This is a very early draft and the book doesn’t have a title.

Here we have a character from Valley of Lies making another appearance.

Most writers don’t share first drafts at all, but I’m happy to share it with members of the site, and that means you’ll need to register or sign in.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

Her trusty trug in the crook of her arm, Marjorie Treave let herself into the chicken run and securely fastened the door behind her. Her bantams were a feisty bunch, and there were one or two who’d make a dash for freedom given half a chance.

But today, they obediently gathered around her, gazing up expectantly.

“Here you go, my lovelies,” Marjorie cooed, dipping into the trug to dispense a generous handful of freshly pulled weeds from the garden and offcuts of vegetables from the kitchen. The chickens set to, clucking excitedly as they pecked away. A few of the dandelions were complete with roots, and the soil clinging to them harboured slugs and insects or even, if the chickens were lucky, a worm or two.

Her flock contented, Marjorie strolled over to the hen house. The chicken wire enclosure was topped with nylon netting to keep the wild birds out—a precaution against outbreaks of bird flu and the like—but there was plenty of headroom, and she could walk across the run without stooping. The henhouse, too, was of generous proportions. The size of a small shed, she’d had it built by Jay Markham, before he’d turned his hand to painting and decorating, and he’d done a decent job. At any rate, the henhouse was a few years old but still kept her flock warm and dry, and there were extra ventilation slots that could be opened in the warmer months.

She’d insisted on the whole thing being built with good quality timber, all of it planed smooth, and though Jay had grumbled about the extra work, it had paid dividends. She’d had no problems with the mites that made their home in less well built henhouses, and while she had breath in her body, so it would remain.

Marjorie examined the wood shavings on the floor. It didn’t need changing yet, a fact helped by the drier weather, and the straw lining the nest boxes was still in good condition.

Marjorie inspected the nest boxes and murmured, “Well done, girls.” Between the four nest boxes there were five eggs, their pure white shells clean, and some were still warm when she picked them up and placed them gently in her trug. She checked the small containers of crushed oyster shells hanging on the henhouse wall, and they were fine. All that remained was to change the birds’ drinking water. Marjorie lifted the plastic drinker carefully so as not to spill a drop, but as she stepped out the henhouse, she almost let go of the thing entirely.

A young man stood in the lane, watching her over the fence. The narrow road reached her house and ended in a turning circle, so it was used only by visitors, or those who came to buy eggs or honey or homemade jam at the garden gate. This young man looked like he didn’t belong in either category.

He was tall and deeply tanned, and though he couldn’t have been more than twenty-five or so, he wore a full beard. His long hair was tied back, and there was something about his brown eyes that put Marjorie in mind of a film star, though she couldn’t, for the life of her, remember the actor’s name.

“Hello,” she called out, her tone making it clear that she didn’t enjoy being spied on. “Are you lost?”

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