See Me Not (coming soon).

I’ve wanted to share this opening scene since the words first rolled off my fingertips, but I wasn’t allowed, I was allowed, I wasn’t…and finally, I thought, I’m just going to go for it.

This book is painfully close to my heart. I’m finding it incredibly difficult to write. Not because I’m struggling with what to say, more, what I’m saying is so close to the bone for me. But I hope all the emotion, pain, heartache and anger will shine through the pages. Anyway, I’m rambling now so I’ll leave it there and well, here, see what you think.

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UNEDITED AND SUBJECT TO MINOR CHANGES

Chapter One 

EMMA 

Fourteen Years Ago

 

‘Miss, Miss. You can’t sit there.’

I look up at the man rushing towards me, shouting. He’s wearing a yellow, high visibility vest and an old-school walkie talky hangs off his belt and crashes against his hip as he hurries. He must work here, at the train station, I think. Maybe he’s a conductor or something.

I look back down at the loose rubble between the train tracks and continue to swing my legs from side to side over the edge of the platform.

‘Are you bloody crazy,’ he says, reaching me and tapping me on the shoulder. ‘Get up, will you?’

I tilt my head to one side and take in his face. He’s in his mid-fifties, I guess. His thin-on-top grey hair and the tired lines around his eyes emphasise his worried expression. He needn’t be concerned. I’m not going to jump under a train on his watch. I’ve thought about it, I won’t lie. More so in the last few days than I ever have before. But I don’t have the balls for it. Thinking about it is all I ever do. Besides, I don’t need to jump. I’m already dead inside. The guilt has eaten me alive.

‘Please, Miss. There’s a train due in less than five minutes. You’ll lose your legs. And that’s if you get lucky and the train doesn’t pull you under completely. Will you, for the love of God, stand up?’

I press the palm of my hands on the ground by my sides and slide my arse back along the cold concert beneath me. The backs of my calves scrap against the edge of the platform as my body drags my legs to stretch out flat in front of me. I keep shuffling backwards until I’m behind the yellow line. The train won’t touch me now.

Other commuters have started to stare. That’s just normal, I know. They’re curious. I would be too in their shoes.

The middle aged man stays beside me. I really wish he’d leave, but I know he won’t. It’s obvious he still doesn’t trust that I won’t dive in front of the train as soon as it arrives. He’s giving me far too much credit.

‘I won’t jump,’ I finally say.

He reaches his hand out to me and I surprise myself as I take it. He pulls and my legs automatically scramble to stand up.

‘There we go,’ he smiles. ‘That’s much better. Where are you headed?’

‘Eh…Greystones,’ I say, spluttering the first town that comes into my head.

‘Ah, okay. You need to be on the other side of the tracks, then. This side heads back into the city.’

I force a redundant smile.

‘Are you in a hurry?’ he asks.

I shrug. ‘Nah, not really.’

I’m not going to Greystones. I don’t know where I’m going. Or even if I’m going anywhere. But I do know where I’m not going. Home.

‘It’s just…I’m on my break in a few minutes, and it gets fierce bloody lonely in that little shack.’ He points towards a small, porta cabin with STAFF painted in handwritten letters on the door. ‘I’ve decent tea in my flask, if you fancy a sup. I’d be glad of the company.’

I want to tell him that he’s wasting his time on me; that he won’t talk my troubles away. I’ve done something terrible. No amount of talking can help. But, hell, maybe this is his good deed of the day. Maybe his days are as empty as mine and he really would enjoy some company. Who am I to deny him that?

‘Okay,’ I nod.

‘I’m Danny,’ he says, extending his hand as his smile reflects the friendliness in his voice.

‘Emma,’ I reply, shaking his hand.

‘Pleased to meet you, Emma. I’ve a feeling we are going to be good friends.’

This stranger is even crazier than I am, I decide, looking him up and down.

‘C’mon, love. That tea won’t drink itself. And your train will be here soon.’

 

Present Day

 

The text message comes from a number I don’t recognise. A friend or relative of Danny’s, perhaps. Maybe someone has taken it upon themselves to text everyone in his contacts. I’m glad, otherwise I may never have known.

