It is my pleasure to be the next stop on the blog tour for the brilliant new book by Carys Jones – Last Witness. My review can be found here, but I am also lucky enough to be able to share an extract with you!
‘I want to go home.’
Ewan’s voice was plaintive, sorrowful, as he lifted his head off Amanda’s arm and peered up at her through tired eyes.
The word pressed itself into Amanda’s side like a thorn. Each time she breathed in she felt its barbed tip. What was home? A place? A person? For Amanda, home had been the beautiful new house she’d bought with her husband, Will.
Bending forward, she coughed to conceal the sob which trembled up her throat and burst from her lips. Will was gone. All that was left of him was the little boy at her side.
‘Home.’ Ewan smacked his hands against his seat and blinked back tears.
‘We can’t go home,’ Shane briefly turned to look back at them from the driving seat. Amanda had watched his profile throughout their long journey, noticed the unrelenting tension in his jaw as he drove down seemingly never-ending motorways. Scotland was now in the rear-view mirror. The sun had started to dip in the sky and Amanda wasn’t sure if she’d reach her mother’s house before dark.
‘Why not?’ the little boy demanded of both the adults in the car, dividing his
heated gaze between them. Shane was looking ahead once more.
‘Because we can’t,’ Amanda wished she had a more concrete explanation to offer Ewan. She wrapped her arm around his slight shoulders and drew him back towards her. He was too tired to pull away.
‘But why not?’ his eyelids were drooping.
Because your mother and father are dead. Because the man who killed them may well be hunting you too.
‘Because we can’t,’ Amanda repeated softly. A minute passed and Ewan’s
breathing deepened as he drifted off to sleep.
As Amanda had predicted, night had fallen when Shane’s car pulled into the small driveway outside her mother’s cottage. She could taste the salt in the air sweeping in off the Southern English coast as she stretched out her legs, trying to unknot them after the long drive down from Scotland. Thick, velvety shadows gathered where the vehicle’s headlights couldn’t reach.
‘Are you sure she’s going to be okay with this?’ Shane’s voice was dubious as Amanda yawned widely in the back seat and stretched out her arms.
‘She has to be.’
‘And if she isn’t?’
‘Well,’ Amanda dusted a strand of blonde hair out of her eyes, ‘you don’t have a place of your own right now. I’m sure as hell not going back to my place. And that leaves hers.’
Even at night, the little cottage managed to look welcoming. A single outside light shone beside the front door. It banished away any shadows that lingered too close to the threshold. Amanda smiled a little to herself as she looked at its glow, remembering how that light used to be left on to help guide her back home during her teenage years, when she’d spent hours down on the beach with Shane and John. But who was it on for now? Or did her mother just like to think that she was offering a guiding light to any souls that wandered along the cliffside?
It was cold out. When she opened her car door the slap of the night air against his cheeks roused Ewan from slumber. He made his hands into little balls and furiously rubbed them against his eyes. ‘Where are we?’ he mumbled the question as Shane scooped him up in his strong arms and rested Ewan against his chest. The boy promptly lowered his head and fell back asleep.
‘I envy his ability to just sleep anywhere.’ Shane smiled. It wasn’t a hearty, natural one. More the sort of smile you use in polite company. But Amanda was grateful for it. It was nice to see someone else smile, especially since she doubted she’d ever be able to again.
Pushing back all her nerves and worries, she rang the doorbell.
‘Are you even sure she’ll be up?’
Amanda pulled her phone from her pocket and peered at the screen. It was a quarter to eleven. ‘She’ll be up.’
Sure enough it took less than a minute for the locks to turn on the other side of the door.
‘Who is it?’ Her mother’s voice was tight, suspicious. Amanda could imagine her staring hard at the door, rouge lips pursed in annoyance.
‘Mum, it’s me.’
The door opened. Light flooded the porch, brilliant and bright. Amanda had to stagger back, briefly shielding her eyes.
With thanks to Aria, Head of Zeus, Carys Jones and Yasmine Turan for enabling me to be part of this blog tour. Take a look at the rest of the great blogs that are participating: