Thursday, June 30, 2011

And Walking The Edge is up for sale!

Hey beautiful people!

Life's looking bright and sunny again. It's finally happened - Walking The Edge (Corpus Brides: Book One) is up for sale at the Noble Romance Publishing website. Take a look, and allow me to share a little of the book right now.

Here's Chapter 1 (the whole of it!), to hopefully whet your appetite!





*****

Chapter One


London. Oxford Street
Thursday, December 13, 1:24 p.m.


There's a man following me again.

She didn't know why she felt so certain. Selfridges teemed with shoppers in a Christmas buying frenzy, and bustling crowds swarmed around her.

Someone was watching her though. She knew. Maybe she tuned in to the hairs rising on her nape. Or to the little voice whispering in her mind, telling her there were eyes boring into her back and checking into her every move.

Was she going insane? The question snapped into her brain like a tightly pulled elastic band being released, stinging her when it hit home.

Come on, she told herself, I'm in a busy department store, and there's an idiot tagging my every step.

Her gaze darted to Nathaniel, the hulk of a guy who was her assigned chauffeur and man for all tasks, it seemed. Or, he could just be the watchdog her husband had set on her trail.

No, she wouldn't think of the big doggie and that other cold arsehole who waited for her at home. Peter Jamison was his name, the sad arse whom she didn't even know, whom she couldn't even recall, try as she might.

She toyed with the strap of a handbag on display in front of her, having no idea what brand it was or even what shop she was in. There were more important things to pay attention to right now, starting with the strange man who was a few paces away, across the corridor from where she stood. He seemed familiar. He was dressed in dark corduroy trousers and a heavy sweater; a baseball cap hid his hair and threw shadows upon his face. There wasn't anything specific to identify him. Yet she knew, deep down inside, that she had seen him before. Had it been just a day earlier, at an art gallery she'd visited in Soho, when she'd experienced the same heartbeat acceleration as now? She'd sensed eyes on her then too and had caught sight of a tall man in jeans, a blazer, and a fedora, standing outside the wide glass panes, looking into the gallery.

The two instances weren't the only times she'd felt the probing stare—that strange, unnerving perception had happened almost every day in the past week, whenever she went out.

And, somehow, she was pretty certain it was the same man every time. There was something about him, in the way he held his head, a slight thrust of the chin that permeated every encounter she recalled of the mysterious "stalker."

Who was he, and what did he want with her?

A soft gasp escaped her, and she realized she was twisting the handbag strap too hard, both hands locked onto the leather. She released the purse as if it were a hot potato fresh out of the steamer and took a step back.

Could that man know who she was?

Her gaze travelled up the clear glass of the pane that separated the shop from the main corridor that ran through the first level of Selfridges, her reflection staring back at her.

Her reflection or that of Amelia Jamison?

That's who she was, apparently. She had no recollection of her identity. She'd come out of a dramatic accident some seven months back with amnesia and with—as her medical record stated—a disfigured and burnt-beyond-recognition body.

Lord only knew how she had survived the explosion responsible for her condition. That's what all the doctors said, and what her "husband" had said too. He'd been there in the sunny hospital room of a private clinic in Switzerland, dark and with a countenance one could only describe as menacing, even when he lounged on a sofa, reading a financial magazine.

"You're awake," he'd said in a cold, detached voice. Not even the hint of a smile showed on his pale face. Despite her drug-befuddled mind, she was certain a real husband would greet his wife, whom he'd nearly lost, with more enthusiasm than what Peter had dished.

He went on to tell her he was Peter Jamison, and she was Amelia Brockhurst Jamison, a South African Afrikaner exchange student he had met at a London university and whom he had married when she'd finished her degree. At the time, she'd thought his story sounded rehearsed, and the feeling that their shared past was a fabricated lie struck her, enhanced by the indifference her "husband" expressed toward her. She didn't remember him or anything from her past and had simply listened to whatever the medical team and that man she was supposedly in love with had fed her about her life before everything was erased from her memory.

Yet, something was wrong with their story—a burn victim from the kind of accident she'd had would need more than a year to recover. But here she was, functioning normally and looking like a perfect, magazine cover girl a scant few months later.

Peter's explanation, delivered in a bored, why-am-I-bothering tone, was that she'd had experimental treatment at the clinic. Bollocks, she'd wanted to scream.

Some things didn't mesh, and darned if she wouldn't try to find out what parts of the puzzle didn't fit into the whole picture.

Her gaze, lost in the distance while she replayed the scenes of her waking up, focused again on her reflection, the woman staring back at her a stranger. The doctors said she'd had plastic surgery to bring her back to her former likeness; then why did she feel no kinship with the person she met every time she looked in a mirror?

Amelia Jamison, the woman who stared back at her, was a beauty. Delicate features that resembled the work of a master sculptor graced her face. Perfect cheekbones. Smooth, flawless skin. Crystal-clear blue eyes with extremely thick, dark lashes. Wide, full mouth. Dainty nose. Short, honey-toned hair.

Her hair had been long before, if she were to believe the pictures Peter so artfully placed in the Hampstead Heath home she'd come to live in two weeks ago, after leaving the Swiss clinic. Pictures of Amelia and Peter on their wedding day, on a trip to a winter ski station, on a tropical beach with a glowing sunset behind them, snuggled on a comfy-looking couch with a fire blazing in the background, and so on. And then there were photos of Amelia alone, smiling at the camera. Pictures in the same kind of elegant, gilt-edged frames that were arranged in tasteful, classy displays around the leather handbags and silk scarves sold in the shop.

Shaking off the weird, disturbing feeling that a trip down her nonexistent Memory Lane always brought on, she turned her attention back to the source of her unease. The man in the corduroy trousers.

There he was, a few yards away, intently perusing an artful party-table arrangement. Yet she was pretty sure a man like him—who appeared too much in control of a ruthless energy and vigilance, evident in his stiff back and the casual looks he sent her way—would not really have much to do with Disney princess decorations, the theme of the exhibition.

Unless he was watching her in the reflection of the big, Snow White, magical mirror on the table.

What did he want with her?

Suddenly, the corridor cleared, leaving no one between them.

"Ma'am?"

A shadow fell over her, and she sighed when the imposing figure of Nathaniel settled in front of her.

"What?" she snapped, annoyed that he had intervened just before she made eye contact with the tall stranger.

"Time," Nathaniel growled. "Home."

Did the man ever talk in a full sentence? Sometimes she wondered if he even had a functioning brain inside that huge, shaved skull of his. Why had Peter saddled her with such a thick idiot?

Stepping around him, she tried to catch sight of the man in the corduroys, but he was nowhere in sight. Just her luck. "Let's go," she said to the gorilla beside her as she moved toward the exit.

Some way, somehow, she would figure out if there truly was someone following her. She could be going to Bedlam, yes, but something was on high alert inside her, and, though she had no idea what that something was, she would give it due consideration and follow through.



* * * * *



London. Hampstead Heath
Thursday, December 13, 2:15 p.m.

The minute she got home, she headed straight to her bedroom. Home. She snorted. More like a mausoleum, really. The humongous manor looked like an impersonal hotel or a perfect reproduction of a page torn from an interior decor magazine. It certainly didn't look like a home to her. She was ready to puke every time her gaze landed on the huge, crystal chandelier, massive moldings along the ceiling, the champagne-colored, silk-finish wallpaper, thick cream carpet, and ornate marble table with a disgustingly ostentatious arrangement of white lilies in the middle of the entrance hallway.

Peter said she'd handpicked the split-level mansion from all the outstanding offers in that posh area of North London. She'd wanted to reply that she'd needed to have her head checked a long time ago if that were the case, since no one in their right mind would desire such a dead shell of a house, however luxurious. But what did she know? Maybe the woman she'd been before had been a total snob who thrived on keeping up with the Abramoviches.

Though she heavily doubted she could've been such a stuck-up cow, if that were so, thank goodness she had amnesia.

There was a reason why she flew straight to the bedroom and its adjoining bathroom the minute she stepped into the cold dwelling. She wanted to get to the pills she had to take—pills scheduled like clockwork every six hours, and the reason why Nathaniel had said they needed to get back before Peter came home. That way, she could ditch them down the drain while Nathaniel struggled to get in with the mountain of shopping bags she'd piled on him back at Selfridges; thus, she could escape the drugs' heavy, losing-control-sedation.

As her hands closed on the vials in the medicine cabinet, she froze. The plastic tubes rolled with a clatter of shaking pills into the sunken marble sink.

