Tag Archives: romance

Coup de Foudre

He came out of the storm and from the very first I wanted to touch him. Dark hair clung to his scalp, a gleaming helmet, and black lashes rained tears onto his face.
He wore a blue shirt, thin and worn. It was moulded to his frame by the rain and his long legs were enveloped in jeans over disreputable boots. I had never seen such shoulders, arms so firm and strong. I had never seen such a shine of beauty in blue eyes. I was captured from the very beginning.
My everyday world spun away from the moment. The crack of the wood on the fire and the bubble of soup on the stove left me and all there was in the whole world was the reality of him, the bulk of his frame in the doorway and the warmth of his blood drying the water on his skin and sending waves of heat across the space between us.
“Jess towels, now girl. Stop gawping bring towels.” My father’s voice speared into the unreal place that I had entered and shattered the magic, as his voice always would.
I handed thin towels to them, his hand brushed mine but there was no sign that he had noticed. I set about serving soup and building up the fire to warm them.
My father pulled up his chair and waved a work roughened hand at the stranger, telling him in his gruff wordless way that he should take a seat at the other side of the table and eat the food. I sat quietly beside the grate waiting for more instructions and trying to eat my own bowl of vegetables and broth as quietly as I could. My eyes strayed over and again towards the table and he glanced my way more than once. A hint of amusement teased at his lips but there was tension in his frame and something more, an expectation perhaps or simply a figment of my overheated imagination.
“Fetch blankets for Jessies’ bed and air them by the fire.”
He was to stay then, this stranger. He must be the man father had fetched from town to help with the ploughing and he would sleep in my brother’s bed in the downstairs room, below my own place…
The dark came swiftly bringing with it howling wind and sweeping waves of rain. Angry and vengeful the tempest threw itself against the windows and seeped in creeping rivers under the door. It was cold and, though we had oil for the lamp, father said bed was the best place for all of us. I climbed the stairs holding a guttering candle and wondered about the man lying now on Jessies’ bed, before the dying fire in the warmest room of the house. Would he sleep or would the complaining wind and whipping rain disturb his rest and hold oblivion at bay, as it would for me in the chill, wrapped shivering in the quilt Mama had made.
I don’t know how many hours passed before I moved, at what point I threw aside the cover and slipped my feet to the rough boards. I felt the rug under my skin as I crept to the door. There could be no candle and in truth I knew the old house so well that none was needed.
The stairs sighed gently as my weight passed over them. I held my breath lest the small noise should disturb the night that had fallen silent with the passing of the storm.
He was resting on the bed but the glint of moisture in his eyes told me that he was awake. I took a hesitant step from the door and he turned to see me.
He didn’t speak, pulling aside the blanket he simply waited and let me make my own decision, though we both knew that my being there evidenced my choices.
His lips took the breath from my mouth, his hands told me things that I had waited a lifetime to know and his body possessed mine completely with a gentle fierceness that was like the sky after the storm, swept with power and passion but shining with purity.
In the morning father found us. I quaked hearing him make his slow way down the stairs but strong arms held me close. Together we faced the fury and rode on the wings of his wrath until he saw that all was decided and though the time that had passed was unbelievably brief our souls were as one, we were home.
Now he sits on the old chair in the porch, his hands shake as he whittles toys for the little ones but inside that old frame is my man, the one who came to me from out of the storm and I love him still.

 

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Short Story – Love is blind.

I groaned even before I opened my eyes I’ll admit it, Bloody Valentine’s day – Yay.  So, we had to start early, pratting about with stupid roses and pathetic shiny hearts scattered on the table tops.  They’d all have to be cleaned up later and we would have to do it because the cleaners had refused.

We all had to wear antlers – bloody antlers with sparkly heart shapes on em. I ask you what the hell have antlers got to do with sodding Valentine’s day – huh.  Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Luigi had us all in for a staff talk before the lunch time service.  “You are my link with the lovers – oh for Pete’s sake.  My waiting staff are the ones who make the impression on my beautiful romantic customers, well I would have thought it was the free pudding and inclusive wine deal but, hey what do I know?  You must smile, be so very, very nice to them, make the restaurant hum with love.”  Hum with soddin love, he’s from Preston, Luigi, his name is really Les but he’s got so caught up in his pretend Italian background he makes me want to vomit.  On he went “Make sure all of the candles are lit and the glasses are sparkling yadah yadah yadah and not a word of thanks to those of us who had taken an extra shift to help out.”

So, I thought of the extra cash and the red stiletto heels I was going to buy with the bonus, I gritted my teeth and I got on with it.   It was every bit as ghastly as I thought it would be, simpering bloody girls giggling and crying and stupid arsed blokes looking smug, – Oh look at me aren’t I the cat’s pyjamas, I’m so cool, I remembered to make a booking three weeks in advance and with a bit of luck it means I’ll get my end away tonight.  Pathetic.

That was until they came in.  I saw one of the other girls jump to open the door, that was what attracted my attention.  Two older people struggling with the heavy wood and glass.  Milly showed them in and checked their names and took them to the table in the corner, one on my tables.

I grabbed the menus and gave them a minute to get themselves sorted, coats off, seats adjusted but they were making all sorts of fuss, that table is behind the pillar and I couldn’t see everything that was going on but something was.  Yes, I admit it I sighed, great just my luck a high maintenance pair.  Nothing to be done, think of the shoes, think of the shoes.

Well I took them the menus, they were holding hands and he was leaning over and kissing her on the cheek, and I mean they were old they must have been nearly fifty.  I felt like making that fingers down the throat gesture but that would have lost me my job and I thought of the shoes!

So, I got there and by now he had picked up the freebie rose and kissed it and handed it to her and she was sniffing at it, oh bloody hell, think of the shoes, think of the shoes.

Then I saw, two Labradors under the table, well behaved, tucking themselves in out of the way, both wearing yellow harnesses.  The bloke turned to me “Hi, could you be lovely and read the menu to us, do you mind?  They were still holding hands, they were both smiling and then he said “It feels so lovely in here, you can feel the love in the air.  It’s our big treat this we come every year it’s the anniversary of the day we met.  Are you all wearing those silly antlers again? The waitress last year said they were giving her a headache.”  I nodded and then realised that wouldn’t do it and so I just muttered

“Yeah, yeah sparkly antlers,” and I looked at her and at him, sitting there so – you know together somehow and so happy in spite of their problems.  I poured them some water then I told ‘em, “The tables are set with white linens, the cutlery is the heavy silver stuff that we keep for special occasions and there are silver vases with red roses in each one.”  There are little shiny hearts scattered on the tops.”  I picked a couple up and gave them one each to hold, “there are vases of lilies in the corners, I expect you can smell those?” she nodded then,” The lights are very low and candles are stood on all the window ledges in red heart shaped holders, each table has a wine bucket with white wine chilling, Shall I pour yours now before I read the menu to you?”  He nodded and reached out and just found my hand and squeezed it.

“Thank you, thank you so much. That’s the first time anyone has taken the time to tell us what it looks like.  It sounds wonderful, you have made this so very special for us, bless you.”  I think they enjoyed themselves.  I even sneaked some chicken to the guide dogs.

Yeah, I got the shoes, they rubbed a blister on my toe

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New Release

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M1K6Z52

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M1K6Z52

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Holly and the Mistletoe

It was over, Holly reached up and took down the last piece of Mistletoe, it was the great bunch that she had hung over the entrance.  In the days before Christmas she had dreamed of how it would be, she would hear him, the taxi door, and she would fling back the door.  In the light that flooded the path he would be highlighted, his uniform dark against the background light of the street lamps, his medals glinting and his smile, his beautiful smile lighting the night and warming her world.

When the phone rang, a whole week ago now and she heard the voice she had known straight away that it wasn’t good news.  They had agreed you see, when he first went away that they wouldn’t fall into the trap of regular calls.  On the surface it appeared a good idea and many of the troops committed to it but often and often she had seen what it did.  When the call was delayed, the trauma, the fear and anguish until news came through, either the lines were down or there had been an extra patrol but it was too hard, harrowing and wearing.  So they agreed, he would ring often but always unexpectedly, unlooked for.  The surprise was a thrill and though she lived, all the time in the hope of the call she didn’t experience the fear when there wasn’t one.

That last call though, she had known immediately that it was bad news, his voice, subdued and careful, and he told her. “I’m sorry love, I don’t think we’ll make it home now for Christmas, I can’t tell you more than that.”  She had been stoic, understanding, a soldier’s wife through and through and as her heart broke she made jokes and told him stories, what the family had done, the silly dog chasing a squirrel, the car passing its MOT.  When the call finished he was reassured and happy, she put down the receiver and let the tears flow, the hot angry, sorry, self-indulgent tears.  She gave them their time, from long experience she knew that not to do it would leave her irritated and depressed for weeks and so she indulged herself in the cleansing grief and so as before, carried on.

This time though her soul wouldn’t accept what her head was telling her, surely he would come, this would be their last Christmas as a couple, next year there would be three of them, a pile of baby toys under the tree, the silly pretence of Santa and the tiny new life which would demand a share of the fun and the affection.  This Christmas should have been the last on their own and now it wasn’t to be.

She had waited all day, Christmas Eve, jumping and starting at each car door slamming, peering through the curtains into the damp night and then when the phone had trilled she had answered it with a traitorous heart knowing that it was the end of hope.  They had tried to be upbeat and cheerful but they were devastated and she had spent Christmas day alone and sad…

She was glad it was over, the fire in the big metal drum was warming as she flung the tree into the conflagration and the cards and tinsel.  Yes thank goodness, it was over and now there was the New Year to look forward to, the baby and Steve, soon now he would come.

