Beginnings is a romantic thriller set in the criminal underworld of 1970s London. Eleanor Chapman is 16. She has no idea her father is employed in a world of organised crime until the day he is forced to go on the run, leaving her at the mercy of dangerous people.
Her life is spiralling out of control yet on the night she plans to escape, she stumbles across a mysterious prisoner. His name is Jake, a rock musician from Holland and he has a contract on his life. Their daring escape across London eventually draws them into a place of hiding before Jake’s chilling story begins to unfold. He was the one vital witness to a sinister scene leading up to the death of a British MP and now those responsible want him silenced. As two young people, thrown together by fate they develop intense feelings for each other. It does not take long for Eleanor to realise that she will do anything possible to keep Jake alive.
Their tender love bond keeps you turning the pages as they live on a knife edge, desperate to escape London. Will they outrun the deadly enemies who stalk them? Or are the people at the top more powerful than they think?
ELEANOR AND HER NEW ALLY ON THE RUN Extract from Chapter 3
Jake and Eleanor slowed to a light jog but they didn’t stop running.
This road was quieter than the last, devoid of the main drag of traffic. Narrow and paved with grey brick, it was lined with Victorian terraced houses. They opened directly onto the pavement, guarded by wrought iron railings – there were no gardens but another row of railings stood opposite. They enclosed an area of trees, Eleanor identified as the edges of a park.
The few cars in the area were facing towards them, as if to indicate that this was a one way street. Eleanor was panting heavily from exhaustion – guessing, it would only be a matter of time before their pursuers caught up with them. She didn’t want to even consider what would happen if Theakston and his men got their hands on them. So she forced herself to keep moving with Jake by her side. Guessing the relentless chase wasn’t over, she began to study him more closely.
His face was slim and chiselled with high cheekbones and a wide flat forehead. He possessed a certain beauty; his complexion pale, his green eyes sharp and alert as he scanned the area for an escape route. There was something slightly hippie-like about the way he dressed; a collar-less striped shirt, jeans and a fringed, brown suede jacket. Eleanor couldn’t help but savour the shine of his dark, auburn hair, worn long in a ponytail. Nor did she fail to spot the pendant around his neck; dangling from a single leather thong, it bore the appearance of stone. She took it all in, sensing a gentle nature and a pure heart… Why anyone would want to kill him remained a mystery.
As they darted along the street, people began to materialise as daytime filtered into evening. The sun appeared hazy as it hung low in the sky, casting shadows across the pavements. They passed a few more houses and a high rise blocks of flats, then finally reached a point where the railings ended; an opening into the park…
The park too, had been gradually filling up with people, some walking, others resting on a park bench enjoying the summer evening – a few drunks lay under the trees, oblivious to everything around them. This restful place seemed to offer a perfect sanctuary. They afforded each other another glance and with a mutual nod, slipped through the opening.
From the moment they entered the park, they proceeded to sprint across the grass, away from the paths. Fringed with trees, a mixture of beeches and elms were dotted among the smaller silver birch saplings. Close to the boundary railings, grew a dense thicket of laurels and rhododendrons. They noticed that some paths branched off in places, offering a choice of escape routes in case their enemies caught up with them. But for now, they moved in a straight line; one which trailed diagonally across the park towards an exit.
They were about 50 yards away when the sound of an engine rumbled close by. Eleanor tensed. Seconds later, she saw a motorbike materialise out of nowhere. Large and powerfully built, it paused by the exit, engine revving like a warning. Eleanor felt a creeping fear, sensing its purpose. No sooner had she thought it when she heard a squeal of tyres, which sounded horribly familiar.
Sure enough, the long black car had arrived at the same exit. She could see it through the railings as it lurched to a halt.
Feeling her chest constrict, her exhausted heart crashed against her ribcage.
“They’ve found us!” she gasped.
Jake said nothing. Gripping her hand, he pulled her in another direction, choosing a different path. All plans of reaching that exit had to be abandoned. She nevertheless swivelled her head, where she couldn’t fail to spot the terrifying figure of Theakston again, as he bounded into the park on foot. Leaping onto the back of the motorbike, he was ready to join the chase.
With a final blast of the engine, they surged forwards. Eleanor felt all hopes of escape crumbling, almost ready to face the consequences. There was no way they could outrun a motorbike.
The powerful Honda sped across the grass, accelerating wildly and already gaining ground. Onlookers stared in disbelief. It seemed insane. Children were screaming; several dogs started barking and the peaceful sanctuary of the park had been transformed into chaos.
It appeared Theakston and his men would stop at nothing to catch up with them.
But Jake was not about to give up. He switched paths again; one that dipped downwards, weaving its way through an avenue of bushes and trees on the edge of the park. His grasp on Eleanor’s hand was tight as he hauled her around each twist and turn, bringing them face to face with a metal gate. Without hesitation, he flicked up the latch, pushing her through.
He too passed through to the other side. Slamming the latch down, they were on the other side of the railings again; it was the motorcycle riders who would have to dismount if they intended to follow. The tables had turned again…
Yet the bike was right behind them. Bit by bit, it lurched around each corner until it had also reached the gate.
Dominic jumped from the bike and strode up to the gate. He stared into Eleanor’s eyes.
In that brief second of eye contact, he not only unlatched the gate. He dug inside his leather coat and grabbed something from his belt. Time seemed to stand still as he unsheathed a lethal looking knife. The blade shimmered as it caught the last of the sunlight, more curved and sharp than Eleanor could have imagined… and as he brandished the blade, his teeth flashed, his expression one of pure hatred.
Helen J. Christmas lives on the south coast of Sussex with her husband. With a love of writing since childhood, she started her decade spanning thriller series ‘Same Face Different Place’ in 2011. Her first book ‘Beginnings,’ set in 1970s London, combines romantic suspense with a hard-hitting conspiracy thriller. Writing is something she juggles around family and social life. Helen is self employed and enjoys running the web design company, she and her husband set up from home. They have no children but enjoy the company of a faithful border collie and a fluffy white cat. Helen confesses to have got most of her ideas for writing, whilst walking Barney along the beach.