It’s My Mistake – Chapter 2

If you’re new to the story, please read chapter 1 here.

~~~

“Alice!” my startlingly beautiful, long blonde haired friend gasped in shock. Her gorgeous blue eyes twinkled at me, her mouth slightly ajar in surprised after I told her the train-wreck of an interivew I had yesterday. “You did what?”

“I know! After all that, I told the woman outside to fuck off too,” I said, before burying my face in my hands and groaned.

Olivia and I were sat in a café round the corner to where she worked. I decided to meet up with her before her shift started and I had explained what had happened with the interview from start to end in surprising vivid detail. Well, leaving out a few details; like the handsome man that was behind the table. That was something Olivia would have wanted to know more about rather than the interview itself. She had a bit of an obsession with men.

I liked Olivia, she was the closest thing I had to a best friend. She was originally my roommate for a few months after I moved to the city. She had a small spare room for rent, and luckily she had it up for quite cheap too. We hit it off quite quickly, which I was extremely surprised about. She was a beautiful blonde girl, only a year younger than I was, and was extremely outgoing. I was the complete opposite, but she was surprisingly easy to get along with. Our little arrangement only lasted a few months though, I had found out she was actually renting the apartment herself and wasn’t actually allowed to rent out the other bedroom. The landlord had kicked us both out and we had to go our separate ways. But our strange friendship lasted.

“That’s amazing! At least you fucked it up in style!” she giggle hysterically.

“It’s useless! I’m never going to get a job in a hotel! Maybe I am better off going back to care?”

“Don’t be silly, there are still loads of hotels out there, or maybe you’re better off starting somewhere smaller? Like a hostel or something?” she said, touching my hand in sympathy. “Just don’t yell at the interview panel and tell people to fuck off!” she suddenly smiled.

I groaned again. I realised after having a good long think about what I had done—the whole Miss/Mrs mistake—there was still chance to salvage the interview; just laugh it off as an administration error. But no, instead I decided to yell at people and storm out like a spoilt brat.

Plus, to make matters worse; I really wanted that particular job. Yeah, the role was just entry level, probably only filing and paper pushing. But the company was supposed to be a really good company to work for. I heard rumours that people who started at the company would be well looked after and they really helped you progress. I had dreams of going far in the company. I needed to go far in the company. I needed to prove myself. It was also a social enterprise too, so it helps the community, something that had caught my attention in particular. Global Elite, the company was called. That hotel was just one of two in London, and one of, probably lots around the world. I had done a bit of research, hoping my knowledge of the company and its history might have won me some brownie points. Not that I even got that far.

Olivia open her mouth—probably about to comfort me in her usual sarcastic way—but closed it when my mobile phone rang loudly next to me. I stared at the caller ID but I didn’t recognise the number. It wasn’t a saved contact, so I didn’t rush to answer it. Besides, I had a feeling I knew who it was.

“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Olivia asked, her well-manicured eyebrow rose at my curiously.

“No, it’s probably Simon,” I replied, still staring at the mobile as it danced and sang at me.

“I thought you like Simon?”

Simon was my ex. Well, he was and he wasn’t. We didn’t officially break up. I just walked out on him a while back and stopped talking to him. I guess that consitutes as an ex. We weren’t together for long anyway. Either way I didn’t tell Olivia the whole story. In fact, I didn’t really tell her anything. She didn’t even know I had stopped seeing him. She didn’t exactly ask.

“I did.”

She watched me silently for a few seconds as if trying to digest a hidden meaning in those two words. “Then what’s the problem?”

I sighed. “I’ve stopped seeing him,” I explained, and Olivia’s eyebrows rose together this time. “He came across… desperate,” I continued, when Olivia didn’t say anything.

Olivia burst out laughing. “Maybe he was just horny and wanted to get in your knickers?”

I gave her a look, which was supposed to be a don’t-be-so-gross look, but she clearly read it wrong. I hated the word ‘horny’ and Olivia knew it.

“Wait!” She gasped. “Did you two—”

“No!” I snapped. “I didn’t sleep with him!”

I had told Olivia that I wanted to wait, at least until I knew that he and I would go far in a relationship. Plus, I was a little shy in that department. Unlike Olivia, I wasn’t so confident. But I guess it was a while since I last spoke to Olivia about Simon. Knowing Olivia, she probably thought I did sleep with him and that was why I dumped him.

Olivia just held her hands up in defence. “Can’t blame me for asking, he is fairly attractive. I would. Even if it was just for a quick shag.”

“Olivia!” I gasped in shock at my friend. Although I wasn’t sure why I was still so shocked, she was always like this. But Olivia was a young, beautiful blonde woman, and she always had men after her. I was just lucky that I met Simon on my own and not when I was with her. I had visions of him going off with her instead. “You know I’m not like that!”

She shrugged. “Nothing wrong with it.”

“The guy wanted a serious relationship, not just a quick shag,” I said, lowering my voice slightly so the couple on the table next to us wouldn’t hear me. Which was pointless, they had clearly overheard Oliva. She was so embarrassing sometimes.

“I know, I know!” She nodded. “But you should at least consider it, you never know, you might enjoy it!” She winked.

But I ignored her, my mobile rang again.

“Hey, if it is Simon, wouldn’t it come up on your phone as Simon’s number?” she asked, pointing at the phone.

“No, I deleted it,” I said.

“You deleted his number from your phone?” she asked, her eyebrows rose again.

“I know, it was a mistake. I forgot I did it and he tried ringing me. I accidentally answered it, not realising it was him, until I heard his voice wheezing down the earpiece—”

“Wheezing?” Olivia asked, looking confused.

I shrugged. “Sounded like he was wheezing, maybe he’s asthmatic?”

“Or he was—”

“Don’t!” I said, stopping her saying something crude that I really didn’t want to hear. I knew she was about to say something crude, it was the look on her face that gave it away. She just laughed. “The point is, I ended up having to block his number in the end because he kept rining and kept for—” I stopped. I had Simon’s number blocked. He couldn’t ring me! I looked at the mobile which was still ringing.

“What?” Olivia asked, clearly not getting why I stopped.

“I have Simon’s number blocked!” I said. “He can’t ring me!”

“Then answer it!” she said quickly. “It might be another hunky desperate man wanting a shag!”

I ignored her and picked my phone up from the table, but just before I was about to answer it, it stopped ringing. I groaned.

“Well, I guess he’s got fed up and found someone else!” Olivia chimed, and took a sip of her coffee.

I ignored her and continued to look at my phone. I was quietly trying to decide what to do. Maybe if I sat and waited for a bit, the caller would ring me back, or maybe leave a voicemail. I liked the idea of someone leaving me a voicemail, if they gave me a hint of who they were, I could decide whether I wanted to ring back.

But after a few minutes ticked by on my phone, no one rang back and no voicemail was left. So instead I decided to ring the number back. Olivia’s attention was on something else—or shall I say, someone else.

“Hello, this is Daniel’s phone. Jason speaking,” someone with a rather lovely deep voice said on the other end of the phone. I didn’t recognise any of the names; I didn’t know a Daniel or a Jason, nor did I recognise the voice.

“Err, hi, I just got a miss call on this number?”

“Ah, yes. Dan did look a little flustered while trying to ring you. Let me find him,” the deep male voice said. I said a qiuck thank you but I got interrupted when I heard the same deep male voice yell in the background; “Oi, you cunt, you have one of your bimbos on the phone asking for you!”

My face dropped and I hung up quickly. Clearly not someone I wanted to know anyway. I silently hoped neither of them rang me again. Annoyingly, Olivia hadn’t even noticed what had happened.

