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Monday, 25 September 2017

Red-hot sex. Searing betrayal. A passionate and elusive love… .@AnniFifeAuthor #inlust #steamybooks

LUKE’S REDEMPTION
by
ANNI FIFE

Chased by her criminal kingpin father, Katya Dalca runs to New Orleans and straight into the arms of Luke Hunter.
Sucked into the carnal world of the French Quarter, she succumbs to Luke’s potent sexuality. He not only steals her breath, he steals her heart, and the only leverage she has against her father.
She’s left with no choice but to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life alone.
Undercover DEA agent Luke Hunter thought his newest assignment—recover a stolen flash drive to gain the trust of the Russian mob—was like any other.

But his target brings him to his knees, and after one taste of her intoxicating beauty, he's in too deep. Doing his job means walking away, leaving his heart behind with nothing but a promise to reunite. It's a promise he can't keep.

When Katya's past reaches out and her world unravels, her only hope is the one man she is most vulnerable to—Luke.

EXCERPT from LUKE’S REDEMPTION
(When Katya first meets Luke, he is operating undercover as Michael.)

I snuggled deeper into the cosy bedding, lazy and heavy-limbed. Shifting slightly, warmth spread through me as the slight stickiness between my legs brought with it delicious memories of the night before. I never dreamed that I could be so wanton, so wildly desperate for one man’s touch.

And boy, did he touch! His potency evident in every aching muscle in my body.

Mmmm. Heat flickered as his musky scent infused my senses.

“Katya.”

I loved his voice. Especially when he said my name, so deep, rich like dark molasses.

“Katya!”

I forced my lids open. And drowned in sensual, male beauty. “Hi,” I purred. And it was a purr. I sounded like a sated cat. Inching a hand out from under the covers, I reached up, hungry to stroke his rough morning stubble.

He reared back as if stung.

What?

My hand hovered midair as he lowered himself to a chair that was pulled up close to the bedside.

How did that chair get there? Was he watching me sleep?

Sluggish, I looked at the window. The curtains were drawn together but didn’t quite meet. Faint light trickled in. It was barely morning. I looked back at Michael and cold started to seep in. Shit. He was fully clothed, he was even wearing his jacket. Only his hair looked out of place. He obviously couldn’t find the cord that I’d enthusiastically pulled from it like a wild woman, and now it hung loose to his shoulders. Bed-hair. Do men get bed-hair?

He was still. Hands clasped together, elbows resting on his knees. Here, but not here. Only his eyes flickered as they roamed intensely over my face. Such wickedly, beautiful eyes. After he came inside me they had turned an inky-blue, almost black.

Now, they were deep shards of navy. And they sent ice cascading through me.

I was still naked and he was fully clothed. I jerked upright and pulled the covers to my chin. My stomach quivered, only it wasn’t in a sexy way.






BUY LINKS:

Friday, 22 September 2017

A disgraced aristocrat, distant planets and a new identity - Zara by .@MarkHenwick #free #scifi #serial

Zara - A Name Among The Stars
by
Mark Henwick


Your family’s been murdered, the estates illegally confiscated, and they’ve turned it around so people think you’re the criminal. The warrant for your arrest is a fiction, and you face a stone cold certainty you’d never make it to the prison cell alive.

To get off the planet, you forge a new identity and take the first job you might be qualified for.

You didn’t expect what happens next. To fall in love with everything about your new role – everything – including a man who can’t possibly respond. And then to find that the same conspiracy that destroyed your family is intent on destroying his as well, using you as a weakness in his defences.

Run away? Stay and fight, knowing that even victory will leave you alone again?


Read the  first two episodes for FREE!



You are nothing without me. Nothing! It will serve you best to remember that.

My grandfather shouting, looming over me. Terrifying man, utterly terrifying. Strong and confident adults were afraid of him, let alone a fifteen-year-old slip of a girl as I was at the time. Those wild eyebrows over the cold, piercing eyes. That cruel mouth, and the voice that issued from it; born to command. The way he carried tension in his body, as if it could break out into violence at any second.

