Guest Post with Francine Beaton

Rugby meets romance

What has Fourth of July, rugby and romance in common?

The obvious answer should be, absolutely nothing. It was, however, what led to the writing of the Playing for Glory series. On 26 February, I’ll release the third book in the series, and the first I’ve ever written, Leading from the Front.

A chance meeting with a rugby player from Jersey on a Fourth of July boat cruise on the Hudson planted the seed although I didn’t know it then. Before, and even during that meeting I not even dreamed about writing a novel, so a rugby romance was out of the question. It was only on the long flight from New York to Johannesburg while struggling through another rugby romance, the seed was planted.

I’m not mentioning the writer or the book, but it was absolute garbage. It felt as if the author knew nothing about the game, fitting in sex scenes on every second page to cover for the bad storyline. I suddenly thought that I’m sure I can write a better rugby romance than that. When we arrived in Johannesburg, I already planned a series. I’ve never written a book before and never dreamed of writing one either. It was just a random thought. But it seemed that I unpacked my muse along with my dirty laundry. Two days after our return from New York, I started writing. That was the end of July 2016.

I wrote non-stop for the next six months, finishing about six novels during that time. The first ones were just as bad as the one I read on the plane. It didn’t stop me though. In May 2017 I attended a Romance Master Class in Cape Town with writing coach Sarah Bullen of The Writing Room. Just before that class, I’ve finished the seventh novel in the series I called Taming a Buffalo. I took that book called Under the Mistletoe along to the course. During the course, Sarah read parts of the novel and encouraged me to continue. Over the next three months, Sarah helped me to polish the book. She also advised me to change the names of the books and the series name to something that relates to sport. Under the Mistletoe changed to Eye on the Ball, which was first published in April 2019 by Roane publishers who had closed their doors at the end of 2018. Since then I’ve got my rights back and started to self-publish. 

The series Playing for Glory, as well as the prequel series called Kick-Off, consisting of three books, all deals with the players and management of a fictional rugby team based in Pretoria. Because rugby is a professional sport, I had no choice than to create my own team called the Buffaloes, playing in a fictional series called the International Club Challenge. 

The Playing for Glory series was supposed to be typical sports romances with sizzling sex scenes. It didn’t stay that way. My characters seem to follow their own destiny and it doesn’t matter how hard I tried, they stay true to themselves. I still blame it on Jakes in Eye on the Ball. Although Jakes had the looks, the physicality, macho male image, the intelligence and other attributes to make him an alpha male, Jakes wanted to highlight important issues that had nothing to do with his looks. With Eye on the Ball I wanted to show the readers that even though men like Jakes are physically tough, playing a hard and physical game, they may struggle with the same insecurities other people suffer from. They may be emotionally vulnerable and that is okay. It is, however, important to talk about it, and sometimes show your sensitive side before it is too late.

Leading from the Front is my ninth book. Two of those nine books are in Afrikaans, my home language, and the rest in English. Leading in the Front was supposed to be the first book, but again Jakes had a different idea.

 

LEADING FROM THE FRONT

Temptation can come in any form.

 

As long as it wasn’t Melissa Roux. Daniel Cooper had known that since the first moment he’d seen the new physio for the Buffaloes. As captain, he had to set an example and falling head over heels for the feisty blonde with the endless long legs wasn’t the way to do it.

 

Melissa knew Daniel was going to be a problem from the first day she walked into Buffaloes Stadium. There was no way she was going to risk her career for an arrogant chauvinist who called her a blonde bimbo. For that, she worked too hard to get her dream job.

 

Neither had reckoned with the undeniable chemistry between them and the famous Cooper curse. When he couldn’t hide it anymore, Daniel made a simple request which had more repercussions than he expected. In his quest to find the truth, he made another error in judgement, risking not only Melissa’s career but also the loyalty of his team and the Club.

 

Daniel and Melissa both had to make important decisions: what’s more important? Your career or love? 

