Elements, a New Poetry Collection

Blurb:

The contributors were asked to write a poem based on the book cover image. Unsurprisingly, many of the poems featured are dominated by the elements. The writers touch upon various subjects, however and readers are sure to discover a flavour they will enjoy. All proceeds of this collection will be shared between homeless charities both in the UK and US, reflecting the international collaboration behind this project.

The authors featured comprise: Sharena Lee Satti, Paula Acton, Audrina Lane, Eleanor Lloyd-Jones, Anna-Maria Athanasiou, Sarah Michelle Lynch, A. Stone, Andy Lynch, Stevie Turner, Lisa Fulham, O.Y. Flemming, Mark Heathcote, Alison Clarke, Victoria Kenna, T.F. Webb, Louise White and Mandy Gibson.


I am excited to announce this new poetry collection featuring 17 different authors. Proceeds of this project will be split between two charities: Hull Homeless (UK-based) and VOA (US-based, homeless). Please check out our book! Buy links below….

Purchase Elements in ebook for just 99 cents/pence:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Universal purchase link: mybook.to/elements

Purchase Elements in paperback:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon CA

One Week Left!!

There’s just one week left to submit your poetry for my upcoming charity anthology. A lot of the details are still TBC, but here’s an outline of what I’m looking for if you missed my announcement…

— I will provide an image to work from; this image will also provide the basis for the book cover.

— Your poem can be as long or as short as you like; on any theme you like, with any language or as far out as you can possibly imagine. I only ask that your poem reflects the mood/tone of the image in some way shape or form.

— Deadline to submit poems is January 31st – please, please let me know in good time if you want to submit but think you may miss this deadline.

— Title of this project TBC.
— Release date TBC (HOPEFULLY FEB SOMETIME).

— This book will be released in ebook first, for Kindles. (paperbacks shortly after; the formatting can sometimes be tricky with poetry books)

— There are a few charities I support, so depending on the profits made, I may split them between a couple (or three, you never know!).

— PLEASE submit your poem in a Word document. I receive no end of submissions that have been pasted into an email and the formatting is a nightmare. WORD DOCUMENT PLEASE! 😉

— Your poetry must be proofread

To find out more information, please add yourself to our private gathering place over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2201342126788394/

Similarly, you can email me for more details if you don’t use Facebook (I envy you!)

Really excited and wait till you read what I’ve received so far.

Love, S x

Review Opportunities and Our Poetry Project

There’s still time to join my latest charity project – a poetry anthology. Please join me over on Facebook to learn more, or you can email me for all the details. I am looking for poems, but there’s no minimum or maximum word count, you just have to write something inspired by our cover art! I’ve had some great contributions so far . . . and there’s more to come! Submissions are open until January 31st – please let me know if you have something but it’s going to be late.

I’m galvanising my social networks this year, after a very busy writing year in 2018. This includes opening up review opportunities. If you’d like to read one of my books for free in exchange for an honest review, just fill out this form. I also have a reader group on Facebook where you can gather to discuss what you’ve read in a closed environment!

Similarly, if you’ve read and enjoyed one of my books lately and just haven’t got around to reviewing yet, why not pop some stars and a line or two of review on Amazon or Goodreads? If possible, tag me so that I know you’ve reviewed!

I’m currently working on a few NEW things, but predominantly I plan to release at least one thriller and my first poetry book this year!

Watch this space x

Don’t Judge A Book by Its Cover! and other news . . .

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Lots of “blind date with a book” packages have gone out to readers this week and I’m so pleased they’re already getting stuck in, so to speak!

The above image shows the packages I have left: prices include P&P within the UK (as a special offer) because I need to clear out my office! Please contact me via FB message or through my contact form or via email sarahm.lynch@yahoo.co.uk if you’d like to purchase a book or two. Payment can be made via Paypal.

You’ll see on my website that I have an area for readers to buy signed books – you can order anything you like from there, but you won’t get as good a deal as you will ordering the Blind Date books! Readers familiar with my work will be able to work out which package contains what.

Other News

ptmys ebook

It’s your last chance to grab Poems To My Younger Self from Amazon. After March 31st, it won’t be on public sale anymore. I have limited copies in my personal stock which you can purchase from me, but once they’re gone, they’re gone! Please don’t miss out. Order your copy direct from me and you will get a squiggle and a free bookmark – and maybe some other swag. All proceeds go to Make A Wish.

Fill in the order form: CLICK HERE

Purchase from Amazon: mybook.to/youngerpoems

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NEW RELEASE: Poems to My Younger Self

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So, it was summer 2017 . . . and I had this random idea pop into my head, suggesting I put together a poetry collection to raise money for charity. (Eventually I would decide our charity would be MAKE A WISH, as the Leeds Author Event is raising money for this charity.)