Just to let you know Danny passed away yesterday.

Funeral service @ St. Michael’s on Friday 5th.

Call for directions if needed.

No flowers please, donations if desired to hope.com

I half-fill the kettle and flick it on. I’m not sure I even want coffee now, but my hands feel like they need to do something. I haven’t seen Danny in weeks. I haven’t been getting the train as often as I used to. I’m trying to drive to work more. My driving test is looming and I need the practice, despite morning traffic being a bitch and almost constantly landing me late for work. I concentrate and try to remember the last time Danny and I spoke. It must have been at least three months ago. Certainly before my wedding. He didn’t look sick then. Why the hell didn’t he tell me?

Darkness into light

On the 26th of February 2016 I received a phone call from my sister that would change me irreversibly.  She called to tell me that our beautiful, funny, intelligent nineteen-year-old niece had taken her own life.

Laura was an amazing person. She wasn’t just my sister’s child, she was my best friend and I loved her more than words could ever say. At first I was angry, I admit. I was bitter that she left me. How could she do it, did she not love me as much as I loved her and I’d never take myself away from her? But I wasn’t suffering with depression. I wasn’t so low that I couldn’t see any light at the end. I wasn’t in Laura’s shoes.

Laura is gone ten weeks now and people say time heals but it isn’t getting any easier to be without her. I think about her all the time. I talk to her in my head and I cry – a lot.

Laura didn’t mean to break her mother’s heart. She didn’t mean to devastate her family. She didn’t mean to hurt us so bad that missing her is a physical pain.

hopeLaura never meant to hurt anyone. Not even herself. She just wanted her pain to stop. Laura succeeded in ending her pain when she took her own life, but what she didn’t know was that pain lives on without her. It’s etched into the hearts of everyone who loved her because life without her is pain for us. Every. Single. Day.

Suicide is never the answer. NEVER.

The morning of May 7th 2016, ten weeks and one day without Laura, was the DARKNESS INTO LIGHT WALK in aid of Pieta House. Pieta House is an Irish charity dedicated to helping prevent suicide. The 5 km walk starts at 4.15am in darkness and finishes as dawn breaks. The idea being it gets a little brighter with every step you take. I would give anything to take Laura’s hand and walk together again until it’s bright, but I can’t. But it’s not too late for others. There can still be light…

Over 120,000 people took part in the walk in various locations around Ireland with other countries joining this year too to host walks, growing DARKNESS INTO LIGHT into a global event.

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If you are familiar with my writing you will know that respect and understanding of #mentalhealth is very close to my heart.

In aid of Pieta House and DARKNESS INTO LIGHT and in memory of my amazing niece I would like to donate 100% of No Kiss Goodbye’s sales this weekend to this fantastic charity. If you would rather not buy the book but you’d still like to donate to this amazing cause then please check out their website below for details.

Please. Everyone deserves a chance to walk in the light.

http://www.pieta.ie/donate

Harte – An Epilogue

***SPOILER ALERT***

DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ QUEEN OF HARTE’S (well, you can if you like but you know what I mean)

 

Samantha placed her hand on Julian’s shoulder and he jumped.

‘Sorry,’ she said, blushing. ‘Didn’t mean to startle you.’

Julian smiled and shook his head. ‘It’s okay. I’m just…erm…just…’

‘Just nervous, anxious, not entirely sure what to do with yourself?’ Samantha said, half laughing but fully serious.

‘Just not in control,’ Julian admitted. ‘I hate this. I feel so helpless. Eva is in so much pain and there is nothing I can do.’

Julian rubbed his temples with his fingertips and sighed deeply. He roughly forced the sleeve of his shirt up his arm and glanced at his watch. Eva was in labour more than eight hours. Eight goddam hours. And the doctor said she had barely passed the half way point. This was torture. He’d swap places with his wife in a heartbeat if he could.

‘She’ll be fine, Julian,’ his mother in law reassured. I was seventeen hours in labour with Eva. It’s natural. You’re allowed to take a restroom break, you know. The baby won’t pop out because you needed to pee. Don’t worry.’

