And we're back! Look how pretty my Irish lovely looks on his gorgeous new cover! So I've spruced Playing Dead up, just four days before the end of Women in Horror month, but still in time for the celebrations. If you missed this the first time around, download a sample and see what you've missed. I still blame the heatstroke in Pompeii for the storyline, but it remains one close to my heart. I'm all about healing and revival and starting again. Everything that a man with a brain tumour being prodded by a cheeky ghost from 70s London doesn't have a cat in hell's chance of getting. In an alternative universe, these two met in the same time period and are doing wonderful, amazing, life changing things together. In my universe, one's dead and the other's dying. Sounds joyous, doesn't it? Trust me...
Playing Dead on Amazon
Gearoid McCardle is going to die in peace, if it’s the last thing he does. With his family in Ireland and the tumour that’s plagued him since childhood edging him to his final days on earth, he retreats to his house in South London for dignity and quiet. Instead, he is plagued and disturbed by the ghost of Aoife Boyake, a restless and strangely animated spirit who was brutally murdered in his home forty years before. Any notion of peace whittles away as he battles with not only his mortality but his intense and growing feelings for Aoife. Far from pursuing peace and quiet, Gearoid begins a fight for justice. Justice for someone who, like him, has no future.
Sitting down, he turned on the TV and opened the pizza box.
“That looks nice.”
Gearoid paused and glanced to his right. A woman was practically hovering over him, bringing with her a draft of cold.
“Can you leave please?” he asked.
“Whoa, whoa. Wait. You can see me?”
“Really? See me?” she repeated, waving her fingers before his face. Gearoid leaned away from the waft of cold air.
“Yes! Now, please see your way out?”
She tried to pout full, plum-tinted glossy lips and failed miserably with the smile that was hovering on her mouth. “We’re having dinner, why am I going to leave? Especially when you can actually see me!”
Gearoid fought to ignore her; he’d done it before with ones just like her and they’d left him alone for years. All of them. He turned the volume up on the TV, but she edged closer to him.
“You can’t eat all that yourself.”
Fine, he thought. There’s always the other way. “You’re dead. I can’t help you. Go away.”
“All the Irish people I’ve ever met have been so nice to me and my family. There had to be an exception.” She lay down on the bed and crossed her legs at the ankle. He could fully admit that she was the prettiest to ever approach him, with her smooth, coffee-coloured skin contrasting beautifully with the crushed velvet, emerald green playsuit she wore. Her attitude was all Pam Grier but her hair was Vonetta McGee’s softness in big brushed bouncing waves. Gearoid lost his appetite. He’d been so practised at not being able to see these things, he had no inclination for it to start all over again. So he stared at her. Pointedly. She didn’t move. She only stared back, blinking large dark eyes the colour of iced tea.
“What?” she asked, that smile of hers a whisper from appearing. “It’s because I look normal, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s because I want you to go away.” No one’s that pretty, he thought irritably.
“Maybe you should just eat,” she said, reaching up and touching his temple. The coolness in her touch was a blessing. Even with the morphine he could feel the pressure on his skull, but after the tips of her fingers grazed his skin, the force on his head lessened. “I’ll come back after. Men are always in better moods after they eat.” She grinned at him, nudging the box to him with her thigh.
He glanced back to her but she was gone. There was only the barest indent in his duvet. Oh come on! This wasn’t happening again. He needed his last days to be in peace, not hounded by the very same people he would be one of shortly.
His eyelids fluttered open. Why am I under my bed? Five minutes ago, I was asleep. How and what the hell? The same girl as before was lying next to him, her face contorted in terror.
“The fuck’s going on?” he asked gruffly.
She slapped her hand over his mouth. Her palm was warm against his lips. All right, this stopped being amusing a minute ago. This was different. Too different. She lifted her hand and pressed a shaking finger to her mouth. A pair of booted feet came into view. The bedroom light was flicked on above them.
They both cringed as the bed frame was kicked, shaking above them. The light flicked off again. The girl turned onto her back and breathed out. Gearoid’s frown deepened as music sounded from below them.
“Why are you hiding?” Gearoid asked.
“You don’t understand. I–”
She screamed as she was swiftly drawn out of his sight. Rolling out from under the bed, he saw her being dragged out of view. Before he could chase after her the door was slammed in his face. The music sounded even louder, as if it was being blasted through speakers inside his eardrums. Don’t trouble the water... the female voices sang in harmony. He fought with the door knob as she screamed for help. Suddenly silence cloaked the room. The door opened with a click and he cautiously stepped into the hallway.
There she lay, dark eyes wide open, a tear streaking over her cheek. Gearoid knelt beside her, covering the gaping wound in her neck with both his hands. Dampness at his knees made him realise he was crouching in her blood.
“Who did this to you?” he asked.
She made a gurgling sound in her throat, clutching at his wrists. For a moment, she traced the Celtic tattoos that weaved over his left arm in inky black ropes. Her blood pumped warmly between his fingers even as he desperately tried to stop it. Her hands slowly slipped from his arms and the light in her eyes began to fade.
“Wait, wait, wait!”
Before her eyes even closed, her body was dragged away from him. “Stop!” he yelled so hard, his throat pinched. Cold sank into his cheek. He opened his eyes, breathing heavily.
“Did you see?” she asked, trailing the back of her hand over his jaw.
“I’m sorry you died like that. But I can’t help you.” He closed his eyes.
“Yes, you can.”
He breathed out slowly, her scream still echoing in his ears. “Then tell me who killed you and I’ll tell the police.”
She laughed. “You know it doesn’t work like that.”
“Why would you know the rules better than I do?”
“I’ve been around longer than you,” she retorted, turning onto her side.
“How old were you when you died, Aoife?”
She wrapped her arms around his bare bicep and snuggled closer. “Twenty-eight.”
“How long ago?”
“Forty years.” Her smile was sad. “So like I said. I’ve been around longer than you.”
Having her so close was like leaning against a freezing cold radiator. “I’m the wrong person to help you.” I’m dying seemed inappropriate to say to a ghost.
“You’re perfect.” She touched her lips to the corner of his. “You’re the first person to ever see me.”
The cold faded and he knew she was gone. He sat up and glanced at the time. 7.23am. She was wrong. He couldn’t help, he didn’t have the time. If he opened the gate for one, he’d open the doors for all of them.