Thursday, 29 March 2012

An exhausting week... & those new book nerves...

I'm worn out!  In fact, I'm so worn out that if Bradley Cooper was to knock on my door right now and told me that Ryan Gosling was waiting in the car and the pair of them wanted to whisk me away for a fortnight in Fuengirola I'd have to tell him that I didn't have the energy to pop over to the Co-op for a pint of soya milk never mind pack a bag and wax me legs for a two week holiday with a couple of movie stars!

It's no good calling me, Bradley, I'm just too tired!
It's just been one of those exhausting weeks, and I don't know why, I mean, it's not as if I've been doing anything overly physical, is it?  I sit at a bloody desk all day and bang away at a keyboard, but for some reason, I'm just done in this week!  I suppose the weather has a lot to do with it.  At the minute, the UK is having freakishly good weather for the time of year.  It's really quite weird having shorts and T-shirt weather when there aren't any leaves on the trees yet but I really wasn't prepared for the heat to hit us so soon.  And for some reason, the heat can make you feel quite lethargic at times - or am I just a lazy cow?  Whatever, it's not a real problem, is it?  Already the weather men/women are banging on about a change coming and cooler weather returning and, to be honest, knowing this country, it's hard to say whether or not we'll ever see the sun again now.  Its visits to our little island are erratic at the best at times!

Another reason I could be exhausted is the fact it takes me days to get over a night out these days - and, blimey, doesn't that show me age!  But seeing Joe Bonamassa last Sunday was a fabulous but knackering experience.  And I still blame those hard, plastic chairs in Newcastle Arena, personally, because I wasn't half as shattered after I saw him at Newcastle City Hall, with their lovely, comfortable soft chairs with arm rests...

But the main reason why I think I'm a little tired this week is because I've just finished the first draft of my new book - the cruise-themed rom com Bon Voyage!  So we're talking mental exhaustion, really, mixed with relief, happiness, and nerves.  Yes, nerves.  New book nerves, and I'm sure other writers will know what I mean when I say this.  The book is finished, the cover is getting sorted, I'm reading it all back through and I'm happy with it - I'm more than happy with it, but I'm a writer, and it doesn't really matter a jot what I think in the grand scheme of things.  I could think it's a bloody masterpiece (it isn't - but it's a pretty good comedy romance!) but if readers don't think it's any good then it just isn't going to work, is it?  So, that's where new book nerves come into play.  When every doubt you have comes crashing to the forefront of your mind and you start questioning everything - is the story good enough?  Am I a good enough writer?  Are the characters interesting enough to draw people in?  But, surely, if I'm asking myself those questions then that's a good thing, isn't it?  Because it means I want to make sure that everything is as good as it can be before I put that book out there.  Blimey! This blog post is turning into a self-therapy session, isn't it?

Anyway, I'm nervous - end of story.  Nervous of putting a brand new book out there, nervous of how it will be perceived, worried that no-one will buy it/like it; all the obvious worries that (I hope!) other writers - and especially indie writers - can identify with.  And I'm especially worried - or should that read, daunted by - the thought of all the upcoming marketing and promotion that has to be done.  But on the other hand, I'm excited.  Excited because I'm proud of the story, I love my characters, and I think it's a book that works.  I'm not going to pretend that I've written some deep and meaningful work of literature because I haven't.  That isn't what I do.  I deal in escapsim, pure and simple.  I write books for the beach, light reads that are great for holidays but work just as well if you just need a bit of time out from the real world for a few hours.  So, I'll keep my fingers crossed that when Bon Voyage! is released people will give it a go, read it for what it is - romantic comedy, a light-hearted piece of British chick lit - and enjoy it.

And, once this latest book is released, as well as all the promotion and marketing that has to be done, I'm also due to start another book that I'm aiming to release around Christmas - another romantic comedy, set in Lapland... So many books to write, and not enough hours in the day...

Bon Voyage! is, hopefully, due for a May/early June release, but if you'd like to read the first few pages of this new book of mine, then you can check them out here Bon Voyage! - sample excerpt.  Now, I'd better get back to the editing/rewriting... after another cup of tea...

Monday, 26 March 2012

Joe Bonamassa at Newcastle Arena - March 25th, 2012 - Wow!

Yep. I've been to see the man himself, again - the fabulous Joe Bonamassa.  Saw him at Newcastle Metro Radio Arena this time, and although I much prefer Newcastle City Hall for this type of gig  (saw him there in October 2010 and I love that venue - really suited him and his music), Joe pulled it off in incredible style and gave us another amazing gig!  One thing that has to be mentioned, though, is that whereas the seats in Newcastle City Hall are comfortable, with arm rests, meaning that you can just sit back and enjoy the show without the fear of your arse going numb halfway through, the Arena seats are hard and plastic, with no arm rests, meaning that you have to shift about a lot more otherwise you literally cannot feel your bum when you get up!  Didn't take away from the enjoyment too much, but it did make me realise how important an arm rest can be at a Joe Bonamassa gig!

Anyway, from the second he stepped out onto that stage he had me totally mesmerised - as usual - kicking off the show last night with Slow Train from his Dust Bowl album, setting the scene for another great night of astounding talent from a man who is truly one of today's rock/blues guitar legends, with a voice that I could - quite frankly - listen to for hours, which is just as well as he was on stage for almost two and a half!  And that two and a half hours just flew by!

Playing tracks that spanned his incredible 13 year career, Joe pulled out every stop he possibly could with songs that just kept on coming, from the out-and-out rock feel of The Ballad of John Henry to the always beautiful Sloe Gin, a Joe Bonamassa classic that never fails to disappoint.  Highlight for me had to be - well, it's so difficult to choose a highlight from a gig that didn't throw up one bad, or even mediocre, track, but when Joe took to the stage completely alone, just him and his guitar, and belted out an incredible version of Woke Up Dreaming, that was pretty spectacular in my eyes.  Nobody else I've ever seen can take over a stage like that doing nothing but standing there playing a guitar, but he does it like it's the most natural thing in the world.  The man is a true legend.

From the mesmerising Steal Your Heart Away to the cracking title track from his new album Driving into the Daylight and then the final encore - a rousing version of Just Got Paid, Joe Bonamassa did what he's best at; rocking out like nobody else can do, with a talent that has almost definitely guaranteed him a long, long future as one of the greatest guitar legends of our time.  He deserved every second of that final standing ovation last night.

Didn't take any photos, unfortunately, because my smartphone camera is rubbish and seems devoid of anything resembling a flash but, even though I was close - I mean, not close enough to see the whites of his eyes or anything, which was impossible anyway as he was wearing dark glasses - I wasn't close enough to get any really decent shots.  A shame, because I would have liked some memories to look back on, but you never really forget a Joe Bonamassa gig.  Ever.

