Choc Lit Easter Round Robin 2017 – FINAL Part by Angela Britnell

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Well the Easter weekend is almost at an end – but we hope you enjoy your last day off from work and that you’re not feeling too sick from all the Easter eggs! And just as Easter weekends must draw to a close, so too must Easter Round Robins. But luckily for you, you still have the final part of the story by Angela Britnell left to enjoy – and a competition too! 

To enjoy this story, make sure you read the extracts in order:

Part One by Berni Stevens is HERE

Part Two by Rhoda Baxter is HERE

Part Three by Kirsty Ferry is HERE

Part Four by Morton S. Gray is HERE

The Easter Bunny – Final Part by Angela Britnell

Tilly blinked and struggled to focus.

‘Are you all right?’ A pair of worried blue eyes stared down at her and things began to click into place.

A sparkly egg. A laughing boy. And a rabbit whose face oddly reminded her …

‘We banged heads and I’m afraid you got the worst of it. I wanted to call the doctor but your Aunt—’

‘Told him not to be silly.’ Aunt Elsie’s brusque assertion made Tilly smile.

‘She tried to convince me “magic” gardens cure concussion,’ Dan scoffed.

‘I doubt she phrased it quite that way.’ She tried to placate him. ‘Help me up and let’s get some tea.’

‘Tea!’ Dan’s voice rose. ‘We’ve got a lunatic rabbit. A maniacal dog. A damn Easter egg that I’ll swear is genuine Faberge. And let’s not forget a magical garden where things supposedly disappear and reappear at will.’

‘If you put it that way…’ If Tilly explained the whole story there went her chance with the first lovely man she’d come across in ages.

‘Look what’s in the egg Daddy!’ Josh grinned and brandished a tiny gold key.

Tilly scrambled to her feet and glared at her aunt. ‘Why did you give it to him?’

‘This is our only hope of finding Marvin.’ Elsie gave a triumphant smile.

Any second now Dan expected a man to jump out of the bushes brandishing a camera and saying this was a prank being filmed for a new TV show.

‘Josh, it’s late we need to go.’ He cleared his throat but the lump refused to go away as Tilly’s wide green-eyed gaze landed on him.

‘We can’t go! You told me there was one special prize and I’ve got it.’

Dan’s heart sunk. He’d stupidly read the small print at the bottom of the entry form to his son and Josh never forgot anything.

‘We’ve got to find what it opens, Daddy.’

He caught the two women exchanging secretive glances and Elsie nodded.

‘Stay here.’ Tilly ran towards the house and Dan sank into the nearest chair pulling a frowning Josh into his lap. You’re not the only one who doesn’t understand, Joshie.

Here she comes. Oh, no. If the boy opens that box I’m in trouble. No more Mrs. Marvin and the little Marvins.

Tilly set a small wood box on the ground. ‘Dan, will you put Josh down for a minute please and stand up?’ She linked her hands around the back of his neck and he startled as she brushed her lips over his mouth. A smile crept over his face and for a moment she forgot the Trecarne legend, their audience and everything except the zip of electricity tingling through her body.

‘Yuck, Daddy. Why is she kissing you?’

‘I don’t know but I hope she does it again.’ Dan’s whispered reply reverberated against her skin.

Tilly forced herself to ease away. ‘Now you can open the box, Josh.’ Her voice wobbled, certain they were doing the wrong thing.

‘Oh goodness, Tilly look!’ Elsie yelled. ‘It’s a sign from Marvin. He always loved the rabbits.’

She grabbed Zaph’s collar a second before it registered with her unruly dog that their friendly rabbit, its mate and four tiny baby rabbits stood in a line staring at them. ‘Don’t even think about it, Zaph.’

‘What’s going on?’ Dan asked.

No one kissed like Mrs. Marvin. Her warm soft nose nuzzling his neck made Marv happy. They could keep the Easter Bunny if he could keep Mrs. Marvin, Poppy, Moppy, Fluffy Tail and Paul, the naughtiest new addition to their growing family.

‘Come here, bunnies.’ Josh waved his hands and the key flew into the air before landing with a plop in the fountain.

‘I’ll find it.’ Dan lunged towards the water.

‘Leave it,’ Tilly pleaded.

‘But—’

‘She’s right.’ Elsie’s eyes glistened with unshed tears but her voice remained steady. ‘If Dan doesn’t mind I’ll take young Josh to see the maze.’

Tilly fell a little more in love with him when he didn’t question her aunt. ‘Don’t worry. It’s only three feet tall so we’ll easily spot them.’ They sat on the bench together and Tilly told him about the first Earl of Trecarne who fell in love with a Russian duchess already promised to another man. As a parting gift she gave him the Faberge egg containing a small gold key. ‘For it to work there first must be a kiss between two lovers.’ Her cheeks burned. ‘The key opens the box which then guides you to find what you’re looking for or the reverse whichever it believes you need most.’

‘Marvin?’

‘He wasn’t happy running this place and used to joke about using the key to disappear. I didn’t take him seriously.’

Dan’s eyebrows rose. ‘You don’t really believe …’ He gestured towards the rabbits hopping off into the distance.

Tilly shrugged. ‘Who am I to argue with history? It brought you here.’

‘We came for the egg hunt.’

