Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sneak Preview Pages 21-23 : WINDS OF CHANGE (Island Girls #3) releasing June 6, 2014

Hey peeps!

We're crossing into Chapter 2 today...and there's a semblance of explanation on Logan's part for his bullish behaviour....

Catch up with Chapter 1 so far
pages 1-5 here;
pages 6-8 here;
pages 9-11 here;
pages 12-14 here;
pages 15-17 here;
pages 18-20 here.

Get the full story here: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords
~~~~~

So much for having thought a human being lay behind the predator. He had no heart.

She gave him one final glance, her gaze lingering on his hand as he placed the documents on his desk. His knuckles seemed bloodied, the scabs a dark, caked red. He’d hurt himself?

Serves him right. She hoped the injury burnt and made him extremely uncomfortable. But then, she caught herself. Why did she end up thinking like a vengeful, immature child when she was a mature mother of thirty-four years of age? Shaking some sense inside her, Neha however found her gaze going back to his fingers.

He seemed to pick up on her staring, and he peered up at her, his dark eyes catching hold of hers and keeping them captive. A flicker passed over his irises, lighting them in the relative darkness of the room.

She shivered and dropped her perusal, noticing his cut knuckles again. “You should put an elastoplast on that.”

He fixed her for long seconds, and seemed to give an almost imperceptible nod as he loosened his tense jaw.

Had she really broken through his shell? An irrational elation grabbed her, but it crashed in shards when she realized who she dealt with. Sod it, what was she thinking? This man had as much feelings as the most ruthless of animals.

Yet, why did he make her tingle all over?

Suddenly discomfited beyond understanding, with the iron control she exerted on herself slipping from her grasp, she said her goodbyes and whirled around.

Her breath came out laboured when she exited the office. All to do with the way the epitome of the bad boy that was the station’s manager made her feel. Tongue-tied and at a loss. Defenceless and vulnerable. Hot and totally bothered.

She shook her head. This couldn’t be allowed to go on. The more distance she could put between her and Logan Warrington, the better.


Chapter Two

 

Most people would welcome the coming of Friday. It symbolized a break from work and two long, free days to contemplate.

In the media world, the opposite happened. Saturday and Sunday meant the rest of the world with free time, which implied switching on the radio and the television, and opening the pages of the newspapers wide over the breakfast table to catch up with the events of the past week.

Logan pressed the back of his head to his chair’s headrest and closed his weary eyes. As the station manager, his duty stated he had to run the show. Credit for success would go to his whole team, and boos of failure would come right at him. What had he been thinking when he’d accepted Griff’s offer to try out this endeavour? The launch loomed three weeks away, and they still hadn’t eased into cruising speed with the mock conditions.

A knock came, followed by the swoosh of the door as it opened and brushed the carpet in his office. He popped his eyes open to stare at Griffin walking in.

“I don’t recall inviting you in,” he said with a bored tone. He had no wish to be civil right then.

The other man brushed his remark away with a wide smile. Logan groaned. How could Griff remain always cheerful, as if he ran on a permanent high of Scotch whisky? The man exasperated him, to say the least. And he’s one of the nicest guys you know.

He also has this tremendous propensity to get stuck in trouble, another little voice chided.

Speaking of trouble, he had yet to have a proper talk with his business partner about the stupidity of his actions the other day.

However, Griffin brought up the subject before him. “Have you decided anything about Neha?”

Logan fixed his stare on the lanky man. “I have. And the answer is no.”

Griff threw his hands up. “Aw, come on, mate. Why not? I saw her test. She’s good, I’m telling you.”

He glanced at the folder on the black wire-mesh tray in the corner of his desk and pulled it out to peruse the sheaf of papers inside.

A whiff of sweet scent reached his nostrils. Bloody hell, her perfume hung all over the documents. Subtle, delicate, lingering. Exactly like the woman herself. She’d been in his thoughts for every single day of the past week.

“She’s not landing the job, Griff. Get used to it.”

“Why not? Tell me what’s wrong with her capabilities, and then I’ll consider whether you’re being level-headed or simply a pig-headed mule.”

Bugger, Griff tried his luck. Yet, throwing his fist into the Scotsman’s face would not solve the problem or address the issue. Not the streets of Wellington here, where punches represented the law.

“All right. There’s nothing wrong in this test. The news is concise and clear. The leads and lead-ins are brilliant, tying in at precisely the right level and never repeating any word between them. The language is accessible. The red thread never falters and runs through all the information smoothly and the format is perfect. It’s one the best darn news editorials I’ve ever seen.” He paused, with his gaze urging Griff to remain in his seat and not retort back. “However, the principle of this interview is wrong. This is why I’m putting my foot down.”

Griffin stood. “What principle? I found us a very good candidate, for a vital job we still need to fill in.”

Logan dropped the papers and closed the folder, the movement causing the smell of Neha’s perfume to cloud his senses again. Bugger. This grated on his nerves and his temper roused over Griffin’s stubbornness. Blowing his top off would do them no good; time he got a hold on his anger.

“Griff, sit down.”

His friend remained where he stood, hands on his hips. Logan was about to bark out the request when he caught himself. “Griff, please sit down. We need to talk.”

The other man reluctantly moved back to the chair and dropped his weight in it.

“Listen, mate. When we ventured into this partnership, we agreed you’d take care of everything regarding administration and the financial and legal sides of the project, while I would be solely responsible for the station’s running.” He stopped for emphasis. “Including who to add on the staff.”

Griff rolled his eyes. “Blimey, Logan. You’re so pissed off because I bypassed your authority?”

“No,” he replied in a calm tone. “You bypassed the rules and regulations of the house. What if the head office in London heard we’d appointed someone who didn’t apply like all the other candidates? Didn’t it occur to you how any one of those candidates could probably sue us for this?”


Want to read it all? Full book up for sale here: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords

~~~~~

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sneak Preview Pages 18-20 : WINDS OF CHANGE (Island Girls #3) releasing June 6, 2014

Hey ye all!

