On June 1st Astraea Press is starting its own book club and everyone is invite to join in.
June 1, 2012 . Each month a new book will be offered for FREE to readers to read and enjoy. At the end of the month we will host a Chat with the Author and readers on the NEW Astraea Press Book Club at:-
This is a book club where readers are encouraged to post a reader review at Amazon, B&N and or Goodreads if they choose but it is not required. For information about upcoming books please join the Facebook group and have fun reading your free copy each month. That's 12 free books each year :) The books offered will span all genres that Astraea Press offer.
He’d imagined it. He was living a dream, no a nightmare. He hadn’t come home to find the place locked down against him. He hadn’t gone to his sister’s flat for a so-called holiday, and hadn’t found his life under threat. There was no car following him, no car chasing him, no car… Shit!
Shoving the accelerator flat to the floor, Jeff gunned the engine and swerved round the bend that appeared in front of him almost before he’d had time to recognise it.
Forget the car behind him, the lights that seemed to grow bigger and brighter with each second, just focus on the road ahead, and look for a turn-off somewhere, somehow.
Less than twenty-four hours ago, his life seems dull, if not completely flat until some idiot stranger burst into his flat, brandished a gun in his direction and told him to move his arse if he wanted to live beyond the end of the day.
He’d wanted to challenge the man, to protest about his intrusion; instead he found himself caught by the wrist and hauled out onto the escape ladder and down to the ground before he got his brain into gear.
“What the hell’s going on?” he’d gasped, while trying to free his arm from the stranger’s lethal grip.
The next time his sister offered to let him spend his holiday with her, he’d remember to refuse. And where was she anyway? He’d been at the flat for two days and she’d never turned up. Then less than an hour after he’d made what seemed like a billion calls to family and friends turned up nothing, he’d reported her missing a stranger burst into the place and hauled him out, bundled him into his car and told him to move his arse and go home.
Home! That was a good one! He no longer had a home, Jillian had seen to that. While he’d been away at the latest exhibition she’d installed her latest lover in their home and thrown all his belongings into the garage and locked the connecting door from there to the house.
And to cap it all, she’d taped the divorce papers to the door!
Now, a car-full of gun-slinging idiots were chasing him from one side of the State to the other.
Only his primal instinct for survival was keeping him alive so far.
Welcome to another Tuesday's Tales. Where does the time go between each one? Today's prompt is 'Pie'. My snippet today is a stand alone piece and as yet I have no idea whether it will fit into one of my WsIP or turn into a short story of its own. Woe the trials and tribulations of the'pantser'! Thank you to every one who visits and any comments are allways appreciated.
“Well will you look at that?” Maisie set her champagne flute on the table and stared towards the entrance.
“What? Where?” Florence, her grey coffered hair bobbing as she spun round in her chair, then bounced once more when her hand covered her wildly beating heart. Could it be? How could it be?
She’d moved away a few months after the memorial service for her only son. Moved right across the country, well more like from south to ‘up North’ to get away from the memories, and here he was—standing tall, and proud like his father before him.
“Look’s like he’s been in the wars.” Maisie’s voice cut through Florence’s shock. Her friend was right. A livid white scar from his chin to his brow crawled up his face like a millipede. Ten years had stripped away any naiveté from his features. Ragged, sharp boned and deeply sun-tanned. Apart from the scar Florence could be looking at Raoul’s father thirty years ago. The day she’d told him about her pregnancy.
The day he’d walked away from her and never returned. The day he’d sent divorce papers by special delivery less than an hour after his departure.
Now she sat in her seat, too stunned to move, and watched her son scan the room, became aware of the hushed voices whispering around their table, clearly audible now the band had ceased playing. Two men moved into the room and stood, one each side of her son, while he continued to scan the room.
Raoul cocked his head to one side, listening to the man on his right. Florence noticed the speaker’s hand emulate a circle, saw Raoul’s eyes narrow, harden and resume their search. Could she, when everyone else’s attention was riveted on the doorway, look away? If she didn’t she feared her heart, scarcely mended after ten years of grieving, would shatter all over again. And if she moved a single muscle, she knew with soul-deep recognition, her son would hone on the movement and come to her.
