Book Spotlight – AL Michael with The Last Word

Please welcome the uber fab AL Michael to the blog today! She’s sharing an excerpt of her new book The Last Word with us! It’s getting rave reviews, so make a cup of coffee an settle in to read a sneak peek! Enjoy!

 

The Last Word- A.L. Michael
AL

Meet Tabitha Riley…

Tabby Riley’s online life was a roaring success. Her blog had hundreds of followers, and legions of young fans ardently awaited her every Tweet. Her real life was a bit more of a disappointment. Living in a shared flat in North London, scratching a living writing magazine articles on ‘How To Please Your Man in Bed’ wasn’t where she thought she’d be at twenty-six – especially when there was a serious lack of action in her own bedroom.
Although that might all be about to change when she’s offered a position at online newspaper The Type as a real journalist – and gains a sexy new editor, Harry Shulman, to work with. Harry’s confident, smooth talking, and completely aware that he drives Tabby mad. Which is fine, because Tabby’s dated an editor before, and it’s never happening again. Ever. But as her reputation at the paper grows, Tabby has to wonder: is it time to get out from behind the screen and live her life in the real world?

Praise for The Last Word

‘I had to stop myself giggling,’ Amazon reviewer

‘Snarky Chick Lit with heart’ Amazon reviewer

‘I know it’s a good book when at the end I shut the kindle cover and sigh with contentment. The Last Word totally did it for me.’ Calliope, Random Book Muses

Chapter One

This cannot be my life, Tabby Riley thought as she finished her latest article. Four hundred words on the dire consequences of plucking outside your brow line. She needed ice cream.
Rhi was sitting in her usual spot in the middle of the living room floor, and Tabby had to skip over the sea of papers and books surrounding her to get into the kitchen. She retrieved the Ben and Jerry’s and a spoon, then stood in the doorway, watching her housemate.
‘Do you think I’m a bad feminist?’ Tabby asked, recalling the last few articles on weight-loss, decoding male body language, and how to dress like a manic pixie dream girl.
‘Yes,’ Rhi didn’t look up, ‘but I think you’re an excellent person. So could you hold out on whatever crisis you’re about to have until I finish this chapter? Please?’
It was hard to refuse when Rhi said ‘please’. It happened so rarely.
‘Sure, it was nothing,’ Tabby picked at the chocolate chips, suddenly not so in the mood for ice-cream, ‘I just get so bloody tired of myself sometimes.’
‘Well, luckily I never do. Be a love and put the kettle on? I’ll be done in ten minutes, warn the biscuit tin!’
And then Rhi was back in her zone, craned over, picking a pencil out of her blond dreadlocked bun. She flicked down her blue-rimmed glasses, and suddenly Tabby didn’t exist anymore. Rhi’s ability to go from zero to study in under ten seconds was something that had driven Tabby crazy when they were at university, but seeing as Rhi went to her job at the library and then came home to work on her Masters degree, whilst Tabby wrote articles in her pyjamas all day, it just seemed unfair. Everyone else was going somewhere. And Tabby couldn’t remember the last time she’d had to wear real clothes.
She clicked on the kettle, made herself a cup of tea, knowing it would be at least half an hour until Rhi would finish. She unlocked the back door and padded out into the poor little concrete excuse for a garden, hoping to see a little of the fading daylight.