So yesterday Neha met Logan. Not at all a match made in heaven, right? She's totally not at the end of her tether, either!

Catch the previous excerpts
pages 1-5 here;
pages 6-8 here;
pages 9-11 here;
pages 12-14 here;
pages 15-17 here.

And you can get the full novel already at these places!Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords
~~~~~

“Station hasn’t been launched yet, but we have live conditions all the time to get used to the pace. News editor’s job is to prepare all the news bulletins for the radio, the hourly recap, as well as the longer bulletins to be aired three times a day. Station broadcasts twenty-four hours, but news starts at six and ends at eight at night. I head the TV section and work with the newsroom for the TV bulletin at six every evening….”

He entered a room to his left, and Neha quickened her step to follow him and more importantly, to hear the explanations he spewed forth like a machine gun. Drat, would she remember all the details he pushed her way?

She screeched to a halt at the sight of the half dozen people in the newsroom.

The hulk had stopped by a large, paper-strewn desk. “Here’s your material. Compile a three-minute bulletin for the radio, and then put together a TV news report of the information you deem more newsworthy.”

He finally peered at her, and she froze under his fiery gaze.

“You have one hour,” he said, then walked past her out of the room.

What had that been about? In all this time, she’d hardly understood a word he’d said. He spoke with a strange accent. It sounded British, but wasn’t. Too jumbled. Aussie, maybe? Not drawling enough. Definitely not South African, not thick enough.

The only words she recalled clearly of his diatribe were “three-minute radio bulletin” and “TV news report of newsworthiness.”

Neha heaved for breath. Tempted after what she couldn’t term a conversation with the frightening man to turn tail and leave on the spot, a part of her knew she’d never be able to live with herself if she didn’t see this through to the end. She’d always prided herself on finishing whatever she started. Well, today wasn’t the day she’d prove this wrong. She could, and would, do this. The exercise sounded no harder than a university exam for the media papers. She’d done such exercises over and over for her degree.

Your one hour is ticking down.

After pulling a typist chair at the heavy steel desk, she sat down and glanced at the other people in the room. They gave her quick peeks from under their lashes, yet not one stepped up to offer some help or show her what material she needed to work with.

“Fine.” She’d get no help? No bother at all. Didn’t she deal with her kids on a daily basis? This couldn’t be any worse.

Taking a deep breath, she browsed through the piles of papers on the table. News reports from wire services. Bingo.

Neha banned all thoughts from her mind as she skimmed the sheets. Pulling all the relevant information for the day, she classified them according to the five categories of newsworthiness. Timeliness, extent and importance, prominence, proximity, and oddities or deviations.

Having found the ones she’d use for both sections, she tackled the five “wh” questions of news writing—who, what, where, when, why. Gathering the answers as she went along, she drafted her news reports, taking particular care in formulating her leads with appropriate and concise language.

Finally, she set it all down in the appropriate format, with each news item on a different page for the radio bulletin, and using the two-column layout of TV news reports.

She stacked the sheets in front of her and glimpsed at her watch. Ten to eleven. She stood well behind her deadline. Standing up, she addressed one of the girls in the office. “Excuse me, could you please tell me where I may find the man who gave me all those instructions?”

The girl smiled faintly. “That’s Mr. Warrington. He should be in his office. It’s behind the mirror, at the left of the entrance lobby.”

Neha thanked her and made her way out toward the office.

Logan Warrington. The co-owner of this branch of the network. New Zealander, former heavyweight boxing champion. No wonder he looked like a hulk.

With a wince, she recalled how Lara had barged into her place the previous day, armed with a folder on the company and its owners. How did Neha think she’d prepare for an interview when she didn’t know who she’d be dealing with, Lara had questioned.

Aghast and with fury smouldering in a steady boil under her skin, she had bitten back her words and let her sister give her a run-down of World Global Network, its functioning, and also who was responsible for what at the offices. Feeling like a small kid an adult took tremendous patience to teach, Neha had let Lara rattle on about the information.

She had to thank her sister, though, for otherwise, she really would’ve had no idea who, and what, she went up against. Logan Warrington’s reputation painted him to be as tough as they came, someone who’d put the worst reality TV bosses to shame, Donald Trump and Gordon Ramsay combined. When he became a sportscaster after his retirement from the ring, he said everything like it was and took no bull.

And to think she would go up against this man…. Could she stand up to him? Did she want to?

On the threshold to his office, she stopped, right in front of the mirror that had swung open to let the big man out. Probably a one-sided mirror only. Logan Warrington must’ve already seen her approach. He had the advantage everywhere. Did he believe it gave him the right to be rude, though? He hadn’t introduced himself. Manners counted for something even if you stood at the top of the food chain, didn’t they? This notion fuelled her with the grit she needed to face him and, after a steeling breath, she knocked on the mirror.

After a few seconds, a “come in” sounding more like a roar resounded from the other side. She pulled the door open and walked into his office with resolution making her feet light and her step purposeful.

Her buoyant tread however grew heavier as she approached his desk, like she dragged her sandals on the thick carpet. He fixed her with his penetrating eyes, their intense depths sucking the breath from her, his commanding presence drawing the air around them.

Everything in his surroundings seemed to be swallowed in a vortex with no bottom. A vortex named Logan Warrington. Such was the man’s powerful magnetism and charisma. She found herself at a loss, both for words and movements.

He trained his gaze on the stack of documents in her hand, and Neha swore the paper caught fire when he kept looking at it. The heat touched her fingers, tickling and teasing with their scorching licks, to travel up her arm, to her face, when his gaze followed the same path.

“You’ve finished?” he asked in a dry voice.

She snapped out of the hypnotic spell. Then she extended her hand to give him the reports.

He caught it in his firm grip, his fingers an inch from hers on the cover page. The lick of fire came back, jumping from his hand to hers. She flinched and pulled her fingers away. The documents remained anchored in his grasp.

He caught her eyes with his, and her mouth went dry as she parted her lips.

What did this man have more than any other, that he could affect her in such a way?

An intimidating and ruthless predator would have the same effect, she reasoned with herself, and he was just a man, however alluring and dangerous he looked. A measure of control seeped back into her, making her throw her shoulders back and tear her gaze from his.

“Thank you,” he said, breaking the silence. His voice came out soft, not at all the harsh barking he’d uttered so far. “We’ll let you know of our decision shortly.”

This time, the edge of ice and contempt in his tone hit her.


Buy Links for full novel: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords

~~~~~

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sneak Preview Pages 15-17: WINDS OF CHANGE (Island Girls #3) releasing June 6, 2014

Hi beautiful people!

So yesterday we met Logan, the hero.... Quite something, innit? Yes, he's a hothead, and Neha's about to meet him in this tricky setup in today's excerpt. Enjoy! :)

Catch up with the previous excerpts
pages 1-5 here;
pages 6-8 here;
pages 9-11 here;
pages 12-14 here.

Get the full novel at these outlets! Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords
~~~~~


“Get rid of her.” He dropped his voice lower. “If you don’t do it, I will. Get it?”

Griffin nodded, and he moved away, taking a few steps back to place his hands on the back of the chair his friend had vacated.

Bloody Griffin. He hoped he wouldn’t have to deal with this problem. In his book, people of privilege who thought they could pull strings for favours were not welcome. Because they’d been born with a silver spoon in their mouths didn’t mean the world owed them everything. Logan owed them nothing, especially not her, this woman coming for the interview.

How could she expect she’d barge her way in and get away with it? Maybe she pulled this stunt off with Mauritians, but hell, he wasn’t a local. New Zealanders didn’t become known for their patience or for hypocrisy, either, so be it. Favours got you nowhere in New Zealand, and he wouldn’t tip the scale, not now, not ever.

Bloody hell, this woman didn’t come with a letter of recommendation. Worse—from the sound of it, she hadn’t even handled such a job. How could that egg deem her perfect for the job? Griffin’s brain had probably gone up in a scramble as soon as he’d heard from Lara, for whom he still carried a torch, it seemed.

“Logan?”

“What?”

Griffin flinched at the bark, but remained where he stood. “I…I…she….”

Logan threw him a withering glare. Griffin nodded toward the door.

His gaze bypassed his friend and settled on the luxurious lobby on the other side of the one-sided mirror making up his office door.

A tall, beautiful woman stood at the front desk. Chin-length black hair gleamed under the fluorescent lights and danced with every graceful move of her head. Her profile showed alabaster skin and exquisite features, the dark-lashed eyes hinting at a deep gaze. Softness and gentleness seemed to project off her, from the pretty face to the lush body clad in a white, long-sleeved blouse and ankle-length black skirt.

He forgot to breathe, until Griffin’s dreamy voice brought him back.

“Blimey, she could pass for Lara’s twin.”

Logan stared at his best friend, wishing he hadn’t heard what had been implied in Griffin’s words. The woman outside had come fishing for favours. She was also the only woman who’d managed to catch his attention for more than five seconds in the last four years.

“I guess I better go tell her she came for nothing,” Griffin said.

He cursed and whirled around to hit his clenched fist into the wall. A dull thud resounded, and he grimaced at the pervasive sting of air plunging into a knuckle cut. Blessed relief, but which this time did nothing to lessen his internal turmoil.

“Damn you, Griff, damn you,” he said in a low growl as he walked past his partner on his way to the lobby.

 

 

Neha stood in front of the curved marble desk in the station’s reception area, allowing her gaze to take in her surroundings. The room appeared bright, bathed in white artificial lights. Too bright. Almost revealing.

She reached up to touch her chin-length bob, the gesture as much a nervous tick as it had been when the strands had been three times the length. She couldn’t say she disliked the new cut, but having her hair so short the wind whispered across the nape of her neck left her feeling exposed and vulnerable.

The haircut had been the first on her sisters’ and her daughter’s list of priorities on Saturday, and she hadn’t been able to put in a word at the salon. Barely giving her time to realize she’d been shorn of the tresses she’d cared for with tender love since the age of ten, they whisked her in front of an image consultant, who’d wanted her to—gasp—wear trousers as they would make her look more willowy.

At this, she’d put her foot down. She’d never worn trousers in her life, and she wouldn’t start because of them. She’d also always been round and had never had a trim silhouette, so anyone who had an issue with that could take said issues to hell and back, but she wouldn’t budge. Skirts and dresses suited her fine. In the end, the compromise had been A-line or flared skirts and tailored blouses, as well as maxi-length dresses worn with long blazers.

The whirlwind had continued afterward, with facial, manicure, pedicure, leg waxing, full body wrap and other beautifying nonsense the others had dragged her through. Neha had started to complain, but in the end there lay no point talking to a wall, and she had to admit how being pampered did make her feel good.

A luxury, though, an indulgence. Like the thick, midnight blue carpet drowning her flat-sandal-clad feet into its soft pile.

While she waited for the receptionist to confirm her appointment, she shifted her weight from one foot to another until the pretty girl who looked no older than Suzanne motioned her toward the comfortable-looking, stuffed sofas at the other end of the lobby.

As she turned toward them, the mirrored panel to her left swung open, to let out a big hulk of a man.

A raw, untamed force of nature.

The thought screeched into her mind as he walked toward her with long, confident steps, almost like a panther. He was big, all right. Not too tall. At first glance, she’d say a little under six feet, shorter than most of the men in her family. But the solid bulk on this man’s frame did more than compensate for the staggering impact a few more inches might have given him. His struck as an imposing stature. Despite the dark colours of his trousers and shirt with their rolled-up cuffs, he didn’t appear any less huge. How had he walked through the door, when he seemed to be of twice its breadth?

Yet, the most intimidating part of him remained his face. He had short, sand-coloured hair, closely cropped. Arresting features, hard and taut. A mouth set in a grim line, as if to say he took no nonsense. A nose that appeared to have been broken a few times. Eyes dark with fire.

Neha took a step back as he approached. She couldn’t keep herself from trying to put as much distance as possible between herself and this daunting man.

He stopped in front of the desk, his deep-brown eyes scanning the length of her. Heat crept up her. Somehow, under his steady gaze, she wondered if she had a stitch of clothing on.

Who is he?

A lanky, blond man with thinning hair appeared from behind the hulk. His long, thin face looked cheerful, his pale-grey eyes sparkling. “You must be Neha,” he said with a deep Scottish accent.

She nodded. “You must be Griffin.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Neha, but—”

“Newsroom’s this way,” the hulk said in a growl as he brushed past her, heading right across from the desk into a wide corridor.

He expected her to follow.

She glanced at Griffin, who appeared as struck as she, and only stepped toward the big man as his voice floated over to her.


Full book available at Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords

~~~~~

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sneak Preview Pages 12-14: WINDS OF CHANGE (Island Girls #3) releasing June 6, 2014

Hey all!

Welcome back for some more mayhem and chaos from Neha's life. She's not ready for what's about to hit her, lol :) Today, meet the hero, Logan.

Here's where you can catch up:
pages 1-5 here;
pages 6-8 here;
pages 9-11 here.

And you can grab the full book here!! Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords
~~~~~

Lara gave her a brook-no-nonsense glare. “For now.” She paused. “Tell you what. I was on the phone just yesterday with a university friend. He and his business partner have opened a branch of World Global Network here. You know, the Internet TV and radio station. I kept thinking you’d be perfect for a job there with your qualifications.”

Neha put her hand up. “Don’t get me wrong, but no. It would seem too much like favouritism if I landed a job there when you’re friends with the owner.”

Lara chuckled. “You’ll go through the interview process like any other candidate. Swear to God.”

Suddenly, the idea of a job didn’t appear so dreadful. Finance-wise, she lay nowhere near the red, but for how long could she keep this up? She’d enrolled the kids in private school, which cost some dough.

“What do you have to lose?” Lara asked.

Nothing, and she’d gain a purpose. The image of her with a dirty apron and a cleaning spray in her hand, as Suzanne had pointed out earlier, materialized in her mind and she flinched. That wasn’t her real purpose in life, innit?

Maybe for once, she could prove she’d be worth something outside the house; that she, too, could become acquainted with corporate career heights. Some days, she hated being the middle sister, the sensible, neutral ground, as her father affectionately described her.

Well, to hell with neutral. She wouldn’t go to extremes, either, since Lara and Diya handled those really well already, but make her mark she would.

“I’d be treated like all other candidates?” she asked.

“Yup. Do I call him?”

Neha gulped, and nodded. Lara pulled out her BlackBerry and punched in a number after scrolling through her call log.

“Griffin? Hi, it’s Lara,” she said as she stood and exited the kitchen.

A few moments later, she walked back in, a triumphant smile on her face. “You have an appointment on Monday, one o’clock. Their offices are located in cybertower one at Ebène cybercity.”

Neha’s stomach did flips and somersaults, but she had to contain her jitters when she faced another, dreadful, perspective lying in ambush for her.

“Now you definitely need a makeover,” Diya said. “I’ll book us all at the spa tomorrow, in case you’ll think of escaping.”

Neha groaned. What had she gotten herself into?

 

***

 

This is it. Today, I’ll finally kill him.

Logan Warrington stared across the steel and glass desk in his office at his business partner. “You did what?”

Why, in heaven’s name, did he allow Griffin McDougall to become his best friend? On some days, he swore Griffin didn’t have half a brain. Erasing him from the surface of the Earth would be no big loss for mankind. Might even be a blessing.

“Come on, Logan. I only gave a candidate an appointment.”

“For one of the most important jobs of the station. Someone you know nothing about, for whom you don’t have a CV, or an application letter.” He sighed. “What were you thinking? Or have you again blown the fuse on your logical reasoning?”

“It’s no big deal. An appointment is all. Give her a chance.”

Logan stood and went around the large table, facing the man with whom he co-owned the Mauritian branch of World Global Network. Too much anger inside, beating a dull throb in his veins, for him to remain seated and exchange polite niceties with Griff.

“Forget about her. She, whoever she is, is not getting an interview. What I really want to know is how, and when, you’ve had the time to do all this behind my back, eh.”

Griffin shrugged, eyes downcast as he squirmed in his seat. Logan took a step toward him, and the repressed tension inside him must’ve been tangible, for his friend jumped up and backed away.

With every inch he advanced, he rolled up the cuffs of his long-sleeved shirt. The mere sight of his beefy forearms and clenched fists would be enough to make any man shit in his trousers, and he had the satisfaction of seeing Griffin’s fair face pale further. But he made the threatening gesture more for emphasis than anything else. Griff knew he’d never hurt him, or anyone else for that matter, but he expected a modicum of respect and consideration in an operation equally half his responsibility. And here the clown had gone and played him for a mighty fool. Rules and frameworks existed for a purpose, dammit. How would he extricate himself from this tricky situation? What would he do, first of all, with the sad case in his office?

Something akin to apprehensive doubt glinted in Griffin’s pale gaze. At least, he’d unsettled the little nitwit. For Griff proved the biggest nitwit this side of the equator…and for Logan, the one person he could count on in any circumstance. Griffin was a sensible man. Usually. If one didn’t count the time when Griff got tangled with the ex-wife of a gang leader. This stinking peat bog had to do with a woman, too.

Griffin had backed into the wall, forced to stop in his tracks. Logan came to a stop a few inches from him, his fists against the wall on either side of the lanky man’s neck. Griffin’s Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed in trepidation.

Oh yes, he appeared like a right arse, but Griff knew he never turned the other cheek. Face the consequences of all your actions, and no other way around; he did strive toward this philosophy from his upbringing in one of the most crime-ridden areas of Wellington in New Zealand.

“Cancel it.”

Griffin swallowed again.

He raised his voice, though he kept his tone chillingly cold. “Cancel. It.”

“I…I…can’t.”

“Why?”

“Security called before I came to your office. She’s…she’s on her way up.”

He clenched his fists, the sound of his cracking knuckles echoing in the stillness of the room. Griffin’s deep-set, pale-grey eyes grew as big as saucers, as if they would pop from his skull.

“Who the hell is she, Griff, that you’d be willing to risk my wrath? We had a deal. You don’t poke your nose in my side of the business and I don’t poke mine in yours.”

The other man gulped audibly. “She’s Lara’s sister.”

Lara. Logan sighed and swore. He should’ve known. The woman—the married woman—Griffin had been hopelessly in love with at university. “She knew she could get you to bend the rules for her, didn’t she?”

“It’s not like so, Logan, I swear. This girl has all we’re looking for. She’s the perfect fit.”

Wrong, he yearned to scream. Instead, he tensed his arms a tad more, making his muscles ripple with the coiled tension in them. Griffin swallowed hard again.


Buy Links for full book: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords

~~~~~

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sneak Preview Pages 9-11: WINDS OF CHANGE (Island Girls #3) releasing June 6, 2014

Hey ye all!

In yesterday's excerpt, Neha's hard-won quiet just went out the window when her sisters came to visit. What else has brewed?

Catch the previous excerpts!
pages 1-5 here;
pages 6-8 here.

Full book is available at all these places! Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords
~~~~~

Stepping closer to the island, she drew a stool and sat down.

“All at Mum’s place. Dad’s over the moon to have all the grandkids, and Mum’s tipsy to have the sons-in-law there to boost her ego and tell her what wonderful girls she brought up.”

She had to laugh. Lara had summed up their family pretty nicely. “I better go tell Suze and Rishi their cousins are over at Mum’s place.”

“And where’s Kunal?” Diya asked.

“At the gym. Again.”

After the Muay Thai debacle, she’d known her son would come looking for some violent martial art here, too, whether legally or illegally. She’d thus signed him up for kickboxing training at a gym run by a former boxer who’d turned to training the next generation of Mauritian athletes. At least with him, Kunal would be in good, responsible hands. She trusted the man after having met him a few times and asked around about his reputation. He wouldn’t let any harm come to her son.

“Good grief, Neha. I’ve never seen you frown so much. Another few like the ones you’re giving us and you’re gonna need Botox,” Diya said.

“Dee.” Lara’s tone held a warning.

“No, seriously.” Diya turned her intensively mascara-ed eyes onto Neha. “Stop worrying so much about the kids. You gotta let them live a little. And get a life for yourself, too, in the process.”

Don’t you start. But she remained mum. Wouldn’t want to start a verbal argument with the family’s sharpest tongue.

“Dee,” she said, “they’re teenagers. Of course I’m gonna be worried.”

“Bull. I’ve got teens at home, too, in case you don’t know.”

Right—Diya’s two stepsons. Angels, both of them.

“Dee does have a point,” Lara said.

Neha bit her lip to refrain from replying. What would they know about her existence? They weren’t one parent down in their households. Though she’d always manned the family unit alone….

“Face it. When was the last time you did something for you? Or for fun? Like go to the spa,” Diya asked.

“She always says she doesn’t have time, Auntie Dee,” Suzanne said as she joined her aunts at the counter.

Just what she needed, Suzanne joining the clan against her.

“All that beauty stuff is not for me.” She stood. “Anyone want a cuppa?”

“Now, who’s playing hooky?” Diya asked. The beautiful young woman who could still pass for a teenager scrunched her delicate features. “Good grief, Neha. That blouse of yours was in style when? Two decades ago? And when did you last tweeze your unibrow?”

“Don’t bother.” Suzanne rolled her eyes. “What Mum needs is a makeover. Her look is so passé, it’s scary.”

“What you need is a purpose, like a job,” Lara said.

“And who’ll take her when she looks like this frumpy desperate housewife?”

“Dee, shut up, will you?” Lara scolded, and for once, Neha agreed with her. How could they discuss her as if she weren’t in the room?

“I don’t want a job, thank you. I’ve got one that satisfies me plenty,” she replied.

“Dirty laundry and in the kitchen all day with a cleaning spray stuck to your hand. Yeah, right, Mum. You loooove your life.”

Well, true how, painted this way, her world looked drab, but what if she got her kicks out of doing laundry?

“Communications science and media management. Your major for the degree you got in South Africa, innit?” Lara asked.

How did she remember? Neha nodded. “But I’m not looking for a job. Now cut it out. Who wants cupcakes?” She went over to the cake stand on the opposite counter where she retrieved a tray of frosted vanilla little cakes in their paper cups.

Diya reached for one. Lara swiped a little butter cream off Diya’s cake.

“Have one,” she told her sister.

“No, thanks,” Lara replied.

Hmm. Lara probably didn’t want to disrupt her faultless figure which, even after three pregnancies, resembled a statuesque model’s.

Gravel crunched again outside and a knock resounded. A tall, blond young man with a sobbing toddler in his arms pushed the door open.

Diya shot out of her seat and reached for the baby. “He woke up?”

“And started crying for you, Ma,” the lad replied, gently placing the child’s head on Diya’s shoulder.

The sobs stopped the minute the kid placed his cheek on his mother’s shoulder. “Oh, Luke. Mummy’s here,” Diya crooned in his ear, appearing like a responsible adult in the blink of an eye.

“Hey, Matt,” Suzanne called out.

“Hiya, Suzie.” He walked into the kitchen toward Neha. “And how are you, Auntie?” he asked as he dropped a kiss on her cheek. “Hmm, cupcakes.”

“Go ahead,” Neha said with a smile.

Suzanne waited until he’d wolfed down the treat, then she tugged at his arm and pulled him out of the kitchen. “You’ve got to see this. I stumbled on this video today on YouTube….”

The rest of her words drifted incoherent as they went upstairs to her room.

“These two make a stunning couple, don’t they?” Lara asked. “And it’s obvious Suze’s got a major crush on him. Matthew is the only one who gets away with calling her Suzie.”

“But nothing’s gonna happen there,” Neha said in a rush. Her daughter was too young to be thinking about love and men.

“Matthew’s her cousin by marriage only.” Diya bestowed a tender glance on the baby who had gone back to sleep on her shoulder.

Neha couldn’t shake the image of Diya with her eldest stepson in her kitchen. At sixteen, Matthew could pass for twenty, a grown man already. He and Diya appeared of the same age, in fact. “Don’t people mistake Matthew for the twins’ father?”

Diya rolled her eyes. “Tell me about it. Half the time when I’m alone with him and one or both of the babies, people give us these dirty looks, like we’re teenage parents or something.”

They all laughed.

“Is it my fault if I don’t look my age? Speaking of which” —she stared right at Neha— “you could seriously lose five to ten years off your face with a better haircut.”

Oh no, here we go again. Tenacity represented a big, bad trait of Diya’s. “Don’t start.”

“What about the job?” Lara said. “The kids are all into school now, and you’ve got a degree gathering dust in a forgotten drawer. Why not put it to good use?”

“I did the degree to kill time, and also because the campus sat so close to our house. Rahul thought it’d keep me busy since we had household staff in South Africa.”

“Think about it.” Lara would not let her off the hook. “Neha, sweetie, money doesn’t grow on trees. How long do you think you can keep on like you’ve been living?”

Her sister did have a point here, and she cringed. “I can manage.”


Get the full book from Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords
~~~~~

