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Rags’ Riches – chapter 4

Returning after the trip to town she pushed through the gate.  Jenny was surprised to find two tabby cats sitting on the back door mat.  “Hello you two.  You’re too early.”  They stretched languidly to their feet, poised, half relaxed, half ready for flight.   Leaving their options open in the way that cats do.  “It’s alright kitties.”  She walked towards them calmly and bent to give each one a gentle stroke.  “The butcher gave me a rabbit and some other bits and I have to cook it up, but seeing as you’ve waited so nicely I’ll get you some nibbles.”

They stood to one side of the stone step allowing access to the kitchen.  She reached to bring down the cardboard packet from its resting place on top of the cupboard.  After sprinkling a small handful in front of them she watched, smiling as they nibbled.  The little noses and licking tongues left tiny damp smudges on the step as they hoovered up the treats.  Jenny pulled the door closed and left her visitors to their own devices, knowing that they would probably just curl up somewhere and snooze the day away until dinner time.  No doubt about it cats had got it all organised.  Even these little strays seemed happy and at ease.  The winters probably weren’t easy for them to be sure, but they coped.

Now, the plan was to go down to the park, take a ride up the quiet little avenues in the area and look at the big houses.  They were beautiful, shiny front doors with gorgeous patterned glass fanlights and gardens with cleverly designed brick paths. She wondered what it would be like to live somewhere like that, but wasn’t envious.  Not that she felt undeserving in any way but was happy with what she had.  After all a big house with all that extra responsibility wouldn’t benefit her now would it?

Humming quietly she whirled past the backs of the houses.  So much litter now, of course it blew back and forth down the narrow alleys but there were other things.  Black bags of rubbish spilled out and had been split.  Probably a lot to do with cats, but they didn’t know did they?  You couldn’t blame them if there were carcasses and so on, it was just food to the kitties and they thought the mess was someone else’s problem.  There were some boxes and unidentifiable detritus and even an old mattress, dirty and wet, leaning against one back gate.  She sighed, people didn’t seem to have the time to bother about these things anymore, of course rats would be attracted and it was just so unsightly.

She turned at the end of the back alley and headed the opposite way from the route that she had taken earlier.  The carriageway was narrower up here and ran along the ends of the roads parallel to her own.  The old cobbles rattled her bike and her bones but she was used to it and sped on towards the block of lock up garages.  All the while she flipped glances back and forth watching for the old tom.  Every now and again there would be the glimpse of a familiar tail, or the flash of a black coat skipping over a garden wall, but no sign of the ginger cat.

As she approached the block of garages a large, white van pulled from the end of the road.  It drew in opposite to the small concrete building, effectively blocking her way.  She stopped and supported herself with one foot on the cobbles the other one still on the bike pedal.  If the van pulled right up to one of the double doors it would mean dismounting and walking around.

The van door swung open and the driver and his mate jumped out.  They were both dark-haired with a look about them that she could only think of as swarthy.  In their short leather jackets and baggy black pants there was something that struck her as unfriendly, certainly they didn’t invite any sort of approach or conversation.

The bigger one, from the passenger side, glanced around as the other man unfastened the big padlock.  Oh well then, she would have to walk around.  They ignored her weaving around the side of the white vehicle and across in front. They were too involved dragging the big garage doors open to notice a little old lady on a bike.  By now Jenny had reached the far side of the van and her inquisitive nature drew a glance to the inside of the garage.  The light was turned on; there inside were stacks and stacks of wooden boxes.   How fascinating, she couldn’t imagine what they could contain.  One of the men had turned around.  He stepped between her and the garage blocking the view.

“You want something lady?” It wasn’t friendly and she felt quite threatened by his demeanour.  Jenny lowered her gaze.  As she looked away though she had the quickest glimpse, a flash nothing more, of ginger fur.  She did a double take and the unfriendly stranger took a step towards her.  He was really rather frightening.  She clutched at the handlebars of her bike and scuttled away feeling quite upset.

The pleasure had gone from her little jaunt.  All she wanted now was to go home and put the kettle on and then cook up the treats for her fluffy friends.  She scuttered to the front of the van, mounted up and sped along the road that had brought the two men to the garage block.  As she pedaled away she could feel their eyes boring into her back.  The bike wobbled alarmingly, was it that or the men glaring behind her that caused the nasty lurch in her stomach.  She had meant no harm, but was concerned about that flash of ginger.  It could easily have been Rags.





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Rags Riches – Chapter 3

The old bike was stored in what had been the outside toilet.  When the house was modernised and a lovely new bathroom installed Jenny had decided to have the old lavatory taken away and the little brick building converted into a handy storage shed.  She dragged the machine out and popped a shopping bag into the wicker carrier basket on the handlebars.

