Friday, September 19, 2014

#GoddessFishPromotions Presents SHATTERED BONDS by #LyndaAicher



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lynda will be awarding a $20 Gift Card to ebook retailer of choice (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AllRomance ebooks) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $10 GC to ebook retailer of choice (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AllRomance ebooks) to a randomly drawn host. Please click the banner to see a list of other stops on the tour.

Shattered Bonds, Book Seven of Wicked Play

Will the doors of The Den close forever?

When the lives and friendships of The Den owners are thrown into chaos, Noah Bakker steps in to deal with the fallout. He hasn't had a sub or participated in a Scene since tragedy changed his life four years ago. But as an investor in the exclusive BDSM club, he can't walk away from the lifestyle completely. As he works to keep the club running, he finds himself drawn to Liv Delcour, the seemingly naïve sister of one of the other owners.

Liv didn't know about the naughty things her friends were up to behind closed doors, but when their secrets become headline news, she's more curious than shocked. As she works with Noah to keep the media at bay, she finds that his dominant strength is more than a little arousing. Soon they're exploring their mutual desires in the most wicked ways.

Liv isn't sure if she can completely submit to Noah the way she thinks he wants her to—and Noah isn't sure he can withstand the pain of falling in love…

New to the Den? Start at the beginning with Bonds of Trust.


Enjoy an excerpt:

“Thank you for driving me tonight,” Liv Delcour said, stealing a glance at Noah as he backed the car out and followed the SUV into the street.

“Not a problem.” He kept his eyes on the road, one hand on the wheel, the other notched on the armrest.

She inhaled, catching a hint of his rich cologne. It smelled as expensive as the suits he wore and the car he drove. He might be out of her league, but she had to give her sister props for the gorgeous company she kept. Liv found the dark control of this man more appealing than the arrogance that came with most of the athletes Vanessa represented.

The streetlights flickered over his face to highlight his strong profile. He had an elegant nose tempered by a square jaw and a high forehead beneath hair that had just enough curl to defy the styled cut. Would the soft curls wrap around my fingers if I touched them?

Right. She closed her eyes and released a slow breath. That train of thought would get her nowhere.

The light was changing to green when she looked up, trying to think of something to talk about besides the youth center. They’d exhausted that topic on the drive to the ice arena. What else did she know about the man?

“So what kind of law do you practice?” she asked.

“Corporate and small business. Contracts mostly.”

That might have been the longest sentence he’d said to her. “What does that— Oh my God!” she exclaimed as a dark green pickup blasted into the intersection. The truck smashed into the side of the SUV to the tune of a metal-bending crash that rocked the interior of Noah’s car.

Noah slammed on the brakes. Her hands flew up to brace herself as she jerked forward only to be jolted back by the seat belt. Despite that, her focus remained on the scene unfolding before her. It was like watching a slow-motion camera on hyper-speed.

The collision propelled the SUV sideways through the intersection with a continued peal of tires and smoke that seemed to accelerate instead of slow. Horns blared, other vehicles swerved to avoid them, car parts exploded into the air and there was nothing she could do.


Lynda Aicher has always loved to read. It’s a simple fact that has been true since she discovered the words of Judy Blume at the age of ten. After years of weekly travel as a consultant implementing computer software into global companies, she ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now, her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties of being a mom, wife, chauffer, scheduler, cook, teacher, volunteer, cleaner and mediator. If writing wasn’t a priority, it wouldn’t get done.

To learn more about Lynda, you can find her at:

Website: http://lyndaaicher.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/lyndaaicherauthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lyndaaicher

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5339510.Lynda_Aicher

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

#AuthorSpotlightInterview with #FeatherStone

Today's Author Spotlight will feature a giveaway!!!  3 Random comments will be chosen for an eBook copy of The Guardian’s Wildchild  and one GRAND PRIZE winner will be chosen for an autographed print copy. (This prize is being offered by the author) We will draw winners on Friday 9/12/14!!!  Winners will be announced on Saturday!





What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Great question. When I sit down to write, a movie reel begins to flicker in my brain. Rapidly I’m drawn into a scene no one has ever seen before, including me. The voices of the characters quickly drown out the sounds of my world. Their joy, passion, pain, desperation rivets me to my chair. I’m hooked on their adrenalin.

The challenge is to translate that experience into a novel. While it is exciting to create something that never existed before, it always must make sense, be plausible to the reader as well as electrifying. I love that challenge. To know a reader is going to gasp or cry while reading my novel, that’s a rush. To know my reader fell into a world I created, and didn’t want to leave, that’s bliss.


What genre(s) do you write?

To write a novel that is strictly romance, or suspense thriller, or whatever is cheating the reader.

When I pick up a book to read from the romance genre, I also want suspense, mystery, even plausible supernatural.  Same goes for suspense / thriller. I’ve read mystery books that felt like the characters were made of paper – no dimension, no feeling. The focus rested solely on the plot.

Hello! Unless the main character is a plant, the author needs to paint the plot with interesting protagonists and antagonists. And that means creating characters that are mysterious at times, unpredictable, passionate about something, changeable. The reader is captivated by the plot, and happily held hostage (sorry for the alliteration) by fascinating characters.

