My fourth book, Flynn's Kiss is well under way, but Flynn has been hugely obliging by taking a backseat for now while I complete my 15,000 word short story challenge between fellow Liquid Silver authors, Allyson Lindt and Eva Lefoy. The challenge ends on today, which incidentally coincides with the release of Finding Zoe.
Returning to England after eleven years, Cormack Blunt stumbles across the woman who he thought was lost to him forever. The woman he had never forgotten. And he realizes that the sweet young girl he once knew has managed to keep a secret from him.
Zoe Chance can’t believe that the young man she loved eleven years before, now a famous movie star and action hero, has turned up out of the blue and wants answers. Not only that, he wants her son too.
Forced to confront him, she realizes that it isn’t a fight to keep her son that causes the problem but the fight to keep her own heart.
Stepping out of the car, he walked around the hood to lean his arms on the gate and stare into the distance. The gamekeeper’s cottage, with its three bedrooms and a little jetty extending out into the small lake, looked as though it had also fallen on good times. It had been empty before.
Curious to get a closer look, he opened the gate and walked through. The dirt track was dry in the heat of the summer sun, and dust kicked up as he walked.
Roses ran riot in deep pink and white over the outside of the cottage. Cute, typically English. The door stood open. Reluctant to intrude but just as reluctant to withdraw, he hesitated and peered into the kitchen to find it empty. His gaze scanned down to the all too familiar jetty.
And there she was. As though it were yesterday. He tilted his head to one side. It couldn’t be. Her vibrant red hair shimmered in the bright sunlight. Believing he was dreaming, he took a few steps closer, paused. She reclined, languid, her back against the end post of the jetty, legs outstretched, face turned up to the heavens, eyes closed. Convinced now he must be hallucinating, his attention wandered to the one item unfamiliar to his memory. A glass of white wine was placed by her side, her fingers curled around the stem.
His heart lurched as he narrowed his eyes and stared. He knew it was his imagination. She’d moved years ago, and in any case, she looked exactly the same; she’d never aged. Mystified, he walked toward her. As he stepped onto the jetty, it protested at his weight with a loud, shuddering groan.
Her eyes shot open, her head whipped around, shock streaked across her face, and her body jerked and floundered. With a shriek and a loud splash, the object of his imagination fell off the edge of the jetty and disappeared beneath the surface of the clear blue water.
Pulse racing, legs pumping, he ran down to the end of the jetty, flung himself to his knees as her drenched, dark auburn hair bobbed to the surface. He grabbed it and hauled her up as she howled in pain.
“Let go, you flaming maniac.” Shocked at the sound of her familiar voice and the realization he wasn’t dreaming, he dropped her and watched, fascinated, as she sank under the water once more.
It was her.
Spluttering, she surfaced, cursing.
“You raving lunatic. What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Red strands of hair plastered her pale, porcelain features. She sucked in her breath and launched herself up onto the jetty.
Heart stunned, he watched, frozen, as she struggled to haul herself up and over the side of the wooden planks. Eventually, she lay flopping like a seal, rasping air in through her lungs.
“I thought you moved.” It was the only thing he could think to say through the torrent of raging emotions, whirling between confused disbelief and burgeoning fury.
Breath rattled past the water in her throat.
“I did, you moron.”
She lay on her back in front of him, panting in fresh air, and looking like a goddamned teenager. Grinding his teeth at the unfairness of it all, his voice pushed its way past the stranglehold of his throat.
“I tried to find you.”
There was a long silence, just the sound of her labored breathing.
“You didn’t try very hard.”
“You sold your house and left. It was empty. I checked myself. There was no furniture. There was a ‘sold’ sign.” He couldn’t hold back the accusation as he felt the bitterness rise up, threatening to consume him.
She pushed her sodden, dark red hair out of her face and lay motionless with her eyes closed, her chest heaving.
“Mac. It was eleven years ago. What are you doing here now?” She sounded weary.
“You moved.” He couldn’t help the sullenness in his voice. She had catapulted him back to being a young man again.
