This year has been crazy.
I could write a big long blog post about it, but instead, I'll share this with you.
This excerpt is from the next book in the Friends series, Unexpected.
Unedited and subject to change. :D Merry Christmas!!
“It’s not often we see a young lady accompanied by her father to antenatal classes. It’s so nice that you have the support.”
Neil gripped my hand, but all I could do was grin before giving into the giggles. I turned, burying my face in his chest as his own chest began to move with laughter. What else was there to do?
When I turned back, Brenda looked between us, uncertainty all over her face.
“Neil’s my partner,” I said, snorting as I laughed again.
Her jaw dropped, and she slapped her hand across her mouth, clearly mortified at her error. “I’m so sorry, Nicola. I just assumed …”
“It happens all the time. No one can believe she’s so lucky to score an older guy like me.” Neil said the words completely straight faced, and I slapped his arm.
Brenda shuffled on her feet, forcing a smile. “Just make yourselves comfortable. The class should start soon.”
We joined a small group already sat on a bunch of chairs in the centre of the room, Neil leaning back and slipping his arm around my shoulders protectively.
“Should I call you Dad?” I whispered.
His eyes widened. “Don’t you dare. That’s just wrong.”
All that did was make me giggle more, not helped by the curious stares we were now getting.
“Stop it, young lady.” He tried his hardest to sound stern, but I couldn’t breathe for laughing, and I gripped his arm, shaking my head.
“You are incorrigible.” I sucked in some air, trying to stabilise myself as he leaned in and nuzzled just below my ear.
“I believe that’s what landed us here in the first place,” he murmured. Damn it. With my hormones going into overload, I would have done him there and then in the middle of the antenatal class. But that’d have to wait until later.
I was thinking today about putting up the first, unedited chapter of In a Lifetime to read, and just got a little push. ;)
So, for Aubrie, and anyone else who's interested ...
It was one of those nights.
A house full of people at various stages of intoxication. Some had coupled up, some chatted up others, some danced, some sang karaoke.
Speaking of which, for the love of all things holy, doesn’t anyone know all the words to The Final Countdown?
My best friend, Sam, and I had a party at the end of every semester, and every semester it ended up more work than the time before. Maybe it was the fact that we were fast approaching graduation, and this would soon be something we left behind. Outwardly, this was something cool and exciting we did to let off steam. Inwardly, I couldn’t wait to see the back of them.
However, this was our last one, the last time we’d be students, so for one final time I decided to grin and bear it. I had to admit that despite knowing what the clean up would be like in the morning, this was just fun.
Even if it was my turn to stay sober.
Our first party had ended in near disaster, a drunken student curling up in our garden despite the cold weather and falling asleep. When she ended up in hospital, Sam and I decided that we’d take turns staying sober, watching over our guests to make sure that nothing bad happened to anyone.
It sucked to be the sober one. But on the upside, no one had hurt themselves since. It still did everyone good to be able to let off some steam.
People packed our living room,. Most I knew to various degrees, some I didn’t. There were always people who just tagged along.
Sam sat on the couch, his arm around some lovely little brunette, his tongue so far down her throat he must’ve been searching for something. It never took Sam long to find someone to make out with. Me? I’ve always taken my time.
And then I saw her. Sitting in the corner, all alone. Her dark hair hung in big curls, framing her heart shaped face. She had impossibly blue eyes with long eyelashes, and rosebud lips stained a brilliant shade of red, the colour standing out against her alabaster skin. She looked like a porcelain doll.
In her hands she cradled a bottle of pre-mixed vodka and lemonade, sipping it through a straw she held between her thumb and index finger, her nails painted to match her lipstick.
I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed her earlier. In a room full of T-shirt and jean wearing students, she wore a dress that would have looked at home in the 50s, a little tight with the curve of her breasts pushed up over her neckline.
I think I died and went to heaven.
Taking a deep breath, I took a step toward her. To my right, on the edge of my peripheral vision, I caught a glimpse of another girl, her hand over her mouth as if she was about to hurl. From my left, I grabbed a bucket. It had been full of ice for beer bottles to sit in, but now the beer was gone, and the ice looked like a giant slushy.
Dumping the contents into a nearly empty potato chip bowl, I thrust the bucket in front of the girl.
Not on my carpet, you don’t.
Damn it. As the responsible, sober one, I’d have to take care of this before getting to anything else I wanted.
Either I could put this drunken girl to bed in one of our rooms, which could prove inconvenient if something happened with dream woman. Or, I could drive drunk girl home. That was probably the right thing to do, no matter what my penis tried to tell me.
“Honey, where do you live?” I asked, casting my eye across the room and trying to remember every detail of mystery girl’s look. Hopefully, if I could get her home quickly, I’d be back in time to talk to the girl in the corner.
“Waiuku.” She groaned. Her lips were downturned, and any life that might have been there had disappeared from her eyes. She looked dull, over it.
Shit. That was at least three-quarters of an hour drive each way. Too expensive to put her in a taxi. And I would guarantee she had no money.
“Can you take me?” She pleaded.
I didn’t have a choice. That was our party code, take care of anyone too far gone. I’d be gone for at least an hour and a half.
“Grab your things, we’ll get out of here. Sooner I get you home, sooner I can be back.” Hopefully no one else would need taking home. I swept the room, looking for anyone else who might be in trouble.
