15 Stories by USA Today, best-selling, and award-winning authors.
From sweet to spicy, the romances bundled into this set cross time and unite hearts, cast spells of laughter, battle wedding jitters and fight back tears, while weaving love’s hopeful magic throughout 1400 pages.
I’m Tamara Ferguson, award-winning author of the Tales of the Dragonfly Series, and top-ten bestseller, That Unforgettable Kiss. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be included with this group of authors from all across the globe!
Our Magical Weddings headliner is Leigh Michaels, a national bestselling author who’s written over 100 novels. Leigh’s story is a lovely historical romance – Her Wedding Wager – about a heroine whose future is dependent on a bet. Aileen Harkwood’s contribution is The Last Wedding At Drayhome – an enchanting story about a witch and warlock – and a love too long denied.
Eve Devon’s captivating love story , The Dress, spans time – through a dress weaved with magic, while USA Today bestselling author Raine English has written Second Chance Bride, a charming story about a bride who might’ve chosen the wrong groom – as communicated by a telepathic rescue dog!
In Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Lynda Haviland’s heroine has a wedding to crash, before love gets in the way. And Jody A. Kessler’sHeart Of The Secret involves a curse, and a witch who will do anything to marry her true love.
How can she fight a calling from her soul? The heroine faces a dilemma in Jane Lark’sThe Jealous Love Of A Scoundrel.Bess McBride’s contribution is A Wedding Across the Winds Of Time – about a couple who’re ready to be married, after finding each other through time.
In Kiss This, written by L.L. Muir, the florist actually catches the bouquet! Jennifer Gilby Roberts’ contribution is Caution is a Virture, about a heroine who’s afraid to take a risk with love. And Loving Lindy by Jan Romes? It’s a delightful story about a couple who pretend to be engaged, until real feelings get in their way.
Heather Thurmeier has written With This Kiss – about a kiss that could prove to be magical. Real Magic is by Elsa Winckler. Can a magical evening transform into reality? And unexpected guests may forever change the lives of a soon-to-be married couple in The Wedding Guests by Sarah Wynde.
Finally, here’s a little about my romance-
Two Hearts Surrendered
Luke Bryant and Kelly Callahan met on the beach at Dragonfly Pointe when thirteen-year old Luke saved six-year old Kelly from drowning. He and Kelly shared an undeniable connection through their childhood. But with his tarnished past, Luke refuses to act on the attraction he begins feeling for her.
When Luke finally comes home on leave from the Air Force, and attends the Magical Wedding of Kelly’s sister Kate (That Unforgettable Kiss), he and Kelly spend an enchanting night together. They simply can’t help themselves – they’ve loved each other nearly their entire lives.
College student Kelly has everything going for her – she’s beautiful, smart and intelligent. So when Luke eventually returns home from Iraq as a wounded warrior, despite the fact that he doesn’t appear to want anything to do with her, she refuses to give up on him. It’s not about his looks, or his past – it’s all about the connection they’ve shared since they were kids. Fate has always meant for them to be together – she’s sure of it. But will Kelly ever be able to convince Luke to surrender his heart?
Right now, Magical Weddings is available for pre-order at only 99c. It’s already reached bestseller status at Amazon – at #3 for Hot New Releases and #14 for anthologies!
When I was a child I was entranced by the idea of magic. I believed in fairies (and Father Christmas) for far longer than is reasonable or rational. I talked to the fairies in the garden and they answered me. I admit I never actually saw one, but I suspected – because pansies have faces – that they lived in the pansies. So I talked to the pansies and they’d nod or shake their heads. Proof. And as I got older, even though I kind of knew it was all nonsense, I stubbornly clung to the faith, more because I wanted it to be true than really believing in it.
And, of course, my favourite reading was fairy stories. I can still recall the smell and feel of those books. I had a volume of Hans Anderson’s fairy stories – a Collins classic, with the dark green plasticised cover. And I had a volume of the collected stories of the Brothers Grimm. This was a heavy, old hardback, with thick, deckle edged pages the colour of weak tea, and I suspect the famously ‘grim’ stories had been heavily expurgated, to make them more suitable for young minds. I don’t recall ever being frightened or disturbed, but I do recall being disappointed about the way many of these classic tales (Anderson’s and Grimm’s) concluded.
I was always making up stories, peopled typically with knights and ladies, princes and princesses, and fairies of course. But I didn’t write anything down until I was nearing the end of primary school, and even then it was my big sister who gave me the idea. She was writing a Regency romance, and it suddenly struck me that writing it yourself was the perfect way to make a story turn out the way it should. This is how I caught the writing bug.
