Attraction And Dating: How To Successfully Navigate The Honeytrap!
£1.00 – 48 pages
Available on Amazon Kindle (links below)
In the world of attraction and dating, the Honeytrap is where it all begins! The Honeytrap is the gateway to the Honeymoon Period, which is the gateway to a committed relationship… and there is no way of bypassing the first two ‘zones’. Zillions of hopeful individuals, seeking genuine, committed relationships, have sadly found themselves revisiting the Honeytrap time after time… either with the same person, or with different love interests. This compact guide is NOT for those who are seeking relationship advice; it is for those who are stepping into the world of dating again after a break, and who are nervously fearing that they won’t be able to handle it, or for those who have become fed up, disillusioned, and frustrated by the process, running into the same old situations again and again. The Honeytrap can be tricky to handle, and is definitely home to certain pitfalls that have the capacity to dishearten even the most optimistic amongst us – but we CAN learn how to recognise them, and we CAN learn how to navigate that seductive but uncompromising hall of mirrors, whilst keeping our dignity and our humour, AND have some fun in the process! ‘Attraction And Dating – How To Successfully Navigate The Honeytrap’ has been written primarily with women in mind, but that doesn’t mean that men can’t benefit from it, too! There is nothing groundbreaking here, by the way – no new, mystical or mind – blowing piece of information that has, up to this point, been withheld from the human race! It is just me talking, as someone who has worked with thousands of disappointed, sad and frustrated seekers of love, over a 24 year period… and as someone who has worked out some of what works and some of what doesn’t!
How to successfully navigate the Honeytrap – the beginning!
Gemma was unsettled and anxious; she had been chatting with a guy called Mark on an online dating site, and they had arranged to meet up the following week. Rather than looking forward to it with an open mind, she was trying to figure it all out in advance. Questions bounced around inside her head, demanding to be answered: “what does he really think and feel about me? Will it develop into a relationship? Is it likely to lead to commitment?” The day of their date arrived, and she had, in her mind, already drafted out the story of how it was all going to unfold! As it happened, Mark was different than she’d imagined him to be, and although they had a pleasant evening, she wasn’t really attracted to him. She felt cheated, having wasted all that time and emotional energy – again – on yet another man who wasn’t going to be a part of her future.
Alex flirted with Christie at work, making it clear that he fancied her. She became distracted, thinking about him constantly, analysing his every word and action, trying to decipher what he was thinking and feeling. One evening she joined a group of her co-workers (including Alex), for a drink, and one thing led to another. They ended up at her place, and he stayed the night, leaving early the following morning. At work, he was friendly and flirty, but didn’t approach her to arrange a date. She felt crushed and embarrassed, but also confused… there had been a connection, she was sure of it, and she believed that he had felt it too. Christie secretly grieved, feeling something meaningful had been stolen away from her. She told herself that no-one had ever made her feel the way Alex did, and her life became a series of highs and lows: high when he singled her out for attention, low when he didn’t.
Karen had had a couple of dates with Robert, several weeks apart, though they chatted often, usually online. He talked about his future plans, occasionally hinting that she might be part of them, but never really committing to anything. There were times when he didn’t respond to her messages, and several days would pass before she’d hear from him… always cheerful, and usually late at night. She described him as her partner, whilst wondering when they would actually be together as a committed couple. She also wondered if he was talking with other women, the way he talked with her.
What was it that these disappointed ladies had in common? Well, two things: one, they had entered into the Honeytrap; two, they were jumping the gun… but more of that later.
We all want to love, and be loved in return… of course we do! We want to enjoy the heady excitement of falling head over heels in love, savouring the knowledge that the object of our desire can’t stop thinking about us and believes us to be absolutely amazing. And sometimes this DOES happen instantly, for real, and forever. But this is a book that definitely needed to be written, for those times when it doesn’t work out that way, despite positive early indications – and for all of those who find themselves falling at the first or second hurdle, again and again and again. How do I know? Because almost every day I work with women who are running into the same old pitfalls; who are experiencing the same highs, lows, frustrations and disappointment… and all in the name of attraction and dating! And although this compact guide has been written primarily with women in mind, it doesn’t mean that men won’t find anything useful within its pages!
£1.00 – 48 pages
Daniel Beyond Death
Available on Amazon (link at the bottom)
Kindle – 99p/paperback – £3.99
Daniel Beyond Death – the story of a boy who forgot to look both ways…
Daniel Jackson was an ordinary teenage boy with his whole life ahead of him… until he forgot to look both ways, running into the pathway of a car that would catapult him into a whole new existence. Surprised that he still felt very much ‘alive’, and that being dead was actually quite pleasant, Daniel slowly began to adjust to his new ‘life’. The first soul to greet him was definitely not the one he’d have expected to show up, but Daniel was soon to visit with his beloved grandparents… and one or two souls he’d never met, but kind of recognised! He learned how to communicate in a non – physical world, and how to visit his grieving loved ones, reaching out to his devastated mother through her dreams. But even death has its dark side, as Daniel was to discover, on a disturbing visit to a place in which the lost souls hide out until choosing to be rescued. And Daniel’s story ends not with an ending, but with a new beginning! Warm characters, love, laughter, lessons and a few tears… Daniel’s wonderful experience of life beyond life! 107 pages, contains strong language.