Tilly couldn’t believe Dan had failed to notice the lack of any other families around today. Maybe because they’d held the official Trecarne egg hunt last week. She angled her face for another wonderful kiss mentally promising the Trecarne version of the Easter Bunny a big bag of carrots.

Wow! What a fabulous and romantic ending to our Easter tale. Somehow they always manage it, don’t they? Well done to our amazing (and ever-imaginative!) Choc Lit authors :)

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If you enjoyed Angela’s writing, you might like to check out her latest novella  – You’re the One That I Want. Click the image above for more information.

COMPETITION TIME!

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

What is inside the sparkly egg?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Angela Britnell comp’ by Tuesday 18th April. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 19th April.

Choc Lit Easter Round Robin 2017 – Part Four by Morton S Gray

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This year’s Easter Round Robin has certainly kept us guessing! Who knows where Morton S. Gray will take us this Easter Sunday? Let’s find out! Remember to read right until the end for a competition :)

To enjoy this story, make sure you read the extracts in order:

Part One by Berni Stevens is HERE

Part Two by Rhoda Baxter is HERE

Part Three by Kirsty Ferry is HERE

The Easter Bunny – Part Four by Morton S. Gray

Dan felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. Everything had gone very quiet. Too quiet. By rights, he should be able to hear Josh’s excited shouting and the blasted dog, Zaph’s barks, but in the shade of the trees all was completely silent.

Panic gripped his heart.

‘Josh. Josh, where are you? Josh?’

No reply, no sound at all.

Tilly hadn’t kidnapped his son, had she? Oh, help!

He began to move through the trees, scanning left and right, trying to fight down the blind panic and think clearly, trying to catch sight of his son, a blonde-haired woman and a dog. Nothing! How could they have just disappeared?

Unbelievably, ahead he could see a rabbit, sitting next to a sparkly egg. The rabbit made no attempt to run away, which in itself seemed very strange.

It couldn’t be the same rabbit they’d followed, could it?

Dan leaned down to pick up the egg, too late remembering Josh’s tale of rabbit poop.

He wiped the squiggly mass off his fingers on the grass and examined the egg. This wasn’t a crude wooden egg with a number on it, like the others. This looked expensive and could the sparkles be … no, don’t be silly, Dan … impossible. Why would anyone hide such an egg?

The rabbit began to bound off.

‘Hey, you, wait. What have you done with my son?’

He was talking to rabbits now?

Dan followed the rabbit, feeling very stupid, but not knowing what else to do. The trees were thinning ahead. Maybe the rabbit knew something he didn’t. Dan, you’ve gone mad!

Beyond the coppice was a flat lawn in front of a huge mansion. Dan breathed again, as he realised Josh was safe, playing with huge chess pieces on a part of the lawn that had been mown to resemble a chess board. The child didn’t look up.

Tilly, now minus her coat and wearing a blue dress was sitting on a bench next to an elderly woman who looked like a queen. Did she really have a daisy chain on her head?

The rabbit bounded over to the bench.

‘There he is,’ exclaimed the elderly woman.

‘Who?’ asked Tilly. Then, she broke into a broad grin when she caught sight of Dan emerging from the trees.

Dan wanted to shout at Josh for running off, at Tilly for not coming back with his son, but somehow the words stuck in his throat. Magic? They’d mentioned magic and he felt bewitched.

He walked over to the two women, as if he was on automatic pilot, and held out the jewelled egg on his palm.

‘I found this.’

The old lady giggled and took it from him. She nudged Tilly. ‘See, all we need now is a kiss.’

‘I really must apologise, Dan. We should have come straight back to you, but I found Aunt Elsie sitting out here and Josh got excited by the chess set. My aunt’s not supposed to be out on her own after a bad fall last year.’

‘Introduce me, girl and stop treating me like a ninny. I’m perfectly capable of sitting safely in my own garden.’ Even though she looked frail, her voice held authority, as if she was used to being obeyed.

Tilly sighed. ‘Dan meet Aunt Elsie.’

She watched Dan shake hands with her aunt. He had that glazed look that men got when they came into this part of the garden. Tilly had seen it before and could almost believe the tales of magic.

The rabbit was nibbling grass at their feet.

‘See, this is the egg.’ Elsie held it up in front of her eyes. The sunlight glinted off the jewels on its surface.

The rabbit stopped nibbling the grass and froze.

No, no. I don’t want to come back. I like my life. Don’t open the egg. No kisses, right. Stupid sparkly egg.

Suddenly, Tilly’s dog, Zaph ran barking out of the undergrowth at the far side of the garden. Josh yelled as the dog scattered the chess pieces he’d been arranging so carefully. As one, Tilly and Dan bent to scoop up the rabbit. Their heads collided. Dan saw stars. The last sound he heard was the old lady’s laughter.

Oooh, a fabulous penultimate part from Morton S Gray – but how can Angela Britnell possibly end this magical little story? You’ll find out tomorrow in the last part of our Easter Round Robin. Make sure you’re back here for the ending!

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If you enjoyed Morton’s writing, you might like to check out her debut novel  – The Girl on the Beach. Click the image above for more information.

COMPETITION TIME!

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

What is Josh doing when Dan finds him?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton Gray comp’ by Tuesday 18th April. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 19th April.