…remember that.

I remember. He’d spoken those words standing in front of the panoramic window in his study.

That window looked over the formal manor gardens, past the ornamental lake and down into the stretching crop fields below. There were misty woods in the far distance. No inch of ground that he saw from that window was not under his ownership. The manor itself bore his Name.

You are nothing…

Quivering in fear, I had stubbornly refused to believe it then.

The arrogance of untried youth. I’d put a lot of faith in the weight of history that lay on the manor and estates. Even later, as I began to see the troubles that he’d long known, I refused to believe.

Nothing!

The weight of history, I’d thought, though I’d not dared to say it aloud.

But history has no weight, and forms no shield. History is simply a long time to collect enemies.

…without me.

And I am without him now. He is dead, murdered by exactly the enemies he warned me about, not six years after that lecture in his study.

The large counter at the front of the room clicks loudly. Everyone’s eyes jerk up, even though we know the number displayed is one more than the last number, and we all know what number we hold in our sweaty hands.

The last woman who’d entered the office at the front hadn’t come back. She’d gone out another way, gone through. They’d let her through.

As a distraction, I try to call her to mind. Young, tall, thin, short blonde hair, serious look. Nervous, but then all of us are. Who is she? A student perhaps, hoping to join some distant university off-world? A course unavailable here?

I don’t know. All I really know about her is she has been let through; that she’s getting off this planet.

Would I trade places with her? Without even knowing who she is and where she’s going?

She didn’t look stupid; she wouldn’t trade with me, even if it were possible, not for all my ‘privileges’ and ‘history’.

And neither would I trade with her.

Fool! Arrogant imbecile! Your pride will slow you, and then the hounds will drag you down into the dirt where you will die. I imagine my grandfather’s anger at my refusal to trade places with the student, spitting out the kind of hunting metaphor he always used.

In a strange way, it is comforting to imagine him still here, still angry at me.



Monday, 18 September 2017

Enjoy reading #romcom? Check out The Blow-In for laughs and romance .@susl #womenslit


Excerpt to whet your appetite



The Blow-In


“Finola McGee, editor-in-chief,” it said on the gleaming brass plate.

I picked up my phone to take a shot of this amazing sight but put it back in my bag. No reason to celebrate or brag about it. Had it been The Irish Telegraph, where I had been the political reporter until recently, it would have been a big deal. But it was a tiny local rag in a little town in County Tipperary with a circulation of about four thousand. A bit of a come-down it would seem. But, ah well, I was taking a break from the hustle and bustle—to rest and recuperate among the rolling hills and green valleys of the Irish countryside. To breathe fresh air. To listen to the birds in the early morning. To enjoy silence, calm and bucolic country life. Running the Knockmealdown News would be fun and different, I told myself. I might even find myself a handsome farmer to marry and have five kids and a dog. My mother would be beside herself with joy.

“Why Knockmealdown?” I wondered when I applied for the job.

“Because of the mountain range,” Jerry Murphy, the owner and publisher told me during the job interview in his local pub, pointing out the window as he downed a pint of Guinness with impressive speed.

“Of course,” I said, feeling stupid as I looked out over the green slopes of said mountains. “I should have realised.”

Jerry nodded and raised a finger, which resulted in a waiter racing across the grubby carpet, coming to a screeching halt at our table like The Road Runner. I was impressed. I usually had to grab waiters by their throats to get them to take any notice.

“Another one, please, Paddy,” Jerry said. “How about you, Finola? Will you join me in a pint? They pull the best one in Ireland here.”

Mentally salivating at the thought of a well-pulled pint of the black stuff, I toyed with my glass of Ballygowan. But the new me only drank alcohol at weekends.

“No thanks. I’ll stick to water.”

He studied me with his bird-like pale-blue eyes. “You’re not a pioneer, are you?”

I faked a jolly laugh. “Not at all. I do like a pint now and then. But…” I hesitated. “I gave it up for lent.”

“It’s the end of May.”