My novels contain a full spectrum of genres. They are both plot and character driven. Each of my characters must have a full spectrum of good and evil in their personality. Of course, some will be more inclined to create suffering than another who might suffer from paranoia, or another who is willing to sacrifice his life for his love. This affects how they manage conflict and the kind of situations they encounter. They have a full range of emotions and a variety of relationships. Therefore, my novels contain romance, mystery, suspense, even paranormal.

The only categorization that should be noted is if the novel is children, young adult, adult, or erotica. There are so many genres and sub-genres that it is becoming comical in (1) assigning a genre to a novel and, (2) finding a book to read. Perhaps one solution would be to use tag words to identify the primary setting, antagonist, protagonist, and conflict.

For example, in my first novel, The Guardian’s Wildchild:

Settings: naval ship, Pacific Ocean, island of powerful Guardian mystics
Protagonist: Guardians, powerful mystic, naval captain
Antagonist: fallen Guardian, evil woman, Admiral
Conflict: control of crystals, find killer, battle with Darkness, evil, and discover love



What was the hardest part of writing your book?

While writing a novel, some scenes, perhaps characters are included in the first drafts that do not contribute enough to the conflict and resolution. The author enjoyed their personality. They were fun and had some great moments. During the editing process, the author needs to ask the big question – what stays and what gets dumped. Those pieces are identified by asking, “If I take out this action, event, scene, character, will it have a negative effect on the plot?” If the honest answer is, “No,” that is an indication that piece is mere fluff.

An author is usually emotionally invested in every line of the story. Deleting any portion, even one line can be painful. My first manuscript took ten years to write, mostly because of taking time to study writing at our university. When I came to that dreaded editing part, the hardest part was deleting about one hundred pages.

The remaining pages had to be re-edited to account for the lost scenes and characters. Ugh! If a deleted character was mentioned throughout the manuscript, I had to hunt for those mentions and rewrite those lines. It took months. My butt got sore (and wider, I think) and my husband still lacked for a decent meal and supper time.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Both actually. Although it may appear I’m a pantser, in truth I’m a plotter. True plotters will map out the plot, scenes, characters, timing of events on a wall with sticky note paper. I dive into writing the story from beginning to end. My first draft will appear complete with dialogue, plot twists, subplots, character shifts, and detailed scene descriptions. However, it is still only the framework of the story, an outline in detail.

When I finish writing that first draft, I head on back to page one, paragraph one, and begin the rewrite. Everything is fine tuned. More character nuances are flushed out. Surprise plot twists surface. Emotions deepen and scenes are more clearly defined. In my most recent manuscript of Forbidden, even the ending changed dramatically.

Hmmm, looks like I’ve created a third writing style. How about “DipnDive”? LOL


Why do you think people should choose your books over another author

This is a toughie. People are complicated. At writer’s conventions and on my blog I ask readers this question, “How do you choose a book?”

The answers range from book cover, title, synopsis, to reading a few pages. The most common answer is, “word of mouth.”

Why should people choose The Guardian’s Wildchild? Because it is different. That could be risky to reveal. Many people like to stay within their comfort zone. I suppose that is why some critics will advise an author to follow a formula. Romance authors are encouraged to follow a formula that is different from how a horror novel is written, and so on. I don’t follow a formula.

My novels do conform to the standards of constructing a story. Then I branch out. Recently, I hired a critic to provide feedback on my current manuscript. Her negative response sent me seeking soothing comfort from my author friends. The critic complained that I did not follow the proper formula. Subsequently, risking total meltdown, I sent a copy to reader reviewers. OMG, what a difference. The common remark was that they couldn’t put the story down.

In creating a story, an author will ask her/himself, “What if?” That’s the trigger. If the story is told well, the reader will wonder, “What if this could be true?” A great story will have a lasting effect on the reader long after the last paragraph is read. That is why a reader should choose to read The Guardian’s Wildchild.

Synopsis:

Caught in a reckless attempt to stop Dark forces, Sidney Davenport, a young, rule breaking, spirited member of the secret paranormal community of Guardians, finds herself imprisoned on a naval ship and slated for execution. Her struggle with the unfamiliar emotions of fear and anger becomes even more complicated when she can no longer fight her attraction to the very man who has orders to perform her execution.

Captain Sam Waterhouse, a meticulous naval captain who’s suspected of treason, teeters on a precipice between Darkness and Light. When he receives an unusual prisoner, a paranormal journey begins to unravel his disciplined life. All the while, humanity is unknowingly at great risk when two Dark forces team up to acquire control of an elusive power. Sidney and Sam attempt to quiet their powerful feelings for each other, only to discover they can save each other, and in doing so, they might even save the world.

Through stunning imagery, an intricate and adventurous plot, and a strong cast of characters, Feather Stone gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the future—a future that is chilling, yet full of hope.

