The current glints and sparkles as she gazes. It has been a good outing: fresh air, camaraderie and fun. Freedom from the house, too. Her whole body a little weightless, she’s contented, relaxed, happy. And high.

The rain-speckled wind strokes her cheeks. Closing her eyes, she breathes in the musky fragrances of the countryside surrounding her – woody pine and damp conifers, rotting moss and wet grass. The pristine and crisp smell of the river too. Save for the hum of falling water in the distance, it’s silent.

She stretches and smiles. In this instant she has everything she wants; it’s a moment to capture.

A sharp gust and she’s teetering, then tumbling down. oh my God, oh my God, she’s slipped.

Instinctively holding out her arms, she gropes for something solid to protect herself from the fall. Nothing there but empty air, then the slap of the surface and shock of icy water. A powerless plunge into darkness hauls her down and down further. Liquid like bleach stings her nostrils, swamps her mouth, seals her throat.

Raw survival setting in, she pins her lips shut and tries not to inhale. Swim, she needs to swim, get back to the top. Kicking out her legs, she tries, then again. Futile, so fruitless. Boots too heavy, blazer leaden with water.

Weak, unduly weak. Paralysed limbs. Frozen flesh. No air left, no more room. A spasmodic breath and acid deep in her chest. So dark, very dark.

Inescapable tugging, insistent sucking, a swirl of murky depths.

The arms of the dead drag her in.

Pure and transparent, the blackness turns white. With it, realisation, as clear as the river.

She didn’t trip; she was pushed.

Revenge, sweet revenge.

The friendship, the bonding. The smile, the pretence.

Cleverly biding her time.

And finally winning.

Exclusive – Betray Her prologue

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