30 May 2018

A GARDEN IN CORNWALL by LAURA BIGGS @rararesources @PaperDollWrites

A Garden in Cornwall

(A Wedding in Cornwall Book 12)

By Laura Biggs

 

 

With their lives exactly what they’ve always dreamed, Matt and Julianne await the arrival of the third member of their family — but their happiness is threatened when their landlady Mathilda announces her intention to sell their beloved Rosemoor Cottage for an impossible value. Devastated, Julianne struggles to accept the cold reality of her and Matt making their home elsewhere.

Matt’s life has taken a new turn as he finally puts aside his academic work to pursue his gardening hobby as a career:  his first new job as a landscape designer involves neglected Penwill Hall’s ‘lost’ garden — one with a truly romantic Cornish past. But the task of restoring its legendary beauty from nearly seventy years ago proves difficult among the ruins lost in weeds and wilderness.

With notions of secret gardens and wartime stories echoing in her thoughts, Julianne is determined to help Matt and the estate’s new owner after the discovery of a hidden mural in the hall itself, depicting a breath-taking garden that may well be the lost one. Her efforts to uncover the past lead her to a curmudgeonly local gardener who just may hold the knowledge that would restore the ‘lost garden’ to its former glory. Will Julianne’s quest help her find a way to deal with losing the home she loves?

Hellos and farewells abound as Dinah returns to lend a helping hand at Cliffs House and Julianne relives her favourite memories of her and Matt’s beloved cottage in Book Twelve — the final instalment in the bestselling series A WEDDING IN CORNWALL.

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A Garden in Cornwall Excerpt for Room With Books

Thanks so much Patricia for letting me share about my writing with your lovely readers! My latest book is A Garden in Cornwall and the final installment in a series about American event planner Julianne who finds a new life working in Cornwall. In this scene, Julianne and her husband Matt are attempting to pick out possible baby names for their yet unborn child:

“What do you think of Allen?” He had opened a different book, this one lying on the sofa’s adjacent table, with as many marks and creased corners as one of his research books. “Alexander. Anna. Audra.”

“Maybe,” I said. “How about something from the P’s?” If Matt and I were the middle of the alphabet, maybe we should lean towards the far spectrum of A-Z for the third member of our family.

“And have their initials be ‘P.R.’?” said Matt. “No, thank you. Let’s try a different letter, shall we?”

“‘V’?” I suggested. “Valerie? Vivienne? Violet? But if it’s a boy — that would be, what? Vincent? Victor?”

“How about something from the W’s? Warrington, Wilson, Wendy ….” He flipped through the pages, choosing at random. None of these sounded quite right to either of us.

“Maybe we should pick the name of someone we love,” I suggested. “A family member or a good friend.”

“None of my friends would be particularly flattered, I’m afraid,” said Matthew. “Academic minds with their noses buried in books these days, except for those who have children of their own.”

“But they would be if you named a newly-discovered indigenous moss for them, wouldn’t they?” I said.

He laughed. “All too true. Personally, though, I would prefer to have something else named for me. Although having the last name ‘Rose’ makes it rather difficult for anyone to call one of those after me.”

“Do you want a Matthew the second?” I asked. He shook his head.

“Not really. You?”

“No. I think one Julianne is enough in the family,” I said. “What about a mutual friend we both share?”

“Amanda? Gemma? Charlotte?” suggested Matt. “Kitty? Her given name is Katherine, isn’t it? I’ve always rather like that name.”

“Geoff? William?” I recited. “You had some close friends in your university years — what were their names?” I frowned.  “Or maybe childhood friends are better.”

“My first friend’s name was Archie,” said Matt, reflectively. “When I was four. I remember playing with him by the shore … throwing bits of shell at the shore birds who stole our picnic’s biscuits.”

“Mine was Lindsay,” I said. “Only spelled with a ‘z,’ I think.” I made a mental note not to use any weird spellings that would cause a headache for our child forevermore.

“You could name her for Aimee,” suggested Matt. “She would be thrilled by it, undoubtedly.”

