#blogtour – I Know Where You Live by Pat Young @py321_young @Bloodhoundbook #extract
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for I Know Where You Live by Pat Young. I’ll be sharing an extract with you today. This book is the sequel to Till the Dust Settles which I reviewed last year. Thank you to Sarah Hardy for the spot on the tour.
Penny believes she’s being watched. Yet no one should know where she lives.
Penny seizes the chance of a new life for her family when her husband is offered a job in Europe.
At the airport, they meet charming Sophie, fluent in French and looking for work as an au pair. Penny, struggling to cope in France, offers Sophie a job and she soon becomes an important part of the family’s life. But Sophie is hiding something.
Then Penny’s toddler son, Ethan, is abducted and an international hunt for the child
begins. The police beg Penny and her husband to take part in a television appeal but the couple refuse. Unknown to the police, Penny and Seth have new identities and are determined to lay low and protect them. But it may be too late for that.
Who has taken Ethan and why?
Are the couple’s true identities linked to the abduction?
And who has been watching them?
To save her son Penny may have to put her own life on the line.
Penny searched the departures board. Their flight was still delayed.
She sighed out her disappointment, her shoulders sagging, and touched the back of her neck. Same spot she always felt the tingle – when she was being watched.
No, not here.
He couldn’t be here. It wasn’t possible.
She turned, scanning faces.
And caught him staring. She looked away, expecting him to disappear like that time in the shopping mall. There one moment, vanished the next, as if she’d imagined him.
When she looked again, he was still there. Still looking at her. She stared back, taking in his dark hair, pale face, his slim build and his height, taller than average. Mentally noting details, gathering evidence. Doing what she should have done before.
He dropped his gaze, guilty. Pushed back the cuff of a business jacket and checked his wrist. He was too far away for her to see his watch, but she imagined a Rolex.
He fixed his sleeve and looked up again. Straight at her.
Something snapped, like an elastic in her head. How dare he?
Penny walked towards him, concentrating on his face, not knowing what she was going to say, but hoping she’d sound brave and serious enough to scare him off. For good.
She’d had enough fear. Enough hiding. Enough running away.
He saw her coming and smiled.
She stopped. Held her ground as he approached. She decided what she’d say. ‘Back off. Leave me alone.’
He swerved around her, brushing past with a quiet apology. ‘Pardon me, ma’am,’ he said.
Oh, he was cool, she’d give him that.
She turned, prepared to follow. Saw him open his arms. Noticed the woman, running towards him, her face full of love. They collided, embraced, and hurried away towards the departure gates.
Penny deflated as if all the breath had left her body at the same time. She started to laugh, more manic than amused. People passed, not noticing her, or choosing not to see.
She looked around for somewhere to go till she composed herself.
Seth had told her to take her time, grab a coffee or a glass of wine, a break from the kids who were bored by the long delay and grouchy. Wine was tempting but unwise before a transatlantic flight, so Penny chose coffee and settled at a table where she could keep an eye on the departures screen.
She felt free in a way that made her want to smile at everyone. No more fear. She’d been terrified for months, convinced she was being watched. When all the time the only thing stalking her was her own terror. Why couldn’t she see that before? Or tell Seth, so he could convince her she was being silly?
She would have told Janey, without hesitation. Because Janey would have cared. Janey had protected people like them for more than twenty years. In the early days, Penny used to lie awake worrying about how she’d cope without Janey. And then, suddenly, she’d had to.
A replacement had been appointed. Marcus. Young, flash, on his way up. Eyes on a higher goal. Not really interested in her and Seth, she felt. They’d been part of the Witness Security program for almost ten years, after all. Expected to need ‘minimal’ support.
She knew he had more interesting cases. High-risk witnesses. Running from murderous gangsters who had connections everywhere. Not like you, he seemed to imply, dismissive of her fears.
‘How often have you seen this guy?’ he’d asked, when she’d plucked up enough courage to share her fears. He leaned towards her, smooth chin cupped in his manicured hand. She caught a whiff of cologne.
‘I’m not sure.’
‘A couple of times.’
‘A couple being? Twice, three times?’
