Number of pages: 304 strán
Size: 135x205 mm
Weight: 390 g
Release year: 2014
One must lose in order to gain…
Veronika finds herself at an impasse. Into her life unexpectedly bursts avalanche of truth and bury all her dreams.
How can the past of beloved husband steal the future? How the relationship becomes escape and fight for life?
Even strong women have weak moments. Veronika is looking for help from the childhood friend - a successful journalist Simona, with whom she grew up together in an orphanage.
Can true friendship survive long separation?
What is the flip calendar of memories and cry for what u can never change?
And how you can accept the fact that you have to lose in order to gain?
A novel that the painful end may also be a new beginning.
SAMPLE FROM THE BOOK
I don’t know how long I’ve been running for. The only think I knew was that I couldn’t stop otherwise it would be the end of me. My chest was burning and I couldn’t breathe properly. I wasn’t sure whether it was caused by the physical tiredness or by the shock I had experienced. Memories were running through my mind. They hurt like small sharp nails being hammered into my soul. Nails that leave marks even when you take them all out.
It was dark outside and even though I couldn’t hear anything except my own steps and panting I knew they were somewhere behind me. They were haunting me and I had no doubts that they wouldn’t stop until they had found and silenced me for good. I knew too much. They had to get rid of me and this was the perfect opportunity.
I was running down the foreign streets in a foreign city too far from home, not knowing what would happen. Suddenly my life became too confusing with so many question marks. I was frightened when I noticed the abandoned building but I knew that hiding there was the only way to save my neck. I turned left and entered the area through the hole in the fence. No living soul was there. Or at least not one that was awake.
The building looked like a terrifying chimera that wanted to scare me rather than protect me from those who were pursuing me. I couldn’t tell what it had served as in the past but it didn’t really matter. I slowed down and picked out a window most likely broken by vandals.
I can get in through here. But then what? I don’t know this place.
I was calculating my chances but I didn’t have many. I could hear their footsteps nearing so I had to act fast. I cut my arm really badly while climbing through the broken window frame. A warm sticky liquid covered my right forearm. I thanked God it was night so they wouldn’t be able to see the bloodstains I was going to leave behind.
A light from a distant street lamp vaguely penetrated into the ground floor. The moonlight helped me to move in that unfamiliar environment too. I didn’t want to even think about how many homeless people I could disturb from their nightly alcoholic orgies, or how many drug addicts left their used disgusting needles around. The only thing that mattered to me was to save myself.
I could hear my heartbeat but also them stopping at the hole in the fence.
“Wait! What if she got in?” called the rough, breathless voice.
“I don’t think so. Can’t you see how dark is there? This place has to look spooky during the day, not even during the night. No woman would get in there,” argued the second voice.
“So where has she gone? This street is straight. Look in front of you. We would see her running. I think she went in.”
I froze when I realized they were not too far from getting me.
No, this is not the end! Pull yourself together! You have to hide, otherwise you’re done!
I knew I had to be quiet and not attract their attention. I moved few steps to the right. The injured arm was hanging down by my side while I tried to explore the space in front of me. I spotted the silhouette of the door and decided to move that way. I could feel the missing parquets underneath my feet so I tried to walk slowly to avoid stumbling and ending on the floor. I walked into a room which, I guess, served as a kitchen in the past. Maybe this used to be a restaurant, hotel or a guest house. My belly hit something hard. Possibly a table or an iron counter left here.
Ouch! That wound on my arm also terribly burns!
I wrapped the bleeding arm around my waist and carefully continued to walk. I thought of hiding under the table, but then I realized that those bastards would find me immediately if they used the light from their mobile phones. I couldn’t risk that. I had to fight till the end. My life was the only thing I still had and I couldn’t let them end it.
For God’s sake, everything was alright just few days ago.
Their voices were fading; the distance between us was getting bigger. They probably still haven’t decided whether to search for me in the building, or not. It was a good sign as the distance between us started to grow. I once again quelled the fear of them being two and me all by myself. I don’t know where my strength came from, especially after that jump.
Thank God I didn’t break my leg.
I moved carefully, step by step, onward into the room until I found myself next to the wall. I was touching those cold walls with my good arm and wished to find a shelter where I could hide and become invisible. I was heading towards the thin strip of light getting inside through the holes that used to be windows.