Rolling my eyes, I approached the back of the sofa, tapping Sam on the shoulder. He continued to devour the girl he was kissing, ignoring me as I sighed.
“Sam.” I shoved his shoulder—hard.
He broke away from the dazed looking girl and looked back over his shoulder at me, frowning. “What?”
“I’ve got to take someone home. We’ve got a sick one.”
“Whatever,” he said, looking away.
“The girl in the corner. Make sure she doesn’t leave.”
He grunted agreement, glancing up and then returning to his lip lock with the girl who didn’t even look at me.
One last look at the girl who had caught my eye and I left.
She’d better still be there when I got back.
“Pull over, pull over.”
I slapped the steering wheel. “Again?”
The girl’s face was white as marble, and her hand was on the door handle, despite the bucket she cradled.
“Fine.” I flicked on the indicator, and pulled over to the side of the road. She flung the door open, tripping as she fell out the door, stumbling away from the car as she vomited.
“Best night out ever,” I mumbled, my mind wandering back to the girl back at home.
“It’s not my fault. You’re driving so fast, the street lights going past make me feel sick.” She pouted as she sat back in the car, buckling up her seatbelt and grabbing hold of the bucket again.
“I’m doing the speed limit. We’re on the motorway. If I get caught pulling over like this, I’ll be in the crap.” I indicated and pulled out. Thankfully there wasn’t much on the road this time of night.
I so want to be home.
The GPS read out instructions as we drove, and we weaved through the rural roads once we left the motorway. I was beginning to think we were never going to get there when it told me in stilted English that we’d arrived at our destination.
The girl, whose name I still didn’t know, smiled. Her face stayed drained of colour, and I got the feeling that she’d be seeing a lot of the toilet bowl tonight.
“Do you want to come in?” she asked.
Are you insane?
“No, I should get going. I need to make sure no one else needs help.”
“Oh.” She pouted.
I rolled my eyes. “Go on inside. I hope you feel better in the morning.”
She slowly nodded, holding the bucket out for me to take. “No. You keep it.”
“Thanks.” She opened the door, the cold night air rushing in and reversing the effects of the heater again. At least it’d be a warm, uninterrupted ride home.
“No problem. Just take care.”
As I flicked pulled out and into the street, I pondered the girl at home. Would she still be there? Had I missed my chance? Even if she was gone, maybe I could track her down. But then again, I didn’t know who half the people were at the party.
What a waste of a night.
The drive home was at least shorter than the drive there, no stopping along the way. The motorway was quiet, cars few and far between.
I pressed buttons on the radio, trying to find something to keep me company. Anything to fill the lonely drive back.
I’m such an idiot.
I should have splashed out for a taxi, even if it meant not eating for the next week. It’d be after midnight when I got home, and most people would be long gone. All I could do was hope that the one person I wanted to be there had stayed.
The closer I drew to the city, the more comfort I drew from my surroundings. Mount Eden had been home for the past few years while Sam and I had attended the nearby university. We’d been lucky that we’d found a run down old villa to live in for lower than market rates. While property prices and rents went up around us, our landlord was happy he’d found responsible, long-term tenants. Well, responsible most of the time.
The house was quiet, deserted when I got home. As I pulled into the driveway, I grimaced at the thought of the mess to clean up. No doubt Sam would be lazing in bed tomorrow, leaving me to tidy. That’s what I would have done to him.
I slid my key in the lock, turning the old brass door handle and pushing. The wooden door creaked as it opened, and I took a step inside.
I walked straight into the living room. In the centre of the floor were two people going at it like bunnies. At least I wouldn’t have trouble tracking mystery girl down.
Naked, she looked even more beautiful, her full breasts peaking into rosy nipples, her curvy hips grinding as she rode my best friend. Her long, dark hair spilled down her back in curls. Curls that Sam tugged at, making her moan.
I couldn’t move, transfixed by the sight, the excitement at seeing her naked tempered with the knowledge that Sam was inside her.
“Close the door, man.” Sam looked up at me, a big grin on his face.
The woman’s eyes flickered open, and she gasped, crossing her arms to cover her breasts as I turned my head to look away. I kicked the door closed behind me and began the uncomfortable walk past them to my bedroom.
“Sorry,” I said as the light faded behind me.
When I closed my eyes, I could still see her, that creamy skin. Her mouth formed into a perfect red o as she threw all her concentration into screwing my best friend.
I’d never wanted anything so badly in all my life.
She was his.
I have a few things on that I want to post about. :D
Firstly, I have put together a box set of the first three books in the Friends series, and it's available for pre-order at the special limited time price of 99c right now through iBooks, Amazon and Kobo. It will be available through B&N, but they're dragging their heels so I don't have a link yet.
Here's the description:
Friends Forever - The First Half
Release date August 6
Catch up with The Friends Series in one box set for a limited time at 99c.
Book One - Loving Rowan
Rowan and Kyle’s story
After a lifetime of unrequited love for Andrew, Rowan’s heart is broken when she finds him with another friend, Charlie. Isolating herself from the pair, she strikes up a friendship with Kyle. Kyle wants more, but Rowan struggles to let go. And when tragedy strikes, Andrew comes back on the scene and will do whatever it takes to keep her.