“It’s a kind of detox thing.”

He eyed my bag of bacon crisps. “Right. Okay. Just the one then, Paddy,” he said to the waiter, a tall man with teeth like a horse.

“Righty-o, Jerry,” Paddy chortled and prepared to leave.

Jerry stopped him. “Before you go, I’d like you to meet our new editor.”

Paddy’s eyes widened as he noticed me. “Jesus Christ, if it isn’t Finola McGee.” He wiped his hand on the back of his trousers and grabbed mine in an iron grip. “The famous Finola!”

“How did you know?” I asked, trying not to wince.

 “I’ve seen you on the telly a couple of times. No mistaking that freckly face and the wild hair. Except now it’s short and purple. Suits you.”




Friday, 15 September 2017

Ooops, here's the late inventory of #book #excerpts #authors #writing


I was so excited by the upcoming excerpt event that I forgot to do an inventory of the authors taking part!
For September and October (and probably November, as a few late entries are coming forward as the word gets round) I am opening WWBB to showcase author excerpts, and to start us off we had Harriet Steel with her crime mystery called Trouble in Nuala. A great start, I think you’d agree.

So, in date order we have the following:

The Blow-In by Susanne O'Leary – 18/09/17

Zara – a name among the stars by Mark Henwick – 22/09/17

Luke’s Redemption by Anni Fife – 25/09/17

Tobias (Book One of The Triptych Chronicle) by Prue Batten 29/09/17

After Midnight by Travann Rogers – 02/10/17

Dustwalker by Tiffany Roberts 05/10/17

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton – 09/10/17

A Secret Muse by Mandy Jackson-Beverly – 13/10/17

The Cowboy and the Vampire by Kathleen McFall 17/10/17

The Haunting of Dr Bowen by C. A. Verstraete 28/10/17

Lizzie Bowden Zombie Hunter by C. A. Verstraete 31/10/17

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Mystery and intrigue spiced with humour .@harrietsteel1 #bynr #exoticbooks


Trouble in Nuala
by

Harriet Steel
When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife, Jane, to a new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala, he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to solve.

Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, Trouble in Nuala is an entertaining and relaxing mystery spiced with humour and a colourful cast of characters.
Amazon

Excerpt

Trouble in Nuala

Inspector Shanti de Silva exhaled a deep sigh of relief as the train left the sweltering lowlands of Colombo and commenced the long climb to Kandy. From his seat in the polished teak and leather opulence of the First-Class carriage, he watched the forest become denser with every mile, plantations of banana, king coconut and rubber trees jostling for space in the rich, red earth.
From time to time, the trees retreated to make way for the startling lime-green splash of a paddy field where egrets stood like white question marks, hungry for water snails and frogs. Elsewhere he saw dusty villages slumbering in the heat of the afternoon. Their elders squatted outside the huts, huddled in little oases of shade cast by overhanging roofs thatched with palm leaves. Village children, their energy less sapped by the heat, jumped up and ran alongside the tracks, waving and shouting until they tired of the race to keep up.
The train stopped at Kandy, obliging de Silva to pay a few rupees for a rickshaw man to take him on to the nearby station at Peradeniya where he had to wait an hour for the hill train. Even in the waiting room, there was no escape from the heat. It seemed to have coalesced into a damp, solid block that pressed down on the air, squeezing out every trace of freshness. He pushed a finger between the limp collar of his starched shirt and his perspiring neck and ran it round, then fanned himself with his hat.
A summons to attend as a witness in a trial at the High Court in Colombo had been the cause of this uncongenial journey. He consoled himself with the thought that his evidence had made a considerable contribution to the conviction of a gang of thieves who would no longer be at liberty to ply their nefarious trade in the city’s bazaars and public places. It had been a nuisance though that the trial had run into an extra day. He had hoped to be home for the weekend but it hadn’t been practical to make the slow journey after Friday’s hearing, only to return on Sunday in time for court the following day.



Friday, 8 September 2017

Book excerpts wanted (to entice, enthral and enjoy!)


