Thank you to everyone who has messaged us to wish us happy birthday. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by your kind words – and we hope that we’ve shown our appreciation with this birthday Round Robin written by our fabulously talented Choc Lit authors!
But all good things come to an end and it’s Kirsty Ferry who is drawing our birthday celebrations to a close – no pressure, Kirsty!
Lynda Stacey’s Part One is HERE
Kathryn Freeman’s Part Two is HERE
Lisa Hill’s Part Three is HERE
Jane Lovering’s Part Four is HERE
If you read right until the end you might just find a competition to enter too!
The Birthday Surprise – Final Part by Kirsty Ferry
‘Magda?’ Declan looked at Ralph, astonished. ‘Are you sure?’
‘Looks like her!’ said Ralph ‘Maybe she’s had a change of heart?’
‘Good grief. I hope not!’ Declan looked down at Anna, his face haunted. ‘My ex. Took it badly when I left her.’ He shook his head. ‘What a nightmare. The blokes will be her brothers. Thanks Ralph.’ He pulled a face. ‘Sorry Anna, I’ll have to go and sort it out. She’ll most likely be drunk, and her brothers like to think they’re all that, but they’ll back down as soon as I shout at them. Always have done. Forgive me?’
He looked so apologetic that Anna just nodded, imagining him squaring up to something like the Russian Mafia, taking on the role of an action hero in a movie. She dipped her head and blushed as she imagined him in a ripped vest with his muscles all exposed. By the time she looked up again, he was running over the grass, back towards the house.
‘You okay there?’ asked Ralph, eyeing her up. ‘You look a bit – damp.’
Anna looked ruefully at her disgusting shoes and scrubbed at her cheeks again. ‘Damp and grubby. I’m not fit to be at a party, really. I think I’ll head back myself and call that taxi. I’ll leave you and Helen to have fun and just go home.’
‘I’ll walk back with you.’ Ralph fell into step beside her. ‘I have a confession, anyway. I did set this up, you know. Me and Helen between us. Dec never forgot you – Magda was the biggest mistake of his life. When Helen and I made the connection, we sort of concocted it all and this seemed a good way of doing it.’ He shrugged. ‘You know, at least get you back in touch with each other. Dec’s a miserable sod at times, and I remember Prom Night was the happiest I’ve ever seen him.’ He looked up and suddenly grinned at the house. ‘Oh here we go. Right on cue.’ A dark shape came around the corner. It paused, and then started running back towards them.
‘Ralph! Where were they?’ It was Declan
‘Ah no! Are they already inside?’ Ralph’s face fell and he swore. ‘I felt sure we’d headed them off!’
Declan shook his head. ‘Fantastic. I should have guessed she’d sabotage this, I should have guessed.’
‘Maybe we’d best go in through the French doors?’ suggested Ralph. ‘Look, it’s dark enough to sneak in through the ballroom. I’ll go ahead and check.’ He melted away and Anna heard a soft click as he apparently opened the door.
‘Hold on!’Anna stopped and reached a hand out, touching Declan’s arm. She wasn’t prepared for the little jolt of electricity it sent around her body, even fourteen years later. She tried to sound more in control than she felt. ‘D’you think I’m going to creep around in the dark when there are potentially Russian Mafioso around?’ She left her hand on his arm, not wanting to pull away from him. It had taken all these years to touch him again and she was damn sure she was going to enjoy it while it lasted.
‘You’re right.’ Declan stopped. ‘They’re very much not Russian Mafia, though. Magda’s from Barnet. No. You stay outside if you want. In fact.’ He grinned and reached a hand out. He put his fingertips gently under her chin and tilted her face towards his. ‘If it’s all right with you, would you consider giving me a kiss for good luck?’
‘Declan!’ she felt her cheeks colour, but she didn’t, couldn’t resist and leaned in towards him. She closed her eyes and as their lips touched, she felt the years roll back and she was sixteen again and there was still the hope of a bright shiny future with the boy she was certain she loved …
Then a light flooded the terrace and the French doors flung open and there was a huge, happy shout: ‘Happy Birthday, Declan!’
There was the sound of party poppers and cheering, and there they were, frozen in the light, in each other’s arms for all to see.
Anna sprung away first and stared, horrified at the doorway. Helen was standing there, Ralph’s arm slung around her shoulders and she was smiling quite ridiculously widely.
‘Helen!’ Anna blushed again.
‘What?’ Helen giggled and hugged Ralph. ‘Don’t you think that was just the best idea? We had to get Dec back up here and Magda turning up was all Ralph could come up with! People have been waiting ages to see him and wish him happy birthday! There’s loads more people than we told him there was!’
‘We completely lost him,’ added Ralph with a grin. ‘When you ran off, he didn’t want to be in here at all with us.’
‘Really?’ Anna looked up at Declan, and saw that he was blushing, and his expression was sweetly embarrassed.
‘It’s true,’ he said. ‘Ralph’s a pain and I looked at the options – him and a party I didn’t want; or you, and your pretty shoes and lovely face. They couldn’t keep me in there at all, after I saw you again.’
She laughed and shook her head. ‘And Magda? Is she really likely to turn up and spoil things?’
‘No! That’s why it threw me. She’s living down south with my ex-best friend and their child. It’s why I finished things with her. It was devastating, but I always thought there had to be a reason it happened; there had to be something better coming along.’
‘And?’ She was teasing now, giddy with relief and trying not to cry happy tears and run the risk of spoiling her make-up even more.
‘And it did. In a pair of soggy shoes, looking like Marilyn Manson. Anna, can we try again, d’you think? Properly? Like adults?’
‘I think so – I don’t see why not. Not if you don’t mind kissing someone who’s absorbed most of your lake into her party outfit.’
‘I don’t mind at all,’ he replied softly. And he kissed her again, in full view of the guests who cheered even more loudly that time.
And Anna thought it was quite possibly the best thirtieth birthday party she’d ever been to in her entire life.
You couldn’t ask for a sweeter ending! What a wonderful end to a lovely day. Here’s to another year of fabulous books, talented authors and amazing readers like you Thank you all so much!
If you enjoyed Kirsty’s writing, you might like to check out her recent papeback release The Girl in the Painting. Click HERE for more information.
To be in with a chance of winning a copy of The Girl in the Painting and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):
Where is Declan’s ex, Magda, from?
To enter, send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Kirsty Ferry comp’ by Tuesday 20th June. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 21st June.