“Yes. Yes, we moved. My mother died, we moved. We sold the big house, kept this one. I went to university.” She sat up abruptly, impatience and annoyance vibrating from her. Her huge green-gold eyes met his and whipped his breath away. He wondered if he clutched his chest and started to wheeze if she would do anything to help him. From the cold, distant look in her eyes, he couldn’t imagine her calling for an ambulance. She would more than likely shove him in the pond and leave him to drown.
“What did you want?” She lifted a sleek, wine-colored eyebrow and gazed back at him, cool and superior despite her dripping wet state.
How the hell she managed to make him feel awkward, he had no idea, but the woman had always been able to make him feel emotions he never had with others.
“I always wondered what had happened to you. I was curious.”
“So…what? You came all the way from America? Just to check on me? After eleven years?” It quite pleased him she at least remembered how long it had been.
He became distracted by the sight of her soaking wet yellow T-shirt. Transparent, it hugged her body, clung to her curves. He could see the outline of her bra and thought what a shame she was wearing one. She never used to.
He glanced down at her slender feet with pretty pink polish on her nails. A familiar warmth spread down his belly into his groin as he remembered kissing those toes. Distracted by the ever-widening puddle surrounding her, he allowed his gaze to track farther up. Her saturated white pedal pushers clung, see-through and obscenely well, to her legs, her thighs, her hips, and if he wasn’t mistaken, he could see her…
Guiltily, his eyes shot up to hers. Held.
Fascinated, he remembered vividly the tiny dark flecks and the darker hazel ring that surrounded the light green of her eyes. She stared at him. Her left eyebrow slowly lifted again, distant and haughty. He had no idea what to say to her. He’d never truly imagined seeing her again.
“You’ve not changed.” Stupid cliché and he wanted to kick himself. She didn’t look impressed, either, as she sighed, shook her head, pushed her sopping hair back from her face, and puffed out a disgusted breath.
“You have. You’re bigger.” He wasn’t sure if she meant it as a compliment or an insult, but as she scrambled to her feet, gathering her waist-length red hair in one hand, he waited. She twisted it, squeezed out a torrent of water, and made him smile. She looked irritated now, but at least it was better than cool disinterest.
“Honestly, Mac. I have no idea what possessed you to come here. It’s very nice to see you, but really, I’m sure you have a heroic act to perform. Makeup and wardrobe will be waiting.” She rolled her eyes in disgust and started to stride back up the jetty toward the house.
“Mum!” She froze.
Curious, Mac turned, squinting through the bright reflection of sunlight at the rowboat approaching across the water. Disappointed, he realized she probably did have a life; a husband, kids.
The boat was a distance away yet, but he could make out a couple of figures. A man and a boy. Surprised, he peered harder, certain the adult was Zoe’s father. Older, more round-shouldered than he remembered, with a shock of white hair reflecting the sunlight, but he was sure it was him.
There was a kid in the boat with two dogs, and he yelled and waved frantically.
“Oh my God.” Mac heard her anxious whisper from behind him. His gaze never left the small boat. Curiosity had morphed, uncomfortably, into a horrible premonition as he stared across the pond at the strangely familiar stance of the kid in the boat. A tingling sensation crawled up his neck into his hairline.
His heart rate quickened; his breath came in short pants. He squinted as the rowboat approached. The kid’s face came into focus, so familiar. The features almost as recognizable as his own. No, perhaps more like his younger sister’s. In fact, the kid was the spitting image of his sister, Bill, at his age.
Fucking hell. Knees like water, Mac wondered what they all would think if he simply sank onto the dock.
The boat pulled alongside Zoe on the jetty, and the skinny kid launched himself onto the boards, his eyes pinned to his mother’s soaking wet, motionless figure, the dogs close on his heels. Mac’s heart thundered as nausea rolled through his stomach. He didn’t seem to be able to stop gulping in air.
“Granddad caught trout. We’re having trout tonight.”
His mother remained silent; her face was pale and strained as she stood frozen while the water dripped ceaselessly around her feet.
“Why are you wet? Mum?”
The kid’s head tilted to one side, and then he turned. His mouth dropped open; his huge black eyes goggled.
“Bloody hell.” A huge smile spread across the kid’s face, white teeth gleaming in contrast to his bronzed skin. “It’s Cormack Blunt!”
Available now from
Liquid Silver Books http://www.lsbooks.com/finding-zoe-p836.php
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/15EXvne