And he also said something really interesting as he introduced the title track from his soon-to-be-released new album.  Something that makes you really think about the state of today's current music scene.  He said that after 13 years, and 13 albums, he has had precisely zero hits.  And he knows that he will have precisely zero hits from this new album too.  But does that matter?  No.  It doesn't.  Because he is a true musician, a man who goes out there and works and tours and makes album after album and has a worldwide following that is just huge.  And did he achieve any of that through a talent show?  Or by having God knows how many number one hits?  No. None of that.  Because if you are a true and talented artist then none of that matters.  He did it because he makes increidble music, puts on incredible live gigs, and works hard.  And it's a pity the music industry today doesn't focus more on that rather than juding someone on how high their song charts, and pointless crap like that.  But then, it's all about the money men really, isn't it?  Hits = money to them, and whether an act is actually any good or not really doesn't come into it anymore and that's a crying shame.
Because people like Joe Bonamassa don't need hype to be a success.  He's let his music speak for itself.  And long live true artists like him.  Because we need them!

So, it was a fabulous gig, absolutely no doubt about that, and it was great for a  number of reasons - one: for over two and a half hours I cared not a jot about how many books I was selling or what my rankings were - I actually forgot I was a struggling writer for those blissful few hours.  All that mattered was watching Joe, up there, playing out of his skin!
I had a cracking view of Joe and the whole stage - really good seats, considering I had the cheapest price bracket of ticket.  I could see everything! - and watching the man do what he does, with no fancy stage set, no mind-blowing light show, and then realising I'd only spent £30 to witness all of this (take note Take That - you don't have to bleed your fans dry to give an amazing gig!), well, it beggared belief, really.

Mind you, being the geek that I am, and because I've got a performing arts past that has seen me involved with lighting, stage sets, all of that malarkey, I did spend about 5 minutes of one song watching a roadie fanny about with a sound amp at the side of the stage, then look over to the lighting guy to check out his desk, I couldn't help meself!  That stuff fascinates the hell out of me!

But not much else could distract me from Joe himself.  Pity that couldn't be said about more of the audience though.  I mean, he'd been on stage for over half an hour and people were still turning up late, trying to find their seats, interrupting everyone else who'd got there on time's enjoyment.  And then there was the constant getting up every five minutes to go buy beer followed by a round of getting up to visit the toilet, followed by more beer (this was pretty much the pattern of a couple of blokes to my right last night).  I'm amazed half of them actually managed to see any of the gig at all!  Nothing could have made me get up and miss a second of anything last night.  Nothing.
I mean, case in point was when Joe had spent over ten minutes holding the audience in the palm of his hand with that stunning rendition of Woke Up Dreaming; but the second he'd played the last note half the audience decided to get up for a toilet break just as he launched into the truly stunning India/Mountain Time!  Couldn't believe it!  Probably one of the most beautiful tracks Joe has ever performed live and people saw fit to miss it!  Put the frigging beer down and just enjoy the show!

Anyway, enough of my ranting.  It was a fabulous night, another gig that I'll remember for a long, long time, but I'm still not keen on Newcastle Arena as a venue for the type of artist Joe is.  He suits smaller venues.  People seemed to be up and down a lot less when I saw him play at Newcastle City Hall, and the chairs are way more comfortable in the smaller venues!  But, having said that, it doesn't matter where that guy plays, I'll be there to see him.  And he better hurry back to Newcastle soon, because I'm getting withdrawal symptoms already...

Thank you, Joe Bonamassa, for another night of incredible music! 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Want to know what my new book's going to be called?

Yes!  That headache has finally been thwarted.  It's gone, solved, done!  I've now got a title for my new, 4th novel!  Actually, before I go any further, I have to credit my husband with this one because whilst I concentrated on the writing of the book, he spent many an hour trying to think of a title, and I think he finally came up with one that works.

So, with a cover also being sorted as we speak, and the first draft all but finished, I figured it was probably about time to unveil the title (although I may be building this up just a bit too much - it's not that exciting really, is it?)

A story that takes place over the course of a two-week cruise around the Mediterranean, it's a comedy romance, a light-hearted read, and one that I hope people will enjoy.  I know I enjoyed writing it.

'Bon Voyage' is set aboard one of these.

Anyway, here goes... the title and a little bit of blurb...

Aimee's going on a two-week cruise - and so are her favourite Boy Band...

'Bon Voyage!'

And that's all I'm going to say about it at the minute, (except to say that Bon Voyage isn't just the title of the book, it's also the name of the boy band that feature in the story) but watch this space for more details, more hints about the story itself, and the unveiling of the cover.

Okay.  I guess I'd better get back to tying up the loose ends in this first draft before the editing process begins and the real funs starts! 

'Bon Voyage' - a comedy romance for Kindle - coming soon!

Oh, and If you'd like to read the first few pages of this new book of mine, (first draft, remember. Still open to editing changes) then check out this blog post - new book - sample excerpt.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Writing stresses, milk intolerances, & the never-ending hunt for a new book title... Just another Thursday then...

I think most of us writers (especially indie writers) know by now that we have days when we feel on top of the world, when sales are good and the inspiration for new novels is flowing very nicely.  And then we have days when we hit a brick wall, when inspiration buggers off without a word of warning, when book sales just seem to grind to a halt and nothing seems to be going right.  "What's the point?" days, I call them.  And I'm having one of those days today, I have to admit.  Why?  Well, probably because I'm coming down off the back of a cracking couple of weeks of sales and it kind of stings a bit when those sales suddenly start to drop off and slow right down, but then, as soon as the rational part of me kicks in, I realise that this is just another part of the roller coaster journey us indie writers put ourselves on.  Because nobody forces us to do this, do they?  No.  It's purely our decision, our choice.  And we have to take the rough with the smooth or get off the merry-go-round altogether, which I have no intention of doing.  But, because I'm one of those people who'll stress over anything - even if I haven't got anything to stress over, I'll find something - I seem to have stressed myself out so much over everything from sales figures to trying to think up a title for the new book I'm writing that I think I've developed an intolerance to anything milk-related!  Coincidence?  Maybe.  But, over the past few days, I've noticed that if I so much as sniff a drop of semi-skimmed my stomach starts cramping and I'm bloated to the point where, quite fankly, I could pass for six months pregnant!  It's not pretty.  It's also not funny.  I absolutely cannot live without tea and now that I've got to get used to drinking it black (until my other half gets home with some soya milk), well, I'm not exactly a happy bunny, let me tell you.  Cereal's out the window too - unless I'm willing to eat it with apple juice, as the internet suggested - as is Yorkshire Pudding, as was discovered after last night's Toad in the Hole when, half an hour after finishing it, the stomach cramps re-appeared leaving me on the sofa all night with a face like a smacked arse when suddenly, halfway through MasterChef, I realised that chocolate contained milk and almost broke out in a cold sweat at the thought of never being able to face a bar of Galaxy again!