 

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Chrissie Bradshaw Spotlight

Today, I’m welcoming fellow RNA author, Chrissie onto my blog. I met Chrissie at the 2016 RNA annual conference. I seem to recall her being green with envy when she spotted me outside stylishly sporting leopard print silky pyjamas and rocking heated rollers…Bet Lynch eat your heart out!

Paws in books

I like it when a pet is a minor character in a novel I’m reading. Animals sneak into my own writing too. I suppose including them depends on whether paws tread over your everyday life or not.

In ‘ A Jarful of Moondreams’, the Moon family have an Egyptian Mau with a huge personality that can’t be ignored. Did I mention that I once had a wonderful Egyptian Mau? We really do write from experience. 

I needed a fiesty little dog who would win the heart of an old lady in ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’. Before I knew it, I was writing about a Welsh terrier. Did I mention that a Welsh terrier is the bane of my life? At least I could make my fictional Welshie, Bracken a well-behaved little fella. 

My own little terror has been through enough adventures to merit his own novel. For instance, one day I wanted a sundrenched stroll and I got a drenched Sunday stroll! It was quite a day and Oscar almost drowned. 

Oscar and I were walking on the beach with my friend and her lab, Ruby before lunch and the beach was really busy so we decided to walk around the old outdoor swimming pool as it was deserted at that end.

The pool runs alongside the beach and the sea at the other side of the pool is deep when the tide is medium to high but the barrier is waist height with railings after that so it seems safe and I wasn’t worried about Oscar, who detests water.

After a couple of minutes of walking along and watching the dogs race around the inner well where the pool had once been, I couldn’t see him and thought he must have hightailed it back onto the beach. I called him and a man from high up on the top prom called back, ‘Your dog’s slipped into the water!’

I just couldn’t believe it and ran to look over the high wall where he was pointing to see a drop of at least 10 foot and deep choppy sea water ( there are rip tide signs around this bit of the beach) I verged on hysterics because I couldn’t see Oscar. 

The man called out, ‘He’s scrabbling to try to get back up the wall!’ But Oscar was so far below I couldn’t see him.

We all sprinted back to the beach and I waded in to the ice cold sea up to waist height but then the sea bed fell away to rocks and deeper. The lovely man had run down to us and came into the sea too. He had the foresight to remove his jacket (I was just in there quilted coat and all) and he told me to stay put and he’d swim around to find him. I was frantic in case he’d drowned and worried in case he barky-faced the swimmer away. After a lifetime, the man swam back with Oscar under his arm and I gave them both the biggest hug! Our hero just shook off the water and picked up his coat and went back to his friends soaking wet! What if he hadn’t been around? 

Some day, that scene might just appear as a first encounter of the hero in one of my novels. I much prefer my pet drama to be contained in my books where I can control the outcome. 

Biography

Chrissie, 2016 winner of the Romantic Novelist’s Elizabeth Goudge writing trophy, is a seasoned tea drinker and a tenacious trainer of her welsh terrier, Oscar.
A JARFUL of MOONDREAMS, a contemporary story about family relationships, secrets and how dreams can come true, is her first novel. 
THE BARN OF BURIED DREAMS, a contemporary story about two sisters who are struggling after the death of their mother, is out now as an ebook and a paperback.
Chrissie has always loved match-making a book to a reader. Writing the kind of book she loves to read takes this a step further. When Chrissie is not writing or reading, you will find her walking Oscar on the beach, trying to avoid the gym and spending time with her family and friends.
Chrissie enjoys tweeting to readers on @ChrissieBeee
Her instagram account is chrissie_bradshaw_author
Her blog is http://www.chrissiebradshaw.com
and she has a Chrissie Bradshaw author page on Facebook.
She would love to hear from readers.

Buried Dreams by Chrissie Bradshaw

Erin and Heather Douglas are struggling. Their mother’s death has left a void in their family and everyday life has side-lined their dreams. 

Erinhas buried herself away in the family home and left her stage career. By hiding away, she is avoiding the pain of returning to London and the acting world where her ex-fiancé is enjoying success and a new relationship. When she meets charismatic Texan Jackson McGee, she wrestles with her feelings for him. Should she trust another man?

