In the middle of a really busy year for me, I decided to self-publish my book, Lovers.
I wrote this during lockdown and did my research by phone and online. Lockdown was a very weird time. For me, because my work involves coming into contact with people, it was rather isolating. I suppose thoughts of being on your own and having to work through feelings of loneliness is what really inspired the stories in this book.
Even when we have lots of wonderful friends and family around us, we can still feel lonely at times. Like the world is against you. I feel it's important to reach out and talk to people. I also believe in things like fate, chance and destiny but I also think you can make your own luck. But you have to make decisions, be proactive and trust your intuition.
My characters in Lovers have choices but chance and luck play a big part in their rebuilding their lives. It was a very emotional book for me to write and I'd like to share an excerpt of the first chapter. Let me know what you think!
It’s Soho, 1983, and Charlie’s world is moved by the female singer in a blues band. Brenda sings at the Soho Cellar and Charlie is about to fall into a love story that was never meant to be.
In 2020, their story rises from the ashes and pulls a group of strangers into its heart. They are all trying to start a new story of their own. As their worlds intertwine, love is just a coincidence away.
For love to conquer, they each need to take a chance. But will a perfect stranger become a perfect lover?
I thought if I prayed hard enough, there might be a let up in the rain. It began two days ago, a fine spray on the window pane, as I packed my life away in cardboard crates. I look over at Mrs Baxter’s garden from my patio windows. For her, the rain continues, her roses smiling to the heavens as if the rest of our prayers don’t count. Very soon, though, all the gardens will have fallen leaves collecting on patchy lawns, flowers will be deadheaded, patio furniture locked in sheds but I won’t be here to watch it happen.
This rain, today, falls hard and fast as if every drop was a pent-up emotion, crammed inside a cloud of fury, waiting to burst out. There are angry stabs on the decking, purposeful splashes on the leaves of the geraniums. I wonder if I should grab my pot plants and take them with me to my new flat, after all, but I have nowhere to put them now. My car is full, and the movers are almost finished loading. The small items of furniture I kept are all on board, and the boxes marked Misc are mostly stacked in the van. There are several boxes marked Misc. It wasn’t until I’d sat in the stark living room yesterday and noticed how many that it occurred to me I should at least have written Misc Kitchen or Misc Bedroom just so I knew where everything went when I got to the new place.
I decide to leave the geraniums.
The removal men, when they arrived two hours ago, looked at me with pity. They probably wondered why I was leaving a three bedroom house in Manchester and travelling all the way to London to a two bedroom flat on my own. What was my reason for downsizing? Had I lost people along the way? Had I been too hopeful about filling the house with a husband and children? Maybe I’m overthinking this. I’m just another job for them. They’d been efficient and matter-of-fact, but not in an unfriendly way.
On the floor next to the living room door, along with my handbag, is the box. Mum’s ashes. I’d kept them in the dark wooden box on a shelf in the top of my wardrobe. David complained that it was freaking him out, seeing them in the living room every time he sat down. Like the house was haunted. I moved them—couldn’t handle another argument—so they were out of sight. Mum was never out of mind, not for me. Although she’d left it to me, this would always be Mum’s house. Being haunted by her wouldn’t be so bad—I missed her with every fibre of my being.
I’m not looking forward to the drive: four hours with just one stop. Maybe I’ll take two stops if I feel tired. I didn’t sleep much the night before. Tossing and turning, worried I’d done the wrong thing, moving to a completely new city, one I really only saw through Mum’s eyes. She’d refused to go back there, not even for a visit. I’d wanted to stop the moving process many times, take the For Sale sign down, call the school in Holland Park and tell them I’d changed my mind, something had come up. But I’d had a long and successful interview and a new job was part of the big change I’d convinced myself I needed.
Two nights before, I’d gone for a farewell drink with Jeannie. She left her husband, Oliver, to sort the twins out by himself for a change and had taken me out. I wasn’t really in the mood. I forced myself to go. Of course, I wanted to say goodbye or au revoir to Jeannie. She is my best friend and has seen me through some difficult times. Jeannie helped me escape from my whole situation. One that had gone on for long enough. Any longer and I would have ended up on the psychiatric ward of Manchester General after yet another spell in A&E. Jeannie hadn’t meant for me to go as far as London, maybe just the next town or city.
‘You know I’m going to miss you like hell, Ione?’ she’d said in the trendy bar we’d found ourselves in after Jeannie said The Angel had the atmosphere of a wake. A wake in which the deceased had an assortment of morbid-looking friends who enjoyed a drink but were lacking in conversation. Jeannie said it was far too sad, and we should go to Grainger’s, ignoring my protests about not being dressed right and being the wrong side of thirty. Grainger’s played their music loud. All the tables were high and the stools were tall. I’d have felt as if I was on display, and there wouldn’t be a dark corner to hide in. I was still working on the coping mechanisms the counsellor had given me for that sort of thing, but I wasn’t quite there yet. I didn’t mention the part about not wanting to be noticed to Jeannie because I knew she’d lecture me about how beautiful I was. How she wished she had my thick hair and complexion. Exotic, she once called me. A Jamaican mother and Greek father equals exotic to Jeannie, and I couldn’t argue with her.
‘I’ll miss you, too,’ I’d said. I did all I could to choke back a sob. I promised myself I wouldn’t make a scene. Leaving Manchester would be the making of me. This was my mantra. ‘But I do have mixed feelings about leaving the house. He ruined it for me.’
‘Don’t think about the last few years. Just try and remember the time before.’
‘I’m trying. My childhood memories, the teenage years. They were the best, but it was hard to hold onto the memory of me and Mum. The times we had. I know I’ve told you this, but it broke her heart when I moved out to go to uni.’
‘Funny, isn’t it? When I left home, I told my parents, you’ll never see me again. I’m travelling the world, starting with New York. I’ll be rich. I won’t miss Manchester for a second. I told them I’d send them the odd Christmas card and that would be it.’ We both laughed at the reality of it all. ‘Two years in Leeds—didn’t even make it to an airport—and I’m back. Pregnant. Married to a slob and moving into a three-bedroomed semi round the corner from the flipping folks.’
Despite what she said about them, Jeannie was close to her parents. They’d helped her with Benjie, now fifteen, and when she and then Oliver had been out of work, they had paid the mortgage. Though she groaned non-stop about her husband, Jeannie was in total agreement whenever I reminded her how lucky she was to have found a man like Oliver.
I, on the other hand, had found a man who would kick me down a flight of stairs, then step over me to go out and play cards with his friends. As if seeing his wife’s legs lift from under her and hearing her cries as each part of her body jammed into a wall or banged into the banister as she careered down the stairs was perfectly acceptable. Like it happened in every household. The first time David was violent, physically that is, is a time I still have etched in my memory. I’d made some comment about not having anything nice. I was looking into the wardrobe at the time, referring to its contents and the fact I needed something for the baptism of Jeannie’s twins. I remember how, in a flash, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dark figure lunging towards me. At first, I didn’t know what I was seeing. His eyes were wide; bulging from his head. His hands, outstretched as he came at me, were not like hands but savage instruments. David leapt at me to attack, but I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t move. He was on me, forcing me to look at him, spitting angry words into my face.
Lovers is released on Amazon in ebook format October 5th 2023. Join my mailing list to be notified when it goes live!