Excerpt:
She (Sidney) was awakened by footsteps approaching her cell. They were pounding, like those of a man strutting and sure of himself. Butchart stopped in front of her cell door, smiling with contempt and satisfaction. With a wave of his hand he dismissed the two security guards.
“Good morning, Miss Davenport. That is your name, according to what you told us when the serum went to work.” Butchart stood tall, his arms across his chest. “No need for further questioning, my dear. Did you sleep well?” he asked sarcastically.
Sidney mustered up some strength. She wondered just how much she’d revealed. Most of the previous day was a blank. Her mind was so muddled she could barely recall how her hand had been injured. She shuffled to the cell door.
“I’ve been better, Captain.”
Butchart smiled. “So, how is dear old Greystone?”
Sidney was taken aback. “Who?”
“My dear little witch, it became obvious when that bullet wound in your hand was healing so rapidly. Then, too, the serum had minimal effect on your brain, though it just might kill you in a day or so.” He paced a few steps back and forth in front of her cell’s door. “And another Guardian will be eliminated.”
“Frank, Greystone hasn’t forgotten you. Someone will soon come to bring you back home to him.”
“He can try,” he said with a pasted on smile.
Sidney hung onto the metal bars of her cell door. “Tell me, does the admiral know who you really are?”
Butchart pounced at her. “Shut your damn mouth,” he hissed.

How would you describe yourself if you were “speed dating” your readers?

If you already have met me in the flesh, you'll know the photo on the left is a reflection of my inner self - that part of me which lives on the edge, pushes my limits to the extreme, dares to be different, and desires to create stories that make you wince, cry, laugh, and feel the pleasures of lovers in the throes of passion.

During my career as a paramedic I came face to face with scenes most people would rather not think about. Having experienced life in the most deadly and gut wrenching events, and work with the police service, I have the fodder for creating intense novels.

All my life I've loved the challenges and pushed myself to reset my boundaries to include more of everything life has to offer - with a few exceptions.

I've steered clear of drugs, alcohol or any other practices that take away my self-control. However, if the activity was legal or would not harm anyone or anything, I've probably tried it - or wanted to. I've never gotten around to bungee jumping or sky diving. I had signed up to get my pilot's license but ran out of cash when my car needed repairs. Damn!

I live with passion - that feeling in my entire being that pulls me forward, like the excitement of a child discovering the magical world. And I love to learn. I've studied French, Japanese, Spanish and a bit of Cree and Ukrainian. I can play the piano, accordion and guitar. Genealogy has been my latest passion and discovered my ancestors in England and Scotland dating back to the 1500’s.

I love to paint (oils and watercolours), knit, garden, hike, canoe, read and, most of all, I love my animals (currently one sheltie, Sammy; and two cats, Leo and Smokey). I've raced snowmobiles and snowmobiled in the Rockies in Canada and USA.

The paranormal has followed me since childhood. My journey has led me to wild experiences during meditation, shamanic exercises, Reiki, and ... a relationship with a variety of spirit guides. I manage to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground through loving my family, and being with special friends.


Please share with us your future projects and upcoming releases.

My latest project is a manuscript which is undergoing its final editing. When the inspiration first grabbed me I resisted for months. The images would not leave me alone. Finally I had to surrender and begin the process of intense research. Two years ago, I sat down and began the first page of Forbidden.

Truthfully, I’ve never even read a book that grabbed my heart and soul so mercilessly. Though romance is relegated to the background, the passion of the male and female protagonists sizzles. It is a murder mystery, a suspense thriller, an epic tale of international intrigue, and a romance that is unforgettable. Here is the synopsis draft.
                                                          
Within hours of arrival in the Middle East city of Samarra, Eliza Leigh MacKay and fifteen Americans are plunged into a desperate struggle for survival. Eliza, alone, survives the massacre. A cover-up ensues.

Police captain Hashim Sharif, a devout Muslim, is forced to become the keeper of the impetuous MacKay woman. When she escapes and is cornered by madmen, Sharif discovers she is no shrinking violet and awakens to his deep affection for her.

Sharif and Eliza are immersed into the shadowy world of espionage, corruption, murder, and kidnapping. From shabby back alleys, a crumbling mosque, mountain caves, to the splendor of the marble columns in the federal building, Captain Sharif hunts for the American’s killers.

As Captain Sharif’s investigation progresses, he and Eliza become the hunted. Compelled to trust each other, they hold back feelings they’ve considered forbidden. When Sharif discovers who was behind the massacre, it hits him with deadly force - as if shot by his own AK47.

Feather Stone takes you on a richly textured epic adventure through stunning landscape and into the minds of desperate men. A strong cast of characters will grab and hurl you into a plot full of treachery, and passion that refuses to be silenced.

Thank you, Bernadette, for asking me these thought provoking questions. I am available to your readers to answer more questions and respond to comments.


Connect with Feather Stone:

THE GUARDIAN’S WILDCHILD: Available at



Omnific Publishing: http://omnificpublishing.com/


BLOG: http://www.featherstoneauthor.blogspot.com/


Twitter:  FeatherWrites https://twitter.com/FeatherWrites

Facebook:  FSauthor https://www.facebook.com/FSauthor


Monday, September 8, 2014

#GoddessFishPromotions presents UP THE TOWER by JP Lantern


Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn't be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go...UP THE TOWER.

The author will be awarding a backlist ebook copy to a randomly drawn winner at every stop during the tour and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour.

Excerpt

Before anything else—before the riot, before the flood, before the gap and the deaths and the fires and the pain—before all of that, Ana just wanted to get the hell out of Junktown.

But she was stuck there with Raj, and Raj had all the bodyguards, so she couldn't very well leave on her own. Walk into Junktown without any protection? No, thank you. She had a knife on her, but that was hardly enough. The knife fit neatly in a small, luxury Cardion-brand sheath at her side.

The rest of her outfit was direct out from a fashion magazine. She wore tight black Cardion slacks, her patent leather Aushwere ankle boots sexy and stylish and perfect for inner-city walking. Her dark blue blouse was Cardion again (there had been a sale); already she had noticed the way Raj had been hugging his eyes to how it cupped and clung to her body. He would have been looking a bit more, perhaps, but she wore her favorite Kadaya Sarin-brand leather jacket, allowing her a bit of modesty with the long sleeves and tight collar, despite the thinness of the material. She was a woman dressed to impress, but also was no whore—she had her man. He liked her dressed attractive, but not like some slut. Ana knew what he wanted, because that was her entire life, as she saw it, from now on.

They were inside the ground floor of a tall building. Cleanbots rushed around them, sweeping up dust, guided along by retrofitted eyebots that spied out areas of dust and disrepair.

 “Here's where we'll have the lobby,” said Raj, opening his hands out wide to the open space.

Ana had presence of mind to hold her tongue.

What she wanted to say was, “Really, dear? Here in the first possible place that someone could enter from the street? That's where you'll have the lobby? That's so inventive. You're so smart.”


What did she say was, “Oh! It will look beautiful, I'm sure.”




J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed "rugged," though he would also be fine with "roughhewn" because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.





Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7171112.J_P_Lantern

Blog/website: http://jplantern.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JpLanternBooks

twitter: @jplantern





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Friday, September 5, 2014

#ReleaseDay fo #5PrincePublishing authors #SusanLohrer and #LindsayHarper















Available from 5 Prince Publishing www.5princebooks.com  books@5princebooks.com
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 4, 2014
Digital ISBN-10:1631120662 ISBN-13:978-1-63112-066-4-ONLY Perma FREE

Purchase link : http://www.5princebooks.com/buy-links.html






A Gift for Chloe
Her carefully ordered world is turning upside down…
Linda is the one who holds her family together. She’s an absolute rock—at least, she was until her daughter announced her pregnancy (wait, isn’t 40 way too young to become a grandmother?) and delivered the news that the baby has Down syndrome.
Now she finds herself standing in the middle of a bookstore, floundering to regain her equilibrium as her carefully ordered world tumbles willy-nilly around her. Instead of making a relatively simple decision about which book to buy, she’s spent an hour waffling between two titles and trying (and failing) to come to grips with this new reality she hasn’t had nearly enough chance to prepare for. It’s not that she hasn’t already fallen head over heels in love with baby Chloe, but this is something she’s not equipped to handle—she can’t even choose a self-help book on the subject, for goodness’ sake.
Her friends and the medical professionals blithely insist she’ll forget all about special needs the moment she sees her grandchild for the first time. Even the too-good-to-be-true, optimistic fellow customer she encounters in the aisle of the bookstore seems to think she’s worried over nothing.
This handsome stranger is obviously compassionate and knows a lot about Downs, but Linda is in no way interested in striking up a conversation with him, let alone a friendship, no matter how intriguing he is… until he performs a random act of kindness she can’t ignore.

About Susan Lohrer

Susan Lohrer grew up in more towns in western Canada than she has fingers to count them on. She currently lives in southern BC with her husband of more than two decades, their two teenagers who are still at home, three dogs, and far more aquariums than a reasonable household should contain. She believes life is always better with a healthy dose of humor.

Twitter: @susanlohrer
E-mail: susan@susanlohrer.com


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Available from 5 Prince Publishing www.5princebooks.com  books@5princebooks.com
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Contemporary
Release Date: September 4, 2014
Digital ISBN-10:1631120646 ISBN-13:978-1-63112-064-0
Print ISBN-10:1631120654 ISBN-13:978-1-63112-065-7

Purchase link : http://www.5princebooks.com/buy-links.html






Have you got a secret hidden so deep that thinking about it threatens to overwhelm you?

Bethany Forrester and Denizon Cartwright are mother and daughter but they haven’t seen each other for thirty five years. Not since Beth gave Denizon up for adoption when she was two days old.
“How to Have a Happy Marriage” tells the story of how they find each other and their lives and loves along the way – from the stormy relationship between Beth and her husband to Denizon’s quest for true happiness and real love.
We follow the ups and downs of the pair as they struggle to fit each other into their already complicated lives.
Will it be a happy ending for either of them?
Find out in the final chapter of the “How to …” series of books.

About the Author
Lindsay Harper lives in West Yorkshire, England with her husband and four Springer Spaniels. She has two grown up children and three grandchildren. She now writes full time and this is the third book in the ”How To …” romance series following best friends Robyn and Denizon through the trials and tribulations of life. When she’s not writing she practices Homeopathy and is a House Doctor. For fun she enjoys walks by the water, yoga, cooking, DIY, 60’s retro and anything romance.

How to contact the author
 Twitter -@harperpublishin
Facebook – LindsayHarperauthor
You Tube - Lindsay Harper How to Have an Affair

Excerpt of How to Have A Happy Marriage

Chapter 1

Bethany Forrester finished the last page and closed the book – “How to Have a Happy Marriage”. She sighed contentedly as she realised this book, out of the entire “How to…” series was the most relevant to her. She bought Jay Trethedick’s first book, “How to Have an Affair,” after seeing him on Breakfast Time last year. Even though she couldn’t personally relate to the topic she had been very impressed with his theories … plus he was very easy on the eye.
Sadly, the topic of divorce in his second book resonated all too well. Her divorce had not been amicable – far from it, and she could remember rushing through the three hundred pages just so she could tightly pack away all her memories of that time in a box and bury them deep.
But this book was different and each page had been a pleasure to read as it reminded her of the wonderful man she was now lucky enough to be married to. The first page always made her smile and she opened the book to read for the thousandth time, the Recipe for a Happy Marriage.
Ingredients
250grms Honesty
250grms Friendship
250grms Respect
250grms Faithfulness
1 tbl spoon of Sex
1 level tsp of Humour
A touch of Compromise
A pinch of Individuality
Instructions
Take a couple of individuals in love, add all ingredients, mix together and cook for the rest of your life on earth at 100%.
She thought the concept was so sweet and would love to meet the man who could write such sentiment. There were just two ingredients on the list she was missing, but only one of them played on her mind. The first was sex, but that didn’t really bother her, if she was honest. Adrian, her husband was approaching sixty – ten years her senior – and his sex drive started to diminish not long after his fiftieth birthday.
At first, she took it personally but eventually came to realise it was the pressure of running his own plumbing contractors business and being on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
She knew it was nothing to do with her, as whenever they took a well-deserved holiday and he relaxed, he couldn’t get enough – and she was usually glad when the fortnight was over so she could get some rest.
What did bother her was number one on the list of ingredients – honesty. She had been keeping a secret from everyone she had ever met for all her adult life. It was such a major part of her that, most of the time, she didn’t think about it, until at times like this when it reared its ugly head. One day I’ll tell someone but not yet … it’s not the right time. But sadly, it never was.
Just then her phone rang. It was Leo, her twenty-four year old son from her previous marriage.
‘Hi, Mum, can I borrow your car?’
‘Why? Where’s yours?’
‘Er …’
‘Let me guess, your dad’s borrowed it.’
‘His is in the garage. He promises to have it back this week.’
Beth had heard her ex-husband’s promises before.
‘But I need it to collect the girls from school.’
‘If I do that, can I?’
‘What’s the urgency? You usually walk to work or Adrian picks you up.’
Leo was one of Adrian’s best plumbers and had worked with his step-father since leaving school at sixteen.
‘Cat has got somewhere to go this morning.’ Cat was Leo’s live-in girlfriend who Beth had never really approved of. She reminded her too much of herself at that age. The girl was only eighteen and Beth was sure she was only with Leo to escape her controlling parents.
‘So it’s Cat that wants to borrow my car?’
‘Er … yes, but she daren’t ask you in case you said no.’
Beth sighed.
‘I could give her a lift, would that do?’
‘But that would mean her having to tell you where she’s going.’
‘Yes, is that a problem?’
‘I’ll have to ask her.’
‘Can’t you borrow your own car for a couple of hours?’
‘No, Dad’s gone away until Friday.’
‘So how’s he going to get his own car back today?’
‘Don’t bother, Mum, if it’s too much trouble. We don’t want to put you out.’
This is just so typical. I’m the bad guy again. I’m sure his perfect father could commit double homicide and Leo would defend him.
‘Okay, I suppose so … could she have it back by school time?’
‘Thanks, Mum, you’re the best.’
‘Only when you want something.’
‘Don’t be like that. You know you love me really.’
That’s the problem – sometimes I think I love you too much.
‘What time are you coming to collect it?’
‘I thought you could drop it off on your way to work.’
‘Did you now, and how pray am I going to get to work?’
‘Cat will drop you off.’
‘Okay, I’m just getting ready. I’ll be there in forty-five minutes.’
‘Can you make it half-an-hour. Her appointment’s at ten in Glastonbury.’
‘I’ll see what I can do.’
‘Thanks, Mum.’
So instead of the leisurely breakfast she planned, she ran upstairs to take a quick shower. Adrian always dropped the girls at school on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when Beth worked. It saved her dashing around and gave her an hour to get her head together before her busy day. She had recently cut her hours down to three days during the week and all day Sunday since appointing the most brilliant manager for her thriving little coffee house on the high street in Street, Somerset.
