Born Bad Follow up Now Available

I’m very excited to announce that Blood Ties, the follow-up to Born Bad and book two of my new trilogy, is already available to pre-order from Amazon. You can grab your copy using the link: http://viewBook.at/BloodTies. Publication date is 1st March 2018, which means that if you order now, you will have the book delivered to your Kindle as soon as that date arrives.

To give you a taster of what’s in store, here’s the fabulous cover that my publishers have designed together with the book blurb.

Adele Robinson is locked up – convicted for the murder of her abusive father. She quickly realizes that she’ll have to play it tough if she’s going to survive, and soon gains a reputation for standing her ground.

Meanwhile, her brother Peter is building his criminal empire on the outside – running protection rackets, seedy nightclubs and all manner of schemes to make a fast buck. He soon comes to the attention of, not only the police, but also Manchester’s rival gangs, and a turf war breaks out.

And when things start to get bloody, only Adele can step in to protect the family business. Will she get out in time to save Peter? After all, blood is thicker than water, and when family’s in trouble you can’t look the other way.

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I hope you’ll agree that the book blurb is very enticing. March might seem a long way off but with Christmas coming upon us, the time will soon fly by.

Big thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Born Bad, recommended it to others and left a review. It has surpassed all my expectations, peaking at an Amazon UK rank of 41 last week, and it continues to sell well. I hope that my readers will enjoy the second book just as much.

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Early Reviews for ‘Danger by Association’

I’m thrilled with how well ‘Danger by Association’ has been received. It’s had some glowing reviews already. Authors are generally advised not to respond to reviews on Amazon but I’m always tempted to thank the customers who have bought the book and taken the trouble to write a review. So, here is a big thank you to all those customers who have reviewed ‘Danger by Association’ (or any of my books) on Amazon or Goodreads and/or left a rating on Goodreads.

Here is a sample of some of the reviews that have come in during the last few days:

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this book

By Ann on 13 July 2016

Enjoyed this book have read a lot of Heather Burnside books and must say they have all been good so yes roll on the next one .

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read can’t wait for her next book

By Kindle Customer on 11 July 2016

Excellent read can’t wait for her next book. Is there one on the way?

 

5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read.

By Amazon Customer on 5 July 2016

It was a great read though very hard to put down , knowing the characters from the previous book it was so easy to get into, if you hadn’t read the previous books it might have not been as easy to understand the story would recommend this book to all mancunians.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Feedback

By Amazon Customer on 2 July 2016

I’ve read the trilogy in 5 days absolutely brilliant. Total suspense throughout and will be recommending this series to all my friends !

 

5.0 out of 5 stars A belting story

By Angela lockwood on 1 July 2016

A belter of a read . A real page turner full of twists and turns

 

In answer to the reader who asked whether there is another book on the way; yes, I’m currently working on a new book which I intend to publish early in 2017.

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Excerpt from ‘Danger by Association’

As we’re drawing closer to the launch date of 24th June for ‘Danger by Association’, I thought I would share an excerpt with you. In this first chapter Rita has returned to Manchester to attend her brother’s wedding.

After the trauma of her previous visit (as shown in ‘A Gangster’s Grip’), Rita regarded her return with trepidation. This trip won’t be any better for her because her son is in danger. As you can see from this first chapter, there are already signs of trouble, which intensifies as the book progresses:

Danger

Chapter 1

Saturday 8th June 1996

Rita walked in front of her family and greeted them before taking her seat at the front of the church. Her mother, Joan, was seated to her left, resplendent in her new outfit from C & A. To the left of Joan was Rita’s father, Ged, looking uncomfortable in his one best suit. As Rita cast her eyes across the front pew she noticed him loosening his shirt collar and adjusting his tie.

Furthest away from Rita, and occupying the inside seat of the pew, was her brother, John, nervously awaiting his bride-to-be, with his best man Tony buoying him up. Rita smiled at John before switching her attention to her husband, Yansis.

Rita felt mixed emotions as she thought about the absent family member. It was five years since her sister, Jenny, had died but on days like today she missed her more than ever. This was the first time Rita had returned to Manchester since Jenny’s death. She lived in Greece, where she and Yansis ran a restaurant.

