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I have now finished and uploaded the 13th novel in the Mike Malone series to Amazon. I hope that No 13 is not going to prove unlucky. Read the first chapter below.

Have A Heart

April

He laid a hand across the pillow, shivering at its chill. His body had already been so ravaged by the pain of her leaving, he didn’t think that his suffering could get any worse. He was wrong. Waking up and finding a space where there had previously been warmth and love was devastating and the ache for her was excruciating. Why had she left? He had given her everything.

I never broke it off,” he whispered. “It’s not over.”

September

He couldn’t believe that it had been so easy to get into the house; a child could have picked the lock on the back door. Standing in the middle of the kitchen, he felt the silence holding its breath around him, waiting for him to make a move before deciding whether to shield him or reveal him.

It let him pass and the stairs whispered softly as he climbed them, allowing him safe passage. Finally, he arrived at her door and pushed it open. Her hair was caressing her cheek, hiding her beauty, but he resisted the temptation to sweep it behind her ears as he used to. It was enough to be in the same room as her again. Settling himself on the dressing table stool, he felt her gentle breaths wrap themselves around his shoulders. He was where he belonged. She might think that she didn’t need him but he would make her see that he was her salvation, her very life.

1

Tracey! Are you getting up or not? It’s seven o’clock!”

Tracey Dean pulled the duvet over her head and groaned. She hated Monday mornings, the start of another working week. Yes, she knew that she should be grateful that at least she had a job. Yes, she should be grateful that Matt Fairhead had thought of her, but honestly! Did she really want to sit in a stuffy office everyday taking bookings for taxis with only Matt’s boring, mousy little wife, Ellen, for company when she popped in to sort out the banking? But, she was stuck with it; there was very little else around at the moment and she needed the money. With hindsight, it had been a foolish thing to do, give up her decent building society job to go to Canada. Her parents had been dead against it, but as she had argued – if she didn’t do it while she was still relatively young, when would she do it? Added to that, she also needed to get away from a string of bad relationships. She kicked the duvet to the bottom of the bed and stretched out, catlike, and reached for Tom. Fingers and toes found nothing. Tracey opened her eyes and looked around. Where was he? She was certain that she had pulled him into bed with her when she had crawled in late last night after a couple of glasses of wine with Courtney. Well, maybe four or five glasses according to the pain above her eyes. Pulling herself up in bed, she realised that she was still wearing her charm bracelet. Frantically, she checked that all the charms were still there. How stupid of her not to take it off before she got into bed, they could easily have snagged on the duvet and been pulled off. She must have been drunk.

Her feet touched the carpet, its roughness scraping her into wakefulness. She still couldn’t find Tom; he hadn’t fallen out of bed during the night. Where was he? A breathless panic started to creep up on her and she shook herself. What on earth was she getting worked up about? He was a teddy bear, an old, well-loved teddy bear that her gran had given her when she had been born. Tom would be around somewhere, her Mum had probably stuffed him into a cupboard without thinking. She’d ask her when she got downstairs.

With a final sigh of regret that the weekend was now well and truly over, Tracey dragged herself off the bed and stumbled into the bathroom..

Pete Dean raised his head as his daughter entered the kitchen. “Morning, love. Tea’s made, your mum’s just seeing to the hens.”

Morning.” She kissed the top of her father’s head before grabbing a slice of toast off his plate.

You cheeky mare!” Pete laughed. “I suppose I’d better make some more.”

Yes, please.” Tracey poured herself a mug of tea and sat down watching Pete pop some more bread into the toaster. “Have you seen Tom?”

Haven’t seen him. It’s a nice morning, he’s probably decided to go out to let his fur down.” Pete laughed at his own joke and picked up an envelope which he threw onto the table. “This was on the doormat, though, this morning. Got yourself another admirer, love?”

As if.”

Tracey picked up the envelope and examined it. Who could be writing to her? The envelope had been typed and there was no stamp; it had been delivered by hand. Using her fingernail, she ripped it opened and pulled out a single sheet.

Wow! That’s lovely.” In her hand was a delicately drawn picture of a teddy bear. She looked at it more closely. It was Tom. Someone had drawn a picture of Tom, she’d recognise that raggedy ear anywhere.

That’s very nice.” Pete was looking over her shoulder at the drawing. “Who drew it?”

I’ve absolutely no idea,” she said quickly, “there’s no signature. Why on earth would someone have drawn Tom?”

The scream from the yard stopped Tracey Dean from saying any more. Before Pete Dean could move, his wife burst through the door.

Pete! Phone the police.”

What is it, love?” Pete Dean had already noted the lack of colour in his wife’s cheeks.

Someone has…” Shirley Dean noticed her daughter staring at her and froze.

Someone has what, love?” Pete was at his wife’s side, leading her to a chair.

The chicken house, Pete. Go to the chicken house and phone Mr Malone.”

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