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Exclusive extract

March 4, 2009

Exclusive extract here

You can read chapter one here and meet Carrie. Now, here’s an excerpt from Chapter Two of It Should Have Been Me. This scene is where we meet Matt Landor for the first time. He’s a doctor at a remote jungle medical station and his boss, Shelly, is sending him home for a break – and Matt is definitely not happy.

Laughing, the boys raced off, leaving Matt and Shelly alone again. He could feel the sweat pouring down his back, his shirt sticking to him. Above the sun, white and blinding, beat down like a furnace but the fierce heat felt kind on his skin. It was natural. It reminded him of where he belonged.

Leaning on the verandah rail, he looked out over the clearing, the village and the river to the lush jungle that stretched on endlessly all around.

“If you care about them, then go home and take a break,” said Shelly, as the children piled into canoes at the water’s edge, laughing and squealing with glee.

“That’s emotional blackmail.”

“That you didn’t use on me when you had the chance just then. And that’s because you’re not the stubborn bastard you like us to think.”

Matt kept his eyes forward. “Well thanks for your support Doctor Cabot.”

“And thank you for your cooperation Doctor Landor. Now. Your carriage awaits.”

She nodded at the rusty Jeep, idling on the muddy red track that led from the medical centre to the tiny airstrip, miles away. It was the only way out of the village, other than by canoe or on foot; the only route to reach patients in the outlying communities and the only way home.

“You know this is ridiculous. You’re desperate for medics and you send one of your most experienced back home,” he said, as they walked down the steps to the track.

Standing on tiptoe, Shelly brushed his cheek with her lips. “We can manage without you for a while and despite what you think, you’re not the only doctor in Tuman.”

“I never said I was.”

“Really? You could have fooled me, the way you’ve been behaving, as if you want to take on the world single-handed. Jeez. You almost killed yourself.”

“I’m fine. It wasn’t me that got hurt, remember?” he said, trying to banish the memory of the accident, the smell of burning rubber, of spilled diesel, the panic that had threatened to overwhelm him, the sight of his friend, Aidan, bleeding and unconscious in the wreckage.

“Are you OK, Matt?”

Shelly touched his arm and Matt flinched.

“You know damn well I am.”

She called to the driver of the Jeep. “Doctor Landor is ready to leave now. Have a good trip. I’ll see you in the autumn if you behave back in England,” she said, kissing him briefly.

Then she was walking back towards the wooden verandah of the medical station. And he was turning his back and trudging towards the Jeep with all the enthusiasm of a man heading for the tumbril that would take him to the guillotine. Ahead of him lay a two-hour road trip to the airstrip, a hop on a Cessna to the island’s main airport and a long, tedious flight to London.

Stretching out like a sluggish brown river, lay three months of enforced ‘rest and recuperation’ in England. Three months if he was lucky and could convince the powers that be at the medical charity he worked for that he was fit to come back and practise again. But there was one consolation, if you could call it that. He’d get home just in time for the wedding. An old university friend had invited him to be an usher; not that Matt liked weddings – usually he found catching malaria more fun – but it would be good to meet up with an old mate after all these years.

Throwing his bags into the back of the Jeep, Matt climbed in beside the driver and grunted a hello. The engine started and he glanced round. Shelly was standing outside the medical centre, her hand raised in farewell. The kids were dancing round her, waving wildly. Then the wooden huts became smaller, the river glittered one last time and he was swallowed up by the jungle.

    1. Chris Says:

      Oh! You can’t stop the extract there! Well, yes you can because I’be got ISHBM ear-marked as my summer hols reading (going off on our little van jaunt – so it’ll be really appropriate) and don’t want to spoil it! But HUGE congratulations – it’s absolutely wonderful! Oh, and before I forget – I’ll be with you and Nell in spirit at the launch party – have a great time and sell EVERY SINGLE copy. So – have a brilliant publication week (it sounds like you’ve kicked off well – not just the being whisked off to dinner in a swish car, but also the brill news about the exotic sales – I must say your agent sounds FAB.. )really hope the whole week is one big party – and here’s to the mega success you deserve with ISHBM!

    2. Nell Dixon Says:

      Love the extract. I was tempted to get my copy yesterday but then I thought no – I’ll wait till I see you on Saturday so you can sign it for me.

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