~~~

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I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

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Ender’s Love – Chapter 3

Click here to read Chapter 1 if you haven’t read it already

Note: May contain strong language!

~~~

Chapter 3

“Alex!” said a loud voice next to me, making me jump. It was my work colleague, Stella, as she sidled next to me in her office chair. “Drinks after work?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I replied, unable to control the frown that had involuntarily creeped on my face.

Stella and I weren’t really friends, she was just some girl I worked with. I hadn’t been working at the company for long, but I was conscious that I should make a bit of an effort to be a little friendlier with people. I didn’t have many friends in Scotland, it was always something I struggled with. Although, I wasn’t entirely sure about Stella. She seemed nice. Well, nice to me. But she had a habit of being a little bitchy about the other girls and I worried she was like that with me, behind my back.

It was only a day after the incident at Da Vinci’s, and I knew I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help but think constantly about that guy I had met. I realised I didn’t even catch his name nor did I even introduce myself properly. It was terribly rude of me. I was too flustered though. But I was proud of myself for actually approaching him, even though I’d never see him again. There were plenty of fish in the sea, as they say. Maybe I would find someone, one day, who was just as handsome, kind, caring and I could settle down and live happily ever after? A best friend who I loved, and he loved me. I had images of waking up in the morning to him cooking breakfast for me, cuddling up on the sofa while watching a scary film, going on little trips away at the weekends somewhere fun, getting a cat and maybe even one day having kids.

“Oh, please come! Not many people are coming now. It’s just going to be me and that girl with the big nose. What’s her name? Julie or something? We’re going to that cocktail bar. It’s two for one on Thursdays,” she said, fluttering her eyelashes like that was going to flatter ,e. It might work on every guy she met, but she seemed to have a habit of doing it the girls too. I groaned.

“Okay, but I can’t stay out for long, I have university work to do,” I said, trying desperately not to get annoyed with her lack of remorse over the kind girl that had started around the same time as me. I had noticed she had a bit of a big nose, but she was actually a lovely girl and her name was Judith. But I had no energy to correct Stella.

“University work?” she asked, frowning at me like I had just sprouted another head.

“Yes, I go to unveristy.” I sighed in annoyance. I had told her this before, I had told everyone at work. I had to constantly remind them. Especially when I would get my supervisor asking me to gin for extra shifts to help out with a backlog of work and I had to constantly remind her that I couldn’t because I had classes. She would always look at me like I was lying to her to avoid going into work, but the truth was, I actually needed the money. I studied part-time and worked part-time around my classes and although I was working in Administration, which was mostly just boring data entry in a small team, it wasn’t a well-paid job when you lived on your own in Glasgow.

“Which one?” she asked.

“Strathclyde.”

“You go to Strathclyde?”

“Yes,” I said, trying not to groan again. Although, I couldn’t be bothered to muster a fake smile. I was too tired.

“Oh, that’s cool! What do you do? You doing a degree or something?”

“A master’s degree,” I corrected. I could have told her what subject it was, but I doubted she would remember anyway.

“Oh, that’s right!” She nodded as if she had just remembered, but I doubted she did. “So, you coming?”

“Sure.” I shrugged, having a feeling that if I didn’t say yes, she wouldn’t leave me alone. Besides, maybe a drink was what I needed? I had already decided to have a night off doing any university work. I was going to work on my book, but I realised that maybe I needed a night off from that too?

***

Later that day, after my shift at work was done, I found myself sat in a loud pub. It was one of those chain pubs; with the same drink menu, served the same cheap food, and had the same two-for-one deals. Drinks were usually served in cheap, plastic pitches rather than nice fancy glasses. It was a pub popular with those who wanted a cheap night out to get drunk, or a cheap pub meal with the kids.

There was a large TV on a wall at the back, which was playing the highlights of some big game that was on earlier in the day. Huddled around it was a load of loud Scottish men either laughing at their mates in a drunken state or yelling at the TV screen. In the centre of the pub on the left, was a large bar with loads of people milling about trying to grab the attenion of the bar staff and get another round of drinks. The rest of the pub was littered with cheap wooden tables and chairs for those who were finishing up their late dinners of cheap steak and chips or a bland chicken tikka masala.

I wasn’t particularly happy with my predicament; it was too loud, the tables were sticky and I was constantly getting eyed up by guys who looked like they were fresh out of school and barely legal to drink. This also wasn’t the place Stella had promised.

Stella had decided to go to a different place to the one she had first suggested, although I wasn’t sure why. But if I had to guess, it was the guys that were there as she kept looking around at them like a lioness stalking prey.

“So, what’s your bachelor’s degree in?” Stella shouted acorss the table at me, huffing at something that clearly upset her. Either that or I was too boring for her. Judith never showed up, so it was just me and her, and I was starting to feel a little awkward with it being just the two of us. I had even contemplated finding an excuse to leave.

“The one I’ve completed?”

“What?” she asked across the table, clearly not being able to hear me properly above the noise.

“The degree I’m doing at university?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied. “What’s it in? I did a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism,” she whittled on, and I realised she wasn’t really interested in knowing what I was doing or had done at all, she just wanted to find something to talk about herself. Plus, she had already forgotten I was doing a master’s degree, not a bachelor’s. “Passed it last year, but I found it so hard! I actually had to learn Spanish too, which was stupid! I didn’t want to learn another language! I just wanted to go into Tourism. I love going on holiday, figured I’d do it as a career, you know.”

I nodded politely as I drank my glass of white wine. Although, it tasted a little like oak and I wasn’t too keen on it. Regardless, I persevered; the alcohol would help me cope with the girl better.

“All that work too; eassays upon essays!” she continued to moan. “So, don’t feel bad if you have to quit, you know, it’s really hard work!”

“I’ve done a bachelor’s degree already,” I said before I realised what I was doing. Her comment annoyed me and I took it personally.

“What?” she called across the table. Clearly, I didn’t speak loud enough. Truth was, I hated shouting; the idea of shouting across a table just to be heard was frustrating.

I opened my mouth to repeat what I said when I caught sight of someone in the bar. I gasped. Luckily no one could hear me—not that I really cared what Stella thought. But, standing at the bar, I caught a glimpse of that handsome guy from Da Vinchi’s again. My stomach did a summersault when I saw him. He was even more handsome than I remembered. He wasn’t in a suit this time, he was in a black t-shirt, leather jacket and dark blue jeans. He looked dark and mysterious and I think I fell in love with him right there on the spot… I was a sucker for a handsome guy in black, especially leather. I noticed he looked a little annoyed or tired maybe, as a blonde girl was holding onto his arm and trying to speak something in his ear.

I smiled as he bought a glass up to his lips and took a sip. It looked like it was whisky again. I wondered if it was Dalwhinnie.

“He’s gorgeous,” said a voice next to me.

I jumped and looked round to notice Stella had moved to sit next to me, she had obviously noticed I hadn’t replied to her and had instead been watching the guy at the bar. She was staring holes into him as well, which made me feel a little annoyed. I had no idea who the guy was, he might have been as ass for all I knew, but I hated both men and women staring at the opposite sex like they were pieces of meat in a butcher’s shop. Stella might be a lot prettier than I was, with her long blonde hair and her long fluttering eyelashes, but she wasn’t pretty on the inside, as I recently found out.

“Way out of your league, honey,” she said in my ear.

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at her, mostly because she was right; he was.

“I wouldn’t drool either, that girl looks like she’s his date for the night, I bet she’d happily scratch your eyes out for him.”

I looked round at Stella, giving her an annoyed yet confused look. What a weird thing to say. But as soon as I did, Stella’s eyes went wide.

“What’s wrong?”

“He just looked round at me and gave me a horrible look,” Stella said, looking away from him and taking a large swig of her alco-pop she had bought.

I looked round at him again to see what she was referring to, although having already missed the look, I was still curious. He was now frowning heavily at the girl next to him and saying something to her which I wished I could hear. Her hand had fallen from his arm and they were instead crossed. I couldn’t see her face, she had her back to me, but I could his and he looked pissed about something.

Suddenly the girl snatched up her purse from the bar table and swung round, looking upset about something as she wandered out of the bar, a hand up to her face as she looked like she was wiping tears away from her eyes. I watched her curiously as she stormed right for the bar door and disappeared out into the street beyond. I felt like running after her and making sure she was okay, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave.

“Fuck,” Stella suddenly muttered next to me and I sensed her straighten up. I looked round at her as she was staring wide-eyed at the bar, at someone. Rather than asking her what was up, I followed her gaze just at the same time a tall figure came into focus beside me.

~~~

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Here are some links to my other works:

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue
No one likes you! – A short story.

Author Interview – S. D. Reed

Hello, my little demons! 😈

The second instalment of Author Interviews is here, and today I have an interview from “a new author on the block,” S. D. Reed!

I really enjoyed this interview, S. D. was a pleasure to talk to, and after speaking to him, I’m really interested in his new book that is coming out! Today is the day the cover, title and release date was annonced, and I have to admit, it looks really good (I’m a little jealous!). See more about it below.

We also seem to have a few similarities with ideas when it comes to writing too, especially question 6 in the interview, this is certainly something I have been doing in my upcoming book, “Rose Garden Sanatorium” and I really like this approach, like we both agreed; it benefits the long-term readers.

Kerwall Town (Out 18th October 2020!)

Before we get into the interview, I first want to plug his book a little. It’ll be rude not to – besides doesn’t the cover look fab?

The novel is set in the late 70’s and is centred on a fictitious failed goverment experimental town that has long since been forgotten. That is until one day when two strangers arrive in town and claim to be the new owners and mayor.

Here’s the synopsis S. D. gave me:

After two strangers appear in the dilapidated town of Kerwall, the lives of every resident change. Members of the community are forced together as the number of bodies and secrets increase with every passing moment. With knowledge as their only tool against the world’s deadliest predator, the hunt for power commences. Kerwall’s hope rests on the shoulders of its youngest residents, forcing them into the depths of the earth, questioning everything they’ve ever known.

Inverview with S.D.

Right, now let’s get into the interview!

What inspired you to start writing?

I don’t think one singular thing inspired me, but rather a collection of things, and I also think it’s been brewing inside me, like I was born to write… does that make sense, or is it too cliché? Well, that’s it anyway. I would watch films and read books, and I was totally immersed. I wanted to do the same for others, to give them hope and escapism in the form of a book.

Do you use a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it?

I do, yeah, just because I feel my novels are more interesting than me. I want them to speak for themselves.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Well, without giving too much away about my debut novel, it was a certain death scene. I didn’t want to write it as I grew so attached to the character, but alas, the book needed one final sacrifice.

What does being a successful author look like to you?

Being Happy, and yes, with a capital ‘H’. Isn’t that what life is all about too? It’s not about the race, it’s about the humans, earth and making a difference. Ultimately, I’d like my novels to make a positive difference in someone’s life. That’s the mark of success to me.

Do you Google yourself?

Ha! I did once and Google didn’t know who I was… Nor did Alexa or Siri.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?

I have two, the first is that I’ll often have a character that enjoys making puns and the second is I work in long term story telling. What this means is, you may not get all the answers in one novel, but you may in another, as all my novels are connected in some way, you just gotta look for them…

Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?

I do indeed! There are so many wonderful writing blogs out there, but it would be remiss of me to not recommend and of course, yours too!! (aww, thanks!)

The ones I can recommend right away:
@PamelaRossAA

@avidbookworm78
@dansbookblog
@FootnotesMgmt
@CanvassartS

What is your favourite word, and why?

So, so many! Right now, it’s a simple one; fantabulous! I just love how positive it sounds. Another favourite is beatific!

Are there any themes in your work you are trying to portray?

I always try to convey a sense of good and evil, and a strong sense of teamwork too, as that’s how I believe we will all achieve things; together.

Is your book “Kerwall Town” based on a real person?

Nope, all my novels are fictitious. But I do do (hehe) an awful lot of research as I write in a lot of different time periods and countries.

If a film were made of your book, who would you cast in the leading roles?

I would LOVE for Debra Jo Rupp, Catherine O’Hare and Tom Holland to be in the leading roles, but who knows. I’d be happy either way, but they would certainly be very cool. Ideally, I would have loved Robin Williams.

What other projects are in the works?

I’ve just started work on my next novel, based in suburbia and most notably, America, and with Foodnotes Management, it’ll be out next year sometime… as will something else…

Do you prefer writing in silence or to music?

I don’t really mind, as long as the music isn’t club level loud, haha.

What would you advise young writers trying to build a publishing history or an author platform?

Stay connected, stay grounded and most importantly, have fun and just beleive in yourself. Write often too, that is the key. It doesn’t have to be a lot either, just often to keep the practice up.

Thanks, S.D! It’s been a pleasure.

