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To give you a taste of my book The Unseen, here is an extract from the opening of Chapter 1.  Extracts will continue every Wednesday and Saturday.

CHAPTER ONE

Stella had no defence against Caswell’s gaze on her body, nor his predatory thoughts which she sensed creeping through her clothes with invasive lust. Beneath her business smile came an uncharacteristic tremor of nerves. Familiar with appreciative glances, she occasionally encouraged them, but this guy made her feel like meat. This guy stirred fear.

“If you would follow me, Mr Caswell.” She indicated the stone steps and led him from the terrace of Casco Bay Villa towards a rocky headland on the Maine coast. Looking towards the sea and Atlantic swell, she heard his overbearing presence follow her.

“I expected this meeting to take place at Head Office in New York,” Caswell said.

“Head Office is wherever Mr Wileman resides,” she replied over her shoulder, conscious his eyes now devoured the minute quiver of flesh beneath her fitted skirt.

“Does he always have such good looking young women around him? You must be really useful to him, an old boy like that.”

Stella compressed her lips and continued in silence, trying to distract with thoughts of her boyfriend, of the progress on her thesis, trying to lighten her descent so her breasts did not shiver with each footfall on the hard steps.

“I mean, lot of the top guys I mix with got personal assistants resembling dragons beyond their sell-buy date. But you, you got something else, including one peach of an arse with legs stretching way up. I see you’ve no wedding ring. Fancy dinner tonight?”

Stella squared her jaw and wrinkled her nose. “Thank you but I have a previous engagement. And I am not Mr Wileman’s PA, I am researching for my PhD in computer technology.”

“Brains and beauty, now that I like. You ever need a job, come work for me. I got a special position in mind.”

Stella took a turn in the downward path and allowed silence for an answer, her thoughts finding sanctuary amidst the gulls circling on outstretched wings. The sight calmed her annoyance but did little for her uncertainty as to why Wileman had summoned her, why her instructions included escorting Caswell from the villa. She assumed Wileman wanted to learn about her research. After all, he paid for it. The Wileman Foundation had lifted her from childhood poverty, had schooled her, put her through college and university and now paid a salary while she wrote her doctorate thesis. Wileman had opened all the doors, this had to be important, least for her. She didn’t know about the guy screwing her butt. She just wished he was someplace else.

The path turned to an outcrop of trees, then became lost as it wound down to the beach cove and summerhouse. Wileman sat on a bench overlooking a small cemetery with white picket railings. Sea air brushed his wrinkled face while his gaze remained on the distance, as if lost amidst the sounds of surf and gulls.

“Mr Wileman,” Stella called. “The British executive, Richard Caswell. You said to bring him.” She stopped by the bench and pushed strands of loose hair behind one ear. She sensed her face was glowing and her brow moist.

Oscar Wileman looked between them before offering his hand, only then did Caswell remove his eyes from her. Still flushed she gave full attention to her boss, fingers clasped sedately, hoping for something good. Wileman stayed silent for a moment then indicated she sit beside him. Expensive clothes draped his thin body, his spiky hair standing oblivious to the breeze as he examined Richard from behind rimless spectacles.

“Pretty girl, ain’t she?” he said, as if she was not there, his face without animation, his blue eyes bright and cutting.

“Exceptionally so,” Caswell smirked.

“Stella,” Wileman said her. “I’ve asked you here because your future work will have direct influence on Richard’s project.”

“As you wish, Mr Wileman.”

“Oh I do wish, Stella. You’re a bright young lady with a bright future. I have things planned for you.”

Stella felt relief and shuffled her feet. Maybe this was her big opening.

“She has a Masters in flash advertising on computer screens. It’s there for seconds, then gone, not dissimilar from what you do,” Wileman said. “Her brain and body are wasted here, but I like to have intelligent and pretty girls around me. It’s a privilege of wealth.”   Wileman turned back to the fenced graveyard. “I bury my animals in this plot. Dogs, cats, a bear, even a llama. Plus a few other creatures. This is my pets’ cemetery.”

“To have kept so many you must love animals, Mr Wileman,” Caswell said, Stella loathing the false smile on his round, chubby face.

“No. I amuse myself by training them. I do so by feeding their ambition and greed. In return they give me obedience. As Stella will give. Because of it she will do whatever it is you intend to ask of her.”

“Mr Wileman, please.” Stella sat up sharp, putting hand to bodice. “I will always follow your wishes, but I’m not sure I understand.”

“It’s simple, Stella. I need your total obedience no matter what I ask. And this assignment will be proof of that obedience. When I picked you and others from the gutter, when I educated you, I did so for a reason, for possession of your soul. And I if I say lie down and roll over, I expect just that. You got a problem, you can leave right now, leave my company and my payroll.”

Stella felt her mouth open as she twisted on the bench, felt her gaze drop, felt fear creep to every fibre of her body.

“I … I.” Her eyes closed and moments passed.

“Witness, Richard, the control of wealth. Witness and learn. If you want money, Richard, this is your opportunity, but first, like Stella, judge which is more important, morality or ambition.”

Stella stared between the two of them, hating both, hating her inability to leave, her weakness in not speaking out.

“My morality is yours, sir,” Caswell said, his eyes on her breasts.

“Good, because I’m talking about control of America, control of the financial world and all the power that acquires. America’s vast debt and the infighting of politicians over solving it puts this country and, indeed, mankind on the brink of collapse. If you cannot pay the army and the police, you cannot rely on them. The result, chaos, anarchy, a return to the primeval.”

“I’m with you, boss.” Caswell nodded his head and Stella watched his intrusive gaze give way to self-righteousness. “If you have ability to influence the politicians, you have ability to control the people.”

“And make a lot of money.”

“I assume you refer to my work on subliminal psychotic induction,” Caswell said.

Frontcover of the unseen

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