Read the first chapter of The Long Fall by Julia Crouch

Read the first chapter of The Long Fall by Julia Crouch and ask yourself how far would you go to protect your secrets?

Greece, 1980

Emma takes part in a shattering, violent event. An event to which she is anything but an innocent bystander.

She is only eighteen, but this marks her fall from innocence. It will haunt her for the rest of her life.

London, now

Kate has the perfect existence: a glossy image, a glamorous home, a perfect family.

But there are cracks. All is not what it seems. And now the two worlds are about to collide.

Somebody’s out for revenge.

Someone who has been waiting thirty years…

Chapter One

FISHERMAN

15 August 1980. Ikaria, Greece.

There were two truly unforgettable days in the life of Giorgios Moraitis. This was the first. The other he wasn’t to know for another thirty-three years.

It had been a good morning’s fishing, and he had stayed out much longer than usual, racing over the pitching, rolling Meltemi-whipped waves, the wind pushing his little boat far, far out, until his island home was just a line of darker blue on the horizon.

He had a good catch. Mostly barbounia, which would please his mother – she could get a good price for them, grilled over charcoal, for the feast of the Panagia. He planned to stop by the eastern beach, too, and drop off a couple of fish for the Americans. He liked the tiny girl, the thin one with the pale face and blue eyes. He hoped he would see her again up in the village. But it was hopeless, of course. The tall boy was in love with her. He could see that.

He, Giorgios, didn’t stand a chance.

He sighed. He would love to get away from the island, to see the world, meet a girl. The rare presence of foreigners made him long for it even more. But when would he ever get a chance to do that? All his life was duty.

He weighed anchor and started the long, zigzagging journey back to the shore, tacking into the strong offshore wind and using the big cliff above the beach as his navigation point. As he sailed, he thought about the girl and how he could possibly win her away from the tall American. He imagined how her tiny body would feel in his strong, brown, sailor’s arms.

As he drew closer, the island began to form into distinct colours and shapes. He changed and changed direction over the spumy waves until he was near enough to make out the gold and blue dome of his village church against the green of the mountainside. It was then that his eye was caught by a movement up on the big cliff.

Holding his hands up to his brow to shield his eyes from the sun, he made out three figures. He couldn’t see clearly – they were just dots, like ants, on the big rocks – but he thought it must be the Americans. No villager would be fool enough to be up on the cliff in the midday sun in the howling wind. They seemed to be dancing – playing some sort of game? It was strange to watch. A strange thing to be doing.

Then he realised that what he was watching was very far from a dance. One of the figures rammed into another. The third came in and shoved the first, who staggered towards the edge of the cliff.

Everything seemed to freeze for a second – Giorgios, the sea and the wind included – as the first figure hung, suspended. Then, with a rush, all came back to life, and the figure tumbled through the air to land with a crack that Giorgios swore he could hear, far out as he was on the roaring water. The two remaining figures stood motionless at the cliff edge, then one turned and ran away from the scene, streaming down the grassy top until it was out of sight. A few minutes later, the other followed. All that was left was the cliff, its sharp, high drop, and a tiny fallen speck down on the shore below.

Giorgios changed his tack and angled the prow of his boat towards where the body lay.

The Long Fall by Julia Crouch is out now in paperback and on Kindle.

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