23 February 2017
Blog Tour: Extract of 'If Ever I Fall' by S. D. Robertson
Thanks to SD Robertson and his publishers for asking me to host on the blog tour!
"Dan’s alarm sounded. He thumped it off and stared, blurry-eyed, at the red LED lines telling him it was 8 a.m.
It took him a moment to remember where he was. Not the spare room. No, the master bedroom in his fantastic new apartment. Otherwise known as the room he slept in at his crappy new flat in the suburbs. Him and his two ‘flatmates’: damp and depressing.
What on earth had he been thinking when he agreed to rent this place? That it was cheap and in a location that suited him. Not much else. If he’d been able to jump forward in time to this awful moment – waking up here, alone on Christmas morning – would he have still signed the rental agreement?
Probably, if he was honest. That was actually one of the things that had appealed most about the flat: the fact it only tied him in for three months. He still hoped he wouldn’t need any longer than that.
Also, it wasn’t like he could afford much else while he was still paying the bills at his real house, where Ruby had probably already opened her stocking by now with Maria.
How was this fair: him going out to work five days a week, supporting the family, but having to live here? It wasn’t. He stared up at the ceiling, at the unsightly cracks meandering across the white paint. If he wanted a chance of getting back with Maria, what choice did he have?
She’d pushed him further and further away since Sam’s death and this was where he’d ended up. He feared she blamed him for what had happened to Sam. He blamed himself, so why not? That would at least explain why she’d grown so cold towards him. It was more than that, though. More even than the horrific, never-ending grief he’d felt since that horrendous day.
It was like something had broken within his wife’s mind. As if she could no longer function properly. She did her best to hide it, but he’d seen the way she would repeat things over and over again when she thought no-one was watching, as though it was some kind of weird ritual. On the few occasions when he’d interrupted her or tried to help in some way, her response had been one of ferocious denial, pushing him yet further away.
The first time he’d tried to talk to her about it, he’d ended up banished to the spare room, never to return. They’d explained this to Ruby by saying that his snoring had been keeping Maria awake, but Dan suspected that Ruby knew it was more significant than that.
He hadn’t dared say anything more for a long time afterwards, hoping it was part of his wife’s grieving process and that she would gradually improve. But of course she didn’t. Eventually, after skirting around the issue for far too long, he’d tried again to broach the matter. He’d suggested, as tactfully as he could, that she might want to seek help. He’d even been on the Internet and found her the name of a local counsellor.
Bad move. That had led to an even worse row than the last and, a couple of days later, to Maria’s suggestion of the trial separation.
Now here he was: hungover and alone in this godforsaken place.
The alarm sounded again – good old snooze function – snapping Dan out of his half-doze and alerting him to the fact it was now 8.10 a.m. He turned it off, properly this time, and levered himself upright.
‘Merry Christmas,’ he said to his reflection in the mirrored doors of the cheap wardrobe.
He walked through to the lounge and spent a few minutes tidying up his mess from the night before: bottles of beer, a shot glass. He didn’t know why he was bothering. It wasn’t like he was expecting guests any time soon. Force of habit, he supposed, still not used to being a bachelor. He didn’t want to get used to it.
Hopefully it would be short-lived: a brief chapter in his life that one day he’d look back on and smile about.
In the kitchen, his gaze fell on the vodka bottle he’d been drinking from the night before. For a moment he thought about picking it up and having another go, but he stopped himself. His boozing had accelerated enough since moving in here. At least it was still mostly contained to acceptable hours. Necking vodka at this time of the day would be crossing a line. Next thing he’d have a bottle in the inside pocket of his jacket, swigging from it at the wheel of his car. No, he didn’t want to go down that route. Plus, the police were always on the lookout for drink-drivers over the festive period. No point in risking his licence.
Instead he found his pack of cigarettes, opened the window and, enjoying the feel of the cold winter air on his skin, lit one up."