My friend Aimee would die if I named my daughter for her — of course, she was back at home in Seattle now after a brief stay in Cornwall as part of a shop sitting arrangement with one of her fellow business owners. She would probably be too busy at work to join us for the special occasion. A cross-continental godmother of sorts, I imagined. Could you stand in via webcam as a godparent? I wasn’t sure.

“What about family? We could name it for one of my parents or yours.” I knew either of mine would be flattered by the gesture.

“My mother was never very fond of her name ‘Janet,’ although I never understood why,” said Matt. “I’m sure she would be honored by the thought, although I doubt she would want to pass down her actual name. So perhaps we shouldn’t rush to choose hers.”

“It could be a nice way to preserve your father’s memory, if we named it for him,” I said. Matt had lost his father too young in life to have known him well, and I knew he regretted this fact.

“It might be,” said Matt, quietly, and I could see he was seriously considering this one. “His name was a rather good one.”

David Lucas Rose. I had seen it written in an old book of Matt’s on one of our shelves. I had noticed his son’s handwriting resembled his ever so slightly in the way it slanted its ‘l’s’ and ‘r’s.’

“Let’s definitely put it on the list,” I said, reaching for the pad and pencil we had been using to jot down possible baby names.

 

 

 

Laura Briggs is the author of several lighthearted romance novels and novellas, including the bestselling Amazon UK series A Wedding in Cornwall. She has a fondness for vintage-style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, caring for her pets, going to movies and plays, and trying new restaurants.

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22 January 2018

THE TRUSTWORTHY GROOM by Cami Checketts Release Day Blitz

The Trustworthy Groom

by Cami Checketts

Hailey Knight has two choices: fall prey to a predator who is out to own her and destroy her football team, or marry a man she’s just met. True, her fake husband can make her quiver with a touch, gets her jokes, and is patience personified, but she knows better than anyone how quickly charm can turn ugly.

Brady Giles has dealt with a sweetheart stalker for two years and has no hope of shaking the annoyance. He steps in to rescue the beautiful and feisty Hailey Knight from a leering idiot and somehow ends up engaged to her.

The marriage is supposed to help them both out of sticky situations, but instead turns into a media hailstorm with lies and attacks coming from all sides. When Hailey falls in love with her fake husband and danger lurks around every corner, she knows it’s time to run, but Brady has never given up on an impossible battle.

Excerpt

Hailey’s brain scrambled for an out, any out. She put on a fake smile and said, “You don’t know how much I wish I could have dinner with you tonight, but you must not have heard … I’m recently engaged.” She kept a straight face when she wanted to gasp in shock. Where had that come from, and who was she going to claim she was engaged to?

William released her hair and actually took a step back, the scowl on his face ruining all his supposed good looks. “You are?” His eyes strayed to her left hand. She clasped it with her right to hide her naked finger. “To whom?”

A dark-haired man appeared at her table. Hailey dealt with burly football players every day of her life, but this guy’s shape still gave her pause. He was probably around six three and two hundred and fifty pounds. Every inch was muscle, not bodybuilder muscle but lean and functional and covered by smooth, tanned skin. He definitely had some Italian heritage in him as dark and good-looking as he was. Hailey had a strict policy of not checking out her own team’s football players, but she knew every single one of them. This guy wasn’t on her roster.

“Excuse me.” The man’s deep voice washed over her as his dark eyes looked at her with concern then flashed to William with annoyance. “Do you need some help?”

Yes, yes she did. Hailey grasped his arm and cuddled into his side, wrapping her other arm around his waist. “Thank you for coming to check on me, sweetheart.” His body tightened at the way she was trying to manhandle him, impossible to really do as she was almost a foot shorter and less than half his bodyweight, but she needed help, and she needed it now. The solution was so clear. William would back off if she were engaged. He would have to. Then there would be no repercussions on her football team and no coercion to date, and especially not to stay the night with, the slime ball VP.

