Happy Friday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Keep You Safe by Rona Halsall! My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the invitation and the extract that I’ll be sharing with you today, right after I tell you what the book is all about.
Author : Rona Halsall
Title : Keep You Safe
Pages : 363
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : August 17, 2018
What if trying to protect your child only put them in danger?
Natalie is desperate to find her little boy. It has been more than three years since she saw Harry. Three long years in prison for a crime she knows she didn’t commit.
But her husband believed the police, and took their son.
Who has gone to such great lengths to destroy Natalie’s life? Everyone she once trusted – friends, family, everyone close to her – what secrets do they hide?
If Natalie finds the truth, will she get Harry back, or lose him forever?
Natalie sits on a metal bench on the top deck of the ferry, watching the mountains of the Lake District glide past. She wonders what her son looks like. Has his hair darkened, his face thinned out? They change so quickly when they’re young and she has nothing to go on, not a single picture since he was a baby.
She’ll know soon enough, she thinks, with a shiver of nerves, uncertain of what lies ahead but sure that she’ll risk everything to have him with her again. She wraps her arms around her chest and imagines that it’s her child that she’s hugging. She can almost feel his hair against her face, his breath tickling her neck and she hugs tighter, fingers feeling the bones of her ribcage, even through two layers of clothing.
What if things go wrong?
Her jaw tightens, and she knows that she can’t let herself dwell on the idea, not for a moment. Confidence is the key to success. She has to believe her plan is possible, has to have faith in herself. After all, she’s not the same woman she was three years ago, before she went to prison. Her anger is carved into her heart, is part of who she is now and she’s a little scared of what she’s capable of when pushed to her limit. If it’s happened once, it can happen again, can’t it?
She shivers and wraps her fleece a little tighter round her body. Prison was a place full of raw emotions, a place where it was impossible to relax, where people played mind games, bullied and manipulated to get what they wanted. Or just to pass the time.
Fear lurked in every dark corner, every sudden noise, every scream. And fear is an emotion that doesn’t disappear overnight. It has to unwind itself, loosen its tendrils until you can ease yourself out of its grasp and finally step away. That’s what she hopes will happen, and soon, because living on adrenaline is exhausting, draining the life out of her with the effort of keeping safe.
On the upside, she knows how to fight now, which would be a surprise to everyone who knew her before. She can throw a proper punch, knows which parts of the anatomy require a kick, a stomp or a jab, where the main pressure points lie, and even how to use everyday things as lethal weapons. Spoons to gouge eyes, toothbrushes to jab, pens to stab, shoes to batter and smack. She’s seen it all. Even clothing can be dangerous.
It’s true to say that she’s learned self-defence from some pretty ferocious women, uncompromising in their methods when it comes to protecting themselves and their families. She liked some of them. Admired them for their resilience and sheer determination to survive. And then there was Katya.
Her body gives an involuntary shudder.
She hugs herself harder, shakes the idea of violence from her mind. Anyway, physical skills are not the most important for the task ahead. She needs to meld situations to her advantage, engineer possibilities, mess with people’s plans. What’s going to be really important is the art of cunning. And the certainty that she will do whatever it takes to be with her son Harry again. No questions, no doubts, no hesitation. She sits back in her seat, unwraps her arms and stretches out her fingers.
Relax, relax, she tells herself.
I can do this.
As long as she can stay calm, keep her mind focused and not let anger take control. She imagines Harry as a four-year-old boy instead of the baby she knew. His hair will be brown like hers, she thinks, rather than the dark blond of his father. His eyes, she knows, are wide apart and hazel. And his face? She prefers the idea that it is oval, like hers rather than square like his father’s. His nose, of course, will still be a little button of a thing, covered in freckles that spread across his cheeks, just like the pictures of her when she was a child.
Days, weeks, maybe months of her life have gone into building up this mental picture of her child. A child she doesn’t know. In the absence of photos, she’s used magazines to find pictures of children and build them into a likeness of her little boy. She’s invented a voice for him, a laugh, a smile, even his own set of mannerisms.
Likes and dislikes. Now the image is so strong, so certain, that she can conjure him at will into her daydreams. And as she closes her eyes, she can feel his little fingers holding her hand, hear his excited voice telling her stories about his day, his life, what he dreams about. And questions! So many questions. She imagines picnics, playing on the swings, the roundabouts, helping him scale the climbing frame. A seed of joy germinates in her heart as she allows herself to create a future that almost seems real.
Soon it will be real.
In another place, where her past can’t find her and she can start again.
A smile creeps onto her lips and expands into a proper grin, stretching muscles that haven’t been used for quite some time. It’s a forgotten feeling; this bubbling in her stomach, lightness in her shoulders, laughter in her throat. The movement of the ferry, as it rolls gently from side to side, is a weird but pleasant sensation, reminding her of fairground rides when she was a little kid, when life was simple. She sighs. Is it possible that life can be fun again?…
If you’ve enjoyed this teaser chapter of Keep You Safe, you can buy your copy now!
Rona’s debut psychological thriller, Keep You Safe is out on 17th August and her second novel will be out in November 2018.
Rona lives on the Isle of Man with her husband, two dogs and three guinea pigs. She has been a bookworm since she was a child and now she’s actually creating stories of her own, which still feels like a dream come true.
She is an outdoorsy person and loves stomping up a mountain, walking the coastal paths and exploring the wonderful beaches on the Island while she’s plotting how to kill off her next victim. She also makes sure she deletes her Google history on a regular basis, because… well, you can’t be too careful when you spend your life researching new and ingenious ways for people to die.
She has three children and two step-children who are now grown up and leading varied and interesting lives, which provides plenty of ideas for new stories!