Last year she’d tried to plant herbs as one of her article-inspired kicks, then promptly forgot about them. Their sad, weedy little skeletons drooped over the ceramic pot.Two previously-white deck chairs and a plastic table they’d found in a nearby skip sat there like survivors of war. Tabby once again considered how maybe if she got the outward look of her life together, then maybe the real stuff would come along with it. In fact, she was pretty sure she’d written an article on that. She roughly wiped down one of the chairs, and stuck the mug of tea on the table. It wobbled precariously. Next door, the teen boys who thought starting a band called ‘Dyspraxic’ was a cool idea practised their guitar solos. Five months on and they weren’t any better.
Tabby rolled herself a cigarette, cheerfully finding not only all the components in her dressing gown pockets, but a lighter in her pyjama bottoms. Score.
‘Hey,’ Rhi stepped outside, stretching in that feline way she had, ‘no tea for me?’
‘Thought you wouldn’t be done for ages,’ Tabby shrugged.
‘Give me a toke on that, then.’ She held out her hand, ‘Why are you smoking anyway?’
Tabby tucked a dark curl behind her ear, then reached around and found an earring caught in the back of her hair. She threw it on the table and grimaced, ‘I feel like I’m falling apart.’
Rhi sat on the doorstep and pulled her jumper around her, ‘We all do. What’s wrong exactly? The articles? I thought they were being well-received?’
‘Yeah, but they’re…well, let’s be honest, they’re shit.’
‘Yeah, but it’s shit people want to read. Well-written shit, obviously.’ Rhi hurriedly added, reaching over to take a gulp of Tabby’s tea, then making a face when she realised there was no sugar.
‘Yeah,’ Tabby sighed, looking up at the few spindly tree tops they could see from the real gardens around them. Tabby loved London, loved their shitty little house in Tufnell Park. Loved red buses and tube stations and all night kebab shops. She loved her home town in the way most people love their parents-for making you who you are. But sometimes she would give anything to see a bit of greenery, to be out on a farm or sitting by the sea. The constant greyness of London before the spring arrived could be a little hard to bear.
‘Tabs,’ Rhi was easily exasperated, but that was okay, because Tabby was sick of her herself too, ‘there’s only so many times I can say this. If you don’t like what you do, don’t do it! Do something else, anything else. Go back to interning at newspapers, or retrain as a teacher or something. Just stop moaning about it.’
At least Rhi was honest. Tabby couldn’t imagine herself saying that to anyone, even if it was true. She felt her shoulders slump as she visualised herself as a teacher, with the little shits throwing apples at her head. She tried as a copy editor, but couldn’t even imagine what she’d wear to work in an office. The only thing that made any sense was ranting and raving about useless things on websites, her blog and Twitter. Things like whether a Jaffa Cake was a cake or biscuit (clearly a cake, it was all in the name and the chocolate-to-base-thickness ratio) or how to trick your body into exercising without it realising. This was her life, as the latest cheque that arrived in the post from her mother reminded her. It would at least keep in her in red wine and chocolate buttons for a few more weeks.
And her followers loved her, that was true. These young girls who respected her opinions on fashion and music, LOL’d her jokes and ‘Liked’ her updates. Retweeting with the words ‘SO TRUE’ before things she’d written. She was a truth-sayer, bringing snarkiness and sarcasm to the masses of girls who felt too smart to be loveable. That was something, right?