“Um, sure … anything for you, honey.” The man wrapped his arm around her shoulder, and Hailey had never felt so safe as he gently pulled her close. Safety and reassurance were amazing and unexpected feelings to have at the moment, especially after the fear of William clogging her throat mere seconds ago and the fact that she naturally shied away from well-built men. The emotion of it all made her weak, and she found herself leaning against his muscular chest.

The dark-haired guy glanced down at her and winked. Ooh, he was quick too. She ticked off his positive qualities in her mind—not one of her football brothers, handsome with strong facial features, brown eyes framed with dark lashes, and smart. She might even give this guy a date to prove they were engaged.

“This is my fiancé,” she said to William, inclining her chin with pride.

The man kind of started, but he stayed close to her side as he released her from his hold and stuck his hand out to William. “Brady Giles. Pleasure to meet you …”

Brady Giles? Oh, crap, he was one of her players! He’d recently transferred from New England. He was one of the top cornerbacks in the nation, and they were extremely blessed to get him, but the Brady Giles she’d seen from the sidelines had long, dark wavy hair and a full beard. This guy with the cropped hair and clean shaven model-gorgeous face was a Brady Giles she’d never expected—sharp and way too appealing. What had she done?

 

 

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16 January 2018

PAYBACK by Jessica Dale Release Day Blitz

Payback

Author: Jessica Dale
Series: An Unintended Consequences Romantic Suspense


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With strange fainting spells rattling James Fitzgerald’s sense of identity and complicating his acting career, he seeks solace at his country home in Virginia, once owned by his parents. But instead of a relaxing getaway with his closest friends, he walks into a bloodbath. And a cryptic message on a shower curtain points to him as the killer.

Carrie Johnson has hidden herself away in northern Virginia’s woods to escape an abusive husband. But her attempts to stay isolated from society are confounded by her attraction to her only neighbor, part-time resident James Fitzgerald.

Virtually under house arrest and struggling to resist his growing attraction to Carrie, James distracts himself by investigating his parents’ backgrounds, seeking an explanation for the fainting spells. Instead, he discovers some shocking truths about his family and himself, and ends up wondering if he should have let sleeping ghosts lie.

(This story was previously published as Ripples of Evil)

 

About the Author

 
Jessica Dale has been a human resources administrator, mental health counselor, business owner and college professor. She now enjoys writing romantic suspense stories that will make your spine tingle in more ways than one.

 

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18 December 2017

It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe by L.P. Dover – Release Day Blitz @LPDover


It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe
Author: L.P. Dover
Genre: Contemporary/Holiday Romance

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Finding your soul mate is a dream Adeline Hamilton thought was just that … a dream. After several failed relationships, she realizes she’s not capable of falling in love. The only passion she’s ever had is teaching U.S. History at the local high school.

A week before Christmas, Adeline is all set for her best friend’s wedding, even though she dreads having to go to it alone. But when she’s given a Christmas wish that could change her future forever, she’s whisked away to the past, to a completely different place and time. It’s also when she meets him, William Blair, the man who steals her heart.

As their relationship grows, Adeline realizes that true love does exist. What she doesn’t know is that her wish can’t last forever, that soon she’ll have to leave the past behind. Will Adeline and William find their way back to each other? Or will their love have to stay where it all began . . . in 1865? With mistletoe and Christmas magic, anything’s possible.

 

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, L.P. Dover, is a southern belle residing in North Carolina along with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she even began her literary journey she worked in Periodontics enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries. 
Not only does she love to write, but she loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes, white water rafting, and you can’t forget the passion for singing. Her two number one fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime and those songs usually consist of Christmas carols. 
Aside from being a wife and mother, L.P. Dover has written countless novels including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed and Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, and her standalone novel, Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read is romantic suspense and she also loves writing it. However, if she had to choose a setting to live in it would have to be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae. 
L.P. Dover is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
You can find L.P. Dover here: 
Email: authorlpdover@gmail.com
Twitter: @LPDover

 

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31 October 2017

RELEASE BLITZ – BANISHING by JAX JILLIAN @jaxjillian

 

 

Title: Banishing (Silent Cove #3)
Author: Jax Jillian


Genre:
Paranormal Romance
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Ships in the night carry deadly deeds.