Maybe I could get out through them unnoticed while those lunatics search for me inside.
Only few steps and I would reach my destination. The moonlight slipped into the building gently but I could clearly distinguish the furniture in front of me. I carefully walked around it and finally came to the window.
I was so disappointed but had no time to pity myself. I had to make up plan B. My pursuers decided to ransack the building. I heard them climbing in. They sure used the same window as me. I prayed they wouldn’t notice my bloodstains. I tried to focus and think of how to get out of the room with only the counter and some cabinet in it. As well as the grills on the window that, as a bonus, had trapped me here.
I’m doomed if they walk in.
“Have you got your mobile with you?” asked the rough voice. “I forgot mine in that hustle on the table.”
“Yeah, I have,” said the second man. Then I noticed a shadow just few meters from me. I hid behind the piece of furniture, which probably served as a food cabinet in the past, and almost stopped breathing.
Move the opposite direction. Please, God, lead them away from me.
“Give me that phone. You’re making too much light, like an idiot. We have to find her as soon as possible. She mustn’t get away, you understand?” yelled the rough voice.
I closed my eyes, got down and scrabbled around the floor with my good arm. I hoped to find some iron bar or a brick, but there was nothing just dirt and pieces of broken parquets and tiles. I moved more to the right and continued scrabbling around. It was an awful feeling as I could easily touch a rat, sleeping dosser or excrements. But my self-preservation was stronger. I touched some piece of damp cloth, probably an old blanket. My chances of finding a “weapon” were remote.
The men moved. They shone the light from the mobile to guide them. I saw them coming thanks to that.
They’re coming directly towards me! Oh, God! What now?
I moved about half a meter left and hoped they wouldn’t spot me. When the piece of parquet cracked under my foot I froze. But those sods were too loud they had no chance of hearing me.
“I don’t think she’s here. Just look around. It’s so dark here and I bet this place looks nasty. We’re somewhere on the periphery,” objected the softer voice.
“Shut up, will you? We wouldn’t have to get through this if you dealt with her properly. But you’re a bungler and that’s why you screwed up.”
They were getting closer for sure.
These may be the last minutes of my life. Why did this have to happen? And why to me?
I peeped out from behind the cabinet and noticed the approaching light.
I’m going somewhere far if I survive. Somewhere very far. I’ll change my name, grow my hair and start to live differently. But first I have to ensure that these two idiots pay for everything they’ve done to me.
In an abandoned building, with a bleeding arm and in a life-threatening situation I swore revenge if I got out of there alive.
For you, Lilly. And for me. And for all other victims of these brutal animals.
They were standing at the doorway of the room in which I was squatting and trembling with fear.
“This place looks like a dump. That bitch cannot be far!” growled the rough voice in disgust while running the light from the mobile phone around the room. I prayed they wouldn’t walk in. I was in perfect alignment as the cabinet I was hiding behind was opposite the notional door. He would spot me, if he stepped in.
“I still think, she wouldn’t come in here,” said the other man.
The light changed direction.
They aren’t coming in. This is my chance.
I leaned out from behind the cabinet and saw them about three metres away from the door where they were standing and almost found me just a minute ago.
“I don’t care what you think. We find that girl and you remove her. Once and for all, no matter what happened before! And now move on. She doesn’t have many options without the light. She doesn’t know this place. I’m sure she went through this corridor as a little bit of light from the streetlamp is coming through over there,” observed the man and moved on. The other one followed him.
Their backs were turned to me and I didn’t have time to make up a plan. I knew they would come back if they didn’t find me there. My arm continued to bleed and my top as well as the waist of jeans were all drenched with it now. Time became a luxury I couldn’t afford.
I won’t have enough strength to run if I loose too much blood. It’ now or never!
The light was moving away but I knew where the exit from this hell was as they had lit up the room just a little while ago. I slowly stepped out. When I came to the door I started to make my way towards the room with the window through where I got in. I leaned against the wall, and to prevent myself from bumping into something I hadn’t noticed before, I slowly headed to the corner of the room. I repeated this movement for a few more metres until I got to the window. I sat on the window frame and stuck one leg out and then the other and got ready to jump. Even though the window wasn’t up very high, I couldn’t risk spraining my ankle.
