Tag Archives: #newfiction

Silently Watching On Midsummer’s Night

dark angel

An act of indiscretion had confined the dark angel to her lonely mausoleum for almost six months. Several impulsive acts of indiscretion; several acts of abomination that had stunned the close knit village community into deep, dark mourning.

After her missed opportunity on All Hallows Eve, desperation and hunger had got the better of her judgement less than a week later. As the family community had gathered round a huge bonfire for the annual fireworks display to commemorate Guy Fawkes, she had swooped down, snatched a young woman from the edge of the crowd and disappeared soundlessly into the night with her. One bite was all it had taken to silence her victim. In the sanctuary of her mausoleum, she had drunk deeply from young woman’s blood, realising too late that her victim had been pregnant.  With the bangs from the fireworks echoing through the night sky, the dark angel had let out a howl of anguish. Even for her, this had been one kill too far. A breeding female should never be drunk from. One of the golden rules of her lonely existence.

From a distance, she had watched the village mourn the death of the young mother-to-be; had stood silently in the shadows observing the girl’s funeral, noting that her grief stricken husband held two small boys, twins, by the hand as the coffin was lowered into the earth.

Her carelessness had angered her. Her frustration had driven her to seek more human blood to rid herself of the taste of the young woman’s hormone filled nectar.

On Christmas morning, she had feasted on an old man in the graveyard who had come to pay his festive respects to his late wife. His blood had been watery and tainted with the prescribed medication that had kept him alive.

Less than a month later, she had swooped down on a lone mountain biker, who had been roaming the trails above the village. There had been an exotic taste to his thick fresh blood, hinting at origins from warmer climes than this God-forsaken Scottish village. Yet again, she had feasted on one of the small community. How was she to have known that he was the son of a popular businessman, destined for sporting greatness? What did it matter to her? His young, virile blood had tasted divine and finally quenched her thirst for a while. The taste of the forbidden young mother-to-be finally banished by the taste of his exotic elixir.

 

Summer was always a lean time for the angel. There just weren’t enough hours of darkness to allow her to hunt. Her three kills in four months had drawn too much attention to the local area, meaning she would have to hunt further afield but it was too light to travel unseen. The local media were spreading tales that the village was cursed.

Patiently, she had bided her time in the cool darkness of the abandoned mausoleum until hunger pangs had gripped her. The evil in her soul was craving more and more human blood to sustain her. Writhing in agony on the floor of the tomb, she had resisted for as long as she could before having no choice but to risk an early evening foray for sustenance.

Under the cover of a cloudy midsummer dusk, she had spread her magnificent, black wings and soared over the village, heading towards the hills behind. Relishing being outside once more, she soared high over the narrow road for almost an hour before spotting three adult deer on the edge of the forest.

Lightning fast, she swooped to the ground and had her fangs deep in the neck of one of the deer before her slender, leather clad feet had touched down in the bed of pine needles on the ground. As she drank deeply, savouring the gamey taste of the doe’s blood, her nostrils picked up another familiar scent, a heady, ferrous musk mixed with sweat. Listening closely, she heard it – the gentle rhythmic thud, thud, thud of a runner approaching.

 

Ever since his encounter with the dark winged apparition at Halloween, he’d avoided running through the village, preferring instead to pound the forestry trails in the hills behind the house. The spate of sudden, unexplained deaths in the community over the winter months had unnerved him, as it had many of his friends and neighbours. He’d avoided venturing out in the dark but, now that summer was here, he was loving the long, light, warm nights.

Feeling a little guilty at upping the pace, he’d dropped his running buddy half a mile back, enjoying the freedom to run at his own naturally quicker pace. Since he’d sped up, the midgies didn’t seem to be biting so much.  He could feel them in his spiky hair and his eyebrows. As he ran, he pondered how fast a midgie could fly.

He rounded a bend in the trail and stopped in his tracks. The hairs on the back of his neck were on end; the birds had stopped singing in the surrounding trees. Everything was silent. A dead deer lay in the middle of the path, it’s throat recently ripped open.

Behind him, he could hear his friend approaching; hear his heavy breathing as he gave it his all to catch up. He glanced back to see if he was in sight yet but the path was deserted.

Turning back towards the deer, he let out a gasp.

A dark winged female, with waist length raven black hair, stood between him and the carcass. Her piercing green eyes were boring into his very soul.

He stood frozen to the spot as she stepped towards him.

The purple tipped feathers of her wings rustled softly as she moved gracefully to stand at his shoulder. Unable to take his eyes off her striking, alabaster features, the runner noted the fresh blood at the corner of her mouth.