In September I started gathering poems to go in the book. Now, 28 authors later and we’re finally here . . . PUBLICATION.

POEMS REVS

You can read poems by some of your favourite authors including Anna-Maria Athanasiou, KA Hobbs, Claire C Riley, Audrina Lane, Lisa Hobman, ES Carter, Charlotte Hart, Andie M. Long, Eleanor Lloyd-Jones and many more. Some of our authors are published for the first time through this publication and are very excited and nervous to discover how it is received.

However, I am so happy with how this book has been received so far. In fact, I am thrilled. From small acorns and all that.

You can help support our fundraising efforts by one-clicking “Poems to My Younger Self” on Amazon.

OR, I will be selling this book in person at the Leeds Author Event on March 3rd, 2018 and you can pre-order your copy here (for pick up in Leeds only): CLICK HERE

I have no doubt this will be a roaring success and it’s been wonderful to organise something like this again, with such a supportive bunch of people!

Thanks all,

Sarah xxx

POEMS TO MY YOUNGER SELF new

 

Announcing Poems to My Younger Self – An Anthology

POEMS TO MY YOUNGER SELF

Our list of contributing authors:

Eleanor Lloyd-Jones

Paula Acton

Glenn Haigh

KA Hobbs

ES Carter

Jane Washington

Merlot Bookbinder

Alistair Stone

Linda M. Crate

Andie M. Long

Marian Barker

Lisa J Hobman

Sharena Lee Satti

Andy Lynch

Zak Hardacre

Claire C. Riley

Lisa Fulham

Bella Settarra

Alison Clarke

Nadia Correia

Anna-Maria Athanasiou

Charlotte E Hart

Dee Palmer

Sam Dutton

Audrina Lane

Rachel Hague

O.Y. Flemming

Sarah Michelle Lynch

***

Every single author has brought it for this project and I’d just like to say thank-you to them all for really getting what I wanted from them. I’m so happy with this book, and I think you will be, too.

ALL PROCEEDS of this book are going to MAKE A WISH, a charity granting wishes to terminally ill children. One of our own writers, KA Hobbs told me her sister was granted a wish before she died and it meant everything to her sister and their family. This is such a special charity and we hope this book provides hope but also a generous donation, too.

If you would like a review copy, please visit THIS FORM and fill out your details. Review copies will be sent in the form of a Kindle book – but please note – “Poems To My Younger Self” will only go on sale in paperback. Poetry needs to be read on the page. It’s so much more powerful that way.

The paperback will be available to buy from Amazon on February 20th but I’ll also be selling this in person at the Leeds Author Event on March 3rd, 2018. Many of the contributing authors will be in attendance that day. I’ll let you know how you can pre-order your copies for this event beforehand.

More details are to come… and I’ll be posting snippets of everyone’s poems on my Instagram account in the run-up to publication, so do not miss out!

Sarah x

What Does 2018 Have in Store?

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas break with their families and loved ones! At Lynch Towers we ate, drank, had many lie-ins, and now feel refreshed, ready to take on another year.

You may have noticed that at the end of last year, many of my books underwent a complete rebranding. This coincided with me adding lots of my back catalogue to new vendors, including the iBookstore/iTunes, B&N, Kobo and many others.

I’ve updated the library section of my website with a drop-down menu detailing all my books, including how I’ve incorporated old editions into new ones. You can see which books have already been moved over to expanded distribution, including the Sub Rosa Series, Angel Avenue, Beyond Angel Avenue, The Chambermaid Series and The UNITY Series.

unbind freebie

In fact, Unbind (Sub Rosa #1) is now PERMA FREE and can be downloaded as such from Amazon and also from other vendors too.

All of the Sub Rosa novels are gradually being phased over into expanded distribution.

All buy links can be found in the aforementioned drop down menus of the library on this site.

HIS DEADLY ROSE (Sub Rosa #6) and EPILOGUE (Sub Rosa #7) release on January 16th and February 14th respectively.

My Review Team

I now have a section on my site where, if you are a reviewer, you can sign up to receive review copies from me in exchange for honest reviews. Check out the details here.

Poems To My Younger Self Project

I’m currently completing work on this brand-new charity anthology, featuring 28 authors including myself. More details are soon to follow…

Leeds Book Signing

On March 3rd, 2018 I will be signing books in Leeds. Tickets for the event are very reasonably priced and can be purchased on this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leeds-uk-author-event-2018-tickets-32387845919

If you would like to pre-order my books to collect on the day, visit my form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfUczEqxWE4MrxFo7E-EocIVeaaphWcWOh7Bjr92hxGwiOuxQ/viewform

New Books!