READ FINAL PART BY ANGELA BRITNELL HERE

Choc Lit Easter Round Robin 2017 – Part Three by Kirsty Ferry

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Happy Easter Saturday all! We hope you’ve been enjoying our Easter Round Robin so far :) Kirsty Ferry is up today and we’re looking forward to seeing where she takes this rather surreal and magical story now. Remember to read right until the end for our daily Easter competition!

To enjoy this story, make sure you read the extracts in order:

Part One by Berni Stevens is HERE

Part Two by Rhoda Baxter is HERE

The Easter Bunny – Part Three by Kirsty Ferry

Tilly soon realised that Zaph wasn’t going to let her go in a different direction. She didn’t really want to stalk Dan (well, she did, but there were rules about that sort of thing) and after several moments of heaving and pulling a huge border collie who clearly enjoyed biscuits too much, Tilly gave in and let Zaph drag her in his wake. As soon as she slackened her grip, the dog raced after Josh until he boinged back on the extendable lead.

‘Daddy, look! The dog’s coming too!’ cried Josh. He stopped and grinned up at Tilly as she caught up. ‘Will he help us, do you think?’

‘Josh!’ Dan scolded. ‘I think – Tilly – is too busy to chat right now. She probably needs to go home or something.’

‘Oh! No – it’s fine,’ replied Tilly. She smiled suddenly. ‘I don’t have far to walk. I live in the big house, you see. This is Zaph’s garden. I think he’s excited to have so many people to play with.’

‘You live here?’ Dan stared at her. ‘Wow. Well, you must be busy, so—’

‘Do you own this house?’ Josh interrupted. ‘All of it?’

Tilly laughed and shook her head. ‘No. My cousin Marvin owns it, but we don’t quite know where he is at the minute.’ Her face shadowed. No need to burden the child with the tale: Marvin had disappeared last year and the police had reached a dead end. This crazy project was a last ditch attempt by her rather eccentric aunt to find her son.

It was Aunt Elsie, the dowager Lady of the House, who believed the most in the legends and the old magic that was supposed to breathe through the wooded glades of the ancestral home. Tilly had loved her childhood playmate, Marvin, and she missed him. She’d been the first of the family to volunteer to come and help when her Aunt had announced her intentions. Poor Aunt Elsie. People said she was soft in the head, but Tilly knew she truly believed the stories in the books in the library and the magic of the gardens would eventually lead her to find Marvin.

‘Oh,’ said Josh. Then he frowned. ‘I do wish Thumper was here.’

Zaph suddenly pulled so much, he yanked the leash out of Tilly’s hand and bounded over to a nearby coppice, woofing like there was no tomorrow, his leash trailing behind him.

‘Zaph!’ yelled Tilly. ‘Oh you stupid hound!’

‘No – he’s found the next egg!’ cried Josh. He broke away from Dan and pelted after the dog.

‘Josh!’ Dan yelled ‘Oh God help me!’ He took off after the boy, and Tilly had no choice but to run after them to try and retrieve her dog.

‘It’s here! It’s here!’  Josh shouted. He dipped down into some daffodils and pulled a blue egg out. He held it aloft triumphantly, then looked down. ‘Thumper! Thumper! I saw his tail!’ he shrieked.

The egg forgotten, Josh dived into the coppice and disappeared as the bushes closed behind him.

‘Josh!’ Dan yelled again. ‘I should just record my voice and play it on a sodding loop!’ He took off after his son and groaned inwardly as his muscles protested and his lungs complained. The coppice had to be uphill, didn’t it? Stupid coppice. Stupid egg hunt. Stupid damn rabbit!

Dan soon realised the woman – Tilly – was easily keeping pace with him. Her golden hair was flying behind her, her green eyes narrowed as she focussed on the coppice.

‘I saw the rabbit too. I saw the bushes move,’ she said. ‘That’ll be why Zaph’s gone after it. Damn dog.’

Dan stopped by a tree and leaned on it, doubling over. ‘Go!’ he said dramatically. ‘Go and get your damn dog, and my child and the damn and blasted rabbit. Good grief!’

‘I’ve got egg number five!’ came a reedy voice from the woods. ‘It’s covered in horrible sparkles though. Yeuch!’

Tilly stopped and turned to Dan, smiling. ‘I didn’t know they’d done a sparkly one. Maybe that was number six, and we’ve missed one. I must say, if that’s the case, it’s a new thing they’ve introduced this year. I remember my cousin had a real hatred of this sparkly Faberge egg my Aunt had locked away in her curiosity cabinet. He used to say—’

‘Thumper just pooped on the egg!’ yelled a delighted Josh. ‘He really did! And his poop looks like—’

‘Josh!’ bellowed Dan. He felt his cheeks flush scarlet and turned to Tilly. ‘I am so sorry.’

‘Do we need one of these?’ Tilly asked, grinning. She whipped a poop bag out of her pocket.

Dan just groaned and put his head in his hands, wishing himself a million miles away.