She reached out a long, slim hand with long, pointed, purple nails and traced her finger tip around the outline of the tattoo on his upper arm.

His heart was pounding out of his chest.

Closing his eyes, he felt her breath on his neck.

 

Thud. Thud. Thud.

 

“There you are!” gasped his running buddy. “You trying to kill me with that pace, mate?”

He opened his eyes. The dark angel was gone. The deer carcass had vanished. Turning to face his friend, he muttered, “Sorry. Just needed to stretch my legs for a bit.”

“Hey! You’re bleeding!” exclaimed his breathless friend. “You ok?”

“Bleeding?”

“Yeah. It’s running down your neck.”

Reaching up with a trembling hand, he felt the sweaty skin at the side of his neck. Sure enough, his fingertips came away covered in fresh blood.

“Shit. Must have caught a branch back there.”

“Must have been a thorny one. That looks like a puncture wound,” stated his friend. “Come on. Let’s get you home and get that cleaned up. It looks nasty.”

Together they set off at a leisurely pace along the trail towards the housing estate.

 

High up in the trees, the angel looked down on the scene. Thwarted again but at least this time she’d been able to savour a taste of a meal yet to be enjoyed. Running her tongue over her fangs, she sighed as she lingered over the final drop of his divine blood.

 

 (image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

The Soul Searcher II

With her heart pounding in her chest, she stared at the long-haired stranger in disbelief; with her heart racing, she felt herself flush scarlet as she noted how hot he looked.

Feigning anger, she drew herself up to her full height of five foot three and demanded, “What in the hell are you doing in my garden?”

“Enjoying the view,” he replied casually, noting her petite figure and the curve of her breasts. “And waiting for you.”

“You’re trespassing!”

“Technically, you are correct,” he agreed without showing any signs of moving from his reclined position on the bench. “Stunning view by the way, Anna.”

“How do you know my name?” she asked sharply, instantly feeling stupid. Of course, he knew her name! He had read into her soul back at the coffee shop. This stranger knew more about her than she was comfortable with.

He raised one dark eyebrow at her and smiled. Despite herself, she felt her heart skip a beat.

“You really need to learn to shield those thoughts, Miss Maitland,” he chastised warmly.

Staring awkwardly down at her feet, Anna confessed, “I don’t know how to.”

Getting gracefully to his feet, her uninvited guest said, “I can teach you. It’s easy once you know how. Now, you inadvertently mentioned a chicken casserole. It would be a shame for the wine to go to waste.”

“I don’t see any wine,” countered Anna, looking round for signs of a bottle.

Suddenly, she picked up on a thought from her guest and her eyes flew towards the beach. Sure enough, nestled between two small rocks, just covered by water, lay two bottles of wine.

“Two bottles? Are you trying to get me drunk?” she asked, the icy edge to her tone melting somewhat.

“Not at all. They were on offer. I can’t resist a good deal,” he said as he took a step towards her. “I’m Jarrod, by the way. Jarrod De La Cruz to be exact.”

“Fancy name.”

“Spanish ancestry,” he explained with another heart melting smile. “Now, can we talk over dinner?”

Silently, Anna surveyed him, sub-consciously probing his mind in an effort to determine if she was in danger.

“I won’t harm you,” promised Jarrod. “On my grandmother’s life, I won’t touch you.”

“Fine,” she relented, as her heart sang with joy. “Fetch the wine and come in.”

 

The kitchen of the small cottage was surprisingly spacious. It was one of Anna’s favourite rooms in the house, largely because of its picture window views over the beach towards the river beyond. A tantalising aroma of chicken casserole filled the air, adding to the warm homely feel to the room. While she waited on Jarrod bringing the wine up from the beach, Anna fetched two wine glasses from the glass fronted cabinet then turned to put two plates in the oven to warm. She had just set two places at the large pine table when Jarrod walked into the room.

“Sorry. I had to make a quick phone call,” he apologised. “Had to let the others know where I was.”

“Others? Those hairy guys from the coffee shop?”

“The very ones,” he said with a smile. “I told them I’d catch up with them tomorrow in Glasgow.”

Before she could reply, Jarrod added, “No, they’re not lying in wait to turn up here to rape and pillage you. Relax, Anna. They’re in an Indian restaurant in Paisley. And as for me, I’ve no intention of touching you.”

Her sixth sense caught the hint of the lie in that last sentence.

“So, what are your intentions, Mr De La Cruz?”