Jack Landry just wanted to do his job. Hired as the new deckhand for commercial fishing boat, “The Mist of The Sea”, Jack works under successful and elusive Captain Oliver Allister, an unknown distant relative of the cursed Cambridge family. When he begins to hear noises and see inexplicable things, Jack suspects there’s more to this fishing boat than meets the eye.

Claire Allister, the captain’s beautiful yet mysterious daughter, captivates Jack like no other. However, Claire carries with her the demons of her dead brother that threaten to push her and Jack apart. Terrorized by the ghoulish memory, the young lovers embark on a mission to lay his soul to rest.

Their journey leads them to the Silent Cove Bed & Breakfast just off the coast of Chistine, Maine. When Jack and Claire begin to unravel the truth about Oliver’s past and his connection with Silent Cove, they soon find themselves fighting for their love—and their very lives. What will they sacrifice to banish the ghosts once and for all?

The third and final installment in the breathtaking paranormal romance saga, the Silent Cove trilogy, Silent Cove: The Banishing forces readers once more into a world of mystery, romance, and one final exhilarating twist that may just be fatal

                                                             

 

 

Jax Jillian was born in Albuquerque, NM but before she turned a year old, her parents moved east to Harrisburg, PA where she was raised. After graduating high school in 1995, Jax attended La Salle University (1999, B.A., Communication), Temple University (2001, M.Ed, Sport & Recreation Administration), and Central Pennsylvania College (2005, A.A.S, Physical Therapist Assistant).

She settled in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and son before she became a writer. Jax found a passion for motion pictures at a young age when she remembers “getting lost” in films, and that passion ultimately led her down the path to writing. she loves “getting lost” in her writing and particularly loves writing heartfelt love stories with a touch of tragedy which she believes is the key to truly reaching readers.

Jax is the author of Larkin’s Letters and Ryan’s Letters, two contemporary romance novels that have seen early success from reviewers, with both averaging 4.8/5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads. She is currently writing her third novel and aspires to write a screenplay one day.

When not writing, she works full time as a physical therapist assistant and as a mom to her three-year-old son.

                                                         

Purchase the other books in the Silent Cove Series Here

 

19 September 2017

Release Day Blitz – Let There Be Love by Melissa Storm @MelStormAuthor

Let There Be Love
Let There Be Love
Series: The Sled Dog Series, Book One

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SLauren Dalton has always dreamed of running the great race, but as someone with no experience and no dogs, few are willing to take her seriously as a musher. Desperate for a big break, she agrees to take on the job no one else is willing to do.


Shane Ramsey’s reputation says all anyone needs to know. He’s an amazing racer, but a terrible person. When an injury leaves him unable to work his dogs, he must swallow his pride and accept help for the sake of his team.


Will Shane open his home and his heart to the young woman who already shares his greatest love? Will Lauren find her place in helping the cantankerous Shane?


Harkening to the great literary traditions of Jane Eyre and Beauty and the Beast, Let There Be Love is a new twist on the most epic of love stories. Don’t miss the chance to lose your heart to a courageous team of sled dogs and the humans that love them in this tale set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness.

| About the Author |

Melissa Storm is a mother first, and everything else second. She used to write under a pseudonym, but finally had the confidence to come out as herself to the world. Her fiction is highly personal and often based on true stories. Writing is Melissa’s way of showing her daughter just how beautiful life can be, when you pay attention to the everyday wonders that surround us.

Melissa loves books so much, she married fellow author Falcon Storm. Between the two of them, there are always plenty of imaginative, awe-inspiring stories to share. Melissa and Falcon also run the business Novel Publicity together, where she works as publisher, marketer, web designer, and all-around business mogul. When she’s not reading, writing, or child-rearing, Melissa spends time relaxing at home in the company of her four dogs, four parrots, and rescue cat. She never misses an episode of The Bachelor, because priorities.

Learn more at www.MelStorm.com.

