19 days to go…

With 19 days to go until this book’s release… here’s a little snippet of BEYOND ANGEL AVENUE, an emotive, devastating tale. A sequel to Angel Avenue, this book delves into the archives, revealing why a hug meant so much to Jules when she first met Warrick Jones all those years ago…



fac841f0ca653d0da35a9f773eb1bb8cJulianne, aged five, danced for her mother, some TV show blaring in the background. It was the Christmas holidays and they’d cleared a big space in the living room. Julianne’s father slept upstairs. Recently sacked from his job, he was constantly moody and irritable. Lorraine, the little girl’s mother, didn’t want her husband to know she was teaching Julianne to dance. She didn’t think he would understand. She also knew he might get jealous. Julianne’s one Christmas present was her first set of ballet slippers. While all the other boys and girls had piles of presents under the tree, this mother and daughter shared a gift beyond most people’s wildest dreams.

“Julie, no telling Daddy,” Lorraine would often say, and Jules would tap her index finger against her nose.

In her second year of school, Julianne would turn six in February but they didn’t have money for dance lessons so Lorraine taught her daughter at home.

“Extend, my pretty, oh that’s beautiful, that’s wonderful,” Lorraine exclaimed as Julianne – still so young – already demonstrated natural-born ability. “Have fun, move as you wish.”

Julianne pranced and giggled, swishing and swooping, her mother such a good teacher that she encouraged freedom of expression as well as discipline.

“First position Julianne, good.” The little girl raised her arm and held the back of the sofa to steady herself. “Plie, my darling, oh yes, keep your back… oh perfect, you don’t even need me to say.”

It was clear how much strength the little girl already had in her core. She had muscle definition, even for one so young. Lorraine had been teaching Julianne since she was three and a half.

They heard creaking upstairs, signifying Julianne’s father was getting up.

“Quick baby, let’s put the room back.”

They returned the sofa against the wall and put the coffee table back in the middle of the main floor space. They sat on the sofa and Lorraine grabbed some Value crisps for them to sit and eat, making it look like they’d been doing nothing but veging out in front of the TV.

“Where’s my tea?” Julian Simonovich asked gruffly, falling heavily into his armchair.

Without a word, Lorraine stood up and went to the kitchen.

Julianne stared at the TV, not looking at her father.

When Lorraine returned to the room with tea and toast for Julian, she told him, “We’re going out for the groceries, alright?” Her voice carried little affection.

“Get me some more of them pop tarts,” he grumbled, “fucking hate scabby toast.”

For your munchies, more like, thought Lorraine.

“We can hardly afford bread let alone overpriced junk,” Lorraine countered.

“So get another job. It’s not my fault I got sacked.”

Lorraine bit her tongue. It was his fault, but he was looking for anyone else to blame it on.

“I can’t. What about Julie? Who will get her to school and pick her up?”

He grunted. He was barely out of bed before ten everyday and he would no doubt forget to pick his daughter up. Besides, Lorraine didn’t trust him to look after Julianne. Lorraine would do anything to keep her daughter safe. Anything. Working as a receptionist for six hours a day was all she could manage and she didn’t want to put upon Julie’s grandmother, who was a bitter woman with a bias for her son. A pub job in the evening would mean leaving her child with Julian and Lorraine didn’t trust him not to go out and leave her all alone. She wouldn’t have put it past him. In the last year everything had changed for the worse and Lorraine was worried about the future.

“Let’s go, Julie,” Lorraine ordered, helping the girl on with her coat and boots.

They left the house, trundling down the hill towards the centre of town and the shops. In Frozen Foods, they picked up all the bargains on the £1 shelves and Lorraine submitted to Julian’s demand for pop tarts.

“Why are you sad, Mummy?”

“I’m not sad.”

“You are. Why don’t you dance with me? Why don’t you want Daddy to know I dance?”

Avoiding Julianne’s eyes, Lorraine explained, “A demon lives in Daddy. It makes him say and do and want bad things. Dancing is a good thing, yes?”

“Yes,” Julianne nodded, happily.

“He might try to take away anything good from us. We must keep all our good locked away, so he can’t steal it. That’s why I put your dance fund under the floor, honey.”


Lorraine was saving up a few pounds each week so that Jules could go to dance school when she was older. For now, most of her hopes and dreams seemed so far off – but she had great ambition for Julianne, her second chance.

“Can we go to the park?” asked Julianne.

“Okay, but it’ll be very snowy!!”

