We have a treat for all you crime fans!
Saving Rose is Kate’s latest novel, and we’re bringing it out this December – follow us on social media, or subscribe to our newsletter to hear the exact date.
Here’s the blurb – then read on for the first two chapters. We hope they whet your appetite!
Driven, professional sailor Claire Wilde is home on a flying visit to see friends and family. She’s especially looking forward to catching up with best friend Zoe,and meeting Zoe’s daughter, Rose.
But Christchurch is a city on shaky ground, and when it is hit by a big earthquake, secrets are suddenly exposed that Claire and Zoe had never even guessed at. In seconds, everything is changed.
Drawn into a terrible game of cat and mouse with a paedophile and killer she never suspected, Claire finds herself chasing a man who won’t stop until he gets what he wants — three-year-old Rose. Tested even to her considerable limits, Claire is about to discover exactly how far she is willing to go to protect another woman’s child.
‘Dad, turn that off – it’s rubbish, nothing you haven’t already seen.’
Her mother tugged on her arm, a wide smile under her tangle of hair. ‘But we’re proud of you, love,’ she said.
Claire shook her head as her dad waggled the TV remote in his hand, staring at the screen as he did so.
‘They had someone waiting for me at the airport in Auckland,’ Claire said on a sigh,sitting down in the sunshine and light of her childhood home. She stretched and listened to the bones in her back creak. The flight from Cape Town to Auckland,then down here to Christchurch, had been long, dull, but now she was here,worth it.
Her mother was still beaming at her. ‘But of course they did – you know how New Zealand is about its sailors. You’re a national hero.’ But her smile disappeared as she watched the pictures playing across the screen, one hand going to press against her chest.
Claire looked away from her mother to the television. They were playing the old clip again. Her mother always got upset when she saw the rescue footage.
‘You still keep in touch with him?’ her father Frank asked, gesturing at the grainy footage of a spray-swept life raft.
She nodded, forgetting to answer out loud, gaze fixed on the past with its dark, heaving swell of ocean and in the midst of it, a bobbing yellow life raft. Her own boat came into view, looking from the overhead Royal Australian Air Force plane like a pathetic toy tossed about in the vast callousness of the Southern Ocean.
She’d seen on some website just recently a one-line entry describing the Vendee Globe solo around-the-world race.
The Vendee Globe is extreme. Period.
From Vendee, France, down the Atlantic Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope, then clockwise around Antarctica, keeping Cape Horn to port, then back to Les Sables d’Olonne in France. Most competitors never completed the race.
Then it washer face on the television screen, the footage from her cockpit camera, and her grin was a wild bearing of teeth as she struggled to drag aboard the man in the survival suit.
‘Turn it off, Dad,’ she said again. ‘The rescue was a year ago. Time to move on.’ The news programme cut to the dark-haired journalist who had been waiting for her when she’d come through customs at the airport, and there again was her own tired face, this time the one she’d seen in the mirror that morning. She couldn’t help the wince, even while she knew she should be glad of the publicity. She was back home, not just to see her parents, after all, but to get sponsorship for her next big race.
The woman on screen was giving a quick rundown of the famous Vendee rescue, and Claire watched herself nod when the woman asked her a question.
‘You do the right thing by your fellow sailors,’ she replied on television. ‘Any one of us would have gone back to rescue Matthias.’ She watched herself give an awkward smile and a one-shouldered shrug. ‘You live or die by your decisions out thereon the ocean. It doesn’t mean you’re never afraid, but you simply step up anyway, and do what needs to be done.’
Zoe tucked the phone under her ear and scowled. Damn these cell phones were too flat to hold on your shoulder and she didn’t have one single clue where the Bluetooth ear thingee was. It could be anywhere in this mess. Danny was a terrific stay-at-home dad, but she suspected the laundry bred in the corner at night while they were sleeping.
‘Hang on a minute, Claire,’ she said. ‘I need about another eleven hands.’
Claire laughed on the other end and Zoe thought how great it was to hear her friend’s voice again and know that for once Claire wasn’t talking to her over Skype from some far-away exotic country, or even from aboard some yacht that pitched and rolled about in a way that made Zoe dizzy every time but which didn’t even seem to faze Claire one bit.
‘Rose has a birthday party this afternoon,’ she explained. ‘And is refusing to wear anything but a princess dress.’ Zoe rolled her eyes. ‘Of which she has about five because Danny keeps buying the damned things for her.’ She gripped the phone and pounced on another pile of clothes. One she would have sworn hadn’t been there when she went to bed last night.
‘I can’t wait to see the little kiddo,’ Claire said in her ear. ‘But since when is she into princess stuff?’
More eye-rolling. ‘It’s those bloody Disney movies. Rose watches them over and over and over.’ She sat down on the edge of the bed. ‘And thanks to Danny, she has the dresses to go with them. And the dolls. Can’t forget the dolls. No way.They go everywhere with her. Heaven help you if you forget the dolls.’
As if Zoe had conjured her up, her daughter sidled into the room, Rapunzel wedged under one arm, and the golden-haired Disney character’s horse grasped tight in a small fist.
‘And here she is,’ Zoe said. ‘The wee mischief-maker herself.’
There was a happy sigh from the phone. ‘We’re still on for lunch tomorrow, right?’
It was Monday tomorrow, a workday, but Zoe was determined to catch up with Claire all the same. She could take a proper lunch break for once. Heck, usually she crammed a sandwich down her throat in the car between clients and tried to keep it down as she went over the latest case of child neglect and abuse. She deserved a proper lunch.
‘You bet. Our old haunt on Oxford Street, okay? They’ve done it up and it’s really nice now. I’m going to have a glass of wine and a huge plate of Alfredo to go with it.’
‘Sounds delicious. Will you bring Rose?’
Zoe tickled the little girl at her knee under the chin, but the child just leaned against her and didn’t smile.
‘I thought we’d do the grown-up thing first,’ Zoe said. ‘I actually want both of us to be able to get a word in edgewise.’
‘Mummy?’ Rose said, her small face puckered into a frown.
‘What, Sweetie-pie?’ Zoe asked, knowing Claire wouldn’t mind a three-way conversation for a minute.
‘Mummy?’ Rose said again. ‘Is Daddy a Prince Charming?’
Zoe couldn’t help a little snicker. ‘He’s our Prince Charming. Why? What’s the matter, Rosie Posy?’
Rose sighed, and Zoe stroked her hair, knowing the little girl wished it was as long as Rapunzel’s because she was always asking how long it would take for it to grow. Probably a long time, Zoe always told her, since it was really a tangled bird’s nest of unruly red curls.
‘I’m not sure,’ Rose said, her lower lip quivering.
A kiss on the top of the tangle. ‘Not sure about what?’
Nipping at the quivering lip with her sharp little teeth, Rose looked up at Zoe. ‘He yelled at me,’ she said.
Zoe couldn’t help the smile. Yelling could be almost anything above a whisper if i twas something Rose didn’t want to hear. Three years old and the child could be oddly sensitive.
‘That’s okay, Rosie Posy,’ she said. ‘He didn’t mean it.’
Rapunzel made an appearance and shook her long blonde hair. ‘Yes, he did, Mummy. He said I sneaked up on him, but I didn’t. I wanted him to fix the movie. It wouldn’t play, and I pressed all the right buttons, Mummy, I really did. And I didn’t even goin.’ The words came out in a rush that puffed up her cheeks.
‘In where?’ Zoe asked, but she knew the answer as soon as the words were out. ‘Danny’s office is his sacred space,’ she explained for Claire’s benefit. ‘We go in there on pain of death.’ She wrapped an arm around her little daughter and planted another kiss on the tangles, already wondering where the hairbrush was.Sometimes Rose used it on her dollies and then it could end up anywhere.
She smiled at Rose. ‘Daddy didn’t mean it,’ she said. ‘You probably just gave him a fright if he didn’t see you. Sometimes adults get growly when you give them a fright.’ She lifted Rose onto her lap and the child was warm against her, fragrant with baby shampoo from her bath.
‘Are you going to cry, Rose?’ she asked. ‘Because I’ll get Daddy to come collect your tears if you are.’ She smiled at the giggle she’d known she would get.
‘He tried that once, didn’t he Mummy?’ Rose said, and Zoe hugged her tighter.
‘Yes, he did, Rose Red. A princess’s tears are very strong, after all, and make the best magic potions. He popped you on the table in the kitchen, remember, and told you to keep crying so he could bottle them all. Every last one.’
Rose was nodding. ‘He got a little bottle, and the brush you use on the roast meat.’
‘And then you stopped crying and he didn’t get any. Not a single tear.’
‘They’re my tears,’ Rose said. ‘I need them.’
‘Oh,’ Zoe said. ‘No tears this time either, then?’
Rose frowned. ‘No,’ she said. But her frown deepened, and a small storm brewed on her face as she remembered the outrage that had been committed. ‘But I didn’t sneak up on him, Mummy, and I wasn’t trying to see the photos. They were stupid. The girl wasn’t even wearing anything.’
That made Zoe blink. ‘She wasn’t wearing anything?’
Rose shook her head and burrowed close again. ‘She didn’t have a dress on.’
‘No dress on?’ It didn’t sound right. Couldn’t be right. A long, thin blade sliced up under her ribs and pricked at her heart.
Another shake of red curls. ‘She didn’t have a princess dress.’
Zoe’s heart restarted. Rose thought the bridesmaid’s dresses counted as princess clothes, so Danny was obviously going over one of his non-wedding shoots. She hugged her little girl closer. Her job as a social worker must be getting to her, making her think the worst.
‘It’s all right, Rosie Red,’ Zoe said. ‘Even Daddies can be grumpy sometimes.’ She poked at Rapunzel and the horse. ‘Where’s Prince Charming?’
A sniff from her daughter. ‘I don’t like him anymore,’ Rose said, still hugging her mother. ‘Rapunzel is going to marry her horse instead.’