Buy the Book on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Apple and many more!

Author Info:
http://www.almichael.com
@almichael_
facebook.com/almichaelwriter

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Spotlight on Molly Ann Wishlade with book “Bound”

Welcome the hugely talented Molly Ann Wishlade to the blog today! She’s sharing an excerpt of her new Wild West Series, with book one, Bound. And she’ll be back to share the rest of the trilogy this week! If you love a sexy cowboy, then this is right up your alley!

Take it away, Molly!

BOUND 2

Bound – The Wild Wild West #1 – by Molly Ann Wishlade

Bound will be released by Carina UK on 28th July
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Series: The Wild Wild West Novella Series

BLURB:
Runaway mail-order bride Layla Powell is terrified when she is captured by two powerful cowboys purporting to work for her fiancé – the mysterious Mr Jackman. At first Layla fights tooth and nail for her freedom, but Charlie and his lover Etu have their own erotic methods to subdue their feisty captive…
In fact Charlie is really Layla’s fiancé, she was supposed to be his wife in name only, but he and Etu like what they see. They are sure that just one night of being pleasured by them both will be exciting enough to convince Layla to abandon her plans to run and keep her in their bed forever!

Here are two excerpts from the novella for you to enjoy:
“Don’t you move a muscle!”
Layla stiffened as a hand covered her mouth. She blinked hard and tried to peer through the gloom.
Panic seized her. Where was she? What was happening?
Her arms were pinned to her sides. There was a weight crushing her chest, restricting her movement and her breathing. She wriggled instinctively, her mind still foggy with sleep.
She was trapped!
“Now listen up, missy,” the deep voice continued. “Stop your struggling! I’m gonna remove your Stetson but you better keep still, ya hear?”
That was why she couldn’t see! She had pulled her father’s old hat over her eyes so that she could get some sleep. The afternoon sun had been hot, even through the trees. But now…someone had discovered her.
Would he hurt her?
She squinted as the cover was removed from her face. It didn’t make much difference. It was pitch black. She must have slept through the whole of the afternoon. Darn it! She’d only intended on taking a quick nap. She tried to focus on slowing her breathing but she was only able to catch little breaths.
The man straddling her chest pushed Layla’s hair back from her face with a callused hand and she frowned. As her eyes adjusted, she could just make out the outline of his head, a dark silhouette against the stars above. He moved and the hand covering her lips exerted more pressure. Her teeth dug painfully into her lips. Her heart thudded against her ribs and she felt sure that he must be able to feel it hammering beneath his muscular thigh. Fear surged through her and a red haze flooded her brain.
She had to get away. She had to escape.
She forced her mouth open then bit down on the flesh of his palm. It was instinctive, a physical reaction to a physical situation. She was consumed by terror. If he was going to hurt her then she’d inflict pain upon him first. However she could.
He growled and whipped his hand away but his weight remained in place. Crushing. Constricting. Impossible to displace.
“Now then, missy.” He pressed his mouth against her ear. She winced, expecting to smell unwashed man and to feel his stubble graze her cheek but instead she smelt potash soap on clean-shaven skin. Even with her sleep-addled brain, the scent reassured her as it brought with it images of civilisation and safety. Of a long-ago childhood. So he wasn’t a bandit. He hadn’t been out here for days or weeks. Perhaps he was even respectable. But that was probably too much to hope for. And as she knew all too well, even a man who appeared to be respectable could be hiding a darkness. A hidden side that would lead to pain, degradation and heartbreak for a woman who fell for his charms.
“I’m gonna remove my hand from over yer mouth. But you gotta promise not to scream.” He laughed. “Not that it would do you much good out here…but, well, to be honest with you…I can’t abide a woman screaming. You understand?” His voice reverberated through her chest, tickling beneath her armpits like a feather and making her nipples turn confusingly into hard little peaks. She had hoped to disguise herself as a young man by binding her ample bosoms tightly and donning trousers but it seemed she’d fooled no one.
Layla nodded. She was stuck in a bad box, no doubt about it. She realised now that screaming would get her nowhere. Might even conjure up a few other wastrels who’d be intent on having their way with a woman fool enough to wander out into the Black Hills alone.
Fool.
What had she been thinking? But she’d been lost, alone, without a choice. She had acted upon the instinct to flee, too afraid to stay and meet her fate. The fate that she’d played a part in arranging.
The man removed his hand and she moistened her lips with her tongue. She could taste wood-smoke and soap. This man kept himself clean. He’d also recently made a fire. Her belly growled and she silently cursed her human frailty.
“You hungry, eh missy? We’ll have to see about getting you some victuals in a while then. But you gotta promise to behave.”
“Who…” Layla tried to take a deep breath but the man’s knees crushed her sides.
“Who am I?” He finished her question. “Well that’s for me to know…and for you to find out.”
Layla gasped. “I…I can’t…bre…”
“Oh!” He jumped to his feet. “Sorry…Didn’t realise I was squashing ya.”
He grabbed her hands and pulled her upright.
“Now remember what I said…” He kept hold of her wrists.
“I remember,” Layla nodded. Black spots swam before her eyes and she staggered. The stranger caught her beneath her armpits with his large hands then scooped her up. She leant her head against his chest, momentarily too weak and dizzy to protest.
“Now I’m gonna take you back to where I’ve set up camp then we’re gonna have us a little chat. Understand?”
“Yes,” Layla whimpered. She cleared her throat. Better not to sound afraid. “I mean…yes, I understand.”
What on earth did he want? What if there were more men there and he intended on sharing her with them? She glanced around but the trees were thick and the moon was a sliver in the sky. She’d likely break her neck if she tried to run off and she felt too weak to even attempt it. Better to wait and see what he wanted to talk about and maybe get something to eat. Build her strength a little so she could think. Clear her head. Then plan.

