Sunday, 7 July 2013

New Release!!

My latest contemporary romance releases today :)

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.



Available now from Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble


Please enjoy an excerpt...


Prologue


The evening 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.

Her fifteen-minute journey turned into twenty, thirty, and each minute ticked inside her like a bomb.

Everything would be fine had become her makeshift mantra.

It had to be.

But Cami 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.

The young woman’s bright smile faded and her expression closed.

“Mr. Petersham 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?”

Cami was 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.

Something was wrong with one of the babies. Maybe both. She’d known it was bad from the sound of his voice.

But seeing 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 abandoned mantra.

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.

But now...?

She took a shaky step toward Mark, then another, and then he stirred, looking up at her with dull shock clouding his sunken eyes.

She stopped 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.”

He sounded stronger than he had on the phone, but the wretched sight of him more than made up the difference.

“Oh, Mark.” What was there to say?

Tears brimmed 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.

“What 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.

“It’s Julie.” Mark spoke so quietly, she had to lean in to hear. “Julie is gone.”

Cami frowned. What had his wife done now?

Julie had 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 spare
Mark the truth.

Cami hadn’t needed begging.

She’d do anything within her power to save Mark from that kind of hurt.

Her lips 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 eyes.

The air 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.

“Gone?” Cami whispered hoarsely.

His hands fisted at his sides. He took a deep breath. Released it.

“A cerebral 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.

Without 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.

They stood 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.

When he 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.

“You’re going to survive, Mark.” She gripped his upper arms firmly, forcing him to maintain eye contact.

“You’re going 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.”


Strength flowed into Mark.

Cami was his rock.

Always had been.

Tomorrow he’d fight the shock of losing his wife and find the courage to raise the girls on his own.

But for 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 would survive.

He wrapped his arms about Cami, pulling her close again, holding on tightly.

Just holding.

Tonight, he needed Cami to help him believe.




Chapter 1


May 20th
Mark kissed me today!!
On the cheek.
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.

She remembered 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.

He had written.

His monthly letter had arrived religiously, throughout the first two years anyway.

Cami tossed 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.

When she pulled the diary out and started flipping through it, a page doodled with red hearts and arrows stopped her.

June 2nd
Mark just 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.
I’m going 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.

The spiky 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.

Cami reached for her wine again and took a large sip without taking her eyes off the page.

June 3rd
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.

Cami turned 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 know.

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.

June 11th
Mark came 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 out.
Her name is Julie and apparently they’re in love. I suppose they must be. They’re engaged.

She’d sulked, plotted, fumed, researched and rallied for eight months. After all, the stats on broken engagements left divorces in the shade, and that was saying something.

And then 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.

Julie was 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.

Cami closed 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.

She hadn’t 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.

She could never give him the one thing he desired above all else.

Julie had given it to him, though, had given him the twins, a proper family, and in
Cami’s eyes that was the woman’s one redeeming quality.

Cami stopped 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.

Maybe it 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.

“Which is simply ridiculous,” she muttered crossly, tossing the diary onto the stack as she stood and stretched her cramped legs.

She’d learnt all she needed to know.

She could honestly say there’d been no heart soaring and/or skipping and definitely no death by adoration this time round.

She loved Mark.

As a friend.

That silly childhood crush had not returned.

Seeing Mark 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.




Chapter 2


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.

He turned, 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.

“Excited?” she asked, mainly to distract her thoughts from just how well that look did indeed suit him.

Great time to notice how divine Mark Petersham was.

Second time around.

“Nervous.” He winked, then chuckled. “And excited.”

“Same here,” Cami said, thinking how good it was to hear his laugh again.

Today they 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.

She touched 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.

And since when do you notice tiny details like that?

She gave herself a mental shaking and stepped back, leaving her hand to slide from his arm. “Where are the twins?”

“Greta and 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.

He flicked amused eyes up, his lips curling around suppressed laughter. “Super mom outfit?”

Cami shrugged. “I wasn’t sure—”

“They can’t sit up yet,” he teased unmercifully. “And crawling is a good three to four months away.”

