Today I am thrilled to bring you the first ever giveaway through Books and Beyond Reviews. Author Sharn Hutton is giving away a fantastic little gift back to one lucky person here on my blog. The winner will receive a personalised, signed copy of her comedy thriller, It’s Killing Jerry, alongside a tasty 100g Lindt gold Easter bunny and a “blue dude” bookmark all packaged up in a nice Spring-themed gift bag:
It’s open to UK residents and I’ll be running the giveaway using Rafflecopter, where you will find a variety of options for you to enter including visiting Sharn’s Facebook page, visiting my Facebook page, following Sharn’s Twitter account, following my twitter account and Tweeting a magical message. You do as many or as few of these as you like to gain entries into the draw for this brilliant prize, just click here.
The competition is open as of now and will run until the 31st of March at midnight UK time. I will announce the winner at the end of my review of It’s Killing Jeremy on the 3rd of April. Now, to whet your appetites for It’s Killing Jeremy, please enjoy this excerpt from the book!
Rachel clung to the wooden banister to stretch across the squeaky step. She wasn’t going to risk disturbing Peanut, not now when she was so close to a few precious minutes of peace.
The kitchen door thudded shut too loud behind her and Rachel froze, listening and holding her breath.
“No, no, no,” she pleaded, looking to the ceiling. Remembered shrieks of pain or hunger or plain old bad temper scratched at the back of Rachel’s eyes, waiting for their echo. They pulled up short the muscles in her chest and plugged her throat.
“No more, please.” She pressed her forehead against the door and waited. Ten seconds passed without event. Twenty. Thirty. She dared to breathe and moved away.
The kettle clicked and popped the water at its base and Rachel settled her bones at the kitchen table. Envelopes fanned in a toppled stack, all addressed to Jerry and unopened. Rachel slid the uppermost toward her and worried at its corner. Something from the council. Why didn’t Jerry open them?
She tugged at her waistband and lamented the flesh still clinging to her stomach though the baby was long out. When would it ever go? The kettle rattled on, bubbles tapping at the sides. She stretched out both arms across the table top and lowered her cheek to the cool smooth pine, just to close her eyes for a moment and then she’d make some tea.
The train was longer than she’d realised. A narrow corridor that stretched on into infinity and curved away to places unseen. It rocked in a gentle rhythm that matched her stride.
She strode on, relaxed in its warmth and curious to see where the corridor led. A buffet car perhaps? She felt in her pocket for change, and found instead a handle, smooth and curved. She pulled it free. A long surprising blade glinted in the fluorescent light and a breeze whipped at her hair. It was hers, she’d always known it. Too long and sharp to negotiate back into her pocket, she let the knife hang limply by her side.
The train lurched sideways, clickerty-CLACK and she had to raise her other hand to steady herself. Her palm pressed into the grubby wall, sticky fibres squelching up between her fingers. Rachel snatched her hand away, revolted.
Clickerty-CLACK, it rocked hard again, but Rachel kept her feet, moving faster now, breaking into a run to find the end. Cold air rushed down the corridor toward her. Missing windows left great yawning holes, thick darkness outside.
Clickerty-CLACK. There at the end, a door, at last. She grabbed the handle and yanked it up. The door fell away and she found herself so very high that sweat prickled on the soles of her feet and the palms of her hands.
Clickerty-CLACK. A lurch too big to hold on and she was lost, falling, the knife gripped firm in her right hand. A noise too loud and her face pressed hard against the ground.
“Rach? You asleep?”
She lifted her head, clammy flesh peeling from the table top.
“Anything to eat? I’m starved.”
Jerry. Sleep hung heavily at Rachel’s shoulders and she blinked away its mist. Her hands were balled into fists that ached with tension. She uncurled stiff fingers and rubbed at nail marks pressed into her palms. The knife.
“Something in the fridge,” she managed and Jerry turned his back on her to dig noisily through its shelves.
“What time is it?”
“Just gone midnight.”
So late. What was she doing here? Her back complained as she tried to sit up. “You’ve just got in?”
