Thank you so much for inviting me along today and helping me launch A Little Bit of Madness, my fourth book published by Safkhet Publishing!
Rather than waffle on – as I tend to, with Melanie’s kind permission, I’ve included a blurb and brief excerpt below. I do hope you enjoy!
A Little Bit of Madness
No rest for the wicked
Saving Charlton hall will burrow into your heart.
Celia Summers, intrepid mother of two, is too cuddly for sweatpants, she suspects. But then, her class at The Harbour Rest Home are similarly clad. Celia loves her work as an art therapist. She’s proud that she gives her elderly independents something to look forward to, even if her partner, Martin, disapproves of her efforts. He also has other things on his mind – telling complicated lies to Celia so he can sell Charlton Hall, his mum’s house, to pay off his debts.
Meanwhile, Celia fights to secure gallery space for her geriatric charges’ artwork, and to keep The Harbour from being closed. She’s even ready to abseil from a church steeple to bring attention to the plight of her old people, no matter that she might fall and end up splattered all over the flagstones. When she does fall, however, it’s much more painful – in love with PC Alex Burrows. Will he be her white-knight-in-blue and ride to her rescue?
Alex wasn’t listening. He was off, at a run towards the church. She wasn’t bloody well stuck. He knew it. Her shoulders were hunched. Her eyes would be clamped shut. He didn’t have to see her up close to know that. Her palms would be sweating. He wiped the sweat from one of his own as he took the steps to the roof two at a time. Her mouth would be dry and her heart beating fit to burst.
‘It’s okay, I’m a policeman,’ he said, pushing past an instructor with a stock-of-the-trade reassuring statement. ‘Alex,’ he introduced himself to the lead instructor. ‘What’s happening?’
‘Robert.’ The instructor shook his hand, looking relieved. ‘I’m not sure. She was doing okay. Scared, but doing okay, until that last slide and then—’
‘Air to base,’ said the colonel behind them, holding his mobile walkie-talkie style. ‘Air to base, over. Ah, Alex.’ He caught sight of his son. ‘Bit of situation, hey what? Lorst her bottle, I’m afraid. Happens to the best of us.’ He tsked sympathetically. ‘Now what I suggest is that one of us stays up here and keeps in touch with the ground troops and one of us goes over the edge.’
Alex sighed. ‘Dad. Go down.’
‘Ah, yes, well, I would, of course. Bit of a dodgy heart though, don’t y’—’
‘Dad, for Christ’s sake, this is no time for war games! Go down the bloody steps, will you?! The, er, women are on their own.’ Alex noted his father’s deflated look and softened his tone.
‘Great,’ he muttered, as the colonel nodded sadly and about-faced. As if bellowing at an old man was going to help the situation. Dammit, he’d have to apologise—later. Right now, as Celia might well be in considerable danger, he needed to do his job.
And, this time, he needed to do it right.
Quelling a sudden queasiness, Alex pulled in a breath and walked to the edge.
‘She won’t budge.’ Robert nodded towards where Celia dangled, looking neither up, nor down, and hearing nothing it seemed, including the other instructor who’d lowered himself and was reaching towards her. ‘She could have her rope caught. It does happen, but personally I think she’s—’
Petrified, thought Alex grimly, as Celia’s terrified tones reached his ears, causing the other instructor to draw back. ‘No-o-o!’ she screamed. ‘Don’t! I can’t!’
The instructor looked up, shaking his head as Celia clung tight to her rope, determined to stay where she was. Unable to do anything but, Alex knew. She was frozen. Literally unable to move, bar an involuntary shaking of limbs. The same debilitating shaking he’d once experienced.
A frightening compulsion to jump. Far from forcing you back from the edge, vertigo forced you forward, the void below sucking the will to resist from you—and you into oblivion.
And if you tried to tackle it, tried to cross that slatted bridge, climb that ladder, abseil … Total shut down. Sheer immobilising terror.
