Our editor, Martina Mercer, is making a break for it and we’re right behind her! She’ll still be actively involved in Sunday Woman Magazine but she’ll (hopefully) be following her own dream of becoming a published author. We’ve absolutely no doubt she’ll succeed, although the reading material may not be suitable for everyone!

Consider 50 Shades of Grey and Clockwork Orange. Pretend they had a baby and you have Martina’s first book, Dirty Secrets.

The book itself, is amazing and groundbreaking as it tackles a very real problem of sex trafficking through gritty fiction. Literary agents that have read the first three chapters have labelled it as, “sublime”, “disturbing”, “deeply moving”, “unputdownable” and “the next big bestseller.”

Why then, doesn’t Martina have an agent so far? The fact is, she’s not really tried and those agents who are in love with the book actually represent tamer fiction such as chick lit and romance, along with the increasingly popular Young Adult. Martina is looking for an agent with a strong stomach, one that embraces psychological crime, horror and the gritty truth of trafficking. With “Behind Closed Doors” being such a great success, we’re convinced, that in the right hands, Martina’s novel will soon follow suit.

Here’s the prologue, please don’t read if you’re not used to serial killer crime novels as it’s not for the feint hearted! If you are an agent or publisher who would like the first three chapters, please email Martina here at editor@sundaywoman.com and we’ll make sure she gets it!

Dirty Secrets Prologue by Martina Mercer

As she wakes her first thought turns to fresh, cool water. Her mouth is so dry and when she tries to swallow, she feels crumbs of dirt and a thick layer of dust lining her tongue. She coughs but there is no phlegm, her mouth is completely devoid of moisture. The taste is indiscernible, like nothing she’s experienced before and she mentally chastises herself for over doing it, as she believes this hangover to be the worst yet.

Without opening her eyes, she tries to reach for the reliable glass of water she always keeps on her bedside table. She knows it will be warm but she’ll take anything that will alleviate the gasping feeling in her throat. She instinctively moves her hand in the direction of the glass but her hand is stuck. She assumes it must be caught in her bed sheets and so she twists it more forcefully but as she does a shooting pain travels from her wrist to her shoulder making her cry out. A flex of her fingers reveals a texture that is sticky and warm which is, in turn, covering a thick coil of frayed fabric that can only be rope.

She carefully opens her eyes in a bid to regain her bearings but it doesn’t help as she sees nothing, just darkness, an inky blackness that envelops her in a claustrophobic shroud, increasing her heart beat and making her want to get out, NOW.

With vigour, she yanks at her legs only to find they are also bound but with iron, not string. Her ankles won’t move for more than an inch without chains forcing them back to the bed and she feels bruises where her tender skin and the metal connects.

She forces herself to take a deep breath, to remember how she got here and to assess her situation phlegmatically. No stranger to a little kinky sex she wonders if this is all a game, if she’s fallen a little deeper into S and M than she intended. She hastily shakes off the idea, as she knows her boyfriend would never participate in such an act, he’d never tie her up or even hint at abuse in their love making due to her sadistic past.

Without her sight, she has to rely on her senses of touch, taste, smell and sound. She takes a minute to isolate the different types of pain she feels to discover how badly she’s injured. Her head is pounding but that could be due to dehydration rather than blunt force trauma, her wrists and ankles feel raw and she can still feel something warm trickling through over her right hand, a substance that reminds her of blood.

She realizes she’s naked and not on a bed at all but tightly strapped to a cold slab of rough, uneven stone. Her back and thighs feel grazed and she assumes she must have struggled while being tethered to the stone.

She knows she’s severely beaten and sore from head to toe but there’s one pain that causes her more concern than all of the others combined. Her private parts throb as if they’ve been grabbed by claws and held open with a vice. She’s never felt such agony before and it burns dramatically, making her wince with every tiny movement. An unidentified breeze irritates rather than soothes the exposed skin on her pubis and outer labia. She knows she’s been raped since her last spell of consciousness and through the varying locations of pain, sensitivity and tenderness, she also knows the rape must have been conducted by more than one man, or with a man with many tools at his disposal. Disjointed memories of the night before try to infiltrate her mind and a salty, cloying bile rises in her throat as it dawns on her who is responsible for her situation and who the man is that tied her down. She puts her suspicions away and concentrates on the task in hand; escaping her perdition.

