Tuesday, 4 October 2011

SANDMAN Extract #5 (from Chapter 2)

Here is the latest extract from my psychological thriller: SANDMAN:

Sasha was in white: all white. She burst into the bedroom with a towel turbaned around her wet hair and wearing a robe: clearly nothing more. After going to the window and pulling back the curtains to flood the room with sunlight, she crossed to the bed, sat on the bedside beside Paul and smilingly shook his elevated hip.

‘Hi. So you’re awake at last. Was this break a good idea, or what?’ She smiled widely. ‘Has it made you feel a bit brighter?’

Looking up at her, Paul put his hand over hers. He knew she was referring to his depression over his father’s accident. ‘Yes, it’s helped a lot. Thanks for suggesting it.’ She might be a flirt, but how could he not love her? As he expected, the unpleasantness of the previous day was now long forgotten. ‘I’ve only just woken up, actually. Have you had your run?’

‘I certainly have. It’s such a beautiful sunny morning, Paul.’ Her face sparkled with enthusiasm. ‘And it’s way time you were up. I’ve run to Boscombe Pier and back while you’ve been dozing.’ She leaned down to plant a lingering kiss on his lips. Sasha was so brilliant at defusing tension.

Paul relished the kiss gratefully. ‘Mmm! So much nicer than morning coffee.’ Smiling, he slid his hand into the gaping fold of her robe. ‘But what a waste of energy. Exercise could be far more pleasurable right here in bed.’ Sitting up further, he kissed her again, this time long and lingering.

Giggling, Sasha gently pulled his hand away and smacked it playfully. ‘Down, tiger. There’s no time for that. I’ve hair to dry and calls to make. Let’s go to the beach hut really early today. I don’t want the holiday mood to end. I’ve arranged to get a lift with Lucy tomorrow to go shopping at Sainsbury’s from Mudeford Quay. Could you meet us when we get back on the ferry? I’ll have a load up.’

Paul smiled. ‘Of course. To be sure.’ He loved kidding her about her Irish accent.

Grinning, she strode across the room while uncoiling the towel from her head. Sitting at her dressing table she towelled blonde hair vigorously and then let it cascade around her shoulders. ‘Unless you want to do the shopping today, of course?’ She looked round at him, loosening her robe as she did so, shrugging it off to reveal seamlessly tanned skin. Picking up her hair dryer she waited for his answer.

Paul grimaced. ‘I could. I will, if you want. But I really should call in at the build today to see how Charlie’s getting on. I need to make some plans for next week. The move’s getting near now.’

Sasha shrugged. ‘Okay.’ Looking back in the mirror, she switched on her dryer. Its roar filled the room as she teased-out her hair with its comb.

Paul allowed himself the luxury of admiring her exquisite body. It was no wonder she turned heads and provoked his green-eyed streak. He realised that was what the ‘Glenn-thing’ was all about, of course. She was a teacher, after all. She knew hundreds of people: colleagues, parents, pupils, university friends… other friends. The list was endless.

Sasha clicked off the dryer, pulled up her robe and looked round. ‘Well, get a move on, Paul. You say you like to get into the bathroom before Leah. I heard her moving around when I came in. She won’t be long.’

‘By the way, you missed a call on your mobile while you were in the shower.’

‘Oh?’ Brushing her hair again, Sasha didn’t seem particularly bothered.

‘I answered it. Just deep breathing. No one spoke. Spooky. Do you often get deep-breathers calling you, Sasha?’

She laughed. ‘Must have been a wrong number.’

‘Not many people get wrong mobile numbers.’ Paul watched her expression intently in the mirror’s reflection. There was no visible reaction.

‘I don’t see how you can say that. If a number’s misdialled, it’s just as likely to be to a mobile as a landline. I’ve had them before. Or perhaps someone I know accidentally selected the wrong person on their phone.’

‘I don’t get wrong mobile calls.’ He paused. ‘So hadn’t you better check it out? See if it was important?’

Sasha shrugged, lay down her dryer and brush and crossed to the bed. Picking up her phone she flipped it open and took it back to the dressing table. After flicking the calls button she shrugged and looked across at him. ‘I don’t recognize the number. It must be a wrong one.’ She put the phone down and then continued drying her hair.

Feeling his jaw tightening, Paul forced himself to relax. So casual. So smooth. Yet so naïve. A wrong number from someone already in her directory? She made it sound so insignificant. Why was she being devious?

His ponderings were cut short when the bedroom door was noisily pushed open as their dog, Shep, nosed his way into the room. He was closely followed by Leah. She was smiling widely. ‘Hiya, crew,’ she drawled, obviously still sleepy. ‘Ready for the beach? Life’s always a beach on the sandbank, isn’t it?’ She grinned. Her blonde hair straggled over her face and her lids were low. Shep came across to the bed and Paul held out his hand to be snuffled and licked. After going across to greet Sasha, Shep settled himself near the bedroom door, chin on the ground, his eyes raised to watch their movements.

Leah was wearing a white nightdress covered in coloured question and exclamation marks: more than hint of her love for books. Smiling at her, Paul yet again saw a teenage reflection of her mother’s beauty and grace. She crossed to the bed and kissed him on the cheek. ‘So, I’m first for the bathroom, right?’ She wagged her finger. ‘It’s only right, Dad. I’m out of bed first.’ Then she headed across to her mother who switched off her dryer to exchange a kiss and a hug.

Sasha smiled at her. ‘It’ll be great when we move into the new house, Leah. When we’ve got our en-suite, the main bathroom will be all yours.’

‘Can’t wait.’ Leah grinned at Paul. ‘So the sooner Dad gets his finger out the better.’

Paul held up a finger. ‘Right. Finger out. And on the move.’ He tossed back the quilt, leapt out of bed, and spurted for the door.

‘Hey?’ Big blue eyes followed him with indignation. ‘Where do you think you’re going?’

‘I’ll actually be the first one in the bathroom, Leah. And possession is nine tenths of the law. Bye-bye.’ As he grinned back round the door at her indignant face, they exchanged well-practiced comic-glares.

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Find out more about SANDMAN at: iankingsley.com/books/sandman/

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