Stupid sparkly eggs. Since when has an Easter Egg been sparkly? Last time I saw a blinkin’ sparkly egg, I – well now. I can’t quite remember. What did I do? Still. It can take that. Sorry. But when a rabbit’s got to go, a rabbit’s got to go. It’s not even on the official trail, from what I know. Unless they hid seven eggs – like included a bonus egg. Oh heck – that dog’s back as well. Go away, hound! Away! Shoo! Stop sniffing around me – just stop it. Stop it. Just – oh heck. I’m off…

What a fabulous Easter treat! And it’s not over yet – Morton S Gray will delve further into this world of Easter bunnies and magic tomorrow just in time for your Easter Sunday. Make sure you check back then :)

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     If you enjoyed Kirsty’s writing, you might like to check out the latest novel in her ‘Rossetti Mysteries’ series – The Girl in the Photograph. Click the image above for more information.

COMPETITION TIME!

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

What is Tilly’s aunt called?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Kirsty Ferry comp’ by Tuesday 18th April. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 19th April.

READ PART FOUR BY MORTON S GRAY HERE

Choc Lit Easter Round Robin 2017 – Part Two by Rhoda Baxter

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Want to kick off your Easter weekend in the right way? Why not sit down (with an Easter egg or two) and read the second part of our Easter Round Robin by Rhoda Baxter. Yesterday Berni Stevens left us in a little bit of an awkward situation involving a dog and a (talking) bunny. Let’s see where Rhoda takes things!

Remember, if you read right until the end, you might find an Easter competition too ;)  

To enjoy this story, make sure you read Part One by Berni Stevens first HERE.

The Easter Bunny – Part Two by Rhoda Baxter

Dan glared at her, and hitched Joshie up a little. ‘Aren’t you going to call it off?’ He nodded towards the dog.

‘All this fuss.’ The woman rolled her eyes. ‘Zaph, come here.’ She slapped her thigh. ‘Heel, boy.’

The dog stopped barking at the rabbit hole and looked reproachfully at her. It slunk back to her side.

‘Good boy.’ She started patting the pockets of the oversized coat she was wearing. ‘I had your lead here somewhere …’

Josh loosened his hold round Dan a little to peer at the dog. ‘It’s okay, Josh,’ said Dan quietly. ‘The dog’s stopped barking now, see.’

‘He scared the rabbit away.’

The woman pulled the lead out of one of the enormous pockets and knelt next to the dog. ‘Oh, they’re used to him. He always chases them, but never, ever catches one,’ she said as she attached the lead to the dog’s collar. ‘You’re not much of a rabbit catcher, are you boy?’ She scratched the dog behind the ears and gave him a kiss.

Dan felt an unexpected pang of envy. Absurd. Still, it had been a long time since anyone had ruffled his hair and kissed him with that much affection. ‘I think it’s safe to get down now, buddy,’ he said to Josh.

Tilly hid her embarrassment by burying her face in Zaph’s fur. She had completely forgotten about the Easter Egg hunt. To be honest, mostly, she forgot what day it was when she was in the library. If it wasn’t for having to take Zaph out a couple of times a day, she’d probably lose track of day and night too.

Just her luck that the first people she ran into were a handsome man and his cynophobic son. She looked at the boy, who was being deposited on the ground by his father. ‘I’m sorry if Zaph scared you,’ she said. ‘He runs around here every day. I forgot it was a public day today, otherwise I’d have had him on his lead.’

The man made a non-committal noise.

‘I’m Tilly, by the way.’ She held out her hand to the little boy first.

He looked surprised, but shook it. ‘I’m Josh. This is my daddy.’

Tilly stood up. Goodness, up close he really was something special. But a member of the public. She had be polite to members of the public. She was sure there had been a rule about that when she’d signed up to work on the project. ‘Pleased to meet you, Josh’s Daddy.’

‘Dan,’ he said. ‘I’m Dan.’ His hand was warm and firm when he shook hers. He had the most amazing blue eyes.

Mustn’t stare. Mustn’t stare. She turned her attention back to Josh. He had the same blue eyes, but it was easier to focus on him. ‘How’s your easter egg hunt going?’

He showed her the card. ‘I’ve found three already. The rabbit there was helping.’

‘Was he now?’ She pretended to look into the rabbit hole.

‘Ah. There was a rabbit we were following,’ said Dan, with a hint of embarrassment. ‘I’m sure it wasn’t the same one each time.’

‘It was Daddy, it was,’ said Josh. ‘He was leading me to the eggs.’

Tilly felt a stab of extra interest. ‘Really?’ Could it be …

‘My son has a very vivid imagination,’ said Dan. He took the boy’s hand. ‘Come on Josh.’

‘Actually,’ said Tilly. ‘There are those who say that these gardens are magical.’

The little boy’s face lit up. ‘Really? Why?’

‘Strange things happen, you know. Things that are lost for years suddenly turn up. Other things disappear.’ Like people. It had been a year to the day since Marv disappeared. That’s what she’d been thinking about when she let Zaph out of the private garden into the main one. That’s why she’d completely failed to register all the bunting that festooned the place. ‘I’m doing some research into the local legends,’ she added.

They walked along following Dan’s map, looking for the next egg.

Oh good, the mutt’s gone. Wonder if it’s safe to come out?