Her sister’s demise was such a traumatic event that Rita had taken a lot of persuading before she agreed to return to Manchester. But how could she miss her brother’s wedding? So here she was. But only on the condition that she went nowhere near the Riverhill Estate. The place where it had happened. The place where her parents still lived.

Although Rita no longer lived in Manchester, she thought of her sister daily. She always would. Every time she looked at her son’s face she was reminded of Jenny. Because, even though Rita and Yansis called Daniel their son, it was Jenny who had given birth to him. As Rita thought about Jenny, she gazed with affection at Daniel who was shuffling impatiently in his seat between her and Yansis.

“It won’t be long now till the bride gets here,” she whispered as she took in his familiar features and gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze.

As though in response to her words, the organist began to play the wedding march. Rita, along with almost everyone else, turned to see the bride walk up the aisle, which was lined with exquisite blossoms in a delicate pink and white colour scheme.

Rita had never met Paula in person; she had only seen her in photographs. She was a stunning girl, and Rita felt happy for John who gazed proudly at her as she approached. Paula looked radiant in her beautiful off-the-shoulder wedding gown with sweetheart neckline. The onlookers were captivated as she progressed down the aisle, the layers of tulle flowing from a tiny fitted waist against which she clutched a lovely bouquet. Yes, John had definitely done himself proud and, if her parents were to be believed, Paula was a lovely person too.

As the bride drew closer, Rita caught the eye of her best friend, Julie, sitting a few rows back with her husband, Vinny. A few seconds later, the bride joined John at the front of the church, and the wedding march died down. The congregation cleared their throats and hushed their children, and the vicar allowed them time to settle down before beginning the ceremony.

Joan had already broken out her tissues and sat sniffing throughout the entire service. Rita wondered whether it was through happiness for John or sorrow at her missing child. Maybe it was a combination of the two. Rita’s mind wandered again to the last time the family had been together, apart from John who had been stationed abroad in the army.

The hospital. The endless wait. Desperately hoping she’d pull through. The devastating news from the doctor. Rita stopped herself, determined not to succumb to tears. This was a happy occasion and she’d make damn sure she enjoyed it. She tried to ignore her mother’s whimpering as she focused on the ceremony.

Once outside, the emotional strain was forgotten amidst the excited chatter, words of congratulations and organising the photographs. Rita was too busy to think about emotions as she and Yansis had resolved to keep Daniel clean and tidy at least until the pictures were taken.

Although he was a good child, he was a typical five-year-old boy. Carried away by the novelty and excitement of the occasion, he was more intent on racing around the manicured church lawns than posing for photographs in a stuffy suit.

“Oh, it was lovely wasn’t it?” said Julie as she and Vinny joined them on the lawn after the photographs had been taken. “I was filling up when she walked down the aisle in that gorgeous dress.”

“Don’t be so bleedin’ soft, you daft sod,” said Rita. “You’re supposed to be happy, not crying your eyes out. You’re as bad as my mam. I think she went through a full packet of man-sized by the time it was over.”

“You’re bloody heartless you, Rita,” laughed Julie.

They circulated for a while, chatting to friends and relatives until it was time to go to the wedding reception. Then they crowded into a minibus, which John and Paula had laid on especially for the occasion. Within minutes they arrived at the venue, which was a hotel.

It wasn’t long before they were all seated ready for the wedding breakfast. But they had to go through the speeches first. This was the moment Rita was dreading. She knew it would be emotional. John was bound to mention Jenny. There was no way he would ignore her absence.

Unlike the church service though, where she had a front row seat, Rita was now surrounded by people on all sides. If she became overcome by emotion it would be difficult to hide. And she didn’t want to get upset. This was John and Paula’s big day, and despite Jenny no longer being with them, it should nevertheless be a happy one.

After dreading the speeches, she was surprised at how smoothly it went. John handled the matter well and she felt proud of him.

“I want to propose a toast to all our loved ones who sadly can’t be with us,” he said as he held up his glass. Everybody raised their glasses in respect and John quickly added, “I’m sure they’d want us all to enjoy this day so I don’t want to see any tears.”

Rita’s mother took a deep breath and shoved her tissues inside her handbag.