She raised the sprig of greenery gathering the trailing branches and lifting them high, “Don’t you have a better use for that?”

She turned, the mistletoe gripped tight, her eyes already flooded and there he was, his eyes alight with love as he reached and took the branch from her, held it high and lowered his head, his lips seeking hers, his arms folding her, her and their baby, and their future. Christmas might be over but the rest of their life was just starting.

 

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Time to Speak

Sunday afternoon, just another Sunday afternoon.  It isn’t though is it, this is to be THE Sunday afternoon.  Dancing rays of dust shimmer before the window, the clock ticks quietly in the corner and from the road outside there are faint sounds of life.

I glance around the room, not moving my head but taking it all in.  I love this room, this house, it’s not smart but it’s clean, the furniture is an eclectic mix and so many of the pieces have memories  seeped into them.  The sideboard that belonged to Granny, the old chair that I had used to nurse the babies, back then, back in the days when we were young and life was golden.  The dining furniture gleams and in the air is the faint scent of polish, brought out as the wood warms under the window.

I look over at Bill, his head is nodding, eyes already closed.  The newspaper has slipped from his hands and will soon slide to the floor the way that it always does so that when he wakes and stands the pages will scrunch and tear and he will look down in surprise, surprise every week, and he will tut and spend the next minutes folding and smoothing and flapping but it won’t work the paper will be spoiled.

I look into my heart, that is what I am about to do.  I am about to tread all over the smooth pages of our lives, crease and tear at the story of our marriage and make them irreparable.  I should speak now, before he starts snoring.  I have put it off long enough.  I’ve promised Jim that it will be this week.  He has nagged and nagged, told me that if I really love him I won’t wait any longer, I’ll tell Bill, then the family, our friends that I will “Go Public” with our relationship, our great sin and I will pick up and pack up and go with him into an uncertain future taking my guilt and sorrow with me.

The clock chimes quietly in the corner, I glance across.  The slender gold fingers glint in the sunshine, counting off the hours, the minutes until I speak, until I change things forever.  Beside the clock is our wedding photograph, dated now, my sparkling lace dress looking slightly ludicrous beside the one of Susan in her heavy satin bridal gown.  Just last year, one year ago this next week, the wedding where Jim touched my fingers as he passed me a glass of wine, the heat from his hands burning through the thin fabric of my blue, mother of the bride suit, as we danced and his whisper, his treacherous whisper slithering into my brain.

“Meet me tomorrow.  You know I have always admired you, meet me tomorrow by the river – please.”  And I had met him, and we had started our shameful deception and now he wants me to go from here, from this room, this life and start anew with him.

Bill stirs, settling further into his chair, the cat is on his lap already sleeping.  His hair is a little dishevelled, his sweater creasing behind his back.  I must speak.  He sighs, a great expellation of air and mutters.  The sun slides from behind a cloud, the sudden glow lights his face.  The brightness gentles out the wrinkles for a moment he is the man in the wedding photograph, the man who carried me from the reception held in his strong arms and ran with me to the waiting taxi, the man who was as inexperienced as I on our wedding night.  Here is the man who held my hand through the hours of labour and who let the tears of joy flow unheeded when the babies were born, pink and furious and gorgeous.  Here was the man whose arms were my arbour when my sister died and whose hands held mine in the church just hours before Jim’s words crept into my head.

How strange is life.

How hard is living.

I push to the front of the chair, lean towards him.  “Bill, Bill, are you asleep?”

“Hmm, hmm what, what’s matter?”

“I just wanted to..  I needed to…”

“What’s the matter, why are you crying?”

“I just wanted to say Bill, I love you.  I love you.”

“And I love you too you silly kipper.  Oh look at the paper, look what happened.”  He glances up at me.  “Are you alright Steph? Is there something wrong?”

“No love, nothing’s wrong.  Shall I put the kettle on.”

“Yeah, go on.  I’ll just sort this paper and then later shall we walk round to Susan’s see if she’ll give her old mum and dad tea.”

“Yes, let’s, let’s do that.”

The pain is gone.  I will call Jim tomorrow and tell him, tell him that our story, Bills and mine isn’t finished yet.  I’ll tell him that I’m going to smooth out the creases.  He won’t understand but it doesn’t matter, it will stay our secret, locked away out of sight where it belongs in the darkness.

 

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SALE SALE SALE

Okay, starting on Christmas day I have made all my books free – one after the other like a little train.  Free to download for reading on your lovely new Kindle that you got for Christmas.

WHAT

You didn’t get a Kindle for Christmas – well blow me down, roll me in sugar and call me a doughnut – why-ever not!!!

