Hi Zoe! Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog. Today is a very exciting day – The Girl in the Broken Mirror is being published and hitting the shelves as we speak!

So I wanted to offer something very special to your readers. It’s a chapter that’s set a few years earlier, when everything in Jay’s life was going really well, until one evening when her dad doesn’t come home. The chapter sets the scene for the book because you find out exactly how much Jay’s life changes in those years in between.

So here it is:

The Girl in the Broken Mirror - The Extra Chapter

... a few years earlier

“See you on Monday,” Jay shouted, slamming the car door shut. She waved good bye to Lucy and her mum and crunched across the long gravel drive to the front door. She was missing a sleepover with the rest of the gang tonight for what promised to be a mind-crushingly boring evening with her parents, and her attempts to wriggle out of it had failed. She glanced at her watch: she was late. Six o’clock, and she was supposed to be dressed and ready to leave for the dinner party.

The front door was open and light poured out between the shiny white marble pillars onto the porch. That meant serious trouble. Her mum was keeping watch for her from the front door. Jay put on her most contrite face – it usually worked, that and a lot of kowtowing.

“Really, really sorry, Mum,” she grovelled, “traffic was lousy. I’ll be ready in a mo’. Promise. And you look fabulous! Pink’s sooo your colour. You should wear it all the time!”

Her mum shimmered in a pale pink silk sari embroidered with silver thread and sparkling sequins, her tear-drop shaped bindi at the centre of her forehead matching perfectly. Her thick black curly hair had been blow dried into a shiny mane of cascading bouncy curls. She did look stunning – apart from the frown, which, luckily, turned out not to be directed at Jay.

“Thank you for the compliment, Jaya beti, but don’t worry about being late. Your father is not back from his meeting yet.”

“We might have to cancel then?” Jay asked, hopefully.

“Your father will be home any minute, so hurry and get ready,” her mum said, shooing her up the stairs.

Jay bounded up the stairs two at a time and threw open her bedroom door, expecting the usual bombsite to greet her eyes, but her mum had been in and tidied up. She flung her Uggs in the corner and wriggled out of her skinny black jeans. She wouldn’t be wearing those tonight. 

It was the annual Indian Cultural Society bash, and the dress code was strictly Indian and strictly posh. The more silk and sequins and bling the better. Her hand hovered uncertainly between two favourites: the pale blue and pink outfits. She plumped for the pink. She’d match her mum tonight and bank some extra brownie points. 

She plugged in the hair tongs and ran them through her long hair, twisting the tongs round at the ends to give her hair a bouncy curl the way Lucy had shown her that afternoon. Make-up was a no-no for tonight – it didn’t take much to end up the target of wagging tongues – but she decided a light sweep of mascara wouldn’t get noticed. She didn’t need more than that as she had inherited her mum’s eyes, thick dark lashes framing large hazel eyes. She added a dash of sparkly pink lip-gloss to her full lips and pouted into the mirror. Tongues would definitely be wagging tonight!

The final touch was a bit of bling. She opened her jewellery box and took out the gold heart locket. It was her tenth birthday present from her parents, her first proper piece of jewellery, and it was adorable. It had the cutest little diamond set right in the middle of the heart.

She headed down to the living room. “Isn’t he back yet, Mum?”

Her mum was wiping down the surfaces with a duster, even though they gleamed with that recently polished look. “Not yet.”

Jay switched on the TV. A game show was on, but she didn’t pay it any attention – her phone was pinging with Snapchat messages. Her mum moved restlessly round the room polishing and dusting. They had a cleaner who came every other day, so her mum was just killing time, but Jay wished she’d do it some other way. And then her mum set up the ironing board.

“What are you doing, Mum? You’ve got your best sari on! Sit. Chill. He’ll be here soon.”

Her mum glanced at her watch for the umpteenth time. “But this is not like your father. He is always so punctual.”

“Have you tried his mobile?”

“There is no answer.”

Her dad always answered the phone when he was driving, despite promises to her that he wouldn’t. “Maybe he’s driving and he’s finally turned over a new leaf.”

Her mum gave her a look as if to say – that would be the day! 

“What did you do today, Jaya? Did you buy anything?”

“Oh, just mooched around the shops, went for some sushi with Lucy and her mum. Nothing much,” Jay replied vaguely. 

Her mum raised an eyebrow sceptically. “All day in Brent Cross and you did not buy anything?”
“A pair of leggings – my old ones have got a massive hole in them,” was all Jay was prepared to admit to. It didn’t count as a lie because she had bought a pair of leggings – and a couple of other things too. She was trying to avoid a lecture about wasting money, a habit her mum had acquired recently and one that Jay didn’t understand. They were loaded. Her dad was a partner in a construction business which was doing really well – hence the big house, the parties, the pool out back. So it was beyond her why her mum was suddenly talking about how they should be careful with money.

