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Authors: Josephine Cox

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Living a Lie

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Living a Lie by Josephine Cox

 

“Pulls at the heartstrings’ Today “Hailed quite rightly as a gifted writer in the tradition of Catherine Cookson’ Manchester Evening News “Driven and passionate, she stirs a pot spiced with incest, wife beating… and murder’ The Sunday Times ” A born storyteller’ Bedfordshire Times Don’t miss Josephine Cox’s other sagas of North Country life:

HER FATHER’S SINS, LET LOOSE THE TIGERS, WHISTLE DOWN WOMAN, ANGELS

CRY

SOMETIMES, TAKE THIS WOMAN, OUTCAST, ALLEY URCHIN, VAGABONDS, DON’T

CRY ALONE, JESSICA’S GIRL, NOBODY’S DARLING, BORN TO SERVE and A LITTLE BADNESS, all available from Headline. Cover illustration by Len Thurston

9”78074?” 248323” United Kingdom 5.99 Australia $14.95

= Recommended Price Only

{719,1538,979,1563DLINE on Saga

ISBN 0-7472-4832-X

 

The story of Josephine Cox is as extraordinary as anything in her novels. Born in a cotton-mill house in Blackburn, she was one of ten children. Her parents, she says, brought out the worst in each other, and life was full of tragedy and hardship but not without love and laughter. At the age of sixteen, Josephine met and married ‘a caring and wonderful man’, and had two sons. When the boys started school, she decided to go to college and eventually gained a place at Cambridge University, though was unable to take this up as it would have meant living away from home. However, she did go into teaching, while at the same time helping to renovate the derelict council house that was their home, coping with the problems caused by her mother’s unhappy home life and writing her first full-length novel. Not surprisingly, she then won the “Superwoman of Great Britain’ Award, for which her family had secretly entered her, and this coincided with the acceptance of her novel for publication.

Josephine gave up teaching in order to write full time. She says “I love writing, both recreating scenes and characters from my past, together with new storylines which mingle naturally with the old. I could never imagine a single day without writing, and it’s been that way since as far back as I can remember.” Her previous novels of North Country life are all available from Headline and are immensely popular.

“Driven and passionate, she stirs a pot spiced with incest, wife-beating … and murder’ The Sunday Times

 

“A born storyteller’ Bedfordshire Times Also by Josephine Cox from Headline

Queenie’s Story Her Father’s Sins Let Loose the Tigers

The Emma Grady Trilogy Outcast Alley Urchin Vagabonds

Whistledown Woman Angels Cry Sometimes Take This Woman Don’t Cry Alone Jessica’s Girl Nobody’s Darling Bora to Serve More than Riches A Little

Badness Living a Lie

Josephine Cox

HEADLINE

 

Copyright 1995 Josephine Cox

The right of Josephine Cox to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

First published in 1995 by HEADLINE BOOK PUBLISHING

First published in paperback in 1996 by HEADLINE BOOK PUBLISHING

 

10 987654321

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

ISBN 0 7472 4832 X

Printed and bound in Great Britain by BPC Paperbacks Ltd

HEADLINE BOOK PUBLISHING A division of Hodder Headline PLC 338 Euston

Road London NW1 3BH For Hilary and Bernie

Fate brought us together. Friendship will keep us close. Luv you!

 

CONTENTS

PART ONE 1975 CHOICES

PART TWO 1977 CHANCES

PART THREE 1980 LOSERS

PART FOUR 1981 WINNERS
PART ONE 1975 Choices
Chapter One

Riddled with guilt, the young woman kept her gaze averted. Beneath her calm and elegant manner seethed a terrible secret, a dark and dangerous intent that no one there could have foreseen, least of all the dark-haired girl hurrying along beside her.

It was 1975. To the sober-suited commuters waiting for the train to London, Lucinda Marsh was a ray of sunshine, a vision of loveliness in high heels and a red tight-fitting two-piece. With her trim figure, mass of wavy golden hair and smiling blue eyes, she was a welcome distraction.

The platform was crowded. Only a short while ago there had been the usual daily chatter about the state of the government and Margaret Thatcher’s emergence as new Tory leader, the awful February weather and the train being late yet again. The meaningless chatter subsided with the arrival of the young woman and the girl.

At first there were admiring glances, then admiration gave way to curiosity, then almost to a sense of expectancy.

Pausing by the edge of the platform, Lucinda glanced nervously at the middle-aged man standing nearby. He was holding a newspaper in front of his face, but his eyes peeped over the top and he smiled at the girl with Lucinda a delightful creature with coal-black hair and earth-coloured eyes. When, embarrassed, she looked away, he bent his head to read, but like the others was captivated by Lucinda, strangely moved by her beauty and her manner.

There was something secretive about her, something oddly bewitching.

Gripping the girl’s hand, the young woman made her way to the far end of the platform, the tips of her heels echoing against the cold hard ground, her outer composure belying the turmoil inside and the questions, always the same, only this time more urgent. Was she right?

Was she wrong? This was not the first time she had made a decision to escape, but then she had always changed her mind, deciding she should give it another try, for Kitty’s sake if not for her own. This time, nothing on God’s earth could make her change her mind. Today was her day. This time she was in control. For too long she had endured agonies in the name of love. Soon the agony would be over. Not his though. To hell with him!

Dressed for the occasion, she was ready for the long journey. As she mentally prepared herself, she could feel Kitty’s hand in hers and her heart warmed with love.

Pausing to look down on that trusting young face, she was shaken by the dark eyes that returned her glance: dark brooding eyes, incredibly beautiful. Her father’s eyes. Yet where Bob’s intense gaze instilled fear in her, Kitty’s inquisitive glance created only a sense of terrible guilt.