Daniel was fidgety during the meal and couldn’t wait to run around outside with his newfound friends. Fortunately, the wedding reception was in a hotel within its own grounds so he could play out safely. Once he had eaten enough, Rita and Yansis let him go. Then it was time for the adults to relax. While Daniel played outside, Rita and Julie chatted to some of Rita’s older relatives. They were all interested in Rita’s life in Greece and she enjoyed telling them all about it, as well as discussing her wider family.

When the meal was finished, Rita, Yansis, Julie and Vinny found somewhere else to sit while the hotel staff cleared the tables ready for the evening reception. Yansis and Vinny soon struck up a conversation while the girls chatted amongst themselves.

“That grand aunty of yours was a card, Rita,” remarked Julie. “She could hardly take her eyes off Yansis.”

“I know; did you hear what she said?” Rita asked, before answering her own question. “‘I’ve always liked the Mediterranean men myself. They’re really sexy.’ I had to wedge myself between her and Yansis to protect him. She might be in her seventies but there’s life in the old girl yet.”

Rita and Julie laughed heartily, and Rita soon felt as though she had been teleported back ten years. To the good times of her younger days. All the great nights out she had spent with Julie and the girls. That was before life got in the way, and a series of traumatic experiences had changed her and Julie irrevocably. But today she was going to be relaxed and carefree.

“There are some right eccentrics in our family, Julie,” Rita continued, “The bloody Addams family have got nothing on us.”

Then, spotting her Aunty Irene heading towards them, she added, “Talking of which, here’s one now, Aunty Irene, my dad’s sister, got a tongue on her like a viper.”

She whispered the last few words as her Aunty Irene came within earshot.

“Hello Rita, I thought it was you,” she announced once she reached them.

“Hello Aunty Irene,” sighed Rita.

“Well, aren’t you going to introduce me then? I’ve never met your husband; I wasn’t at your wedding. Is this him?”

Rita made the introductions, and Yansis, Vinny and Julie shook her aunty’s hand politely. Once Aunty Irene had the attention of everyone around the table, she asked Rita, “Was that Jenny’s son I saw earlier? Good-looking little lad, isn’t he? Takes after his mother.”

“No!” said Rita. “You saw Daniel, my son; mine and Yansis’s.”

Yansis, Julie and Vinny looked on, aware of Rita’s feelings about Daniel, as the aunty continued.

“Yes but, you know what I mean.”

“As far as Daniel is concerned, me and Yansis are his parents and I don’t want anyone telling him anything different.”

“But surely he’ll have to find out eventually?” Aunty Irene asked. “He’ll know there’s something amiss; even Yansis isn’t as dark as Daniel.”

“He’ll find out when he’s old enough and when we decide to tell him. But that won’t be for a long time. He’s only five years old, for God’s sake! It’s too much for him to take in.”

Rita could feel her temper rising but she tried to hold it in check. She didn’t want to spoil her brother’s wedding by having a set to with her Aunty Irene, but her aunty wasn’t finished yet.

“Alright, I can see you’re upset. I know you don’t want to be reminded about Jenny. It was a sad day when she died. Your mother and father were broken-hearted, and when you took that little boy away they were beside themselves …”

“What do you mean?” Rita cut in before she had a chance to carry on.

“Well, you weren’t here of course. You’d taken him all the way to Greece, but I was the one having to console them when they were missing him.”

“You could have bloody well fooled me!” Rita snapped, unable to put up with her aunty’s venom any longer. “My dad couldn’t get rid of him quick enough. He was too frightened of him cramping his style. So don’t you go telling me they were pining for him! And as for you; we only bloody see you at weddings and funerals.”

Her aunty was speechless following this outburst. Rita was about to continue but, before she could say any more, she felt a tug on her arm.

“Rita, didn’t you want to go and talk to John and his new wife?” asked Julie. “There’s nobody with them now. Come on while we’ve got a chance.”

Julie’s words brought Rita to her senses. She stood up, grabbed her handbag, slammed her chair underneath the table and walked away with Julie. As they were walking off, Rita could hear her aunty shouting after her, “That child should be here with his family; not miles away, living with a load of strangers. What you did was wicked!”

