Choc Lit on holiday!

HOLIDAY COMP 2

Are you a Choc Lit reader and lucky enough to be going on holiday this year? 

Why not enter our summery competition? Here’s how:

1. Pack your Choc Lit paperback or load up that eReader.

2. Take a photo of your Choc Lit paperback or the front cover of your eReader (as shown above) by the pool, on the beach, in a French cafe, or up a mountain if that’s more your style!

3.  Send the photo to us at info@choc-lit.com with the subject heading ‘Choc Lit on Holiday’. Make sure you tell us where you are.

The best photo will win a cash prize of £100 (to be paid via Paypal) and there will also be runner-up prizes to win SIX Choc Lit books. The closing date is September 30th 2015 so get snapping! We’re looking forward to seeing your entries :)

Full terms and conditions available from info@choc-lit.com

The Birthday Party Part #6 by Sheryl Browne

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And so we come to the end of our special Round Robin and our birthday celebrations! Thank you to everyone who joined us on Facebook and Twitter for our #ChocLitParty. We had a lot of fun and we hope you did too :) Here’s to many more Choc Lit birthdays. 

But now back to Joss’s party – is a happy ending on the cards? Sheryl Browne decides! 

To win an ebook copy of Sheryl’s fab summery novel The Rest of My Life (which is yet to be released!) read on until the end :)  

I did. Oh, how I did. My small hand clasped firmly in his strong, manly – furry – hand, I didn’t really care who might be delivering what at the door. I hardly even noticed the strippergram, who obviously was back again, gyrating with gusto in the hall. Or what Izzi was doing with his banana.

‘Close your eyes,’ Harry instructed, pausing at the front door and turning towards me.

‘Hmm?’

‘Your eyes,’ he said, the twinkle in his indecently, far-too-blue eyes now in megawatt overdrive.

Breathe, Jocelyn. Feeling a little faint, I heaved in a breath, possibly asphyxiating the palpitating mouse in my corset, and reluctantly lowered my eyelashes.

‘No peeking.’

I wasn’t peeking. I was puckering. His face was now so close to mine, my lips had taken on a will of their own.

‘Now, don’t open them until I say so. Okay?’

Yes,’ I squeaked. He was still holding my hand. I had no idea what he was doing, but I felt a definite ruffle run down my taffeta.

‘Right,’ Harry said, also drawing in a breath … from somewhere down below, ‘go for it, Lisa.’

Go for it. Go for what? Should I duck? Run? In these shoes?

Imagining with sick certainty that Harry was about to pay me back for that really embarrassing thing, I twanged open my eyes, just in time to see Lisa pull open the door. ‘Ta-dah!’ she said, looking at me expectantly.

I, in turn, looked astonished from her to our caller, and then stared down at Harry, who was looking similarly thunderstruck towards the surprise at the door.

‘Oh, grrreat.’ His broad shoulders slumped, visibly.

‘Jocelyn!’ Great-Gran scowled, her four-foot three inch frame looming in the doorway. ‘What on earth are you wearing, dear?’ Pausing, she peered disapprovingly at my black taffeta. ‘You look like something from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Not at all suitable for a wedding. Honestly, you young girls nowadays. No dress sense.’ With which she swept in, stepping between Harry and me, who wobbled precariously on his one knee.

Hell,’ he growled, righting himself, with the assistance of Julia and one of his hairy band of brothers. ‘It was supposed to be a quartet.’

‘What?’ I managed to close my mouth in order to gasp.

‘A quartet,’ he repeated, running a hand through his temptingly clutchable hair, once assisted to his feet. ‘It was supposed to be a string quartet, not the bloody Rottweiler.’

‘I heard that, young man!’ Gran boomed from the kitchen, as Harry stared forlornly back towards the door, probably in hopes of Gran’s chain yanking her back.

‘A quartet?’ I was struggling now, but definitely surprised. I’d give him that.

Harry met my eyes briefly and then glanced awkwardly down. The twinkle in his eyes had gone, I noticed. They were more the colour of a summer storm than summery blue skies. ‘I was going to …’

‘You need to wear white, dear, not black,’ came Gran’s voice, now from the bedroom. ‘At least I hope you do.’

‘Propose,’ Harry mumbled, glancing warily back up.

Propose?’