Book Two - Three Days
Andrew and Maddy’s story
After the events of Loving Rowan, Andrew starts his life again. He hit rock bottom when Charlie died and acted irrationally, destroying any chance of friendship with Rowan. Meeting Maddy brings love and laughter to his life, and he soon finds himself falling for her. Sometimes it takes a life changing event to put the pieces back together as Andrew will find.
Book Three - Something Real
Logan and Olivia’s story
Olivia Grant’s husband walked out while she was at work one day, leaving her to fend for herself and their two children. Selling up, she moves to an apartment where she meets Logan. He’s gorgeous and seems to like her just as much as she likes him. Will her secret derail their relationship before it’s had a chance to take off?
All three books are standalone, but Three Days is the sequel to Loving Rowan, so it is recommended to read both.
Book Four - The Right One is also available separately
Rebecca Wallace has everything she could ever need, but a gaping hole where her heart used to be. Meeting her sometimes employed, sometimes musician neighbour, Elliot, turns her world on its head. He’s everything she never knew she wanted.
B&N Coming soon
On top of that, I'm working on a new stand alone! It's the first new thing in a while after two books in the Chances Series and four in the Friends series, but it's a story that hasn't left me alone. I can't wait to finish putting it together. It's called In a Lifetime.
I think it will be a very emotional one, like Another Chance was, but with a bit more heat and a big twist. I've tried to make stories that will work anywhere, but for fans of NZ based stories, this is well and truly planted in NZ. :D
The current blurb (subject to change) is:
When Matt lays eyes on Ella, it’s love at first sight. At the very least, lust. But when fate steps in, Matt ends up playing the good samaritan and losing the girl he wants to his best friend Sam.
When Ella and Sam marry, Matt leaves the country, desperate to get over the deep feelings he has for his friend’s wife. When he returns, he finds a couple struggling with infertility, cracks appearing in their relationship. Making things worse, his feelings for Ella have intensified.
When you’re in love with your best friend’s wife, whose side do you take when everything falls apart?
And last, but certainly not least. I'm working on the 5th book for the Friends series. One Nicola's story was suggested, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Usually when I write the minor characters in my books, I picture something of a back story for them. Once I put Nicola together with Neil, I had a vague idea of how they got together, but now I'm writing it down!
It's a bit of a crazy time for me. I try to steer clear of controversial topics or things that I know people won't like, and it would appear that I might be dabbling in infidelity and the older man/younger woman dynamic. But, I will do it in my own way and make their stories as genuine and heartfelt as I can. I hope my readers know they can trust me by now. ;)
Tomorrow, The Right One starts going live on iBooks and I will be pressing publish on Amazon and other retailers around the same time.
I am so excited about this book. They are all my babies and it's kind of like picking a favourite child, but this one is really special to me. It's sexy and funny and caring all wrapped up in about 72,000 words. :D
I've made teasers along the way, but there are a couple of plot twists that I haven't revealed, including one that is pivotal to the second half of the story. I can't wait to hear reactions about those!
If you buy my book, I only ask that you consider reviewing it, and/or message me online to let me know what you think. I am totally in love with Rebecca and Elliot and I hope you feel the same way.
You can also join me in my new reader group.
I am still working hard on this book, but I have had the sample edited to upload to iBooks for the pre-order. So, because it's not up for pre-order anywhere else, you can find the sample in this blog post. ;)
Here it is. The prologue and first two chapters of The Right One.
Alexander was working late again.
As the girlfriend of a busy lawyer, I was used to the long hours, but this case he was on had taken up so much time lately, it was driving me nuts. Besides, springing a surprise dinner on him gave me the excuse to buy takeaway, rather than the swanky restaurant food we normally ate.
McDonalds was the choice tonight, complete with Fanta, that guilty little sugary pleasure. I'd never been allowed soft drinks when I was growing up, and it was my absolute favourite.
I climbed out of the car, dragging the bag of food with me, the drinks in their little cardboard cup holder. I’d driven carefully with them balanced on my lap—not the safest, but the drive from the restaurant to my destination wasn’t far, and I had a bet with myself that I wouldn’t spill a drop.
Smug that I’d achieved my goal, I walked up to the front entrance of Clarke and Thompson, the law firm Alexander worked for. Smiling at the security guard as I walked past, he opened the door, letting me in, and I made my way to Alexander’s office. His assistant wasn’t at her desk, and I listened at the door, just in case he had a client with him. It was quiet so I pushed the door, beaming as I entered.
“I went hunting and found this for dinner,” I announced loudly.
Alexander looked up at me. I dropped the bag of food, along with my jaw, at the sight of my boyfriend, pants down, lying on top of his assistant on the beautiful white leather couch that I’d helped him pick out.
I felt faint, my head swimming as every part of me tried to comprehend what I was seeing. Tears formed even though my mind was blank of thought. “No.” My voice sounded tiny.
“Rebecca. It’s not what it looks like,” Alexander said.
He made the mistake of pushing off the couch, exposing the fact that his penis was not only out of his pants, but had seconds ago very much been inside her. I clamped my lips together, plucking a cup from the holder and threw the contents of the cup over him, swiftly following it with the other cup.
Bright orange liquid was everywhere. His assistant, whose name I couldn't remember in the first place, screeched as the ice cubes inside hit her.
Alexander had a pretty impressive penis at the best of times. Now it had kind of shrivelled away, no doubt at the combination of being caught and the very cold drink that had just hit it.
