To Keep You Safe
By Kate Bradley
How far would you go to save a child who isn’t yours?
They’re coming for her. You don’t know who they are. You don’t know why they want her. But she’s in your care. And she’s vulnerable.
When a gang comes for Destiny, one of her pupils, teacher Jenni Wales does the only thing she can think of to keep her safe – she takes her.
But her decision could cost her everything…
Praise for To Keep You Safe
‘An addictive, original and brilliantly twisty thriller that asks how far we might go – and how much we’d be willing to sacrifice –to do the right thing’
‘I was gripped by this fast-paced thriller with a unique and fascinating character at the heart’
‘A clever, chilling and compelling debut’
‘Kate Bradley has created a truly remarkable novel and I can’t wait to read her next one’
‘Gripping, thought-provoking, tense and highly recommend’
I hang my legs over the cliff edge and look over so I can imagine your broken body lying on the beach below. I never tire of sitting here. I come even in winter, when the storms seethe, forcing me to grip the scant grass, because I feel that I could die here too. I like that. I watch the crashing waves below, beating against the bluff, pushing and pulling the flotsam and jetsam, relentless, relentless, relentless.
Then I do my own falling. I uncork a bottle and for a while feel the raw pain of my loss.
Walkers have approached me in the past; they see my solo picnic of wine and the inches between me and certain death, and they think I’m going to jump. The police have been here too. Twice they’ve arrested me under section 136 of the Mental Health Act, determined to get me assessed, but my psychiatrist intervened. He says that I push all of my grief and guilt onto the clifftop, as a coping mechanism. He’s wrong.
As I sober up at home, I spend the night staring at my bedroom ceiling while the world sleeps. I think about my choices, questions writhing like worms in my mind. I replay everything: everything I did and didn’t do. What it caused; about the people who got hurt. Who died. I remember blue eyes locked on mine, eyes filled with the pain and the nearness of death. Then the peace, after.
I know I am guilty.
And then when I tire of my self-hatred, I wonder what would’ve happened if we hadn’t come together like a planet spun from its orbit into the path of the other. How different my life would’ve been. And that’s what I can’t get over – that’s why I cannot know peace.
I turn over what happened to us in my mind, the memories getting no less worn through the constant re-examination. Relentless, relentless, relentless.
I don’t need this clifftop to remember you or what happened that Friday afternoon in May, three years ago, when everything that I’d ever loved, would be gone before the sun rose on Saturday.
I think and I think and I think; thoughts of what I’m going to do next beating relentlessly into the shallows of my mind.
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To Keep You Safe
Kate Bradley worked for many years managing services for people who are marginalised by society; her work has taken her into prisons, mental health hospitals and alongside the homeless. She currently works in education. She holds a first-class honours degree in English Literature, in addition to qualifications in creative writing and teaching. Kate lives in a small coastal town just outside of Brighton with her husband and sons.
To Keep You Safe is her debut novel.