So, anyway, whether this sudden (and unwelcome) milk intolerance is in any way linked to me stressing about books/writing/sales figures/new book titles, or whether it's just a cruel coincidence sent to make me realise I need to drop a few pounds and could do with leaving the Mars Bars alone, I don't know.  But it doesn't stop me from remembering a couple of weeks ago when, for a couple of days, my book No Matter What was above Jilly Cooper in the UK Top 20 bestselling Contemporary Romance category!  Boy, did I spend a good few minutes staring at that listing!  Yep, that was a good week that was.  And God knows how it happened, I have no idea what suddenly kick-started a great few days of incredible sales for that book at the end of February/beginning of March because it happened at a time when I'm not going heavy on the marketing due to trying to write a new book.  But one afternoon I just decided to check my sales figures and noticed that it had sold a fair few, and then kept on selling around a dozen or so an hour!  For a good few days.  Didn't last, though.  These things never do.  Well, not unless you're JK Rowling, so, I made the most of it while it lasted, enjoyed seeing an extremely high sales ranking while it was there, and was grateful for whatever it was that had caused a barrage of people to buy that book.  In fact, I'm more grateful than anybody could ever know.  Thank you, if you're one of the people who've bought it.

However, a few weeks on and it's business as usual.  Back to the norm, with the usual pattern of sales in place and me back to wondering if I'll ever see anything like that happen again.  I might, I might not, who knows.  Only time will tell and patience is something I need to practise more - being one of those people who wants everything done yetserday.

So, even though I woke up today feeling a little on the low side, as far as my writing is concerned, I know that won't last either.  In fact, I'm starting to feel better already.  It won't last because I know the way this all works now.  Up one minute, down the next, no wonder me stomach's all over the place!  No, it won't last.  Because I'm having so much fun doing what I do.  The new book is coming along really well - I had a read through of what I've written so far yesterday and I am so happy with it, I really am.  It's a funny, light-hearted romance set during a two week cruise round the Mediterranean, and I hope that it will appeal to those wanting a little bit of sun-filled escapism - people who want to take that two week cruise along with some great new characters.  Oh, and if you've ever been a fan of a boy band, you might just like this book too! ;-) And, just before bed last night, my husband even came up with some great ideas for possible book titles, bless him, he's trying so hard to help me on that score.  While I was watching The Hairy Bikers bake their way round Norway (sorry, I still find Simon King strangely sexy... don't ask why because I can't tell you...) he's sitting on the computer looking up maritime references that could be used in my book title!  Love him to bits for trying to take that weight off my shoulders because it was beginning to give me a headache I couldn't shift!  Blimey.  This writing lark isn't all that good for me health really when you look at it, is it?  Headaches, milk intolerances, stomach cramps... I'll have fallen apart before this new book gets published at this rate!

Anyway, enough rambling for one day.  It's time to get down to business and get back to finishing this first draft of this as yet (but hopefully not for much longer) untitled new book.  Writing it cheered me up no end yesterday and I know it'll do the same today... if I ever get my brain into gear that is... might just have another look at my Joe Bonamassa concert ticket first to cheer me up even more...  then get myself a cup of (black) tea... *sigh*

Oh, by the way - has anyone actually tried soya milk...?

Monday, 12 March 2012

See You At The Show - My "Marmite" book?!?

Well, it's the start of another week, and it hasn't begun too badly for me, although there's time for that to change yet, it's only Monday... you see, there's a prime example of my "glass half empty" attitude!  Anyway, it hasn't begun too badly because I woke up today to a lovely surprise, another fantastic review of my epic, sexy contemporary romance No Matter What.  Want to know what it said?  Well, you can check it out here - No Matter What - latest review.  The book's not doing too shabbily on Goodreads either - No Matter What on Goodreads.

But I'm not here to talk about No Matter What.  No, I'm here to talk about another of my books, the book I'm now officially calling my "marmite" book, ie: people seem to either love it or hate it!  It's the book that's gained the most diverse of comments and reviews; the book that's given me the most to think about because, a while back, when I went through a spate of getting less-than-sparkling reviews for this book that seemed to come one after the other, I honestly thought about pulling it off the market altogether.  A case of throwing my pens out of the pencil case, if you like.  But then, just as quickly as the dodgy reviews appeared, I got a spate of really great ones, people telling me how much they'd loved the book; people who "got" the story and clicked with the characters.  People who enjoyed the edgier, sexier side of romance that this book explores.

Because this book is definitely not one for everyone.  It's romance, yes, but if it's a nice Middle-England romance you're looking for then you're going to be bitterly disappointed, because Joanna Trollope it certainly ain't!  So I know that there are going to be a fair few people who read this book and just don't take to the story or the characters, but it still hurts just a teensy bit when someone says something negative about it, or when, as what happened on Saturday morning, someone returns your book!  Now, I have no idea what made someone want to return a $0.99 book, and it's their absolute right to do so, if they honestly thought it was that bad but, as much as you try not to dwell on these things, wondering just why somebody wanted to return the book kept me rather pre-occupied round Tesco's on Saturday, so much so that I forgot the beansprouts, so that's an unscheduled trip to the Co-Op I've got to make tomorrow otherwise the stir-fry suffers!

But, as someone who's more than learned this lesson, I know that you really cannot please all of the people all of the time, it's impossible.  My husband told me that I've just got to toughen up, so toughen up I have.  Sort of.  And anyway, if I want to drag out the positive side of this and look at this another way, despite the fact that this book has got the most diverse ratings and reviews out of all of my books (1 - 5 stars - with the most dodgy reviews and ratings coming from US readers - don't ask me why!) doesn't that somehow make it all the more interesting?  Isn't this book proof, there in black and white, that a book that can bring out so many different opinions... well, that just might - might - make others more intrigued to find out more for themselves.  Mightn't it?  

The thing is, if you want an edgy, sexy love story that doesn't always stick to the norm, then you might just like See You At The Show, but if you don't want to read about wild female rock roadies and sexy rock stars, and a love trianlge that might just surprise you - not to mention a handful of ranuchy sex scenes - then it's probably wise to steer clear.  

But I'll always remember what one person told me (somebody who eventually read the book and loved it!) - she told me that it isn't a case of everybody liking the book, it's about the right people connecting with the story.  And she was so right about that!

So, if you want to find out why some people have given it just the 1 star whilst others have raved about it and given it the full 5, read a small excerpt from the book here, and make your own mind up...

“Is that out of your system now then?” Johnny asked as Stevie threw herself down opposite him.  She ignored him.  “What Mark Cassidy wants, Mark Cassidy gets, huh?”
     She looked at him.  He was staring out of the bus window as it sped along the motorway, his mood 
resembling something close to petulant.  Or maybe he really was just tired, after all, wasn’t everybody? 
     “That’s not the way it works, Johnny, and you know that.”
     He turned to look at her.  “Have you ever been in love, Stevie?”
     “Where the hell did that come from?”
     He’d never once asked her anything like that before.  It was a subject neither of them had ever felt the need 
to talk about and God knows why he was bringing it up now.
     “Have you?”
     Johnny watched her reaction closely.  Something had changed in her eyes when he’d asked that question, 
but whether it had anything to do with Mark he couldn’t quite work out.
     “No.  No, I haven’t been in love.”  A lie.  ”Can we change the subject now?”
     She leaned over to grab a cigarette from the box lying on the table in front of a now sleeping Jack.
     “Not even with Mark?”
     She lit the cigarette, leaning back in her seat, forgetting that Ava was still in the vicinity.  She suddenly just 
really needed one.
     “I’m not in love with Mark.  I’ve never been in love with Mark.”  She looked at him, pushing a hand 
through her hair and away from her face.  “Is this going anywhere, Johnny?”
     He shook his head.  “Maybe I just don’t understand you two as much as I thought I did.”
     “What the...Johnny?  Where are you going?”
     “To grab some sleep before we get there.  I’m shattered.”
     Stevie watched him make his way to the bunks, throwing Mark a strange look as he arrived back out front.
     “What’s up with him?” Mark asked, slipping into the seat next to Stevie.
     “Beats me.”  She smiled at him as he leaned in for a quick, hard kiss.  “You feeling a bit calmer now?”
     “When am I ever anything else?” he grinned, pulling her against him and going in for another kiss.  “But 
yeah, I’m feeling a lot calmer.  However, if you’re offering to make me feel just that little bit more relaxed...”
     She laughed, laying her legs over his as he ran his fingers up and down them, creeping up the bottom of her 
denim shorts as their mouths met again in a slower, deeper kiss. 
     “You know what,” she said, gently stroking the back of his neck as they continued to kiss.  “I reckon we 
could both do with getting our heads down for a bit.”
      “A bit of what though?” Jack smirked, waking up and stretching out.
     “Sleep, Jack.  Unlike you lot, when we get to the stadium me and the guys have got shitloads to do.  You 
just bugger off to your hotel, smoke joints and demand crates of lager while we’re working our arses off 
setting everything up.  You might be getting the day off today but the rest of us have got to start sorting things 
out for tomorrow.”
     “Is that what we do?” Jack said, winking at her.  “Smoke joints and drink lager?”
     “Pretty much, yeah,” Mark laughed.
     “Jesus, why do I bother?” Stevie sighed, swinging her legs off of Marks and straightening her t-shirt.
     “Hang on.  Weren’t we going for a lie down?” Mark asked, grabbing Jack’s cigarettes before he put them back in his pocket, taking out two, putting one behind his ear.
     “I’m not in the mood anymore.”
     “I thought you were always in the mood?” Jack said, standing up and leaning back against the side of the 
     “Can you tell him to piss off, Mark?  He’s really starting to wind me up today.”
     Jack whistled, leaning forward to ruffle Stevie’s hair.  She slapped his hands away, kneeling up on her seat 
to get a better aim at him.
     “Ok, kids, can we just try and play nicely now.”  Dave Deacon emerged from the back of the bus, throwing 
the video camera at Mark.  “And I think this belongs to you, or I’m assuming it does seeing as you appear to 
be starring in whatever’s on there.”  He looked at Stevie as he walked past but she ignored him.  He was really 
starting to annoy her too.  “And make sure that doesn’t get into the wrong hands.  The last thing we fucking 
need is a sex tape scandal in the middle of a tour.”
     “Oh, yeah!” Jack grinned, snatching the camera from Mark.  “New footage!”
     “Hey, hang on, give that here, Jack!”
     “Mark, it’s ok.  It’s nothing he hasn’t seen before.  If it keeps his tiny mind occupied for half an hour it’ll be 
worth it.”  She pushed Mark up out of his seat, taking his hand.  “Come on.  Let’s go get that lie down.  I need 
to get out of here.”  She looked back at Jack, throwing him a sarcastic smile.  “Oh, and enjoy the show, 
Warner.  But you watch that right hand of yours.  I know you get off on watching me fuck but don’t work it too 
hard, ok?  You’re gonna need it tomorrow.”
     “Funny girl.”
     She gave him the finger.
     “Yeah, ladylike, Stevie.  Very ladylike.”
     “There’s nothing ladylike about me, Jack.  And your front man’s about to find out just how unladylike I can 
really be.”

