Friday Sampler: Betrayal by Sharon Brownlie

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Friday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Betrayal, the suspense-filled crime odyssey of a serial killer by Sharon Brownlie.

As one reviewer said: Sharon Brownlie takes the reader into a shadowy, gritty world. Her writing style brings that world to life. Betrayal makes a mark on the reader, leading him or her to think about the story and characters long after finishing the book.

The Story

A troubled childhood. An upbringing marred by rejection and hurt. At the age of fourteen Helen King finds herself in the clutches of a pimp. He lures her into a life of drugs and prostitution. At the age of twenty she uses her drug addiction as a way to blank out the memories. It enables her to hide the psychological scarring caused by those she feels had abandoned her.

Her life is spiralling out of control. The decision to quit her addiction comes at a time when she has a chance encounter with an old school teacher. This opens up old wounds that had remained hidden and festering deep within her. It also leads to her decision that it is time for payback for all those that she felt had betrayed her. Helen, bitter and twisted, heads to Edinburgh to begin her killing spree.

When the first body is found the police are mystified. When a second body turns up they quickly realise that it is the same killer. They face a race against time to find the connection and the killer.

The Sampler

Sharon Brownlie
Sharon Brownlie

The man slapped Helen hard across the face and grabbed her by the hair, throwing her onto the bed.

Helen could taste the blood spurting from her lip, and though she was aware he had slapped her hard, she felt no pain. She struggled to pull away and tried to curl her body into a ball for protection, but he was too strong for her. Helen was like a rag doll in his hands.

He easily overpowered her and ripped the clothes from her body. The sadistic bastard was enjoying her pain, especially when he penetrated her. He thrust into her so hard she cried out. Fortunately, he had no stamina, and it wasn’t long before his body slumped on top of her.

She pushed him away in disgust and jumped up from the bed. “Get out, Addie,” she screamed. “Get out.” Helen pulled a sheet around her naked, trembling body.
Addie laughed. “I’m not going anywhere until you give me what you owe me,” he said as he sat up on the edge of the bed and began to get dressed. “Now, where’s my fucking money?”

Helen licked the blood from her bottom lip. “That’s rich. The punters usually pay me, not the other way around.”

“But I’m not a punter. I’m your fucking pimp, and don’t you forget it, you little tramp.”

Helen knew what he had just done to her was a form of punishment because she hadn’t handed over his share of the money. She worked the streets, and he was her controller. She also knew one of his roles was to provide protection for her from others, but he wanted his share of her earnings. His expectations were always high. She held out a wad of notes.

Addie grabbed the cash from her hand and pointed his finger in her face.
“If you try to keep anything from me again,” he growled, “you’ll be fucking sorry.” With the threat hanging in the air, he walked to the door and slammed it behind him as he left.
*
Helen lay on the sofa feeling ill and sorry for herself. Since Addie’s visit to the bedsit over a week ago, she had decided her life had to change. She knew the first thing she had to do was quit heroin, so she had started to wean herself off the drug. It wasn’t going to be easy.

It was her fifth day, and she wasn’t coping well. In an attempt to take her mind off her cravings, Helen thought about the way her life was turning out. At the age of 20, she realised it was getting worse instead of better.

Her entire life revolved around drugs and prostitution. The more she prostituted herself, the more drugs she could score. It was a cycle she wanted to stop, something that had never been her choice in the first place. Sometimes Helen blamed it all on Addie, at other times she blamed some people from her past.
If I hadn’t run away from the care home to find Ash, I wouldn’t have met that bastard Addie!

Ash was an older boy Helen had befriended when they both lived at Cranston Hall. She had felt safe and cocooned in their relationship. Unfortunately, this had come to an end when he had left the home to live with a family somewhere in Gloucester. Helen had remembered looking for it on a map of England.
She was only 14-years-old when she ran away from the home. Addie had promised to look after Helen. The Good Samaritan. Instead, he had taken advantage of her and had helped turn her into the wreck she had become.
Gripping pains interrupted her thoughts as she felt her stomach doing somersaults. She made a grab for the basin at the side of her bed and heaved last night’s pizza into it. She groaned aloud as she felt the stomach cramps begin to take hold. Aches and pains were ravaging her body – and not for the first time. Her insides felt as if they had knotted together.

Feeling like shit, Helen thought a little hash might help her through the pain. She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and rose up from the sofa. She frantically searched around. Helen hoped to find a bit she may have left lying around.

“God!” she cried out. “How the fuck is anyone meant to find anything in this shithole?”

What had once been a homely room was now a tip. When Helen had first moved in, she had cleaned it up. Over time, though, she had lost interest in it. Now, the bedsit looked worse than when she’d first set foot through the door.
*
Helen remembered the first time she had met Addie. He had promised her a palace, and she had ended up in his dirty bedsit. Addie had found Helen sleeping on a park bench, slap bang in the middle of Gloucester. It had been the day after she had run away from the care home in Edinburgh.

He had offered her a bed, and Helen had accepted. She had told him it would only be for the one night. Addie had to hide his smirk from her; he knew she wouldn’t leave. He was something of an expert when it came to grooming vulnerable young girls.

When she had entered the room and Addie had flicked the light switch on, Helen had regretted taking him up on his offer. A single naked bulb barely lit the room, and she had to draw in her breath because of the nauseating smells assaulting her senses. The stench, from rotting food, empty beer cans and dampness, had been overpowering.

Addie was right; Helen didn’t stay just ‘the one night’. Instead of moving on the next day, she had cleaned up the bedsit and took pride in it, but all her good intentions didn’t last long. Addie began to introduce her to hard drugs and groom her for prostitution.

Luring Helen onto drugs was easy, but he had to work harder preparing her for her life of prostitution. To begin with, Addie had a mate by the name of Pete Baxter rape her.

On several occasions, Baxter had beaten and raped Helen, before throwing cash at her. Addie would take the cash, using it to cover the cost of her digs and drugs. They treated her like a prostitute; until she started to believe it herself. It was a partnership the two men had mastered well in order to groom young girls. Addie dragged Helen into a dark, seedy world.

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