“That’s okay, I want to build a snowman.”


Lorraine sat on a bench with the shopping at her feet, chilling it on the ground. Julianne pranced and rolled in the snow, giggling her head off.

“Show me how to dance the snow angel dance, Mummy! Show me, show me!”

“No, darling, no.”


Lorraine stood and wobbled on her feet. “No, Julianne. No. Let’s go home.”

The child held her mother’s hand on the way home but she was shaking and trembling, in fear of her mother suddenly.

“I’m sorry, Julie, but I had my love of dance stolen from me. I never fulfilled my promise darling.” Bitter tears gathered but didn’t fall from Lorraine’s eyes.

They arrived home to an empty house and Lorraine grumbled to herself. Julian had no doubt gone out for his fix. While he was gone, Julianne suggested, “I’ll dance again to cheer you up?”

“No, no, darling, it’s okay. I don’t want you straining your little legs. We’ve tired you enough today. Why don’t we just do each other’s hair, hmm?”

“I like doing your hair, Mummy.”

Julianne brushed out her mother’s hair, which fell to her waist. The little girl tried to plait it but wasn’t quite skilled enough yet and by the end, she was making more knots than anything. Then Lorraine skilfully plaited Julianne’s hair into a French braid.

“You’re my beautiful mummy,” Julianne exclaimed out of the blue, and Lorraine squeezed her daughter tight, feeling richer for having a daughter’s love.

Lorraine would never leave her daughter to that foul man.

But for some reason, she did…



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Unleash – Prologue

KAY (4)

April 2014

I HEARD IT from a friend of mine sitting in the ‘congregation’ at Jennifer Matthews’ memorial: Cai Matthews broke down in the middle of Carl Sorensen’s eulogy and couldn’t be comforted—in fact his whole body seemed to be shaking and not only did his wife look worried, but Carl did too. I was in South London shopping for necklaces at the time but after hearing the news, I couldn’t concentrate and abandoned my work-based trip to head back to the Elle offices in Soho. There I got short shrift from colleagues when asked if I knew what was going on and I said, “How the hell would I know? I haven’t seen them yet.”

I got back to my desk and after sitting twiddling my thumbs for long enough to know I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything else all day, I told my boss Kendra ‘Kensey’ Lindsey I was leaving for the day.

“To get the exclusive?” she asked in her husky Scouse accent as she sat at her wide, white desk, littered with proofs, layouts and post-its. I knew she would sign off most of it without even really checking things through.

“Don’t joke, Kendra,” I fired back, disgusted.

Her poker-straight blonde hair perfection, her pale features made up in nude tones—if only she wasn’t wearing some awful, lime-green monstrosity. The woman couldn’t dress for shit though people excused her as ‘subversive’ or ‘trend-setting’.


“You work for us, not them.”

I took a seat in the chair opposite hers. It was absurd of her thinking I would squeal so easily. Time to pull her down a peg or two. Faced with someone trying to cut down my friends, I could turn nastier than any animal caught in a trap.

“There’s no exclusive here,” I assured her, “just a man who lost a relative. Plus the last time I checked, there was no us and them. Chloe left Frame two years ago to work for Chanel and Cai’s got more influence outside the fashion world than you could ever hope to earn. Clearly you’re barking up the wrong tree if you think you can persuade me to not only betray my friends but cross such powerful people, too.”

She tapped the end of her pilot pen against her teeth. “I have it on authority there’s something about that family, something like a mystery, and they don’t want anyone to find out.”

“What authority?”

This confrontation had been coming a while, I supposed. Most of the time she and I didn’t talk. In fact I despised her, but a job was a job.

“That would be telling.”

“Well, I’ll be visiting Chloe directly after here but I won’t be coming back with any kind of exclusive for you.” Yes, I have a way in and you don’t. Stick that in your cauldron and smoke it.

She turned her chair sideways so all I could see was her profile. Tipping her head back, she folded her arms. “Ever since you came here from the higher echelons of Empire, you’ve never not judged yourself better than us. You obviously have no loyalty.”

“Yet you promoted me, funny that, isn’t it? But… you’re right, I have no loyalty,” I told her straight, my hands resting on the arms of my spinning chair, “but actually, I don’t think I’m above you, I know I am. For a start, I don’t bitch about every member of staff in this place behind their back and when I arrive in the morning and head for the coffee machine, I ask others around me if they want one too. I don’t make my assistant remake my drinks until I get the kind of high only an egotistical maniac does from exerting their power over others.” I watched her face turn scornful. “Also, you spreading it across the desk every night has been more than noted by the security guys and they’re not exactly silent about what they’ve seen on CCTV.”

She cackled, so proud of herself.

“I only ended up here after receiving a random email from Klaus Häuser, who suggested I drop his name. He used to be friends with my friend Chloe—though I’ve always wondered what the crack is with that man, picking up girls like Chloe, no morals or scruples—yet the world rewards him anyway.”

She sneered; she knew what she was. This ‘authority’ she talked of was no doubt him. “Why make apologies when nobody else does, either?”

“That’s the kind of antediluvian attitude I’d expect from someone worse off than you, not a woman given the world. So what is the downside of having this job, hun? What does he make you do in exchange… maybe, taking it up the butt? Does he do your paperwork and bully people into doing what you say? I just don’t get how you survive when you’re full of nothing but hot air.”

I was on a roll but I’d had it with this woman.

“You can clear your desk, Kayla,” she spat, trying not to show I was getting to her.

I’m just not done yet. “The nature of all this… it makes me wonder now. It does make me wonder about a few things, especially you and Klaus and your need to know about what’s going on with Chloe and Cai. Seems to me I’m stuck in the middle of a shit storm of lies, backstabbing and revenge, if the rumours about yours and Jennifer’s feud is anything to go by.”

Kendra swaggered, “She just never liked me. I don’t know why. She just wanted to be queen of everything, that woman.”

I stood and looked down on her. “You’ll give me a good redundancy package otherwise I’ll sell what I know about you to some tabloid and we all know how much they’re willing to pay.”

She stood with her hands on the desk and lowered her eyes to mine like she might pounce across and rip my hair out. Six foot, she towered over me but I could take her. She snarled, “You wouldn’t dare.”

“I’ve had other offers and I’ve built relationships with other magazines and companies. I don’t have anything to lose if I leave and everything to gain. I don’t care if you threaten me, I can do as I please. So, you’ll do me a favour and let me go with a nice exit package and I will keep your disgusting manners and your filthy fucking habits to myself.”

She gritted her teeth, “We’ll see about all this, we’ll see.”

“I guess we will,” I smiled, and left her office.


THE pretty nanny, Teri opened the door of Chloe’s Notting Hill mansion to let me inside and I had to shake off my hatred of Kendra and prepare myself for whatever drama Cai Matthews had created this time. The man was a menace. If only Chloe didn’t love him so much, I would have told her to escape to some colony and never come back. Trouble brewed around the Matthews’ clan like flies round shit.

I shook off my bag and coat in the hallway and quickly asked her, “What’s going on, then?”

“He seems calm now, actually,” she said with surprise in her eyes, “they have a guest, some tall man. Very dishy.”


“Carl somebody.”


I’d only ever seen him in pictures but I knew he was absolutely devastating.

“Tea, Kayla?”

“Err, yeah, I suppose,” I replied.

While she went into the kitchen to boil the kettle, I stood in the hall thinking about how to approach this. I knew myself and I knew, if he was even more beautiful in real life, I was about to make a total fool of myself. It was how I coped in these sorts of situations.

I took the door handle and thought, nothing for it.

I crashed into the room, all action, no thought. If I let myself think, I’d say something totally fucking stupid.

I looked between everyone in the room and let my eyes glance at Carl, who sat with his legs crossed, briefly looking up under his brow at me.

Shit, my heart is pounding like a motherfucker now. Can he see it kicking into gear?

The man exuded sex, grace and eligibility and I’d only had a glance so far!

When my eyes landed on Cai, Christ, I knew the man was broken. He was totally broken. He looked worn out, his eyes sunken, his olive skin pallid and wan.

What’s going on here? I asked myself.

I perched myself next to Chloe, holding out my arms. She rushed into my embrace and grabbed me tight, letting me know this was bad. She was suffering and she didn’t know how to comfort him. Cai, in a corner of the sectional seating by himself, looked like he was in a world of his own.

“Well now, I didn’t expect this, tea and biscuits, eh?” I said throwing my head back on a loud tut, reaching for humour, because humour always worked. “Cai, when she’s breastfeeding, you know she only eats packs of donuts!”

Not a speck of reaction from Cai.

I dared not look at Carl again, I might have come on the spot, but I could see him staring at me and it made me feel so uneasy.