She clambered aboard, swung her legs over the frame and tucked her skirt in around her knees.  She didn’t have one of the strange plastic helmets and didn’t think it was the law to have one whilst cycling, but that could be a mistake.  She would never have thought herself vain but they did look so very odd.  Some of the racing cyclists wore sleek pointy ones and they looked special and right on those fit young people, but the others were very ugly to her eyes.  Of course for the little ones anything to protect them had to be good but really, some of the older people with woolly hats pulled on underneath looked most peculiar.  Still, it was wrong to judge and maybe going without was making a mistake, anyway, apart from anything else she wouldn’t really know where you would go to buy one.

She shook her head and chuckled to herself, what an old fogey she was becoming.  It didn’t bother her at all.  She enjoyed this life with its small pleasures.  It had been awful when Mum and then Dad had passed on of course, but it was in the way of things and had to be accepted.  When Bill had died that had floored her for a long time, but the shock and pain had eased now and, although she thought of him every day, the loss was more a little nugget of sadness deep down inside and there was still a lot in life to be happy about.

She pedaled down the jigger and stopped at the end.  The road was so busy these days.  The lorries were very frightening and some of the cars were driven too fast, but there was a little cycle path for the first part of the trip and then just a walk to the shops and there was a place to lock the bike in a rack by the church.

The sun shone on the lovely day and it made a pleasant trip to town. She had lived here all her life and still loved it.  It was a small place and didn’t have anything really particular to make it outstanding, though there was a famous person in the graveyard, a scientist, and some people came to stand and look at his gravestone.  Otherwise it was just a pleasant English town.  Yes, the main road wasn’t quite what it had been and there were lots of charity shops and estate agents offices, but it was bright and colourful in the spring light and, as she passed the corner, Mr Shah waved and made her feel real.

Why not treat herself to a lovely cup of coffee in the Spiced Bun, and maybe one of their lovely shortbread biscuits. Yes indeed why not? Afterwards she would drop the shopping bags at home and then have a pedal around to try and spot the old cat.

She had barely acknowledged it to herself, but as she’d travelled along her eyes had swept the road edges and her cheerful mood was in part due to the lack of a poor ginger corpse, lying dirty and wet in the gutter.  Probably by the time she arrived home the old boy would be sunning himself on the top of the shed in the warmth that built up on the black tar paper roof.  Well it would be lovely to have a little ride anyway and maybe go through the park.  She hummed happily,  a smile lifting the corners of her mouth.  Life felt good, small and a little unexciting to be sure but good nonetheless.





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Rag’s Riches – Chapter 2

A few days later she sat on a plastic chair in her yard, sipping her tea and watching the cats finishing their breakfast. The bowls were scooting back and forth across the flags as the younger, more boisterous felines licked the last juices from the china.  Jenny’s forehead was creased into frowning lines.  She counted on her fingers Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday that was five days since she had seen the old tom.  It wasn’t unusual for him to miss a day or two but for the last six years, since she had first made his acquaintance, he had never been missing for so long. She sighed and turned back to the house, leaving the kittens playing in the sunshine and the older cats curling into sun-kissed cushions or setting out on business that had been interrupted by their stop off at Jenny’s cat café. He was a wise old moggy; he had probably lived on the streets for years and was surely able to look after himself.  She couldn’t care for them all.  She did what was possible and sensible but had always resisted the temptation to take any of them into her home, no, that would be a slippery slope.  There was no way to choose between them and so they all remained visitors.  Of course there was no doubt that many of them had perfectly good homes already and were just taking advantage of a free meal.  That was fine with Jenny the more the merrier, but all that said she did have an extra soft spot for the old boy.  She had christened him Rags when they first became acquainted, because of his chewed ear and she had enjoyed their mutual respect for each other.

He would allow her to tickle him and stroke his ginger fur, made harsh by life and age but still thick and springy under her fingers.  In his turn he would sit on the wall and stare with eyes the colour of Tiger Eye gems.  She saw friendship in the eyes and respect but there was independence there as well, he was his own boss.

She was worried about him though.  She was going down to the greengrocers later and so would take her bicycle and have a little ride around and see if she could find him or, heaven forbid, his body if he had been in a road accident.  It was always a risk and it had happened more than once.  She had retrieved the poor damaged corpses and carried them to the little park and buried them in amongst the trees.  She knew she shouldn’t, knew that it was a serious offence to be digging in the public park but she was careful and never left any mess.  It couldn’t be wrong surely to give the poor little things a quiet place to sleep away eternity, who could fault her for that.  Her eyes moistened at the thought that she may be having to take Rags to the park and she gave herself a mental shake. Now, come on there’s no need to jump to conclusions.  The old sod has probably found someone with better biccies.  She would have a look but then would have to accept that he would come or not depending on his own mood and that was it and all about it.

