Beta Readers Reviews
“It’s dynamite! An explosive story about a dangerous biological mother putting her baby’s life at risk. Great characterisations and plenty of emotional drama for the foster mother. Powerful.” Beta Reader. April 2023
“Hooked from page one. Invested in the journey of these well-portrayed characters. I almost screamed out loud at the twist in the end.” Beta Reader, May 2023
“Left me breathless, couldn’t put it down! Wow!” Beta Reader, May 2023
“Well written story and interesting characters and lots of suspense I recommend the book” Dotty Weiss, Amazon
“The brand new gripping and sometimes shocking psychological thriller from the keyboard of NF Webber. This is a roller coaster read. Each time the story dips into scary the ante is upped.” G Atkins. Amazon
“A gripping and creepy tale of control and manipulation. Disturbing and compassionate at the same time.
Are we creating more psychopaths in the world?
Great read and I highly recommend!” K. King, GoodReads
“This book kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through. The characters were so realistic, I really cared about them. Great!” Burma Turner
Nora – 1992
Around noon, I hear a baby screaming next door. It’s a pitiful, heart wrenching cry that makes me shudder, raising goose bumps on my skin.
Is this normal?
I’m only twelve and my mother has left me home alone. She promised to be back within an hour, but I’ve lost track of time.
Everything falls silent, and a sense of unease washes over me. What if something’s wrong? I move closer to the back door, straining to hear any sounds. Suddenly, the crying starts again, more bitter and desperate than before. I can’t ignore it. I pull on my worn trainers, ready to race outside.
Then an icy silence greets me, and a shiver crawls up my back. Abruptly, the wailing starts again and the baby’s cries intensify, making my hands shake. I imagine the baby’s open mouth, taut pink tongue and its trembling lips. My mother told me to stay in the house with the door locked while she’s gone, but I can’t ignore the desperate cries.
Maybe the baby needs help, or the mother could use an extra pair of hands? I could hold the baby for her, unless they hurt the child. Maybe something awful has happened? Redoubling my pace, I stride through the neighbour’s metal gate. Glancing up at the wooden veranda and front door, I hear the baby whimper, but the muffled sound make me uncertain.
I run along the neighbour’s small brick paved walkway, positioned between two rows of marigolds growing on either side of the narrow path. I creep up the four front steps to the porch as a razor-edged scream bellows out of the open net curtained window. Sucking down a deep breath, I thump my fist on the wooden front door.
The screaming makes my stomach sick, then it stops again, and an old man’s voice hollers, “Who is it?”
These neighbours only moved into our quiet suburban street a week ago, so I’m not sure what to say. My name would be meaningless.
“I live next door,” I shout back through the closed door. After a couple of seconds, there’s no response, so I carry on talking. “Do you need a hand, Mister, with the baby?”
An overweight, stubble-faced man opens the front door. His careless grip of the baby sends shivers down my spine. Its tiny legs straddle his gut. His index finger and thumb press a plastic pacifier into the baby’s tiny mouth, forcing it to gag and whimper.
“You want to help?” He sneers, shoving the half-naked baby at me.
Fumbling a little, I hold the baby the same way my mother let me hold my younger brother. Its tiny bare feet are cold. I frown and glance down at the baby’s screwed up red face. It bawls again, sobbing so hard the pacifier falls from its mouth onto the porch floor. I notice a large red lump forming on its forehead. Something isn’t right. My throat tightens with fear. Is this man hurting the baby?
“Where’s the baby’s mother?” I ask above the baby’s shrieks.
“At the shops,” he grunts.
“What’s the baby’s name?” I give a weak smile. I don’t want to make the man angry. I rock my body like I’ve seen my mother do with my younger brother, hoping to calm the tiny child.
“Anahera. Ana, I suppose,” he mumbles, eyeing me suspiciously. I rock the baby gently, hoping to soothe it.
The man reaches out to take the baby from me, but I hesitate. Something about him doesn’t feel right.
“I’ll look after her for a bit.” I say, taking a step back.
He lunges forward, his greasy fringe falling over his angry face. “Get off home,” he snarls, snatching the baby from my arms. “This is nothing to do with you.”
I pause as the baby cries again, and I scramble down the porch steps before racing home.
As I wait for my mother, I hear a small cry, but nothing more for the rest of the afternoon. I try to read my book but end up biting my fingernails, wondering if the baby is okay.
When my mother finally returns, I tell her the story and afterwards we hear a terrible thud coming from next door. The baby shrieks like a wounded animal and her cries make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
“Nora, I’m calling the police.” My mother reaches for the phone, her eyes wide with horror as her trembling fingers dial emergency services.
Days later, we learn he had thrown a glass ashtray at the baby and severely injured the child, who spent three weeks in intensive care. We visit her in hospital and Ana’s mother comes over to our house one afternoon to talk with my mother.
Shortly afterwards, the family next door moves out of our street. We hear nothing more about them, but Ana’s cries will haunt me forever.