She’d dreamed of his return almost nightly for the last month. So much so, she’d stopped going upstairs to bed and slept in her armchair in front of the TV for the last week. But in the end it wasn’t her movement that foccussed her son’s gaze in her direction, it was Maisie’s.
“I swear, Flo—“ She dug Florence in the ribs, “—if I didn’t know better I’d say that was Raoul standing there.”
“It is.” Florence watched him move in their direction and tried to red his expression. ‘Flint-eyed’ didn’t begin to describe it. His mouth a thin white line, almost as pallid as his scar confirmed this would be no happy reunion, but why had he decided to return from the dead so publically?
Overhead lights glinted in the flash of silver in his hair above his right eye, above the scar. And for a moment fear, unexpected and unexplained threatened to rob her of her senses. She fought the curling blackness eager to steel her into oblivion and straightened her spine.
She knew, without seeing, that every eye in the room followed her son’s deliberate approach. Time stretched and compressed simultaneously.
The police, so impersonal, and yet, one, just one seemed genuinely caring when they’d turned up and told her Raoul had died in a car accident all those years ago.
The image of those men, three of them, standing at her front door and asking to come in superimposed itself on her present surroundings.
“He’s beyond recognition.” One told her as he passed her a cup of tea. “Fire…” another said. “No survivors.”
And yet they’d ‘handed’ over the body for burial.
Fury, fire-bright, as hot as Hades, shook her out of her memories. Regardless of who this man claimed to be, he wasn’t her son. He may look like him, but it was a fantasy, a ‘pie-in the-sky’ fantasy. No amount of wishful thinking would bring her son back, and if this man intended to try and dupe her into believing otherwise—
His voice, softer than expected, and in total contradiction to the hardness of his features, rolled over her, curled around her heart and dug deep.
She couldn’t speak. Her words refused to push past the constriction in her throat. Her gaze never left his face. Whoever this man was, he even sounded like Raoul.
She shrugged off the hand on her arm.
Maisie’s voice finally penetrated her shock, intruded her pain. As though in a dream, she refocused on her friend’s worried face. And this time she didn’t shake Maisie’s hand away when she caught hold of her arm.
“Let’s get out of here.” Maisie bent down to retrieve their bags, nodded to their table companions, after all, Flo thought, what did one say in circumstance like this?
“Yeah,” she said, fear, fury and grief boiling within. “Sounds like a plan.”
Thanks to all who drop by, I always appreciates your comments. My six sentences today come from my latest WIP
It didn’t take rocket science to estimate the victim was several inches taller than her five feet five inches, or that a linebacker would envy the width of his shoulders. She dropped to her knees and placed a finger on his neck, searching for a pulse. Relief at the steady but faint pulse allowed her gaze to take in the quality of his clothes.
Top end, she mused. Not a man who’d shop at Wall Mart. No, she thought, this man would have doors opened for him when all the plebs had gone home for the night.
This is an excerpt I thought was for a certain story only to disciver it's nothing of the sort but the start of a new WIP which *may* turn out to be a spin-off from my Gasquet Princes series. It's all getting very confusing! :-)
Today was the first anniversary… her mind skittered still unwilling to return to the darkest moments of her life— The knock on the door the sombre-faced police officers who didn’t need to say a word to relay their information.
The approaching bridge disappeared from view, swamped by a kaleidoscope of bitter, futile memories.
Hadn’t she left the flat to escape them, she demanded silently. Hadn’t she demanded, a year ago, her husband stay in bed ‘for one more day’?
Yes, she had! And had he listened to her? Of course not, when had Allan ever stopped long enough to listen. To consider her fears, her needs, her love. And why, she asked herself as she ran into the shadow cast by the bridge, why had she ever thought herself in love with the arrogant bastard?