There are lots of new books in the works and 2018 promises to be a very exciting year! Follow my blog to keep up to date.

 

A Story I Wrote About #Cyberbullying for #AntibullyingWeek

sml

 

My stepson Joe is like my husband Warrick in so many ways, both in looks, mannerisms and personality. Joe’s a little taller, but otherwise, I sometimes scare myself when I almost fling my arms around Joe instead of Rick. I feel like I know my stepson as well as I know Rick so there’s a definite possibility something is wrong.

One of the things Joe and Rick share is the uncanny ability to seem unthreatening and it’s something which makes them both popular guys. Don’t get me wrong – my husband, a former police detective, could no doubt kill a man with his bare hands if pushed – but he wouldn’t, and he doesn’t appear capable of that, either. They’re my boys – well, just two of my boys actually, because I have twin boys as well – and yes, I know my boys. So, yes, my life is pretty much a big whole lot of boydom.

God!

Anyway, it’s the shared floppy hair, you see. Since Joe shelved his football career he grew out the crew cut and now he wears his curls even longer than his dad’s. People see Joe coming a mile off. Six-two. Wide shoulders. Big, brown eyes. The widest smile you’ve ever seen. Dimples. God, those dimples. Some girl is going to fall flat on her face right in front of him one of these days.

I have to sigh.

Unfortunately the twins are looking more and more like me every day. They’ll be fairer, probably moodier (like me) and I think Charlie might be a dancer, like me, too. He prances. I never thought a toddler would prance. But he does. He bounces over any obstacle you put in front of him. So… maybe he’s meant for hurdling, not dancing. I don’t know.

Anyway. I am obviously rattling around my own head here because I am worried about Joe, my popular six-foot, sixteen year old who recently started acting different. I can’t put my finger on it. But he’s different.

I don’t like different.

Different usually means not good… or something big’s going on. I know Joe all too well, like I know Warrick, remember?

We’re all sat around the dinner table and I don’t even give a monkeys that Charlie and Harry have most of their food in their eyes. I’m watching Joe.

“Dinner okay?” I ask generally.

Rick, with his curls tied back in a low ponytail, looks up at me from beneath tired eyes. He’s still wearing his football shorts and shirt, having just played five-a-side after a day at the community centre he runs.

“It’s great, Jules,” he says, his eyes going side to side, like he’s picked up on something about my tone – and recognises I’m acting sketchy. “Your sausage and mash is the best. I’ll shower as soon as I’m done. Sorry if I stink.”

His nose wrinkles and he knows too. He bloody knows. Why won’t he address this? What the fuck is going on under my roof?

Rage simmers beneath my skin and I have to remember, my rage is not a good thing. It’s not a good thing. Get a grip Jules.

Joe is shovelling his food with his head down which he never does. He at least sometimes tries to muck about with his brothers or he might tell us about his day. He’d normally come out with some joke or recant a daft tale of teenage love gone wrong. A little bit of goss about one of my colleagues, perhaps… (I teach at the same school Joe’s at, you see.)

“Everything alright, Joe?”

He looks up and I think I almost see him shaking. He stares past me and flushes slightly. All I get is a slight nod of the head, then he looks down into his food.

The shovelling recommences and within seconds, he’s eaten a couple of sausages in just a few bites. I look at Rick who tells me with his eyes that his son will have indigestion later on.

Joe jumps up from his seat and lightning-fast, puts his empty plate in the dishwasher, grabs a yoghurt from the fridge and chases upstairs away from us – or rather me, the questioning stepmother.

Charlie and Harry are oblivious, trying to drop bits of broccoli on the floor so they won’t have to eat it. The gravy, they suck from their spoons, and the mash appears to have been used as a hairstyling product.

“Something has got into that kid, Rick.”

He sits, fork paused over his food, waiting for me to say something more. He pulls a bit of sausage skin from between his teeth and gives me the ‘it’s probably a man thing’ look.

“I won’t leave it,” I warn.

“I trust him. He’ll sort it out himself.”

“I trust him, too. It’s everyone else I don’t trust.”

“Jules, you can’t just…” He pauses, sighing, delivering me those soft, pleading eyes of his I cannot resist. “…he’s a lad and he’s almost a man. Shit’s gonna happen. Sometimes you have got to let him get on with it.”

I almost throw down my cutlery but think better of it. Charlie and Harry are finally putting sausage in their mouths and if they only have sausage, at least they’re having something. I will not distract them from eating solid foods. So I turn myself away from the twins who are sitting either side of me, alongside one another in their highchairs, and put my hand up against my face to shield them from my fury.

“There is something fucking wrong,” I mutter, or rather, try to mutter.

Rick gives me a soothing smile, one side of his mouth turned up ever so slightly.

“Jules, he’ll tell us when he’s ready.”