“I know, you dolt. We read the same books.” Cami glanced down at her ready-steady-go outfit and laughed. “You know my motto.”

“Always be prepared?”

“It doesn’t hurt.”

Brown eyes lit up with long forgotten humour. “Oh God, you’ve drawn up a business plan, haven’t you?”

She ignored 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.

“You’re going 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 calm.

Her chin 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 childcare.

Cami had 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 routine and

Cami had to admit it made good business sense.

Life just worked better with structure. 

Mark was 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.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Cami slapped his arm, but a bubble of laughter escaped to betray her crossed brows.

Mark continued with his ludicrous predictions as they walked down the stark corridor, until a vaguely familiar, slightly tinny melody drifted from the nursing station. “Dare I ask?”

Cami smiled. “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 compliment.

Mark and Cami waited at the long counter just inside the doorway until the tune came to an end.

“Morning,” Marsha, the senior ward matron, whispered, signalling them to come closer. “Bruno seems to have put the babes to sleep.”

Cami’s gaze 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.

“Bruno?” Mark mouthed, one eyebrow shooting high the way it did when amusement battled with his belief system.

Marsha pointed 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.

“Bruno’s 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.”

“Out of control?” Mark bent over the twins, adjusting blankets that were already
perfectly snug. “As in two gurgles instead of the regulatory one.”

She punched 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.

Mark clicked 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 in.”

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 bag.

“You made notes?” Mark quipped, watching her unfold the paper she’d retrieved.

“The 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.”

“There’s 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 herself.

Mark’s hand 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 goodbye?

“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.”

“You needn’t thank me,” she returned, more abruptly than she’d intended.

She couldn’t 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.”

His frown cleared. Keeping her locked down with those emotion rich eyes, he moved his hand to briefly trail a thumb down her cheek.

That flutter 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...

Cami forced 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.

Mark was 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.

She’d released 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?

“You’ve always 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.”

“I’ll always 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.

She should 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 changed.

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.

Cami pulled 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.

She wouldn’t 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.

“Oxford should 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?”

“Speak for yourself,” she said. “Grab Bruno and let’s go.”

Mark’s head dipped from sight. He came back up. “I don’t think he’ll fit in the back.”

Cami dipped 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.”

“You are kidding.” Mark lugged the bear to the back of the car and flipped open the boot.

Cami followed, 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?”

He grimaced. “Betty thought it might be wise to pick up a little extra on my way over this morning.”

“A little?”

Mark shrugged, 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.

Mark’s gaze met hers in the rear view mirror. “No need to look so cheery. Your turn will come.”

And it did.

Theoretically, 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 anywhere fast.

Carmen stirred 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.

“Lift her 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.

Mark frowned down at her as she looked up from her awkward angle.

“Hi,” she said, smiling comically, hoping to ease some of the building stress. Babies picked up on these things, apparently.

His warm 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 this...?

Cami gritted her teeth.

“Is this legal?”

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.”

His scowling 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 frustration.

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 either side...

Yeah, 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.

She plugged the warmer in, balanced it between Bruno’s legs, and shot back determinedly into her seat.

Had Julie been right?

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.

Cami exhaled slowly. The panic receded. There wasn’t a bone in her body that had resented that marriage.

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:

You’ll 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.

Feeling the 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.

Thankfully, if 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.

“Go ahead,” Mark said, meeting her eyes fleetingly in the rear-view mirror. “Say it.”

“Say what?”

He laughed. “There must be at least one “I told you so” on the horizon.”

Cami sighed for effect. “Gimme a minute to catch my breath and then I might even do the dance.”

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.

“Isn’t that Mrs Brampton?” The elderly postmistress, and local gossipmonger, was crossing the street, staring unashamedly from Mark to Bruno and back again from beneath her umbrella.

Make swore under his breath. “The entire village will think I’m an unstable half-wit by nightfall.”

“Nonsense.” 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.”

Mark turned 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.

Her parents 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
Mark, turning into his driveway with a pair of babies in the backseat.

