Menage by Molly Ann Wishlade

Menage, Book 3 of The Wild Wild West series by Molly Ann Wishlade is released tomorrow following the release of Bound and Scandal earlier in the week.  I absolutely loved the first two in the series so I can’t wait to read this.

Here is the blurb and the cover

MENAGE IMAGE

Here are two extracts for you to enjoy.  The second extract is 18+ so you have been warned ;-)

“Hello there! Mrs Holbein?”

Grace peered up from the chicken coop at the approaching cowboys. They dismounted from their horses then walked towards the perimeter fence.

She was knee-high in straw and feathers as she gathered that day’s eggs, depositing them in a basket hooked over her left arm. She wasn’t expecting company and she didn’t recognise the two men. Her survival instinct kicked in, increasing her heart rate, and she quickly reached down and checked her right boot. The cold steel blade sat in its place, encased in the leather sheath, reassuring her with its sharp edge and fierce point.

“Hello?” She raised her voice to intimate that it was a question not a greeting. She straightened her back and wiped the perspiration from her upper lip with the back of her free hand.

The cowboys reached the fence. This close, she could see how big they were. Tall, broad-shouldered men. Large and masculine. They made her acutely aware of how petite and feminine she was.

How utterly defenceless.

She eyed them, her senses on high alert. Being a woman alone at an isolated homestead a few miles outside of Deadwood meant that she was constantly wary. Letting her guard down, even just a fraction, could have been fatal whether dealing with man or beast.

“Mrs Holbein?”

Grace met the blond man’s blue eyes and a shiver ran down her spine. They were as intense as the sky on a clear summer’s day. Beautiful, bright blue framed by thick black lashes. He rested his large, tanned hands on the fence. She found her gaze drawn to his long, slim fingers with their short nails and the tiny white-blond hairs on his muscular forearms which shone in the afternoon sun. This was a man who worked hard for a living. Outdoors. Probably with horses and cattle.

“Are you Mrs Holbein?” He repeated the question.

“That’s me. Whadda you want?” She pulled herself up to her full height. She could see that if she stood next to either man she would not reach his shoulders. As the cowboy searched her face, she let the basket swing in front of her body. An obstacle between them, to hide her figure from view. Protection. A barrier.

“We’re looking for work, ma’am,” the cowboy explained. He pushed his Stetson further back on his head and wiped his brow with a folded neckerchief.

“And what makes you come out here looking for it?” Grace scowled. She nudged an inquisitive chicken away from her skirts with her foot.

“We asked in Deadwood, ma’am. They said you was likely to need some help around your farm. In light of your…” He removed his hat. “Your recent loss.”

So they knew about Jack. That also meant that they knew she was alone and that she had no man to protect her. She took a steadying breath.

Keep calm. Show no fear.

“What’s your names?” She stalled. She had no intention of giving them more information about her circumstances than she needed to. She didn’t have the time for pleasantries. There was no time to waste in the day. No time at all. She was exhausted, run ragged trying to take care of the farm all alone. They had never had any hired help and life had been tough but Jack had insisted that they could do it all themselves. But now that he’d gone, she realised exactly how much he had done.

Around the farm and to her.

She shivered. Her corset grazed the spot below her left shoulder blade that never fully healed and she gritted her teeth together. Damned sensitive female flesh. She was filled with resentment for her own frailty.

“I’m Matt Huntley and this here’s Blake Donohue.” Matt gestured to his companion.

“Howdy, Mrs Holbein.” Blake doffed his hat. Grace swallowed hard. His hair was black and shiny as a raven’s wings and his eyes like pools of whisky. His face was tanned from being outdoors and he had a few days’ growth of stubble. But he was handsome as the devil himself. She shook her head.

A pleasing face did not equal a good heart. As she’d learnt. For the past five years.

 

****

She moved towards them. Brought their hands to her lips. Pressed her mouth to their fingers in turn. Both of them. At the same time. Leaving neither man out. Their skin smelt of pine and masculine warmth. She breathed it in, licking her lips as it fired her desire.

Matt gasped and she met his eyes. They were dark. His own lips slightly parted.

She glanced at Blake. His eyes echoed the need in Matt’s. What was happening here?

This wasn’t possible. She had dreamt of this even though she had denied it upon waking with her hands between her legs and her body coated in perspiration. Being loved by them both simultaneously.

She took a step closer to Matt and he lowered his head. He pressed his mouth to hers. He kissed her. Gently. Slowly. She leaned into him, feeling his body all along the front of her own. He was so hard, so strong, so desirable.

She forced herself to pull away then moved towards Blake. He wrapped his strong arms around her and returned her kiss. His mouth was firmer, more insistent. He pressed his tongue between her lips and delved into her mouth. She sighed and ran her own tongue over his. Tasting. Touching. Wanting.

He pulled her closer and she felt his erection against her belly. He was hard. He wanted her. She wanted him. But what about Matt?

She pulled away from Blake’s kisses and glanced at the other cowboy. He stepped closer and kissed her again while she was still in Blake’s arms.

So they were okay with this? They both wanted her? Like this? Her stomach flipped with excitement. How would this work?

Matt moved behind her and lifted her wet hair. He kissed the back of her neck and she shivered with delight. He kissed and nibbled her ears lobes and tickled them with his hot breath. So gentle. So new. She took Blake’s face in her hands and caressed his cheeks, his jaw, the tight cords which stood out in his thick neck.

As Matt ran his hands up and down her sides, nibbling and kissing her neck, Blake kissed her mouth, her throat, the tops of her breasts which rose and fell rapidly above her dress.

Then they began to undress her.

They gently stripped away her clothing. Pulled off her boots and stockings and unlaced her corset. All the while, still kissing and caressing her so that every inch of her body was aflame.

When she stood in just her shift before them, they quickly peeled off their own clothes.

Grace trembled. Being exposed in the past had heralded the advent of pain and fear. Agony that sometimes lasted the whole night through. If Matt and Blake had hidden their true selves from her and they were about to hurt her, then she would die in their arms. She would want to. Because finding out that they were not the good, kind men that she had fallen for would break her heart. And if that happened, then death would be a welcome escape.

She gazed at Blake. Naked, he was even easier on the eye than he was fully clothed. He was strong, muscular, firm. His body was hard and defined from his broad shoulders to his strong wide thighs. The ebony hair of his head was echoed across his chest in a light dusting and a line of hair ran from his chest down to his navel then to the patch of dark curls at his groin. From amidst them jutted his thick, erect cock. It stuck out from his body, dusky pink with dark, raised veins and a bead of moisture like a diamond at its quivering tip.

Rather than filling her with fear or revulsion, as Jack’s member had, Blake’s filled her with need. It was an extension of this gentle and desirable man. A part of him and what he had to offer. And she wanted it. Wanted him. Inside her.

A nudging at her back made her turn to Matt. He was as gorgeous as Blake. His skin as bronzed down to his waist then white where his flesh had not been exposed to the sun. His chest was hairless but at his groin, the curls were as golden blond as her own. His impressive erection stood to attention, as thick and hard as Blake’s.

They both wanted her. She hugged herself tight inside.

Matt pulled her into his arms and laid her down on the bed facing him. He kissed her softly at first but his kisses grew harder as he pulled her body against his own. His cock nudged at the front of her shift, pushing the thin material between her legs. All of her inhibitions drifted away as she gave in to the need and longing that pulsed through her core.

She had denied herself so much for what felt like a lifetime. Been afraid and numb for an eternity. But finally, she was free. Finally, she was beginning to open up, to surrender to what she wanted.

Behind her, Blake had begun to edge her shift up her legs. He kissed each patch of newly revealed skin. He got to her bottom and kissed the cheeks. It tickled and Grace wriggled on the bed, causing Matt to grind into her even harder. His cock slipped through the folds of her shift and between the wet folds of her sex, sliding around in her damp heat. She groaned, desperate to feel him pushing into her further so that he entered her body completely.

Her shift was up to her lower back now. And still Blake kissed her.

In front of her, Matt also lifted the material, exposing her pussy, her belly, her pert little breasts with their hard fuchsia nubs. Matt moved down her body and began to suckle her nipples, pulling them into his mouth in turn until she panted with need. All the times that Jack had taken her, he’d never stirred her like this. His hands on her breasts had been cruel and he had made her flesh crawl. Matt’s caresses made her want to scream with need.

At the same time he ran a hand down between her legs, pushing between her wet silken lips and rubbing at her swollen bud. She moved with his knowing hand, up and down, round and round. She pulled his head closer to her breasts, losing herself in pleasure.