Does Fanta stain leather? The random thought ran through my head as I turned on my heel and ran.
“I hope you get your dick stuck in your zip,” I yelled as I passed through the door. The security guard raised an eyebrow at me as I passed. “Excuse me, I’m afraid Mr Davis has had an accident. He seems to have fallen and dropped his penis inside …” Shit, what was her name? “Sierra.”
The guard's mouth fell open and I pushed my way out of the building, running to my car, fumbling with the keys as I tried to see through the tears.
Alexander was seconds behind me, his shirt and pants covered in Fanta, and he hammered on the car window. “Rebecca. Stop. We need to talk.”
“No, you need to leave me the hell alone. Don’t bother coming home. I’m changing the locks.”
I turned the key in the ignition, slamming the car into reverse and backing up, hitting the accelerator to get the hell out of there and get home. Would I change the locks that quickly? It was seven pm, after all. It just felt so good to say it.
Home wasn’t far and I ran to the bathroom as soon as I got there, retching into the toilet, my stomach not settling despite there being nothing in it.
I collapsed on the floor beside the vanity, leaning my head against the wood and crying harder than I ever had before. Three years of my life down the toilet. Loving him, being only with him, wanting to spend the rest of my life with him ...
How long had he been screwing around on me? Was she the only one? How many times? So many questions, but I didn’t want the answers. They were no use to me. All it took was one time to betray me, to betray us.
Screw him. I didn’t need him anyway.
Eighteen months later …
Loneliness strikes at the weirdest of times. It doesn’t matter if you have the never-ending love and support of friends and family, all the adoration in the world can’t stop your heart from being broken. And then the loneliness takes over and you end up crying into your Corn Flakes, unable to cope with the day ahead and singing power ballads as you drink an entire bottle of wine while watching X Factor.
A year and a half ago, I walked in on my boyfriend of three years having sex with his assistant on his office couch. Afterwards, I went through all five stages of grief.
Denial. That lasted all of five seconds. About enough time to yell ‘no’ at the top of my voice. Anger came next as I exploded, dumping the cold drinks I was carrying all over that couch. I bargained with myself all the way home about whether to turn back and give him another piece of my mind or not.
Instead, I locked myself away and spent three days crying and eating every piece of chocolate I could find. And even though I hated him, never wanted to see him again, some tiny little part of me waited for the phone to ring, for him to say sorry, beg me for forgiveness.
The call never came.
My father had thought the sun shone out of Alexander's arse. I mean, who wouldn’t? He was this gorgeous man,—he looked like he’d been carved from marble--but he was also so down to earth. Perfect for me, or so I’d thought. I think in the end, Dad was more traumatised by our break-up than I was.
Acceptance was the most beautiful stage of the whole deal. Apart from the chocolate eating, that bit was pretty damn good.
It was the nights alone, the cold bed, the wanting so badly to be held that if he’d walked in the door, I might have taken him back. That was never, ever going to happen. It couldn’t.
The most adult relationship of my life had become the worst as I battled the sadness that weighed heavily, the misery that was my existence.
Snap out of it, Rebecca.
Only one thing for it. Well, lots of it.
My head swam as I opened my eyes. The jackhammer wouldn't shut up, drilling through my brain. And all I could smell was bacon.
I lifted my hand to wipe the drool that had run down from the corner of my mouth, probably from a combination of falling asleep while drunk and the delicious aroma that filled my house.
Looking around the room, the wallpaper came to life, littered with dancing flowers. No bacon here.
And yet, I could still smell it.
I wobbled as I stood, pushing myself to my feet and holding the wall for support as I made my way to the kitchen. Maybe coffee could help me focus, remove the errant smell from my nose.
The aroma only grew as I approached the kitchen, my mind springing awake, and I realised someone really was cooking bacon.
He had scruffy hair, and was clad only in a T-shirt and boxer shorts. No pants.
He’s in my house with no pants. What on earth did I do last night?
Scanning my memory for something to ignite and remind me, I struck nothing. I might have been drunk, but I didn’t usually forget things. Especially bringing home men.
He turned, grinning at me, spatular in hand.
Whoever he is, he’s freaking hot.
Blond stubble covered his chin, leading up to these gorgeous, cheeky blue eyes that twinkled, and I …
WHAT THE HELL? HE’S IN MY HOUSE.
“What the hell are you doing in my house? I’ll call the police.” I grabbed the phone from the counter and squinted, trying to focus on the keys.
He laughed--laughed at me. “Relax. I didn’t break in. You left the door open, I presume when you staggered in last night.”
“So why are you in my kitchen, cooking my food? With no pants on?”
He shrugged, picking up a piece of bacon with the spatular and carrying it to the table where a couple of buttered bread slices waited. Drops of bacon fat dripped in a trail in his wake.
“Can you not do that? You’re making a mess on the floor.”
“Relax, I’ll clean it up.”
“Can you please stop telling me to relax. You’re in MY house.”
Grinning, he slid the bacon onto the bread, slapping the other slice on top. He picked up the plate, holding it toward me.
“There you go, pretty lady, your breakfast awaits.”
He thinks I’m pretty? Oh …
No. No, no, no.
“Thanks,” I grumbled, taking the plate and sitting on the other side of the table. “Who the hell are you?”
“I’m Elliot, and I live next door.”
Last time I looked there was a blue-rinse granny living in the house next to mine. What?