She’d seen him daily for a year before he spoke to her other than to pass over his order for coffee and a bagel on his way into work. She’d lived for those moments, dreaming that one day his smile would connect with hers. That one day his heart would hear the excitement and desire when her own childish heart beat out its delirious tattoo of longing.
Tall, and the sight of his blond hair falling across his forehead and one eye, turned her stomach to mush each morning. His broad shoulders offered false promises of strength and security, his lying, laughing eyes had her believing him when, one day, out of the blue, he’d asked her out because she was so pretty and he couldn’t get her out of his mind.
Gullible, gullible, gullible fool that she’d been.
Stories about love, life, relationships... in a melting-pot of culture
Zee is an author who grew up on a fence - on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she'd stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.
From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.
This particular position became her favorite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing - her heroines all sit 'on a fence', whether cultural or societal, in today's world or in times past, and face dilemmas about life and love.
Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee is a degree holder in Communications Science. She is married, mum to a tween son, & stepmum to a teenage lad.
The hardest part of this journey into Before The Morning (Corpus Brides: Book Two)...
Hello everyone; hi Sherry! It’s a great joy for me to be here today, and to share a little bit more about my latest release with ye all.
When we started chatting and I told her the Corpus Brides series was based around the world of clandestine activity and espionage, Sherry asked me this question:
What was the hardest part to write on this book?
Before I can answer that, allow me to put you a little more into the picture where this series is concerned. The Corpus is a fictional clandestine agency – it’s totally secret; not even covert, as in, known about but not seen in action, like the CIA, MI6, and former KGB. Corpus exists on a completely hush-hush level, and only top-level security clearance in any country of the world is aware of its existence. The agency works as a stealthy left hand to bring about conflict resolution and world peace. It has agents everywhere in the world, though its main base of action is mainland Europe.
When I started writing Book 1 in this series – Walking The Edge – the story of an amnesiac woman who feels that the life of a bored housewife thrust onto her is ‘fake’, and who sets out to find out what her repressed memory carries, I had the above general inkling about the Corpus agency. Frankly, I love spies, spy and espionage thrillers; I grew up on a steady diet of James Bond movies, and then came the TV shows like La Femme Nikita, or another movie with a strong female protagonist, The Long Kiss Goodnight. I wanted my story to have that kind of action, clandestine, secrets-and-deceit vibe, all while the locations hopped from one exotic place to the next. In short, I wanted to write a more ‘realistic’ and convincing Bond-type story with a woman as the heroine.
Little by little, as Amelia, the heroine from Walking The Edge, discovers what is hidden in her memory, I got inklings of spy and espionage tradecraft, of the life of spies and clandestine agents. I did my research and found out how to, say, conceal a key in the binding of a book inside a big public library – a key only a specific agent would know about. However, most of the spy lifestyle mentioned in this book was recollections and backstory.
And here I was at the start of Book 2 – this one the story of an undercover assassin who bows out of this life all in the name of love, when she meets the man she never stopped loving, her childhood best friend. Her name was Rayne... and the kicker, for me, was that Rayne was an actual spy/clandestine agent/assassin. Her meeting again with her childhood love happens while she is deep undercover on a measles operation – an assassination that is planned down to the smallest detail of the cleanup and aftermath, so as not to leave any trace of the assassin’s path, or of the cause of death.
To put you further into the picture, I’m a stay-at-home mum with a degree in communications science and economics. What do I know about spies and the clandestine life? So how on earth do I go about portraying that life realistically, to make my character not a cardboard cutout but a woman who is totally in her element in that assassin’s lifestyle?
That’s where research came in for me – and that’s been the hardest part of writing this book. I drank in spy TV shows like Nikita, Burn Notice, Covert Affairs; watched and re-watched movies like the Bourne trilogy, Taken, Salt, and Unknown. I read everything I could about clandestine activity and lifestyle; I learned the lingo of spies and secret agents (Did you know that a “shoe” in that jargon means a passport? Or that a “legend” refers to the fabricated identity given to an agent?).
