Release day for Falling for Alexander, Book 2 in my Corkscrew Bay series. This is Kate and Alexander's story :)
Kate’s waited three years to meet the new owner of Darrock
Castle. What she did not expect was her intense attraction to the sexy-as-sin
recluse billionaire with dubious
scruples that included—but was possibly not limited to—random threats,
unreasonable firings, community snubbing and suspicious helicopter activity.
But she’s falling, sinking to the bottom, and there she finds a vulnerability
in the man she’d never have imagined.
There was a time when Alexander Gerardo wasn’t as strong as he’d have
liked, when he needed to close the world out for a while, and Castle Darrock
was the perfect sanctuary. When he decides to teach the local reporter a
lesson, what he finds instead is a woman who fills spaces he’d never known were
there. Who crashes over walls he would have sworn he’d never erected. His
natural aversion to the media has deep roots, but when it comes to Kate, he’s
never wanted anything or anyone else more. Even if it means he’s playing with
fire and tempting disaster.
Available from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
And will be available at other retail sites within the next few days
How to Love a Best Friend is the 2nd book in my How to Love series. These romances are light and humorous, even while sometimes dealing with tragedy.
The How to Love series are different stories, different lives, each a standalone book connected by a common theme... sometimes it takes a special kind of loving to break down the walls we build around our hearts.
When a tragedy leaves her
best friend alone with newborn twins, Cami doesn’t think twice about stepping
in to help out. But before long, she’s
moved in with Mark and so, apparently, has the crush she thought she’d left
behind with her teens. The attraction between them is undeniable, but can their
friendship take the heat? Because Mark’s never been more off limits than he is
right now and the one night of passion that dragged on for a week doesn’t
change a thing.
traffic out of Hammersmith was still buzzing despite the late hour. Blue neon
advertising trendy wine bars, cars stopping abruptly to negotiate parking
spaces, pedestrians zigzagging in front of her as if they had right of way.
journey turned into twenty, thirty, and each minute ticked inside her like a
would be fine had become
her makeshift mantra.
It had to be.
couldn’t shake the feeling that every traffic light delaying her, every jaywalking
obstacle in her path, was slowly eating away at her mantra, somehow nullifying
it more and more by the minute.
It was half
eleven when she finally swung through the doors of Brendall, the private
Chiswick hospital Julie had decided on. Her heart pumping double-time, her mind
as blank as she could keep it, Cami strode to the reception desk and asked for
Mark or Julie Petersham.
woman’s bright smile faded and her expression closed.
is in Lounge B, straight down the corridor, second left, first door on your
right.” The woman made to stand, her voice kind, too kind, “Would you like me
to take you?”
already marching, ignoring the doctor-nurse couple bearing down on her,
ignoring the pounding inside her head that refused to let up. She pushed
through the door to Lounge B and her frantic gaze immediately found Mark.
He sat rigidly
upright in the caramel upholstered chair, hands slotted between his knees, his
face drawn, ghostly grey.
As her mind
clocked the details, she couldn’t suppress the tremble and nightmare visions
that had been threatening to overtake her since his phone call.
wrong with one of the babies. Maybe both. She’d known it was bad from the sound
of his voice.
him... a simple word like bad didn’t do justice to whatever had broken Mark.
She jabbed her
fist into her mouth to stop the cry. The pain in her heart was physical, a
chisel steadily chipping away and she didn’t even attempt to sedate it with her
Julie had had
an emergency caesarean four days ago, almost seven weeks early. Not wholly
unusual for twins, apparently. Even though the babies had been rushed to
neonatal intensive care, the specialist had been optimistic. They all had.
She took a
shaky step toward Mark, then another, and then he stirred, looking up at her
with dull shock clouding his sunken eyes.
short. Of course, whatever she felt, it was quadruple, more, a hundred times
more, for Mark. And Julie.
“Cami,” he croaked,
then cleared his throat. He stood up and covered the distance between them.
“Thanks for coming.”
stronger than he had on the phone, but the wretched sight of him more than made
up the difference.
What was there to say?
her eyes, reflected in his. He was standing so close she could easily pull him
against her, wrap her arms around him and console without words. But she’d been
denied that for so long, she wasn’t sure how to any more.
happened?” she finally asked, her arms hanging limp at her side. “Are the
babies all right?”
“The twins are
holding their own.”
A wave of
relief rolled through Cami, dissolving the tension knotted at the base of her
skull and all the way down her spine.
Mark spoke so quietly, she had to lean in to hear. “Julie is gone.”
What had his wife done now?
promised her that affair was over, that it hadn’t meant a thing. She’d sworn it
was the biggest mistake of her life, the first and last mistake, begged Cami to
anything within her power to save Mark from that kind of hurt.
thinned in anger. “Gone where?”
Mark looked at
her in silence. He seemed to have run out of words, or maybe just the energy to
express them. Bone chilling weariness sucked at his jaw. Grief haunted his
whooshed from her lungs, leaving behind an empty chalice that nevertheless
weighed a ton.
Not even Julie
would abandon her babies to run off with a lover.
fisted at his sides. He took a deep breath. Released it.
aneurysm. The doctors haven’t—” He cleared his throat. Took another breath.
“The doctors suspect delayed trauma from the general anaesthesia. An autopsy
will be performed.”
Then, as if
the only thing holding him together was the task of delivering those official
details, tears spilled from his eyes.
thinking, Cami held open her arms and gathered him close. His daughters were
fighting for their lives in neonatal and the woman he loved, his wife, their
mother, was gone. The combination was enough to test the devil.
there, clinging to each other. His chin rested on her shoulder, his chest
hiccupping against hers as he allowed himself to break down. Cami gave him as
long as he needed. She would have stood there all night.
finally pulled back, though, and asked in a scratchy voice, “What am I going to
do?” Cami knew she had to do more than comfort him. She had to be strong.
to survive, Mark.” She gripped his upper arms firmly, forcing him to maintain
to survive for the sake of your children.” Her gaze softened. “You know I’ll be
there for you and the twins. Every step of the way.”
flowed into Mark.
Cami was his
fight the shock of losing his wife and find the courage to raise the girls on
tonight, he couldn’t believe Jasmine and Carmen would be fine without their
mother, that he’d find a semblance of peace within himself, that his family
He wrapped his
arms about Cami, pulling her close again, holding on tightly.
needed Cami to help him believe.
Oh, it felt
as if my heart grew instant wings and I don’t think it will ever come down to
earth again. He told me to take care and says he will write. Will he have time
to? He will be very busy at Oxford, doing very important things. He looked deep
into my eyes for the longest time when he said goodbye and I just know a part
of him will miss me almost as much as I’ll miss him. It’s only been a few
hours, and already I’m counting down the minutes until his first half term.
Cami smiled to
herself, rolling her eyes at the childish enthusiasm that had carried her away.
She didn’t need to check the date in her diary or perform any quick
calculations to place her age.
that day very well.
She’d felt as
if she were dancing on the clouds. Teenage hormones did that to a person. You
were either shooting for the stratosphere or drilling toward the earth’s core,
never simply walking on the ground alongside everyone else.
That diary entry
had been two days after her thirteenth birthday. She still kept the silver
charm bracelet Mark had given her in the Mandarin jewellery box on her vanity.
letter had arrived religiously, throughout the first two years anyway.
the glossy pink book onto the growing heap at her feet, then reached for her
wine glass on the pedestal table beside her.
She took a
healthy sip before delving into the chest again, checking the dates on the
spines until she found the year she was looking for.
pulled the diary out and started flipping through it, a page doodled with red
hearts and arrows stopped her.
called to find out how my tests are going and to make sure I’m studying hard. I
told him I’m quite aware of how important A Levels are and I have every
intention of acing them. He’s coming up from London next week. I can’t wait!
Oh, how on earth am I going to concentrate on my studies now? There’s so much
to plan and rehearse.
to tell him. Sarah thinks I should. She says he likes me. Really, really likes
me. She says everyone can tell from the way he smiles at me. She says I’ll
regret it for the rest of my life if I never let him know how I feel.
handwriting reflected her wired-up nerves from that time of the school year,
the secret love she was about to unlock from her swollen heart, the fear she
needed to overcome in order to do just that.
for her wine again and took a large sip without taking her eyes off the page.
I broke it
off with Harry today. He wanted to know why, but I couldn’t tell him the truth.
I’ll feel enough of a dolt if Mark laughs me off without the rest of the world
knowing why I have to be free and single next week.
the page, sucking in a deep breath. She knew what was coming and still it had
the power to rock her heart off-centre. But she needed to read the last entry
in the last diary she’d ever kept.
She needed to
The last time
she’d spent this much time with Mark was when she’d been at school and he’d
lived next door.
She needed to
crosscheck and cross reference, then and now, and calibrate the risk.
home today. His taxi pulled up next-door and I leaned out of my bedroom window
to shout hello. My knees were trembling and my pulse raced so fast I thought it
might take off and fly away. He climbed out of the taxi, looking so very smart
in the dark suit he has to wear at Link & Crowle. He’s a lawyer now! It’s
crazy. My heart kept missing beats and I could barely breathe and I thought I
was going to die of absolute adoration. But then he dipped back in, to help her
Her name is
Julie and apparently they’re in love. I suppose they must be. They’re engaged.
plotted, fumed, researched and rallied for eight months. After all, the stats
on broken engagements left divorces in the shade, and that was saying
everything had changed.
She could even
say she was happy for the newly married couple when she’d run into them in Long
Fenwick two Christmases later. Mark and Julie were spending the weekend at his
mum’s and Cami was down for the Christmas break.
vivacious and dynamic, beautiful and graceful.
If Mark had to
be with anyone else, Cami couldn’t have chosen better for him herself.
Or so she’d
nobly thought, until she’d moved to London and started spending time with Mark
again. Mark and Julie.
the diary, her fingers drumming mindlessly on the hard cover. A surge of guilt
hit her, then sank to the bottom of her tummy and anchored.
been fond of Julie, had quickly discovered a hard layer of selfishness beneath
all that grace and beauty. And the dislike had definitely been mutual.
Mark had never
had a clue.
She’d never do
that to him.
And anyway, it
wasn’t as if she’d hated the woman. She’d supported Mark’s marriage. How could
she not? He loved Julie. Getting on with your best friend’s wife was not a
preordained fact of life.
So long as
they made each other happy... and by then, Cami had known she could never make
Mark happy, even were he free.
never give him the one thing he desired above all else.
given it to him, though, had given him the twins, a proper family, and in
that was the woman’s one redeeming quality.
the drumming to strum her thumb through the diary pages, suddenly overwhelmed
by the youthful memories they contained. How much simpler life had been back
then, no matter that it hadn’t felt like it at the time.
She did mourn
Julie’s death. No husband deserved to lose a wife, no child deserved to lose a
mother, no woman deserved to die so young.
But the wave
of guilt kept returning.
wasn’t really guilt, but whatever it was, the remnant feeling that always remained
in its wake was unease. Maybe it was natural to feel guilty when something
terrible happened to someone you didn’t particularly like. As if you’d jinxed
that person with bad karma.
simply ridiculous,” she muttered crossly, tossing the diary onto the stack as
she stood and stretched her cramped legs.
all she needed to know.
honestly say there’d been no heart soaring and/or skipping and definitely no
death by adoration this time round.
As a friend.
childhood crush had not returned.
and the twins almost every day these last four months hadn’t changed a thing.
The relief was
enough to make her dizzy.
The twins were
finally being discharged and she was perfectly capable of helping Mark adjust
to his new family in an Aunt May kind of way.
Mark was at
the reception desk, signing the discharge papers, when Cami arrived. His jeans
and ribbed sweater hung loose on his lanky frame. He’d lost too much weight,
stopped working out in favour of spending every free moment at the hospital,
but his slightly gaunt form was somehow more endearing to Cami than the lean,
muscular triangle of broad shoulders, narrow hips and just-so solid thighs.
caught her eye, and beckoned her closer with a smile. “We’re almost ready.”
He wore his
chestnut hair longer now, just touching the neckline of his sweater and falling
across his high cheekbones in thick waves. The look suited him, softened the
newly sharpened angles of his face.
asked, mainly to distract her thoughts from just how well that look did indeed
Great time to
notice how divine Mark Petersham was.
winked, then chuckled. “And excited.”
Cami said, thinking how good it was to hear his laugh again.
were closing at least one half of a hard read chapter. The cloud that dulled
their world was lifting and she sensed that they both knew it would be gone by
the time they walked the twins out of Brendall.
It was time to
look to the future, to Jasmine and Carmen.
Mark’s arm lightly and gazed into his eyes, her smile filled with hope.
Now that his
face was thinner, Cami noted, the dimple on his left cheek was more pronounced
when he grinned like that.
when do you notice tiny details like that?
herself a mental shaking and stepped back, leaving her hand to slide from his
arm. “Where are the twins?”
Carol took them to the nursing station for a final goodbye. We’re to join them
there in a minute.” His gaze travelled down the outsized cotton shirt she’d
buttoned over a strappy T-Shirt, down the black stretch pants she usually
jogged in, and to her trainers.
amused eyes up, his lips curling around suppressed laughter. “Super mom
“I wasn’t sure—”
sit up yet,” he teased unmercifully. “And crawling is a good three to four
“I know, you
dolt. We read the same books.” Cami glanced down at her ready-steady-go outfit
and laughed. “You know my motto.”
Brown eyes lit
up with long forgotten humour. “Oh God, you’ve drawn up a business plan,
him and took to studying the pale cream walls of the reception area, admiring
the oil landscapes that broke the monotony and which, she decided, had an
amazingly calming effect.
to insist Betty takes minutes at the end of each day and prepares a bi-monthly
presentation on their actual-over-target development.”
So much for
jutted up as she shot him a dark look. But couldn’t hold it.
She had, in
fact, drawn up a pretty comprehensive schedule for Betty, the registered nurse
turned nanny who would be living with Mark and providing around the clock
interviewed her, done the reference checks, but even so, one could never be too
careful. Caring For Baby had emphasised the importance of a strict
Cami had to
admit it made good business sense.
worked better with structure.
grinning like an idiot now. “There’s going to be pie charts. Broken down into
physical, mental and social. Are you going to suggest cutbacks if they
under-perform? Because I’m telling you, I’ve grown rather fond of both Jazzie
and Carmen and wouldn’t like to see either one getting laid off.”
ridiculous.” Cami slapped his arm, but a bubble of laughter escaped to betray
her crossed brows.
with his ludicrous predictions as they walked down the stark corridor, until a
vaguely familiar, slightly tinny melody drifted from the nursing station. “Dare
“It sounds like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star unplugged.”
It was, in
fact, a five-foot singing Teddy Bear being presented to Jasmine and Carmen as a
farewell gift by what appeared to be Brendall’s entire maternity staff
Mark and Cami
waited at the long counter just inside the doorway until the tune came to an
Marsha, the senior ward matron, whispered, signalling them to come closer.
“Bruno seems to have put the babes to sleep.”
went to the twins, already strapped into their infant car seats and tucked in
with pink receiving blankets. Their wrinkled eyes, button noses and sweetly
puckered lips were enough to spin her heart afresh each time.
mouthed, one eyebrow shooting high the way it did when amusement battled with
his belief system.
to the giant woolly Teddy Bear dressed to the nines (in the Teddy Bear
catalogue of style) with candy-striped shorts held up by red suspenders.
travelling with you,” Mark firmly told Cami.
It was her
turn to grin stupidly. “I came by tube. I thought it might be better to catch a
ride with you. Just in case things got out of control on the road, you know.”
control?” Mark bent over the twins, adjusting blankets that were already
snug. “As in two gurgles instead of the regulatory one.”
his arm. “A simple thank you will suffice.”
He slanted a
look her way. She could see the barbed retort collecting on his lips, and was a
little surprised when he offered her a genuine smile instead.
A flurry of
activity followed as goodbyes were said and promises to visit were made.
All too soon
they were on their own in the car park, the support structure they’d relied on
since the twins were born instantly cut off.
the remote to open his car and gave her a typically male “what now?” look.
A quick glance
up at the darkening clouds and Cami took charge. “Let’s get the girls belted
They each took
a baby and went to opposite sides of the car. Cami lifted Jasmine’s carrier
onto the back seat and pulled out from the car again to rummage through her
notes?” Mark quipped, watching her unfold the paper she’d retrieved.
manufacturer’s installation instructions,” she told him smartly, propping it up
on the seat. “Petra warned me these things could be tricky.”
Her eyes came
up, met his, and hooked onto the warmth she saw there. The moment stretched,
then broke as Mark murmured, “Thanks.”
nothing to thank me for. The instructions came with the packaging.” She leant
over Jasmine, dropping her gaze to the diagram as she pulled the rear seat belt
completely slack and rested one hand between the two infant seats to support
came over hers. The merest flutter of awareness took her by surprise.
She peered up
and found him looking deep into her eyes again. But differently. It was the
same look he’d had that day so very long ago, the day he’d left for Oxford.
Kind, concerned, nostalgic, sad. For a split second her pulse paused, time
stopped, and an illogical message flitted through her brain. Was this another
“I mean for
everything,” he said softly. “Thank you for the last four months. For today.
I—we couldn’t have done it without you.”
thank me,” she returned, more abruptly than she’d intended.
help it. Her memory was playing tricks with her head and raising alarms where
none should be.
None of this,
however, was Mark’s fault, and when she saw the question forming on his brow
she added in a soothing tone, “It’s what friends do for each other.”
cleared. Keeping her locked down with those emotion rich eyes, he moved his
hand to briefly trail a thumb down her cheek.
didn’t seem so mere anymore, building in intensity as it wobbled through her.
His eyes were so dark, the colour of melted chocolate. His pure male scent
invaded the confined space and infiltrated all her senses for the longest
uninterrupted moment. If only...
her eyes from his and bit down hard on her lower lip. What was happening to
her? For goodness sake, she was acting as if a passing fairy had suddenly
decided to shower her with potent pheromones bagged from the past.
She felt his
eyes still on her, and knew she had to look up again and pretend everything was
normal. No, not pretend. Everything was normal.
smiling. A broad flash of white across his angular jaw, still smooth from his
morning shave. She knew that in a couple of hours a shadow would fall in the
valley of his cheeks and edge further definition to the granite curves of his
jaw; she knew he’d shave again later in the day if he had a formal evening
affair. Sometimes it felt as if she knew too much, and not nearly enough.
him from her heart, hadn’t she?
Then why did
it feel as if parts of him were still inside right now, chipping and chopping
and demanding attention?
been there for me,” Mark continued, “and I might take that for granted most
times, but I do appreciate it. Appreciate you.” His expression remained
serious. He looked older than his twenty-nine years; the last three months had
staked worry lines above his brow, cut crowfeet into his temples, added a
lifetime of knowledge to his eyes. “For being there.”
be there for you,” she assured him.
“And I for
you.” Their eyes held for a few seconds longer, then the moment passed and Mark
ruffled his hand over the top of her hair with a low chuckle before turning to
strap Carmen in.
Cami felt as
if she needed a break, a cup of tea and a good few hours to analyse the tremor
that had passed through her at his touch, the fuzzy awareness still warming
her, but obviously now was not the time or the place. Instead, she concentrated
on fitting the seatbelt into the infant seat and reached a quick conclusion:
this was all one big misunderstanding.
never had read those diaries last night, should never have churned up emotions
dead and buried. She should never have been so smug.
Too much had
Mark had his
own children now.
He was free.
For the first
time since Julie had passed away, they were both relaxed, happy and even
eagerly looking toward tomorrow.
and plucked at the seat belt, and finally achieved something that looked close
enough to the diagram. Leaving Mark to fight his own battle, she slid from the
car and rested her elbows on the roof.
allow her past to sneak up on her and hijack her future. Because if her past
thought itself so clever at having resolved all those little problems, Cami
knew better. Mark had never been more out of bounds. Julie had made sure of
that when she’d persistently and maliciously sown those seeds of doubt.
offer degrees on ‘The Hidden Tortures of Parenting’,” Mark muttered irritably
as he shut the back door softly, adding when he caught sight of her face,
“Why so glum?”
yourself,” she said. “Grab Bruno and let’s go.”
dipped from sight. He came back up. “I don’t think he’ll fit in the back.”
down. She could just about squeeze between the infant seats, but Bruno was,
even for a bear, on the pudgy side. A smile lit her mood. “He’ll have to sit up
front with you.”
kidding.” Mark lugged the bear to the back of the car and flipped open the
her humour improving rapidly when she saw the packets of disposable nappies
stacked from one side to the other. Men! “A bit last moment, wouldn’t you say?”
“Betty thought it might be wise to pick up a little extra on my way over this
and continued staring at the nappies as if he could mentally teleport them to
Long Fenwick and get his boot space back.
“Well, the way
I see it, you get Bruno or Bruno. Take your pick.” She gave him her best sad
face, just in case he had any doubts as to how much she was enjoying herself.
A few minutes
later they were on their way, Cami wedged in between the twins and Bruno
strapped into the passenger seat.
met hers in the rear view mirror. “No need to look so cheery. Your turn will
And it did.