     Daniel never tired of walking into the House of Commons.  The grandeur and sheer scale of the building 
made it a place he never tired of coming to.  As a student he’d dreamed of one day walking in here as a 
Member of Parliament, and now that part of his dream had been realised he was just waiting for the next stage 
to take shape.
     Andrew Mitchell still hadn’t yet tendered a formal resignation from his post as party leader, but the rumours 
were getting stronger every day that it was nothing more than a formality.  It was going to happen.  It was just a 
matter of waiting.  Something Daniel was quite willing to do.
     He walked along the corridor on his way to his office, smiling and saying hello to people he knew - fellow 
MP’s, colleagues he worked closely with, and even those he didn’t.  He was a very approachable man, much 
liked and greatly admired.  Which is why he already had the backing he needed to run for the leadership.  As 
soon as Andrew Mitchell stepped down.
     He walked into the annexe to his office, smiling at Amy, his secretary.
     “Good morning, Mr. Madison.  Would you like your coffee now?  I’ve put your newspapers on your desk 
and left some messages by the telephone.  Some of them may be fairly urgent.  Here’s your post.”
     He took the pile of envelopes from her and smiled again.  “Thank you, Amy.  I’d love a coffee now, if it’s 
no trouble.”
     “None at all.”  She got up from behind her large and extremely tidy desk and went over to the small 
kitchenette in the corner of the room.  “Did you have a good break?”
     He sat on the edge of her desk, putting his briefcase down on the floor.
     “I had a wonderful few days thank you, Amy.  It was nice to be home for a while.  Very restful.”
     He started opening some of the letters Amy had given him.
     “And Mrs. Madison?  How is she after her holiday?”
     “She had a lovely time.  Tuscany was a joy to visit, as usual.  It’s done her the power of good.”
     Amy smiled, handing him his coffee.  She’d worked for Daniel Madison for over two years now and he was 
simply the nicest, kindest person she’d ever worked for.  He was talkative, friendly and never spoke down to 
her.  She was very lucky, and she knew that. 
     “Would you like me to make any calls for you?” Amy asked.  ”I can go through your e-mails if you like; 
see if there’s anything that needs attending to.”
     “That would be extremely helpful, Amy, thank you,”  Daniel smiled, picking up his case and entering his 
office, closing the door behind him.
     He put his case down on the desk and walked over to the window, putting his hands in his pockets as he 
looked out at the view.  There was no place he’d rather be right now except, maybe, at home with Samantha.   
He was more than aware that his wife would prefer him to spend more time with her, and that she also knew 
this next stage of his career was only going to take him away from her even more, but it was what he needed to 
do, and   she knew that too.  But she’d never stop him; she’d never stand in his way because she really was 
the perfect wife.  He was a very lucky man.
     The sound of the telephone ringing made him turn around and he walked back over to his desk, pressing 
the intercom, Amy’s voice coming loud and clear over the speaker.
     “It’s Mr. Gordon on line three, Mr. Madison.”
     “Thank you, Amy.  Put him straight through.”
     Angus Gordon was a fellow MP and a very close friend of Daniel’s.  Thick set, grey-haired and in his 
mid-50’s, with a gentle Scottish accent owed very much to his Outer Hebridian heritage, he was masterminding 
Daniel’s forthcoming leadership campaign.  He was a master of spin, and he knew more than anyone how 
capable Daniel was of not only winning the Leadership Election, but of also winning the General Election.   
He was the kind of person Daniel needed by his side as things moved forward, and Daniel was very much 
aware of that.
     “Angus, how are you?”
     “Have you got the TV on, Daniel?”  Angus’s voice was more than a little excited, and Daniel knew that he never got excited without good reason.
     “Then switch it onto a news channel now, quickly!”
     Daniel reached out and picked up the remote control that lay next to his laptop, pointing it at the large flat 
screen TV on the wall.  It leapt into life, already tuned to the rolling news channel he very rarely switched off.
     “Are you watching?” Angus asked.
     “Yes.  I’m watching it now.”  Daniel sat down on the edge of his desk, watching as Andrew Mitchell stood 
outside his West London home in front of a sea of photographers and journalists, announcing the one thing 
Daniel Madison had waited months to hear.  That he was officially resigning as Leader of the Opposition with 
immediate effect.  He hoped the job of finding his replacement would be a quick affair and that his party 
would be up and running with a new leader sooner rather than later, ready to head forward into the much 
anticipated General Election.
     “It’s going to be a quick campaign, Daniel,” Angus said as Daniel continued to watch Andrew Mitchell give 
his final speech.  “So, are we ready to move fast with this?”
     “Yes.  Yes, we are.  Angus, how many other candidates are we looking at here?”
     “Could be up to five I reckon.  But we’ve got the strongest chance, Daniel; we’ve got the most support.   
We’ll have the signatures and the backing we need before the week’s out.  And you’ll walk any of the hustings, 
I have no doubt about that.”
     Daniel could feel his stomach turning with an excitement he hadn’t felt in a long time.  This was it.  It was 
really happening.  He couldn’t think of anything he wanted more than this.  It was the beginning of his ultimate 
dream, his goal, his life’s ambition.  And it was starting to happen right now.
     Angus’s voice broke into his thoughts.  “So, we can announce you’re throwing your hat into the ring for the 
leadership this afternoon then?”
     Daniel stood up and went back over to the window, glancing out across the River Thames and the view he 
never tired of.
     “Yes.  We can definitely announce that Angus.  Let’s get the ball rolling as soon as possible.”
     “Good man.  We’re going to do this, Daniel.  You’ve got it in the bag, I’m certain of it.”
     “I hope you’re right.”
     “Nobody else comes close.  We’ll talk over lunch, ok?  Is 1.30 alright for you?”
     “That’s fine.  I’ll see you then, Angus, and thanks.”
     Daniel hung up the ‘phone and turned round as Amy walked into the office carrying another pile of post.
     “Is everything ok, Mr. Madison?”
     A smile slowly spread across Daniel’s handsome face and she couldn’t help smiling too.
     “Everything’s fine, Amy.  Everything’s more than fine.  Andrew Mitchell’s finally resigned!  He’s done it, 
and you know what that means don’t you?”
     She couldn’t help laughing.  His excitement was almost contagious.  “I think I do, yes.”
     He walked over to Amy, catching her in an unexpected, uncharacteristic, but not entirely unwanted hug.
     “It means you could be looking at the new Leader of the Opposition, Amy.  And maybe, just maybe, one 
day, the Prime Minister himself!”
     “You deserve this, Mr. Madison.  You really do.”
     Daniel let go of her, running back round behind his desk and sitting down, switching on his computer.
     “Can you cancel any appointments I’ve got for this morning?  And I’m going to have a few letters for you 
to send out in an hour or so, is that alright?”
     She nodded, placing the post down on his desk and picking up an empty coffee cup.  He was already 
typing away, concentrating hard.  He had a lot to do and he wanted to get started as soon as possible.
     “I’ll sort everything out, Mr. Madison.  Don’t worry.”
     He looked up and smiled.  “Thank you, Amy.”  He looked at his watch.  9.35.  Samantha was due to 
attend a parish council meeting this morning to discuss some charity functions, but she’d told him she wouldn’t 
be leaving until at least 10am.  If he called her now he could catch her before she left, because he really needed 
to talk to her.  For all Daniel was an ambitious and driven man, throughout it all, every step of the way, 
Samantha had been by his side.  She’d helped him by just being there and supporting him.  She was his 
beautiful wife and he loved her and he just wanted to tell her that.  He needed her to know how much she 
meant to him because he didn’t know if he could do what he was about to do if she wasn’t around.  He only 
hoped he never had to find out.
© Michelle Betham 2011

If this has made anyone in the least bit intrigued to find out more, the full book can be downloaded over on  or

Okay, now, I'd better get back to my latest book - which is so far away from See You At The Show, I have to say - because I'm in the middle of a major re-write and my head hurts already, and I need coffee... Have a great Monday!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Another Friday catch-up...

Does anyone else ever get sucked in by watching the shopping channels?  It doesn't usually happen to me as I don't usually watch them that often, but the other night - when hubby was having a bath - I decided to have a bit of a flick through the ridiculous amount of satellite channels we have, and seeing as every music channel I landed on was either showing adverts or playing something from One Direction (yes, and I can tell you which direction I'd like to send them in... back to school, preferably, as they all still look about 12!  Ooh, don't get me started...) I moved up to the shopping channels.  And what did they happen to be selling on the first one I stopped at? 
What woman doesn't like a good handbag?
The one thing that always seems to grab my attention for a nanosecond and then suddenly takes hold with a vice-like grip I can't seem to shake - handbags.  Yep.  And this is coming from a woman who is just so not girly.  But, there's just something about handbags that keeps me watching, I can't help it.  I'm a sucker for a decent handbag, especially if it's got lots of compartments, and this partiucular bag they happened to be showing when I landed on that channel had loads of compartments!  I tell you, they know what they're doing, these shopping channels.  They know how to sell something to someone, I'll give them that, 'cos by the time she'd shown this bag from every conceivable angle, inside and out - and it also had an adjustable and detachable strap, no less - I was almost reaching out for me credit card!  Except, it was £99.50 so they could jog on at that price.  I mean, the other week, we bought a carpet cleaner (cream carpets + dog = we desperately needed one!) which only cost about £20 more than that handbag, and we're paying for that in 3 easy monthly installments but when it comes to handbags, are they giving us the option of paying for those in 3 easy monthly installments?  Are they heck!  No.  You want to look good, then you've got to fork out the cash in one big lump, so I'll be sticking to a more reasonably priced handbag, should I be needing a new one any time soon - which I don't.  But do we women really need an excuse to buy a handbag?  Anyway, I'm in danger of veering off at a tangent again here, so, what's been happening this week in my world?

