On first acquaintance there is
nothing extraordinary about Bea Turvey. A librarian in an
Oxfordshire secondary school, she is married with two children, a
dog, two cats and a goldfish. She enjoys walking, swimming,
camping, reading and being warm. Nothing extraordinary at all.
But within her is a world of stories and passion, her
imagination plucks small snippets of unassuming information from her
normal world and weaves into and around them tempestuous emotions
and vibrant tales that make her cry as she writes them.
Originally trained as an IT Manager,
she changed direction after the birth of her children and was lucky
enough to find the position she is in now, one where she is
surrounded by books and can indulge her passion for education and
As a complete bibliophile, she quite often has three
or more books on the go, anything from the hilariously named 'Why
eating bogies is good for you' to 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog'.
She will read anything and everything she can get her hands on.
It was one dreary day
in November 2009, after a day of cleaning and cooking inedible
dishes, that her husband said, 'now the kids are grown up why don't
you pull out your writing pad?'; although she was sure the
suggestion had much to do with preventing any more disasters from
escaping the kitchen she succumbed to the temptation. So, with much
trepidation, in the second week of December of 2009 she sat at the
empty dining table and wrote...and wrote and wrote and wrote. In
January 2010 she started and completed her first novel
The first person to read it was her mother-in-law who loved it and
encouraged Bea to continue. In March she wrote
and it was this novel she chose to send off to the
publishers. Since then, Bea has written several more, many of them
dealing with controversial and harrowing subjects such as child
abduction, euthanasia and human trafficking and they will be
published as soon as she gets round to editing them.
Unexpectedly summoned to meet with the
man she loves, Grace inadvertently witnesses a sight that shatters
her fragile world.
Within the space of one devastating
morning all that is familiar is ripped away and, as she struggles to
overcome her loss, unforeseen circumstances flip it once again,
hurtling her into a living nightmare.
Follow Grace’s terrifying journey of
love and loss, hope and regret, and the stark realisation that there
are no guarantees in this world.
was lovely. There was no denying that. Her bobbed, blonde
hair was a glinting, sleek cap in the early morning sun. Her
happy blue eyes sparkling as they turned up to his face.
laughed aloud at something he said. The joyous wave of sound floating
through the air felt as damaging as a mine explosion to Grace.
Reaching out, he slipped his strong arms around her waist,
effortlessly lifting her off her feet into a crushing embrace as he
kissed her, silencing the gurgles of joy.
sight was eviscerating. Through the smoked glass fronting the hotel
foyer Grace watched her life ebb away, clenched fists pressed into the
softness of her gut.
message had requested that she wait for him in his offices, informing
her he’d be back from his meeting by 9am.
PA ought to learn to whisper. Grace had overheard him, through the
open door, informing a colleague that Donato had arrived. At the news
she’d slipped out, intending to surprise him.
was the one surprised. But was she truly surprised? Wasn’t this
exactly what she’d suspected these past couple of weeks? He’d stayed
later and later at the office; not turned up for his afternoon nap and
meals; left before she’d risen, without a word or a kiss…she closed
her eyes, swaying, as the most obvious clue interrupted her list –
stopped sleeping in the same bed…
Raising heavy lashes she forced her agonised eyes to watch.
kiss deepened, as did the pain slicing through her; the depth of her
agony mirroring the depth of his attention to the other girl.
mind screamed in denial, scrabbling frantically for reasons why he
would be kissing another girl so passionately…as he hadn’t kissed her
Whimpering, she pressed a hand to the glass, in an attempt to
obliterate the sight, but it slipped down, warring with her mind,
wanting, needing this sight of him even though it was painful. As her
fingers came away a foggy hand-shaped mist remained on the glass,
obscuring the view. It slowly dissolved, the sight of the embracing
She’d been living in her own mist-filled world these past days,
ignoring the signals, refusing to look beyond them.