Someone was there. Oh, no. Peter. Her breath hitched in her throat as she sensed more than heard his approach, his Italian loafers making no sound on the bedroom carpet, then on the polished floor tiles of the en-suite. The closer he got, the more she recoiled and cringed, dreading the feel of his cold fingers should they touch her.

He dipped his head so his mouth would be level with her ear, and the whisper of his breath maliciously teased her skin.

"Good girl," he said softly.

She heard the hint of mockery in his tone, a chilling reminder that he was the one who called the shots around the house. Gone was the distant, detached man who had been by her side at the hospital. In his place was a manipulating monster who took pleasure in making her jump out of her skin.

Against her will, her body shook with subtle tremors. The one vial of medicine still in her palm rattled with a nerve-wracking sound as the pills inside danced from the involuntary movement.

Peter brought his cold hand to settle onto hers and rubbed his long fingers along her wrist. She wanted to shrink back from the slime-like touch, but she couldn't move. He'd do to her what she didn't want him to do—he'd make her take the drugs.

She watched, misery threading an icy path down her spine and into her soul, as he reached for the small bottles.

"Seems like you need to rest, Millie," he said.

His voice was like a thousand shards of sharp crystal, stabbing into her gut and at her pounding heart. He carefully took one pill from each of the white vials, and two from the pink one, before he cradled her hand in his and placed the little spheres in her palm.

After putting the medicine bottles back in the cabinet, he swung the door closed. The mirror on the panel reflected their images. She stifled a gasp when the visual realization that he stood so close drove home. He was a devastatingly handsome man, tall, with pale skin as flawless as the most precious Italian marble. His eyes were deep green, and locks of his expertly cut dark hair—the shade as intense as gleaming mahogany—brushed his wide forehead, which tapered down to an otherwise lean face.

She glossed over his visual perfection to examine her own reflection. What she noticed was the fact that, for all the racing heartbeat and thundering blood pounding in her veins and at her temples, her face betrayed no hint of the fear and dread inside her. No, she appeared detached, regal, as if she didn't give a damn.

Peter filled a glass at the tap and placed it in her other hand. His stare caught hers in the mirror, and she shook inwardly at the empty hollowness of his soul that darkened his bottle-green irises.

Drink, they seemed to order, a barely concealed command obvious in the penetrating gaze.

No, she wanted to scream, but something else took over. Defiant, she threw the pills into her mouth and swallowed them with a big gulp of water.

Satisfied? Her blue eyes insolently asked as she stared back.

He smiled. Only the corners of his mouth stretched, his eyes remaining hard, emerald stones in the smooth, chiseled perfection of his otherwise expressionless face.

She shivered—at his calm, detached demeanor, or at the drugs hitting her bloodstream with no food as a buffer in her empty stomach? She didn't know anymore. The stuff he plied her with was potent, and it could knock her out in a matter of minutes. Already, she felt groggy, wisps of oblivion snaking through her consciousness and laying siege upon her mind, intent on numbing any functioning neuron in her system so that the abyss could consume her.

She felt Peter's hand on her elbow, the chill of his touch permeating the fabric of her cashmere cardigan. He made her turn around, his grasp firm as he led her, stumbling steps and all, into the adjoining room.

As her blurred vision made out the silhouette of the king-size canopy bed, the last thing she clearly recalled before darkness claimed her was someone pushing her forward with all their might.



* * * * *



His deep, bottle green gaze stared down at her. The hint of a gentle smile tickled the curve of his mouth and made small crinkles appear at the corners of his eyes.


Seen like that, he appeared to be a different person, so far from the tense, cold man he was now. His dark, shiny hair was longer, long enough to tease the collar of his shirt. His jaw was surprisedly relaxed, and she marveled at the breathtaking picture he presented.


Then he sobered, a frown marring the smooth forehead.


"We shouldn't do this," he said.


She reached up and touched his cheek. "Why not?"


"It's not right."


A small laugh, more like a purr, escaped her lips. "Hmm, I knew you were hiding a wife in the closet."


"It's not that," he replied. "You know I'm unattached."


"Then what's the problem? Oh yes, I forgot. You're married to your job, aren't you?" She trailed delicate touches along his jaw. "Shut up, will you? Do I have to do everything around here? Will you for once just shut up and kiss me?"


He grinned, and she waited as his lips came down, ever so slowly, getting closer and closer to her, to finally kiss her. Gently, delicately.


There it was, the rush of expectation she knew she'd feel when he'd finally decide to make her his, the sizzle of longing, the promise of so much more waiting in his embrace.


She missed this, his embrace. As if he'd read her mind, he reached out with open arms and enclosed her in their strength. He drew her to him, molding her petite form against the hard length of his lean body.


She moved trembling hands up his chest to his shoulders and twined her arms around his neck, letting her fingers lose themselves in his silky locks. With a soft tug, she pulled him so he'd bend down and his face would be close to hers again. He stood much taller than she did, and she wore no heels that day, making her daintier and smaller before him.


He obliged her, his mouth settling on hers again. His warm lips were tender, brushing against hers softly, teasing, tempting, torturing. The tip of his tongue then traced the closed line of her lips. She parted them, inviting him into the warm recesses of her mouth.


Oh God, she moaned softly—what a first time. She was unprepared for the shock of emotion and the swirl of desire that flamed through her as he stroked her tongue with his and coaxed it into sensuous play. Licks of heat shot from low in her core, and as she leaned farther into him, the solid feel of his arousal pressed against the softness of her belly. Suddenly, she wanted him, craved him, and she knew she had to have him, right there, right then. It didn't matter if it was the first time he was even kissing her. She needed him.


Throwing as much passion as she could into the kiss, she clearly let him know of her desires as her grip grew tighter on his hair, her wrists flat against his head, keeping him where she wanted him to be.


He replied in kind, crushing her to him and being more forceful with his tongue. Yet the tenderness she sensed in him never let him hurt her or make her feel used.


Her lungs burned and she came up for air, breaking the kiss. She gulped oxygen, catching her breath before frantic words escaped her. "Make love to me now," she said, her voice hoarse with want and passion. "I need you . . . ."



* * * * *



London. Hampstead Heath
Thursday, December 13, 7:20 p.m.

She sat up with a start, heaving for air. She'd been dreaming, and the essence of the dream was slowly drifting away from her consciousness like wisps of smoke dissolving in the air. Trying as much as she could to hold on to the fading images, she closed her eyes tightly. But the vision had faded, and what made it worse was that she knew the gist of it hung right on the edge of her awareness.

The knowledge taunted her, and she let herself fall back on the bed, clutching hard at the bed sheets, turning her face into her pillow as she let out a keening wail of misery. The sound was muffled and lost. Only she heard it, and that was just as well. She didn't want anyone to know how much she suffered.

She opened her eyes and allowed her gaze to focus on the furniture in the room. Damn psychotropic drugs. They made her mind and her perception fuzzy; everything appeared to softly dance in the air around her when she was under their influence. Like the haze of heat-blurred things in the desert, except that waking up after such drug-induced inertia made her cold, and shivers racked her body.

Daintily swinging her legs to the side of the bed, she waited for the world to stop spinning before she stood. What time was it? A glance at the antique clock on the bedside table told her it was half past seven. The growl of her stomach confirmed that it was indeed dinnertime.

With small steps, hanging on to the doorway and the furniture as she went along, she headed downstairs toward the study, where she was certain she would find Peter. He was always in that room, with a laptop in front of him. He'd close it whenever she came in, along with any files lying on the desk. During the day, no paper graced that table—he always took it all back with him in his briefcase.

Why the secrecy, she'd often wondered in the two weeks since she'd been there. She knew if she asked him, he'd brush her off or give a cursory answer. Such was Peter. Civil to a fault, even when it was obvious he wanted to tell her to mind her own business. What would it take to provoke him out of that cold shell?

On the way to his sanctuary, she passed by the small room Nathaniel occupied during the day, except when he went to bed in the basement studio flat. The drone of the television attracted her to the cubicle, something in the reporter's voice enacting a strange pull on her. The story was about something happening in a place called Marseille, and the sound of that city's name made a strange sort of imprint to materialize inside her mind.

Had she been there before? The name sounded familiar, and she said it aloud, allowing the word to roll off her tongue. It struck her as strange that she pronounced the appellation of the old French city without any hint of an English accent. No, "Marseille" came out of her mouth with all its crisp, French intonation.

She was suddenly sure she'd been there, as the sound echoed inside her brain, weaving itself with flitting bits and pieces of phrases she had pronounced in the past that held that word.

Definitely an avenue to look into. Grasping the information close to her heart, she walked toward the study, passing by the front room in the process.

The hushed sound of Peter's voice in the large, L-shaped front room drifted to her, and she paused. Was there someone with him? She listened closer, and hearing no reply to his words, gathered he had to be on the phone. With whom, though, and why the whispering?