‘I wish you’d stop repeating everything he says,’ Julia said behind me. ‘The poor man’s embarrassed enough as it is.’

‘You’re blushing,’ his hairy friend commented, giving Harry’s cheek a hearty tweak.

‘Come on.’ Julia sighed, leading Liam off by his vine.

‘I’m coming. I’m coming.’ Liam wiggled his eyebrows in Harry’s direction before obliging. ‘But promise you’ll take me gently.’

‘I’ll leave you two alone,’ Lisa said, eyebrows also in insinuating wiggle mode as she too stepped between us.

‘Propose?’ I uttered again, utterly bewildered.

‘He’s been trying for donkey’s years,’ Gran announced, emerging from the bedroom, various white items from my wardrobe in hand – and one suspiciously grey.

‘But you will keep thwarting the poor boy’s attempts to…’ Gran stopped in order to accept the drink she was proffered. Then, sipping it, she promptly spat it out. ‘Call this a Pimm’s,’ she spluttered, twirling around to head back to the kitchen. ‘Tastes like cat’s pee.’

Harry laughed, a rather strangulated laugh. ‘I never got chance to say yes.’ He shrugged, so boyishly I wanted to hug him to my cleavage, wherein my mouse had possibly passed out. ‘You know, after that, um …’

Really, really, embarrassing thing: my proposal. He’d wanted to get me out of my dress then too. You’ll have to marry me first, I’d slurred merrily. And then was immediately sick, again.

‘So?’ He smiled, his true-blue eyes so twinkly, I swear the lightbulbs paled. ‘How about I carry you over the threshold?’ He nodded mischievously towards the landing. ‘And then get you out of that uncomfortable dress?’

‘Yes and yes!’ I tried not too squeal too inelegantly as he scooped me up in his hairy arms, like some magnificent hero in a romantic movie.

‘Excellent,’ Harry said, his lips a soft breath away from mine.

‘Harry!’ Liam yelled up the hall, as Harry squeezed me and my many layers through the door. ‘Watch the banana …’

‘Crap!’

‘…skin.’

Make that a rom com.

What a wonderful ending! Both to the Round Robin and our birthday celebrations. Well done Sheryl :)  

If you’d like the chance to win a copy of The Rest My Life by Sheryl Browne, simply comment on this post or on Facebook/Twitter. 

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To read Part One by Berni Stevens click HERE.

To read Part Two by Kirsty Ferry click HERE.

To read Part Three by Laura E James click HERE.

To read Part Four by Jane Lovering click HERE.

To read Part Five by Christina Courtenay click HERE.

The Birthday Party Part #5 by Christina Courtenay

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We’re nearing the end of our special birthday Round Robin but, fear not, you still have two more extracts to read, including this one by Christina Courtenay! Let us know how you’ve been enjoying it so far in the comments! 

Make sure you read all the way through to find out how you could be in with a chance of winning a copy of Christina Courtenay’s most recent novel, The Soft Whisper of Dreams :)

The Birthday Party – Part 5

Yep, depressingly, that must have been what he meant. Harry didn’t say anything more about me being single or whatever, and just helped me decorate the flat as if we were best mates, nothing else. When the others arrived, he introduced me to Liam and disappeared to the kitchen. Typical.

‘… and isn’t it just so weird, like, how we’re related and we didn’t even know it? And if it hadn’t been for Harry, we’d never have realised!’ Liam gave me what he must have thought was his best smile, but it didn’t have the effect on me that he’d probably intended. ‘Good thing we’re not too closely related though, if you know what I mean?’

Yeah, how could I fail to get his meaning when he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and stared down my cleavage? Yuck. This was turning into the birthday from hell.

Harry and the other rugby lads danced past in a long line, singing at the top of their voices. ‘You-ooh-ooooh, I wanna be like you-ooh-ooooh …’ They were accompanied by King Louie’s song from Disney’s The Jungle Book, blaring out of my iPod dock. What were they, six-year-olds?

‘He was an orangutan, you morons, not a gorilla!’ I shouted crossly, but either they didn’t hear me or they chose to ignore me. I was the only party-pooper after all, the only one not enjoying myself despite the Pimm’s.

Maybe it was time for a refill?

The doorbell rang and I almost groaned. More guests? They wouldn’t fit. Seriously.

Jen stuck her head round the door, having obviously gone to see who it was. ‘A present for you.’ She grinned. ‘From your big bro.’

This time I did groan out loud. My older brother lived abroad and every year for my birthday he sent me the same thing, thinking it hilarious – a strippergram. Would he ever grow up? A bunch of flowers would be such a nice change. I sighed and made my way to the front door. What would it be? I’d had everything from Batman to the Pink Panther. This time it was …

Yes, should have known. A gorilla.

‘Hey, want to get down to some monkey business with me?’ The guy outside the front door smiled seductively – or so he thought – and, as the stripper music started up behind him from his car, he began to unzip his hairy suit and thrust his pelvis at me.

‘Oh, for heaven’s sake, just go away!’ I shut the door in his face and stomped off down the corridor. Grabbing a huge glass of Jen’s punch from the kitchen, I headed out the back and into the tiny garden. Maybe a birthday spent on my own was the best option. Who needed parties?

‘Joss? What’s up? I thought you and Liam were getting on really well?’

I looked up. Harry. And he was still trying to pair me up with his mate. Just great.

‘Sorry, but he’s not my type. A bit too hairy.’

Harry laughed. ‘Er, I hate to break it to you, but he’s not the only one …’

‘I meant the beard. Stubble is one thing, but when it gets to the stage where dinner might get stuck in it … nah, not for me.’

‘Oh, Izzi told me you all liked guys with beards now, it’s the height of fashion. I was thinking of growing mine.’ He rubbed his stubble, giving me goosebumps at the rasping sound. If only I could be the one to do that …

‘Don’t! I mean, not that it’s any of my business …’ I realised I’d almost given myself away there. It shouldn’t matter to me whether he grew a beard or not as he didn’t have to please me. Not that he’d want to … or care … or, whatever.

‘So, you’re not enjoying your own party. We’ll have to do something to fix that.’

Harry smiled at me and for a moment I let myself imagine that maybe he had guessed my feelings after all and was going to tell me he felt the same. That he wanted me as much as I wanted him. His blue eyes twinkled in the dusk of the summer’s evening and he leaned forward as if he was going to kiss me. Yes!

‘Clearly, what you need is cake.’

‘Huh?’ My bubble burst again and I closed my eyes before standing up abruptly. ‘Thanks, Harry, but … I. Don’t. Want. Any. Sodding. Cake!’

Just then, Izzi stuck her head out the back door. ‘Sorry to interrupt you – was I interrupting anything?’ She giggled. ‘There’s someone at the door. Says he has a surprise for you Joss.’

I thought she winked at Harry, but couldn’t be sure. Now what? If that gorilla guy was back again I’d give him what for …

‘Let’s go and see,’ Harry said, and to my surprise, he took my hand to lead me into the house. ‘I think you’re going to like this.’

Oh dear, sounds like Joss’s party has turned into a bit of a disaster! But what’s this surprise? And will it make up for the inappropriate advances of long-distant relatives and strippers in gorilla suits? Sheryl Browne will reveal all in the final extract in an hour’s time ;)  

If you’d like to win a copy of The Soft Whisper of Dreams, simply comment on this post or on Twitter/Facebook.

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To read Part One by Berni Stevens click HERE.

To read Part Two by Kirsty Ferry click HERE.

To read Part Three by Laura E James click HERE.

To read Part Four by Jane Lovering click HERE.

The Birthday Party Part #4 by Jane Lovering

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Poor Joss was left in a little bit of an awkward situation in the last part of our special birthday Round Robin. Will Jane Lovering help her out of it? 

Remember to read until the end for a chance to win a copy of Jane’s new most recent book, How I Wonder What You Are. 

The Birthday Party – Part 4

 ’Harry …’ I said, recovering myself somewhat and averting my gaze from those blue, blue eyes, ‘I don’t have anything to show you. Well, not that you’d want to see, anyway.’

Harry was still half-kneeling at my feet. ‘I wouldn’t say that,’ he murmured.

My heart was beating so hard that my taffeta was shimmying around on my chest like I had a mouse stuffed down my corset-top. ‘Really?’ I tried to remember to breathe.

‘Yes.’ He raised himself to stand next to me. I nearly fell off the wall with anticipation. ‘You remember that photo you’ve got, the one that has your great-gran in it looking like a Rottweiler on a too-short chain?’

My heart stopped triple-timing and sank down through my petticoats. I was slightly surprised that it didn’t drop onto the concrete beside me like an unwanted party jelly. ‘Yes …’

The hairy hand that had cupped my chin so promisingly only a moment ago, now scratched at an overfurred chest. ‘Yeah, I remember it from when you were young, your mum had it on the mantelpiece.’

‘Hoping it fell into the fire, I think,’ I said, trying to regain such poise as I possessed. ‘What about it?’

Harry gave me a tug that ought to have brought me to my feet, but what with the glitzy-glam shoes and their tiny pointy heels, the taffeta and the fact that my heart had left my body and was, even now, hitching its way out of town to somewhere gorgeous men didn’t turn up dressed as gorillas with an agenda, I overbalanced. The next thing I knew my face was pressed into a considerable amount of nylon fur. It smelled a bit of dog, and a lot of Harry, and his huge, furry arms were around me in an embrace that, from a distance, must have looked like a Bear Grylls nightmare.

‘Liam. One of my mates who’s coming to the party … he’s got the same picture.’

‘He’s what?’

‘One of the people in it is his great-uncle. So you two are kind–of related. It’s the reason I invited him to come along to the party … Unfortunately I asked him in the Rugby Club changing room and some of the other guys thought they were included and it seemed rude to …’ Harry ran out of breath. He was looking at the ground now in an embarrassed kind of way. ‘I mean, I didn’t think you’d mind. They’re great lads and, what with it being Jen, Katie, Izzi, Lisa and Julia’s birthdays too, I thought they’d all get on really well.’ He frowned briefly. ‘None of the girls are … you know, are they?’

He hadn’t included me in the list. Did that mean that he hadn’t thought of me? Or that he’d thought of pairing me up with… oh Lord, don’t even think it, Joss.

‘That depends what “you know” means’, I said, keeping my eyes firmly on the toes of my glittery shoes.  ‘None of them are married, on bail, secret alcoholics or dating. Does that cover it?’

That hand was under my chin again. ‘And how about you, Joss?’ Almost unwillingly my gaze was being drawn up to his blue eyes again. They were positively twinkling in amongst the gorilla fur. ‘Are you … you know?’

‘Not married, on bail or dating, no. But if Jen keeps giving me that Pimm’s, I’m not so sure about the alcoholism. I think I might be in training.’

‘Well, that’s good,’ Harry said, and my heart started up again, although I tried to keep it under control by telling it that he probably just meant that it was good that I wasn’t actually an alcoholic yet.

Things are starting to heat up! Where will our next author, Christina Courtenay, take it from here? Find out in an hour’s time ;)  

If you’d like to win a copy of How I Wonder What You Are simply comment on this post or on Twitter/Facebook.

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To read Part One by Berni Stevens click HERE.

To read Part Two by Kirsty Ferry click HERE.

To read Part Three by Laura E James click HERE.

The Birthday Party Part #3 by Laura E James

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So Joss’s black and silver party has started and the gorgeous Harry has arrived. But what will happen next? Laura E. James has the answers in this third extract.

Read right until the end for our THIRD competition of the day :)  

The Birthday Party – Part 3

I wanted to return the compliment, I really did, but I was distracted by Harry’s hairy chest … and hirsute hands … and the furry head squashed under his arm. ‘You’ve come as a … gorilla?’

His brow creased into furrows worthy of ploughing, and his bright, cloudless eyes took on an early morning mist. ‘Yes. Izzi’s message said it’s a silver-back party.’ The words left his mouth like the slow train pulling away from the platform. He gazed around the hallway. ‘I’m not sure you’ve fully embraced the theme, Joss, but worry not.’ He nodded at the crates and gave them a gentle shake. The bottles chinked together. ‘We’ll have one of these and then we’ll get on with the decorating. I’ve paper palms and jungle vines in the car.’ He peered over his shoulder into the street, as if checking on something, then returned his focus to me. ‘By the time we’ve finished, this place will be the Planet of the Apes. And you wait until my mates turn up. What’s the collective noun for gorillas?’

‘I’m not sure,’ I stuttered, astonished at how surreal my life had become. ‘A band, I think. Maybe a troop.’

‘A band. Yeah. That works for my mob.’ He flashed a smile as he squeezed past. ‘Now, as stunning as you are, you need to get out of that dress.’

‘I do?’ I do? Had Harry forgiven me my tiny indiscretion of which we never speak? Had my dream finally come true? Was he harbouring the same lustful, wishful, erotic fantasies about me as I was him?

‘I’ve shown you mine,’ he said, his voice drifting through from the kitchen. ‘It’s time you showed me yours.’

The shock of Harry’s request left me clutching to the door for support. Memories of our youthful Pimm’s-fuelled party games rooted me to the spot. It was embarrassing enough recalling them earlier, but now, seeing everything in vivid technicolour, with Harry only meters away, sent my body, my skin and my cheeks into a crimson overload.

‘Are you okay?’ In a flash, Harry was before me, stooping, and studying my face. ‘Let’s get you outside. You look like you could use some air.’

With tremendous ease, he scooped me in his arms, carried me over the threshold, and sat me on the dwarf wall that separated the flats from the parking zone.

Kneeling at my feet, the half-human, half-gorilla took my fingers in his, tilted his head from side-to-side, and stared directly into my eyes.

It was like a budget remake of King Kong.

With his free hand, he tipped up my chin. ‘Is there something going on I should know about?’

Where to start? I hadn’t enough Pimm’s in my bloodstream to tell him the truth ‒ to tell him how I really felt. That I spent as many waking hours thinking about him as I did dreaming. That no man … or gorilla come to that, would ever match up to him. That it was entirely his fault I’d fallen head over heels for him.

‘It’s a silver and black party,’ I blurted out. ‘Not silver-back.’

Well, we never saw that one coming! Will a band/troop/mob of gorillas ruin Joss’s party or has the fun just begun? Find out in Jane Lovering’s part in an hour’s time! 

If you’d like to win a copy of Laura’s book Follow Me Follow You, simply comment on here or on Twitter/Facebook!

9781781891872To read Part One by Berni Stevens click HERE.

To read Part Two by Kirsty Ferry click HERE.

The Birthday Party Part #2 by Kirsty Ferry

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Our #ChocLitParty is still in full swing on Twitter and we hope everyone who has joined us liked the first part of our special birthday Round Robin by Berni Stevens. Now it’s Kirsty Ferry’s turn. Looking forward to finding out more about Harry ;)  

Make sure you read right to the end for another competition as well!

The Birthday Party – Part 2

The others weren’t exactly ecstatic to be catering for extra bodies. And to be honest, part of me despaired at the thought of crushing everyone into my tiny flat. It transpired Harry was bringing five friends. Part of his rugby squad, for goodness’ sake, so they weren’t going to be insignificantly sized people, were they?

I looked around my flat and felt a little sick. It was the day of the party and I was still wondering whether it was too late to invest in some fairy lights and lanterns and candles and spill out into the tiny garden. I looked out of the window and pulled a face. It was a very small garden. And I doubted twelve of us would fit comfortably in there anyway.

I sighed and went back to clearing extra space inside. I picked up the photo of Mum and I swear Great Granny fixed me with an even more terrifying stare.

‘Bedroom. Now,’ I told her. ‘I’m not having you judging my hostessing skills.’ I opened the bedroom door and shoved granny and the gang in there. It would be bad enough without her glaring at us. I didn’t know if she’d approve of my Harry Entrapment methods either.

You see, I had toyed with the idea of making place cards and sitting us boy girl boy girl around the table. And I’d be oh so casually sitting next to Harry, wowing him with my sparkling conversation and ready wit. Yeah. More than likely, I’d be falling over something and spilling a drink down him, giggling in a Pimm’s fuelled manner and regretting everything in the morning. No. I needed subtlety.

Perhaps a game of Sardines? No. I discounted that idea as well. I had so many layers of taffeta on my frock that it would be difficult to hide anywhere without suffocating me and my partner. It looked horribly likely that a Pimm’s Shuffle and my seismic personality would have to win the day. Hmmm. Like that had impressed him in the past. I blushed, remembering some rather embarrassing things I was sure both of us would rather forget.

I shoved a chair further into the corner, frustrated beyond belief with my lifetime’s inability to enrapture Harry and jumped as the doorbell rang. It would be Jen. She had said she’d be bringing the Pimm’s around a little early today.

‘Just a minute!’ I yelled, and teetered swiftly along the corridor to the front door, only regretting my silver stilettos slightly as they nipped my toes. ‘Jen!’ I cried as I flung open the door.