Denial – it kept one sane…for a while.
wanted to run out there and claw his arms away from her, step into the
girl’s place. Her place.
held no grudge against the girl. Envied her, yes, of course, but she
knew how hard it was to resist him; near enough impossible.
wanted to be the one in his arms, even now, after seeing him with
someone else, and hated herself for her weakness.
shame was nothing to the pain.
Silently lamenting the ever-demanding need that slipped inside,
despite his infidelity, she whirled away from the destructive sight.
The silver bank of lifts at the rear of the lobby wavering in her
tear-filled vision as she moved towards them, almost colliding into a
pair of flamboyantly dressed honeymooners lost in their own embrace.
far-left lift announced its arrival with a high-pitched “ping”,
discharging an exuberant family intent on making the most of this
glorious Italian summer’s day. The youngest members ran past a dazed
Grace, the indulgent parents throwing her a cursory glance as they
tried to keep up with their charges. An inflated beach ball bounced
off the back of her leg and rolled past. Her eyes followed its
journey until the father scooped it up with a rueful smile and shrug,
the universal gesture for “kids!”.
There were too many happy people around; it merely enhanced her
torment. She needed to escape.
Lurching into the lift she collapsed against the mirrored wall and
pushed the button for the fifth floor with a shaky knuckle.
she unclenched her hands the pain would spill out.
Pressing the straining white-skinned fists against her mouth she
rocked against the glass, trying to balance the agony on a knife-edge
of control. The stinging of her eyes threatened to turn into an
unstoppable waterfall and she squeezed them closed.
was imperative for him not to see her like this.
heart thumped erratically, as if unable to decide whether or not to
had to make decisions.
was now so cold; the thin, burning slivers of iced agony sliced deep,
setting her bones quivering.
lift slid to a smooth stop, an emotionless voice announcing her floor.
ensuing silence was hollow and empty.
Emotionless. That was a good plan, for now.
the doors glided into their recesses the silence escaped and the
gentle hum of a distant vacuum cleaner took its place. Grace gulped
in calming, rattling breaths; pushing and squeezing, cramming the
emotions down where they weren’t visible and exited shakily onto the
plush carpet of the fifth floor corridor.
offices were at the far end. The distance had more than doubled since
she’d walked along it earlier.
mouth was dry, her tongue stuck to the roof, and she chewed on it to
create some moisture.
eyes, dry mouth. How did that work? Didn’t tears drain through the
nose and into the mouth?
legs were unsteady, the floor seemed to roll under her feet. Locking
her knees she attempted one step.
Robotic. Unemotional. This was good.
black and white checked carpet muffled her approach to the offices.
Another of his subtle mind games, introducing a chessboard to his
business lair, laying down challenges. Donato liked to win.
was glad of the distance; it gave her time to compose herself as she
concentrated on placing her elegantly shod feet on every third square,
slowing her breathing. Her fists uncurled and she smoothed the silk
over her abdomen with trembling fingers, subduing the tremors in her
yet. Soon – she could give way soon.
halted, swallowing the dryness of her arid mouth.
Taking a deep breath she turned her head as Alberto gave another
shout. Donato’s suave PA strode quickly towards her, a relieved look
on his face, his normally immaculate appearance somewhat dishevelled.
‘We have been looking everywhere for you.’ We? ‘We were afraid –’ He
broke off, lips twisting into a grimace as he smoothed a flat palm
over his tie. His rushed words were spoken in Italian; Alberto was
more comfortable with his mother tongue although she knew his accented
English was fluent.
knew what he was afraid of. That she might go downstairs, see Donato
with his latest amante. He was right to be worried. Donato didn’t
suffer mistakes kindly.
