Friday, 30 January 2015

4Q Interview with Author Lockie Young

Lockard (Lockie) Young is a published author having been featured on The Scribbler several times and it is a pleasure to have one of my favorite writers back again to participate in the 4Q Interview. Making the transition from plumber to author was likely not in his earlier plans but as a reader, I’m glad he did. He lives in Albert County, New Brunswick with his wife Trish and is the father of two adult sons. He has a vivid imagination.

4Q: Congratulations on the latest publishing news of the acquisition of your sequel to Ryan’s Legend by Morning Rain Publishing. Tell us about the novel.

LY: Thanks Allan. The sequel is called The Legend Returns and picks up, in the time line of the story, a couple months after the first book ends, as the clock above the school’s chalkboard signals the start of summer vacation. Ryan, the main character, hosts his friend Cory for a weekend sleepover while at the same time struggling with the secret he continues to keep from everyone, including his parents. He discovered a very real live Legend in the first book. Ryan teaches Cory about life as he knows it by the seashore, and Cory, who is a city boy, learns a lot of lessons about nature he never knew before. Things turn interesting when a giant sea serpent shows up in the harbor…or is it?
This sequel is a bit longer than the first book, but it still has the short easy to read chapters, with cliff hanger endings, and is considered at a middle grade reading level. 

4Q: In addition to the above, you have been recently published in Tim Baker’s compilation of stories featuring his character Ike called The Path of a Bullet. How did this come about?

LY: I met Tim Baker through a mutual friend of ours, Susan Toy. Tim was getting this book together and wanted to include some short stories from other authors as well as his own contributions. He set out a call for submissions, a contest of sorts. He would read the stories and decide which ones made the cut. It’s my pleasure to say that I was one of the lucky guest authors that Tim chose to be featured in his book.
In my short story The Light at the end of the Tunnel, my main character is a ‘Tunnel Rat’ who does a dirty job that no one else wants, but he needs to pay bills. He is soon to find that he will be delivering some very special merchandise to our hero Ike. And here is an exclusive just for you, Allan. I’ve been asked to submit another story for an Ike anthology that Tim is already working on for 2015. I’m busy mashing up a tasty story with Tim’s hero Ike in the starring role. I’ll give you an update on how that goes later this year.

4Q: Any plumbing anecdotes from your previous career?
LY: I swear, Allan. You are Psychic, man. I just started another project the other day. I always said I could write a book about the many different things I’ve retrieved from plugged toilets over the years, from cell phones dumped by irate girl friends, to mini prescription eye glasses belonging to a 3 year old that was being teased and called 4 eyes. So I started Diary of a Service Plumber. Each chapter will be a service call ‘of note’ that I’ve been on over the length of my 20 year career as a service plumber. I promise to keep it clean and tasteful, but light hearted, and hopefully comical, because I sure laughed at the end of most of them. 

4Q: We would be interested in your reading recommendations for 2015.

LY: What, you mean aside from your books? And I’m not kidding or sucking up…respect man. I’ve read so many good books lately, and I’m just waking up to the amazing talent we have here in the Maritimes. My recommendation is to read anything by a local author. The big guys like Stephen King and J.K.Rowling have lots of readers. Invest in the local talent and be amazed. Oh, and check out mine and Allan’s books. I definitely recommend those.
A sample of Lockie's poetry.
I wrote Do You Remember the Time as an experiment on what I thought it might be like to be slipping into a well known disease, Alzheimer's.
                           Do You Remember The Time
Do you remember the good old days?
When the hot morning sun
Turned to afternoon haze?
Do you remember that glass of iced cold tea?
Making puddles on table top?
Beaded water drops catching light
Rainbow colors to see?
Do you remember the day a long time ago?
We borrowed your dad’s car.
Off to the beach we did go.
Like an old married couple
Windows full open.
Salty sea air blowing through your golden hair.
It seemed in those days we had not a care.
I remember these things…I remember them well
I remember the sights…I remember the smells.
I remember the past…but I feel I must tell
I just can’t remember yesterday well.
Do these keys in my hand fit the car in the drive?
I remember to leave, but where to arrive?
Will you please tell me your name?
I wish things would just stay the same. 

