A Valentine’s Wedding Fair – Part Two by Morton S. Gray

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Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day commence! It’s time for another Valentine’s Round Robin from Choc Lit, back by popular demand. Five talented Choc Lit authors have been working collaboratively on a super sweet short story – A Valentine’s Wedding Fair – which we will be sharing in five parts in the run-up to Valentine’s Day (with the final part falling on the big day itself!) Come back every day to read a new extract AND enter competitions to win chocolate & book prizes.

Each author taking part has no idea where their part of the story will go, which leads to a few surprises along the way. But you’ll need to read on to find out more ;)  

Yesterday Kirsty Ferry started us off with Part One (which you can read HERE) and today Morton S. Gray takes over. What drama will unfold at the Valentine’s Wedding Fair? Read on to find out … 

A VALENTINE’S WEDDING FAIR – PART TWO BY MORTON S. GRAY 

Straight in front of Jess and Mark, parked to unload outside of Valentine Manor was a van emblazoned with the Bobbins logo. Harriet had arrived already.

Jess heard Mark sigh heavily. She guessed it wasn’t much fun being confronted on a regular basis by the biggest mistake of your life in the form of your ex-wife, who just happened to be a competitor for the same customers.

She turned to her boss. ‘Come on, let’s get unpacked. We’re going to be in the same room all day, so we may as well get the first meeting with Harriet and Armand out of the way.’

‘Guess so. I just felt my heart sink to my boots yet again.’

‘Look, if I’d said anything to you before you married her, you wouldn’t have listened to me … would you?’

‘They say love’s blind and it’s so true.’

It got worse when they got inside Valentine Manor. The beautiful ballroom, decorated in pink and white, where normally the wedding receptions were held was chaotically full of people and boxes. The wedding fair opened at ten and the retailers were rushing to get organised before the public arrived.

‘We’ve got stand twenty. It should be in the middle, opposite the main doors. Jess struggled to see past the boxes she was carrying. Mark followed behind her with an equally heavy load as they dodged past the other stall holders.

The awful truth dawned on her. Bobbins had been placed right next to the Buntings stand. Harriet must have spoken to Jake the Events Manager about prime positioning in the room too. Jess felt her own heart sink to her boots.

It wasn’t just the competition or the frosty relationship between Mark and Harriet after their divorce that worried Jess, but the fact that Bobbins had chosen bright red as the predominant colour for their display. Jess suspected that being right next to the tall red plastic shelving on Harriet’s table, Buntings’ display might look rather more shabby than chic.

She concentrated hard on smoothing the rosebud embroidered tablecloth on their own stand, trying to ignore that Harriet was watching her closely and was wearing a red apron with a heart-shaped top, showing an ample amount of cleavage at the V of the heart.

After piling up their food boxes on the table and pulling a have you seen that face at Jess, Mark went to park the van, leaving her to arrange the tasty delicate stock. She’d begun to assemble the cake stand centrepiece when Jake, her best friend Ellie’s dishy brother came walking towards her. Jess felt her heart rate accelerate.

‘All okay? Do you have everything you need?’ He appeared to be talking to Jess, but her smile was lost on him as his eyes were firmly fixed on Harriet’s cleavage. Hmm … maybe she wouldn’t be going for a drink with him after all.

Jess wasn’t the only one to notice Jake’s fixation with Harriet’s ample chest. Armand barged between the two stands to position himself in front of Harriet with a thunderous expression directed at Jake. As he pushed between the two stands, he didn’t seem to realise that his elbow had connected with the piled-up plastic food boxes on Buntings’ table. Jess watched with open-mouthed horror as her carefully prepared cakes, truffles and canapes went into an avalanche slide over the back of the stand with a sickening crash.

Having seen what had happened as he returned to the stand, Mark came flying across the room to confront Armand, who was still oblivious of what he had done and seemed about to challenge Jake for ogling Harriet.

Jess was frozen to the spot, torn between going to see if anything could be salvaged from the toppled food boxes and waiting to see if she needed to break up a fight.

Disaster! What a fabulously dramatic second part from Morton S. Gray. Question is, are you Team Buntings or Team Bobbins? We think we already know the answer! Come back on Monday when Angela Britnell will be taking over. Will punches be thrown? Will cakes be salvaged? You’ll have to wait and find out! 

If you enjoyed Morton’s story, you can purchase her debut novel The Girl on the Beach on all eBook platforms. It’ll also be out in paperback in April! Click on the cover image below for more details. Also make sure you keep an eye out over the coming weeks as we’ll be revealing further details about an exciting new release from Morton S. Gray. Stay tuned!

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COMPETITION TIME! 

To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What is the colour of Bobbins’ stand?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin comp 2’ by Thursday 15th February. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday 16th February.

A Valentine’s Wedding Fair – Part One by Kirsty Ferry

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Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day commence! It’s time for another Valentine’s Round Robin from Choc Lit, back by popular demand. Five talented Choc Lit authors have been working collaboratively on a super sweet short story – A Valentine’s Wedding Fair – which we will be sharing in five parts in the run-up to Valentine’s Day (with the final part falling on the big day itself!) Come back every day to read a new extract AND enter competitions to win chocolate & book prizes.

