Of course, things could only get better.
Helped by the weather, (I'm a wuss when it comes to cold), I finished the final edit of my latest romance novel "His Jilted Bride". I then spent a morning formatting it. Now I just have to design the cover and then it is ready to be sent out into the big wide world.
So, I though you might want to have a little taster. Below is an extract from the opening pages of "His Jilted Bride". Have a read, let me know what you think. I'm always open to criticism, and I promise not to howl at the moon :)
Shock slammed into Eleanor like a tidal wave hitting a defenceless coastline. She heard nothing except the whoosh of blood rushing to her head and bit down hard on her bottom lip, wincing when she tasted blood. She willed her wobbly legs to propel her into the crowded room, and it took all of her remaining resolve to lower herself into the vacant seat beside Tony, instead of turning and running out like she desperately wanted to do.
This really couldn't be happening. If only she had been more observant, she might have been better prepared. But she hadn't been, and now she was paying the price whilst wishing that she had paid more attention to office politics and the gossip surrounding the new proprietor of the Company where she worked.
Rainbow Productions had been struggling financially for some time. It was a fact confirmed last month when the CEO had called a general staff meeting and told everyone that he had decided to sell the Company. Eleanor hadn't been too bothered about that. The only thing she had been worried about was keeping her job. She loved working as a TV researcher. However, her old boss had informed them that the new owner wasn't looking at staff changes in the immediate future, so she had dismissed all the worry and remained quietly optimistic without even bothering to find out who was taking over.
But could Wayne Lockwood really be their saviour? He hadn't exactly been her knight in shining armour in the past, had he?
Eleanor jumped when Tony patted her hand. “Ellie, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
"You have no idea," Eleanor muttered under her breath, as her brain flashed a montage of painful memories she really didn't want to relive.
It had taken fifteen years to exorcise this demon and now it had risen before her once again. How could she possibly tell Tony that the man standing before them, reassuring them that he would do everything in his power to secure their future, was the very same man who had stolen her own future all those years ago? The same man who had broken her heart in one cruel blow with one little note. Four brief lines telling her that he was sorry but it was for the best. That the only way he could stop himself from hurting her more in the long run, was to let her go. He hadn't told her to her face, standing confident and proud as he was now. Oh no. That had hurt even more. She hadn't thought that Wayne could ever be so cruel or so heartless. He had no right to destroy her happiness and ruin her belief in love and happy ever after.
Wayne was a secret she never wanted to reveal. Only her family and closest friends knew how devastated she had been when, with two days to go before their wedding, he had dumped her.
But he had, and that was why she couldn't believe a word he was saying now.
Oh, she had tried to teach herself that it had probably been for the best. She had even convinced her mum that she believed that it was better to find out before that ring had been placed on her finger. It was easier that way.
But it wasn't.
Nothing could ever completely eradicate the pain Wayne Lockwood had caused. Her heart would be forever bruised, and Eleanor knew that there would always be a part of her that would belong to the man standing before her now. It was the same very secret part of her that instinctively knew that life with Wayne Lockwood would have been everything she had always wished for, and more.
An image of Wayne playing on the lawn with two young children as she watched and laughed, popped into Eleanor's troubled mind and made her gasp. Tears pricked at her eyes and she took a deep breath. Then another. Thankfully, Tony was too enthralled by Wayne's speech to notice.
He wasn't the only one. Glancing quickly around the room, Eleanor noticed that most of the women were just as captivated. They were goggle-eyed and preening, hands subconsciously playing with their hair, tongues wetting dry lips. The men were sitting upright, arms crossed in a classic defensive pose as they tried to project confidence and virility in a typical man assessing man pose.
So, thankfully, no-one in the room was paying her any attention.
Hopefully he would be as self-absorbed as ever and not see the inner turmoil his presence was causing her. He must never know just how deep her emotions still ran. That was one of the reasons why she hadn’t attended her university reunion last year. She just hadn’t been able to bear the thought of meeting him after all this time, let alone the idea that he might have a wife in tow. She had suffered enough hurt and humiliation at his hands.
As it happened, she had later found out that Wayne hadn't gone either. That had made her feel stupid. Worse still, she had hated herself for letting him have control over her. She had missed out on meeting some old friends just because she had allowed her feelings for Wayne to dominate her life. How incredibly foolish and insecure had that made her feel? If only she could be angry, she thought, wondering if she dared confront him now. If she did, perhaps it would allow her some closure and finally allow her to move on with her emotions once and for all.
Eleanor realised that her hands were trembling and shoved them in her pockets.
“Gorgeous isn’t he?” Tony whispered, and she just couldn’t stop herself from glancing up through lowered lashes.
Wayne was stockier than she remembered. Back then, as a university student, he had been thinner, leaner. Now, standing in his elegantly cut dark blue suit, Eleanor realised that he was still the best looking man she had ever seen. Her breath caught as her gaze feasted on the ripple of hard muscle as he folded his arms. She blinked hard and gave herself a mental shake.
“If that’s your bag,” she replied, aiming for nonchalance, even as she found herself taking another peak.
It was almost funny. Up until that point, she had never wanted to set eyes on Wayne Lockwood ever again. Now that she had, she was behaving like a thirsty woman who had spent too long in the desert.
Wayne's dark brown hair was in the same short style she remembered, and she had a sudden flashback of laying beneath him in the park on a warm summer's day, her fingernails lazily scratching his head as she squinted up at him in the bright sunshine.
That had been the day he had asked her to marry him. They had just finished their final exams and had gone off to the park for a celebratory picnic. Emboldened by the two bottles of wine they had shared, Eleanor guessed, Wayne had surprised her by asking her to marry him. Of course, they would have to wait until they both had steady jobs and could afford to settle down and start a family, but he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. That's what he had made her believe.
And that mole on his top lip... How many times had she kissed that? Eleanor suddenly felt hot and squeezed her thighs together. She didn’t want to feel anything but anger at Wayne Lockwood. She waited for the dark, empty coldness to invade her soul again, for that was all he deserved from her.