Time had 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.

She was seventeen again, her upper body hanging out the window, bursting from excitement as she watched Mark’s taxi pulling up.

She was seventeen again, slumping down against the wall onto her butt, too numb to move until well into the night.

“We’re home,” 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.”

68 comments:

  1. nhanceontario.ca.
    Insurance Bureau Emarketing, in the event done the right way, can become a superior insurance agency lead creation solution. Many times, less is usually more on the subject of eMarketing, governing extreme eMarketing tendencies on the subject of campaign volume, while getting a full throttle approach on the subject of high excellent, relevant content creation.nhanceontario.ca

    ReplyDelete
  2. franchise opportunities.
    Choosing a franchise option can start you up to and including whole new higher level of income in addition to freedom, but on condition that it's the suitable opportunity. Like any internet business opportunity, franchises is usually risky if you can't go with it with the suitable motivation. There usually are five ways to considering a franchise to guarantee you'll make the best option.franchise opportunities

    ReplyDelete
  3. Carpet Cleaning Tips.
    We get tried to feature every possible thought of cleaning your current carpet plus your carpet seems to be new yet again. No matter what number of tips many of us bring that you can clean your current carpet, you will certainly forget all for those who have a pour. We have a very quick reference to aid you.Carpet Cleaning Tips

    ReplyDelete
  4. Carpet Cleaning.
    If you would like to make money doing work for yourself and stay your very own boss carpet cleaning service is a straightforward business to find yourself in. When you set up a business you can find two important components that you might want, a product to offer and an individual who's ready to buy that.Carpet Cleaning

    ReplyDelete
  5. Victoria carpet cleaners.
    Speaking of vacuum clearer, in the modern day scenario, just about every household has got this machines. It can help families cleanse their dwellings. It is cleaning the painless and swiftly way. Have you wonder how has it been to live wthout using vacuum clearer Victoria carpet cleaners

    ReplyDelete
  6. Toronto Carpet Cleaning.
    Preserving your own carpet is about keeping this clean in between every expert cleaning. Whether you plan on having your house carpeted and/or, are simply looking for techniques to maintain your own rugs, the next suggestions can make maintaining your own carpet simpler.Toronto Carpet Cleaning

    ReplyDelete
  7. Carpet Cleaning Ajax.
    Well-maintained floorings add extra elegance to the room inside. But when dust plus dirt acquire, cleaning floorings becomes really hard. You is able to use floor and carpet cleaning chemicals so that you can effectively reduce dirt plus soil with the floors plus carpets. Carpet Cleaning Ajax

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am sure you see the trend here... Commercial Mortgage Financing can be used in practically any industry for any kind of commercial property. Speak with your Business Finance Broker when you are ready to invest in a Commercial Real estate opportunity. www.financetypes.us

    ReplyDelete
  9. Make use of a travel agent that provides travel deals for handicapped travelers. Booking plane tickets and rooms in hotels with journey agents that provide travel methods to disabled individuals is advantageous in many ways. They make sure they book for his or her disabled customers airlines as well as hotels which are disabled pleasant. They make an effort to offer providers and suggestions which will ensure their own clients journey comfortably. www.bestadventuretravel.us

    ReplyDelete
  10. One of the biggest competitions of today is staying fit. It seems like people nowadays want to lose weight instantly as if there is no tomorrow or it is as if it is a passport for the general population. Losing weight and staying fit is never easy. www.bestadventuretravel.us

    ReplyDelete
  11. The laws of nature are just as they treat every specie (and not only man) with equality. In a jungle, every specie gets its due share of food, air and water which enable them to live a dignified life without being dependent on any other creation. Nature makes no distinction between one specie, and the other as all species are the children of the same God. www.lawinformation.us

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am certain you begin to see the trend right here... Commercial Home loan Financing may be used in virtually any business for any type of commercial home. Speak together with your Business Finance Broker when you're ready to purchase a Commercial Property opportunity. www.mybusinessplan.us