There they go. The woman’s got the dog on a lead. Why does that dog always chase me? It’s not like it’s short of rabbits in this place, but no, it’s always me. I don’t mind the woman though. There’s something about her that’s familiar. Reminds me of someone …

Curiouser and curiouser. Things are starting to get a little bit surreal in our Round Robin and we love it! Can’t wait to see where Kirsty Ferry takes it tomorrow :) Make sure you’re around to read the next part. 

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 If you enjoyed Rhoda’s writing, you might like to check out her latest award-nominated novel – Girl Having a Ball. Click the image above for more information.

COMPETITION TIME!

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

What colour are Dan’s eyes?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Rhoda Baxter comp’ by Tuesday 18th April. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 19th April.

READ PART THREE BY KIRSTY FERRY HERE

Choc Lit Easter Round Robin 2017 – Part One by Berni Stevens

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Easter is nearly upon us and we hope you’re stocked up on chocolate Easter eggs for the long weekend ahead! We felt you deserved one more little treat in addition to the chocolate – so here’s the first part of a special Easter Round Robin story for you to enjoy :) We have five authors taking part so make sure you come back every day until Monday to read each part of the story!

Today Berni Stevens is starting us off – and if you read right until the end, you might find an Easter competition too ;)  

The Easter Bunny – Part One by Berni Stevens

‘Look – it’s the Easter Bunny!’ Excited squeals followed the shouting.

Hey – do I look like the Easter Bunny to you? Yeah, I get it, I am a rabbit, but I’m nothing to do with Easter. I don’t even like chocolate … But I do like living here. It’s posh. Although it’s better when the place is closed to the public. Now the Easter holidays are here, it means kids – everywhere. And noise. I came outside to get some peace and quiet too. Fat chance.

The small boy edged closer to the rabbit who eyed him warily.

‘Do you know where the eggs are?’ he asked.

The rabbit twitched its nose.

Eggs. It’s always about the eggs. If you want to know where they are, it will cost you in carrots. I don’t come cheap.

A harassed-looking man with an unruly mop of brown hair and sparkly blue eyes grabbed the little boy’s hand before he could get any closer to the rabbit.

‘Leave him alone, Joshie,’ he said. ‘He’s wild.’

Wild? I’m furious. Why does everyone always think I know where the eggs are? Just ’cause I’m a rabbit. Actually I do know where they are, I watched the junior staff hide them this morning. But I’m not telling. Nope. Not. Telling.

The boy and the man walked away, the boy continually looking back over his shoulder at the rabbit.

‘Can I have a rabbit?’

‘We’ll see.’

Josh knew that usually meant no. He sighed.

‘That rabbit’s so pretty.’

Awww cute kid. Okay, I’ll give you a clue to the first egg …

‘He’s following us,’ Josh whispered, tugging on his father’s hand.

‘It’s probably a different rabbit,’ his father, Dan, replied with a smile. ‘There are loads around.’

Nevertheless Dan couldn’t help glancing back every now and again. It did look like the same rabbit following them. He wished he had a bell on a collar he could put around ‘their’ rabbit’s neck. Like that chocolate bunny off the TV. They’d be able to tell then.

‘Daddy, he’s gone,’ said Josh suddenly, sounding quite upset.

‘Gone to get some lunch I should think,’ said Dan, realising that food sounded like a great idea. ‘Are you hungry Josh?’

‘No. I want to find some eggs.’ Josh looked mutinous. ‘Six eggs.’

Six eggs. Dan frowned. Where was the Easter blooming Bunny when you needed him?

As if on cue, a little rabbit scuttled out from the undergrowth ahead, its white cotton-tail bobbing as it ran up the hill.

‘There he is Daddy. Quick!’

Josh started up the hill after the rabbit, with Dan following behind.

‘It might … be … a … different … rabbit,’ puffed Dan. He should probably get back to the gym sometime, he felt seriously unfit.

The rabbit sat underneath a huge, ancient oak tree, watching their progress up the hill. If Dan didn’t know better, he’d say it looked smug.

Josh reached the rabbit first. ‘Hello, Thumper.’

Actually, the name’s Marvin, but you’re a cute kid. Thumper’s fine.

Josh parted the bluebells growing around the foot of the oak tree.

‘Thumper says there’s an egg here,’ he said in a conspiratorial whisper.

Sure enough, after a few seconds, Josh swooped on a brightly coloured wooden egg with the number one painted on it in fluorescent yellow.

‘Here’s one!’

‘Well done Josh. Good work.’

Dan pulled out the Easter Egg Hunt leaflet, ticked the number one on it, and added the location. He watched Josh put the egg back carefully, his round cheeks flushed with excitement.

Who could have guessed how much he’d love hunting for eggs? Although he thought a certain brown rabbit could be most of the attraction.

The rabbit scampered off in another direction with Josh in hot pursuit. Dan did have very long legs, but Josh was only seven years old, and that had to be in his favour. He puffed after his son, feeling relieved when both rabbit and boy came to a halt near the aviary.

Dan’s heart rate had just returned to normal, when Josh held a wooden egg aloft in triumph. He ticked number two on their sheet and watched Josh replace the egg.

The rabbit stayed with them. Everything felt a little surreal.

‘Four more to find,’ announced Josh, eager to be on the move.

You gotta give the little guy kudos. Okay kid – third egg, then I must get back to the Missus. She worries. AAAAGH … DOG!