“Serious? I thought my neighbours were much older.”
“I just moved in with my nan.”
“Really? She okay?” I saw her sometimes in her garden, making her way between the rose bushes that littered her front lawn. My garden was empty in comparison.
“Just getting old. She needs a hand sometimes, but she’s not ready to go into a home.”
He went back to the cooktop, retrieving another slice of bacon and returning to the table to make himself a sandwich.
“Elliot, it’s really nice that you’ve come and made me breakfast, but I didn’t invite you in here. And you’ve made a mess.”
As he sat, he waggled his eyebrows. “Plenty of other ways to make a mess.”
What the …?
“Look. I could still call the police.”
He leaned back in his seat, with the biggest grin on his face, and I just wanted to smack off it.
“I wanted to make sure you were safe, seeing as the door was wide open. And then I thought you could do with some breakfast after that three am return home-time, so I hung around, watched some TV--”
“Were you watching me?”
“No. I heard you, though, cackling like a witch as you paid the taxi driver. I heard that snorty laugh and just knew I had to meet you. I don't have pants on because these are my pyjamas.”
I sat, dumbfounded at what he’d said. I think he propositioned me and insulted me, all in the same conversation. Damn it. What I really should do is to finish my sandwich and leave.
Leave? This was my house.
Clearly the alcohol had scrambled my brain.
“I appreciate that you were looking out for me, but you have to see how inappropriate this is.”
He tilted his head to the side, boring holes in me with his eyes. “I’ll admit, I don’t usually walk into people’s homes uninvited, but I’m sure you would have asked me over eventually.”
He waved his hand across his T-shirt and I looked closer at the small holes scattered across the fabric. The man was an utter slob. "I mean, who can resist this, right?” And then he laughed, this deep throaty laugh that made every hair on my body stand on end.
“Take your sandwich and go.”
His smile disappeared as he examined the expression on my face. As nice as it was to have solid food cooked for me, this was right up there on the Weird Crap That Happens To Me scale. At least I hadn’t brought him home to have sex with, and then forgotten about him being there.
I had, however, woken up before not knowing where I was, and …
Mind wandering again.
Elliot frowned. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
I nodded, looking at the table as he made his way out. He turned, the sunshine streaming through the now open door, surrounding him with a big glowing halo of light. My heart skipped a beat. He was so beautiful.
“Before I do go, what’s your name?”
“Rebecca,” I said, and took a bite of my sandwich. I stifled a moan from the amazing combination of melted butter and salty bacon. This was really hitting the spot.
“Nice to meet you, Rebecca. Next time, make sure you close the door after you come in. Especially in the middle of the night. Never know who might just walk into your house.”
With that, the door closed. The shining bright light faded, and I was left in my kitchen with a sandwich and bacon fat on the floor to clean.
I couldn’t help but smile.
I was the girl who’d rebelled at school. The one who’d raised the hem on her skirt that extra half-inch, driving the teachers crazy, the one who would sneak out after dark to meet boys. How I’d escaped my teens without getting pregnant, I have no idea.
Anything to get my father’s attention.
When trying hard to impress him didn’t work, I resorted to all the bad things I could think of doing without actually putting myself at risk. Well, not too much.
Somehow, from those days I retained the friends I made. They didn’t misbehave like I did, but they were always there to help me pick up the pieces when I got caught. They drove me insane at times, but I would be forever grateful for their friendship and support. Even if at times it didn’t seem like it.
I pulled into the car park of the restaurant Le Grande. It was one of those pretentious places that pretends to be something it isn’t, where all the cool and wealthy hang out. I had no idea how I came to be here.
The sound of giggling floated out the door as I approached, wondering if I should suggest somewhere less fancy next time. It was tradition, but sometimes it was good to try something new. Right?
“Rebecca.” Nicola’s voice was rough as always, as if she'd smoked forty cigarettes before lunchtime. I smiled sweetly as my friend waved to get my attention, nearly taking out a waiter in the process.
As if I didn’t know where they were sitting. The same place they’d been sitting once a month for the past ten years.
This was the meeting of what I liked to call ‘the lonely and shallow club’, not that I would ever say that to their faces. And don’t get me wrong--it wasn’t just them I was targeting with that name. That included me.
It consisted of scratchy-voiced Nicola, whose exquisitely delicate features reeled the men in, but whose complete and utter focus on her looks usually put them off. Of all my friends, she was the one I worried about the most--her weight fluctuated so much that she often looked as if she could break. To her it was all about the way she looked, how attractive she was to men, and how much money they had. I adored her soft heart.
Gemma wasn’t the smartest person I’d ever met, and was nearly as obsessed as Nicola with the way she looked, and perfecting how to hook a man. But she’d do anything for anyone, and I do mean anything.
And then there was Katya, recently engaged, and rubbing the noses of everyone she knew in it. I hadn’t told her yet that while I was at uni, I’d blown her fiancé (before he was her fiancé) in a campus bathroom. From the way he looked at me whenever he saw me, he hadn’t forgotten about it either.
“Rebecca, it’s so good to see you.” Gemma stood, and as I approached the table she came toward me and did that ridiculous air-kiss thing that I couldn’t help but screw up by actually kissing her cheek. I smiled to myself as she wiped her face.
“You too, Gemma. You’re looking well.”