Not only did I have to portray that life realistically, but I also had the locations’ aspect to think of. I mentioned up above I wanted these books to have exotic locations. In Walking The Edge, I used London and Marseille, a town I am ‘familiar’ with having watched countless movies and TV documentaries that are set in that old city. Before The Morning took me from London, to Nice and Arles (where there are the remains of one of the most well-preserved Roman necropolises in Europe) in France; Prague, in the Czech Republic, where an important Corpus locale is found; Las Vegas where Rayne and Ash, the hero, get tangled into the hangman’s knot by getting married when drunk; Hastings in southeast England, where Rayne’s and Ash’s families live; and last but not least, under the Thames in London, inside the remains of Brunel Tunnel, the first underground tunnel to be dug, back in the mid-1800s.
I had to convincingly put across and describe those locations... where I have never set foot for the most part!
The trick? Research! I cannot compute how much research I have done for this book, and for this series in general. I can only hope that what I have written shines with a good dose of authenticity, and that my readers are treated to an intriguing, captivating read.
Thanks for letting me share this (long!) tidbit with you today. I hope you’ll get a chance to check out my work, and that you’ll enjoy the reads.
Excerpt:Before The Morning
From the front-facing window on the second floor of the Shepherd's Close freehold, Corpus secret agent Rayne Cheltham watched the ambulance pull away from the curb.
Shivers crept up her arms, and she hugged herself tight to ward them off.
Get a grip!
She was a professional on an assignment, an elite, trained operative from a clandestine agency that handled operations for governments and international forces as a stealthy left hand. Her agency entrusted her with the most important missions—nothing should faze her.
Before today, she would've said that nothing could affect her when she had her eyes on a goal.
But she wasn't sure anymore. She'd never had her past collide with her present like a few moments ago, in the form of her childhood best friend.
Ashford Gilfoy, better known as Ash. The boy who had been there to catch her when, at six, she had slipped while climbing the chestnut tree that sat right on the border between their two houses in Hastings, two days after her family moved there from Salisbury. The boy who had taught her how to ride a bicycle without the training wheels on the long and winding, gravel-covered lane leading to her parents' mansion. The teenager who had smashed the nose of the first lad who had broken her heart, at thirteen, during recess in the schoolyard. The young man she had left seventeen years ago on a platform at London Waterloo, on the day she bid her old life goodbye.
For the first time since that day, she was back on British soil, and kismet decided Ash should cross her path.
Why then, of all times? She was a hair's breadth away from closing the contract on this mission. Seven months of intensive infiltration work and she was ready to achieve her aim—neutralize Nikolai Grigorievskiy's criminal operations before she took out the man. The Corpus always sent her for the kill, but the trick was that she had to make her target's death appear self-inflicted, at the bare minimum, or an accident, in the direst of cases. Measles, as such operations were known in their clandestine world—a planned assassination that didn't leave any indication of the cause of death. She would then have to sanitize everything—leave no evidence, no witness, nothing that could lead back to her. Unlike her other agency counterparts, she wasn't an out-and-out black ops assassin, but a different level of highly implicated agent provocateur.
In other words, a consummate actress who got to her ends by manipulating people and circumstances. All those years of drama school, at her mother’s insistence when, obviously, she'd be too tall to become a ballerina, came in handy. In fact, her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in the drama school's end of year play had caught the eye of the people who had recruited her into the Corpus. Seventeen years into the agency, fifteen of them as Kali, her operative name, a sociopath with no apparent conscience who followed her orders with diligence. Never had any one of her targets come close to figuring she was an undercover agent. Her track record was flawless—each assignment undertaken with one hundred percent success rate and a marginal body count.
Until today, when she'd almost gotten burned.
Ash had recognized her down there. For a second, she'd thought her cover was blown. Then, she'd taken a deep breath and forced herself to remain in character. Never panic, always stay in control, breathe and gather your wits—the first lesson drilled inside the mind of any secret agent. Pulling on a blank face was one of her fortes, and Ash had bought the act. He thought she was Irina, clueless twenty-year-old from the dirt-poor suburbs of Moscow who didn't speak any other language but Russian.