 

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON.COM

AMAZON UK

All Romance Ebooks

 

Molly’s Links:

Blog: http://misswishlade.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissWishlade

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mollyann.wishlade

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/19556829-molly-wishlade

Total-E-Bound Blogspot on 12th of every month: http://totalebound.blogspot.co.uk/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/misswishlade/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scandal by Molly Ann Wishlade

Scandal by Molly Ann Wishlade is out tomorrow, book 2 of The Wild Wild West series.  Bound came out on Monday and I absolutely devoured it, so I can’t wait to read the next in the series.

Here is the cover and blurb

SCANDAL IMAGE

If you love historical passionate romance, read on for two extracts.  The second extract is 18+ so if you don’t like reading about sex, you might want to shield your eyes when you get to that bit.

“I tell ya, Ellen, I’m just not having it!”

Ellen stared into the hard, dark eyes of Al Swearengen. Her heart thundered and she trembled from head to toe. The familiar aroma of stale sweat and whisky that permeated the bar of the Gem suddenly made her feel queasy.

“It ain’t your choice to make, Al!” she snapped.

She would not give in to him on this. She had every right now to follow her own heart. Her life would finally be her own.

“But…what’ll I do without you?” Al wheedled. He held out his hands and tilted his head. “I need you here, Ellen. You’ve been with me since the outset. Besides…” He gestured around the saloon. “The girls need ya. How’ll they manage? Most of ’em will end up pregnant after a flop or two then try to get rid of it themselves and wind up dyin’ of a fever.”

Ellen ground her teeth together and pressed her fists into her thighs. She tried not to look around at the faces of the whores but the urge was overwhelming. They gazed at her from all corners of the Gem, their painted faces haggard and drawn, their eyes sad and pleading.

What Al said was true. They did need her.

Her resolve started to drift away like gun smoke on the breeze.

“Don’t you let him change yer mind!” Kacey appeared at her side. “You’re doin’ the right thing, honey! It’s time for you to get outta this hell hole!”

“If you’re gonna listen to that dried-up old dove then you’re a bigger fool than I had ya pegged for!” Al shrugged then moved behind the bar and poured himself a slug of whisky.

Ellen turned to Kacey. “I know that it’s time for me to go.” She straightened her corset and repositioned her breasts. “It’s just…I feel so responsible for all of you.”

“I know, Ellen. You’ve been like a mother hen to us but you’ve a right to try out a different kinda life. Hell, we all envy ya! But not many whores have the determination to save a dime, let alone enough to set off into the world.”

“The world?” Ellen grinned.

“Well…Custer City at least,” Kacey shrugged.

“Hell, it’s gotta be better than this place.” Ellen slapped her thigh. “An’ if it ain’t then I’ll just keep on goin’.” She hoped that she sounded more confident than she felt.

“Come on, sweetheart, I’ll help ya pack.” Kacey strolled through the bar then up the three-tiered wooden staircase.

Ellen followed, casting an apologetic glance at the girls as she passed them. Surely the time had come for her to cut the apron strings? It wasn’t easy for any of them. She knew that. She’d been where they were now. These poor daughters of Deadwood had little to make their lives bearable but Ellen had done her best for them. She’d protected them from Al’s fiercest rages, rescued them from violent customers and helped them to get rid of the babies they could never manage to care for. She had tried to ease the tragedy that surrounded them daily in the only way she could – by being there for them.

But now it was her time. Time to leave and live a little while she still had the chance.

She just wished that it wasn’t so difficult leaving them all behind.

 

****

Ellen leant forwards and took hold of Clayton’s face. She rubbed her fingers over the shadow of his beard and smiled.

“I could use a shave.”

She nodded. “But not right now.”

He shook his head. “Not right now.”

When he pressed his lips against hers, she gasped. His mouth was soft and warm, his breath sweet and hot. He kissed her with experience and tenderness and she melted into his embrace. As if making her decisions for her, her legs parted and he slipped between them. Only the material of their clothing kept them divided.

Her heartbeat quickened. Desire pulsed through her, awakening her senses like the rains returning life to a sun scorched creek bed.

As Clayton’s kisses became more insistent, Ellen’s need grew. It had been a lifetime since she’d really wanted a man. Even with Mr Hawkins, her feelings had been but a shadow of the lust that now burned from her very core.

Maybe it was due to her heightened emotions following Stella’s labour, or maybe it was due to the fact that she knew that this was for her. Not for money. Not for Al. Not for anyone else’s benefit. Just for her.

She sighed as Clayton lifted her skirts, pushing them over her knees. He took hold of her garters and removed them before sliding down her stockings. When he ran his hands up and down her legs, from knee to ankle, Ellen bit her lip. The anticipation was too much. She felt sure that she would explode.

She pulled him towards her and wrapped her legs around his waist. His erection bulged at the front of his pants and she ground her pussy against it, overwhelmed by the need to feel him inside her.

Clayton kissed her then fingered the neckline of her gown.

“Can I…” His eyes were dark with desire.

Ellen nodded and helped him to unbutton the front of her dress. She shrugged out of the bodice before standing and sliding it down to her feet.

“There!” She grinned.

Clayton stared at her as if he’d never seen a half-naked woman before. Ellen wanted to sing with joy. He looked at her with hunger and need but not the regular detached lust she was accustomed to seeing. Clayton didn’t want just any old pussy. He wanted her. Her pussy.

He ran his hands up her legs and over her hips. She held them there for a moment then pushed her bloomers down. When she unlaced her corset, her hands shook and Clayton had to help her to pull the laces from the holes.

Then she stood before him. Clad in just her flimsy chemise.

Every breath she took made her bosoms tremble.

She knew that Clayton saw this.

She was hot and wet between her legs.

She knew that Clayton was aware of this.

She wanted him.

And she knew that he wanted her too.

She lifted the hem of her chemise then lifted it over her head, pulling off the scarf that held back her hair in the process.

Clayton gasped.

She was about to kneel but he stopped her moving with his strong hands.

She frowned.

Did he not want her now that he had seen her? Her heart sank.

But when he buried his face in the ebony curls covering her sex, she understood. He intended on pleasuring her first. She shuddered as primitive need coursed through her and he took control of her body.

 

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON.COM

AMAZON UK

All Romance Ebooks

 

Molly’s Links:

Blog: http://misswishlade.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissWishlade

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mollyann.wishlade

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/19556829-molly-wishlade

Total-E-Bound Blogspot on 12th of every month: http://totalebound.blogspot.co.uk/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/misswishlade/

 

Addicted Blog Tour

45.ADDICTED CHOSEN COVERI’m delighted to be kicking off the Addicted blog tour today, the new book from the lovely NIgel May.  Here’s all you need to know about the book.

Getting clean is a dirty business

The wine heiress, the faded entertainer, the operatic diva, the politician’s wife – four women who can’t say no….

Four women who should be happy with what life has given them. Success, beauty, money and fame. But never judge a book by its cover, because on the outside they may all seem to be completely in control of their lives, but under their fashionable facades, deep within their souls, they are all battling with a common demon…they are all addicted. Addicted to things that could ruin their very existence. In fact for one, it will snuff it out for good.

Four women…one death, one killer…

ADDICTED was voted Top 3 in “The Great British Write Off” competition on Handbag.com in association with Books And The City.

“Packed full of sauciness, darkness and intrigue, this lively romp of a story takes you on a colourful journey through the world of showbiz, from the ultra-highs to the face-planting lows. If you’re looking for a sexy, racy, riotous read for your sun lounger this summer, this is the perfect choice.”
HEAT MAGAZINE

‘ADDICTED is a sexy, dark, thrilling celebrity whirlwind that lifts the curtain on some blistering superstar scandal. It’s the most fun you can have between two covers. I need more!’
VICTORIA FOX, Author of POWER GAMES and TEMPTATION ISLAND

PRAISE FOR NIGEL MAY

“AN ADDICTIVE PLOT THAT IS PACKED WITH TWISTS AND TURNS. PREPARE FOR LARGER THAN LIFE CHARACTERS, FABULOUS LOCATIONS AND PLENTY OF HUMOUR”
THE SUN

“MOVE OVER JACKIE COLLINS, THERE’S A NEW BLOCKBUSTER STAR IN TOWN.”
new! MAGAZINE

“SIZZLES LIKE THE HOTTEST JACKIE COLLINS, THRILLS LIKE TASMINA PERRY AND OOZES GLAMOUR ON PAR WITH VICTORIA FOX….”

 

I’m thrilled that NIgel has joined me on my blog today talking about his top 10 addictions.  Nigel, over to you

880.nigelorangeADDICTED

 

 

 

 

My Top 10 Addictions

IMG_1253 (1I have always loved a meaty, juicy, blockbuster of a read. One of my favourite books when I was younger was Shirley Conran’s Lace. Such a marvellous read and action-packed from the first page. I suppose that is why I have ended up writing the kind of books I do. Give me strong female characters who aren’t afraid to say what they want to achieve their dreams and I’m happy! One of my favourite current authors is the fabulous Victoria Fox. Now there’s a lady who can spin a great tale.