“Did you hear that?” Rita asked Julie, “The cheeky cow!” Rita turned, about to retaliate, but Julie kept a tight grip on her arm.

“Don’t rise to it, Rita. Don’t let her spoil your brother’s wedding. If you go back, you’ll be letting her win. Come on!”

For a few moments Rita hovered, indecisive, but Julie’s insistent tugging at her arm persuaded her to keep walking. Rita didn’t head straight for John and his bride though. She was too annoyed, and needed to calm down first. She and Julie made their way outside the room where they found some ladies’ toilets in a different part of the hotel. Rita wanted to vent her anger without being overheard.

Once they were inside, they checked the cubicles. While Julie tapped on each of the doors to make sure they weren’t occupied, Rita hammered and kicked at them. It was her way of letting go of her rage at the same time. She had just moved away from one cubicle and was attacking the next one when the door opened. A young woman emerged looking terrified. Without making eye contact, and not even stopping to wash her hands, she swiftly exited the ladies’ toilets.

“Bloody hell, Rita; you’ve frightened the life out of the poor sod!” said Julie.

This realisation caused a break in the tension and Rita stopped kicking at the doors, “I’m sorry, Julie. I didn’t mean to go off on one. But thanks for pulling me away; it’s a good job you did.”

“I know you, Rita. I could see she was annoying you.”

Rita fished inside her bag for her cigarettes and lighter while sounding off to Julie, “She’s a cheeky cow! What business is it of hers? I wouldn’t mind but when I was at home she hardly ever came to see my mam and dad, so what would she know?”

Julie gave her time to let off steam. They knew each other so well that Julie could predict exactly how she would react. After a few minutes of venting, she began to settle down, “Eh, I hope Yansis and Vinny were alright being left with her.”

“Don’t worry about them two; I’m sure they can handle her. She probably went off with her tail between her legs once you’d given her a piece of your mind.”

“I’m not so sure, Julie. She’s a nasty old bitch by all accounts.” Rita then apologised again, now she was feeling calmer. “I’m sorry Jules, I didn’t mean to go off on one.”

“It’s OK, Rita. It wasn’t your fault; I’d have felt the same.”

“Look, I’m not gonna let that evil old cow get to me. This is our John’s wedding and I’m gonna bloody well enjoy it.”

And she meant what she said. Once she had finished her cigarette and calmed herself down, they returned to the reception, passing her dad on the way. She couldn’t fail to miss him; he was so loud. But she wasn’t going to let that worry her.

She could have become irritable watching him make an arse of himself, boasting loudly about his latest scam, but she wouldn’t. She could have focused on her dead sister, but she wouldn’t. No, she was going to make the best of things. After all, that was what she had come back to Manchester for: to enjoy her brother’s wedding. With that in mind, she and Julie went off to chat to Rita’s brother and to introduce themselves properly to Paula.

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‘Danger by Association’ is already available in print from Amazon. The Kindle version will launch on 24th June, but you can pre-order your copy here.

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Book Launch Update – ‘A Gangster’s Grip’

It’s been a busy couple of days since the launch of ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ and there’s still a lot happening. Here’s an update:

‘Slur’ Free Promotion – Although I originally planned to offer ‘Slur’ for free a few weeks after the launch of ‘A Gangster’s Grip’, I made an impromptu, last minute decision to offer it free at the same time as the launch. ‘Slur’ is therefore currently available to download to the Kindle FREE until Sunday. Here’s the link if you want to grab a copy before the offer expires: http://viewbook.at/Slur.

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Author Interview – Fellow author Georgia Rose has published a fabulous interview on her website at: Georgia Rose, in which we discuss some of the background behind ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ amongst other topics. Georgia is a busy lady who is a member of Rosie’s book review team as well as a talented author. You can find lots of great book reviews, author interviews and details of Georgia’s own riveting trilogy on her website. It’s well worth a visit.

First Reviews – ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ has received its first reviews, one of which is from the lovely Kath at Ignite Books. Kath only features 5 star reviews on her blog so I was extremely chuffed to get a mention. It’s also good to hear that Kath feels ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ is a better book than ‘Slur’ because, like all writers, I aim to improve with each novel.