Please do go check him out, here are the links to his website and social media handles:

sd-reed.com
Insta: sdreedauthor
Twitter: S.D.Reed.Author
Facebook: S D Reed

~~~

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Author Interview – Havelah McLat

So, I thought I’d do something different on my blog. I thought I’d interview a few authors and artists! Of course, shock-horror, this isn’t a new thing… lots of people do this… even non-authors! But, it’s new to me and… I will admit, I’m a little scared!

To start this adventure off… I reached out to Twitterverse (here’s my profile) to see if any of my fellow authors wanted to be test subjects… I mean, interviewees, and I got a few replies, which I am very grateful for! So, here is my first Author Interview with Havelah McLat!

If you like this post, please do like, comment and share. And don’t forget to follow my website for updates on future posts!

About Havelah McLat

Havelah is a young author and artist from Ohio, USA. She is a multi-genre author with three collections of young children’s stories already under her belt, along with a published short story and flash fiction. Here is her website: havelahmclat.com.

All three of her young children’s books are free (you can find them on her website), and I had the privilege to read her most recent book ‘The Promise’ (I wrote a small review below), which is Christian children’s book. She also has two other children’s books which are fantasy.

Havelah is also a beautiful artist, which you can see her work on her website. Certainly, my favourite is this:

Shared with the permission of Havelah.

Review of ‘The Promise’

When I first started reading ‘The Promise’, I will admit, I was a little sceptical at first, it is based heavily in Christianity and I am the least religious person ever (I even start blog posts with ‘hello, my little demons’, which you will notice I removed from this one out of respect). However, I do love learning about religious history and hearing other’s interpretations, and I actually enjoyed reading this story!

Without giving too much away, Havelah tells the story of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection through the eyes of three young kids, but they are Jewish and Roman/Christian. I feel the main take-away from this story is tolerance and love, which you will understand when you read it.

However, the story did have a few grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, making it a little difficult to read, but it certainly has all the makings of a great story and a talented writer!

Interview with Havelah

What got you into writing?

Okay, I started writing about nine and half years ago. I asked my older sister to write a story about us as fairies. Then I was into fairies, which still I am, and she wrote one. At that point, I grew interested in writing my own stories. She inspired me to write. I wrote my first fairy story a year later and from there I continue to grow in writing.

Where do you get your ideas?

During my first year as a newbie writer, I used copying other peoples’ stories. I would use Disney Fairies characters, and Barbie movies, but now I realized they helped me to find my writing style. So, I started not using the characters but using the inspiration. Sometimes I get ideas from movies, musics and books. I learned that using other peoples’ stories like copycating is wrong. But it is not wrong that they inspired you and helped you find writing style.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

To be honest I didn’t see myself as a writer till later in my life. Before then I would draw pictures and fairy characters. When I watched my sister write a story, I wanted to be a writer. I felt writing stories gives me the opportunity to share my creativity and imagination.

Do you have a schedule when writing? Or do you try to fit it in when you can?

I don’t really have the schedule when it comes to writing. However, I do have a goal when I want to finish it. Other than that, I write when I feel like it.

How long does it take you to write a book?

That depends on the story. Before I started writing longer stories I used to write short stories under 1k or 2k. It will take a day or week. I learned writing a story takes time.

What’s the main theme in your most recent book, “The Promise”?

In this one I want the reader to know that we don’t have to earn our way to heaven, or have to be religious. More about building a relationship with Him and knowing Him because He loves us. God has given us a gift to believe Him. He is not forcing it but it is up to us to accept the gift or not.

Do you prefer writing fantasy or Christian books?

I like writing fantasy because it is really fun to do. I love writing fairy stories and creating their world and their adventures. However I am open to try different genres. Fantasy genre is probably my favorite thing to write.

How do you deal with criticism? 

I have my moments. I just have to remind myself that every story I write isn’t for everyone. One person may not like it because it isn’t for them and the other loves it. Plus I learned taking criticism can be a good thing if they share both sides. Positive and negative. I guess every writer handles this situation differently.

Which one of your works is your favorite?

Haha, I have to say it is Key to a Journey A Retelling of a Classic (Anastasia story) Why? Because I had so much fun writing it because I got to write Anastasia (inspired by the animated movie and the Broadway musical) in a fairy world. 

Are you working on anything at the moment?

I’m working on a crossworlds fantasy novel Transport of Troubles. The inspiration started two and half years ago. I wrote the story last summer but I wasn’t too happy with it. A year later I decided to rewrite it in a longer story. I’m really happy with this story. I am in the second draft. I hope one of these days it will be in the reader’s hands. 

~~~

A big thanks to Havelah for being my first test subject on this new blog post. Please do give her website a look havelahmclat.com. And watch this space for more interviews with other talented authors soon! 🙂

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 7

Note: If you’re new to the story please read from the beginning here.

Chapter 7

Officer Jennifer Finley

The young female agent slid through a dark internal door as quiet as a mouse, keeping every one of her senses alert for sounds, sights, smells, strange touches on her body, or maybe even changes in temperature. She stepped silently and slowly through the Sanatorium, but her mind was running one-hundred miles an hour going through the training sessions; move slow, check corners, especially dark ones, don’t trust anyone or anything. She held her P90 out before her, her grip tight on it, her focus through the infrared scope, the torch illuminating the way, and felt that little bit safer knowing that it had been modified specifically for these sorts of situations.

But she still felt defenceless, even with her specially modified gear and her extensive training. She had been told about the horrors of the enemy she faced; some were able to inhabit your body, take control of it, some were large, strong and ruthless. But there were those who were just so clever, stronger, quicker, able to take most living shapes, able to control fire, make things move with just their minds, knock people unconscious with just a flick of their hands, that Finley doubted her average intelligence and physical fitness along with all her modified equipment was enough to beat them.

She slowly kept her breathing under control in an attempt to steady her heartbeat as she looked around a corner. The only way she was able to keep herself from panicking was to continue with her job, to keep moving. She just hoped no one, or nothing, could hear the panic swelling in her chest. Part of her training was to regulate her heartbeat, to keep it steady; her instructor told her that the panic was a reaction from high levels of cortisol running through her body; the fight or flight syndrome, and it affected concentration, but she always had trouble keeping it down.

Ahead of her, she noticed a wall had fallen, opening up the next room. Slowly she moved, carefully avoiding the rubble on the floor as she did, to investigate the next room.

As she made her way towards the opening, however, she heard a noise. Her skin prickled at the sound; something was shuffling. She stopped dead in her tracks and listened out. Her heartbeat thumped in her ears, and she felt a roll of sweat run down her face. She doubted it had anything to do with the amount of gear she had on, keeping her safe but unavoidably warm. The sound continued as if what ever was making it didn’t know she was there. The shuffling was also complimented with what sounded like heavy breathing and rubble being moved. Suddenly her body felt heavy with fear.

She put her eye through the scope, not picking up any heat signatures yet—not that she could pick up anything through the thick walls of the Sanatorium. She didn’t have a visual. It could be anything. It could be the wind. She willed herself to continue towards the gap in the wall.

But as she moved again, the shuffling sound stopped. She stopped herself. She pursed her lips together to stop her from breathing heavily, not even noticing the grip on her gun had tightened, her knuckles going white. The sound started again only a few seconds later, as if what ever was making it had stopped to listen out but hadn’t noticed her. She moved her hand slowly up to the gun and turn off the torch accessory, then up to her smock and turned off those lights, her sole visual was now through the infrared scope—although she still saw various shades of blue, no oranges or reds to indicate a living being.

She continued to move slowly towards the break in the wall, keeping tight to the remainder of the wall that was still left standing, using it as a guide with the use of her elbow and being careful not to accidentally knock something on the floor, either resulting in her making a noise or tripping over. She shuffled her body towards the hole and stopped for a few seconds to listen out.

There certainly was something just there, only a few feet away. All she had to do was to take one large step to her right and she could swing herself round to see her enemy. Within a split second before changing her mind, she committed to her manoeuvre. She stepped and span her whole body round and saw the classic oranges and reds in her scope.