“Patience, Miss Maitland,” said Jarrod, opening the first bottle of wine and pouring two half glasses. “You might want to put the other bottle in your fridge or do I need to go back and put it in the river to chill some more?”

Obediently, Anna stowed the unopened bottle in her bare refrigerator then busied herself serving their meal.

“Delicious,” complimented Jarrod after the first few mouthfuls. “Now, how long have you searched souls untamed?”

“Pardon?”

“Your mind was wide open back there in the coffee shop. Shows lack of training. Who taught you how to read minds and search souls, Anna?”

There was a serious note to his voice that caught her by surprise.

“No one,” she answered honestly. “I’ve always been able to do it. When I was little, I thought everyone could do it.”

“You were born able to do it?” exclaimed Jarrod unable to mask his astonishment. “I thought there was something different to you. Tell me about it.”

It wasn’t so much a suggestion as a command and before she realised what she was doing, Anna had told her uninvited guest about the challenges of growing up, the torture of travelling to college on public transport as she was haunted by a cacophony of conversations, the mental cruelty of lectures where her mind followed every day dream of every inattentive student while she consciously tried to focus on the lecturer. She explained the immense relief and inner peace she had found when she bought the cottage and secured a job that she could do from the solitude of her own home. Understanding entirely, Jarrod nodded periodically as Anna told her tale.

“I feel your pain,” he sympathised warmly. “First lesson. How to shut out the noise.”

Anna stared at him open mouthed, “How?”

“It’s easy,” promised Jarrod. “Do you always wear that turquoise ring?”

Anna nodded.

“Focus on it. Focus on everything about it. The texture. The shape. The colour. The silver band. The silver setting around the stone,” instructed Jarrod. “Now, keep that focus but try to pick up my thoughts.”

For a few seconds Anna enjoyed blissful silence as she focussed on her mother’s turquoise ring. After about thirty seconds, she allowed her concentration to lift a little. Immediately, she could hear Jarrod musing about the colour of her underwear. Before she could shut him out again, he began to laugh.

“White lace works for me, Miss Maitland,” he teased as she flushed scarlet in front of him.

“That was cruel!” she protested with a smile. “Is it really that simple to shut the voices out though?”

“Yes,” assured Jarrod. “It takes practice to hold that degree of focus but you’ll soon get the hang of it.”

“Thank you.”

“Lesson two is just as important,” began Jarrod as he refilled their glasses. “You must learn to shield your own thoughts. Learn to preserve your soul from prying eyes.”

“I never suspected anyone was looking before today,” revealed Anna softly. “I didn’t know there were other people like me.”

“You’ve had a long, lonely journey, haven’t you?”

Anna nodded slowly.

“OK. Lesson two,” he stated. “You kind of need to cloak your mind. It’s another visualisation technique. This is harder. Takes more practice. There are a few ways to do it too so you need to experiment a bit.”

He paused to sip his wine.

“Imagine a thick, dense, fog then bring it down around you. Disappear into it. Lose yourself in it. Trust that nothing can penetrate it. Nothing can see you. Focus on it. Believe in it.”

Tentatively, Anna tried to imagine a foggy cloud around her. Her first few attempts were patchy and Jarrod easily managed to find a way into her mind.

Before she became too frustrated, he suggested an alternative, “Try visualising a mirror instead. The mirror side is pointing away from you. The mirror is reflecting everything away from you.”

Again, Anna experimented with the technique described only this time with greater success. It took Jarrod over five minutes to find a chink in her protection.

“Well done,” he praised as she finally let her shield shatter around her. “For a first attempt that was none too shabby. It’ll get easier with practice. Promise.”

“Thank you. I’ll work on it,” vowed Anna as she took a sip of her wine. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, but I reserve the right not to answer.”

“What brought you here?”

“There’s an obvious answer in there, Miss Maitland, and its parked outside,” he teased, playing with her a bit. “Business and pleasure though is a more accurate answer.”

“And the business bit?” quizzed Anna, trying to learn more about her guest.

“Well, I can’t say too much. I’m looking for something.”

“And the pleasure?”

“Apart from having dinner with you?” he teased with a smile. “The pleasure’s getting to ride with the guys I was with earlier. We’re touring around but I need to leave them in a couple of days.”

Jarrod paused for a moment then decided to take a risk, “You could help me out here if I find what I’m looking for.”

“Me? How?”

“Look after it for a short while.”

Alarm bells rang in her overly cautious mind. What if this charismatic stranger was a drug dealer? What if this parcel she was being asked to look after was illegal?

“Calm down,” he said quietly. “And did you listen to anything I taught you earlier?”