‘Not even close,’ said the man who stood there balancing two crates of alcohol in his suntanned arms. ‘Hey Joss. Jen asked me to drop these off for her. Hope it’s not too early for you.’

Harry grinned, his eyes the exact same shade as the summer sky that dazzled me as I blinked up at him, my mouth opening and closing as I didn’t actually manage to produce any words.

‘Nice shoes,’ Harry said. ‘Very – sparkly. Very – you.’

Okay, so now we KNOW we’re in love. Will Joss’s party hostessing skills win over Harry this time around? To find out, read Laura E. James’s part in an hour!

To win a copy of Kirsty Ferry’s novel, Some Veil Did Fall, comment on this post or retweet/like/comment on Facebook & Twitter :)

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To read Part One by Berni Stevens click HERE.

Happy 6th Birthday to Choc Lit!

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We’re very excited to be celebrating our SIXTH birthday today and we’re absolutely overwhelmed and touched by all the lovely words we’ve had on Twitter and and Facebook so far. 

So this is a thank you to our readers who are the main reason we’ve been able to stick around for so long – and will hopefully carry on supporting us so we can stick around for many more years! A special birthday Round Robin story written by six talented Choc Lit authors and a competition every hour just for you :)

The first extract is by Berni Stevens. Make sure you read right to the end to find out the details of our first competition as well. Enjoy :)  

The Birthday Party

I should never drink. I don’t mean tea, coffee or water of course. I mean excess alcohol. And I should very definitely not drink Pimm’s on a warm June evening with my five best friends. This leads to me volunteering for things that I know I’m rubbish at. Which, of course, I did. This, in turn, will almost certainly lead to despair, tantrums and mass hysteria. Possibly murder. Probably mine.

All six of us have our birthdays within days of each other, and I’d volunteered – in a happy haze – to host our collective birthday party. I would like to say I wonder what possessed me, but I know it was the Pimm’s. It might have been better if it had been a real devil possessing me. At least then I’d have an excuse when things went wrong.

Thinking about devils made me glance over at the old family photograph in its silver-plated frame. It showed my mother as a child, blonde-haired and waif-like, sitting cross-legged on the grass with her two brothers, whilst a row of adult relatives stood behind. I thought how disapproving the adults looked. Especially the great grandmother I’d never met. She looked positively evil. I giggled.

I forced my thoughts back to the party. Katie, Izzi and Lisa are doing the food, Jen and Julia sorting drinks, including punch – which will no doubt contain more Pimm’s – so my job should be easy. Hosting. Writing and sending the invitations, making my small flat look party friendly, and thinking of a theme for the party. Then, obviously, clearing up afterwards.

A theme … whose bright idea had it been to suggest we needed a theme? Then I remembered. Mine. I’d better steer clear of the punch on the night, or I’d be offering to host Christmas for the whole town.

I toyed with the idea of fancy dress, but not for long. Izzi would never forgive me – she hated fancy dress. Then I had a brainwave – a black and silver theme. My wardrobe didn’t do colour, everything in it was either black, grey or white, so by keeping it simple, I’d be keeping my own stress down to a more manageable level. The girls would be happy too. Things were looking up.

I was happily making out a list of guests when my mobile shuddered into life.

‘Joss?’ A vaguely hysterical voice shrieked at me when I answered.

‘Yes?’

‘It’s Iz.’

‘What’s wrong?’

Something had to be wrong. Izzi rarely – if ever – sounded hysterical.

‘My brother’s coming back for the party.’

My stomach did an excited little flip. Izzi’s brother, Harry, is the epitome of drop dead gorgeous. I’d had a thing for him since I was six and he was nine. Not that he’d ever noticed. Or cared.

‘And that’s a problem why?’

‘He’s bringing a load of mates with him.’

Ah.

‘How many’s a load?’ I said carefully.

‘I don’t know,’ she wailed. ‘He just kept saying names.’

I wondered whether they’d all be gorgeous too. The thought of a crowd of delectable single men filling my flat made me almost purr. Then panic.

I took a deep breath. Keep calm Jocelyn, and breathe some more.

‘It’ll be fine,’ I said faintly. ‘Fine.’ I said again for good measure.

I could hear Iz breathing down the phone too. At least she hadn’t keeled over. Yet.

‘I have a theme,’ I said, hoping to distract her.

‘What?’

‘A theme for the party. Black and silver.’

‘Black and silver what?’

‘Everything. Clothes, make-up, decorations … food …’

‘Black and silver food?’

Even I had to concede that sounded weird. ‘Well, maybe a black and silver cake, with silver candles.’

‘Sounds like a bit of a Goth fest,’ she laughed. At least I’d got her laughing.

‘Black and silver balloons everywhere – it’ll be brilliant.’

‘OK, I’ll tell Harry.’

There it was again. That excited little flutter in my stomach at the mention of his name.

‘We’d better tell the others too,’ I said once I could speak without squeaking.

Oh yes, things were definitely looking up.

Ooh, we haven’t even met Harry yet and we’re already a little bit in love ;) The next extract by Kirsty Ferry will be up in an hour so make sure you’re back for that!

In the meantime, we’re giving ONE lucky reader the chance to win a copy of Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens. Simply comment on this post and let us know what you think of the story so far (you can also comment on Twitter and Facebook). Good luck! 

Dance until Dawn

In honour of World Dracula Day – a special treat from Berni Stevens

Dance until DawnA taster from Berni’s heroine Ellie from Dance until Dawn

Do you believe in vampires? No, me neither. What am I ? Twelve? But I’ve just been told I am one. Have you ever heard anything more ridiculous? Although I have to admit my life did recently take a turn for the bizarre. Last night I woke up in a strange place – alone I hasten to add, so don’t go getting any ideas – it was dark, dank and not at all friendly. I have no clue how I came to be here – and yes, I am still here. To say I felt just the teeniest bit terrified would be an understatement. Then someone came in – I hadn’t even noticed a door in the room until that point. He – because it was a he – looked all tall dark and glowering. Arrogant too. Started telling me what I would have to do, and then what I couldn’t do. He called me ‘Fledgling.’ What the hell does that mean?

Obviously I didn’t believe a word he said. I told him too. He laughed. Actually laughed. So I felt even more convinced all this weirdness is just a dream. Or more precisely – a nightmare.

I watched him striding up and down the room. He is easy on the eye, I give him that. Tall, lean, with sculpted cheekbones, a mane of dark hair, and eyes so green any cat would be proud to own them. But I can’t say he makes a lot of sense. He talked about a condition called the ‘Thirst’ – which apparently I have. It’s why I’m in a lot of pain. (Actually, I thought he’d been poisoning me. I’ve watched a lot of Criminal Minds episodes). He laughed at that too. He’s got a weird sense of humour. Apparently he has no conscience about kidnapping me and locking me up in this … whatever this place is. He said he didn’t kidnap me, but I’m here aren’t I? I don’t want to be here, so therefore he’s broken the law. If I had my mobile phone, I’d have called the police when I first woke up. Not that I could have told them where I am, because I haven’t a clue, but I’m sure they could track my mobile signal. Like I said, I’m addicted to certain TV shows.

I realised he was still talking and I hadn’t heard a word. He does have a nice voice, very deep and quite soothing, even if I hadn’t taken in the actual words. I looked up at him … his eyes are hypnotic.

‘You have not heard a word,’ he said with a slight smile.

I shrugged. ‘I’m not interested enough to listen.’

He sighed. ‘Believe it or not, I am trying to help.’

Of course he is.

Three weeks later
I appear to have been promoted – kind of – and I’m now in a huge bedroom with a four-poster bed – still alone I hasten to add. The bedroom, I discovered, is in a Georgian mansion in Highgate, very close to the famous Gothic Cemetery. It’s a part of North London I don’t go to very often. Well, I don’t mix with millionaires and rock stars much. At least not until now, Will – that’s Mr Spooky’s name – must be a millionaire to afford a place like this, and although he isn’t a rock star, he looks as though he could be. Or a movie star. But I’m still not harbouring any romantic thoughts about him, because I don’t trust him an inch. ‘Handsome is as handsome does’ … where does that saying come from? Someone’s grandmother probably.

‘Wear something beautiful,’ he said as he left the room. He’d waved an elegant hand at one of the huge built in wardrobes. I would have told him to go and do the same, if he hadn’t taken my breath away with the black Armani suit and white T-shirt he had on. Yet I am still not thinking anything verging on the romantic as far as he’s concerned. That’s really not going to happen. He said we were going to ‘his’ club. Does that mean he owns a club or he’s a member of one?

The wardrobe proved to be a revelation. Most of my own clothes were in there, hanging neatly side by side, and I didn’t even want to hazard a guess as to how that happened. But other clothes were there too. They looked new. Some gorgeous dresses, expensive-looking, their simplicity belying the massive price tags I felt sure they had. Lovely, beautifully tailored trousers and tops. Whoever had chosen them had amazing taste. I settled on a pair of black trousers, and an emerald green silk top. I was just pulling on a pair of soft black leather Manolo Blahniks, when Mr Spooky came back in.

He didn’t say anything at first, just looked at me with those startling green eyes of his.

‘What?’ I still don’t feel exactly friendly towards him either.

‘You look breathtaking,’ he said. ‘Absolutely exquisite.’

A strange feeling fluttered deep inside me.

9781781891322 KWant to find out more about Ellie and the mystery man ….  download or purchase this fabulous debut novel from Berni Stevens! AND for World Dracula Day (26th May 2015) the eBook is reduced to £0.99 !  Details here …

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS for a politician’s wife facing the 2015 election

 

Never Marry a Politician 150 dpi

General election day is nearly upon us here in the UK and, whilst we’re hearing an awful lot about the male leaders of the main parties, what about their wives? In her hilarious book, Never Marry a Politician (recently chosen as The Sun’s ebook of the week), Sarah Waights explores the plight of the politician’s wife through the character of Emily (wife of would-be Prime Minister, Ralph). 

Here are the ten commandments for a politician’s wife, taken from the novel and updated for the 2015 election. Enjoy, and also spare a thought for Samantha, Justine and Miriam when you cast your ballot on Thursday ;)  

  1. Thou shalt participate in ludicrously contrived photo callsusually in your kitchen, (in the case of multiple kitchens choose the most humble). Here you will  drink tea from a mug the design of which has been agonised over for weeks by the political advisers.  Whilst doing so, you will miraculously convey via your facial expression alone that you consider your husband to be a) wiser than Solomon, b) more touchy-feely than Oprah and c) hot.
  2. Thou shalt give up thy career – which was the one thing that made thee feel like an adult but proper careers are not really acceptable as there is a danger voters will discover you are cleverer than your husband. As another option, you could consider the following commandment;
  3. Thou shalt choose a career which makes thee look saintlythereby casting a glow of sanctity upon thy husband by association. Looking after sick children would be good, although being a nurse is politically sensitive because of the union issues and being a doctor means thou art a bit too clever. Perhaps run an animal rescue centre or similar as being nice to small, furry animals is definitely a vote winner.
  4. Thou shalt give up the right to make even the simplest decisions on thine ownleaving such weighty issues as which supermarket to shop at, which car to drive and even names for thy children, to be endlessly dissected and analysed by a focus group which will tell thee precisely how to do absolutely everything.
  5. Thou shalt gaze adoringly at thy husband at all times whilst in public – even when he is making the most boring speech in Christendom. Actually, especially then. And no yawning. Ever.
  6. Thou shalt cheerfully attend an endless series of constituency fundraising events – where members of thy husband’s constituency and team will talk about thee as though thou aren’t there.
  7. Thou shalt deputise for thy husband at all the constituency surgeries that he can’t be arsed to go to himselfeven though this involves sitting for hours in draughty village halls listening to old people moaning about waiting lists for hip replacements, the solution for which is entirely beyond thy power.
  8. Thou shalt not beat thy childrenas thou art required to be a far more perfect parent than anyone else in the world. This is mainly in case thy husband is called on to speak in support of a smacking ban or some other entirely unrealistic parenting policy thought up by people who don’t have children.
  9. Thou shalt not allow thy children to misbehave in publica particularly difficult commandment given the restrictions imposed by commandment number eight. By the way, thee needn’t think drugging them into submission is an option either because this is also frowned upon by those pesky childfree policymakers.
  10. Thou shalt believe that the end justifies the meansin practice this translates to a devout and unquestioning acceptance that how things look is considerably more important than how things are.

And this is the word of the Party.

Amen.

Never Marry a Politician is available to download on Kindle HERE.

Follow Sarah Waights on Twitter: @SarahWaights