Friday, 30 July 2010

Friday House Guest - Does Age Matter by Nancy Lennea

Please welcome Nancy Lennea to talk about that age old question – does an age difference in romance really matter?


I want to thank Marc for having me today ‘from across the pond’. I am writing to you from the hot and muggy southeastern United States. I am thrilled to tell everyone around the world about my debut novel, SECRET LOVE MATCH. When Marc asked me to write an article pertaining to my book, age and romance instantly came to mind. I am a mature married woman, but that is not why I want to share my thoughts.

Let me tell you about what happened the first time I pitched my manuscript to an agent. My local chapter of Romance Writers of America regularly invites agents and editors to talk with us and this agent (who shall remain unnamed) gave me ten minutes to tell me about ‘The Hook, The Cook, and The Book’. I had not gotten two minutes into my talk when she said the age difference between my hero and heroine (and I quote) ‘was creepy”.

Again, I am a mature woman married 30+ years while she was 29 at the time. This New York agent did not feel my story line was realistic. She wondered how could readers expect anything romantic or a happily ever after ending between a 21-year-old tennis ace bent on a berth on the U.S. Olympic team and a 40-year-old former TV star?

I went home very discouraged and actually considered rewriting my story. Would it still work if I made Rebecca Delacourt older and Taylor Adams younger? Nope, doing so would change all the dynamics. The conflict would disappear and I saw no obstacles that would hinder them from forming a loving relationship except their careers. I LOVE obstacles!

Luckily for me, I had sent the manuscript into Red Rose Publishing the month before. I started and finished my next manuscript before Red Rose came calling. Seems they have a section of their mainstream romance catalog called Autumn Rose: this is where at least one of the characters MUST be over 40!

If anyone reads regency historical romances set in merry old London (I do!) the heroine is usually between the ages of 17 and 22 and the hero usually isn’t younger than 34. No one feels that is strange, so why did this particular agent burst my bubble? TV and movies show older men all the time and I hate to admit this, but 40 is NOT OLD! I make Becka and Taylor react to each other with volcanic heat while each knows they should not get together.

Life, irksome relatives, a kidnapping, a furious father, and the demands of both their dream occupations work against them until love wins. What do you, out there, think of all this? Does age matter in the real world? Does it matter to you?

Secret Love Match Blurb

secret-love-match-200x300 Rebecca Delacourt has played and taught tennis for the last three years. At twenty-one, she knows what she wants. Without help from her wealthy parents, she buys a condo in Glen Cove, NY and plans to be on the Olympic Tennis team. She has no time for men, marriage, or children. Her mother gave up her acting career when she became pregnant with older sister, Laney, whose illegitimate son is mute due to recent emotional trauma. Rebecca still manages to squeak out some time for her charity work for breast cancer research in Baltimore every year.

Taylor, a former TV actor, notices Becka. She knows him—she’s dreamed of his TV persona for years. They meet at her parent’s country club. He thinks he’s found gold in the athletic blonde. After beating him at tennis, he meets her parents. Too bad he knows them—a former co-star, and the man helping get him auditions.

Her sister moves in—thwarting any privacy. She’s hiding out and is attacked. Taylor finds himself falling for Becka. Will he change his arrogant ways, save her nephew from kidnappers, and realize she’s the one? Becka wonders if dreams can still be reached with someone beside her. Will they reach their dreams together?

Nancy lives the dream. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy and her husband moved to North Carolina. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Celtic Heart Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and Sisters in Crime. She also writes paranormal romance such as DRAGON’S CURSE from Whispers Publishing as Nancy Lee Badger:

Nancy’s website: Visit her blog for the latest news:

rrp-bestsellerSECRET LOVE MATCH is available now from Red Rose Publishing

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Wednesday Words - “Heat Wave” By Patricia Pellicane

Here’s today’s Wednesday Words excerpt. Enjoy.


Jebediah Knight, Arizona territory’s Marshal, is a big man. He’s come to Arizona City to take care of business. Once the job is finished, Jeb realizes he’s not ready to move on just yet. It seems a sweet, if cantankerous, little lady has caught his eye.

Lilly Willingham is annoyed to find herself partial to the giant of a man, but partial is as far as she’s willing to go. Without a doubt she does not love him and swears she never will.

The problem here is Marshal Knight isn’t the kind of man who takes no in stride. The little lady might act the shrew, but he knows the best use for that sharp tongue.

HeatWavev2 EXCERPT:

I’ll give you all the privacy you want. Most of the time, you won’t even know I’m here.”

Lilly laughed. “Right. And how do you imagine I won’t notice a man like you?”

“Meaning what? Am I too good lookin’ to escape your notice?”

“You’re too big. If I slept with you, I haven’t a doubt you’d leave me barely an inch of space. And stop fishing for compliments. I never give a man a compliment.”

He looked down at her with some surprise. “You reckon a man don’t need them? Is that it?”

“I reckon all men are a confident lot of ego hogs, and anything I’ve got to say could only swell heads that are already far too big.” She smiled sweetly, which didn’t fit her attitude at all and only caused him a huge grin. “After all, were that the case, you’d have to buy another hat.” She shrugged. “So don’t think of it as I don’t give compliments. Instead, you might thank me for saving you a passel of money.”

He chuckled at her outrageous reasoning. “I’m thinkin’ maybe I like a prickly little lady like you.”

“How nice for you.”

He chuckled. “You know givin’ compliments could swell other things besides heads,” he reminded, while pressing his hips to hers so she might know what particular thing he had in mind.

Lilly surprised herself with a girlish giggle. She hadn’t made a sound like that in twenty years and wondered at her sudden lighthearted mood. “That’s always possible, I suppose, but those things can usually swell without a word spoken.”

“You’re a sassy little lady, Miss Lilly. Lucky for you, I’m a bit partial to sassy ladies.”

She snapped a sarcastic, “Oh I’m very lucky, I’m sure.” And to his chuckle, she said, “Most around here think I’m nasty, hard-headed and a stubborn sort.”

“Are you?”

She shrugged. “I suppose I am, some.”

“Good. Nothing is more boring than a sweet-tempered, submissive, weak little miss.”

“Well, you came to the right place, if you’re not looking for sweet.”

“Still there’s sweet and then there’s sweet. Nothing could be sweeter than what you gave me in the kitchen.”

“Oh, I think we can do better than that,” she said as she shoved him to his back and, with their bodies still joined, sat upon his hips.

She was pulling at her clothes when he asked, “You lookin’ to show a man what you’re hintin’ at?”

“Was I hinting? Actually, I thought I was being exceptionally clear.”

Jeb grinned, a flash of white against black, whiskers, his dark eyes twinkling with pleasure as he watched her throw her dress and chemise over her head to drape over the bed frame. Next, the pins that held her hair in a knot behind her head were dropped to her nightstand and a dark cloud of silk floated to her waist.

“I have to move.”

“Damn,” he grunted as he watched her come to her knees and roll her stockings down each leg.

She was reaching for a shoe behind her, half turned from him, when she came to a sudden stop and asked very softly, “Where are my drawers?” When he didn’t immediately respond, she snapped, “Oh my God! Did you leave them on the kitchen floor?”

Heat Wave was released June 14, 2010 By Resplendence Publishing.

Buy it at

Friday, 23 July 2010

It’s Who I Am

If you follow my tweets, you’ll know that earlier this week I bought my son his first club football shirt. Not his first football shirt – I bought him an England shirt during the world cup – but his first replica shirt of a club team. That team being my team, Wolves.

Okay, okay, I know. Child cruelty, right? I’m setting him on the path of a lifetime of anguish and suffering following this team and he’ll probably never forgive me, after all, I still haven’t forgiven my dad for doing it to me (not true, there’s nothing to forgive. Some of my greatest memories are from games I’ve been to with my dad) – but this post isn’t about the importance of a son following the same team as his father. It isn’t about the unique feeling that comes with loyally following one team your whole life that you can’t truly understand unless you’ve sat in the stadium in the good times and the bad experiencing the same emotions as thirty-thousand other people.

It isn’t even about the joy and pride with which he worn his shirt to nursery and showed off his name on the back of the shirt. No, it’s about the name I’ve had put on the back of MY shirt.

As you can see, my shirt reads “Papa”. I’ve shown this photo to the girls at work, and those with kids smiled and went “Ahh, sweet.” But the twenty-two year old without kids called it “Cheesy”. Which I can understand. You see, you don’t know what kids do to you, and can’t understand, until you have them.

They say if you’re going to put you own name on the back of your shirt (as opposed to one of the team’s star’s names) then it must be your true identity. It must be who you are. So guys might put their nickname on the back – the one all their football loving mates use. Ten years ago, mine might have read “Knobbie”.

So is it any surprise my shirt today reads “Papa”? Because that’s who I am now. I’m not Marc anymore. I’m not Knobbie, or any of the other nicknames I’ve gone by in the past. I’m Jr’s Papa. That’s my role in life right now. And far from wanting to change it – I want everyone to know it.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Silly Woman or Dirty Thieving Bastard?

I want to tell you a little story. It’s a true story, happened just this past week. I’m not going to use the real names of the people involved because that’s not my place, but the story is true. And I think it’s says an awful lot about the times we live in…

***Sarcasm mode on***

At a local secondary school, let’s call it Anonymous High, they have a policy in place for dealing with disruptive pupils – sorry, I mean, Challenging Young Learners – whereby those individuals causing the disruption can be removed from lessons and isolated. They are sent by the teacher, sorry, I mean Educational Professional, to, let’s call it Room X, where a Senior Educational Professional overseas the rebellious horde.

Good idea in principle, but the system relies on those pup… Young Learners being removed to make their own way to Room X. Given they are already in a rebellious mood, having caused the classroom disruption in the first place, this level of trust is perhaps somewhat misplaced. But anyway…

A few days ago, a member of the Educational Professional staff was having problems with a particular pu… Young Learner. Let’s call her Miss Naive and him Little Jonny. Miss Naive decided the best way to continue with her lesson was to send Little Jonny to Room X. But Little Jonny had other ideas. On his way to Room X – which was in a different part of the building – he stopped off at the staff room, which was unoccupied, found Miss Naive’s handbag, went through it and stole… sorry, borrowed, her mobile phone.

I’m sure he just wanted to scare her to get her back and had no evil intentions whatsoever. He probably just wanted to hide it and was going to give it back to her at the end of the day.


On browsing the contents of Miss Naive’s snazzy smartphone – as you do – Little Jonny found several photographs of her in compromising positions and in most of them she was less than fully clothed. Well, what do you expect a Precocious Young Learner to do? He MMSed the photos to all the people in her address book – which included family members including her children, most of the other Educational Professional staff members including several Senior Educational Professional staff and some of the parents of pup… Young Learners in her form group. He then made sure to send the photos to most of his friends and upped them to a photo sharing website for good measure.

All of which was perfectly reasonable since Little Jonny thought it best that everyone possible knew the sort of things Miss Naive got up to in her private life – he thought the school could do without that sort of pervert teaching there.

And he got his wish. Miss Naive didn’t return to school the next week – handing in her notice in a telephone conversation with the headtea…, er, Managing Educational Professional.

And what do you think happened to innocent Little Jonny? He was handed a four day exclusion. FOUR WHOLE DAYS! For exposing the nasty slut to the whole school and her family. The Managing Educational Professional said he couldn’t allow the other pupi… Young Learners to think it was okay not to go straight to Room X when sent or to go in the staff room without permission.

***Sarcasm mode off***

Okay, so I hammed it up a bit, but the bones of the story are indeed true. A pupil at this local school did indeed steal a mobile phone from the staff member who’d sent him to the isolation room from her lesson and did indeed find compromising photos of her on the phone which he distributed to everyone he could in all digital methods available to him.

And then the only punishment he got was a four day - yes, I did say four day - exclusion. In effect, his summer holidays have started a week early. While the staff member is now seeking employment opportunities elsewhere having come to the conclusion in a conversation with the headteacher that her position in the school was irrecoverably undermined.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture, or is it just me?

Okay, so said teacher was foolish to keep those photos on her phone and equally foolish not to ensure that her phone was secure from prying eyes, but still… I just can’t help but think that the person who has ultimately been ‘punished’ here isn’t the pupil that stole the phone, but the victim of said theft. And that, I’m afraid, just ain’t right.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Curse of the 'Real' World

Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. I know it's been a while since the blog has been updated, but truth is that I've been super, super busy both at work and at home. Something had to take a back seat and it was the blog. Normal service may be resumed soon, but I'm going away on holiday in August, so unless I can work like buggery to schedule some posts in advance, there'll be another two week hiatus then.

I've got two more guest posts scheduled for the end of July/start of August, and after that my calender is clear. That's deliberate in my part. The guests have been a great success, but they have also been a lot of work. So I'm taking a break from hosting with a view to putting a new call out for guests later this year.

I'm also working on a book trailer for "Eternally & Evermore" which will go up on YouTube when it's done. But, a lot like the blog, time has been limited and putting the thing together is a slow job.

I'm going to go and do some writing now. I hope.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Wednesday Words - “A Touch of Lily” by Nina Pierce

Atouchoflily_msr Today’s excerpt comes from Nina Pierce’s A Touch of Lily, which is published by Ellora’s Cave and is available now.

Here’s the blurb…

Ex-Chicago detective Lilly D’Angelo is part of a secret alien race living on earth. With a gentle caress she can elevate the sexual energy of any male. Apprehending criminals lost in an erotic fugue is almost too easy—until she uses her gift on the wrong alien. Kidnapped and shipped into deep space, Lilly barely escapes with her life. Now she travels the galaxy alone working as a bounty hunter and hoping to find a soul mate unaffected by her touch.

Agent Dallas Sawyer works for QAL—deep space’s version of the FBI. After a disastrous mission that left a president murdered, his team member executed, and Dallas near death, he’s determined to take down the assassin targeting government officials. When a sexy human female gets between him and his goal, Dallas and his alien partner find themselves on the receiving end of some wild sex and a proposition that may very well blow up in their faces.

Because in deep space … true love can happen with just a touch.

And here’s the excerpt…

Lilly D’Angelo could have been walking into any of the seedier establishments lining Forty-fifth and Wester on Chicago’s south side. Except for the clientele, the tavern’s owner had managed to replicate nearly every detail right down to the blue haze and the soft crooning of a jazz band on the corner stage. The acrid stench and gruff hum of a Friday night crowd tripped Lilly down memory lane—a place she had no desire to travel at the moment.

Lilly pushed the sour thoughts of home out of her mind and focused her energy on the patrons at the bar. Morphing her features into her sexiest vixen pout, she moved gracefully toward the long bar on the other side of the room. Her voluptuous breasts, spilling temptingly from her silk blouse, led the way. The eyes watching her ass sashay around the battered tables were clustered on various life forms—none of them human.

Yeah, definitely not Chicago. Shit, this wasn’t even Earth for chrissake.

“Regent’s ale, straight up, hold the brenic.” She spoke English, hoping the two-headed Xerick behind the bar had a cochlear translator in one of those eight holes that passed for ears. Satisfied when one head nodded, she settled on a stool, making sure her fur jacket and blouse parted enough to offer a seductive view of her cleavage. Lilly shifted just enough to let the black leather skirt ride up her thigh and expose a little more silky real estate. Surreptitiously checking her image in the mirrored glass behind the liquor bottles, she was pleased she looked every bit the part. She wasn’t trying to attract anyone in particular, perhaps something on the less offensive side that could offer her a bit of entertainment to help fritter away the next couple of hours.

Lilly wasn’t a xenophobic bigot by any stretch of the imagination. But six months in deep space, working these kinds of joints, wasn’t really long enough to become accustomed to the scenery. The Nebulae Galaxy’s spaceports overflowed with aliens of all sizes and genders. Only that wasn’t really a fair term here in deep space.

Alien inferred the life forms didn’t belong. On the contrary, it was humans who were invading their territory. The treaties of 2253, signed well over forty years ago, had guaranteed the safe travel of humans in deep space. After the snafu of ’34, which saw the first major space disaster since light travel had been discovered, humans had insisted on protection for their species. They’d formed some bullshit board of security, guaranteeing humans could run roughshod over the universe like everywhere else. Though most people referred to them as the QAL, Lilly nicknamed them the alphabet mafia. At one point she’d actually considered working for them until they’d discovered who she was—or more specifically what she was. It didn’t matter. They could all go fuck themselves if they didn’t appreciate her gifts. Lilly had found a way to use her talents and still bring down the bad guys.

Of course in deep space, bad was a relative term.

There was the kind of bad that got a person lost on the ice caps of Dallas Eight without a backup plan. Or the bad that forced someone to stow away in the engine room of a Drikspa alien tanker bound for unknown destinations, praying not to get caught. Or the bad that got a human female imprisoned as a sex slave on the mining colonies of Krystallos Three, hidden from even the long arm of the QAL. Lilly shivered at that one. Even her talents wouldn’t free her from that kind of torture.