Something barked and the orange and red blob ran off. She turned on the light attachment on her gun just in time to catch sight of a red bushy tail flapping as it ran out of the door.

Finley sighed, relaxed slightly and let out a small laugh. It was just a fox. Although she was told to be vigilant of all living things, she was sure if it was anything but sinister, it would have just attacked her, and it didn’t.

Rubbing her face with a hand and letting her gun drop a little from her grip, she steadied her breathing to slow her heart and relaxed her tight muscles. She snorted suddenly in amusement at the situation, the fact she got so wound up over a fox.

She turned around to go back out of the room she had just recently deemed now clear, but she turned around to face a grotesque and inhuman face mere millimetres away from her face. She screamed and automatically stepped backwards, her heel hit a loose brick and she fell backwards, smashing her head—which was luckily protected in her helmet—on the debris of broken wall.

~~~

Next chapter coming soon!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Book Review – Red Sparrow, by Jason Matthews

Image Source: https://www.framerated.co.uk/red-sparrow-2018/

I recently finished both reading and watching the film adaptation of ‘Red Sparrow’, written by Jason Matthews. The main character; Dominika Egorova, played by Jennifer Lawrence, and Nate Nash played by Joel Edgerton.

Like many of the books I own, I had this book on my ‘TBR” (To Be Read) pile for a while. I first heard of it, and I hate admitting this, when it came out at the cinema. And, I refused to watch the film before I read the book… which I now slightly regret!

Warning: Book/Film spoilers!

What’s the synopsis?

The story is about a young Russian woman called Dominika who is sucked into Russian Intelligence by her uncle. She has a devistating injury which stops her dream of being a ballerina and due to her mum’s ill health, she ends up taking a job her uncle organises and gets sucked into the life. She is forced into a special school, and becomes what is called a ‘Sparrow’; trained in sexpionage. She is then put to work to uncover the mole in the Russian Intelligence, this is where she meets Nate Nash; CIA.

What did I think about the book?

My first impression, when I think back to the book, and how I would describe it to someone else; difficult to read. Although I do find the story interesting; a mixture of spy-thriller and romance (to a point), I actually had difficulty going back to finish it.

I would find myself putting it down after reading it, and sometimes I would take a few weeks to get back to it. This happened a few times, so much so that it took me quite a few months to finish it. And yes, okay, I was completing a MSc at the same time, and then moved house, and had other commitments and hobbies around that. But I found myself wanting to do other things rather than reading that book. Although, I found myself conflicted on occasion because when I got back to reading it, I did enjoy it in some ways. I did find myself wanting to know what happened next.

But the writing style seemed a little… off. At first I didn’t know how to put my finger on it. Some sentances didn’t flow right, or I struggled to understand what was going on. I then realised after getting quite a way into the book that there was a lot of ‘and then this happened, and then that happened, and then… and then…’ which really put me off.

I also felt a little nervous about the author’s portrayal of Russia, especially since President Putin was actually mentioned in it. I have a few international friends and I felt guilty reading the book and worrying what any Russian friends (and fans) might think of me for reading such a book. I understand there is a lot of ‘bad blood’ with Russia, and Putin in particular, but I felt like it was deliberately attacking Russia needlessly. Saying that, I did speak to one Russian person while reading it and they were actually interested in reading the book themselves.

As for things I did enjoy, I did like the depth to Dominika’s character, her motivation to do well and support her mother, and her conflicting relationship to her own country. I also enjoyed the relationship she started to have with other characters; including Nate. Their relationship was clearly more than business, yet complex, like most relationships should be, especially in their situation.

I also enjoyed the little chapter endings with recipes. I started to realise that they were based off what was mentioned in the chapter and then I started to look out for the different foods, to see what would next be mentioned at the end of the chapter. Some even sounded interesting enough for me to want to try them. Although, I will admit, they were a little weird at first, and I found them a little pointless, but I grew to like them, figuring it was just the author’s little quirk.

And I enjoyed some of the clever ideas within the story, such as the diversion stories that were used to find the mole in the Russian Intelligence and how that played out further in the book and the way Boucher, the US Chief of Staff/Senator was killed.

What did I think about the film?

Personally, I was actually dissapointed with the film. More so than the book.

‘We are making a film of the book.’

Earlier in my post I said how I slightly regret reading the book before watching the film, and this is because there was so much that was both left out and changed! A friend once said to me that he prefers watching the film first, then reading the book, because then you get to see all the extra bits that you didn’t see in the film. Although, a part of me worries that I wouldn’t be committed to reading the book because I already knew what happens.

Every bookaholic’s nightmare is having things missing from the film, but I personally understand some things need to be left out because it isn’t possible to fit it all in to a 2-3 hour movie. But due to some of the things that had been left out, the plot had not only changed, but the film didn’t seem to flow right.

One of my favourite parts (mostly because I actually understood what was going on, as the book was so difficult to read!), the little diversion stories, wasn’t in the film! Boucher’s death was also completely different, I mean, yes there were American CIA operatives there (in the book they closed in on her too quickly), in the film she was hit by a truck, but in the film she used a specially adapted pen to administer a poison. She took control of her own death in the book, which I feel was an integral part of her character.

I also noticed that Dominika bleaches her hair (I won’t even go into how difficult it is to bleach your hair that blonde without a professional…). In the book, she doesn’t change her hair colour; she is always her natural brown self. I think, in the film, she does it because she realises that Nate likes blonde women, and what better way to get his attention in the beginning but be the woman he is attracted to.

But I personally think that is a little discriminating; suggesting the age-old belief that men only like blonde women. I feel offended on behalf of men. Why change this in the film, when it’s not in the book? I’m going to assume it had something to do with Jennifer Lawrence and the fact she is a natural blonde.

One of the things that I was really looking forward to seeing portrayed in the film was Dominika’s synesthesia (basic way for me to explain it, she was able to see colours like it was another sense). I found it a really interesting twist in the book; she was able to work out when people were lying to her, when they were being honest, etc. It’s one of the reasons why she was such a brilliant spy. But it wasn’t even mentioned in the film. I know it could have been a difficult thing to portray, but I felt like it was a key part to her character.

And lastly, the ending. In the book, the end was when they made a deal to swap Dominika with the mole; MARBLE, but the Russian’s never intended to let MARBLE go and thus killed him, leaving the ending on a cliffhanger, what happens to Dominika? But, in the film, MARBLE wasn’t anywhere to be seen and instead Dominika ratted out her own Uncle as the mole, which lead to him being killed. It was a clever ending, I will agree. It gave Dominika the look that she was in control, she was a powerful and clever woman. You could argue it was better than the book, and I agree, thinking back at it, but at the time I was deeply disturbed at the change… I just hope that the author was quite happy with this change! I also wonder how this change will impact the next book/film (yes, there are other books, but I’m unsure if they’ll make a second film!)

However, I enjoyed Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal as Dominika, I thought she was a really good fit for the character. Some scenes were also done really well, such as when Matorin found Nate and Dominika, the little double-agent scene even had me fooled for a few minutes. I also warmed up to Joel Edgerton as Nate in the end, although I feel as if other actors probably would have been a better fit as I felt Joel was a little too stern. I know he was a spy and had to be professional, but I felt his character in the book was a tiny bit softer.

How many stars do I give it?

The book, I give 3.5 out of 5. Although it was refreshing to have well developed characters, and an interesting plot, but the style of writing really let it down.

The film, however, I give 3 out of 5. The changes in the story let it down, making it confusing, and I dislike that they thought it a good idea to change the character’s hair colour when the book doesn’t have this.

References:
Food Picture: www.woodenspoonskitchen.com/2013/01/08/food-photography-backgroundnatural-lighting/

Book to Film cartoon: www.cartoonstock.com/directory/f/film_adaptation.asp

Jennifer Lawrence Picture: www.bustle.com/p/in-jennifer-lawrences-red-sparrow-a-woman-must-be-raped-before-she-can-be-strong-8342129

Gold star cartoon: www.vippng.com/preview/oohxJR_star-smiley-face-cartoon-stars-with-faces/