Stooping closer she asked tenderly, “Are you all right?” While she talked, her long manicured fingers toyed with the girl’s rich black tresses.

Kitty was twelve years old. She loved adventure, and she adored her mother.

“Where are we going?” she asked for the umpteenth time. Last night her parents had quarrelled again. As she had so many times before. Kitty had sat on the stairs listening, afraid to go in, yet wanting to stop them. But how could she stop them? She was only a girl, and they were adults.

Lucinda too was reliving the memory of last night.

“You shouldn’t ask where we’re going,” she gently chided.

“Are we going to London?” Delightful visions of parks and palaces filled her mind.

Her mother laughed softly.

“We’ll see.”

“Sarah wanted me to call for her this morning.” Kitty and Sarah Jenkins had known each other for ever.

“We’re playing clarinet in the school concert.”

“You’re very fond of her, aren’t you? And her brother Harry.” Lucinda smiled knowingly.

“Has he taken up music lessons yet?”

“No.” Kitty was only a little disappointed.

“He’d rather play football and swim in the school team.” Her young heart bubbled with joy.

“But he’s coming to listen to me and Sarah play in the concert.” A terrible thought struck her.

“We will be back in time for the concert tonight, won’t we?”

Yet again Lucinda questioned what she was about to do. This morning she had been so sure. Now she could hardly suppress the niggling doubts that crept up on her.

“There are more important things than school,” she said finally.

“Do you know what happened last night? Did you hear your father?”

Kitty lowered her gaze.

“You were fighting.”

“You don’t ever want that to happen again, do you?”

“No.”

“Kitty?” The voice was softer now.

“Look at me.” Kitty didn’t want to look up. Whatever her mother said, it would happen again. It always did.

“Kitty?” There were tears in the voice, and something else, something that intrigued the child.

“Please… look at me.” Kitty raised her dark eyes and what she saw made her ashamed. Her mother was crying.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured. It wasn’t her fault, but she felt responsible somehow.

“Do you love me, Kitty?”

“Yes.”

“And you want to come with me?”

“Yes.”

“Kitty?”

“Yes, Mother?”

“I don’t want you to hate your father. Especially not today.” There were times when Kitty did hate him, but mostly she tried not to think about it.

“I wish you wouldn’t fight.”

“Do you think it’s my fault?”

“Not all the time.”

“Your father won’t let us live in peace. You do understand that, don’t you?”

“Yes.” Kitty recalled the many times when she and her mother would

come home from shopping and there would be a furious row. Her father would say cruel things, accusing her mother of meeting some man or other, then he would shout and scream.

The last time he hit out with his belt, cutting her mother’s face and making it bleed.

“Some men are bad. Kitty.”

“Why?”

“They like to hurt.” Gently fingering the bruise on her temple, Lucinda confessed, “Your father hit me again last night… see?”

Gingerly lifting a strand of hair, she revealed an angry red weal that stretched from brow to temple.

When she realised that the man standing nearby was watching, she quickly covered up the mark and looked away.

“I wish the train would come!” she snapped. If it didn’t come now, she might lose her courage.

“Does Daddy know where we’re going?”

Lucinda began to think more clearly. She mustn’t upset the girl. Maybe she should have left Kitty behind, but then what? Too soon she would be a woman. Then she could meet a man like Robert Marsh, a man who would rob her of her dignity and make her feel inferior, a man who might beat her until she was black and blue . a man who would think nothing of taking what he wanted, then treating her like so much dirt beneath his feet. She could never let that happen to Kitty.

“No, sweetheart,” she answered kindly, “Daddy doesn’t know where we’re going.” When Bob came home there would be a note waiting for him, a note that told him everything. He would not understand. He never did.

But it would be done and, rightly or wrongly, he must share the blame.

 

Suddenly she was nervous. Suppose Bob came home early? Suppose he found out where she’d gone and came looking for her?

The idea made her tremble inside.

When the destination of the approaching train was announced over the Tannoy, Lucinda Marsh quietly addressed her child.

“Stay close, sweetheart.” Her voice was soft and caressing as she ran her fingers over the black wavy hair, brushing it back from the girl’s forehead and smiling lovingly into those dark trusting eyes.

“When the train comes in, you must keep hold of my hand.” Fearing that Bob might find them before she could carry out her intent, desperation betrayed itself in her voice.

When Kitty looked up inquisitively, she bent to kiss the girl on the forehead.

“Trust me,” she whispered hoarsely.

“You mustn’t run away.”

Suddenly, and for no reason she could think of, Kitty was afraid. She asked again, “Where are we going?”

“Where we can never be hurt again,” her mother answered.

“Where we can always be together.” She didn’t look at Kitty. She too was afraid.

Afraid those dark eyes might make her change her mind.

“Remember now, stay close.”

The girl’s reply was lost as the train came into sight. People began surging towards the platform’s edge. In that moment Lucinda glanced over to where the man had been standing. He was nearer now; his newspaper neatly folded and tucked into his jacket pocket. If he stretched out his arm he could touch her.

Suddenly, gripping Kitty’s hand so hard she made her wince, Lucinda started walking down the platform, towards the train. With some way still to go before it entered the station, it was approaching fast.

 

“I’m not afraid,” she murmured, “I’m not afraid.” But she was. And yet, at the same time, she felt exhilarated.

With the train speeding towards them, she waited for the inevitable.

“Keep hold of Mummy’s hand, sweetheart,” she urged. She could feel Kitty pulling away, as though she sensed something terrible. Luanda’s grip tightened.

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