“Yeah, like he was gonna tell us about having underage sex. Until I caught him!”

Shaking his head, he puts his fork down, his appetite diminished now too. “Jules, please.”

“I know we are through with all that and he knows better about all that now, you know? But as you well know Rick, my instincts have proven very powerful in the past.”

“Let’s just give him a bit of time to fess up and if he doesn’t, okay… we’ll start probing him. Right now, he might just need some time before he tells us what’s wrong. It could be something as simple as heartbreak or a bad test. It’s not been easy for him this year. Going from GCSEs to A levels is a massive jump.”

I scowl. “He got seven A stars and four A’s at GCSE, are you fucking kidding me?” I just mouthed the fucking.

Rick goes silent, which he knows I hate. Help me vent the rage – or go silent and enrage it. He just doesn’t want me to go off on one about this.

“Rick,” I say between almost clenched teeth, “he’s one of the most popular boys in school and he’s not himself. This isn’t him. He’s normally full of life. He’s normally the one waking me up in the morning. He’s been late for his paper round almost every day for the past two weeks. I’ve had to answer the madwoman at the paper shop when she calls every morning.”

“Hey Jules, people have bad times in life,” he says, reaching across the table to use the twins’ bibs to mop their chops slightly.

“Don’t divert, Rick. You know something’s wrong.”

He turns his deep brown, almost black, eyes onto mine and gives me a deadly serious look. “I acknowledge that. The thing is, we still need to give him time.”

Fuming, I toss what’s left of my half-eaten dinner in the bin and leave the room, heading upstairs for the study. I have a ton of books to mark and they might be the only thing that will take my mind off this.

 

Rick crawls into bed with me at about eleven, freshly showered, his hair slightly damp. After bathing and reading the twins their bedtime story, he got called out to an incident at the community centre, where a real fight broke out during one of the evening’s mixed martial arts classes. Something about a man and his girlfriend’s ex having fisticuffs. He’s only just had chance for that shower and looks exhausted.

Out of the corner of my eye, I sense him look across at me. I’m reading a book by the light of my bedside lamp.

“Have you calmed down a bit?”

“Yes.”

“But you won’t let it go?”

“No.”

“Well, I never expected you would. That’s not you.”

I look across at him, beyond weary, his eyes full of love. I toss my book onto the nightstand and switch off the lamp. Shifting across to his side, I roll into him, resting my cheek on his chest. All my worries and fears fade away the moment I’m in his arms.

“I love you, baby,” he whispers.

“I love you, so much.”

Sleep finds us too easily.

 

***

 

“So he finally acknowledged something is wrong, but he didn’t suggest you should do anything about it?” My colleague Ruby is stood with me in the English office the morning after, scanning me for telltale signs of rage.

“He flat out said we should leave it until Joe is ready to tell us what’s going on.”

“Oh dear.” She reads my exasperation. “Listen… Jules. Joe is his son.”

I flash her my eyes. Has she forgotten about the things Joe and me have been through together? He’s as much my son as my twins are. I care about Joe just the same.

“Ruby.” I turn myself fully towards her, putting my cup of tea on the worktop, my hands free to make sweeping movements to enforce my passion on this. “It’s something in my gut, telling me there’s something wrong. I don’t know, but when it comes to kids, I just–”

She steps forward and holds my hand. “I know. You’re right back there, to the day you got battered and left all alone, in the dark. I know you want to protect him from the same things that happened to you.”

I focus on her eyes, which are watering. She feels my pain, even though she’s never had to deal with the same pain herself.

“Jules,” she whispers, softly stroking the back of my hand, “Joe is different. He’s Warrick’s son for a start and he’s definitely tougher than you imagine. I think Warrick’s right. I think he’ll tell you when the time’s right. He knows you’re there for him.”

“This is the thing,” I say fast, “he knows we’re here for him, and he’s still not telling us. He knows we’re not judgy, he knows that.”

“Give it another week, maybe?”

I throw my head back, groaning. “Torture.”

“One week.”

I smile wryly. “Rubes, you know how many cheesecakes I can eat in a week, right?”

“Unfortunately I do, and I also know that while you’ll maybe put on a pound, I’d put on a couple of stone comfort eating in the same manner as you.”

I pick my teacup off the counter, anticipating the bell for the first lesson, which I’m taking today.

“You and Rick had better have cheesecake for me at every fucking stop this week,” I grumble, and walk away.

As I take the corridor, I try to wriggle the anxiety out of my heavy shoulders and neck, but it’s not working.

Deep, deep, deep breaths, I remind myself, sucking in vital oxygen, trying to remember my breathing exercises of old.

Walking into a classroom full of kids, there’s suddenly nothing else to think about other than controlling thirty teenagers for the next two hours.

