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.
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...