‘Don’t know. I’ve seen him twice. But before that I had, you know, the feeling I was being watched.’
‘The feeling?’ He had leaned back in his seat at this point and balanced for a second on its hind legs. Then straightened as if he’d remembered to take her seriously.
‘Yeah,’ said Penny, ‘like when you just know someone’s staring at you? But you look round and no one’s there.’
He’d shuffled some papers. A message, she felt, that he was a busy man with more important work to do.
‘One day in K-Mart, for example. I was picking out a dress for my daughter’s birthday party and I just had this feeling – that someone was watching me.’
‘Was someone watching you?’
‘I’m sure he was. But when I looked round, he was gone.’
‘How do you know it was a “he”, if “he” was gone?’
‘I saw him another time. At the school. I’m sure I did. When I went to fetch Angel.’
‘What did he look like?’
‘I don’t know. Kind of medium height? Yeah, not that tall.’
‘Anything else? Young? Old? Gimme something to work with, please.’
She couldn’t. It was like trying to conjure up her mum’s face in the months after she died.
‘Was he black, white …?’
‘Well,’ he sighed, ‘that sure narrows it down.’ He had the grace to smile, which relaxed her a bit.
‘Sorry, I’m not much help, am I?’ It was like being back in that scary place when she was being prepared by the FBI lawyers to give testimony. Frantic in case she’d get it wrong and Scott Millburn would go free. Free to come after her again. Or to send someone to kill her like they’d killed Charlotte.
Her confidence deserted her, just like it had in those months before the trial.
‘You’re doing okay,’ he said, checking his phone as he spoke, as if something or someone more important needed his attention. ‘Sorry, I was just checking your notes.’
‘You carry them around on your phone?’ Great, something else for her to worry about.
‘I access them, that’s all. It says here that you’re a writer.’
Penny gave him an embarrassed smile. ‘Who told you that? Seth? I would like to be a writer, as in, I’ve got a book in my head. Unfortunately, small kids don’t leave too much time for Mommy to become a bestselling author.’
‘I hear you,’ he said. ‘It’s just, I went out with a girl once who was a writer. Man! She just about drove me crazy. Talk about hyperactive imagination.’
‘Did she go, “What if the plane crashes? What if a hurricane hits?” Catastrophising all the time?’
‘What if someone’s watching me?’ he said, with a sly grin.
‘Okay,’ said Penny. ‘I take your point. Seth would probably agree with you. Poor guy, he’s had ten years of this. He’s always telling me to chill.’
‘Seth’s right. You should try to lose the fear. You don’t have to worry.’
‘How often do you say that in a day?’
‘Many times. But it’s true. You’re a brave lady. Not everyone would agree to be alone in her apartment with a felon, wearing a wire to record his every word. Even with the FBI waiting outside the door. Then you testified in court. That takes courage.’
He’d paused, as if waiting for her to agree.
‘Penny, Scott Millburn is in high-security prison. He’ll be there for a very long time for what he did. And his contact with the outside world is minimal. Trust me, he is no threat to you.’
She had heard this so often she barely listened anymore. She laughed, for his benefit, as if she hadn’t a care in the world, and squirmed at the sound of it. ‘Oh, I’m just being silly. This isn’t the first time I’ve been convinced someone was watching. I don’t suppose it will be the last.’
Penny had known then she couldn’t stick around to find out. ‘Say, I wanted to ask you something.’ She’d tried to sound casual. ‘Could we move away, d’you think?’
‘I’m pretty sure you could. But I’d advise you to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to this guy you “think” is watching.’
When Seth had come home a few nights later and mentioned he’d been offered the chance to go and work in Toulouse, Penny had thought her prayers had been answered.
‘The aerospace industry’s huge there,’ Seth had explained. ‘And they’re offering a six-month exchange opportunity to highly qualified workers.’ He’d thumbed his chest in mock pride.
‘We should go,’ Penny had said. ‘Why not?’
‘Why not?’ He looked at her as if she’d gone mad. ‘You know why not. Small matter of our identity?’
‘It’s almost ten years. Surely it’s okay for us to leave the country now?’
