Will she ever escape her past?
Poppy’s life has never been easy. Becoming a mum at sixteen, falling out with her family and being abandoned by her boyfriend has left her feeling lost and alone, but her son is a ray of light in her life and the pair form a strong bond: It’s the two of them against the world.
Many years later, with her son grown up and away at university, Poppy arrives desperate, exhausted and half-starved to a pretty doorstep, hoping to find sanctuary in the home of her old school friend Harriet – and it is clear things have gone horribly wrong.
Finding Harriet living with her sister Jessica and nephew Reef, Poppy soon settles into a comfortable life in their rural village, helping Harriet in her delightful fabric shop, and believing the sisters have offered her a way to start again with a clean slate. But as the hardships she has fled catch up with her, and cracks in the sister’s strange relationship begin to show, Poppy is suspicious of Harriet’s true motivations for helping her and fears her only option will be to flee once again. With bonds between the three women tested to breaking point, and dark secrets revealed, will Poppy find safety and happiness, or has she simply fled one nightmare to end up in another?
No Safe Haven is a twisty tale of friendship, family and loyalty in a world where everyone has something to hide.
My thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for the tour invitation. No Safe Haven was published in ebook (also Kindle Unlimited) and paperback on 12 October 2023 and I’m delighted to share an extract for the blog tour today.
A car sped past and startled me as I hovered on the curb outside Cattleford train station. Beginning to shiver in the frosty air, I pulled my coat more tightly around my body and stared in surprise at my surroundings. The little village was so sleepy and picture perfect on this winter afternoon that it was like a Christmas model railway scene, with lights twinkling in cottage windows as the train disappeared into the distance. I should be clutching a pile of beautifully wrapped presents, not a bulging, hastily packed holdall that was fraying around the seams. But it wasn’t Christmas now, it was early January, and it wasn’t anything pleasant that had brought me here this day.
Sleet began to fall as I darted across the road, landing in icy splats on my sleeves and the strands of blonde hair that spilt over my shoulders from beneath my hood. I forced myself to slow down. Nobody knew I was coming here, I didn’t need to run. Nevertheless, it was hard to break the habit of looking over my shoulder. Taking out my phone I quickly checked the address I was travelling to, before hastily slipping it back in my pocket as though somebody might see. Eleven Tricklebank Lane. The name was impossibly idyllic. Had I had fallen into a fairytale? The gently flowing stream I was now crossing via a pretty humped bridge was certainly nothing like the vast estuary I could just about glimpse from the kitchen window in my old flat. That river had huge gantry cranes on the opposite bank standing tall and impassive against a sky that more often than not was slate grey. This river was surrounded by nothing more forbidding than front gardens where bird feeders hung from trees and bright winter berries adorned bare branches like tiny jewels.
The sleet grew heavier and the light began to fade as I reached a sign for Tricklebank Lane. This was it. I paused and took a deep breath. What the hell was I going to say? In my frenzied flight from Habmouth I hadn’t even considered how I would explain myself. Just getting away had been all I could think about.
I stopped at a sandstone cottage with ivy curling its way along the wall above the front door, beside which a ceramic sign with a picture of a hedgehog proclaimed it to be number eleven. How lucky Harriet and Jessica Dunridge were to live in a place like this. Not that Harriet would see it that way – she’d always expected the best of everything. In a way that’s what I’d liked about her all those years ago. She knew what she wanted and how to go about getting it. Jessica, on the other hand, was a dreamer like me; romantic and impulsive, darting from one thing to the next without having any idea how it would work out. Or at least that’s how I remembered her. I’d not seen the sisters for so long I couldn’t possibly know what they were like now. Even so, it was surprising that the two women – so different in temperament – were sharing a house together. How had that come about?
It was a while before anybody answered the door. Had I definitely come to the right place? There were lights on behind the curtains, and I reached towards my pocket to check the address on my phone yet again, but my hand dropped as the door finally swung open. The woman standing there with a puzzled frown on her face wasn’t instantly familiar and I stared stupidly until finally it clicked into place. Her hair was so different – no longer falling in dark, bouncy curls around her shoulders, it was now styled in a short bob, with vibrant red highlights that matched her glossy lips. She was curvier than she used to be – quite different from the girl I used to sometimes swap clothes with – and she had a real presence about her; confident and self-assured. Perhaps even a little intimidating. I blurted out her name. ‘Harriet!’
She peered at me in bewilderment. ‘Poppy?’ she said finally, ‘What are you doing here?’
‘I know I should have told you I was coming,’ I said, a little breathlessly, ‘but I didn’t know how to explain. I’ve got myself in a bit of a situation–’
‘I did wonder why you asked for my address out of the blue,’ Harriet said, ‘but I didn’t think you’d turn up on the doorstep! Come inside, it’s freezing out there. I’ll make some tea and you can warm up.’
After removing my wet boots and coat I followed her gratefully into a rustic kitchen, the cabinets painted pea green, with a brightly patterned rug on the floor. It wasn’t a huge room – though it felt big to me after the tiny kitchen in my flat – and the cosy atmosphere wrapped around me like a warm embrace. My eyes kept slipping back to Harriet. What had happened in the twenty-odd years since we’d last spent any real time together? She wore no wedding ring, but hadn’t I heard through the grapevine she’d got married? If she had, it must not have worked out – she was living with Jessica and not her husband.
LK Chapman writes books about relationships, family drama, secrets and lies – from dark and disturbing tales of obsession and jealousy, to twisty thrillers with a dash of romance – her passion is creating characters that get under your skin and stories that keep you gripped.
Her books are inspired by her studies in psychology, and she has always been fascinated by the strength, peculiarities and extremes of human nature. As well as working as a psychologist, she volunteered for mental health charity Mind before starting her journey as an author. It has been an incredibly exciting journey and she is so grateful for the support of her readers.
When she is not writing, she will usually be found in her garden or getting out and enjoying the outdoors – immersing herself in nature and giving her mind a chance to work on her next story!
FOLLOW THE AUTHOR