Well, the big news is I was let out for the day on Wednesday!  Yes, I actually left the confines of the back bedroom, said goodbye to the computer for the day, left the writing behind, and met up with my friend Sasha, whom I've known since the very early 90's.  We've been Take That fans together, spent many a fabulous weekend down the pubs and bars of Whitley Bay back in the 90's, and had some great times.  We lost touch for a few years - as people sometimes do, life can be like that sometimes - but, thanks to the wonders of Facebook, we got in touch again, and now we try to meet up as regularly as we can for catch-ups, a glass of wine or two, and a good gossip.  And it's nice.  I need that from time to time.  I love writing, and I guess I'm a bit of a solitary person to be honest, and maybe that's a good thing at times because it means I don't mind shutting myself away from the world and immersing myself in my stories and characters.  But, as much I like my own company, even I need to get out of the house now and again, just to see that there is a real world out there!  So, Wednesday was a good day.  I had fun, and I needed that.

But, after having that short but very welcome break, it meant I went back to the writing on Thursday fresh and raring to go - and go I did!  At around half past three yesterday afternoon I had one of those 'eureka' moments that we writers sometimes get, when the story you're writing suddenly all starts to make sense, when all the pieces fall into place and everything just fits together.  And I was so happy!  I'd forgotten what a great feeling that was, but it now means I am definitely on the home straight with the first draft of this book now.  The story is 100% there; the characters have come to life, I know where they're all going, and I now know how this story is going to end, because I don't always know how a story is going to end when I begin writing it - that very much depends on the characters, but these particular characters have been very good to me.  They've given me very few headaches, let's put it that way!

So, it's time for me to really get my head down over the next few weeks, crack on, and get this first draft finished.  And then the real fun begins with the editing process, the re-writes - and let's not forget, I still haven't got a bloody title yet!  But it'll come.  I'm sure of that.  It'll come - eventually!

Ryan Gosling - my weekend treat? A girl can only hope...

But it's almost the weekend, and what's that got in store for me?  Nothing earth-shatteringly exciting, just the usual food shopping, visiting family, and hopefully something to watch on Saturday night that preferably contains Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling, I'm not fussed which.  I'm easy.  And if I was faced with either of those two, I'd be even easier... And on that note...

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Whatever you're doing! ;-)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Too Much Trouble in Paradise Teaser Chapters

Professional darts could pay quite nicely if you played well enough, and by the time Paul and I were spending most days shouting at each other and sleeping in separate bedrooms he was earning fairly good money on the circuit.  Which meant I hadn’t done too badly out of our divorce.  I’m really not one to bear grudges but I wanted to bleed that bastard dry at one point, when the pain of losing him was still incredibly raw and I hated everything about him.  But then I grew up, settled things like an adult and took what was rightfully mine, which wasn’t a bad amount of money – we’d been together over seven years, after all, and married for five of those.  I’d loved him for all of them, despite of what he’d done.  I just couldn’t live with him anymore, not when he spent every day believing his own hype.  The darts groupies were welcome to him and yes, they do exist.  Good looking, sexy darts players are pretty thin on the ground so when one appears on the scene it’s like they can pick up his scent from miles away and they’re onto him like dogs on heat.  It’s quite scary.  I’d laugh about it if it hadn’t been my husband they’d been tracking down.
But thanks to his cash I’d bought myself a beautiful little villa in Costa Adeje, a resort I’ve fallen in love with.  It’s small, upmarket, and quiet, and not that far from Playa De Las Americas – the party area of Tenerife – but it’s a whole different world away in reality.  Whenever anyone mentions Tenerife, Las Americas can sometimes be the first place they think of and there are still people out there who assume the whole island has that image, that it’s just bars and clubs and partying until the early hours.  But there’s so much more to it than that.  Tenerife is an island of contrasts and there really is something there for everyone, 365 days of the year.  I’m in love with the place, and in love with my own little corner of this island.
Antonio moved into my villa just over a month ago, and so far it’s going ok, because he’s nothing like Paul.  He tidies up after himself, shares the cooking, thinks of me all the time.  Like I said before, sometimes he’s too good to be true.  I was lucky to get a cup of tea out of Paul on our anniversary, if he wasn’t at a tournament.  I get tea and so much more from Antonio.
The villa itself is on a small and private residential complex situated slightly back from the sea front, but because we’re built on a hill we have amazing views of the sea and La Gomera, a neighbouring Canarian island.  It’s not a huge house but it’s big enough.  It’s got two floors with the ground floor practically all open plan - something quite common here because of the heat - with huge French windows giving us the most of that view, and a small but beautiful little terrace and garden area with a splash pool and a wealth of pink and purple bougainvillea.  It’s my haven, my little piece of heaven, somewhere I can come to to get away from everything.  Thank you Paul Parker.  You did something right.
“What have you got planned for today?” Antonio asked, coming out of the en-suite shower room with just a white towel wrapped around his extremely well-toned waist.  He has one hell of a body.  Nothing like Paul’s.  I mean, Paul wasn’t exactly lacking in any department but he’s not built like Antonio.  He’s not as tall, he’s more of a slight build, and he doesn’t have the tan.  He does have tattoos though, and I always found those incredibly sexy.  Antonio doesn’t have tattoos but he does have a six-pack you can’t take your eyes off and biceps I love running my fingers over.  I do love a sexy arm.  It’s something of a turn-on for me, I have to say.
“Fran and I are just going down to the sea front; maybe have a spot of lunch, go for a bit of a walk.  We might venture into La Caleta.  They’ve got some lovely little fish restaurants there.”
He smiled, coming over to me and slipping his arms round my waist, kissing me quickly.  He smelt of lemon and honey and if I hadn’t promised Fran I’d spend Sunday with her I’d have thrown him back onto the bed and held him prisoner there for the rest of the day.
“Well, if you’re going to La Caleta you will be passing Paco’s, won’t you?”
I nodded, smiling too, playing with the top of his towel, loosening it slightly.  I knew what I was doing and he wasn’t putting up much of a fight.
“So, are you going to come and see your fiancĂ© at work?” he asked, pulling me closer. 
“That depends,” I replied, wishing I hadn’t spent so long on my hair that morning because it was obviously going to get messed up any second now.
“You play hard to get, Molly,” he smiled.  I loved that smile.  Perfect teeth in a perfect face.  He really was extraordinarily handsome.     
But, hard to get?  Me?  I’d hate to see his interpretation of fast and loose because right now I was about as hard to get as a three-legged tortoise being chased by Speedy Gonzalez.  I’d never been hard to get.  One quite exciting twelve dart finish on the first night we’d met was all it had taken for Paul to get me up against the wall of his Aunty Mary’s spare bedroom for sex the memory of which still makes me shiver now, that’s how hard to get I can be.  Christ, that makes me sound as bad as those darts groupie’s I was talking about before, but boy, it had been good.  It had been very good.  Not sure his Aunty Mary had shared our excitement though.  I can still remember her yelling up the stairs at us to keep the noise down ‘cos she couldn’t hear Question Time for the banging.
I pulled away from Antonio slightly, those fleeting memories of Paul somehow killing the mood, which didn’t escape Antonio’s notice.
“Are you alright, Molly?” he asked, gently touching my shoulder as I stared out at the clear blue sea, focusing on the jet skis and the boats out in the distance.
“I’m fine.”  I turned around and smiled at him.  It wasn’t his fault I was having unwelcome flashbacks of life with Love Rat Parker, darts bastard and all round cheating prick.  Maybe it was just because all this wedding planning was bringing back memories that I was going to have to learn to file away at the back of my mind.  Nobody had said it was going to be easy.
“You can talk to me, you know that, don’t you?  If you have something on your mind.  I am always here.”
I kissed him slowly, letting him hold me tight, letting him erase those memories with that wonderful voice of his as I shut my mind to anything else except what was happening here.  Paul was my past, Antonio was my future and I wasn’t going to let my inability to forget ruin everything I had now.  I was going to marry Antonio, and I was going to have a future here in Tenerife.  So, grabbing hold of Antonio’s towel I ripped it away from that incredible body of his and ceased caring about the state of my hair.  Fran was just going to have to wait.