Closing his dark eyes briefly he exhaled with some force, and she felt
for him. ‘No matter. You are here now, safe and sound.’ Safe? She
knew he meant Donato was the one that was safe. ‘Please,’ he extended
his arm in invitation to precede him as he held open the tall, carved
inclined her head in thanks, not sure if she could speak as yet, the
scream still bulging against her tight throat.
mistake. That was all it would take for the fractures to become long
jagged crevices and she would fall apart.
composure was too fragile to test with trivialities.
led her straight to Donato’s office, ignoring the openly curious
stares of the office staff. But she felt them, their unsubtle ogling
glances too obvious, the sad looks demoralising, shaking her
whispers seemed to get louder once she’d passed.
Alberto paused and leant down to one of the girls – he must practice
his whisper – asking her to call off the search.
Grace was surprised. They must have been looking for her with some
other girl of Donato’s must be important to him to have involved so
whispers resumed to normal volume as she stepped into the office,
dying instantly as the heavy door shut them out.
Donato’s office was not what you’d expect from a high-flying
billionaire. This five-star hotel had been his first acquisition, the
beginning of a chain that would circle the world. Although he had
offices worldwide this spacious room had been his first and he’d made
it the centre of his empire. It was larger than when he’d first
acquired it, the walls between it and the two offices either side
having been removed so it was now a wide expanse of light and air.
The only signs of opulence were the thick carpet with the
corporation’s logo and the deep curved wooden desk that dominated the
back wall held three sets of double glass doors leading out to a stone
balcony. She’d never understood the need for a balcony that
overlooked a car park, but she supposed there hadn’t always been a car
park there. Not in the 17th century. The age of the
building was discernible in the alabaster mouldings and the door and
window surrounds. All else was modern, stark, uncluttered, unfussy.
well-used round teak table sat to the right with ten chairs; for his
personal knights to gather around; the entire front wall was covered
with stocked wooden bookshelves. To the left was a huddle of comfy
chairs and coffee table, his mother’s touch and rarely used.
Alberto settled her in one now, offering refreshments even as he
solicitously poured a glass of water she didn’t want. She declined
the offer with a shake of her head. Her stomach couldn’t cope with
anything. Her soul…
buzzing sound broke the stillness.
took several seconds to realise it was her mobile phone. Her bag was
still on the coffee table where she’d left it earlier, while waiting
for Donato. Reaching inside she pulled out a flashing mobile.
messages and 6 missed calls. She’d only been gone for 10 minutes.
She scrolled through the messages – they all said the same thing:
Where are you? sent from Alberto’s mobile. The calls were all from
the hotel. She blinked, very surprised, and looked to Alberto for an
explanation. Discomfited, he shrugged his shoulders, looking away.
‘Donato, he had arrived and, uh, I could not find you. You know he
doesn’t like to be kept waiting.’ Not fully convinced by his halting
explanation – she’d seen why he needed to keep her secluded in this
office, after all – she screened her eyes and decided to play along,
nodding her head in acceptance. It wasn’t that Donato didn’t like to
be kept waiting, it was more the case that he’d rarely experienced
it. His family doted on him. His staff all doted on him.
Alberto’s smile reappeared, reassured that she’d accepted his
faltering speech. It wasn’t Alberto’s fault his employer was a
two-timing snake and, judging by the number of calls and messages,
he’d spent long enough panicking over something he should never have
been asked to be involved in.
‘I’ll leave you to... um,’ he hesitated, and she tilted her head
questioningly, waiting politely. ‘You won’t…go…anywhere, will you?’
raised one finely plucked eyebrow imperiously at his presumption. Was
she a prisoner now? Alberto flushed and she took pity on him.
‘No. I shall wait.’ Her voice was hoarse, but Alberto didn’t
notice. Smiling tightly, he backed away hesitantly, still doubtful,
to the door. Even then, once he had it open, he paused, unsure.
waved him on, forcing an upward curve to her lips.
Pursing his mouth he left, shutting the heavy door behind him.
Closing her in.
Replacing her small bag on the coffee table she smoothed the supple
silk of her skirt, her nails a matching shade of baby pink, and stood.
was so silent. Only the sound of her quivering breaths rustled in the
expectant room, the windows so thick that even the drone of Rome’s
busy traffic couldn’t penetrate into Donato’s sanctuary.
could be in a tomb.