 

Dinnertime is no different today. Joe’s being quiet over his pasta and salad. Warrick’s knackered. The twins are lobbing pasta shells at one another and I’m focusing on the baked, New York-style cheesecake waiting for me in the fridge.

“Frrrr–” A sort of grumble erupts from me and the boys all look at me. I was going to say something mad like flipping tell me what is wrong Joe! but I guess, I stopped myself.

“Jules?”

“Something stuck in my throat,” I excuse myself, reaching for a glass of water.

Joe finishes his meal and excuses himself from the table before I can even think of another way to broach this. Once his son’s locked himself away upstairs, Warrick gives me a look and I say nothing. What is there to say?

I promised Ruby I would give this a week…

 

It’s the next day – my day off – and I’m twiddling my thumbs. The house is empty. Warrick’s dad came round half an hour ago to collect the twins so he and Wendy can take them to the park for an hour. They do this for me every week which is kind of them. Usually when I’ve got this time free, I go get my hair done or my nails or I sit and eat a full cheesecake while I watch Dancing with the Stars on ITV2.

Today, I can’t concentrate on anything. It took balls for me to tell Warrick that I think something is wrong – but he shot me down. I feel like I’m coping with the weight of this all alone. How can he be so cool about everything?

“Fuck it,” I mutter to myself, heading upstairs.

I stand on the threshold of Joe’s bedroom, knowing full well I am about to invade his private territory, but I do so anyway. I’m desperate for answers.

His room, like a habitat of its own, seems like a growth on our otherwise spotless house. He keeps the blackout blinds shut at all times, maybe fearing the neighbours will see how filthy he keeps the place and start to judge him – which is silly, because our neighbours haven’t got any windows facing this side of our property. A detached house, we’re very private here. Maybe he’s a nocturnal creature then, someone who needs the submergence of this dank pit whenever he gets home, absorbing the dark so he can re-mutate or something.

(I’ve definitely been watching far too many of Rick’s sci-fi movies lately.)

“What’s going on with you Joe?”

I step gingerly through the mess on the floor. Shirts and trousers, shorts and socks, splattered everywhere. It’s not like he’s ever been clean, but…

I decide to do the usual checks. I look under the pillow, mattress, bed; back of the wardrobe; sock drawer, pants drawer… nothing.

Checking his desk drawers… nothing. No drugs, no vast amounts of drug-dealing cash. No contraband anything. Not even a jammy can of Carling, saved for a later date.

Looking at his desktop, I spot his laptop, left slightly open – the lid like he closed it in a hurry and didn’t press it all the way down.

Opening the laptop, an artful Windows screensaver lights up the gloomy room and the screen asks for a password.

Password!

We should have banned passwords altogether when we let him move in with us.

“Oh god,” I mutter, seating myself behind his desk. “Think Jules, think.”

I try a few things, like his ex-girlfriend’s name, his brothers’, his mum’s name… his granddad. His favourite football team.

It could be anything!

He wouldn’t write it down, I don’t think. So, what would he do? He’s a teenager – brain like a sieve when it comes to small details – he would definitely pick something simple. A band name. I don’t know.

I try a few more hits before the computer asks me if I need help.

Scared, I now don’t know if Joe’s going to realise I’ve been trying to break into his computer.

Sweating, and feeling guilty as sin, I know I have the house to myself for the next hour or two but I still can’t help feeling SO GUILTY. He would be mortified if he found out about me doing this. I’m already mortified.

Taking some deep breaths, I tell the computer I don’t need any help and I shut it all down, closing the lid – leaving it slightly ajar, the same as he had it.

Hopefully the room looks exactly as it did before I entered, and I leave it all behind, knowing the only way I’m going to find out what’s wrong is if I can gain access to that computer.

Downstairs I open my Chromebook on the kitchen counter and with a cup of tea brewing by my side, I go to Facebook, which I don’t use. Rick uses it for the community centre but we don’t have personal accounts on there because, well, basically… we’re grown-ups.

It tells me I need a username and password. Going to Google, I type in: “Joe Jones” and “Hull” and “Facebook” and it doesn’t take many looks through the search results for me to find our Joe Jones.

“God, this world ain’t safe,” I say to no-one.

I click on his profile but because I’m not logged in, I can only see a few images and a small amount of information.

Clicking through some of the images shown, I see a girl called Reema has been tagged in a couple of the more recent images. She’s a stunning Asian girl with eyes bigger than my head, flawless skin and a bone structure to die for. I wonder…

He hasn’t said anything to Rick lately, but maybe he has got a new girlfriend…

Reema, eh… my thoughts trail off.

I take the bag out of my brewed cup of tea and dash back upstairs.

Screen lit up again, I type in:

Reema.