She smiled as she sat and Katya nearly backhanded me as I sat down, waving her hand with that diamond rock in front of my face. As if I hadn’t seen it last time we’d had lunch, when she was newly engaged. And at her engagement party two weeks ago.
“How are you?” Gemma’s green eyes were full of empathy as she fixed her gaze on me, boring through me like some kind of emerald drill.
“I’ve been better. But onwards and upwards, or something like that,” I said.
“So, no news on the Alexander front?” she asked.
I looked around the table. All three of them sat there with bated breath--waiting for what? They asked the same question every month, and the answer was always the same.
The problem though, is that when you split with someone who moves in the same social circles as you, you're bound to run into them sooner or later. And we had, two weeks before at Katya's engagement party.
“What Alexander front?” I frowned.
“We just wondered if you two were back together after seeing each other at my party,” Katya said.
“Why on earth would I ever let that happen?”
“He is gorgeous and rich,” Nicola said. "And he showed a lot of interest in you at Katya's party."
My hands fisted, and I scraped my palms with my nails as I took deep breaths, trying to remain calm. “The only reason he showed any interest was because I went home with one of his old friends. What's his name?"
They all looked at me, horrified.
"Bryce. That's the one. That was a one night wonder." I smiled. "Besides, Alexander is still a chauvinist pig who decided to screw some other girl while supposedly in a relationship with me. I spent three days at home eating chocolate and crying, and now I’m over it. It’s been eighteen months. To be honest, I’m over men for a while. Serious ones, at least.”
“Well my Tim would never do that to me. He adores me.” Katya ran her hand over the ring again.
He’d be hard pressed to find a girl to cheat with him, with a penis that small.
“Hey Katya, are diamonds supposed to be that sparkly?” I asked.
She pulled her hand to her chest, shielding the ring with her other hand. “What do you mean?”
“Are you sure that’s not a cubic zirconia? I’d go and get that checked if I were you.”
Her nose twitched, and she sucked her lower lip in, that little seed of uncertainty seeming to grow as she stared at me.
I laughed. “I’m just kidding. Of course it’s a diamond. Tim wouldn’t do anything less.”
The waiter appeared with the same kind of wine we’d been buying from here for as long as I could remember, and I smiled at the glass as he poured it for me, catching glimpses of Katya out of the corner of my eye as she stared at the ring on her finger.
I shouldn’t have been so bitchy, but it was hard not to. I hadn’t fallen in love with Alexander’s money. He was gorgeous, and for just a little while we’d been blissfully happy. Until he’d wrecked everything.
For them to think I would ever take him back was insulting. Why should I put up with that kind of behaviour? He’d broken my heart.
I barely paid attention as the waiter took the food order, Katya taking control as always. I stared at my wine glass, twirling it so the golden liquid swished around, taking care not to let it splash too much.
Taking a sip, I looked around the table. The other three were in animated conversation, not noticing that I wasn’t taking part in it.
The food didn’t take long to arrive. Apparently we’d all ordered salad, and I grimaced as I stared at it. What was I doing? The memory of the bacon sandwich three mornings ago brought a smile to my lips. It had been so messy, and possibly one of the best things I'd ever eaten. I had come here once a month for so long, and always had the same thing, the same boring thing. To my left was the same salad, to my right was the same salad. I was surrounded by the same damn salad.
I waved down the waiter and he approached me, one of his eyebrows raised. Our usual afternoon was for the four of us to sit and talk, taking up valuable seats in this swanky place while the waiters hovered, ready to pounce and clear the table the second we were gone.
“Do you have something with bacon in it? Oh, and fries.”
His eyes darted at the others and back to me. I hadn’t looked, but I could only imagine the expressions of horror on their faces.
“The Caesar salad has bacon in it.” He smiled, and I looked back down at my plate.
“No. I want something that doesn’t have all this green stuff. I want something that’s going to give me a big fatty rush. Do you have anything like that?”
He adjusted his tie, shaking his head, clearly uncomfortable.
“What do you have that I’ll regret eating later? Maybe because I’m so bloated I can’t move?”
“We do have a filet mignon steak with a very creamy sauce. It comes with crispy potatoes.”
I grinned. “That, please. Sounds amazing. Medium rare, please. If it comes with salad, I don't want it. I think I’ve had enough.”
Silence surrounded me as I tucked my napkin into my shirt. Knowing my luck, if there was creamy sauce it would end up all over me. I looked up to see my three friends gaping at me in utter disbelief.
“Nothing,” Katya said.
“I feel like something different.”
She went back to picking at her salad, and the other two followed suit while I waited for my steak.
The aroma of onion and garlic made my stomach grumble. The food might be expensive here, but it was worth every penny. Thankfully it wasn’t one of those fine dining places that had tiny meals for a million dollars, so at least my steak would be decent.
In fact, I was pretty sure I drooled as my meal approached the table, dripping in creamy saucy goodness. The scent of red meat had my tastebuds watering.
I savoured each succulent slice, acutely aware that the others were watching me.
“Oh my God, you guys. You need to try this. It’s amazing.”
One by one they screwed up their faces, still watching as I lowered the fork and then raised it again with each bite.
“Live a little.” Gemma looked horrified as I spoke with my mouth full.
When I was finished and the waiter came over to see if we needed the table cleared, I asked for the dessert menu.
Bloated and content, it was time to pay the bill and leave. As we walked out the door, Gemma grabbed my arm. “Look.”