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sneak Preview Pages 6-8: WINDS OF CHANGE (Island Girls #3)

Hey peeps!

Moving on to Chapter 1 now - what's happened to Neha after that dreadful phone call?

Catch up with pages 1-5 here.

And you can grab the book from all these places! Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords
~~~~~


Chapter One

 

Curepipe, Mauritius. Eighteen months later….

 

“Get out of my way, you stupid little git.”

“I would if I could walk around such a gangly ostrich!”

Suzanne and Rishi, fighting like their lives depended on it. Neha sighed. At least, Kunal didn’t jump into the fray. But her second child didn’t bicker with his siblings because he wasn’t home. Once more.

“God grant me patience,” she murmured like a mantra.

Topsy-turvy. Upside down. Inside out. All of these could now be applied to her life. Rahul had been the one constant in her life since the first day she had set foot in Mauritius after leaving the only life she’d known in London. Removing him from the picture had sent her whole world tumbling down, its very anchor ripped off.

At the time, she had been on the brink of turning thirteen. Upon seeing their handsome, dark-haired and green-eyed neighbour, who’d been seventeen, Neha had known the perfect thing to do would be to become his wife, his everything.

She had succeeded in her plan five years later, after having gotten into the good books of Rahul’s mother by every means possible, and when her sister, whom Rahul had seemed smitten with, had married another man who lived in London.

Nothing had stood in Neha’s way. She’d landed him, married him, given him their first child ten months later. Within the next five years, she had borne him two sons, as well. In short, everything expected of her as a dutiful wife.

So why had it never seemed enough?

Don’t go there. Not again. Taking a turn into the living room, she stopped in front of mantel and its arrangement of dried flowers. She bit her lip, recalling the many pictures displayed there in the past. Family pictures. With Rahul in them.

She’d removed them from this room. The memory of him struck too vivid, too hurtful still, in her heart, to allow his physical likeness to smile back at them through the photos. He remained gone, not much hope of him ever coming back despite the fact he hadn’t been declared officially dead.

She closed her eyes as the agony slid through her again. Those tough days…. The children had been so matter-of-fact back in South Africa. Their father had died, so why not face the facts already, they’d asked. Had their dad been so much an inconsequential presence in their lives? How could she not have noticed?

Their reaction had shocked her, but at a loss herself, she hadn’t known how to handle the particular state of affairs. Grief counselling hadn’t seemed to help, either, not succeeding in bridging past the children’s blunt and resigned attitude.

Suzanne had cried. Her daughter had gone through a Goth and punk rock phase, then thankfully, had eased back into her baby doll and girly-girl carefree existence. Still, one couldn’t miss the depth of pain sometimes reflected in the teen’s big brown eyes.

Rishi had caused her some worry. His grades had suffered, and for once, the bright pupil and budding genius had been nothing more than a conventional student getting average grades. To this day, he still hadn’t reached the previous heights he had touched in his academics. But otherwise, the boy didn’t seem much affected, and she kept a watchful eye over him.

The one who gave her the most affliction had been Kunal. When one day she received a call from the police informing her her son had been involved in a backstreet fight, she’d learnt of the extent of the emotional damage on him. On the sly, he’d started to train into Muay Thai, the deadly kickboxing martial art from Thailand, and had busted a local gang member with his “skills.”

That’s when she’d gotten a grip on herself and her family, and ditched the guilt plaguing her whenever she recalled how she’d, for one instant, wanted out of her marriage. People always said, “Be careful what you wish for.” She knew it all too well. Within a couple of weeks, she’d packed them up, put the house for sale, and come back to Mauritius, to their family home belonging to Rahul’s family for generations.

The doors to the bedrooms upstairs slammed one after the other, and Neha jumped, eyes popping wide open. Quiet. Thank goodness. She had no idea how long it would last, but even a few seconds represented a luxury she’d grab with open hands.

Gravel crunched outside, and a knock sounded at the back door. She reached the kitchen as the frosted-glass panel swung wide open and two women walked in.

Quiet just went out the window. Neha groaned. Her two sisters weren’t favourite people on her list when she craved some peace. The two could talk the hind leg off a donkey all while Neha remained there like the odd one out. Mind, she loved her sisters, but she’d never had the easy camaraderie the other two shared.

“She hasn’t got any pot on the stove, so I won,” Diya, her younger, petite sister, said.

The devil’s spawn. Diya characterized every mother’s worst nightmare, a tomboy who’d had no respect and no concern for rules and propriety when she was growing up. At twenty-eight, married and a parent to four boys, Diya still inspired fright and tremors in their mother and in both her sisters, as well as the poor soul who’d had the ill-fated luck to fall in love with her and marry her. No one knew what she could be up to at any given time.

“Doesn’t mean she remembered there’s dinner at Mum’s tonight,” Lara, her older sister, replied.

“Dinner at Mum’s tonight?” Neha squeaked.

Sod it, she had completely forgotten how they’d all go eat at her parents’ place on the next public holiday. Today.

“Aha!” Lara exclaimed. “I won.”

Neha stood straighter as the two women settled on the tall bar stools at the kitchen counter. Both had dressed in jeans and tailored shirts, but while Diya’s looked like a rabid cat had attacked the fabrics with its claws, Lara’s resembled an outfit straight out of a fashion magazine. With her understated makeup, Lara epitomized the perfect modern woman confident in herself despite the fact she lay one year short of turning forty. A far cry from Diya, with her sparkly blue eyeliner, and Neha, with her comfortable skirt and cotton blouse.

And that’s where it hurt. Diya couldn’t and wouldn’t give a damn, for anything, and Lara effortlessly achieved perfection in everything. The effortlessly bit made Neha cringe. Why couldn’t she, with all the exertion and struggle she put into her life, manage such flawlessness? Lara had a husband—a rich and successful doctor!—as crazy about her today as the first day he set eyes on her; she’d always been expected to be acquainted with great career heights, and her position as CEO of one of the most powerful companies in the Indian Ocean wouldn’t contradict this. And the eldest of the Hemant girls had picture-perfect children who also remembered their manners whether with family or strangers alike—

“Earth to Neha,” Diya said, waving a hand in front of Neha’s eyes.

“Sorry,” she mumbled. “You’re alone? Where’s the gang?”


Buy Links for full book: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords
~~~~~