She'd had a few close encounters in the past, but never like that. Rayne and Kali had two separate, compartmentalized lives that ran parallel. The two should never have touched, because that would end up making a mess of her. She could keep each persona separate, as long as she could push Rayne to some dark corner of her mind. Her job taxed her, and she walked the tight line of paranoia every single second while undercover.
But if Rayne came to the front during a mission . . . .
Damn it, she wasn't a rookie agent on her first mission. Cherries, as the CIA called them. Hell, even during her first undercover operation, she'd had no qualms and no trouble achieving her aim.
Why today, when everything was smooth sailing toward a much-desired goal?
She closed her eyes and rested her forehead against the windowpane. The glass was warm against her clammy skin.
She was sweating?
That will not do. I have to take control again.
She had to forget about Ash, about Rayne, and focus on being Irina, the one who would bring down a notorious criminal. Her agency and the whole world counted on her to take out the piece of scum. She was their last hope, sent in as the trump card after good cops got killed when trying to bring Nikolai to justice.
Someone knocked on the door, and she pulled away from the window. Damn it, she still had a job to do.
Willing confidence to steel her spine on a deep breath, she turned around. She blinked a few times, called forth tears. She was supposed to be a young wife who'd just been hit by her husband, a man she'd left downstairs at the party with a leggy blonde draped all over his side.
The moisture trickled onto her cheek, and she swiped her eyes to smear the kohl and mascara.
There—she should present the desired picture of despair.
"Da?" she answered as she stepped toward the door.
The panel opened quietly. "Zdrastuyte, Gaspazha Grigorievskaya."
Hello, Mrs. Grigorievskaya. Such formality. Only one man addressed her with such deference and respect—Boris Petrov, Nikolai's right-hand man.
"Zdrastuyte, Boris Ivanovich." She replied him with the same formal greeting, using his patronymic name to further show her respect, as was customary in the Russian culture.
Boris was the least disposable target in the whole operation—the keystone. She had to bring him down, or at least create a rift between the two men. Everything would crumble afterward. Nikolai wouldn't have his main pillar of support, and would thus crash down through the pyramidal structure of his operations.
Are you okay?" he asked as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him.
She shrugged, forced a small, tremulous smile. Russian wives, she'd learned, tolerated a lot of their husbands' outbursts. "It's nothing."
"You shouldn't listen to what Mikhail said. He is just jealous that Kolya's attention is not wholly directed onto him any longer."
"It does not bother me," she said in a small voice.
Make a move, she silently urged him. For her plan to work, Boris had to capitalize on the simmering embers of passion that flared between him and his boss' wife, and that he denied all the time. She'd already lost too much time, and had to start the measles process.
I have to take matters in my hands. There's no other way.
She trained her eyes on him. Boris was a big, burly man in his mid-forties. Anyone could imagine him knocking out a person with just a flick of his thick wrist. Toying with him was like playing with fire—she could get burnt. But she had no other choice. The time had come. Five months to gain Nikolai's trust and compliance; two months to insidiously plant the seeds of discord within the criminal's entourage. She didn't have much leeway to work at influencing outcomes anymore. No—she had to provoke.
Rayne inhaled, felt the oxygen fill her lungs and clear her brain. She forced herself into her character. What would Irina do?
She gasped, and brought her hands to cover her mouth. With rapid steps, she rushed to Boris' side. She reached out with one hand and trailed the tips of her fingers along one of his eyes, swollen nearly shut from a blow.
"You shouldn't have," she said in a soft whisper, letting tears streak down her cheeks. "Not for me."
Boris' swift intake of air was the only sound that hissed between them. He closed his eyes under her touch.
Do it, she urged.
"I am so"—she paused and sobbed—"so sorry." Her voice was small and breathless, heavy with sadness.