“Sorry,” apologised Anna. “But, can you blame me, Jarrod? This has not been the most conventional meeting or evening.”

“I guess not,” he said with a sigh. “I’m working under cover. Hanging with the boys is my cover. They genuinely are my friends, before you ask. My investigations and probing around have been quite fruitful today. I’m pretty sure what I’m looking for will be on the last ferry tonight. I plan on being at the ferry terminal to collect it. However, I need somewhere to keep it safe for a couple of days.”

“Under cover for who?” quizzed Anna, sensing he was being honest with her.

“I can’t say,” apologised Jarrod. “It’s confidential. I need to be in Glasgow tomorrow to catch up with the boys. We’re heading to pick up the owner of the package. If you could guard it for two or three days till I get back it would save me a lot of trouble.”

“Is it too big to take on the bike with you?”

“Not exactly. More like too fragile.”

“And I definitely won’t get into trouble with the police? No thugs are going to turn up here trying to steal it?”

“I promise you it’s safe. No police. No thugs. No one.”

Against her better judgement, Anna felt herself nod.

“Miss Maitland, I think I love you!” declared Jarrod smiling at her.

At the sight of his smile and those dark brown eyes, the last of her reservations melted. Something, fate perhaps, had brought Jarrod into her life and Anna felt compelled to go along with his plans. Swiftly, he explained that he’d leave around eleven, meet the boat and be back by eleven thirty.

“Where will you stay tonight?” asked Anna, realising that locally his options at that time of night would be limited.

“I’ve a tent in my rucksack. I’ll camp outside, if that’s ok?”

“Nonsense,” she heard herself saying. “I’ve a comfortable couch. You are more than welcome to sleep on there.”

“Only if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

 

Shortly before eleven, Jarrod rose to leave for the ferry terminal. While they had waited for the clock to tick round, he’d coached her on a few more basic ways to both use and shield their shared talent. When she had quizzed him on how he had developed the skill, Jarrod had explained that he’d developed the talent after a car crash when he was a teenager. The crash had killed his parents and left him in a coma for a week. When he’d come round, he discovered he could hear what everyone was thinking. With a catch in his voice, he’d confessed that’s how he had learned of his parents’ death. He’d read the mind of one of the nurses.

 

While he was gone, Anna cleared away the glasses and dinner dishes then ran upstairs to fetch a quilt and pillows from the airing cupboard. She left them neatly folded on the floor beside the couch, hoping that her guest would be warm enough overnight.

A short while later, Anna heard the distinctive roar of Jarrod’s motorbike, listened as it stopped outside then heard his footsteps on the path. He knocked at the back door before stepping into the warm welcoming kitchen.

In his arms, he was carrying a sleeping child.

Book Baby 3…birthing pains….

bonded-souls-final-version12

Two sleeps to go and nerves are creeping in….

Creeping? Who am I kidding? They are flooding in at 100mph!! The “what ifs” have started!

I’ve checked off the pre-launch To Do list and appear to have all essential bases covered.

1-      Upload and set up pre-order on Kindle

2-      Plan online launch party for 15 April 4-6pm and send out invites

3-      Sort out promo goodies

4-      Good Reads Giveaway set up – open till 17 April

5-      Proof paperback edition and approve

All ticked off….apart from No.5.

I think I’ve jinxed myself.

In my author’s note at the start of the book, I pass  comment that Book Baby 3 has been a “golden child.”

WRONG!! Oh, so wrong!!

It’s developed into a juvenile delinquent with a propensity for wandering off!

Let me back track slightly here.

A few weeks ago, I ordered my first paperback proof copy of Book Baby 3. I paid for expediated shipping and, as if by magic, less than a week later, I held the first proof in my hands. A surreal moment.

Cue over a week’s worth of proofreading and final tweaking. (Good job too as I picked up on two continuity errors among many other minor corrections to be fixed.) I also spotted an issue with one line on the back cover. It was ever so slightly squint but it stuck out like a sore thumb.

Cue another visit to Hell..sorry the dark depths of Photoshop.. to correct the alignment.

So far so good.

I uploaded the amended files and waited for the submission to be approved. The text file passed scrutiny with flying colours first time..whew! The cover file failed….then failed again. At the third time of asking, after further trips into the dark realms of Photoshop, it was finally approved.

Woo Hoo!!!

A fresh proof copy was ordered, again with  expediated shipping selected. Expected date of delivery was noted as 3 April.

The 3 April arrived….no book.

The 4 April arrived….no book.

The 5 April arrived and I finally managed to track it. According to the tracking info it was scheduled for delivery the next day. Happy days….or so I thought.