Heather is juggling babies, work, a rocky marriage and running on wine. An overheard conversation makes her ask, would Mark cheat on her?

Can the sisters help one another to face their fears, dust off and revive those dreams and find joy in life?

As soon as I started talking to the characters, I knew I was hooked.’ 5 star review  

‘This is a book with a number of serious threads running through it that make the whole so much more than the sum of it’s parts… a very well written story and the characters are so well rounded that you really feel for them and hope that everything will turn out right for them all.’ 5 star review

‘This is the second book I’ve read by this author and it didn’t disappoint. Like the first book, the characters are believable and have you involved in their lives from the start.’ 5 star review 

Thanks for doing me, Chrissie! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us 🙂

Grab your copy of THE BARN OF BURIED DREAMS:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1719995176

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Barn-Buried-Dreams-When-daylight-ebook/dp/B07GY3YFQ7/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1548606335&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=The+Barn+of+Buried+Dreams&psc=1

A little something for the weekend…

I’m back with a gift for all of my followers. It occurred to me, once back on the writing train that I haven’t run a promotion on my first book since 2016! I’m such a bad person! So, if you’re looking for a gritty, tense, paranormal read this weekend, look no further!

For just 99 of your pennies or cents for an almost 5 star read, I mean, what’s half a star between friends? Or if you are the proud owner of an Amazon Prime membership it’s completely FREE!

Falling to Pieces by L.T. Kelly

When Teagan Lewis moves from rural Montana to the bright lights of London with her maker Thomas, she expects to live as harmoniously as she has for the last one hundred-fifty years.
Teagan didn’t know she had a heart or soul until she met Marc Romano. 
However, it quickly becomes clear that Marc is forbidden fruit. All the signs that he isn’t human were there from the beginning, but she chose to ignore them…to her peril.
Can she simply walk away from this mesmerising stranger? Or should she risk her immortality to be with the man she has fallen in love with?

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Falling-Pieces-L-T-Kelly-ebook/dp/B00E6SH4VK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1548496895&sr=8-1&keywords=Falling+to+pieces+lt+kelly

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Falling-Pieces-L-T-Kelly-ebook/dp/B00E6SH4VK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1548497396&sr=8-1&keywords=Falling+to+Pieces+by+LT+Kelly

Have a great weekend! 🙂

***REVIEW*** Malibu Betrayals by M.K. Meredith

Malibu Betrayals blog tour banner

Blurb

Hollywood screenwriter Samantha Dekker spent the last year picking up the pieces after her husband’s suicide. Along with grief, guilt, and tabloid hell, she’s had to watch helplessly as the film industry slammed its doors in her face. Now Sam has the rarest of Hollywood opportunities—a second chance…working with the one man she swore never to see again.

Hunktastic A-lister Gage Cutler knows that Sam blamed him for his part in her husband’s death. Still, Sam is the one woman he can never forget. All he wants is a second chance of his own—to prove he’s not the player she remembers. And Malibu is the perfect backdrop to make a girl swoon.

Except they’re not alone. Someone is watching Sam and Gage’s steamy off-screen romance with the most dangerous of intentions…

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Review

First we meet Sam as she’s just beginning to recover from the loss of her husband, photographer to the stars, Ethan. Her life and career has been torn apart by the press following his untimely death, and she continually uncovers evidence that her marriage was a lie. The problem is I think she already knew that…before he died.

Sam, Hollywood screenwriter, had began to realise her marriage was over after an unplanned night in the company of Gage Cutler, hunky Hollywood actor. Unfortunately, Gage came to be the man she ultimately blamed for her husband’s death.

The story sneaks you behind the scenes of a Hollywood set, and engulfs you into the world of the rich and famous when Sam is invited to work on a film. The only problem being is that Gage is the leading man in more ways than one.

