Hell to Pay: Die Hard for Girls [NOOK Book]


Nancy Kerr refuses to be a victim - even when she walks in on her parents’ killers and is raped and left for dead. Fourteen months later, she wakes up in a psychiatric hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Slowly her memory starts to return. Released from the institution, she has just one thing on her mind – two men brought hell to her family home. Now they’re in for some hell of their own.

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Hell to Pay: Die Hard for Girls

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Nancy Kerr refuses to be a victim - even when she walks in on her parents’ killers and is raped and left for dead. Fourteen months later, she wakes up in a psychiatric hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Slowly her memory starts to return. Released from the institution, she has just one thing on her mind – two men brought hell to her family home. Now they’re in for some hell of their own.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781780998855
  • Publisher: Hunt, John Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/26/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 143
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Jenny Thomson is an award-winning crime writer and features writer who has been widely published in the UK and abroad. She’s a staunch advocate of girl power and her book Hell To Pay is the first in a series she has dubbed "Die Hard for Girls." She lives in Millport, Scotland.

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Read an Excerpt

Hell to Pay

Die Hard for Girls

By Jenny Thomson

John Hunt Publishing Ltd.

Copyright © 2012 Jenny Thomson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-78099-886-2


I'm cold, colder than I've ever been in my entire life and I don't know why. Slowly, I open my eyes, tentatively at first because even opening them a fraction feels like someone's shoving red-hot pins into them. The light is so bright.

What's with the light anyway?

Has Michael wandered in, blootered on some poncy new beer and left it switched on, after collapsing in a heap onto the bed?

I'll brain him if he has. I'm no good to anyone when I don't get my eight hours.

Pulling myself up in bed, I reach out my arm to nudge him awake so I can give him a right mouthful. My hand finds empty space.

Where is he?

My eyes sting as I prise them open – it's as though there's been an accident with false lashes and I've glued my eyelashes together - and that's when I realize I'm not in our flat. The reason I'm freezing is because I'm wearing a tracing paper thin hospital gown: the kind that shows off your backside when you're being whisked off to x-ray.

A tidal wave of panic hits me and I jerk into full consciousness.

What's happened to me?

I try to remember, but my brain's all bunged up as if the top of my head's been removed and the cavity's been filled with cotton wool.

My arms are bandaged up. Have I been in an accident? If I have, I don't remember. Maybe I hit my head.

I take in my surroundings. If I'm in hospital, it's no ordinary one. For one thing, my room's more like a cell. There's a bed and a table bolted to the floor, but no personal stuff: photos, cards, or stuffed animals from people wishing me well. Does anyone even know I'm here?

I grope for a call button to get a nurse, but there isn't one. What the hell? This place is a prison.

Staggering out of bed, I fight the wave of nausea and dizziness that make me want to yell at the world to stop moving because I want to get off the carousel. The tile floor is stone cold and there are no slippers by the bed. My feet are ice blocks. Why don't I have any socks or tights on?

Before I reach the door, there's a jingle of keys, then a key scrapes in the lock. Holding my breath, I brace myself for what's coming.

A woman I don't recognize with brown hair tied back in a ponytail appears. She's dressed in a nurse's uniform and there's a small smile playing at the edge of her lips.

"Good, you're awake, Nancy."

She sounds pleased, as if we're bosom buddies. I've never seen her before in my life.

"Where am I?"

My voice comes out as a rasp as though my throat's been sandpapered down.

The nurse puts a hand on my shoulder. "Let's get you back into bed, Nancy."

I do as she says, but only because I'm worried if I don't lie back, I'll faint.

"You're in Parkview Hospital," she says, fixing the pillows so I can sit upright.

I know all the hospitals in Glasgow, but I haven't heard of that one. I ask her what kind of hospital it is and she tells me it's a psychiatric facility. The reason I haven't heard of it, is because they don't publicize it. Perhaps because it's full of nutters they want to keep away from society.

The prospect terrifies me because that would mean they must think I'm crazy. Why else would I be here?

I suck in my breath. When I ask her if this is a nut house, she presses her lips tightly together and tells me no one refers to psychiatric hospitals in that way any more. Suitably chastised, I mumble an apology not because I think one's needed, but because she's the one with the keys.

"Why am I here?"

I'm dreading the answer, but I need to know. I don't feel any different. Surely if I'd lost my mind, I'd know.

"You had a breakdown."

The way she says it she could be talking about the weather.

She asks me if I want anything and I tell her a pair of proper pajamas, a dressing gown and slippers would be nice because I'm an ice block. If she gets in touch with my mum, she'll bring me in some stuff.

The nurse's smile's still there, but its breaks down around the corners of her mouth. There's something she's not telling me, because she's worried how I'll react. There's fear in her eyes.

I notice she's wearing a lucky heather brooch, the same one I got for Mum. I'm staring at it as she tells me she's going to fetch a doctor, when a memory stirs inside me and no matter how hard I try to push it away, someone's taken their finger out the dyke and the water's rushing in.

