Thursday, 10 December 2015

Excerpt: Follow Me by Angela Clarke






#FF – Follow Friday
04:59
Saturday 31 October

Freddie slowed her pace and rubbed her eyes, hoping her mascara would smudge. Could you think yourself pale? One arm across her stomach, she half fell through Espress-oh’s door. Dan and Milena looked up.

‘You okay?’ Milena put down the hot panini tongs.

‘I know why I lost my temper. Not feeling great.’ In the corner of her eye she saw Nasreen and her colleagues exit the station and head to an arriving police van. Dan’s face was a hesitant scowl.

‘Pretty sure it’s just my period, but I’ve been sick, everywhere…’

Three…two…

‘Sick!’ Dan bowled toward her.

‘You don’t think it’s like that norovirus case you told us about from the Kuala Lumpur branch?’ she slurred into his panicked face. Dan was surprisingly efficient when under pressure. He had her, and her coat, out the cafe in under a minute.

‘Not sure I can walk.’ Freddie bent double, as Dan tried to stuff her apron under her jacket. He kept glancing round, as if a health and safety inspector might leap out from behind one of the trees lining the station approach. Beads of sweat ran in orange rivulets over his forehead.

‘I’ll get you a taxi!’ he stage whispered.

‘I’m broke.’

‘Here!’ Dan pulled notes from his wallet and thrust them at her. ‘We have to get you away from here. I mean home.’ He stuck his arm out as a black cab drove toward them and scooped her into the back. ‘Dalston, she lives in Dalston.’

Dan, thankful disaster had been averted, watched as the taxi disappeared past the lights. Freddie saw him take his sanitizer bottle from his pocket and squirt his hands. You could never be too safe. Inside the cab, Freddie pulled her phone from her pocket and followed the flashing Nasreen Cudmore as she leapfrogged across London. ‘Actually, mate, looks like we’re heading toward The City, no, past that, Canary Wharf. Can you take me there? Cheers.’ Bright coloured lights danced across the Thames, as the night sky airbrushed out the churning grey filth of the river. Freddie didn’t look up. She kept her eyes on the faceless silhouette that represented Nas. It had stopped. Had she lost connection? They wound past the glowing phallic towers of Canary Wharf. Cranes, anchors, and industrial cogs – ghostly reminders of the docks’ past – punctuated the new gated developments covering the area. They were almost upon the symbol. Freddie looked up as the flats gave way to rows of dockers’ cottages. ‘Think it’s the next right, mate.’ She needn’t have worried. The taxi turned into a street of Victorian houses ablaze with activity. A police van, that had presumably carried Nas and her team, was parked behind a police car blocking the road.

‘Can’t go any further than this, love,’ said the cabbie.

‘This is fine. Cheers.’ She passed Dan’s banknotes through the window. There was no sign of Nas, or any of her plain-clothes colleagues. ‘What road’s this, mate?’ Freddie pocketed the change. That’d get her a drink in the pub later.

‘Blackbird Road.’ The cabbie turned to reverse back the way they’d come.

A white tarpaulin canopy was erected over the entrance of one of the houses. Incident tape flapped in the breeze. People were stood in dressing gowns, and in coats over pyjamas, phones up taking photos.

Residents of a quiet Docklands street were shocked to discover that…What was this? Break-in? Domestic? A uniformed policeman, early fifties, balding, guarded the door. A white van was parked opposite. Freddie watched as a man plucked a plastic boiler suit from the back and pulled it over his trousers and shirt. Forensics.

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Follow Me is currently just 99p for Kindle. The paperback is published December 31, 2015.

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