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6 March 2017

Iced Box Set Release Day Blitz @VeronicaForand @Susan_S_Shelley @TastyBookTours

 
Let the Atlantic Hustlers heat up your night!
 
ICED
An Atlantic City Hustlers Boxset
Veronica Forand & Susan Scott Shelley
Releasing March 6th, 2017
Entangled Lovestruck

 

FLIRTING ON ICE

When a sexy, forbidden spark blazes to life between professional hockey player Zac Elliott and the team owner’s daughter, he’s willing to risk being benched to have her. Their relationship is deeply passionate and intensely private…until the press catches them in the act. The only way out of the penalty box is for Zac to play hockey like life–and love–depends on it…

SIMMERING ICE

Physical therapist Annie Davidson is great at her job but unlucky when it comes to love. All she can do is focus on work…that is until she runs into professional hockey player Alec O’Meara. Alec likes to keep things loose on and off the ice, but the red-headed Annie challenges his beliefs and makes him think about taking their relationship to the net…

Veronica Forand is an attorney and an award-winning writer of romantic suspense. She’s lived in Boston, London, Paris, Geneva, and Washington, DC and currently resides near Philadelphia. An avid traveler, she loves to roam across continents with her husband and kids in pursuit of skiing, scuba diving, and finding the perfect piece of chocolate.

Susan Scott Shelley is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. For as long as she can remember, she has been in love with Love and all the sweeping grand gestures, heart-sighing moments, and quiet comforts it entails. In addition to writing romances, she is also professional voiceover artist and enjoys lending her voice to a wide range of projects. Her favorite things include running, sports, hard rock and old Hollywood movies. An unapologetic optimist, she believes life should be lived with laughter and a sense of wonder. She currently resides outside Philadelphia with her very own Superhero and spends her days writing about tough heroes, smart heroines, and love being the strongest magic there is. Susan is represented by Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary Agency.
 

 

22 February 2017

Silenced Release Blitz @LeddyHarper @BookEnthuPromo

release day blitz

Book Title: Silenced
Author: Leddy Harper
Genre: Romance | Friends to Lovers
Release Date: February 22, 2017
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

Haunted by a photographic memory, I couldn’t escape the worst night of my life.
The blood they shed.
The pain they endured.
The evil that still walked free.
It was all I saw. Those memories, my childhood—the images.

Silenced and scarred.

But nothing lasts forever.
Torment turned to blinding rage. Hate sought revenge, which pursued death.
Then there was life.
The moon.
Rylee Anderson.
I had to choose…

excerpt

Sweat dripped down the side of my face, collecting in the collar of my shirt. The heat was almost unbearable, but I didn’t want to be inside. Mom was away for work again—this time for a full week—and Dad was stuck in front of the television set watching another football game. I hated it when Mom was gone, because my dad didn’t really know how to handle me. He had no problem bonding with my brother, but where I was concerned, he acted completely clueless. So Sundays became the day I’d take a book and sit in the back yard beneath a tree.

    I brought my water bottle to my lips when something caught my attention near the privacy fence, separating the houses in the neighborhood and the wooded area behind it. It ran up the side yard, offering us seclusion to the house next door. The young woman who lived there often had guests over, which made my parents uneasy. But now, someone was in her back yard, climbing her fence.

    No…not just someone.

    A boy.

    His stick-straight hair, the color of sand, hung to the middle of his ears. But I couldn’t see his face. He had his back to me as he climbed, just before jumping over to the side filled with trees. His black T-shirt was a blur. He was there one second and gone the next.

    I stared at the barrier, wondering if I could climb over and follow him. I knew everyone in the neighborhood, but I’d never seen him before. I glanced over my shoulder and waited a moment, just to make sure my dad or my brother weren’t on their way out. When I noticed no movement beyond the sliding glass door, I jumped up and ran as fast as I could. Without second guessing it, I began to scale the tall slats of the wood.

    Once I made it to the top, I looked down and realized it was much higher on the other side. I’d never been in the wooded area before, and for a second, I contemplated just going back to my yard. I thought about my book I’d left beneath the tree and my father who might’ve gone looking for me. But then I remembered the boy—and I so desperately wanted to find out where he came from.