Another shiver shook her spine and she felt for her pulse. Faint.
Clinging tightly to her upper arms, attempting to hold her fragile
heart in place, she crossed the space to Donato’s desk.
fingers tingled, itching to trail over the gleaming cherry wood, place
her hands where his would be, but she resisted. Her knee nudged at
the soft leather of his chair and it spun halfway round.
wanted to sit in his chair, absorb his essence, but she resisted that
sun filtered in through the UV protected glass, picking out the dust
motes that danced in the air as she exhaled.
still breathed. Still lived.
wanted to die.
memory of the first time she’d seen him sitting in this chair flew
into her mind, the sun was shining behind him, lighting him up, only
the sky and clouds visible behind him. Like a God.
wasn’t his fault she’d put him on a pedestal.
heaven! Was she making excuses for his behaviour now? Even though
she’d seen him with her own eyes she still couldn’t believe…
She’d dropped a box of trowels on her foot once, ignored the pain for
days and days, limping around until she’d finally given in and visited
the doctor. The result had been a bright pink plaster cast, which
she’d had to haul around for several weeks.
didn’t do to ignore things. She hadn’t learnt.
head hurt. The heavy pain swelled against the barrier she’d erected
to contain it.
though the opening door didn’t make a sound she knew at once he was
there. She always knew.
fine hairs rose on her arms; her heart sped; she could feel the burn
of desire-laced blood waking every sense.
was here and now she was too chicken to face him. It wasn’t
cowardice, it was self-preservation.
While she didn’t look at him, acknowledge him, he was still hers…and
she still lived…
fear churning in her gut she turned her head, gazing at him over her
shoulder. This was the first time she’d seen him in two days, if you
looked the same as always – no, he was thinner. His cheeks were
hollow, as though he hadn’t been eating. There were dark circles
under his lapis blue eyes as though he hadn’t been sleeping.
busy to eat or sleep. Too busy with her?
Neither of them moved. Donato’s unsmiling gaze travelled over her
elegant form. Clad in pale pink and white, long legs bare, she was
beautiful, she knew. She’d made herself beautiful, for him.
white ribbon held back the luxuriant chestnut locks he preferred
unbound, a few tendrils escaping to curl onto her long elegant neck,
meshing with the fine silver chain that held a single rose coloured
pearl, unblemished, perfect.
beauty had not been enough. She had not been enough.
eyes travelled his length in turn, taking in his dark suit and tie.
He looked as though he was on his way to a funeral, but it didn’t
disguise the muscular body underneath.
need to…talk.’ It was the end. His deathly quiet voice matched his
suit, matched his expression. She understood now. The funeral was
for the death of their relationship, this room its resting place.
Relationship? Had they even had that? Arrangement was a more
suitable word, less emotive.
Closing her eyes she turned back to the window and swallowed. It felt
as though the flesh of her body had been replaced with pain.
could do this.
had built up their “arrangement” into more than it was. Prettied it
with the frilly bows of need and companionship when all it had
had no need for emotion. Sex had no need for affection. Sex devoured
and moved on.
large rock that had settled in her chest wobbled alarmingly and she
hugged her arms tightly to hold it in, stop it from rolling out. He
must not see.
Turning to face him she nodded her agreement and baby-stepped her way
back to the chair she’d occupied earlier, even now hoping, praying,
that she was wrong; that this wasn’t the end; he wasn’t going to send
had resilience beyond human imagination.
Following her progress he stopped a few feet away. Pushing his fists
into his pockets, jacket unbuttoned, he looked irritably down at her,
frowning with jaw clenched.
you cold? Where’s your jacket?’ His voice was frigid, pushed out
from between gritted teeth.
shook her head. Even now her treacherous heart flipped at the faint
note of concern in his pool of annoyance. He’d always been
considerate. She couldn’t fault him there. ‘I’m fine.’ Her voice was
barely audible and she cleared her throat. ‘I’m fine,’ she repeated.
was anything but fine.