Long Fenwick was less than half an hour from Chiswick, up the M25 to exit 16
and then onto the M40 for just a couple of miles. At nine thirty on a Monday
morning, however, they were still stuck on the M25 an hour later and not going
first. She opened her eyes, pale blue and watery, and Cami was just about to
stroke her plump cheek when the little cherub let out a piercing scream.
out,” Mark barked after fifteen minutes of non-stop wailing.
Cami glared at
his image in the rear view mirror, but Mark’s eyes were back on the road as the
traffic stop-started once again. She unzipped the bag at her feet and pulled
out the emergency supplies, then reached forward between the front seats to
plug the bottle warmer into the car lighter.
down at her as she looked up from her awkward angle.
said, smiling comically, hoping to ease some of the building stress. Babies
picked up on these things, apparently.
breath, however, fanned her cheeks, and a different kind of stress began to
mount the walls of her chest, making it almost impossible to breathe. Long
black lashes dipped across sensually brown eyes. Healthy, golden skin mapped
valleys and ridges in all the right places, and if there were a few extra
roads, it somehow worked for rather than against.
When had he
become so totally, impossibly, male? Good looking was one thing. He’d always
had that. Charm another. That had been her downfall all those years ago. But
He was referring
to the fact that she’d unbelted herself in order to push forward, but her mind
took it one step further and the answer was a resounding ‘No!’ It would take a
jury less than a minute to condemn her. With a desperate, silent groan, she
jiggled her brows and put on a brave grin. “I dare the cop that stops us.”
expression melted as his lips picked up a slow quiver that fed fresh tingles
through her. She couldn’t help it. She very nearly groaned aloud from pure
What could she
do? His lips were just there... hers were just there... heat coiled in the
depths of her tummy... she’d always wondered... the slightest movement on
right. Like that’s gonna happen.
She turned her head and fixed her eyes on the dashboard, promptly removing her
lips from all that temptation. She’d be fine. She just needed to grab a couple
of hours alone and figure out what was happening. Then she could work on a plan
to put a stop to it.
the warmer in, balanced it between Bruno’s legs, and shot back determinedly
into her seat.
Had Julie been
Was I the
thorn in their otherwise perfect marriage?
A rock of
panic lodged in her throat. Cami sucked in a deep breath, struggling for
balance. She hadn’t wanted Mark for herself. She’d already dealt with all the
issues. Had even prayed thanks to God that nothing had ever happened between
Mark and herself. That she’d never know the pain of having to leave him.
slowly. The panic receded. There wasn’t a bone in her body that had resented
When Julie had
hinted at their friendship being inappropriate, she’d made an effort to never
see Mark alone. He’d still phoned every couple of days, but she’d drawn the
line at asking him not to.
Then Julie had
started on the wishy-washy barbs that nevertheless held clear warnings:
never take Mark from me.
Unfair and unwarranted.
He made his
choice years ago and it wasn’t you.
True, but irrelevant.
That Julie had
even felt the threat necessary, however, had caused Cami to withdraw from the
friendship even more. But how could she give him up completely? She’d known
Mark most of her life.
pain shooting up her wrists, Cami unfurled her hands, which had fisted tight
enough to crush bone. She’d done her best to address Julie’s concerns. She knew
she was innocent of trying to steal Julie’s husband, of even wanting Mark in
that way, married or single.
And she sure
as hell had no intention of proving Julie right from the grave.
that’s what one could call it, Jasmine decided to join the fun. Two screaming
babies were the perfect antidote to manic self-analysis. Cami adjusted blankets
to aid the feeding position, then grabbed a bottle in each hand.
The poor mites
latched on. They must have been starving. She exhaled long and slow into the
heavenly silence and rested her head on the back of the seat.
Mark said, meeting her eyes fleetingly in the rear-view mirror. “Say it.”
“There must be at least one “I told you so” on the horizon.”
for effect. “Gimme a minute to catch my breath and then I might even do the
The clouds had
finally stopped threatening and what had begun as a drizzle was rapidly working
its way up into a slashing downpour. Sated, the twins nodded off again and the
journey progressed smoothly until Mark was stopped by Long Fenwick’s only set
of traffic lights.
Mrs Brampton?” The elderly postmistress, and local gossipmonger, was crossing
the street, staring unashamedly from Mark to Bruno and back again from beneath
under his breath. “The entire village will think I’m an unstable half-wit by
Cami waved at Mrs Brampton, who was now standing on the opposite side of the
street, still gawking, braving the rain to make her disapproval clear with a
far-reaching scowl. “Hmm... Maybe.”
into Vicarage Street, taking them past the once-familiar houses. Cami stared
out the window, mesmerised by the giant elms lining the street, by the neat
two-storeys with their pruned hedges and three-foot wrought iron fences, by the
sense of déjà vu building a forbidden image in the recesses of her mind.
had moved down to Cornwall shortly after she’d graduated from Cambridge and she
hadn’t been back to the village since. Now, here she was, with
into his driveway with a pair of babies in the backseat.
certainly not prepared her for this.
As Mark cut
the engine, she looked across the front garden to the house next door, corner
window on the top floor, and shivered as a blast of emotion, so strong she felt
it might sweep her away, took temporary control.
seventeen again, her upper body hanging out the window, bursting from
excitement as she watched Mark’s taxi pulling up.
seventeen again, slumping down against the wall onto her butt, too numb to move
until well into the night.
Mark called out from the front.
Cami turned her attention from the window and gazed first at
Carmen, then at Jasmine. “Yes,” she murmured, “you’re home.”
Today's snippet is brought to you from How To Love a Princess because we all need a little bit of fairy tale in our weekend :)
At the far end of the
hall, he observed a woman descending the left branch of the grand stairway that
split from a wide landing. She wore a neat businesslike suit of dove grey that
nevertheless hugged her form seductively, her hair pulled back sharply from a
face that appeared proportional with typical classic beauty, her movement
graceful, reminding him of the swans on the Serpentine back in London. At the
bottom, she hesitated, her chin tilted up, her face turned directly at him. He
returned the stare, waiting for his vision to adjust to the indoor dimness,
contemplating her hesitation.
Then she was moving,
closer and closer, her face playing a trick more cruel and horrific with each
step she took. The brilliant blue eyes that had once prompted him to choose
sapphires over diamonds. The high curve of cheekbone, the elegant nose, the bow
of rose-pink lips, that stubborn chin.
He fought for air, unable
to draw his gaze from the vision, the spectre tormenting his sanity. Too many
nights of working straight through, too few decent meals, too many haunted
dreams…the explanations failed abysmally as she stopped before him.
That was all she said. And
how well he remembered the way his name fell from her lips. He stepped back,
shaking his head, gasping for each and every breath.
“No.” He shook his head,
taking unsteady steps back and back, until he was pressed against the door.
This wasn’t real.
None of this was happening.
The turreted fairy castle,
the primitive kingdom that didn’t even own a commercial airport, the swarm of
body guards, Catherine… Catherine de’Ariggo.
It wasn’t possible.
He spun about, turned the
giant iron ring on the door and fled outside into the brisk winter air. His
knees threatened to collapse. He put his back to the wall, cradling his bowed
head in his hands and felt himself being carried by a wave of panic.
But he wasn’t going
anywhere. And neither was his ghost.
“Nicolas? What are you doing?”
He raised his head to look
at her in the sharp daylight. She seemed so solid, so real, he reached out to
touch her cheek and instantly dropped his hand at the contact of warm skin.
“Who are you?” he asked hoarsely.
Catherine’s brows crossed
as she stared at him uncertainly. She’d rehearsed for many reactions, but this
one hadn’t been on her list. But no, of course he recognised her. He simply
hadn’t expected to see her here. “Are you feeling all right? You look a little
With shaky fingers, she grabbed
his arm, trying to lead him to the steps so he could sit. In the last few
minutes, from seeing him as she descended the stairway until now, her heart had
pounded fast enough to use up its lifetime of beats and suddenly she needed to
sit as well. After a moment’s resistance, he allowed her to tug him along and
he sank down beside her on the top step.
No sooner had he sat, than
he swung his head her way. “Catherine?”
She nodded thoughtfully. Could he truly be so shocked?
Had he not known whom she was when he’d promised Gascon that he’d come?
pallor of his skin was her answer. She was so accustomed to being attuned to
every mention of his name, living in her memories whenever duty allowed, she’d
assumed he would have automatically made the connection on the de’Ariggo name
alone. But why should he? He’d moved on with his life. He had no reason to
spare her a second thought.
Dark Matters, Book 1, is on tour this month and I hope you'll join in.
This is more of a blitz tour, so I'm not doing guest posts or interviews, etc, but I am giving away two $50 Amazon gift vouchers and one can never have too many books, right? So please pop by a couple of the stops to leave a comment.
I'm very pleased to announce that A Matter of Propriety and Parasites (Dark Matters: Book 2) releases today
Available at most online retailers including: Amazon Kobo
Victorian Steampunk / Paranormal Romance
Lily has embraced her destiny and shredded her reputation. She's done with straddling two worlds and losing in both. With so much at stake, her standing in society is the least of her problems. Or so she thought.
Demons walk among us...
Demons are infiltrating the London Court and cozying up to the Queen. Too late, Lily learns the price of throwing propriety to the wind. She must return to the influential circles of London and the stiff cuff of society. But with the pious Queen Victoria on the throne, that won't be possible until she salvages her reputation and the only way to do that is to marry.
Will she choose the dashing Scottish rogue, Greyston Adair, or the arrogant and powerful Kelan McAllister? Will the choice even be hers to make?
A marriage of convenience.
A practical arrangement.
A temporary rearrangement of her personal situation.
Writing, writing, writing my next book from Corkscrew Bay, Falling for Alexander. Here's a teensy snippet
Kate punched in the code to redirect the call to her phone and answered. “Corkscrew Weekly, good morning.”
“Morning.” The gravel baritone rumbled over those two syllables and down her spine to curl into her toes. “I’d like to speak to the senior editor, please.”
Kate blew out a long, shallow breath.
There was a sexy voice, and then there was sin. That voice belonged on a face with chiselled cheekbones and a hollowed jaw. On a tanned body rippled in lean muscle. Designer suits and Armani sunglasses. Dark brown hair mussed with a careless hand and sliding into the turn of a collar.
“Hello?” came the voice again, traced with accents of Italian.
“Um, speaking,” she said, fanning hot cheeks with her free hand. If Megan were here, she’d put this guy on speakerphone. “This is the senior editor.”
“Excellent. Then you’re responsible for approving that piece on the front page of the paper today.”
Her mind snapped to attention and her toes uncurled. For writing it. Approving it. Proofing it. “Whom I speaking to?”
“Alexander Gerardo, as your reporter so kindly announced to the whole damn world,” he said. “I don’t expect you to recall the paper or retract that article, but I’d like to make myself clear, Ms…?”