    Curiosity got the best of me.

    I swung my leg over and, with the pace of a sloth, I used the wood between the slats to lower myself to the ground. Standing on my feet again, I searched through the trees, hoping to spot the boy with blond hair and a black shirt.

    But he was nowhere.

    I carefully walked farther into the trees on the soft dirt, keeping as quiet as possible. I didn’t want to venture too far, because I worried I wouldn’t be able to make it back to my house. From this side, I couldn’t tell which house was which. So I made sure not to deviate too far from behind my back yard.

    It felt like an hour, but realistically, it was probably closer to five minutes before I decided to give up. I thought it might’ve been better to have just waited until he came back. I turned around, ready to head home, when I spotted him.

    Or…he spotted me.

Continue Reading:
http://www.leddyharper.com/single-post/2016/12/28/Exclusive-Excerpt-for-Silenced

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meet the author

Leddy Harper had to use her imagination often as a child. She grew up the only girl in a house full of boys. At the age of fourteen, she decided to use that imagination and wrote her first book, and never stopped.

She often calls writing her therapy, using it as a way to deal with issues through the eyes of her characters.

She is now a mother of three girls, leaving her husband as the only man in a house full of females.

The decision to publish her first book was made as a way of showing her children to go after whatever it is they want to. Love what you do and do it well. Most importantly Leddy wanted to teach them what it means to overcome their fears.

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27 January 2017

A Call to Heaven Release Blitz @jo_kessel @BookEnthuPromo

release day blitz

Book Title: A Call to Heaven
Author: Jo Kessel
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 27,, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

“Everybody’s loved, everybody’s lost.

Grief strips you raw and makes you feel as if you’re sleepwalking through life, like the pain will never go away.

I’m Amy Tristan. I’m no different than anyone else. I’ve loved, I’ve lost and it sucks. I’ve got a five-year old son and an abusive husband. My mother died six months ago and I miss her like crazy.

I’m the biggest skeptic when it comes to other-worldly stuff, so when I’m told that I can pick up the phone and call my mum in Heaven, I should disbelieve it, right? Wrong. I pick up that phone, because there’s nothing I want more than to hear her voice trickle into the receiver.

And you know what? It works. I get to speak to my mother. It’s a miracle. If only it could stay this way, with those calls just for me, but someone up on high wants me to choose three other people to make a call to Heaven too. Who should I pick? How can I trust them to keep the phone secret? Making the choice is agonizing – if I get it wrong, my calls will stop. I wish I hadn’t told Daniel anything. He’s this hot doctor that I’ve come to know. But doctors are scientists, and scientists are bigger skeptics than even me. He didn’t believe in the phone. He thought I should be admitted to a sanatorium. Telling him was either the best decision of my life, or the worst. I’ll let you decide…”

excerpt

Everyone’s looking at me. I’ve got the yellow telephone in my hands and I’m not sure what to do with it. I take a seat at the end of the table and lay the phone down in front of me. Beth is to my left, Ben is to my right. Daniel is opposite me. I look from one to the other and feel color flood my cheeks. My gaze finishes on Daniel and stays there for a beat. He nods, his eyes encouraging me. I return the nod, take a deep breath and count down from three to one in my head.

“I’ve got to tell you all something.” My voice comes out as a thin squeak, but actually I’m surprised I manage to articulate at all. I’m hot, so hot. I lift the hair off the back of my neck, flapping it around to try to cool my sticky, clammy skin. I can’t breathe, I need air. I unlock the patio doors, flinging them wide open. The inside of my mouth feels rough as sandpaper. I’m desperate for a tall glass of water packed with ice-cubes but, when I turn to see six eyes staring at me, I dare not leave to fetch one. I feel like an exhibit in a museum and in some ways I wish I were. I could hide behind a Perspex box next to the yellow telephone with panel blurb doing the explaining for me. I could be part of a new exhibition entitled ‘Incredible Discoveries’. I would share the same hall as the dinosaurs and anything else which took aeons for people to believe existed. I draw a deep breath and continue.