Up to the beginning of the year, she had worked seven days a week trying to get the business established. When she took it on, it was an ailing cafe serving a menu of fat, fat and more fat. She had completely refurbished the inside with her husband and invented a whole new healthy menu.
It had taken a while for the locals to get used to eating paninis instead of bacon butties with lard, but eventually, they had seen the light and she had built up quite a regular clientele of tourists and visitors alike. Now she loved going to work and was finally living her dream instead of feeling the burden and stress of the stone around her neck she felt at the beginning.
Lunchtimes were the busiest times and she always liked to be in before ten to help the chef prep the salads and make the soup of the day. Between the three of them, the Cafe Sorrento was finally making the profit she had told her bank manager would be achievable when he finally granted her the business loan over a year ago.
By nine-fifteen she was on her way to her son’s flat. He only lived ten minutes away, but traffic on the Glastonbury road was usually busy until at least ten o’clock. Cat was waiting outside, looking at her watch as Beth pulled up.
‘Thanks, Mrs F. You’re a life saver,’ Cat said as she got in the driver’s side.
‘So what’s with all the secrecy?’ Beth asked.
Cat didn’t speak as she looked in the mirror before pulling out into the traffic.
‘Are you okay, Cat? You look a bit pale.’
‘I’ll be fine.’
‘Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you? I’m sure they can cope without me at work for a while.’
Cat hesitated. ‘Er … no, I’ll be fine.’
Beth couldn’t imagine it could be anything other than some sort of hospital appointment because if it was something simple like an interview it wouldn’t be shrouded in such secrecy.
‘Well if you’re sure. Leo could’ve asked Adrian for the day off, you know.’
‘We didn’t want to make a fuss.’
‘Watch out for that car!’ Beth braced herself waiting for the impact, but luckily, Cat’s young reflexes were sharp and she pulled up with inches to spare. Everything tumbled off the back seat into the foot wells.
‘Sorry Mrs F, maybe I shouldn’t be driving.’ Cat pulled the car onto the side of the road.
‘Don’t worry. It’s always mad at this time in a morning. Everyone goes too fast.’ Beth reached across and stroked Cat’s arm. At that moment she seemed no older than Beth’s youngest daughter … so naive and vulnerable.
‘Please don’t ask me anything, but will you drop me off at West Mendip Community Hospital? I’ll get a taxi home.’
Beth was desperate to know what was going on but she respected Cat’s wishes and said, ‘Of course I will. I’m here if you need to talk or I’ll come and collect you.’
‘Thank you, that’s kind.’
They swapped places again and Cat reached into the back to retrieve all her handbag contents that were strewn about the floor and under the seats.
‘I think I’m missing a lip gloss. If you find one, it’s mine.’
‘I’ll have a look when I get back to work.’
Beth pulled up in the visitor’s car park. ‘Are you sure you don’t want me to come in with you?’
Cat shook her head. Her hands were shaking as she opened the door. Just before getting out she reached across and kissed Beth’s cheek.
‘Thanks, Mrs F, for being so nice. I know we haven’t always seen stuff the same way but you’re really cool for a mum.’
‘That’s sweet of you to say, and remember if you want me to come back for you, I will. Just ring me anytime.’
Cat closed the door behind her and walked off as slowly as if she was heading a funeral cortège.
Beth was reluctant to leave her in this state. But what more could she do?  So as soon as Cat disappeared through the revolving doors, she drove away. She parked in her usual car parking space outside work and remembered that Cat had asked her to look for the rogue lip gloss. Under her seat all she found was an old Maynard wine gum, which she was tempted to eat, as it was a red one – her favourite colour. The lip gloss was under the passenger seat hidden under a paper tissue. As she reached along the floor, fumbling for the lip gloss, her fingers touched a piece of card. She pulled it out and saw it had the Marie Stopes logo on the front and an appointment for ten o’clock.
‘Shit!’ She slammed the car door, forgetting to lock it and ran into work.
‘Can you cope without me for a bit? I’ve got somewhere urgent to go,’ she asked Carol, her manager.
‘Yes, of  course Are you okay?’
‘I am, but someone else isn’t. I haven’t time to explain now. I’ll be back as soon as I can.’ Beth turned round and dashed to her car, speeding back up the Old Wells Road to the hospital. She turned on the hands free kit and rang Leo’s number.
‘Hi, Mum, did Cat get off okay?’
‘Do you know where she’s going?’
‘Of course I do. Why, do you?’ he asked tentatively.
‘Yes. I’ve found her appointment card. Why is she going to the Marie Stopes clinic?’
‘Oh fuck! We didn’t want to tell anyone until it was all over.’
‘You mean you’re letting your girlfriend have a termination and you can’t even be bothered to go with her?’
‘She said she’d be fine, and we’ve got a big plumbing job on.’
Beth couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. ‘How can you be so selfish? Have you any idea what the poor girl’s going through?’
‘Chill, Mum. It’s no big deal.’
‘No big deal! How dare you. I thought I’d brought you up better than that. It will be the worst ordeal of her life so far, and I doubt anything will ever beat it. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll drop what you’re doing and get to that hospital by any means you can. I’ll see you there.’