Thank you Lockie for being part of the Scribbler. We wish you continued success in the wonderful world of writing. Here are his links;
The Legend Returns:

Please drop by the Scribbler next week to meet Guest Author Vashti Quiroz-Vega of South Florida and read her first-rate short story A Time to Live and a Time to Die


Friday, 23 January 2015

Guest Author Katrina Cope. Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain. Book One of the Sanctum Series


Katrina Cope lives on the Gold Coast of Australia. This is her second visit to the Scribbler. In an earlier post Katrina shared how she created her characters. It is archived on the side panel. The following was taken from her website. Her links are listed below.
I grew up in a small country town with plenty of time to express my creativity. This was fueled with a large amount of time spent traveling to different areas of the world, coming in contact with many different personalities and cultures.
The last eight years has been spent running a small business with my husband and raising three young boys and writing in any spare time.
After finishing my first book, it came to light just how much I love writing and I now write a great deal more. My boys are growing up, approaching the teenage years quickly, allowing me more time to write and asking for the next book.
Copyright is held by the author. Used by permission.
Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain. Book One of the Sanctum Series.
- Chapter One -
The Stranger of Hope
It was a dark cold night. White clouds of fog filled the streets making it hard to see, even with the lights shining brightly from the windows and streetlights. Barely visible through the fog was the harsh straight line of the grey buildings. Rising from the road level to the front doors of the many apartments were the staircases both large and small, coarsely jutting out towards the road. This was typically characteristic of the streets of the city of Bowdon. The railings of the stairs were heavy with dripping dew from the chilliness of the misty night. Through the stillness came the sound of a rusty cough that seemed to be coming from the front wall of one of the apartments. A moment later, another cough was heard and this time it was apparent that it had come from the direction of a large pile of newspapers, in between the rubbish bins on the footpath. After further observation of that pile, the paper appeared to come to life as whatever lay beneath decided to change its pose, to a seemingly more comfortable position.
Jayden ruffled his own newspaper in an attempt to get warm. It was the atmosphere of these sorts of nights that had become familiar to Jayden. It now seemed like forever since he had slept in a warm bed under a permanent roof. The life he used to have about six months ago was now regrettably more like a dream that tormented him, reminding him of how things could have been in his life and what he believed would never again be a reality.
The flicker of a larger light caught the corner of his hazel eyes, as he lifted his head of messy, dirty brown hair above the newspapers. In doing this, he was able to watch as a tall, sandy haired man stepped out onto the street from his apartment. A blonde, friendly-faced woman accompanied him. She gave off a soft laugh as she smiled, as though she had found something rather amusing in what he had said to her. She reached back into the apartment to grab something she seemed to have forgotten. When she pulled her hand back out to the street, there was a young boy attached and he appeared to be about nine years old. The boy was well dressed in warm clothing and looked contented and relaxed in their company.