Boris settled a heavy, meaty palm on her hand, to keep her fingers unfurled on his cheek. "Forgive me, Irina. I couldn't let him say those ugly lies about you."
He is caving.
"Boris, please." She pleaded with him.
"I will do anything for you."
"I am a married woman."
"Why don't you leave him?"
She gasped. "I cannot. I pledged myself to him."
"But look how he treats you!"
"Borya," she said, using the nickname for Boris, "back in Russia, for every one like me, there are ten other girls, more beautiful, waiting to take my place."
"There isn't any woman more beautiful than you in all of Russia."
She smiled, making sure she displayed sadness and resolution on her features.
"You are such a sweet man." When he wasn't forcing underage girls into the cargo holds of boats docking out of most major European ports, plying them with drugs before supplying them like meat to brothels and sex perverts.
"Leave him," Boris said, the words a subtle urge.
"I can't. Where would I go?" She gently tugged her hand from under his and took a step closer to him. "I can't go back to that life, Borya."
The sound of the door opening startled them. Nikolai stood on the threshold, his tall, dark form an intimidating silhouette in the dim doorway.
Kali threw one look at Boris, shook her head softly, and took a few steps away. The back of her knees hit the edge of the window seat. She stumbled backward into a sitting position on the upholstered ledge.
Nikolai's narrowed gaze went from Boris to her, and back to his right-hand man.
"Leave us," he said softly, the words obviously an order.
Boris nodded and exited the room.
Good—she’d sown the seeds of doubt. Her "husband" would wonder what went on between her and Boris, and Boris would try to get closer to her. She would play on this nearness between them, subtly make people wonder if something was happening behind Nikolai's back.
At that point, she would move her final chess piece—Nikolai would die at the same time as Boris. For the world, things would look like an altercation gone wrong between a spurned husband and a forbidden lover, with her caught in the crossfire. That's how she'd ensure her exit from the operation.
Yes, all the pieces of the game were falling into place. She just had to play along.
Nikolai closed the door behind Boris, the click of the latch falling into place sounding louder than it should have.
He turned toward her, pressed his shoulder against the doorframe, and pushed his hands into the pockets of his Gieves and Hawkes champagne-coloured, tailor-made linen trousers.
Her "husband" focused his steely grey eyes on her.
The stare burned into her skull. Still, she refused to look up. Not yet.
From Mauritius with love
Before The Morning: An action/adventure, romantic suspense tale on the backdrop of a clandestine espionage agency - come read the story of Rayne, a spy who leaves that life in the name of love, & Ash, the man who changes her world! https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/420/Before-the-Morning
FREEfor this week:
WALKING THE EDGE (Corpus Brides: Book 1): A romantic suspense novel, wherein an amnesiac woman is on the quest for her forgotten memory... Escape from London all the way to Marseille, France, and discover the secrets, deceit, danger, & the powerful love, she uncovers during her search! https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/304/Walking-the-Edge
This week's Tuesday Tales prompt is the picture so... I've called today's offering... The Bridge!
(It has been edited to fit the 300 word max remit)
Darkness and light.
A bit like her life really, Sharon thought, as she approached the narrow aperture. Shadow and sunlight bathed the bridge in stark contrasts...
The lack of sunshine, cut off by the rough hewn stones piled one upon another, sent a shiver up her spine, and whipped her out of the nightmare memories in time to prevent herself tripping over the drunk lying right across the path underneath the bridge.
Venting her anger at allowing old memories in, and idiots who drank too much and passed out where they dropped, she stopped, bent over the man and discovered a pool of blood beneath his skull.
A closer look revealed a trail of blood that led to the side of the path. She looked round for help. No one behind her. Stepping over the inert form, she realised the one time you wanted company, company took a hike. She couldn’t leave him in the middle of the path for others to trip over as she nearly had, and bent to take a closer look at the man at her feet.
Lying face down, it was partially hidden from view.
His jacket was rucked up round his neck, masking more of his face, and the now obvious blow to his skull.