 
(2) Next Top Model – I could watch it for days at a time. I love them all – the American one, the British one when it was one…I don’t mind where the models come from, as long as they’re bitching at each other and wearing fabulous clothes then I am more than happy. Plus I find Tyra Banks strangely hypnotic to watch.
eurovision wurst 2014 (3) The Eurovision Song Contest – I’d love to present it – it would be my ultimate TV dream. I have watched every one since about 1974 I think so it has pretty much always been part of my life. I was invited to go one year when I was a journalist but couldn’t as it was my friends’ wedding on the same day. I was gutted. Maybe I shall have to book for next year.
150.abba002(4) ABBA – the first record I ever bought was Waterloo by ABBA after watching them win Eurovision. Nobody can make records like ABBA did. Top tunes that still get people heading to the dance floor in the present day. I went to the ABBA Museum in Stockholm recently and honestly I could have stayed there for days. My first crush was Agnetha, the blond lady from ABBA. She was pure beauty!

 
(5) Vintage clothes – I love vintage clothes shopping. You can find such wicked clothes, total one-offs at vintage shops. Plus they always seem to be a bit more quirky, unique and fabulous that mass produced things on the high street. Some of my favourite shirts are old school vintage ones from the 1970s. I love the idea that there’s a backstory behind every outfit as well – who owned it before you? Even my favourite shops are retro brands like Merc and Fred Perry.

 

692.india xxx (6) Travel – I try to feature a few fabulously exotic locations in my writing and that gives me the perfect excuse to pack my suitcase and head off on holiday. I will always make notes on places that I’ve been on holiday and jot down as much as possible as that way I am able to give authentic details about places when I feature them in novels. I went to India earlier this year which was fantastic so I am thinking a slightly Bollywood feel may pop up in a future storyline.

(7) Craft – my work away from the books (which is actually a hobby I suppose) is in the world of craft – I spent most of my days surrounded by glue, glitter and mounds of paper. And I love it. It amazes me to see the things that people can make with their crafty stash, be it cards, scrapbooks pages or fantastic works of home décor.
cherry lambrini

(8) Cherry Lambrini – I know! It’s cheap as chips, bright red in colour and tastes like fizzy pop…but I love it. There’s just something glorious about the taste. It’s a party in a bottle. I do love a great bottle of wine, but I’ll often find my trolley at the supermarket housing a bottle or three of Cherry Lambrini.

 
(9) Pub grub – give me a plate of steak and kidney pie and chips and I am a happy man. Or bangers and mash, or liver and bacon….there is nothing nicer than sitting in a restaurant or pub and seeing good hearty food on the menu. I was never a fan of the nouveau cuisine nonsense where you have half a potato and a cube of meat arranged beautifully on a plate. One mouthful and it’s gone. Give me decent food, and lots of it!
757.deviousmaids

(10) Devious Maids – it’s my current TV obsession. It’s on the TLC Channel and comes from the same people who created the brilliant Desperate Housewives. It’s packed full of murder and deception, and everyone is drop dead gorgeous. The writing is incredibly good and I love it. It reminds me of some of the glamorous soaps like Dynasty and Dallas that I loved growing up. I mention Devious Maids in Addicted as I am sure one of my characters would be as addicted to it as I am.

Nigel’s latest novel, the spicy glam fiction whodunit ADDICTED is online now for just 99p http://myBook.to/ADDICTED_NigelMay for Kindle and is also available for many other eReaders. 

3.TRINITY COVER HI-RESHis first novel, TRINITY is also available online for just 99p http://myBook.to/TRINITY_NigelMay
Nigel is also featured in both of the short story collections, SUNLOUNGER and SUNLOUNGER 2, online now.

Bound by Molly Ann Wishlade

Tomorrow sees the release of Bound by Molly Ann Wishlade, Book 1 of the Wild Wild West series. I love Molly’s books filled with sex, passion and flawless chemistry so I can’t wait to get my hands on these.

Here’s the blurb and coverBOUND IMAGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an extract for you to enjoy

“Don’t you move a muscle!”

Layla stiffened as a hand covered her mouth. She blinked hard and tried to peer through the gloom.

Panic seized her. Where was she? What was happening?

Her arms were pinned to her sides. There was a weight crushing her chest, restricting her movement and her breathing. She wriggled instinctively, her mind still foggy with sleep.

She was trapped!

“Now listen up, missy,” the deep voice continued. “Stop your struggling! I’m gonna remove your Stetson but you better keep still, ya hear?”

That was why she couldn’t see! She had pulled her father’s old hat over her eyes so that she could get some sleep. The afternoon sun had been hot, even through the trees. But now…someone had discovered her.

Would he hurt her?

She squinted as the cover was removed from her face. It didn’t make much difference. It was pitch black. She must have slept through the whole of the afternoon. Darn it! She’d only intended on taking a quick nap. She tried to focus on slowing her breathing but she was only able to catch little breaths.

The man straddling her chest pushed Layla’s hair back from her face with a callused hand and she frowned. As her eyes adjusted, she could just make out the outline of his head, a dark silhouette against the stars above. He moved and the hand covering her lips exerted more pressure. Her teeth dug painfully into her lips. Her heart thudded against her ribs and she felt sure that he must be able to feel it hammering beneath his muscular thigh. Fear surged through her and a red haze flooded her brain.

She had to get away. She had to escape.

She forced her mouth open then bit down on the flesh of his palm. It was instinctive, a physical reaction to a physical situation. She was consumed by terror. If he was going to hurt her then she’d inflict pain upon him first. However she could.

He growled and whipped his hand away but his weight remained in place. Crushing. Constricting. Impossible to displace.

“Now then, missy.” He pressed his mouth against her ear. She winced, expecting to smell unwashed man and to feel his stubble graze her cheek but instead she smelt potash soap on clean-shaven skin. Even with her sleep-addled brain, the scent reassured her as it brought with it images of civilisation and safety. Of a long-ago childhood. So he wasn’t a bandit. He hadn’t been out here for days or weeks. Perhaps he was even respectable. But that was probably too much to hope for. And as she knew all too well, even a man who appeared to be respectable could be hiding a darkness. A hidden side that would lead to pain, degradation and heartbreak for a woman who fell for his charms.

“I’m gonna remove my hand from over yer mouth. But you gotta promise not to scream.” He laughed. “Not that it would do you much good out here…but, well, to be honest with you…I can’t abide a woman screaming. You understand?” His voice reverberated through her chest, tickling beneath her armpits like a feather and making her nipples turn confusingly into hard little peaks. She had hoped to disguise herself as a young man by binding her ample bosoms tightly and donning trousers but it seemed she’d fooled no one.

Layla nodded. She was stuck in a bad box, no doubt about it. She realised now that screaming would get her nowhere. Might even conjure up a few other wastrels who’d be intent on having their way with a woman fool enough to wander out into the Black Hills alone.

What had she been thinking? But she’d been lost, alone, without a choice. She had acted upon the instinct to flee, too afraid to stay and meet her fate. The fate that she’d played a part in arranging.

The man removed his hand and she moistened her lips with her tongue. She could taste wood-smoke and soap. This man kept himself clean. He’d also recently made a fire. Her belly growled and she silently cursed her human frailty.

“You hungry, eh missy? We’ll have to see about getting you some victuals in a while then. But you gotta promise to behave.”

“Who…” Layla tried to take a deep breath but the man’s knees crushed her sides.

“Who am I?” He finished her question. “Well that’s for me to know…and for you to find out.”

Layla gasped. “I…I can’t…bre…”

“Oh!” He jumped to his feet. “Sorry…Didn’t realise I was squashing ya.”

He grabbed her hands and pulled her upright.

“Now remember what I said…” He kept hold of her wrists.

“I remember,” Layla nodded. Black spots swam before her eyes and she staggered. The stranger caught her beneath her armpits with his large hands then scooped her up. She leant her head against his chest, momentarily too weak and dizzy to protest.

“Now I’m gonna take you back to where I’ve set up camp then we’re gonna have us a little chat. Understand?”

“Yes,” Layla whimpered. She cleared her throat. Better not to sound afraid. “I mean…yes, I understand.”

What on earth did he want? What if there were more men there and he intended on sharing her with them? She glanced around but the trees were thick and the moon was a sliver in the sky. She’d likely break her neck if she tried to run off and she felt too weak to even attempt it. Better to wait and see what he wanted to talk about and maybe get something to eat. Build her strength a little so she could think. Clear her head. Then plan.

****

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen so far and you fancy a short, sexy historical read, why don’t you pre-order your copy today

Buy links:

AMAZON.COM

AMAZON UK

ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

 

Molly’s Links:

Blog: http://misswishlade.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissWishlade

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mollyann.wishlade

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/19556829-molly-wishlade

Total-E-Bound Blogspot on 12th of every month: http://totalebound.blogspot.co.uk/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/misswishlade/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal Book 3 of The Wild Wild West series

The last cover reveal today of the Wild Wild West series by Molly Ann Wishlade.  Can’t wait for this series.