Just a bit and I’m gone. Far away from this horror. I’m going to save myself!
I turned my face to the door for the last time and when I didn’t see the light I smiled. I jumped and run to the hole in the fence. I was the happiest woman under the sun when I climbed through to the street. I started to run towards the way I came even though I knew the centre of this city had to be pretty far away. Thanks to euphoria of being alive I forgot about my bleeding arm.
I turned left after few hundreds of metres and found myself in a blind alley with houses. I recklessly ran to the end of the valley without realizing it could be a mistake.
When I noticed a wooden bower in the garden of the last house on the right, I didn’t hesitate. It was standing in the dusk and seemed to be an ideal place for short break. Besides that, I had to make a plan.
I hoped the owner didn’t have a dog. I couldn’t see any warning sign at the gate but it did not guarantee that a kennel with the hairy guardian who tears an uninvited intruder to pieces wouldn’t be at the back of the house.
I tried to open the gate but had to release an iron bar at the top first. I did it. It was a weight off my heart. I looked around. Not a living soul. All normal people were in their beds at this time of the night. Only I was fighting for my life.
I laid on the bench in the bower and looked back the way I came from for a little while. My worries that those bastards could still follow me disappeared.
I’m alive! I’m free! Hooray!
I knew that this escape was not the final win and I would still have to fight. I moved to the other side of the bower where the light from the street lamp was falling. I straightened my arm and what I saw scared me.
I need a medical treatment urgently! Otherwise I will bleed to death!
I looked around for a sign what to do next. A car was parked in the yard. I couldn’t tell what type it was. It didn’t matter anyway.
I’m sure I’ll find a first-aid kit box there.
I was delighted for a while and stood up ready to treat my wound. The tears started to run down my face as I rolled back down.
I’m sure they locked the car for the night. People from my neighbourhood don’t do the opposite and they’re right.
I had no choice. I knew I had to at least try.
And what if they didn’t? I will be able to disinfect and bandage my wound and find a professional help tomorrow. But not in this city. There is a big chance they will search for me in the health centres. These two have contacts everywhere. They will want to get me but I won’t make it easy for them.
I stood up and made my way towards the car. I was losing my strength. I had only few metres left when I felt a buzz in my ears and my head started to spin. I knew what it meant.
I’m going to faint. I have to forget about the first-aid kit.
I moved towards the door instead and hoped good people were living there. I leaned my forehead against the door bell because I couldn’t feel my arms. I saw my bloodstained jeans and big puddle of blood on the tiles when the light bulb above me lit up. Someone undrawn a curtain on the window next the door and I heard the door keys right away. A scared woman in her slippers and a long nightgown was standing there.
“I’m sorry... I... need help...” I stuttered out with no strength left in me.
The woman looked at my clothes, gasped and rushed towards me. She pushed me away from the bell I was still leaning against and led me in.
“Thank you. Please, don’t call the ambulance... Otherwise they’ll find me...and then...they’ll kill me.” Those were my last words before I fainted.
Jaro Holub was extremely angry with Peter. That bungler messed it up. Peter should hold his bitch tied and locked until he wouldn’t come back. Jaro ransacked their flat - every single place where she could hide it, but left empty handed. That bitch either made it all up or hid the evidence somewhere else. But where? He searched the desk in her office himself, but there was no trace after the object which couldn’t keep him calm.
He should do it differently. He should stay with her himself and send Peťo there. Maybe she would tell the truth if she was in fear. Instead he wanted to scour her former working place where he, as her superior, had an easy access.
Although it was too late for that, he blamed himself for being an idiot. She ran away.
Now they were both standing in front of some ruined building not knowing what to do.
“You’re a moron!” shouted Jaro.
“You are! We shouldn’t have let it get this far. We should have told her that we help her to find that little girl. We could pretend doing so until she wouldn’t forget about it,” said Peter angrily.
“Sure. She would run to the police because neither we nor she would find her”, spat Jaro out. “We have to find out where she is before she does something impetuous.”
It was dark outside. Many people of their age spent the Friday night drinking a beer in the bar where they came to relax after the hard working week. Only they had to be pursuing a woman that knew too much.
“She doesn’t know this city,” said Peter. He detested the way how he had to hurt Veronika, but Jaro was adamant.