My stomach plunged as I spotted someone familiar climbing out of his car, and it wasn’t from all the food I’d just eaten. Alexander walked around his SUV, opening the passenger door for a blonde woman, who flung her arms around his neck as soon as she stood. I’d cried as many tears as I could for him, but it still hurt.
“Is that the woman you caught him with?” Nicola asked.
I shook my head. “No, I’m sure he’s been busy with several women since then.”
She rubbed my back. It didn’t help.
Alexander turned toward the restaurant and spotted me, the smile falling off his face as our gazes locked. I looked away, changing direction and heading to the right, where my car was parked.
“Turns out there are other benefits to this place,” Nicola said, pulling on my arm to direct my attention across the street. I didn’t notice what she was pointing out at first. JP Motors. It looked like just another car yard. When did she get that excited about cars?
And then I spotted him, sponge in hand, bubbles everywhere as he soaped up the car. A dirty blond adonis if ever I saw one, the deep tan in his skin glistening in the sunlight from the water that covered his chest. When I raised my eyes above his abs, which took a lot of effort, I found myself looking into familiar blue eyes.
The moment recognition hit him, his face lit up and he grinned, my stomach lurching so much I thought I was going to hurl that big fatty lunch I’d just consumed.
“Rebecca,” he called, waving at me, as I blushed and gave a little wave back.
“You know him?” Gemma asked, her eyebrows wiggling slightly as she stared at me.
“He’s my neighbour.”
“Just imagine hooking up with him. Gorgeous, and you’d get a new car every year.” She giggled behind her hand, and I looked away as I rolled my eyes. How on earth would you ever draw the conclusion that the man cleaning the cars owned the lot?
“He’s cleaning the cars, Gemma, he doesn’t own them.”
Her jaw dropped and if Katya’s nose could tilt any higher, it would probably have leapt from her face.
“Oh.” Gemma looked at the ground.
“I don’t think that matters,” Nicola said. “Turn around.”
When I turned, Alexander was staring at me. He’d come to a stop outside the restaurant entrance and held the door for his date as he watched.
I smirked and turned my attention back to Elliot, this time raising my arm and waving it like a crazy person. His laugh echoed across the car park, and he shook his head as he went back to soaping up the car.
“See you next month, girls,” I said brightly, blowing them kisses as I climbed into my car. In the rear-view mirror, I could see Alexander still standing there, the woman he was with frowning as he watched me back the car and drive out onto the road.
She was welcome to him, but getting that reaction was priceless.
Today had turned out pretty damn good.
There's only one more week before I fly out to Australia for Readers and Writers Downunder. I am so excited and terrified all in one. This is my first signing, first opportunity to meet readers. I've mostly packed my bags already. Full of books at least. ;)
And I'm working on Rebecca's story. It was coming along quite nicely until I came up with a little twist today. :D At this stage, it's just a small diversion.
I have a lot more to come in the next year or so. Next up will be the first book in my new series under my real name and I have another book planned that I think will be better under that brand too. But we'll see!
The release of Something Real has led to a couple of people asking questions about how close it is to my life just because they know I'm a mother of two who writes romantic fiction.
My story is a little different to Olivia's. I'm happily married with two children (a boy and a girl), and my moment to start writing again came when my youngest was around eighteen months old and I was looking for something to do for myself.
I love being a wife and mother, not to mention a service delivery manager in my day job, but I wanted something just for me. Most of my hobbies centred around needlecraft, and with a young child who loved putting things in her mouth, I wasn't keen on having sharp objects around. She's also one of those kids who somehow manages to get into everything, so I wasn't prepared to take the risk.
When I was at school, I wanted to be a journalist. I loved the writing, but decided I wasn't keen on the actual journalism part. I'm quite the introvert, and the thought of going out and interviewing people didn't appeal. In my head however, there were always fiction stories floating around. I decided at the very least I could just record them even if no one ever read them.
So I started writing, and then a friend of mine published her own book. Check it out if you like historical fiction, it's gorgeous. http://www.amazon.com/Tin-Tsaritsa-Rächal-Monigatti-ebook/dp/B00928V6QS/
That was when I realised you could do or organise everything yourself.
Looking back, I had no real idea what I was doing. When the first book was ready I had no clue what to do. I uploaded it and fumbled my way around until I found some online resources that helped me. I kept writing while the sales slowly climbed and to cut a long story short, two years later I have eight full length books (one written as novellas and compiled into one book).
Everything I've earned I've reinvested in my publishing, found an amazing editor to work with along the way, found a brilliant cover artist who does all my covers now. My writing is so much more than it was back when I started, and I have the readers and my editor to thank for that. Most importantly to me, I am still loving what I'm doing.
The similarities between Olivia and I are that we found people who support and believe in us. That has been such an important factor for me, and I wanted her to have that in her life as well.
This was such a special book for me, I knew just how she felt as she wrote and published. While the rest of her life bares no resemblance to my own, it was pretty cool to celebrate my second anniversary of self-publishing writing a book including self-publishing. :D
Deciding what to do next was hard. I've started development on a series I want to do under my real name and I had started the first book with four more plotted out. Then, while I was writing Something Real, I could see another story coming out of it, Rebecca's story. She was such a cool character to write, and I had this awesome idea for her and wrote it all down, so I'm part way into that.
