Today, I'm pleased to welcome author R. Bloom to the blog who is sharing a couple of extracts from her novel. Set in Manchester, UK, the story races across the European cities of Barcelona, Amsterdam and Antwerp.
Nothing is ever what it seems.
Life’s bleak for a reluctant ex-criminal. Jude’s working the club doors in Manchester, fighting a drug habit and sleeping around.
But then Rae is kidnapped. And someone starts a game of cat and mouse, sending Jude the photos to blackmail him into a job. It’s the biggest challenge Jude’s ever faced and Rae’s life is on the line. Everything depends on his success.
When your world is turned upside down, what can you believe in?
Jude – Tuesday
It was Sunday when she called and thirty-six hours later I was sitting in the aisle seat. I strained to see past the other passengers to the sky. The air was grey, the weather wet and stark. I hated flying at the best of times and right now I wanted both feet on the ground. The seatbelt sign flashed a couple of times and the voice-over from the captain assured everyone that we would be able to disembark shortly. I sank deeper into the large black overcoat and found my sunglasses in the front pocket. Sighing I slid them on. I hadn’t seen or heard from Coco since the split six months earlier until, out of the blue, her name lit up caller display.
‘Hey baby, how are you?’ Coco asked as if it were yesterday.
‘I’m okay,’ I replied, lying. ‘You?’
‘Jude. You know where I am. You know how to find me, if you want to that is …’
She was still living in Amsterdam, laughing at life, challenging me the way only she ever had. The opaque offer of a couple of nights to hook up was tempting. Having nothing better to do, I’d succumbed.
Fifteen minutes later I was standing at Schiphol Airport, reflections of colour and chrome bounced off an over polished white tile floor. The language on the signs the only real difference between Schiphol and any handful of Euro-Airports, every one of them impersonal, sprawling and overbearingly fluorescent.
The other passengers moved out of my way as I headed towards the luggage track. A year ago I would have enjoyed the way they parted; now I was just used to it. My size and the way I walked cleared a path through a lot of places. Not that I was intentionally menacing or threatening these days, I was depressed and needed a break. Life wasn’t going anywhere fast or anywhere at all. Nothing worked out the way I wanted it to and I wasn’t interested in trying to rebalance the apple cart. But when she rang I took that call.
Rae – The Office, Tuesday
The warehouse isn’t really that big. It has one office with scarlet painted walls, and one boss very fond of designer labels that collects girlfriends like bees to the honey, and me. I have another life out of this place, a world I’m trying to cook my way into filled with flavour and taste. In that world I’m just ‘Rae’ and no one cares about the latest sales figures.
But four days a week I keep the boys in the warehouse in line, work the office, stay on top of the deliveries, chase the stock and pick up the boss’s dry-cleaning. Seven nights a week I study for my cookery degree, look after Scott and deal with my mother. Add the two together and that makes eleven days a week, every week.
Alex’s iPhoneX goes off again, he’s left it on the desk and it’s buzzing like a beetle on acid. I glance down at the display, Sienna calling. I have no idea who ‘Sienna’ is but I mentally add her to the pile and wonder how long she will last. I pick up a thousand pounds worth of Prada biker jacket, and drape it over the back of the dark red chair. Alex, my boss, wouldn’t know how to ride a motorbike if it fell on him. And that jacket would be as much use on a bike as he would. ….
A gust of cold air surges into the office. Someone has left the door wide open, again. I turn to see a man standing in the doorway. He fills the space, looks around and then slowly strolls into the warehouse as if he owns it, which I find odd, as I’ve never seen him before. As the light falls on his face it’s clear he is not the Terminator or Colin Farrell, although he is more than six feet tall and does look like a movie star. He has thick black hair, which falls leisurely to his cheekbones and dark chocolate coloured eyes. His mouth has been struck by a beauty spot in a facial hit and run, and he’s on his mobile phone…
Racheal was born in Manchester, grew up in the North, and then moved South to attend university and study English. After a decade or more spent in Oxford and London, she decided Manchester still felt like home. She lives there with her husband and their cat, and can often be found at live music venues, when she’s not writing! Red Mice is her first published book.