I’m falling in love with him while he’s evolving, whispering to me how he wants to progress.

These characters are really starting to come alive for me. I’ve heard other writers mention this phenomenon but I’ve been feeling it more these last few days and weeks.

Some of you have been waiting patiently for a snippet… a taster… an extract… so here you are, my loyal followers xx

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He smelt it before he felt it. A urine-soaked tissue hitting the back of his neck before sliding down, the moisture wicking into his collar. The sniggering was close. Enough was enough. He turned and took only the two strides required to arrive at the end of a table where four men were seated, their identical denim shirts squeezed across bulky frames and heavily tattooed limbs.

‘What’s up mate?’ said one with a mouthful of gaps where teeth should be, ‘cat got your tongue?’

The others broke their silence with snorts of insolence. Antonio tipped the entire contents of his lunch tray onto the table, the jangle of crockery and glass gaining more than the attention of the inmates. Within seconds, a guard had twisted his arm behind his back and steered him from the canteen, the chants and banging of cutlery drowning out the cursing and threats from the man with the missing teeth, now stood brushing beans from his trousers.

Some hours later, Antonio lay watching the digital numbers on his bedside clock blink their way through the hour he usually manned the library. As his arms became numb from being tucked behind his head for too long, he wondered how many days he would have to miss that privilege, the one he’d worked so hard to earn. The library was his favourite space within the prison walls – the hellhole he’d been sent two years earlier, accused of murdering his wife.

He turned his head to look at her. One small picture taped to the wall, close to his pillow. It had been taken by his aunt on the day he had taken Nina out on his father’s boat, the day she had declared her love for him, the day his life had finally made sense.

They had stepped off the boat and Aunt Blanche had insisted she capture the moment.

Against the grey wall, the tiny window of happiness showed her laughing at his smiling face, her long hair having wrapped itself around her neck in the breeze so often present at the lake. Her beauty blew him away and the love he had felt for her within days of their meeting had not diminished.

The attacks had started once word got round that a woman had been the victim. Had he been accused of killing a gang member, relieving the streets of some unwanted cartel character, he’d have been a hailed a hero inside these walls. He’d learnt that much from the verbal accusations hissed in his direction when he passed inmates out in the quadrangle, or while waiting in the lunch queue or for the bathroom but always out of earshot of the guards.

His aim had been to keep his head down but the attacks were becoming more frequent and his tolerance was wearing thin. He also had a major problem. While he was inside he was unable to prove that he had not been holding the gun which delivered the fatal shot at the boathouse in Verona…..