9781474006415_Cover

Vulnerable widow Grace Holbein faces an uncertain future. Spurned by the town of Deadwood because of her violent late husband’s troubles she’s all alone in the world. With winter approaching the future looks bleak until two rugged cowboys ride up to her ranch looking for work in return for room and board.

Grace is wary of these handsome strangers; in her experience men are not to be trusted. However, Matt, fair and athletic, and Blake, dark and ruggedly handsome, are keen to prove to Grace that not all men are alike. The attention she receives from them both thaws her frozen heart and melts her inhibitions; she would welcome either one to warm her bed, but it’s a choice she finds impossible to make. In her dreams she’s allowed them both, but can her brazen desires ever be fulfilled in reality?

 

Menage will be released by Carina UK on 1st August

Cover reveal Book 2 of the Wild Wild West series.

9781472099600_CoverYesterday I shared with you the new cover for Book 1 in the Wild Wild West series, today, I’m sharing with you the gorgeous steamy cover of book 2 Scandal.

Feisty ex-harlot Ellen Finch is finally free to escape her troubled past and make a fresh start, far away from the dusty town of Deadwood. But Ellen’s plans are interrupted when a dark and brooding stranger bursts through the doors of The Gem Theatre and Saloon begging for her help as a midwife.

Ellen can’t refuse his pleas, or allow another woman to suffer when she can help. Nor can she ignore the pang of regret she feels upon discovering this stranger is about to become a father; if only she’d had a man like Clayton Kile to care for her! Relief floods Ellen when she discovers the labouring woman is Clayton’s sister. Clayton can’t afford to pay Ellen for her help; instead he expertly demonstrates his gratitude!

It’s been years since a man’s passion has moved Ellen, but there is something about this cowboy that tugs at Ellen’s emotions and fires her own long latent desires. Ellen faces a difficult choice, surrender to the demands of her body and risk losing her heart to love, or follow her head and leave Deadwood and her past behind forever…

Scandal will be published by Carina on July 30th

Sneak Peek of One Hundred Proposals

9781472097927_cover.jpgToday is publication day for One Hundred Proposals, so here is a little sneak peek of my gorgeous new story.

Prologue

‘Ok, you can open your eyes now,’ Harry said.

I blinked in the gloom of the cave. Moonlight tumbled through the opening above us, reflecting off the waterfall as it cascaded into the pool below. We had been in Australia for just a few days but I knew it would never cease to amaze me. Dancing in the pockets of the cave walls were hundreds of fireflies, sparkling like fairy lights.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

The fireflies started to gather together and slowly a shape was formed. I frowned in confusion and then within seconds the words, ‘Suzie, Marry Me,’ stood proud against the cave walls, written by the fireflies.

I whirled round to face Harry in shock. ‘How did you do that?’ I looked back at the fireflies, not wanting to miss anything. Would they perhaps move to form the lyrics of my favourite song? Were they super trained fireflies and in a minute they’d all whip out their mini cheerleader pom-poms and start some kind of dance where they would balance precariously on each other’s backs?

‘It’s some kind of fruit juice, they love it.’

I fumbled in my bag for my camera. ‘We have to get a picture for the website.’

I fired off a couple of shots and I could see a few other tourists had entered the cave and were clearly waiting for my answer. They’d be waiting for a long time.

‘So what do you think?’ Harry said. ‘Is this the perfect proposal?’

‘It’s definitely one of your best, very romantic.’ I focused my attention on the photos I was taking. They were going to look fantastic with the waterfall in soft focus in the background and the fireflies in sharp detail set against the inky blue light of the moon.

‘But still not the perfect proposal?’

‘Not for me, but someone else would love it.’ I watched the faces of the other tourists fall at my callous response. ‘We’re not together, we just work with each other.’ One couple looked at me dubiously, so I pressed on. ‘Our company creates the perfect proposal, this kind of thing is our bread and butter.’

I resisted the sudden urge to rush over to them and start handing out business cards. As if reading my mind, Harry slung an arm round my shoulder, restraining me with his hand.

I looked up at him innocently but he didn’t seem convinced.

The tourists moved further down the cave, leaving us alone.

‘You always do that,’ Harry said.

‘What, promote our business? I know, I can’t help it. I’m just so proud of what we’ve achieved that I want to tell anyone that listens and anyone that doesn’t.’

‘No, not that. You always say our company, our business. It’s yours, you started it. I’m just the tech guy.’

It was just me to start with. I created the.PerfectProposal.com over two years ago when my boyfriend at the time proposed drunkenly to me over a greasy kebab. It struck me that maybe the menfolk of this world might need a little helping hand to create a proposal their girlfriends would remember forever. Although the greasy kebab is not one I’m likely to forget.

Harry was my web designer. When the business first started he would come by my office, the back bedroom in my home, every day to help update the website with my new ideas, photos and special offers. In the end it made sense to make him a permanent feature. Our website looked fantastic and as an online company this was integral to our success.

But Harry wasn’t just the geeky IT guy, far from it. He was the biggest man I had ever seen in my life, with large thighs and big feet. He had stubbly, dark hair and chocolate eyes. But he also had a vivid imagination – where I was organising the logistics for a champagne helicopter trip, he would be the one that would come up with something completely unique like using fireflies.

‘And you always put yourself down. We’re equal partners now, you helped to make the company a success too,’ I said.

He shrugged, never keen to accept that he played such an important part in it. He gestured to the fireflies that were starting to break formation now. ‘Is it too sickly?’

I let my camera hang round my neck and leaned into him, I loved the way I fitted against him. ‘I love it, I really do, it’s… magical. But there’s still something missing.’

Was there really such a thing as a perfect proposal? Three months ago, just before Valentine’s Day, Harry had made it his mission to provide me with one. But deep down I knew what I wanted and I doubted Harry would be able to deliver it. I should have told him that when he first started this wild goose chase. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.

 

Chapter One

Three Months Before

I put the phone down on another excited client and sighed. It was February 11th and we’d had a surge of customers all desperately wanting to propose on top of the Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day. I felt like screaming. It was only by careful planning that I’d arranged that my customers weren’t going to be there at the same time. That’s just what a girl wants to feel special, to see other girls being proposed to at the same place and time that she was. Was there no originality anymore? Harry was brilliant at coming up with unique proposals, but no matter how many times I had tried to sell Harry’s ideas to them, they wanted the traditional and that was that.

‘Another Eiffel Tower?’ asked Harry as he absentmindedly uploaded photos to our rolling gallery.

‘He wants a dozen red roses delivered to the observation deck at eight.’ I rubbed my head in defeat. ‘What about something different, going to the ballet or proposing over a bag of chips at the end of Brighton Pier?’

He swivelled in his chair. ‘What would be your perfect proposal?’

I looked at him and had a sudden flash of him holding me in his arms and asking me to marry him.

‘I don’t know, the perfect guy would definitely be a bonus.’

‘Ok so you have your perfect guy and it’s not greasy kebab boy –’

‘Let’s be clear, it was the kebab that was greasy not the man.’

He waved away the details. ‘So Orlando Bloom or some other non-greasy hunk is asking you to marry him, how would he do it?’

I took a sip of tea whilst I pondered this. If one of my customers phoned up at a loss for inspiration I had a hundred ideas. But for me, my mind was blank.

‘I have an idea.’ Harry’s eyes were suddenly bright with excitement. He whirled round on his chair and started tapping away furiously on his computer. I peered over his shoulder at our website.

 

Proposer’s Blog

How Do You Propose to a Proposer?

Over the next hundred days I intend to find out. I will find one hundred ways to propose to our Chief Proposer Suzie McKenzie, and post the results here for your enjoyment. One thing’s for sure, not one of my proposals will be on top of the Eiffel Tower with a dozen red roses.

 

‘You can’t put that, we’ve had fifteen customers who want to propose like that over the last week,’ I said, ignoring the sudden thundering of my heart that Harry was going to propose to me.

‘Then maybe they’ll have a rethink.’ Harry was already uploading a picture of a diamond ring onto the blog.

‘Or ask for their money back.’

But Harry was still writing.

 

Day 1: The Traditional Proposal. Location: Our office.

 

He stood up and got down on one knee – yanking the snake ring off his thumb, he held it aloft to my shocked face.

‘Suzie McKenzie, you are my best friend and I cannot imagine finding anyone I would rather spend the rest of my life with. Marry me.’

The world stopped. My mouth was dry. How unfair was it that the one thing I wanted most in the world was happening right in front of me and it was as real as a pair of breasts on Sunset Boulevard.

I wanted to snatch the ring off him, stuff it on my finger and march him down to the nearest registry office. But I didn’t.

