Today I’m taking part in this blog tour with an extract from chapter two of the book. Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour.
Blurb: Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing
on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?
Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press furore quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.
While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is also isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world…
Dave walked to the door, checking the little box was still in his pocket, aware he was possibly about to make a huge mistake, but unable to step aside from the path he had decided upon.
A marriage proposal would do it, right? Clarify Amelie’s mind as to what she wanted. He couldn’t bear the thought of life without her, and he was all but certain she only needed a nudge to settle things in her own mind once and for all. And he needed to risk that nudge because the uncertainty was driving him mad.
To be fair, he was lucky to have her.
The Amelie Hart shared a home with him. They’d met in the north of Scotland, up by Loch Morlich. He’d been there on holiday on his own. Nearing the end of a week he’d devoted to learning about forestry in an estate nearby. It was a job he’d long wanted to do, but Dad insisted he go to university and get the required qualification to join the family accountancy firm. It hadn’t stopped his longing to be in among the other, more important to the planet, green stuff, so he’d jumped at the chance he was offered while attending a stuffy champagne reception for some equally stuffy law firm. One of the partners had just invested in an estate ‘up there’ – he’d waved his hand lazily, struggling to remember the name of the place, as if the entirety of the Highlands of Scotland hung in the air just above his head. Dave perked up at the mention of it and said he’d always wanted to work on the land, and it was arranged. A week’s work experience. He remembered the feeling of elation, and the lawyer’s look of incredulity.
Amelie had been walking between one of the lodges on the estate and the local shop, at a time when she had disappeared from public view. Romantic cliché alert, they would always say as they recounted this to new acquaintances: she’d dropped one of her gloves, he raced after her to return the errant item.
Their eyes met.
And hearts collided. It helped that he had no idea who she was. Most of his time was spent at work, and what free time he did have he was countering the effects of sitting hunched over a computer by training down at the local rugby club, so the world of film and TV celebrity completely passed him by.
Must have been all that fresh air. Why else would he have taken one look at this amazing woman and asked her if she wanted to go and see – the first thing he thought of – the local reindeer herd? Amazingly, she said yes, and the rest was history.
But the most recent part of that history was worrying. There were too many times when he entered a room and she’d hurriedly finish the conversation she was having on her phone. A phone that was more than ever stuck to the side of her head. The way she covered up whenever she came out of the shower, whereas nudity had never bothered her before. Then there were the long silences, when the air between them had always been filled with words and laughter.
He’d asked her if she needed to get back into that world.
‘It’s not all glamour, you know,’ she’d said as she tucked a strand of flaxen hair behind a perfect ear. Dave could watch her all day, just doing simple things like that. He’d joke with her; it was because she was half French – full breeds just don’t have that exoticism he’d say. There was an effortless grace to her that ordinary humans lacked; there was a good reason the camera loved her.
‘It’s beyond boring. And stressful. Worrying whether people will like your hair, your dress or even the bloody shade of lipstick you’re wearing. It’s exhausting.’ No, she went on to say, her charity work and her yoga were where her life was at, for the foreseeable.
Exhausting it may have been, but Dave knew Amelie well enough to see that whatever she had in her life at this point, no matter how much she protested, wasn’t enough for her.
And worryingly, he was no longer sure that he was enough for her anymore.
The letterbox creaked open and a voice boomed, ‘Mr Robbins. It’s the police. Will you please open up?’
About the author:
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing
Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers.
His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines, After He Died and In the Absence of Miracles soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.