She made out some of the words he was saying. Why had she never noticed she had such acute hearing before? Catching a glimpse of him from the dead corner she stood in, where Peter couldn't see her, she watched him and had to blink twice when she realized that, though she may still not be hearing all his conversation, she easily read his lips.

Since when could she do that? Pushing the startling realization away, she focused her concentration on figuring out what her "husband" was saying to the person on the other end of his mobile phone line.

* * * * *

"I know I shouldn't have called," Peter said.

"Do you know what could happen if anyone found out you and I even know each other?" the woman said.

Oh, he knew, all right, but he couldn't help himself. He needed to hear her voice. He needed her to tell him everything would be fine. That he had to hang on in his current predicament. That the end reward would be well worth it.

"Wait," she said.

He heard her excusing herself, pretending she was on a call from work, then a door closed, and she came back on the line.

"What is it?"

"Nothing," he replied. He knew he'd rile her. Her dark eyes would be sparkling with anger, and her cheeks would be flushed. Passion also did that to her, and she had a lot of that to spare.

She cursed. "Since you called, what did the doctor say? She met him today, didn't she?"

"Yes, and it went as expected."

"Good. We simply need to let him do the work for us."

That wasn't what he wanted to hear. He was already tired of playing a part. A few visits to the hospital were fine, but living with his "wife" put a terrible strain on him. He wanted out, but he knew she'd never agree. It was her plan, and she was determined to see it come to fruition.

"I want to see you," he said. He needed release, the kind only she could bring him.

"Are you out of your fucking mind? We cannot compromise anything now that we're so close to the goal."

He was tired of her bringing that up. "And that would be?"

"To bring her to see our side of the story. The accident precipitated things, but ultimately, we would've needed to do what we're doing now. The drugs will slowly but surely get her to where we want her to be."

He closed his eyes briefly and brought his hand to his neck. A sigh escaped him, and she probably heard it.

Her voice mellowed, and she said, "It's only for a little more time. Come on, baby. You know we can do it."

He smiled. He liked it when she called him "baby." Her use of the endearment meant she was now in a better mood, one that would allow him to get away with murder. "I miss you," he said before he cut the call, stifling a chuckle at the fury he felt certain boiled inside her right now.

Pocketing the mobile, he stepped out of the front room and stopped in his tracks. She, the woman he shared the house with, stood in the dead alcove in the corridor. From the way she fixed her keen glare on him, he knew she'd heard his side of the conversation and had seen him as he talked to the other woman in his life. Thank goodness, he hadn't said more. He'd thought she was asleep, knocked out from the drugs. Careless. He'd been careless.

But he could recoup the situation. Might even be able to make it work in his favor, make her indebted to him.

"How are you feeling?' he asked.

* * * * *

Amelia blinked at the easy way he fell back into his cold, detached persona. His face betrayed nothing, she noted. His eyes narrowed into a glare when he caught sight of her, then went back to the hard stones she'd grown accustomed to seeing.

Had she heard right? It sounded like he had been speaking to a woman. To his mistress . . . . No wonder he was so icy and harsh with her—someone else received his love, his attention, his tenderness. He, who could be capable of such gentleness—hadn't she remembered their first encounter together in her dream?—now showered his affection and care on someone else, leaving the hard and brittle ways of a distant and frosty monster to deal with her. Her, the person he had loved enough to marry. Unless he'd married her for other reasons . . . . Money, maybe?

No, it couldn't be. He had genuinely cared for her. Reliving the dream once again in staggered but vivid flashes, she swayed. The effects of the drugs were still present, the medication lingering in her bloodstream and making her feel she tread on an uneven surface that shifted and morphed under her feet.

"Who was that?" she croaked, her throat still dry from the unnatural sleep.

"I beg your pardon?" A frown marred his forehead, and he blinked, as if with worry. "Millie, are you okay?"

"You were talking to someone." She grabbed the molding on the alcove wall, sending sparks of pain along her fingers when she gripped the wood too tightly, but she hardly noticed.

He took a few steps toward her, then came to a standstill a yard away. "Millie, what are you talking about?"

The patience in his tone grated on her already-frayed nerves, and she gulped, trying hard to moisten her mouth and throat so she could at make herself be heard.

When she remained silent, trying to regroup her thoughts into a coherent whole, he moved forward, until only a few inches separated them. He was warm, she noted, the heat from his body permeating through his thin, hand-tailored Savile Row cotton shirt. She wasn't dealing with the cold blood of the serpent, she realized, but with the man inside him. The same man who had been talking to another woman just minutes before.

"Let me take you back up," he said.

"No." She shrugged his hand off when he touched her arm. "Who was that?" Closing her eyes, she fought a losing battle against her spinning surroundings. The awareness that the man she was married to cheated on her added further momentum to the vortex taking hold of her. She felt herself sway, but held tightly to the molding and managed to keep herself upright.

"What are you talking about?"

Again, there lay a hint of patience in his words. Did he really not understand what she was asking? His patronizing attitude annoyed her beyond the pale, and still under the sway of the medication, she lashed out at him when he again tried to catch hold of her arm. The flat of her hand hit his face, hard, and time suddenly stood still.

He lowered his gaze, and when he lifted his face again to her, she saw the glint of cold in his irises, the bottomless void of the beast in him.

"You need to rest."

Frost dripped from the words, and she inwardly flinched. However, she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of thinking she'd yield under his icy treatment.

"Don't take me for an idiot," she said. "You were talking to a woman on the phone."

He sighed, clenching his fists. "Millie, that's enough."

"Answer me!"

Silence stretched, and then he cursed softly. "I wasn't talking to anyone back there. Hell, I wasn't even on the phone."

"But—"

"You heard me?" he asked. "Are you sure you heard right?"

She blinked. Had she? She was so certain he was talking to a woman . . . . I saw you, she wanted to toss at him, I saw you mouthing the words. Yet, again the insight rattled her—how did she know how to lip-read? Her teeth dug into her lower lip, and she forced herself to keep her mouth shut, stopping the flow of questions she wanted to ask him.

Peter reached out and clutched her shoulders. His grip was neither soft nor gentle. With a push, he made her sit on the velvet-upholstered ottoman inside the alcove, then squatted in front of her.

"The doctor said this could happen once you came home." He paused. "Millie, I wasn't talking to anyone. I wasn't even in the front room. I was on my way to the study from the kitchen when I saw you standing here."

He sounded so honest and sincere. How could she not believe him? Maybe she had not heard properly . . . . Maybe it was nothing more than a horrible delusion. Nothing made sense anymore, not when those psychotropes played with her mind and imagination like that. Hadn't she just dreamed of a different Peter, of the man who had loved and cared for her? The memory of that vision materialized at the forefront of her mind, painting itself over the image of his face before her. Dejection and a sudden feeling of utter loss invaded her, making her sag into her seat.

She reached out and absentmindedly touched his hair. Her gaze raked across his handsome face, still the same from what she recalled, yet so different too. He was older than he'd been in her dream, hardened. "Longer hair suited you better," she said softly.

His swift intake of breath startled her, and she dropped her hand, staring at his face. A grim expression touched his features, making his lips look pinched, but then the cold mask settled back as quickly as it had left.

"You should go back to bed," he said. He stood, his hand again on her upper arm, and made her stand with a none-too-gentle tug.

He pulled her to the staircase, and she stumbled up in his wake. Hand wrapped around her wrist in a steely grip, he dragged along. He was hurting her, but she wouldn't tell him that. The complaint wouldn't breach his cold façade; of that, she was certain.

He abruptly released her on the threshold of her bedroom and turned to leave. The violence in his moves was like a splash of cold water on her senses, and she knew she couldn't trust him. Something told her he lied as naturally as he breathed. And he had a mistress . . . .

"She made you her bitch, didn't she?" The question hurtled from her mouth before she could think it out. Too late, though—she'd have to see it through. It was also high time he came clean with her.

He didn't turn. "You're out of your mind."

"Am I? No wonder, since you ply me with so many drugs!" Now she knew she was adding oil to the fire, but she had a feeling restraint wasn't something that featured high on her list of priorities when she was riled up.

He whirled around, and she saw him move as if someone had pushed a slow-motion button. Somehow, she knew she should be afraid, but she wasn't. He didn't faze her, not his erect stance, or the fury that was evident on his face. What a change from the usual detachment. Had she hit a sensitive nerve?

"No one made me her bitch, Millie. It's been a long time since we've been husband and wife in the carnal sense, you and I."