The 6 April arrived….no book. The tracking info had been updated though and kindly informed me that the parcel had been successfully delivered to West Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Some 3000 miles off target!

Once my initial wave of anger passed, I emailed CreateSpace to explain my dilemma and to seek a solution. Within 24 hours, I’d had the postage refunded, a promise of a fresh proof to be delivered, free of any shipping charges,  by 12 April and an apology for the error.

We’re all human. Mistakes happen. There was still time to get the proof and check it over before “B-Day” on 15 April.

By the evening of 11 April my sixth sense was twitching (seldom a good thing) and I checked the tracking info just to be sure that my proof was at least on the right side of the Atlantic Ocean.

It wasn’t.

It was on its way back to Kentucky due to an administrative error with a shipping invoice.

Deep breaths….more deep breaths…ok they didn’t help and the air was soon blue while I had a bit of a meltdown.

At this late stage there was very little to be done to correct the issue.

I slept on it while I waited for a response from CreateSpace.

Then I slept on it again…

Tonight, it was time to take a leap of faith and, at this point, I’m really hoping that it’s not one I’ll live to regret.

I’ve approved the paperback proof based on the digital proof copy..GULP!

I really didn’t have any choice.

So here we are, two sleeps away from “B-Day”….

Time to add No 6 to that To Do list

6-      Put champagne on ice

 

Oh, and, if you were the lucky resident of West Columbia, SC, USA, who received the mystery package last week from the mailman, I hope you take the time to read Bonded Souls. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that you can find it in your heart to leave a review on Amazon. Every star helps!

 

Amazon links for Bonded Souls 

UK link : https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

USA link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

Let’s Get This Party Started….

BS card 3

Finally, the proofreading and the editing are complete!  Woo Hoo!!!

The evil commas have been beaten into submission..I hope!!

Next on the To Do list is to “launch” said Book Baby on the unsuspecting world.

Party planning has never really been one of my strong suits so I’m dithering a bit here over the invites. (“What if no one comes?” whisper the voices of paranoia in my head.)

Book Baby 3 aka Bonded Souls is set to be released on 15 April. But, how to celebrate the occasion?

My current thinking is an “online” party.  A  small gathering of Silver Lake fans hoping for an insight into Jake and Lori with perhaps the opportunity to win a few freebies.

And here the dilemma continues!

I’m no expert at launching anything! What do folk want from an online book launch?

Help me out here, please!!!!

My current thinking is to host the event over two or three hours, offer a few freebies for “likes” and “shares”, post a few teasers from the book’s content,  perhaps “interview” the central characters or even some “Silver Lake fans”.  I may even allow the “stars” themselves to do a character takeover for a while.

Have any of you ever “attended” an online party to launch a book before? If so, I’d welcome your thoughts here. What worked well?  What perhaps didn’t work so well?

In the meantime, I’ve a party to plan…has  anyone seen my copy of “Party Planning for Dummies”?

A New Year Means New Goals And A Fresh Challenge …….

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I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions but, over the past few years, I have set myself a creative challenge or goal for the coming year.

The only problem with the goals that I’ve set for the past three years is that they have been ongoing.  These creative goals have so far resulted in two blog pages, two (almost three) book babies and a new rock star Instagram/Twitter fan page. My “free” time is diminishing rapidly!

This year, for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to keep it simple.

Completing, editing and publishing Book Baby 3, aka Bonded Souls, is my primary goal but, if all goes to plan, it should be accomplished by Spring.

That leaves me eight or nine months to fill…..drums fingers as she thinks…..takes a deep breath.

My second goal is to write the first draft of a new novel by the end of the year. GULP!

 Now, before fans of a certain Jake Power get their hopes up, it won’t be a Silver Lake book. Also for the sake of my sanity, I need a break from all things Silver Lake however……I’m not ruling out an overlap between the new novel and some of the characters from the Silver Lake tales. I’ve a couple of ideas floating around so we’ll see where they lead to.

On the Book Baby 3 front, editing and proofreading is underway and I’ve started my battle of wills with Photoshop, as I work on the cover design. I’m not quite ready to reveal it to the world just yet but let’s just say my book baby is no longer totally naked.

Well, the clock’s ticking, so, if I’m to meet these goals, I’d better get cracking.

What are your goals or challenges or resolutions for 2017?

image sourced via Google

credits to the owner

A little pre-Christmas Silver Lake treat from me to you

merry-christmas-and-happy-new-year-2014-1600x900-583

As regular followers of my ramblings will know, I’m knee deep in Book Baby 3. The first draft is almost typed up (technically it’s the second as the first is the handwritten one) The proof reading and editing and revising are underway once more (huge thanks to my Infamous Five- couldn’t do it without you guys.)

