Monday, 30 June 2008

She's so...

I'm quite annoyed this morning. No, not quite annoyed - very annoyed. And all my annoyance is directed in one direction, towards one person. Let me explain.

Last week was a difficult one for me, as you'll know if you've read the last couple of entries. between the annual audit and the new computer installation, I've been busy, busy, busy. And, on the whole, most of the rest of the office have been very tolerant. Yes, there have been lots of "I don't like this new Word 2007" type comments, yes, I've been running around trying to solve people's problems, but on the whole, most people have understood that I'm doing my best and they'll have to wait their turn.

But this morning, one of the Fee Earners in the office has returned from holiday and I've had more complaints this morning from her that from anyone else the whole of last week. They have all been the sort of tiddling little settings problems that you always get with new computers, and that everyone else has got too - but for some reason she seems to think that her work is more important that everyone else's. That her computer should have been installed with no problem at all and she should return from holiday and see no difference. But she was one of the people complaining about the old computers that prompted their replacement in the first place. Now, she's demanding that her old PC is plugged back in so she can work like she used to - that would be painfully slowly then, huh? And having to deal with random crashes and what not?

So as you can imagine, I'm annoyed by this. Very annoyed indeed. It's not so much the 'can you come and solve..." that I'm annoyed with - it's the attitude. We're all muddling through at the moment. And with not much work on, it's an ideal time to do it - that's why we picked this period. I'm very tempted to just do as she wants and plug the old PC in say - stuff it, get on with it. It's your loss.

But that wouldn't be terribly professional, now would it.

Friday, 27 June 2008

What a week!

Well, what a week it has been. What a couple of weeks actually. I've been non-stop really since last Wednesday. Even today, when I've been able to get my head down a little bit, I've still not got as much done as I would have liked because other things keep cropping up. I guess it's the nature of management to some extent. Still, it's four o'clock on a Friday afternoon and I'm going to push my office work aside for a bit and after I've finished this blog entry, I'll set about adding to Chloe's Education. It's been very, very frustrating not being able to work on it this past couple of weeks when it's so close to being finished - the first draft is at least. I really want to get this first draft out of my head so I can concentrate on writing a few shorts for a while before tackling something else substantial.

I have had some good news this week. A pay rise. It's not huge, but given the current financial climate, it's a welcome reward for the past few months toil.

and speaking of the current financial climate - how did it get so bad, so quickly. We gone from a booming property market to a dead one. It's so flat I'm stunned. The weekly 'free' (by which I mean we don't pay for it because all the bloody ads inside pay for it instead - hardly any 'news' in it at all) newspaper came yesterday and the property section consisted of seven pages ads for houses. I've known it be approaching fifty pages in the recent past. It's shocking at how fast the market has collapsed in on itself. of course, the media didn't help - all the doom and gloom reporting made things worse. The market relies on how people feel about the market, so if they are being told by everyone on TV, radio and newspapers that things are terrible, they'll believe things are terrible, which will make things terrible.

I genuinely believe that we are talking ourselves into recession.

Still. I've got a pay rise. And it's a great time to buy shares if you're interested in the long haul - which I am.

I'm going to offer you a link to another free story on my website today too.

Sophie is the story of a young man who finds himself falling for the wrong girl - the young woman he's tutoring through her 'A' levels. Enjoy.

Don't forget that Lost & Found and Charlotte's Secret are still available. In fact, if you are quick, you can get Lost & Found from Fictionwise at a discount. Go on - treat yourself.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Mad Few Days

It's been a mad old few days, I can tell you. On Thursday, we, that is to say, I, took delivery of the first batch of replacement PCs for the office network. All shiny, new and super fast. So i spent most of the day unpacking and installing them. Ten in all.

On Friday, the second batch came - another 11. So I was unpacking and installing, as well as running around solving problems on the ten that came in the day before and holding the hands of those people scared to death of Office 2007 because it looks a bit different.

On Saturday, I was back in the office again, supervising the carpet fitters and installing some software that couldn't be done using a clone machine.

today, I've been running around supporting 21 child-like adults who want to know where the print icon has gone and why they can't find their templates. Oh, and I hope you haven't lost my AutoCorrect entries - I reply on AutoCorrect, you know. At the same time, I've been getting ready for tomorrow's annual audit of accounts in line with the Solicitors Accounts rules. Contacting the bank, moving boxes of paperwork and files etc.

On top of that, I've got to run payroll today, tomorrow or Wednesday - or I'll get lynched when no-one gets paid on Friday.