Sharon stared up at the bridge arcing high above her. Had someone hit him on the skull and pushed him over the bridge? If so, when, and where were they now? And why?
Why leave evidence of their crimes where anyone could find it?
Fear skittered up her spine. On the one morning she’d left her cell phone behind…
Sharon dropped to her knees and sighed with relief to feel a faint but steady pulse.
It's good to be back for SSS and this week I am sharing 6 sentences from my recently accepted Regency romance No Job For a Woman.
Julian Fanshaw ignored the other letters in front of him when he recognized one from his long-time friend Freddie Dalrymple, now Lord Worth. He broke the seal and scanned the single sheet with growing concern.
‘Julian, my friend, I am writing to implore you to put aside whatever plans you have in hand and to set out immediately to stay with us for an indeterminate period of time.’
Thoroughly alarmed, Julian flipped the page in his hand to discover it had been dispatched more than a week ago.
‘If I bring to mind a certain student up at Oxford with us, and reveal he, and his wife, are and have been my sister’s neighbors for several years, it will give you but an inkling of the root of my concern.
‘It has come to my attention, due to the arrival of his brother upon the scene, and recent events concerning my sister, Deborah, I am persuaded you need not only to know what is happening here, but be on hand to assist in circumventing any consequences of actions taken against her.
Click HERE for many more Six Sentence Sunday examples
Sorry I have been mia so often recently and I hope to be more cnstant in the future. Today I am offering a sample from my current release, His Chosen Bride. (Bk 2 in The Gasquet Princes series.)
The sound of the child’s cry lent wings to Monica’s feet. She shot through the kitchen door, down the steps, and round the corner to the nearest paddock. She expected to see Rosie leading the child’s pony round the arena. Instead, the sight of the child clinging to the pony’s neck, his face hidden in the animal’s wind-blown mane, sent chills of fear down her spine.
Charlie-Boy, her neighbour’s three-year-old son, screamed again. “I wan’ Mon’ca!”
“What’s the matter, baby?” Keeping the fear from her voice, she reached up and let the child tumble down from the saddle into her arms.
Charlie nodded, his red-rimmed eyes large and fearful. “He nearly falled and I thought I was going to get squashed.”
“And what did Rosie do?”
“She’s not here anymore.” Charlie-Boy sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of his chubby little hand.
“Did she say where she was going?” Monica assumed the child had misunderstood and her volunteer had gone to the stables for something.
“Her ‘bell’ wang and she cried and ran to her car. I got fwightened. And Tubby tripped and I thought he was going to fall.”
The ‘bell’ Monica knew was Charlie-Boy’s name for a phone.
I came upon the A-Z challenge quite by accident and at first decided I didn't have time to commit, then a few days later, I think with 24 hours to go before it started, I changed my mind.
I had no theme, my only goal to complete the challenge without posting 30 days' worth of drival. Yeah! I came close a time or two, but I finished the challenge, met some wonderful people, found some very interesting new topics to follow and people to keep in touch with.
Did I get many new followers, perhaps not as many as I hoped for, and yet... my FB friend list increases daily, perhaps some are from the Challenge? I don't know, but I do know I have plenty of sites still to visit which I didn't manage to during the challenge.
I loved the commeraderie of the challenge, I'm chuffed I made it through to the end, and vastly relieved I didn't consider doing a themed challenge, as this was my first year.
Will I do it again? Oh yes!
Will it be themed this time? Oh no! :-)
I'd just like to add my thanks to those who organised the challenge and to everyone I met during April.
Sorry I've been MIA recently, but today my Tuesday Tale is an excerpt from my WIP on the third story in my Gasquet Princes series. Working title Sacha's Story.
Today's prompt word is 'Finger'
My thanks for your visit and comments.
Something was off.
Sacha couldn’t put his finger on it, but his personal alert system had gone haywire. No one could explain the loud bang he’d heard twenty minutes ago. Nor could they explain why nothing was disturbed when he’d done a personal check on all the outdoor buildings.