Decision made she went about her morning chores and looked forward to a little trip in the afternoon with the hope that she’d see him drowsing in a sunny corner somewhere or tormenting Mr Jones’ pigeons, she grinned at the thought.  It was only one of the old cat’s sins and it made him even more loveable in her eyes.



My latest – still at the introductory offer price.

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My New Book!!


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Rag’s Riches

This used to be a self-published novella but now it’s not. I thought I’d stick it on here.

rags riches

chapter 1

Jenny rinsed out the cat’s bowls. She replaced the water and replenished the crunchy nibbles.  She popped one or two of the gnarly little biscuits into her mouth and crunched them appreciatively, so much cheaper than Ryvita and much more interesting flavours.  Smacking her lips she turned from the counter and shushed across the faded lino towards the back door. “Pussikins, come on pussikins.” As she rattled the bowls together the weeds at the base of the back yard wall rustled and the sound of pounding paws could be heard in the jigger.  A plethora of cats, all colours and conditions hoisted themselves onto the top of the old stones and then dropped to the hard packed earth below.

Some were rude and made no bones about it.  They simply stuck their noses into the overflowing dishes and started to refuel.  Others, with better manners spent a few moments washing paws and sniffing bits of paper and leaves until, “Oh my goodness it seems there’s food, oh well alright then, no need to cause offence.” Then there the ones who were just plain lovely, affectionate and gentle, they curled and twisted around Jenny’s legs, purring and humming with feline passion.  She tickled one or two ears and let her hands run along a few soft backs, all the while smiling with quiet satisfaction.

She counted them in, sixteen.  That was almost everybody.  The big tom with the torn ear wasn’t there but then he often went away for days and she didn’t worry.  He was his own master that one and no point trying to second guess him.

The kitties were finishing up now and one or two of them were settling in pools of sunlight to drowse and dream.  Drawing her old cardigan close around bony shoulders she turned back to the house.

It was so quiet now in the back, at one time this narrow little space was like a main street.  Children would run and shout, kicking balls against the walls until there was no choice but to go out and give them a talking to.  The continuous thud and thump against the old bricks was enough to drive a person to distraction.  Now though it was rare to hear a child, once or twice they would sweep past on bicycles or scooters but they were usually accompanied by mummies or daddies and sometimes both.  They wore strange plastic hats and the children had padding on their joints and their hands stuffed into gloves made of stiff material.  They looked for all the world like little plastic people.

She remembered riding her old bike out in the country. The wind would whistle against her ears, flicking and pulling at her hair.   They had gone out most weekends, a gang of them, speeding away from the smoke and the grime, out into the lovely air to smell the soil and the greenness.  She sighed, all so long ago now and not many people left to remember it.  It would be lovely to do it again but not alone and there were none of the old gang around now.  It was another little treasure that must be viewed and then stored away in her memory bank.

The kitchen was warming, the soft breeze coming in through the door carried freshness into her home.  She switched on the kettle to make her mid-morning tea.  The little table was glowing in the sunlight through the window and she slid her hand over the polished surface and sank gratefully onto the hard chair.

The world had changed so much during her lifetime.  Some of the changes were wonderful of course, the health care, the new and exciting food and so on but she did miss the friendliness.  Maybe in some places one still knew ones neighbours, still stopped for a chat in the sunshine or even popped in for a cup of tea but not here, not any more.

There were students in many of the houses and foreign people. That certainly didn’t bother her; in fact she would really like to get to know some of them.  How interesting it would be to find out about all the different countries, but they didn’t mix, they didn’t often speak.  Except for Mr Shah and his wife in the paper shop, they were nice.  She sighed.  Oh well no help for it.  Things were as they were and at least she had her kitties.  She would go down to the butcher later; he sometimes gave her some bits and pieces to cook up as a special treat for them.  She sipped her tea and enjoyed the warmth through the window.  I wonder where the old tom is, where are you Rags, what are you up to now?…



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Well Head Cottage – 21

It was a lovely evening, they had a short walk together and then came back to the cottage for drinks and dinner. When Carl asked what they had been doing there was a loaded silence. Lesley and Jean glanced at each other, trying to decide how much they should share of the debacle that the trip had turned into.

Neither of them wanted the last few days to impact negatively on the rest of the week but to answer his question they would need to mention the drama of Hawks Farm at least.