Reemaisgorgeous.

Reemaissexy.

IloveReema…

Jackpot! Ding. Ding. Ding.

I’m in.

Firstly, I check Facebook.

I go through his messages and find nothing except a couple of exchanges between him and Reema, discussing their crap psychology teacher.

“Come on, Joe.”

I check his search history and roll my eyes. Just like his dad. There’s nothing much more there than websites about healthy shakes, building muscle density, the odd Tumblr search for pages with loads of boobs and a couple of hits on websites about psychology. He wants to be a psychologist to help people like his mother, who’s a manic depressive.

I’m about to give up hope that there’s nothing much more than a painful teenage crush going on here when I notice he has a number of unread messages in Outlook.

Should I? Should I?

God, this is bad. I am bad. I am really bad.

My imagination has been running wild… when this could be just a matter of Joe having the hots for a super-hot girl called Reema.

IloveReema.

Maybe they’ve been exchanging hot emails… email sex. But why? He has a phone. He could sext if he wanted to. God… sext. Is that even a word? Bloody hell. I have twin boys. What will I be like when they’re Joe’s age? Probably worse…

“Fuck it.”

I double click on the Outlook icon and his emails open. Scanning the unread emails, I am surprised by both the sender details and the subject headings. I’m even more surprised by my reaction when I open the emails and read them…

 

***

 

“What have you done?” Ruby peers at me, suspicious.

I stir my tea, avoiding her eyes. I decide I haven’t done anything wrong and therefore, I muster all my might to reply innocently, “Nothing. I am doing what you said. I’m giving it a week. Two cheesecakes suffered fatal collisions with my fork in the process, but we’re good, as the kids say. I’m giving Joe time to come clean.”

“I can read you a mile off. You’ve been up to something.”

“I honestly haven’t.” I turn and act my arse off, keeping eye contact without a blip of guilt or shame or admission in my eyes.

Yeah right…

“As long as you know what you’re doing,” she mumbles, leaving the room.

I watch her back as she walks away and give myself a moment or two to think about that. Do I know what I’m doing?

Hell, no.

Since sneaking a look at his emails, I haven’t figured out how to cut off the cyber bully Joe’s been on the receiving end of ­– without Joe realising that I hacked into his emails.

I also don’t want the cyber bully to know that I know. Because if they know that I know – they know that I know what they think of me.

Yes – the content of the emails was all about me.

I am apparently Joe’s fit stepmother, a MILF, and apparently I’m going to get raped on my way home one night. Kids think they’re being cute, don’t they? They don’t realise they could actually face jail for this shit.

So… no, I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do.

 

Teatime again. Joe’s already dashed off to his room.

“I need to contact my aunt, Kim.”

Warrick turns from loading the dishwasher to stare at me as I mop the twins’ heads and try to feign innocence.

“Why?”

“Family thing.”

“Family thing?” He briefly shakes his head in confusion.

“Yep.”

“You know, people don’t contact Kim. She contacts them.”

Kim is my late mother’s sister, a detective of detectives turned rogue, on the run for taking matters into her own hands. She would know exactly how to deal with a cyber bully.

“How do I make her contact me, then?”

He thinks for a moment, lips pursed, eyes crossed. God, I love him.

“You can’t. Although… maybe I know something.”

“What? What?”

He folds his arms. “What am I gonna get for this something?”

Looking cocky, he needn’t even ask, I’m already planning on jumping him later.

“That thing you like with the thing, if you want?”

He raises his eyebrows, smirking. “That thing I like with the thing, eh?”

“God, are you two talking code for sex, again?” Joe walks in, stroppy. “Bleugh. Cold bucket of water! Yuck! Off to Rupert’s house. Back before curfew.”

The whirlwind he is, he leaves without giving us chance to say a word. We hear his bike rattling outside the backdoor and the side gate shut as he leaves. I suppose he has his mobile if anything happens.

God, I hope he isn’t planning on confronting the bully… not that he could. They used weird email addresses without real names. I checked Joe’s list of blocked accounts and it was already 30+ long meaning he keeps blocking that twerp and they keep sending with different accounts. Maybe he’s asked around, but…

“So, are we talking the thing where you do the thing and I do the thing, and then we get thingy?” Warrick guffaws.

“We’re pretty much gonna do all the things, yeah. If you slip me a bit of info, darling. Or maybe that’ll be later.”

He sets the dishwasher running and kisses the boys’ heads before kissing mine. His eyes sparkling, he says, “She visits your mother’s grave, every year, on the anniversary. She said if I ever needed to… that’s how I’d find her.”

I frown. I never visit the grave. It’s too hard.