La Caleta is a small, quaint little fishing village just a short walk along the beach from Costa Adeje with fabulous fish restaurants and a lovely, calming atmosphere.  It’s mainly residential with just one hotel, and it’s the perfect place for a peaceful walk away from the majority of tourists. 
Neither Fran nor I had mentioned what she’d said the other day, about me still being in love with Paul, because it’s ridiculous.  I’m not.  I don’t know where she’s got that idea from and I think she’d guessed that it was something I didn’t really want to talk about so she’s dropped it, for now.  She’s known me long enough to know when to let things go but then I’ve also known her long enough to know that she won’t keep quiet for long, that’s just not her.  If she’s got something on her mind that she wants to say she’ll say it, whether anyone else likes it or not so I’m bracing myself for a reprisal.  It would just be nice not to have it today because we were having a lovely Sunday afternoon.  It was sunny and warm and we’d just had the most perfect lunch of fresh sardines and Canarian potatoes with a bottle of gorgeous, dry white wine between us (it’s early, we don’t do one each until at least 7pm!) in a little fish restaurant overlooking the sea.  We’d talked about the barbeque Jo’s organising and whether or not we should start Christmas shopping yet, but not about Paul.  I’d quite like it to stay that way, too.  I’ve got a wedding to finish arranging and I can’t do it with him on my mind.
As we walked slowly back along the sea-front path that leads down onto the beach we could feel the sun warm on our backs, both of us a little light headed from the wine and it was a lovely feeling.  Weekends here are so different to anything we used to have back home.  Back in the U.K. a Saturday or Sunday usually meant shopping or cleaning or, when Paul and I had been together, travelling to some darts tournament or another, but here everything is just so much more relaxed, less hectic, less stressful.  I loved the weekends here and I’m not sure I could ever go back to what I had before.  Not all of it, anyway.
We decided to visit our favourite little beach bar for a coffee before we started the walk back to Costa Adeje but as we looked down onto the sand below us, things seemed to have got a little bit more hectic than they had been when we’d passed it on our way here a couple of hours ago.  Something was going on, something that seemed to be attracting quite a bit of attention and we both leaned over the railings that faced the beach, shielding our eyes from the afternoon sun as we tried to get a better look at what was happening.
“Are those cameras?” Fran asked.  “They weren’t there when we walked past before, were they?”
“No, they weren’t.”  I squinted slightly as I watched the crowd around the beach bar below us grow larger, people seemingly appearing from nowhere to get a closer look at the activity.  “It looks like they’re just setting up.”  I turned round as a large blue van pulled up beside us and people hurriedly started pulling big metal boxes from the back, carrying everything from lights to big mounds of cables down onto the beach.  Years of working in a media department at a university back home told me this was definitely some kind of film or TV shoot and I was curious now, the nosy part of me wanting to know exactly what was going on.  So I walked over to the van, smiling at a dark haired young man who was ticking things off on a clipboard as people continued to unload equipment.
“Excuse me?”
He turned to look at me, smiling a friendly smile as I stood there with my hands in the pockets of my denim shorts.  “You want to know what’s going on, don’t you,” he asked, sticking his pen behind his ear.
“That obvious?”
“Kinda, yeah.”  He looked over onto the beach, where the last of the equipment was being carried down, and slammed shut the doors of the van, shoving his clipboard into the bag he had slung over his shoulder.  “It’s filming for Simon Sutherland’s new TV series.  We’re shooting here in Tenerife for a few weeks.  Not a bad gig this one,” he grinned, before running off in the direction of the beach.
I walked back over to Fran, who was still watching the goings on down on the sand.
“Have you seen who’s down there?” she said, not taking her eyes off what was happening.
“Simon Sutherland, I know.  They’re filming his new TV series here on the island.”
Simon Sutherland was a somewhat posh British TV actor, known mainly for his portrayals of good looking, upper class characters in costume dramas.  Tall, dark and about as handsome as you can get in an incredibly arrogant kind of way, he made his name in a popular soap opera playing a particularly unconvincing bad guy – my Paul plays a bad guy better than Simon Sutherland ever has and he’s only throwing a few darts in a room full of drunken spectators and I really must stop calling him my Paul, it’s becoming a very irritating habit – but for some reason somebody saw something in Mr Sutherland that must’ve passed the rest of us by because he was given a role in a Sunday evening costume drama that turned him into one of the country’s biggest, and most fanciable, TV stars.  Personally, he doesn’t do it for me.  I always think he just plays himself because whether he does costume drama or not he always seems to come across as an egotistical middle class snob, but then, what do I know?  The closest I’ve ever got to acting was when I dressed up in an arse-skimming PVC nurses uniform from Ann Summers for Paul’s 30th and I can’t begin to tell you what we did with that syringe but it took every ounce of my acting talent to let him do it.  It was his birthday after all.
Anyway, all I do know is that Simon Sutherland has a reputation with the ladies, and he’s never usually seen without one hanging off his arm.  He apparently goes for brunettes but I’m sure he’s not overly fussy, as long as they’re beautiful and look good beside him – although, not that good.  I also hear he’s not one to be upstaged.  He’s never been married, plays the bachelor playboy to the letter and drives one of those cars that single middle-aged men usually drive when they’re trying to pull something younger.  Enough said.
“Shall we go down and have a look?” Fran asked, suddenly turning into something resembling over-excited and star-struck.  She’d never told me she fancied Simon Sutherland before.  Mind you, she’s starting to fancy anything with a pulse at the minute so Simon Sutherland is probably right up there in her book.
“I don’t really feel like it, Fran.”  And I didn’t.  Suddenly I just wanted to get to Paco’s and give Antonio a big, long kiss.  I was thinking about Paul far too much lately and that was probably because I was spending far too much time away from my lovely Spanish fiancĂ©.  I just wanted to sit down with him and talk about our wedding.  There was still so much to be sorted out and we were only weeks away now so if I didn’t get a shift on Antonio’s mother was going to start taking over and I had absolutely no desire to go into battle over table settings with her.  I didn’t have the energy.