Throughout my teenage years I wrote ‘books’. I never finished anything. But what interests me now, looking back, is why I was I writing the kind of story I was writing. I read Georgette Heyer, Daphne DuMaurier, even Jane Austen. Young Adult didn’t exist as a genre in those days and – other than adult fiction, which I moved onto fairly swiftly – historical romance was all that seemed to exist for teenage girls. But unlike my sister, I wasn’t interested in writing in that style. I was far more strongly drawn to write darker tales, set in the present, of self-destructive bad boys, rescued and redeemed by the love of a girl who sees the good in him. I suppose I was influenced by pop music, films, TV and teen comics (although these were disapproved of in our house and I rarely read them).
In some ways, I think I still write in the same vein. I am no longer romantically drawn to the haggard hero, at deaths door, either through his consumption of drugs or drink, or as a result of a horrific motorbike accident due to speeding. (This was never due to weakness or degeneracy, by the way. He would have been lured into these self-destructive behaviours to “forget” some tragedy in his life.) But even though I’ve left these poor emaciated and emotionally damaged wraiths behind, I still prefer to write contemporary stories about people with faults and failings and emotional baggage. I write stories with an edge about real contemporary life.
I used to describe my books as gritty, but came to realise this conveys the wrong impression. I’m not Martina Cole. Despite my teenage tastes, I don’t write about ‘Crims’ and ‘Toms’ and seedy lowlife. I’ve never lived in that world and I don’t know it. I don’t even watch East Enders. But I don’t shy away from issues. I prefer to write as truthfully as I can about real people in a world I recognise, dealing with the stuff we all may have to deal with. A world where people don’t always make the right decisions – where actions have consequences – where we muddle along and sometimes, all we can hope for is the best. What I write is ‘romance for grownups’. This is not to say there are no happy endings. There may not be a transformation scene, where the beautiful, but innocent and humble heroine is given the sparkly crinoline and marries her handsome, rich and perfect prince. But in my books there is hope, and a light at the end of the tunnel. There may not be a promise of happy ever after – who can guarantee that in real life – but, by the book’s conclusion, my heroine is always a good deal happier than she was!
FLY or FALL
Eleanor – known as Nell – thinks of herself as a wimp. Even though her life has not been easy, she clings to the safety of the familiar. Married young and dependent on her teacher husband’s wage, Nell has stayed at home, in Battersea, with her children and her increasingly invalid mother. Following the death of her mother the family’s fortunes suddenly change. Trevor, is wildly enthusiastic about their ‘move up in the world’; he plans to give up teaching and move house away from London. Nell, however, is gripped by a nebulous fear of some unknown disaster waiting to trip them all up, but her husband, steamrollers her objections.
Now in her early thirties, and living in an unfamiliar landscape away from old friends, Nell feels cast adrift. She is increasingly aware that Trevor is no longer the man she married, and their young teenage twins, Jonathan and Juliet, are grumpy and difficult. The women she meets, Felicity and Katherine, seem shallow and promiscuous. The new house is unwelcoming and needs modernisation; she’s thrust into a continuing chaos of rubble and renovation. Patrick, one of the men working for the building firm, is infamous as a local Lothario, but he doesn’t make a pass at her. At first she’s grateful – she’s not that kind of woman – but her feelings towards him grow increasingly confused and ambivalent.
When Nell takes a bar job at the local sports club, she is exposed to an overheated atmosphere of flirtation and gossip. Influenced by her new friends and the world in which she now moves, she begins to blossom and to take pleasure in the possibilities which seem to be opening up for her. She meets and forms a deeper friendship with the quirky, new-age Elizabeth, a very different character to her other friends. As Nell begins to enjoy herself and to become enthusiastic about her life, it seems her husband is on a downward trajectory, on the opposite end of a cosmic seesaw. When she is pursued by a beautiful and enigmatic young man, called Angel, she is tempted into behaviour she would never previously have imagined herself capable. The earthquake, felt as a tremor of apprehension at the start of the story, rumbles through her life and the lives of those around her. When the dust settles nothing is as she previously understood it.
FLY OR FALL follows the dismantling of all of Nell’s certainties, her preconceptions and her moral code. Unwelcome truths about her friends, her husband, her teenage children and even herself are revealed. Relationships are not what they seem. The hostility between brothers is exposed and finally explained. And the love that blossoms unexpectedly from the wreckage of her life is doomed, as she acknowledges the hair’s breadth between wishful thinking, self-deception and lies.
By the conclusion of FLY OR FALL everything has altered for Nell, the woman who doesn’t like change. But she has rebuilt herself as a different person, a braver person, and she has embarked with optimism on a totally transformed life, a life that offers the chance of love.
Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College.
She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published, but when her publisher ceased to trade, Gilli went independent.
Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village. Still a keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has begun book illustration. Gilli is particularly delighted to have recently gained a new mainstream publisher – Accent Press. FLY OR FALL is the second book to be published in the three book deal. The first was TORN, published in 2014, and LIFE CLASS is coming out later this year.
It’s always a pleasure to have guests on the blog and Samantha Tonge is no different. Here to launch her latest novel GAME OF SCONES, Sam is talking about settings.
Most of the settings of my novels are based on places I know. In Doubting Abbey, Applebridge Hall has similarities with a stately home local to me, that I visited whilst doing research for my fictional building’s interior and many times when the children were small. I lived in Paris as a young woman, so had many memories to draw on for my next book, From Paris with Love. And Mistletoe Mansion is set in Harpenden, a quaint Hertfordshire village I grew up in. As for Game of Scones, the story takes place on the Greek island of Kos. I went there with a group of girlfriends years ago. Plus my husband and I honeymooned on Zante.
So for me, I have so far balked at setting a book somewhere I have absolutely no experience of. Granted, my memories of Greece may not be sharp now, but I still have deep-seated sensual memories– the garlicky smells and sea breeze sounds, the rich taste of the food, the vibrant colour of the sea. From Paris I recall the stuffy odour of the underground, the universal soundtrack of busy tourists speaking in different languages and the delicious sweet smells wafting out of bakeries.
For me this basic, hands-on understanding of a location is important. I might get the overall “feel” of an alien place wrong, if I just go by information on the internet. Although online resources are fantastic for filling in the detail, and I don’t know how authors used to manage before the invention of the World Wide Web.
Before I became published, I had a number of editorial reports on my first novels done, and one pointed out that my settings just weren’t clear enough. I had a strong vision in my head of say a main character’s flat, but wasn’t transferring that to the page. So now I realize how important the smaller bits of information can be – some crumbling brickwork or the exact shade of that magnolia wallpaper. And the beauty of the internet is that the building blocks of your setting can be easily enriched. Thanks to photos and videos and tourist spot descriptions, you can create a realistic vision of a place you don’t actually have day-to-day knowledge of.
For Game of Scones I’ve read tourists’ reviews ad nauseam and studied town maps until I’ve got a headache; have scrutinized photo after photo of local food; then there’s hours of Googling the fragrances of certain local flowers and trawling gardening sites to find out exactly when they bloom. Plus I listen on Youtube to hear how a Greek person speaking English really does sound and also I studied local architecture, to get my descriptions of towns just right.
Doing all of this, in advance, helps the story just spill onto the page and hopefully, by the end of the book, the reader really has become immersed in your fictional world. However, by the same token, I try not to become too hung up on getting every single detail right. After all, I’m a fiction writer, not a tourist guide.
Wait a minute, though. Thinking about it, I did once write a book based in a country – and era – totally foreign to me. Lunchdate with a Tombrobber is set in Ancient Egypt. It is chicklit meets Carry on Cleo, and in my opinion my best book. Sadly no publisher agrees with me and it doesn’t fit neatly into any genre! I had huge fun researching it, but didn’t get lazy about the detail. In fact I found a wonderful Egyptologist online, who agreed to answer any questions for £1 a pop, via PayPal. Is setting as important in historical fiction, as no one can say that they’ve experienced it and that your version is wrong? Probably more so, as you have to get the reader’s imagination working hard too.
Some people say “write what you know” and to a certain extent, I agree. However, I’m not one for setting anyone – myself included – boundaries, so who knows… Perhaps in the future, I’ll set a chicklit novel on Mars and find out if that really is where men come from!
Game of Scones
A story of icing and flour…and how love doesn’t always go to plan!
Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones –with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niko by her side…
Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niko and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project – The Tastiest Little Teashop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…
If you’re a fan of Lindsey Kelk or Lucy Diamond then don’t hesitate to step into Samantha Tonge’s truly delightful tea shop.
Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and two cats who think they are dogs. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels and short stories is her passion.
Samantha has sold over 80 short stories to mainstream women’s magazines. Her debut romantic comedy novel from CarinaUK Harlequin, bestselling “Doubting Abbey“, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award, 2014. Its fun sequel is From Paris With Love. Mistletoe Mansion is a fun standalone Christmas novel.
Gabrielle’s contemporary romance novels, Hush Hushand A Tale of Two Sisters, were originally published by Town House & Country House/Simon & Schuster respectively.
Corazon Books republished Hush Hushas an e-book in November 2014, with A Tale of Two Sistersscheduled for 2015.
Gabrielle, a journalist by profession, also writes short stories regularly for women’s weeklies, and facilitates creative writing for wellbeing and therapeutic purposes.
Hush Hushin a nutshell
Reclusive widow Angela is afraid to dip a toe back in the job market – let alone the dating game. But egged on by her bossy mother and her best friend, she resolves to find a job and even try a solo holiday – which ends with a luggage mix-up and an encounter with a rugged Irishman called Conor.
Back home, Angela is keen to take her new romance slowly, particularly as Conor’s (non-holiday) baggage includes the original ‘child from hell’ and an ex-wife who’s less ‘ex’ than Angela expected.
But there’s a deeper reason for Angela’s acute self-doubt – a trauma in her past that threatens to overshadow her chance of happiness, even as it lies within reach.
The fine line…
Hush Hushand my second novel, A Tale of Two Sisters, were printed in 1999 and 2001 respectively, so seeing my writing reincarnated as e-books (and updating it accordingly) has been like greeting old friends, as well as revisiting myself at a different time in life.
When I started Hush Hush, I was living in Ireland by accident rather than design, after I’d met an Irishman while on holiday over there – which kind of inverts the process in the book, Angela meeting her beau on her way back from holiday!
Not that it was an overnight decision to relocate. It took five years, a mini career crisis and a lot of arm-twisting to take the plunge.
However, as I’m second-generation Irish, family and friends discounted serendipity and assumed I’d implemented a long-nurtured cunning plan: return to roots, snag ethnically suitable specimen, learn to play the bodhran, develop love of Guinness, master Irish dancing, reclaim and celebrate heritage.
Of course, there was no such grand plan (I wish!). I simply met someone when I wasn’t looking, I can still only play Chopsticks on a piano, Guinness doesn’t agree with me, and as a child, I was possibly the worst Irish dancer. Ever.
But a funny thing happened as I started to write Hush Hush: while both characters and plot – which I wanted to be absorbingly twisty – were pure fiction, my conflicted feelings about my identity did begin to edge into the pages, many such sentiments expressed through humour (my natural default setting). However, it was only when interviewed or questioned about the book after its publication, that I thought about this osmosis, and wondered how deeply it affected my writing generally.
Since then, my research and training in creative writing for therapeutic purposes has introduced me to the adage that writing fiction helps us ‘say the unsayable’, perhaps without even realising we’re doing it – or that we considered such self-exploration ‘unsayable’ in the first place.
I still don’t set out to plunder my life directly for incidents or anecdotes, but I also know there’s a fine line between fictionaliser and recollector. In Hush Hush, Angela’s mistakes, triumphs and misunderstandings were sometimes directly my own. For example, just like Angela, I really did have a summer job in a factory where I managed to print all the clock cards upside down!
So, all these years later, it’s fascinating to look back and compare the writer who wrote Hush Hushwith the one writing this post. Lots of wonderful writers have influenced me down the years and continue to do so (everyone from Robert Goddard to Laurie Graham), but I also continue to be an enduring influence on myself – and hopefully, a rich resource of ever-surfacing memories.
We are delighted to welcome Carol Anne Hunter, author of Project Me, to Romaniac HQ. Get your cake and coffee, put your feet up, and enjoy this beautiful story.
Let’s bee having you, Carol Anne …
My novel, Project Me, a comedy about starting again at fifty, was published last year. I’ve received the usual feedback from friends and family but one two-para piece of romantic rambling about bees is regularly cited as a stand-out point. The thing is, I stole these two paragraphs from a random short story I wrote a couple of years ago, changed the wording a little and used them as a device to give my character hope when she was near breaking point. The ploy worked a treat. So in the hope of warming away your winter blues and giving you something to look forward to, here is the latest version of the whole story. Enjoy!
Bee and Let Bee
Every spring they arrive along with the first buds to lodge rent-free in the air vent under the back steps. They don’t ask for much except a place to commune and peace to get on with it, and I’m happy to oblige; to let it bee. I’ll let you into a secret. The lavender bushes under my windows were planted just for them.
Sometimes when it’s sunny I relax on my lounger and watch my ultimate flying squad bizz in and out. I fancy the little ones are on their maiden voyage, newbees on a practice flight if you will, with a remit to ransack next door’s hanging baskets before being sent further afield in search of richer pickings to bring home as part of earning their stripes. Poised on the latticed concrete grid it seems they’re calculating ambient temperature and wind speed whilst waiting for some in-built air traffic control to signal the all-clear for take-off. This is no long runway lumber-up-to-speed, more a dodgy diagonal ascent, their bumbee tartan bobbing on the breeze like tiny paragliders struggling to stay on the flight path. Some take off on their very own junket, others do a double-take when they catch a whiff of my lavenders and hightail back, dancing on the downdraft before they home in when they’ve sized up the source of the scent.
Then come the jumbos, the 747s with their black and yellow corduroy, bombing out of the vent in loose formation. Maybe they’re scouts setting out on a mission – as Captain Kirk might say, to seek out uncharted flower beds; to boldly go where no bee’s gone before.
I well remember the day of The Great Fly-Past when a no-mark rookie went off-course almost tipping yours truly off her deck chair. A swatting offence in my book, since I swear I heard the tiny wheeze of laughter.
Now, that there’s what you’d call a right cheeky bee.
Landings are an art form. Their panniers full of fragrant pollen I watch them on the home stretch, circling the runway, waiting for clearance to land. Then it’s one in, one out as another launches itself through the latticework and up over my head. And I’ve never, ever witnessed a mid-air collision. Then autumn comes around and they all buzz off.
Why people talk about the birds and the bees when referring to matters carnal is anybody’s guess. These damsels don’t procreate therefore the hive is more workhouse than joy house. Only their queen is fertile and reproductive, nurtured as she is with Royal Jelly provided by the wing-women who attend to her every need. She also has the option to choose her offspring’s gender, something we humans with all our science and technology have yet to achieve, and she chooses girls over boys, who are kept dormant until their – ahem – services are required. In this uber-sexist society the females work as a collective, much like Mormon sister-wives, and share the feathering of the nest, the raising of the nippers and the bringing home of the proverbial bacon. The one thing they don’t have in common is a husband.
Get rid of them, friends advised, they’re a nuisance. They aren’t.
They’ll sting you. They haven’t.
They’ll burrow through the wall and get into the house. They can’t. I know; I checked. They’re all talking out of their bumble.
So, all is harmonious. They mind their beeswax and I mind mine. Live and let live, I say. Bee and let bee.
Roll on March.
I so hope I’ve left you with a rosy glow!
Project Me by Carol Anne Hunter is currently available from Amazon.co.uk at amzn.to/1yea08M and Amazon.com at /amzn.to/122tym1
We’re delighted to welcome Jaz Hartfield to Romaniac HQ, with an extract from his erotic romance, One Night in Amsterdam.
Take it away, Jaz …
Chloe organizes Jo’s hen weekend in Amsterdam, glad to get away from the usual boring or married men that she sleeps with. Perhaps she’ll meet some cool guys up for a bit of fun. If not, at least she’ll make sure her best friend gets very drunk while they all party in style.
Dean is getting married to Tamsin, but having serious doubts. His mates take him to Amsterdam for one last weekend of debauchery before settling down for the rest of his life. But is Tamsin the right woman for him?
When Chloe and Dean meet in Amsterdam’s red-light district, they are immediately attracted to each other. Dean tries to justify one last fling before marrying Tamsin. Chloe feels bad about having sex with someone else’s intended. Yet, a night of amazing sex is exactly what both of them want. So, why shouldn’t they just enjoy one night of fantastic, guilt-free sex?
Extract from ‘One Night In Amsterdam’ by Jaz Hartfield:
Eventually footsteps lightly ascended, so Dean stood up on the bed. As Tamsin walked in he made thrusting motions and waggled his erection provocatively.
“Roll up, roll up. Come and get it here.”
She made a face and shook her head. Dean hadn’t been aware of such prudishness from her before. He slumped down. This was an unexpected reaction.
“What’s up, Tams?”
Tamsin, still in her zipped-up onesie, sat on the bed, not looking at Dean. Something was definitely wrong.
“I want to talk to you about something.”
Uh-oh. Bad sign. Was she chucking him? Breaking off their engagement? But the wedding was practically organised. This would be a bloody expensive break-up.
“Okay,” Dean replied weakly. “Should I be worried?” He felt stupid now, sitting there naked with his c**k still fully engorged. He pressed it between his thighs so he could speak with an ounce of dignity.