I've been a bit lax on my blog this year but now I'm back and I want to rev it up again!

And I'd like to start with book excerpts to take us into autumn, so I'm asking you, dear authors, to send me your 500 (approx.) book excerpt, blurb and purchase link (no more than three links) to me at: wiselouise@gmail.com

My blog may only haver 500 followers but my posts are shared to over 9m people using various platforms facilities. Oh, and all books will be posted on Book Junkies, and if you've not heard of that then where have you been! lol Check it out here.

That's it. A short and sweet guest post.

What are you waiting for? Email those enticing excerpts!





Tuesday, 1 August 2017

It's all about sex! #books #bookworms #sex #mustread

What is it about sex that sells? Why does my science fiction romance sell more than my 'nice' romances? Is it the sex? The aliens? The idea of dangerous sex? Or just sex in general?

Don't get me wrong, my 'nice' romances do have sex they just don't have that element of dangerous sex or helpless heroines at the mercy of bad men. Instead, they have feisty women and men who haven't a clue what to do with them!

Eden came out ten years ago, and was followed by its sequel Hunted a few years later. In between I've written a romantic comedy with A Proper Charlie and a darker comedy romance with Oh No, I've Fallen in Love. Then this year came, Wide Awake Asleep, which is a time travel romance set in my home town, Northampton.

All, with the exception of Wide Awake Asleep, have sex scenes (A Proper Charlie does bad sex very well!) But Eden and Hunted portrays a vulnerable woman with a potential dangerous man and a will-she-be-raped-or-not situation. They weren't intended to be titillation reads but I can't help but think this it what entices my audience.

Eden (book 1)   |   Hunted (book 2)

Fly became an unwilling experiment and was dumped on an unknown planet, while Jenny’s ship crashed there.
Two different species.
Two different reasons for being there.
Survive or die?




Is she awake or is she dreaming?
Reality or nightmare? 
Julie Compton can’t believe she’s escaped a terrible car crash… it’s impossible, in fact. A tree branch had impaled her to her seat, yet here she was, unharmed and looking down at her crashed car.




What’s a girl to do when she discovers her boss is a wanted man?
Become a honey trap, that's what!





A bitter-sweet story of an ordinary woman stuck in a chick lit novel.
Is it destined for disaster or can the flamboyant characters colour Valeria's otherwise grey world?






Monday, 10 July 2017

For readers and fans of Nick Rippington's #thriller SPARK OUT check out this interview! #suspense


Introducing Nick Rippington's
SPARK OUT 

Think Arnie Dolan was trouble? Now meet the old man...

MAURICE ‘BIG MO’ DOLAN is prone to headaches and there is one main cause: his family. He believes eldest son Chuck, 7, needs toughening up, his wife Beryl is too lenient, his career-criminal father has no respect for him and he is about to lose his younger brother Clive to the army.


AmazonUK | AmazonUS
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. With Margaret Thatcher’s government backing initiative and suggesting people get ‘on their bikes’ to find work, Mo believes it is the perfect time for him to expand his business... into armed robbery.

As he plans the ultimate raid to drag him out of the poverty trap, he believes his fortunes are bound to get better... but with the Falklands War just around the corner they are about to become a whole lot worse.

A hard-boiled suspense thriller that's not for the faint hearted.

A prequel to Crossing The Whitewash, the novel is set in 1982 as Britain comes to terms with a Thatcher government and the prospect of war in the south Atlantic...