“Kate Hadley,” she drew out in a cautious tone.
A static pause took up the next couple of seconds.Was he writing down her name? What for?
This wasn’t The Godfather, she reminded herself, even if the mysterious Alexander Gerardo had a thick Italian accent to match the name. God, and she’d thought his voice sinfully hot.
To be honest, she still did, but now she was far less interested in fantasizing about the kind of face and body that went with that voice.
“Ms. Hadley, let me make myself clear,” he continued. “I don’t interfere with anyone else’s life and I’d appreciate the favour returned.”
She arched a brow at the wall opposite. “You should have thought of that before you bought our national heritage and shut it down.”
As I sit here this morning, finishing the edits on a final draft, I got to thinking... you know, easily distracted at all...how much story telling has changed.
I'll improvise on what a well known author once said. I don't recall exactly whom, and these aren't his exact words, and he was getting a broader point across rather than stating a pedantic fact, but it went something like: "Today I wrote two words. Tomorrow I'll get the order right."
Today, authors are not putting out 4 to 6 books a year by fretting over the turn of every single sentence, by striving for the perfect word with each and every stroke on the keyboard. They're opening their minds, stretching their imagination, bursting open their hearts and letting the wonderful mishmash explosion of their story pour out.
And we're loving it!!
Yes, I enjoy the wonderfully crafted story, where my eyes fall in love with the prose on the page.
But it's just as wonderful (maybe even better) to dive in with eyes wide open and forget to draw breath until I finally surface from an author's world.
And now, ahem, back to those edits...
Happy Easter weekend to those who celebrate and happy long weekend to the rest :)
Lady Lily has embraced her destiny and shredded her reputation.
She's done with straddling two worlds and losing in both. With so much at
stake, her standing in society is the least of her problems. Or so she thought.
Demons walk among us...
Demons are infiltrating the London Court and cozying up to
the Queen. Too late, Lily learns the price of throwing propriety to the wind when she must return to the influential circles of London and the stiff cuff of
But with the pious Queen Victoria on the throne, that won't be
possible until she salvages her reputation with a marriage of convenience. Or, as Lily prefers to think of it, a temporary rearrangement of her personal situation.
be high summer in the rest of Scotland and England, but one would never know
it, Lily thought as she stared out the carriage window. A drizzly breeze swept
in from the west of Glasgow and converged with the putrid smoke billowing from
foundries and forges, creating a saturated, smoggy grey blanket that hung over
the entire city. To her left, the River Clyde was a murky, unpleasant green
that didn’t encourage close inspection.
Lily snapped her gaze from the dismal surroundings. Her small,
involuntary shudder would have gone unnoticed by most, but nothing escaped
Kelan McAllister. Earl of Perth and Chieftain of the powerful McAllister clan,
Kelan seemed to possess a handful of extra senses and he’d been trained since
the age of four to act upon them with lightning speed.
Sitting across from her on the padded velvet bunk, he glanced up from the
leather-bound journal he’d been studying.
With that dark, dark blue gaze set on her, Lily felt the inclination to
shudder for an altogether different reason.
Kelan McAllister was a man who filled a room with his mere presence, and
that effect increased a hundred-fold in the cramped interior of the carriage.
His charcoal suit was exquisitely tailored to fit his broad shoulders,
impressive height and lean torso. His hair, black as a moonless night, scraped
over the sharp angles of his jaw to nestle at the collar of his shirt.
In another lifetime, he might have been quite handsome. But this lifetime
had carved a feral harshness into his features and hardened the hollows of his
jaw with fierce shadows. He was a compelling force of nature with the attitude
and bearing of an avenging angel.
“Did you see something more?” he asked.
By ‘see’, he meant inside her head. With the blood of a demon called
Raimlas flowing through her veins, Lily was effectively the McAllister demon
sniffer. Although not quite effective as she’d yet to exercise any measure
of control over her ability.
She shook her head at him. “I’m completely useless.”
“We wouldn’t be here if not for your vision yesterday,” he reminded her
in that refined drawl. Born and raised in Florence, there wasn’t a shred of
Scottish burr in the Scotsman.
Which inversely turned her thoughts to Greyston, every inch a Scotsman
down to his warm honey-rumbling-over-oats burr and unruly hair. She hadn’t
heard from Greyston since he’d blazed a trail through the Aether six weeks ago.
He was running from both the inner demons of his past and the demon blood
mingled with his own. The same demon blood pumping through her heart with a
visceral identity that set her hairs on end if she thought about it for too
Which she tried not to.
“It’s been six weeks,” she said, her voice tight with frustration. “And
in all that time, I’ve had only this one vision.”
The demon had taken on the guise of such a nondescript man…middle-aged,
of average height, blond hair and a plain, square face—not a single
distinguishing feature or mannerism she could describe to Kelan for a positive
identity. Which was why she’d had to leave the anonymity of Cragloden Castle to
venture to Glasgow with him.
“I recognised the building you described.” Kelan leaned forward, planting
his elbows on his knees. “That’s important information.”
“It is?” she chided. “I wouldn’t know, of course, because you never
actually tell me a thing.”
His brow creased. “You’ve had a lot to deal with, Lily, and it wouldn’t
do to overwhelm you.”
She rolled her eyes. “I want to be overwhelmed! Can you not
understand? I want to learn and know everything at once.”