It didn’t hurt. He felt exhilarated, free, as if he was flying. He thought about all the people he loved and a great wave of gratitude and affection swept over him – and then he realised that something was different. The car that had come from nowhere and tossed him through the air like a crash – test dummy. The screams of those who looked on with horror, the sound of crying, broken glass, the flowing warmth of blood…
He was dead. That was it. One minute a teenage boy larking about, charging across the road to catch up with his mate, the next he was crunching and smashing his way across the bonnet of a swerving car, before being launched like a limp but deadly missile into the tarmac. But he felt okay. In fact, he felt better than okay. He felt strangely relieved, as if a weight he had been unaware of had been lifted from his shoulders. Except that he didn’t have shoulders. He knew where they should be, could kind of feel them, but they weren’t there. It was like being an amputee. He had read that people who had a limb removed continued to feel sensation such as pain or itching, in a leg or arm that no longer existed.
And then he felt guilty. What about his mum? She’d go mad, it would really screw things up for her. She’d had enough to deal with, without him getting himself killed. And what about Scanna, his best mate? Who’d he hang out with now? Maybe he should go back… if he could go back, that is. He didn’t want to, though. He felt really happy and ‘alive’, somehow, but he didn’t want other people to be sad.
“They’ll be alright. It’s life. Love and loss are part of the experience. They will feel emotional pain, but they will keep going.”
What the… who said that? Maybe nobody said it, maybe it was just his own mind talking. It sounded right though, and he believed it, whoever said it.
“Daniel Jackson was a bright, popular boy. He was always cheerful, always polite, and he was a credit to the school. We are all in a state of shock, and he will be very sadly missed.” Mr Allan, head of St John’s High, looked exhausted, the permanent bags under his eyes having reached a whole new level of sagginess.
Anne Jackson, grey faced and heavily sedated, lying on the bed, staring sightlessly at the ceiling.
Jade Jackson, slumped on the floor, leaning against her bed, knees pressed into her chest, a sodden tissue clutched tightly in a wet fist, gasping for breath in between uncontrollable sobs for a lost big brother.
Flowers, teddy bears, football shirts, piling up on the pavement outside St John’s High. Even people who couldn’t stand Daniel Jackson, and those who acted as if he didn’t exist when he was alive, came and left their offerings, which Daniel thought was bloody funny. But he couldn’t be angry. He just couldn’t seem to feel it, and things that used to bother him didn’t matter anymore. Only love and concern for certain people.
He knew too that there were ‘processes’ for him to go through. At first there is the feeling of lightness and freedom, though from what, he wasn’t sure.
Then there was realisation. And then there was choice. He just knew that he was free to choose, that nothing was going to be forced upon him, and that there was no timescale to honour. He didn’t really understand it, but he knew it. He thought all of his dead relatives should have appeared by now, in a bubble of light, but that hadn’t happened. He didn’t feel as if he was alone, though. He just wanted to be, to think and feel the essence of his mother, his family, his friends, for now. He could see them in his mind, feel them, as if they were close. He knew what they were thinking and feeling, and he felt tenderness and concern – but not sadness, not fear, not loneliness. He just knew stuff. He knew that everyone who was grieving for him would be following him, one way or another, at some point in time. He knew that life mattered, but in terms of existence it was way shorter than… non-life? He knew that there were way more dead people than living people, and he knew that being ‘dead’ felt more alive than being alive, which was weird. Or at least it should have been weird, but it made perfect sense.
What? Who’s that? He jumped, as if someone had leapt out from behind a door, taking him by surprise.
“Its me, don’t you remember?”
“Bloody hell, Kev Mitchell! You died in a car crash last year, didn’t you? Didn’t expect to see you.”
“Two years ago, actually. Thought I’d come and show me face.”
Silence, and then Daniel suddenly ‘got’ the joke. Kev didn’t have a face, just like he didn’t have shoulders. And yet he recognised him. Plus, Kev’s face had been pretty much obliterated when he’d gone through the windscreen and head first into a tree. Still a funny twat though, and Daniel was pleased to ‘see’ him.
“I thought I was supposed to see my dead relatives, that they’d come and take me to where they live, but the only person who has shown up is you.”
“This isn’t Coronation Street, mate. Dead people don’t live in little boxes made out of bricks, and there ain’t no Tesco. But you’ll ‘see’ all the people you want to, when you’re ready.”
Daniel thought he was ready, and then realised it would have freaked him out if a load of old people, most of whom he’d never met in his life, suddenly arrived and carted him off somewhere. He wouldn’t have known who to ask for if he’d had the chance – probably his Grandad Bill. He wouldn’t have thought of asking for Kev Mitchell, but it was cool talking to him.