Her gut told her there was some truth in that statement. Hallelujah, she wanted to sing. She needed more, though. Why the sham of marriage then?

"Why?"

He gave a bitter snort and laughed. "You don't want to know."

She did. "What happened?"

"I don't want to go there," he replied, and turned to leave.

But she couldn't let him go, not now that he'd started to open up, if only a little. She ran to him, as fast as her still-sluggish body could, and caught up with him in the doorway of his bedroom, clasping his wrist to force him to stop.

"What happened?" She again questioned him.

"If you want a new start for us, you wouldn't ask that."

He didn't shrug off her hand, so she stood her ground. "Tell me."

At her insistence, he did throw her hand off, and she jerked from the sudden movement. Her insides shook when he hit his clenched fists against the wall. The reverberation along the panel rocked the glass vase on the nearby demi-console, propped against the silk-lined wall, and it tumbled to shatter on the parquet.

"You want the truth? I'll give it to you."

A sliver of unease slid into her heart, and for once, she questioned her judgment. Was it a good thing, to know? Wasn't ignorance better?

"The bloody truth, Amelia, is that you were on the Côte d'Azur while I was here. I thought you went to the film festival in Cannes, but you were miles away from there."

He paused, as if for emphasis, and her unease snowballed into dread.

"You were on a yacht off the coast of Nice. A yacht that exploded because of a bomb, leaving you for dead, while the intended target escaped." He let a few seconds elapse in silence. "Will you ask why you were on board that yacht in the first place?"

She wanted to shake her head no, but she couldn't. She needed to hear this, however unsettling it would prove to be.

"You were there because someone invited you to have a good time on board their friend's yacht."

He took a step forward, backing her against the wall.

"That someone, Millie, was your lover."

That couldn't be true. She wasn't someone who cheated. She couldn't be. "Fuck you, Peter."

The sting of his palm striking her cheek forced the breath out of her lungs as she reeled from the violence. How dare he hit her? Reflexively, she struck back and connected with his face, the back of her hand a hard blow to his mouth, her diamond ring splitting his lip.

He brought one hand up and used his thumb to wipe the blood that trickled down the side of his chin. Without another word, he turned on his heels and went into his bedroom.

But she wasn't done with him, not yet, not by a long shot. "Why did you stay with me then, if I'd taken another man to my bed? Why the whole make-believe setup now?"

Amelia followed him, but one step inside the bedroom and her instincts rose to the highest alert. Something very bad was about to happen—she knew it. She froze with the sudden insight, even as sounds of a cabinet door closing in the bathroom reached her ears. She knew she should turn tail and run, back to her room where she'd slide the bolt and turn the key so Peter couldn't get to her.

But she wasn't fast enough. She was still where she stood when he re-entered the bedroom, something in his hand. She didn't know what it was, but it would spell her doom.

Run.

She turned and rushed to the corridor. His footsteps accelerated behind her. Two feet from the door that would mean her deliverance, his arm wrapped tightly around her neck, and he pulled her roughly to him.

Her first instinct was to fight, yet the more she squirmed, the tighter his stranglehold became.

Take a few steps forward, gather momentum, and hit the wall, feet flat. In the same move, twist the torso to the side and hit hard with the elbow.

She had no time to ponder where the certainty of that thought came from or how the sound of the deep, male voice addressing her crystallized in her mind. Amelia tried to do as the voice inside her head told her to, but she wasn't fast enough. The sharp prick of a needle in her neck made her cry out; she howled with misery when the stinging release of the drug Peter was injecting into her burnt into her muscles.

Her body went progressively limp, but she heard the words he chillingly whispered in her ear.

"Because you were always meant to be mine," he said in a low growl that thrummed with possession and spite.

Then the darkness claimed her, and she sagged as its clawing fingers ripped at her consciousness.

* * * * *

Peter felt her body slouch into an inert mass against his torso. "That's it, you little bitch. Nothing more than you deserve."

He let her go, watched as she slumped to the floor, then took a step back and pressed his body against the wall. The syringe was cold and empty in his hand, and he flung it with all his might to the other end of the corridor.

Damn, what had he done? That wasn't supposed to happen. But the cunning vixen knew how to rattle his cage. She knew exactly what button to push at just the right moment.

A tiny shot of victory burst inside him when he recalled the shock on her features when he'd told her she'd been the first one to stray. He had seriously unsettled her with that little bit of information. With some luck, their conversation would work its desired effect on her, sapping at her backbone. He hadn't expected her to be so tenacious.

What to do now, though? The dynamics had changed, and none of them had anticipated the situation would get so complicated. He reached down, lifted her small body from the floor, and took her into her bedroom, where he dumped her on the bed. Not sparing her another glanced, he left her room, closing the door behind him. He scurried down the hall to find the empty syringe and dispose of it.

He had to get out of there. He hadn't planned on any of that, and he simply couldn't breathe anymore. The situation was quickly catching up with him, and what he most dreaded to face was possibility he had taken on too much with Amelia.

He also had to effect damage control. Damn it.

As he headed down the steps leading to the ground floor, the complexity of the situation hit him full in his gut. He'd crossed a line that would change all the set-up.

He whipped his mobile out of his pocket, grabbed his trench coat out of the wardrobe near the front door, and slid it on before he exited the house. A few safe steps away, he dialed her number.

"We have a problem," he said as soon as she picked up. "I had to change the direction of the plan."

"But why?" she asked. "Everything was going fine—"

"Everything was not going fine," he said. "She mentioned me having long hair."

There was a pause at the other end. "I see what you mean."

"We need to meet," he said. "The safe house. Now."


**** End of Chapter 1 ****

Hope you enjoyed that little bit. The book is available here, at the bargain price of $1.99. :)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just an update...

Hey peeps

Sorry I've been offline since Monday. The reason is there have been some issues getting Walking The Edge up on time for the planned release. We've been trying to find a workaround, and should come to solution later today, or by tomorrow tops.

I apologise - especially to the folks with whom I'd booked promo for the current days when the book hasn't gone up for sale.

I'll let you all know when the book is up for sale, and btw, you're all invited to the new release date of June 30!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, June 27, 2011

Random Thoughts' Monday: I confess, I'm an imperfect mum...

Hey peeps

Cannot wait - another few hours until Walking The Edge goes up live and for sale! But that's not my point today, at least, not now. :) The topic is me as an imperfect mother!

I guess you know I have 2 boys at home. My son is 8, and my stepson is 12. Both are going on 30 and of course, know everything better than me or their dad. And if you look at the pic right next, that's how they both see me. Every time they watch Dexter's Laboratory, the very-blonde, very energetic, very airhead-y and maniacal Dee Dee is the one who gets them going, she is totally like you! *me rolling my eyes here*

But yes, what can I say? I love the colour pink, I do flit around with a light step, I do like to sing (especially Abba tunes when I'm cooking). And unfortunately, I do look like an airhead too. Almost all the people I deal with physically, slow their speech around me and take extreme patience (especially the older men - afflicted by paternal patience, I tell you!) to explain and communicate with me. As if there are no brains inside my head. Duh! I am not ashamed though - I'm a girly girl and proud of it, but do credit me with some good sense and some grey matter too!

So how does a girly girl bring up boys in today's world? It's a hard world out there, for any kid, boy or girl. I don't have daughters, so I don't know what it's like to bring up girls and all they face in that arena out there. For me though, I do know I need to bring up those boys so that they respect others, and women, now and when they'll be grown men. Of course they need to do well in school, etc, but I'm an imperfect mum - I don't harp at 1 mark lost or that each will not be topping the ranks in their class, that sort of thing. I also want them to have manners, consideration for others, compassion.

On the whole, I think I'm on track. But sometimes I despair. Why? Well, yesterday we were without power for a whole day! Stuck at home between 8-5 with two stir-crazy boys who are not getting their Playstation fix, and even the batteries on the GameBoy has gone flat. So what was left to do? After playing Uno and Monopoly for 2-3 straight hours, we sat down and.... talked!

Now what do young boys talk about? No - you'd be surprised. Not girls! We're still in the stage where they'll make gagging noises when you mention girls, and this is what I despair about. Why? Check out what my son has said yesterday.

He just got a new GameBoy cartridge where there's about 100 games or so. All boy stuff like Tekken and Street Fighter and what else other bash-me-up stuff. But, guess what - there's also a version of the Disney My Little Mermaid game on there. I pointed it out, and my son came running towards me, screaming:

"Muuuuuum!!!!!!! Nooooooooooooo! Don't play that game on my GameBoy - you'll contaminate it!"

I was like, huh? Since when does something girly contaminate guy stuff?

