My babies arrived yesterday! I became a mum to ten author copies of my book, A Taste of Honey. I am so excited about this particular book as it will actually get sold in Waldenbooks/Borders book stores across the U.S. The first time any of my published books will retail in shops.
It's also available from the publisher's website and Amazon:
Here is a short excerpt:
The man looked up. The first thing she noticed was his eyes; they were so soulful, fringed with heavy, dark lashes. She found it hard to take her own off them. They were the kind of green you could lose yourself in. For a moment, she forgot why she was here. Her mouth dry, she said, “Er, do you mind if I sit?”
He said nothing, just shook his head, indicating she could sit down if she wanted. Boy, she had a feeling this was going to be hard work.
Out of his pocket, he pulled a battered tin and some cigarette papers. Taking some tobacco, he deftly placed it in the middle of one of the papers and made a roll-up. She watched as he ran the tip of the paper across his tongue and sealed the cigarette. Now was her chance. She leaned forward, so he would get a flash of her ample cleavage, and used her huskiest voice, the one she used for jobs like this.
“Do you mind?” She placed one of her own cigarettes between her lipstick-painted lips. She didn’t normally smoke, but knew it looked seductive and, after all, she had been forewarned he was a smoker.
“Mind what?” he replied, in what sounded like an Irish brogue.
“I was hoping you would give me a light.”
“Oh.” He took a match from the box and struck it. She leaned even closer as the flame touched the tip of the cigarette. “You have to inhale at the same time.” The corner of his lips curved upwards into a half smile. She felt foolish, but she was right about one thing—he was Irish. “Now, you’re not really a smoker, are you?”
“I am,” she replied indignantly and inhaled deeply to prove she was, prompting a coughing fit. If ever Francine felt like the ground should swallow her up, it was right at this very moment.
“Here.” The man handed Fran her drink. She observed he had a tattoo of a shamrock on the back of his forearm. As she took the glass from his outstretched hand, his fingers brushed against hers. A tingly feeling danced over the surface of her skin, taking her by surprise. This wasn’t going to be easy. He didn’t seem the type of person she thought he was. But his wife’s description had been accurate: collar-length, dark brown hair, green eyes, goatee beard, smoker. But no mention of a tattoo. How strange.
Now what? “Come on, you’ve got lucky.” She licked her lips. If she could just get him outside in a compromising situation, a photographer awaited to snap a picture of them together.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I thought you might like to come home with me for a night cap?”
“I don’t usually go off with strange women, darling!” His eyes widened and he drained his pint, then slammed it down on the table.
So that was his game, was it? He had probably guessed his wife had someone following him.
Fran tried to keep her voice controlled. “Isn’t that what lecherous men like you want? A mistress, while your poor wife stays at home looking after the children?”
He gave her a hard stare, as if she had a screw loose. “I don’t know what you’ve been drinking, but I reckon you should make that your last one. I ain’t the marrying kind. And I certainly don’t go around picking up strange women with all the morals of an alley cat.”
Well, he would say that wouldn’t he? If he suspected something.
He got up out of his seat and grabbed his combat jacket from the back of the chair. Shaking his head and muttering under his breath, he pushed past her.
Immediately, Fran was on her feet. “You no-good, two-timing son of a bitch!” The pub chatter ceased and everything went deadly quiet. She hadn’t realised how far her voice would carry. It felt as if time had stopped and all the pub’s regulars were on freeze frame. This was so not how to do her job. It was unethical, but she just couldn’t help herself. The man was arrogance itself.
She watched as his shoulders tensed up. The back of his neck appeared to shrink down into his shoulders. Slowly, he turned.
People were giving him the evil eye and whispering. Good. What did she care if everyone in the pub knew about him?
The man took a deep breath. “Lady, I have never seen you before in my life and, if I ever see you again, it will be too soon.” Then he pushed his way through the crowd that parted like the Red Sea to allow him to pass.
Fran followed close after him. Once on the street, she gave a thumbs-up sign to the photographer slouched against the wall across the road, to indicate he should follow them. One thing was for sure, the Irish bloke could walk at a hell of pace. For someone who smoked, he seemed ultra fit. Fran’s high-heeled shoes pinched her feet and one of her heels got wedged in a crack in the pavement.
“Stop!” she bellowed at the top of her lungs. “I want a word with you.”
The man paused and turned to face her, then burst out laughing as she toppled over and lay spread-eagled on the pavement. Any dignity she had now disappeared. Her dress hitched up around her thighs and her stocking tops were on full view. Fran felt her face heat up.
When his laughter ceased, he ran over and helped her to her feet.
“I can manage, thank you.” She brushed the dirt from her new dress. She had torn it and broken a fingernail into the bargain.
He steadied her, taking no notice of her protests to keep away. Aware of his closeness, she shivered. Brought back to reality, she heard a click behind them. Oh no, she had forgotten—the photographer.
“What the…?” The man furrowed his brow, his lips tightening. “I don’t know what your game is, little lady, but you’d better keep away from me before I do something I might regret.” He quickly walked away.
“Yeah, run away,” Fran shouted after him. “That’s what men like you do. You’re all the same!” She remembered the photographer. “Did you get that?”
“Yep. I fired off a few shots from across the road, but the best one was when he steadied you after you had fallen.” The photographer frowned. “Hey, I’m not too happy about setting this chap up.”
“You’ve done it before, Ralph. Why the pang of conscience?”
“Something doesn’t feel right. Are you sure you had the right bloke?”
“Let me tell you, Ralph, I’ve been in this game for some time now and I know we got the right man.”* * *
Camille Johnson fingered the large black and white prints and handed them back to Francine. “It’s not him.”
Fran’s stomach flipped over. “Are you sure? Take another look…”
“I think I’d recognise my own husband. I’ve never seen that man before in my life.”
“But I was so sure after the description you gave me. You said where he would be drinking and that he had a goatee beard.”
Mrs. Johnson raised her eyebrows and threw her shoulders back, now towering over Fran. “I said nothing of the sort.”
“Yes, you did. You said, ‘collar-length brown hair, green eyes and goatee beard’.”
Mrs. Johnson looked up at the ceiling in desperation. “I said, ‘collar-length brown hair, green eyes and that he would go to bed’. I meant he would go to bed with the woman in question. I can assure you that my husband does not have a goatee beard!” She flared her nostrils in disgust.
Fran looked at the floor. “Oh! Sorry. It’s just that you don’t see many men with goatee beards these days, so I just assumed.”
“Never assume, dear. It just makes an ass out of you and me. I shall expect a refund, of course.”
Fran swallowed. Now she would have to explain to her boss why she’d failed on this particular assignment. She had been so sure, too. Never mind, she was hardly likely to see the man again, was she? It was his local and she never drank there. She also made it a rule not to return to a pub where she had set up a honey trap. This one she would just have to chalk up to experience.