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sneak Preview Pages 1-5: WINDS OF CHANGE (Island Girls #3) @DecadentPub

Hey beautiful people!

In honour of the June 6 release of WINDS OF CHANGE, the final book in the Island Girls Trilogy, I will be running sneak peeks from the first 2 chapters of the book starting today until Thursday, June 5.

So sit back with a cuppa and get to meet Neha and Logan, the protagonists in this story.
Neha is the middle sister of the Hemant family, the one who's always done "the right thing". But this has led her nowhere, as you'll see in this prologue.

Addendum: You can grab the book at these outlets! Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords

~~~~~


Prologue

 

Cape Town, South Africa

The calm before the storm…

 

Neha Hemant sighed. In a few short moments, all hell would break loose. The children would wake up and another day would start, bringing its load of tantrums, sulks, and whatever other madness her kids would cook up.

But the early morning belonged to her. As she stood on the terrace of her Blaauwberg residence, staring out at the bay, the cold wind of daybreak whipped across her face and tangled the strands of her long black hair.

Her only time of freedom. How she loved to savour the calm, when nothing existed to tie her down, nothing but what she wished to infuse into the moment.

Thoughts stretched blank. On purpose. Something told her chaos awaited ’round the bend, and she had enough on the plate without the thought of some daunting, nameless Damocles’ sword hovering above her head.

She wrapped her arms tight around her as a chill skittered down her spine.

A flicker of sun tried to pierce the thick fog shrouding the bay and enveloping Robben Island and the flat-topped Table Mountain in the distance with its steel-grey cloak. The swirling mist cleared a piece of the former prison centre where Nelson Mandela and other apartheid opponents had been imprisoned.

She should go back inside or the wind would chap her lips and make them bleed, but she couldn’t move. Wouldn’t…until the first telltale note of strident bickering over who would use the bathroom first would break through the quiet.

Her children. The emptiness in her mind crowded with thoughts, emotions, and concerns. On some days she’d readily feed her progeny to sharks. Not that she shared this. No one should ever be privy to what went on inside her mind and heart. Neha had built her life around the concept of what the world expected of a woman in her position, and such thoughts disrupted the image. She’d mapped out her course ever since the age of twelve, when she’d figured out the right way and the wrong way, especially for an Indo-Mauritian woman. Since then, she had made this smokescreen of social perfection her strength.

On many days, she thanked the world for this foundation, because otherwise, she could be too tempted to bail out. Her life could be the recipe for a nervous breakdown—a possibility she kept in check every single day, when everyone around her would do their best to make her fail. Starting with her children.

At fourteen, her eldest, Suzanne, wanted to become a model. The kicker for Neha? Her daughter had the height, looks, and beauty that could take her very far in modelling. And get her lost just as easily in the process.

About her second child and first son—Kunal—there had to have been a switch at the nursery. For how else could she and her calm, soft-spoken husband have given life to such a reckless and fearless boy? At only thirteen, he held a karate black belt and wished to learn capoeira. Who in their right mind craved to experience such a violent combat art?

Rishi, her other son and the youngest of the lot, became another who would give her grey hair before she turned thirty-five. He existed in his own bubble of books and knowledge. Though only eight, his teachers wished for him to skip the next two grades because he had the potential to matriculate before he turned sixteen.

How would she keep on coping with all this? She asked herself the question every morning and every night as she went to sleep. Staring at the wide expanse of Cape Town again, she darted a gaze to the room behind her, across the wide glass panel on the sliding door, onto the bed with only one rumpled side.

Rahul, her husband, wasn’t home again, this time in India, on yet another business trip.

A pang she usually refused to allow into her heart clattered home. The man she had married had become a stranger to her. On the rare days he was home, he mostly spent his time outside, on his cell phone and grilling cigarette after cigarette. He couldn’t smoke inside the house because this would trigger her asthma. She only saw him at bedtime, and then, too, they’d each turn in and lie on their sides, their backs to each other, exhaustion getting the better of them.

When had they last shared that bed, been intimate with one another? Too long, but she couldn’t expect a raging passionate fire to still burn after fifteen years of marriage, could she?

Rahul hadn’t even wanted her to bear his name. She who should be Mrs. Kiran was known on all her official papers as Ms. Hemant. It had hurt when he’d told her to keep her maiden name. He’d preferred her to exist as her own person, while she wished for nothing more than becoming a part of him, something indispensable.