Interview with Nick Rippington
What process do you follow for your writing? Are you a planner or do you just let it flow? Straight to PC or pen and paper?
My starting point is to have the germ of an idea, then to work out a beginning and an ending. From there I develop a short plan – two or three paragraphs per chapter – before I knuckle down to a first draft. Sometimes it just flows on other occasions it is hard work, which makes me think I have to adapt it. A good start and a good end are key ingredients, though. Recently I have been starting my books to coincide with Nanowrimo, the yearly contest in which you have to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month ... it’s a great challenge and really gives you a head start.
Do you attend writing/author focused conferences? Which is your favourite?
This year I launched Spark Out at the Dublin Writers Conference run by the inspiring Laurence O’Bryan of Books Go Social. You can gain so many good ideas from the talented speakers that turn up there. For the last two years they have even had a Hollywood producer. This time around you had the chance to pitch ideas to him and I was hoping he might see the potential of both Spark Out and Crossing the Whitewash for the big screen. I also regularly attend the London Book Fair, where the Authors Corner has grown out of all proportion over the last few years with the astonishing rise of Indie writers.
How many manuscripts do you have that you never submitted? Will you consider approaching your publisher with them now?
There are quite a few – maybe seven or eight - and I keep meaning to revisit them. They encompass vastly different genres, though, so unless I released them under a different name I am not sure how they would fit with me as a writer at this moment. 
What one piece of advice do you wish you received before you started writing? 
“The first draft is just the writer telling himself the story,” one highly-rated novelist said. I had a terrible habit of editing as a go along – it goes with the territory of being a sub-editor in the newspaper industry. Once you have an entire draft to work with you can start to tweak and the whole process flows much better. The other way and you end up with a lot of half-finished novels.
What one piece of intended good advice, wasn’t what it seemed?
I’m a bit of a sponge, and there is so much advice out there that sometimes you have to be careful whose you take. I wouldn’t single anyone or anything out in particular, but there are unscrupulous people out there who tell you that you can’t do it yourself and need to harness their expertise and experience. Wrong. You can. You need some professionals to help out – like a cover designer and an editor – but there are plenty of companies out there who offer a service which can be expensive, when with all likelihood you could have saved some money. One company got me to pay rather a lot of money to have them tout my rights around at conferences across Europe. I didn’t get a single thing from it.
What is your favourite thing about the whole writing process? 
I love those “Eureka” moments when you suddenly come up with the great idea for a twist, or an ending, or just something that helps you develop your characters.

Was there a particular book that made you sit up and think ‘that’s it, I’m going to be an author too’?
I love fast-moving books you can’t put down. I always felt there was a book in me, but it was when I read Jaws by Peter Benchley that I thought seriously about it. I was also intrigued with stories about the Nazis and what happened to them after the war, hence why The Odessa File by Fredrick Forsyth and The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin intrigued me. Their endings were something I didn’t expect and inspired me to write stories that keep the reader guessing.
Who do you envisage as playing your characters if your book was ever turned into a movie?
In Spark Out, Big Mo would have to be played by a muscleman with a bit of menace. I’d love to see someone like Tom Hardy in the role having been mesmerised by him in the BBC TV series Taboo. Mo’s wife Beryl would need to be played by someone like Helen McCrory, who plays Polly in Peaky Blinders. As the characters are all in their mid-twenties though I may need to employ up-and-coming young actors. Mo’s younger brother Clive, for instance, could be played by another Peaky Blinders actor, Joe Cole, who plays John Shelby. 
What do you consider is your greatest accomplishment?
As a writer, it would be to have actually overseen every bit of the publishing process and launched my debut novel Crossing the Whitewash under my own steam. When I first batch of books turned up hot off the presses it was an amazing feeling! Getting an honourable mention in the genre category of the highly respected Writers’ Digest self-published eBook awards was pretty special, too. 
Do you have any writing rituals? What are they? 
Too many, probably. I think I was so stunned at getting the first book out and people liking it that I tried to repeat the process in the second book. They aren’t superstitions as such, but they are routines I find work like, for instance, going through every chapter and marking it with little emojis to say if there is action, romance, violence, twists etc. When I look back at this fairly comprehensive chart it tells me if I have the “flow” of the book right, and points out any spots where it may have gone a bit dull and lost the reader. I first heard about this – it is called a “Beat Sheet” – from Ros Morris, a writer and editor who does some books with very useful writing tips.
There’s a hell of a lot of proofing and printing involved and I get the book formatted with the same software and the cover designed by the same person. Jane Dixon-Smith’s covers are exceptional, I think, so there is no reason to look elsewhere.
I write on my days off. The routine seems to be: Get my seven-year-old Olivia ready for school, do the school run, come home and put the kettle on, make a coffee, sit in the dining room overlooking the garden and write. Oh yes, and to kick start new novels I always try to do NaNoWriMo in November. That is National Novel Writing Month and you are challenged to complete 50,000 words in that month. It gives you fantastic impetus even though none of my finished books were started that way. The next one? Probably.