And it would be okay, if the damn plane ever took off. Penny drained her coffee mug and went to relieve Seth.
Ethan was squirming in his daddy’s arms, his little face red and streaked with tears. He was crying in a grizzling, exhausted way that tore at her and demanded she do something to comfort him.
Seth looked up as she approached. ‘Hey,’ he said, with his usual grin. Nothing fazed this man.
She still thought of him as Dylan sometimes, although she never, ever said his real name in public, or in front of the kids. Except for that once, yesterday. They’d made a whistle-stop tour of New York City, the first time either of them had been back. Penny had been keen to visit the 9/11 memorial because it felt the right thing to do. She wanted to say a private goodbye to the person she used to be, all those years ago. In that place of sanctity, she had felt completely safe and his old name had simply slipped out. ‘I love you, Dylan.’
‘You okay, Peanut?’
Penny smiled. His many versions of her new name always had that effect on her. ‘Yeah,’ she said, nodding. ‘Sorry I was away so long.’
‘Look pretty worried there. Bad news?’
‘More delay. No word of how long. Some guy says it’s an air traffic control dispute. Apparently, the French are guilty of striking at short notice. “At the drop of a baguette” was how he put it.’
‘And the rest of the world can go hang? Nice one! Remind me, whose idea was it to go live in France?’ His grin told her he was teasing and she smiled in return.
‘Poor Ethan. Shall I take him for a bit?’ she asked.
Ethan had stopped whining and was watching his sister, who was on the floor building an impressive pyramid of the playing cards they’d brought for Go Fish.
As Angel carefully positioned the top card, the PA system announced a flight that was about to board and a large man bustled out of his seat and gathered his belongings. He swept off, creating a draught in his wake that demolished Angeline’s creation. The child looked astonished. And then appalled. Penny knew what would come next.
Angeline inhaled a lungful of air, her mouth distorting into the perfect square that every parent dreads, but, before a tear had fallen, a young woman dropped to her knees beside the child and began to pick up the cards. Like a conjuror, she made the first card flip over in mid-air and caught it. Then a second, then a third. Angeline seemed mesmerised.
‘You wanna try?’ asked the young woman.
Penny’s well-trained child looked to her for reassurance that it was okay to engage with this stranger. Habit made Penny want to gather her children to her, but she reminded herself: no more fear. She nodded to her daughter and watched as Angel mastered the simple trick. Ethan, quiet now, climbed down and stood, leaning on his daddy’s knee, eyes on his sister.
The young woman noticed Ethan. Taking a handful of cards, she made one pop up and down out of the pack. Each time the card popped up, she said, ‘Peek-boo!’ and Ethan giggled on cue.
Penny stood, shaking her head. It never failed to amaze her how quickly kids could go from inconsolable to enchanted.
‘You’re a lifesaver,’ said Penny. ‘You should get a job here, hire yourself out by the hour. People like me would pay you to entertain their kids. Look at these two. You’d never guess how long they’ve been cooped up waiting for a plane that might never take off.’
Angeline, always listening, piped up, ‘Aren’t we going to France now, Mommy?’
‘Course we are, sweetie. In a little while.’
Ethan scooted round and sat himself down next to Angeline’s new friend who said, in a mock-astonished voice, ‘Fra-ance? Wow! Amazing! That’s where I’m going!’
Angel laughed and Ethan copied his sister, then said in an excited voice, ‘Big airplane.’
‘Wow! Amazing! I’m going in a big airplane too!’
‘Mommy, can we sit beside her on the airplane? Can we, Mommy?’
Penny leaned forward and tucked a stray lock of Angel’s blonde hair under her favourite pink Alice band. Smiling, she said, ‘See what you’ve gotten yourself into?’ She held her hand out in a gesture that might prompt the young woman to reveal a name. It worked.
‘Sophie,’ she said, ‘enchantée.’
‘Hi, Sophie. This is Angeline, usually known as Angel, though she doesn’t always live up to her name.’
Sophie took Angel’s hand in hers and shook it, very formally, saying, ‘Hello, Miss Angeline. I’m very pleased to meet you.’