~~~

Please do give this post a like, and feel free to comment. What did you guys think of the film and/or book? Do you have any suggestions of book/film adaptations?

And, don’t forget to check out my other posts.

I did another book review a while ago, please check it out here!

Don’t forget to check out my own books!

And have a look at my travel blog!

My problem with perfection…

Hello my little demons! 😈

So, as you have probably noticed, my blog has changed a little over the past few months, it’s gone from soley about my books, to incorporating posts about travel and history (I’ve had other ideas too, but I’ve refrained for now!)

Anyway, I’ve been going back to my favourite book lately; Rose Garden Sanatorium, since my career is back on track and I’ve had some spare time.

My problem with perfection

But, I get a lot (okay, not a lot, but a few at least!) of people asking me when it’s coming out. I cannot honestly answer that, as I’ve been waiting to save the money to hire an editor.

I also went back to it after a long time – while doing my Masters – and I not only have fresh eyes to see the mistakes, but I’ve also come up with a few changes. Yeah, some are only small, but others are big – like a whole new prespective in the book.

I have a problem… with perfection.

This book is my baby. It’s been developing and growing for years, and I want it the best it can be.

I want the characters to be interesting, the plot to be believable, add in the little details that I like.

I’ve recently been watching a bit of Amazon Prime, not only been watching Supernatural, because of course, angels and demons! But also been getting into the Sci-Fi ones (I’ve always had an interest in space and space travel). I watched most of Dark Matter and then went onto The Expanse…

and, oh my goodness, the difference! The Expanse is so much better. The detail. The laws of physics. The plot as well other little stories off it. It gave me the inspiration to make my book better!

So, I’m sorry it’s taking a while to publish… but trust me, it’ll be better for it!

Also, watch this space! I’ll be updating the pages on my blog too! 🙂

Feel free to read the prologue here!

~~~~

As always, don’t forget to check out my other posts!

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

No one likes you! – A short story.

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1 – UPDATED

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

I’m moving to the Highlands!

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 5

Note: If you’re new to the story please read the Prologue here!

Chapter 5

Officer Jennifer Finley

Finley stared into the darkness of the van, trying to concentrate on the noises she could hear. She listened to the hum of the engine, the tires rolling along the tarmac, the occasional squeak from the van’s suspension, the traffic noise outside which she unfortunately couldn’t see and the sound of the pedestrian crossings after the van had come to a stop at a set of lights. It was an attempt to ground herself, to overcome her fears and to slow her beating heart, but it wasn’t really working. There might have been noises outside, even the occasional noise inside from one of her colleagues giving a cough, but they were unsettling her even more. The silence inside the van was eating away at the inside of her head, the world outside was going about its daily business not knowing the potential storm that may eventually hit them.

She had started to consider the option of bolting for the van door to her right, deciding that she wasn’t cut out for the job after all. But she had a feeling Director General Ryan wouldn’t even let her get that far. She wouldn’t put it past him shooting her right in the face to contain her.

“As you may already be aware by now,” started Captain Stroud, his accent a deep Scottish from within the dark confined space of the van. “This is not a drill.”

Finley could feel the ripple of silent panic within the metal cage. The van had come to a stop, possibly at a set of traffic lights, she wasn’t sure. She was glad for Captain Stroud to break the silence but was also dreading what would come.

“This is a Code 139,” he continued. Someone let out a small gasp somewhere in the van, she wasn’t sure who it was, and neither would Captain Stroud and the Director General, but she knew they wouldn’t be happy.

“This is indeed the real thing!” beamed a voice next to her; the Director General had started to take over, a hint of annoyance in his voice. “This is…” he paused as the van lurched forwards again, a rather unfortunate time to move. “This is what you are trained to do!” If it was even humanly possible for it get even more nervously silent in the van, it had. “We are headed to a site of a possible Code 139. We do not know how many we may face or what type. But this is why we have drills! Remember the Rules!”

There was silence in the van again, the silence that Finley now welcomed more than the Director General speaking.

“Is that clear!?” The Director General made Finley and the man sat next to her jump.

“Yes, sir!” everyone spoke in unison.

“Just like every Code 139 drill, the mission is to secure the site,” continued Director General Ryan. “The road has been cordoned off by police, both civilians and the police have been told it’s a gas leak. No one except us are allowed in or out. The shops and flats above have been evacuated. It is my responsibility and my responsibility alone to close it, you all will sweep the area. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir!” everyone said with a little more confidence.

Finley wasn’t sure what she was expecting after that little speech, words of encouragement maybe, but the sudden silence afterwards felt even worse than before. She resisted the urge to speak out or hum to fill the silence. She instead went over the Rules in her head and mentally recalling every item that was on her person.

***

A black unmarked van stopped outside an old building. A building that appeared to have been boarded up and unused for years. The sign that ran the length of the front door read ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’.

The group hidden inside filed out of the back of the van one by one. Director General Duncan Ryan was first out of the van, who looked up at the building while waiting for his team, followed by his Captain. Each of them dug into their utility pouches to dig out a small air-tight plastic box, took out a pair of two specially designed ear-plugs and put them in their ears.

The front of the Sanatorium sported a very Victorian style front; with its large front arched door and large arched windows boarded up, the exterior mainly a red mason brick, the window frames painted white, parts of them were falling apart due to the years of neglect, ivy climbed up the side of the building, right next to where there was a black mesh fence that hid the back garden from the street and snaked its way up until it hit the moss covered slate tiled roof.

Officer Finley had read about this Sanatorium in old secret government files. It was a typical Sanatorium really, but with a bit of a dark history. A dark history that resulted in its early demise. Most derelict buildings gave her the creeps, but this one in particular raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Standing in front of the Rose Garden Sanatorium now, seeing it in person, she felt an unusual disgust for the old abandoned building. It might just look like an ordinary building, with an unfortunate history, but it was the current situation that made her nervous.

She looked back at her superior and noticed he was just standing outside looking like he was composing and preparing himself for what may lie on the other side.

Or did he know something they didn’t?

Click here to read the next chapter!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Both my books are currently 99c!

Both of my books are currently 99c in e-book format on Smashwords!

The idea of putting them up for sale is to get more reviews and traffic through my sites. I don’t get a lot of profits from selling them so cheap, as Smashwords takes a good chunk, but it’s mostly to get my name out there.

And hopefully, when I finally get my other books finished (still waiting for free time around uni work and job searching!) I’ll have a fan-base already!

See below for links and synopsis for each e-book.I-Fell-in-love-with-a-psychopath-full30713453_2359540254272254_3615440063170609152_n

Here is I fell in Love with a Psychopath:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

Here is It’s My Mistake:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

Synopsis for I Fell in Love with a Psychopath:

What would you do if you realised the man you fell in love with had a psychopathic personality disorder?

After getting her degree in history, Jo took the plunge and moved to Chicago. But one day a guy changes her life completely. And not necessarily in a good way.

When she first moved to the city, Jo met Liam. She had a small crush on him from day one. Along with his good looks, he was funny and charming. Maybe a little immature, but he never failed to make her laugh. Finally, one day Liam asks Jo out on a date and she is stupidly nervous and surprised he even likes her!

Jo meets Xander in a bar. He is handsome and confident. He holds himself tall and constantly watches her reactions with mild curiosity. She keeps bumping into him, sometimes deliberately. He seems to say all the right things and do all the right things and she finds herself craving more of him.

The problem was, however, one of them is a psychopath and he now has an obsession with Jo…

Synopsis for It’s My Mistake:

Alice wants a career change, especially after a terrible incident at her last job. Her dream job has always been to work in a hotel, maybe even own one. But after messing up an interview very spectacularly for a vacancy at a well-known hotel chain in London, she wasn’t expecting to hold the attention of the Global Business Manager; Daniel Jeffries. And in more ways than one. Does Alice take the risk and accept Dan’s offer or does she play it safe?

Who knew that that interview day would be the day that changed Alice’s life? But is it for the better? Is this alluring Global Business Manager as amazing as he seems? And who is that mysterious yet amazingly handsome man at the hotel?

**Mature Content** Recommended for ages 18+ due to sexual situations and language.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you want to read a part of I Fell in Love with a Psychopath, read it here.

If you want to read a part of It’s My Mistake, read it here.

Here are some links to my other works you might like:

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Butterfly House – Chapter 1

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

Other blog links:

Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

I won! I came first in the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 Paranormal Genre!

Paying for Reviews – BEWARE!

My Book ‘It’s My Mistake’ available in paperback!

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Warning: Strong language!