‘About Manchester’ Feature – The launch of ‘A Gangster’s Grip was also featured in the ‘About Manchester’ online magazine so here’s another link to check out: About Manchester.

Gangster's Grip V4

I still have plenty of activities lined up so I’ll keep you updated as events take place. Right, now I’m off to post a print copy of ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ to my daughter – she’s first in the queue otherwise I’m in big trouble. 🙂

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Book Launch Day – A Gangster’s Grip

The day of the launch has finally arrived and ‘A Gangster’s Grip’, book two in The Riverhill Trilogy, is now available in both a Kindle and print format from Amazon. Here is the link: http://viewbook.at/GangstersGrip.

Gangster's Grip V4

I have plenty of events lined up to celebrate the launch of my second novel, including:

A Radio Interview – It will take place on 17th October at North Manchester Radio station in Harpurhey, Manchester. They have a Saturday afternoon slot specifically dedicated to books, creative writing and publishing so I am pleased to have been invited as a guest on the show.

Book Shop Signing – On 24th October I will be signing copies of ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ at Thackeray’s Book Shop in Denton, Manchester. Thackeray’s will also be stocking copies of both ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ and ‘Slur’.

Goodreads Giveaway – I’ll be giving away signed copies of ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ to two lucky winners in a Goodreads Giveaway so look out for details on my Goodreads author page by following the link here.

A Free Promotion of ‘Slur’ – From today ‘Slur’ will be available to download to the Kindle FREE of charge for five days. ‘Slur’ is the first book in The Riverhill Trilogy so if you haven’t already read it, this is a great opportunity to start at the beginning. Here is the link: http://viewbook.at/Slur.

Online Interviews and Features – I will be taking part in a few online interviews and features. The first of these is a chat ‘Around the Cauldron’ with Wiz Green aka popular author Mark Barry, which has earned me the amusing nickname of Hardcore Heather. (I must point out that this refers to the grit lit sub-genre that my novels fit into rather than my lifestyle :).) You can catch the full interview: here.

I will keep you updated about the above activities by publishing further details on the blog as the events take place.

And there was I telling myself that I would be less busy after the launch; I guess I will have to postpone my winter break.

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“A Gangster’s Grip” – Launch Date Announcement and Chapter One Preview

I am pleased to announce that I have now fixed a launch date of 7th October for my forthcoming crime thriller, “A Gangster’s Grip”.
To give you a taster, I have included the first chapter below:
Gangster's Grip V4