But we're not out of the woods yet! My stepson starts telling me how there's this new game called Fashion World (or something like that) and how it's totally eeeek for him (typical guy, innit?). I ask why, and he goes,

"Well, you have this girl in there, this model, and you have clothes and accessories--"
At which point my son interrupts, to say,
"I know! You have to decorate her like a Christmas tree!"

By the time I finished with those lads yesterday, I was ready for a double dose of Mamma Mia and me singing along to all the tunes! I know I'm a imperfect mum, but tell me I am still on track with bringing those boys up... Pleeeeeeeease!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Walking The Edge: Snippet #3

Hey beautiful people!

For a while I thought I wouldn't be able to make it today - we've been without power since 8 AM today. Absolutely awful - stuck on a Sunday at home with no electricity!

But thank goodness I'm back in business.

So peeps, do you realise we're on the eve of Walking The Edge's release? Yup - tomorrow the book goes on sale at Noble Romance Publishing!

I'm totally stoked, and doubly so now to share another snippet with you. :) For the past 2 weeks, I've posted about Amelia, and the start of the book, where she feels as if someone was stalking her in Selfridges. You can catch there here and here. Why is she this way? Well, let's just say her life is not exactly a bed of roses, especially not with the man she's "married".

Curious? Well, let me make you meet him, make you see how Amelia feels whenever Peter comes around her. Amelia has run home from the department store, because she wants to get there before Peter comes home, before he will be around to force her to take the drugs that keep her in a haze. But she wasn't quick enough - he gets there before she has time to dump the pills down the sink.

"...Her breath hitched in her throat as she sensed more than heard his approach, his Italian loafers making no sound on the bedroom carpet, then on the polished floor tiles of the en-suite. The closer he got, the more she recoiled and cringed, dreading the feel of his cold fingers should they touch her.
It was the whisper of his breath that maliciously teased her skin, his head dipping down so his mouth would be level with her ear.
"Good girl," he said softly.
She heard the hint of mockery in his tone, a chilling reminder that he was the one who called the shots around the house. Gone was the distant, detached man who had been by her side at the hospital - in his place was a manipulating monster who took pleasure in making her jump out of her skin...."

Catch more from the amazing Six Sunday snippets here! You won't be disappointed!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Friday, June 24, 2011

Progress Friday

Celebrating... because I just found out I've passed my last ever university paper! That means I'm at the gate to earn my degree, finally, after 7 looooong years of part-time study (and being a wife, a mum, a writer, and someone recovering from sucker-punch health blows!) None too proud of myself today - I guess I deserve that right now!

The other good news - I finally got back on my treadmill today. Did a measly 0.5 km but it's there, and it's more than I've done in weeks! I expected to feel tired but amazingly, my back's not hurting for the first time in a long, long while. So I guess exercise is really good for you!

Progress-wise on the WIP, Against The Odds jumped up to some 9.5K this week. I'm not stressing too much over it because I have a working plan for July that will see me writing on Saturdays - when I hope to make a sizeable dent in that word count.

Now, peeps - just 3 days until Walking The Edge releases! Can you say jittery from the high and expectation? :)

This will be one loooong weekend of waiting! What are you guys up to?

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Link Thursday: How Not To Marry The Wrong Guy

Good grief - where was this article when I first got hitched? Or better yet, when I was considering getting hitched? I jumped the gun at 17 (I know, verrrrryyyy young!) and settled with a Totally Mr. Wrong. I had no clue that his potential of Not-Mr-Right was blinking away as conspicuously as the neons on Piccadilly Circus, but what can you do? Onwards and upwards. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger (and other such cliches, that are, well, cliche, but so true!).

I'm particularly drawn to the first 'rule' - Don't just dismiss his past. Like the naive, green romantic I was back then (and for God's sake, I was 17!), I thought I'd be the one who'd change him, make him settle. And would you believe, like the article says, that lasted only 18 months before we started falling apart at what I then realised was botched-up seams? Too late though, at least for me...

So I learned by experience - but that doesn't mean you also have to! Neither does your heroine if you're writing one. And this article is a great primer for finding out how and why a couple should mesh - great tips for conflict and characterization in your book.

The article is from MSN Love & Relationships, and is written by Celeste Perron. You can find it online here.

Read on and open your eyes, ladies!

*****

How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy

You've met a great man — wahoo! — and it's serious enough to imagine getting hitched. But is it possible to know if it'll last forever and (almost) always make you happy? Experts reveal six key factors you should consider.

By Celeste Perron

Lately, it seems like you can't open your Web browser without seeing some headline about a famous married couple calling it quits. And while it's no surprise when Charlie Sheen's latest union implodes, you'd think that super-together stars like Sandra Bullock and Kate Winslet would be able to pick winners. How is it that a woman can pledge eternal love in front of all her family and friends and then discover that she's mistaken about the man?

In a recent Cosmo survey, nearly two-thirds of readers reported being worried about making a bad choice and winding up divorced. But experts say you can protect yourself from that fate if you evaluate your relationship pre-engagement according to a few important elements. "There absolutely are ways to judge if a man is marriage-worthy and reduce the chances you'll pick the wrong partner," says marriage and family therapist Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., a sociology professor at the University of Michigan. "Considering these points will help you understand whether you and he have similar underlying values and whether you'd be getting married for the right reasons." Here are six things you should do to help determine whether your boyfriend is the love of your life or possibly your future ex-husband.

Don't Just Dismiss His Past
Is there a chapter of your boyfriend's history that bothers you because it so doesn't sound like the guy you know? Then you need to decide if your relationship could survive a repeat, because odds are good that old habits will return.

"The best predictor of his future behavior is his past behavior," says Orbuch. If his relationship history is a sordid tale of flings and bitter exes, it's tempting to think that you're the one woman fabulous enough to reform him.

"But when a man acts poorly in multiple unions, it's usually for deep-seated reasons that are going to persist," says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., a psychologist in Wexford, Pennsylvania. "He might be able to treat you well during the 'passionate love' stage, which usually lasts about 18 months, but after that, he'll likely start slipping into his old ways."

That said, people can change -- many of today's family guys wearing Baby Bjorns at the farmers market were serious players at 22. But here's where it gets tricky: You need to figure out if the sleazeball chapter of his past was specific to that stage of his life or if the traits he exhibited then are hardwired into his personality and just buried for now. "To find out, ask him what behaviors he considers to be a violation of trust, and tell him what your expectations are," says Orbuch.

If he's done things in the past that don't meet your standards for marriage, grab the bull by the horns and bring it up. Ask him to explain why he did what he did. If the reasons he gives are related to specific situations that no longer apply (say, he used to party too much because he lived with a bunch of his frat brothers after college), that's a strong sign that it was just a temporary thing. But if the triggers for his past bad actions could easily be present again once you're married -- he used to party too much because he was stressed -- it might mean that those habits are part of who he will always be.

Own Up to What You Need
So you love that your guy is a foodie or a stylish dresser. That's all great, as long as you're not so dazzled by those qualities that you overlook the fact that he's lacking more important ones.

"I tell my clients to draw a big circle with a smaller one inside it and then fill the inner circle with four or five qualities they absolutely need a husband to have, like sharing their views of religion, family or money," says Lombardo. "Then they fill the larger circle with nice-to-haves. You should look for a partner who has all the inner-circle qualities and a few of the outer ones, not the other way around."

As you look over his qualities, consider whether they have downsides and if you can handle them. For instance, you might love that he has a hot career as a consultant, but if his job requires lots of travel, will his success compensate for his absence from your life? If you have a huge group of friends, it might not be an issue, but if you're a homebody who prefers to end each day snuggled on the couch with your honey, you won't be happy with a marriage in which he is always traveling.

Take Off Your Future-Goggles and See Him as Is
Say he's an MBA student with big plans to become a CEO. Will you feel just as lucky to have him if student-loan bills are the only concrete result of that degree? "Remember that you're marrying the guy he is now, not the man he might be one day," says couples therapist Jennifer Gauvain, coauthor of How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy. "It's great to be attracted to his passion, because that will stay consistent, but don't get attached to a certain potential career or financial outcome."

You need to be okay with the possibility that the rest of the world won't be as convinced of his talents as you are. "This is key because frustration with the difference between what you expected and the reality you got is one of the leading sources of marriage unhappiness over time," says Orbuch.

And if money worries are driving your quest for a ring, slam on the breaks. According to Gauvain, the desire for financial security is one of the main reasons women get hitched to the wrong guy. "Many women have told me that they were attracted to marriage because they felt like they were floundering and thought a joint income would help," she says. Adds Lombardo, "But there are plenty of wealthy couples who aren't happy."