“You’re such a bitch!” Chloe scolded me.

“Me? A bitch? I’m just looking out for you. So what’s been going on?” I was breathless because a huge, beautiful man sat opposite me and I wanted to stare back at him, too. However, I was there to help my friends, not jump the dishy American.

“You can’t just march in here like you own the show! We’ve been doing fine thanks,” she exclaimed, gesturing subtly to Carl.

You’re here to help Cai, you’re here to help Cai! I had to remind myself. I’d witnessed his meltdowns before and they were ugly, but this one seemed serious.

“Hmm, whatever, now let me see those big blues, Cai Matthews. Let me see them,” I asked clearly. He lifted his chin slowly and looked up. I could tell he was in pain, the kind you can’t express through words. “You finally snapped then, boy? Can’t say it surprises me, I’m just surprised you held out so long. Must be a tough one, you.”

He smiled a little so I pushed on, ignoring the elephant in the room, “Listen to me. Okay? I’ve got her so while I’m holding her, she’s okay, she’s safe with me. Now listen. I have some training in this area…” I’ve had several years’ worth of counselling, “…and what I want you to do is tell us the problem, how ever big or small, and we’ll all deal with it right here and now, we can all deal with it. I’ve got her, nothing bad will happen, because believe me this bitch ain’t as strong as me. Now, c’mon. Let it go, Cai. Just tell us the problem.”

Cai shook his head and removed his suit jacket, running his hands up and down his cheeks. “I feel like I need a drink.”

“Never solved a thing,” Carl said, and oh god, his voice made my nipples hard. In my bondage top and jeans, I felt contained and trapped. I wished I’d worn heels, not my big, clopping steam punk boots.

Keep your hat—or more importantly—your knickers on.

I agreed with Carl, trying not to look at his eyes for too long, turning my focus back on Cai. “Too true. How about you just try some deep breaths, from your diaphragm. Few deeps breaths. I could be doing with some fucking tea though people, the K.T. here be thirsty after three tubes and Kensey fucking me up.”

While Cai took some deep breaths, Chloe frowned and asked, “What? How?”

“The woman is a fucking bitch. She was all like, ‘You go get the exclusive from Chloe,’ and I was all like, ‘No sodding chance, luv,’ so then she was like, ‘Oh like that is it? Well I know where your loyalty lies Kayla,’ so then I told her to swivel on her stick and eat it. The shagged out old bag.” Not those words exactly, though that’s how it was in my head!

Chloe giggled but it was Carl’s reaction that astonished me. He covered his face with his hands and his laugh, so deep and throaty, turned me on even more.

It made me ecstatically happy to have made him laugh. My heart picked up even more pace and my eyes and his finally met for a stretch longer than a glance.

Hazel. He had hazel eyes.

I think that was the moment I fell…





EVERYDAY I WOKE, and I was nothing. I went to sleep, and I was less. When I opened my eyes to the world on my 21st birthday, it wasn’t a day to celebrate. It was the same as any other.

I lifted my head to look at the blinding, ignorant world outside the window and felt an instant need to spew. I ran from my bed to the toilet and evacuated my guts into the bowl.

Everyday, the same.

I swallowed hard and panted as I rested back against the cold tile. I couldn’t keep doing this to my body, I knew it. Breaking myself down just so I could build myself back up, fuelling the demons just so I could kill them again in the ring.

The cycle, perpetual.

I stood and walked back out into the apartment she bought for me. At the window, I looked down on Brooklyn and Manhattan beyond that… and I felt, nothing.


On my skin and in my hair I detected more than one female aroma, though the memory of all that was a blurred recollection. I pressed my hand to the glass window and held myself up, the urge to vomit still there.

In my stomach I felt empty and in my heart, there was less than an ounce of anything. My vision was skewed by rainbows of light that weren’t on the spectrum and I didn’t recognise the reflection that stared back at me in the tinted window.

The night before, a Friday, I’d partied hard. Nothing unusual.

I didn’t vomit because of the drink, but because I indulged on everything to excess.


Everything that was bad. Everything I didn’t want, but had to have anyway.

I threw my sack of shit body into the shower and burned the entrails away, from my skin at least. From my exterior, just not the inside.

Inside, decay and desolation remained.

I walked out for some breakfast—some orange juice and oatmeal—and picked up my mail as I walked back into the building.