Chapter 1

Saturday 9th March 1991 – early afternoon

Rita couldn’t wait to get to her parents’ house, and had been discussing it with her husband, Yansis, during the taxi ride from the airport. It had been so long since she’d been back from Greece, and she had missed everyone, despite their shortcomings. She got out of the cab, and waited for the driver to take their cases out of the boot.
Once the cases were on the pavement, Yansis carried them to the front door while Rita settled the cab fare. She had no sooner taken her purse out of her handbag than she spotted something in her peripheral vision, causing her to look up.
Too late!
Before she knew what was happening, a youth swung by on a bike. Maintaining his speed while riding one-handed, he snatched her purse and zoomed past.
She gave chase, yelling and screaming. Yansis joined her when he realised she had been robbed. But it was no use. They couldn’t keep up with a bike, especially Rita in her high heels, and the youth was soon out of sight.
“Fine bloody start that is!” she cursed. Walking back to the taxi driver, she continued her rant, “And a lot of help you were.”
“Don’t blame me, love. If you think I’m leaving my cab round here, you’ve got another think coming.”
“Oh, come off it! Just because my purse has been snatched, doesn’t mean your cab’s gonna be robbed.”
“Doesn’t it? You don’t know what it’s like! How long is it since you’ve been back, love?”
“A few years. Why?”
“I think you’ll find it’s changed, and not for the better either.”
Rita shrugged off his comments, anxious to get inside the house, while Yansis paid the cab fare.
Her mother, Joan, answered the door. “Hiya love, how are you? Where’s that lovely husband of yours?” she asked, hugging Rita.
“I’ve just been robbed, Mam. Some bugger’s just whipped my purse out of my hands while I was trying to pay for the taxi.”
“You’re joking! The bloody swines! What happened? Where are they?” her mother replied and, within seconds, her parents were both outside, searching up and down the street.
“You’re too late; he’ll be long gone. There was only one of them; some kid on a bike. He was off like lighting.”
“Well, what did he look like?” asked Joan. “We might be able to find out who he is.”
“I don’t know. I only saw the back of him. Young, a teenager, I think. He had a dark hoody on, navy or black, and jeans. That’s about all I saw. It all happened so fast.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Reet. That’s all you need when you’ve only just got here!”
“I know,” Rita replied, her voice shaking. “It’s gonna be loads of hassle … I’ll have to cancel all my cards … I’ll need to find out the bank’s phone number …”
“Can’t trust no-one these days,” interrupted her father, Ged, who was hovering behind her mother looking shifty. That wasn’t unusual for him, but he looked even more shifty than usual. Rita released her mother and gave him a tentative hug while her mother greeted Yansis.
When they had spent a few minutes in the hallway discussing the theft, Joan said to Rita and Yansis, “Come on you two, I’ll make you a cuppa; I bet you could do with one after that. Let’s get in and have a sit down.”
Although tiny at 5ft 1, Rita had a big presence. Her towering heels increased her height, and her liberal application of make-up enhanced her moderately attractive features. She had dark brown hair, which she wore in a fashionable textured bob, and was dressed casual but smart.
Leaving their cases in the hallway, they headed towards the living room. Rita was the first to step into the room and stopped short at the sight of a large, mean-looking black man sprawled across the sofa. Spliff in one hand, can of lager in the other, he was resting against some cushions with his legs stretched out across the coffee table. As Rita entered the room, he took a long hard drag on the spliff as though challenging her. Then he slowly exhaled the smoke, his face forming a sneer, as he examined her in minute detail.
Rita noted the scar that cut across his forehead, the primed muscles and the abundance of tattoos. She saw the letters H-A-T-E tattooed across the fingers of his right hand. ‘Why did these self-professed hard men always have to make a statement with this LOVE and HATE tattoo thing? It was so corny and pathetic,’ she thought.
When he lifted his can of lager, she glimpsed the tattoo spread across the fingers of his other hand, expecting to see the letters L-O-V-E. However, disconcertingly, that also bore the letters H-A-T-E.
There was a break in the tension as Rita’s father dashed to her side, “This is Leroy, Jenny’s boyfriend,” he gushed.
Rita already knew that her sister, Jenny, had a boyfriend, but she didn’t know much about him. Despite her automatic reservations, she tried to appear friendly as she said, “Hello, Leroy, pleased to meet you.”
Leroy briefly nodded his head in response then continued to take drags of his spliff while Rita’s mother, Joan, and Yansis entered the room. When Joan introduced Yansis, he received the same cool appraisal. During this time Leroy remained seated and didn’t attempt to converse with them.