Beware His Family Dynamics
Depending on how close he is to his family, it's not just him you're marrying. And while you might be able to ignore them now, his family will play a big role in your life once you're hitched. Remember that these people will be not be just at your wedding but also at roughly half your future holidays, at the hospital when your children are born and quite possibly on your sofa for extended visits.

"You don't need to love each other's families, but you need to be on the same page about how much you'll include them in your lives," says Gauvain. "Take a hard look at his family traditions and how often he and his family see each other and communicate." If your family gathers for dinner every Sunday night but his has only a spotty record of celebrating Thanksgiving, your very different ideas of what family means will probably cause some problems.

This doesn't mean you have to rule him out, but you do need to talk about it and find a compromise. "Lay out expectations ahead of time so you understand what you're getting into," says Orbuch. If he has his family on a pedestal when the only raised platform they belong on is Dr. Phil's stage, that could be a problem. "It's okay if you don't see eye-to-eye with them all the time, but he can't put his family first or always side with them in disagreements," says Gauvain. "You should put each other first."

If There's No Spark, Forget It
With all this talk of shared values, don't forget this primal truth: There needs to be a sizzle. "In such uncertain economic times, it's easy for women to tell themselves that stability is more important than attraction, but you need chemistry for a relationship to work," says Gauvain.

Of course, if you've been together for years, you're not necessarily pinning each other down the minute you get in the door. But the urge to rip off each other's clothes should still strike on occasion. "Being successfully married means being more than best friends," says Lombardo. "Great sex won't make problems go away, but it can really cushion your relationship during the inevitable tough times."

Tear Up Your Bridal Timeline
"If you nudge her, a woman will often admit that there's a magic age she thinks she should be married by," says Gauvain. Whether your number is based on beating your biological clock or more random factors, like how old your sister was when she got hitched, it can hold power over you and put you at a high risk of marrying the wrong guy as that birthday draws close.

"When women feel they're falling behind on their bridal timeline, they are more likely to settle for Mr. Almost Right," says Gauvain. "They're scared of having wasted precious time, so they stick with guys they normally wouldn't." To make sure that such fears aren't driving your decision, ask yourself if you would still be with him if you were younger. If your answer isn't a strong "Absolutely!" then recognize your urge to put a ring on it for what it is: fear of falling behind on your timeline and being alone.

If a desire to have kids is freaking you out, know that the traditional marriage sequence has gone the way of the VCR. Now, few people bat an eye if you get knocked up by a BF or have a baby solo. "Women should trust that kids will happen for them one way or another, and marrying the wrong guy isn't the best way to get there," says Gauvain.

Are Your "Cold Feet" Normal or Not?
How do you tell if your jitters are just a fleeting thing or your intuition trying to tell you you're making a mistake? Pay attention to when your anxiety strikes -- is it during wedding talk or when you're talking about him? "When you're about to be married, talking about your fiancé should fill you with calm and happiness," says Lombardo. "It's natural to be nervous about the wedding but not about the groom."

And another thing: "You should not be asking yourself or your friends 'How do I know if he's The One?'" she adds. "If after giving it thought you're still not sure your guy is The One, he probably isn't."

A Cool Sign
A recent study found that couples who laugh and smile when they retell how they met are statistically way less likely to end up divorced.

SOURCE: University of Washington Study

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday: Recipe - Pumpkin & Red Split Lentils Soup

Hey peeps

Last week on Twitter I mentioned I was cooking this dish, and my friend and fellow author Annie Nicholas asked for the recipe. I promised her I'd put it up asap, so here it is!

This is totally my invention as soup, but I do attest that it tastes very good!

Here goes:

Pumpkin & Red Split Lentils Soup
(Makes about 4-5 cups soup)

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped finely
250 g red split lentils, washed and soaked for an hour
1 pound pumpkin, cubed (or canned. I've never tried it with canned but it should work too)
Spices: 1 teaspoon each of
            Cumin powder
            Coriander powder
            Turmeric powder
            Paprika
            Ground black pepper
A dash of nutmeg (don't use too much coz this can get overwhelming. You want just a hint of flavour)
Tomato puree (or sauce) - 1 Tablespoon
3 cups water
Salt
Olive oil
Pasta shells (optional)

How to:

1. Heat oil in pan and brown onions.
2. Mix spice powders and make into a paste by adding a little water. Add this paste to the onions and fry for 1-2 minutes.
3. Drain lentils and add to pan. Stir.
4. Add pumpkin and water. Stir and bring to boil.
5. Lower heat, leave to simmer, covered partially, for 20-30 minutes (you want the lentils to have softened and lost their shape, and the pumpkin to have 'melted').
6. When soup is at the consistency you want, stir in the tomato puree. Add a little salt, and taste (add more if it needs!).
7. If you want to make this a full meal but still keep it light, throw in some pasta shells towards the end of cooking time.

There you are - a quick and easy soup! Bon appetit!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, June 20, 2011

Random Thoughts' Monday: Hips Don't Lie

Unfortunately... Mine are telling me I need to get re-acquainted with my treadmill and Pilates mat. Sigh...

I mean, who has time to exercise, eh? I try to get everything done in that small window when my son is at school. Email, social network presence, writing. Just enough hours to do all that and not go insane. I have to squeeze a 'healthy lunch' too in there. Who gets to exercise in there? *shudder*

I'll admit it - I hate exercising. Not only do I not have the time (and I hear some people going"You make time, Zee!) but I do not have the inclination either. I don't like my body hurting - and yes, I know the more I exercise, the less sore I will be. It's like a word count - the more you write, the more it all adds up to give you a big total.

But yes, I've put on weight. I have no idea how much (thank God!) but I know it has all gone down to settle on my hips. My jeans fit more snugly now, I who recently prided myself in needing a belt on my jeans to get it to stay put. Not helped at all that it's winter here. Comfort food, the cold temps that makes you even more wary of doing anything except lounge in your super-comfy and warm sweat pants on your couch...

New goal now - lose weight. Or get a slimmer silhouette. Doable...? I wonder.

Wish me luck!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Walking The Edge: Snippet #2

Hey beautiful people!

Once again it's Sunday! Quite stoked this week coz Sara from Six Sentence Sunday has graciously accepted to list me as a regular SSS contributor on the site's page. :) What can I say though - I'm totally addicted to this little game of posting a quip and sending it out into the world like this.

So, last week I started to post snippets from my upcoming release, Walking The Edge. It releases next Monday, June 27 *gasp* (cannot believe it's getting so close!). It's a romantic suspense/thriller, and you can find the book description here.

Last Sunday I posted the first six from the story. Remember? Amelia, the heroine, thought there was a man stalking her in Selfridges on Oxford Street in London.  Take a peek if you want... And here comes the next six (editted for the purpose of this post!).

Enjoy!


"....Maybe she tuned in to the hairs rising on her nape, or to the little voice whispering in her mind, telling her there were eyes boring into her back and checking into her every move.
Was she going insane? The question snapped into her brain like a tight-pulled elastic band being released, stinging her when it hit home.
Come on, she told herself, you’re in a busy department store and there’s an idiot tagging your every step.
Her gaze darted to Nathaniel, the hulk of a man who was her assigned chauffeur and man for all tasks, it seemed. Or, he could just be the watchdog her husband had set on her trail...."


Find more amazing SSS quips here! I'm totally hooked on some of these snippets. :)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Friday, June 17, 2011

Progress Friday

Hey peeps

Quite annoyed with myself since I haven't gotten any progress whatsoever to account for this week. Sucks, innit? It's been one of those weeks - sickness, recovery (your body catches a virus in the snap of fingers, but takes a century to return to full health!). Not to mention work.

On that front though, there is something good. Got another round of edits done on Walking The Edge, and the more we tweak that one, the more compelling the story becomes. Bless my editor for her patience and vision. :)

Welcoming the weekend now - hopefully it'll spell the end of this week from hell. I fully plan to jump back on my writing wagon next week.

In the meantime, got some books to 'kill' and read. What have you got planned for the weekend?

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Link Thursday: 7 Tips to Help You "Click" with a First Date

Ah... First dates! It's been ages since I've been on one, yet every time I write a new story, I am taking steps in my characters' shoes and - you guessed it! - going on first dates with Mr. Okay, Mr. Right Now, Mr. Terrible, Mr. No-No... all in the hopes of finding that elusive Mr. Right.

Tell me that's not the case for you too, romance writers out there, and I'll tell you that you're lying! At some point or another, especially when penning contemporaries, we'll need to take our heroine - and hero - on a first date.

Yikes - land of all dangers, of all pitfalls... of love at first date too maybe... We all know we want a first date to go without hitch, especially in real life. In books, I'll admit a disastrous first date can make for further conflict and steer your plot/story.

