Friday, 17 June 2011
Author Spotlight - Excerpt from He Wants Me Dead
Enjoy this excerpt from Marion's latest book:
He remembered the blood as he stepped out of the shower and hurried to shave off his day-old beard while he dripped dry. More and more, in recent days, he envisioned the blood. His mind exploded with it. As he slept, it haunted him. In his waking hours, it titillated him to new heights of excitement.
The fogged mirror refused to reflect his image, offering instead the familiar scene from the past. Grandpa stood in front of another mirror, plowing neat furrows through snowy lather. His hand clasped a straight-edged razor, capable of severing the jugular vein.
Once he saw Grandpa cut himself, and he shook with terror, but he couldn't look away from the magnificence of the gushing blood.
"Are you gonna die?" he asked. Wild exhilaration mingled with horror in his mind, making a mockery of the childish innocence of his words.
"No, son." His grandpa chuckled and wiped away the blood, leaving only the tiniest of nicks to mar the surface of his smooth-shaven skin.
He shook off the memory as he replaced his electric shaver on its shelf. He felt a longing for Grandpa's old straight-edged razor and the sight of blood, gushing from the vulnerable spot in the center of the neck. But now wasn't the time to think old thoughts. He had things to do and wanted to get out of there before his argument with Susan resurfaced. Besides, he wanted to be alone with his thoughts, with his beautiful red-blooded plans. He laughed, enjoying the conundrum and the way he could see the words flashing in his mind like a neon sign as he thought them.
In the connecting dressing room, he dressed then admired himself in the full-length mirror. The gray silk suit fit him to perfection. He reached down with a perfectly manicured finger, flicked a speck of dust off the Gucci slip-ons, and looked once more at his reflection. Important to keep up appearances.
He closed his eyes for a second and saw her as she had looked earlier when he slipped out of bed. She slept facedown in her pillow, her arms bent like folded angel wings. He had turned off the alarm before it could awaken her, and the lush carpet muffled the sound of his furtive footsteps as he left the room.
Now, studying himself critically in the mirror, he liked what he saw. Premature flecks of gray accented his sandy hair, giving it a silvery sheen. And his eyes, steel blue, added a finishing touch to his efficient image. In the same way, his burgundy paisley tie imparted the perfect look of quiet elegance to the suit.
He smiled as he picked up his briefcase and slipped back into the bedroom. But the smile froze on his face as he met Susan's icy stare. She stood at the foot of their king-size bed, looking like some beautiful, remote ice sculpture.
"This has to stop." She sounded like fury contained. Her delicate skin appeared translucent in the early morning light filtering in through the half-open blinds of the skylight.
"Now, honey." He modulated his speech to conciliatory tones. Once, that strategy had worked, but not anymore. In the not-too-distant past, he could have taken her in his arms, and she wouldn't have even remembered what she wanted to say. He had lost that advantage for the moment.
"Don't 'now honey' me." Her voice rose, bordering on hysteria, as he'd known it would. "We can't keep spending money we don't have, just to impress the Joneses."
"We're not doing it to impress the Joneses." He spoke softly, looking straight into her aquamarine eyes. He wished he could drown in them and run his hands through her long honey-blond hair, mussed now from sleep. When he worked everything out, they'd escape for a second honeymoon, and their relationship would bloom afresh with the youthful pleasure it had once held. "We agreed that we had to look successful in order to build my practice."
"You agreed. And besides, dressing right is one thing, within reason." She glanced at his suit then looked away. "But the trips abroad and the yacht and the cars. And why did you have to spend a fortune on one for James?"
"Susan." He kept his voice deathly still. "You're going to have to go back on your medication again if you don't calm down."
She cringed as if he'd slapped her, and he realized he had struck the right chord. He opened his briefcase, took out a sample packet, and pressed it into her hand. She shivered, and the little cellophane package fell soundlessly to the carpet between them. "In case you need them." He shrugged his shoulders, implying he didn't care one way or the other. He knew she hated taking the Valium but, fortunately for him, she was becoming increasingly dependent on it.
He'd been terribly afraid she'd wake the boy, and he didn't want him drawn into the quarrel. The less he heard the better. Let Susan resent the kid. Then, perhaps she'd be less likely to confide in him or attempt to persuade him to confide in her. They'd once been close, but he had worked hard to drive a wedge between them, and he intended to keep it there.
"Now, go back to bed, dear." He employed his best bedside manner. "I must get to the office. I have early appointments. I'll call later to see how you're doing."
"Don't bother." Her voice was muffled by her hands, which she held prayer-like over her mouth. She stared accusingly at him through eyes brimming with unspilled tears. Her pink silk nightgown clung to her form, leaving nothing to his imagination.
In the Lincoln, he sped unnoticed through the early morning streets, letting the air conditioning blow full force to dispel the sultry heat trapped overnight in the car. Unable to sleep well anymore, he preferred to face the day before it could get a jump on him. No sullen boy, no hassling creditors and, some mornings, no nagging wife. By nine o'clock, when the greedy bill collectors began their hounding, his secretary would keep him conveniently incommunicado behind the facade of a heavy lineup of appointments.
He switched the channels, trying to find something to fit his erratic mood, settling finally on classical music of a type that should soothe the savage creature inside him. But the ogre grasping him by the throat wasn't likely to be quieted by anything less potent than a fortune, and that was what he intended to have, by whatever means necessary. The problem was he couldn't share his secrets with Susan, or with anyone else for that matter. And until he accomplished what he'd set out to do, life -- home life in particular -- wasn't going to be worth living.
CONTEST: Leave a post for Marion or a question and a winner will be picked on Monday, 20 JUNE to receive a copy of her latest release, He Wants Me Dead