He’d been with Isabell all this time. “Why have you been so long?”
“Well you know Isabell.” Jerry shifted from foot to foot and ran his fingers through his hair. He pulled a selection of things from the fridge to construct a sandwich. Rachel knew Isabell much more than she wanted to.
“So what did she want?”
“Nothing a handyman couldn’t have fixed,” Jerry mumbled through a mouthful of cheese.
“Well that’s what you are, Jerry, hmm? A handy man.”
Jerry shrugged, but kept his back to Rachel. “Her gate got whipped back by the wind and came unhinged.”
Jerry snorted at that.
“And this puts her life in peril, does it?”
“Hey, I never said that, but you know how she is.” Jerry took a brief look over his shoulder at Rachel. She couldn’t summon up a scowl and just gazed back with empty eyes.
“Looks like I might be in more danger,” he said just loud enough for her to hear.
Bloody woman. Was Jerry not aware of all the things that needed fixing around their own house? She felt her heart beat harder in her chest and with it came the energy of exasperation. The balance here was off.
“Since when do you do DIY? Lots of life-endangering inadequacies here to fix, you know.” She rose from the table and paced the room to point things out.
“The piece of skirting by the door that continually falls over and snags at your socks; the plumbing that hammers throughout the house every bloody time you use the tap; the holes in the wall where the cookbook shelf used to be; the sodding flap in the vinyl that catches on the back door every time you open it and the draught excluder that’s still in the damn pack.” Rachel waved the box at him with a flourish.
Jerry took a large bite from his sandwich, gaze fixed on her the whole time.
“Ugh. Why do I bother?” She squeezed closed her eyes and leaned back on the kitchen counter. She and Jerry side by side but disconnected, neither looking at the other. She drew in a breath to bolster her: there was something that had to be said.
“The thing is, Jerry, I’m struggling here. Everything’s so… unstable. Peanut, well, I never know where I am with her.” Her throat clenched and she had to pause, not wanting to cry.
“I’ve got no control of anything anymore. When I was working, it was different. There were goals to achieve, you know?”
“Oh sure,” Jerry interrupted, “You knew where you were. How to achieve results.”
“Get that commission.”
“Well no, not really that. I didn’t earn commission. I mean, I was someone. A real person.” Rachel stared down at the floor through a forming film of tears.
“Now I just feel like I’m fading away.”
Jerry munched beside her. “Go back to work then. Get a job.”
Rachel shook her head. “I’m so tired, Jerry. I couldn’t do it.”
It was all she could do to get through the day. The relentless baby timetable ruled her life and there was something more, an elusive element that made it so much worse: hours of crying after feeds that Rachel couldn’t find a way to stop. It ground her down, the first whimper taking her straight back to the end of hours spent trying to sooth, rocking and cooing, gnashing her teeth.
She looked around the room to find a way to escape the subject and settled on the letter stack.
“Jerry, why haven’t you opened those?”
Jerry rubbed at the back of his head and turned away, back to the second half of his sandwich.
“Is there a problem with money? You said it would be OK for me to stop working.”
“Hey, no problem.”
Rachel made her way back to the table and scooped up a handful of envelopes. “This is a problem, isn’t it?”
“It’s OK.” Jerry didn’t turn around.
“We’re not OK, are we? God, I could kill you sometimes!” She slapped at the table.
“At least let me bump up the life insurance first, then you can pay off some debts.”
“So there are debts?”
Jerry rubbed at his face then pushed his shoulders back to stand taller. “No, course not,” he said, and then that laugh, too high and too long.
“Oh, Jerry, you didn’t? You haven’t?” Her suspicions were true. “We’re in the shit, aren’t we?”
“No, no, honestly, it’s fine.” Jerry bustled to the table, a sudden light in his eyes. He scooped the letters from the table and stuffed them into his work bag.
“I’ll deal with them tomorrow. I promise.”
Keep your eyes peeled here on Books and Beyond Reviews during the competition period where you’ll see a few more excerpts for It’s Killing Jerry!