But he didn’t need her. Not even in his bed….

Face it, your marriage has been dead for a long time.

Was it ever alive?

No, she refused to acknowledge there hadn’t been much between her and Rahul to start with. That, for one thing, he’d never loved her. Rahul had loved her sister….

Stop it! She had a good marriage, as good as any could get, and it’s what mattered. The union might’ve been arranged, but had worked well for over a decade. What more did she want?

Freedom may sound and seem good, but like people always thought the grass looked greener on the other side, it wasn’t necessarily true. So why rock a boat that didn’t appear as if it would ever capsize while navigating on calm, albeit unexciting, waters?

Carefully, she steeled her thoughts to push the unwelcome, forbidden notions about her marriage into a corner and lock them there in the dark, where they belonged.

She’d dealt this way all her life with anything not fitting her game plan. Why change tactics?

The shrill ring of the telephone shattered her thoughts, and she rushed inside.

Who would call at such an ungodly hour? The glowing blue numbers on the bedside clock said five-thirty. Just after nine in Mumbai. Rahul would be busy at this time of the day. Seven-thirty in Mauritius. Way too early for her family to call. Unless Diya, her youngest sister, had gone into pre-term labour.

With her hand on the receiver, she hesitated answering. An ominous intensity trilled in the ring, one making her heart beat faster, blood pounding at her temples while air rushed out of her lungs in small, short gasps. “Hello?”

“Neha, it’s Robert.”

She let out her breath. Robert, Rahul’s assistant. Nothing had happened to her sister and the twins Diya carried. But then she froze. Why would Robert call at this time?

“What’s wrong?”

At the other end, he remained silent.

“Robert, please. What’s going on?”

Call it instinct or a sixth sense, but she experienced a sudden weakness in her lower back, the one indicating either an incoming asthma attack or impending blackout.

Robert gave a shuddering intake of breath at the other end. “You know we’re in the monsoon season here, right? It’s been raining…well, pouring really, for the past three days.”

She nodded, not able to form any sound. Rahul had told her about the rains.

“Most of the roads have been flooded, and it’s impossible to travel—”

“Where’s Rahul?”

“Neha, listen—”

“Where. Is. He?”

Robert sighed. “We don’t know. He left the factory for the hotel yesterday morning at eleven, but he never made it.”

Eleven? That would be around seven-thirty in Cape Town. Rahul had called at quarter to eight the previous day, to speak to the children before they left for school.

Robert continued, slower this time. “When we didn’t see him at noon, we started searching for him.” He cleared his throat. “It’s been nearly twenty-four hours, Neha. I don’t know how to say this.”

Numbness crept over her and she sagged in a heap on the bed. No, this couldn’t be happening. For an insane moment back on the terrace, she’d seen herself without any ties…. But not like this. Never like this.

“Where is he?” The words thrummed faint. Had she even said them aloud?

“We don’t know. Given the circumstances, the police will declare him officially missing.”

She lost her grip on the phone, and the device slipped from her hand and landed with a thump on the slate floor.

Missing? She watched TV, cop shows, Without A Trace. The word “missing” represented a disguised way of saying not much hope remained, and the authorities thought the person to be…. She couldn’t bring herself to think of it. No, her husband probably lay stranded somewhere. Maybe he’d been in an accident, or had lost his cell phone and couldn’t be contacted.

But who was she kidding, really?

Missing, for practically twenty-four hours.

Her heart picked up an increasing throb in her chest, the only sound rising in crescendo that of her shallow breaths as the air wheezed past her lips and forced its way into her closing trachea.

Neha heaved, and sheer reflex kicked in only long enough to make her reach for the nightstand drawer and pull her asthma medicine out.

One puff didn’t make much difference. She managed a semblance of calm after the third, and when her breathing returned to sustainable again, the cold plastic fell from her hand like the receiver.

The dull echo of the cut connection still hung in the air, the droning sound a void closing around her, its thick fingers wrapping tight around her mind and heart.

The shock settled in, drying the tears on the brink of her lashes.

Here she’d been thinking about her husband who could for all intent have been missing from her life, and look where she stood—without him. Like in a snap of fingers.

Was it so easy for life to shift unequivocally?

As the question tumbled around in her head, another pushed itself to the forefront of her mind.

What would she do?

 



Chapter 1 previews start tomorrow - stay tuned for when it posts!

Here are the Buy Links again: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Decadent Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook) ~ AllRomance Ebooks ~ Smashwords

~~~~~

From Mauritius with love,

Zee
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