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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Excerpt: In the Moors by Nina Minton

In the Moors by Nina Minton: The rain-drenched moors near shamanistic counselor Sabbie Dare s home have become the scene of a chilling crime. When Detective Sergeant Reynard Buckley shows up suggesting her new client, Cliff Houghton a wounded, broken man has something to do with the body of a young boy found buried in the moors, Sabbie believes Cliff is being set up. Continuing the therapy she d begun with Cliff, Sabbie uncovers repressed memories hearkening back to a decades-old string of abductions and murders. But after another boy is abducted, only Sabbie can prove Cliff s innocence . . . and find the real culprit before any more lives are shattered.


As soon as the front door clicked shut behind me, I knew there was something wrong in the house. There was an aura of suspicion about the place and a smell of mistrust. Oh yes, and the telly – which I have to say was my strongest clue – was blaring out some gormless afternoon programme. I hadn’t left it on.
I let my backpack slide to the floor and eased the door kitchen open. I had to scan the room twice before I saw Ivan, resting in comfort on my sofa, his left ankle balanced on his right knee.
“Where have you been?” he demanded.
The accusation threw me. I’d been about to say, what’re you doing here? The words faded before they could reach my lips.
“I said where have you been, Sabbie?” He shifted position putting both feet on the ground and leaning forward, one hand punched into the palm of the other. “I’ve been waiting for you all fucking night. All fucking night and all of this morning.”
“You’ve been here since yesterday?”
“Too right I have.”
“How did you get into my house?” I heard my voice falter.
“That’s not the issue here. The issue is you, Sabbie.”
“How did you get in?”
He raised his fisted hand. My spare set of keys dangled from the fingers. I rushed forward and snatched them from him. There was a heat behind my eyes. “I told you. I don’t want to see you again. Ever. I said no, Ivan, and you didn’t listen.”
He grinned at me. “Women always say no and mean yes.”
“For your information, this girl means no. You tried to rape me. I could’ve had you carted off to a police cell. And I can promise you that is one place you would not like.”
He didn’t reply. Without taking his gaze from my face, he stretched a hand over the side of the sofa. I could see his laptop case lying against it, but he wasn’t reaching for that. I was looking at a gun. A rifle as long as my arm. Its butt was of glossy yellow wood and along its length was a complicated sight of polished steel.
I took a breath to steady myself. “Did you get that from your loft?”
Ivan smiled. His eyes lit up. He lifted the gun onto his lap as if it were made of crystal glass. “I’d forgotten what it was like to use it. I took it out for a practice run and I’m still pretty good.”
That smell I’d detected in the hall was much stronger now I stood in front of its source. It was the overwhelming odour of control, of the power that certain things give certain men; money, authority, or in this case, the clout of a loaded weapon.
“The fox has gone.” I managed. “There’s no need for a gun.”
His eyes were sharp as slivers of glass. “Isn’t there?”
My whole body became ice cold. “You haven’t been shooting at my hens, for old Mab’s sake!”
He chuckled. “Don’t be daft, woman. Why would I want to do that?”
I shook my head, unable to respond. I leaned against the kitchen worktop. My legs felt gelatinous, unable to support me. “I want you to take that thing out of my house. Now. Take it away. Please.”
His face hardened. I could feel my words bounce off it, as if his skin had toughened into steel.
“The gun isn’t the issue, Sabbie.”
“What?” My heart stopped its racing and stood still. If he raised the gun now, how badly could he hurt me with it?
“You need to tell me this instant,” he said. “You need to be honest. Have you been with another man?”
I closed my eyes. Perhaps I hoped he might disappear, but when I opened them again, he was waiting and I hadn’t answered. The only answer I could think of was…are you crazy? but that didn’t seem like the right one, just then.
“There isn’t any man in my life at the moment,” I said at last. “And that includes you, Ivan.”
“Of course I’m in your life. I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Without an invite. With a gun.”
“Sabbie, Babe. All I’m asking is where you’ve been. That’s the only issue. Where you have been…all night.”
