The Step Mother by Claire Seeber ***Blog Tour***

I am delighted to be the next stop on The Step Mother blog tour. For my stop I have an extract from the book to share with you.

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Book Description:

The perfect wife. A fairytale family. Don’t believe your eyes…

Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.

No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.
After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending…doesn’t it?

A compelling, dark and twisty psychological thriller.

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Extract:

PROLOGUE

 

Once upon a time there was a king who married a lady, and so she became his queen. Soon after their wedding the new queen gave birth to a beautiful daughter. The queen looked at her baby and saw that her hair was black as ebony, her skin as white as snow and her lips as red as the roses climbing around the window. The queen liked the pure and pristine snow best, so she named her baby Snow White.

Not long after the baby’s christening, the queen died of a mysterious ailment.

I wonder what that was.

(Though isn’t it true that some women – many women perhaps – don’t like other beautiful women – especially younger ones? Or is that a fairy tale too, probably made up by men?)

Anyway. I digress…

The king was sad and lonely on his own, as men of a certain age tend to be, and so, sometime not so long after the queen’s death, he married a most beautiful woman, who seemed quite nice. She became the new queen – and, of course, the young Snow White’s stepmother.

And we all know about stepmothers, eh?

Oh yes. We know all about them.

Don’t we?

MARLENA

 

This is not the story, is it?

It’s not meant to be the story – for either of us.

My breath sobs out of me as I run off the train and down the platform, up the footbridge stairs, past people going calmly about their daily business: travellers who glance away like I am deranged.

I am a little deranged, in my desperation.

Down the other side, I stumble through the barriers, out into this unknown city.

Where the fuck is the taxi rank?

I bundle myself into the first yellow cab I see, praying the whole time as it drives out of the city, so slowly – torturously slowly –

and into the countryside.

Who made all this countryside? I hate the countryside.

Out across the fields, into the small town, through the orchards, up to the hill. It’s the longest drive I’ve ever been on, it seems – it goes on and on…

And later, when more becomes clear, I vow to sort this whole sorry mess out – to find the truth. Oh yes, I will. They can’t hide from me, oh no.

There is nowhere for this wickedness to hide.

 

The old house is like a living thing. I felt it the first time I came here: as if the very cracks between the bricks were breathing quietly, as if the building were actually sentient. As I stand now before the great front door with its sturdy old locks, the keys for which I hold for the very first time, I struggle to believe it’s my home.

Grey bricked, square and squat, mullion windowed, the first parts of the house were built in Elizabethan times. It has been added to along the centuries and modernised: a new drive curving before it, wrought-iron gates to keep outsiders firmly out. But still its age seeps from the walls. Old creepers twine around the sills, climbing up the old brickwork; red and white roses round the thick wooden door.

Built onto one side, a single pointed turret reaches desperately to the darkening sky, as thick cloud scuds across a shadowed new moon.

I will never forget my first sight of it. I remember most distinctly the first time I crossed the threshold, following nervously in Matthew’s wake. How in awe I was, and how my heart thumped.

Now, apparently, I am home.
Yesterday afternoon, at the estate agents squeezed between the old arcade and the chippie on the seafront corner, I detached my battered old ‘Virgo’ key ring – proudly presented to me by Frank on but just having it enabled me to sit and watch the sea, sometimes for hours that slipped by unmarked; the sea that I both feared and loved in equal measure.

But in my heart I’d left already. I closed the flat door more resolutely than I felt and knocked on Elsie’s. When she didn’t answer, I left the yucca and the peace lily on the landing, unsure if she’d gone to her niece’s – or if she found the idea of goodbye as painful as I did.

I shoved the last bits of mail in my bag – the redirection would kick in tomorrow – and closed the street door behind me for the final time.

The speed at which my life was changing felt surreal and astonishing – only this time in a good way. I just couldn’t quite believe it was true.

After I’d dropped the keys off at the estate agents, I drove towards Shoreham for my last night on the south coast. In Judy’s dingy first-floor flat we sat below a curling print of someone French’s lilies, toasting new beginnings with warm Sauvignon Blanc. It took quite a bit of ‘jokey’ sniping that wasn’t very jokey for me to gather I’d upset her. Hanging in the cramped hallway, my wedding dress had apparently become a red rag to a bull. I wished I’d left it in the car – but I’d been scared it was too tempting for local thieves.

‘Fantastic pulling grounds, weddings.’ Judy sloshed wine into her half-full glass then moved to top up mine with the end of the bottle. ‘I could be meeting my own Mr Right if you’d asked me.’

‘But there won’t be any Mr Rights there.’ I covered my glass with my hand so the dregs trickled between my fingers. Only Frankie and Marlena were coming – and the twins of course. ‘There’s no party or anything, Jude, really. It’s not like that.’

It was the truth. It was going to be tiny – and private. Just our immediate families – of which there wasn’t much, for either of us; the families that we were going to integrate, bring together, in my imagination, like the Brady Bunch – only much smaller.

‘Your prince has come then, eh? Let’s just hope he’s a bit more charming than the last one,’ Judy slurred, draining her glass too quickly. ‘Let’s hope he doesn’t sell anything to the press. Or that he hasn’t got a mad wife in the attic. God, imagine that!’

It was the truth. It was going to be tiny – and private. Just our immediate families – of which there wasn’t much, for either of us; the families that we were going to integrate, bring together, in my imagination, like the Brady Bunch – only much smaller.

‘Your prince has come then, eh? Let’s just hope he’s a bit more charming than the last one,’ Judy slurred, draining her glass too quickly. ‘Let’s hope he doesn’t sell anything to the press. Or that he hasn’t got a mad wife in the attic. God, imagine that!’

No, there were no parallels between the fiery little governess and my life. None at all.

It was definitely time to hit the saggy sofa bed before Judy got started on all men being bastards and the bottle of mouldering dessert wine she’d produced from somewhere. She didn’t need me to rub my good fortune in – or to remind her of all the trauma I’d already been through that made this new adventure all the more special and extraordinary.

And I definitely didn’t need to start thinking about what I hadn’t quite told Matthew yet. I could deal with that later.

Couldn’t I?

 

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www.claireseeber.com

Twitter: @claireseeber

Facebook: Claire Seeber Author

THE STEPMOTHER by Claire Seeber – JULY 15th 2016

UK: http://amzn.to/1tkhiLA

US: http://amzn.to/1Uive2g

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