The electricity between the pair leaps off the page and fizzles through your skin. I was begging for these two to get it on. When they did I wasn’t disappointed. M.K. creates magic on the page that will keep you awake all night and have you falling asleep at your desk the next day. The writing style is like floating on crystal clear, calm waters, whilst sipping your favourite drink. It is that smooth, enjoyable, and easy to read.

The romance aspect isn’t all this book is about though, the element of suspense and mystery will keep you guessing until the end.

This HOT HOT HOT, tale of love, loss, heartache and sheer unimaginable attraction will be your perfect beach read this summer. If you don’t go and get it right now you’ll be missing out.

I award Malibu Betrayals

5 Hollywood clapper boards

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Buy links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1SCOUtg

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1GE8nCM

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1g6oW5N

B&N: http://bit.ly/1IlSqbV

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1VwlSQf

iTunes: http://apple.co/1g6paKb

GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/1CVDE9A

Entangled: http://bit.ly/1Vwl6Tf

Add the book to Goodreads ➜ http://bit.ly/1JfTRaX

Malibu betrayals blog tour button

Excerpt 

“There’s something between us. Has been since the night we met.”

Sam closed her eyes, but when he slid her hands around his neck, she snapped them open. He stepped in, crowding her, gathering her body into his arms and up against his length. His chest rose and fell in rapid succession—in time with hers. Lips, full and wide, hovered over hers for a beat, and he whispered. “Admit it.”

His warm breath wafted over her skin and goose bumps bloomed down her neck and chest. God yes. She was ready for a fling, for some fun with a gorgeous man who’d taken up way too much of her brain space. She didn’t want to wait any longer, so she leaned in, stopping a hair’s breadth from his lips and whispered, “Kiss me.”

His quick grin and squeeze of her hips with his hands teased. He barely brushed his mouth over hers, leaving a tingle behind. His heart thundered against her breasts, and the most delicious sensation rolled low in her belly.

Finally.

Closing her eyes, she closed the distance between the heat of their wanting lips. Gage brushed his lips against hers, absorbing her, pulling her tighter against him, releasing a rush of heat from her center through her limbs. Something akin to breathing again washed over her. She coiled her arms about his head and shifted higher in his embrace, kissing him back with all the pent-up woman she’d shoved down for so long.

He moaned low in his throat, and a surge of power tightened her grip around his neck. Yes. This is what she wanted, what she needed. Gage lifted her to the counter, and with a wide sweep of his hand, odds and ends crashed to the floor. The action, raw and hurried, called to a part of her she just realized existed. He wedged his hips between her knees, and she wrapped her legs about his waist, celebrating his lack of restraint. “God, Sam, I’ve wanted to taste you forever,” he whispered against her skin as he brushed his lips along her jaw and down her neck.

Her head fell back, and she kneaded his shoulders, lost as fingers of the most delicious fire licked up her spine and spread along her skull. She couldn’t breathe, yet he was all the air she needed. She couldn’t think, yet he filled her mind.

He found his way back to her mouth, his lips gliding in a whispered caress as his tongue slid against her own. She pressed into him, desperate to get closer, losing herself in the feeling of being desired.

Someone pounded on the door and they froze. “The rain’s stopped. Five minutes until shooting, Mr. Cutler.”

“Fuck.”

Sam swallowed, wanting to giggle, but the effort would cost too much. “You aren’t finished?”

He pulled back just enough for her to see his eyes narrow with an intensity she felt to her toes. “I’m not nearly finished.”

About the author

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MK Meredith writes single title contemporary romance promising an emotional ride on heated sheets. She believes the best route to success is to never stop learning. MK’s lifelong love affair with peanut butter continues, only two things come close in the battle for her affections: gorgeous heels and maybe Gerard Butler…or was it David Gandy? Who is she kidding? Her true loves are her husband and two children who have survived her SEA’s (spontaneous explosions of affection) and live to tell the tale. The Meredith’s live in the D.C. area with their three large fur babies…until the next adventure calls.

