Last week I posted a review for Trust Me which you can see here.
Today I have an excerpt of the book. Enjoy!
Lana’s Story, 24 December 2014
I paced up and down the living room, intermittently stopping to plump up a cushion and wipe away specks of dust with the sleeve of my jumper. I checked my watch and silently prayed he would hurry up. It was Christmas Eve and I wasn’t sure how long the shops would stay open for. I mentally wrote a shopping list as I looked out of the window for the umpteenth time that hour. There was no way I could replace all of Amber’s presents but perhaps I could at least buy another bike and the Lelli Kelly trainers. Hopefully the pound shop up the road would still be open and I could load up on cheap plastic crap to stuff in her stocking. The cheap doll’s leg would no doubt fall off before we had even carved the turkey but at least she would have things to open. Feeling the tears prick at the backs of my eyes, I swiftly forced them back.
Why did Benji have to do this to us? He’d seemed genuinely fond of Amber. We hadn’t seen him much in recent years but Amber had clicked with him instantly and I was happy she had a man in her life, someone who could throw her high up in the air and blow farting noises on her belly, making her squeal like a lunatic. Just how long had he known what he was going to do? Was he planning the whole thing when he had struggled home on the bus with me a few weeks previously, carrying her bike under his arm and sweating with every step? Did he know that he would ruin his niece’s Christmas when he had watched The Grinch with her just a few days previous and made her laugh with his Jim Carrey impressions? Or had he simply got too desperate, as addicts often do, and felt there was no other option?
It was then that I noticed the silver-framed photograph on the mantelpiece, a picture of Benji, Amber and me at a local ice rink a few weeks prior. Striding over to it, I grabbed it and flung it with force against the wall. It crashed to the floor but didn’t appear to break. Instead, it lay face down on the carpet, as if it was ashamed at the false scene it depicted.
I jumped backwards as a fist connected with the window pane.
‘Lana!’ shouted a man on the other side of the glass, while knocking on the window again. ‘It’s me, Pat.’
With a hand over my heart, I let out a relieved half-laugh. ‘Hang on, Pat, I’ll just let you in.’
Pulling open the door a moment later, I noticed how small he was, no more than around 5’ 2”. He beamed up at me, his face holding a broad smile, packed with pearly-white teeth. He was classically handsome. Studying him closer, I realised he was much older than he looked at first glance, late thirties, early forties, perhaps. His olive skin and dark hair contrasted perfectly with his sharp, green eyes, which were looking at me expectantly.
‘What’s a man gotta do to get invited in around here?’ he quipped, raising his eyebrows.
‘Sorry,’ I stuttered, stepping back and gesturing for him to enter. The heat flushed to my neck and I knew without looking I had turned beetroot.
‘Ah, I’m just kidding, so I am,’ he joked, as he stepped inside and patted away imaginary dust from his long, cashmere coat. I noticed the Irish twang in his voice for the first time, not broad like his mother’s but clearly noticeable.
‘Here.’ He thrust an expensive-looking doll towards me. Beady black eyes stared up from a white, porcelain face. It was kind of creepy but a lovely gesture. ‘From my mammy for the babby,’ he continued. Taking it, I smiled at him for the first time and felt my body start to thaw.
‘Tell her thank you ever so much. Amber will love it.’
Pat followed me into the living room, where I offered him a cup of tea.
‘I won’t bother if you don’t mind, dear. Got quite a lot on with it being Christmas and all.’
‘Of course, sorry,’ I flapped. ‘I guess you have your own family to get back to and here’s me keeping you.’ I tried to laugh but it came out as a squeak. What on earth was happening to me?
His eyes fell briefly downwards. ‘No family – well, unless you count my dear mammy that is.’ He looked back up at me and smiled lazily. I suddenly felt sorry for him. ‘But you know what, Lana?’ he added, having gained his composure, ‘you’re not the only one who is struggling around this time. I blame Dodgy Dave. Margaret Thatcher in trousers that one.’
‘Hmm,’ I offered, having no idea what he was really going on about. ‘I guess you’re right.’
‘So you see,’ he continued, much more jovially, ‘it falls to people like me to help out at a time like this. Like a real-life elf, so to speak.’ He laughed while pointing a finger towards his own face. ‘Now how much do you want to lend?’
Feeling suddenly thrown off by the question, I scratched around inside my brain for an answer. The silence fell upon the room like a giant boulder and I mentally urged Pat to give me a bailout by offering a suggestion. I hated talking money with people at the best of times.
‘How much do you need, Lana?’ he asked again, his tone slightly tighter than a moment previous.
‘Maybe one hundred?’ I asked, my voice meek. I twiddled the sleeve of my jumper with my thumb and index finger as I waited for a response.
‘ One hundred,’ he gasped, his words breaking up into a laugh. ‘Sweet Jesus, Lana, it was hardly worth the visit.’
‘Oh,’ I replied, flustered. ‘I don’t know what the going rate is; never done this before.’
He looked at me for what seemed like an eternity, a look of what appeared to be sympathy, or pity, etched on his face. Walking over to me, he placed his hand on my arm, which sent my heart racing again.
‘I’ll tell you what,’ he whispered into my ear. ‘I like you, Lana, you’re a sweet girl. Take two hundred.’
I tried to object, opened my mouth to speak, but he placed his finger on my lip, rendering me silent in a matter of seconds.
‘No extra interest because it’s Christmas,’ he added. ‘We got ourselves a deal?’
Nodding my head in a trance-like state, I looked down into his eyes.
‘Yes, Pat, we got a deal.’
‘Excellent,’ he beamed, patting me lightly on the cheek. ‘Merry Christmas, sweetheart.’
If you would like to read Trust Me then you can purchase a copy here.
Thanks for reading.
The Stationery Geekette x