Read a taste of what's coming for Christmas...
Written Fireside began as a series of round-the-campfire type tales, a serial story written by a number of different Harper Impulse authors. I had a huge amount of fun taking part in For Clara and His Way Home and I'm delighted to be taking part in the latest story.
But this time we're doing something a little different. This time fifteen authors have each written a short story starting with the same opening paragraph, which was written by Georgia Beyers, winner of Harper Impulse's Written Fireside contest. All fifteen stories have a Christmas theme and will be published by Harper Impulse as a free Christmas read.
BONUS: as part of this blog hop, you also get a chance to win, by entering using the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post!
So my apologies for the very unseasonal post, but here is the teaser for my contribution to the Written Fireside anthology:
Charlotte sat at the bus stop wondering whether she would make the naughty or nice list this year. Last year she had rescued a stray kitten and therefore considered herself most definitely ‘nice’. This year she had broken Daniels heart into a million tiny pieces, so ‘naughty’ seemed to be the only answer. There’d be no Santa Claus coming down her chimney anytime soon.
At least she’d left Daniel with Socks to cuddle up to at night. He would have been totally destroyed if she’d taken Socks too. Not that she’d had much choice – her father was allergic to cats.
She hadn’t really had much choice when it came to leaving Daniel either. He was the one who’d laid down the ultimatum: it’s either him or me.
He hadn’t expected her to choose her new agent over a six year relationship and a diamond ring.
But she had.
She pulled her coat closer and tucked her frozen hands beneath her arms. One day Daniel would thank her. He’d meet someone new, really fall in love, and realise what they’d shared had been nothing more than a friendship with benefits.
The benefits hadn’t even been that good. Not good enough to give up on her dreams or the hope that there was something more than a mortgage and okay sex out there for her.
Jenny put it down to her reading too many romance novels. Her former BFF said it led to unrealistic expectations and one day she’d regret leaving Daniel.
But as much as she’d hated hurting him, and as much as she missed Socks’ soft purr waking her every morning, she hadn’t regretted it yet. Not that her life had turned out like a romance novel either. She was now unemployed and living back in her girlhood bedroom in her parents’ house in Wickford, facing Christmas in a neighbourhood that seemed to consist entirely of old people these days.
The number 25 bus rolled to a stop before her, and she sat up straighter, watching with mounting anticipation as the doors wheezed open. Her heart hammered. Mrs Murtry appeared in the doorway, hauling her little basket cart packed full of Christmas shopping. The woman had more grandchildren than Queen Victoria who she increasingly resembled with each passing year.
“Good evening, my dear,” she greeted Charlotte.
Charlotte rose. “Good evening, Mrs Murtry.” And please get off the bus.
At last the old duck managed to get her cart onto the pavement, and Charlotte’s attention focused back on the bus’ entryway. The empty entryway.
Her heart sank. Where was he?
“You getting in or not?” the bus driver asked, impatient to be off.
Charlotte stepped onto the bus, scanning the seated passengers. Weary commuters heading home from a long day at the office, shoppers weighed down by their Christmas shopping, and a group of teenagers making a racket at the back of the bus. No handsome stranger with midnight dark eyes.
She slid into a vacant seat. All week he’d got off the bus just as she got on. Five days of the brush of an arm, a melting smile, a frisson of delicious tension, and a few very naughty fantasies.
Yesterday she’d checked his left hand. No ring.
He’d caught her looking and winked.
Today was the day she’d decided to go for broke. Today she planned to say ‘hello’.
Except today he wasn’t on the bus.
There'll be another instalment tomorrow, so check back here, same time, same place.
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