“Why? What did he ever do to to anyone? He was 15 years old, my baby! Why him, when there are paedophiles, terrorists and murdering bastards still walking this planet? If there was a God why would he let this happen? Why take my child away from me? It should have been me, not him. Why, why, why?”
Anne Jackson, screaming out questions for which there were no answers. No answers that would be acceptable. No explanation that could, or would, ever be adequate enough. And no-one would ever be insensitive, or brave enough, to try and pacify, using mumbled words that would only burrow like sharpened bullets into an already broken heart and mind.
“She’s really upset, isn’t there anyway I can let her know I’m okay?”
“Not at the moment Dan, sorry mate. You should have seen my mam. She was really pissed off. Gave her another excuse to pour more booze down her neck for the next 6 months.”
Kev was strange, Daniel decided. What he said and what he meant were not the same. He just knew that Kev loved his mum…
“Course I love the stupid cow, but she was, and still is, a bleedin’ nightmare.”
“How did you know… ?” Daniel started but didn’t need to finish. We are thinking words, not speaking them, he concluded. I will have to be careful what I am saying, er no thinking, I mean, in future.
“You’ll get the hang of it. You’re still in transition. How do you feel now?”
“What’s transition? I feel… actually, I feel heavy. I felt light before. And my arms hurt, so does my head. But I haven’t got arms and a head… what’s going on, what does it mean?”
Feeling weak, heavy, a little afraid now, glad not to be alone. The warmth of Kev somehow wrapping itself around him, should have been embarrassing but it felt comforting, like being hugged.
“You are making the transition from one level of awareness to another. From one dimension of existence to another. What hurts the body hurts the spirit and vice versa. The bruising on your soul is coming out, mate, but you’ll be alright. If you don’t fight it, if you just let it happen, you will be fine.”
“Okay. Okay. Right. I feel really tired, I want to go to sleep… I don’t know what to do….”
“Let go and drift off, Dan. You have to dream now..
He is a little boy, five years old, dressed in blue shorts and a green and brown striped polo shirt. On his feet are the black and brown trainers he loved, and ankle socks. There is a gentle breeze lifting the ends of his dark brown fringe, and the sun is warming his arms.
“Dan – Dan little man!”
He hears the familiar call, but for a second is confused… and then he sees the man walking towards him, coming more and more into view as he climbs the hill upon which Daniel realises he is standing.
A great gulp of pleasure and emotion fills the throat of the hurtling child as he propels himself into the arms of the stocky grey haired man.
“Now then! What the hell are you doing here so soon, young man?”
Grandad Bill, Anne Jackson’s father. Died at the age of 68, following a heart attack, when Daniel was eight.
“I don’t know. It seems a long time ago now… I was older… I don’t know.”
Still hugging the hips of the older man, breathing in his familiar scent, a mix of oil, the outdoors and toast. Daniel had forgotten that smell – had forgotten how much he’d missed the gruff voice, the strong arms, the solid sense of masculinity. Grandad Bill knows everything. He is funny but he can be tough, as well. He doesn’t like tantrums, “stupid baby behaviour” he says. He doesn’t like bad manners at the table, or wasted food. He thinks kids should play out and learn how to do stuff with their hands. He gets cross when Grandma Brenda fusses around and panders to the children, so she is sneaky with the treats, and when slipping a plate of barely touched food away from the table.
Grandma Brenda! He’d almost forgotten about her, and a wave of guilt hits him in the heart.
“Don’t worry about her, she’s never far away,” Grandad Bill chuckles, doing that mind – reading stuff that seems to be so popular around here. And then Daniel sees her, coming up the hill, soft, sagging, rosy cheeks, grey-white hair worn short, leaning forward as she walks, causing her ample bottom to stick out.
“Well, well, well, fancy seeing you here! Come and get a Grandma cuddle.”
He body feels warm and squashy, and smells of sweet almond and chips. She was never herself after Bill died and developed all kinds of health problems. She got pneumonia and died, when Daniel was ten.
“I didn’t want this for you, it’s too soon.” She squeezes him tightly, pressing her face into the top of his head, and he knows she is holding back the tears. “But it’s lovely to see you anyway.”
“It’s his time,” Grandad Bill responds in a no-nonsense tone. “It’s his destiny. I don’t know why you keep questioning that. You’ve been here long enough to understand how it works.”
“Oh shut up, know-it-all.” She winks at Daniel. “Look at him, barely born and then he dies. I still don’t think it’s right.”