The last lecture had ended with her mum raising her voice, which had taken Jay by surprise. “We do not send you to that school so you can waste money on expensive clothes and unnecessary things, Jaya. I will move you somewhere they teach girls some sense. You are spoilt!”

That school was Lady Montague’s Girls’ School, terribly posh and terribly expensive. Jay loved it there and no way was she going to let her mum send her anywhere else. “Mum, you can’t do that! Dad won’t let you, and I love it there.”

Since then, she had avoided conversations with her mum about how she spent her allowance. She had a feeling something might be up, but she had no idea what it was. The other day she had caught her parents talking in hushed voices about her dad’s business partner and the company’s finances, but they’d shut up as soon as they saw her at the doorway. Jay wasn’t too worried – it was bound to be a temporary thing, something to do with the credit crunch everyone was going on about these days. Her dad was far too clever to fall victim to something like that.

Her mum got up, shook the pleated folds in her sari so they hung properly, and began pacing round the room again. “Where can he be?” she said anxiously. She checked her watch again. The little diamonds set into every hour twinkled and Jay decided she might ask her dad for a watch like that for her next birthday, but not a delicate one like her mum’s. All the girls in her class were wearing chunky men’s watches.

“He must have forgotten about the do tonight. We can’t go without him, can we, Mum? So can I, maybe, please, please go to the sleepov –” Jay began hopefully.

“No, Jaya,” her mum cut her off exasperatedly. “Your father did not forget. He went to the bank and took my jewellery out for tonight.”

“I still don’t see why I have to go with you,” Jay grumbled. “It’s going to be so boring, Mummy. Will you at least think about the sleepover if dad gets home too late?”

“Jaya, I said no. I saw Pushpa and she said Daisy and Nina are going. You like her girls, so don’t complain there is no one your age there.”

“They’re about as much fun as warm ice cream or soggy crisps,” Jay muttered. “Or a cross country hike on the coldest, wettest, muddiest day of the year, or – ”

“Jaya! That is enough. They are nice girls and they are from a good family.”

There were very few things that Jay dreaded more than the phrase ‘nice girls from a good family.’ As for Daisy and Nina, they may have been ‘girls her own age’, but they were so dutifully dull, Jay knew she would die of boredom after five minutes with them. She was glad her parents never forced her to be all traditional and meek like Daisy and Nina. They’d lost that battle a long time ago. 

The doorbell rang. “At last he is home! Hurry up and get your things, Jaya.” Her mum dashed off to answer it, high heels clicking on the polished marble floor. 
Jay skipped through the interconnecting doors into the kitchen where her mobile was charging. If the evening became unbearably boring she’d need it to text her friends. She slipped it into her little bag. Just her sandals to find now. She stopped when she heard the voices.

Voices that didn’t belong to her mum and dad. Stranger’s voices.

She crept up to the door and pressed her ear to the wood, not daring to peek through the gap in case she was seen. If it was Mrs. Fidge from two doors down Jay would escape up to her room to avoid endless chat about her three cats – two of whom used their lawn as a toilet, but her mum would never tell Mrs. Fidge that.

But it wasn’t Mrs. Fidge. 

Two people were talking: a young woman, and a man – who was not her dad.

“Mrs. Sharma,” the man said, after politely refusing a drink, “Please, sit down.”
Her mum must have hesitated because Jay heard the woman gently insist. Jay risked a quick peek through the gap. Dark uniforms. She heard a crackling sound – radios – the police. Jay pulled back quickly, hand flying to her mouth to stifle a gasp, her heart beating faster.

Why were they here? What could they want? Had her dad been arrested? Maybe he’d been in an accident? No, that was impossible. Her dad was a brilliant driver.

It had to be something entirely unrelated to them. There had been that burglary a couple of weeks ago. Maybe they thought her mum had heard or seen something suspicious.

Jay glued her ear to the door.

“Mrs. Sharma, your husband was involved in a car accident earlier this evening. He was taken to hospital with severe head injuries. The doctors did their best for him, but I am very sorry to have to tell you that despite doing everything in their power, they could not help him and he did not survive.”
There was silence for a long heavy moment. 

Jay couldn’t breathe. The air around her was closing in, choking her. She wasn’t sure she’d heard them right. It couldn’t be right. Was it a hoax or mistaken identity? She wanted to run in and tell the policeman off. She wanted them to say they were sorry, that it was a terrible mistake and they’d got the wrong family.

And then her mum’s anguished cry split the air. 

Jay clapped her hands over her ears, but it was too late. She knew what it meant.

Her dad was never coming home again.


GIVEAWAY: And, as it’s publication day, I’d like to give one signed copy of the book away to one of your readers! All they have to do is comment below, and follow and tweet me on Twitter. (Winner will be picked at random. UK only)

Check out the other stops on the blog tour here

1 comment

  1. This is a fantastic first chapter, my heart stopped of a minute. I love the the author style of description and make you feel the story right from the first chapter. Definitely a book which will be me interested and gripped.