She was just happy to be here on Garalon Five where bad meant nothing more than crossing paths with every brand of space pirate, ex-con or fugitive looking for a new start. As one of the more recent colonizations in the Nebulae Galaxy, the G-5 government turned their collective back on past offenses on other planets and allowed anyone to start a legitimate business. It’s what had brought her here.

Nina grew up in a house of readers. So falling in love with books was only natural. In her early teens she discovered love stories. And we’re not talking about the Judy Blume young adult stories. Nope, she cut her teeth on the queens, Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts.

Of course since then, she’s branched out to reading all kinds of genres from science fiction to mystery, medical thrillers to historicals and Nina has too many favorite authors to list. But through it all romance has remained her favorite genre. Now, reading about lovers isn't enough for her (though she still devours books). The characters of her imagination beg to have their stories told. Nina finally put fingers to keyboard... and a new career was launched.

A native of Maine, Nina resides in what she affectionately calls "the great white North" in potato country with my high school sweetheart and true love of thirty-four years, her three grown children and a menagerie of pets.

You can find all her books at And you if you want to follow her musings join her on facebook ( or twitter (

Monday, 5 July 2010

Ego-Search Turns up Unexpected Review

LOST & FOUND cover250 Come on, admit it, we all do it. Every now and then we do a Google ‘ego-search’. That is, we put our own name into Google (real or pen names) and see what turns up. For the most part, we authors should find our own websites/blogs/facebooks/twitters at the top if the list, but you never know what might be on the second, third or fourth pages.

And the recent changes to Google, where you can narrow the search down to categories like ‘blogs’, ‘shopping’ and ‘discussions’ make for even more interesting reading.

Earlier today I came across this post by Roni Gehlke on Romance Book Scene from May 2009. Yes, last year. It’s a review of Lost & Found and not one I’d seen before. Roni gave the book three stars out of five and made some complimentary comments. But she also made some comments that I’d take issue with. Let me explain why.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a reader’s opinion is a reader’s opinion and they are entitled to it. Hell, if we all had the same opinion it’d be a very, very dull world. But in this case, Roni has done something that it seems a number of readers do – project the opinions of one of the characters onto the author and assumed they are his opinions. Which is very rarely the case.

A good author should be able to ‘get inside the head’ of his characters and write them in such a way that that character’s views sound convincingly like a real person’s views – even if those views are the opposite of the author’s views. In the same way that I can imagine, and hopefully convincingly write, what it’s like to have sex in the back of a limousine or be held at gun point even though neither of these things have happened to me, I should be able to write views that are racist, homophobic, or something equally unpleasant, even though they are not my views.

To quote from the review…

The book itself is well written. There are some wonderful erotic scenes throughout the story and the two characters are developed very well. The main problem I had with the book is more a matter of personal taste.

I’m pleased that Roni thinks the book is well written, Beth and Chris well developed and that the erotic scenes are good. And I’m pleased that she has admitted that what follows is a matter of personal taste – not all reviewers would have the good grace to do that.


I like all genres of romance, but I don't believe that political agendas belong in romance. There was a scene in the book where I felt the author was just a little to preachy about the Iraq war.

First off, I don’t believe that Lost & Found does have a political agenda – at least that’s not how I wrote it. I used the Iraq War as a back drop to the story because it was contemporary and because it was dividing public opinion at the time. In retrospect, I should, perhaps, have invented a fictional war, but the war itself is not the point of conflict in the book. The point of conflict is the different views held by father and daughter about the son/brother and his reasons for joining the army in the first place.

The scene to which she is referring is one in which Chris and The Colonel (Beth’s father) have a confrontation while Beth is at work. It’s very tense. They are both very passionate. But that passion is because, in their own ways, they both care about Beth deeply. It comes out as an argument about the war, but read between the lines and you’ll see what it’s really about.

That said…

Chris’ views as he expresses them in the book are typical of the anti-war lobby here in the UK. They do argue that the war was more about oil than terrorism and they are pretty scathing in their opinions of George W. Bush. And Tony Blair, for that matter. But here’s the thing – Chris’ views and words do not reflect my views any more than The Colonel’s do.

For the record, I think that Bush and Blair both genuinely believed the reasons they gave for entering Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein from power at the time that they gave them and I wasn’t one of the millions that marched on Downing Street in protest. I think they both were led to believe by people they trusted that he was a genuine threat. I think it was a poorly executed war rather than an unnecessary one. The Iraq Enquiry currently taking place in the UK will shed light on its legality – so we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

But anyway…

Aside from Roni projecting a character’s views onto the author, there is something else that bothers me…

He was very insulting to our country and making a poorly chosen reference to our president.

Someone is a bit touchy, aren’t they? Okay, so I’ve admitted that perhaps I should have invented a fictional war – but if I’d have done that one has to ask if it would have had the same impact or indeed if it would have lessened the perceived political agenda (which wasn’t there anyway). But let’s face facts, no country is immune from criticism in fiction, and nor should they be. That’s the nature of free speech. And besides, I don’t think I did insult America. My treatment of The Colonel was pretty harsh, but he was the antagonist and it had to be that way. But look at my treatment of the funeral. Chris “had never seen anything like it” and was taken aback. That scene still stirs great emotion in me. I think it’s one of the best scenes I’ve ever written and I defy anyone to not put them self there, to hear Taps being played and to not feel the tears welling up.

My good friend and beta-reader is American - in fact, this book started out from an idea we kicked about together – and she didn’t feel insulted or that the country was insulted. I wonder, would Roni have felt I was insulting the country had I been American? Would she have reacted the same way? I can’t answer that.

There is a place for these kinds of storylines, I just don't happen to believe it is in a romance novel.

Okay. I have to say this. Who says there’s no place in romance for ‘controversial’ plot lines? Romance as a genre is not taken seriously by many critics and if that is to change then it can’t shy away from things like this. In my opinion, Romance is the ideal genre to tackle issues that make the reader think and examine and question their own views.  Otherwise what we end up with is a host of copycat books where only the names and settings change but the basics of everything else stay pretty much the same. Formulaic books. Books that fail to challenge.

Now, if that’s what some people want to write and some people want to read, that’s fine. All power to them. Me? I prefer the challenge. To challenge and to be challenged. But that’s just me.

Once again, I’d like to thank Roni for taking the time to publish her thoughts on my book. Let me clear, Roni’s review didn’t ‘upset me’. I respect her opinion. She acknowledged that the book was well written, the characters well developed and the love scenes erotic. And, at the end of the day, those three things are what I strive for. The rest, well, that’s personal taste and cause for debate. I if I can get people talking too, so much the better.

Monday Morning Flash - “Say it with Flowers”

It’s that time again. Is there a better way to start the week that with a little flash?


Say it with Flowers

Kevin had been in the pub with his mates since finishing work. “Another one, lads? My shout.”

He staggered up to the bar, winked at the busty barmaid and ordered more beers. She flashed him her stunning smile in return. His mobile phone rang. He looked at the screen before answering. “Hey, Sally.”

“Where the fuck are you, arsehole? It’s Valentine’s Day.”


“We were going for dinner. At Chico’s. The posh Italian place.”

“Fuck, yeah. Sorry. I forgot. I’ll be right round.”

“No point. We’ve missed the booking. No blow-jobs for you for at least a month.”

“I’ll come round anyway. Pick up a pizza and a DVD.”

“All right. But get a good film, nothing violent. And no bloody pineapple on the pizza.”


“And I’ll be expecting you to go down on me for at least an hour by way of apology.”

Kevin left the pub to calls of ‘pussy-whipped’. He stopped at the video store and rented a chick flick. At the pizza take-away, he ordered a chicken and mushroom special. His route to Sally’s took him past St. Gregory’s. There must have been a wedding earlier in the day, because a discarded flower arrangement lay in the church-yard. He checked no one was watching and then scooped up the bouquet. His beer-soaked brain told him Sally would be chuffed.

He was wrong.

After he’d given her the flowers, she went all cold-shouldered on him. “What’s wrong?”

“Don’t you know?”

Kevin shook his head. “Aren’t they nice flowers?”

“Oh, lovely. But you stole them?”

“How do you know?”

“Read the card.”

Kevin did. It read—Bye Mum. We’ll miss you.

Sally frowned. “How low can you get? Better make it two hours, don’t you think?”


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