Though they tried to gloss over much of it Carl was intrigued by the unexplained disappearance of Ted Smart, at the same time admitting he didn’t remember him all that well.

“I’m not surprised he vanished with all those problems. I think I’d have done the same thing.” He told them.

“Yes, but Doris just won’t have it. She insists that he would never have done that to her.” Though Jean came to the farmer’s wife’s defence, there wasn’t a great deal of conviction behind her words and she wasn’t surprised by Carl’s response.

“Most women would say that though wouldn’t they. I mean it’s a matter of pride I suppose and self-esteem as well as anything else. I don’t think any of us like to think that we can be dumped.” He grinned as he spoke because he knew both women would be thinking about his most recent girlfriend who had done just that.

The discovery of the Land Rover was discussed and picked over yet again. In the end Lesley threw up her hands and pleaded with them all to just leave it alone and ‘for goodness sake talk about something else’.

They all agreed that it was sad, that it was puzzling, that there was nothing that anyone could do that hadn’t already been done and then they left the subject alone. The conversation had started Jean’s brain ticking yet again, seeking for explanations and later, in the quiet dark of her bedroom she played and replayed all that she knew.

She hadn’t related the events of the morning or anything about her internet searches, but she was intrigued and wanted to find out more about the Lipscows. There was a story there and her writer’s mind wanted to explore it more. She began to wonder if perhaps she would like to stay a little longer. Originally, she had made arrangements for a lengthier stay and so all that was needed was for her to tell Lesley that now, as things seemed to be settling down a bit, she wouldn’t go back at the weekend after all. Of course, things were not settling down, quite the reverse and in her mind’s eye she replayed the image of the young woman kneeling on the floor of the little shed, rocking back and forth and laying flowers around her knees.

The following two days were almost the way that it had been in the past, except of course for the sad absence of Jean’s husband. Lesley and her husband had never visited together, and maybe that should have been an indication of how little they had in common. It hadn’t been much of a surprise when the marriage petered out and fizzled like a damp squib. Lesley had spent many happy holidays at the cottage with her son and sister and brother in law though and they were able to recapture some of the joy that had been missing from this trip until now.

Jean was delighted because it meant, when she told Lesley she had reconsidered leaving with her it wouldn’t seem quite so odd.

Lesley had been prepared to travel back alone and, once Carl had left for his climbing holiday in Snowdonia, there was just one more night before she was due to leave by train for the West Midlands.

“Are you sure you want to stay Jean?” Lesley was serving up their lunch of soup and toasted sandwiches when she asked the question, “Only, you were pretty low when I arrived. I know you’d had the fall and everything, but you were definitely not enjoying yourself.”

“I’m sure,” Jean reassured her, “The last couple of days have been great. It’s reminded me how lovely it is here and I’m all ready now to get some work done. I’m not sure whether I’ll be keen to come back again, after all this, but at least the memories will be good ones.”

Lesley left after lunch the next day, Sunday, and Jean waved her off with just a slight pang of regret and nervousness.

Once she was alone again, except of course for Slumpy, who had settled down and spent most of his time rooting in the hedgerows or sleeping in front of the log fire, Jean dragged out her notepad and began to write down all she knew about the woman at the Lipscow farm.

It wasn’t much but whenever she thought about that poor frightened creature, the panicked eyes as she had barred the way into the shed, the heartrending way she had come for that cat that she had been convinced was hers, then Jean determined to find out as much as possible. Of Ted Smart and Doris she didn’t see what there was anyone could do, perhaps what happened to him would always be a mystery.

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Christmas sale

And here’s the last one before the ‘fun’ begins and actually during it an a bit after!!

99p or the equivalent depending where you are in the Amazon world

Sally’s comfortable life crashes to pieces when her boyfriend Daniel goes missing. She calls everybody, even his boss. He has gone without a trace.


From 22nd to 28th December 2017.

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Free on Kindle

Bone Baby 

Lily is running out of time. There is a great wrong that she needs to put right before it’s too late.

She could never have known the things that she was prepared to do – for the baby!

bone baby3


Amazon reviews:

‘A heart wrenching tale of deception and betrayal, relationships tangled in lies and confusion. Revenge the only course of action to take.’

‘An unusual but very believable story. I enjoyed this book very much and will definitely be reading more from this author.’

Superb and scary thriller. All the characters are believable, especially Lily, and the web of lies in the family makes for an interesting drama. Great read. ‘

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A Quick Aside

Now available in paperback from Amazon




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Happy everything

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and the New Year brings all that is good and peaceful.