“We separate. She couldn’t get far. You take this street. Pay particular attention to the bus stops and benches in the gloom. I’m sure she won’t be searching for help from locals at three in the morning. I’ll go that way,” he pointed with his hand.
“Ok, but what if she calls the police?” hesitated Peťo.
“I don’t think she would. She has no one she could turn to. Don’t forget that she doesn’t have a job, family or friends that would help her. I’m not going to remind you that you’re an idiot that let her to lead you by the nose. We get back to that later, but now go. We have only one phone so I’ll meet you at the fountain. Do you know where it is?”
“Yeah,” muttered Peťo and moved the ordered direction.
He knew they won’t find her. Jaro underestimated her. She wasn’t stupid. Maybe it was caused by the fact, that she grew up in foster’s care, but she could always deal with anything. When they met and she told him where she came from, he immediately started to wonder whether she doesn’t know that girl from the lake too. But he was afraid to ask. Besides that, he wanted to forget about that part of his life.
Veronika mentioned a friend who was like her older sister, but that one left the foster’s care without leaving any contact right after she hit eighteen. He couldn’t remember her name, but it couldn’t be that girl from the lake. She was younger than Veronika. And even if they knew each other, they couldn’t be too close. His girlfriend was really disheartened and reclusive after her friend left.
Peťo walked down the street lighted by the street lamps. He felt he had made the biggest mistake of his life years ago. He should have stopped Jaro back then. He was an idiot to assist him. That was the first mistake and the beginning of many others. He couldn’t back up now because there was much more to it. Since that summer day was their friendship based on the mutual fear of betraying one another. It didn’t happen so far but they controlled each other. That’s why they brought their girlfriends from time to time with them too.
He knew that thanks to his cowardice he deprived himself of everyday happiness he could experience with Veronika.
His eyes flooded with tears and he started to cry like a baby. For the first time after all those years. He wished they wouldn’t find her. He wished she would run somewhere far away and started a new life.
He knew he doomed himself to the life without love. But it was too late now.
“Save yourself, my love, when I couldn’t do it,” he whispered and stepped out towards the fountain.
Edita was sitting in the chair beside the bed with her eyes closed. She didn’t know I was already awake. I was looking at her nice face and thanked heavens I had been led to her. She had bigger nose, nicely shaped eyebrows, full lips and shoulder-length blond hair. It reminded me of something from my childhood. Lilly and I tried to convince everybody that blond was not a colour. For us it was just yellow. I had to smile.
Edita suddenly woke up from drowsing which stopped me from pondering. I was grateful for that because my other thoughts would probably be painful.
“How are you feeling?” she rushed to me terrified.
“As if I was run over by a bulldozer,” I said and tried to get up. Ineffectually. I flopped back on the pillow exhausted.
“I’m Edita,” she introduced herself while putting the thermometer under my arm.
“I know. You told me while I was taking some pills,” I frowned at my bandaged arm.
It wasn’t a dream. I had truly escaped.
“Now honey, to put the record straight about what happened last night. I gave you some painkillers because you couldn’t stand the pain anymore. You have some wounds and you’re bruised all over your body. Can you speak? Don’t you feel the pain in your chest while talking?”
“I’m alright,” I sighed and nodded.
I still couldn’t believe I was alive.
Edita pulled the chair closer to the bed and made herself comfortable.
“You rang my doorbell on Friday night. You were in terrible condition,” she started.
“Does it mean that it is Sunday?” I asked pensively.
“Yes, it’s almost midday. You slept the whole day yesterday, except for moments when you were crying in pain. I gave you a pill and a portion of hot broth. Then you slept till now. You were lucky to find me at home. I usually spend the weekends out. But let’s start from the beginning,” she folded her arms while looking right into my eyes.
“I... where should I start?” I started to cry.
“Calm down, we have time,” she smiled at me. “But you have to understand my situation too. I’ve been taking care of a wounded woman, who knocked on my door early in the morning, for two days. And she’s begging me not to call the ambulance...”
“Have you?” I asked timorously.
“No, you were too scared. Clearly a victim, not a criminal. Trust me, I have flair for that,” she stood up and checked the thermometer. “Your temperature has dropped, but that wound is quite deep. I cleaned and stitched it up but we should go to the hospital.”
