Don’t Wake Up, Liz Lawler’s debut novel, sold over 200,000 copies and was Bonnier Zaffre’s breakout psychological thriller of 2017.
I’ll Find You, her second novel, promises to be an even more heart-stopping and electrifying read.Perfect for fans of TM Logan and Leslie Kara, I’ll Find You will keep you guessing until the very last page. Read on for the synopsis of I’ll Find You by Liz Lawler
Synopsis : Emily Jacobs, a nurse, wakes up in hospital. Woozy from the anaesthetic she sees a Doctor frantically trying to resuscitate the woman in the bed next to her. But when she wakes up the patient is no longer there.
She’s told she had a nightmare. She dreamt it. The bed has been empty all along…
When she discovers a bracelet she believes belongs to the missing women she soon becomes convinced that her colleagues at the hospital are hiding a terrible secret.
What if she’s wrong? Has her troubled past come back to haunt her, twist her mind against her colleagues and friends?
But what if she’s right?
What else could they be capable of?
Read on for Excerpt for Book One : Don’t Wake Up
It was the familiar sounds that awakened her. They were strangely comforting, even though her first instinct was to leap up in panic to see what her colleagues were doing. She heard instruments being placed on a steel tray. Monitors emitted regular beeps, sterile packages were torn open, and in the background there was the ever-present hiss of oxygen.
She could see the scene clearly in her mind and knew she must get up, but the pull of sleep was strong and her limbs felt too heavy to move. She couldn’t remember climbing onto one of the unoccupied trolleys, but she must have done it at some time during the night to get an hour or two of sleep. Normally she would have been woken by a call from the red telephone, or the persistent screech of the transceiver. These urgent calls would normally have meant she was up and running even before her eyes were open. But this sleep had made her feel sluggish, and raising her heavy eyelids felt like unfolding thickened skin.
Bright light blinded her, her eyes watered and she had to squint against its glare. It was punishingly harsh and she could barely make out its outline. Confusion mixed with alarm alerted her to her surroundings. She wasn’t in a cubicle. They didn’t have lights like this in her department; they were small overhead lamps that could be covered with the palm of a hand. She wasn’t in her own department; she was in theatre. Why on earth was she here? Surely she hadn’t wandered up here for a kip. Think. Had she helped out with a trauma? Had they been short of a pair of hands? It would be highly unlikely, but not inconceivable. She focused her eyes downwards, and then froze. She shivered violently as she saw her body covered in green theatre drapes. The sounds of the theatre were silenced, the rush of blood in her ears too noisy to allow her to hear anything else. Her arms were extended and held down with Velcro on the upholstered armrests. A blood pressure cuff was wrapped around her arm above her right elbow, and a pulse oximeter probe was attached to her middle finger. Yet it was the sight of the two large cannulas inserted in both forearms that scared her most. Orange needles meant aggressive fluid restoration, which in her world spelt shock.
The drip lines snaked up around metal IV poles and out of view to the bags of fluid. She could see the heavy bottoms of clear fluid bags suspended above, but could only guess at the fluid being transfused. She focused lower, past the green drapes on her chest and abdomen, and then panicked as she saw her painted pink toenails raised in the air. Her thighs, she realised, were spread, her calves supported on knee troughs and her ankles held in stirrups – she was lying on a theatre table with her legs up. From her dry mouth and foggy mind she realised she had just woken not from a natural sleep, but one induced by anaesthesia.
‘Hello?’ she called to attract the attention of the person handling the instruments. The clatter of steel against steel went on uninterrupted; unnerved, she called louder, ‘Hello? I’m awake.
Given the circumstances, she was amazed how calm she felt. She was frightened and anxious, but beneath this her professional knowledge allowed her to think through what might have happened as she lay waiting for an explanation
She’d finished her shift for the evening. Her memory retrieved her last conscious thought … Walking through the staff car park in her new floaty dress and pink shoes, to meet Patrick. This memory reassured her that she must have had an accident. Champagne and roses, she thought. That’s what he had promised her after her long day at work. Champagne and roses, and, if she had read him right, a marriage proposal.
Where was he now? Outside pacing a corridor no doubt, anxiously waiting to hear how she was. Ready to pounce on anyone who could give him an answer. Had she been knocked down, she wondered? A car pulling out too quickly, perhaps, that she hadn’t noticed in her eagerness to see Patrick’s car?
A vague recollection filtered through of tottering along in her impossibly high heels, chest stuck out, tummy pulled in to show off her figure to its best advantage in the new dress. And then a wave of dizziness which buckled her legs and slammed her knees to the ground, a pain to the crook of her neck, a pressure on her mouth, no air, gagging and then … nothing.
Gut-wrenching fear gripped, and her breathing turned ragged as she fought the panic. How seriously injured was she?
Was she dying? Was that why no one was around her? Had they simply left her here to die?
