Broken Ponies by guest author Sophie Jonas-Hill
Today, I am happy to have Sophie Jonas-Hill join me on my blog to share her new novel, Broken Ponies. This book is the sequel to her best seller Nemesister and is a definite must read for me.
Following the gripping – and deadly – events of their night under siege in Nemesister, the sequel, Broken Ponies, provides more details of Red’s mysterious past as well as Rita’s childhood, and brings light to the events that will eventually bring them together.
But meanwhile Red’s hunters have not given up the chase and Rita becomes bait in a trap set for Red in a terrifying storm damaged fairground….
The second in the Crooked Little Sisters series, Broken Ponies will thrill fans of dark gothic thrillers and readers of John Connolly and Joe Hill.
I should have gone home like Jose said, but I didn’t. I was
two nights in of four on, and the last thing I would be able to
do was sleep. Especially since I’d just rabbit punched Tiki man in
the kidneys, and adrenaline was still crackling through me like
‘You can’t go to bed now,’ Margarita told me. ‘Hell, you won’t
sleep for hours yet. Can’t we go play somewhere?’
‘No,’ I told her. As I couldn’t think of any other way of shutting
her up, I headed to the gym on the twelfth floor. Half hour on the
punch bag, and no matter how hard I hit it, I couldn’t knock the
shit out of my head. I slammed my fist into it with a great yell of
anger, caught it as it swung back at me, and became dimly aware
of someone watching me.
He was tall, dark and, well, handsome. Looking at me as if he
knew he shouldn’t, but really wanted to. Like I said, I already knew
I wasn’t going to sleep for hours.
We had sex in his hotel room, as if both of us had a point to
prove to somebody else who wasn’t there. In the cold light of
the morning after, while he sat on the edge of the bed and bent
down to retrieve his shorts, I pulled the bed sheet over myself and
surveyed the ruins. There was a glass ashtray on the bedside table,
but when he got out his cigarettes and lit up, he flicked his ash into
the wire wastepaper basket instead. When I glanced over, I saw a
flash of gold against the glass.
‘D’you want one?’ he asked.
‘No, thanks,’ I said. Watching him smoke didn’t make me feel
anything, other than he was showing off.
‘Oh, you don’t mind if I …?’ I shook my head. He flicked his ash
again. ‘So … you wanna hang?’ It was light outside already, the sky
raked with high white clouds burning pink at the edges. You could
see all the way to the desert, to the mountains drawn as if with
smudged fingers against the glass horizon. ‘My flight’s tomorrow
evening.’ He was looking over his shoulder at me, his dark fringe
falling over one eye, skin pulled into sharp creases by the twist of
‘Can I get a shower?’
‘Sure, no problem,’ he grinned. ‘Just let me use the john?’
Trying not to listen to the sound of him urinating, I glanced
about the room. His suitcase was on the desk under the window.
He’d not bothered to unpack, but then Savannah Heights wasn’t a
place where you bothered to unpack. There was a chair drawn up
to the desk, a laptop on its seat with a charger cable snaking into
the shadows. The cell phone attached to it buzzed and the screen
lit up. I saw a rectangle of iridescent blue and the picture on it fade
as the caller rang off, before the bathroom door opened.
‘All yours.’ He’d put on the hotel bath robe. ‘I booked, like, an
extra day here after the convention.’ He dragged his hand through
his hair then scratched the side of his face. ‘I had some lame idea
it might be fun. Me time, shit like that.’
‘How’s that working out for you?’ I asked. He grinned.
‘I was gonna have some … do you mind if I … do you want some
He was cutting it out when I finished my shower. He smiled at
me as I picked up my sweat pants and t-shirt. I was glad when he
looked back to the table; his watching me dress felt more intimate
than the sex. More personal.
‘I don’t, like, do this a lot but …’ he shrugged. He twirled the
razor expertly in his fingers, tapped it on the surface of the coffee
table. The dollar bill he teased from his wallet curled up as it came
free, rolling itself into a loose tube just as if it knew what was
required of it. He coughed into his fist.