Connect

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An Easter gift from me to you. :D

Happy Easter to all followers of Lucy’s Lit Lovin’ Blog! I haven’t had a book sale for a whole nine months! I’ve been so busy with writing Kissing Cassie that I sort of forgot about poor Teagan and her wonderful adventures.

I hope you’ll indulge her. I’m making Falling to Pieces FREE. Falling into You is just 99c/99p. Both are available on Amazon, on sale/free, for a limited time only. Don’t miss out!

FTP review quotes

Amazon.com: http://goo.gl/AmQIPl

Amazon.co.uk: http://goo.gl/ZOD3f8

FIY review

Amazon.com: http://goo.gl/iltJFH

Amazon.co.uk: http://goo.gl/S1Cx5V

All links will open on a new page. I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy the books! As always, remember to leave a review!

HAPPY EASTER!

‘Falling to Pieces’ Blog tour stops.

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I’m pleased to announce the dates and details of the ‘Falling to Pieces’ blog tour.
I’d also like to take this oppurtunity to thank each and every blogger for featuring me on their blog.
The tour will be running from the 16th – 31st of August 2013.
16th – Beginnings in Writing – Author interview – http://beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com/
17th – Jake Bonsignore – Guest post – http://jakebonsignore.wordpress.com/
18th – Fiction’s Our Addiction – Review – http://fictionsouraddiction.wordpress.com/
19th – Rose & Beps Blog – Guest post –  http://rosebeps.blogspot.co.uk/
20th – Adventures in Reading – Excerpt – http://adventuresinreading16.blogspot.co.uk/
21st – M’s Sinful Reviews – Review – http://mssinfulreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
22nd – Just One More Romance Novel – Excerpt – http://justonemoreromance.blogspot.com/
23rd – She Reads New Adult – Review – http://www.shereadsnewadult.com
24th – Little Read Riding Hood – Review – http://littlereadridinghood.com/
25th – Tabby’s Tantilizing Reviews – Excerpt – http://tabbystantalizingreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
26th – Mousiey Books – Review – http://mousiey.blogspot.co.uk/?zx=6eadd5933db25ba8
27th – Beginnings in Writing – Excerpt –  http://beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com/
28th – Babu’s Bookshelf – Author Interview – http://babusbookshelf.blogspot.co.uk/
29th – The AKA Book Harlots Review – Review – https://www.facebook.com/AkaTheBookHarlotsReview
31st – My Book Opolis – Review – http://mybookopolis.com
           Babu’s Bookshelf – Review – http://babusbookshelf.blogspot.co.uk/
It would be great if you followed these blogs, then you won’t miss a thing. I am writing different posts and choosing different excerpts for each blog, so no two will be the same. 🙂

Falling to Pieces – Chapter One

In celebration of reaching over 1000 likes on my Facebook page, and ‘Falling to Pieces going live on Amazon, both in paperback and Kindle editions, I’m posting Chapter One. Hope you all like it.

Chapter One 

I fought against sleep, desperately trying to force my eyelids open. The crate I was inside jolted on a hard surface. I caught the words of apologies from the handlers before falling back into unconsciousness for a moment.

The crate was back on the move, disturbing me once again. I wanted to slam my fists on the wood at tell them I’d walk myself, but I kept falling back to sleep before I got the chance.

My bare feet pressed hard against the silk lining as the box tilted at an angle. On the outside it appeared to be an ordinary wooden cargo container, not unlike one you’d see if you shipped a large amount of wine over from foreign shores. The inside was a different story altogether, having been padded and lined with the finest Chinese silk.

The journey had been nothing but a pain in the ass, or arse, as I should say now that we’re in England. I hated with a passion being cooped up.

I recognised the clunk of metal connecting with the wood, gently easing the nails out to reveal my resting place. The highly paid handlers quickly moved to take me out of the box. They gingerly lifted me out before placing me on the bed. My eyes flickered open for a moment with the sensation of being lifted. I wanted to struggle against them and climb into the bed by myself, but the energy needed wasn’t available with the sun still in the sky. I settled into a deep undisturbed sleep as the men left my bedroom.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long for the sun to set. I woke with a start, unsettled by my unfamiliar surroundings.