****
Charlie had to stop himself from taking a few steps forward and grabbing hold of Layla. The sheer beauty of her naked form was playing havoc with his body and mind. Sure, he’d seen a woman’s body before, seen a few in fact, but none of them had been this perfect, this beautiful, this desirable.
He dragged his eyes away from her creamy flesh.
“Etu?” He nudged his lover’s shoulder but Etu didn’t move. He stood in front of Layla like a statue, his eyes glued to her body. He watched as Etu hovered his hands over her form, tracing her curves without actually making contact. Etu had fallen hard.
Charlie knew that he would have to take charge.
He grabbed the rope that Layla had escaped from and ran it through his hands. If he wasn’t so confused by the feelings running through him, he’d have found the situation funny. Here they were, the three of them, in the woods at night, naked. Charlie, his lover and their mail-order bride.
Who’d have thought that an advert in a paper would come to this?
He had to tie Layla up. He just had to. He couldn’t risk her escaping again. Especially now that she’d seen him with Etu.
“Put your hands behind your back, Layla.” He used the voice he reserved for calming a startled horse. Low, deep, commanding.
Layla opened her eyes and stared at him. She cleared her throat as if to speak. Her bottom lip quivered. He felt his gaze drawn to her breasts again then lower. Lower. To the auburn curls at the apex of her thighs. He knew that if he parted her legs he would see the shiny pink folds of her sex. Glistening. Inviting. Encouraging him to penetrate her feminine flesh.
Dammit! He had to stay strong here.
Etu turned to him. “Charlie…is this really necessary? She won’t try to run off now. Look at her.” Etu gestured at Layla and Charlie swallowed hard. He couldn’t stop looking at her. It was driving him crazy the way that her beautiful auburn hair fell over her shoulders and her green eyes shone. If he hadn’t known better, he’d have thought that she even looked aroused.
But that would be ridiculous, right?
He moved towards her and she stiffened. He pulled her hands behind her and looped the rope around them. This close, he could smell her sweet musky scent. It made him want to pull her against his chest. His whole body was responding to her proximity, her femininity. It was so different from Etu’s. It made him want to run his tongue over every inch of her flesh in order to taste her sweetness.
His erection brushed the backs of her thighs as he tightened the rope. She gasped. He bit hard on his lip and breathed deeply. He had to regain his control. But it would be so easy to press his cock between the soft flesh of her buttocks until he found a way inside.
“Now kneel.” His voice was husky. He ached with the strain of denying his desires.
He helped her to lower to the ground. Etu knelt also. Watching. Hardly blinking.
Charlie knew that Etu was overwhelmed too. It was as if something had sparked between the three of them and it wouldn’t take much to set the three of them on fire. But the ensuing blaze could make charcoal of them all.
He put his hands on Layla’s shoulders and pushed gently, to make her lie on her side. Her skin was warm and smooth beneath his fingers. It reminded him of velvet. He began to wind the ropes around her, tying her like a hog, all the while repeating to himself that she was a swindler. She was not the sweet, innocent young woman that her letters had suggested. She did not need his protection and a place in his life. She would not be good for him and Etu. It would not be wise to open her rounded thighs and to nuzzle her wet pink flesh, to suckle her bud until she shattered against his tongue. Time after time until his mouth filled with her heady juices and he found the ultimate fulfilment that he could now admit that he craved.
But as he moved his hands deftly around her flesh, accidentally grazing her as he did so, he realised that he was not fully convinced.
The softness of her skin. The fullness of her breasts. The soft auburn curls that covered her mound. Her sweet vulnerability that seemed to reach out to his protective instinct. Her scent, such a contrast to Etu’s yet just as good. Just as intoxicating.
All these things about Layla invited him to believe that she was who she had said she was. What he wanted her to be. All these things made him want to believe that she could be the woman to complete what he had with Etu. And all these things aroused him in a way he had never expected to be aroused around a woman.
There was something special about Layla Powell. No doubt about it.

Molly 1
Buy links:
AMAZON.COM

http://www.amazon.com/Bound-Wild-West-Book-ebook/dp/B00LA0HORG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1406527304&sr=8-2&keywords=molly+ann+wishlade

AMAZON UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bound-Wild-West-Book-ebook/dp/B00LA0HORG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406527348&sr=8-1&keywords=molly+ann+wishlade

Molly’s Links:
Blog: http://misswishlade.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissWishlade
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mollyann.wishlade
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/19556829-molly-wishlade
Total-E-Bound Blogspot on 12th of every month: http://totalebound.blogspot.co.uk/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/misswishlade/

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The Bookshop on the Corner

The Bookshop on the Corner.

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How do they do it? A thank you to book bloggers…

I wanted to write a quick post this morning to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all the book bloggers I know, and to Becca from beccasbooooks.blogspot.co.uk . Not only does she always support my writing but she also agrees to my crazy requests with a big smile and an ‘Of Course!’ More on this at the end of the post!

The book bloggers I know spend as much time reading as they do organising blog posts, Q & As for authors, guests posts, tours, and of course reviews, plus a multitude of other things, like redesigning their blogs, tweeting, facebook-ing, Pinterest-ing…well you get the idea. They champion authors, and help us spread the word about our books on almost all social media platforms. And THEY DON’T EARN A DOLLAR FOR IT. They often read numerous books a week which they write lengthy well-crafted reviews for, and most of these lovely ladies work ‘real jobs’, too.

