Extract from Marriage Made Me Do It by Ashley Fontainne

Category: Extract

To celebrate the release day of Ashley Fontainne’s new book, Marriage Made Me Do It, we’ve given you all a sneak peek of what to expect in this irreverent thriller about one housewife’s descent into madness…

I made it to the top of the stairs when the doorbell rang. Great! I’m still in my tattered robe with no makeup on.

The doorbell chimed again, so instead of rushing to change clothes, I went back downstairs. To my surprise, I was greeted by a girl, maybe twenty, with long, blonde hair, entirely too much makeup, and a worried look on her face. Clutched in her left hand was a Manila folder.

“May I help you?” I asked, assuming she was lost. She certainly wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness. They didn’t wear designer jeans, makeup, fake fingernails, or high heels.

“Uh, yes. I’m looking for Professor Davenport. Is he here?”

“No, he’s at school.”

An eerie sensation tickled the back of my mind. Though a rarity, a few students over the years dropped by unannounced, usually to beg for a better grade, chance to retake a test, or other such nonsense.

The eeriness morphed into nausea when the girl’s hand rubbed her stomach.

Her pregnant stomach.

“Are you, oh, God. You aren’t the maid, are you?”

Unable to form words, I shook my head. What a stupid ques­tion! How many maids worked in their robes? Answer—zero. The girl’s IQ probably hovered close to the size of her bra.

It hit me then—she was just Carl’s type.

Hmm, what is that sensation inside my chest and the weird, cracking noise filling my head? Was it possible I just experienced my heart breaking? If so, does that mean a part of me still loved the man who used to snuggle next to me years ago, stroking my hair, whispering his love? The other 50 per cent of Carol’s genetic pool, who enjoyed sneaking up behind me, cupping my breasts and cooing, “Oh, I wish I could be your bra for just one day.” The same man who looked genuinely sad less than one day ago as he professed he was worried about me?

How about that? There was still a spark of love for Carl. Of course, the key word in that thought: Was.

Oh! Another unfamiliar sound! Could it be? Why yes, yes it was—the snap of the last thin tendril holding my sanity in place.

Tears burst from the girl’s wide, green eyes. “His wife, then? Carl’s married? I’m so sorry! He didn’t tell me—oh, shit. What am I going to do now?”

“May I assume you’re holding paternity papers?” I asked, my voice sweeter than raw honey while I marveled at the fact Carl’s little swimmers still held some power. Stroke! Stroke!

“Yes. The results just came back today. I flipped out at work, so my boss told me to leave. I, oh, forgive me. I shouldn’t be talking about this with you, Mrs. Davenport. And I am sorry. Again, I didn’t know Carl had a wife.”

Pulling from reserves I wasn’t aware I possessed, I asked: “What’s your name?”

“Ginger. Ginger Holloway. God, I don’t know what I’m going to do!” Ginger sobbed.

Ginger! The girl is a spicy condiment. The Habanero hot sauce poured over my milk-toast life. Fire, fire, fire!

“I can’t raise a baby alone. I’ve got two more years of school! I’m so sorry, Mrs. Davenport, but he’s going to have to take financial responsibility.”

Oh, you won’t raise it alone, Hottie Habanero. You’ll have your baby daddy to help, because in about thirty seconds, once my brain fully processes this nightmare, I’m calling a lawyer.

Good thing I already made the decision to burn the The Suburbia Handbook, because I was on the cusp of dumping a huge pile of demerits onto my head by breaking Rule Number Fifty:

Once the vows are said, married couples must remain together until death do they part.

Screw that.

 

Marriage Made Me Do It is out today! Make sure to order your copy here.

Guest post by Cass Green, author of In A Cottage In A Wood

Category: Author Post

IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY…

I would like to hold my hands up right now and say that if you are creeped out by my new book IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD, then I couldn’t be more… not-sorry. I admit it; I totally set out to scare people. I spooked myself, so it seems only fair.

While I was writing it, I got to thinking about why woods play such a prominent role in our nightmares. Maybe it is because they feature in so many of the fairy tales we’re exposed to at a tender age? Here, tall trees mean places to hide for blood-thirsty wolves, or else they have cottages snuck away that seem to promise gingerbread and fun but really only mean horrible endings.