The rabbit suddenly dived down a burrow, seconds before a border collie skidded to a halt at the entrance. Josh shrieked in terror, and Dan scooped him up in case the dog was dangerous.

‘Zaph! Bad dog!’ A woman’s voice called.

Dan did a double take as the owner of the voice ran over to the dog. Wow. The vision appeared to be in her early thirties, with waist-length corn-coloured hair and eyes the colour of peeled grapes. But she should still be in control of her mutt, no matter how gorgeous she looked.

‘That dog should be on a lead, and muzzled.’ His voice sounded terse.

Muzzled?’ Angry green eyes sparked defiantly up at him. ‘Who died and made you the game-keeper?’

Brilliant start from Berni! And is it just us or is the rabbit stealing the show? ;) Rhoda Baxter will be providing us with Part Two tomorrow – don’t miss it!

9781781892619     If you enjoyed Berni’s writing, you might like to check out the latest novel in her ‘Immortals of London’ vampire series – Revenge is Sweet. Click the image above for more information.

COMPETITION TIME!

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

What name does Josh give to the rabbit?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Berni Stevens comp’ by Tuesday 18th April. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 19th April.

READ PART TWO BY RHODA BAXTER HERE

Enjoy Good Friday and the second part of our Easter Round Robin!

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Happy Good Friday! We hope you enjoyed the first part of our Easter Round Robin by Jane Lovering (you can read it again HERE). Today, it’s Janet Gover’s turn. Has she helped Grace out of the very awkward situation she was in yesterday? 

Grace had to make a choice.

Should she stay in her hiding place and just hope HE left without seeing her? Then she could slink away and escape. Slink away – that sounded like a beaten dog. It felt like she was doing that far too often these days. That wasn’t an image she liked. Okay – next option.

She could reveal herself. She had every right to be here. In fact, someone had asked her to come and rescue them from their plague of Blatella Germanica. In her head, she saw herself leaping out from behind the fridge like some deranged rubber-clad superhero. It wasn’t a pretty sight. And when accompanied by eye-watering chemical smells … Definitely not the impression she wanted to make. There had to be another alternative.

‘Hello.’

Great. Caught cowering between the fridge and the Aga and surrounded by dead cockroaches. Was that worse than slinking out like a beaten dog? Probably.

There was nothing for it but to stand up. Except … She grunted with pain as her knees protested at the amount of time she’d spent crouched in her hiding place.

So she was now a grunting, rubber-clad, chemical-scented deranged superhero. Could things get any worse?

‘Can I help?’ A hand was extended towards her. She couldn’t help but notice the total lack of a ring on his third finger.

He’d always had beautiful hands. The sort of hands that could belong to a surgeon or a concert pianist. But those long slender fingers weren’t effeminate or delicate. They knew exactly what to do with a power tool … or the body of a girl who was naive and innocent.

It would be a sacrilege to put her chemical stained rubber glove into that beautiful hand – but she did it anyway. It was that or remain crouched behind the Aga until her knees seized permanently and they had to call in the fire brigade to extricate her.

He began to pull her upright with enough strength to compensate for her decidedly shaky knees.

The trousers above the ever-so-slightly mud-spattered Wellingtons were clean, with a razor sharp crease. The belt around the narrow hips looked expensive, with its understated shiny silver buckle. The shirt underneath what was obviously a tailor made jacket was pale pink, crisply ironed, and showed no sign of either mud or sweat. Who wore a pale pink shirt in a farmyard? And even more perplexing, how did anyone come out of a farmyard that clean?

The answer was simple. Someone who was perfect. Perfect in every way.

She raised her eyes to look at his face. Still drop-down-dead gorgeous. His dark hair was cut shorter than she remembered, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved that morning. The hint of stubble was terribly fashionable and suited him, damn it. His long straight nose was twitching slightly at the wave of cockroach killing fumes that had preceded her. His eyes were on her feet, slowly working up her rubber-clad form. At last they reached her face.

Grace braced herself. Maybe he wouldn’t recognise her. She was a very different woman to the girl she had once been. The girl he had known. Maybe she would escape after all.

A small frown creased his perfectly smooth forehead. He reached forward and carefully removed her baseball cap.

Waves of unruly, unwashed, unbrushed blonde hair cascaded down to her shoulders like the tangled string from an old mop.

His lovely dark brown eyes widened.

‘Oh my God! Grace?’

Who could this gorgeous stranger from Grace’s past be? Perhaps you’ll find out tomorrow ;)  

Janet Gover’s new book, The Wild One, is available to buy NOW on all the eBook platforms. You can follow Janet on Twitter here

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Happy Easter from Choc Lit (and welcome to the first part of our Round Robin)!

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Hello and welcome to the first part of our Easter Round Robin! Every day over the Easter break we will be posting an extract of a story written by a Choc Lit author, with the first part being today and the last part on Easter Monday. Make sure you come back to the blog daily to see what happens next. 

Kicking us off today is Jane Lovering with a very seasonal extract … which also involves cockroaches!  

