Authors: Carys Jones
Poised to print headlines so scandalous they would have rocked the entire nation…now the front page of every newspaper starkly proclaims only one word: MURDER
John Quinn, an investigative journalist on England’s biggest-selling and most notorious tabloid newspaper, is about to write the story of his life – a scandalous exposé of one of the country’s most powerful men. But the story dies when Lorna Thomas, the kiss in his kiss-and-tell, kills herself on a quiet country road.
For six months Laurie Thomas’ twin sister had been the Deputy Prime Minister’s secret mistress – and following sister’s footsteps to London, and to the heart of government, Laurie grows more convinced that Lorna did not take her own life.
But if Lorna didn’t kill herself, who did? There’s only one person who can help Laurie - the very man who’s bed her sister had illicitly been sharing
loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader's imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo. When she's not writing, Carys likes to indulge her inner geek by watching science-fiction films or playing video games. She lists John Green, Jodi Picoult and Virginia Andrews as her favorite authors and draws inspiration for her own work from anything and everything. To Carys, there is no greater feeling than when you lose yourself in a great story and it is that feeling of ultimate escapism which she tries to bring to her books.
For my number one fan; my Dad
newspaper offices, London
Dawn had not yet broken over the capital and yet the offices of
newspaper were already a hive of activity. Eager and ambitious journalists were bent over their computers, furiously typing away, some not having left from the night before.
was England’s biggest selling tabloid newspaper and, as its name suggested, it was ever present amongst society, exposing every ounce of scandal and corruption as it occurred around the country. The paper had grown in notoriety over the last decade, being linked to practically every sin committed by a member of the elite. If someone had behaved badly,
knew about it and exposed it, casting the delinquent into darkness.
Part of the paper’s success was easily attributed to the doggish determination of the staff who listed eating and sleeping as a low priority compared with work. In such a fiercely competitive field, they were each trying to make a name for themselves by catching that one big story which would set the country on fire.
John Quinn had that story. He almost trembled with excitement when he thought about it. He ran his hands through his thinning black hair as he sat slumped over his desk, going over the questions he needed to ask for what felt like the hundredth time. He had been up all night since he had received the call. It was a young girl wanting to make money on a kiss and tell story, standard stuff really, except the man involved was no ordinary man. John had run into her at a party a few months back, and she had been really drunk, and talkative. He’d held back on revealing his occupation until she completely divulged her extra-curricular activities to him. She had seemed genuinely horrified when he offered her his card, professing how she most certainly did not want to sell her story. But he knew she would. The money was too good to pass up; dignity always had a price.
So, as John had predicted, she had called. Now all he had to do was capture her side of the story and run with it. It would be front page news and he would instantly have made a career for himself. Having spent four years at university, followed by three as an unpaid intern, five being the office gopher then three as a struggling journalist, John felt he was long overdue some success in his field. He needed to go home, shower and make himself presentable, but he was afraid to even leave his desk; afraid someone might snap the story up from right under his nose.
He remembered how desperate the girl had sounded when she called and almost felt guilty. He couldn’t be sure, but he thought she had been crying. John had seen so many young women, naively lured in to bed by rich and powerful men, selling their story out of spite or desperation. He failed to empathise with their plight – after all, they had willingly engaged in events. But this time something felt different. Perhaps it was because the man in question appeared whiter than white to the rest of the country and exposing this girl and their sordid affair would tarnish and possibly destroy his reputation.
John Quinn was rarely shocked, but her story had genuinely caught him off guard. He did wonder if perhaps it had just been drunken ramblings, but then she had called, confirming everything she had said and insisting she wanted to take him up on the offer of writing a piece. He’d named a price to her which few people would be strong enough to turn down, because he knew just how valuable a story of that calibre was.
Aware that time was pressing on, John took one last glance at his notes and put on his jacket, intending to return quickly to his flat and then meet the girl. He had just pushed his arm down in to the second sleeve when the internal phone on his desk began to ring. Sighing, he leant forward and picked up the receiver, tersely announcing himself to the caller.
‘John, its Maria,’ came a soft female voice. Maria worked in the news department, unlike John who was in features. She was one of the few people within the tangled structure of
who he trusted. They had slept together a few times, and continued to do so on the rare occasions that he wasn’t too exhausted or was feeling particularly lonely. Maria was nothing special; you could easily pass her by on the street without feeling the need to take a second glance, but she was kind and trustworthy. They were qualities which John figured he might one day be looking for in a woman and so he attempted to keep her relatively close.