Back in my apartment upstairs, I noticed a parcel amongst the junk—and was surprised to find it contained a number of legal documents. I had only moved in a couple days ago but Jennifer’s people had seen to all the admin on the apartment, so what this was I didn’t know. I feared the contents, unsure what was going on. I didn’t know about this kind of stuff. Since moving to New York I’d never had to worry about anything monetary because Jennifer had always taken care of that for me.

I scanned through and noticed the lawyers on the letterhead weren’t the people Jennifer used. I deduced I had become the owner of some other property and was convinced there had been some error. I called them and said, “You sent me all this stuff but I think there’s been a mistake…”

There hadn’t.

This, was genuine?

I signed a couple of things and personally returned the papers to the lawyers’ office on Third Avenue, first thing Monday.

I asked ‘Turner, Ace and Patrick LLP’ who’d done this for me? They wouldn’t say; they couldn’t disclose a benefactor who’d asked to remain anonymous. All that they’d say was that he had an unusual look.

In exchange I got handed the keys to a potential enterprise that was all mine and though I was suspicious, I went to inspect it anyway.

I walked around the empty space and envisaged how the building had been used before. There were too many tall windows to count and some of those industrial tube lights in the ceiling. It was clearly meant to be used as gallery space but needed work. Doors hung off hinges, damp lurked in places, the floors were a mess and the brick needed repairing—in fact it needed knocking down and starting from scratch! The place didn’t just pose an aesthetic challenge, but a structural one too.

With plenty of wall space available, I should’ve just bought a couple cans of spray paint and made it my own, called it art—had the hoards come through and pay to see the inside of my shattered mind.

I frequently dreamed of bleak landscapes… burning effigies. Bloodied and battered faces and piles of rotting corpses. If I unleashed my mind, who knew what I might create? No doubt something akin to the inside of her mind, something controversial enough to warrant a craze.

No, no! I had to switch that impulse off. It would be a place to sell photographs, not a canvas for the paintings that refused to erase themselves from my burnt vision.

It would cost a bomb just to keep the building standing, so I needed to find work—and fast. As I absorbed my surroundings, she texted and asked if I liked the apartment, my birthday present from her. I thought about my reply for a long time before I finally replied: It suffices.

I thought my response cold, to the point, unquestionable. Succinct. Nothing for her to chew through and spit out.

Moving out of her place on Fifth Avenue had been a long time coming. I never brought women home—I kept all that at the clubs. However, she brought her lovers home with her; men, women, multiple partners. It caused too many arguments between us.

So this gift—the gallery—definitely wasn’t from her. She only ever gave to receive and never without motive. She wouldn’t hand over a gallery in secret, it wasn’t her style. She was all about the showy gestures, all about the control.

This gallery wasn’t her idea. Whose, though? I couldn’t be sure.

As I wandered my own floors and checked out my new patch, I saw a chance. Possibility. Somebody out there wanted me to succeed. Who? I didn’t know! Yet someone could see in me some sort of potential. I had to believe that.

During the days that followed I returned to the gallery again and again, drawing up plans of what I would do with the place if I had money. I didn’t tell Jennifer I was in possession of a gallery but she found out anyway. She knew everything. She had spies, everywhere. She scoffed, of course, warned she would decimate any attempt of mine to make good on such a venture. I didn’t let her snide comments get to me because I had a gallery and that meant someone, somewhere, thought well of me. From then on, I would be better. I would.

I poured my liquor supply down the sink, this simple act already distancing me from who I didn’t want to be. I flushed my pill packets, too. It was time. I didn’t like that stuff and now I had something to work toward, I couldn’t be doing that shit anymore.

What more could she do to hurt me, anyway? There was no mortgage to sabotage, no reputation to ruin. My gallery, like my work, was the pits. Yet it had room for growth and she couldn’t touch that, even though she hated it.

I just didn’t know what lay in store for me.

If only I knew then, what I know now…


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Connecticut, 2000

THE OUTLINE OF a petite woman dressed in a gauche ensemble grew bigger as she walked toward Cai. He inwardly groaned, Go away. Please, not her. She stomped across the uneven, old cemetery in her high heels, unceremoniously marching over long-forgotten graves to make her way to where he stood. He noticed her limousine loitering in the distance and reasoned the wake was long over. She’d be hacked off he missed it. Of course he’d purposely avoided the whole thing—fake smiles, apologies, pithy remarks from freeloading drunks and plain fakery from all corners. None of them knew the woman his mother really was. To most she was just a reclusive artist with a ton of secrecy surrounding her unusual lifestyle.