All fun and games really.

Now, do you think I might be able to do some writing tonight?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Cracking on.

Okay, my Google/blogger problems seem to be over. Googlemail is working okay today and I was able to post my missing blog entries to Blogger last night. If this entry posts okay to Blogger, I should be sorted.

I’ve put out a few calls in various forums for link exchanges – I’ll be updating the final page of my new look website over the next week or two – adding links to other people’s sites in return for links to my own. If you are interested, mail me privately and let me know.

I’ve also been cracking on with Chloe’s Education. I’m now into what I believe will be the final chapter. It’s all very exciting. When the first draft is finished, I may ask for a volunteer reader or two to give me some first opinions on it, but I haven’t made my mind up about that yet.

Also, I’m still not completely happy with the title – although I do have a good idea of what I’d like to see on the cover, which makes a change. I’d quite like a catchy, one word title – but I’m damned if I can come up with one.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Ellwood on Lost & Found

Here's what Leigh Ellwood said about Lost & Found on her blog yesterday.

I'm especially excited for Lost & Found, which is a nicely done romance amid the tense drama of anti-war sentiment. It could easily be a television movie with the way the relationships play out in the story. Marc is an excellent writer and I'm really hoping the audience finds this work.

I think that was rather nice of her. Admittidly, Leigh Ellwood also goes by the name Kathryn Lively, and happens to be the Phaze publisher, but that's not the point. Not the point at all.

Google in a state

I'm having all sorts of problems with my Googlemail and blogger accounts just now. They started over the weekend and have now come to the point that I can't post entries on Blogger, and can't read/write/delete/do any-bloody-thing at all with google mail. I've even switched back to the 'simple' HTML view and it's still bleedin' pants.

So, if you've mailed me in the past few days and I haven't responded, it's Google's fault. I hope they sort it out soon, I feel like my arm has been removed.

Talk about timing though - this had to happen during the week that Lost & Found is released by Phaze (click here to buy it now). Does anyone reckon I could sue Google for lost of earnings over this?

Monday, 16 June 2008


My New Novella, Lost & Found, is released by Phaze today. At 26000 words and $4 (around £2), Lost & Found is the story of two men's love for one woman – but not in the way you think.

Chris has flown across the Atlantic to be with his 'cyber-lover' Beth in her hour of need, but Beth's father, The Colonel, is damned if he's going to let some guy from across the pond steal away his only daughter just days after he lost his only son.

An emotional rollercoaster that takes you from the sorrow of a military funeral to the highs of winning big in Las Vegas, Lost & Found is a must read.

Buy it today direct from Phaze today, or look out for it on Fictionwise, mobipocket or All Romance eBooks very soon.

To see the stunning cover by Kenrda Egert, click here.

To read an excerpt click here or here.

Still Available – Charlotte's Secret

Friday, 13 June 2008

Another Free Story

It’s Friday, and in continuation of my minor ‘celebration’ of my revamped blog, MySpace and Website, there’s a link to another of the stories on my “Free Stories” page. Public Performance was originally published at Ruthie’s Club but now you can enjoy it for free.

This coming Monday 16th June, Phaze Books release Lost & Found. I’ll have more details on how you can get hold of a copy very very soon.


Wednesday, 11 June 2008

£31.25 per Word

Yesterday, British book seller, Waterstones, held a charity auction. For sale were a number of A5 size card with handwritten, unique stories on them by some of Britain’s top authors. People like Irvin Welsh of Trianspotting fame.

Among the authors was a certain Joanne Rowling. Her 800 word story was from the ‘Potterverse’ and set three years before Harry was born. It sold for £25000. That’s around $50000. That’s £31.25 ($62.50) PER WORD! Damn, I wish I knew a publisher that paid that well.

You may have noticed that this blog has changed colour. Gone is the oppressive black and in comes calming grey. I hope you like it. I’ve made similar changes to my website too, although it’s not quite finished yet – the background doesn’t carry though to pages beyond the front for some reason, I’ve still got three pages to complete, and apparently there’s a spelling mistake on the first page (five points for anyone who can spot it).

To celebrate this new look, over the next few days I’m going to put links on this blog to one of the ‘free’ stories on my website. They are all in .pdf format, so feel free to download and read at your leisure. All I ask is that you drop me an e-mail and tell me if you liked it or not. I suppose we should go in order really. But which order? Chronological? Alphabetical? Yeah, I’m an alphabetical sort of guy at heart.

Monday, 9 June 2008

The Summer Sun

It looks like summer has returned to these shores. Yesterday (Sunday) was hot and sunny all day. I took Nobbs Jr to the park to play football in the morning and then again in the afternoon so he could play on the swings and slides and stuff.

And today is just as hot and sunny. The forecast is for a lovely day tomorrow as well.

I love hot sunny days. The main reason, of course, is that I’m the world’s youngest dirty old man and hot sunny days bring out the girls in their skimps. On days like this I can look out of my office window at the high street in this rural market town and be greeted with acres of soft, young female flesh. And because I’m on the third floor, on one notices me being a perv.

Now, I’ve been telling you all about the two rather lovely nineteen year olds that I work in close proximity with these days (which doesn’t do this old perv’s heart any good I can tell you). And, just like all the other fine young fillies in the country, the hot weather brings out the best in them.

One of them is off this afternoon – she got exams this week and is revising, but the other is here in all her glory. She’s a northern lass – which gets her noticed in rural Northamptonshire when she opens her mouth. She’s short (so short she even makes me feel tall) but she’s still absolutely lovely. Today, she’s got her dark blonde hair in ringlets and looks oh-so-sweet. And she’s wearing this form-fitting black dress (with small white dots all over it) that tells me she’s got a figure I’d commit murder to get my dirty old hands on. Small waist, gently swelling hips, great arse and boobs… man, those boobs – they look more than good enough to eat. If Boobs like that were ever on the menu in a restaurant – they’d sell out within an hour.

I tell you, I could sit and stare at her all day. In fact, I have – I’ve got no work done at all. Now, I know she’s got a boyfriend that she moved down from the north to be with, and I know I’m married, but that doesn’t stop this dirty old man from imagining what would happen if we got locked in the stationary cupboard together. (Actually, the stationary cupboard is too small – better the strong room instead)

You know what – I feel a short story coming on.

Visit for free stories.

Charlotte’s Secret – available now from

Friday, 6 June 2008

Chloe's Education Excerpt

I promised you an excerpt from my current work in progress, Chloe’s Education. So here it is. I had intended to post yesterday, but got bogged down with other things. But anyway, here’s a little background info before the clip.

Currently with a working title of Chloe’s Education, having previously been called Little Miss Movie Star amongst other things, this piece is about a teenage (just – she’s 19) British movie star called Chloe Goodman who decides to take time out from film-making to study for a university degree. The story is told in a tight 3rd person perspective, with a young man named Adam Massey as the point of view character. Naturally, Adam finds himself on the same course as Chloe (otherwise we wouldn’t have a story would we) and falls for her as much as she falls for him.

But Adam finds out that going out with someone famous has its ups and downs (and not just in the bedroom sense).

This excerpt comes from midway in the story – Chloe has taken Adam to the Royal Premiere of her new movie. Enjoy.


The next day was something of a blur for Adam. He and Chloe got an alarm call at six, which was inconvenient because they had already woken and were busy fucking at the time. By seven-thirty they were at Jacques Surmont's Oxford Street store. Adam had no trouble choosing a suit, shirt and tie from Jacques' large selection, but Chloe took nearly an hour to find the right dress. It was partly Jacques's fault—he kept giving her a genuine appraisal of how she looked in each dress. Adam thought she looked fantastic in everything.

After the fitting, they were rushed to a private photo studio for their shoot. Adam had no idea what to expect, but he had hoped it would be more fun than it turned out to be. Aside from having to change costumes four times, the constant smiling made his cheeks hurt. By the time they'd finished and were taken for lunch, Adam understood why Chloe hated doing publicity. After lunch, he understood even better. He had to wait around while Chloe was interviewed by a string of people from magazines and newspapers, and while a series of short interviews were taped for television and radio. It was after five when they got back to the hotel. They found a light meal waiting for them and Jacques’ clothes laid out on the bed. They ate quickly and showered together before a make-up artist and hairdresser were due to arrive and attend to Chloe. This was one aspect of Chloe's life that Adam quite liked. He'd had people fussing over his appearance all day—even during the afternoon, just in case one of the interviewers wanted to talk to him to.

After a quick haircut while Chloe was having her make-up fixed, Adam dressed. On Jacques' advice, he'd chosen a single-breasted black suit. It was a classic cut, except that it didn't have lapels or a collar. He'd also picked out a white silk shirt, plain black tie and patent black leather shoes. He admired himself in the mirror.

"Someone looks handsome. I knew you'd scrub up well." Adam winked at Chloe through the mirror and adjusted his tie. She was still sitting in the make-up chair.

"I just can't believe he's letting me keep the threads," said Adam.

"Oh, they always do. You should hear the stories about the big Hollywood stars. The designers send them a whole wardrobe of dresses to choose from for awards season, and never get any of them back. I wouldn't do that to Jacques though, no matter how big of a star I became. He's been far too good to me in the past."

Even though she'd taken nearly an hour and tried on about twenty dresses at Jacques's shop, Chloe had settled on the first one she'd tried on—the one that Jacques had first suggested. He'd said he'd designed it with Chloe in mind. The dress was made of black silk and hung gently from her curves, stopping just above her knee—although at the back a tail of silk almost reached the floor. There were three spaghetti straps on each shoulder and it plunged to a deep 'v' at the front, revealing ample cleavage. A large white flower was embroidered on the right breast and a line of much smaller embroidered flowers snaked an 's' shape down to the hem. She climbed into the dress and asked Adam to zip her up from behind. He willingly obliged, running his hands back down her body when he was finished. She turned to face him and put her arms around his neck. "Sorry, but no kisses for you. My lippy's still wet—you'll just have to wait."

She sat on the bed to put on her strappy heels then stood and asked for Adam's verdict. "Stunning," he said. "You scrub up even better than me. I do believe I'm the luckiest bloke in Britain."

"You better believe it, buster." She nodded towards the door. "Come on, we'd better go or we'll be late."

A white limousine was waiting for them outside the hotel at seven. The driver held the door open as they climbed in and shut it behind them. "Now this I could get used to," Adam said. "Is that Champagne?"

"Yeah. Want some?"

Adam nodded and Chloe poured two glasses. "Shame Leicester Square isn’t that far away," she said as the oversize car pulled out into the slowly moving London traffic. "There are tons of things I've always wanted to do in the back of a limo but never had anyone to do them with."

"We could ask the driver to take the long way."

"I wish, but we don't really have the time. Besides, I can't go messing up my hair before I meet royalty."

They sat back and sipped champagne as the limo trudged through the congestion. Even at the lowly speeds they achieved, it still only took a short time to reach Leicester Square. The car stopped by the red carpet and the driver held the door open for them. A blinding flurry of flash bulbs went off as they stood by the car. There were cries of "Over here, Chloe!" from the press pack. Chloe held Adam's arm and through a smile she whispered, "Try and relax. Smile for the cameras but don't wave. We're going to move over there and pose for a bit. Then I'll have to go and work the crowd."

"I hope you know what you're doing," Adam said out of the side of his mouth.

"Trust me. I've done this once or twice before."

It wasn't as bad as Adam expected. His cheeks hurt again after all the smiling, but when they crossed to the other side of the red carpet to meet some of the people in crowd, he quite enjoyed himself. A few of the male fans told him he was very lucky and how much they envied him. Some of the teenage girls told Chloe that her new boyfriend was a hunk and they'd love to borrow him. Chloe laughed this off and told them all that there was no chance. People took photos and Chloe signed more autographs than Adam could count before a security guard ushered them into the picture house. They were directed to their seats by an official looking man.

"Now," the official said. "When the royal party arrives, there will be a fanfare and you'll have to stand. They'll be in the Royal Box, just up there. Do not sit down again until the whole of the party is seated."

"I do know," said Chloe. "I've been to one of these before."

"Yes, but I assume your gentleman friend hasn't. After the feature ends, everyone will stand as Her Majesty leaves the room. You two and the others in the line up will have to hurry to get to the foyer before they do. They'll be held back until you're all ready, but it doesn't do to keep Her Majesty waiting. When she reaches you, smile, shake her hand and answer her questions. A simple nod of the head will suffice for a bow. Refer to her as Your Majesty or Ma'am. Nothing else. The prince should be referred to as Your Highness or Sir. Do try not to detain them any longer than you have to. Is that clear? Can you remember all that?" Most of this speech was directed squarely at Adam.

"I'm in the line up?"

"His Royal Highness Prince Harold requested it. It seems he wants to meet the young man who stole Miss Goodman's heart from him."

Chloe leaned over and whispered, "The Prince has a little crush on me. It's a bit embarrassing actually."

Adam was so nervous that the pomp of the Queen's entrance washed over him and the movie had started before he'd realised what had happened. He relaxed and enjoyed the show once the titles rolled, although Chloe appeared tense whenever she was on screen. She was in the film for the first three quarters of an hour—playing the part of teenage Kelly. She squeezed Adam's hand tightly throughout. When Tom Walker, playing the part of teenage Matt, waved goodbye before heading off to university, Adam sensed Chloe relax. She loosened her grip on his hand, leaned over and said, "I'm only in it once more. A flashback scene in a little under an hour—unless they've cut it."

In Adam's opinion, Chloe's flashback scene was the best part of the whole film. Chloe's character was involved in a car accident while heavily pregnant and suffered a dramatic miscarriage. The scene ended on an emotional note, with Chloe's performance causing a tear to trickle down Adam's cheek.

"Are you crying?" Chloe whispered.

Adam shook his head. "Something in my eye."

"Isn't it funny how men get something in their eye at times like this? There must be a name for such a condition."

"It's called testosterone," he whispered before someone behind shushed them into silence for the rest of the film.

The movie ended on a high note and received a standing ovation. Someone at the front of the theatre called for 'three cheers for Her Majesty' before the Queen left the auditorium along with her grandson and the rest of her party. Adam, Chloe, the other actors, the director and the producers were escorted to the foyer where they would meet the monarch. Adam and Chloe were at the end of the line and it seemed to take the Queen hours to reach them.

The director, Bobby Everett, was conducting the introductions. "Chloe Goodman, your Majesty."

"Ah, yes. We've met before, haven't we?"

"Yes, Ma'am." Chloe gently shook the Queen's hand and curtsied.

"Although, you were much shorter then, as I recall."

"Well, it was nearly seven years ago, Your Majesty. I was only twelve."

The Queen nodded. "Has it really been that long? My, how time does fly. You played a young witch at a magical school, didn't you?"

"That's right, Your Majesty. Sally Trotter."

"I remember thinking that you were destined for great things. And how right I was. I thought yours was the best performance in this film. Very emotional. I very much enjoyed it."

"Thank you, your Majesty."

The Queen smiled and nodded. "You know, Miss Goodman, my grandson does rather like you. Young Harold. I know it would make his evening if he could get a little kiss."

"Certainly, Your Majesty."

The Queen turned to Adam and before the director could introduce him, she said, "You must be the young man in the newspapers with Miss Goodman. I don't normally take much notice of the tabloids, but that edition somehow passed across my desk. I do feel sorry for you, to be thrust into the limelight like that. Still, it is a pleasure to meet you." She turned to her aide before Adam could reply, and was led out to the waiting car.

"Bloody hell," Adam whispered. "I can't believe she saw those pictures. Have I gone all red?"

"Just a bit," said Chloe. "Shush, here comes the prince."

"My dear, dear, Chloe," said Prince Harold, holding out his hand. "It's so good to see you again. It was a shame you couldn't come to my birthday party. Do I get a kiss?"

"Of course, Your Highness." She leant forward and kissed the young prince on the cheek. A barrage of flashes went off as the pressmen saw a bundle of money in their not too distant future.

"How many times do I have to tell you to call me Hal? All my friends do."

"A great many more your Highness. If I were to call you that, I'd get severely told off and I think I've been in enough trouble the past few months."

"Yes, quite. They are bastards, aren't they the press. I can't count the number of times that Daddy has had to stop some rag from printing an embarrassing photograph of me. I do wish they would just butt out. Still, it's all good fun." He turned to Adam. "And this must be the lucky chap. Good show, old boy. I must say, I wished I were in your shoes when I saw that paper. Tell me, is she as good as I dream that she is? As a girlfriend I mean, nothing unseemly, obviously." The prince winked as he shook Adam's hand.

"Your Highness, I can safely say, that Chloe is the very best girlfriend I've ever had. Or could wish to have."

The prince laughed heartily. "That's what I thought. Well, you hang to her and treat her well. You're a lucky chap." He addressed Chloe again. "And if it doesn't work out between you two, remember, my shoulder to cry on is just a telephone call away. Call the palace, they have a standing instruction to put you straight through. Enjoy the rest of your evening." He winked again and then joined his grandmother in the car. He was the last member of the party to leave and everyone in the line-up breathed a sigh of relief.

"My god," said Adam. "He's a dirty little pervert. I don't believe it."

"Oh, he was tame tonight," said Chloe. "He's normally a lot worse. That thing he said about his father stopping the photos—he's shown me some of them himself. Some of the stuff he gets up to would curl your hair. The public only know a small fraction of it. I guess it's the privilege that comes with being second in line to the throne."

“So what now?” Adam asked.

“We hang about outside for a while and sign some autographs and then the limo will take us to the party. You’ll get to meet a ton of stars—all of whom will be boring as anything, so we won’t stay long—and then it’s back to the hotel so you can fuck me silly.”

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Lost & Found Excerpt

This weather is getting to me. I'm starting to creek like an old man when I walk and I ache in places I really shouldn't be aching. Anyway, here's the extract from Lost & Found that I promised you. Released on 16th May by Phaze

Beth’s father stood in the entrance looking at the floor.

He lifted his head and looked surprised for a second before his expression became harder. He twisted his wedding ring around his finger as he spoke. “Is my daughter home? I have something I need to say.”

“No. I’m sorry. She’s gone to work.”

“Oh. I didn’t think she would be working today.” He tuned to walk away then turned back. “So what are you doing here?”

“Beth insisted I stay to save on hotel bills.”

“And that’s the only reason is it?” He didn’t sound convinced. “I’m not stupid, son. You don’t cross the Atlantic just to comfort someone at a funeral. I think that perhaps you and I should have a conversation. Don’t you? I’ll talk. You listen. Understand?” He strode through the door and into the lounge.

Chris closed the door and followed him. “Look, Mr. Burnett, I don’t know what you think is going on here, but I swear, I was just—”


“I’m sorry?”

“It’s Colonel Burnett. I’ve served my country my whole career and risked my life to ensure her security. I’ve damn well earned my title, so I’d appreciate it if you’d show some respect and do me the courtesy of using it.”

“Well, in that case, Colonel, you can address me as Dr. Austins. I studied full time for seven years and had to pay for it myself by working evenings and weekends in a shit-house restaurant. My parents weren’t wealthy. You earned your title, and I’ve earned mine.”

“And what exactly are you a doctor of?”

“I hold a Ph.D. in Economics and Management Studies from the LSE on top of my first class Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Kings College, Cambridge.”

“What the hell is the LSE?”

“The London School of Economics.”

“Well, that all sounds very impressive. But it still doesn’t give you the right to disrupt my son’s funeral.”

“Now, hang on just a sec. I didn’t disrupt anything. All I did was stand next to Beth and support her when she broke down. You didn’t see Beth standing at the graveside in tears, did you? Blaming herself for his death?”

“You, a complete and utter stranger, showed up at my house, with my daughter, and started an argument.”

“Forgive me, Colonel, because all I remember doing was defending Beth when you called her an ungrateful wretch.”

“She is an ungrateful wretch. Fancy talking to me that way, questioning the way we treated Lance. He fought terrorists to keep our country safe!” The Colonel’s arms were as expressive as his words.

“It’s my understanding that there weren’t all that many terrorists in Iraq until we invaded.”

“You’re one of those liberal, anti-war assholes, aren’t you? Don’t you remember nine-eleven?”

“Yes, I do. And I remember seven-seven too.”

“Remember what now?”

Colonel, America isn’t the only country to suffer at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.”

“You mean that thing on the subway in London?”

Chris nodded. “I was there. I got off the train at King’s Cross just before the third bomb ripped through it.”

“Weren’t those boys home-grown? They were from somewhere in the north of England weren’t they?”

“They were. But the guys who hit the twin towers weren’t from Iraq either. The invasion—”

“It wasn’t an invasion. It was liberation. We freed the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant.”

“The invasion had nothing to do with nine-eleven. And if it wasn’t for the invasion, there probably wouldn’t even have been a seven-seven. It was all about US oil interests. Plain and simple. George Dubbya was finishing the job his Daddy started.” Chris’s heart was racing and adrenaline pumped around his body. He felt hot and knew his face had reddened—it always did when he was angry.

The Colonel stood straight and tall, his hands behind his back. Chris could see the same suspicion in his eyes that had been there during their encounter the day before. His eyes narrowed. “I see. I see.” His voice was so cold and quiet that it chilled Chris’s blood. “So it’s you who’s been putting these crazy ideas into Lizzie’s head. I should have known from the look of you when I first saw you.”

“Actually, Beth and I met in an anti-war chat room two years ago. She’s always been against the invasion.”

“Nonsense. My daughter isn’t a traitor.” The Colonel turned on his heel and walked towards the window. He stared out into the street. “She’s a good girl, my Lizzie. Not a traitor.”

“You’re right, she’s not a traitor. She just doesn’t listen to all the propaganda that comes out of Washington. She has far too much integrity for that. She makes up her own mind. She listens to all sides of an argument and forms her own opinion. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone less influenced by other people’s rhetoric. Forgive me, Colonel, but it seems to me that you don’t know Beth as well as you think you do. Or as well as you should.”

The Colonel rounded on Chris. “Are you questioning my relationship with my daughter, young man?”

“Not at all. I don’t think I could because I’m not sure you even have one.”

“How dare you! What would you know about my relationship with Lizzie?”

“Only what she’s told me—which I’ll admit is a bit one-sided. But I’ll tell you what I do know. I know that for years she tried her hardest to catch your eye, to get your approval. But you only ever had eyes for your perfect son. She was top of her class, she learnt to play the piano and the flute, her achievements were every bit as impressive as her brother’s. But you never saw them. You looked past her to Lance.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Do you have any idea how that made her feel—to do so well and still be second best?”

“She was never second best. She’s my Lizzie. My baby girl. I adore her. This is all rubbish.” He jabbed his finger towards Chris. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Are you sure? Look, Colonel, I have not doubt that you love Beth—what sort of man doesn’t love his daughter. But did you ever show her?”

The Colonel said nothing

“When was the last time you held her? Or kissed her forehead? When was the last time you said ‘I love you, Beth’? Colonel, do you have any idea how Beth felt when you nominated Lance for West Point?”

“She was proud. We all were.”

“It never occurred to you that she might wonder why you didn’t nominate her? Because that’s what she did.”

“I’d have thought it was obvious.”

“It was obvious to Beth. It was because you didn’t think she was good enough.”

The Colonel stared at Chris. “That’s not true. She would have done at least as well as Lance did. Maybe even better. I’m sure of it.”

“Then why didn’t you nominate her?”

The Colonel raised his voice. “Because she’s my special little girl. I couldn’t let her join the Military—Lord knows what might have happened to her. I’m her father. I have to protect her.”

“But have you ever told her that?”

The Colonel turned back to the window.

“I didn’t think so,” said Chris.

There was a long pause. The Colonel ran his fingers though his short grey hair. Chris waited.

“Are you screwing her?” the Colonel said in a calm, quiet voice.


The Colonel turned back towards him, his fists tightly clenched. He spoke through gritted teeth. “It’s a simple enough question, son. Are you screwing my daughter?” He exhaled. “I know how it works. A man doesn’t fly halfway around the world to see a girl unless he thinks he’s going to get a little pussy.”

“I don’t think that’s any of your business, Colonel.”

“What did I just tell you? She’s my daughter, it’s my job to protect her. Of course it’s my business when some asshole tries to take advantage of her.”

Chris shook his head. “You’ve got it wrong. You don’t need to protect her from me. I would never take advantage of her. Never hurt her.”

“Really? So what happens when your vacation is over and you go back to England. Don’t you think that will hurt her?”

It was Chris’s turn to raise his voice. “I’m not taking advantage of her.” He calmed. “If anything, she’s taking advantage of me.”

“So you are screwing her. I’m going to make this real simple for you, boy. Get the hell out of River’s Crossing or so help me God, I’ll dig out my service revolver and shoot you dead.”

“I’ll leave if and when Beth asks me to. And if you have to kill me, then maybe Beth will be better off when you’re locked up.”

Colonel Burnett took a step towards Chris. “Don’t play with me, son. I’ve killed for my country, I wouldn’t think twice about killing for my family. She’s all I have left. I won’t let you take her from me.” He marched out of the house and slammed the door behind him.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Charlotte's Secret - An Excerpt

It’s been a while since there have been any excerpts from my stories published on this blog so I thought I’d rectify that over the next few days. I’ll start with a short excerpt from Charlotte’s Secret, which is currently available from Tomorrow, I’ll do an expert from Lost & Found (published on 16th June) and the day after, a little treat from the as yet unfinished Chloe’s Education. They’ll all be nice and clean, no dirty bits, excerpts—but if you ask nicely I might let things get a bit naughty next week.

So, let’s kick things off with Charlotte and David having a little heart-to-heart shall we?

David warmed a bottle of baby milk in the microwave and sat Ben on his knee. He stared into his son’s blue eyes, which were wide open, clean and bright, and felt more love for him than ever thought possible.

“I’ve said it before, Benny, and I’ll keep on saying it. I am never gonna let anyone hurt you. D’you hear me? Never.”

Ben gurgled through his bottle in response.

“I have to tell you, Benny, Daddy did something very naughty today. He went to see your Auntie Charlotte. Yes, he did. And Auntie Charlotte was very nice to Daddy. Yes, she was. Very nice. But then, she always was. Best not tell Mummy though. No, that wouldn’t be a good idea. Mummy doesn’t want Daddy to see Auntie Charlotte.”