So how do we navigate the treacherous waters of the first date?

Look no further - this article has some very good pointers! I grabbed it off MSN Lifestyle Love & Relationships a few months ago, back in November 2010.

The article is by Maura Kelly.

*****

Seven Tips to Help You "Click" with a First Date

Instant connections are wonderful, but they're also rare. With a little bit of expert advice, however, you can help forge connections more easily.

By Maura Kelly

[Editor's note: Maura Kelly writesThe Year of Living Flirtatiouslyblog for MarieClaire.com. This is an excerpt from that blog.]

Most of us have had the wonderful experience of "just clicking" with someone — feeling like we could talk to him for the rest of eternity, or like we must've known each other during past lives. Usually, it just happens naturally, in a way that seems almost magical.

But, as bestselling authors (and brothers) Rom and Ori Brafman explain in their popular book, Click: The Magic of Instant Connections, it's not magic. Certain behaviors and factors can help predict whether or not we'll hit it off with any given person. The Brafmans have studied the things we do that help us connect with each other — and I talked to Rom about things you can do to help you click on a first date.

In your book, you say it's good to show some vulnerability if you are hoping to connect or click with someone you've just met. My reaction to that was: "Vulnerable? Really? Isn't that a turnoff for most people?"

We usually associate vulnerability with a negative quality, namely weakness — but what we are talking about is being open, and disclosing some personal information. We're not talking about revealing your deepest secrets or letting someone in on all your sorrows — but sharing a personal anecdote with someone or letting him or her know what you're thinking helps to create intimacy. And the more you reveal about yourself, the more someone else is likely to reciprocate — and feel a connection with you.

Can you give me a few specific examples of "vulnerable" things people can do to increase the sense of connection and intimacy on a date?

1. Tell a little story from your childhood.
For example, let's say that on a first date your conversation naturally turns to pizza, and you decide to share that when you were in second grade your teacher would set up these pizza parties and that's what kept you interested in school — that every day you were looking forward to these pizza parties. It's not a profound story. There's no great lesson. But you're taking off the persona that we so often have on when we're dating. You're sending the message that you trust the other person, and feel engaged enough to open up. Telling a childhood story is almost never going to backfire.

2. Let your date know you're enjoying yourself.
Try "I'm really enjoying our conversation" or "I'm really glad we're here." That sets the tone and will also clue a guy in to the fact that you're engaged, so he doesn't have to feel preoccupied with that question — which allows him to focus more on being himself.

But be careful to talk about how you're feeling, rather than giving the guy a direct compliment — which could make him feel on the spot. So saying, "I like the way our night is going" is better than saying, "I really like you."

3. Don't say anything negative, like "I'm feeling bored right now."
That's not being vulnerable — it's being inappropriately blunt!

4. Ask questions that will draw out your date and make him feel a little more vulnerable — in a good way — as well.
Say things like, "Whom in your family do you get along with best?" Or, "What was high school like for you?" If he can't answer these questions, don't immediately give up — maybe he's just nervous. Encourage him. Or be a little more specific, like: "Do you get along with your siblings?" Or "Who were you closest with in high school?"

5. If you have any sudden ideas about fun things you can do on the date, throw them out there.
For instance, maybe you feel like sharing an ice cream with your date; suggest you go for a cone. Try to act the way you would with a friend. Be spontaneous and try out new things.

6. Show up with enthusiasm and energy.
Develop a curiosity about the other person, and ask questions that you find interesting — not just the usual boring get-to-know-you questions like "What do you do?"

7. Don't be afraid to disagree.
That shows you're confident. If you feel completely the other way about an issue, say so. And if things get a little heated, turn down the temperature by saying, "Wow, we're not even halfway through our first date and we're having a serious debate. I'm glad we can be honest."

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Blogging Today about Indian Weddings!

Hello beautiful people!

It's time for my every-other-month post at The Pop Culture Divas today! The ongoing theme for May and June is Weddings - so I'm inviting you to get my take on the weddings I attend in Mauritius, in my world.

It's kinda drastic for us attendees, but I'm sure you can get a chuckle or two!

Come take a peek, and leave me a comment! :)

http://www.thepopculturedivas.com/2011/06/indian-wedding-in-mauritius.html

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, June 13, 2011

Random Thoughts' Monday: When it rains, it pours!

Hello beautiful people

Hope you started your week well. No such luck on my end. Still carrying forward the remnants of last week's cold, and combined with my particular health state, let's just say I don't bounce back as easily as I should. Let's not kid ourselves - I'm doing no bouncing at the moment. Sigh.

And as always - everything needs to happen this week. I've got my writing challenge and deadline to meet, but let's just say trying to think up 3 words in a coherent fiction sentence right now is tedious, courtesy of the massive headache happy-banging against the inside of my skull.

But this I can deal with. It's the other deadline that's got my knickers in a twist - the work one. Yes, I work. I have a job too, even if I work from home. I get commissioned for writing articles and reports, and it's one way I've found of using my love for words to earn some money. Coz that's the 'problem', innit? Money, money, money, as ABBA sang. Unfortunately for me, I'm not a rich (wo)man so it's not funny in my world. Not to say that we are forced to scrimp and salvage here but we're not happy-rolling in the moolah either. Who manages to exist on a single income nowadays? (Unless of course you're a CEO or some other big-shot executive). So I try to contribute to my household budget, but the disadvantage of freelance work is that you're set with really tight deadlines and there's really no room for you to get sick or feel lousy.

Okay, enough of the ranting. Thanks for letting me take a load off, peeps. I know I can - and will - make it, but no one said it was gonna be easy. Sigh... Wish me luck and energy, pleeeeaaase!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Walking The Edge: Snippet #1

Hello beautiful people!

Six Sunday is back on this week, and as from today, I'm gonna share quips from my upcoming novel, Walking The Edge, a romantic suspense/thriller coming out with Noble Romance Publishing on June 27.
So, you might be wondering what the story is about? Here's the blurb to put this week's Six in context:

Walking The Edge
The next step might be the last...

A woman without a past
Left amnesiac after an accident, Amelia Jamison struggles as her instincts slowly rise from the depths of oblivion, leading her to question her life as the wife of a cold, manipulating and distant man. Wisps of a dream show her another man she may have known intimately, but is he a memory, or a figment of her imagination?

A man with too much information
After many aliases, today Gerard Besson is simply a police commissaire in Marseille. When a mysterious woman starts to follow him, he is suspicious - and intrigued. But things aren't what they seem, and as he reluctantly gets closer to her, dregs of his painful, buried past emerge and make him question her identity.

Each seems to have led several different lives
But neither is prepared for what awaits them when they cross the fine line between knowing your true self and that of your alter ego.
Danger is the name of the game, and as it catches up with them in the French Provence, both know they better be ready for the inevitable fall.

And here are the Six opening lines from the book! Enjoy!


"...London. Oxford Street:
Thursday December 13, 1.24 p.m.

There's a man following me again.
She didn’t know why she felt so certain of this. Selfridges teemed with shoppers in Christmas buying frenzy, and bustling crowds swarmed around her.
Someone was watching her though. She knew. ..."


And FYI folks - Six Sunday has moved to its own website now! Catch the new look, and this week's list of posters, here.

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Friday, June 10, 2011

Progress Friday

Hey beautiful people!

Check out the fabulous cover Noble Romance has granted me for Walking The Edge! Edgy and totally spiffy, innit? Fiona Jayde, the talented cover artist, hit the nails right on the head with this one. The cover sums up the story remarkably - showing off that suspenseful edge and the roiling, hot fiery colours harness the turmoil in that plot! Note also the image of Marseille at the bottom. I am totally stoked by this design!

On to the week's progress now. Hampered in my stride for the past 2 days, since I came down with the 'cold of the century' that's left my brain as mush. If I try to concentrate too much, my forehead erupts in blinding pain, so you can see how that's conducive to writing, innit?

Still, quite chuffed as I have hit a pretty reasonable word count - 5,817 words, for 3-4 days of work. And that's only like 1-2 hours a day. Where in the past I used to think that I'd need hours of uninterrupted time to slug through, well, turns out it's all in the determination you bring to the table and the keyboard. Like I had mentioned on Monday, a little here and a little there add up to making a whole quite quickly.

I'm 12% through on this WIP now, which I've titled Against The Odds. So far the characters are talking to me like we're BFFs - let's hope we don't turn on each other a la Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in the future.

So, weekend up ahead... I hope to get some writing done, because I'll be dumping the kiddo off to my mum's tomorrow through to Sunday, as my stepson won't be coming over this weekend. Can't wait for the break (yes - before you gasp and go shame on her!, let me tell you I fully take the responsibility of being an imperfect and perfectly-flawed mum!)

