The Perfect Valentine’s Day: Part Three by Kirsty Ferry

DAY 3 VRR

 

Has Sophie’s Valentine’s Day got any better than when we last left her? Let’s see if Kirsty Ferry has been any kinder! If you haven’t read the first extracts of the story yet, you can read Part One by Alison May HERE and Part Two by Linn B. Halton HERE

Make sure you read right until the end if you want to find out about our exclusive Valentine’s competitions! 

Sophie shimmied down the alley, the rubber-soled shoes squeaking most inelegantly on the highly polished floor. A couple of the girls – bitchy, bleach-blonde vamps from what she could tell, looked her up and down and sniggered into their spritzers.

‘Nice one, Joshy,’ murmured one of them. She had “Belinda” emblazoned across her T-shirt.

‘Strike, Joshy-lad!’ guffawed  “Arlo”.  ‘Couple of nice bowling balls up top on that one.’

Sophie felt her face flush almost as red as the dratted dress she was squished into.

‘My bad,’ replied Joshy-lad, sitting down perilously close to the other blonde – “Evadne”, apparently. ‘I forgot it was Valentines Day.’

‘Joshy!’ cried Evadne. ‘That’s so naughty. Will you ever forgive him … sorry? Susie? Sarah? I can’t quite remember…’

‘Sophie,’ replied Sophie through gritted teeth. She perched on the edge of the nasty, plastic upholstered seat and blushed again as a small parp of air released from a split in the upholstery material. Typical. Could this day get any worse? Oh how she wished she was in her own lounge, on her own un-parpy sofa, in front of a weepy girly chick-flick, cradling a box of chocolates and slugging back prosecco. Her best friend’s words floated in front of her mind. Be careful what you wish for – it might just happen. Valentine’s Day sucked, big time.

‘Your turn Sophie!’ She looked around as Josh smiled encouragingly at her and nodded towards the pile of balls. It was the walk of shame again – a wiggle and a waddle and a squeak all the way over to the balls, choose a pink one (why the heck not?), followed by a mincing sort of run as she hustled her way up to the line and sort of lurched the ball into the alley.

Sophie swore as it bounced a couple of times and ended up in the gutter.

‘One more go, love!’ shouted Arlo the Idiot. ‘Come on, give us a good show!’

Sophie knew that a ‘good show’ to Arlo would be a rip right up the back of her dress and all her lacy-knickered-ultra-waxed glory being displayed to the crowd.

Losing heart, she picked up another ball (green this time) and threw it deliberately into the alley. What was the point?

‘My bad,’ she said shrugging. ‘Excuse me just a moment, would you?’

She picked up her gorgeous designer bag and squeaked past the peanut gallery, aware of the heavy-lashed looks coming from the girls and the slobbering lust emanating from the men.

‘You okay?’ Josh asked, making to get up.

‘Fine and dandy,’ she lied. ‘It’s okay – I won’t be long. You stay there with your friends. I’m just off to powder my nose.’ She headed away to the loos, Evadne’s voice – or it might have been Belinda’s – following her: ‘Oh, sweetie pie, never mind. She’s just not our type, is she? Here, have a drink. Then you can watch me and see how it’s really done.’

Sophie managed to hold onto her dignity until she was around the corner, then sat down on a bench by a Splat-the-Mole machine and pulled out her mobile. She punched in the first number she could think of, her go-to person, and waited for the call to connect.

‘Oh thank goodness you’re there,’ she said, closing her eyes in relief at the familiar voice. ‘I’m having the absolutely worst Valentine’s Day date in all the rotten history of Valentine’s Day dates …’

 

Wine and chocolate

It just keeps getting worse and worse for poor Sophie! Angela Britnell will reveal who’s on the other end of that phone to tomorrow ;)  

COMPETITION TIME!

For a chance to win a mystery romance & chocolate prize, simply read the extracts as they are released each day and answer the questions we ask at the end. When you have all five answers, simply send them in to us for a chance to win (more details will be given when the last part of the story is released on Valentine’s Day). Today’s question is …

What does Sophie sit down next to on the bench when she makes a phone call to a mystery person?

As well as the main competition, we will also be running a competition each day to win a book. To enter this competition, simply comment with what you think of the story so far, either below in the comments section or on Twitter/Facebook. Good luck!

The Girl in the Painting

If you enjoyed Kirsty’s writing, why not pre-order a copy of her new book The Girl in the Painting HERE

The Perfect Valentine’s Day: Part Two by Linn B. Halton

DAY 2 VRR

Linn B. Halton carries on where Alison May left off yesterday and – as expected – Sophie’s Valentine’s Day isn’t going quite the way she hoped it would … 

Read right until the end for details of a competition! In order to enter, you will also need to make sure you have read the first extract by Alison May, which you can find HERE, as well as the rest of the extracts leading up until Valentine’s Day (look out for those over the next few days!) :)

When Sophie caught sight of Josh standing in the corner of the wine bar, she was a little surprised. In her head he’d be there waiting for her with a bouquet of flowers in his hands and wearing one of his very smart, hand-tailored suits. Instead he was … well, smart-casual she’d call it. Feeling a little flustered, she offered up her cheek for the enthusiastic continental kiss, and Josh always did the three air kisses greeting. Which was definitely a sign that they were progressing from the less familiar, two air kisses. Of course, she fantasised about French kissing with him, but she wasn’t complaining. Their parting kiss on the last date had been on the mouth and her feet had almost left the floor. She’d had to throw her arms around him to anchor herself.

‘You’re looking very sophisticated, tonight, Sophie. I wish I’d worn a suit, now.’

Sophie’s mind reeled. Hello. It’s Valentine’s Day and we’re on a date. What did you expect? Calm down, Sophie, maybe you are a little over-dressed, but by the look on Josh’s face he’s certainly appreciating every little detail.

She could almost feel that first passionate embrace that would signal the end of the evening and the start of the next phase of their relationship.

‘Those heels might be a bit of a problem, though.’ Josh looked down appreciatively at the five-inch, strappy heels. ‘We’re going ten pin bowling, but it’s OK, they provide shoes.’

Sophie nearly fainted on the spot! She’d just blown her entire pampering allowance for the next six months and they were going bowling? Adjusting her face to reflect a pleasant smile, rather than the initial look of horror, wasn’t easy. And then she remembered the dress. How on earth was she going to bend in it? The idea was to sit elegantly at the white, linen-covered table, looking totally gorgeous as Josh gazed longingly into her eyes.

‘Bowling?’ She could hardly get the word out from between her gritted teeth, but managed what was, she hoped, a rather playful smile.

‘I thought it was time you met my friends. I can’t wait to show you off, although in that dress I really want to keep you all to myself.’

Sophie paused. This was good. This was very good, but she needed to re-think her strategy.

‘Oh, Josh, that’s great. I’ll just pop home to change into something a little more appropriate. It’s just that it’s Valentine’s Day and …’

‘It is? Ah, I meant to get you a card, but I’ve been snowed under at work and chained to the desk. I’m afraid if we don’t leave now we’re going to be late and they won’t start without us. Anyway, you look wonderful, Sophie, and I must admit that when you first walked in you took my breath away!’

Sophie didn’t know whether to stand there and glow, elegantly, in response to his heart-warming comment, or burst into tears. She was going to look like a complete fool if everyone else turned up suitably attired. But then, maybe this could work in her favour. How hard was it to throw a ball, not that she’d ever tried, and do it in a style befitting her outfit? She could end up looking cool and sophisticated. Her eyes gleamed. Josh was hers and tonight was going to seal the deal!

Walking into the bowling alley, Josh steered her towards a group of people sitting in a cluster at the head of one of the lanes, and her heart instantly spiralled downwards towards the floor. Yes, she was greeted by an array of smiling faces, but to her utter dismay it was clear that these people were competitive. All of the ladies were wearing the same, admittedly cool, T-shirt and leggings. This was a ‘guys versus gals’ game and as soon as the intros were done, she knew she was being evaluated. If only her dress wasn’t quite so short, or quite so snug … This wasn’t just about winning their approval and working her way into Josh’s heart, this was about proving she could fit in and match their expectations.

If I can pull this off, she thought, trying her hardest to wrestle on the awful shoes Josh had handed her, then this will be the best Valentine’s Day ever. The day you finally fall into the arms of Mr. Right and hear him say those magical words – but first things, first.

Sophie threw off all thoughts of romance and prepared for battle.

Wine and chocolate

Poor Sophie! Let’s see what plans Kirsty Ferry has in store for her tomorrow. Something tells us it might get worse before it gets better, but you’ll just have to wait and see … 

COMPETITION TIME!

For a chance to win a mystery romance & chocolate prize, simply read the extracts as they are released each day and answer the questions we ask at the end. When you have all five answers, simply send them in to us for a chance to win (more details will be given when the last part of the story is released on Valentine’s Day). Today’s question is …

What are Josh’s female friends wearing when Sophie meets them at the bowling alley?

As well as the main competition, we will also be running a competition each day to win a book. To enter this competition, simply comment with what you think of the story so far, either below in the comments section or on Twitter/Facebook. Good luck!

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If you enjoyed Linn B. Halton’s writing, you can order her book A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love HERE

The Perfect Valentine’s Day: Part One by Alison May

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 Alison May kicks off our Valentine’s Day Round Robin in style! Look out for the other four parts of the story coming over the next few days and finishing on the big day itself. Make sure you read each part of the story right until the end so you can take part in our competition for a mystery prize of chocolate and romance ;)  

Sophie Morris had a dream. It was a dream of coming home to find her flat filled with red roses. It was a dream of chocolate and perfume delivered to her desk at work. It was a dream of a mountain of cards on the mat after the postman had been. It was a dream of her perfect Valentine’s Day.

In reality Valentine’s Day had always been a bit of a nightmare. There’d been all the years at school when she’d watched the cards pile up on the desks of the prettier, more popular girls. There’d been one particularly awful year at university when she’d ended the Valentine’s Ball not in the arms of her intended Romeo, but crying in the toilet with half the contents of the punch bowl down her previously white dress.

But this year was going to be different. This year she had her fourth date with Josh Tyler. Josh Tyler. Tall. Blond. Former professional swimmer, and now an almost very nearly fully qualified solicitor. Brawn and brains. Just the sort of man, in fact, that Sophie had been building her Valentine’s fantasies around for years, only Josh was real. She’d first seen him three months ago getting coffee across the road from her office. Two months ago he’d been behind her in the queue and picked up her drink by mistake. By Christmas, they’d been on nodding terms. And a month ago, she’d plucked up the courage to suggest that they ‘take a proper break’ and drink their coffee together.

If you counted that coffee, as Date One, and Sophie did, then tonight was Date Four and Date Four on Valentine’s Day meant, to Sophie’s deeply romance-focused mind, that this was a Proper Relationship.

Her perfect Valentine’s Day was planned down to the last minute. Unfortunately, it did still involve going to work, but that was fine. She had to give her quarterly presentation to the sales team just before lunch, but then, the plan was to take the afternoon off and get herself fully Valentine’s ready. She had appointments for hair, nails, facial eyebrow wax, leg wax, and ahem … well other waxing – she had very definite plans for Date Number Four.

Then she would head home, all newly scrubbed and buffed and get dressed in her brand new Perfect Date Outfit. She’d tried on no less than forty-seven potential outfits in preparation for this date. She’d gone through everything in her wardrobe and her sister’s wardrobe before dragging her sister round the shops until she’d found the perfect little red dress. Short but not too short. Tight but not too tight. It seemed to suck bits of her in and pop other bits of her out again in all sorts of good ways.definite plans for Date Number Four.

And then, taxi into town to meet Josh. He was keeping their destination secret, which was exactly as it should be – a little mystery, Sophie felt, added to the romance. And actually she had a pretty good idea where they were going. She’d spent the last three weeks casually mentioning the new French style bistro that had opened opposite the cathedral, and Josh was a smart boy. She had no doubt he’d have picked up her hints.

So, for the first time in her life, Sophie Morris left for work on Valentine’s Day full of confidence. This year really was going to be her year. This year she was going to finally win at Valentine’s Day. Nothing and nobody was going to spoil her perfect day.

Wine and chocolate

We’re already rooting for Sophie to have her perfect Valentine’s Day … but something tells us it might not go completely to plan! Make sure you check back tomorrow to see where Linn B. Halton takes the story :)  

And now for our COMPETITION! In order to enter you will need to read each part of the story carefully and answer FIVE questions. Please only enter once all parts of the story have been released and you have answered all the questions. Today’s question is …

Where is Sophie hoping that Josh takes her on Valentine’s Day?

Make sure you note down your answer and come back tomorrow for the second question!

There will also be a prize each day for the best comment so please let us know what you think of the story so far in the comments section below!

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Alison May’s wonderful novel, Midsummer Dreams, is out in paperback on Valentine’s Day. You can pre-order your copy HERE.

 

The Legend of the Swashbuckling Pirate

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The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk by Sally Malcolm is a swashbuckling pirate tale. In this fascinating post, the author describes some of the legends that inspired her novel …

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A pirate is hanged at Execution Dock.

Pirates have a special place in the heart of all romantics, especially those with a taste for adventure and a healthy disregard for authority.

They are the ultimate rebels, the punk rockers of their day, thumbing their nose at social convention.  Scandalous in the silks and brocade reserved exclusively for the upper class, pirates flaunted their wealth and sexuality, even allowing women to join, and occasionally lead, their crews.

Pirates thrilled and shocked their contemporaries, and very quickly legends sprang up around these fascinating rebels.

Trials of infamous pirates like Captain Kidd were reported in salacious (although not entirely accurate) detail in the eighteenth century scandal rags, and that’s where the pirate myths really began.  So captivating were the stories woven around these men that, while awaiting death, renowned pirates were visited in their cells by dazzled women eager for a little pirate stardust …

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The Flying Dutchman, or, The Demon Ship, published 1839.

By the 1830s, with an increasingly literate population eager for entertainment, the ‘penny-bloods’ began to dip into pirate legends from the Golden Age of Piracy. One of the earliest was The Flying Dutchman, published in 1839, telling the tale of the legendary ghost ship and designed to horrify, thrill and delight its eager readers.

And so began an industry. From The Pirates of Penzance and Treasure Island, to movies like Captain Blood and Pirates of the Caribbean, our fascination with the outrageous, dangerous and rebellious pirate remains as enduring as ever.

Long may it continue, say I.

If you enjoyed Sally’s post on pirates, why not give her novel a go? The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk is now available in paperback from all good bookshops and stockists. Purchase it here:

Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/LFpAhz

Amazon US: http://goo.gl/sELQfe

If you need more convincing, watch the fab book trailer here:

https://youtu.be/InHVhS0LMDs

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays from the Choc Lit Team and our Santa Clauses!

Merry Christmas from Team Choc Lit!

Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays! Thank you for all your fabulous support in 2015. We look forward to sharing more exciting releases and fabulous Choc Lit books with you in the new year.
Love from the Choc Lit Team x
(Lyn, Lusana, Jane O, Liz, Jane E, Marie, Jessamy) 

And now a message from our Choc Lit Santas: :)

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juliet Santa photoJuliet Archer:  ”As Jane Austen said in Emma, published 200 years ago this month: ‘This is quite the season indeed for friendly meetings. At Christmas every body invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather.’ I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year, with lots of ‘friendly meetings’ and as little as possible of ‘the worst weather’.”

Santa - Rhoda BaxterPLEASE RELEASE ME_front150dpiRhoda Baxter: “Wish you all a fab holiday season with lots of chocolate, cake and nice warming books to read. See you next year.”

 

Zana Bell - Santa!

Fool's Gold

Zana Bell: Meri Kirihimete (Maori) everyone and many best wishes from New Zealand. May you all have a wonderful festive season. ”

 

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AnneMarie Brear: “Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas, (a perfect time to read good books) and a safe and healthy 2016!”

 

 

Jan Santa photo

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Jan Brigden: “Wishing everyone a joyful, peaceful, healthy Christmas & New Year, with much festive good cheer, happy reading (and chocolate goodies aplenty!). Enjoy!”

 

Angela Britnell - Santa!

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Angela Britnell: “Wishing all of our Choc Lit readers a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year filled with good books!”

 

Sheryl Browne Santa!

 

9781781892350Sheryl Browne: Christmas time, mistletoe and wine … If you fancy a gorgeous hero to complete the scene, dip into scrummy Choc Lit book. Perfection. Have a lovely Christmas everyone!


You Think You Know MeClare Chase - Santa!Clare Chase: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, full of warmth and good cheer, followed by a very happy 2016.”

 

An Irish Promise

Valerie Olteanu  - Isabeall Connor - SantaLiv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa!Isabella Connor (Liv & Val):  Nollaig shona dhaoibh. Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2016.”

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Christina Courtenay - Santa!Christina Courtenay: “I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Have a peaceful, relaxing holiday hopefully with lots of time for reading! Thank you all for your support this year and here’s to a fantastic year in 2016!  Christina xxx”

Some Veil Did Fall

Kirsty Ferry - Santa!

Kirsty Ferry: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy 2016. I hope you enjoy a festive season filled with cake, chocolate and a multitude of good books! Love from Kirsty xxx”

 

9781781892206Debbie Santa photoDebbie Flint: “Wishing you sleighbells and snowflakes, mince pies andmulled wine, silent nights and holly-days, myrrh and magic moments, tinselled tots and festive pets, plus perfect peace, Christmas cheer – and to all a good night!”

 

9781781892466 Kathryn Freeman - Santa!Kathryn Freeman: “Christmas – a time to relax, to indulge. Whether you’re turkey or goose, chocolate or champagne, Christmas films or a sack full of books, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

 

Janet Gover - Santa!9781781892688Janet Gover: “May Christmas be a time of joy for you and yours – and I hope 2016 will be a wonderful year filled with love and laughter.”

 

 

The Highwayman's Daughter

Henriette Gyland - Santa!Henriette Gyland: “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2016 be filled with love, laughter and good books to read.”

 

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Linn B. Halton: Wishing everyone peace, love and happiness this Christmas time, and a wonderful start to 2016! Linn x

 

 

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Liz Harris - Santa!Liz Harris: ”Wishing you everything for 2015 that you wish for yourself.  May it be a year filled with health, happiness, chocolate and, of course, books!!”

 


The Wedding Cake TreeMelanie Hudson - Santa!Melanie Hudson: 
“Wishing you love, light and oodles of laughter this Christmas.”

 

 

9781781892701Laura E James - Santa!Laura E.James: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a 2016 that’s overflowing with good health and great books.”

 

 

Magic Sometimes Happens

Margaret James - Santa!Margaret James: “Merry Christmas, readers and writers, and may 2016 be a wonderful year for you all.”

 


Impossible ThingsKate Johnson Santa!Kate Johnson: “I’d like to wish everyone a very happy festive season and offer my best wishes for the new year.”

 


Dangerous DecisionsMargaret Kaine - Santa!Margaret Kaine: “I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas whether you are spending it with family or friends, or have chosen to be on your own surrounded by chocolates, wine and good books. May I wish you both good health and happiness throughout 2016.”

 

Jane Lovering - Santa!9781781892817Jane Lovering: “Wishing everyone a happy HobNob dunking, marshmallow toasting, Tony Robinson watching day! Although if you don’t like any of these things, I wish you a Happy Christmas anyway…all the more for me! JANE X”

 

9781781892176Sally santa photoSally Malcolm: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, and a New Yearfull of adventure!”

 

 

Alison May - Santa!9781781892947Alison May: “May your festive season be joyful and filled with books, chocolate and all good things. Happy Christmas one and all.”

 

 

Emma - There's No Turning BackLinda Mitchelmore - Santa!Linda Mitchelmore: “Happy Christmas to you all. I hope you will have a wonderful time, spending Christmas in whichever way you choose. I also hope there will  be a little window of time to curl up with a Choc Lit novel – or two – somewhere warm with a glass of something festive.”

Lynda Stacey Santa photoLynda Stacey: ”May your Christmas sparkle with happiness, surprises and above all else, good health. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2016  xx”

 

 

DANCE UNTIL DAWNBerni Stevens - Santa!Berni Stevens: “Wishing everyone a Perfectly Paranormal Christmas and a peaceful New Year! Happy reading! Love Berni xxx”

 

Follow a StarChristine Stovell - Santa!Christine Stovell: Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas one and all. Here’s wishing you everything you would wish for yourself.”

 

Romancing the SoulSarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Tranter: “Merry Xmas and a fabulous 2016 to you all!”

 

 

Never Marry a Politician!Sarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Waights: “Wishing all Choc Lit readers a fabulous Christmas and as much romance and chocolate as you can handle in the year to come.”

 

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Evonne Wareham - Santa!Evonne Wareham: “Happy Christmas – Nadolig Llawen – and health, happiness and lots of good books for everyone in 2016.”

 

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Nicky Wells:  ”Frohe Weihnachten und ein Gutes Neues! ~That’s “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” in my native German, and I’d like to wish you both of those with all myheart. May your Christmas sparkle and may your 2016 be filled with love, laughter and happiness. Xx”

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL! 

Halloween Round Robin 2015

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We hope you all enjoyed our Round Robin and had a suitably spooky Halloween! The festivities might be over now but, if you missed it, you can now read the whole story from start to finish (but please note, the competitions at the bottom of each post are now all closed). Enjoy ;)  

PART ONE by Berni Stevens

PART TWO by Jane Lovering

PART THREE by Christina Courtenay 

PART FOUR by Kirsty Ferry

PART FIVE by Rhoda Baxter

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Halloween Round Robin: Final Part by Rhoda Baxter

HALLOWEEN DAY FIVE

Happy Halloween to all of our readers! We hope you have lots of fun spooky plans for today (even if you’re a little too old for trick or treating!) Start as you mean to go on with the FINAL part of our Halloween Round Robin by Rhoda Baxter. We do hope you have been enjoying the story and that you read right until the end for our last Halloween competition :)   

If you have missed any of the extracts, make sure you catch up before you read Rhoda’s part. 

Part One by Berni Stevens

Part Two by Jane Lovering

Part Three by Christina Courtenay

Part Four by Kirsty Ferry

Ghostwatch: A Tale for Halloween

Final Part by Rhoda Baxter

Addy was so enthralled by the gardens that it took a moment for his words to settle into her mind. ‘S … Some of us?’ She turned to look at him.

‘I think there is something you should see.’

Addy frowned. She took another sweeping look at the gardens. How could they be here? She knew there was nothing here but sea sprayed grass. Her gaze turned to the Abbey itself. Moonlight gleamed off the faceted panes in the windows, the stones and, looking further up, the intact roof.

‘How-’

He held out his arm to her. ‘Come. Let me show you.’

She hesitated. He looked solid. She slipped her hand into the crook of his arm. Definitely solid.

Deverell led her back into the house. She looked down to try and see where she was going. Where there should have been uneven ground, there was stone. Deverell walked on, confident, as though he knew exactly where he was going. He led her past large, moonlit windows, with views out onto the silverwashed gardens. This was weird. But … but this was amazing.

They went through another door that opened itself and Addy gasped. They were in the main hall. A long table ran along the middle of the room. There was a carpet, although it wasn’t bright enough for her to see what colour it was. A chandelier full of unlit candles hung from the ceiling. Along the walls were portraits.

She stared at it. If she concentrated really hard, she could see the ruins silhouetted against the sky above them. But the minute her eye moved, she was back inside an intact room. ‘How is this possible? Deverell?’

He led her a little way into the hall and stopped in front of one of the paintings. He gestured towards it.

Addy looked up and, for the second time, almost forgot to breathe. The moonlight fell on the portrait. Illuminating two figures. A couple. Even in the dim light, she could see the resemblance. Deverell. And herself.

The moon disappeared behind a cloud, plunging everything into darkness. All the hairs on the back of Addy’s neck stood on end. The magic disappeared. The tidy, sensible part of Addy’s mind reasserted itself. She extracted her arm from Deverell’s and put her hands on her hips.

The light reappeared, now slanting down through the ruins that stuck up against the star pricked night.

‘What the hell is going on?’

For the first time since she’d met him, he looked less than a 100% sure of himself. He rubbed a hand through the back of his hair. Now, with the moonlight glinting off the top of his head, he had lost that ethereal look. ‘It’s to do with the curse,’ he said. ‘Shall we… go back outside? I’ll explain.’

As they walked out of the ruins. The gardens has disappeared and to Addy’s intense relief, the Elsa’s wove past, arm in arm.

‘It’s to do with the curse,’ said Deverell. ‘The couple in the portrait. He was my great- great grandfather. They married for love, so that branch of the family survived. But the curse … it still follows us around.’ He shrugged. ‘From time to time, if one of us isn’t married by the time they’re twenty-five, they start to feel a … connection … to this place. There are some nights when it’s especially strong.”

‘On Halloween?’ She raised an eyebrow. ‘Convenient.’ A gust of wind cut through her costume, making her shiver. She rubbed her arms.

Seemingly without thinking about it, Deverell threw his cape around her, pulling her closer. ‘No, on full moon nights. The Halloween thing was just a coincidence. I came here tonight because I felt… compelled. And when I saw you earlier, I knew why. My ancestors brought me here to meet you.’

She should have scoffed at the idea, pushed him off and run away screaming, but she thought of the gardens, the hall in its splendour. ‘How can you be so sure?’

He pulled her closer. ‘Because, the minute I saw you, I felt the world change.’

Addy could see right into his eyes. That was easily the most romantic thing she had ever heard. Her heart sped up. She tried to think of something witty to say, but all she could think of was how much she wanted to kiss him. ‘Uh.’

His kiss was anything but cold. By the time they came up for air, Addy was warmed to her toes.

It took her a moment to get her breath back and say, ‘So you think … this…’ she gestured to him and herself. ‘This is love?’

He smiled sheepishly and nodded.

Addy reached up and touched his cheek. ‘I suppose time will tell.’

Deverell’s smile widened as he pulled her to him again. ‘I think it already has.’

The End

Aww, despite the spookiness, it was still a happy ending for Addy and Deverell! Well done to our talented authors for putting together such an awesome story once again :) Happy Halloween everyone! 

COMPETITION TIME! 

The Halloween Round Robin might be over but there’s still time for one more competition – and this one’s extra special!

If you’d like the chance to WIN a copy of Hubble Bubble by Jane Lovering, Halloween chocolate AND an exclusive pink Choc Lit T-Shirt (in your choice of size) simply tell us what you thought of the story in the comments below. Good luck! :) The winner will be announced on Monday 2nd November.

Hubble Bubble by Jane LoveringAdobePhotoshopExpress_2015_10_29_11_03_25IMG_0556

 

Halloween Round Robin: Part Four by Kirsty Ferry

HALLOWEEN DAY FOUR

Kirsty Ferry is in charge of the penultimate part of our Halloween story today. What does she have in store for Addy and Deverell? Read on to find out … and make sure you check out the competition as well ;)  

If you haven’t read the previous parts of our special Halloween Round Robin, make sure you read them before reading today’s extract. 

Part One by Berni Stevens

Part Two by Jane Lovering

Part Three by Christina Courtenay 

Ghostwatch: A Tale for Halloween

Part Four by Kirsty Ferry 

Addy blinked.

Deverell pulled away from her, a secret little smile playing around his lips. ‘Was I too familiar?’ he asked. ‘I’m most terribly sorry.’

She knew, however, that he wasn’t really sorry at all.

‘No. It’s fine. It’s this place. It’s Halloween. It’s making people excitable,’ Addy stammered.

‘Excitable. That’s one way of putting it,’ he said.

Addy found her hands, within her white, buttoned up gloves, were sweating in a very un-sexy manner and she tried to subtly wipe them down her skirt. For the party, she had decided to go more Goth than Demon; and she’d opted for more coverage than cleavage. She was wearing a long, black dress, pretty much like a Victorian riding habit, complete with bustle and fitted jacket. She hadn’t bothered with an elaborate hairstyle, but had gone for a little hat with a veil, which she now realised was sitting askance on her head.

Deverell looked at her and, as if he could read her mind, he lifted her hair from her shoulders again. She could feel the chill from his fingers, touching her like cobwebs. ‘I like your hair loose,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘It suits you. I never liked it up.’

‘What?’ Addy took a step backwards. ‘You don’t know what I normally do with my hair!’ It was true – normally she had it pulled back into a ponytail or clipped back for work. The main reason she had it loose tonight was because it was supposed to be a ‘party’ and she didn’t think Stern Victorian Governess would rock it, somehow.

She looked around her nervously. She was, now she had come to her senses, in a pretty deep, cavernous vault of an ancient building with a stranger. Who, it seemed, was rather free with his affections and was apparently a bit of a stalker. Her heart began to beat quickly, thumping against the corseted bodice of the riding habit.

The silvery light coming through the latticework dulled as clouds drifted past the moon, plunging them both into an eerie otherworld that was, quite frankly, terrifying.

‘I think I should go,’ she said. ‘My friends will be wondering where I am.’

‘No they won’t,’ said Deverell. ‘Believe me, they’ve other things to keep them occupied tonight. I’ve made sure of it.’ The moonlight washed over him again as the clouds shifted outside and he took a step towards her. ‘Come. Walk with me,’ he said. His eyes were soft and very, very blue in his pale face. Addy looked at him and registered something else there – a sadness of some kind.

‘What are you?’ she whispered.

Deverell didn’t answer. Instead, he bowed low and offered his hand to Addy. ‘Please. I’ve waited a long time for this.’

As if she was in a dream, Addy found herself responding. She raised her hand and he took it, then stood up and looked at her. It was as if he was staring into her soul. She felt herself go weak around the knees again and choked back a little gulp of either terror or anticipation.

‘Where are we going?’ she asked, her voice sounding odd in the cavernous space.

‘Outside. Look. There’s the door.’ He turned, still holding her hand, and drew her towards him, tucking her into the side of him. It felt safe there – oddly safe and familiar.

