I am today’s stop on the blog tour for We All Fall Down by Cynthia Clark, which was published by Aria on December 4th. The book has been described as ‘a breathtaking suspense novel for all fans of B. A. Paris and Sophie Hannah’, and I am pleased to be able to share an extract with you. What an extract it is too… definitely whets the appetite!
Many years ago orphans Bea, her brother Sebastian, Helen, Sandra and John lived together in a home, with their carer Miriam. But Miriam didn’t care at all. If you asked the children, they would have said that Miriam hated them. And it’s no fun living with someone who hates you, so the children decided to do something about it… Then a terrible accident changed everything, and the children were ripped apart from each other.
Many years ago Ronnie Moss made a mistake he can never take back, no matter how much he wishes he could, so instead he runs for his life. But he can’t run forever.
Many years later the secrets of the past are finally being revealed, and nothing will ever be the same again.
The wind threatened to knock him off his feet, but he could barely feel it. He walked right to the lorry and fumbled with the keys, his trembling hands making it hard to find the ignition. He was determined to drive back and go straight to Laura’s house, talk to her, make her see sense, promise to quit this job, find a better one.
But as the hours went by, he started feeling less confident. She had sounded so determined. She had not even said goodbye, just hung up. Maybe he’d give her a couple of days to think about it. Take the next job, make some more money, then quit and go find her.
But what if she still didn’t want him back? Laura was the love of his life. He felt so lucky to have her. And now she was walking away from him.
‘Damn!’ He banged his fist against the steering wheel, wanting to be anywhere but in the lorry. He was exhausted, tired to the bone, but he had no choice other than to keep on driving.
He was thirsty. Reaching for his water bottle, he realised it was empty. ‘What the fuck!’ He could stop, find a twenty-four-hour shop. But that would waste time that he didn’t have.
And then he had remembered the small bottle of Scotch he had bought for his father. He’d take a small sip, just to wet his dry throat.
Ronnie rummaged inside his bag, his eyes not leaving the road. Holding the top tightly between his right molars, he turned the bottle with his hand until the seal gave way. He took a sip, the burning sensation in his throat momentarily making him forget the pain in his heart. One sip, then another, and another. Until the conversation with Laura started to seem hazy. Perhaps she was just having a bad day. He’d go to her house and speak with her. In fact, he’d go straight there, not even bother dropping off the delivery, getting rid of the lorry. She’d be pleased to see him, of that he was sure.
He needed to go to the bathroom, but didn’t want to stop. He was bone tired. His eyes kept fluttering shut and he had to fight to stay awake, to keep his focus on the road ahead. His knuckles were white as he tightened his fingers around the steering wheel, willing the journey to come to an end.
Might as well finish this, he thought, looking at the amber liquid. Bringing the bottle to his mouth, he took a deep swig.
And then, as he put the bottle down, he saw it. The blue van right in front of him. The children’s heads bobbing up and down among the seats. Time stood still as he saw it veer right, over the dividing line. Ronnie stepped his foot on the brake, every ounce of strength focused on stopping. He swerved the steering, trying to miss the van.
‘No, no, no, no, no,’ he shouted.
But it was too late. The front of the lorry hit the side of the van. He saw every movement in slow motion. The driver, a woman with long hair, burst through the windscreen and flew in a perfect arc, landing with a thud on the road. The van kept going for a few metres, then hit the boundary wall, flipping over. There were sparks on the road as the upside-down van continued moving forward.
Finally, it stopped, smoke coming from underneath it. Stones from the boundary wall showered down, burying it. Other cars stopped, people jumping out of them and running towards the van. They frantically removed the stones, screaming at each other. Nobody looked at him. He wasn’t important.
Ronnie dropped his whisky bottle. Grabbing his bag, he opened the door and jumped outside. He should go and see if they needed anything. He started walking towards the van when he stepped on something. Looking down, he saw the schoolbag, its contents spread everywhere. Bile rose in his throat and he ran towards the bushes on the side of the road and jumped behind them. He ran and ran, until he was sure that nobody would catch him. He was safe. For now.
With thanks to Vicky Joss and Aria for providing the extract and organising the blog tour.