    ReplyDelete
  13. You will see all styles and models of fashion blogs as being the internet is stuffed with them. It can take a look at the advantages of wearing lean jeans through boyfriend bluejeans or the best way pink takes the destination of dark colored plus many of the extras. Just like you go internet, you receives your fill of your latest popular trends as a result of fashion blogs. www.stylesbeautytips.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Real estate shareholders live in addition to die by means of their chance to add importance. With not any added importance, there usually are no gains. This applies with almost any business, but what makes real estate a really great business as well as a great investment decision, is the volume of ways you can contribute value and benefit from big gains. www.realestatevalley.us

    ReplyDelete
  15. Health fitness tips also recommend that vices should be stopped. Smoking predisposes one to vascular conditions such as arteriosclerosis and heart diseases. Alcohol consumption need not be eliminated but should be limited to 30 jiggers a day only. Alcohol still has health benefits such as vasodilation. These are just some of what Health fitness tips recommend www.healthyactivities.us

    ReplyDelete
  16. Insurance can be synonymous to a lot people expressing risks involving losses expected coming from a supposed car accident. Here, the price of your losses are going to be borne by the many insurers. www.insuranceguider.us

    ReplyDelete
  17. Discomfort heard this argument intended for spending far more now with quality just to save money in the future. But why not consider the impression your purchase has on the earth, shouldn't shopping ethically participate in the talk too? www.servicesexpert.us

    ReplyDelete
  18. Health fitness ideas also suggest that vices ought to be stopped. Smoking predisposes someone to vascular conditions for example arteriosclerosis as well as heart illnesses. Alcohol consumption do not need to be removed but ought to be limited in order to 30 jiggers each day only. Alcohol nevertheless has many benefits such because vasodilation. These are are just some of what Health fitness ideas recommend www.healthimprove.us

    ReplyDelete
  19. Traveling, for individuals with disabilities, is extremely hectic, particularly when they get to the airport terminal. They face the process of obtaining proper info and instructions. This is actually further aggravated through the huge number of individuals traveling as well as long lists. In international airports, there tend to be attendants which are supposed for carrying on the needs of these travelling along with disabilities. www.safetravelguide.us

    ReplyDelete
  20. I know you start to see the trend the following... Commercial Mortgage loan Financing can be utilized in almost any market for almost any commercial house. Speak along with your Business Finance Broker if you are ready to buy a Commercial Real-estate opportunity. www.financialgrow.us

    ReplyDelete
  21. You will find all forms and shapes of fashion blogs as the internet is full of them. It can talk about the main benefit of wearing lanky jeans over boyfriend jeans or how pink takes the place of black plus all the extras. As you go online, you will get your fill of the latest in fashion trends via fashion blogs. www.newsvillage.us

    ReplyDelete
  22. You will find all forms and shapes of fashion blogs as the internet is full of them. It can talk about the main benefit of wearing lanky jeans over boyfriend jeans or how pink takes the place of black plus all the extras. As you go online, you will get your fill of the latest in fashion trends via fashion blogs. www.newsvillage.us

    ReplyDelete
  23. You can find all kinds and forms of fashion blogs because internet is brimming with them. It can mention the luxury of wearing lanky jeans around boyfriend skinny jeans or precisely how pink takes the best place of dark-colored plus the many extras. Because you go on-line, you is certain to get your fill in the latest popular trends through fashion blogs. www.onlinefashionshop.us

    ReplyDelete
  24. Real estate buyers live and also die simply by their power to add benefit. With simply no added benefit, there are usually no income. This does work with virtually any business, but what makes real estate this kind of great business plus a great purchase, is how many ways you can value and make the most of big income. www.landproperty.us

    ReplyDelete
  25. CWere you thinking with regards to remodeling your current home? Understand that you may achieve your current goal and not using a giant price. Small changes introduced in nearly all room, including the outdoors on the town can make the many difference. www.thebudgetdecorator.us

    ReplyDelete
  26. xReal estate individuals live plus die by way of their capability add cost. With virtually no added cost, there will be no sales. This very well with every business, but why is real estate this sort of great business including a great choice, is the sheer numbers of ways it's fine to use value and cash in on big sales. www.insuranceadvice.us