Daniel suddenly understands. He doesn’t know how but he does. Bill and Brenda have love for each other and there is a mutual sense of unspoken connection, but they aren’t together. Not together in the sense that the living mean, anyway. He had heard people talking when someone died, saying that now they would be together with this or that person, or that they’d be looked after by other dead relatives, but it isn’t exactly like that. Bill had said ‘Don’t worry about her, she’s never far away,’ and he remembered his mum saying that she could feel Grandma Brenda’s presence, loads of times, and it had freaked him out. Brenda lives for her family, they are the centre of her world, she has always been happy living the same life, doing the same things, day in and day out. Until Bill died and then she kind of lost interest. Grandad Bill is different. He loves his family, and a great sense of duty and responsibility has always kept him living the same kind of everyday life, doing what needs to be done. But he has always been more of a free spirit than Brenda, would love to travel, to explore, and he died with many unrealised dreams and desires within him. His heart got tired of the yearning, and threw in the towel, as they say. Brenda, dependent upon routine and sameness, and always more connected to the past than the future, struggled to go on without Bill, even though she still had her family. In death they are both free from the limitations of physical life, are free to be who they are. Being spiritual really only means being true to the real self, not all that stuff living people like to think it means. Of course with that comes the need for common sense and respect for others, it doesn’t mean we can just do what we want to, regardless. In death Brenda sticks close to the family and the dimension of the living. Bill keeps in touch in his own way but is busy being the spirit he always has been, deep down inside.
Daniel, in his five year old form, is aware of these two people he has known and loved, he understands them in an impossibly massive way, in a way that he never would have when alive, even if he had lived to be a hundred and one. He sees them change, Bill becomes a handsome young man with a square jaw, a strong, direct gaze and a good head of dark brown hair. He carries himself proudly, with confidence, and there is an air of anticipation, expectation and hope about him.
Brenda is slim, pretty, with soft chestnut hair tied back. she has blue eyes, clear skin, and her hand rests upon her abdomen. She yearns to have a baby, to create a family, to surround herself with familiarity and safety. That has always been her dream. Together she and Bill made that dream come true, but she never really understood Bill’s restlessness, and so she ignored it. They did okay, they made it through to the end… and now she understands. Bill still has some exploring to do. Together, but apart.
“This one’s a bit of an angry sod, he doesn’t want to play ball at all.”
Daniel is back with Kev. He isn’t five anymore, and Grandad Bill and Grandma Brenda have gone… but yet he can still feel them. It’s like he’s had one of those dreams that are so real they stay with you for days, completely different to ordinary dreams about random weird stuff that never make sense.
“Enjoy your visit?” Kev interrupts his pondering, and it is clear he is smiling, pleased to have shown Daniel something important, something he doesn’t yet fully understand. Without waiting for an answer, he continues.
“This guy doesn’t like what he is experiencing. It’s not what he expected.”
Daniel was suddenly aware that the atmosphere had changed. He shivered as if a big dark cloud had drifted across the sun, blocking out the light and the warmth.
“Who is he? And what’s it got to do with us?” He wanted to remove himself from the pervading sense of misery, frustration and oppression hanging heavy in the air, but Kev seemed unfazed.
“He’s just caused mayhem, shot three people and got himself blown out of life courtesy of several bullets to the head and chest. He thought he was going to be welcomed as a hero and is pretty pissed off to have had his life review.”
Jesus! Scary stuff. “What’s a life review?”
“Well, in what is less than a split second he has experienced everything that others have experienced as a result of association with him. Good and bad. It’s not a judgement from an outside source – it’s an independent, in depth look at his own motivation and actions throughout his life. Only he can make his mind up about what his life really meant and was worth, overall. You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for him, it’s not a great experience for someone who has lived the kind of life he has.”
“He was a dick by the sound of it,”‘ Daniel didn’t agree with Kev’s point of view. “And how come I didn’t have a what-do-you-call-it……a life review?”
“Because my careless, not-looking-before-he-runs-out-into-the-road friend, you are young, haven’t had enough life experience, in this life at least, and you haven’t had enough time to accumulate a comprehensive history worth scrutinizing. So count yourself lucky.”
“Oh. What about you, did you have one?”
“Being a bit older than you, and being a bit cocky, yes I did. But nothing like this guy’s – this is really gritty stuff. Not all bad though. He wasn’t a bastard 24 hours a day, every day of his life. He did love some people and they loved him. And he did plenty of productive things, mainly before he allowed his mind to become screwed up.”
“So what will happen to him now?”
Daniel had heard about Heaven and Hell, never given any serious thought to either, but maybe he should do now… or was it too late?
“Depends upon himself. He can become stuck in a nightmare of his own making, convince himself he is trapped with no way out. Or he can choose to face up to and accept the impact his choices and actions had on other members of the human race, and the general energy of life on Earth. And then he could begin the healing process. Could go either way.”
“Well there’s no competition, is there? Why would he choose the first option? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Fuck knows, but they often do. It’s obviously too hard for them to let go of old beliefs, and to face their own cock-ups”.
There was way too much stuff to take in. A zillion questions battled for prime position in Daniel’s mind… did he even have a mind, or maybe he was only a mind now. Another bloody question to add to the collection. He decided he’d start with Kev. What’s really going on with him, what’s he about? He waited for him to jump in with some smart – arsed response, but there was silence.