Her training and instincts kicked in. Primary survey. Do the checks. ABCDE. No, stay with ABC first. Her airway was clear. No oxygen mask or nasal cannula were attached to her. She was breathing spontaneously, and as she breathed in deeply she felt no discomfort. Circulation? Her heart was pounding hard and loud. She could hear it on a monitor close by. But why then were her legs spread? Was she bleeding? Pelvic fractures could be the most serious traumas. Big uncontrollable bleeders. But if that was the case, where were all the worried surgeons? Why hadn’t they banded her pelvis and stabilised it?
‘Hello, can you hear me?’ she now demanded less pleasantly.
The sound of clanking instruments ceased. She moved her head gingerly and was not surprised to find head blocks and a neck collar holding her still. They had yet to rule out the possibility of a cervical spine injury. She began to seethe. Who the fuck was looking after her? She wanted to give him or her a piece of her mind. To allow her to wake up alone was bad enough, but for her to then find her head and arms strapped down and her legs stuck up in the air was an outrage. She could have done untold damage to herself if she’d panicked or ripped off the contraptions that were keeping her safe. She could hear the sound of clogs moving towards her on the hard floor. Then, floating into her peripheral vision, she saw bluey-green material, someone wearing a surgical gown. She caught a glimpse of a pale neck and the edge of a white facemask, but the rest of the face – the nose and eyes – were above the bright lights, making it impossible for her to see properly.
She felt tears suddenly gather in her eyes and laughed harshly. ‘I hate bloody hospitals.’ Her visitor stayed still and silent, bringing fresh fear to her overactive mind. ‘Sorry about the waterworks. I’m OK now. Look, just give me the facts. Life-threatening? Life-changing? I take it you know I work here, that I’m a doctor, so please don’t give me the diluted version. I’d rather know the truth.’
‘Nothing’s happened to you.’
The voice jolted her, sounding like it came through a speaker system. She blinked in confusion. Was the person beside her speaking to her, or was someone speaking to her from behind an observation screen? Was she in the CT scanner room and not in a theatre? The voice belonged to a man, but not one she recognised. It was none of the surgeons she knew. She squinted up at the masked face. ‘Are you the doctor or are they in another room? Are we in the scanner room?’
I’m the doctor.’
Christ, her hearing was all wrong. He sounded like he was speaking beside her, yet the voice sounded distant, like a telephone voice. Why didn’t he turn off the bloody lights and take off his mask and talk to her properly? Hold her hand, even? She sighed agitatedly. “So you haven’t found anything wrong with me?’
“There isn’t anything wrong with you.
Impatiently, her voice rang louder. ‘Look, can we rewind here? Why exactly am I lying here and why was I brought in? What does my casualty card say?
‘You know, you really shouldn’t get yourself so worked up. Your heart is racing. Your breathing is erratic and your oxygen levels are only ninety-four per cent. Do you smoke?’
Her eyes darted to the cardiac monitor on a trolley beside her. She could see the trailing wires and knew they were attached to electrodes on her chest.
‘Look, I don’t mean to be rude. You’ve probably had a long day, but I’m a bit pissed off that I’ve woken up to find myself alone. Now just so we’re clear, I’m not going to make a complaint, but I do want to know who you are. I want your name and I want to know what’s going on, right now.’
‘Well, Alex,’ he said, raising purple-gloved hands in the air which held a surgical stapler. Just so we’re both clear. Right now, if you don’t keep a civil tongue I’ll be inclined to staple your lips together. You have a pretty mouth. It will be a shame to ruin it.’
A wave of terror instantly hollowed out her stomach. Muscles rigid, eyes open, her thoughts, her anger and her voice were paralysed.
“Temper isn’t going to help you here,’ he stated calmly.
Champagne and roses, she thought. Think of that. Patrick. Think of him.
‘That’s better.’ She could hear a smile in his voice. ‘I can’t work with noise.
Scenarios played like a film on fast forward in her head. She was in the hospital somewhere. Someone would find her. Someone would hear her scream. This was a madman. A patient on the loose. A doctor? Or someone impersonating one? He had obviously taken control of one of the theatres and she … she had somehow stumbled across him. Her mouth, the pressure she had felt. The gagging after she dropped to her knees in the car park … He had brought her in here.
He had hit her and then gagged her, with a cloth. He must have anaesthetised her. Chloroform or ether …
Please don’t scream,’ he said, reading her mind. ‘We’re quite alone and I really don’t want to resort to silencing you. I have a headache as it is. Cold wind always gives me one. Surprised you haven’t got one, wearing so little on a cold night like tonight.’
She was instantly aware of her nakedness beneath the green drapes. Her exposed breasts and vagina, her bottom slightly raised in the air and her calf muscles beginning to spasm from the unnatural position they were in.