Grace had never liked Spring. There was something about all the birds tweeting in the hedges, advertising their availability for a mate, that made her think about those internet dating sites she’d signed up to and totally failed to get anywhere with. She wondered if the sparrows ever had to suffer the birdie-equivalent of men who took you to dinner twice and then expected to move in, or vanished, never to be heard from again. Watching a particularly persistent blackbird, she had to conclude that, yes, they probably did.

Her friends were all terribly encouraging, of course.  “Give it another go,” they all said, from their cosy, settled places on the sofas next to their comfortable other halves. “There’s someone for everyone out there.” Grace pulled a wry face every time she heard that.  Maybe, then, she wasn’t “everyone”. Or maybe men didn’t find a woman who ran a pest-extermination business and spent most of her working days in waist-high waders carrying metal traps and enough lethal pharmaceuticals to eradicate a small country, to be possible dating material?

Grace started her van and began the long drive out to her latest call; a farm twenty miles away, which had apparently had an influx of cockroaches.

The farmer wasn’t in. This wasn’t completely unheard of, Grace had been to many call-outs in rural areas where she’d been left to get on with whatever the job in hand required without any input at all from anyone else, and no sign of another human being, apart from occasional glimpses of someone in overalls doing something determined with a grain silo on the other side of a yard.  So today was no different.  She pulled on her protective clothing, pushed open the unlocked farmhouse door, and began her usual assessment of the pest situation on her hands and knees around the kitchen.  She’d just got herself wedged into a promising corner between an Aga and a double-sized fridge, where several slower-moving than average cockroaches had become subjected to her Spring-fuelled wrath, when a door opened in another corner of the room and she heard several men come in.

‘I dunno, Mac,’ one was saying as booted feet walked past her.  ‘I’m not convinced.’

‘I’ve got to do something.’ Another voice, this one belonging to the full-length Wellingtons, lightly splattered with mud, that were standing just in front of Grace’s corner.  When she raised her eyes from the floor, she could see that these boots led to beige trousers and then on up to a jacket.  She couldn’t see higher up, but there was something about the voice that was horribly familiar.

Grace drew herself further back into her corner, barricading herself almost subconsciously from the speaker, with two bags of cockroach bait.  Surely it couldn’t be.  No.

‘The farm isn’t making any money.’  The voice spoke again, and this time … Grace felt herself going red and hot … there couldn’t be any doubt.  It was him.  HIM.  And here she was, crouched in a corner wearing neck to ankle rubber, and gloves that wouldn’t have been out of place on an episode of a vet programme, her blonde hair under a baseball cap and her hands full of chemicals. The world could, at least, have been kind and allowed her to meet HIM again when she was wearing a designer dress, Louboutins and knock ‘em dead perfume.

But no. The world, it appeared, was going to force Grace to confront the lost love of her life, whilst looking like an advert for kinky sex.

How is Grace going to manoeuvre herself out from this tight spot? Find out tomorrow when it will be Janet Gover taking over for the second part of our Round Robin :)  

Jane’s latest book, How I Wonder What You Are, is available in Kindle, Kobo, Google Play & iBook format. It will be published in paperback on May 7th. Click HERE for buying options.

You can follow Jane on Twitter HERE

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“… Rabbit …”

easterjulietMore Easter memories from the Choc Lit Authors:-

Juliet – RABBIT LOVE – There have been a number of rabbits in my life, most of them fictional. After having three real ones, courtesy of my children (guess who had to do most of the looking after?), the rabbit I love most is definitely to be found between the covers of a book. I don’t mean Beatrix Potter’s creations, although I do have a soft spot for naughty Peter, Benjamin Bunny, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail.

Instead, my favourite rabbit books are the Little Grey Rabbit series by Alison Uttley, about a compelling ménage à trois of Little Grey Rabbit, Hare and Squirrel (red variety, of course). LGR was the mother figure with obsessive compulsive disorder (always cleaning and tidying), Hare was the stereotypical bad boy (he stole an Easter egg!) and I can’t remember much about Squirrel. Who’s the love of your rabbit life?

easterlizLiz – Thinking about Easter, the first thing that came to my mind was this – my husband and I decided to spend Easter in Italy one year, and we went to Cortona for the Easter weekend.  In the evening, we strolled into the central piazza and found that people were taking their seats for an opera to be performed on a stage that had been constructed at one end of the piazza.  We bought a ticket and we, too, went and sat in one of the rows of wooden chairs that faced the stage. The opera turned out to be the wonderful Cavalleria Rusticana, by Mascagni, a one act opera set in a 19th century Sicilian village on Easter morning.  I was thrilled as it contains one of my all-time favourite choral pieces, The Easter Hymn.  This is one of the most strirring and most moving pieces of music, and if you don’t know it, you have a treat ahead of you if you decide to listen to it.

Just imagine that Easter evening - sitting beneath a slowly darkening sky that was filling with stars, in a piazza lit solely by the lights from the stage, listening to the voices of the Sicilian villagers, along with the seduced Santuzzi, rise to a crescendo in one of the most beautiful melodies ever written. That was an Easter to remember.

easterhenriHenri - As children my sister and I were often given a painted cardboard egg for Easter. Inside were small sugar-coated or foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, and always a little fluffy chick too. After a while we had quite a collection of chicks, some of them very elaborate with their own nests, and we’d spend Easter playing with the chicks (which all had names), making houses for them out of empty cereal boxes and generally allowing our imagination free rein. My favourite scenario was Chickerella who went to the party in her borrowed feathers, despite the Evil Step-Hen forbidding it. Now, what does that remind me of…?