She put the thermometer back into the plastic case a laid it on the bedside table. Then she handed me a glass of water.
“Drink it. You are dehydrated and you must also be hungry. I’ll make you something to eat but you have to tell me what happened to you first.”
I started to cry but her look was unyielding. She was waiting for my story and I understood. “I know something really bad happened to you, but I have the right to know the truth.” I nodded.
“My name is Gréta“, I’ve started.
“That’s a pretty name,” she smiled and when I had few sips she took the glass away from me.
“Thank you. I got it after the famous Greta Garbo. My mum was an artist,” I was explaining while trying to look convincing.
Why on earth did I say Gréta? But luckily I at least came up with something.
She nodded and, while raising her eyebrows, waited for me to continue
“My boyfriend did this to me...” I continued.
I wanted to tell her the whole truth. But my mind was telling me not to.
She’s a stranger. Yes, she helped me, but I can’t risk everything by telling her the truth.
Then I decided to lie to her in the serious matters too. Maybe it wasn’t right, but I couldn’t do anything else. It was all so recent and painful...
The less you know the better.
“He’s awfully jealous. He saw me talking to my colleague at the bus stop. We’re working on a project together. I had to go through hell when I got back home,” I lied to her. Edita was listening quietly and I felt she believed every single word I said to her.
“We had a blazing row and he didn’t talk to me for days. Then he got home drunk on Friday night,” I continued to lie and surprised myself how good I was at it. But I wasn’t proud of myself.
“Then he beat you up,” said Edita. “Your body is covered in bruises and grazes. And your hands...”
I looked at my wrists. I was wearing dark marks from the metal handcuffs, which those idiots put on me, instead of watches and bangles.
Oh, God! How do I explain this?
“I’m... I’m so embarrassed...” I whispered. I needed to gain some time.
Edita took me by the hand. “Gréta, did he rape you?”
He didn’t have time for that. I managed to escape. I don’t know for how long I was running... And then I ended up here. I don’t know why I picked your house. I’m sorry if I caused you any trouble. I’ll go,” I tried to stand up again but with the same result. I fell back defencelessly. I had no strength.
When was the last time I had a proper food? In the last century?
Edita was reading my mind. “Stay in bed, you’re still too weak. I’ll get you something light to eat. You have to gain more strength and then we’ll see,” she stepped out towards the door but suddenly stopped and turned back to me. “When I found you at my doorstep covered in blood you said: Please, don’t call the ambulance... Otherwise they’ll find me... and then... they’ll kill me. Who are THEY? Your boyfriend I get but who else is after you?”
Her question took me by surprise. I sure didn’t expect that. Now I was almost sure she didn’t believe my jealous boyfriend story. I tried to make it up.
“His best mate. They’re both bastards. They grew up together and have been supporting each other since then. I’m sure they’re looking for me.”
At least for once I was telling the truth.
Edita bit her lip.
“Do you really think they would be able to kill you?”
Of course they would! They won’t stop until I vanish once for good. I’m a massive threat to them.
“I was too frightened but I’m sure they won’t get that far.”
I seemed to have convinced her.
Realizing that I had been breathing the same air as them made me feel sick and scared. They had the money and the power. It was only a matter of time before they find me. I couldn’t hide forever and endanger a woman with good heart who hadn’t turned her back on me.
What is going to happen now?
I was thinking of all the possibilities but couldn’t predict how I was going to feel in terms of health. This game started when I revealed the truth and I couldn’t tell how it was going to end. The only thing I knew was that if I lost, I would die. Although I didn’t have many reasons to live, I didn’t want to die.
While looking sadly up at the ceiling, I was thinking where I could go when I left this place. No one was waiting for me. No one was looking for me. I was sacked last week and I’m sure they have already destroyed all my stuff as they hoped to end it all with me really quickly. I spiked their guns and now they were insecure. They knew I had ran away.
Edita interrupted my thoughts. She walked to me holding a tray with food. I didn’t hear her entering the room.
“The food is here,” she smiled.
She placed the trail on the table near my bed and walked to me.
“Come on, I’ll help you get up. You have to rally to be able to sort your life out.”
She helped me to sit down.