Patrick. Think of him or anything else apart from being here – Mum, work, the patient who died today. The people who would be looking for her. Think, Alex. Rationalise with him. Engage his mind. Say what she was. Who she was. Humanise herself. Isn’t that what the textbooks taught? She had practised many times what she’d learned from them. First rule: acknowledge your patient’s anger. Second rule: defuse it.
‘My name is Alex and I’m a doctor.’
He calmly replied, ‘Are you aware you have a retroverted uterus? While removing your coil I had to use a curved speculum.’
Stunned, she could only gape at him. He had already done things to her. While she lay unconscious his hands had been inside her. Think, she instructed herself. Think this through before it’s too late and this is all over. Be nice to him. Make him like you. Try, for fuck’s sake, she lectured herself sternly as her tongue lay like a thick slug inside her mouth.
Th-thank you for doing that. Not everyone would be so considerate.’
You’re welcome.’ His response gave her a tiny glimpse of hope. It was working. They were talking. She hadn’t actually seen his face and he prob ably knew that. She could tell him she didn’t know what he looked like and she would forget about whatever he had already done to her. No harm done. He could walk away.
‘I wonder,’ she said carefully, ‘if you would let me up to use the toilet?’
No need.’ His purple-gloved hands disappeared beneath the green drapes and touched her naked skin. She flinched. ‘Steady, he advised as he palpated her lower abdomen. ‘Your bladder’s empty. I already catheterised you. Output’s good.’
‘Why have you done that?’
‘Major procedure, Alex,’ he said, using her name with the familiarity of two colleagues working side by side. ‘It will be painful for you to urinate normally for a while.’
Despite herself, a deep sob shuddered from her chest and the sound of her desperate cry filled the room.
‘What have you done to me?’
‘I already told you. Nothing has happened to you. Yet. The decision is yours. You simply have to answer this question: What does “no” mean?
Her thoughts scattered as she tried to make sense of the ques tion. Know what? Know him? What the hell was he asking her?
‘These, for instance.’ He held up her pale pink sandals with their long stemmed heels and delicate straps, which she knew would turn Patrick on, even though they were impossible to walk in. “Do these mean no? And what of these?’ Her stockings were dangled over her face. “They surely don’t mean no. When I undressed you, you weren’t wearing a bra and your panties were hardly big enough to make a small handkerchief.’
Her ankles pulled hard against the leather straps, binding them tighter as she tried to draw her knees together. She under stood exactly what he was asking. ‘Please,’ she begged. ‘Don’t.’
‘It’s a simple question, Alex. I think we both know what you mean when you say “no”, don’t we?’
Hatred overrode her fear, and for a moment she felt free and brave. She spluttered as she angrily spat the words. ‘I don’t understand the question, you fucker. And my oxygen levels are low because of what you gave me. You need to go back to your books. Are you a failed quack? Is that it, fuckhead?’
She heard the intake of breath, the mild tut of annoyance beneath the mask. ‘Temper, temper. That isn’t going to help you. You’ve just made me decide.’
He turned to the side and pulled forward a gleaming stainless steel trolley holding an array of instruments, all of which she was familiar with. IUCD hook, uterine scissors, a Cusco vaginal speculum, and beside these an anaesthetic mask. Her body went rigid with fear as she saw him pick it up. A Schimmelbusch. The only time Alex had seen one of these before was in a glass cabinet in the study of a retired anaesthetist. It reminded her of the type of mask worn in fencing, a protective device that covered the nose and mouth. Only this was a cruder version: the size of a grapefruit, it consisted of a cradle of thin wire with gauze woven between so that liquid anaesthetic could be dropped onto it and soaked up before being inhaled by the wearer.
Open circuit,’ he calmly said. You can’t beat the old-fashioned method. No airway to insert. No anaesthetic machine to monitor. Just gauze and a mask. And gas, of course, leaving your hands free to do other things.’
Her bravery had fled. Her control collapsed. There was no reasoning. There was no escape. He could do what he liked to her and she couldn’t stop him. Fleetingly, she wondered if it would be better if she died on the table. She could leave life behind without ever knowing it had ended.
‘On the other hand, if I knock you out, it stops you and me from talking. You never know, I may need your help if things get tricky. I could give you a mirror and you can direct me if I have a problem. A vulvectomy can be a tad messy.’
Her breathing was too fast and too shallow. Her head was beginning to tingle as she fixated on the mask in his hand. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t talk …
‘Last chance, Alex. I can make this easy. A short sleep for you, while I do what we both know you’d rather say yes to, and then afterwards it’s home to beddy-byes. So I’ll ask once more: What does “no” mean?
Her entire body began to shake. The big muscles in her chest and buttocks and thighs moved continuously. The head blocks and neck collar, the arm restraints and ankle stirrups visibly shook. Tears streamed down her face along with mucous from her nose and mouth, and through all of it she screamed a silent, ‘No’ as she made herself say the opposite out loud.