Flopping back down on the Egyptian cotton sheet, I wrinkled my nose at the memory of voluntarily climbing into the large wooden crate. Everything I needed I’d had with me, but there’s nothing pleasant about being nailed into a crate for any amount of time, regardless of the decor.

I squeezed my eyes shut, grimacing at the recollection of my father’s harsh tone. He’s not exactly my father in the traditional sense, but it’s an appropriate name for him because he made me into what I am today.

“Now, Teagan, you must remember not to fidget,” he chastised me with a stony expression etched on his face.

I’d considered telling him to go fuck himself. I didn’t want to leave America, but the electric pull of his possession forced me to follow wherever he chose to go. That was simply the way things were. The desire to be with my maker was too strong to ignore.

Like a good little fledgling, I’d smiled sweetly at him instead.

“Yes, father. You have told me many times of the importance of not moving around. I do remember the first time. Did I let you down then?”

The first time we’d travelled thousands of miles, the Wright brothers hadn’t even been born, let alone invented the airplane.

I remembered Thomas, my maker and saviour giving me the same instructions in 1853 when we’d boarded the ship named Washington, bound for New York.

Back then, I’d hung on to his every word like a little puppy.

Thomas had stroked my cheek with his cold fingers. His dark blue eyes were bright and glossy, gazing into mine with heart-warming sincerity.

“Listen to me my dear child,” his voice sounded so soft, almost a whisper. I raised my face closer to his.

“You must remember to keep as still as possible. If we are discovered in the crates we’ll be considered stowaways. There will be no way for us to hide from the sun.”

I’d nodded my understanding, completely at his command. I was so new at being a vampire that I shined and sparkled like a new pin to adorn him with a trophy child and a pet project.

Sweetly, he’d waited outside of my crate whilst I’d lowered myself down with my face turned up to his and my eyes wide with fear. Thomas had lowered his smiling lips to my pale cheek after I’d lain down.

“You will be safe now, my love,” he’d said.

I understood why we had to go. It was impossible to stay in Ireland now. My family thought me dead and it was best for everyone that they continued to believe that.

He straightened himself back up and turned to his servants, his expression changing to a business like quality, all gentleness vanishing.

“Seal her crate,” he barked at the highly paid men that were escorting us. The lid was nailed shut.

I slept for the majority of the first few days before one of Thomas’ servants released us. We were well into the trip by then and I’d run out of the supplies that had been placed in the crate with me. It took all the will I had to stop myself from draining the servant dry.

For six weeks, the servants would let us out of the crates to feed on the unsuspecting crew and passengers.

When the ship docked in New York, they were around one hundred passengers lighter. Of course, not every death could be attributed to Thomas and me. Some had been taken by disease or pure misfortune. If it had been nowadays, they wouldn’t have died from our feeding at all. The lack of food and nutrition onboard had made the humans weak, too weak to sustain blood loss.

I slipped off my bed, bringing myself back to reality, and walked into the bathroom, flipping the light on more out of habit than necessity. My vision was perfect in the darkness, after taking a moment to adjust anyway.

I inspected myself in the mirror whilst removing the clothes I’d been wearing for days, discarding them on the floor. I’ve got ginger hair. Ok, maybe not ginger, I’m somewhere in between red and blonde. It irritates the hell outta’ me.

If my hair colour was red or blonde I suspect I’d be a bit happier. I’ve bleached and dyed it before, only to wake up the next night and find the mane is back to normal, stuck in purgatory between the two colours and ramrod straight. I even shaved my head once, the whole damn lot, but I woke to find the tresses had re-grown back down to my waist.

At least my transition couldn’t affect the pallor of my skin. I’ve always been pale with freckles scattered about most of my body. A consequence of being Irish I figured.

As a human, my oval shaped eyes were a dark blue, but since the change they’ve become cyan speckled with flecks of violet, as if my body couldn’t decide what it wanted.