Rita suspected that her parents were equally aware of the uncomfortable atmosphere created by Leroy. This was borne out by her mother’s waffling, “Rita and Yansis have got a restaurant in Greece but they’ve come back to stay for a while, haven’t you love? It’s alright though; Yansis has got a big family so there’s plenty of people to look after the place for them while they’re over here. You’re looking well our Rita. You’ve got a lovely tan and I love that leather jacket. Was the flight alright? You two must be shattered. Let me make you that cup of tea …”
“Where’s Jenny?” asked Rita.
“She’s just nipped to the loo. She’ll be down in a minute,” said Joan. “Oh, here she is now.”
Rita turned round and rushed towards her sister, but stopped when she noticed Jenny’s swollen stomach, “Jesus, when did that happen? You might have bloody well told me!”
“How about congratulations?” said Jenny.
“Sorry, it’s just … it’s a lot to take in. There’s been a lot of changes since I was home. Yeah, congratulations. I’m pleased for you; you look well.”
Rita gave Jenny’s arm a gentle squeeze, attempting to hide her mounting levels of unease, and surreptitiously flashing Yansis a concerned look. Apart from the pregnancy, Jenny had changed in other ways in the few years since Rita had last seen her.
Like Rita, she was tiny, although taller than Rita at 5ft 2, but there was now a maturity about her. She was an attractive girl and pregnancy suited her, bringing with it a radiant glow.
“I’m sorry, Reet,” said Joan. “We were going to tell you, but it didn’t sound right in a letter and I never seemed to find time on the phone. You know how it is phoning there. It costs a bloody fortune, and I’ve no sooner said hiya than the pips are going. Anyway, I knew you’d be coming home soon so I thought I’d tell you face to face.”
“Soon! She’s about five bloody months gone.”
“Twenty two weeks actually,” verified Jenny.
“What’s the big deal?” asked Leroy.
Rita turned to see a look of undisguised aggression cross Leroy’s face, and decided not to pursue the matter.
“Anyway, are we having that cuppa, Mam, or what?” she asked.
While Joan went to make the drinks, everybody else sat down on the three piece suite. Her father, Ged, took an armchair and Jenny settled herself next to Leroy. Rita felt uncomfortable sitting next to them, so she sat on the remaining armchair and invited Yansis to sit on the arm. They told Jenny about the theft of Rita’s purse, and she seemed concerned, but Leroy showed no emotion.
Apart from the discomfort of sharing her parents’ living room with the hostile Leroy, Rita was bothered about the sleeping arrangements. Her parents’ house was a three bedroom modern terraced on a council housing estate. It had two decent sized bedrooms and a further bedroom that was only big enough for a single bed. She had hoped that she and Yansis could share one of the large bedrooms, and that Jenny wouldn’t mind staying in the single room temporarily. In fact, as her parents had been aware of her imminent arrival, she hoped they had already arranged this. Rita therefore broached the subject when her mother returned carrying a tray of drinks.
“You have a seat here, Mam. Me and Yansis will take our cases up and, if you want, we can fetch a couple of chairs from the kitchen. Are we in the front bedroom?”
“The front bedroom’s already taken by me and Jenny,” growled Leroy, with an air of menace, which took Rita by surprise.
She turned to her mother, “Are we in the small bedroom then?”
Rita was trying to visualise how she and Yansis would manage with a single bed in a room that measured no more than 10 foot by 6 foot, but she figured it would have to do. After all, her sister was pregnant so it was only fair that she and Leroy had more space.
As she was mulling over the possibilities, Joan replied, “Ooh, that’s something I need to have a word with you about, Rita. There isn’t a bed in that room anymore. We didn’t see a need for one after you’d left. It’s been such a long time since you’ve been home so we use it for storage now. You’re welcome to the settee, though, and I can fix you up with a sleeping bag, if you like, so Yansis can kip down next to you.”
“You’re joking! We could be here for months. How can we manage for months on the settee and the floor? And where will we put our stuff?”
“You ought to be bloody grateful we’re putting you up. We’ve not seen hide nor hair of you for donkey’s years,” Ged chipped in.
Rita was about to retaliate; she and her father hadn’t always seen eye to eye, but Yansis changed the subject in order to defuse the situation.
“It’s no problem. We can find somewhere to stay, Rita. Manchester is a big city. There must be lots of hotels.”
“That’ll cost us a bloody fortune,” Rita replied before a thought occurred to her. “Oh don’t worry, we’ll find somewhere.”
A few minutes of uncomfortable silence followed before the phone rang in the dining room and Joan went to answer it.
“Leroy’s expecting an important business call,” boasted Ged.
“Oh, what is your business?” asked Yansis.
“A bit of everything, this and that,” came the guarded reply.
“Leroy, it’s for you,” announced Joan, on returning to the living room.
At last, Leroy prised himself from the sofa to take the call.
“So what exactly is ‘this and that’?” asked Rita, once Leroy had left the room.
“Leroy’s a business man, and a well-respected one too. He deals a lot in imports and, before you go sounding your mouth off, he’s been very good to us,” said Ged.
“I haven’t said anything,” Rita snapped back.
