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MORNING SERIAL.

NOW his body was a dried-out shell. She had seen him out and about with Debbie Power, Debbie in her uniform, wheeling the old boy around the shops.

It unsettled her. Debbie, tall and strong and vital, chattering like a parakeet to a broken husk of a man. But Johnny didn't look broken, up close. e thin light revealed a lively, sinewy face, brown eyes glittering with curiosity.

'ey've made a right bloody hash of it, the Provos, eh, girls?' Sue tutted at him and went 'To [euro]x the tea.

'ey'll be busy with their enquiries, the police,' Johnny continued. 'Fifty million of us wanted shot of the old coot.' He wheeled his chair closer to The [euro]replace. 'You a fan o' Mrs T, girlie?' 'Course not,' Helen said. ' 'Atta girl,' he grinned. 'Not like your old dad, then.' 'Sue set the teapot down.

* 'Don't let him wind you up, Red.' Johnny held Helen's gaze. 'He 'Changed , your dad,' he said.

'Changed after he carried your granddad out of the pit. Eats away at a man, a thing like that. Forces him to make tough choices. Sometimes, a man chooses wrong. You follow, girlie?' Helen nodded.

'See death, everything's di'erent,' Johnny said. 'I lay trapped there for hours, the only man to make it out of that seam alive. I lay there in the dark, your granddad dead beside me, swore if ever I made it out, I'd [euro]ght to make life better for our boys. When your your W dad got to us, he knelt in the dark, cursed the pit and the village and the coal business. Swore nothing would matter from then on. Nothing but himself and his own.' She felt a lump in her throat ' that hot tea wouldn't shift. She saw it. Her dad's terror and fury. Darkness with its leeching grip.

She wiped her eyes angrily. 'ere's people will never forgive my dad.' Johnny grabbed her hand. ' His grip was strong, despite the clubbed nails and liver spots. Hands like shovels.

'You're not to blame for the sins of your father, girlie. He made his choice. You'll make yours.' 'You reckon?' 'I knows it, bach.' Until Our Blood Is Dry by Kit >Habianic is published by Parthian at PS9.99 www.parthianbooks.com CONTINUES MONDAY

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Until Our Blood Is Dry by Kit Habianic

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 19, 2014
Words:394
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