As you may know, my new novel THE STALKING OF ROSA CZEKOV, is about a woman whose unexpected act of courage in a hostage situation brings unwelcome attention from a stalker. Her cousin Tyche, arrives in the small seaside town of Easthope on a mission to find the stalker.
She arrives back from a visit to London:
She was very hungry when she drove into Easthope; she’d stopped at a couple of cafés in London but had no appetite and only drunk water and coffee. She parked in the car park near the mill and strolled back to the High Street. It was nearly nine o’clock and she was weary but some sixth sense brushed cold fingers across the back of her neck, her skin crept and the hairs rose.
Someone was watching her; she could see their shape in the window of Murphy’s Bar, silhouetted against the lights. She crossed the road and went in. It was full but there was no sign of anyone she knew and the seats by the window were empty although a glass still half full of lager stood on one of the tables.
The bar was crowded with people waiting so she slipped past them and down the corridor leading to the toilets. There was no-one in the Ladies. Undeterred but quite frightened, Tyche barged into the Gents. She apologised to the startled guy who was peeing and backed out wondering if he had splashed his trousers, trying to be amused to keep the fear at bay. She went out of the door at the back and into a small yard. A gate in the back wall was open.
Go through the gate, she told herself, go through the gate. She was shivering although it was a mild evening but she went through the gate into the alley leading to the High Street. It was empty, but maybe the air moved slightly as if someone had hurried down and out and round the corner.
She was being fanciful now; she was very hungry and it was making her imagine things. She walked down the High Street and into Numero Cinque and ordered half a carafe of Montepulciano. She decided on linguine with a carbonara sauce and it was good, smooth and soothing and comforting… until she realised that standing in the doorway of the dress shop on the other side of the road was a figure, seemingly dressed in black.
Tyche’s appetite vanished but she forced herself to take a few more mouthfuls and to finish the half carafe. In the time it took to pay, the person had gone and Tyche couldn’t even say whether it had been a man or woman, young or old, just a shape in the dark.
She was seriously spooked now. This was living Rosa’s terror, this was experiencing what Rosa had felt. Shit. I am not going to give in, I am not going to take this.
She walked briskly up the road until it petered out into the last few shops. She crossed over and marched back. There was a car on the High Street, a car with tinted windows parked outside Murphy’s. She crossed over so she could pass it and she had a sense of someone within. She walked on.
Back to her car? Back to her car and drive like hell?
Bastard. She turned sharply and strode back to the parked car, a black beast. She wrenched open the driver’s door.
The driver of the car is on Tyche’s list of suspects and in this next excerpt she goes to a club with him, even though she might be in danger:
He knocked on a door set into a recess in the wall of what was once a warehouse. There was a tatty noticeboard at the side, Ray’s Place, it said and there were flyers for bands randomly attached. It was opened and he was greeted by name and they stepped into the warm stuffiness of a place full of people drinking and smoking.
A woman was singing, her voice harsh but in tune. The vestibule was not well lit, but the grill where he paid was shockingly neon bright. He took her arm as they went down the stairs, the carpet was rough beneath her feet and her heels caught a couple of times as if it was ripped. She could feel the warmth of his hand through her sleeve, she could smell his cologne, something expensive and sexy. What did he intend? What was his plan? She had to go with it, she couldn’t back off.
They sit to watch a singer who is performing:
Unexpectedly serious he asked “And why are you here, Tyche, in Easthope, I mean?”
“To find out the truth about Rosa.”
“What, whether she was a liar or not?”
“Do you think she was?”
“So you think she was stalked?” and was it you who haunted her, she silently added.
“It depends what you mean by stalked.”
“Someone who watches where he can’t be seen, or stands in doorways. Someone who sends letters he doesn’t sign, or phones and doesn’t speak. Someone who follows and waits and spies.”
A band kicked off loudly as Tyche was speaking and she wondered if he heard her words and if he did whether he thought they were aimed at him. The music was loud and funky.
“And when you find the truth?” he shouted.
“Then I’ll go,” she shouted back