What have you got planned for this second weekend of June?

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

PS  - Side note: jump on here Sunday, when I'll start putting up quips from Walking The Edge as part of Six Sentence Sunday!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Link Thursday: 5 Secret Tests Guys Use To Evaluate You While On A Date

Hey peeps

Again, sorry for not posting the Writing Wednesday slot this week. I spent most of yesterday out, what with doctors' appointments, the endless waiting at the hospitals, and what else have you... Was knackered senseless when I got home.

Anywayz, today the post is going up as planned. Scouring my links folder, I found this one. Wanna know what makes a guy tick, from the get-go itself? Take a looksie at the following list, and the reasons why he is doing this.
Something else to remember - no relationship should be taken as a 'given', so always remember he might still be evaluating you on totally random occasions even if you've been together like, ages.

The article is from MSN Lifestyle Love & Relationships, pulled from Glamour magazine, and written by Erin Meanley.

*****

Five Secret Tests Guys Use to Evaluate You While On a Date

Not to add to the stress you're already feeling while on a first date, but it turns out that guy across the table may be testing you and drawing conclusions about whether or not the two of you are actually compatible.

By Erin Meanley

[Editor's note: Erin Meanley writes for the Glamour.com relationships blog, Smitten. This is an excerpt from that blog.]

Recently, I had a conversation with three guys who let it spill that they test girls on dates. Yikes! They watch how closely we act — way closer than you think — and they judge. The problem, or perception, is that some women think their mere presence on a date is enough, and that they can show up late, place difficult off-menu orders, or just sit there and look pretty. Not that we're all a bunch of divas, but I think even the nicest of us can get a little too comfortable and spoiled in the dating world. Behave how you want, but I'll tell ya, he is watching you. He is watching, and he is taking detailed notes.

Remember that before the date has even started, the guy has researched a restaurant, made reservations, and texted you directions. He's done some pre-date work, meaning he has thought more about this than you've had to, so it's likely he is already paying more attention. Here are the subtle tests he is watching you pass … or fail:

Test #1: Did you show up on time?
Guys care about time more than women think they do. And they notice when you're late. Their time is just as valuable as yours. Don't waste it. Instead, get points for being prompt!

Test #2: Did you order something normal and easy?
Call it a snap judgment, call it a first impression. He's gleaning any info he can to decide if he likes you. So ordering a hot Americana is way different than requesting an iced non-fat sugar-free vanilla latte. Also, it gives him an idea of how the tone of the rest of the date will go. Note, however, that a $15 cosmo doesn't always mean high-maintenance. But every action, statement, and detail adds up to answer the overall question, Can she hang?

Test #3: Can you roll with the punches?
This one is an unplanned test: How well do you react or adjust to unforeseen circumstances? Does it start raining on your picnic? Do you show up to the restaurant and it's closed? If a guy says, "There's another place six blocks away — let's walk there. It's not Italian food, it's Spanish — is that okay?", don't act uptight or freak out. He will think you're "crazy" (according to the guys I talked to, that's the word they all used). Be willing to go with whatever, or at least pretend to. The guy is trying so hard (well, some guys are), and some things he can help but others he can't. Don't complain and don't be inflexible.

He'll make unfavorable conclusions if you say, "You're out of vanilla? Well, I don't know what to get then." (Really? You can't get chocolate?) In real life, you will be out and you will get lost, develop blisters from walking in circles, and learn that the movie is sold out. He's thinking, How will you be in the future with this day-to-day stuff? Bonus: If you keep cool on the date, that tells him you're trying to make a good impression, too. And if you really like the guy, you don't care about these little things that go wrong. You're just happy being there with him. In fact, you might not notice the snags at all — but he does. And he is taking mental notes.

Test #4: Did you participate?
Guys like to "see what you're made of." Did you catch the episode of Millionaire Matchmaker where a guy named P.J. takes his date wakeboarding? The water, he says, is where he's most comfortable (never mind where her comfort zone is, eh?). His date doesn't get in the water. She tries, though. She also gets in her bikini and cheers him on when he shows off, so he likes her.

Test #5: Did you ask him questions about himself?
Show some interest! One guy told me that he has been on dates where he asked ten times more questions than the girl. "It might take me 45 minutes, but I always notice when a girl hasn't asked me one question," he said. "This happens more than anything that I've seen." Of course you don't want to interrogate a guy, either (and if a guy is quiet, I tend to go into journalist mode — oops), but there should be a healthy balance or ratio of questions received and given. It doesn't have to be even, but make sure it's not lop-sided.

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday: A Funny One!

Hey peeps!

Rolling with my word count - clocked down some more this morning, and Chapter 1 is done!

That's the writing news of the day! Now on to the Tidbit for this Tuesday...

You know I'm a rabid tennis fan, right? I spent the past 2 weeks immersed in the French Open at Roland Garros on my TV. The ending was a disappointment - I mean, Federer at one point giving away a 5-2 position in the first set, that start of his downfall (and fall from grace in my eyes!). Yes, I know I'm not there, not the one playing the game, but that was such a disappointment. My husband tells me I should stick to watching tennis just to ogle the male players, and I'm starting to agree...

Anywayz, speaking of players - this one seems like a true darling! Novak Djokovic is currently ranked world's No2, and he appears to be on the rise to become the next big tennis champion (especially if the rumours are true that Rafael Nadal is considering retirement soon).

But Djokovic - nicknamed Nole, and/or The Djoker - is not just a brilliant tennis player. He's got a terrific sense of humour, evident in his many impersonations of his fellow tennismen and tenniswomen.

Check out this clip - it'll have you in stitches!



There's another one here, but the Embed feature has been disabled so I couldn't post it up. Check it out if you have a minute - the impersonation of Federer is to die for!

That's it from me for today! Hope you had a laugh. :)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, June 06, 2011

Random Thoughts' Monday: What's cooking...?

Hey beautiful people

Start of another week... Sigh... You know I'm gonna ask where the past weekend went, innit? With both boys home, instead of leaving them to their own devices with the Playstation (and where they'll bash one another senseless in Tekken or Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat or what else other I'll-kill-you-while-you-kill-me-twice type of video game), so we hit the beach yesterday morning, probably our last stint to the coasts now that winter is coming in.

As for today... just put a dish of lamb tagine to slow-cook in the oven. It's a Moroccan dish - served with couscous - that features in my upcoming release, Walking The Edge. Reading all about it again through the edits last week made me crave the food once again and I set out to make it today. Well, yesterday, to be more precise - for you see, you have to cut and marinate the lamb with specific tagine spices overnight, before you'll combine the rest of the ingredients together after you've browned the marinated meat and place the dish in the oven to slow-cook over 2 hours (or a little more).

Making this dish, I couldn't help but realize how much the systematic and well-organized setup to prepare a tagine is also akin to balancing life and your many duties when you're an author. You cannot simply pull up and decide to do something - it all requires planning, like your tagine meat needs to be marinated overnight. You cannot just do something the way you and you alone want to - there are rules, a certain framework and order to follow, exactly like your recipe, its list of ingredients, and what to add first and how.
All in all, this dish has taken me 1 hour to put together and get it into the oven. Yet, looking at the instructions and the list of ingredients a mile long for tagine, you'd think you need to spend half a day in your kitchen to pull this together.

Life is like this too. You think it'll take a long, long time to get everything ironed out, but until you try, you won't know.

On Friday, I mentioned that I'm collaborating with my bestie Angela Guillaume on a story. We've given each other a deadline set in stone for that one - we have a plan, and we're doing it all ourselves. I now have until July 31 to pen down a 50K story. It sounds doable, or terribly daunting. I'm like, 6K a week? Isn't that madness? You gotta reckon that in the past, I wrote in one single block of time, uninterrupted. I could clock 3-4K words in one morning. But then I wrote only once a week - with my hectic schedule and to-do lists, I couldn't find a free block of time to write every so often. That's why I stalled with my WIPs too.

But I cannot do this now, not for this project! 6K a week, every week. How on earth...? And this got me thinking of the tagine recipe - where a little here and a little there break down the mile-long recipe page into something that's doable in steps, where one builds upon the other, and before you know it, you end up with a consistent whole.

That's what I'm aiming for in my writing now. A little everyday. I clocked down 1.1K this morning, and still found time to do my other tasks. Win-win on all fronts. This'll be my goal every working day now - 1K and slightly more everyday, to add up gradually to 50K come July 31.

My update for now, folks! What are you all up to this week?

From Mauritius with love,

Zee
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...