Today I am really pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for Bone Deep, the new book from Sandra Ireland. After beginning her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper, Sandra soon turned her hand to fiction, the result being her debut novel Beneath the Skin, which was published in 2016. I am happy to be able to share an extract from Bone Deep, which was published by Polygon on July 5th 2018.
What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person? The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. This is the story of two women: Mac, who is bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.
I go to bed early, the way you do when you’re exhausted, thinking you’ll fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow. That almost never happens. You just lie awake, your brain downloading data like a runaway iPhone.
I lie in bed with the lamp on, gazing up at the bumpy ceiling. I feel small, crushed, like the whole weight of Reuben is pressing my spine into the mattress. But it’s not a good weight, not his heat and his gentle roughness and all the good bits. This is the heaviness of pain, of deception, of despair.
I suppose at the start of the affair there was an element of triumph. I found it incredible that someone like Reuben would fancy someone like me. I was everything my sister was not, dark, quiet, awkward, and Reuben was colourful and careless. I was never quiet and awkward with him, especially in bed. Then triumph slipped into something darker, an unhealthy craving. My body surprised me, the way it reacted to him, ached for him. My conscience shut down. We took chances, creeping into bed together when the house was empty, trading hot-eyed glances across the dinner table. It was a game, I suppose, and Jane wasn’t part of it. I never set out to fall in love with him, and I suppose he thought he could keep me at arm’s length – emotionally, anyway.
At first, I think Reuben enjoyed flitting between two sisters. Every man’s fantasy, isn’t it? It would never have occurred to me to give him an ultimatum, to make him choose. Starcrossed lovers are blinded by starlight. There is no way out of this without heartbreak, and the thought makes me sink deeper, until, like Reuben in that hospital bed, I am a mere outline. All I can think of is how quickly Reuben tried to save himself. Part of me had been longing for him to have an epiphany under those white sheets. You’re the one I really love, Lucie. It isn’t Jane, it’s always been you. Part of me thought that, one day, Reuben would have the courage of his convictions. Part of me thought that ‘one day’ would be now.
What if Reuben never had any courage? Something inside me wants to weep. The sheer effort of reassessing things, of seeing Reuben in a new and unflattering light, is too much to bear. I decide to get up. The bed is suddenly a desert, and I can still smell Reuben on my pillow. Dragging on a robe, I stumble into the kitchen, flicking on every switch, flooding the cottage with light, making day out of night. Nights are pretty pointless when you’re alone. Soon the kettle is bubbling into life, and I’m singing along to Take That on the radio. I’m not really in a bubbly, singy mood, but I don’t want to be alone with the strange turn my thoughts are taking. I have an unblemished, unshakeable connection with Reuben. There is no room for a stain or a wobble.
With thanks to Sandra Ireland and to Kelly Lacey from Love Books Group for organising the blog tour.
Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour!