Excerpts from my books

Here are a few excerpts from all my books to whet your appetite. Hopefully, they’ll give you a flavour of what lies within each of them.

An excerpt from The Hostile

‘This is the weirdest snow that I have ever seen in my entire life. I must reach Carl’s place as soon as possible. Just need to cross this field and it should be over there somewhere,’ he said, taking a route that seemed familiar, although he could not be sure.

In normal visibility, it would have been easy to navigate the lanes and shortcuts to his old friend’s modest abode, but for several days nothing had been normal. He could spot none of the usual landmarks, but felt fairly sure that he was walking in the right direction. However, he made the mistake of turning around a few times to try to get his bearings. After doing that, he was not at all confident that he was on the correct road.

‘If only this bloody snow would just ease off for a second or two, then maybe I’d be able to regain my bearings,’ he thought, although even thinking was becoming a struggle as he was now suffering from severe brain freeze.

He walked on for what seemed like hours, now certain that he had missed the usual turning off to Carl’s house. He did not like to admit that he was completely lost, although deep inside, he knew that this was the case. His situation could not have been more precarious.

As he trudged across yet another ploughed white field, one of Keith’s trainer-clad feet wedged itself firmly in between two large rocks that were hidden under the snow. He stumbled and fell awkwardly to the ground with his foot still trapped between the two rocks.

‘Ow, ow, ow, my fucking ankle!’ he shouted out to nobody. He sat shivering and despondent in the snow and cursed his luck with a barrage of foul language.

Keith’s situation changed from dire to life-threatening over the next half hour. His body temperature dropped ever lower, to the point that he felt drowsy and could not feel his extremities except for the pain of his torn ankle ligaments. Even though he eventually managed to extricate his injured foot from in between the rocks, he could barely place any weight on it.

‘Must keep going,’ he said, gritting his teeth and limping in any direction that his cold-addled brain took him.

He was hoping to come across any dwelling. It did not have to be Carl’s house, because anywhere would be a life-saver. Nothing was visible, except the dense curtain of white snow falling everywhere that he cast his increasingly drowsy eyes.

‘Help! Help! Help!’ Keith wailed weakly, but even his voice sounded muffled and as useless as the rest of his body. He could no longer walk due to his painful foot injury, so lay defeated on the ground. Keith closed his eyes.

*****

Please feel free to read a sample of my 2016 paranormal thriller The Hostile http://amzn.to/2blBo12

Me reading the first five minutes of chapter one of The Hostile audiobook

PhotoFunia The Hostile Rainy Night Regular 2016-06-27 04 49 53

An excerpt from Holiday for The Hostile

front-cover-holiday-for-the-hostile-newSerena reluctantly took the nearest tin and tipped its contents onto the top of the large box. There was nothing resembling a key in the first tin, so she refilled it and grabbed the second, then the third. Inside the third tin was a weighty ornate key that looked as though it might fit the lock. She turned the rusty bronzed key, which rewarded her with a satisfying click.

‘There we are. I told you there’d be a key hidden somewhere,’ he gloated. ‘Hold me up so I can see inside the box too.’

‘Give me a chance. I was just about to do that anyway,’ she snapped.

She was suddenly scared to look inside, yet unsure why. It was just a box.

What harm could there be in me looking inside? she thought. Maybe it’s the strange way Tile X is behaving. His comments about grandad just now were odd — I’m being daft. It’s just an old box, although it has a strange aura about it. I wonder if it’s worth anything? Might get a few quid for it on Antiques Roadshow. These women in the adverts on the lid are spooking me out with their inane grins and dead, staring eyes eyes.

As she stood debating with herself, just gazing at the box, Tile X lost all patience. ‘Come on, come on! Lift the lid and stop your dillydallying. The others will soon start wondering where you’ve disappeared to.’

Smelling a rat, Serena felt anxiety descend on her like a cloud. ‘It wouldn’t be the end of the world if I never looked inside this box, would it? What’s so important?’ she asked.

He decided to change tactics, fearing he might have alerted her suspicions. He nonchalantly said, ‘Please yourself. I just wondered whether there might be interesting stuff in such an antiquated tin box. I’m curious, that’s all.’

Gritting her teeth and half expecting a Jack to spring out of the box grinning demonically, Serena slowly, cautiously lifted the stiff lid. No Jack pinged out, so she calmed down a little and peered inside.

‘Hold me higher so I can look inside too. It’s not all about you, you know,’ Tile X commanded.

Laid out ceremoniously inside the box were several intriguing objects from another era. Serena lifted out a rectangular object wrapped in ancient, paper-thin, beige suede. Serena cautiously placed the mystery object onto the work surface, then unwrapped it with one hand whilst holding Tile X in the other. Inside was an identical ancient-looking suede wrapping.

‘Whatever’s inside must be valuable to someone,’ Tile X observed.

‘As my grandad is the only person who lives here, my guess it’s valuable to him. He’ll have my guts for garters if he catches me rummaging around in his treasures.’

‘So unwrap it faster then,’ he urged.

Removing the suede revealed a book that had the word ‘Postcards’ written in a fancy script, hand-tooled vertically into the thick, red book cover.

Feel free to read a sample of Holiday for The Hostile here http://amzn.to/2fNXVrU

Another excerpt from Holiday for The Hostile

Her query about food was soon answered. She spotted a couple of grotesquely shiny, skinned rabbits lying on the kitchen counter, their bulging, dead eyes still in situ.

Oh, bliss, rabbit stew — again! she thought with a shudder. The naked, stretched out rabbits made her think of stillborn babies, not that she’d ever seen one, but that’s what she imagined they’d look like.

‘If this damned rain ever eases off, thought we’d take a little stroll to the village in the morning, if you all fancy it,’ Niall said with a grin that displayed how many teeth were missing through neglect.

‘Great idea,’ said Beatrice, sounding more enthusiastic than she felt. There was nothing of any interest in the village, but at least they could escape the oppressive house for a while. Her children were thinking much the same, despite only having just arrived.

‘Make yourselves at home whilst I sort out the rabbit stew,’ said Niall, opening a kitchen drawer and pulling out a murderous-looking cleaver.

Tristan turned his attention away from the television screen to watch the dexterous, gruesome chopping going on a few yards away. Witnessing the dismemberment, the boy started thinking about his fluffy bunny back home. The family had taken Clover in a couple of years previously. He’d been a gift to Tristan from his mother’s friend after the Drummond cat became spooked out by the presence of Tile X and fled. His disappearance had left Tristan bereft. Large tears welled up in the boy’s eyes as he imagined Clover stripped of fur and being hacked to pieces by his grandfather. The thought of having to eat a possible relative of Clover for supper was too much. He bawled and wailed as though his heart would break.

‘Don’t look if you don’t like it,’ Lizzie advised, feeling queasy herself.

‘It might’ve been wiser to do that out of sight of the children,’ Beatrice told Niall. And me too, she wanted to add, but didn’t. My nerves have been shredded by the long journey and this public rabbit autopsy is the final straw.

An excerpt from The Hostile Game

‘Here’s the bricks you’ve been waiting for, Bob,’ the driver shouts to a couple of builders who are standing around drinking tea in the sunshine.

Bob and young Darren, who’s half the age and size of fifty-something Bob, each grab a wheelbarrow and start filling them with the old bricks. Like most builders, they are used to juggling several building jobs at once. Bob makes a point of working harder at shifting the bricks than Darren, so he can shout at him and mock him. Bob calls it banter, but it’s tantamount to bullying; as Bob’s the boss, he regards belittling Darren as perks of his job.

‘Put your back into it, Daz. You’re only on your third load and I’m already on my fifth. Stop being such a girl,’ Bob yells over his shoulder as he barrows another load over to the gaping hole in the ground that’ll be a house at some point.

Darren doesn’t even bother to answer. He swears under his breath and looks morosely into his bleak future. He hates what he sees. Can’t stick this much longer. Back’s killing me and my asthma’s getting worse. If he shouts at me much more, I’ll take a pick axe to his head, I swear to God. He spends the next few minutes imagining the satisfying crunch the axe might make as it shatters bone, then imagines Bob’s brains splattering all over the ground for the crows to peck.

When they are about three-quarters of the way down the skip load of bricks, Darren stops dead in his tracks after removing a handful of bricks to chuck into his wheelbarrow. Is that a hand or a brown glove? He shifts a few more bricks and discovers that the hand is attached to an arm, wrapped in a white plaster cast.

‘Quick, Bob … get over here! There’s something weird in the skip.’

‘A unicorn, perhaps?’ shouts Bob with a sneer. He carries on chucking bricks into the hole, deeming anything Darren has to say isn’t worth listening to.

‘I’m serious. Come over here right now. Think there’s a body at the bottom of the skip.’ Panic rises in Darren’s throat. He’s too scared to dislodge any more bricks, for fear of what else might lie underneath the rubble.

With a deep sigh, believing his whipping boy is freaking out over nothing like a soppy girl, Bob stomps over to the skip and looks inside. He soon changes his tune when he spies a grimy, smashed human hand and forearm peeking out from the bricks.

An excerpt from Confronting The Hostile

Nigel can hear Barbara speaking quietly and professionally down the line to her customer. Hearing nothing coming from her colleague, she glances over at him. He raises his eyebrows, points at the headset and mouths, ‘Wanker.’ Barbara smiles understandingly at him. Then she sees the expression on Nigel’s face change to one of alarm.

‘Die, kiddie fiddler,’ says a deep, unearthly voice into Nigel’s ear.

Before Nigel can escape, the long, black cord of his headset winds around his pale neck, pulling so tightly his eyes seem about to pop. He tries to stand up, but the cord has oddly shortened, preventing his attempts. His hands claw desperately at his neck, trying to end the painful choking. Startled, Barbara springs to her feet and tries to unwind the cord from his neck, but it’s immovable and pulling ever-tighter, until Nigel is purple in the face, his tongue lolling from the side of his mouth. Hearing the commotion, call workers swoop from all corners of the office to help.

All attempts to free Nigel are proving futile. Panic hits the office with full force. Blood trickles out of his mouth from where he’s bitten his tongue. He’s making the strangest gurgling noises as he thrashes about in desperation. His neck is cut and streaming blood down his beige shirt from where Mia, the office’s young first aider, has tried to cut the cord of the headset with a scalpel.

Mia shouts, ‘This headset must be made of steel. Hurry up … pull the end of it out of the computer and unwind the bloody thing from his neck. He’s gonna die if we don’t.’

‘Shut your noise! I’m trying to … it won’t budge,’ shouts Brian, the strongest man in the building. As he struggles to do what should be easy, he thinks,  I’ll never live this down if I fail to dislodge the end. What kind of force is holding it in there?Makes no sense.

When tugging does no good, he resorts to bashing the plastic connector linking the headset to the computer, to no avail. He stands back in disgust and puzzlement, watching scores of other workers noisily lining up to attempt to succeed where Brian has failed. Everyone has an opinion on how best to free the man, whose eyes are in danger of popping out of their sockets. While too many well-intentioned cooks are spoiling the broth, Nigel Thompson is busy dying.

If you want, listen to me reading ‘Back to school’, one of the stories from ‘Her demonic Angel’

An excerpt from Her demonic Angel

Her demonic Angel NEW FRONT paperback cover awThe day that nobody gave a damn

‘I’ll just have another ten minutes in bed.’ These words or something similar are mumbled by roughly seven billion people in every language known to mankind as they briefly awaken at staggered intervals over the next day or so. Those people with exceptionally weak bladders, loose bowels or both, lethargically slide out of bed to use the toilet. They then climb eagerly back into bed. The next time that they briefly surface from an even deeper sleep, they cannot even be bothered to leave the seductive warmth of their cosy beds to seek out the nearest toilet.

Ten minutes later, about seven billion people of every size, age, sex and nationality roll over in bed, hit the snooze button and think, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll just grab another twenty minutes or so.’

Some of the population will briefly consider calling in sick to their workplace, but change their drowsy minds because it is far too much bother. Even if they had summoned up the will and enough energy to phone in sick, their call would mostly have remained unanswered.

Demanding, solitary babies lie in their lonely cots and wail for hours, then whimper and eventually they will fall ominously silent. Their bellies at first rumble then over time distend in the same way that the bellies of haunted-eyed, starving children on television charity appeals bloat through a cruel lack of sustenance. The nappies of babies all over the world will soon be stinking as they fill, unchanged by those who would normally care for them.

On that fateful day, those who find themselves lying in bed with their partners can barely be bothered to speak a single word to them, except to briefly discuss in bad tempered grunts who should be the first one to relinquish the bed. When no decision can be reached, because it is too much effort to argue, backs are turned and sweet slumber resumes.

*****

Please feel free to sneak a peek at a sample of Her demonic Angel here http://amzn.to/2bMiO4c

An excerpt from Random Bullets

Now in her late sixties, she was beginning to feel achy after the long walk out to the tide’s edge. To restore her depleted energy, she foolishly decided to lie out on an unusually flat rock under the fiercely hot sun. She closed her green eyes and listened to the plaintive, monotone cries of the gulls circling above her head, trying to banish thoughts that the birds might dive bomb her to protect their nests. As the sun’s rays warmed her fashionably thin body through her expensive swimsuit, she drifted into a deep sleep.

She was jarred awake by a freezing sensation. Her bathing suit was drenched through from the spray of the waves that were crashing against the surprisingly comfortable rock on which she had accidentally fallen into sleep.

She glanced at her watch and discovered to her horror that she must have been asleep for well over an hour. Florence suddenly realised that she had committed a huge error, one more typically made by holidaymakers and not by people born and raised on the island. Residents respected the sea and its capricious ways.

‘Shit! I’m totally cut off by the tide. I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I’m usually the one to warn holidaymakers about getting cut off by the tide, now here I am, cut off by the sodding tide! Shit, shit, shit and fuck!’ She stood on tiptoe atop the rock, waving her arms like a demented windmill, but she was too far from shore for anybody to see her. The magnetic pull of the tide’s current eventually made standing impossible. The rock was soon covered completely in sea water and she struggled to keep her bare feet on the rough surface of the submerged rock. As the waves whipped up around her, she thought, ‘There’s no other option except to swim for shore. Shame I must leave my bag of prawns behind, but the wind has come up and I’ll need all of my strength to reach safety.’

The ice cold of the water made Florence gasp as she pushed her aging body off from the rock that she had been sleeping on. The tide’s powerful current was pulling her further out to sea, much to her increasing alarm. As waves crashed over her head, with the salty water stinging her eyes and pouring into her mouth and nose, Florence panicked more than she had ever done before. She was making no headway, cursing as seaweed wrapped around her limbs. The cold was making her hallucinate, with the grasping clumps of seaweed taking on the appearance of sea monsters.

Although Florence could swim, she had never been a strong swimmer. Battling against the current and freezing cold water gradually sapped every ounce of her strength. Slowly losing consciousness through hypothermia, she sank below the surface, her lungs filled with water and she drowned.

The split second that Florence’s heart stopped pumping, she was whisked upwards through the water and high into the air. Something was pulling her effortlessly over the sea wall and across the road to her home. She landed effortlessly in the branches of a flowering cherry tree in her garden, just above the heads of Marcus, Charlie and Lara.

Charlie and Lara had been visiting his parents’ house in Jersey as they often did, leaving the Cornish sea-food restaurant in the capable hands of his restaurant manager. The trio all sported swimwear and were drinking cider as they sprawled indolently on sun loungers around the pool. Florence screamed at them for a solid ten minutes to try to gain their attention, but they just kept on talking between themselves, oblivious to her distress.

‘I wish mum would hurry back with the prawns. I really fancy a prawn salad tonight,’ said Charles sulkily.

‘I’d have thought you’d be fed up with the smelly things, what with us owning a seafood restaurant,’ Lara chipped in with a slight sneer.

‘Oh God, the prawns that I caught will all be washed away by now. What will they eat for supper?’ thought Florence, unaware that she had far greater problems to deal with, and yet no problems at all.

Whilst her spirit was struggling to acclimatise to being up in the cherry tree, Florence’s discarded shell was washed up on the beach hours later. Her body was deposited like a large piece of driftwood amidst the other shells, seaweed, and litter, much to the horror of a couple of paddling middle-aged holidaymakers that had stumbled upon her corpse.

Florence pondered a while. ‘How is it possible that I can think if my brain is lying washed up on the beach with the rest of me? It makes no sense. I must be in another weird dimension that nobody ever imagined existed. I’ll hopefully get used to it, eventually. The best that I can do to contact those three fools below is rustle a few leaves. It’s taking far too much energy even to do that, so I’m not going to bother trying anymore. It is probably for the best because communicating with the living will neither solve my problems nor theirs. All that’s left for me to do now is to observe. Hmm, that’s a thought. Observing could turn out to be interesting. It means that I can spy on Marcus without him being aware that I’m watching his every move. I’m sure that he’s been talking online to sluts whenever I wasn’t around. I doubt that he’ll be in the mood to do it tonight once he’s been made aware that I’m dead. Hang on! He’s looking at his phone now whilst the other two are busy swimming in the pool. I’ll swoop down next to him and have a gander at what the old bugger is looking at.’

In a flash, his invisible wife was leaning closely over Marcus’s shoulder as he scrolled through his phone with a secretive smile on his weather-beaten face.

*****

Please feel free to read a sample of Random Bullets here http://amzn.to/2btTrAC

An excerpt from Potholes and Magic Carpets

Revised Potholes and Magic CarpetsForty-five minutes later, Tom’s stomach lurched on hearing the click of the front door as it closed. He knew that he had to move hastily not to lose sight of Zack, although not too quickly, just in case his quarry noticed that he was being stalked. The troubled artist realised that Zack would be furious to discover the extent of his boyfriend’s insecurity but the secret surveillance had to be put into action in order to ease his doubting mind.

Feeling extremely vulnerable and not at all like James Bond, Tom headed out of the front door and was relieved to spot Zack’s back disappearing up the road. Zack’s tall frame, trademark leather trousers and flowing hair made him very easy to spot amongst the other pedestrians as he walked away from the flat. Tom was trying to work out exactly what to say in case Zack decided to turn his head around and spotted him. ‘I’ll tell him that I’m popping out to buy more paint,’ Tom finally decided upon as a suitable excuse if he was caught out.

He was just congratulating himself on working out a way of covering his back when he saw Zack turning up a side road and cautiously followed him. Tom’s heart sank on seeing that there were only houses up that road. There were no shops and the street was ultimately a dead end bordering on a wired-off school’s playing field. Whatever Zack was doing had to be in one of the twenty houses, most of which Tom knew had been converted into separate rented flats. He could sense the blood racing faster around his body and he was gripped with terror, knowing that he would shortly discover what he feared the most.

‘Zack must be having secret meetings with some man living in one of these flats. Why else would he be here?’ Tom thought with an affronted anger beginning to bubble up where there had previously been only fear and trepidation.

Tom’s anxiety cranked up a notch when Zack halted in front of a house halfway up the narrow road then walked through the gate and rung the door bell. Tom hung back then stopped and ducked down behind a row of plastic dustbins, thanking his luck that it was bin day. He strained his eyes to catch a glimpse of whoever might answer the doorbell. To his complete shock and horror, he noticed that the person answering the door was not a man. It was a young female with long, dark hair who was clasping a burgundy robe around her body, as though she had just stepped out of a shower.

*****

Please feel free to sneak a peek at Potholes and Magic Carpets here http://amzn.to/2bHkrQI

An excerpt from Living with Postcards

Living with Postcards FRONT cover newThere were several series produced by various companies called ‘The Language of Flowers which displayed many types of flowers and plants with an interpretation of what each flower represented.

The following French card has a few inspirational favourites, such as a pansy for a lover’s thoughts, a four-leaved clover for happiness, a sweet pea meant gratitude, a red rose translated as ardent love. Other colour roses meant other things; a red and yellow rose together meant joy, happiness and excitement, a burgundy rose stood for unconscious beauty. Floriography, the language of flowers, is quite a complicated business but the meaning of flowers was more understood by the public in the early nineteen hundreds. By sending a postcard with the right mix of flowers and plants pictured on them could inform the recipient just how the sender felt about them. A picture is worth a thousand words.

lang flowers

PhotoFunia Living with Postcards Hanging Billboard Regular 2016-06-27 05 00 21

*****

Please feel free to sneak a peek at the Kindle edition of Living with Postcards here http://amzn.to/2bCIbmY

An excerpt from a Slice of the Seventies, book one of The Mug Trilogy

A Slice of the Seventies FRONT cover HendrixStroking his goatee, the squat metalwork tutor headed over to check she was not going to blow up the building. Uttering a few encouraging words, he headed off to monitor the other students. Tucked away in the smaller, outer workshop, she slowly, painstakingly worked her way through the pile, the tip of her tongue poking from the side of her generous mouth in concentration. Every other student did not yet need to use the blow torch, so there were no distractions to hamper her steady progress. The hissing of the blow torch, followed by a slight pop as the metal surrendered under the heat, was mesmerising.

All sense of time vanished such was the intensity of her concentration. She failed to hear the other students and the tutor leaving the main workshop. It was only after turning off the blow torch flame to rest her aching arm, that an unexpected silence became evident. Mild panic descended as she cautiously entered the abandoned main workshop, now plunged in darkness. Thoughts of haunted houses sprung to mind.

She tried opening the door into the corridor but was horrified to find that it was locked and that she was trapped. Straining her eyes to read the clock on the wall through the gloom, she was dismayed that it said six o’clock. Some students would still be in the canteen, the library, and various year rooms, but it appeared that no students needed to use the metalwork department.

Returning to the well lit, smaller workshop she had been working in, she tidied away her copper works of art, hung up her grubby overalls on the pegs provided and stacked her goggles on top of the others in the cupboard. She felt aggravated at being unable to let David know she would be late for their date in the canteen and student bar.

She suddenly remembered seeing a beaten up phone on the wall in the main workshop and rushed to grab it. There was a small sign beneath the phone listing many useful numbers to dial, one of which was the number to the porter’s lodge.

‘Hello, can I help you?’ asked a man.

‘Yes, I do hope so. I’m a student here and I’ve stupidly got locked in the metalwork room on the lower ground floor,’ she replied, her spirits lifting now contact had been made with another human being.

‘I’ll be down to rescue you in a tick,’ the porter replied, laughing heartily.

She could see the funny side of it all now that rescue was imminent. A grinning, portly porter’s face appeared at the glass in the door as a key fumbled in the lock. Behind him was the face of the metalwork tutor, not looking quite so amused.

‘Freedom! Thank you so much,’ she said over dramatically.

‘That’s fine, love. It’s not the first time I’ve rescued somebody from a locked room,’ the porter said, chuckling.

‘You silly cow,’ said the tutor, who had been chatting to the porter at the time she had phoned, unluckily for her. ‘Didn’t you hear us all leaving?’

‘I’m sorry,’ she replied, ‘I was so engrossed in my work I didn’t notice a thing.’

‘In a way, I suppose that’s to be commended,’ the tutor reluctantly admitted, knowing deep down he had been remiss not to check that every student in his care had evacuated the workshops.

The trio marched up the stairs to the ground floor, where she expressed her gratitude and apologised yet again. She caught the lift to the canteen on the second floor, spied David and Gill sitting at a table and rushed over to them, full of more apologies.

‘Where were you?’ David asked, only smiling once he had seen her flustered face.

*****

Please feel free to sneak a peek at a sample of A Slice of the Seventies here http://amzn.to/2b6l5pm

An excerpt from The Lying Scotsman, book two of The Mug Trilogy

He gave her a plaited, blue, leather bracelet. She tingled as he tied it onto her wrist, but he made it clear that a friend at work had given it to him and he was not doing it for any sentimental reason. He always tried to make everything they had seem less meaningful, because of Monica, as he had to keep his integrity to her. Mug bought two, small, wooden hearts, giving one to Michael and keeping the other.

She told him, ‘If you ever want to end it with me, return your wooden heart to me.’

He never returned his little wooden heart to her and she still owned hers, although he did leave his behind with her for six, long, hard months. It was later her pleasure to return it to him. It would have been wonderful to think that he still had it safe.

From her bedroom, she sent him a text to where he lay in his bedroom, saying, ‘Every time you touch me it’s like giving water to a woman lost in a desert.’

Minutes later, he texted back, ‘I want to take you out for a meal tonight, my treat.’

That was a first. They went to one of the local pub eateries and during the meal he said, ‘I think that waitress fancies me.’

At the meal, he also bragged of a trick that he showed off to his friend at work, who was not good at attracting women.

Michael said, ‘I pointed out at a sexy air hostess who was walking past where we were sitting on a break. I briefly smiled at her and turned away. I bet my mate that she’d turn and smile back at me before she reached the stairs. He was amazed when she did, ha!’

Mug had garlic chicken for her meal and when they later went to kiss, he said, ‘You stink of garlic!’

Sex did not happen yet again, due to her meal choice. She kicked herself. She would count the days since they last had sex and often told him how many days it was.

‘Counting the days is really sad and pathetic,’ he joked.

One night she sent him a text, saying, ‘I’d live with you in a mud hut in Timbuktu.’ At the time, she meant every word of it. People in love say and do the daftest, cringe-making things.