Oh well, it doesn’t matter – download the free app, download my free books and eat your left over mince pies curled up by the fire – You know you want to – well even if you don’t – I want you to – go on. Aw gowwan

Free on Kindle from 25th May 2014 for three days

Free on Kindle from 25th May 2014 for three days

Now available in paperback from Createspace or Amazon

Now available in paperback from Createspace or Amazon

Now in Paperback from Amazon or Createspace

Now in Paperback from Amazon or Createspace

 

Now available in paperback.

Now available in paperback.

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The River

I haven’t written any poetry for ages and then the other day this popped up.

The River

We sat beside the river

For the day was still and hot,

A day of bees and butterflies

and you said you loved me not.

A day when every heartbeat

Called forth an endless pain

For you told me you were leaving

And would never come again.

 

I sat beside the river

In the bitter winter cold

A day of snow and storm cloud

And I watched the year grow old.

I had waited through the autumn

Through the gales and in the rain

But now I see that truly

You will never come again.

 

I sit beside the river

In the springtime of the year

And I feel our baby moving

for the time is drawing near

when the love we had together

will become a precious pain

and in our son or daughter

I will see your face again.

 

Cygnets in Warwick

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Summer Reading – The Egret free from tomorrow for 3 Days on Amazon Kindle

Free for three days The Egret.  A story of self discovery.

Jenny has had enough, her husband has left her for a newer model. She’s falling into a life she doesn’t want. She runs, of course she does.A little house by the sea, a foreign country and time to get her head together. Then she meets her landlord. As her feelings for him develop she closes her eyes to the mystery. Is she being naive, foolish even or is he just what he seems to be, a kind and caring listener. Can Jenny learn to trust again and is that wise.

 Free on Kindle from 25th May 2014 for three days

Free on Kindle from 25th May 2014 for three days

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Aftermath

She is gone and the rooms have grown into great void caverns.  The silence resounds and I feel that I will be lost in the empty spaces.  Leaving, on the drive she paused and turned and blew a kiss, an old-fashioned and charming gesture that took my breath leaving me gasping from emptied lungs.  The great car, a leviathan in black with glittering chrome and dusky windows, a monster of a thing made wonderful by her hands at the wheel and her slender feet against the pedals drew away from the curb and I watched until it turned at the corner and became a memory.

The door slammed into the silence and I leaned my back to the wood and slid, slowly and ungraciously to the floor.  Hugging myself in delight and disbelief I re-lived every moment of this chaotic, desperate, storm laden day.  From the moment we met in the coffee bar, the invitation to share a table for a lunch.  There followed the devastation at the discovery of a husband and the subsequently dreadful meal.  Her mistaken assumption that my distress was due to illness whereas in truth it was the shattering of my heart.  The revelation of marital discord, the whole parade of events that brought her here to my home, my kitchen, sitting at my table.

As I loll against the wood, surrounded by the ticking of my great clock and the creaking of central heating the day gives way to evening.  The shadows grow and the familiar noises of returning commuters drag me back to reality and to the need to move lest the numbness in my legs  render me lame and limping.  I don’t want to limp, I don’t want to feel my age.  She is young, so very much younger than I am with a lithe and supple body and shining hair.  Passing the hall stand I avert my eyes from the mirror.  Wrinkles, sagging muscles and dulled eyes have never bothered me until I start to imagine how she sees me.  As her mother, her grandmother surely not, but then again just what is the age difference.  Turning back I approach the glass that gleams in the fading daylight.  There it is, my old face, the creases and wrinkles undeniable.  My hair styled for practicality rather than glamour and my eyes, are they rheumy behind my sensible spectacles.

The sobbing starts before I even acknowledge the sadness and in moments my eyes stream tears that run and cascade across my flabby cheeks.  I rub at the moisture and try to control the outburst.  Where has this come from, could I really be ill.  No of course not.  I am overwrought by the events of the last few hours and more, so much more than that I am reduced by the knowledge that this wonderful stranger is most probably beyond my grasp.  Cruel, cruel that I should find her now in the gloaming of my days and have to acknowledge that she is for me, so very, very far out of reach.

I banister drag myself up the stairs and throw myself across the duvet and so give way to a torrent of self-pity and hopelessness.  For the first time in my life I feel the years crushing me and I wail for the past and for the loss and for the pain of it all.

 

This is a stand alone piece taken from one of the chapters of my novel Who Follows.  It is again one of my shorts on Shortbreadstories

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Sorry – I fluffed it

Sorry I messed up the preview thingy on Createspace.  I think I have it sorted now. Click on the cover to see my preview.  (I am just giving this a trial because marketing is the hardest thing about this writing lark and I am trying to explore all avenues to find out what works and what doesn’t.  🙂

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00027]

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