It was only after I’d finished writing the book, though, that I found myself remembering one of the strangest experiences of my childhood that took place in woods.

I was ten or eleven. A girl I didn’t know well at school – let’s call her Sally – invited me to stay with her during half-term. Sally was one of those girls who seemed to know adult stuff I didn’t and was therefore a bit dangerous and exciting. Naturally I said yes.

She lived in the wooded grounds of a country house, where her mother was currently the only employee. One afternoon as we rode lazy circles around a tennis court on our bikes, Sally told me, with a sly look in her eye, that the whole place was haunted. Her mother, she said, would hear ghostly footsteps close by each evening as she walked between the Big House and their cottage.

I did what any child on the receiving end of this kind of news does; ie, scoffed loudly to hide how scared I was. (It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I was an over-imaginative child and easy prey for anyone who could spin a scary yarn.)

That evening, an old friend of the family came to dinner. With his Captain Bird’s Eye beard and his ready smile, Uncle Jack (as they called him) seemed like an avuncular, jolly presence. It was only when the dinner things were cleared away and Sally’s mum and he exchanged meaningful looks that I started to wonder if something strange was going on.

Uncle Jack produced a strange wooden shield with carvings on it from a cloth bag and the two adults disappeared outside into the darkness, with a promise that they wouldn’t be long and warnings that we should stay indoors.

As we did the washing up together, I asked Sally what they were up to. She replied, casually, ‘Oh, Uncle Jack is performing an exorcism. So Mum doesn’t have any more trouble from the ghost…’

 

That night was filled with vivid nightmares and as dawn finally broke, I made a resolution. I wasn’t staying in this creepy place a moment longer. I would pretend I was ill and needed to go home. I managed to make a sneaky phone call and within hours my Dad came to pick me up. I’d never been more pleased to see him.

I forgot about this whole thing for so long.

But maybe it was there in the back of my mind, nudging my subconscious, and helping me to re-connect to old childhood terrors?

And maybe it played a role in me writing this book.

I’ll never know now, but I hope Sally’s mum got some peace on her nocturnal walks home after that night.

I didn’t want to hang around to find out.

IN A COTTAGE IN A WOOD is published on 21st September 2017.

Collins Crime Club September picks

Category: Uncategorized

The Detective Club returns this month with your September Crime Club picks, starting with Collins Chiller In the Dark, a collection of tales of terror from E. Nesbit.

This spooky collection was first published 30 years ago, after being all but forgotten for nearly 100 years, and reminds us all that of Nesbit’s status as one of the best ghost-story writers of the Victorian age. This special revised edition also contains seven newly-discovered tales as well as an introduction by the incredible Hugh Lamb.

Nesbit herself had phobias which she said provoked ‘nights and nights of anguish and horror, long years of bitterest fear and dread’ and led her to write the terrifying stories you will find in the pages of this book. Get ready to be kept awake at night by Nesbit’s stories from a world where the dead walked the earth…

In the Dark is out today!

 

Our second pick is The Passing of Mr Quinn by G. Roy McRae.

For the first time in almost 90 years Collins Crime Club is reprinting this original novelisation of Agatha Christie’s first film. Back in 1928 the first Agatha Christie film was released as a black and white silent movie based loosely on her first Harley Quin story. This rare novelisation was released the same year, although no script print from the film survives, and is a unique record of Christie’s original association with film, now in its 10th decade! This is the rarest Agatha Christie story out there, with a completely elusive author, and therefore, the ultimate Detective Club gem!

One murder: the cruel, sinister Professor Appleby.

Three suspects: his wife, Eleanor Appleby; their neighbour and Eleanor’s lover, Derek Capel; and the house-parlourmaid and Professor Appleby’s mistress, Vera.

But who would poison the most hateful villain to ever have crossed the pages of fiction…

The Passing of Mr Quinn is out 14th September 2017! And don’t miss our new Murder on the Orient Express film tie-ins & special editions this October, marking Agatha Christie’s remarkable ten decades of film adaptations.

 

Follow the Killer Reads blog to keep up to speed with our best classic crime picks every month.