Blood Runs Cold

For Sue Booth-Forbes


In the lights of the police cruisers, her face was a strobing image of pain and fear. But she was still, to the child in her arms, a haven. She ran as fast as her violated body would allow, pressing his head to her cheek, his hair soaking up their sweat, blood, spit, tears. A terrible, ruined stench rose from them in the damp heat.

She staggered on, flinching at the stones and branches underfoot, her shoes long lost, too beautiful for the night. The trees swayed toward them and away, and when they gave enough shelter, she stopped. She prised the tiny hands from around her neck, breaking the dead-man’s grip of a seven-year-old boy. She tried to smile as she lowered him to the ground. Black pinpricks of gravel shone from her lips.

‘Do not make a sound,’ she said. ‘Not a sound.’ Her voice was edged in nicotine.

The boy quickly clamped his arms around her legs. She shoved him sharply backwards, away from her wounds. He fell hard. She watched without feeling. He got up and moved toward her again, tears streaming down his face.

‘No,’ she hissed, shaking her head. ‘No.’

She crouched down. ‘You have to hide, OK?’ She pointed to the scrub close by. ‘Go. I’ll be right here.’ She squeezed his hand as she released it.

He did as she said. She moved a few steps forward into a clearing, cracking the forest floor. Her face was in darkness. But in the faint glow of a flashlight, relief swept over her features; a picture, flashing like a warning.

The man walked from the trees. He looked at his wife – bloodied and soiled, her hand gripping her ripped- open blouse in what dignity she could find. She slumped against him, the sounds she made raw and disturbing.

The little boy watched.

As I was walking up the stair

I met a man who wasn’t there

He wasn’t there again today

I wish, I wish he’d stay away

Mira, Domenica,’ said the man. Look.

Domenica turned to where she had run from. Beyond the trees, a fire raged and smoke filled the sky. She was transfixed.

‘Hellfire,’ she said.

But her eyes shone with something more than flames.


Title Page



Part One

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

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