“For goodness sake, Teagan!” Thomas bellowed from the doorway of my bathroom.

I continued my gaze into the mirror.

“What alarms you about clothes?” Thomas asked.

I viewed him out the corner of my eye—he’d turned to face away from my exposed body.

“Well, Thomas, this is my bathroom and my bedroom. Are you afraid of knocking?”

I selected the mascara from the contents of the bag next to the sink. I unscrewed the lid and began applying the gloopy black substance to my eyelashes whilst trying to act as if he’d gone.

“Well, I didn’t want you to become—over hungry.”

I stomped past him, making no attempt to cover up my nakedness, back into my large bedroom.

“Fear not, father. I’m going out now.”

“By yourself?” His voice was high-pitched with incredulity. “You won’t have any idea of where to go. We’re not in Montana now, Teagan. You don’t know London.”

I rolled my eyes in another direction, unwilling to look at him. I pretended to inspect the crimson pattern on the feature wall as I pulled on some jeans, not bothering with underwear, I was too hungry to mess around. I’d selected the décor for my room while we were still in Montana, and I was happy to see the decorators had pulled off my vision to perfection.

“I’m well aware of where we are, thank you very much, father. You know I prefer to feed by myself, without any of your corrections.” I snatched up the green silk shirt, the material slithered over my skin sending the nerve endings to alert. I was a little excited at the thought of tasting new blood, English blood.

“I’m sorry, Teagan. Of course, I forgot, you can’t take constructive criticism. I only endeavour to help you improve yourself,” he said, his voice tinged with sarcasm and his eyes narrowed with severity.

Thomas’ Italian leather shoes spun on the thick red pile carpet as his slim figure, a blur, flashed out the walnut door after swinging the heavy wood back hard on the hinges.

I raised an eyebrow as “dick-head,” escaped my mouth without consideration.

I slumped down on the California king bed. Actually, I had been behaving like a sulky teenager. Thomas had given me everything anyone could ever wish for. He’d saved me from a sad existence. There were some things in my human life that I felt I’d missed out on because I had to leave. It caused me pain to even think about those things, and I never talked about them. But I knew that everything he did and continues to do, he does for me.

The move to London had annoyed me. I had no idea why we’d come here, and I’d never been offered an explanation of any kind.

Our lives in Montana were remote and lonely. It wasn’t as if I had left anything that I loved behind. I should have been grateful for the streams of people and the bright lights of the city.

Huffing at my own behaviour, I slipped my feet into green ballet style shoes. I filled my nostrils with air as I stepped out into the hallway, trying to sniff Thomas out. The house was huge, so it took me a while to trace him to the drawing room.

I hovered by the door while he pretended not to realise I was there. His eyes remained firmly on the book he was clutching with white knuckles. He sat in a salmon coloured winged back chair next to the intricate stone fireplace with pinched lips and a stiff posture.

“Father,” I said quietly, my voice cutting through the silence like a knife.

“What?” he snapped, not bothering to grant me a glance.

“I’m so sorry for my behaviour. You’re right. I’m acting like an adolescent. Can you forgive me? We could start afresh.”

“You know I will,” he said, his eyes meeting mine finally as he softened his expression. “Can you forgive me for bringing you to London?”

“It’s not so bad.” I smiled while waving my hand around the plush room. “Any chance we discuss our new beginning later? I’m so hungry.”

He shook himself, as if he had forgotten that I hadn’t eaten in days.

“Of course, my love. I suggest you go to Hyde Park. It’s a few minutes walk, if you head south you can’t miss it. I shouldn’t think you’d encounter any problems.”

I nodded letting my smile reach my eyes.

I threw the front door open after descending the stairs. The air, still quite warm and doused with pollution, served as another reminder I no longer lived in a countryside location.

Skipping down the front steps I took in the scene on the street. The houses around me glowed thanks to the streetlights lining the pavement. All of the houses resembled the one I lived in, painted a clean, creamy ivory colour. The doors and railings wrapping around them were painted black in stark contrast. They were rowed neatly with bevelled triangular carvings in them, tall, proud and narrow structures.