All going according to plan, Book Baby 3 aka Bonded Souls will be launched in Spring 2017.

As a little pre-Christmas treat, I thought I’d share a short excerpt with you.

Sorry, no spoilers. No plot give away. No hints of things to come other than the obvious one (well, its obvious if you’ve read the first two books in the Silver Lake series.)

I’d also like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for your support and kind words this year. It really makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Have a wonderful Christmas when it comes and may all your dreams come true in 2017.

Coral x

A little snatch of Bonded Souls, book 3 in the Silver Lake Series

Despite all the touring and travelling, Jake lay wide awake in the strange bed in his sister’s guest room. A glance at his phone informed him it was after midnight; his internal body clock has long since surrendered and given up trying to determine the time of day. He could hear one of his nephew’s snoring in the room next door. Reaching for his phone, Jake re-read his last message from Lori. “Sweet dreams, rock star. Love you L x”

With a smile, he laid the phone back down on the night stand. Only a few short hours until he would be reunited with her. After having Lori with him for two full weeks on tour, the last couple of days had felt empty without her presence. The final two shows of the tour had been incredible. In Zurich, the Swiss fans had filled the concert hall, but seemed more reserved than the other European fans had been. When they had reached Rome the following day for the final show, the Italian fans’ passion had blown the band away. All of them agreed that they had never heard such a loud crowd. The atmosphere in the venue had been amazing and Jake was genuinely sorry that Lori had missed it and the end of tour party that had followed.

His mind wandered to thoughts of the wedding and he ran through the music he had in mind plus his plans for a romantic dinner on Saturday evening. He had already booked a table at Lori’s favourite Italian restaurant and requested that her favourite champagne be waiting on them.

“The ring!” he suddenly thought. Where had he put it? Just as panic was about to sweep in, he remembered that Lori had both their rings.

Earlier in the day he had received messages from both his brothers and his dad promising to be in New York on Saturday. Knowing that his family were going to be there made him feel more than a little anxious. Although he had gone a long way to restoring relations with them, Jake still felt stressed at the thought of them all being together. He also felt guilty, knowing that Lori had no immediate family to invite.

With his mind still racing and no sign of sleep in sight, Jake slipped out of bed and crept quietly down to the kitchen to fetch himself a warm drink. His mother had always sworn that warm milk helped you to sleep. Trying not to make too much noise, Jake filled a mug with milk and popped it into the microwave to heat through. As the timer “pinged” a few seconds later, he heard the kitchen door open behind him and turned around to see Lucy standing there in her fleecy Pooh Bear pyjamas.

“Oh, it’s you,” she mumbled sleepily. “I thought it was one of the boys prowling.”

“Sorry,” apologised Jake, taking the mug from the microwave. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“Warm milk?”

He nodded as he took a seat at the table. “Can’t sleep and Mom always swore by it.”

“Yeah, she did,” sighed Lucy, fetching herself a clean mug from the dishwasher. “Mind if I join you?”

“Not at all,” replied Jake, sipping his milk. “Feels kind of weird being here. It’s like I’ve stepped into another life.”

“Not enough partying?” teased Lucy as she sat down opposite him. “I would’ve thought after the last month that you’d be glad to be able to relax for a while.”

“I am,” began Jake. “But it takes a few days to adjust after a tour. Plus, I’ve a wedding on my mind.”

“Nervous, big brother?”

“A bit,” he confessed, sounding almost shy. “I was lying in bed thinking about everything. Thinking about family. Stressing a bit.”

“And wishing mom was here to keep those guys under control,” finished Lucy quietly.

Silently, Jake nodded.

They sat drinking their milk for a few minutes, both of them lost in their own memories.

“I wish she’d met Lori,” said Jake, staring down into his empty mug. “Wish she’d seen the band come together. Wish she’d seen us play a show. Seen me get my act together.”

Reaching out to touch his hand, Lucy said, “I like to think she’s keeping an eye on us all. Sometimes I can hear her in my head. Hear her approval or disapproval. I know in my heart that she would be proud of you. Mom would’ve adored Lori. In a lot of ways, they are very alike.”

With a wistful smile, Jake nodded, “I still hear her too. Usually it’s when I’m writing late at night. I can almost smell her Chanel perfume as I hear her say to keep working on it. Hear her tell me when it’s time to call it a day and get to bed.”