“No, no,” Tamsin said. “I still want to marry you—”
“—it’s just I wanted to suggest something, which I know won’t go down too well.” Finally, she turned to him and smiled. “Here goes. We’re getting married in a month’s time and I want our wedding to be perfect.”
“It will be, Tams.”
“I want the first night to be special, too. Something to remember. So I thought we should stop having sex until then, so our first night together as husband and wife would be lovely and…special. Otherwise it’ll just be like any other night.”
Dean felt deflated. It seemed a reasonable request; that was the worst of it.
“You could’ve warned me sooner before I worked myself into a frenzy.”
Jaz Hartfield Author Bio:
Jaz Hartfield is a writer and actor who loves travelling. He’s always looking for his next thrill, having tried bungee-jumping, parachuting, white-water rafting, pot-holing and deep sea diving. Jaz has lived in many different places; his favourite parts of the world include New Zealand, Kenya, Ireland and the Lake District in England. Having been on a stag weekend in Amsterdam, Jaz is unwilling to admit whether this story has elements of the truth in it or not.
Romaniac HQ is delighted to host Part Two woo woo of the spooky Choc Lit Halloween Round Robin, as told by Jane Lovering.
Part Two by Jane Lovering
An amateur witch attempts to summon a new (and hopefully less gittish) lover using her grandmother’s spell book … what could possibly go wrong?
Each section of A New Love for Halloween will be told by a different Choc Lit author to create one magical story. You can follow the tale on five separate blogs from the 27th Oct to Halloween. You can read part one by Berni Stevens here. Here’s part two by Jane Lovering …
Part Two by Jane Lovering
Jo carefully opened the envelope and slid the red heart inside, her fingers fumbling with the fragile crepe paper. Little edges of it caught and tore against the thicker paper so she withdrew it again, sitting it on her palm and watching the sides flex and curl in the heat from the candle. ‘Now I come to look at it, it’s less heart shaped and more like a bum,’ she said, an annoyance at her own gullibility making her frown. ‘I’ll probably get another complete arse, like Gordon.’ Then, before she could rethink, she folded the little red heart down into a scarlet twist, jammed it into the envelope and dropped a blob of warm wax onto the seal.
As the first blob touched the paper, a strange breeze ran through the room. Jo couldn’t feel it against her skin, but it raised her hair and made the pages of the book flip and turn, as though something ghostly was looking through, searching for another spell. Jo felt her arms bobble into goosepimples and tried to stretch the sleeves of the T-shirt down to cover as much flesh as possible.
The front door banged again. Jo considered the possibility that Musketeer Dan had failed to find number twenty-nine and hurriedly pulled on the duffel coat that she’d left drying on the back of a chair. ‘Yes?’ She cautiously peered around the door.
‘Yeah, ah, um … sorry, do you mind me asking, have you seen another bloke dressed like me?’ He was wearing a full wig, sword, breeches and a tricorn hat.
‘Dan, you mean?’ She pulled the coat closer over her T-shirt. It was quite chilly out there.
‘Er. Yeah. Dan. He was supposed to be meeting us here but we’ve lost him.’
‘He came here about five minutes ago, got the wrong house. He can’t have got far, number twenty-nine is only two doors’ up, and across the road, just …’ Jo stepped outside, pointing around the corner ‘… past the green bin.’
‘Cheers.’ The second Musketeer swept his hat off and dealt her a long bow. ‘Loving the Paddington outfit, by the way. Excellent.’
‘Oh, it’s not…’ Jo started, then realised that there was no possible way she could explain opening her own front door wearing a duffel coat, so she just grinned. ‘Thanks. Hope he turns up.’
‘Yeah, so do I, he’s got the car keys.’
Sword slightly trailing along the pavement, the Musketeer headed off towards number twenty-nine, a location that had become, in Jo’s mind, synonymous with lurid excitement and a vast number of men. She turned round to head back into her kitchen, to the single burning candle and the illicit spell book. She hoped neither of her recent visitors had managed to catch a glimpse of these when she’d opened the door. ‘They’d think I was mad,’ she muttered to herself, then glanced down at her bare legs poking from under the damp wool of her coat and fringed with the dangling hem of the T-shirt. ‘Well, madder, anyway.’
But before she could go inside there was another of those freak draughts. The handle of the front door she’d been carefully holding was whipped from her grasp and she heard the horrible, and definite, slam and click of the Yale lock engaging, leaving her outside on the doorstep with nothing but Muse and a moist duffel between her and the elements.