Blood, blood everywhere. Dad's slumped in his favorite armchair, head bent forward as if in prayer (he never prayed a day in his life); a single bullet hole in his head. I know it's him, even although his face has been beaten to a pulp: his blood staining the fireside rug Mum was so proud of. Even in death, my dad has this presence. He fills a room with the sheer weight of his personality. Discarded nearby is the baseball bat they must have used on him. It's covered in blood and something sticky and dark brown, resembling raw mince.

Mum's sitting at the kitchen table. From an angle, she appears to be sleeping until my eyes are drawn to the bullet hole smack bang in the middle of her forehead like a third eye. Her eyes stare straight ahead as if she knew what was coming. She saw the gun, felt the terror, but didn't close her eyes. One arm's resting on the table and there's a smell of burnt flesh.

I bite back a scream. There are noises coming from upstairs.

I need to get out of here and drive off until I'm far enough away to phone the police. It's not safe in this house; the house I grew up in.

I breinge for the door, but I'm grabbed from behind and slammed against the wall.

"Not so fast, doll," a voice says.

Dazed, I look up and see a fat man in a mask grinning at me. His has more gaps than teeth and he stinks to the high heavens.

There are footsteps on the stairs and another voice.

"Now what have we got here?"

This one's tall and there's merriment in this voice as he peers down at me through dishwater grey eyes. He licks his lips and they glisten like worms. He's holding a gun. The one he must have used to kill my parents.

My heart's hammering away. He's going to shoot me.

Worm lips pokes me in the chest with the gun. It hurts, but I manage to stay quiet.

I give him a fuck you stare when he orders me to take off my clothes.

There's no way I'm letting that happen to me, not here. He'll have to shoot me first.

"Don't fuck with me sweetheart."

Without warning, he slams his foot into my stomach. His boot connects and I curl up in the fetal position, screaming with pain as both men hoot with laughter.

Before I can pull myself to my feet, Fat Man looms over me with a knife in his hand. I can do nothing as he cuts away my clothes.

In my head, I go somewhere else as they take turns to rape me ...

A scream rises in my throat and I'm back in the hospital. More people have appeared. They hold me down as I try to wriggle free, kicking at them and punching; screaming she-devil style, until they pin me down and one, a man in a white coat with a sympathetic smile injects me with something and the room dissolves ...


"The knife. I remember him showing it to me; gloating about having the one from the kitchen drawer. Shoving it right under my nose, the sharp end dragging across my outer lip, as though he was gonnae carve me a new smile. He told me he was gonnae use it on me. Fuck me with it. My hands were tied behind my back so I couldn't struggle, my feet were bound so I couldn't kick him in the balls so he'd crumple and leave me alone. There was nothing I could do."

I stop talking because I don't want to go back there. To be that powerless victim, again.

Dr. Drinkell hands me a box of tissues. There's a cartoon sheep design on the box, as if that will make any difference to how people will feel when they use them to wipe away the snot and tears.

Dr. Drinkell straightens up in his chair, builds a pyramid with his hands and rests his chin on it. His motions are so slow and deliberate I wonder if he's doing it for dramatic effect. Everything about the man is contrived (he thinks I don't know this because I don't have fancy certificates from different universities hanging on my wall in 'look at me' frames).

When he speaks, he has a voice some people might describe as soothing, but which becomes monotonous after dozens of 45-minute sessions, dissecting things you'd rather stayed buried.

"How does that make you feel? Knowing there was nothing you could do?"

I fight the urge to give him the same answer I gave the first time he asked me that months ago – how the fuck do you think I feel? But, I've gotten passed that. At least that's what I want him to believe because I want out of here.

Dr. D thinks his treatment's working if I give him the answers he wants; if I don't blame myself for what happened. When I do.

If only I'd been there earlier, maybe I could have saved them.

Dr. D calls it survivor's guilt. I call it giving yourself a mental kicking for allowing someone to shit all over you, even although deep down you know there's nothing you could conceivably have done. Not that knowing that helps, because what happened, happened. No amount of talk therapy can change that or bring them back.

But I won't let him know that's how I still feel, because I'll do whatever I have to do to get out of here; to protect the illusion his bullshit therapy is working and it's safe to discharge me.

Since the police discovered me at my parents' house all broken and torn inside, blood draining out of me and onto the kitchen linoleum (as I lay there all I could think was Mum will never get the blood stains out, no matter how much she scrubbed), they told me I've been unable to function. I've been non-responsive to anything or anybody, including Shug who was given a day pass from prison on compassionate grounds. They said they'd no choice but to section me.

When they got me to hospital, I had to be sedated or I would start screaming, tearing at my own clothes, pulling out my own hair, dragging my nails into my skin until it bled.

I swallow, which isn't easy to do when your mouth is as dry as an alcoholic in rehab. I don't need to think too hard to answer his question in an acceptable way, but I want to give the illusion of introspection. That I've deliberated and given my answer a great deal of thought when all I'm doing is ticking another box.

It's all about ticking boxes in here. Medication – tick. Therapy – tick. Socialization – tick. Conning the good doctor - tick.