“Okay Kev, how come you know all this stuff? You’re like some kind of oracle, not a dickhead who was always messing about doing things he shouldn’t be doing, driving like a maniac, in a car he shouldn’t have been driving in the first place. And what is all this about dreams? I was a kid with my grandparents, and then I wasn’t. And you said the angry guy – who I can’t actually see, by the way, even though I can feel a really bad mood hanging around – could choose to become stuck in a nightmare. It was great when I first died. It was great when I was with my Grandad and Grandma but it’s getting weird now and I don’t like it.”
Silence… and then laughter. Kev was laughing at him, taking the piss. Daniel bristled with indignation and hurt feelings and would have gone off in a huff if he’d known how to. But then the warmth of the Kev hug he’d felt earlier returned, and he realized the laughter wasn’t aimed AT him, but was because of him.
“Sorry Dan! You are young, or at least you were when you died, and you are different. You have potential, and you are having a bit of a crash course at the moment, no pun intended. Me, I had a good think when I died and decided I didn’t want to waste death. I would have wasted life, and that’s a dead cert. I was never stupid, even if I behaved as if I was. But I cut my own life experience short. You’re kind of like me, only better. You would have been an idiot sometimes, had you lived, but you would have been a pretty decent human being, overall. However, you’d have gotten caught up with everyday life and wasted your biggest talents: imagination, instinct, intuition and creative thinking. You can choose to use them now, for the sake of the cause.”
Daniel felt blown away, but something within him stirred, something he kind of recognised, but couldn’t quite bring forward.
“The cause? What’s that, apart from being an Irish band?”
“That’s the Corrs, idiot. The cause isn’t an official title, but it’s what I call it. You know how they say the universe is expanding? Well, the universe is only a tiny part of a much bigger field of existence, and it is that bigger field that is actually evolving and growing. The universe has to grow with it, and human energy plays a massive role in the whole process.”
“Okay, I can kind of get my head around some of that, I think, but it doesn’t explain what the cause is.”
“Movement against resistance, mate. There is an ongoing battle in the dimension that is known as life on Earth, a battle between light and dark, over forward and backward movement. The cause is all about getting people, dead and alive, to wake up and think about stuff, to be part of the uplift and forward movement, not stagnancy or backslide.”
Daniel was stumped. Most people – no, all of the people – he knew would have thought Kev was off his rocker if he’d gone around spouting that stuff when he was alive. Kev himself would have thought he was off his rocker, never mind anyone else. But yet it touched something within him, something kind of familiar… again, the thing he couldn’t quite bring forward.
“Okay, so this guy, the shooter, what’s he all about?”
“He’s all about the backward slide, a player in the quest to prevent positive growth. It’s his way or no way – or so he thinks. In reality he has, sadly, been recruited by the dark side, a pawn in a much bigger game. A big man behind a gun, but a pawn nevertheless. He now gets to choose his own fate. Dying could be the best or the worst thing that ever happened to him. Depends how connected he can feel to the real cause, and not the one that led him to get his head splattered over an impressively large area.”
“Is this actually real? I thought that dead people just, well, went off and lived with all their relatives somewhere in the sky, doing sod all for eternity, unless they were really bad and then they probably get sent somewhere not very nice.”
Daniel realized he’d picked this unexplored idea up from his mum, who liked to watch strange people on telly, who claimed to be communicating with those who had ‘passed’, as they called it. She talked about it as if that is how it all is, and he just kind of assumed she knew what she was going on about. He hadn’t given it much thought until he himself became one of those who had ‘passed’. He suddenly wondered if he’d be on TV at some point, being summoned to send his love and say how wonderful everything is in the world of ‘spirit’. Imagine if he told them about all this Stars Wars kind of stuff that Kev keeps talking about, instead. The thought of it made him laugh… he could just picture the reaction!
Then he remembered the shooter, the dark angry cloud.
“So why are you involved with this nutter? And why are you involving me? And did you make me come back here instead of letting me stay with my Grandad?”
“Whoa mate, one thing at a time! Look, as I said, I decided not to waste death. I figured that if I could help others to choose not to waste death as well, I’d be doing something productive. I’ve seen where the bitter, angry spirits go, in their mind, and it is a bloody dark place. And that collective energy is not good for the human race, either. So that’s why I am involved. And I elected to be your very own personal tour guide when you bit the dust, because I knew you had a lot of potential others don’t have… or at least will never tap into and use. But it’s up to you, you can just enter into your own personal dream state and leave the dirty work to idiots like me, if that is what you want. And no, I didn’t make you come to this place, I don’t have any power or control over you – it was your own choice.”
Daniel wasn’t convinced about the last bit, but he didn’t argue. “So I can choose what I do, who I see, and what I experience?”
“Absolutely. I am only showing you, telling you something about the big stuff. You can choose to turn away and experience a different reality right now, if you want to.”
It was tempting to say the least. Daniel suddenly felt tired again, felt the need to sleep, to get away from Kev and the overload of information. Phrases like ‘rest in peace’ and ‘sleep well’ are used when people die, but this didn’t feel very restful.