Here's the blurb:
Rebecca Wallace spent her whole life trying to impress her father. He was often absent and she spent her childhood bouncing between him and her alcoholic mother, never settling.
Stifled by her world, she yearns to break free. When she starts a friends with benefits relationship with her next door neighbour, it’s like a delicious, dirty little secret that excites her, and at the same time she’s terrified her father will find out. Elliot isn’t like the boys Rebecca grew up with. He’s trying to find himself, bouncing from job to job, and a part time musician. Her father’s worst nightmare.
Rebecca watches her friend, Olivia, find the love of her life and longs to do the same. She doesn’t know if she’s mature enough to handle a grown-up romance, and the man she’s sleeping with is the least grown-up person she knows. Despite their differences, could Elliot be the right one?
What I'm going to do is to put aside the other project. I need to put in a lot more time with that one and I haven't even set up Facebook, website etc to support it so that can go on the backburner for just a little while. Not for too long, though. ;)
Loving Rowan was only ever going to be a standalone book ...
This past month has been crazy.
I've finished my book and it is all ready to go. It came out 15,000 words over my target, but the story I ended up with is warming, heartfelt, funny and hot.
I'm sure my readers will like Olivia, she's come out of a marriage and dealing with the insecurity that came with her husband having left her for another woman, trying to start a new relationship when the only man she's ever been with is her husband, and struggling to keep things going for her boys.
I'm even more sure that you'll love Logan. He's hot, sexy, and doing his best to take things slowly as far as building any kind of relationship with Olivia. Did I mention how good he is with her children?
Anyway, the book starts rolling out tonight/tomorrow on iBooks and then will be published on Amazon/B&N/Kobo/Google.
I can't wait for you to read this, it's been a great way to celebrate two years of self-publishing!
And I still have that announcement for what I'm doing next up my sleeve. ;)
I have been slow to update the blog and website so far this year.
I am so close to finishing Something Real that I shouldn't probably take the time to write this post, but I've been trying to do it for days and keep finding distractions.
Coming really soon is the cover reveal for Something Real. You can already pre-order it on iBooks (link is on the book page that I just made). Sarah at Sprinkles on Top has made a gorgeous cover, that I think looks exactly how I pictured the characters. I can't wait to share it with you all. :D
And this book ... Where Three Days made me cry, this book made me laugh. I came up with the idea as I pondered my upcoming publishing anniversary, and Logan and Olivia were just so sweet and funny. I hope I do their story justice.
Anyway, other things I am working on are:
Signed paperbacks will soon be available on my website. They will be a little pricey, but that's the unfortunate side effect of living in a small country at the bottom of the world.
I've pulled down After The Fall and The Sultan's Bride as I'll be reformatting those with my newfound InDesign skills and making them a bit more pretty!
Readers and Writers Downunder is coming up in March. This will be my first signing and first time in Australia, so I am MEGA excited. If anyone reading this is going, you can pre-order paperbacks here at a special RWDU price. :D
And last, but definitely not least:
Soon I will announce my next book, but for something different it will be under my real name. I have a whole series plotted out so this year is going to be busy! Ariadne isn't going anywhere though, and I have some ideas for books for her too. :D
I've had two years of publishing as Ariadne, and I think it's time to come out of my shell and put myself out there.
More to follow ...
2014 was a pretty crazy year, and 2015 is shaping up to be even busier! I am continuing the Friends series with the release of Something Real in probably February at this stage (the pre-order is up on iBooks already for March, but if I can I'll bring that date back). Then, there's another series I'm plotting at the moment, which I'd like to release under my real name. After all these books as Ariadne, I'd quite like to get a printed book with my own name on it. Details to be revealed soon, I'm just fine-tuning the blurb, but I'm really excited about it!
Anyway, I've had a few Facebook posts to say thank you to various people, but there are so many I thought I'd add it all together in this blog post.
A big thank you to Lauren and Ethan, Rowan and Kyle, and Andrew and Maddy who let me tell their stories this year. I loved you all so much. Each and ever character is special to me, and I never thought I'd end the year telling the redemption story of a man I'd written to be so awful. Funny how life goes! <3
Thank you to Lauren McKellar, for editing my stories and beating me when I needed it. You've helped me grow as a story teller and I look forward to working with you some more. :D
Thank you to Sarah Foster, from Sprinkles on Top Studios for making such beautiful covers. You constantly surprise me and impress me, and I'd buy everything you made if I could write that fast!
Thank you to Kaylee for reading for me, and to Deborah for helping me make the final decision on which way around to put together Taking Chances. For those who don't know, there were originally two versions, one in chronological order, and the other with flashbacks.
Thank you to The Hype PR who have helped so much the past three months with promo work, cover reveals, and the launch of Three Days. It's been a great weight off my mind to not have to worry so much about getting out there while I'm juggling publishing, working full-time and family!
And last, but most important, thank you to all the readers. To everyone who has read, reviewed, or contacted me about one of my books. I started writing again for me, but now it's equally for you. I have had amazing times in the past year, and some not so good times, but some of you have stayed with me the whole year and I appreciate you so very much. Indie authors depend on their readers, and you are the best!
So, here's to a safe and happy New Year. Roll on 2015!
Love to you all,
Ariadne Wayne is the pen name of an overworked, often exhausted mother of two who frequently turns to the internet for relaxation. It doesn't always work...