Excerpt 1 - Pain from the Past
Now, wearing what she wanted, eating what she wanted and living on her own, the possibilities seemed endless. It was terrifying. And it was gratifying. Take this moment, for example. How had she ended up spending her days alongside her husband’s carbon copy, and with garden work at that? What would this all lead to?
Excerpt 2 - Sweet and Sour
“What are you doing here?” she asked again.
He snapped back to his senses. Without taking offense at her hostile tone and stance, he approached, digging a hand into one of his pockets and holding something out to her, like a peace offering of sorts, a magical weapon that could penetrate her shield of cool rejection.
“I came to give you what you deserve. This morning, Mr. Thackeray paid me for the garden work. As you played an important part in it, I thought you should have this. It’s only a share of my meager earnings, but it’s a beginning.”
For a moment, she thought she couldn’t trust her ears any more.
“Are you telling me you brought me money?” she asked incredulously, her voice a near squeak on the last word.
Not only did he nod, but he was still holding out the envelope to her.
“You have the cheek to pay me? I am not some poor unemployed tramp girl that depends on your oh-so-meager payment. I helped you out because I thought I had something to make up for. I didn’t do it for the bloody money! I don’t want it! I don’t need it! I don’t need you to interfere in my life!”
She had shouted herself into a fit, trembling with the effort not to bodily throw him out of the room, full of righteous indignation and disappointment. So, to him she had been a hired helper, a means to finish his job faster, somebody to be paid and forgotten.
He looked wounded by her accusations but not willing to leave at all. In fact, he had the gall to carefully lay the envelope on the coffee table and sit down on the sofa opposite to where she was rooted to the spot shaking in anger.
“You misunderstand me,” he replied calmly.
Excerpt 3 - Getting Closer
“Make a wish and blow on this. Folklore has it that such wishes come true when they are carried away on the wind and are heard by fairies.”
There was a faint grin on his lips, but his tone was more serious than the suggestion warranted it.
She had so many wishes crowding together in her head, jostling for a place at the front of the queue.
“Am I supposed to say it out loud or is it best kept secret?”
“Make your wish silently. I have always believed that thoughts are more potent in their magic than the spoken word.”
She blinked. What kind of man had beliefs like that? How much was there to him to discover and revel in? How much more to make him so appealing that she could never find it in herself to resist him?
Drawing close to his hand, she closed her eyes. Frowning with concentration, she tried and tried to decide which wish to make. Sucking in a long breath, she opened her eyes again and blew hard at the fluffy white dandelion. Its seeds flew apart and sailed away on the air, like so many tiny parachutes carrying her wish to God knew where.
Straightening up, she looked after them with an almost painful longing.
“Do you think I’ll be lucky? Will the fairies listen to me?” she asked, working hard at keeping her tone casual, and not succeeding.
He smiled his crooked, charming smile that got to her each and every time.
“I would if I were a fairy.”
She heard the flirting in it and it felt like a caress to her.
“Don’t you think it’s my part to be the fairy?” she joked.
His smile widened and his eyes darkened.
“You’d make a wonderful fairy. I can just about imagine you in gauzy, loose clothes and diaphanous wings with flowers in your hair and bare feet, dancing lithely through the fields and making lone wanderers fall head over heels in love with you.”
His voice was a sensual growl deep in his throat. His fingers brushed over the pulse hammering at her throat and strayed sideways, lifting a strand of her hair and twirling it round his index finger.
With her heart beating in her mouth, she made an effort at lightening the mood.
“If you had ever seen me dance, you wouldn’t describe me as a lithe and graceful fairy. I am a clumsy wooden donkey with two left feet.”
“Maybe you’ve had the wrong partner all along,” he said, his voice full of meaning.
“Maybe,” she conceded.
They looked into each other’s eyes for a long time, frozen in place, their minds full to the brim with possibilities and dreams and obstacles.