“I need to think… I just want to sleep for a while…”
You Wear It Well
A warm – hearted, humorous romance about a biker who falls in love… and into a bit of a tangled mess!
Available on Amazon (link at the bottom)
Kindle – 99p
Biker, Nick Broadside, is at the end of his tether where his six year relationship is concerned. The more he pulls away from raven – haired Venus Lombardi, lean, mean biker queen, the more she hangs on by the tips of her black painted fingernails. Devastated by her father’s rejection and her mother’s disapproval, Venus craves constant attention from men she has absolutely no interest in… and Nick has finally lost the will and the desire to continue to fight for what he describes as a ‘dysfunctional mess loosely disguised as a relationship’. In his heart and in his mind, he has already begun the leaving process. Heading around a bend early one Saturday morning, on his beloved Chief, he comes across a tearful blonde in muddy high heels… but even as he changes the wheel on her stricken Mercedes, he has no idea that within weeks he will be head over heels in love… with a jealous she – devil nipping at his heels, willing to do whatever it takes to keep him under her control. Stevie is a breath of fresh air in the jaded life of a 34 year old guy who has begun to wonder what the hell he is doing with his life, and where the hell he is going… and he soon realises that he never wants to let her go. However, for a smart guy, he sometimes makes decisions that really don’t serve him well… one of which brings his world crashing down around his ears. Within the space of two months, Nick falls out of love, into love, and then headfirst into a pit of despair, deciding that the only answer is to get away, leaving behind the love of his life. But is all REALLY lost… or is there something that could persuade him to give it one last shot ? A modern, fast – paced story about love, lies, heartache and new beginnings, with a touch of humour, and plenty of warm – hearted characters. 107 pages, contains strong language.
Part 1 – Introduction
The Audi came hurtling around the bend, way too fast, and as it advanced upon Stevie’s Mercedes it became clear that the driver had no intention of slowing down. Panicking, she wrenched the steering wheel to the left, slamming sideways into a rough hedge.
“Damn! You stupid bloody idiot!” She smacked her hand against the steering wheel, shaking with shock and outrage. “You could have killed us both, you complete moron! And you didn’t even stop to see if I was okay!”
Pushing the door open, she stepped out and immediately plonked her navy patent leather court shoe into a puddle of mud. “For God’s sake, that’s all I need right now!”
Gingerly tiptoeing around the tilting car, Stevie, threw up her hands in despair as she realised that the rear tyre had burst. Hot tears stung the back of her eyes, and she blinked rapidly, determined that they were not going to spill out and ruin her mascara. Why today of all days? It was 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, she was supposed to be picking her mother up… in about five minutes… and driving them both to Whittlehurst, to attend Aunt Madge’s 70th birthday lunch. “We can’t possibly get there on time now,” she sighed. “Mum’ll be so disappointed.”
Muttering about aggressive, thoughtless male drivers, and still fighting back the tears, Stevie leaned into the car and retrieved her phone. “I’ll call Mum first, and then the recovery service (‘help me, I’m having a breakdown’)” she said out loud, as she tried to find a mud – free spot for the sake of her pricey – but – utterly – gorgeous shoes.
She heard the deep, resonating rumble of a motorbike engine long before it rounded the bend, and before she’d even had time to call her mother. “Not another one,” she wailed, scrambling to get off the road and out of harm’s way, catching her skirt on a bramble. “Brilliant… now my skirt’s ruined! I might as well just strip off and chuck my entire outfit into the road and have done with it!”
To her relief, the bike cruised, rather than burst, into view, slowing down as it approached the stricken Mercedes and the petrified looking woman. The rider studied the scene for a second, before smoothly pulling over, killing the engine, and setting the bike on its side stand. As the helmet came off, and despite her trepidation, Stevie couldn’t help but notice that the guy was quite attractive… in a slightly rough way… with longish, medium brown hair and dark stubble. He was tall too, and appeared broad, beneath a battered looking black leather jacket.
“You okay… having problems?” He eyed the car, parked too close to the hedge, and quickly figured it out. “Don’t tell me… boy racer, going like a bat out of hell, forced you over and you busted a tyre?”
“Well, yes… that’s pretty much it… I… I’m just going to phone the recovery people,” Stevie stammered, feeling a little awkward for some reason she couldn’t quite fathom.
“Yep, seen ‘em racing along here too many times. There’s going to be a serious accident, sooner or later. I’ll take a look before you call them, see if I can sort it. You’ll be here all day on a Saturday, it’s a busy day for them.”
“I don’t want to trouble you… you look as if you’re heading off somewhere yourself,” Stevie said, indicating the loaded up bike. “I don’t mind waiting… ”
“Oh, I’m not in a hurry! Got all day to get to where I’m going.” He eyed Stevie up, and she blushed, furious with herself for being so silly. “You, on the other hand, look as if you have somewhere important to be.”