    ReplyDelete
  27. You can see all creates and shapes and sizes of fashion blogs for the internet is jam packed with them. It can converse about the luxury of wearing slim jeans across boyfriend shorts or ways pink takes the position of schokohäutige plus lots of the extras. Simply because go via the internet, you becomes your fill for the latest popular trends with fashion blogs. www.servicesdealer.us

    ReplyDelete
  28. Most likely you view the trend in this article... Commercial House loan Financing can be employed in pretty much any marketplace for virtually any commercial property or home. Speak with all your Business Finance Broker while you are ready to invest in a Commercial Real estate investment opportunity. www.businessterms.us

    ReplyDelete
  29. Travel's importance is actually underestimated by lots of people. Travel isn't just fun, enjoyable and pleasant. With the current life styles and function conditions, travel is becoming more than a choice. It is a lot more than just having a good time. www.cheaptraveldeals.us

    ReplyDelete
  30. Health fitness suggestions also advise that vices needs to be stopped. Smoking predisposes anyone to vascular conditions for instance arteriosclerosis and also heart conditions. Alcohol consumption will not need to be eradicated but needs to be limited to be able to 30 jiggers per day only. Alcohol nonetheless has health improvements such since vasodilation. These are just some of what Health fitness suggestions recommend www.idealhealthfitness.us

    ReplyDelete
  31. Read you be conscious of the trend at this point... Commercial Bank loan Financing can be utilised in basically any community for any sort of commercial real estate. Speak in your Business Finance Broker while you're ready to buy a Commercial Properties opportunity. www.financebenefits.us

    ReplyDelete
  32. You'll find all varieties and styles of fashion blogs because the internet is packed with them. It can speak about the main advantage of wearing slim jeans above boyfriend denims or just how pink takes the spot of african american plus every one of the extras. When you go on the web, you are certain to get your fill with the latest in fashion trends by means of fashion blogs. www.currentfashiontrend.com

    ReplyDelete
  33. Real estate traders live as well as die through their capability to add worth. With absolutely no added worth, there tend to be no earnings. This holds true with any kind of business, but why is real estate this type of great business along with a great expense, is the amount of ways you can include value and profit from big earnings. www.commercialsproperty.us

    ReplyDelete
  34. Are you thinking concerning remodeling the home? Take into account that you can frequently achieve the goal with out a giant expenditure. Small advancements introduced in virtually every room, including the surface of your home can make every one of the difference. www.houseInnovations.us

    ReplyDelete
  35. The truth is that We can sit these today and even write what you deserve to be hunting for in business trends and be able to a 365 days from at present, write the exact same sort in article through different ideas to keep abreast of as business and even society evolve. www.theservicesexperience.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. Health fitness guidelines also advice that vices must be stopped. Smoking predisposes you to definitely vascular conditions including arteriosclerosis along with heart ailments. Alcohol consumption don't need to be taken away but must be limited for you to 30 jiggers every day only. Alcohol even now has benefits such while vasodilation. These are are just some of what Health fitness guidelines recommend www.healthcarecentre.us

    ReplyDelete
  37. Are you currently thinking regarding remodeling your own home? Remember that you could achieve your own goal with no giant cost. Small enhancements introduced in nearly every room, including the outside of the home can make all of the difference. www.selecthomeadvisor.us

    ReplyDelete
  38. Health fitness points also propose that vices need to be stopped. Smoking predisposes that you vascular conditions like arteriosclerosis in addition to heart disorders. Alcohol consumption does not need to be taken out but need to be limited to help 30 jiggers daily only. Alcohol however has health advantages such seeing that vasodilation. These are just some of what Health fitness points recommend www.healthcareaffect.us

    ReplyDelete
  39. Just about everyone has heard the particular argument regarding spending a lot more now about quality to save lots of money afterwards. But think about the influence your purchase has on the planet, shouldn't shopping ethically engage in the debate too? www.eventsshopping.us