‘I’m just on my way out.’
‘I know, to meet with that girl, right? What was her name, Lorna Thomas?’
‘Yeah, that’s right.’ John inwardly grimaced at the accuracy of Maria’s memory. During their last night together, pillow talk had wandered across into work territory and John had disclosed that he potentially had an amazing story in his hands regarding a kiss and tell but he’d managed to stop himself before he revealed any further details. Whilst he was close to Maria, she was still ultimately the competition and he didn’t want to risk her stealing the story out from under him.
‘I’ve just had a police report come through about her.’
‘Apparently she committed suicide last night. Want me to email the report to you? I figured you’d probably want to run with the story yourself. Chief says no more than a hundred words on it.’
In a daze, John took off his coat and repositioned himself in his chair. He suddenly felt a pang of remorse run through him that he had not been more responsive to the girl’s sadness over the phone. He had propositioned her to sell her story; he hoped he had not driven her to take her own life. John shook his head in disbelief. The story that would have made his career was now gone, never to be confirmed. He read the report with dull eyes as it arrived in his inbox.
It made for sombre reading. There was nothing about the girl Lorna had been, nothing about the prestigious internship she’d had in London, nothing about her history. Her death had no relevance within the paper, there was seemingly no story there and so she was resigned to a mere hundred words to mark the finite end of her young life.
Sadness slipped over him as he placed his fingertips to his keyboard and began to write a brief obituary for the girl he was supposed to be interviewing. His heart felt heavy with each letter he pressed. John finished the piece and got up and walked away from his desk, but not before calling Maria and asking her to come round to his flat that night. He didn’t feel like being alone.
22-year-old Lorna Thomas of Kent was found dead in her car in the early hours of this morning. Police have ruled that she committed suicide.
A tabloid tale
Charles Lloyd awoke as he did every morning, after a fitful night’s rest where he barely managed to sleep at all. He stretched his arms out, yawning, before rubbing his tired eyes. Beside him, his wife continued to sleep soundly, her auburn hair swept across the white pillow case like a consuming fire. Charles went to wake her and then thought better of it, deciding to let her continue to rest.
With all the stealth his weary body could manage, Charles removed himself from his marital bed and tiptoed over to his impressive ensuite bathroom, to wash and prepare himself for the inevitably manic day ahead.
The ritual was always the same: shower, shave and dress. Charles enjoyed these moments alone in the mornings; it was the calm before the storm. He relished the monotony of getting ready; it gave him comfort in a world which was growing increasingly chaotic.
For some reason, on that morning, he paused before placing the shaving foam upon his dampened cheeks and really absorbed his reflection; something he rarely felt he had the time to do. Charles Lloyd was forty-five and worn out. The bags beneath his eyes and the lines etched into his forehead declared to the world that he was a man sinking beneath an immeasurable weight. He sighed as he squinted and scrutinized the blue of his eyes which had once been so piercing but now had dulled. His wife, Elaine, always insisted that it was his eyes which had first attracted her to him. But his eyes, like the rest of him, had changed. He was no longer the man she had married twenty years ago. He cracked the door to the en-suite ever so slightly and glanced affectionately at his sleeping wife. She was happy, he knew that. He just hoped that she was happy enough for both of them.
Charles returned his attention to the task at hand; of shaving away the shadow which had formed overnight. As a young man he had found shaving a chore. He’d longed to grow some stubble, even a beard, in his desire to be ‘edgy’, but he had always been warned against it. It wasn’t befitting of a man in his line of work. Now, he found shaving therapeutic. The act was familiar and predictable and he liked that about it. So few things in his life were familiar anymore that he cherished those that were.
Dressed in one of his finest suits and his signature blue tie, Charles was at last ready to start the day. He fingered the tie dubiously as he regarded his reflection once more. He found it a rather crass addition to his ensemble, but his aides continued to assure him that it was vital. He missed being able to dress how he wanted to. Charles would have loved nothing more than to put on a pair of jeans and an old jumper but that would never do. He had an image to maintain, as everyone kept insisting to him.
‘Darling, are you going?’ Elaine stirred from her peaceful slumber long enough to see her husband about to open their bedroom door. She gazed at him through half closed eyes, not yet fully awakened.
‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,’ Charles whispered guiltily.
‘Well it’s lucky you did,’ Elaine declared, raising herself up in the bed so that she was now sat upright.
‘It is?’ Charles questioned, surprised.