It was like he was on rails, his head caught up in a single obsession. I knew I couldn’t reason with him. I knew I shouldn’t anger him. I gave him a big, artificial grin. “If you must know, I’ve been locked in a police cell.”
 I picked up the kettle and took it to the sink. Every particle of me was on high alert. I could feel the roots of my hair prickling. But I filled the kettle and put it back in its base as calmly as I could. I pulled off my damp outer clothes and shoes and dropped them by the back door. “It’s been a long and stressful night.”
His forehead furrowed. “You’re in trouble with the police?”
“I think I am the trouble. I’m the sort of person who has to poke their finger into all the holes marked, ‘do not insert’.”
I saw his eyes shift their gaze around the room, as if he didn’t know what was going on. As if he had to check in the dark corners to make sure he was in control.
“I’ve got to have a hot drink,” I said, reaching for a mug as the kettle clicked off.
“Great. Got any decaf?”
With a gun across his legs, I was kind of expecting Ivan to draw a hip flask from his pocket. The sudden normality in the midst of all the insanity made a stupid chuckle well up from my queasy stomach.
“What’s so funny? I don’t see proof that you’ve been locked up for the night.” He grimaced. “Might have been knocked up, not locked up.”
“Don’t you remember the bodies I found under some floorboards?”
“They were real?” squeaked Ivan, destroying his hard-man image. “You never said.”
“You were the one that told me to go to the police. Which I did. Now they’ve discovered that two people were buried in this derelict cottage.”
“What?” Clearly, it wasn’t the direction Ivan’s mind had been taking. “They think you murdered someone?”
“Not exactly,” I tried to shrug my shoulders. “I’m sort of helping them with their enquiries. In fact, I’ll have to go out again, in a moment.”
Ivan smiled. He was swallowing the story. I’d half forgotten that I was telling the complete truth. He pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his jacket pocket and lit one. Ivan knew that I won’t have people smoke in my house – we had that conversation the very first night he was here. The gesture was telling me he was now in charge.
I didn’t say a word. I turned to the worktop, poured water onto coffee and turned round again to hand the mug to him. He was standing, his expression alert, and his gun was in his hands.
“You’re not going anywhere, sweetie,” he said. Smoke filtered down his nose. I thought of Garth’s dragons. “Not without me. And I’m not going anywhere. I think it’s time for bed, don’t you?”
Stupidly, I lost it. I screamed at him, flinging the cup of coffee across the room.
“Get out of my house!”
The coffee sloshed across the floor, so luckily the mug was pretty empty when it hit his chest. I watched his mouth form a round “O’, as slowly as a dream.
I couldn’t move. I just stood there, the coffee pooling on the floor between us, ready for the gunshot and the pain.
The pain came, like an explosion in the head, centred across my left eye. I waltzed across the room until the worktop stopped me.
He’d hit me with the butt of the rifle. I put my hand to my face. The blood on my hand blurred as my vision faltered.
“You do as I say.” The words sounded garbled and echoing. “I am sick of watching you play ice bitch. That is not how it should be with us.”


Nina Milton lives in west Wales with her husband and their hens (about whom she has blogged for WOA!), but she sets her Shaman Series, out from Midnight Ink, in the mystical county of Somerset in the UK. The First in the series, In the Moors is available now and the second book in the series, Unraveled Visions is due for release soon.I also write for children; Sweet’n’Sour, (HarperCollins) and Tough Luck, (Thornberry Publishing), and love writing short stories which regularly appear in British anthologies. Visit Nina’s page on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Nina-Milton/e/B00E748CT6   or join her on her vibrant blogsite,  http://www.kitchentablewriters.blogspot.com


  1. And now the Second Shaman Mystery is available from Amazon, bookshops and libraries;
    RT Book Reviews describes it as [A] thrilling tale.” And Mystery Scene Magazine says; Nina Milton skillfully integrates the shamanistic elements into her mystery making in this sequel to last year’s In the Moors - an absorbing tale. The return of Sabbie Dare is awaited with interest.

  2. If you live in the US you can win In the Moors by going to Goodreads Giveaways. Offer is only open until 12th December so get you skates on! Go to https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/116423?utm_medium=api&utm_source=giveaway_widget