“Thank you, you’re so kind for helping me,” I had to convey my gratitude.
“You’re lucky, I’m a nurse.”
I looked at my perfectly bandaged forearm. “I should have figured it out.”
“I’ve been working in a GP’s surgery for thirty years. I stitched your slashed arm up,” she admitted and pulled my duvet away. I was wearing red cotton pyjama pants with matching top. Edita noticed my look and tried to explain: “It’s a little big as I’m slightly larger than you.” Then she waggled her bum and smiled.
“How come I’m...?” I wanted to know how I got changed.
She hurried with the answer while cutting something into small pieces. “You dropped like a stone. I took you in and after a while you gained the consciousness. Although you were shaking and not able to speak, you cooperated. I showered you and staunched the wound on your forearm from bleeding. Then I treated your other wounds and put you the pyjamas on and then I put you to bed. You walked by yourself, don’t you remember anything?
No, I only remember how you gave me pills and water and said that you were Edita. Nothing else,” I answered in truth.
“That’s understandable, you were in shock. You had a terrifying experience. They should drag all the brutes to an island where they can kill each other. And the world would be left in peace,” she said and stood up with the tray in her hands.
“Not many would be left here,” I tried to joke. Edita smiled.
“Life just goes too fast. People are chasing money and success and forget about respect. They’re constantly under pressure because if they don’t pay their mortgages on time, they end up on the street... “Edita started to evaluate today’s fast world and I had to agree. Almost all of my colleagues had loans to pay and walked with scowling faces since the morning. They had too many worries that deprived them of desire to spend time with their children or work on their relationships. So they treated their kids to new computers or tablets and didn’t care if their relationships were in ruins and their sex life became rare. I felt sick just thinking of it.
“How did it work before?” I asked.
“It just did. People had different values back then. Today’s man thinks that we are closer to the apocalypse each day. People believe that this world has to definitely lead to something and to what else other than hell?” she sighed. I saw sadness in her eyes. She came closer, still holding the trail. “There is a stand at each side of the bottom of this tray. Can you help me with it, please?”
I didn’t hesitate and spread the wooden legs on the tray. Edita located the table we had created on the bed so I could eat comfortably without having to go out of bed. I felt like a movie star who gets breakfast in bed from her lover. “Here are the chicken breasts, mushroom sauce and mash potatoes. There is also strawberry compote in the bowl if you’d like something sweet.”
“I can’t thank you enough for everything you’re doing for me,” I said deeply moved.
“Enough talking. You have to eat otherwise it will get cold,” she said and watched whether I was doing what she said.
She was standing above me like a screw in the prison. It looked so funny. She only had to stand with her arms akimbo and put glasses at the end of her nose to complete the perfect picture.
I forked a piece of meat and looked at Edita. She unwittingly stood with her arms akimbo.
“What’s wrong?” she asked impatiently.
I burst out laughing.
“Nothing. This situation is just so absurd. I ran away from the man who almost beat the hell out of me and now I’m laying here in fresh pyjamas, eating fantastic looking food... And you are standing here like a policeman behind the thief’s bag or like a strict teacher preventing kids from copying their answers during the test.”
Edita checked her posture and started to laugh.
“You’re absolutely right, Gréta. I’m standing here like a harpy.” She sat to the chair beside the bed. When she stopped laughing she said: “It’s been a long time since I cooked for someone, you know. Bon appetite.”
It’s been a long time since someone cooked for me too.
I started to eat, at first slowly but then I almost devoured the last pieces of meat. Oh, how good it was. If Edita hadn’t cut the meat into pieces I would probably swallow it all at once. She was joyfully watching my appetite and smiled.
“I would kill for food like this,” I praised her cooking. Then I realized my metaphor could be wrongly understood. I looked at her but she didn’t seem to notice the double entendre.
“I´m glad to hear that,” she said proudly and didn’t even try to hide the joy she felt when I had almost cleaned the plate. I managed to eat all the strawberries from the bowl too. When I tried to drink the juice she ran to me and helped me with it. I couldn’t bend my right arm because of the bandage and the left one was shaking right after I tried to lift up the small bowl. She stood next to me and put it to my mouth. As I was drinking the juice Edita was tilting the bowl so I could drink it all.
I already knew I would never forget her that.