Extract: Siren by Annemarie Neary
Róisín Burns has spent the past twenty years becoming someone else; her life in New York is built on lies.
Then one day a figure from her Belfast childhood flashes up on the news: Brian Lonergan has also reinvented himself. He is now a rising politician in a sharp suit. But scandal is brewing in Ireland and Róisín knows the truth. Armed with the evidence that could ruin Lonergan, she travels back across the Atlantic to the remote Lamb Island to hunt him down. But Lonergan is one step ahead; when Róisín arrives on the island, someone else is waiting for her…
Read on for an extract from Siren…
Róisín sensed the danger long before she’d had a chance to think it, when it was just a quivering of something in the air outside the room. Not quite a sound, not quite. Then from the other side of the wall, a thud, a gasp, a dull thump like a fist in a pillow. They broke off from kissing, and she felt his sharp intake of breath as if it were her own. He scrambled off the bed towards the window.
‘No, no,’ he was murmuring. ‘Fucking no.’
He found his shoe, began battering at the glass. But the men were in the room now and the window wouldn’t break.
It didn’t sound like much, just a dart puncturing a board. But it got him. As his body slumped backwards from the window, Róisín lurched across to try to reach him, but one of the gunmen had her by the hair. She kicked and scrabbed and punched at him, but he flung her out on to the landing like she was nothing.
She crouched there with her head wedged tight between her knees, her body trembling. She watched through the veil of her hair as the men clattered past her and down the stairs: dirty-white runners with blue side-streaks, then desert boots. She heard the metal scrape of their guns against the wall, the heft of their breath, a shout from down below to get those hoors the fuck out of there.
When she was sure they were gone, she scuttled back towards the bedroom, but Lonergan was there now, beamed up from nowhere, leaning against the frame of the door.
‘Lift’s waiting,’ he said.
She turned and saw Dolores there too, wincing against the vinegary light with her skirt undone and her legs bare. Her hair was frizzed up, her kohl-rimmed eyes even blacker than before. And round her mouth the lipstick smears of dead kisses.
In the queasy corners of her vodka head, Róisín was beginning to realise what this was. She glanced between Lonergan and Dolores, but neither met her eye.
‘We can’t just go,’ she said to no one in particular.
When they didn’t answer her, she pushed past Lonergan to reach the room. But his hands, still cold from outside, gripped hers. She kicked out at him, spat, screamed. But he was deft at the side-step, the duck and weave. He took her by the back of the neck and spoke right into her ear.
‘It’s over now,’ he said. ‘You done good.’
She couldn’t move her head, and he had her arms 5 clamped tight behind her back, but she struggled hard to land a kick.
‘You really want to go in there? You want to see?’
But that wasn’t where she wanted to go at all. All she wanted now was to go right back to the beginning of the night and make a new one. With no Dolores, no disco dancing or vodka or men with crew cuts. All she wanted now was to be a girl in a sunny field. She tried to tell him that, but her stomach heaved and sank and all she could manage was a kind of whine that made her feel ashamed.
He brought her in there anyway. From the window there was the orange wash of street light and the faint blue glimmer of a far-off TV, but the room itself was dark. She shut her eyes in case he flicked the switch, so he couldn’t make her see. There in the dark, she could hear the sound of her own breath, nasal and ragged. She felt him bending down, heard his leather jacket creak, and then she felt a streak of something warm and wet across her forehead. The room dissolved, and Róisín with it, and as he dragged her down the stairs, she heard the screams of someone she’d already ceased to be.