Perhaps it had been naïve of her to think she’d be back in London before
the end of The Season, but at this rate, she’d die an old maid stuck away at
Cragloden Castle. “I’ve had another letter from Evelyn and it would appear my
aunt’s suspicions are roused. She’s demanding the address of the convent I’m not
cloistered in, Kelan. I don’t know how much longer Evelyn can put her off and
we’re no closer to learning how to focus my visions. ”
“Training you in defence techniques is my first concern.” He leaned back
in his seat again. “Impatience, you know, rarely yields a good result.”
“You have no sense of urgency! Greyston warned me. The McAllisters
strategise in terms of generations, not a single life-span.” She flung her arms
across her chest and took a moment to regain her composure. “I have only this
one life, and I don’t intend to give the whole of it to your demon cause.”
His gaze, already so intense, hardened. “I don’t recall casting you in
“Oh, for goodness sake!” She flicked aside the black gauze scratching her
forehead. A little too vigorously, perhaps, because the entire veil ripped
loose from her widow weeds disguise.
Thanks to her dear friend, Evelyn, London Society believed she’d been
cloistered in a highland convent these last six weeks. Having been spotted on
the 10:30 Perth-Glasgow Mainline would rather ruin that tale.
“I made my choice and I don’t intend to change my mind,” she said
quietly. “I will not give up until the last demon has been banished and the
Cairngorm Tear between our dimensions sealed.” She opened her eyes, peering at
him from lowered lashes. “Is it so very selfish of me to want that sooner
rather than later?”
He looked at her, a contemplative, brooding look that divulged naught of
his thoughts on the matter, and then the carriage drew to a lurching halt alongside
the curb and his attention turned outside.
Lily sighed. Conversations with Kelan McAllister were
like tramping through a marsh bog. One could wade for hours with absolutely no
Okay, I probably didn't need quite so many exclamation points, but I always love release day :)
Megan has always known Jack isn’t a settling-down kind of guy. But when passion finally broke their control, she had expected more than a one-night stand. Now he’s back, melting her in all the right places and tempting her to forgive and forget.
For The Guy
Short, spicy and honest. That’s the way Jack takes his relationships. One rule and three excellent reasons to keeps his hands off his gorgeous next-door neighbour. One mistake, one night of uncontrollable passion, and his best intentions are ruined along with their friendship.
Next Door “Megan’s alarm had gone off at six-thirty and, like an idiot, his body had immediately tuned in to the fact that she was waking up in bed less than two feet away from him. If not for a very flimsy wall, their headboards would be touching.”
Her temper was hot enough to heat hell up twice over by the time she’d
hopped the low hedge and bounded onto the porch. She ignored the chimes and
banged a fist on the door instead.
A moment later, the door opened.
There he stood, his hair a dark, dark brown and slightly mussed. Eyes the
same brown, trained on her and softened in amusement. He hadn’t bothered with a
shirt. Her gaze skittered over rippled muscle and concave abdomen to where his
sweatpants skimmed his hipbone. He hadn’t bothered with shoes either.
“What—” She jerked her gaze all the way back up six foot of gorgeous
male. Two day’s growth shaded his jaw. “What are you doing?”
“Sleeping.” He cracked a grin. “At least I was, until someone decided to
play musical chairs with my phone.”
He raised a brow at that someone.
Damn caller id. “It’s the middle of the day,” she pointed out.
“I flew in from Kenya this morning and drove straight here from
That was at least an eight-hour drive. “Why the hurry?”
“Maybe I had an itch for Cornish cream and scones.” He folded his arms
and leant a hip against the doorpost. “Why the twenty questions? Did you miss
The fight fled her blood, leaving her suddenly weary. “What are you doing
His grin faded as he looked into her eyes, long and deep. The kind of
look that made one want to lose yourself in. The kind of look that tempted one
to forgive and forget. “Let’s just say I came to check up on things.”
Heat crept up her throat. She stepped back, swallowing past a lump of
remembrance. “How long do you intend to stay?”
“For as long as it takes,” Jack said.
“As long as what takes?”
“Things.” He shrugged and the grin returned. “But you’re the one playing
tag with my phone. Building up the courage to ask me out?”
“Dreams?” he suggested softly.
Megan bristled. “I thought you’d gone and sold your half of the house
without even asking if I’d be interested in first option.” She turned and
stomped down the porch steps before she slapped that arrogant grin from his
“What kind of bastard do you take me for?” he called after her.
“The very worst kind,” she assured him with a glance over her shoulder.
I'm thrilled to announce that A Matter of Circumstance And Celludrones is now available at most major e-book retailers, including Barnes & Noble Amazon Kobo
and also available in paperback
Book 1 of the Dark Matters series: A Victorian Steampunk/Paranormal adventure with strong elements of romance... Lady Lily d'Bulier is prim, proper, and prefers to think of herself as pragmatic rather than timid. And avoiding life-threatening situations at all costs is just plain practical. But everything changes when Lord Adair tracks her down in London; searching for answers he seems to think she has. Greyston Adair is a blackguard and a smuggler, although British Customs will have to catch him red-handed to prove the latter. Fortunately, the dirigibles they float around in have never been able to get near his air dust. Hell is rising, One Demon at a Time... With Lady Ostrich hunting them, and the mystery of how their lives tie back to Cragloden Castle and the powerful McAllister clan, Lily has no option but to throw propriety to the wind and run off with Greyston to Scotland, away from the immediate danger and toward possible answers.