    ReplyDelete
  40. There are actually all documents and forms and sizes of fashion blogs being the internet is heaped with them. It can go over the main advantage of wearing thin jeans finished boyfriend a pair of jeans or the simplest way pink takes site of charcoal plus the whole set of extras. Whenever you go over the internet, you could get your fill of this latest in fashion trends with the aid of fashion blogs. www.serviceadvisories.com

    ReplyDelete
  41. Health fitness recommendations also suggest vices really should be stopped. Smoking predisposes want you to vascular conditions just like arteriosclerosis plus heart health conditions. Alcohol consumption needn't be wiped out but really should be limited so that you can 30 jiggers on a daily basis only. Alcohol continue to has rewards such when vasodilation. These are are just some of what Health fitness recommendations recommend www.healthifitness.us

    ReplyDelete
  42. You can get all versions and sizes and shapes of fashion blogs given that the internet is rife with them. It can consider the benefit of wearing skinny jeans throughout boyfriend tight pants or skirts or the correct way pink takes spot of black colored plus the extras. Whilst you go web based, you get your fill belonging to the latest popular trends using fashion blogs. www.globenewscenter.us

    ReplyDelete
  43. You will discover all types and designs of fashion blogs since the internet is filled with them. It can discuss the benefit of wearing thin jeans more than boyfriend denim jeans or exactly how pink takes the area of dark plus all of the extras. While you go on the internet, you can get your fill from the latest popular trends by way of fashion blogs. www.fashionlabel.us

    ReplyDelete
  44. One can find all methods and figures of fashion blogs when the internet is complete with them. It can focus on the advantage of wearing slender jeans about boyfriend pants or the way in which pink takes the location of ebony plus most of the extras. As you may go on line, you will receive your fill within the latest in fashion trends by fashion blogs. www.theworldnews.us

    ReplyDelete
  45. I know that you read the trend these... Commercial Loan Financing should be considered in just about any trade for some kind of commercial premises. Speak with each of your Business Finance Broker if you end up ready to get a Commercial The property market opportunity. www.mybusinessmanager.us

    ReplyDelete
  46. The laws associated with nature are simply as these people treat each and every specie (and not just man) along with equality. Inside a jungle, each and every specie will get its because of share associated with food, air as well as water that enable these phones live the dignified life without having to be dependent on every other creation. Character makes absolutely no distinction in between one specie, and also the other because all species would be the children from the same Lord. www.equallaw.us

    ReplyDelete
  47. Health fitness hints also counsel that vices has to be stopped. Smoking predisposes to vascular conditions which include arteriosclerosis together with heart medical conditions. Alcohol consumption should not be taken off but has to be limited that will 30 jiggers each and every day only. Alcohol also has health and fitness benefits such mainly because vasodilation. These are just some of what Health fitness hints recommend www.healthandfoodideas.com

    ReplyDelete
  48. discomfort heard this argument intended for spending far more now with quality just to save money in the future. But why not consider the impression your purchase has on the earth, shouldn't shopping ethically participate in the talk too? www.aboutfinancenews.com

    ReplyDelete
  49. The truth is that I will sit right here today as well as write what you need to be searching for in business trends after which a 12 months from right now, write exactly the same sort associated with article along with different tips to keep close track of as business as well as society develop. www.expertsbusinessadvice.com

    ReplyDelete
  50. You'll discover all sorts and patterns of fashion blogs for the reason that internet is rich in them. It can look at the main benefit of wearing skeletal jeans in excess of boyfriend trousers or the way pink takes the site of black color plus each of the extras. Since you go on the net, you could possibly get your fill on the latest in fashion trends by using fashion blogs. www.latestfashiontrends.us

    ReplyDelete
  51. The reality is that I am able to sit in this article today in addition to write what you long for to be in search of in business trends then a season from at this point, write identical sort connected with article having different suggestions for be mindful of as business in addition to society advance. www.onlineservicecentre.com

    ReplyDelete
  52. Most of us have heard the actual argument with regard to spending much more now upon quality in order to save money later on. But how about the effect your purchase is wearing the globe, shouldn't shopping ethically participate the dialogue too? www.shoppingworld.us