“Oh, come on, Molly,” Fran said, grabbing my hand and pulling me down onto the path that led to the beach.  “We’ve got to walk past the bar on our way back to Adeje anyway so we might as well see what’s going on.”
“I’ve told you what’s going on…Fran!  Hang on will you!”
I had to run to keep up with her as she dragged me down onto the sand in almost indecent haste.  She hadn’t ran that fast since the time she thought she’d seen Jason Orange in Pizza Hut on a shopping trip to Manchester in 2007.  I was beginning to wish Dave would just haul her down to the laundry room and have his way with her amongst the piles of discarded beach towels because it was evidently what she needed.
“Oooh, look!” she squealed, stopping dead in front of me causing me to run right into her and almost send the pair of us flying!  “He’s over there!  And he’s even sexier in the flesh than he is on TV!”
I looked at her.  I’d really had no idea that she fancied Simon Sutherland.  And I thought she told me everything.  “Since when did you start finding him sexy?”
“Since he played an MI5 agent last January in that TV drama.  Did you not see that shower scene?”
I wrinkled up my nose as I tried to remember the programme she was talking about, but at the time it had been broadcast Paul and I had been in the middle of heated negotiations as to who was getting the Queen CD boxed set so it had probably passed me by.
“He’s just not my type, Fran.  And I had no idea he was yours.”
“I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating toast.”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t.  But two days ago I thought you felt exactly the same way about Tinseltown Tony so forgive me for thinking you’re erring on the side of desperation here.”
She wasn’t listening to me; she was now standing gawping like some demented, love-sick teenager as Simon Sutherland flashed what can only be described - in my eyes anyway - as a smarmy smile at the ever-increasing throng of women who’d gathered around him, flinging themselves at him like they’d never been near a bloke before, although judging by the state of some of them they’d certainly never been near a bloke like him before. 
“Isn’t he dreamy?” Fran sighed.
“Not really.”
I couldn’t have been more relieved as a middle-aged man wearing a head-set and a rather unbecoming floral shirt started asking people to move back away from the set and I finally managed to drag Fran off in the direction of sanity and Paco’s for a much needed cup of coffee.  She seemed to have regained her composure by the time we arrived and I left her sitting at our usual table texting Connie and Jo, doubtless about the fact Tenerife had a bit of a celebrity gracing it with his presence for a few weeks. 
I walked over to the bar where Antonio was drying some wine glasses.  He looked up as he saw me, smiling that smile as I leaned over the bar to kiss him slowly.  Just what I needed.  Normality.
“Had a nice day?” he asked, flinging the tea towel he’d been using over his shoulder as he turned to get some cups for mine and Fran’s coffee. 
“Not bad.”  I couldn’t be bothered to tell him about the appearance of Simon Sutherland.  Antonio wouldn’t care anyway.  He was only famous in the U.K. and it was highly unlikely anyone except the British holidaymakers would know or care about who he was and what he was doing here.  “But it’s just got better now I’ve seen you.”
He smiled again.  “My mother has been on the ‘phone, Molly.  She wants to know if you have your dress sorted.  She’s coming over in two weeks and if you still need some help she can bring along my cousin Rosa, she’s a dressmaker.  She can give you some advice if you need it.”
I didn’t.  I’d already chosen my dress when Fran and I had popped back over to England for her brother Billy’s wedding so that was one job done.  No interference from anyone else and I was trying to keep it that way for as long as I possibly could.  My family weren’t involved in my life at all, in fact, I hadn’t spoken to my mum in years after a falling out over a row about my dad’s affair with a barmaid from the Flying Horse.  But they’d never really been what you’d call attentive parents, even though I was an only child.  I’d learnt to stand on my own two feet from an early age and that’s the way I liked it.  So I wasn’t used to any assistance when it came to organising things, but I was fast learning that the Spanish were very family orientated indeed, and it was something I was just going to have to get used to.
“She is also wondering when we are going to give her her first grandchild.”
Whoa there, mister, I thought.  Who mentioned anything about kids?  Had I not told him about my diversion to small people?  Could have sworn I’d said something so maybe he was just choosing to forget it.  Well, he was going to have to start remembering very soon or we were going to be having words.
“There’s plenty of time for that, isn’t there?”  I said, fiddling with a beer mat on the bar as Antonio frothed our coffee. 
            “By the time my mother was your age she’d had five children,” he shouted over the noise of the milk steamer.
            I wanted to say, well she should have kept her legs shut more but decided against it. 
            “And you are getting no younger, Molly.”
            Cheeky sod!  Like I need reminding of that.  I was suddenly being surrounded by conversations I had no interest in, and as far as kids were concerned I never would.  I wasn’t in the least bit maternal, and that was probably my mother’s fault ‘cos neither was she. 
            Antonio turned round and placed our coffees down on the bar, picking up on my change of mood.  He tilted up my chin and gently kissed my mouth.
            “Do not worry about my mother,” he smiled, stroking a strand of hair from my eyes.  “We do whatever makes us happy, nobody else.”
            Yeah, but was he going to tell her that because she was a formidable woman, his mother.  His dad had legged it all the way to Fuengirola once just for a bit of peace after he’d lost an argument with her over floor tiles.  You just didn’t mess with Senora Hernandez. 
I was suddenly beginning to feel more than a little bit stressed but I smiled back at Antonio, knowing he loved me, knowing he wanted to make me happy, even though we’d only been together a short time.  And I loved him back, he was everything I needed right now but sometimes I wished we could just run off to Gibraltar or somewhere and get married on our own, just the two of us, with no family around to interfere.  But there was no way anyone around here was going to let that happen.
            I kissed him gently, feeling his fingers tighten around mine and as he pulled away slightly and whispered something dirty in my ear – in Spanish, some things I recognised without any trouble – I relaxed slightly.  How could I not?  He was gorgeous and kind and mine.  He was all mine, and all I had to do was relax and look forward to becoming Mrs Hernandez.  That’s all I had to do.  And surely even I was capable of that.

© Michelle Betham 2011

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