I cleared my throat of the huge lump. ‘Too clichéd, wrong location, wrong ring.’

He grinned as he appraised his ring and stood up, clearly not fussed by this rejection. He started typing.

 

Crashed and Burned. Apparently a snake ring with evil red eyes and the beige walls of our cramped office isn’t good enough for her. I’ll try again tomorrow.

 

Surely not. A hundred days of this torment? I didn’t think I could bear it.

He looked at his watch. ‘Oh, I’ve got to go, hot date with Sexy Samantha again tonight.’

Samantha was his first girlfriend in nearly a year. When I first met him he seemed to go through a different girl each week, so I wasn’t sure why he’d gone through the sudden dry patch. But Samantha was definitely the type to tempt him out of it.

I’d had the pleasure of meeting Sexy Samantha the night before. Suspicious of Harry’s relationship with his best friend, she’d barrelled into my home and demanded that Harry introduce me. I came downstairs in leggings and an oversized black hoodie – I knew I was hardly dressed to impress. And impress her I didn’t. The look of relief when Samantha saw me was palpable. She, on the other hand, was a vision of heavenly loveliness. She was almost as tall as Harry, with long blonde hair and curves everywhere. My eyes were immediately drawn to a big pair of breasts, squeezed between an overly tight top. Harry was definitely a breast man. All of his girlfriends were very well-endowed in the breast department. Some of the breasts, I suspected, weren’t even real – though Harry didn’t seem to mind. I was more in the straight up, straight down department, definitely no curves and not really any breasts to speak of.

I watched Harry log off his computer with haste and obvious excitement about what Sexy Samantha had in store for him that night.

‘I have a hot date too,’ I blurted out, watching for any flicker of jealousy. Of course there was none.

‘That’s great Suze.’ He looked genuinely pleased. ‘You haven’t seen anyone since Jack…’ He trailed off. My life was defined into two segments. Before Jack and After Jack. I wondered if Jules felt the same. He grabbed his jacket, averting his eyes from me, perhaps knowing that he had said something he shouldn’t. ‘It’s about time you got back on the horse again. We can swap notes tomorrow.’

‘Or not.’ I couldn’t bear thinking about that conversation. The literal ins and outs of Harry’s date would be something I really didn’t want to hear. I’d changed the subject twice that morning already when he started giving me explicit details that would be right at home on the pages of an erotic fiction novel. Sexy Samantha was far kinkier than those baby blue eyes might suggest. Besides, what did I have to contribute to that conversation? My hot date consisted of a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and a night in with the beautiful Brad Pitt. I logged off my own computer, keen to show him I also had something exciting to run off to.

‘Where did you meet him?’

I racked my brain as I fluffed out my hair in the reflection of a photo showing me and Harry covered in snow and grinning ear to ear after sledging at the indoor Snow Zone. Before Jack.

‘Skiing,’ I said, then wished I hadn’t.

He stopped in his hasty exit. ‘Skiing? When have you been skiing?’

‘I go every Sunday, skiing lessons, he’s my ski instructor.’ I was making it worse.

‘You hate skiing.’

I had said that hadn’t I. Because this photo was taken when we had our first and last skiing lesson a year before. I had spent forty minutes falling on my bum – as kids as young as five glided effortlessly past me – and the last twenty minutes of the lesson, after Harry had been upgraded to the adult slopes, trying to get up and rolling around on the floor with my skis in the air, looking like an oversized beetle stranded on its back. Harry had felt sorry for me that I had failed so spectacularly and had taken me sledging instead. Much more up my street. There was no skill at all involved in sliding down a slope in a red plastic sledge.

‘I like it now. I’m very proficient. Obviously just needed the right instructor.’

‘Well that’s great, maybe we can go together sometime.’

I fixed a smile onto my face. ‘Maybe.’

‘What’s his name?’

I cast around for a suitable name and a suitable adjective to describe him, something comparable to Sexy Samantha. I had nothing, no names in my head at all. The only name in my head was Harry and that would be too weird. He was staring at me, waiting for me to come up with a name, the silence stretched on. I had to say something.

‘Tim.’ I almost shouted out with relief. ‘Tiny Tim.’

Great. Just great.

Harry’s face fell. ‘Tiny Tim?’

‘Yes.’

‘As in…’ he waggled his little finger at me.

‘No, no, of course not, he’s very big in that department. Big all over in fact. Huge. It’s kind of an ironic name.’

‘Big like me?’

‘Well I have no idea how big you are in that department.’ My eyes cast down to the sizeable bulge in his jeans and I felt my cheeks burn as he clearly saw me checking him out.

‘I meant in height,’ Harry said. I’m sure I saw his mouth twitch as he supressed a smile.

‘Oh yes, he’s very tall.’

‘Good. That’s good. I have a friend who’s a ski instructor at the Snow Zone, he might know your Tim. What’s his surname?’

‘Timmings.’

I was a terrible liar.

‘Tim Timmings?’

‘That’s right.’

A horn tooted outside and Harry peeled back the net curtain to wave at Sexy Samantha as she leaned on the bonnet of her sexy red convertible. I didn’t think I’d ever be so relieved to see her again.

‘Well have fun.’ Harry threw me a cursory wave as he thundered down the stairs. A second later I heard the front door slam.

I peered out the window, hoping not to be noticed as Harry swept Sexy Samantha into his arms and swung her round as if he hadn’t seen her in months. As he deposited her on the floor she waved up at me and I was forced to wave politely back.

With a wheel spin and the stereo blaring out something young and hip, the red convertible roared up the road, taking my heart with it.

I’d been in love with Harry for two long, painful years and we were further away today from getting together than we had been when we first met. We were now firmly in the friend zone and there was never any coming back from that.

Two years was way too long for unrequited love. It was time I moved on with someone else. I would just fall out of love with him, simple as that.

I sighed as I walked into my bedroom and got changed into my cow print onesie. I flicked through some songs on my iPod until I found something suitably rousing and as Gloria Gaynor started belting out ‘I am what I am’, I turned up the volume, leapt up onto the bed and danced and wiggled my bum in time with the lyrics. I was highly skilled in the playing of air drums and as Gloria reached a crescendo so did my frenetic drum playing. As the instrumental kicked in I leapt off the bed, doing the splits mid-air. I pulled a muscle in my groin and as I flicked my hair theatrically out of my face I saw Harry’s eyes widen in horror as I landed on top of him, one leg somehow hooked over his shoulder as my other foot kicked him square in his crotch.

He screamed in pain. I screamed with embarrassment as he staggered back and landed hard on his bum, my leg still wrapped round his neck.

Gloria was still singing loudly in the background as we stared at each other. Finally I managed to speak.

‘What are you doing here?’

‘Currently, wondering if I’ll ever be able to have sex again. Can you please get off my lap?’

I quickly climbed off him, kneeing him in the face as I tried to stand up. He slowly staggered to his feet, doubled over in obvious pain.

‘I forgot my wallet,’ he said, by way of explanation.

I swallowed. ‘You saw me dance?’

He lifted his head and this time there was no mistaking the grin. ‘From the very beginning to the dramatic finale.’

I groaned.

‘I better go, Samantha will be wondering where I am. Nice onesie by the way. Does Tiny Tim have one too? A horse or a pig perhaps?’

I stared down at myself, at the pink udders hanging limply from my stomach, and wanted the ground to swallow me up. ‘He’s not coming round till later.’

‘Of course not. And I imagine he thinks you look quite cute in it.’

Cute? Puppies were cute. Is that how he thought of me, as a cute little puppy?

He moved to the top of the stairs and I followed him.

‘Do you think I look cute in it?’

He turned and walked back up a few stairs, kneeling on the stair below me so we were eye to eye. ‘Yes.’

My heart dropped. I was so far in the friend zone I was now categorised as cute. He’d be patting me on the back next and telling me he saw me like a sister.

‘Sexy cute?’

‘No.’

My heart sank into my feet.

‘I bet Samantha would look sexy in it?’

‘I doubt it. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to look sexy in it.’

I felt slightly better at this.

‘And don’t underestimate the value of cute, it’s a great quality to have.’ He leaned forward and kissed me on the nose. ‘And don’t stay up too late, I have a big day planned for you tomorrow.’

He ran down the stairs and was gone a second later.

I touched my nose, still feeling the softness of his lips. He thought I was cute. I smiled as I fell in love with him all over again.

**********************************************************************

To see the rest you can buy One Hundred Proposals here http://amzn.to/1ouP9w0 or read on for chapter 2

Chapter Two

I woke the next day with a start, being quite simply torn from a dream about Jack – a memory of playing with him on the beach as he tried to put wet seaweed down my back. As I became more conscious, the loss of losing him hit me all over again.

