She’s Mine by Claire S Lewis
Today is my stop on the blog tour for She’s Mine and I am here today to with an extract from the book!
Author: Claire S Lewis
Published: 5th March 2019
Add It: Amazon UK Goodreads.
Summary:She was never mine to lose…
When Scarlett falls asleep on a Caribbean beach she awakes to her worst nightmare – Katie is gone. With all fingers pointed to her Scarlett must risk everything to clear her name.
As Scarlett begins to unravel the complicated past of Katie’s mother she begins to think there’s more to Katie’s disappearance than meets the eye. But who would want to steal a child? And how did no-one see anything on the small island?
The chatter in the lobby dies when the police officer ushers us through the entrance to the hotel. The receptionists are huddled at one end of the check-in desk conversing anxiously and ignoring the line of new arrivals, most still ignorant of the tragedy unfolding on the beach. The guests wait impatiently, waving passports and fidgeting with their suitcases. All I can hear is Christina’s stilettos clicking like ice picks on the white marble as we are escorted in a walk of shame across the lounge and up the nearest staircase to two adjoining vacant guestrooms. The first is for me. The door shuts and I am left on my own to wait.
Suspended in time, I sit on the edge of the bed, staring at the pattern on the carpet, unable to move, locked in misery and remorse. Eventually, the tears come. I collapse onto the mattress and bury my face in the pillow, pounding my fists against the headboard until my knuckles are raw. I can’t forgive myself for being such a fool. What was I thinking? To take an alcoholic drink when in charge of a child – especially a child who was – is – so vulnerable and needy as Katie? She would still be here, if it wasn’t for that drink. I’m so mad at myself, and even more mad at Damien, the self-entitled bully who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer – the man who always has to take the part of the dominant male and the playboy at the party!
My thoughts are interrupted when a police officer enters the room. She introduces herself as the family liaison officer and asks if I need anything. Then she sits down and takes out a notepad. She says her role is to make sure we are all OK, and to provide us with any support we may need in the tragic circumstances. She says it’s not an interview but an off-the-record informal chat and while I take sips of tea she opens with questions about my welfare. Am I overworked? Stressed? Is this why I fell asleep on the beach? Mortified, I explain again that I believe I was drugged. I was well-rested and had been enjoying the holiday looking after Katie, I say. She moves on to questions about my relationship with Christina and Damien. She wants to know how long I’ve been working for Christina? Do we get along? Have there been any issues or anything unusual in my employment relations? I assure her that I have a good working relationship with my employer based on mutual trust and respect.
‘We bonded over Katie,’ I say. ‘Christina knows I love her little girl to bits and she has full confidence in me. I’m like a second mother to Katie.’ Though my words ring hollow now, I know they were true until the moment Katie disappeared.
‘What’s more,’ I say, ‘although I’ve only been working for Christina for three months, we’ve become great friends.’
Casting my mind back to my life in New York, that now exists only in the past tense, I tell the officer about our Sunday afternoon outings. Christina would occasionally invite me to join her browsing the second-hand bookstores on the Upper East Side. She would spend hours poking around in search of first editions of children’s classics and vintage paperbacks. She loved finding a bargain and I was happy to go along with her even though I didn’t share her passion for rummaging through stacks of dusty old books.
‘Damien, on the other hand, protested quite openly that these outings bored him rigid,’ I say. ‘So we’d leave him at the apartment babysitting Katie. This gave him the opportunity to spend the afternoon watching cartoons.’
What I don’t share with the officer is an account of my wild night out with Christina at the Brooklyn Bowl just two weeks ago, as I fear this might create the wrong impression. That was the night we really bonded as girlfriends. Generally stressed, anxious and overworked, Christina really let her hair down that night. She had surprised me by agreeing to come along to the hottest hip-hop, indie-pop and rap festival in town which, by lucky coincidence, was taking place on my night off. Being some fifteen years my senior, Christina’s taste in music was radically different to mine but she was up for it. The truth is, I think she was lonely. Outside work, she hasn’t any real friends. But getting to know me gave her the opportunity to get out and have some fun. That night, I did her make-up and lent her my leather skirt and heeled boots. After the frenzy of music and dancing, high on vodka shots and pot, we giggled and flirted like teenagers with sleazy men in sweaty bars well into the early hours. Damien was waiting up, morose and bad-tempered when we staggered into the apartment. He had agreed to babysit surprisingly graciously when asked by Christina earlier in the week but when we got back much the worse for wear, I could tell from the scowl distorting his handsome dark features that he was mightily hacked off we’d had such a fabulous time without him. Later I was woken by his shouting coming from Christina’s bedroom and the following day I noticed a bruise on Christina’s cheekbone that she had tried unsuccessfully to conceal with her foundation.
The voice of the police officer drags me back to the present.
‘So how well do you know Damien?’ she says, responding to my earlier comment. Her ears have pricked up with my mention of him doing the babysitting. I tell her that I met Damien after starting work with Christina and that I understand he works in finance in downtown Manhattan but personally know him only as Christina’s partner.
‘We get along fine but I don’t entirely trust him,’ I say. ‘There’s something about him. I can’t put my finger on it…’