I wanted to let them know how much I appreciate them. When The Bookshop on the Corner was published a couple of weeks ago, I asked my blogger besties very last minute if they could do a cover reveal for me…they all agreed. Then on publication day, if they could do a post with an excerpt, they all did. I was so blown away that in just under a year of writing for Carina UK that I’ve made so many firm friendships with these lovely girls whom I’ve never met. This sparked an idea! I NEED to meet these girls in person and say Thank You! But they’re mainly in the UK. So cut a long story short – we are now booked to go to the UK next year and I’m going to finally get to hug all of these wonderful, inspiring, book-loving women! And say thank you in person!

I’m beyond excited, and can’t wait to tell them how grateful I am, and how much their hard work means to me, and the plethora of authors they help everyday.

So, here’s another example of their commitment! I asked Becca to read some of the first chapter of The Bookshop on the Corner! She said, “Sure! I’ll do it now! Which part?” I love you, Becca!

Here it is! Enjoy!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VmSy_OUc5U&feature=youtu.be

 

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COVER REVEAL…SCANDAL…by Molly Ann Wishlade

COVER REVEAL…SCANDAL…by Molly Ann Wishlade.

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Cover Reveal for Molly Ann Wishlade’s ‘Bound’

I’m so excited Molly has offered to share with us the first cover in her soon-to-be released ‘The Wild West’ series! It’s stunning, and so is the storyline! I’ve been a huge fan of Molly’s for a long time, and have been waiting to read these three novellas! Check back with Molly or myself on twitter for the next two covers Thursday and Friday.

Molly 1

I’ll let Molly tell us a little about the series and the first book ‘Bound’.

 

The Wild Wild West by Molly Ann Wishlade
The Wild Wild West is a mini series of three novellas which will be released by Carina UK on July 28th, 30th and August 1st.
I’m fascinated by the Wild West, in particular the town of Deadwood, and I love writing about cowboys and their lives and loves. I get my ideas for my writing from all sorts of places – sometimes the title comes to me first, sometimes I envisage a character and sometimes a line or two will pop into my head and I’ll just have to flesh it out. My inspiration for the series came to me with the lines…

“It wasn’t easy for any of them. She knew that. She’d been where they were now. These poor daughters of Deadwood had little to make their lives bearable…”

which left me eager to write the stories of three women living in and around Deadwood in the 1800s. The three heroines in the Wild Wild West series are very different, yet they’ve all been affected by their time in Deadwood in some way.
The covers and blurbs will be revealed this week on these dates at 1pm GMT:
Bound – Wednesday 25th June
Scandal – Thursday 26th June
Menage – Friday 27th June

I’m really excited about the series and look forward to finding out what you think.

Happy reading!
Molly xxx

LINKS:
Molly Ann Wishlade
Author of Hot Sensual Romance

http://misswishlade.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/MissWishlade

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

Bound – The Wild Wild West #1
by Molly Ann Wishlade

Runaway mail-order bride Layla Powell is terrified when she is captured by two powerful cowboys purporting to work for her fiancé – the mysterious Mr Jackman. At first Layla fights tooth and nail for her freedom, but Charlie and his lover Etu have their own erotic methods to subdue their feisty captive…
In fact Charlie is really Layla’s fiancé, she was supposed to be his wife in name only, but he and Etu like what they see. They are sure that just one night of being pleasured by them both will be exciting enough to convince Layla to abandon her plans to run and keep her in their bed forever!

Bound will be released by Carina UK on 28th July

 

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The eagerly anticipated One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin excerpt

Holly Martin of best-selling The GuestBook fame has kindly shared the first chapter of her just released highly anticipated novel One Hundred Proposals! I was lucky enough to read an advance copy and it is brilliant! Holly’s writing style hooks you immediately and One Hundred Proposals is no different.

Here’s the first chapter! Thanks for sharing it with us Holly!

