As some of you may know, I’m running a competition offering people the chance to name a character in my upcoming novel, Nightingale, which will be available from Bold Strokes Books in 2014 and a stay in one of the Tipi’s on my campsite, Deepdale, on the North Norfolk Coast, UK. For more information about the competition
You don’t have to be at the draw to enter–but it would be lovely to see you there if you can make it. And if you don’t think you would be able to get to the UK…well that’s okay too. Some people have asked about donating that part of the prize if they can’t. Which is totally fine.
So, I thought I’d give you a little…teaser…to see what’s brewing with the story.
Hope you enjoy…..
Charlie took a deep breath, the aroma of sun scorched earth, spices, and small farm animals filled the air. Goats bleated their greetings to anyone who passed, and chickens pecked at the ground. It never ceased to amaze her. She was less than an hour from Islamabad—a bustling metropolis—and she felt she had stepped into a different country. The small Pakistani village was home to no more than a hundred people on the edge of the Peshawar plain, the desert encroached on one side and the mountains loomed on the other, and Charlie had the feeling that the village had stolen the land it was sitting on. Everything had a temporary feel to it. As though mountain or dessert would soon reclaim it and cast the villagers out in search of another place to settle.
She climbed out of the Jeep and pulled the scarf closer to her face. She hated wearing it; the way her sweat seeped into the fabric in the heat of the fast fading sun. As much as she hated it she knew it was a small price to pay to be able to accomplish her work.
She knocked on the door and waited. She could hear voices behind the wood, a child sniffling, and the soft shuffle of slippered feet across the floor. The hinges creaked as the door swung open and a bearded face appeared.
“Yes?” His English was thickly accented and he looked at her curiously. It had been a long time since Charlie had questioned why people never addressed her in Arabic—her blue eyes and the inevitable escaping blonde hair a certain give away to her western roots.
“Mr. Malik, I’m Charlie Porter. We have spoken on the phone several times over the past few weeks.”
“The woman from the Embassy?” A frown marred his face, the deep set eyes turned wary, and the crinkles at the corners deepened.
Charlie prepared herself. “Yes.”
“I have nothing to say to you.” He began to close the door and she quickly held out her hand to halt its progress.
“Sir, I have a proposition for you. Would you allow me to speak with you?” Charlie looked him in the eye as he stopped pushing, she knew that this was the final resolution for this case, and a child’s future rested in her hands.
“You want to take my daughter from me.” His voice was gruff, scratchy almost.
“No, Sir, I want to make your life a little easier.” She held up a newspaper folded into quarters and a paragraph was circled in red. “I want to give you a fresh start.”