Jane – We’ve owned many rabbits over the years, most made their escape in a precipitous manner, treating our garden like a prison camp out of which they couldn’t dig their way fast enough.   My son, now nearly eighteen, is repeatedly teased by his sisters about his ‘duelling scar’, where he was actually attacked by a rabbit when he was about four.  So, as you can see, I have an uneasy relationship with the Easter Bunny.  But not so the Easter Hare, the origin for the Easter Bunny stories; despite their being rare elsewhere in the country, here in Yorkshire you can’t go for a run without tripping over half a dozen of the berserk, spring-loaded things.  I have a terrific fondness for them, mad eyes, bonkers boxing matches and all.  However, when it comes to rabbits … only the Rampant kind will ever enter my house again …

A modern little witch

A modern little witch

Christina – In Sweden they have some very strange traditions for Easter, probably of pagan origin, but who knows? My favourite one was dressing up as a witch on what’s called “Skärtorsdagen” (Thursday before Easter) and going out to wish people Happy Easter in the hope they’d give us money or sweets as a reward (almost like Trick-or-Treating for Hallowe’en). My mum would let me borrow one of her skirts so it reached all the way to the ground (anchored by a belt as I was much smaller obviously), then tie a scarf round my head the way old ladies did. I was given a broom to hold, because Swedish witches apparently fly off on their brooms that night to congregate somewhere, and then my dad painted my face. Using watercolours (there were no face paints back then) he gave me horrible wrinkles and transformed me into an ugly crone. The paintbrush tickled as he worked and when the paint dried, my face felt funny, but I loved looking in the mirror afterwards. I was a true work of art! (And getting money or sweeties was of course a bonus).

Once again, HAPPY EASTER from all of us!

(And please come back tomorrow for the unveiling of a new Choc Lit novel …)

“Run …”

easterchickEaster is here and as with all holidays, it often seems to entail a lot of running around – buying eggs, preparing special food and perhaps going on egg hunts. So the Choc Lit authors thought we’d take time out to share some of our favourite Easter memories with you.

Happy Easter everyone!

Margaret – Easter was the time for egg-and-spoon races at my children’s infant school.  Okay, that was fine, I always enjoyed catching up on the gossip as the kids raced up and down the playing field trying (and usually failing) not to drop their eggs. But then, as the grand finale of the day, there’d be the mothers’ race.  I had to go in for it. Otherwise my children would have been shamed.  My children were shamed anyway, because I always came last.  These days, they both run marathons.  Obviously, they don’t take after me!

eastersueSue - As we were an army family, much of my childhood was spent in Germany, Cyprus and Malta, but we did have an English Easter when I was nearly four. My parents took my brothers and me to stay with my Yorkshire grandparents, apparently determined to visit every single one of Mum’s relatives. The advantage of this plan was that the haul of Easter eggs was incredible! Smarties, Flakes, Dolly Mixtures, Milky Way, an egg in a mug and one in an egg cup … In chocolate heaven, I gave every scrumptious one of them the same enthusiastic welcome. And, who knows? Maybe that was the onset of my chocoholism …

LindaEaster for me always conjures up Easter Sunday and going to church in clothes that came from a shop! Let me explain …my mother was a gifted dressmaker who sewed (or knitted) all my clothes – from knickers to winter coats with pockets and fancy collars. Easter was a very busy time for her as - in the 50′s which is where this memory comes from – she was always up to her eyeballs in wedding dresses and the first of the dozens of summer frocks she made. Our sitting-room picture rail used to be hung, not with pictures but with the most wonderful clothes shrouded in old sheets. So ….no time to make anything for me at Easter. If punching the air with delight had been ‘the thing’ then, I would have. My most favourite Easter outfit was a fine wool suit – how grown up was that aged 8 years! – with a pleated skirt and a little box jacket a la Coco Chanel. The material was a very pale pink check and I had a darker pink felt pillbox hat to go with it. And white cotton socks that came from a shop – not the itchy hand-knitted things I had to wear all winter. Gosh … such sartorial memories … excuse me, there are a few days left and I’m off to buy something new ...

easterchrisChris – The Easter holiday, when my daughters were very small, saw the latest batch of hand-made cards brought home from school and lovingly presented to Mummy and Daddy.  But what to do with all those cards without hurting little feelings?  Answer, put them in a box in the loft and rediscover them years later along with home-made books such as ‘Mother Hen Lub Her Chick’ and ‘Brown Hen goes Clack Clack’.  Here’s wishing you all a Happy Easter with a vintage card from me and my girls!’

EvonneEaster memories – my grandmother was very big on celebrating Bank Holidays in what she considered appropriate fashion – and for spring and summer, that meant a trip to the beach. At Easter the weather was a really mixed bag, which could involve playing on the sand with bucket and spade, gloves and gritted teeth, as the wind howled round.

When I was very small I wouldn’t eat the shells of the chocolate eggs. I wasn’t very into chocolate at all, in fact. I’ve made up for it since. My mother blames me for her subsequent addiction to chocolate egg shells!

To be continued tomorrow …