Prologue
‘Ok, you can open your eyes now,’ Harry said.
I blinked in the gloom of the cave. Moonlight tumbled through the opening above us, reflecting off the waterfall as it cascaded into the pool below. We had been in Australia for just a few days but I knew it would never cease to amaze me. Dancing in the pockets of the cave walls were hundreds of fireflies, sparkling like fairy lights.
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.
The fireflies started to gather together and slowly a shape was formed. I frowned in confusion and then within seconds the words, ‘Suzie, Marry Me,’ stood proud against the cave walls, written by the fireflies.
I whirled round to face Harry in shock. ‘How did you do that?’ I looked back at the fireflies, not wanting to miss anything. Would they perhaps move to form the lyrics of my favourite song? Were they super trained fireflies and in a minute they’d all whip out their mini cheerleader pom-poms and start some kind of dance where they would balance precariously on each other’s backs?
‘It’s some kind of fruit juice, they love it.’
I fumbled in my bag for my camera. ‘We have to get a picture for the website.’
I fired off a couple of shots and I could see a few other tourists had entered the cave and were clearly waiting for my answer. They’d be waiting for a long time.
‘So what do you think?’ Harry said. ‘Is this the perfect proposal?’
‘It’s definitely one of your best, very romantic.’ I focused my attention on the photos I was taking. They were going to look fantastic with the waterfall in soft focus in the background and the fireflies in sharp detail set against the inky blue light of the moon.
‘But still not the perfect proposal?’
‘Not for me, but someone else would love it.’ I watched the faces of the other tourists fall at my callous response. ‘We’re not together, we just work with each other.’ One couple looked at me dubiously, so I pressed on. ‘Our company creates the perfect proposal, this kind of thing is our bread and butter.’
I resisted the sudden urge to rush over to them and start handing out business cards. As if reading my mind, Harry slung an arm round my shoulder, restraining me with his hand.
I looked up at him innocently but he didn’t seem convinced.
The tourists moved further down the cave, leaving us alone.
‘You always do that,’ Harry said.
‘What, promote our business? I know, I can’t help it. I’m just so proud of what we’ve achieved that I want to tell anyone that listens and anyone that doesn’t.’
‘No, not that. You always say our company, our business. It’s yours, you started it. I’m just the tech guy.’
It was just me to start with. I created the.PerfectProposal.com over two years ago when my boyfriend at the time proposed drunkenly to me over a greasy kebab. It struck me that maybe the menfolk of this world might need a little helping hand to create a proposal their girlfriends would remember forever. Although the greasy kebab is not one I’m likely to forget.
Harry was my web designer. When the business first started he would come by my office, the back bedroom in my home, every day to help update the website with my new ideas, photos and special offers. In the end it made sense to make him a permanent feature. Our website looked fantastic and as an online company this was integral to our success.
But Harry wasn’t just the geeky IT guy, far from it. He was the biggest man I had ever seen in my life, with large thighs and big feet. He had stubbly, dark hair and chocolate eyes. But he also had a vivid imagination – where I was organising the logistics for a champagne helicopter trip, he would be the one that would come up with something completely unique like using fireflies.
‘And you always put yourself down. We’re equal partners now, you helped to make the company a success too,’ I said.
He shrugged, never keen to accept that he played such an important part in it. He gestured to the fireflies that were starting to break formation now. ‘Is it too sickly?’
I let my camera hang round my neck and leaned into him, I loved the way I fitted against him. ‘I love it, I really do, it’s… magical. But there’s still something missing.’
Was there really such a thing as a perfect proposal? Three months ago, just before Valentine’s Day, Harry had made it his mission to provide me with one. But deep down I knew what I wanted and I doubted Harry would be able to deliver it. I should have told him that when he first started this wild goose chase. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.

Chapter One
Three Months Before
I put the phone down on another excited client and sighed. It was February 11th and we’d had a surge of customers all desperately wanting to propose on top of the Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day. I felt like screaming. It was only by careful planning that I’d arranged that my customers weren’t going to be there at the same time. That’s just what a girl wants to feel special, to see other girls being proposed to at the same place and time that she was. Was there no originality anymore? Harry was brilliant at coming up with unique proposals, but no matter how many times I had tried to sell Harry’s ideas to them, they wanted the traditional and that was that.
‘Another Eiffel Tower?’ asked Harry as he absentmindedly uploaded photos to our rolling gallery.
‘He wants a dozen red roses delivered to the observation deck at eight.’ I rubbed my head in defeat. ‘What about something different, going to the ballet or proposing over a bag of chips at the end of Brighton Pier?’
He swivelled in his chair. ‘What would be your perfect proposal?’
I looked at him and had a sudden flash of him holding me in his arms and asking me to marry him.
‘I don’t know, the perfect guy would definitely be a bonus.’
‘Ok so you have your perfect guy and it’s not greasy kebab boy –’
‘Let’s be clear, it was the kebab that was greasy not the man.’
He waved away the details. ‘So Orlando Bloom or some other non-greasy hunk is asking you to marry him, how would he do it?’
I took a sip of tea whilst I pondered this. If one of my customers phoned up at a loss for inspiration I had a hundred ideas. But for me, my mind was blank.
‘I have an idea.’ Harry’s eyes were suddenly bright with excitement. He whirled round on his chair and started tapping away furiously on his computer. I peered over his shoulder at our website.