If you could have written any literary character, who would it be and why?

I love a good baddie. Everyone does, don’t they? And one of the baddest of bad guys is Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal never really came to the forefront in the Thomas Harris series until the later books. It was possible Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal in the film Silence of the Lambs that made him a household name but once he arrived you couldn’t get rid of Hannibal The Cannibal. I’ve got a couple of bad boy gangsters who people love to hate: Arnie Dolan and his old man Big Mo Dolan, who is the star of Spark Out, but they would do well to earn Hannibal’s rep. 
Within your genre, is there a subject that you would never write about? What? Why?

I like to push boundaries, but I can’t say I would feel too comfortable tackling religion. I would tackle some of the issues that arise from it but I don’t think I would want to analyse or criticise people’s beliefs. I am not a religious person but I don’t feel in a position to take people to task over their views. I would have to read the books of every religion, try to understand the various interpretations and everything to approach such a task ... it really would be a lifetime’s work!

NICK RIPPINGTON is one of the victims of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal you never hear about. Having proudly taken his dream job as the newspaper’s Welsh Sports Editor, he was made redundant with two days’ notice when Rupert Murdoch closed down Europe’s biggest-selling tabloid six years ago.
The dramatic events prompted Nick to write UK gangland thriller Crossing the Whitewash, which was released in August 2015. Spark Out is the second novel in his Boxer Boys series. Married to Liz, Nick has two children – Jemma, 35, and Olivia, 7. A Bristolian at heart, he lives near Ilford, Essex.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

What is Fate? Is it predetermined and can we change It?

Or more importantly, should we change it?

According to Wikipedia the word 'fate' isn't interchangeable with 'destiny' and means 'a predetermined course of events'. And 'fate', traced back to Latin, also means 'death'. Nice.

Many modern people believe the former, so, if that were the case, we would have no control over our fate. By that definition it could almost be described as a supernatural power that was assigned to us because of our inability to control our life-path.

So, going along those lines, what would happen if this thing called fate gets it wrong? Would it just throw up its hands (if it had hands) saying, 'Oops, got that one wrong, never mind, next!'

Or would is put things back on its correct path no matter what?

That's the question I pondered over in my latest book WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP.

I played with the idea of a woman who had a trying childhood, and didn't have a good relationship with her mother, but she grew up and was now happy in her middle years—or thought she was. So what would happen if she was, somehow, sent back in time to sort out her strained relationship with her mother? Would she make the same mistakes that she made before?
I threw a spanner in the works though… my character, Julie Compton, could only go back in time in someone else’s body. 
WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP
No one knew she was driving on that stretch of road. No one saw her car leave the highway and crash into a watery ditch. No one heard the car’s windscreen smash or saw the tree branch impale her to her seat. No one heard her screams. 
Paperback (American readers) Paperback (British readers)
eBook (American readers)eBook (British readers)
  Julie Compton’s life should have ended after being involved in a deadly car accident but instead she woke, unharmed, back in 1972 and primed to relive her life all over again.
   One problem. She’s in the body of a stranger.
   Journey back to the 70s and 80s England where Julie’s forced to jump through the eras, occupying and controlling the bodies of people she knew as a child. She must work out which destiny path was the wrong one, wondering all the while if her body, back in 2016, was dying in her car. With each momentous change, her memories transform and she realises she’s not only changing her future but the futures of those around her.
   A paranormal, time-slip adventure set in the real town of Northampton in England.