Each author taking part has no idea where their part of the story will go, which leads to a few surprises along the way. But you’ll need to read on to find out more ;)  

Kirsty Ferry is the author start us off this time! Remember to read right until the end to find details of the competition. 

A VALENTINE’S WEDDING FAIR – PART ONE BY KIRSTY FERRY

‘It’s a good location,’ Jess’s boss, Mark, said to her. ‘The name should attract a few people anyway.’ Jess worked at a caterer’s, and was preparing some samples to take along to a Wedding Fair at Valentine Manor, a local stately home that had been turned into a wedding venue.

She’d been in the kitchens mega-early icing some tiny fairy cakes, decorating each pink and white morsel with a red sugar heart and they almost looked too good to eat. She’d also made a gorgeous red-velvet cake in the shape of a heart, and Mark was helping her load the candy-floss coloured van up. As well as the cakes, they’d made little chocolate truffles and neat canapes that melted in the mouth. It all looked very tasty and Jess knew it would look even better when they’d set everything up.

‘Here, don’t forget the cake-stand,’ she said, handing Mark a vintage rose-patterned three-tier china stand. They prided themselves on a shabby chic sort of presentation, and she also had a surfeit of bunting and floral paper plates to decorate their stall with.

‘Our centrepiece,’ he said with a smile. ‘Can’t leave that behind. Okay. Are you ready?’

‘Yep. Who’s driving?’

‘Me. You’ll take a corner too quickly and shatter the cake stand in the back.’

‘Once! Once I did that. And you can barely see the join. Especially with a paper doily on top.’

‘Superglue is a wondrous invention,’ Mark said solemnly. ‘Come on then. Let’s get there before Harriet does.’ His face closed up as he mentioned his ex-wife. She’d taken all the tricks of his trade – and Jess’s to-die-for chocolate cake recipe – and set up a rival company.

It seemed at every Wedding Fair Mark and Jess attended with Buntings, Harriet was there, with her new company, Bobbins, and her new boyfriend, Armand. It seemed as if this fair at Valentine Manor would be no exception. Jess had become something of a website stalker and kept close tabs on Harriet and her up-and-coming events pages. She knew without a doubt Bobbins and all its associated dreadfulness would be there today.

‘Never mind Horrific Harriet. At least I made sure we got the best stall.’ Jess’s best friend’s brother, Jake, was the Events Manager and she’d pulled a few strings to get Buntings centre-stage. She only hoped that Harriet would stay out of their hair. She couldn’t abide the woman – never had been able to. Jess had, in fact, been the world’s most miserable wedding guest. She’d had to bite her tongue to stop herself from screaming in the church: ‘Don’t do it! She’s just vile!’

‘So how did you manage to get us the top spot at Valentine Manor, then?’ Mark gave her a comical, side-long glance and she laughed.

‘I may or may not have agreed to go for a drink with Jake. Note – may or may not I’m not being accused of nepotism.’

‘So you say,’ said Mark and turned his attention to the road.

‘So I say.’ Jess turned her own attention to the scenery as they drove towards Valentine Manor.

She’d had a really good feeling about today for some reason.

And that feeling lasted until they pulled up in front of the manor and began to unpack their nibbles…

We’re loving the way this story has started off! Cake and Valentine’s Day – what a match made in heaven. But we get the feeling that ‘Horrific Harriet’ might have a few tricks up her sleeve. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow when Morton S. Gray takes over to see how this plays out …

If you enjoyed Kirsty’s writing, you can find her books available to purchase from all good online book stockists and retailers. Click on the image below for purchasing options. 

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Kirsty’s upcoming novel (and second in the Hartsford Mysteries series) will be out on 3rd April but is available to pre-order. Click on the cover image for buying options. 

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COMPETITION TIME! 

To be in with a chance of winning a Kirsty Ferry paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What is the name of Harriet’s new boyfriend? 

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin comp 1’ by Thursday 15th February. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday 16th February.

Choc Lit Valentine’s Round Robin 2017 – Part Two by Christina Courtenay

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Happy Valentine’s Day all! We hope you have a lovely day planned with a special person that will involve plenty of chocolates, flowers and pampering. Enjoy! 

Yesterday Kirsty Ferry introduced us to the village of Thistlethorpe and Harriet, who was organising a Valentine’s Ball with a little bit of an ulterior motive in mind! Today Christina Courtenay picks up where Kirsty left off. Will Harriet be successful in her attempts to encourage Tony to the event? Read on to find out …

Come back each day until Friday 17th to read part of an amazing Valentine’s-themed story by five authors. Read right until the end so you can enter our daily competitions too! 

Remember to read Part One by Kirsty Ferry before starting on this extract. 

Talk about bad timing. Of course it had to be the object of their discussion, Tony himself, and Vera turned to wink at Harriet. Not in a subtle way, but a big comical sort of wink, which the policeman couldn’t fail to see. Harriet felt her cheeks burn. Well, if he didn’t know about her crush before, he certainly did now.

