Living in England, I hadn't realised it was Mothers Day in the US tomorrow. (Or I think it is!) So I thought it would be nice to feature an extract from the first chapter of the book my mother is writing; The Gender Wars. You can also check out her blog here.
A gentle beeping signalled the start of another day, and Tess stretched pushing the dog to one side with her leg. He grumbled, disgruntled by the disturbance then snuggled himself down in the warmth of the covers. There was no need for him to stir yet, not until breakfast hit his bowl. For a moment his mistress lay there breathing peacefully, like she intended going back to sleep, then with a grunt of her own she rolled out of bed and stood in one smooth movement.
Nice to move so easily, I couldn't have done that last year, she thought satisfied. Access to a swimming pool and gym was paying off, she hadn't felt so energised in years. She grabbed a towel and headed for the shower. The water was hot and stimulating, there was something so sensual about a hot shower, the warmth, the touch, the fragrance of skin mixed with coconut and shea butter with just a hint of almond oil. The steam cleared the last trace of sleep from her head and she stepped from the shower alert.
Tess is 65, medium height, grey and stocky. At least that's what she would have been described as ten years ago, except then she would have been 55 and perhaps they would just have said short and fat. Today Tess was ageless, because age didn't matter, her hair was groomed and elegant when pinned up as she always wore it for work and she didn't care what her weight was as long as she could run, shoot, climb, canoe, ride a horse or do any other damn thing she chose.
She fastened the robe around her warm damp skin, slipped her feet into sandals and headed downstairs for the kitchen. Filling the kettle, she could hear movement upstairs as the girls stirred. Amber was loud and thudding about, slamming doors and demanding the whereabouts of half a dozen things in sulky, sleepy tones. Cara just padded from bedroom to bathroom in silence.
Kettle humming Tess popped the toast in, laying the table as she passed on the way to the garden door to let the dog out. The lumbering labrador had waddled down the stairs shifting his old bones with the urge to pass the first water of the day.
He scratched at the back door languidly and equally languidly Tess opened the door. It was wrenched from her grasp in a sudden violent surge, almost in the same instant the dogs head split with the blow of an axe. Tess let go the door and swept a kitchen chair around her body to discard it in the path of the intruder.
'Men' she screamed as loud as she could raise her voice, heading for the stairs as fast as she could run, even if she died there would be time for the girls to drop the security door, raise the alarm and get themselves armed. Reaching the bottom of the stairs she seized the heavy walking stick propped there and jabbed backwards feeling a satisfying soft landing and a grunt of pain, but the yank on the stick knocked her to the ground, flipping as she fell, she could see only one attacker.
She had jabbed hard enough at his genitals that he had dropped the axe with which he had killed Ben, her 15 year old labrador. Half blind, deaf and fading sense of smell. Definitely fading sense of smell, because this guy stank. He was rank, dirty and angry; and dropping the axe hadn't halted his murderous rage. He had twisted the stick out of Tess's grip and raised it above his head to bring down the heaviest blow he could muster, but the stick fell weightily from his grasp as a crossbow bolt thudded forcefully through his skull, the tip projecting between startled eyes, through his nose. As he fell forward Tess rolled to one side to escape the chance of injury from the sharp bolt.
She rose to her feet somewhat more gingerly than she had first sprung from bed in the morning and glanced up at her grinning youngest daughter, who stood crossbow in her grip behind the security gate.