Watching the young family leaving their home reminded Jayden of when his own family had been together. There were times that Jayden could recall being happy like this young boy, although he also had many other memories, which were more like nightmares. He recalled how his dad after having too many drinks would quite often become enraged and bad tempered over the most trivial incidents or shortcomings. He would end up ranting in loud abuse, which was often followed by physically assaulting his family. Jayden remembered so many times when it was his mother who would be at the receiving end of this abuse, but if he happened to be in the wrong place at these times or if he tried to protect her, his dad would then turn on him. Jayden had to concoct every reason under the sun to explain the bruises and marks all over his body. The most difficult stories to invent were the ones he saved for when he had suffered from broken bones and had to be admitted to hospital.
His dad was not always like this. There was a time when he was a very loving dad, who went to work in the morning like most other dads and then came home to spend quality time with his family. All this changed, however, when the large company that he worked for collapsed. This occurred when the country went into a recession, which was likened to the Great Depression. Workers were all being put off, including Jayden's dad. Some of the people handled it quite well as everyone is different. ‘But not my dad,’ Jayden thought. Initially, it was just a matter of watching what the family spent and making sure that they were not spending unnecessarily, but then there still wasn’t enough money to pay the mortgage payments on their house. The Bank wanted to foreclose and sell the house only for the amount that his parents owed, even though it was worth a lot more. It broke his dad’s heart when the family ended up losing their home, so he started drinking and that was where it all changed.
‘I wonder where my parents are now,’ Jayden thought, but shuddered when the violent past again flicked back into his memory. ‘Oh well! Come to think of it, I really don’t want to find out.’ The reason he didn’t know where they were was because one night when it all got too much, Jayden ran away and had no alternative but to live on the streets. Even though this was most undesirable and a very hard life to live, he did not want to return to the horrors of the past. ‘I do wish I could find an easier way to live than this,’ he commented to himself.
He looked back across the street to the young family in time to see them drive away in their little sedan. ‘I wonder where they are going tonight!’
There was another cough from the pile of newspapers down the road. He watched the person underneath trying desperately to pull the newspapers together, in an effort to trap some warm air. A shiver ran down his spine because he could feel the air getting colder as the night set in, so he too started to adjust the papers around him for extra warmth. When he was satisfied that he had achieved the best possible outcome, even though he was still extremely uncomfortable and cold, he settled down in the hope that sleep would soon come. He watched the lights in the apartments flicker on and off in the different rooms. Trying to ignore his own harsh surroundings, he set his mind on more pleasant thoughts of the nice circumstances he imagined the people would be experiencing in those warm apartments. Slowly, after what must have been at least an hour, he felt sleep starting to take its hold and he drifted into unconsciousness.
Click! Scrape! Click! Scrape! Click! Scrape! Slowly Jayden’s mind started to register that he was waking up and there was movement nearby even though his eyes did not want to open. Click! Scrape! Click! Scrape! It stopped! After a short pause, he heard a loud “Arghh!” and then the rustling of newspapers. Something had disturbed the man down the road. That did it! Jayden’s eyes were now wide open and he looked down the street at the other homeless man to see what was happening. He noticed a man standing over him, holding what looked to be a cane that he used to jab him in the ribs. The man from underneath the papers let out a loud curse after his rude awakening, only to hear the man with the cane say, “Oh sorry! I was looking for someone in particular and couldn’t see your face. Here is some money for your next meal and for causing you this trouble. My apologies!” After he handed him the money he walked away.

Click! Scrape! Click! Scrape! Jayden watched the man as he searched every dark spot he could find, as though he was specifically looking for something. He appeared to have a slight limp but still seemed to get around quite well. The man had Jayden puzzled. It was usual for someone to come out on the streets searching in every dark corner, especially looking for someone in particular among the homeless. Not only that, the man was alone. Jayden didn’t know whether he should hide further away, or stay, but the idea of the man possibly giving him money for food enticed him to stay.
The thought of money for food reminded his stomach that it had been a long time since he had eaten a proper meal and it gave out a really big groan. The groan must have been heard because immediately the stranger looked across at him and changed his direction over towards him. Click! Scrape! Jayden waited patiently as the stranger approached. He acted as though he was still asleep at first, in the hope that the stranger might think he had been troubled as well and hopefully give him money too. After what seemed a long thirty seconds, the man was finally at Jayden’s side. “Son! Son!” Jayden opened his eyes and looked at the man. He was wearing a business suit and his hair was slightly long, dark brown with flecks of grey. “How old are you, son?” Well that was not what he was expecting; that was for sure, but thinking again about money for food, Jayden answered him, “Eleven.”
He watched as a cloud of concern washed across the man’s face. “Wow!” he said. “You are too young to be out here all alone. Where are your parents?”
“I don’t know and I really don’t care! Life here is much safer than being at home with my family.”
“That sounds dreadful. Are you sure that it was really that bad?” the man asked.
Without any hesitation Jayden answered, “I am very sure. After at least ten trips to the hospital with serious injuries in two months and not enough good stories to explain how I got hurt, I am definitely sure.”
“What is your name?”
“My name is Avando, Jayden, and I am looking for some young people like you, in the hope that I can make a difference in their lives.”
From experience he knew that most people shun the homeless as though they are scum and are only homeless because they deserve to be there.
“How do you expect you’d be able to help and why would you even want to help?” Jayden asked with suspicion.
“Well you see, I have done very well through business over the years and I have no one to share in my good fortune. So, I am looking for young people, like you, who I can hopefully provide with all the necessities of life such as food, clothing, shelter and a better way of life.”
“There must be a catch!” Jayden said warily, knowing even at his age that nothing this good comes along without a catch. It could be considered though, that he was a lot more mature than a normal eleven year old because of all his recent life experiences.
“Well, there is one catch,” said the mystery man with the larger sized bumpy nose.
I'm anxious to find out more about the generous older man in this story. Thank you Katrina for sharing the beginning of your story, Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain. Following are Katrina's links and where you can obtain copies of her novels.  
Drop by the Scribbler next week for the 4Q Interview with none other than published author Lockie Young of Albert County, New Brunswick. Lockie has been featured on the Scribbler several times and it is always a treat to have this talented author as a guest. You will want to hear about Lockie's latest accomplishments and a chance to read one of his poems.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Guest Author Maggie James - The Second Captive

