Apologies first as this post should have been sent out on the 7th April.
Firstly I wish to thank Graeme Williams for inviting me on the Blog Tour for Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry. Each day you will see a little more about the book, including extracts, today I have chapter 2 from the book to share with you. Please follow the other amazing blogs on this tour and find out more.
ABOUT THE BOOK
TWO STRANGERS. DANGEROUS SECRETS. THEIR ONLY CHANCE IS EACH OTHER.
Cait’s job is to transport women to safety. Out of respect, she never asks any questions. Like most of the women, Rebecca is trying to escape something.
But what if Rebecca’s secrets put them both in danger? There’s a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it’s like to be followed.
And there is someone right behind them, watching their every move…
*Named one of the New York Times top 10 crime novels of 2020*
NINE MONTHS EARLIER
Cait rolled off the bed and stumbled into the bathroom. The bulb had blown, so she had to feel her way to the toilet in the dark, careful not to hit her head on the sloped wall. She could hear his soft snores over the sound of her piss hitting the bowl. Good. She hadn’t woken him up.
When she was finished, she stood up carefully and turned to look at herself in the mirror. Her eyes had adjusted to the light now, and she could see the dark hollows of her eyes and a glint of teeth in the reflection. She pressed her forehead to the glass. What the fuck are you doing here? she asked herself, but she didn’t have an answer. The snores continued.
It was Alyssa’s fault. She was the one who had insisted they go to Cedar Street for her birthday, even though the place was a hellhole filled with drunk college kids and tourists looking for an “authentic experience.” She had whined about it for weeks until Caitlyn finally threw in the towel, which was exactly what Alyssa knew she would do, if only to shut her up. Alyssa had squealed and thrown her arms around Cait’s neck when she agreed, and seeing her friend happy almost made up for the prospect of one of her precious nights off being spent dodging frat boys sloshing tequila over her sneakers.
What could she say? When it came to her friends, she was a sucker. That’s what her mother said when she’d come home from school having traded her brand- new silver pencil case for Melissa Brandino’s beat- up old red one after Melissa convinced her that silver matched her polished Mary Janes better than Cait’s beat- up Keds. “Oh, Caity,” her mother had said, shaking her head and sighing. “You’re too nice sometimes.”
In fairness, it had been a long time since someone had described her as too nice.
So they went to Cedar Street, and sure enough, within ten minutes someone had spilled tequila on her brand- new Nikes and she’d watched a girl projectile- vomit onto the door of the bathroom stall. “Remind me why we’re here again?” she’d said to Alyssa, but Alyssa was too busy showing off her Birthday Girl badge to a bunch of tech bros to notice. Cait slinked off to the bar and ordered herself a double Maker’s, neat, and tipped it down her throat in one burning gulp. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That was when she spotted Jake striding across the courtyard, every pair of female eyes in a twenty- foot radius trailing after him. Hers, too.
She knew about him already. A guy who came into the bar was a music journalist for the Digg, and he’d been singing Jake’s praises over one too many Sierras the other night, saying he was the next big thing. She was curious, so when she finished her shift, she went home and looked him up on Spotify. Country music wasn’t exactly her jam, despite— or maybe because of— growing up deep in the heart of Texas, but even she could admit he had something special. His voice was a low growl over the delicate guitar riffs, deep and compelling and sexy as all hell.
She’d checked on Alyssa, who now had her tongue shoved firmly down the throat of one of the tech bros, before ducking out of the bar and following Jake a few blocks to the Pearl on Fourth Street. She wasn’t sure why she was doing it— she didn’t make a habit out of following strange men— but something about seeing him like that had made it feel a little like fate, as corny as that sounded to her.
She stayed in the back as he took the stage and went through his sound check. Given the level of drunkenness she’d witnessed at Cedar Street, she figured it was well past midnight, but when she checked the time on her phone, it was just a little past ten o’clock. She signaled the bartender for a beer and settled her back against
the bar as he strummed the opening chords.
The Pearl was relatively empty— it was a Monday night, after all— but the place started filling up quickly, drawn by the sound of his voice. She was drawn, too, and soon found herself in front of the stage, swaying her hips to the music and watching sweat roll down his face from the lights.
They locked eyes, and she saw a little smirk flash across his lips. Cocky. She liked that. She kept dancing, feeling his eyes roaming across her body, seeing the desire start to flare. She swerved her hips and ran her fingers through her hair. You’re mine, she thought, and the power thrilled her.
He finished the set and climbed down off the stage and the inevitable happened: the sweaty make- out session in the back and the fumbling cab ride to his apartment, which was still very much the place of a struggling musician and not one about to make the big time.
The sex started out routine enough— she was on top for a while, and then he flipped her over onto her back. It was good, though there was something about the way he focused on a spot just slightly above her head rather than looking her in the eye that made her think she could be anyone, really, and he wouldn’t care. She didn’t care, either, particularly— this was sex, not a betrothal— but she wouldn’t have minded him paying a little more attention to getting her off.
And then, just when she thought he was about to finish, he put his hands around her neck and tightened them so she almost— but not quite— lost consciousness. She struggled at first, clawing at his back, gripping his hands and trying to pry them away from her neck, but the struggle only seemed to excite him more, and the lack of oxygen to her brain made her weaker and weaker until she finally went limp. He let go long enough to shove his cock in her mouth and call her a fucking whore as he came, and then he kissed her on the cheek— not the mouth, not after she’d swallowed— and rolled over and went to sleep.
She took her clothes into the living room and, body huddled from the air- conditioning, pulled on her jeans and hooked her bra and slipped her shirt over her head, keeping her head very still as she did, so as not to strain her sore neck. There would be bruises in the morning, bruises she’d dot carefully with concealer to avoid answering the inevitable questions— jokes, more likely— from the guys at the bar.
He hadn’t asked if she was into that sort of thing. He’d clearly just assumed she would be or hadn’t cared if she wasn’t. So much for the sensitive- singer- songwriter bullshit. He was just another straight- up asshole in a long line of assholes who took what they wanted without bothering to ask. She was sick and tired of it. She remembered the music journalist back at the bar saying Jake was just about to land a big tour, that he’d be a national name in a couple of months. No wonder he thought he could get away with this kind of shit.
This time, she decided, it was going to cost him.
She ordered a Lyft from the curb outside his apartment. Nine minutes away: plenty of time. She pulled a notebook and a pen out of her bag and made a few notes. By the time the car arrived, she was halfway to writing the article that would change her life.
About the Author
I’m American and live in London with my husband and our two excessively fuzzy cats, Roger and BoJack. I spend much of my time reading, writing, running along the Thames and trying unsuccessfully to remove cat hair from the furniture.
Facebook: Jessica Barry