Title – The Wolff Legacy
Author – CJ Butler
Genre - Suspense
I’m going to tell you a story. It should come out, now that I am dying. And you look like just the person to blow the lid on an unsolved crime. A case which has been shelved for years…
Three weeks after the events of The Japson Club, Anna is back in her Sussex cottage, trying to get on with her life. But it’s not easy. Not only is she having recurring nightmares, but Andrew is uncharacteristically jumpy, Mateus is acting oddly, and Damien wants her back. She has to get away.
So when she’s offered a job in the Channel Islands – sunshine, secluded beaches, and quaint Gallic charm – she jumps at it. Surely, if her troubles are across the sea, she can leave them all behind?
But in the wilds of Derbyshire, a gimlet-eyed old lady is ready to tell her tale, and Anna’s problems are far from over…
Horror and heartbreak have a tight grip…
The darkness was absolute.
Water dripped steadily, the sound echoing off unseen walls, and the chill air smelled musty, with the earthy tang of a cellar. But no cellar ever echoed as this one did; this place was vast. And dank, like cold sweat.
Somehow she knew she wasn’t alone; there was a silent and invisible presence, and she called out desperately into the enveloping black.
“Who are you? What do you want?”
There was the shuffle of feet, but no answering voice. The back of her neck prickled, and her hands clenched into fists, nails digging into her palms. Drawing a shaky breath, she tried again:
“Why am I here?”
A beat, then, “You’ll be safe here,” came a man’s whisper.
There was the sound of quietly retreating feet, disturbing grit on the floor. She tried to follow, stumbling and reaching out blindly into the dark, but her groping hands met only the coldness of a stone wall. Then the footsteps were behind her and she lurched, panicking, in a full circle. The sound came from all around, but was receding inexorably.
“Safe from what?” she yelled, her words echoing back at her from all sides, frightening and disorientating, then fading in the darkness. “How is this safe?”
In a sudden frenzy she rushed forward, fists flailing – then gasped, recoiling as her knuckles scraped on something cold and sharply abrasive. Swallowing the pain, she reached out tentatively, feeling cold metal… Bars?
Suddenly remembering her phone, she pulled it from her pocket. Its dim blue light flooded out to reveal rusty rungs fixed to the wall, leading upwards. She tipped her head back, trying to see beyond the pathetic wash of pale light into the blackness above, but it was no use. There was only the sense of being at the edge of a small reality, encompassed by nothingness.
Swaying dizzily on her feet, she looked behind her. Two tunnels led off in different directions, their concrete walls glimmering wetly, but as she took a step forward the light from her phone began to dim. The darkness yawned threateningly all around as the red battery warning winked wearily, and then the screen died.
Plunged back into pitch darkness, she pressed herself to the frigid wall, her nerves screaming.
She had to get OUT!
Chest tight and breath rasping, Anna jumped awake then lay prone, listening to her thumping heart begin to slow. That dream again; how she hated it. Why did it keep coming back?
Sighing, she sat up and reached for her phone.
Low battery, it warned.
She groaned at the irony, slumping back onto the pillow.
Ah well, at least she hadn’t been pinned to the ground by The Cleaner (her other recurring dream - about the man who in real life, had tried to murder her), his black eyes boring into her and his fingers pressing down on her throat; it was a close-run thing, but pitch-black dripping tunnels were slightly preferable to that. Even so, she could do without the chronic night horrors.
She yawned and closed her eyes, but immediately the dank walls of the tunnel closed around her again, the cold terror returning in an instant. Her eyes flew open, and she drew a sobbing breath before grumpily throwing back the covers and sitting up; if her imagination wouldn’t sleep then neither would she.
But this had to stop. Every night for last few weeks she had been wracked by persistent nightmares; either The Cleaner was attacking her or she was trapped in the underground tunnels. The first was easily explained – the man was still at large and a tangible threat – but the second was more obscure; where was this place? And what did it mean? Whatever the tunnels and the ladder and the blackness were about, they surely couldn’t be good omens.
Resignedly, she padded to the shower.
The train was mostly empty and Anna gazed out of the window at the passing countryside, shrouded in pre-dawn gloom. She turned to the emails on her phone and scrolled through them aimlessly.
Her current assignment was thankfully almost done, but she had no idea where she was heading next. She had been home from Tresco for three weeks, and being at the cottage was freaking her out; she desperately needed an assignment in another part of the country so she could move away and make a fresh start. So far, though, HQ had found nowhere to put her outside of London. Something had to come her way soon; the trauma of the last month was messing with her mental health. Much more of it, and she’d go completely off the rails, and lose her job, and then where would she be?
Her phone buzzed, making her jump. She sighed, seeing only one of the company’s automatic systems notifications flash across the screen. Her mind’s constant neurosis was exhausting.
At least she hadn’t run into Damien, her brief but intense affair of the last year – there was that to be thankful for. It was bad enough having nightmares every night and feeling spooked whenever she caught sight of the church, scuttling from her car to the cottage until she was safely indoors; seeing Damien again would just be too much. He still, no doubt had the power to cause her to lose all self-possession, and was another reason to move herself away. But aside from the nightmares, and Damien, the real threat - far worse than any other - was that of the very real possibility, The Cleaner would return to finish the job of killing her. She couldn’t look out of the window after dark anymore. If he knew she still had the stolen memory stick, surely he would be back; it was just a matter of time.
Suddenly she realised her knuckles were white and hands shaking as she clutched at the bag on her lap, and she looked around furtively, to ensure no-one was looking at her.
This was crazy; she needed help? But how could she talk to anyone? She couldn’t tell a soul about what happened, or she’d land both Andrew and Mateus in prison. No. PTSD was hers to own for the time being.
Amazon Canada – Kindle:
Amazon UK – Paperback:
Amazon UK: Kindle:
Barnes & Noble:
Chapters & Indigo:
Catherine has been an avid writer since she can remember. From a young age, she loved books, story-writing and poetry, always playing with words, seeking to create a visceral feel with her work.
She wrote her first novel with her younger brother when she was twelve years old, which gained positive feedback from the UK publishers. Now Catherine writes a bit of everything; aside from novels, she is a copywriter, producing web content, marketing documents and also presentations. But she loves fiction the most, and confesses to spending the bulk of her time in ‘imaginary land’.
Catherine lives in Canada, in Kemptville Ontario, with her daughter and quirky quarter horse. She emigrated from England in 2009, where she lived in Kent and worked in London as a project manager. She grew up in the beautiful county of Sussex, which inspired the setting for Catherine’s first published novel, The Japson Club.
In her downtime she can either be found hanging out with her daughter, writing late into the night, reading, or of course, riding her horse.
Social Media Links