In 1997 teenager Sophie White and her three girlfriends decide they want to lose their innocence before summer is over.
Roping in her childhood buddy Gareth and his mates, Sophie holds a party to get ‘the deed’ over and done with, but the night doesn’t end as planned.
Twenty years later, the group are brought back together when Gareth is killed in a car accident and Sophie begins receiving threatening messages. It seems the party wasn’t as
innocent as everyone thought and now someone wants payback.
As we left 32 Park Lane, I tried to shake off the feeling of unease Gareth’s death had brought with it. A blanket of foreboding attached itself to my shoulders and I carried it with me, hunched over from the weight. The news seemed to thrust old memories, long forgotten, to the forefront of my mind. We could have walked a different path if I’d changed my mind back then.
When Hope and I returned to the office, I told the team I had to make some calls and retreated behind the comfort of my desk. Closing the door, a sign to be left alone, safe in my sanctuary to gather myself. I typed Gareth Dixon into Google to see what popped up. There were a few hits for a consultant, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, but there was one from the local paper reporting the accident. The article was brief and gave very little details other than Gareth had died in a car accident and they were appealing for witnesses to come forward.
My shoulders sagged as I bent over the desk, finding the website for Interflora and ordering some flowers to be sent to Sue and Jim. They were like a second set of parents to me as a child, their home as familiar as my own.
My mobile rang, vibrating loudly and skittering across the table. I jumped at the interruption. The number was withheld, but that wasn’t unusual. I slid my finger across the screen to answer.
‘Hello, Sophie White speaking.’
At first, I didn’t hear anything. I strained my ears, just about to end the call, but then I heard a clicking sound and a man’s voice spoke.
‘Sophie, she was the one. I was crazy about her back then.’ There was a cough and the line went dead.
‘Hello? Hello?’ I dropped the phone and it bounced on the floor.
That voice, weirdly familiar. Who was it? It had to be a joke, not that it made any sense.
I tugged my blazer around me. Was the air con turned up too high, or was it the hint of something that ran through my body, turning my veins frigid? I had to get out, go for a walk and clear my head.
I told Frank I was popping out and took off down the road, striding at a pace to stamp out the thoughts that spiralled. I wandered around the village, on a tour of all my old
haunts. Places I hadn’t visited for years because I no longer had any reason to. The postbox at the end of the road where we used to meet, the park and then Robyn’s house. Afterwards I made my way to Becca’s and then to Gareth’s, whose parents were the only ones still living in the same place. I almost knocked, but the sight of their closed curtains changed my mind. They were grieving, shut away from the world, and I didn’t want to disturb them.
I carried on walking, unable to remember the exact house Hayley had lived in, so many had been painted or had extensions built that it was hard to distinguish which one was hers. Gradually, the sun began to fade and it was time to head back. My head filled with happier times.
Frank was the last one left in the office, and I caught him as he was locking up.
‘You all right, poppet?’ he asked, eyes narrowed.
‘Yeah, one of those days. An old school friend died at the weekend; Mum rang me yesterday. It’s weird how it brings back old memories I’d forgotten.’
‘Bad ones?’ he asked.
‘No, not all bad.’
I squeezed his shoulder and sent him home. His wife Diane would be waiting with something warm in the oven.
My mobile rang again, and I fumbled in my pocket to get it, my stomach sinking. I made sure I was inside the office with the door locked and lights off before I answered.
‘Sophie?’ A lady’s voice this time. Not another prank call.
‘Speaking, how can I help?’
Thank you, Gemma Rogers and Boldwood Books
About the author
Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Her debut novel Stalker was published in September 2019 and marked the beginning of a new writing career. Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster.
Own website: www.gemmarogersauthor.co.uk
Profile on our website: https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/gemma-rogers/
Amazon – https://amzn.to/2VKOaMK