Our guest author today is Owen Mullen
By Erika M Szabo
By Erika M Szabo
A psychological thriller, suspense
The Baxter house in the Lowther Hills, in Scotland, has been on the estate agent’s books for decades. Dilapidated and near-derelict, nobody is interested in it. But, for one potential buyer, the remote location and rat-infested cellar are perfect.
For the first year, Mackenzie’s marriage to Derek was ideal. But Derek believes she is having an affair and when she realizes her husband is becoming controlling, she knows she’s made a terrible mistake.
But Mackenzie has a drinking problem so when she threatens to leave Derek and then disappears no one believes she has been abducted.
DS Geddes is handed the case but isn’t convinced anything criminal has taken place until a startling development comes to light.
Has Mackenzie been abducted or has she simply left her husband?
And who has bought The Baxter house and for what purpose?
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:
Mackenzie thought about yesterday. The guy in the black coat had freaked her out. She hadn’t told Derek. What was the point? She’d intended to talk to Alec about it and changed her mind. It had been such a wonderful evening she hadn’t wanted to spoil it with something that would probably turn out to be about nothing. When she got home she’d gone on the Internet and researched stalkers, surprised to discover how common they were. Most reports were about men stalking women although –occasionally –it was the other way round. She took comfort from the fact that thousands of people –male and female –had had the same experience as her. Occasionally the stalker turned out to be some jilted lover or former husband. Often the culprit was a mentally unstable stranger; sad and pathetic and harmless. Mackenzie made a decision to focus on the positive: this was the third day she hadn’t had any alcohol. The miracle was she didn’t crave it. The first twenty-four hours had been rough –her head ached, she felt ill and whenever she remembered the show she’d made of herself –of both of them –at Adele’s, she thought she was going to be sick. Her sister was due an apology, no doubt about that, except Mackenzie wasn’t ready to face her. Not yet. The second day was better, only shame remained. Even in such a short time clarity had replaced confusion and she was certain she was doing the right thing. Derek couldn’t possibly be happy. God knows she wasn’t. Hurting him wasn’t what she wanted but he needed to accept the marriage was over, that she didn’t love him. Opposites attracted and so it was with them. The attention of a man, older, wiser, and more worldly than she could ever hope to be, had been flattering. Being with him made her feel special and protected in a way she’d never known. Other men were immature boys in comparison. Derek had been places and done things. Had adventures. For Christ’s sake, even Adele liked him. One morning Mackenzie woke up and knew she’d fallen for him. Within months they were engaged. She would’ve married right away, he’d insisted they slow down. If there were second thoughts, he’d said, now was the time. Once they’d taken their vows she would be his and it would be too late. His one condition –that they hold back physically until after they were married –had taken her aback. She’d promised to respect his wish, a promise she’d broken on the couch in his living room one night after they’d shared a second bottle of wine, most of it drunk by her. Slowly, completely, he’d dominated her until she was afraid she might suffocate with the intensity of it. Afterwards, Derek held her in his arms and told stories of how wonderful it would be when she was his wife. Those stories came true and lasted a year before Mackenzie realised the mistake she’d made.
It began with disagreements over inconsequential things which grew heated, difficult to put behind them. And the sex, so fabulous in the beginning, became infrequent, brief and unfulfilling. Derek found fault with her to the extent she couldn’t please him even with the simplest tasks. It was obvious he was as disappointed in her as she was with him. The generosity he’d shown in the beginning dissipated, replaced by accusations she didn’t understand. Mackenzie had managed to keep her drinking to acceptable levels when she met Derek. For a long time, he didn’t see her drunk. But as their relationship deteriorated, she found herself reaching for her old friend. And her alcoholism was where she’d left it; it hadn’t gone anywhere. Giving in to it was easier than confronting the truth. The avenue was deserted except for a group of young girls in the distance, playing a game. It had been a sunny day and, on most windows, the blinds were drawn against the glare. Who knew what went on behind them? Mackenzie was leaving a sham marriage. It wouldn’t be the only one in this respectable suburb. She dismissed the thought. Other people’s relationships were their business. There was nothing to be gained by speculating. She was headed for a new life and freedom and, in case she forgot, hardly in a position to cast the first stone. Her step quickened when she saw the tail-end of the car at the corner. Without meaning to, she smiled. Some women might disapprove of what she was doing. Others would support her, call her brave. Bravery had nothing to do with it. She had no choice, and, for the first time in a long time, Mackenzie was happy. She didn’t pay attention to the white van at the kerb or register the sound of someone behind her. When she did, it was too late. A hand closed over her face and a sweet smell filled her nostrils. She felt herself being dragged backwards before she sank into unconsciousness. The rear doors of the van closed. The driver got in and drove away. No one saw. Like a leaf falling to the ground, it went unnoticed. Mackenzie Crawford’s new life would have to wait.
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