‘Okay … okay. I get it, you’re mad, but don’t take it out on me. She told me she was on the pill. We don’t want a baby … she wants to get rid of it as well.’
Beth couldn’t speak for the tears.
‘Mum, are you still there? … Why are you so upset?’
‘I’ll see you soon.’
So much for burying my feelings deep underground in a box. It was over thirty-five years ago, yet right now she felt as bad as when she was waiting for them to call her name. Then, she didn’t have a friendly face offering to go with her … she had an angry, disappointed mother who, all the while in the waiting room, kept telling her she’d brought disgrace on the family.
Poor Cat … she was facing this ordeal all alone. As Beth got out of her car she saw it was already ten thirty. Please be running late! Quickly, asking the receptionist where the clinic was being held, she ran to the lift. Typical, the clinic’s at the other end of the bloody corridor. She was out of breath as she rang the buzzer to be let into reception.
‘I’m looking for Miss Catherine … er … Sykes,’ Beth asked the receptionist.
‘And you are?’
‘Her partner’s mother. He’s been held up in traffic and is on his way.’
‘I’m sorry, you’ll have to wait here. She’s already gone into surgery.’
Beth put her head in her hands and sobbed.
‘Are you okay? Would you like a glass of water?’ The receptionist came round the desk and led Beth to a seat.
‘Sorry. I would please. Is it too late to change her mind?’
The receptionist paused and, trying to be as gentle as she could said, ‘She doesn’t want to change her mind. You know this isn’t her first appointment. We do an awful lot of counselling before we carry out any procedure … Do you want to talk to someone?’
‘I’ve never talked to anyone in thirty-five years.’
‘So wouldn’t now be a good time to start?’
Beth didn’t go back into work – she couldn’t – she felt totally drained. After dropping Cat and Leo back at their flat she went home to be by herself … her staff could cope – it was only one day. While the kettle was boiling, she kept looking at the card on the kitchen work top reminding her of the counselling appointment the receptionist had made at a sister clinic … thirty-five years too late. After making herself a strong coffee, she went to sit in the beautiful conservatory looking out over her long cottage garden with distant views of Glastonbury Tor and thought about her morning.
She expected Cat to be devastated after her procedure, but all she saw on the young face was relief. Beth could understand why she didn’t want a baby at eighteen … she hadn’t wanted one at thirteen, but unlike Cat, she couldn’t go through with it. She had screamed and shouted so much, embarrassing her mother even more, that the whole trip was aborted not the baby.
Luckily, it was the 1970’s and most of the mother and baby units had closed down which meant Beth had to stay at home – a prisoner in her own house for nine months. The baby girl was taken off her at birth and given to deserving parents and the whole sorry incident was never mentioned again. Beth continued her education and was a good girl until she found someone to marry her and then she was off, at not much older than Cat was now.
Beth sat in the same armchair all day until it was time to collect her two precious girls from school. What she couldn’t give her first little girl she lavished on the two she had. Leo was always accusing her of spoiling them and treating them better than she ever treated him. She knew he was speaking the truth, but she couldn’t help it. She had to make it right somehow.
Tuesday was hectic after school – Amy, who was eight, had ballet and tap and Annabelle, who was the eldest at ten, had choir and gymnastics. Eddie Stobart’s Logistical Haulage Contractors couldn’t do a better job of organising the schedule than she did. Each activity was precisely planned down to the last second, and if it all went without a hitch – which it usually did– they were back in the house totally exhausted by eight o’clock, ready for supper and bed.
Adrian supervised bed-time while Beth made the evening meal.
‘Ooh … I know what I forget to tell you. You know that author you’ve just been reading, he’s appearing at the Glastonbury Christmas Book and Craft Festival,’ Adrian said as he sat down at the table to a plate of home-made moussaka.
‘You mean Jay Trethedick?’
‘Yes, that’s him.’
‘Wow. Do you know how I can get any tickets?’
‘Da … da.’ Adrian said as he pulled two tickets out of the back pocket of his work trousers. ‘It’s for his Creative Writing workshop.’
‘How did I manage to be married to the most wonderful man in the world?’ Beth walked round the table and gave her husband a kiss.
‘Just lucky I guess?’
‘Are you coming with me?’ she asked.
‘I don’t think it’s really my thing. I got two tickets in case you wanted to take a friend, or maybe you could invite your mother?’
‘What? So I could hear her moan about how he wasn’t as good as her favourite author. No, she’d only spoil it … I might see if Cat would like to come with me. I think I made a breakthrough with her today.’
‘So tell me what’s been going on with Leo today? He ran off site like a man possessed.’
‘Let’s finish eating first. It’s a long story and might put me off my food.’
For the rest of the meal they kept the conversation light – with Adrian doing most of the talking about his day of plumbing. At times like this she was glad she really loved him, as it was the only reason she would tolerate hearing about a dripping stop-tap and sticking ball-cocks.
‘So?’ Adrian said as they took two cups of coffee into the lounge.