I couldn’t believe the cleanliness of the streets. I’d always imagined London would be dirty for some reason.

As directed by Thomas, I reached the edge of the park within a few minutes and took a path lined with globular street lamps casting a white pearly light.

Spotting a bank of trees, I walked over to them pressing the length of my body against the bark and laying my cheek against the roughness. I closed my eyes and breathed in the earthy goodness. I’d already been missing the countryside, just in that short walk.

The traffic noises from a nearby road drowned out my thoughts, so I concentrated on blocking them all out. My brain finally cut out the background noise. The lapping water of the river running parallel to the park and the wind rattling the soft leaves and grass soothed me. It made me feel at one with the nature surrounding me despite being in the middle of the city.

My eyes snapped open as I became aware of the vibration of footsteps, too clunky and unrefined to be an animal.

As the human came closer, I could hear their ragged breath and a heartbeat pumping the delicious blood through their veins.

My eyes found him—a stout man, short, fat and bald. His suit was grey and crumpled. His whitecollar hung open, the tie swung with his movements having been loosened off, leaving his fleshy neck exposed.

He started to pass where I stood, and in a blurry flash I snatched his large body and extended my fangs. I forced him against the tree as my newly revealed teeth stabbed into his neck. My mouth filled with sweet, rich, sticky liquid, tinged with the taste of alcohol.

He groaned for a second before the venom provided anaesthetic relief.

I wrapped my arms around his huge waist and shifted his body gently down to the grass so I was kneeling beside him. I pulled my teeth out of his neck whilst placing my hand over his mouth.

The man’s eyes flew wide open for a split second before the make-up of the venom had a chance to convert in his blood stream. When he flinched, that told me the process had completed. The poison from my fangs had wiped his memory of my attack forever. I moved my hand from his mouth to his cheek so fast any human would fail to notice.

“Are you ok, Mister?” I asked him frowning.

“Whoa—what happened?”

“A cyclist knocked you flying and you fell unconscious for a moment or two.”

“A cyclist knocked me over?” he echoed in an uncertain tone, swallowing hard. “I feel a bit dizzy.”

“Well, you’ve had a shock. Here, let me help you up.” I rose with grace from my place beside him and extended my hand. I didn’t want to draw this out for longer than I had to. I was eager to explore the city.

He grasped my hand with no consideration for our weight difference, probably a good thing because I didn’t want him to take notice of my considerable strength.

I began brushing him down trying to stifle a giggle, my actions reminding me of a mother inspecting her child before sending him off to school.

“I’d go home if I were you, see how you are in the morning,” I advised. He nodded, blinking rapidly and glancing around.

“Um, thanks,” he said before sluggishly ambling away.

I walked a few metres to sit down on a wooden bench. I wanted to bask in the warmth of being full and satisfied. My head dropped back and rested on the backrest. My eyes were half open as a smile curled the edges of my lips.

Without warning my whole body jerked, every muscle became tense. I realised instinct had positioned me on the pathway in a crouch, ready to pounce.

I swished back into the tree line where I’d come from, my blue and purple irises alert, ready for what created the magnificent aroma that I was breathing in deeply.

What is that?’ I’d never smelled anything like it before. It was indescribable because it was so many things. Open lilies, baking bread, freshly cut grass, all intertwined to create something wonderful.

I focussed my attention back on the path, honing my vision on the delectable source of the scent.

The aroma came from a man walking purposefully through the park.

How could a human smell so divine? He certainty appeared to be just a human, but then I supposed I did, too. His shoes tapped across the walkway. Though, to me, each gentle footstep seemed to magnify into great big booms. My attention belonged solely to him.

He stopped in his tracks, his eyebrows knitting together creasing his perfect olive skin.

My nails dug into the bark, exposing the flesh of the tree.

He snorted in the scented air just as I had been, like a cocaine addict simply unable to stop filling his nose. He glanced around before he continued his liquid movements down the path past the tree that I clung to for support.

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