The last mourner there, his neck ached from fixing a constant gaze down into the ground beneath his feet. Tossed earth and red roses marred the gleaming white coffin and he wondered what the point of it all was. His mother wouldn’t know the difference, would she? Then again, he wondered what the point of life was some days.

All day heavy rain clouds had threatened to send him indoors and yet he remained, gazing down into that joyless hole that a man lurking nearby was impatient to fill. Now dusk, it was the dark that might toss him home.

Both parents, gone. The most recent, his mother.

For some reason, he couldn’t mourn. All day he’d willed even a few tears to come, but none had.

His aunt’s hand fell lightly on his shoulder and she tried to tug him away from that site. He knew she was talking but he didn’t hear her, not until she started shouting.

“I’ll have no more nonsense, d’ya hear me Cai? Indoors, now!” She ravaged his ears with a strong, cockney accent.

He thought this woman—his new guardian—crude and dislikable.

The night closed in fast but Cai still refused to leave. The undertaker waited in his truck nearby, talking rampantly on his cell, poised to finally get the job done. Several times that day, Cai had threatened to throw himself in with his mother if he wasn’t given enough time.

There’d never be enough time.

Aunt Jennifer had only just turned up in his life though for years his mother had raved about her incessantly, telling him how glamorous and travelled and individual she was.

“I just learned it’ll be me who oversees your financial affairs, Cai.” He didn’t miss the cool tone of her voice when she said his name, like he was a duty and not a person. “Best start the way we mean to go on… you… being behaved, I mean.”

“Why you?” His teenage voice squeaked slightly, only just broken. “Didn’t Mom leave the lawyers in charge?”

“I don’t know, Cai. Your mother was strange but maybe she did make one sound decision,” she told him firmly. “I’m family… I’m not a faceless pen pusher.”

I’d take one of those any day, he thought.

Fourteen years old and orphaned—all he had left was an aunt he didn’t know and a house full of bad memories.

“I don’t want to stay here. That place,” he said in a rush and gestured to his mother’s mansion nearby, “gives me the creeps.”

She licked her painted lips. “Lucky for you I just landed a job in New York City; they have the best schools anyway I’d bet.”

He breathed a sigh of relief. Escape. Freedom. Somewhere different. That Georgian estate he’d grown up on was full of ghosts and secrets.

The looming white building could be seen from his current hillside vantage point and he didn’t know what was worse—living in a place of nightmares or staring out of the window at the consequences up on the hill.

“We’ll keep the house running… maybe offer it as a wedding venue. Keep it in the family, so to speak.”

“For now, maybe. Later, I’ll demolish it,” he replied.

“We’ll see. This could be an earner for you, love,” she said calmly, but the fingers she kept at his shoulder dug in painfully.

He turned to look at his aunt and saw through the dramatic black veil she wore. All that make-up and elegance, all that poise and style, yet he recognised people by nature were all the same beneath.

He kicked the earth, his hands in the pockets of his slacks. “When I come of age I’ll sell, or better still, have every brick removed and taken elsewhere. I’ll smash it to pieces, bit by bit!”

She scoffed, seemingly unflustered. “Huh, well, we’ll see. There’s a clause, old fashioned but… you’ve inherited as a minor so you’ve to marry to inherit otherwise you won’t get the money before your twenty-fifth birthday.”

“Typical,” he mumbled, stalking away as soon as the first, tender splashes of rain tumbled down. The undertaker cursed desperately in the background, threatening all sorts.

“My sister wouldn’t have wanted you to sell,” she shouted over his shoulder. “She loved this place.”

His mother and aunt British-born, Claudia was the elder sister and had inherited the estate in Connecticut from her father’s elder brother. Claudia’s decision to leave London meant the sisters lost touch somewhat and it was in America that Claudia met Philippe Cortez, Cai’s father—the couple’s volatile partnership something Jennifer never approved of.

Cai and Jennifer were all that remained of a family which from the outside appeared to live fast, and die young.

She caught up with his strides, warning, “I’d advise you not to carry your father’s name, my boy. A man as notorious as him, well now… you don’t want to be tarred by the same brush. I’ll say you were my sister’s love child. I’ll say… well, I’ll make stuff up. After all nobody really knows what went on here, do they? We cannot have people thinking you are your daddy’s son. Do you understand?”

He nodded slowly alongside her, labouredly, and she repeated, “Tell me you understand?”