Weeks later, he told Mug that he needed to travel to Canada to see Ryan, Monica’s son, who was having a hard time with a dying mother. Mug was enough in love to stupidly offer to lend it to him. As before, initially he declined her offer, but yet again she convinced him to accept a loan.

He said, ‘Monica is too ill to leave America with Ryan to travel to meet me in Canada. I can’t enter America, due to my visa violation, which is why the meeting is in Canada.’

Much later, he admitted to her that he had cried on the night that she had lent him the hundreds of pounds towards the holiday. The day before he flew to Canada, she ironed all of his work clothes, plus the pile of clothes that he was taking to Canada.

He said, ‘You’re an angel. I don’t know where I’d be without you. I’ve haven’t felt so settled for years and it’s all down to your help.’

*****

Please feel free to sneak a peek at a sample of The Lying Scotsman http://amzn.to/2bPyC47

An excerpt from Straws, book three of The Mug Trilogy

Straws NEW FRONT with text girlEventually, she became as excited about the notion as he was. Hiding her natural reluctance to undertake physical work, due to suffering from a bad back, she bravely helped him to dig out the earth from the raised, bricked garden, plus helped with the removal of the earth from what would eventually be transformed into pond number two. They threw the spare compost and grassy clumps of soil directly over her garden back wall into the neighbouring orchard. There was a ten-foot drop down to the orchard from the path which ran at the back of the fenced off rear of the garden.

Avan thought it a brilliant idea to throw all the bought compost and garden soil from the garden into a huge mound so that they could jump directly down from the wall behind her garden straight into the orchard below, which he had named Narnia.

‘We won’t have to walk around the block back to your house from Narnia anymore. It’ll make it far easier to transfer the tree trunks we want to carve from the woods below up to your house. We can just haul the tree trunks up with a strong rope,’ he enthused, sounding delighted with his idea.

‘Okay, you’ve convinced me,’ she said, although not sure she was sprightly enough to struggle her way up and over the wall, although she knew her lover would have no trouble doing that, such was his athleticism. His idea worked out a treat, once the earth, bulked up with rocks and undergrowth, was finally in place. She was later to bitterly regret lobbing all of the unwanted flower bed compost over the wall.

It was late autumn. Although she found building the ponds painfully arduous, it was no worse than dragging the tree trunks up from the orchard. Many a time, she wondered what the devil a woman of her age was thinking, agreeing to all this manual labour, on top of her normal, call centre work, all tackled after gaining very little sleep due to Avan’s ardour. As she no longer owned a car, and with Avan only owning a push bike, Mug had to pay for a lorry from a local delivery company to deliver the bags of cement, sand and decorative, slate chips that would cover the path that they had also slaved over to complete.

She had not realised that in agreeing to the pond idea that he expected her to do half the manual labour on days she was not working at her paid job. They were outside in all weathers and it was becoming a chore to both of them, especially when it was cold and wet. True to her word, she paid for all the materials and each time these were delivered, there was also a thirty-pound delivery charge, which she annoyingly had to pay.

The problem was, Avan unfortunately miscalculated four times just how much cement, sand, and stone they needed to complete the job. Mug had placed her trust in Avan’s building knowledge but as time progressed, she began to doubt he knew as much as he professed to know. There were four deliveries in the end, each one with a thirty-pound delivery charge. The same, tall, muscled, smiling delivery man turned up each time they ran out of materials, carrying the heavy bags, seemingly effortlessly, through the house and out into the back garden. He was becoming a regular visitor, and Avan and Mug would laugh and joke with him about Avan’s miscalculations. The ponds were almost finished but not finally waterproofed.

‘Come over here and write your name in this wet cement next to my name, babes,’ Avan said, looking lovingly up at her from where he crouched whilst she spread flat, grey pieces of decorative slate on the path leading to the green, wooden, garden gate.

Deeply moved by his romantic request, with a warm heart she carefully wrote her name next to his in the wet cement around the rim of the lower pond, whereupon Avan intertwined both names with heart shapes, dated it, finally surrounding their signatures with decorative stones.

‘It’s so wonderful to think we will both be lying here, side by side, together forever,’ he said. They’d never been closer than on that autumn day.

*****

Please feel free to sneak a peek at a sample of Straws here http://amzn.to/2bj0Yoc