Excerpt taken from chapter four of WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP

I woke with a bump, like I’d been submerged beneath water. Gasping. Breathless. The shimmering man slipped from my consciousness as I fought to hold on to him—I felt he was important but the dream disintegrated as panic overcame me.
I scrabbled around, getting my things together, knowing I had to get out of the car before it became my grave. It was still daylight. I’d missed the meeting, though. Sod the meeting. I reached to grab my bag and briefcase from the footwell. My hand stopped in mid-air. A beaded yellow and red bag was in place of my Ted Baker handbag.
I took the bag anyway. I needed money to make phone calls for a recovery service and a taxi. Whoever’s bag it was, I’d pay them back. I grabbed my briefcase and opened the car door. The car was at an angle, pointing downward, and I slipped. I had to grab the door one-handed as my feet disappeared beneath the car. But I felt strangely light, as if I could jump and easily reach the swaying trees making a canopy over the road. I threw the bag and briefcase to the top of the embankment and climbed up.
On my knees, I opened the bag, hoping to find a phone inside. There was a packet of cigarettes. Players No. 6, to be exact. I turned it over in my hands. Even as a non-smoker I knew this brand had long been replaced by something else. I dropped them in the bag. Maybe whoever they belonged to was a retro smoker.
I searched further, but other than a discoloured makeup bag, an opened packet of strawberry Spangles, a pen, a diary, and a hideous brown purse there was nothing that I could use to help me out of my predicament.
My iPad!
I reached for my briefcase, but as I did, I realised it wasn’t mine either. In fact, it was nothing like mine. This wasn’t genuine leather, it had no long handles, and it was scuffed and well-used.
An old Cortina whooshed past, but I was too slow to react. I tried anyway, standing quickly, yelling and waving my hands, but it had disappeared around the bend in the road. I ran after it a few paces but stopped, knowing it was futile.
There was nothing for it—I’d have to walk. I couldn’t be far from civilisation. This was England, for goodness’ sake! I picked up the handbag and briefcase. I didn’t want whoever owned them to say I’d stolen them. I’d have to look after them until I could return them. The garish-coloured bag went over my shoulder.
Something made me turn to look down at my poor, smashed-up car. Ghost-like figures surrounded it. I couldn’t make out features, colours, or anything much, just strange transparent floating shapes hovering around my car.
Fear caused me to step back. I wasn’t religious; I disbelieved in anything hocus-pocus and was suspicious of anyone who claimed they believed in an afterlife, but I couldn’t explain those ghostly figures as anything other than Death trying to find me. Trying to find out how I’d cheated it, maybe.
I closed my eyes, rocking on my feet as dizziness brushed over me, then opened them again carefully, almost afraid of what I’d see. But it was low-laying mist that surrounded the car now. It was almost invisible.
Just mist.
‘Silly woman,’ I said, and turned to look around at my surroundings. I was on a typical narrow country road, and I was afraid I’d have a boy-racer come up behind me and finish me off. I wondered what time it was. I never wore a watch, and as my mobile was broken I didn’t know the time. I stopped and squinted up at the sun. It was high in the blue sky, but how could that be? It was January; the sun never rose much during the winter months. I looked around at the gently swaying trees—fully leaved. The field to my left was full of tall rapeseed. The yellow flowers gave off a familiar smell that reminded me of my childhood in the village before I left with my father as a teenager.
This was crazy. It’s January! I’ve not only slept through the night, but the entire winter? Noticing I’d crashed near a T-junction with a signpost, I walked over to read the sign:
Potterspury 1/4 mile.
Good God, that’s the very village where I lived as a girl! I lived in a small house on a street called Blackwell End in Potterspury. But how? I was in Harrow! Dropping the case and letting the handbag slip down to my elbow, I stared at the sign.
A few metres along the road was a bus stop, and I hurried over to find the timetable. There wasn’t one. Great. A low noise behind me caused me to turn, and I watched as a tractor drew closer, its noise growing as did its size. It pulled up beside me, vibrating so quickly it was almost a blur.
‘Aye up, me duck, you okay?’ the driver asked through an open window.
It was Gerald, Mum’s biggest regret.



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