The funeral was a day of pain, deeper than six-feet under, deeper than the sea. The skies crowded me with their darkness, their heavy cumulonimbus sitting heavier on my shoulders than seemed possible. A walking brick viewed her coffin that day, a child carrying the weight of the world. I can never go back to that day.

The thought of it all already giving me palpitations, I reach for my water and stroke at the back of my neck, taking deep breaths. Warrick’s by my side instantly, holding my hand, caressing my face.

Through scratchy breaths, I manage, “I hacked his laptop and he’s receiving horrible emails and I want Kim to find out who sent the mails. There. I’m a bad person. I’m horrible! I hate myself!”

Tears fall. My togetherness ruptures. I’m hardly held by a thread most days, but Warrick stitches me up constantly. He’s my utter, utter rock – my solace.

“I know what’s going on… he told me weeks ago.”

I glare. “What?”

“We’re just trying to protect you.”

“But–but–”

He nods slowly, holding my hand. “We were afraid you would see through us. We’re crap at lying to you, evidently.”

I take some more water and a few more deep breaths.

Looking down at my lap, I manage to say through a throat full of frogs, “It’s next month, the anniversary. Will you go find her for me? Please.”

“There’s really no need. We could just go to the police with this. The threats are of an aggressive nature. If you want, that’s what we could do. We just didn’t want you to see the content.”

I smile. “It’s just some absolute ne’er-do-well who can’t get to me any other way, so they’re using Joe to get to me.”

“It doesn’t matter who it is, it’s wrong. It could be anyone sending him those emails. He’s changed his address a dozen times. The idiot always finds out about his change of address.”

“It must be someone from the school, yeah? Some friend of friend who knows his email address? He probably gives out his address to people he works on projects and presentations with or whatever.” I shake my head. “I can’t believe you’ve both been sitting on this without me.”

“Jules, this is a hate crime. Everything about it is hateful. It’s just plain nasty. We didn’t know what to do–”

Warrick scratches the back of his head, which is usually code for, I’m sorry or I just don’t want to get into this.

I take a deep breath, feeling like it’s my fault, and it’s not fair… and we shouldn’t be going through this.

Reluctantly, I mumble, “Call the police.”

 

***

 

Detective Wainwright sits in front of us a week later, a cup of tea in front of him. He’s sat in his own armchair while Warrick and I share the sofa and Joe stands by the door lintel behind us, arms folded, a demeanour of ‘get me out of here’ written all over his face.

“First off,” the cop says, taking a sip and putting his cup back down again, “we’re really grateful you came forward. Often the culprit gives up and moves onto someone else and the process repeats, so in telling us what’s been happening,” the copper looks at Joe, “you’re not only helping your family, but your community too. You have no idea how many people come to us with petty quibbles about bad words said on Facebook… wasting our time. This was obviously of the malicious variety. Given that some of the emails contained porn and made sexually aggressive threats… we acted as quickly as we could.”

“So, what have you found out anyway?” Warrick asks, tense alongside me, his hands held tight together.

“One of the email providers the wrongdoer was using told us where the offender had logged in from.” The copper opens his notepad. “It’s an address in Hull. We have the suspect in custody and a statement is being taken. They will be shown some of the evidence we’ve gathered. In my experience, once someone like this gets found out so to speak, the reality sets in and they usually confess. It’s really a brave thing you did in coming forward, Joe. This sort of thing carries on otherwise. They will be released but I expect a court date.”

“Who was it?” I say, in a sort of outburst, my nerves frayed by all this.

Who the hell thinks they can hurt our Joe?

Who?

“I can’t say just yet.” The copper gives Rick the eye, as if he thinks I’m not coping with all of this. I just want to know who’s been trying to hurt our family.

“It’s her life that got threatened,” Warrick gently tells Detective Wainwright.

“Okay. The household we’re investigating does happen to be the home of a pupil in Joe’s year.”

“We guessed that,” Joe mumbles, “I mean, who else could get my email address? I changed it bloody fifty times.”

I roll my shoulders, trying to sound brave. “I really don’t know who I upset this badly.”

Sure, I’ve dealt with aggravated parents in the past. Kids name-calling, as kids do. I’ve dealt with a few nastier things, like Hetty ­– a former star pupil of mine – confessing she’d been abused by her mother. I’ve dealt with a parent asking for a retest when their kid didn’t get an A in a course paper – but a second examiner from another school gave the kid the exact same grade. It’s difficult when parents want their kid to do well, but they can’t face the fact that nobody’s perfect. My mind’s wandering because I do teach a lot of the gifted set… and…

“Boy or girl?” I ask the man.

“Girl.”

“Oh.”

It could really be anyone. I couldn’t guess.

“I’ll be in touch. Thanks once again.” Warrick shows Wainwright out, a few words exchanged about the state of the Force at the moment – and then the man’s gone.

