Today I’m excited to share the first book in the dark fantasy Survival Trilogy, Breaking Cadence.
I snorted softly. “You expect me to believe that you came to town looking for a cure? I’m not stupid, Zander. There is no cure. There never will be.”
“Oh there is,” he assured, staring right at me. “There has been for years.”
Decontaminated. Deflowered. Defunct.
Cadence Laurence has suffered pain and humiliation at the hands of the town committee, but the saving grace of her torture means nothing when her brother, Alex, and his girlfriend, Kitty, break the rules for the last time.
Now the only place they have left to go is on the run in the unforgiving Wastelands, a place where sand spiders and the Infected become the least of their problems when Cady’s ex-lover escapes her darkened past and deepens their plight with an agenda of his own.
Dodging Wastelanders out for blood and Kitty’s father determined for revenge, can Cadence avoid a bite from the Infected long enough to save her two wards and escape or will her ex-lover’s plans destroy them all?
Warning: Mature content with reference to criminal, adult-themed acts that may serve as triggers.
It was raining the day we were outcast. And I blamed him.
I drove my car over to their house, windscreen wipers flipping in the heavy downpour as my headlights grazed the row of small suburban bungalows. This was one of the more populated areas but the street was quiet. Nobody was out.
A streak of white caught my eye. My brother’s car sat comfortably in their driveway, engine off. I pursed my lips together and tugged my eye patch a little further down. I would be unwelcome, but they would just have to deal with that.
My car pulled smoothly to a stop, barely any noise emanating from the wheels in the kerbside puddles. The headlights died, leaving the faded ginger streetlamp the only light source. I took off a glove and wiped the rain residue from my brow as if it was sweat. It dripped from my sodden hair, staining my cheeks and clothes. I’d been walking when she’d called over to me, all filled up with panic. A stroll to reminisce would have to wait now.
The box on the seat behind was still there, strangely reassuring me in the rear view mirror. It was white and well cared for even though the dress, once entombed, was no longer inside.
But these things change.
Heavy hearted, I swallowed, glancing up at the house between the shadows of running rain on the window. If it had been anyone other than Sera who’d asked I wouldn’t have gone, but I’d sealed all our fates when I’d said yes to her.
Yet, hesitation clawed at me. He should be old enough to look after himself and to follow the rules, but obviously that was too much to ask for. This was not somewhere I’d choose to go. The cold windows of the house stared back.
I still remembered the family inside. They despised the tainted ones.
Tainted one. There was only me, now, to claim that title. All others had drifted away or died. I established the knife in my belt, just in case, and then stepped out of the car. The rain had grown heavier. It hit my coat like a shower of lead shot, reminding me of long days in the Wastelands. It was always heavy there when it came.
My key checked the car door with a soft chink like locking it would really matter in a place like this. My shadow cut a dark line in the dull orange light. The neighbours were probably watching behind their darkened curtains, but the street remained eerily quiet all except for the sound of the skittering rain. The silence didn’t bother me any more. I moved past my brother’s car, hand sliding across the cold, wet paintwork as I passed.
He would be inside the house courting the girl, but that was no excuse for taking that thing from Sera. He was getting us all into trouble.
I stepped up to the door and instead of simply turning the handle, I knocked. An uneasy feeling unfolded in my stomach like the separation of haemoglobin and plasma in a bag full of blood. Crimson and ochre. You were always supposed to knock, but I hadn’t knocked in a very long time.
The door opened filtering out a cold light. She stood there with curlers in her hair, feverish rings under her too wide eyes like a ventriloquist’s dummy. If her lips hadn’t compressed I might have mistaken her for one of the Infected. Her shock died down, her eyes tightened to small holes. It didn’t take a genius to work out that she’d recognised me.
“I don’t want you in my house.”
It wasn’t really her house; it was just one of many things inherited from long dead inhabitants, but there was little to gain from arguing with her. To her and plenty of others I was already outcast.
What was going to happen would make no difference to that.
“He’s here and I need to see him.” I raised an eyebrow at her impassive façade. “Is Maurice inside?”
Her eyes flared for half a second, telling me all I needed to know. Diplomacy wasn’t usually my strong point where committee members were concerned. My hands tightened into balls and I tried to soften my tone, gentle but unyielding.
“Let me in, Wilma. I’ll speak to my brother and I’ll be gone.” She didn’t inch from the door, her pincers curled around the wood. My gaze levelled on her, cool and calm. “I give you my word.”
“What good’s your word?” she hissed, retracting from the entrance nevertheless.
I stepped inside, moving smoothly past her as she recoiled. Frightened rabbit syndrome scratched her gaze. Once upon a time, I might have sympathised, but now I didn’t care having been treated to her cruel words and unkindness more than I deserved.
The kitchen felt loveless, the kind of place where food preparation had no passion and eating was a task forced in silence. It was a graveyard to fine dining, the pale bulb sluicing everything in a jaundiced light.
Wilma still held the door ajar, her eyes burning into my back. Her disdain hardly registered any more. Instead, I focused on the voices in the other room. The girl’s laughter wrinkled my nose. Silly teens. I pushed through the door, soft browns and pale creams divining nothing but a washed out heart of a so-called living room.
They were on the sofa. My brother saw me first, rolling his gaze and wrenching his lips into a twist of disgust. “If they sent you to spy on me–”
“You took Sera’s pet.” The words were hushed. “You know what’ll happen if they find it.” My hem dripped dark circles onto the faded carpet, pooling around my boots. My brother’s mouth moved into a line. I could see the cogs working in his skull, preparing his angry excuse. “I need to take it now, before you get us all into trouble.”