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

‘You can’t put that, we’ve had fifteen customers who want to propose like that over the last week,’ I said, ignoring the sudden thundering of my heart that Harry was going to propose to me.
‘Then maybe they’ll have a rethink.’ Harry was already uploading a picture of a diamond ring onto the blog.
‘Or ask for their money back.’
But Harry was still writing.

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

He stood up and got down on one knee – yanking the snake ring off his thumb, he held it aloft to my shocked face.
‘Suzie McKenzie, you are my best friend and I cannot imagine finding anyone I would rather spend the rest of my life with. Marry me.’
The world stopped. My mouth was dry. How unfair was it that the one thing I wanted most in the world was happening right in front of me and it was as real as a pair of breasts on Sunset Boulevard.
I wanted to snatch the ring off him, stuff it on my finger and march him down to the nearest registry office. But I didn’t.
I cleared my throat of the huge lump. ‘Too clichéd, wrong location, wrong ring.’
He grinned as he appraised his ring and stood up, clearly not fussed by this rejection. He started typing.

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

Surely not. A hundred days of this torment? I didn’t think I could bear it.
He looked at his watch. ‘Oh, I’ve got to go, hot date with Sexy Samantha again tonight.’
Samantha was his first girlfriend in nearly a year. When I first met him he seemed to go through a different girl each week, so I wasn’t sure why he’d gone through the sudden dry patch. But Samantha was definitely the type to tempt him out of it.
I’d had the pleasure of meeting Sexy Samantha the night before. Suspicious of Harry’s relationship with his best friend, she’d barrelled into my home and demanded that Harry introduce me. I came downstairs in leggings and an oversized black hoodie – I knew I was hardly dressed to impress. And impress her I didn’t. The look of relief when Samantha saw me was palpable. She, on the other hand, was a vision of heavenly loveliness. She was almost as tall as Harry, with long blonde hair and curves everywhere. My eyes were immediately drawn to a big pair of breasts, squeezed between an overly tight top. Harry was definitely a breast man. All of his girlfriends were very well-endowed in the breast department. Some of the breasts, I suspected, weren’t even real – though Harry didn’t seem to mind. I was more in the straight up, straight down department, definitely no curves and not really any breasts to speak of.
I watched Harry log off his computer with haste and obvious excitement about what Sexy Samantha had in store for him that night.
‘I have a hot date too,’ I blurted out, watching for any flicker of jealousy. Of course there was none.
‘That’s great Suze.’ He looked genuinely pleased. ‘You haven’t seen anyone since Jack…’ He trailed off. My life was defined into two segments. Before Jack and After Jack. I wondered if Jules felt the same. He grabbed his jacket, averting his eyes from me, perhaps knowing that he had said something he shouldn’t. ‘It’s about time you got back on the horse again. We can swap notes tomorrow.’
‘Or not.’ I couldn’t bear thinking about that conversation. The literal ins and outs of Harry’s date would be something I really didn’t want to hear. I’d changed the subject twice that morning already when he started giving me explicit details that would be right at home on the pages of an erotic fiction novel. Sexy Samantha was far kinkier than those baby blue eyes might suggest. Besides, what did I have to contribute to that conversation? My hot date consisted of a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and a night in with the beautiful Brad Pitt. I logged off my own computer, keen to show him I also had something exciting to run off to.
‘Where did you meet him?’
I racked my brain as I fluffed out my hair in the reflection of a photo showing me and Harry covered in snow and grinning ear to ear after sledging at the indoor Snow Zone. Before Jack.
‘Skiing,’ I said, then wished I hadn’t.
He stopped in his hasty exit. ‘Skiing? When have you been skiing?’
‘I go every Sunday, skiing lessons, he’s my ski instructor.’ I was making it worse.
‘You hate skiing.’
I had said that hadn’t I. Because this photo was taken when we had our first and last skiing lesson a year before. I had spent forty minutes falling on my bum – as kids as young as five glided effortlessly past me – and the last twenty minutes of the lesson, after Harry had been upgraded to the adult slopes, trying to get up and rolling around on the floor with my skis in the air, looking like an oversized beetle stranded on its back. Harry had felt sorry for me that I had failed so spectacularly and had taken me sledging instead. Much more up my street. There was no skill at all involved in sliding down a slope in a red plastic sledge.
‘I like it now. I’m very proficient. Obviously just needed the right instructor.’
‘Well that’s great, maybe we can go together sometime.’