Ignoring her response he returned to the door and turned the regulator
on the thermostat. The room, like the others at the house, was kept
at the perfect temperature by some unknown silent device.
step was cautious as he approached to stand behind the chair
opposite. Shielding himself? From her? What harm could she do?
have a lot of meetings over the next few days,’ he stated in a low
voice. He spoke as though he was reading a rehearsed speech.
‘They’re mainly out of town so I won’t be able to spend much time
at…at the house.’ The knuckles of his long, elegant fingers whitened
as they clung tightly to the back of the chair.
bit her lip as it trembled; couldn’t he even say the word “home”?
hadn’t spent much time there over the last week, had told her nothing
about his absences, so why the explanation now?
gaze flickered away from hers and settled on the wall behind. ‘I
have…arranged…for you to fly back to England.’ Her eyes widened at
this news. ‘You’ll be closer to your family and friends. You won’t
be so… lonely.’
just a few words the chain that anchored her to his side was severed.
He was sending her away. This was it. It had come. The empty, greedy
chasm gaped wider to swallow their…arrangement.
She’d expected it, but not yet. Please, not yet…
‘I’ll call you. I’ll…’ he blew out a ragged breath, bowing his head,
‘uh, I’ll come over in a few days and we can…’ his accent, never
noticeable before, was thickening, his arm waving vaguely. He
couldn’t even look at her as he discarded her from his life. Was she
not worth even a glance?
understand. I’ll go and pack.’ Where did those cool words come from?
Why wasn’t she arguing? Demanding? Begging? Anything to negate the
started to rise but he waved her down again. ‘No need,’ he dismissed
curtly. ‘Your bags are packed and were sent on an earlier flight.’
was it about her that she couldn’t be trusted to do her own packing?
‘Christos will escort you. All the arrangements are made.’
course. So efficient, with no room for manoeuvre. A method he’d
perfected in the boardroom. Had she expected anything else? A chance
to say goodbye to the others perhaps.
phone on his desk rang simultaneously with a knock on the door.
‘Basta! Avanti!’ Slapping his palms against the chair back he
growled his annoyance at the interruption, picking up the receiver at
the same time as Christos, his driver, entered. This was only the
second time she’d seen Donato so angry and agitated and she wondered
at his lack of control.
rose to greet the well-dressed man – she didn’t think she’d seen a
single member of his staff who didn’t look or dress well – sending him
a forced smile, while Donato spoke quietly but fiercely into the
phone, his rigid back displaying his anger.
voice was too low for her to make out the words, but it was clear
something had gone wrong.
She’d never seen Donato so worked up about the business before.
hesitated, unsure if she ought to wait. But what more was to be
said? Was she really going to hang around waiting for…what? A hug?
A kiss? And how much worse would it be if neither was forthcoming?
the moment was here – this final moment when she was able to look upon
him uninvited, uninterrupted as hers for the last time. She regretted
not taking advantage of all the opportunities she’d had before;
regretted not savouring every single undiluted second of his company.
But one never knows when the end will come and it is a given that one
always regrets not doing more.
‘Addio, mio amore,’ she breathed silently to his back. Her stinging
eyes refused to blink, wanted to take their fill of him while they
still could. His dark silhouette hunched over the desk, preying over
the person he spoke to, ready to savage them in his all-consuming
anger. So unlike the carefree, laughing Donato she knew him to be.
Without waiting another second she silently crossed to the door and
walked out, with Christos following close behind.
didn’t breathe again until they were in the lift, going down.
limousine was already waiting outside and she allowed a concerned
Christos to help her into the back.
one stopped her.
one came running out asking her to please, wait. Don’t go.
hairline crack appeared in her composure, a little of the frantic
reaction she’d been suppressing leaked out and she had to clutch at
the car; her knees were decidedly wobbly as she slid onto the back
seat, trembling. Her jacket was exactly where she’d left it, on the
seat from when she’d arrived, and she pulled it on with shaking
fingers but the cold didn’t release it’s biting grip.