Angel giggled and Ethan held out his hand towards Sophie.
‘His name’s Ethan,’ said Angel. ‘He’s my little brother.’
‘Our kids are showing us up,’ said Seth, reaching across to offer his hand. ‘I’m Seth Gates and this is my wife, Penelope.’
‘Most folk call me Penny.’
‘Daddy sometimes calls her another name,’ said Angel, then clasped both hands over her mouth, as if she shouldn’t have said anything. Penny’s heart stopped. Had the children overheard her and Seth in bed some night when everyone ought to have been asleep? Could Angel have been listening yesterday and caught Penny’s slip of the tongue?
‘Ooh,’ said Sophie. ‘I wonder what that can be?’
‘Daddy calls Mommy …’ Angeline paused and looked at her mother, clearly trying to gauge her reaction. Penny felt frozen. She tried hard to smile, which was all the encouragement Angel needed.
‘Peanut!’ she screamed and burst into hysterical laughter. At the nickname or, more likely, the fact she’d been naughty enough to reveal a family secret to a stranger.
‘Someone’s getting a little bit overexcited, Sophie. I’m sorry.’
‘Please don’t apologise. It’s a pleasant diversion. My Kindle battery’s dead so your kids are, like, doing me a favour. Anyway, I need the practice.’
‘I’m hoping to find work as an au pair, ideally in a family with children. I’m kinda counting on it, to be honest, cos I’m not too keen on earning my keep by doing bar work or waitressing.’
‘Speak any French? Apart from enchanté?’ asked Seth, voicing one of his main concerns about their plan to live in France for a while.
‘I grew up bilingual. American mom, French dad. They met when my dad came to the States to study Louisiana French for his thesis. He swept her off her feet apparently. Then swept himself off out of our lives.’ She shrugged. ‘C’est la vie. How about you folks?’
‘Don’t speak any French at all. I’ve heard they all speak English, at least that’s what the guys at work said. Still, we’re hoping to take some lessons while we’re over there and Penny’s particularly keen for the kids to learn. We plan to send Angel to school and see if she likes it.’
‘That’s a great idea. They’ll soak French up like little sponges. Watch this.’
Sophie showed them a game of counting cards in French and within minutes Angel knew the numbers one to ten, and Ethan could say, ‘Un, deux, trois.’
‘Boy, I wish we could learn that fast,’ said Seth. ‘Are you a teacher, Sophie?’
‘No, but I’d like to be. Just not ready to go straight from college into teaching. I want to see a bit of the world first, starting with Paris. Where are you folks heading?’
‘Few days in Paris and then right down to the south. We’re doing a house exchange for six months.’
‘That’s amazing. My dad came from the South of France. You don’t think it could be the same town, do you?’
‘We’re heading for a place called Carcassonne.’
‘I’ve heard of it. Isn’t that where they filmed that Kevin Costner movie?’
‘That’s right. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Angeline is very excited about living near a castle, aren’t you, kiddo?’
The child nodded. ‘I want to see a princess.’
Penny became aware of people around them stirring. ‘Is it worth checking the board again?’ she asked Seth.
Before he could answer, passengers on Air France flight number FR543 to Paris were invited to proceed to the gate for immediate boarding. A cheer went up and Seth said, ‘Guess the strike’s off.’
‘Looks like it,’ said Penny. ‘No going back now.’
Hope that has whetted your appetite!
Pat Young grew up in the south west of Scotland where she still lives, sometimes. She often goes to the other extreme, the south west of France, in search of sunlight.
Pat never expected to be a writer. Then she found a discarded book with a wad of cash tucked in the flyleaf. ‘What if something awful happened to the person who lost this book?’ she thought, and she was off.
Pat knew nothing of writing, but she knew a thing or two about books, having studied English, French and German at Glasgow University. A passion for languages led to a career she loved and then a successful part-time business that allowed her some free-time, at last.
Pat had plans, none of which included sitting at her desk from daybreak till dusk. But some days she has to. Because there’s a story to be told. And when it’s done, she can go out to play. On zip-wires and abseil ropes, or just the tennis court.