“Oh… well, I was on my way to collect my mother. We were going to my aunt’s birthday lunch, in Whittlehurst. I really should phone her to let her know what’s going on, she’ll be worrying.”
“Well, you might miss the first course, but you’ll still make it… looks like the only real damage is the tyre. Have you got a jack and a brace?”
“Erm, yes… ” Stevie picked her way around to the back of the car, and opened the boot. “Everything’s in there.” She indicated a plastic storage box, and he leaned in, brushing against her. Lifting the lid, he smiled to himself. The box contained not only a jack and a wheel brace, but a tow rope, jump leads, a fluorescent triangle, torch, gloves, water, oil… and everything was brand new and neatly arranged.
He stood up. “Right. I’ll move the car forward a couple of feet, away from the hedge, and we’ll get the spare on. I’m Nick, by the way.”
“Oh… thank you… Nick. I’m Stevie,” and she held out her hand, which made him smile again.
“How’d you do Stevie. Okay, are the keys in the ignition?”
Nick knew how to open up the throttle and push his beloved Indian Chief to its limits, but that didn’t mean he had to. Riding well didn’t automatically equate to riding fast, and vice versa. As he rounded the notoriously sharp bend on Torton Lane he was aware of potential danger… but he didn’t expect to see a tearful posh bird in muddy shoes, clearly terrified of being run over and trying to squeeze herself behind a broken – down Mercedes… at seven o’clock on a Saturday morning.
It hadn’t taken long to change the wheel, but the car was scratched up, and Stevie had run her hand over the damage as tenderly as a mother would her child’s scraped knee. She was really grateful, trying to push money into his hand to compensate for ‘his trouble’, which he gruffly dismissed. “Buy me a drink when you see me around,” he’d said, though he doubted that they hung out in the same places. He’d never seen her before, and didn’t expect to see her again. She was pretty fit, in an upmarket kind of way. Fair haired, curvy (well, compared to Venus), and exceptionally polite. He wasn’t sure about the name… Stevie. Probably short for something . In his mind, he nicknamed her ‘Ms. Muddy Shoes Mercedes’.
Sylvia Bingham took care of herself. She walked black labrador Harry twice a day, swam weekly at the local pool, and attended an over – fifties keep fit class every Thursday. At 68 years old she could pass for 58, and still had what Arthur used to call ‘Cyd Charisse legs’, although most people under 55 had no idea who Cyd Charisse was, which was such a shame.
Retired from her role as an office administrator, Sylvia was ready for one of her two offspring to provide her with a grandchild, but Stephanie – or ‘Stevie’ as she preferred to be called – wasn’t even courting, and Patrick was too busy with his career as a child psychologist, in New Zealand. His fiancee, a lovely ‘Kiwi’ girl, as they apparently called them, was equally engrossed in expanding her interior design business, and so Sylvia wasn’t knitting any baby booties just yet.
Right now, she was stationed at the front window, anxiously scanning the street outside for signs of Stevie’s silver Mercedes. She’d called about 20 minutes earlier, to explain the situation, saying a man had stopped to help her. A man? On that lonely back road? In a firm voice, Sylvia had instructed her daughter to go immediately to the glove compartment and retrieve her mace spray… just in case… but Stevie had said “Mum, I don’t need the mace spray! I’ll see you shortly,” and hung up. Sylvia sighed, and debated whether or not she should call the police… just in case.
Later on that day, in the conservatory of the Lancaster Hotel in Whittlehurst, Stevie would overhear her mother telling an enraptured assortment of aunts and second cousins that her daughter, almost killed by a speeding maniac, had been rescued by a Hells Angel. “He wasn’t a Hells Angel, Mum, he was just a guy on a motorbike,” Stevie interjected, but Sylvia was having none of it.
“Did he have long hair, and was he wearing a leather jacket?” She demanded.
“Well… ish, I suppose, and yes, but – ”
“So, like I said… a Hells Angel.”
The aunts and second cousins fell silent for a few seconds, each picturing her own version of a Hells Angel, with Rosemary secretly imagining herself being thrown over the leather – clad shoulder of a bearded beast and ridden off into the sunset. She shuddered with excitement, and Madge, misunderstanding, patted her hand. “I’m sure there are nice ones amongst them, dear,” she soothed.
Vanessa Celine Lombardi, better known as Venus, roared past the old man in the ambling Anglia, two fingers in the air, screaming obscenities that were carried away on the rushing wind. “Get out of my way NOW, you aren’t fit to be on the fucking road!”
In truth, the elderly man hadn’t done anything wrong, apart from driving so slowly that even the pedestrians were overtaking him. And being old. Venus was fearful of ageing, disgusted by sagging skin, greying hair, yellowing teeth… the things she equated with the loss of beauty, libido, and sexual allure. She opened up the throttle, only just correcting the bike as she headed into a sharp bend, and swore again. It was all Nick’s fault… once again he had pushed her over the edge, and if she died under the wheels of a truck, well, they could all fucking blame him.