~~~

Chapter 1

“Oh, for fuck sake!” I grumbled, as a passing car drove through a puddle and splashed me. I looked down at myself, just as a fellow walker on the path shot me a disgusted look. Probably at my language. I didn’t care. I was instantly hurdled into a bad mood. But I was glad to see I wasn’t that wet; the water had mostly got my boots and—

“Shit!” I exclaimed. The reason I was mostly spared from the dirty puddle water was because the majority had splashed on my laptop bag. I had been carrying it in my hand as it had moments ago been hurting my shoulder. But I didn’t hold much hope that the bag was waterproof.

I wiped it down as much as I could with my bare hands and hoped and prayed to a God that I wasn’t even sure I believed in that the laptop tucked safely inside hadn’t gotten wet itself.

I sighed and looked up to see a bar just a few feet away, right next to a rather lovely Mediterranean restaurant with a few bamboo plants outside. I made a mental note to check it out one day. The bar itself was just as elegant—just lacking the plant-life—with a lovely bold black and red sign which read; Da Vinci’s, which looked quite new. I huffed and decided to go get a well-deserved drink and check my laptop was still working.

The door was a little too heavy, but I tried not to show how heavy I found it. I didn’t want any men to think I was weak and could take advantage. I then trudged up to the bar confidently. Fake it ‘til you make it, I had heard once. It was my new motto in life.

“Excuse me,” I said to the barman. He was quite a good-looking guy, with dark brown hair, a small stubble of a beard, and wearing a white shirt, black trousers with a black waist-coat. Although a little too young for me, so I tried my hardest not to smile or stare too much and give him the wrong impression. I had a habit of attracting men who got the wrong impression.

But just as he moved to wander over to me, I saw a guy behind him that instantly caught my attention. He was handsome. Very handsome. Much more my type. Although, he was undoubtedly way out of my league. His black raven hair short and slightly standing up, a little ruffled as if he’d run his hands through it in frustration, a strong masculine hand resting on his handsome clean-shaven jaw, propping himself up as his elbow rested on the bar top. He appeared to be frowning at the laptop in front of him.

It suddenly felt a lot warmer in this bar than the first two seconds of walking in.

My attention went straight to his hand. It was a habit I had started doing lately. I was looking for a wedding ring. Nothing. That didn’t mean he was single though. Not that he’d ever be interested in me.

“Hi doll,” replied the barman, breaking my attention away from the devilish handsome man behind him. I was trying to will him to look up at me; I hoped if he looked up, I’d might be able to find out if he found me even slightly attractive or not. Maybe find that strange spark I hear about in films and romance books. I had a short-lived dream that our eyes would meet across the bar and an instant spark come between us, my world slowing down as he came over to introduce himself. But he was too engrossed in his laptop to even notice me.

“Hi,” I said, smiling at the barman suddenly, feeling my voice getting a little louder as if I subconsciously wanted to attract the attention of the other guy, but being as nice as possible to the barman, so if he did look up, he’d see I was friendly at least. Although, deep down, I hoped the barman hadn’t caught me goggling at his only other customer in his bar.

“I, err—” I’d suddenly forgotten what I was going to ask for. My mind drew a blank.

Wet laptop, that was right!

“Do you have any paper towels? Some inconsiderate buggar just drove through a large puddle and got me wet.” I felt myself flush at my own comment. I had too many male friends who would have heard that comment and found a hidden sexual innuendo in it. I just hoped neither men at the bar; the one behind the bar and the stupidly handsome one still staring intently at his laptop with his frown creating a rather curious line on his forehead, would have noticed.

I had also noticed with a slight twinge of embarrassment that my voice not only was a little too loud, but my stupidly southern English accent had accentuated the way I said buggar.

“Oh, damn,” said the barman, looking genuinely remorseful. “Sure, let me get you some!” He suddenly took two steps away and drew out some green paper towels before he brought them over to me. I just tried to keep my eyes on him and not the guy behind him who was now typing away at something with an indifferent look on his face.

“You know, you can always use the hand-dryers in the ladies,” the barman continued, after passing me the towels, “my girlfriend is always spilling drinks on herself, she says using the hand-dryers is better.”

I mentally found myself sighing in relief at the thought of this guy already having a girlfriend—although hoping it wasn’t too evident on my face. An ex-boyfriend had once told me my face was expressive. He didn’t mean it in a nice way either. At least there was less chance of the barman trying to hit on me; the one man in the bar I didn’t want to hit on me.

Although, a small part of me wanted to challenge myself to that unspoken agreement I had with myself only a few days ago. I had told myself that it shouldn’t be up to the men to make the first move. Women should make the first move. More importantly, I should make the first move.