This is Maggie James' second visit to the Scribbler. She was a guest last month when I posted the Prologue of her exciting new novel, The Second Captive. The following was taken from her website.

Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels. 

The first draft of her first novel, entitled His Kidnapper’s Shoes, was written whilst travelling in Bolivia. Maggie was inspired by an impending milestone birthday along with a healthy dose of annoyance at having procrastinated for so long in writing a novel. His Kidnapper’s Shoes was published in both paperback and e-book format in 2013, followed by her second novel, entitled Sister, Psychopath. Her third novel, Guilty Innocence, like her first two, features her home city of Bristol. She has recently published her fourth novel, The Second Captive. 

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practicing as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practicing yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!
Copyright is held by the author. Used by Permission.


Two years ago

                               CHAPTER 1 - Beth


I visit The Busy Bean most lunchtimes, eager for an hour away from the charity shop where I do voluntary work. Handling cast-off clothes and grubby kitchenware doesn’t do it for me. There’s another reason I go, though. A man. Hard to miss him, with those dark curls cut close to his head. Soft whorls my hand itches to touch. Every time he comes in, my eyes swivel his way. After a few weeks of covert glances, we get to talk at last.

It’s a Monday, and I’m peeved because he’s not here yet. As I extract a bottle of mineral water from the chiller cabinet, my elbow collides with someone’s belly. An automatic apology slips from my mouth.

‘Sorry -’ The word hangs in mid-air as recognition hits me. Him. He smiles, revealing one front tooth slightly out of line, but every bit as white as the rest. My stare, coupled with my inability to form words, is embarrassing. A subtle waft of aftershave floats into my nostrils, a clean scent that doesn’t surprise me, given the sugar-white of his T-shirt, the just-bought crispness of his jeans. What render me incapable of speech, though, are his eyes. The left one blue as a bruise, the right mocha-hued. I’ve heard of such a thing, but I never realised it would be so unusual, so striking.

I guess he’s used to people reacting the way I have. He doesn’t reply, just smiles, and I notice the chicken sandwich he’s taken from the chiller. ‘My favourite,’ I say, even though it’s not, and it’s a relief to find my mouth does work after all.

‘Here.’ He thrusts the sandwich at me. ‘Have it.’ The first time he tells me what to do. In hindsight, it’s a landmark moment. ‘Looks like I grabbed the last one.’ His right hand pulls open the chiller again, extracting an egg mayo on white. His left shoves the chicken sandwich my way again as he closes the door. I take it, lost in the blueberry and chocolate of his eyes.

He gestures towards his usual table. ‘Want to join me?’

I do, very much. His fingers twist off the top of his bottle of water, bubbles hissing as they swarm to the surface. He fills his glass. My hands echo his, except my fingers shake and I spill a few drops. ‘I’m Beth,’ I say, keen to cover my awkwardness.

He smiles again, the skin around his eyes creasing. I’m guessing he’s early twenties. No more than twenty-five. Seven years isn’t so much of a gap. Besides, he’s a man, not a boy. Not someone who’ll fumble his way through sex, like my one and only previous boyfriend. Steady on, I tell myself. You met this guy all of two minutes ago. Sex isn’t on the agenda. Yet.