They were supposed to be going to a bike rally today, camping overnight, but on Thursday night he’d shown up at her place, taken his shoes off, had a cup of coffee… and fallen asleep in the chair… head back, mouth wide open, snoring loudly. NO man slept and snored around Venus Lombardi, even if they HAD just done a 14 hour shift. She kicked his leg, harder and harder, until he opened his bleary eyes, disoriented, staring up at her as if she was part of a weird dream.
“Wakey wakey,” she snarled. “I thought you came round to see me… if you want to sleep, fuck off home.”
Nick sighed, rubbed his face, and pulled his shoes on.
“You’re being a bitch, Venus,” he said quietly, but with a warning tone to his voice.
“You’d better believe it!” Venus sneered, throwing his jacket at his head. “Be careful how you treat me Nick… you’re not the only guy on the planet. I could go out there right NOW and have my pick… in fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, the minute you’ve dragged your useless arse out of my flat!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, they all fancy you, don’t they, Venus? They’re queuing up to jump your bones, with no fucking idea what it’ll cost them. Good luck to you, lads…. and don’t forget to sleep with one eye open.”
Nick slammed the door behind him, too exhausted to think about anything but getting away from the olive skinned, black haired nightmare with whom he shared a dysfunctional mess loosely disguised as a relationship. Who the hell knew what had set her off this time. A shop assistant matching her own bad attitude. Someone taking too long to fill up at the petrol station. Her mother. Some bloke NOT sniffing after her as if she was a bitch in heat. He didn’t care, he just wanted to switch off and sleep.
By the time Nick reached the ground floor, opening the door onto the street, Venus had already started throwing things out of the window. A pair of his jeans, several socks, boxers, and a collection of t – shirts. A catalogue of bike parts caught him on the side of his head, and for a second he battled an overwhelming urge to take the stairs three at a time, kick the door open, and knock the stupid, aggressive bitch across the room. Instead, he dragged his helmet over his throbbing head, straddled the bike, flicking the side stand up, and rode around the debris. Fuck it. He didn’t need any of it.
“I hate you! I hope you fucking die on that of heap of junk!” Everyone on the street, apart from Nick, heard Venus. He was already gone. And no – one on the street cared or had any interest. Same old same old.
Nick had no intention of spending the weekend with Venus. He hadn’t been in touch since Thursday, and he’d turned his phone off when the vitriolic texts started pouring in. Sod her. She was trouble, through and through. He knew he should find the strength to end it with her for good, but she knew him like no – one else knew him… and sometimes that was a bad thing. She knew which buttons to press when she wanted to piss him off, and she knew which sore spots to kiss when she wanted to reel him back in. He knew that other men wanted her, and she let him know that SHE knew that, with monotonous regularity. They’d had more ‘breaks’ than he could count, and he was pretty sure she slept with other men when they were ‘off’, but she always pushed her way back in with him. He’d once asked her why she kept returning to him, and she said it was because he wouldn’t take her shit and the sex was ‘mostly’ good. He knew her body; long – legged and lean, with small, hard, breasts. And he knew what she liked. They’d been around one another for years, and he understood the complicated relationship she had with her parents. Nothing she ever did was good enough, especially in her mother’s eyes. He’d seen pictures of Venus as a child, with her dark, tumbling locks, and her keen, bright eyes, staring into the camera as if to say ‘I’m here, I want to conquer the world… and I want you to see me and accept me.”
Venus’s mother (who absolutely refused to address her as anything other than Vanessa Celine), a bitter, controlling woman, hated the fact that her daughter was nothing like her, and very like her father, a man who had left his family for a younger, adoring woman. What had shattered Venus was the fact that he’d abandoned HER; she loved her father with every ounce of her being. He loved her, told her she was beautiful and clever, and encouraged her to follow her artistic dreams. They had a special relationship… or so she thought, until he dumped her for a brand new life – one that didn’t include her.
Venus rebelled, rejecting the future her mother wanted for her, developing her skills to become one of the best tattooists Nick had ever seen. His back, shoulders and arms were covered with her artwork, and she was always in demand… when she could be bothered to work.
Looking back, Nick could see how much things had changed between him and Venus. Their relationship had always been volatile but passionate. Massive highs and miserable lows. These days there was way more misery than pleasure, and he could feel himself withdrawing from her. And the more he did, the worse her behaviour became. Whilst hungry for attention from men she had no interest in, Venus was insecure around women, and she had few female friends. She said that was because other women were jealous of her… he thought it was because they couldn’t stand being around her.
Did he love her? He couldn’t say for sure anymore. Most of the time he didn’t like her, but there was still something that compelled him to keep allowing her back in. Was it a territorial thing? He knew that other blokes envied him being with her, and maybe he wasn’t prepared to give that up just yet. Having said that, where most of his friends were concerned, Venus had long since lost her shine, and Ritch was always telling him to dump the poisonous cow. Women think men don’t ever ‘talk’ to one another about their problems, but they’re wrong; men just use fewer words and get to the point quicker…