If I may I want to take the opportunity to link to my Amazon Author Page. Thank you to everyone who has bought my books in 2016 and especially to those who took the time to leave a review. I hope that for all of my author friends the coming year is successful and fulfilling and for all of our marvelous readers you find books to thrill, delight and satisfy you.

and now… …

Chapter 13

Fuzz had quickly overtaken Simon and sped on glancing down the side roads and alleys but when he reached the junction at the far side of the square he stopped and waited. “They’ve gone, I reckon they nipped down one a them ginnels.”

“Yeah, you’re right. What the hell was that about then? I mean why would they run away? She can’t have known we were looking for her. Shit.  Look, you carry on, do a coupla turns round the square, maybe even a street over on each side. I’ll go back into that office, where you saw her come out, and see if I can find out what she was doing.”

“Okay, then we’ll go and get some breakfast yeah?”

“What, oh you and your belly. I’ll see. Just go on. If you see her ring me and I’ll come straight out. If you do, try not to spook her again.” Fuzz turned away and jogged down the road at right angles to where they stood. Simon walked back to the office building and pushed through the heavy glass doors.

As he approached the reception desk the girl lifted her head and smiled at him. He saw her eyes lock on the disfigured side of his face but her smile didn’t waver. “Good morning, how can I help you?”

He introduced himself and then described Flora, as much as he could from the picture and the fleeting glimpse he’d had as the two girls had sped away from himself and Fuzz. He had the print in his pocket but surely it would look a bit odd were he to bring it out. “She was supposed to meet me this morning and I think I missed her. She was planning on popping in here first…”

“Oh yes. She left in a bit of a rush, knocked the table.” The girl waved a hand towards the centre of the space. “She seemed a bit upset. I was trying to make her an appointment with Mr Rowntree but he wasn’t free. I wonder, when you meet her, could you suggest she gives us a ring.” She slid a business card from the top of a small pile on the desk and held it out. “I felt bad but it was the morning meeting you see.”

“Yes, I’ll tell her. Is he free now, Mr Rowntree? Only I could do with a word.”

“I’m afraid not. What is it you need, investment advice, savings… …? Only Mr Jones is free and for general advice it might be better if you see him.”

“No, it was Mr Rowntree I needed. Any chance I could see him later?”

“What name is it?” he told her, “just hold on.” She poked at the buttons on the complicated telephone in front of her and as she spoke into her headset Simon turned to the door. He could see Fuzz on the far side of the square, leaning against a fence post. No luck there then. He sighed.

“Will eleven thirty be alright?”

“Yes. Lovely thank you, erm Rebecca.” As Simon leaned to read the badge pinned to her uniform jacket the girl blushed, he smiled at her. “You’ve been very helpful, thank you.”

“See you later Mr Fulton.”

As he jogged down steps to the pavement Fuzz crossed over to join him. “No, luck. They’ve vanished. ‘ow did you get on in there.”

“Yeah okay, I’ve got to go back later but at least I know who she was going to see. Okay, I’m going to ring Carol and let her know that at least we’ve seen Flora and she looked okay. Then we’ll get a drink and think about our next move.”

“Ace, there’s a café just down ‘ere, got pasties.”

Simon used his mobile on the way to the little coffee shop. “Hello, Carol. It’s Simon. I just thought you’d like to know that I think we saw Flora. She was with her friend. A skinny girl, short darkish hair.”

“Oh, I wonder who that was. Did you speak to her? Is she coming home?”

“No, we didn’t get a chance to speak I’m afraid. We will stay here a bit longer, in case she comes back.”

“Thanks so much, try and bring her home Mr Fulton, please.”

“I’ll do what I can. Just one other thing though, does the name,” he glanced at the card in his hand, “Alan Rowntree mean anything?”

“Alan, yes, he worked with Mark. One of his friends, the same office.”

“Ah, right. So, he’d be a friend of Flora as well I suppose.”

“Well, funny you should say that he wasn’t really. She didn’t like him. I don’t know why and they had to see each other now and then, socially you know. What has he to do with it though?”

“It might be nothing, don’t worry about it. Look, if you hear from her let me know, yeah. I’ll keep you up to date.”

“Thanks so much Mr Fulton, I’m impressed you found her so soon.”

He clicked off the call and followed Fuzz up to the counter where the boy was already pointing at pasties and cake. “Huh, she wouldn’t have been so impressed if she’d seen us careering up the bloody road and losing them would she.”

“Aye well, you don’t need to tell ‘er that bit do ya. D’ya want a pie or owt?”

“Yeah, go on why not. Then we get back out there and keep on looking until I have to go back to that office.”

“Great, can I ‘ave a bun an’ all.”

“Oh aright, make yourself sick why don’t you.”

“Grumpy sod.”

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