Ben pushed the bottle away to indicate he’d had enough. As David put the bottle on the coffee table, the telephone rang. He picked it up.

“Laird residence, David speaking.”

“David, thank God. Can you talk?”

“Charlie? Yes, I can talk, but why are you phoning the land line?”

“Because I don’t have your mobile number. Susie made you change it, remember?”

“I mean, ‘What if Susie had answered?’”

“Then I’d have told her how much I enjoyed lunch and arranged another one.”

“You went for lunch together?”

“Yes.” Charlotte sounded irritated. “Look, is Susie in the house?”

“No, she’s gone to the gym.”

“Good. How long do you think she’ll be? Have I got time to come over?”

“Do you think that’s a good idea? What if we lose track of time?”

“No. That’s not why I want to come. I have to talk to you David.”

“We’re talking now, aren’t we?”

“No. I have to talk to you face to face. I have something I need to show you.”

“Can’t it wait until Monday?”

“Not really.”

“Okay. But come over right away. Susie usually stays at the gym for a drink with her friends, but might decide not to.”

“I’m in my car outside. I’ll be right there.”

David put the phone down and wondered what could be so urgent that Charlotte would take this kind of risk. He daren’t think what would happen if Susie caught them together. His train of thought was distracted when Ben snored gently. So often the little boy fell asleep in David’s arms. He studied him as he slept. His face was subtle mixture of pleasure and contentment. People often said that Ben had David’s eyes or his ears, or mouth, or any other feature they could think of, but David couldn’t see it. He thought that the boy shared his eyes with his mother and aunt, but they were the only features he recognised. He certainly couldn’t see himself in him--but he loved him just the same.

Ben stirred at the knock at the door but didn’t wake. David opened the door with one hand while clutching Ben to his chest with the other. Charlotte stood in the doorway, looking as radiant as always. He put his finger to lips to silence her before she spoke. He nodded for her to come inside. “I’ll just take him up to bed,” he whispered. “Then we can talk, okay?”

Charlotte nodded. David could feel her watching him as he carried Ben upstairs. When he returned, she was still in the hallway, waiting for him. He took her into the kitchen and offered her a glass of wine.

“What if Susie finds lipstick on the glass?”

“She won’t. I’ll have time to clean it before she gets back. After all, how long can it take you to warn me not to come to the shop again?”

“Warn you… What?”

“That’s why you’re here isn’t it. To warn me off. I’ll understand if it is. It means you felt it too.”

“What? Felt what?”

“The spark. It never went away, did it? The spark between you and me. I could feel it the moment I stepped into the shop, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. I came in to talk to you about Susie and… I’m sorry, Charlie. I’m so sorry. I know what we did was wrong. But you can’t tell me it didn’t feel right. You can’t tell me that it didn’t feel as good as before--better even because we’d been denied each other for too long.” He looked at the floor. The silence lasted for a few awkward seconds but seemed much longer.

“David, I…”

“Don’t, Charlie. Don’t say it, ’cause I don’t think I could stand to hear it.”

“David. I have to tell you about Susie. I have to tell you what I’ve seen. What I know.”

He looked up, confusion etched in every line of his face.

She took a deep breath and smoothed down her clothes, which she always did when she was nervous. “Susie’s having an affair.”

Charlotte’s Secret is available now from and major e-book retailers such as Fictionwise, All Romance e-Books and Mobipocket

Monday, 2 June 2008

I’ll be about today on the Phaze Chatters yahoo list for the chat day. I’ll definitely be around until 5-ish (UK time) and then will try and check in later tonight from home. I plan to post excerpts from both Charlotte’s Secret and Lost & Found which is now just two weeks from release.

This weekend I spent some time down the allotment, and things are coming along nicely, as you can see from the photos below. The potatoes are shooting up, and I’ve even got some strawberries growing—I just hope the slugs don’t get to them before I do.

I managed to resolve the problem I had with Chloe’s Education last week. And I’m quite happy with the result. I’d post some of it, but it’s a bit of a spoiler for the whole damn book, so that’s perhaps not a good idea. I’ll think about it.

Here's an overview of my allotment this weekend.

And a shot of my Potato plants. You can even see Mrs Nobbs in the background.

I've got some Strawberries growing. Yippee

Another shot of my Spuds

I had to post this. A neighbour's plot. I think he likes Strawberries - what do you think?


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