Here it is: the last chapter. I hope you’ve enjoyed the book. Please consider reviewing it. And, if you’d like it on your shelf or your eReader, see the note at the foot of the chapter.
For those who never started the free read, the whole book is now on the blog. I posted Chapter 1 on 13 January 2012. Subsequent chapters have appeared each Friday, and all 50 feature here. You can find those already posted via the archive; just search by chapter number. If you missed the start, you’ll find it here: http://stuartaken.blogspot.com/2012/01/read-free-my-novel-here.html
Read, enjoy, invite your friends along. As an author, I want people to read my writing, simple as that.
Sunday 5th December
Everything was white.
My head hurt. I moved to touch the place where the pain was most severe and found I was covered with a quilt.
‘Awake at last. How do you feel, love?’ Ma was sitting by the side of the bed, a worried smile on her face. ‘Don’t try to get up, Faith. You’ll need a time to settle.’
I was in my old room at Longhouse. ‘Is Leigh here?’
‘Sleeping. He spent all last night with you after we brought you back from the hospital, remember? He’s done in, poor love.’
‘Mervyn’s in the…’
‘The pervert’s dead, love. Bled to death before they got to him. Serves him right an’ all.’
‘Bruce! He hit him and…’
‘Leigh found him. You were muttering. He went up there yesterday afternoon. I’m sorry, love, your dog is dead.’
I allowed myself the tears.
Ma handed me a tissue. ‘Stay there, love, I’ll fetch you a cuppa.’
She was gone before I could ask any of the hundreds of questions I needed answering. There was a knock. Leigh came in from his bedroom, weary but smiling at my wakefulness. I sat up and almost fainted. He held me close, rocking me gently as we wept quietly together for a few moments.
‘Mervyn killed Netta.’
Leigh nodded. ‘He admitted it when the police got to him. I’m not sure they did as much as they might’ve to stop the bleeding. He was dead when the ambulance got back for him, anyway.’
‘They thought it was for you. Took you to hospital first. You came round briefly on the way and told them about Merv. The police were still in the village following your 999 call and they asked for the ambulance when they found him. How’s your head?’
‘Aching and sore.’
‘At least there’s no fracture, or you’d still be in hospital. You’ve a nasty bump, some missing hair and half a dozen stitches under that bandage but you’ll be fine in a few days.’ He leant forward and held me close again, hugged me close and tight. ‘God, Faith, I thought I’d lost you when Matilda called to tell me you were in hospital.’
‘Where is Mum?’
‘Downstairs with Ma.’
‘Did Mervyn tell the police anything else?’
‘He was nearly gone when they arrived; the knife was right through him. Must’ve known he’d had it. He boasted about killing Netta and attacking you. Said he’d raped you and started to laugh…’
‘He didn’t. But he would’ve.’ I held back tears that fearful memory stirred up. ‘Nothing about the man Netta met when she ran off?’
‘Mervyn wanted to scare me. He described how he’d found Netta, watched her. He followed her from Longhouse. She met a man on Lovely Seat. A man with a rucksack who was waiting for her. He watched them have sex; told me how she put condoms on him. “Won’t ‘ave to use ‘em on you, cunt. There’ll be nowt for ‘em to find after I’ve burnt this place down wi’ you inside it.” That’s what he said to me. He told me that the man and Netta had sex all morning and afternoon. When he went, Mervyn chased her. By that time, it was raining but he didn’t care. He chucked her dress on the barbed wire so she couldn’t get it back. When he caught her, he tied her to the fence. He kicked and raped her until he’d had enough and the weather got too foul for him. Then he hit her with the rock and dumped her in the pit. He told me what he’d done in order to frighten me. It worked.’
Leigh hugged me close and was silent.
Ma arrived with the tea on a tray. ‘Let her rest, Leigh. Poor lass has been through a terrible ordeal.’
‘I’m fine, Ma. Really I am.’
She poured the tea for us and left.
‘This man, who was he?’
I’d expected that. ‘No idea. Said he’d never seen him before. He asked her but she wouldn’t say. He made her, hurt her. He was a walker she’d met before. Said she’d arranged to meet him there that day because she liked sex with him in the open. That got Mervyn even madder. He didn’t say, but he was jealous. He made her cry and hurt her again. He was going to tie me up and rape me, Leigh, over and over and over again. He was going to kill me.’
‘You were very brave. You’re safe now.’
I let him think about the lie I’d told to make him lose the guilt he should never have felt, let him come to his own conclusions, as I knew he would. It was a shame to have to blacken my sister’s name but the living are more important than the dead.
We drank our tea and he looked at me and held my hand, stroked my undamaged shoulder and arms, kissed my cheek and forehead. I felt the warm, soft love in his touch and felt safe and secure and cherished.
‘Wasn’t my fault, after all.’
‘Never was, Leigh.’
‘She was just using us an excuse for sex with someone else. Jesus!’
In the evening, he brought me my evening meal on a tray and I ate ravenously. Slept again.
The following morning, he came in with a cup of tea. ‘Breakfast in bed?’
I reached up and caught his hand, brought him down to kiss me. I coaxed his hand under the covers and felt the tingle of response. He was wearing a towelling robe and my fingers strayed through the gap to caress him and found his firm reaction. My lie had worked, the barrier had lifted.
‘I thought I’d lost you, Faith.’
‘I’m still here.’
‘You always have been. I’ve been so stupid. Can you forgive me?’
‘I always did, Leigh. I love you. There’s nothing to forgive this time, you just made a mistake because you didn’t know the facts.’
‘I don’t know why you love me.’
‘Why? Love’s nothing to do with why. The sky is blue: I love you. Night follows day: I love you. The sun is hot: I love you.’
‘You’ve always been amazing. I love you. Will you have me back?’
‘I never sent you away.’ I folded the cover back and drew him to me.
‘You’re not well enough.’
‘I’m the best judge of that.’
‘The doctors said you…’
‘Doctors aren’t always right. Doctors don’t always know best.’
He frowned at that, as if I’d said something of profound importance and significance.
‘What about your head?’
‘You’re in my head; have been since the day we first met. I want you in my bed, Leigh. I want you in me.’
Mum came up to see me and stopped halfway through the door. I caught her eye in time to stop her words and she looked puzzled for an instant before smiling. She shook her head at me in resigned delight and backed silently away so Leigh had no idea she’d been there. He never heard her chuckle and close the door before she returned downstairs. He was concentrating on loving me and I was all he saw, at last.
Well, that’s the end, folks. Enjoyed the ride? Breaking Faith is available in paperback (through online or high street outlets) or ebook format for whatever ereader you use, just click on the cover picture or visit ‘My Books’. You might like some of my other books, which you’ll also find on that page. I’d appreciate a review, posted wherever possible - Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, or any other bookish site. Reviews get indie published books noticed, you see. Look out for more of my writing. Coming soon, some fantasy for your enjoyment.
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