    ReplyDelete
  53. Travel will give you something to count on... to organize... to review for... and later to share. You will bring home experiences. Life might get somewhat monotonous when you let the item, particularly when you finally retire whilst your work lifetime ends. Anticipation might be priced at at least approximately the excursion itself along with the memories of which follow this trip. www.topstoriesus.us

    ReplyDelete
  54. Health fitness strategies also recommend that vices should really be stopped. Smoking predisposes you to vascular conditions which includes arteriosclerosis and even heart problems. Alcohol consumption don't have to be done away with but should really be limited to help you 30 jiggers 24 hours only. Alcohol always has what are the benefits such simply because vasodilation. These are are just some of what Health fitness strategies recommend www.healthafitness.us

    ReplyDelete
  55. Will you be thinking in relation to remodeling ones home? Remember you might achieve ones goal with not a giant purchase. Small upgrades introduced in every room, including the outer entrance can make each of the difference. www.loxuryhome.us

    ReplyDelete
  56. Travel provides you with something to anticipate... to get ready for... to research for... and later to talk about. You brings home tales. Life could possibly get somewhat monotonous should you let this, particularly once you retire as well as your work existence ends. Anticipation may be worth at least around the journey itself and also the memories which follow the actual trip. www.travelandadventure.us

    ReplyDelete
  57. Health fitness tips and hints also suggest that vices could be stopped. Smoking predisposes people to vascular conditions along the lines of arteriosclerosis not to mention heart sicknesses. Alcohol consumption does not have to be got rid of but could be limited towards 30 jiggers a full day only. Alcohol even so has health rewards such for the reason that vasodilation. These are just some of what Health fitness tips and hints recommend www.healthfitnesstogether.com

    ReplyDelete
  58. Seen you are aware of the trend in this case... Commercial Home owner loan Financing are available in very nearly any market place for any variety of commercial building. Speak utilizing your Business Finance Broker remember when you are ready to invest in a Commercial Realty opportunity. www.bestfinanceideas.com

    ReplyDelete
  59. More than likely you understand the trend below... Commercial Home finance loan Financing works extremely well in nearly any sector for just about any commercial residence. Speak using your Business Finance Broker when you find yourself ready to get a Commercial Real estate property opportunity. www.businessplanning.us

    ReplyDelete
  60. You will find all forms and shapes of fashion blogs as the internet is full of them. It can talk about the advantage of wearing skinny jeans over boyfriend jeans or how pink takes the place of black plus all the extras. As you go online, you will get your fill of the latest in fashion trends via fashion blogs. www.latestfashionz.us

    ReplyDelete
  61. xReal estate individuals live plus die by way of their capability add cost. With virtually no added cost, there will be no sales. This very well with every business, but why is real estate this sort of great business including a great choice, is the sheer numbers of ways it's fine to use value and cash in on big sales. www.friendlyrealestate.us

    ReplyDelete
  62. Have you been thinking about remodeling your home? Keep in mind that you can often achieve your goal without a giant expense. Small improvements introduced in almost every room, including the exterior of the house can make all the difference. www.homesrenovation.us

    ReplyDelete
  63. Real estate option traders live together with die by just their capacity add valuation. With hardly any added valuation, there happen to be no proceeds. This well said with all business, but what makes real estate an extremely great business in addition to a great financial commitment, is numerous ways it is possible to value and profit from big proceeds. www.newservicespoints.com

    ReplyDelete
  64. We have all heard the argument for spending more now on quality to save money later. But what about the impact your purchase has on the world, shouldn't shopping ethically be part of the discussion too? www.myshoppingideas.us

    ReplyDelete
  65. Real estate businesses live not to mention die from their capability to add benefits. With certainly no added benefits, there are actually no business earnings. This for sure with any sort of business, but what makes real estate this great business and then a great funding, is the sheer number of ways you'll be able to value and take advantage of big business earnings. www.generalspot.us

    ReplyDelete