Set on the beautiful Greek island of Thassos where a greater force unleashes itself to entangle the present with the past…
In that no-man’s land of time between the last darkness of night and first light of morning reaching out across the Aegean, Penny stirred, the white cotton sheet encasing her naked figure like a shroud as she twisted and turned in distant dreams. Latent heat from an oppressive summer sun radiated back through the bedroom’s stone walls, bringing little respite during the short, sultry night. She woke with a start, perspiration oozing from every pore, the damp sheet clinging to her skin.
Outlines sharpened on the few spartan items of furniture within the room. A rickety, blue-painted chair, the table with one drawer serving as a dressing table, a large spotted mirror propped against the wall, the wardrobe with flaky white paint and minus its door. Familiar objects taking shape around her chasing away any remnants of perplexity, replaced instead with relief at being awake for every detail of her nightmare had been too real, too vivid. Multi-coloured, harrowing scenes that had unfolded in her mind recalling past events but twisting truths into flashes of distortion and unreality.
Craving fresh air, she slipped from the bed and into a flimsy silk wrap before pulling at the patio door leading to the terrace. The door was stiff, the frame warped and ill-fitted. It scraped, metal against metal, setting her teeth on edge as it reluctantly opened, allowing her favourite time of day to flood the stifling room. She wasn’t sure whether it was the coolness of this time of day, the stillness and solitude of dawn that she loved the most, or the tranquillity now the cicadas had ceased their singing and retreated back into the hidden depths of the undergrowth. But there was never total silence here. Always the sound of the surf pounding against the sand; a steady, rhythmic pulse at times reassuring, at times angry and wild.
Above the black sleeping mound of mainland Greece across from the bay, vibrant-orange fingers of approaching morning were already edging across a dark sky fading imperceptibly into deep shades of sapphire. Soothed by a lazy wind creeping up the cliff from the sea, she watched as, one by one, the multitude of stars dimmed to nothingness in the gathering morning twilight.
With elbows resting on the shaky iron railings surrounding the terrace, she drank in the unfolding panorama, appreciating the fact she would now wake every morning to this same lovely view across the expanse of bay cradled by rugged headlands which dropped sharply into the sea.
At the foot of the cliff, the beach swept around the wide curve of the bay towards the village of Skala. At this hour the beach was always empty. Far too early for the tourists who sometimes came seeking the quiet life and too early even for the hardiest of locals she already knew by sight to be taking their early morning swim, so she was surprised to spy a man, sitting below on the rock by the tortuous path that led up to the villa. He faced the sea, his deep shadow falling across the sand pointing to the water’s edge. Mmm, haven’t seen him before, she thought.
All at once, he stood and began walking towards the sea. Compelled to watch, Penny could tell he was a powerful man by his broad shoulders, the wide muscular legs, the way his feet sank to his ankles into the soft sand. And was he …? No, of course he wasn’t, she decided. She peered harder. It was difficult to tell in the half-light.
He stopped abruptly, turned, and looked up in her direction. The sun rose a fraction higher, its fiery tip climbing above the summit of Mount Psariou behind the villa, sending a shaft of orange light to strike his body, his long, curly hair glinting golden.
She uttered a loud gasp.
Due to be published 2016