‘Good to meet you, Beth. My name’s Dominic.’ With the sound of his voice, so velvety in my ear, I’m hooked. I turn his name over in my head, liking it. Do. Min. Ic. The three syllables are firm, decisive, like shots from a gun.

‘I’ve seen you in here before,’ he says.

‘I do shifts in the charity shop.’ My hand gestures towards Homeless Concern across the road. ‘Four days a week.’

‘That’s good.’ He doesn’t ask me why I don’t have a proper job. I’m grateful; such a question is too reminiscent of my father.

‘What about you?’ From his appearance, I can’t place what he does for a living. He’s not a manual worker, that’s for sure. His hands, raised as he takes a sip of water, don’t dig, mix concrete or slap paint on walls; the nails are too neat, too square. Something to do with computers, I guess, or the music business.

‘Day trader,’ he replies, a small grin tugging at his mouth when he notes my blank expression. ‘I work from home. Buying and selling stocks, futures, currencies.’

I’m none the wiser, but I don’t let on. ‘You enjoy what you do?’

The grin disappears. ‘It’s hard at times. Doesn’t always pan out.’ He doesn’t elaborate, so I don’t press the issue.

We chat some more. I find out he’s an only child, both parents dead. ‘You live alone?’ I enquire. My mind is spiralling forward. The prospect of dating someone with his own place, without a family, where I can escape the pressures of mine, holds vast appeal. Too late, I realise that the question reveals my interest in him, makes it sound as if I’m sniffing out a girlfriend, or a wife. He doesn’t wear a wedding ring, but not all married men do.

He grins again. ‘Ever since Dad died. What is it now, six years ago?’ Something I can’t decipher edges into his eyes as his gaze burns into me. ‘Maybe I’ve become a bit set in my ways. Need a woman to sort me out.’

He’s straight, then. Not that I ever thought otherwise.

‘How old are you?’ I can be direct at times.


Older than he looks. Not that it deters me. Ten years between us isn’t a huge gap, not really, and he’ll be a refreshing change from the boys from school.

‘I’m eighteen.’ Best to find out now if I’m too young for him.

‘Thought so.’ Dominic doesn’t say it as though it’s an issue.

He finishes his sandwich. Mine lies uneaten on its plate, despite the rumblings in my stomach. Impossible to talk to this man with food in my mouth. His eyes, that weird yet wonderful juxtaposition of blue and brown, hold mine and I sense there’s something he’s itching to say, but isn’t sure how to. Up to now, he’s been so self-assured, and his sudden reticence charms me.

‘Would you like to go out with me sometime?’ he asks.

Oh, God. He’s interested in me, despite my lack of job, the fact I’m fresh out of school, all the things I’ve been imagining would deter him. Later, after I’m shut in the basement, with time to reflect, I realise they’re what render me vulnerable to Dominic, turning me into a fly, him a spider.

Dad won’t approve, of course; I’m supposed to be sorting out university courses, not dating older men. The thought of my father’s disapproval adds fuel to the attraction this man holds for me. I still hesitate, though.

‘Might be a bit difficult,’ I say. ‘What with still living at home.’

The eyebrow over the brown eye quirks upwards. ‘You’re not allowed out?’ Again, later on, when I’m in the basement, I grasp how manipulative he is. How the nuances in his voice goad me into proving I’m an independent female, capable of making her own decisions.

‘Of course I am.’ My tone betrays my irritation. ‘How about tonight?’

A satisfied grin appears on his face. ‘Fine,’ he says. ‘I’ll decide where’s best for us to go.’

I approve of the way he determines the course of our date. A precursor to how he decides everything when we’re at the cottage. So much for my professed independence.

‘Can you give me a lift? I don’t drive.’ Another factor rendering me more vulnerable. Right now, though, I want and need to trust Dominic Perdue, and so I do. 

We make arrangements. He’ll pick me up at seven at the end of my road, promising to have me home by eleven.

‘Don’t be late,’ he tells me.