That’s where Celia was. And Alex had been there.
He swallowed hard, and sucked in another deep breath. ‘Let me try,’ he said. ‘I’m trained, don’t worry. Tactical Police Training Centre: Abseil tower, climbing course … I know what I’m doing,’ he didn’t lie, but left out the cognitive therapy course he’d also taken to overcome a fear that had cost him dearer than anything else ever had in his life.
‘She’s a friend,’ he said, as Robert hesitated. ‘She might listen to me.’
Robert debated a second longer, then signalled the other instructor to clear the way. He helped Alex into his abseiling gear, finally fastening the karabiner to the rope, which would stop him plunging to the ground.
Alex swallowed again. It would work, he reassured himself.
The figure of eight piece of metal, which acted as a brake, might not look very impressive, but it worked.
He’d done that damn abseil tower over and over. Until he could do it with his eyes closed … and without the crippling fear in the pit of his stomach.
‘Kick off against the wall once you’re over.’ Robert instructed. ‘Then you’ll need to kick off two, maybe three times before you’re level.’
‘Got it.’ Alex gave him a tight smile, then nodded to indicate he was ready. Right, okay, he could do this. And he would damn well get it right. This time there would be no indecision. No hesitation. Not this time.
Alex gritted his teeth and kicked off.
Christ, where did that come from?
Alex breathed deeply and tried to still a nauseating flashback.
He closed his eyes and breathed out. Concentrate. He told himself.
It’s too late! Something screamed in his head.
He panted out another breath. It’s not too late.
No fucking voices. Not this time.
You can’t reach her.
Alex wiped his forehead against his arm. He tried hard not to look down.
Don’t. He willed himself.
You can do this. You have to. For Christ’s sake … just do it!
He willed himself on. Willed the fear he’d tried so hard to forget from clutching at his chest. The same paralysing fear had gripped him when his wife needed him most. The fear that turned to out-and-out dread as he’d attempted to talk her down, his heart pounding so loud he could hear it.
Or was that his heart beating now?
Useless, said the voice in his head.
Christ, he was so fucking useless.
There was no point talking to anyone, raking things over, looking for reasons. Not to Celia. Not to anyone. That one single word summed him up.
All he’d had to do was hold on, take one more step toward Nicole—hold all of her. One step and he’d faltered. Jesus. He dropped his gaze, and the ground beckoned and swayed below him.
‘Shit!’ he said out loud, sucking air deep into his lungs as his foot slipped, sending him slamming into the wall. Oh, Jesus … He twirled and dangled, closed his eyes and prayed.
‘Alex?’ came a small voice beside him. ‘Alex?’ Celia repeated. ‘Are you all right?’
Alex clung to his rope and tried to focus on the simple act of breathing.
‘You’re not, are you?’
‘Uh-uh.’ He shook his head, indicating he was very much not all right.
About the author…
Sheryl Browne grew up in Birmingham, UK, where she studied Art & Design. A partner in her own business, a mother and a foster parent to disabled dogs, Sheryl has also been writing for many years, the road along the way often bumpy. She was therefore thrilled beyond words when Safkhet Publishing loved her writing style and commissioned her to write her debut novel.
RECIPES FOR DISASTER – combining deliciously different and fun recipes with sexilicious romantic comedy, is garnering some fabulous reviews and was shortlisted for the Innovation in Romantic Fiction Festival of Romance Award. Sheryl has since been offered a further three-book contract under the Safkhet Publishing Soul imprint. SOMEBODY TO LOVE, a romantic comedy centering around a single father’s search for love and his autistic little boy, launched July 1. WARRANT FOR LOVE, Blackmail, lies, adultery, entrapment – three couples in a twisting story that resolves perfectly – released August 1 and A LITTLE BIT OF MADNESS -White Knight in Blue rescues the Harbour Rest Home – releases Valentine’s Day 2013.
Sheryl is a loveahappyending featured Author and Editor.