“Oh, thanks, but it’s for my laptop, not me.” I smiled, but I suddenly felt myself blush, as the handsome man staring at his laptop suddenly looked up. Our eyes met only briefly as he took a sip of a drink that looked a lot like whiskey. His eyes were back down on the laptop in mere milliseconds. It was over so quickly that I could have just imagined it. I didn’t even manage to get what colour they were.

I suddenly felt deflated. He didn’t even smile at me. His eyes didn’t even linger enough to suggest he was attracted. There was no Hollywood spark. Nothing. Well, there goes the idea that he might even be in to me.

“Oh, sure!” the barman smiled. I looked back at him, trying to keep my eyes fixed on this man instead, as well as trying to keep my face straight and not frown in my disappointment. He didn’t seem to have noticed, and he certainly didn’t seem interested in hearing my story about how my laptop got wet. “Do you want a drink?”

“Yeah, might as well!” I nodded and sighed, feeling tired and sore now that I thought about it. Well, I had just trudged from university with my laptop over my shoulder, heading towards my bus stop before I got splashed. “Do you have Dalwhinnie?” I asked, feeling a little defiant and wanting to drink something that might impress. I didn’t want either of the men thinking I was just a silly woman who also was a bit accident prone. Although, I didn’t really want a glass of Dalwhinnie, I actually just fancied a glass of coke. I felt a little thirsty after trudging out of my class and carrying around my laptop everywhere. A glass of whisky wasn’t going to quench that thirst. But I had somehow convinced myself whisky was the better choice in my situation.

I noticed the barman lifted a curious eyebrow at me and I felt a small inward triumph. Although for a split second, doubt creeped through me that that eyebrow signalled something other than being impressed. “Of course. You want a glass of that?”

“Please.” I nodded and smiled sweetly as I started to unzip my leather jacket and loosen my small black scarf around my neck. It wasn’t that cold outside. It was spring. Nearly summer. But it was the Scottish weather; it was a little cold for me. I preferred warmer weather.

“Ice?” the barman asked as he wandered over to the glasses and picked up a glass very similar to what the handsome man had. I noticed then that the handsome man was looking up at me again and I felt my cheeks flush again. My hopes skyrocketed, but my self-doubts kept them from going too high.

I just gave him a raised eyebrow and smiled at him before deliberately cutting off the eye contact myself this time and looked back at the barman, who I playfully frowned at and said, “And risk diluting it with water? No, thanks.”

The barman looked up at me curiously again but smiled when he noticed I was smiling at him. He nodded. “Good point. That’s three-ninety, please.”

After the barman placed the whisky on the bar top, I shifted my laptop shoulder strap over my shoulder and reached into my pocket of my leather jacket, bringing out my bank card to pay for it. “Thanks,” I muttered politely and was about to hand him my card when he spoke, and I stopped in my tracks.

“We only accept payments over five-pound, love, sorry.”

“Oh!” I felt panic rise in me. I felt instantly stupid. I should have asked that they take card first. As soon as my face fell into sheer shock, I noticed the handsome man was back to looking at me again, a small wicked smile on his face. I felt a little small compared to him as if he was mocking me. But I suddenly had a brilliant idea. “In that case, make it two Dalwhinnies.” I smiled triumphantly.

The barman raised his eyebrow at me again but held a strange frown on his face. This time I was sure he wasn’t impressed. Maybe he was worried I was going to get too drunk and needed to be escorted out of the bar. But I wasn’t going to explain and ruin the idea I had.

He seemed to reluctantly make me another Dalwhinnie and placed it on the bar top while watching my face curiously. It was as if he was waiting for the answer to appear on my forehead. But he finally passed me the card reader so I could pay for the drinks. I was grateful to pick up the two glasses, the paper towels shoved into my jacket pocket carelessly and walk passed the bar towards the back of the room.

I had deliberately aimed for the large booths at the back. There were three large booths with large built in seats. The deep red leather looked inviting and comfortable. Plus, more importantly, it meant having to walk passed that exceptionally handsome customer at the bar.

As I walked past him, smelling a wonderful masculine yet probably expensive fragrance, I stopped and placed one of the Dalwhinnies next to his hand. “That one’s for you,” I said, with the sweetest smile I could muster. He looked round at me in surprise, just as I caught a glimpse of an email account open on his laptop with what looked like a lot of unread business emails. But he frowned as if I had just invaded his personal space and I added quickly: “With that frown on your face earlier, you look like you need one just as much as me.”

I then wandered off while taking a sip of my own glass, without even waiting for him to say anything. I was sure I could feel his eyes staring at the back of my head in amazement. I didn’t want to give him chance to brush me off; I wanted him to know that I was just being polite and friendly, not coming onto him. I imagined a lot of women hitting on him, being as handsome as he was, and that was the last thing he wanted if he was busy with work stuff. But at the same time, I wanted him to take notice of me and not as the silly girl who didn’t carry change around with her.

It’s not like I was expecting him to be interested, I just wanted to feel a little in control. I knew a guy like that wouldn’t be interested in me. I was short, looked young for my age and always seemed to look like I was scowling at everyone. I didn’t even think I was that attractive. Not like most of the girls I’d seen in bars. Plus, guys seemed to like the girls with thick make-up and blonde hair. My hair was a dark shade of red—natural of course—one side would flick out while the other flicked in, and if it was too wet outside it would go frizzy. I had stopped dying or bleaching my hair a long time ago, realising that I should just love who I was, my unruly red hair, stupid button nose and all. I was a bit of a rocker-chick too, with my dark eye make-up and leather jacket, rather than a sweet girly-girl, and I was proud of that.

I had also made a promise to myself. After having terrible luck with men; having dated what seemed like only manipulative men or desperate men who just didn’t want to be alone. Then I had a deliberate two-year single spell. I realised that not only was I worth more than the low-life men I had dated in the past, but I wasn’t going to settle for a guy just for the hell of being in a relationship. I wanted a decent relationship. Hell, I wanted a best friend to spend my life with. If I couldn’t find that person, then I was happy enough just being single and making the most of life.

But in those two years, I had a lot of time to realise that I hadn’t really had chance to meet any decent men. I wasn’t sure why it was. Maybe it was because I was unattractive? Maybe it was because I looked too young? Maybe it was because I prefer to wear jeans and t-shirts instead of wearing a dress and getting uncomfortable and cold? I moved to Scotland, it was a little cooler than England. But I also thought that there was another possibility; after speaking to my male friends, a lot of them had admitted they don’t like to approach attractive women in fear of being rejected. So, somewhere in my head I decided that, why should it be men that approach women first? More importantly, why didn’t I approach men first? Rather than waiting for them to approach me? Not that I thought I was attractive! That was another problem; I was sure it was because I was unattractive that men didn’t approach me. But I was going to fake confidence and test it out.

That handsome guy at the bar; he was just a test to see if I could do it. Seems I could. Although, with a ridiculously fast beating heart, stupidly sweaty palms, the thoughts of doubt quickly creeped into my head as I settled into the seat.

Why did I just give a guy a glass of Dalwhinnie? What if he didn’t want it? What if he didn’t like Dalwhinnie? What if he thought I was stupid? Oh god!

Click here to read the next chapter!

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Don’t forget to check out my other works!

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”