We are sitting so close that, when he just changed gear, I had to lean to my left to avoid his forearm brushing mine. A wave of panic courses through me. The last time I was in a car with this man we were driving through France. But Mike doesn’t recognise me. He did a quick sweep of my body as I rounded the van, a casual appraisal any man might do to a woman he’s never met before, but there was no spark of interest when I opened the passenger door and got in. Why would there be? I’m a grown woman, not a child.
As he navigates his way back down to the road and up the muddy track to the barn he chatters away about nothing in particular – the weather, the flooding, the news. I nod and shrug but I’m not really listening. I can’t stop staring at his face.
He’s forty-nine now and his hair is more grey than black, but it’s still thick and wavy, cut short above the ears and at the nape of his neck. Deep lines stripe across his brow and fan out at the corner of his eyes. He looks old and tired.
I was afraid that all the feelings I’d had as a teenager would come flooding back and overwhelm me, but I don’t feel love or desire. Not even hate or fear. What I feel, as I look at his long, thick fingers curved over the steering wheel, is revulsion.
‘Here we are then.’ He pulls on the handbrake and turns off the engine. We’re in the yard. Parked up outside the barn.
This is just a small taster from an exciting book that was unsettling and exciting in equal parts.
You can pre-order The Fear from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 22nd March 2018.