I knew immediately that someone was in the room with me. I was face down on my pillow and I leaned up and swept my curtain of tangled brown hair off my face. Harry was sitting next to me on the bed, sipping his coffee and reading my very dog-eared copy of The Hobbit.

I scowled at him. I wasn’t a morning person.

‘Do you not knock?’

Harry’s attention didn’t even waver from the page he was reading. ‘You gave me a key.’

‘I could have been naked.’

He put his book down and looked at me. ‘All the more reason for me not to knock.’

I blushed and climbed off the bed.

Most mornings I woke to this. I must admit, it was a lovely way to wake up. One night, after these early morning visits had become more regular, I went to bed in my sexiest lingerie in the hope that the following morning he would come in and be so turned on that he might immediately ravish me. But not only did he not even bat an eyelid when he saw me in my black, satin nightie, he was more excited about his McDonalds breakfast and the free hash brown he had been given by the girl flirting with him behind the counter than what I had to offer. To add insult to injury, as I tried to arrange myself subtly into a sexy pose on the bed next to him as he chomped through his Bacon and Egg McMuffin, I had simply slithered off the bed into a crumpled heap on the floor. Nowadays it seemed much easier and more comfortable to sleep in my regular pyjamas.

Harry handed me a coffee fresh from the café round the corner. I took a sip – it was made exactly how I liked it, with three sugars and a dash of hazelnut syrup. As I went to take another sip, I realised that a small heart had been drawn in the froth on the top. I smiled and hovered near his side, peering round him to the brown paper bag I could see tucked by his hip.

He was busy reading so I coughed loudly to gain his attention. When he glanced up, I looked deliberately at the bag.

‘How do you know this is for you?’

‘Because you always bring me nice things from the café. What is it this morning, an apricot Danish, ooh a walnut plait or…’

He whisked it out the bag and showed it to me, and the words dried in my throat. Iced into the top of my favourite cinnamon swirl were the words ‘Marry Me.’

I had almost forgotten about this silly hundred proposals thing. I’d hoped he’d forgotten as well. But now it looked like he really did mean to torture me. One hundred days. One hundred different ways to break my heart.

I looked at him and he was watching me hopefully.

‘It’s certainly unique.’ I took the bun from him, and picked a currant out of it, averting my gaze from his. I forced my voice to sound normal before I spoke again. ‘If I bite into this am I at risk of swallowing a diamond ring?’

He shook his head. ‘No ring. You said a ring was clichéd. Besides, why propose with diamonds when you can propose with cinnamon and coffee?’

‘You should take a picture of it before I eat it. Put it on the blog.’ I had a huge lump in my throat.

‘Good idea.’ He whipped out his phone, pressed a few buttons and pointed it in my direction. I held it out for him to get a good angle and realised my hands were shaking. Harry realised it too. To my shame, tears swam in my eyes.

Harry was off the bed in a second. ‘What’s wrong, what’s happened?’

‘Nothing, I’m fine. Just tired.’ I stepped away from him but he pulled me back, holding me tight and squashing the bun between us. I breathed him in, his wonderful earthy smell as he started to stroke my back.

‘Did something happen with Tiny Tim?’

I couldn’t keep up with the lie any longer and it had achieved nothing anyway.

‘We broke up,’ I said into his chest, hoping that would explain why I was soaking his shirt with my tears.

‘Oh honey, I’m sorry.’ His hand moved to my hair and my breath caught in my throat. ‘Had you been seeing him long?’

Oh what a tangled web we weave.

‘A few weeks. It wasn’t serious, but I really liked him. But obviously I liked him more than he liked me.’

‘Well then the man’s an idiot. Who wouldn’t love a girl in a cow print onesie?’

I giggled.

He tilted my face up to look at him.

‘Right, enough tears. Any man who makes you cry is not worth it.’

If only he knew.

‘Anyway, I have a day out planned for you today, so stop moping around and get yourself showered and dressed.’

He released me and we both looked at the squashed bun. Although it looked a bit worse for wear, the words ‘Marry Me’ were still very obvious on the top. Harry took a photo and I quickly ate it so I wouldn’t have to stare at the empty words any longer. It tasted good, despite the fact that with every mouthful my heart broke a little bit more.

‘So, as proposals go, is this what you imagined for yourself?’ Harry asked, when it was gone.

‘Undoubtedly. The perfect proposal. So you don’t have to bother with the other ninety-eight different ways now. Write on the blog that you bought me a cinnamon swirl and I caved. I’m a cheap date, easily pleased.’

Harry pulled a face. ‘It was a bit cheap and naff, wasn’t it? Ok, for my next one it will be something huge.’

‘Really, the cinnamon swirl was cute… and don’t underestimate the value of cute.’

But Harry was already walking away into the office, scrolling through his phone as he went.

‘Harry, are you listening? Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a personalised cinnamon swirl.’

‘Get in the shower, woman, I need to make some calls.’

I sighed. I had to sway him from this path. Ninety-eight heart-breaking days stretched ahead of me like an endless desert, with no respite from the sun.

I got in the shower and stuck my head under the stream.

No, I could do this. Proposals were my entire waking life. My dreams were plagued by them too. Something like this could only be good for business. I just had to become immune to the words. They were empty and meaningless. And now I knew that I was to expect it every day, I could prepare myself for it, pretend in my head the words meant something else.

I got dressed quickly and walked into the office.

‘Hey.’ Harry was busy typing. ‘Our blog has nineteen followers already.’

‘Our Proposer’s Blog? This hundred proposals malarkey?’

‘Malarkey? I’m offended.’ He smiled up at me briefly before returning his attention to the screen. ‘Yes, I guess they want to see what I come up with next.’

I leaned over him to see what he had written and caught a whiff of his wonderful clean earthy smell. There was the close-up picture of my squashed bun, and another picture I hadn’t realised he had taken – of me eating it, my hair a full bird’s nest, my face red and blotchy from the tears, dressed in my rather unflattering cow print onesie. Great!

Under the picture was Harry’s blog.

 

Proposer’s Blog

Day 2: The Cinnamon Swirl Proposal. Location: Suzie’s bedroom (I assure you, nothing saucy going on here).

 

Is the way to a woman’s heart through her stomach?

Our Suzie McKenzie has a very sweet tooth and so I thought to charm her with a sweet proposal of her own. Nadia’s Bakery, St Patrick’s Road makes the best Cinnamon Swirls in the world and it’s one of Suzie’s all-time favourite things to eat for breakfast. So when I explained the situation to the lovely Nadia this morning she was more than happy to provide me with a personalised one along with a heart-topped latte.

So what was Suzie’s reaction? She seemed a bit blasé about it actually. Wolfed it down and barely registered the words.

 

That wasn’t true of course, but it was better he wrote that than writing that I burst into tears.

 

I always thought those proposers that pop the question with a ring at the bottom of the champagne glass were silly who wants to fish the diamond ring out of the toilet a few days later? Though now Suzie’s eaten my proposal, there’s nothing left of it apart from the icing on her lips.

 

I immediately checked my lips and I saw Harry smirk out of the corner of my eye.

 

Next time, I will do something grand. Something she can’t possibly miss. Plus, who would really say yes over a 59p Cinnamon Swirl?

 

‘That makes me sound shallow,’ I said, squeezing past him to log on to my own computer.

‘Not shallow, just greedy. And don’t bother logging on, we’re going out.’

‘I can’t, it’s our busiest time of the year, you know that. Three days before Valentine’s Day, all those last minute Larrys will be phoning us up for support.’

‘I’ve already diverted the calls to your mobile and you can still pick up your emails, besides today is completely work orientated – we’re sourcing new locations, so stop making excuses and get your boots on.’

When I hesitated, he grabbed my hand and pulled me out the office.

I laughed. ‘Where are we going?’

‘First stop, we’re going to buy you some decent pyjamas, so the next boyfriend won’t be scared off by seeing you in that onesie.’

I stopped dead and when he turned to look at me, his eyes were kind.

‘Jack bought it for me,’ I said, quietly.

‘I know.’

‘I’m not getting rid of it.’

‘I’m not saying throw it out. But I know Jack, he had a wicked sense of humour and you know as well as I do that he bought it for you as a joke because you used to take the piss out of onesies and people that wore them. You know that he never intended for you to wear it at all let alone every day since his death. If you want to keep it, keep it. All I’m talking about is options. Something else you could wear that would show off that fabulous figure of yours.’

I opened my mouth to protest as the last words he said slammed into my brain. Fabulous figure?

He moved his hands to my shoulders and when he spoke his voice was soft.

‘I know you’re trying to keep your brother alive, keep him close, but he would be cringing if he could see you wearing that thing and you know that. Keep him close with your memories of him, not by compromising who you are.’

I blinked. That was very profound for half nine on a Thursday morning.

‘I’m just saying, the Suzie McKenzie I know and love wouldn’t be caught dead in something like that.’