“Speaking of bed,” yawned Lucy, getting to her feet. “I’m going back to mine. We need to be up early to get everything packed in the car. I’ve no idea where we are putting all your gear!”

“Sweet dreams,” said Jake with a yawn as he watched her head out the door and down the hall.

 

If you’ve missed the first two books in the Silver Lake Series, you’ve still. time to catch up before Bonded Souls is launched. The Amazon links to the books one and two are below:

Stronger Within https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01C0GS30K

image sourced via Google

 

 

A Little Sneak Peak ……

Time to bite the bullet and share a little something with you.  Instead of my usual weekly ramblings I’ve decided to let you have a little  sneak peak inside Book Baby.

Enjoy

Stronger Within- excerpt

With a long sigh of complete contentment, she felt the tension melt from her shoulders. Her first tentative steps onto the beach since last summer. It felt good to be home. It was late afternoon and she could feel the last of the spring sun’s warmth on her skin. She was also acutely aware of Mary’s eyes on her, as she watched from the sun deck. No going back now. After all, she had made it this far and it felt good to be outdoors. She adjusted the grip on her crutches, making sure the broad base plates didn’t sink into the soft sand and slowly headed across the beach towards the ocean. Once on the hard packed surface she felt more stable and her confidence began to grow. The waves rolled in gently beside her, but she was careful to stay beyond their reach. Tasting the salt on her lips, she smiled and headed along the shoreline towards the boardwalk.

The beach was quiet, with only a few families packing up after an afternoon at the shore. It had been unseasonably warm all week and everyone was making the most of the bonus sunshine. Small seabirds were playing in the shallows, rushing backwards and forwards twittering merrily. After about a hundred yards, she stopped to watch the waves, listening to their rhythmic flow. Hopefully by summer, when the water would be warmer, she would be able to enjoy swimming in the ocean again. Hopefully…

Oh it was good to be home; good to be back by the ocean.

Step by carefully placed step, she kept wandering along the sand towards town. She drank in all of her surroundings, the birds, the shells, and an occasional abandoned sandcastle. Lost in her own thoughts, she immersed herself in her private beach world.

It was the throbbing pain from her leg that brought her back to the real world. She had been stupid. She had walked too far. With panic and fear rising in her chest, she headed up the beach towards the boardwalk that ran parallel to the shore. If she could get onto firm ground and rest for a while, maybe she could recover enough strength to get back to the house. Mary had warned her to be careful, had warned her not to try to go too far on her first day out. The boardwalk seemed to be a mile away, even though it was, in reality, only a few short yards away. As the sand got softer her crutches dug further in, despite their broad base plates. The left one sank into a particularly soft patch. Suddenly her leg gave way and she crashed onto the beach.

For a few moments she lay there, tears welling up in her eyes, terrified that she was hurt. Gingerly, she manoeuvred herself into a sitting position.

“Shit!” she yelled out to the world. “Shit!”

Her crutches lay just within arm’s reach and she dragged them over towards her. Getting back to her feet was going to be a challenge. One that looked impossible in the current situation. There was no one in sight and Lori felt a sharp stab of fear in her chest. As she sat figuring out how she was going to get up without falling again, she was unaware that she was being watched from the shadows of boardwalk.

Jake watched her from the distant vantage point of the boardwalk. He had headed for the beach after the end of his shift at the pizza parlour. It had been a rough day and he had decided to walk off his black mood before heading to meet the guys. The last thing they needed was him turning up in a foul mood, stinking of tomato sauce and cheese. He had walked to the south end of the promenade and had just turned back when he saw the girl walking down on the sand. It was the sun catching the golden highlights in her hair that had attracted his attention. He never noticed her crutches at first. Watching from a distance, he had kept pace with her, then stopped to watch as she turned towards the boardwalk. When he saw her stumble he regretted not following his instincts and going down to walk on the sand with her.

“Shit,” he muttered. “Shit.”

There were no breaks in the fence nearby, so he jumped over the wooden palings into the dune grass and ran towards her, sand immediately filling his shoes. By the time he was close enough to call out to her, she was sitting up and looked to be unhurt. He almost turned away but decided against it and continued to walk down the beach.

“Hi,” he called out. “Are you ok?”

She was sitting rubbing her thigh and there were tears on her cheeks. Her pale complexion suggested she hadn’t been out doors much recently.

“Hi,” she replied with a weak smile. “I could do with some help.”

“Figured,” he said sitting down on the sand beside her. “Are you hurt?”

“No, not really. It was my own stupid fault. I came too far and wasn’t paying attention. I lost my footing.”