It was obvious she wouldn’t gain anything by continuing to probe, so Rita cleared the finished cups from the living room instead. Although it gave her an excuse to get away from her father’s goading, she was also curious about Leroy’s ‘important business call’.
The kitchen of her parents’ home was next to the dining room, and while she carried the cups through to the kitchen and placed them in the sink, Rita strained to hear Leroy’s conversation. He seemed angry about something, and his voice was becoming louder. She was glad she wasn’t the person on the other end of the phone. As Leroy became increasingly agitated, she stopped what she was doing, realising that it might be best if he didn’t realise she was there. She crept towards the dining room where she could overhear what he was saying more clearly.
“I want the fuckin’ goods. They should have been here yesterday. I’ve got customers waiting, and if I stop supplying, they’ll get them from someone else. I can’t afford to have them taking over my turf.”
There was then a brief pause while Leroy listened to the person on the other end of the line, before adding, “No, the usual, H.”
The call ended abruptly and Rita panicked. If Leroy saw her in the kitchen, he would surmise that she had overheard his conversation. Then she heard him make another call. He had calmed down a little by now so she couldn’t hear everything he was saying, just brief snippets … “It’s sorted … promised tomorrow … It’s sweet … should be a few days … be sorted then … somewhere to store them.”
Rita could sense that the call was ending, so she ran quietly from the kitchen to the living room, on the pretext of checking for more cups. She made sure she was still there when Leroy returned to the living room. Once she was satisfied that he had noted her presence in the living room, she made her way back to the kitchen to finish what she had been doing.
When Rita walked in the living room again, the atmosphere hadn’t improved much. While her mother was asking Yansis about life in Greece, her father was discussing some sort of business deal with Leroy. Rita couldn’t hear everything because of her mother’s chatter, but she got the impression that Leroy was providing goods for her father to sell somewhere. From the tone of the conversation, she could tell that her father held Leroy in high regard. Meanwhile, Jenny stayed silent, snuggled up to Leroy while passively observing.
There was something about the whole scene that didn’t feel right to Rita and, after a short while, she made her excuses and prepared to leave. While she and Yansis were in the hallway saying their goodbyes, her mother announced, “I hope you get fixed up love.”
“We’ll sort something out,” said Rita.
“Well let me know if you don’t. Our Jenny will be getting her council house next week, and Leroy will be moving in with her, so we should have some room then.”
“Now you tell me.”
“Ooh, sorry love. I forgot with all the excitement.”
“Good luck with it, Jenny. I hope it all goes well.”
“Thanks,” Jenny replied.
Rita hugged her mother and sister, said goodbye to her father and shouted goodbye through to the living room for the benefit of Leroy, who remained seated. Although she assured her mother that they would be back if they didn’t find somewhere to stay, she noticed the look that flashed across her father’s face. She knew that as long as Leroy was around, she and Yansis would be about as welcome as a dose of flu.
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“A Gangster’s Grip” is the second book in The Riverhill Trilogy. The first book, “Slur” is available from Amazon in both Kindle and print formats. I will be publishing further details of how to obtain a copy of “A Gangster’s Grip” once it becomes available.
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A Gangster’s Grip – Cover Reveal

My second novel, “A Gangster’s Grip” is now only a few weeks away from publication, so I’m excited to reveal the book cover and book blurb. The cover has once again been designed by the talented Chris Howard who can be contacted at: blondesign@gmail.com.

Gangster's Grip V4

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When Rita returns to Manchester after a few years away, she doesn’t expect to find a spliff smoking, beer swilling thug called Leroy firmly ensconced on her parents’ sofa. Rita is horrified to discover he is her sister Jenny’s new boyfriend, and she senses trouble.

The more Rita finds out about Leroy, the more she mistrusts him. As she uncovers the truth about his shady dealings, she becomes anxious about Jenny’s safety and is desperate to lure her away from him. Rita’s mettle is tested as she tries to protect her sister while battling with personal health concerns.

But it’s worse than Rita could ever have suspected. Through her association with Leroy, Jenny is about to become embroiled in the most dangerous phase in Manchester’s recent history.

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“A Gangster’s Grip” is the second part of The Riverhill Trilogy, and is the sequel to my first novel, “Slur”, which is available from Amazon. The new cover for “Slur”, showing the Riverhill subtitle, has been uploaded to Amazon and will be displayed shortly.  I intend to publish the third and final part of The Riverhill Trilogy in early summer 2016.

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