‘I think it’s funny.’ I knew I sounded like a petulant child.

‘Yes, for about five minutes after you opened your present – it’s not quite so funny eight months later.’

He had a point. I’d washed it so many times that the white patches were now grey and the udders were looking decidedly limp.

‘And while we’re on the subject. You can stop wearing black as well. We’re not in the Victorian times anymore.’

He pulled me into the bedroom and I followed, still in shock over his brutal honesty. He opened my wardrobe and pulled out my favourite scarlet jumper dress. ‘You can wear this today with those purple leggings.’

They would clash horribly. I smiled

‘And you can wear them with those Barbie pink boots you love so much and…’ He rooted around in one of my drawers, finally found what he had been looking for, pulled it out and thrust it into my face. ‘This. You’ll wear this.’

‘But –’

‘No buts. Get changed. You have five minutes.’

I stared after his retreating back and then down at the black shirt and black trousers I had put on out of habit. In the months after Jack’s death my taste in bright and garish clothes had seemed disrespectful somehow. Was one month too soon to return back to my colourful spots, stripes and swirls? Was two months? But now it had been eight months and I had seemingly been wearing black ever since. My bright clothes even seemed to have a thin layer of dust on them as they hung forgotten in my wardrobe. Harry had a point. Again.

I came downstairs a few minutes later, dressed in my purple leggings, scarlet jumper, pink boots and my red and gold spotted sequinned beret that I adored and Jack hated because he said I looked like a toadstool. I felt lighter already.

Harry grinned when he saw me. ‘You look beautiful.’ He offered me his arm. ‘Now let’s go.’

I leaned into him and walked out into the early morning sunshine.

*

‘No way. I’m not doing that,’ I said, staring at the scene before me in horror. ‘There’s nothing romantic about that.’

‘Who says proposals have to be romantic?’ Harry said as he bent down to forcefully remove my boots.

‘It’s the rules. Flowers, fireworks, chocolates. A stuffed teddy with the words emblazoned across a red heart. Not this. Never this.’

‘I disagree.’

‘You would,’ I said as Harry pushed me gently but forcibly forwards in the queue.

‘I think proposals can be weird, funny or in the case of this little adventure, adrenaline filled.’

I was next.

‘If I die –’

‘I’ll wear a cow print onesie to your funeral. Now get up there.’

My phone rang in my pocket.

‘Oh I have to get that, shame I’ll miss my turn.’

But to my annoyance, Harry had already wrestled my phone from my pocket and had answered it. He was more than capable of dealing with our customers and he knew I knew that.

‘Are you going or what, love?’ asked a big gruff man whose face looked like it had been punched several times. His nose was bent in two places and he had a huge scar across his forehead. Had he sustained these injuries doing this? I shrunk back but Harry pushed me forward.

‘Yes she is, and send her as high as you can.’

The man nodded, somewhat evilly I thought.

I climbed the steps to my doom and they attached thin rubber cables to my harness. I kept my eyes on Harry as the man bounced behind me for a few seconds, causing me to bounce as well. A moment later I was propelled some ten feet into the air, a scream tearing from my throat. I fell back to the earth but no sooner had I touched the ground than I was sent back into the air again, this time even higher than the last.

We had been walking along the Thames when the sounds of screams had attracted us. As we rounded the corner, we saw the bungee trampolines and watched with amusement as we saw people screaming, being bounced higher and higher in the air. My amusement had quickly turned to horror when I realised Harry had paid for me to have a go, and that we had come here deliberately for this reason.

I screamed again as I flailed in the air, kicking my legs helplessly in the hope that it would slow my descent. Each time I thought I was going to crash into the ground, I came to a slow stop, bounced gracefully off the trampoline and was propelled back into the air again. As I was thrust into the air for the fifth time, a bubble of laughter escaped my throat. It was a rush – a terrifying, brilliant rush. The man bounced with me, sending me higher, and I roared with joy.

All too soon the experience was over, and the man slowed me down and stopped me. He unhooked me and I quickly clambered down the steps and ran straight into Harry’s arms, still laughing uncontrollably.

Finally my laughter subsided.

‘Thank you.’

‘You’re very welcome,’ he said, into my forehead. ‘You see, at this point, while your heart is still pounding furiously and with the grin plastered on your face, I would propose.’

‘And I would say yes.’

I felt him smile into my hair.

‘So one we can definitely add to our repertoire?’

‘Yes, I take it all back. I love it.’

‘They’re not here all the time, but the guy is going to give me his card as they go all round the UK. We can phone them up if need be and find out where they are.’

‘Excellent, it’s great to get contacts like this.’

‘Are you ready for the next part of our day?’

I pulled back, intrigued. ‘There’s more?’

‘Yes.’ He chivalrously picked up the bag containing the pyjamas he had bought me earlier. Very simple, very elegant satin pyjamas. I’d liked the black but Harry put his foot down and we’d eventually agreed on a dusty rose.

‘Was the phone call anything good?’

‘I’ve emailed over to him our basic package.’

I sighed. ‘That’s the fourth today.’

‘Hey, the basic package is a good little money earner. You know – on average – half the customers that buy the twenty pound package from us, come back and spend ten times that on a big extravagant proposal.’

‘I know, but at this time of year I kind of expect to get more big proposals rather than so many basic packages.’

Harry was right, we earned quite a bit from our basic package. For twenty pounds, we sent our customers a brochure of our top fifty proposals. Ideas ranging from the romantic to the ridiculous, top class restaurants to tiny little tucked away cafés strewn with fairy lights. We included days out, fun experiences and romantic getaways. We also included vouchers for discounts and special offers at these hotels and restaurants and if our customers went there, we also got ten percent of their final bill from the companies for introducing our customers to them in the first place. It also gave brief details of more elaborate proposals, something only we could organise, with the promise of a refund of the twenty pounds if they were to book one of the grander proposals with us.

‘Romance isn’t always about big gestures though,’ Harry said. ‘Sometimes it’s the words the man finds or the effort that he has gone to. It doesn’t have to be something expensive.’

‘I know that, the smaller gestures are sometimes the best, a message written in the sand on a favourite beach or a personalised cinnamon swirl.’ I nudged him as we walked along the road and he smiled. ‘But from a business point of view I’m not sure people paying us twenty pounds to send them to propose elsewhere is the best idea. They could spend a hundred pounds or more at these posh places. That’s a hundred pounds they could have spent with us.’

Harry switched sides with me and I wondered why as he put himself between me and two men who were arguing, placing his hand on the small of my back as he nudged me round them. I felt embarrassed by the goose bumps that suddenly exploded over my body at his touch.

Harry continued on as if he hadn’t noticed my heart leap out of my chest. ‘Most people have in their mind what kind of proposal they want to do before they contact us. For most of them it would involve some kind of romantic meal, so they’re not likely to spend their money with us anyway. By providing them with a list of romantic places to eat, not only do we get the twenty pounds but also any kickbacks from the restaurants too. We’ve probably earned more money from the basic package than we have from the big proposals – so I wouldn’t knock the smaller gestures if I were you. Come on, through here.’

Harry ducked into a tiny alleyway that wound round the corner out of sight. He knew London like the back of his hand and very rarely went on the underground. There was always so much more to see when on foot. I followed him, his hulking frame almost filling the alley wall to wall. The walls were covered in graffiti and chewing gum, but some of the pictures sprayed on the bricks were very skilful. As we came to an old boarded-up window, he stopped and as I drew near he pulled me to his side, with his hand at my waist, sending delicious shivers down my spine.

‘There’s a place called Bubblegum Alley in California, and a Chewing Gum Wall in Seattle, where millions of pieces of gum have been stuck on the walls. It’s so bright and colourful that what started as something gross has now been declared an official tourist attraction. People travel from miles around to see it and to add their own gum to it. Some have even created little works of art amongst the thousands of globules.’

He stood back a bit and pointed to the wall. There in a heart made from pink chewing gum were the words ‘Annie, marry me,’ also made from chewing gum.

‘Love can be found in the most unlikely of places, you just have to look for it.’

He stared down at me and for a moment I wasn’t sure if he was talking about him, or about me and him.

‘It doesn’t need to be about romance, just little heartfelt gestures.’

I smiled. ‘I wonder if she said yes.’

Harry pointed to the green letters written in globules of chewing gum underneath the heart. In big proud letters, the word ‘Yes’, stood out.

‘I like it.’ I grabbed my phone from my pocket and took a few shots. I had to put this on the website.

‘I knew you would.’

‘You see, I don’t need big gestures, so whatever you have planned for our next proposal, it doesn’t need to be a big yacht or a trip to the moon.’

He walked away, heading towards the sunlight that was piercing our gloom.

‘I’ll cancel the space rocket then.’

‘Harry, I’m serious. Don’t waste your money on me.’