“I understand.” My father was a bad man.                           

They climbed into the waiting limousine and Cai hoped they were only going back to the house to pack their bags. He watched the skies open as she continued to dictate to him, the driver setting off without need of instruction.

“I won’t have any mucking about Cai, d’ya hear me? The life you knew is over. You’ll go to school and out into the world for a change. There’ll be no more hiding, d’ya understand me? You’re a clever lad and you’ll do well. You’ll behave and that’s all there is to it… you and me will get on grand if you just behave, hmm?”

He nodded slowly, not caring to show his inward pleasure. He’d been desperate to escape for so long, the smile threatening to break over his face hurt—even though he thought this woman was out of line talking to him that way. Like a child. He’d seen things that made a boy a man.

Jennifer knew he’d had a strange upbringing and she was going to remedy that. The nightmare of the past fourteen years was officially over—and she’d saved him from that in some part, when she could have left him with the servants.

Cai would sell the estate as soon as he got chance, or burn it to the ground. If nothing else, he would at least have every rose on site destroyed so that they never grew again.

He’d wait until he could be free of his aunt—who was just another reminder. Hell, he might even consider getting married.


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Prologue – THE INFORMANT!!!!

the informantOUT THIS WEEK!!

This is the sequel to THE RADICAL and promises to be explosive, action-packed, full of romance, intrigue and surprises galore!



January 2064

Mine was a life unlike all the others’. How bold a statement, you may say. Yet quite true. The rest thrived off reputation and hearsay whereas me, Camille Honoré, needed no reputation to prove how much of a threat to Officium I was. Nothing they had thrown at me had killed me. They had tried numerous times. I had kept my head down yet they knew of my conquests. My name was still synonymous with threat.

I sat in a bedroom in Paris, with these thoughts all swirling around my head. I looked out over the expansive rear gardens of Seraph’s new purchase: a house. The place needed a great deal of work and the gardens were more junkyard than recreational space, but I could see she believed in a possible transformation. I’d complain about the seals, the safety locks, the roof and she would smile and return, ‘It has potential.’

I loved her enthusiasm. Even after all that had transpired, she saw something good in everything. I knew it was because she had been to rock bottom and come back again that she didn’t take anything for granted. I had learnt that same lesson myself.

The strain of the past few months had driven me to the odd cigarette and I puffed on one out of the window so she wouldn’t see my vulnerability. Me, yes, me Camille Honoré, who was meant to be beyond all these earthly pleasures. Yet the past nine months had nearly killed me. Why? I could admit the reasons but only to myself. It knew it would take more than retrospect and reflection before I would be able to digest it with anyone else.

Seraph and her “condition” put a spanner in the works, let’s say. A touch of nausea on a certain Dakota apartment balcony was the whole damn reason why nine months had nearly killed me…

I was digressing. Getting sloppy. Allowing emotions to get the better of me. How crass. I forgot Camille Honoré does not admit she has the potential to die, when in fact she has more than the potential. I was just as fallible as the rest, if not more, though I was better at hiding it.

We thought Ryken had successfully paved the way for a resurgence. When in actual fact, no.

“Fuck him,” I whined to myself.

I blamed Eve for teaching me swear words. I blamed her for a lot of things actually. She had passed on and left me with a shit load of problems to mop up, sweep away, tuck under the carpet… (insert other archaisms here).

I was dealing with a mountain of logistical nightmares in fact and no amount of swearing would make me feel any better. Nothing was going to sway me from my feeling that the proverbial was going to hit the fan before long.

He damn well forgot to wear a prophylactic. Nothing but mayhem would ensue because of that one, silly, neglectful action.

I finished the cigarette and took out a mint, spraying myself with scented water too. Perfume would have her licking my face with the heightened sense of smell she had.

A ding from my xGen arrested me and I inwardly recoiled. What now? I told them all to leave me alone. I am not in the mood.

I had retired myself, I suppose, to a certain extent. I had left my no.1 in charge at the shop and had come to Paris with Seraph in a bid to start fresh, breathe away the cobwebs and reconnect with who I used to be. That thought made me chuckle inwardly: who I used to be

I recalled a little French girl, treated like a princess by her parents, strolling the streets with her mamma, seeking shoes from stalls that would inscribe your name inside and make it all the more magical to have something that was entirely your own. How fantastical. How whimsical. How nothing of that little girl remained in the powerful machine that had replaced her.