Bullshit the lot of it. But it keeps Dr. D happy and it's keeping him happy that's going to get me home. Whatever the hell that means. It's just me and Shug left now and he's in Bar L prison, I don't even have a place to stay.

Michael's found someone else. They're living together in her house. He ditched his old place the way he ditched me. What other possible outcome could there be with a loony tunes girlfriend swimming in her own drool, versus the fandabulous, fucking Donna Marie. Bet even her number twos smell of coconut and chocolate. She was meant to be my friend.

He even had the temerity to bring her here. Since I'd seen her last, she'd undergone a major transformation so she could steal my man - all blonde hair and Hollywood star teeth. (Bitterness has made me go all Jeremy Kyle.) They'd sat there making puppy eyes at one another as though they were Romeo and fucking Juliet; all lovesick grins and wee in jokes, expecting me to be happy for them.

I told them to fuck the hell off, as they'd exchanged 'she's loopy' glances, probably waiting until they got outside to circle a finger around their ears.

Now that Dr. D's got a thread he's mining it for all its worth.

"How does that make you feel? That you could do nothing to prevent what happened?"

I take a sip of water from the paper cup placed in front of me (normal cups and mugs are banned because they can be smashed and the sharp pieces used for cutting into flesh or swallowing). These days I take great care when I drink. When I was half out of it, I have a recollection of someone trying to give me water and the liquid going down the wrong way; I felt as though I was being water boarded. Those things I remember. Other things? Not so much.

Apparently, I scratched the face of an orderly who tried to calm me down, using a plastic fork I'd sharpened to cut my arms. Not that I remember. My brain's a hard drive and some of it's been corrupted.

When I finally talk, I make it sound as if I've thought this through and come to this great realization.

"It makes me feel that it wasn't my fault. There were two of them. They were armed. I was tied up, gagged so I couldn't even scream. My parents were dead. What could I do?"

Dr. D gives me a knowing look because I've told him what he wants to hear even if it's not the truth. If I told him the truth, he'd keep me locked up here forever; claim I'm a danger to others and myself. Put me in a padded room, in an I-love-me jacket, pumped full of drugs to make me as compliant as a rag doll.

The truth is fury courses through my veins; the only feeling stronger than that is the smoldering hate. The kind that festers and grows every minute, of every day, becoming a raging inferno that can't be controlled – even if you wanted it to be, which I don't, because that's what stops me from taking a knife to be my wrists and having one long last bath.

What I want most is revenge. To go after the bastards who killed my parents.

They brought hell to my home. Now they're in for some hell of their own.

That's what I call therapy; not Dr. D's clappy, happy approach.


Dr. D isn't the only person who wants me to relive that day.

It's hard not to like Detective Inspector Duncan Waddell when he always brings me a plastic bottle of Irn Bru; Scotland's answer to Mountain Dew. For some reason, they don't sell it in here. Maybe they think people will get too happy on the sugary drink and will no longer need medication and therapy.

Waddell is not a happy bunny today, because I'm still not cooperating and he knows I know much more than I'm telling.

"Did they say anything? What about how they looked - did they have any tattoos, scars, jewelry? You must remember something, Nancy. What about how they talked. Did one of them have a speech impediment or affectation, a strange accent?" "No, I'm sorry. I just don't remember." A lump forms in my throat, because I remember too much, but I don't show it. "It's all blank."

His shoulders hunch forwards and he eyes me as though I'm his daughter and I've disappointed him in some way.

I have to battle not to look away: to be the one who blinks first.

"Do you want the scum who did this to your parents and left you to die, to get away with it?"

I don't answer that. Why should I?

There's a trace of irritation in his voice and I don't blame him.

He knows I'm lying and there's not a damn thing he can do about it.

Impassive, I sit there as he uses phrases such as "hindering a police inquiry" and "holding back information." I've developed an indifference to these stock phrases, because I've heard them all before.

Why does Dr. D let Waddell see me? Is he trying to set back my recovery?

Apart from a burly orderly standing at the door in case I go crazy and he needs to restrain me (when I was first brought in, I gave him a bloody nose and he still bears a grudge), we're alone in the dayroom with its mellow yellow walls, blu-tacked posters and Formica tables.

In some ways, I look forward to these little police visits at the same time as dreading them. On one hand, I love Irn Bru and Waddell is a nice man who seems genuinely concerned about me, but I've never been that comfortable with lying. Some people lie as easily as they breathe, but I'm not one of them. Blame my parents who brought me up to be honest.

Waddell's forehead crinkles. "What if they do the same thing to someone else? You might not care about what happened to you, but what about the next victims?"

Yeah, right. I don't care about being raped then stabbed with the knife my mum used to peel potatoes. Heartless bitch that I am.

He sits there in judgment of me and he doesn't even know me. I know he's only doing his job. Goading me, trying to get me fired up, so I'll throw a hissy fit and tell him everything I know, as a WPC sits next to him, smiling sympathetically (how I hate that bloody smile). But, I won't rise to the bait.

Excerpted from Hell to Pay by Jenny Thomson. Copyright © 2012 Jenny Thomson. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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