“Can’t be easy walking the beach with crutches,” he observed. “How far have you walked?”

“Less than a quarter of a mile. I was fine when I was down on the wet sand but I began to get tired. I was trying to get up to the boardwalk. I figured if I got onto solid ground it would be easier to walk back.”

“Let me guess,” observed Jake. “You’ve not been out much with those sticks?”

“No,” she confessed. “I haven’t.”

A single tear ran down her pale cheek. She reached up to roughly brush it away, embarrassed by her show of emotion, but only succeeded in leaving a smear of sand in its place. That was the final straw. Burying her face in her hands, she sat and sobbed. Months of pent up frustration flowed down her cheeks in a river of tears. Hesitantly, Jake put a comforting arm around her shoulders and held her as she wept.

“Hey,” he whispered softly. “It’ll be ok. I’ll get you home safely.”

“I’m sorry,” she sniffed. “I don’t usually sob all over complete strangers”

“Well, I don’t usually go around picking up fallen angels on the beach either.”

She smiled at his weak attempt at humour.

“I’m Jake by the way.”

“Lori,” she replied.

“Well, Lori, let’s get you up on your feet and up onto the boardwalk.”

“Thank you.”

Gauging that she didn’t weigh much, Jake handed her the crutches, told her to hold onto them then lifted her up into his arms. She was even lighter than he had guessed, so carrying her up the beach to the nearest pathway was no challenge. Once back up on the boardwalk, he sat her down on the first bench they came to.

“You sure you’re ok?” he asked, as he sat beside her.

“Yes, thank you. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t come along.”

“You’d have figured it out eventually.”

“I guess. Either that or Mary would’ve come looking for me,” admitted Lori, brushing sand off her jeans.

“Mary?”

“Yeah, she’s my housekeeper. It was her idea that I take a walk. I’ve been sitting on the deck all afternoon gazing out at the ocean. She told me I needed to venture off the deck sometime and that today was as good a day as any. She’ll feel so bad when she hears I fell,” she explained.

“Who’s going to tell her?” Jake said with a wink. “I’ll walk you back. You don’t need to tell her that you fell.”

“Thanks.”

Stiffly and with more than a hint of nerves, Lori got to her feet and repositioned her crutches. Her leg was screaming at her and she knew it would be hard to keep news of her fall from the ever watchful Mary. As they began to walk along the sandy boards Jake observed how carefully Lori walked – watched the determination in each step and sensed the pain that was etched into her pale face. She had the bluest eyes he had ever seen, but there was a deep sadness cast through them.

“Pardon my asking but what happened to you? I’m thinking the crutches are a very recent addition to your wardrobe.”

“And you’d be right,” she confessed, pausing to look up at him. “I had an accident just before Christmas. I broke my leg quite badly. I came down here about six weeks ago. This is the first time I’ve been out on my own since the accident.”

“And you thought a walk on the sand was the smartest place to start?”

Lori laughed. Jake thought it the most beautiful musical laugh and joined in.

“I guess not, “she giggled. “So what brought you out this far?”

“A shit shift at work. A foul mood.”

“And scraping a dumb blonde off the sand wasn’t in the plan?”

“No, but I‘m glad I was there to rescue you,” he admitted. That wonderful laugh and those sad blue eyes were having a strange effect on his heart. A weird but wonderful effect. It had been a long time since he had felt that way. “Where exactly am I taking you when we run out of boardwalk?”

“Fourth house past the end. If that’s ok?”

“Not a problem, li’l lady.”

They walked on in silence for a few minutes, the end of the boardwalk drawing closer and neither of them really wanting to reach it. Surreptitiously, Jake watched her steely concentration, drank in her fragile beauty and breathed in her light, floral perfume. It had been a very long time since someone had had such an impact on him. A long time since he had bothered to look, if he was honest with himself. Between each painful step, Lori subtly surveyed her rescuer. He would make a fantastic model for a life drawing. His long sun bleached blonde hair fell carelessly down over his shoulders, almost reaching the middle of his back. She guessed from the tiny lines around his twinkling hazel eyes that he was a little older than her and his height dwarfed her small frame. There was something genuine about him. A rough diamond found in the sand? A friend? Lord, she could use one!

Deciding to take a risk, Lori said, “When we reach the house, will you come in for a coffee or a beer? It’s the least I can offer.”

“I’m not sure,” began Jake glancing at his watch. “Oh what the hell! The guys can wait. Beer sounds good.”

And the story continues in Stronger Within – due out mid-April on Kindle.