But her mortification didn’t end there. Vera took another sip of her tea and called over to Tony, ‘We were just talking about you. Harriet has something to ask you.’

Well, thanks a bundle. Harriet sent Vera a death glare, but the annoying woman just giggled.

‘Oh?’ Tony’s blue eyes twinkled, but he appeared not to have noticed the wink or any undertones. Or if he had, he was gentleman enough not to let on.

Harriet took a deep breath. What was the worst that could happen, after all? He could say no and that would be that. ‘I’m organising a Valentine’s Ball at the pub and I just wondered if you’d like to join us? Everyone else will be there and you are, after all, part of the village now. I … uhm, thought it might be nice for you to get to know us a bit better.’

Ha! How was that for diplomatic? That should show Vera and hopefully Tony wouldn’t read too much into the invitation.

He nodded. ‘Sounds great, thank you. I’ll have to check whether I’m on duty, of course, but I should be able to pop in at least for a while.’ He hesitated. ‘Actually, I have a visitor coming to stay that weekend. Do you mind if I bring someone?’

Harriet’s heart plummeted. Oh God, she was such an idiot. Of course a man like him would already have a girlfriend. He must have had a life before he came to Thistlethorpe. And he certainly didn’t look like he’d been a monk. Six foot two-ish, broad shoulders, muscles, lots of muscles, and those eyes … She cleared her throat. Yeah, goodbye to that dream then. ‘Of course.’ She managed a smile. ‘As I said, everyone is welcome.’

‘Oh, good. I’m sure Jamie will fit right in.’

Jamie. Unusual name for a girl, but still …

Harriet pulled herself together. She had a job to do. She plastered on an even wider smile. ‘So, what can I get you? The iced buns are on special price today.’

‘Then I’ll have half a dozen, thank you.’

When Tony had paid for his buns and left with another bone-melting smile, Harriet glared at Vera. ‘Don’t. Say. A. Word. Okay?’

Vera held up her hands as if surrendering. She actually looked quite sad, as if she cared about Harriet, but the latter didn’t feel up to discussing her love life. Or lack of it.

She’d have to implement Plan B – getting her sister to bring that blind date she’d been threatening. How bad could he be? Actually, knowing Lil, very …

Vera left, with a tiny wave and a grimace of compassion – at least that’s how Harriet interpreted the face the woman made – and Harriet concentrated on unloading another tray of iced buns into the display counter.

When the bell over the door rang again, heralding another customer, she prepared to act professional. She didn’t have time to mope around. And her life was fine as it was – a great job, a lovely little cottage all to herself, a cat and enough money to do most of the things she wanted. Who needed a man? They were nothing but trouble anyway. With a welcoming smile, she looked up and nearly dropped the tray in her hands. In front of her stood yet another gorgeous male – blond this time, and with eyes like a grey, stormy sky, in his early thirties maybe and … a dog collar. She swallowed a gasp.

‘Er, hello, what would you like?’

Instead of just giving his order, the man held out his hand across the counter and gave her a big grin. ‘Hi, I’m Zack, the new vicar. It’s my first day so I thought I’d celebrate with something nice for tea. Any recommendations?’

‘Er, right. I’m Harriet. Buns. Iced buns or … or maybe a piece of the chocolate cake? The frosting is to die for. I mean …’ She stopped. Did one say things like that to a vicar? A vicar named Zack? It didn’t seem a very ‘vicarly’ sort of name, if there was such a word. And having two handsome men move into the village at the same time was unheard of. Still, she wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. No matter how good-looking Zack was – and although he wasn’t quite as big and brawny as Tony, he seemed to be in pretty good shape and those cheekbones of his were quite simply amazing – she wasn’t falling for him. There was probably a Mrs Vicar. Or if not, he was celibate. She bit her lip and tried to collect herself.

‘Do you know, I think I might just have one of each,’ he said. ‘I don’t suppose you’d care to join me? My treat. It would be nice to get to know my parishioners a bit. But only if you have time. If you’re allowed …’ He tailed off and looked behind her as if he was wondering if she had a horrid boss who was going to come out and tell her off for fraternising with the customers.

Harriet relaxed. There was no harm in talking to the man and business was always slow this time of day. ‘Sure, I’d like that, thanks. As long as you’ll excuse me if anyone comes in to buy something.’ She gestured towards one of the tables. ‘Take a seat and I’ll be with you in a minute.’

As she made the tea, she wondered if one could invite a vicar to a ball?

The plot thickens! And now Zack the vicar has been added to the mix, the possibilities are endless. Come back tomorrow to find out what happens next when one of our debut authors Morton S. Gray takes her turn.

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If you enjoyed Christina’s writing in today’s extract make sure you check out her most recent book, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight, which is set in and around the historic Raglan Castle in Wales and has recently been nominated for a RoNA award in the Paranormal/Speculative Romance category. Click the image above for purchasing information. 

COMPETITION TIME

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

How many iced buns does Tony buy?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Christina Courtenay comp’ by Friday 17th February. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday 20th February.

Part Three by Morton S Gray is now available to read HERE