I’m standing on the corner of my road five minutes before seven. The evening is chilly, and I shiver as I wait. My jeans, fresh from the laundry basket, are too tight, the material compressing my stomach. Always quick to react to nervous tension, it’s swollen. For that reason, I’ve not eaten, unwilling to risk a full-on bloat party in my guts. Besides, Dominic might be taking me for a meal, and I pray the pressure against my waistband will ease soon. Atop the jeans, I’m wearing a mulberry silk shirt, a bargain from the Homeless Concern shop, its softness caressing my skin under my linen jacket. Smart casual is the way to go, especially as I don’t even know where we’re heading. My eyes are ringed with kohl, a soft brown that matches both them and the small mole underneath the right one. My mouth is slick with mulberry lip-gloss, my cheeks are brushed with colour and my dark hair is loose around my shoulders. For those few moments whilst I wait, I’m the spider, not the fly.

Bang on seven o’clock, a car approaches. It’s sleek and silver, its windows darkened, the BMW insignia cresting its bonnet. A whiff of money accompanies the car, the scent of its owner’s financial deals wafting my way. The driver eases the BMW alongside me. A window lowers, revealing Dominic.

God, he looks good, all dark curls and entrancing eyes. A tiny frown creases his forehead, just for a second, as his gaze sweeps over me. It’s disapproval, although what’s initiated it baffles me. His censure wrong-foots me, rendering me nervous.

When he speaks, though, his tone is warm, the frown gone. ‘Get in,’ he tells me.

We drive for a while, heading towards Hanham. Cradled in the leathery comfort of the BMW, I allow its smooth motion to steer me wherever Dominic has decided we’re going. He doesn’t say much, the occasional snippet of small talk. I respond in kind, thankful to be where I am, beside this man with the mismatched eyes and enticing hair. Maybe tonight I’ll get to experience those curls under my fingers. My crotch twitches at the thought.

We turn down a side road, where Dominic parks up. ‘We’re here,’ he says, getting out and opening the boot. I stay in the car, staring across the grassy area ahead. In the distance, a tower lurches against the evening sky as though it’s drunk, its angle several degrees off-kilter.

Dominic strides round to my side of the car, pulling open the door for me, an old-fashioned gesture that’s touching. In his other hand, he holds a blue chill-bag, and my empty stomach, its bloat now eased, anticipates food. A blanket is tucked under his arm.

I swing my legs from the car. ‘What is this place?’

‘Troopers Hill,’ Dominic replies. We walk across the grass, heading towards the tower, the heels of my sandals sinking into the soft ground, still tacky from yesterday’s rain. The grass is cold and ticklish against my bare toes. We’re nearing the top of a hill; the tower is in front of us, and I can’t see anything beyond it, not now, anyway.

He swings round to smile at me. ‘Thought we’d have ourselves a bit of a picnic. The view’s great from up here.’

And it is, once we get closer to the tower. We’re high up, and my home city of Bristol stretches before me, its roads elongating into the distance. Two hot-air balloons, riding the evening air, float towards us, the faint hiss of their gas jets reaching my ears. I’m entranced. Why have I never been here before? The shame of my insularity, the narrowness of my fresh-out-of-school focus, overwhelms me, and I promise myself things will be different from now on. I’ll explore, learn, and travel. With Dominic, of course.

Oh, the irony.

‘Old copper smelting works,’ he says, gesturing towards the tower. ‘Good place to sit, check out the city.’ The balloons drift closer, their jets hissing louder, and I picture myself one day, floating through the air, Dominic beside me, the Pyramids below us reduced to children’s play shapes. Or perhaps it’s the Australian outback, hot, red and fiery, underneath us. The details don’t matter.

Dominic spreads the blanket on the ground and sets down the chill-bag. He unzips it, extracting a bottle of white wine and two glasses, thick and heavy with gold rims. He’s clearly a man who values quality. I’m unused to alcohol but there’s no way I’ll admit it.

‘Here.’ He hands me a glass of wine, misted from the cold of the liquid. I take a sip, and suppress a cough; the taste is acidic yet sweet, a promise of things to come. A smear of my mulberry lip-gloss stains the glass.