Christos turned from his position in the driver’s seat as the central
partition sighed out of view.
‘Siete tutto il di destra?’ he enquired. Her Italian had improved
vastly over the last couple of months and she replied in the same.
she was fine. She maintained the shallow upward curve to her mouth
as, with a less-than-satisfied nod, he depressed the button to raise
the partition and returned her to her privacy.
yet, she urged her churning stomach. Soon…Soon.
Christos walked her into the bustling airport, organised her ticket
and seats, and saw her swiftly through security with barely enough
time before the gate closed, a troubled frown marring his face the
had taken less than an hour to get from Donato’s office and into the
first class seat where she was being offered champagne, orange juice
and canapés. She rejected everything but water. The swiftness of the
whole process took her breath away.
man in the seat across the aisle was staring. She turned away.
continued to stare, she could sense the attention pressing against her
chilled skin, but every time she turned to catch him out his head was
lowered to the open book in his lap.
Maybe she was paranoid. He didn’t look any different to the other
passengers, just an average, non-descript person with wire-framed
spectacles, dressed in a dark business suit.
Putting down the water she sagged into the deep cushioned seat.
Holding back her emotions was exhausting. Even now her mind was
turning to the trip she’d made on the way out. How different she’d
arrival had been based on a single question: ‘Will you come to Italy
departure was decided on just as few words: ‘I have arranged for you
to fly back…’ Not a question this time. Not a choice.
flight was fast as they had a good wind. Everything was transpiring
to remove her from Donato as swiftly as possible.
declined heated towels, a meal and more drinks. All she wanted,
needed, she’d left behind her in the office, dressed in a dark suit.
A sneaky tendril of hysteria attempted to escape from deep within her
and was quickly quashed, but a fragile moan still managed to squeeze
through. She squeezed close her stinging eyes and pressed two slender
fingers to her lips, before returning to her blank inspection of the
windowpane. She’d been practising this rigid hold on her composure
for days now.
man was still staring; she caught him out once, fleetingly, before his
gaze dropped, the flash of light on his glasses giving him away.
the pilot announced that they were entering Swiss airspace and
directed them to enjoy the majestic view below, her stomach lurched
sickeningly. She couldn’t look, couldn’t watch the distance stretch
between now and what had been. Instead she flicked blindly through
one of the magazines a steward had left conveniently close.
of the corner of her eye she caught the faint movement as the man
turned over a page. If nothing else he was keeping her mind
stopped flicking, transfixed by one glossy photograph. A small grainy
picture of Donato, exiting from the restaurant he’d taken her to
during their first time in Rome, took up three inches on a colourful
page featuring eligible bachelors. His right arm was curved around a
girl. The girl wasn’t Grace.
flipped back to the front of the magazine – this week’s edition of the
Italian gossip pages.
Despite the bad quality of the print there was no mistaking those
shoulders, that hair or that smile. When they’d eaten at that
restaurant, she recalled, he’d run, furious, after the photographer
who’d tried to take a snap of them. Yet here he was, smiling
assuredly into the camera, taking pride in the girl he escorted. It
was the same girl from this morning.
Grace’s finger stroked over his happy face, down his chest and
trousers to his shoes. One foot was poised to step out of the
building, the rest of him still inside, protectively bowed over the
wanted to lift him off the page. Her finger curled and pressed so the
nail scored around his frame. It merely indented the paper.
Peeling the page away from the rest of the magazine she tore away the
excess – all that wasn’t Donato – and slipped him, smiling, one arm
missing, into her jacket pocket.
head dropped back onto the headrest.
been smiling, laughing, as she hadn’t seen him laugh in weeks, as he
had when she’d first met him. The bubble of memory burst and flooded