Warrick returns to the room. “I wonder who the bloody hell it is.”

“Couldn’t give a fuck.” I smile, leaving the room to head upstairs and check on the twins.

 

As I watch the twins sleeping, their chubby arms outstretched, their little nostrils flaring with heavy breaths, tummies fluttering up and down, I think about the bullies who hurt me when I was young. I’d just lost my mother and I was vulnerable and people knew it. Nasty people knew it. Ever since, I’ve protected myself from harm by being untouchable. Even now in my thirties, after all I’ve been through in life, and even with Warrick’s resounding love – I still try to keep myself from harm by not really putting myself out there. I don’t need to be popular, I don’t need to tell everyone my sob story, I don’t need to roll into work everyday with a hangover to be liked or for people to find me funny. I just turn up, do my job well, love my kids and my husband. I don’t want pity. I’m happy, but the person messaging Joe obviously doesn’t like it that beneath my stern demeanour, I’m obviously happy. I like to dress nicely. I fancy I’m attractive. I wear big statement pieces of jewellery because they’re colourful and life needs a bit of colour. I fancy I’m tall and have a body my husband likes. I fancy I don’t care what other people think – and certain people don’t like that. Immature people. Silly people. Lonely people. Unhappy people.

“You okay?” Warrick asks in a whisper, tiptoeing over to me. He joins me on the thick cream carpet of the nursery, sitting beside me.

“It’s about control,” I murmur, resting my head on his shoulder. “When you can’t control an immovable object, this is sometimes what happens, unfortunately.”

“There’s no point in putting any logic to this. Whichever little bitch did this, she’s going to get what’s coming to her.”

I turn to look into the fiery eyes of my possessive, protective husband. “Wanna do some stuff tonight?”

“Hell yeah.”

He helps me up and we stand, facing each other.

I can’t help but wonder about my childhood bullies, occasionally. Did karma get them eventually? Who knows? I expect they never had to pay for what they did to me.

I also expect they’ve never known what it’s like to look into the eyes of another person and know – absolutely and completely – that you were their true beginning and you will be theirs until the end. Bullies probably don’t have the capacity to really give themselves to one person; to let their guard down with just one person, who’s as sensitive as you are, beneath.

“I love your mind,” I tell him, “and I love your thingy.”

We laugh, heading out of the room.

“Joe’s just gone out,” he mutters, and we’re running to our bedroom together in no time.

*END*

**The story of how Jules and Warrick met can be read in Angel AvenueJules isn’t always a likeable character but her story is one I see all too often. BULLYING AFFECTS PEOPLE FOR YEARS AFTERWARDS.**

The short story you’ve just read features in an anthology of anti-bullying themed short stories called BREAK THE CYCLE which is available to purchase on AMAZON US and AMAZON UK and is a non-profit book.

28 Days Left To Submit Your #Poetry

Can you ably sling words together? Well then, I need your poems to create an anthology which will raise money for the MAKE A WISH foundation, a charity which seeks to make the dreams of terminally ill children come true! I’ll be selling this book at the LEEDS 2018 book signing and making your words available on AMAZON, too.

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  1. I am looking for poems that are 100+ words long (no upper limit)
  2. Your poem needs to be on the theme “Poems To My Younger Self” but you can title your poem as you like.
  3. Your poem needs to be emailed to me by NOVEMBER 30th, 2017 at the latest. Sorry, but no late entries. Please send your words via email to sarahm.lynch@yahoo.co.uk – but if you receive no response at all, it’s likely you’ve gone to spam. In this case, please just drop me a quick message on my FB page @SarahMLynch
  4. You don’t need to have loads of accolades or any poetic experience at all (even) to enter for a chance to be part of this anthology. Just write from the heart is all I ask!
  5. I will take no monetary reward whatsoever for putting together this book. It’s all off my own back, it’s all for a good cause.
  6. You don’t need to be attending the book signing (or be a signing author) to put forth your entry. I welcome entries from the US and beyond.
  7. I’m asking for previously unpublished words. It would be nice if the first time people read your poem is in our book.

For full details, visit my dedicated page: https://sarahmichellelynch.com/poetry-project/

I look forward to reading everyone’s words.

Sarah x

Looking For #Poetry

Hey everyone!

Long time no speak.

This is just a short broadcast about an upcoming project of mine.

Basically, I am looking for poems above the 100 word mark. They must (sort of) be in line with the theme “Poems to My Younger Self”.

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Please visit my dedicated page on this site: sarahmichellelynch.com/poetry-project for all the details. You’ll find everything you need to know right there and hopefully, most of it covers all the questions you may have!!

This is all for charity. So please consider contributing if you are indeed a poet or budding poet, even!

Thankees xx