Explanation of Excerpt by Kerry Barnes
Launa faced a gruesome attack by her husband, the serial killer, and was thrown into the sea when he realised he hadn’t killed her. She could not possibly survive the cruel crashing waves and freezing temperatures. Satisfied that she was dead, he continued with his life. Launa was later found by fishermen and rushed to hospital, where she refused to talk to the police. Her husband had to believe she was dead because, along with his family, he practically ran the legal system, and they would have no qualms about hunting her down and killing her. Returning to the safety of her East End family, who she hadn’t seen since she was a young child, she got ready to take her revenge.
Excerpt Ruby’s Palace by Kerry Barnes
As the months rolled by, Charles, her once loving husband, looked cruelly upon her: there were no more affectionate glances or sweet words, no more good times. He constantly argued with her – putting her down, belittling her appearance, undermining her confidence and, worse, letting her believe that she was a laughing stock in the courtroom. Even his father and uncle, now high court judges, laughed at her, and the constant nagging to quit her job became too much and she gave in. He controlled her every move – what she wore, who she socialised with, and how she spent her day. Now she had nothing in her life. Her so called friends – really they were Charles’ friends more than hers – saw her as damaged goods, and with no family on whom she could rely, her life appeared to be over, or so she thought, so depressed was her state of mind. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Launa longed for her husband to have a change of heart and to go back to how things used to be. He sat on the edge of the chair and placed an arm around her shoulders, his strong aftershave almost choking her. Glancing up at her husband, she felt a tinge of pain. He was handsome, strong boned, muscular and tanned. His eyes, although still reddened from rage, had that brilliant green glare. She had always admired the way he looked, and in the early days would tease him about his girly eyes, as she called them. The thick, black, long lashes would blink slowly, like a teenage girl flirting. Even though his attractive features remained the same, his personality had changed beyond belief. After taking a final mouthful of his brandy, he placed the glass on the coffee table, threw his head back, and laughed. His wavy locks bounced on his shoulders and, with his mouth wide open, he showed his perfect white teeth. “So, my dear queen bee, you decided to take it upon yourself to have an abortion, to kill my baby. Or was it even my baby? Who knows?” Shaking his head, he went on. “You, a mother? Don’t make me laugh, you evil slut, you fucking scummy whore. And you thought you could hide your sordid little secret.” Her heart pounded and once again the back of her throat burned. How could he have possibly known that she had attended the clinic? She racked her brains. It was not for an abortion, not at all – her body began to tremble, her limbs became weak. Her ears burned and tingled until finally her head was numb. “Well, well, Launa, who’s not such a clever girl then?” Launa, paralysed by fear, remained silent. She wanted to explain that she had been to the clinic, but for a different reason. She had waited for the right moment to tell him she was pregnant, hoping that her new baby would change everything – or give her back some respect at least. In a calculated voice, he went on. “Well, Launa, there is only one thing left to do. So you don’t want a baby, eh?” He grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her to the ground. So terrified she could barely move, she saw with horror a sickly, evil poise had swept over his face. His fist came crushing down on her dainty cheekbone like a nutcracker. The pain slowly hit her, the fear so great that her adrenaline pumped fiercely around her body, and her stomach contents rose and ejected from her nose and mouth. She started to choke as he held her down, but she was spared further distress, as he had to release his weighty arm from her shoulder when the vomit splattered his much coveted Rolex watch. “You fucking dirty bitch,” he spat as he slapped the side of her face, which was already throbbing in pain.
Catching her breath, she screamed, “Please, please, Charles! I’m so sorry, you’ve got it wrong!” Her words meant absolutely nothing. He thought of how she betrayed him and how the punishment would fit the crime, and again he smiled. Gripping both her arms tightly above her head, he grabbed at her pants, ripping them away from her. She closed her eyes, bit her lip and waited for Charles to carry out his vile sex acts, a ritual she had bitterly learned to accept. She heard him laugh as a cold, sharp instrument scraped the inside of her leg. She opened her eyes to the sick grin of her husband and the object thrusting up inside her. The pain was not delayed – the unbearable torturous pain gripped and burned as she let out a blood curdling scream. The warm liquid poured away from her crotch. Charles sat up, brandishing a knife dripping with blood. “There, now you can’t have children.” She stared at her husband and then her eyes focused on the knife, and the blood which was pouring from her, and she let out a terrified scream. “No, no, my baby!” Overwhelmed with grief and agonising pain, she passed out. He regarded his wife’s face. She looked at peace – no torment in her expression – and she should be tormented because she had aborted their child, well, so he thought. Anger engulfed his mind, but his mental state, at that precise moment, went into lawyer mode – she was the mother who had terminated her unborn child. That fact alone justified finishing his actions. A life for a life. He smiled at the blood leaving her crotch, thick and almost black. She remained unconscious. Slowly and deliberately he lifted the sharpened knife, and, like a heated blade through butter, he carved the first slice in her left cheek. He watched the tiny dimple fall apart as it left a gaping, gruesome hole. He matched the slice on the other cheek and decided to add two more, but he paused, conscious of a buzzing sound in amongst the eerie silence. His phone was ringing. He got to his feet and answered the caller. “Oh, hi, honey. No, I’m not with Launa but I am busy, so I will call you later.” He hung up the phone and returned to his wife, who was still in the same position, but now her face had swollen appreciably. He then realised she wasn’t dead, just unconscious. He pushed open the back door. Scooping her up in his arms, he carried her to the cliff edge. The blood ran down his arm as he stood there, towering above the sheer drop. As his mind flashed back to discovering her betrayal, the thought repulsed him, and he released her body into the freezing sea. Coldly, as if he had just thrown a stick to a dog, he walked back to the cottage and ran himself a bath. The water was hot and, while he let it cool, he attempted to clean the carpet rug. He scrubbed for ages, but it made matters worse so he rolled it up to dispose of it later. The bath was perfect. He soaked for an hour, listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’.
For a moment, she regained consciousness, aware of a strange, unearthly floating sensation, ice cold and eerie. Was this what it feels like when you’re dead, she thought. The strong salty taste at the back of her throat made her gag. As her eyes opened, she saw nothing but blackness. Realisation hit her; she was in the sea, freezing, weak and in pain. It wouldn’t be long before she died. Longing to say goodbye to the people she loved, believing it was the end, she whispered, “Goodbye, Mum and Dad, I know I did not get the chance to see you again but thank you for loving me so much. Goodbye, my dearest brothers. She saw her brother Fred’s face when they were twelve. Will you feel my life leave me, Fred, my twin?” She drifted back into a state of unconsciousness. She was dreaming she was on the beach with Fred, building sandcastles, with the waves washing over them both – her mum and dad laughing, whilst Dan, Joe and Sam were eating ice creams. Feeling her mother’s arms around her shoulders and the sweet smell of her white linen perfume, she drifted away from the realms of reality and into the depths of another world, where she was safe. In the distance shone a bright light. It was time: the light was going to take her to meet her maker.
Info about Kerry:
Kerry Barnes, born in 1964, grew up on a council estate in the South East.
Pushed by her parents to become a doctor at a time and in a place where women only dreamed of having a professional career, she started off as a microbiologist and then went into medicine.
She began writing when her daughter was born and she had free time, and by the time her children were grown, she had written four novels.
Ruby’s Palace is the second to be published, following Ruthless.