He had found exactly the right spot in the woods. A little clearing, green and dim, encircled by tall trees. He would bring his lovely Helen here… This time, it was going to be perfect.
When Alicia Bryson returns to her childhood home in a tiny Yorkshire village, she finds her estranged father frail and unable to care for himself. Her daughter Jenny is delighted at the prospect of a whole summer playing in the woods at the bottom of the garden, but as soon as Alicia sets foot in Lower Banford, strange and disturbing memories begin to plague her. What happened in her father’s house, all those years ago?
But coping with the uncertainty and arranging Bob's care plan aren’t Alicia’s only problems. Unknown to her, she has a stalker. Someone is watching, waiting, making plans of his own. To him, Alicia and Jenny are his beautiful Helens… and they should be in Paradise.
* * * *
Friday, 7th July
He had found exactly the right spot in the woods. A little clearing, green and dim, encircled by tall trees. A magical, mystery place. He would bring his lovely Helen here, and no-one would ever find them. No-one would hear her when she screamed and begged for mercy, and no-one would come running to rescue her, like they’d tried to with the first Helen. This time, it was going to be perfect. A sacrament – something holy. He was looking forward to it so much.
He’d first noticed her in the village shop last weekend. She was buying bread and fruit, and he’d even helped her when she dropped an orange and it rolled down the aisle towards him. He picked it up and handed it back to her, and just for a second their eyes had met. In that brief moment he’d known. He had found another Helen. She had Helen’s brown eyes, Helen’s long dark hair; even the shape of her body was Helen. Slim, but with delicious curves in all the right places.
Of course he hadn’t said anything then, just ‘you’re welcome’ when she smiled a quick ‘thank you’. Her eyes were dark and troubled, and a sudden rush of sweat prickled all over his body. He went and hung around behind the shelf with the soap powder until she’d paid and left, and then he asked old Mrs Mullen at the check-out who she was. Mrs Mullen was the biggest gossip in Lower Banford, and usually he was very careful not to start her off. He didn’t want to be seen chit-chatting about the village people in their local shop. Now, however, he listened gratefully as she prattled on.
‘That’s Alicia Bryson, Bob Logan’s daughter. She’s up for the day to see poor Bob after that last little stroke he had, his fifth one I hear and he’s not doing so well. Margaret Cairns – his sister, you know, she looks after Bob but it’s getting too much for her, she’s nearly seventy herself after all – was saying yesterday that Alicia and her little girl were coming for the summer too. I suppose…’
He hadn’t listened any more. Alicia Bryson? No, she was Helen… his Helen. And she’d be in Lower Banford all summer, that was all that mattered. He would find her and make her his own darling love. And there was a child, too, another Helen? Little Helen? How perfect.
And now it was Friday and the sun was setting behind his beautiful woods. Most schools had broken up today, so his Helens might be packing now, getting ready for their journey even as he was thinking about them. Mrs Mullen would know when they were due; he would go and find out first thing tomorrow. And then, whenever it was, he’d be waiting for them. Big Helen and little Helen, and very soon they’d be on their way to join his first Helen, in Paradise.
He would do it all in a beautiful ceremony at the holy place in the woods, and surely then he’d be able to lay the ghost of his own special darling to rest. Helen, haunting him from Paradise.
She wouldn’t be alone for much longer.
* * * *
I haven't read this yet but after reading that I can't wait to dive in! As I mentioned at the beginning of this post The Paradise Trees has been re-published and it's available to download now for 99p/$1.32 for a limited time.
Amazon UK 🇬🇧
Amazon US 🇺🇸
|Photo courtesy of Linda Huber|
Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Currently she teaches one day a week, and writes psychological suspense novels and feel-good novellas with (a lot of) the rest of her time.
Her writing career began in the nineties, when she had over fifty short stories published in women’s magazines. Several years later, she turned to psychological suspense fiction, and her seventh novel, Death Wish, was published by Bloodhound Books in August 2017.
Linda’s latest project is a series of feel-good novellas, set on the banks of Lake Constance and just minutes from her home in north-east Switzerland. She really appreciates having the views enjoyed by her characters right on her own doorstep!
You can find out more about Linda, her books and connect with her using the links below: