Choc Lit Mother’s Day Round Robin – Part Three by AnneMarie Brear

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When we left off yesterday everything was about to kick off in our Mother’s Day Round Robin with the arrival of Mike at Jenny’s Mother’s Day lunch. Let’s see where AnneMarie Brear leaves our poor characters today ;) Read carefully so you can enter the competition at the end!

To enjoy this story make sure you read the other parts first:

Part One by Margaret James HERE 

Part Two by Jane Lovering HERE

PART THREE BY ANNEMARIE BREAR

I opened the door to Mike who smiled at me. ‘Surviving?’

‘Just!’ I melted a little as he kissed my cheek. ‘I’m glad you have come, but nervous too. My mother is in fine form today. Please don’t be offended by her attitude. I swear she would have an opinion on the Queen herself if she called for lunch.’

‘I’ll be fine.’ He held up a supermarket bag. ‘I’ve brought wine and chocolates.’

‘She’s started on the gin already.’ I led him through to the dining room, my stomach in knots. My mother and Lucy looked expectantly at us as we entered. ‘Mum, Lucy, this is Mike.’ I turned to Mike, hoping my fear didn’t show. ‘Mike, this is my mother, Diana, and you’ve met my daughter, Lucy … briefly.’

In trepidation, I watched the three of them size each other up.

‘Hello Mike. I believe you are a builder or something?’ My mother asked immediately in a cold tone as though Mike was bank robber. Lucy sat next to her as the two of them waited for him to speak, or make a mistake they could pounce on like a school of sharks on Nemo.

‘I am, Diana. I like working with my hands. Construction is a rewarding job.’ Mike smiled. ‘Jenny tells me you have a lovely bungalow in the next village. Apparently, your garden is much admired?’

Diana preened, a self-appreciating expression on her face. ‘I do my best. This summer I plan to enter my garden into the village competition for best garden. I’ve been told I stand a chance of winning, or at least achieving a medal of recommendation. I do believe my garden is my greatest achievement.’

‘Not your only daughter?’ I murmured under my breath. I gave Mike some wine glasses as he opened the bottle of red he’d brought.

‘That’s very impressive. Maintaining a garden is time consuming.’ Mike poured the wine and passed a glass to Lucy, who took it without comment.

‘Yes, well, being on my own is rather difficult when there are big jobs to do, but one must not complain.’ Diana’s look of innocent suffering was lost to everyone but Mike.

I couldn’t believe my mother had not sniffed once yet.

Sipping his wine, Mike sat at the table. ‘My father says hard work always pays off in the end.’

‘Your father?’ Diana tried and failed to hide her interest.

‘John Philips. You might know of his shop, Philips Timber?’

Diana’s eyes widened. ‘Indeed I do. There are two shops now aren’t there? That is your family’s business?’

‘It’s my father’s, yes.’ Mike chuckled. ‘Dad would have three shops if I went into the business, but I enjoying working for myself. The shops keep him busy since my mother died a few years ago.’ His blue-eyed gaze grew tender as he mentioned his mother. ‘You must let me know, Diana, if there is any building work you need doing. I’m happy to pop around and have a look for you.’

My mother glanced at me before giving Mike her full attention. ‘Well, my summer house needs a new roof, and the side fence near the garage is a bit loose …’

‘Mother!’ I quickly stepped in, knowing she would have Mike over every weekend fixing and building things for the next five years.

‘Mike offered, Jenny!’ She sniffed, her disapproval of my interference clear.

Mike took my hand, his gaze loving. ‘I don’t mind, Jen. I’m sure Diana will keep me topped up with tea and cake while I did a few jobs for her.’ He turned back to Diana. ‘I bet you can make grand cakes as well as great gardens?’

Diana relaxed in her chair, a genuine smile on her face. ‘Wait until you try my lemon drizzle cake. You’ll not have tasted better.’ She gave me a glare. ‘Can I make Mike a cake, Jenny, or will you stop me from doing that too?’

I rolled my eyes. ‘I need to check on lunch.’

Lucy’s phone rang and she glanced at the screen before looking up quickly. ‘It’s dad.’

It was all going so well! What could Lucy’s dad possibly want? Find out tomorrow when Kirsty Ferry takes over :)  

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If you enjoyed AnneMarie’s writing, check out her debut Choc Lit novel Where Dragonflies Hover. Also keep a watch out for a new release coming soon ;)  

COMPETITION TIME

To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate simply answer this question:

What is the name of Mike’s father’s shop?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin AnneMarie Brear comp’ by Monday 27th March. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday 28th March.

Choc Lit Mother’s Day Round Robin – Part Two by Jane Lovering

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It’s Jane Lovering‘s turn on our Mother’s Day Round Robin today! Will Jenny’s Mother’s Day lunch be a success or a complete disaster? Let’s see ;) Remember to read right until the end for a competition. 

To enjoy this story make sure you read the other parts first:

Part One by Margaret James HERE 

PART TWO BY JANE LOVERING

Sunday dawned, and the heavy skies mirrored the feeling in my stomach. What on earth had I been thinking? Three generations of my family, plus … well, plus Mike, it was almost as though I was willing disaster on myself.  Even the leg of lamb looked vaguely accusing as it lay in its red wine marinade and I found myself patting it reassuringly, as I’d used to pat Lucy’s nappied bottom when she’d cried as a baby. She’d been such a lovely child, all blonde ringlets and a slight look of Felicity Kendall about her, we’d been close through her childhood and even her teenage years had been more spirited attempts to get her up, washed and to school on time than the slammed door slanging matches that my peers all seemed to indulge in.

I gave the lamb another pat and popped it into the oven just as the doorbell rang.  I tidied my hair (in case it was Mike), checked the level on the gin bottle (in case it was my mother) and assumed a suitable air of situational control (in case it was Lucy), then went to answer it.

‘Ah, there you are,’ said my mother, as though she’d been waiting on the step for half an hour. ‘I do hope it’s not going to rain. I left the sheets on the line, you know, they simply don’t smell clean when they’ve been in the tumble drier, do they?’

‘Happy Mothers’ Day, Mum,’ I said, a little weakly.  ’Come on in, Lucy should be here in a minute and … well, there’s someone else coming who I’d like you to meet.’

Somewhere on the horizon thunder rumbled. I crossed my fingers that the weather wasn’t being metaphorical.

My mother sniffed.  She had a whole series of sniffs, eloquent as a curse at one end of the spectrum and resigned admiration at the other.  Suffice it to say that her ‘disapproval’ sniffs got far more of an airing.  ’Yes,’ she said. ‘Lucy mentioned something about you having A Man.’

I poured her a glass of wine in the kitchen and bustled her through to the dining room, where the table was neatly laid for four.  ’I haven’t really got him, mum, he’s …’  How to sum up what Mike was to me?  More of a companion, more affectionate, more concerned for my wellbeing than Lucy’s father ever had been? Also considerably better in bed, but I certainly wasn’t going to mention that to my mother … ‘He’s a very nice man,’ I finished, inadequately.

The sniff this time told me that she was reserving judgement.

‘This wine’s bitter,’ she said.  ’Haven’t you got any gin?’

Just as I reached for the bottle I heard the rattle of hail against the window, mirrored by a rattling sound as Lucy’s car drew into the driveway, it sounded as though something had come loose somewhere underneath.  Probably exactly what she thought about me, I mused, opening the front door so that she could run straight in out of the apocalyptic weather that was breaking above us.  Hailstones clanged and battered off the roofs of the cars, flattened the clumps of daffodils that Mike and I had weeded so assiduously last week and laid a slippery mat on the doorstep.  Lucy hurtled in through the door, like a ghost of who she had been.

‘I hope you’re not taking to gin,’ she said, seeing the bottle in my hand. ‘It’s bad enough with … hello Granny!’

The sniff this time passed judgement on the length of Lucy’s skirt, the shortness of her hair and the redness of her lipstick. ‘That car doesn’t sound right, Lucy,’ she said, despite never having driven in her life and having a knowledge of cars that stopped at ‘four wheels’.  ’Can’t your father have a look at it for you?’ She hugged Lucy quickly, disentangling herself in favour of the gin I held out.

‘Dad’s too busy these days, I think Megan and Luca keep him occupied,’ Lucy said a little too brightly and I wondered if she’d already asked Jack to take a look at the car. ‘But it’s fine, Granny. Happy Mothers’ Day, Mum.’ She held a bowl of blue hyacinths out like a peace offering.  ’These are for you.’

I took them and buried my nose in the shell-like flowers, inhaling their sweet smell and hiding my face at the same time.  Hyacinths had always been my favourites. She’d remembered.

‘Never liked those things. Smell like old ladies,’ said my mother, who only ever smelled of Chanel No 5.

The noise of the hail had drowned out any sounds from outside, so when the doorbell rang again it made us all jump.  Mike had arrived.

Now that Mike’s arrived, the fun can really begin (or possibly not!) Let’s see where AnneMarie Brear takes it tomorrow ;)  

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If you enjoyed Jane’s writing, make sure you keep an eye out for a new release, coming soon! Until then, you can check out her existing novels HERE

COMPETITION TIME

To be in with a chance of winning one of Jane’s novels and some chocolate simply answer this question:

What is Jenny’s mum’s drink of choice?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Jane Lovering comp’ by Monday 27th March. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday 28th March.

Read Part Three by AnneMarie Brear HERE.

Choc Lit Mother’s Day Round Robin – Part One by Margaret James

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It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday and what better way to celebrate than a Round-Robin romance written by five talented Choc Lit authors? We’ll be sharing a part of the story every day until Mother’s Day and there’ll be a competition a day too! 

Margaret James is starting us off today. Read right until the end to take part in the competition! 

‘Mum, he isn’t right for you. He’s a jobbing builder on zero hours contracts and you’re a grammar school deputy headmistress. I can’t believe my mother’s sleeping with a bricklayer and everybody in the village knows about it. They’ll all be laughing at you behind your back. You really shouldn’t see him any more.’ Lucy dumped her Prada handbag on the kitchen counter and gave me that particular look, the one I guess I must have given her myself when she’d brought unsuitable boyfriends home in the past.

But I’m not a teenager. I’m nearly forty-five, for heaven’s sake, not seventeen. Jack and I split up three years ago. I know Lucy loves her father, idolises him in fact, even though he’s married to someone who is Lucy’s age and now she has a half-brother who’s almost two. So aren’t I entitled to have a life as well? Who kidnapped my rebellious, free-thinking daughter and replaced her with this strict, judgemental snob who tells me how to live my life?

‘I don’t know why you’re so upset,’ I said. ‘Mike’s a perfectly nice man. He’s thoughtful, generous and kind. We get on very well. We have lots of interesting chats about all kinds of things. We both like gardening and we’re both alone, so what’s your problem?’

‘The fact he made a brilliant job of mending your old garden wall didn’t mean you had to go to bed with him. Does he even wash his hands before he touches you?’

‘Lucy, that’s enough.’ Okay, I could accept that Lucy might not want her mother to be sleeping with somebody and that it must have been a shock when she called unexpectedly last Saturday and found Mike in his dressing gown making coffee in the kitchen while I was still in bed.

‘Granny’s coming round on Sunday,’ I reminded Lucy. ‘It’s Mother’s Day and I’ve invited her for lunch. You’re welcome too, of course.’

‘I’ll check my diary,’ she said, clearly having forgotten that I’m a mother too and I might like to see my daughter on my special day.

As Lucy’s Clubman drove away, my mobile rang. It was Mike ‘Hello, beautiful. How are you doing today?’

I’ve just got home from work,’ I told him. ‘Do you fancy coming round for dinner later – half past six to seven?’

‘Sounds great. I’ll bring a bottle, shall I?’

‘Lovely.’

‘But you mustn’t go to any trouble, love. I bet you’ve had a busy day so you’ll be tired. Maybe I could cook?’

‘I was thinking M&S,’ I said, ‘and letting someone else do all the work.’

When Mike arrived he smelled of something citrus-based and altogether gorgeous. He was carrying a bunch of freesias and a bottle of Pinot Grigio. He’s not very tall and he’s not movie-actor handsome. But he’s solid, strong and capable, good to snuggle up against. He makes me feel secure, something Lucy’s father never did.

‘What are you doing on Sunday?’ he enquired as we drank the last of the white wine, lolling comfortably on the sofa. ‘I was thinking we could drive into the countryside, have lunch at some old country pub and then go for a ramble in the woods.’

‘I can’t.’ I twisted round to look at him. ‘It’s Mother’s Day and I’ve invited Mum for lunch. My daughter will be coming too, that’s if she’s free.’

‘Maybe I’ll see you later, then? We could still go out somewhere, have dinner, maybe?’

‘After the kind of Sunday lunch my mother will expect, I’m going to be stuffed. But we could walk into the village, have a drink. Yes, let’s do that. Lucy can drive her granny home. Come and call for me about half seven. Or maybe – ’

‘What?’

‘You could come to lunch. Yes, come and meet three generations of my family. It’s time you got to know them.’

‘But Jenny, didn’t you tell me Lucy isn’t keen on you having relationships? Didn’t you say she’s still upset about you and her dad splitting up? She might not want to see me.’

‘Lucy is twenty-three. She’s not a child, even though she often acts like one. It’s time she started to grow up. My mother’s getting a bit forgetful nowadays, but she’s very sweet and I’m sure she will like you. Mike, will you come?’

Oh dear! Sounds like Jenny’s Mother’s Day Sunday lunch could end up being quite an explosive affair. Come back tomorrow for Part Two by Jane Lovering to see what happens. You don’t want to miss it!

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If you enjoyed Margaret’s writing, make sure you keep an eye out in the coming months for a new release ;) Until then, you can check out her existing novels HERE

COMPETITION TIME

To be in with a chance of winning one of Margaret’s novels and some chocolate simply answer this question:

What does Mike bring for Jenny when he comes round for dinner?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Margaret James comp’ by Monday 27th March. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday 28th March.

Read Part Two by Jane Lovering HERE.