She struggles again while screaming; she knows someone must be able to hear her. With her new memories, she also knows that those that can will be more likely to be excited by the screams than inclined to help.

Her mind is foggy; it’s bringing her a vague recollection she doesn’t want to accept. She shouts louder and rattles the chains with her ankles, the cacophonous sound almost drowns out the squeak of the door as it opens.

The small room floods with artificial light blessing her with a temporary view of her prison. There are no windows but there are holes in the damp, mouldy brickwork that explains the intermittent breeze she feels that irritates her wounds. The door is metal and has no handle on the interior, her visitor uses a rag to stop it from closing completely. Along the wall to her left is a collection of rusty tools as if this place was once a workshop for a carpenter but has since been left unloved and forgotten. She flinches as she sees the chisels, the vices and the corroded metal, some provide an anchor for large cobwebs while others seem to have been recently used. There’s indiscernible moisture clinging to the teeth of the saw closest to her feet. She lets out a small squeal and for the first time her visitor speaks.

“If you won’t be quiet I will be forced to shove a dirty rag in your mouth. Now shut up and await your fate like a good little girl.”

He has an Eastern European accent and is wearing a surgeon’s mask as if protecting himself from an imaginary disease he believes he might catch being in close proximity to his guest.

She tries to hide her fear and forces a confidence she doesn’t feel into her voice as she shouts,

“Where’s my friend, what have you done with my friend, where is he?”

She knows her time is up, she knows her fate is sealed but she can’t accept that the man she loves is destined for the same hell. If anything has happened to him, if, God forbid, they have killed him for trying to help her, she will readily accept a bullet to her head or any of the deprived acts they have planned just to escape the grief. She knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that she won’t be able to handle the pain of losing him. He is the only good thing in her life, the only person she loves, the only one she trusts with everything. Without him, she IS dead, inside and out. Without him, she is nothing and she is ready to bow out of life.

“Your friend?” Asks the man with an Eastern European accent, “You mean your lover? Your sneaky boyfriend that tried to save you? You really want to know what happened to him?”

She braces herself for the answer. If he’s alive and has managed to escape he could be finding help right now, she could have a chance at being free. If he’s dead, she’ll fight harder, just so they end her life quickly and get it over with. If he’s held prisoner, like her, she’ll use every ounce of strength she has to find a way out as she knows he’ll be doing exactly the same altruistic act to save her from one single second of further pain. Her trust in him surprises her as she realizes just how much she’s come to depend on him after vowing never to trust another person again.

Her misogynist captor tugs at her pubic hair, making her jolt and bringing her mind back to the room.

“So?” He asks, with a grin on his face, he’s enjoying every moment.

“Yes, I want to know.” She closes her eyes and waits for the blow.

“Well, you can see for yourself,” he laughs unkindly and then leaves the room.

She’s confused. Is he going to carry his body in here to torment her? He wouldn’t be able to carry a 6 foot 3 hunk of a man alone? Will he lead him in with chains, in a bid to further humiliate them both or will he untie her and take her to see him because if he does, she could use the opportunity to escape. Her mind is buzzing with possibilities while keeping the grief she’s really expecting firmly at bay.

The door opens again, bathing her bruised and bleeding body once more in a fluorescent white glow, she sees patterns in front of her eyes as her pupils adjust and then she sees his figure, standing erect in the door way.

“You’re alive,” She gasps. Relief floods over her, covering her like a warm familiar blanket, making her situation fade away, this is all a mistake, he’s here and he’s going to save her. He’s going to rescue her again. She can’t help the smile as it spreads across her face, it cracks the dry skin around her lips, but she doesn’t care.

“Quickly,” she says, “untie me, he’ll be back, he went for a minute, he was going to bring you to me, quick, let’s get out of here!”

She pants with the exertion of the sentence, she’s exhausted, she’s cold, she’s so thirsty but she’s safe, almost. It was worth it, it’s all been worth it for this moment, they did it. It was time to go home.

He walks closer and her heart rate increases, in a few minutes she’ll be free and back where she belongs, in his arms, safe from this place, safe from everything.

He leans down to her ear as the door opens again and she sees the first man walk in, just as her lover, her friend, whispers in her ear.

“I’m not untying anything. You’re our new plaything. We’ve got a lot of men willing to spend money to take your semi famous ass for a ride and we’ve estimated we’ll get a good few months out of you before your body gives up and dies.”