels and broken one of them.
I slowly took the steps down to the lane beside the station, glancing around me all the while – I admit it, I was a little freaked out. It’s always deserted, and you can never be too careful. Not long ago a dangerous prisoner escaped from the nearby asylum and hid in the waiting room for days before being recaptured. Hardly anyone uses the station since the cut-backs by that old idiot, Beeching, and the trains are a bit hit and miss since they messed with the timetable, so the convict was able to wait for his twisted ankle to mend without much danger of discovery. For all I knew, another Jack the Ripper could’ve be lurking in there waiting for me to pass, that’d just be my flaming luck.
I was in so much trouble. Forty minutes later than agreed. She’d never believe me about the bag, but no other excuse came to mind as I walked down the lane. I was going to be so dead.
I had such a fright. Something or someone, made a noise behind me, so I stopped and listened, but I really felt like running. Some sort of night creature, silly girl, I decided as I walked on. But there it was again. Was someone behind me?
I turned and peered into the pitch dark – I’m still shaking as I write this. I told myself it sounded like a hedgehog – had to be. Don’t panic, no-one comes down here at night I reminded myself. Oh cripes, that lane, I hate it. Anyone could jump out to get you, seriously, I’ve often wondered, who’d hear you yell? No-one that’s who. There aren’t any lights or houses down there.
I must remember – next time the girls ask me to the Top Rank – to leave early and get the bus on time. Next time, who am I kidding?
I’m going nuts – I hope no-one ever reads this, I’d die, but I started singing quietly to myself – I do that sometimes when I’m feeling a bit nervous – well seriously spooked actually. I turned on to the main road relieved no-one had grabbed me, and headed for our house. That’s when I heard him…
‘What time do you think this is?’
Well, I nearly died of fright. I actually jumped. I couldn’t work out where the voice was coming from. It seemed to echo all around me in the dimly lit street. Someone had followed me, that’s what I kept thinking. I hurried past the bus stop when I heard him again. What to do? Should I run? If I screamed, bringing Mum and half the village outside, Mrs Digby would just love that and if I got murdered, well, it didn’t bear thinking about. All this went through my brain at a rate of knots as I tried to work out where the voice was coming from. Would I make it to the gate? Bloody Selina and her stupid bag. I was going to die all because of her stupid bag.
‘You’re out very late.’
I froze. I was partly relieved it wasn’t Mum or Mrs Digby’s voice. It was definitely a man’s. Who the hell was it? I was considering running but I didn’t want to break another heel, not after the last time. The Cobbler said he couldn’t repair it, if it snapped again. Besides, the bloke didn’t sound like a cold blooded murderer, well, not really. I mean, what sort of killer asks you what time do you call this, before bumping you off?
The voice sounded even nearer and something made me look up towards the row of shops not far from our house.
A window was open in the flat above the hairdresser’s, Shirley’s, and I could just make out a head and shoulders poking through. Someone with long dark hair; definitely a bloke.
Thank god, at least I hadn’t been followed by a crazed axe murderer after-all.
‘Mind your own business. What’s it got to do with you when I come home?’ I stopped walking and stood looking up at him. I couldn’t make out his features in the dark, and being short-sighted, even full daylight wouldn’t have made that much difference anyway.
‘You’re lucky you don’t have school tomorrow, coming back this late.’
Flaming nerve! He sounded like my Dad. Who the hell was he, I wondered. Too young to be one of Mum’s spies surely.
‘Drop dead!’ I turned and flounced off towards our gate, trying hard not to go over on my ankle on the uneven pavement. I had a bad case of the shakes thanks to him.
‘I’ll be watching you. Make sure you get your beauty sleep,’ he shouted just as I closed the gate, anxiously glancing at the house in case Mum or Mrs Digby next door had heard someone shouting at me in the street.
I’d never be allowed to forget it if Mum thought Mrs Digby had heard me making a spectacle of myself in public. Even getting murdered would’ve been my fault, causing her embarrassment in front of the whole village. Perish the thought – a public spectacle, no matter it wasn’t instigated by me. Fingers crossed most people were in bed by now anyway.
Just as I got to the front door it was yanked open by Mum and she stood aside in the hall to let me pass. Dread flooded over me. She’d heard me shouting. I was dead!
She was about to start on me when thankfully one of the kids woke up, having a nightmare or something, yelling and thrashing about in the room they all shared. With a withering look at me, she stomped upstairs to see whoever it was.
I heard something about ‘chocks away,’ followed by a huge thud. Then Mum yelling, ‘You can’t go to the loo in there! It’s the wardrobe! Get out of there!’ followed by a lot of shuffling about.
That would be my ten-year-old brother Simon doing a parachute jump from the top bunk and then mistaking the wardrobe for the loo – it often happened after he’d been messing about with his Air-fix.
Blessing him and his night-games – for once – I used the commotion to sneak into my room and get ready for bed.
Hopefully Mum wouldn’t come into my room, and if she did I would pretend to be asleep. I’d get away with it – but she would certainly start on me in the morning.
I sighed heavily and prepared myself for not being allowed to go anywhere ever again in this lifetime…
We hope you enjoyed this first chapter and that it has whetted your appetite enough to buy our book.
Published 23rd November 2017 on Amazon and in Paperback and Audio May 24th 2018
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