I fixed a smile onto my face. ‘Maybe.’
‘What’s his name?’
I cast around for a suitable name and a suitable adjective to describe him, something comparable to Sexy Samantha. I had nothing, no names in my head at all. The only name in my head was Harry and that would be too weird. He was staring at me, waiting for me to come up with a name, the silence stretched on. I had to say something.
‘Tim.’ I almost shouted out with relief. ‘Tiny Tim.’
Great. Just great.
Harry’s face fell. ‘Tiny Tim?’
‘Yes.’
‘As in…’ he waggled his little finger at me.
‘No, no, of course not, he’s very big in that department. Big all over in fact. Huge. It’s kind of an ironic name.’
‘Big like me?’
‘Well I have no idea how big you are in that department.’ My eyes cast down to the sizeable bulge in his jeans and I felt my cheeks burn as he clearly saw me checking him out.
‘I meant in height,’ Harry said. I’m sure I saw his mouth twitch as he supressed a smile.
‘Oh yes, he’s very tall.’
‘Good. That’s good. I have a friend who’s a ski instructor at the Snow Zone, he might know your Tim. What’s his surname?’
‘Timmings.’
I was a terrible liar.
‘Tim Timmings?’
‘That’s right.’
A horn tooted outside and Harry peeled back the net curtain to wave at Sexy Samantha as she leaned on the bonnet of her sexy red convertible. I didn’t think I’d ever be so relieved to see her again.
‘Well have fun.’ Harry threw me a cursory wave as he thundered down the stairs. A second later I heard the front door slam.
I peered out the window, hoping not to be noticed as Harry swept Sexy Samantha into his arms and swung her round as if he hadn’t seen her in months. As he deposited her on the floor she waved up at me and I was forced to wave politely back.
With a wheel spin and the stereo blaring out something young and hip, the red convertible roared up the road, taking my heart with it.
I’d been in love with Harry for two long, painful years and we were further away today from getting together than we had been when we first met. We were now firmly in the friend zone and there was never any coming back from that.
Two years was way too long for unrequited love. It was time I moved on with someone else. I would just fall out of love with him, simple as that.
I sighed as I walked into my bedroom and got changed into my cow print onesie. I flicked through some songs on my iPod until I found something suitably rousing and as Gloria Gaynor started belting out ‘I am what I am’, I turned up the volume, leapt up onto the bed and danced and wiggled my bum in time with the lyrics. I was highly skilled in the playing of air drums and as Gloria reached a crescendo so did my frenetic drum playing. As the instrumental kicked in I leapt off the bed, doing the splits mid-air. I pulled a muscle in my groin and as I flicked my hair theatrically out of my face I saw Harry’s eyes widen in horror as I landed on top of him, one leg somehow hooked over his shoulder as my other foot kicked him square in his crotch.
He screamed in pain. I screamed with embarrassment as he staggered back and landed hard on his bum, my leg still wrapped round his neck.
Gloria was still singing loudly in the background as we stared at each other. Finally I managed to speak.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘Currently, wondering if I’ll ever be able to have sex again. Can you please get off my lap?’
I quickly climbed off him, kneeing him in the face as I tried to stand up. He slowly staggered to his feet, doubled over in obvious pain.
‘I forgot my wallet,’ he said, by way of explanation.
I swallowed. ‘You saw me dance?’
He lifted his head and this time there was no mistaking the grin. ‘From the very beginning to the dramatic finale.’
I groaned.
‘I better go, Samantha will be wondering where I am. Nice onesie by the way. Does Tiny Tim have one too? A horse or a pig perhaps?’
I stared down at myself, at the pink udders hanging limply from my stomach, and wanted the ground to swallow me up. ‘He’s not coming round till later.’
‘Of course not. And I imagine he thinks you look quite cute in it.’
Cute? Puppies were cute. Is that how he thought of me, as a cute little puppy?
He moved to the top of the stairs and I followed him.
‘Do you think I look cute in it?’
He turned and walked back up a few stairs, kneeling on the stair below me so we were eye to eye. ‘Yes.’
My heart dropped. I was so far in the friend zone I was now categorised as cute. He’d be patting me on the back next and telling me he saw me like a sister.
‘Sexy cute?’
‘No.’
My heart sank into my feet.
‘I bet Samantha would look sexy in it?’
‘I doubt it. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to look sexy in it.’
I felt slightly better at this.
‘And don’t underestimate the value of cute, it’s a great quality to have.’ He leaned forward and kissed me on the nose. ‘And don’t stay up too late, I have a big day planned for you tomorrow.’
He ran down the stairs and was gone a second later.
I touched my nose, still feeling the softness of his lips. He thought I was cute. I smiled as I fell in love with him all over again.

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