Watched

Hellraiser

Despite two national newspaper reports to the contrary, Kerry Wilkinson is male. Honestly.

His debut, Locked In, the first title in the detective Jessica Daniel series, was written as a challenge to himself but became a UK Number One Kindle bestseller within three months of release. His three initial Jessica Daniel books made him Amazon UK's top-selling author for the final quarter of 2011.

As well as picking up the Jessica Daniel series, in October 2012, it was announced Pan Macmillan had also bought a sci-fi/fantasy/adventure series – the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – which will start to be released in June 2014.

Jessica Daniel book 4: Think of the Children came out in February 2013, becoming Amazon UK's no.1 Kindle pre-order, making the top 10 crime ebooks and entering the official top 20 paperback chart in its first full week on sale.
Kerry is the first formerly self-published British author to have an ebook No.1 and reach the top 20 of the UK paperback chart.

After six Jessica Daniel releases, Watched is Kerry’s first non-crime release.

Find out more at: http://kerrywilkinson.com

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Two lanes became three and it was only when she stopped at a red light behind a row of cars that Esther realised she had made a mistake. Because the arrows showing where she was supposed to be were painted on the road, she’d slipped into the central lane even though she needed to turn right. Over her shoulder she could see the pub with the bizarre sign hanging outside. It was the only reason she’d remembered this spot: the multi-coloured image of a sheep with a silver chain and an anchor around its neck was hard to forget.

Esther waved to try and catch the attention of the driver sitting in the lane outside of her but the woman was busy singing at the top of her voice, air-drumming on the steering wheel for good measure. Esther flicked on her right indicator, hoping the driver behind would be kind and let her in.

When the lights turned green, she edged ahead, stopping at the solid white line as the person in the car behind leaned on their horn. Esther swore under her breath as the traffic outside of her continued to stream through with a grumble of engines and a steady thump-thump-thump of a stereo somewhere behind. The car that had beeped swerved into the inside lane to go around as the ones outside continued ignoring her.

Esther could feel her heart pumping, the hairs on her arms rising as a gentle panic began to grow. She had never enjoyed driving at the best of times, largely for reasons like this. People became so angry at the merest things.

She continued waiting, trying to block out the tyre squeals, pumping stereo and horn-honking behind, focusing on her wing-mirror.

Finally there was a gap in traffic and Esther accelerated ahead, swerving into the adjacent lane.

BEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

In the fraction of a second it had taken her to check her rear-view mirror, a metallic blue car had roared into the outside lane, stereo blaring a pulsing doof-doof-doof sound that felt as if it was throbbing through Esther’s body. It had stopped barely inches from her door, with the driver leaning out of his window, eyes bulging, top lip curled.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

His hand thumped his horn as Esther tried to move ahead, forgetting what she was doing and bunny-hopping the car to a halt just as the light turned red again. The pounding music stopped instantly.

‘You fuckin’ bitch.’

Esther stared straight ahead but the driver’s voice was clear through their open windows: a growling, unconcealed fury.

‘You stupid fat cow. Women fuckin’ drivers. Oi – you listening to me?’

BEEP!

Despite the summer heat, a shiver slipped along Esther’s back. Her knuckles were pale white as she squeezed the steering wheel, wrapping her hand around it so tightly that her nails were digging into her palm. With her free hand, she pressed the button to close the electric window.

‘Don’t you fuckin’ well—’

Esther finally breathed out as the window hummed shut. She could hear the muffled sound of a raised voice but nothing specific. This time, the driver used his headlights to get her attention, a series of short flashes glinting from her wing mirror.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

Esther mumbled under her breath, praying for the traffic lights to change but it remained an unwavering red. She glanced down at the steering wheel, where her hand had started to tremble. She tried to tell herself to calm down and take a breath but the headlights continued to flash in her wing mirror.

Then she made her biggest mistake.

She’d been forcing herself not to look in the rear-view mirror but Esther’s resistance deserted her as her eyes flicked upwards. The driver in the blue car was in his late-twenties like her, wearing a baseball cap. As soon as she saw his face, she couldn’t look away. His eyes were so wide that she could see the red veins almost popping around the edges. His nostrils were flared, teeth bared with flecks of saliva dribbling down his chin, like a rabid dog tied to a post seething with aggression.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

Finally the light turned green and Esther pulled forward. The entirety of her rear-view was taken up by the bonnet of the blue car as it clung to her bumper. Esther concentrated on the road, taking the turn into the retail park and heading along the side of the pub before turning left towards the giant hardware store. She was hoping the other driver would go right but he stayed tight to her, the roar of his enhanced exhaust overpowering, even through her closed windows.

Esther kept her speed steady, following the arrows on the tarmac that led around the car park. Still the car hugged her bumper and she risked a glance in the rear-view mirror. This time the man was steering one-handed, holding a phone to his ear with the other. He eyes were swollen with fury as he nodded towards her car. Esther knew that if she braked, there was no way he could avoid shunting her. She looped around the one-way system until she was close to B&Q’s front entrance. With another glance backwards, she pulled into the nearest space and tugged the handbrake up. She hoped the other car would continue past but instead it spun around, the driver wrenching the steering wheel and starting to encircle her.

Esther slapped the door lock but didn’t feel too protected, despite the clunk of the central-locking system. As the other car’s tyres squealed on the dry ground, Esther spun to face the front of the store, hoping someone would emerge. Aside from a scattering of other empty vehicles, the rest of the car park was deserted, the only movement the blue car racing around.

Esther realised her hand was drumming the steering wheel with anxiety, her foot jammed tightly underneath the brake pedal. She didn’t want to look at the driver but couldn’t stop herself. He was accelerating in a circle around her, flashing the car’s lights and jabbing a finger in her direction. As he veered around the front of her car again, he was mouthing obscenities that didn’t take a lot of lip-reading ability to understand.

At the realisation that he’d put his phone down, Esther remembered that she had hers. She plucked it from the passenger’s seat, wondering who to call. Charlie was at work and couldn’t do much from there, so should she call the police? Or perhaps even the hardware store? They might have a security guard who could help. Without dialling a number, Esther held the phone to her ear, hoping it would be enough by itself to make the other driver leave her alone.

Doof-doof-doof.

This time it was Esther’s heart, not the car’s stereo, as if something was trying to erupt from her chest.

‘Please,’ she whispered into the phone. ‘Please leave me alone.’

As the car accelerated around her for the fourth time, the driver either lost interest or noticed that she was on the phone. He skidded to a halt in front, the bonnet of his car throbbing with power.

‘Please…’

She could feel him glaring at her, searching for eye contact. Again, she couldn’t resist, peering up until he had her attention. Slowly, deliberately, the man slid his thumb across his throat, his gaze not wavering from hers.

Then, with a choke of exhaust and a thunder of the engine, he was gone, racing towards the exit as Esther dropped her phone and hugged herself as tightly as she could.


SYNOPSIS

WATCHED

WHEN ROAD RAGE FOLLOWS YOU HOME
by KERRY WILKINSON

Dougie Jamieson is a pillar of the community. He’s won awards for his work with children, his brother is a chief inspector and he runs the neighbourhood watch scheme.

But Esther Pooley sees him differently.

After a road rage incident, she’s convinced he’s the person terrorising her and husband Charlie at their suburban dream home.

As the stakes begin to rise, they must decide if bricks and mortar are worth more than their relationship, with Charlie left with the toughest of all dilemmas. How far will he go to protect his wife?


 

 

(C) Kerry Wilkinson 2013

 

 

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