He ignored me as we stepped out into the sunlight. He was incredibly generous with his money and he had a lot of it. He didn’t get a very good salary from me but he didn’t really need it. Years before, whilst travelling around America, he’d had the foresight to invest in a tiny little up-and-coming online social media site called Connected. He’d given a thousand dollars at the time, money he had won at a casino, and years later, when Connected had been the biggest social media site in America and probably the world, he had sold his shares for a huge sum. He’d never told me how much he got from that little endeavour. But it was enough that he could afford the huge house on the other side of the green from me, bought when the property prices had plummeted. And he always seemed to have enough money for little gifts and meals out.

‘Spending money on you is never a waste. And we’re running late now so we’re going to have to run.’

He grabbed my hand and started jogging through the streets, winding his way expertly through the other people.

‘We could catch the tube,’ I whined, as I tried to keep up with his long-legged pace.

‘Running’s much more fun,’ Harry said, without breaking his stride.

*

The Glade at Sketch was like nothing I’d ever seen before. With its white bricked front, Sketch looked like a simple townhouse – and we’d actually walked past the place before we’d realised it was there. But down the darkened staircase and to the left, a tranquil wooded glade had been transported from some fairy tale forest to this seemingly unassuming restaurant in central London. Trees covered every wall and surface, the leaves of which were painted in every shade of green and gold imaginable. A huge chandelier dominated the ceiling, casting delicate lights over every surface from its tangle of branches. Tiny gold fireflies danced around the walls and floor. Mirrored panels near the roof moved slowly, catching the light from the huge sun roof above us and sending its rays across the room as if the sun was moving through the trees. Wicker chairs, tables and sofas with huge green embroidered cushions were placed casually throughout the room as if they were garden furniture and we were all just simply sitting out in the garden somewhere, enjoying the sun.

‘Harry Forbes, we have a reservation for afternoon tea.’ Harry said to the beautiful waitress who looked like a woodland nymph with the plaits and twists in her hair, and her floaty dress.

The waitress showed us to our table and we quickly placed an order for tea. Breakfast tea for me, something that sounded like a rare tropical disease for Harry.

‘Harry, this place is beautiful.’ I couldn’t stop looking around, until my eyes met with his and I realised he’d been watching me. ‘Thank you for today.’

‘My pleasure. I just wanted you to have some fun. You’ve been so down lately.’ He paused, awkwardly, while he rearranged the cups on the table. ‘The food here is amazing.’

I reached across and squeezed his hand. ‘Thank you.’

The afternoon tea arrived just as Harry was poised to say something else. I reluctantly let him go so there was room for our cake stand on the table.

Harry was right, the food looked and tasted amazing. The sandwiches were all topped with extras like quail eggs and caviar, bringing a simple egg mayonnaise sandwich alive with an assault of different flavours.

There was an array of cakes, all tiny, mouth-watering bites of pure pleasure, some kind of trifle and of course delicious fresh fruit scones.

‘So tell me,’ Harry said around a mouthful of something chocolaty, ‘Tiny Tim, did you and he…?’

Oh God, Tiny Tim was going to come back and haunt me forever.

I picked up some kind of pink meringue that literally dissolved as soon as it touched my tongue. I licked my lips as I played for time.

‘Did we what?’ I smirked as Harry shifted uncomfortably, waving his hands around in what I presumed was some kind of representation of the act. The man had no problem discussing his sordid sex life but he was still awkward when discussing mine. I wanted to play him at his own game.

‘He liked to dress up,’ I said as I popped some kind of fruit tart in my mouth. The fruit was crystalized and was like an explosion on my tongue.

Harry’s eyes widened. ‘Like air hostess, police woman, cheerleader, that kind of thing?’

I shook my head. ‘Lots of different things really. One of my favourites was dressing up as a unicorn and he was a lion. He liked to take me from behind and he would roar when he came.’

Harry stared at me, his face unblinking. I picked up a tiny coffee éclair and caught the eye of a tiny little old lady sitting at the next table, her fruit tart poised halfway to her mouth. I blushed, realising she had heard every word.

Still, there was no going back now.

‘He liked to dress up as one of the flower pot men, Bill normally, I’m not sure why. I was always the flower, Weed. Then Bill would come at me with his big hose.’

The old lady leaned over to me. ‘Dear, do you have the name of the shop where you bought these costumes?’

‘I don’t I’m afraid, Tim always brought them with him. I will miss his big hose.’

Harry was still staring at me. ‘I didn’t realise you were into all that weird stuff.’

I licked the icing off the top of the éclair and popped it in my mouth, trying desperately to suppress my laughter but it was to no avail. I snorted so hard that a bubble of snot burst from my nose and I quickly had to wipe it away on my beautiful cotton serviette.

‘You’re joking?’ Harry looked almost relieved.

‘Of course I am.’

‘So you guys… didn’t…’

‘It’s none of your business. Just because you like to talk about all your sexploits, doesn’t mean the rest of us do.’

‘That’s a ‘no’ if ever I heard one.’ He smiled smugly. I wasn’t going to let him get away with that.

‘It’s a ‘yes’ actually, but it was just regular sex.’ I wanted to expand on that, regular sex sounded so boring. ‘Well as regular as three hour sex marathons can be. He had the stamina of a horse. We’d do it all over the flat. On the dining table, up against a wall, in the shower, in the kitchen, on top of the washing machine, backwards, forwards, sideways, doggy style.’

The old lady choked on her fruit scone.

‘Sideways?’ asked Harry.

‘Yes. You should try it, it’s great fun. Can you pass the sugar?’

I stared down at my tea. Sideways, how exactly would that work?

‘Tell me about your plans for the summer. You said you were thinking about going to New Zealand.’

Harry recovered himself well. ‘The land of the hobbits. I would love to. Maybe hire a camper van and drive from North to South. There’s so many things I want to do, but it’s more fun doing them with someone else.’

‘Sexy Samantha not keen?’

‘She’s definitely not the camper van sort. She’s more of the ‘five star hotel with daily spa treatments’ kind of girl. We should go.’

‘I would love that, I want to see the world, every tiny little pocket of it, but no girlfriend of yours is going to be happy about you taking another woman off on holiday. Sleeping together in the back of the camper van.’ I blushed as Harry’s eyebrows shot up. ‘I meant actually sleeping – not having sex.’

The old lady leaned in closer again, ready to catch the next instalment in my sex life.

‘I should hope not,’ Harry said, his tongue licking seductively up the side of his éclair. ‘I don’t have a lion costume.’

*

I sat back and watched the gold fireflies chase each other up the walls. I was so uncomfortably full, but everything was so hard to resist, that I’d had to eat it all.

We’d had a lovely time, chatting all afternoon, but one of the main topics of conversation from the other guests was the toilets and how funny they were. I had to check them out myself.

I excused myself from the table and, following the directions of the woodland nymph waitress, I walked through another restaurant to a very white room on the other side.

The stairs leading up to the toilets were a brilliant opulent white – looking like they led to somewhere much grander than just some toilets. I walked upstairs to a brightly lit room, the ceiling decorated with beautiful rainbow tiles, but as I reached the top I stopped in my tracks. Several pods sat in a white chamber at the top of the stairs, looking like white cocoons from an alien spaceship. They were about seven foot tall and tapered off like eggs at the top.

I looked around for the toilets but there was nothing else up here. On the other side of the room were several more pods. These pods were clearly the toilets and were obviously the reason for such amusement from the other guests.

I opened the door on one of them, expecting to hear some kind of space age whoosh and was slightly disappointed when I didn’t.

Inside was the weirdest toilet I had ever seen. There was no seat at all. I walked in and closed the door behind me. It was obviously some foreign kind of toilet where you stand. A long ceramic oval hung from the wall jutting out at the bottom to catch the waste. I stared at it – how on earth was I supposed to pee in that? Backwards seemed the only safe option. With a bit of negotiating I pointed my bum in the right direction and leaned forward into a sort of half squat. I quickly finished and after redressing I left the pod, dying to tell Harry about the very weird toilets. He was standing right outside and looked shocked to see me coming out of one of the pods.

‘What?’ I said

‘These are the boys’ toilets.’

I laughed. ‘No they’re not, the waitress pointed me up these stairs.’

‘Yes, the girls’ pods are over there.’ He pointed to the other side of the stairs where several pods were bathed in pink lights in comparison to the pods where I was that were bathed in blue.

Harry peered over my shoulder and burst out laughing. ‘Did the urinals not give you a clue?’

I looked back and gasped in horror. I had just peed in a urinal. Now he had pointed it out to me it was obvious. It wasn’t some weird foreign type toilet at all, just a bog standard urinal. I felt my cheeks glow crimson.

‘I’m intrigued. How exactly did you manage to pee in there?’

I quickly hurried to the sinks and washed my hands. ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’

I heard Harry go into one of the pods, his laughter so loud I could hear him from the outside.

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