Without protesting she walked with him to the door. He reached out a hand and she could almost have sworn the door opened by itself.

She stood in the open archway and gasped as she looked outside. The landscape was nothing like the grounds of the Abbey she had come to this evening. Lawns rolled onwards, ever onwards, sparkling in the moonlight. Trees were topped with moonbeams and a lake of some sort was to one side of them, black and still, with weeping willows dipping their silver fronds into the glassy water.

‘It’s beautiful,’ said Addy, staring around her. ‘I never knew it was like this here.’

There was a soft chuckle beside her and Deverell drew her closer. ‘No. Nobody knows what it was like really. Except some of us.’

Okay, things really are getting a bit spooky now! Who is Deverell? And what does he really want with Addy? Find out tomorrow when Rhoda Baxter takes to the stage with the final part of our Round Robin – just in time for Halloween! 

COMPETITION TIME!

Congratulations to Rae Cowie who was the winner of our competition from yesterday!

For today’s competition you could be in with a chance to win a copy of Some Veil Did Fall by Kirsty Ferry and some Halloween chocolate. To enter, simply tell us how you think the story is going to end in the comments below. The winner will be announced tomorrow – Saturday 31st October.

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Halloween Round Robin: Part Three by Christina Courtenay

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We hope you’ve all being enjoying our Halloween Round Robin so far! Today’s spooky extract is from Christina Courtenay. If you haven’t read the other two instalments yet make sure you do. Part One by Berni Stevens is HERE and Part Two by Jane Lovering is HERE. Read right until the end for our third competition :)  

‘So you know my name, but I don’t know yours,’ Addy pointed out.

‘True,’ he said, flashing her a smile. ‘Does it matter?’

‘Well, it’s kind of one-sided, don’t you think? And I like to know who I’m talking to.’

‘How about you just call me Deverell? My first name is a bit … old-fashioned.’

‘Deverell? As in that posh family who used to own the Abbey?’

‘Yes.’

Addy frowned. ‘I thought they’d died out, like ages ago. Late eighteen-hundreds? Some curse or something.’ She searched her memory but the details eluded her for the moment.

‘Maybe not all of them,’ Deverell muttered and walked further into the cellar.

Addy followed without thinking and walked into him – again, damn it – when he stopped abruptly and turned around. A shaft of moonlight shone down on him like a spotlight, making him look almost other-worldly, with his dark hair turned to liquid silver. His outfit, which wasn’t so much vampire as Victorian gentleman she realised, suited him to perfection – the tight-fitting jacket of his dark morning suit emphasised the broad shoulders and for some strange reason she longed to be enveloped in his red-silk lined cloak. For a moment, Addy thought he looked as though he was lit up from inside, but when she blinked the illusion was gone.

She shook her head. Get a grip, woman. He probably had some of those glow-sticks in his pockets or something. Tina had brought some, she’d said so earlier.

Deverell was staring at her, a small smile playing about his mouth. ‘It’s a beautiful place this, don’t you think? Or it used to be, when it was a family home.’

‘Yes, must have been awesome, although a bit spooky. It was a monastery before Henry VIII wrecked it and let the Deverells buy it, right?’

‘Correct.’ He grinned. ‘Maybe we’ll see some of the monks tonight? Is that chanting I hear?’ He pretended to listen.

Addy smacked him gently on the arm. ‘Stop that! I sure hope not. Anyway, I don’t believe in ghosts.’

‘Don’t you?’

His expression made her suddenly doubt herself and she decided to change the subject. ‘So, that curse … how come your branch of the family didn’t succumb to it, whatever it was?’

Whomsoever marries a Deverell had better be in love or suffer the consequences.’ Deverell intoned the words in a mock-scary voice that sent shivers up Addy’s spine.

‘What? Sounds like a load of tosh.’

He shrugged, his eyes narrowed. ‘Maybe, but the fact is all those who married a Deverell merely for money or position died within a year. That’s why the name died out … er, almost.’

‘Well, serve them right, I’d say. One should always marry for love.’

‘Is that what you would do?’ His teasing grin was back and Addy shivered for a different reason.

‘If I was lucky enough to fall in love with the right person, yes.’ It sounded impossibly prim, but she couldn’t blurt out what she’d really wanted to say, that if she’d met someone like him instead of stupid David she wouldn’t mind walking down the aisle any time.

‘Perhaps you’ll meet him tonight.’ Deverell reached out a hand and pushed her long blonde hair over her shoulder, a curiously intimate gesture that turned her legs to jelly for some reason.

‘I doubt it.’ She glanced outside where the snogging couples could be glimpsed as grotesque shadows on the ancient stone walls and added without thinking, ‘I haven’t even been kissed yet.’

‘That can be arranged.’

‘Huh?’ Addy realised what she’d said, but before she had time to feel mortified his mouth was on hers, his arms wrapping her inside that amazing cloak, just as she’d wished earlier. She knew she should have pushed him away – she barely knew him, for goodness’ sake – but two things stopped her.

One – he was an expert kisser and she hadn’t been kissed like that for years, if ever. And two – she realised with a jolt that his mouth was freezing cold, as cold as the grave, and she was frozen to the spot.

Wow! The more we hear about Deverell, the more we’re intrigued … and also a little scared! What will happen in the aftermath of the kiss? Find out tomorrow when Kirsty Ferry takes over ;)  

COMPETITION TIME! 

Congratulations to Karen Mace who was the winner of yesterday’s competition. Those who weren’t so lucky, fear not. We’re running another one today!

If you’d like the chance to win a copy of Christina Courtenay’s fabulous new book, The Jade Lioness (as well as some Halloween chocolate), simply tell us what you think will happen next in our story in the comments below. Good luck! The winner will be announced tomorrow – Friday 30th October.

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Click HERE for the next instalment by Kirsty Ferry.

Halloween Round Robin: Part Two by Jane Lovering

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It’s time for the second part of our special Halloween Round Robin – and this one’s by Jane Lovering! Find out what happens to Addy at the Abbey next and whether she bumps into any ghosts … or handsome, blue-eyed strangers ;)  

If you haven’t read the first part by Berni Stevens, you can see it HERE

Ghostwatch: A Tale for Halloween

Part 2: Jane Lovering

More and more of the group arrived during the evening. Addy wondered where Tina had managed to drag them up from. Actually, looking at the way they were dressed, some of them really did seem to have been dragged up, but Tina just muttered at her for being ‘rude’ when she mentioned this. A squadron of zombies, who were, Tina hissed when Addy drew her attention to them, from the local accountants who worked for Tina’s company; a cotillion of witches, some of the green-faced ‘Wicked’ variety and others for whom being wicked was obviously on the agenda later tonight. Addy had never seen so many stockings and suspenders on display in one locality.

‘Cheer up Ads.’ Tina was, as ever, at the centre of things, preparing the party under the most Gothic of the arches the Abbey had to offer. ‘It’s a laugh. Remember “laughing”? Honestly, since David dumped you, you’ve been so mardy, and it wasn’t even as if he was much of a catch. You can do so much better than a bloke whose only conversation is about his Morris Marina.’

‘It was a classic car’, Addy mumbled, but she knew Tina was right. Knew there was more to life than beige seat covers and a man who counted his loose change every night before bed.

She walked away from a trio of mummies, trailing their filthy bandages as though they were trying to make some point about the NHS, and stood at the edge of the headland, where the Abbey grounds had washed into the sea. She watched the last of the light leach out of the sky and the first stars appear, dotting the darkness like little points of hope.

‘Funny to think they’re always up there, isn’t it?’ A voice spoke just beside her and made her jump. ‘We just can’t see them during the day. All that beauty, and it’s invisible until it gets dark.’

Addy tried to look out of the corner of her eye.  She didn’t want to be uncool and stare, but she knew it was the blue-eyed stranger who’d wished her that misplaced Happy Halloween earlier. Behind them, Tina’s iPod played a snatch of ‘Monster Mash’ and there was the sound of a raucous dance-off starting up.

‘They aren’t even drunk yet’, she said, and then berated herself for the superficial comment. Here was a stranger, gorgeous and, more to the point, talking to her, and all she could do was cast aspersions on her fellow partygoers.

‘You don’t approve of a Halloween party?’ He sounded amused, and now she did turn her head to look at him.

‘We’re too old for this. Hallowe’en is for kids, all apple bobbing and “Trick or Treating”, we’re just using it as an excuse to dress up and get drunk.’ She managed to get the words out, despite the fact that her mouth had dropped open. Old Blue-Eyes was sensational, tall and slim with shoulders that filled out his vampire costume a treat. He even had a cape, which twirled about him like a well behaved spaniel.

‘You don’t believe in All Hallows Eve? The night when evil must be driven back with light and fire?’ He sounded amused.

Addy looked over her shoulder at where several party-goers had started throwing the marshmallow eyeballs at one another. ‘I think it might take more than light and fire,’ she said.

Beside her, Blue-Eyes laughed and she could feel it down to her toes. ‘Oh, Adelaide, you do need cheering up, don’t you?’

Addy felt a little prickle of something almost like fear raise the hair on her neck. ‘How do you know my name?’

Another laugh and she tried to ignore its slightly erotic power. ‘Tina told me, of course.’ He started to walk, away from the headland now and back into the Abbey, but away from the fires and music that were breaking out and the little parties of snogging that had clustered around various fallen buttresses. Addy saw a skeleton and a couple of Elsa’s from Frozen chasing one another with a bottle of vodka and decided to follow him.

They walked into the darkest part of the Abbey, the old cellar, where an arched stone roof curved overhead and the remaining walls were thick enough to cut out the sound of the revels outside.

       Oooh, do you think it was a good idea for Addy to follow the blue-eyed stranger? You’ll find out if it was in the next part of the Round Robin tomorrow by Christina Courtenay!

COMPETITION TIME!

Congratulations to Beverley Lloyd who was the winner of yesterday’s competition!

If you’d like the chance to win a copy of Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering and some Halloween chocolate, simply comment below and let us know whether you think Addy was right to follow the blue-eyed stranger and why. The winner will be announced tomorrow morning – Thursday 29th October.

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Click HERE for the next instalment by Christina Courtenay.