So what on earth was going on? Thankfully Simeon had phoned to say he’d be at the farm in another twenty minutes. But—
Sacha stalked to the sitting room window; then glanced at his watch. Forty minutes had passed since Simeon’s call, so where was he?
He watched the crimson coloured Porsche zip up the drive and come to a shuddering halt. Simeon’s car. But the man who slipped from behind the wheel and looked towards the front door was not his brother.
He looked liked Simeon, in fact if his gut didn’t tell him differently Sacha would consider his apprehension unfounded.
But a twin knew.
A twin recognised his sibling at a deep and instinctive soul level, and this imposter didn’t touch his soul. He glanced behind him when Liam laid a hand on his shoulder.
“What’s wrong? I thought you’d be pleased to see Simeon, even if it is only for a few hours, before we are all engulfed in the next tier of Jubilee celebrations.”
“If the man approaching your front door was Simeon, I’d be delighted, but the man you’re watching is not Simeon, I’d swear my life on it.”
Liam swung him round and Sacha noted the pallor on his brother’s face.
“What are you saying?”
“I don’t know why, or how, but my instinct tells me we are about to invite a cuckoo into your nest.” His dry tone was not lost on Liam, Sacha noted with satisfaction.
Strangers watching Liam go about his business could be forgiven for thinking he’d put the past behind him. But they’d be wrong.
Since the attempt on his younger brother’s life Liam, if Melanie didn’t restrain him, tended to go overboard about personal security these days, and Sacha appreciated the turmoil his bald statement would have on his younger brother.
Physically knocked back by Sacha’s claim, Liam stepped forward again and watched the man haul a briefcase from the passenger seat of the car and head for the front door. “Who would organise something like this?”
“The ‘who’ escapes me,” Sacha replied, “but the why is obvious.”
He swung round with the intention of heading for the hall to watch the man pretending to be his twin, enter the house, but found his path blocked.
“They why is not obvious to me, so before we greet this imposter, if imposter he is, you better share your conclusions,” Liam demanded.
His head snapped up, his attention on the closed sitting room door. “Whoever is behind this subterfuge is counting on their man getting past us. After all, if he can fool his brothers, then whoever has organised this exchange can be more confident their man will fool the public.
“And there’s his first error.” Sacha breathed in a sigh of relief when the doorbell peeled. Instinct could be twisted, but the stranger’s first mistake validated his instinctive belief in the switch. Now they had to find out the true identity of the new arrival and who was pulling these new and alarming strings.
He'd suspect Charles deBonet if he hadn’t died when Liam and Paxman rescued Melanie…
Another review for my latest novella, His Chosen Bride kicked off what turned out to be one of those precious days 'out of time'.
"...As an experienced and accomplished author Sherry has seamlessly combined the two individual stories about the eldest and youngest of the Gasquet princes, whilst managing to keep the separate identities of both books. She has also carefully crafted the two middle princes into this story, thereby leaving the door open for further episodes in the series, at the same time giving herself the option to leave the series at just the two books and move on to pastures new..."
Why was yesterday - the 4th may '12 so very special? Well to answer that question I have to go back (I discovered with horror! LOL) thirteen years ;-)
That was when I met and made a new 'net' friend, Lesley, or as I know her - Lea. This is a friendship that spans the globe, as I am in the UK and Lea is in Australia. For a while we met online weekly with a group of other friends until MSN dismantled the private chat groups globally.
That didn't stop us emailing each other as and when we felt like it. You know the kind of friendship that allows you to meet months and years apart and yet take up where you left off as though you'd just finished chatting minutes/hours ago? That is the kind of friendship I'm talking of here. :-0
Lea invited me to visit if I ever made it onto her patch, but sadly it hasn't happened.
So a couple of years ago (unbeknownst to me) Lea started saving and yesterday we met up in the UK and had the most wonderful day together.
Lea also introduced me to her two wonderful friends, Denise and her husband Roy who were part of making it possible for Lea and me to meet up, so my thanks, again, to them both for being part of what is and will be a treasured memory for years to come.