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Extract: Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen

Dying For Christmas is a gripping Yuletide psychological thriller from freelance journalist Tammy Cohen. Tammy is the author of four other novels and is writer-in-residence at Kingston University. Dying For Christmas tells the story of a young woman who is held captive over the twelve days of Christmas.

To help us get into the festive spirit we thought we’d give you a taster from Dying For Christmas! Read on for an extract from the book…

About the book:

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out…

Contains some strong language.

Dying For Christmas
Tammy Cohen

Chapter One

Chances are, by the time you finish reading this, I’ll already be dead.
        Three interesting things about me. Well, I’m twenty-nine years old, I’m phobic about buttons. Oh yes, and I’m dying. Not as in I’ve got two years to live, but hey, here’s a list of things I want to cram into the time I have left. No, I’m dying right here and now.
        In a sense, you are reading a snuff book.
        So, why did I go along with it? That’s a tricky one, that question of motivation. Maybe it’s because I was caught up in the Christmas spirit and feeling kindly disposed. He told me I was beautiful.
        Also, it didn’t hurt that he was handsome. He looked a bit like that guy from Silver Linings Playbook, the one who always plays nut jobs. Maybe that should have given me a bit of a clue.
        Oh well, you live and learn.
        Except in my case only one of those is true.
I was in the café of a department store on Oxford Street. I’d been Christmas shopping for four hours by then. Normally I avoided in-store cafés – so claustrophobic, and always someone with a buggy blocking the way, and someone else in the world’s biggest wheelchair. But it was sleeting outside and I had all these bags.
        I managed to find a table which, considering it was Christmas Eve, was no mean feat. I set my cappuccino down and tried to fit all my bags around me. One had to go on the table itself. It contained a toy I’d bought for one of my nephews. When I placed it on the table, it lowed like a cow. By that point I was well into that stage of Christmas shopping where you look at your purchases and know beyond any doubt that not one of them is right and the only solution is to buy more.
        So I was already feeling harassed when he approached.
        ‘Can I sit here?’
        I shrugged without looking up.
        ‘Sorry. It’s just so packed in here. Seems like you’d have to sell a kidney or something to get a table.’
        Then I did look up.
        First impressions: blue, blue eyes.
        Slightly too close together, but that was almost a relief because without that his face would have been so film-star perfect no one could ever have taken him seriously. Strong, straight nose. Brown wavy hair swept back from his face. Dimple in one cheek, near the mouth. Chin slightly cleft, just so it lent that edge of masculinity.
        Men who look like that don’t exist in my life. Not in 3D form anyway.
        I stared down at my cappuccino like it might be trying to tell me something and wished I’d brought a book. His presence across the tiny table was an elephant sitting on my chest.
        ‘You’ve been Christmas shopping I see.’
        No shit, Sherlock.
        Except I didn’t actually say that. What I actually said was: ‘Yeah, well, I put it off as long as I could.’
        And that’s when he said it. ‘You know, you’re very beautiful.’
        Like I said: hand, meet putty.
        There was an awkward silence. I took a sip of cappuccino and then couldn’t swallow it in case the noise deafened us both.
        ‘I’m sorry if I keep staring at you,’ he said, and my eyes flicked up to find his boring right into me. ‘It’s just you remind me of someone.’
        I focused on him, forcing myself to hold his gaze by pressing my nails into the palm of my left hand under the table. It’s a distraction technique. It distracted me from thinking about the awkwardness of this whole situation, and the fact that as someone technically in a relationship, I shouldn’t really have been encouraging this conversation. Or noticing the colour of his eyes.
        ‘Really?’ I said. ‘I hardly ever remind people of other people. Although someone did once say I looked like Daisy the kitchen maid in Downton Abbey, but I think that was because I was wearing an apron at the time, and he thought it was funny.’
        I ramble when I’m nervous.
        He smiled, and the dimple in his cheek was like a cave inviting me in.

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