‘I’m obsessed with narrative,’ he was saying, as if I’d asked.
‘It’s what really drives me, you know?’ Oh yeah, he was a writer
or something. ‘It’s all about an immersive experience. Gaming is
the way forward for storytelling–’ that was it, he wrote computer
games. He had told me, I just hadn’t really been listening. I’d never
considered it a job grown-ups did, not men pushing forty as I
realized he probably was. ‘So, hey, you must have one hell of a story.’
‘What makes you say that?’ I asked.
‘Well–’ he put down the blade and picked up the rolled note.
‘It’s pretty out there, female security guard. I mean, not like it was
once, sure, because I mean, we got women practically in the front
line an’ all, but even so, that’s, like, quite … out there?’ He lowered
his head, sniffed.
‘My story? You don’t want to know,’ I said.
‘Yeah I do.’ He sat back against the bed, blinking, pinching his
nostrils. ‘Go on, start with the basics. How long you been in Vegas?’
I narrowed my eyes at him. ‘How long you been married?’ He
stopped, nose between thumb and forefinger. He was of course.
I could imagine her packing for him, even after the argument,
him telling her it was just a work thing, that just because it was in
Vegas, didn’t mean he was going to do anything stupid.
‘Ahh,’ he said and let go of his nose. ‘How did you …?’ He
scratched the side of his face again, grating against the stubble on
his cheek. ‘Fucking obvious, I suppose.’
‘Look, it’s none of my business,’ I said. ‘What stays in Vegas and
He rolled his tongue over his teeth again, grimacing to himself.
‘Okay, so … how d’you know?’
‘The ashtray.’ He looked over at the bedside table, though the
ashtray was now on the coffee table. ‘You didn’t use it. I’m guessing
you’re not meant to be smoking either.’ He reached for the lighter,
emblazoned with the hotel logo, and clicked the flame. Well, he
hadn’t brought that with him, now had he?
‘You worked that out too?’
‘Sure. Leaving your ring in the ashtray, it’s something you do
out of habit. I guess when you’re home, you put it in a dish by your
bed. Couldn’t put your smoke out on it, now could you?’
He took another cigarette defiantly, lit it and clattered the lighter
onto the table. He leant back, working his mouth into a grimace.
I met his gaze and smirked. ‘Well,’ – here was an immersive
narrative he was going to love – ‘your suitcase is navy blue, which
is masculine enough, but you’ve got gold heart-shaped tags on the
zips. I expect it came as part of a whole matching set, you know,
vanity case and wash bag? Like the one in the bathroom. And
there’s your phone, of course. You got a call. You’d left it on silent,
so you didn’t hear it ring. She’s pretty, the girl on your screen saver,
but she’s not an actress or a character from one of your games. Too
real, so I guessed that’s her. You got no kids though, or it would
have been them. Wives get bumped for babies.’
‘Fuck,’ he said. He flicked his ash into the ashtray. He’d probably
slipped his ring into the drawer of the bedside table when I was
in the shower, hoping I hadn’t seen it; out of sight, out of mind.
Wherever it was, it had left a line against his skin, which I’d seen as
I’d watched his nimble fingers at work.
‘I’m sure you love her,’ I said, and I meant it. This wasn’t
something he did all the time; it was opportunity, and not just
for casual sex. He was lonely and hanging out was not a service
provided by girls on flyers for forty bucks an hour. ‘You’re just
going through a bad patch.’ He looked as if he were going to argue,
then his expression relaxed into acquiescence.
‘She cheated on me,’ he said. He reached for the lighter, picked
it up, tapped it on the table, dropped it.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said as I stood up and fetched my jacket. ‘But you’ll
forgive me if I don’t stick around. I’ve had enough of other people’s
revenge scenarios to last me a lifetime.’ He didn’t watch me leave.
‘Well, he wasn’t really our type, was he?’ Margarita asked inside
my head. ‘Nothing at all like Red, now was he?’