“You’re probably going to think I’m mad, but I’m going to tell you anyway.”

A breeze blows through the open patio doors.

“What I wanted to tell you is this.” My voice is soft as a whisper. I sense all their bodies leaning closer towards mine, straining to hear. “I’ve recently started talking to my mother.”

There, I’ve said it.

I feel a great sense of relief, both that I’ve said it and that I no longer have to keep this to myself. Beth relaxes in her chair with a sigh, leans across and takes my hand, patting it. She’s got wavy brown hair and a kind, open face. She tilts her head sympathetically.

“Oh honey, you must have tried out that clairvoyant you mentioned. Please tell us all about it.”

I should have seen that one coming.

“No, you don’t get it.” I lift up the yellow phone, as if to demonstrate how to use such a contraption. In one hand I take the receiver, in the other the plug. “I don’t speak to her through a medium. I speak to her on this telephone. I plug it into a socket in my bathroom and I’m allowed to call heaven.”

There, I’ve said it now.

Nobody moves.

Not a muscle.

Their mouths all open, Daniel’s is the widest. I don’t think any of them even realize they’re doing it. As feared, they are looking at me like I’m certifiably insane.

“I can see you all think I’m mad.” I actually manage to pull a small smile. Now that I’ve started, I feel much calmer. “And, if I were in your position, I would think I’m crazy too. But one night my mother came to me in a dream and told me I could use this phone to call her in heaven and, bizarre though it must sound, it turns out she was right. That’s why I stopped coming to Grief Support Group every week. I wasn’t grieving so much because my mother had come back into my life.”

The three pairs of eyes grow wider and wider, as if I’m slowly sprouting four serpent heads. I replace the receiver back into its cradle and drop the plug, holding out my hands in submission.

“You can believe me or not. It doesn’t matter. But the reason I’ve gathered you all here is because I’ve been asked to choose three other people to call to heaven.”

I sound like a fairy godmother or the good witch in the Wizard of Oz. I do not sound normal. I pause. The effect is dramatic although it’s not intended to be.

“And I’ve picked you guys.”

I look at them one by one.

“Beth, I know how much it might mean to you to be able to speak to your daughter and know that she is safe.”

Beth nods. Her gaze turns glassy.

“Ben, I’d do anything to be able to give you a chance to speak to your brother again.”

Ben nods, his mouth still formed in a perfect ‘O’.

Daniel is the hardest one for me to look at. He’s not nodding anymore and his eyes are no longer urging me to continue. Instead he’s shaking his head, a slow, subtle movement, but I catch it all the same. His full lips have now formed a thin line. He’s the only one who looks like he still thinks I’m certifiably insane. Hell, he’s a doctor; perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Part of me wonders whether I should abort this whole escapade and pretend it was all a joke. I’d do anything to not have Daniel stare at me in this way. He looks ready to call the local sanatorium and send them round with a straitjacket. But I can’t abort and I must continue. What happens next is up to him.

“And Daniel, I thought that maybe you might like to speak to Katie.”

He opens his mouth as if he’s about to say something, but clamps it shut again without speaking. Nobody else says anything either. They all shift in their seats, pretending to take sips of coffee and look around the room. Perhaps they’re checking out the photos on the mantelpiece above the fireplace, trying to work out if I look like a madwoman in any of them. I pick up the knife. Now I probably do look mad or, at the very least, dangerous.

“Right, who’s for some more pie?”

meet the author

Jo lives in London with her husband, three children and Jerald the cat. In addition to being a novelist she works as a TV and print journalist (Sunday Times, The Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express.) If she could change one thing about her life it would be to introduce the thirty hour day, because twenty-four hours just isn’t long enough to squeeze it all in! Many a late night has been spent with a glass of red wine (preferably French) at her desk trying to keep her eyes open long enough to write these stories which keep demanding to be written. If only her cat didn’t constantly jump onto the keyboard as she writes, this book might have been finished months earlier. She loves yoga, skiing, travelling and English custard – though not necessarily in that order.

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