I picked up my xGen and saw a message. I saw the sender and heat flooded my body. Heat rose in my cheeks. She still had that affect on me. It read, ‘Got time for a chat? Only a quick one.’

Sure,’ I replied, unable to help myself.

She called within a minute and I froze when I saw her. She was all blackness and I loved it. The darkness within her contrasted with the lightness in me. Though what she knew, and only she, was that my depths ran darker and deeper than most others’ – and in that respect we were a perfect fit.

‘How are you?’ she asked with concern.

‘Shit,’ I replied. I never swore. She knew that meant it was bad.

‘He is on his way?’ she asked tentatively.

‘Yes, he is,’ I mumbled.

‘Do you want me to come over?’

‘No,’ I told her, my lips pursed.

‘I don’t like the way you look,’ she argued.

‘How should I look? Pleased?’

I was more miffed than I had ever been.

There was a very valid reason for Ryken’s disappearance off the face of the planet and now I feared all this sacrifice, all this struggle, would be for nothing.

‘You can tell me what is going on in that head of yours. If it will help to unburden you, you may as well.’

I sniffed. I shook my head and rambled quickly in French, quicker than even she could understand. I went into my roughest dialect, my street tongue, and she gawped as I reeled off a lot of jargon.

‘Don’t be such a child and just tell me,’ she chastised.

‘Huh,’ I harrumphed, sitting down on my bed with her on my lap. I had to think of Seraph and her talk of piles earlier… anything to take my mind off the beauty of the woman opposite me.

I cogitated and twisted my mouth before admitting, ‘You haven’t been here when she cries in the night. You haven’t seen her…’ I paused, my mouth twisting uncomfortably while I tried to combat my emotions, ‘…talking like she is happy when she isn’t, not really. She is only pretending… when really she is so sad, she can barely get out of bed in the morning.’

‘Camille, you always knew it would be this way.’

‘Oh, yes, yes,’ I laughed in a trite manner, ‘oh that’s right. Camille follows orders, that is what she does.’

‘This is not you speaking, who is this creature?’ she demanded, her eyes narrowing.

‘I am so tired of this,’ I moaned.

‘You cannot let emotion get the better of you. Not when we have a traitor amongst us.’

‘Ha, a traitor! That is a laugh, is it not? We are all traitors to ourselves. We are human and still we convince ourselves we have no feelings… just to get the job done.’

‘If you don’t bloody tell me what is wrong, right this instant, I am going to come over there to knock some damn sense into you!’

‘That traitor as you term them… that thing who proclaims to be a person, well… my spies tell me things I don’t like to hear. Things that mean this whole sham could have been for nothing! Nothing!’

‘I am coming,’ she warned.

‘No. I don’t need you adding to my problems as well. I already have too many people on the watch list, thank you very much.’

‘A few more days, Camille,’ she comforted me, ‘and Seraph will not be so vulnerable. Just a few more days.’

A few more days, a few more months, a few more years… they had piled up and robbed my life, those “calculations of time” that meant shit. This fight felt like it would never be over.

I wanted to tell my counterpart that she had no idea of the real legacy the Operator had left behind. Secrets nobody but me knew. Some so terrible… some days I had to break skin on the punch bag to rid myself of the guilt I sometimes felt. Me, Camille Honoré, breaking skin. Oh Jesus. Who was I kidding? I was just a woman too. No plan, no motive. Just a woman.

‘I will come if you want me to,’ she added. Oh I bet you would

Non, I don’t want you here,’ I insisted in a harsh voice.

‘Well, chin up. You never know, you might get to kick some more ass before long.’

I looked into her eyes and couldn’t help but crack a wry grin. That had me perked up. She was never easily offended, never gave up on me. She knew just how to appeal to my sense of humor.

‘She’s back, there she is, Camille is in the room again,’ she beamed.

I heard the door to Seraph’s room open after her nap and nodded towards Mara, whispering, ‘Got to go.’

She mouthed, ‘Okay.’

We ended the call and I heard Seraph yell from the corridor, ‘My back’s fuckin’ killin’!’

I chuckled inwardly. Seraph didn’t know how alike she and Eve had been. I had to hope she would never know the extent of the truth in that.

The Radical revealed her place in this tale, now I will unveil mine. Maybe I was the Principal first and foremost, in the eyes of the world. But there is/was so much more to me, too.

I was the Operator’s right-hand woman and you have yet to discover the extent of our former leader’s skills… prepare to be driven deeper into the murky abyss.