Dominic unpacks French sticks, Camembert, knives, plates. I break open my bread, slice off a chunk of the gooey cheese and slather it inside. We eat in silence. The dusty rind of the cheese, its sour creaminess, tastes good against the crustiness of the French stick. I’m conscious that my bites are too large, that crumbs are sticking to the corners of my mouth. When I drink the wine, it’s in gulps now, Dominic providing regular refills. To me, the evening is perfect, as we sit on the blanket, the tower listing to one side behind us. The balloons are long past; the light is fading from the sky, the cool of dusk spreading across the city. My head, unused to the alcohol, is heavy, fuzzy. I’m aware I’m drinking faster than Dominic is, but I remind myself he has to drive. Besides, my first experience of being tipsy is pleasant. I prepare to float away on the evening air, in the wake of the balloons.

Dominic reaches out a hand, and his fingers against my skin are electrifying. Something inside me flares into life, a firecracker of desire sending a storm of twitches through my crotch. He touches the corner of my right eye, his thumb caressing the mole underneath. ‘You’re too pretty to need make-up,’ he tells me. The reason for his disapproval when he saw me earlier clicks into place.

A smear of kohl is on his thumb as he retracts his hand. He rubs it away with a finger. ‘Come on,’ he says. ‘We’ll walk through the trees.’ He takes my plate, knife and glass, packing them along with his own in the chill-bag. The wine bottle is now empty, at least two-thirds of its contents in my stomach. My legs don’t work well when I stand up.

We walk along a narrow path and down a flight of steps into the woods. The light has almost gone; pale moonlight filtering through the trees is our guide. The wine has lulled me into a sensation of safety, despite the fact that I’m half-drunk, alone in a dark place with a man who’s an unknown quantity. None of that concerns me. So far, the evening has been perfect, a sublime mix of food and balloons and oh my God, the brush of his fingers against my face. Tonight I’m invincible, inviolate, the world at my feet. Our feet.

The path twists round, up more steps, before emerging near the grassy area I saw before. Dominic eases me through the wooden gate. ‘Car’s back that way,’ he says, gesturing towards the thick hedge skirting the grass. I’m both relieved and disappointed he didn’t try anything on whilst we were alone amongst the trees.

He doesn’t when we’re back in the car, either. I’m expecting him to reach over from the driver’s seat, pull me towards him, his mouth seeking mine, but he doesn’t. Instead, he drives me back to the corner of my road.

‘Can we do this again?’ he asks. I nod, and he smiles.

Later, in the basement, I realise how well Dominic played me that night. Establishing trust with the wine, the walk through the woods. So I’ll have faith in him, be reassured he’s a man who’ll treat me right. No getting me drunk for a quick fumble on the ground beneath the trees. In my naiveté, I’m ripe for Dominic Perdue, a spider whose web, sticky as flypaper, consists of wine, cheese and charm.




We go out again at the weekend, a Sunday afternoon stroll through Castle Park, ending at the Harbourside. Dominic buys fat falafels that we eat, tahini running down our fingers, as we walk across the cobbles. Boats bob on the water to our right, the yellow and blue of a harbour ferry purring past us. The sun is hot on my arms; the noise of people around us buzzes in my ears. Outside the Arnolfini, Dominic stops.

‘I’ll get us some drinks,’ he says. ‘A cold cider will do nicely, what with it being so warm.’ He doesn’t ask whether I like cider, not that I know. He disappears inside.

I discover that I do like it. The sharp apple tang hits the back of my throat as we sit, side by side, on the cobbles. Again, with hindsight I realise Dominic’s working to a precise plan. We’re in public, on a hot Sunday afternoon; nothing about our date can possibly spook me. All part of his design, of course, taking me to places where either nobody is around or else blending us into a crowd. I have no doubts, no prods from my gut alerting me to what lies behind the blue and brown of his eyes. Instead I fall, a plum ripe from the tree, into Dominic’s grasp. I want this man, and by now, I’m desperate to experience passion, abandonment, everything missing from my previous sexual experiences. I’m convinced this man holds the key to erotic nirvana.

‘Want to come to my place for dinner sometime this week?’ he asks.

I don’t hesitate. ‘I’d love to,’ I reply.
Thank you for being part of The Scribbler and sharing the beginning of your new novel Maggie. I'm anxious to know what Dominic is up to.
Maggie James – author of psychological suspense novels
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Next week, please join us here on the Scribbler to read from Guest Author Katrina Cope's novel, Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain. Katrina lives in Australia.