‘Leo rang me this morning to ask me if he could borrow my car. It turned out it was actually Cat who needed it to go to a hospital appointment. You’ll never believe, she was only having an abortion on her own! So I phoned Leo and told him to get down there if he knew what was good for him. I’m sorry if it left you in the lurch.’
‘No, we managed. He never said anything … An abortion and you knew nothing?’
‘I don’t think I’d know now if she hadn’t dropped the appointment card in my car. When I dropped her off I could tell something was bothering her, but I never guessed it would be that. What are we going to do with him?’
‘I don’t know what you mean. What can we do with him? He’s a grown man.’
‘But fancy, letting the poor girl suffer all that on her own. I thought I’d taught him better than that.’
‘Have you spoken to him?’
‘Not on his own. I tried to be gentle with them both when I collected her. Apparently, she hasn’t even told her mum she was pregnant.’
‘Do you want me to have a word with him, man-to-man?’
‘I don’t know what to do. I’m only sorry he felt he couldn’t talk to me about it first.’
‘He probably thought you’d try and talk them out of it.’
‘Why would I do that?’
‘Because I thought you didn’t agree with abortions?’
‘No, that’s not true. I wouldn’t have one, but I don’t think it’s right to interfere in anyone else’s decision.’
Adrian raised his eyebrows. ‘At the risk of having my head bitten off, is that strictly true?’
‘Why do you know me so well?’ She laughed. ‘I suppose I might have put forward the alternative viewpoint.’
‘Hence, why they didn’t tell you.’
‘But Leo tells me everything … or he used to before he started going out with Cat.’
‘Is that why you’ve never warmed to her... because she took away your baby boy?’
‘I don’t know. I’ve not thought of that before … but maybe. I saw a different side of her today … I think I may have misjudged her.’
‘I’ve always liked her. I think she’s good for him. He’s so laid back … I’m sure some days he’d never get out of bed.’
‘Yes, she does seem to motivate him, and he does love her.’
‘I know you think she’s using him, but I think she loves him as well.’
‘From now on I will try harder. I never want a repeat of today.’
‘I assume they don’t either … But don’t you think it was sensible of them? Neither of them is ready for a baby, she’s only eighteen – far too young to be thinking about motherhood. They’ve got the rest of their lives to have children.’
‘But sometimes these things happen and you can’t get rid of something just because it’s not quite the right time.’
‘Sorry, love. I didn’t mean to be heartless. Has today upset you more than you’re letting on?’
‘I suppose it’s been such a shock … I could’ve been a grandma,’ she said resting her chin in her hands.
‘You’re too young to be a grandma. I, on the other hand, am just the right age to be a granddad. I keep hoping Toby will tell me he’s ready to settle down.’
‘I doubt that. He’s too busy travelling the world.’
‘But he’s thirty-five next birthday.’
‘You were nearly fifty when we had Annabelle.’
‘I know. I’m hoping he doesn’t take after me.’
‘Surely two young girls is enough for anyone your age?’ She laughed.
‘Oy, watch it! I think we’d better change the subject! … Do you want to watch something on television?’
‘Is there anything on?’ She picked up TV Chat and looked.
‘I love you, Bethany Forrester.’ He winked at her.
‘And I love you, “The man for any job”… Here’s the remote, you choose.’
When Adrian’s snoring got so unbearably noisy it was agreed that Beth would sneak out of bed and go sleep in the guest bedroom – tonight was one of those nights. It didn’t help that Beth’s mind was working a double shift. During a large percentage of her day to day life, she could put to the back of her mind the little girl she had given away by pretending it never happened to her – it happened to a friend. But after everything that had transpired during the past twelve hours, putting it out of her mind was impossible.
Over the years she had been tempted on so many occasions to search for her daughter, but was too terrified of the outcome. Maybe today was an omen. It was also one of the main reasons she had agreed to go for counselling. The receptionist at the Marie Stopes clinic said all the ramifications of the adoption could be discussed at the appointment and any help she needed could be given to her then.
Ever since Beth had given her baby up for adoption she had kept a diary of her life – so one day the daughter she couldn’t keep could learn all about her birth mother. She hadn’t written in it every day. In fact, she had hardly written in it this year. It was hidden on the bottom shelf of the airing cupboard in a pillow case. She had chosen that specific hideaway because she could guarantee no-one would ever choose to change their bedding or towels voluntarily.
Without putting the landing light on, she crept along the hallway and opened the door to the airing cupboard. Sliding her hand along the bottom shelf she felt for something hard. She pulled the pillow case containing the diary out from underneath a thick pile of towels and crept back to the guest bedroom to read it. The diary was a loose-leaf A5 Filofax which had been added to over the years – it was now over three hundred pages long. In the past she’d thought about publishing it, because even though she said so herself, it was a scintillating read. Maybe, I could have a word with Jay Trethedick and ask for his advice when I go and see him. Only a month to go before I meet my hero. Come on, no daydreaming. You need to write about today.
She opened the diary at a clean page and started to write.
Dear Denise,
‘Well, what a day …’