But Julian was worrying. He was worrying more than he ever had in his life. What if something happened his wife? What if their baby wasn’t okay? What if despite thinking the doctor was a thundering gobshite because he couldn’t click his fingers and deliver the baby straight away, the man was actually perfectly competent and good at his job, and Julian really did just have to wait? What if Julian didn’t get back to the delivery room before Eva noticed he was gone?

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Julian took one, large, roasting hot gulp of coffee from the foam takeaway cup Samantha passed him and flung the rest into a nearby bin.

‘I need to get back,’ he said turning around to face towards the delivery ward at the end of the long corridor.

‘Julian. Breathe,’ Samantha warned. ‘You’re no good to Eva if you’re in a state.’

Julian’s eyes narrowed and without meaning to he eyed his mother in law up and down. But his gaze quickly drifted to the ground. Samantha was right. Julian hadn’t felt this helpless since he was a child. He needed to pull himself together. This wasn’t him. But this was all new and even though he wouldn’t admit it, not even to himself, it was scary. He never imagined there would be a pain he couldn’t protect Eva from. But yet, here they were.

Julian smiled at Samantha one last time, and without another word, raced back down the corridor.

 

***

Eva opened one eye at a time. She didn’t know how long she’d slept. It didn’t feel like very long. Her whole body hurt as if she’d gone ten rounds with a UFC champion and her throat was as dry as hell. But instead of reaching for the bottle of sparkling water on the table next to her bed she lay so still she was almost not breathing. She was taking in the most beautiful sight she had ever seen in her life, and even if it meant her throat would close over from thirst she wasn’t going to spoil it.

It was late. Definitely night outside. Moonlight shone through the fine material of the curtains closed across the window of her private, hospital room. It was just enough light to make out the silhouette of her husband sitting in the armchair in the corner, near her bed. He wasn’t sleeping, Eva knew. She could hear him humming a song. His deep tone and soft notes were spellbinding. But no where near as magical as the fragil human curled up in a tiny ball against his chest. Their daughter’s body was only a fraction bigger than Julian’s hand resting across her back keeping her warm and secure.

Suddenly Eva’s body couldn’t feel the aches and pains of recent childbirth and all she could feel was a tingle. It started in her toes, rushed up her legs and shot straight through her body until it reached her fingertips. She was no longer the most important girl in Julian’s life. It felt more bloody amazing than she ever could have imagined to hand that crown over to her new born daughter.

Eva watched Julian for a long time. He had changed so much since she first met him. For one thing, he smiled. Often. But right now she didn’t need to see him smile to know he was happy. She didn’t need to feel his naked body trashing against hers as they made love to know he was content. She didn’t even need to see him at all. She could feel it. His emotion was so strong as he cradled his little girl, that Eva could sense Julian’s happiness like she never had before. It had never been like this before. They had never been so complete.

‘You know, she’s going to get used to sleeping there,’ Eva said, finally giving in and reaching for some water.

Julian stood up as he heard her voice. ‘You’re awake.’

‘Have been for a while.’

Julian walked towards her bed, taking great care not to disturb the baby sleeping soundly against his chest. ‘Eva she’s amazing. So amazing.’

‘I know.’

‘I just can’t take my eyes off her,’ Julian said.

‘I know that too. But you’re spoiling her, you know.’

‘I do know. And I plan to keep it up. I want to spoil her rotten.’

‘You’ll be sorry when she’s in the terrible two’s,’ Eva giggled.

‘I’ll never be sorry. I don’t think I’ll ever let her out of my arms.’

Eva tried to shoot Julian a scolding look but she couldn’t wipe the silly, overly happy grin off her face. ‘Well do you think you could put her down long enough to wrap your arms around your wife?’

Julian looked at Eva, then at their baby and back at Eva. ‘Okay. Now that I think I can do.’

Julian reached over the cot at the edge of Eva’s bed and placed the baby safely on her back. He was just about to cover her tiny body with a blanket when a loud cry, far too loud to come from such a tiny body filled the air. And other, and other. Without hesitation Julian scooped his arms under his baby and lifted her once again. She stopped crying immediately.

‘Oh. My. God,’ Eva laughed. ‘I think she’s the first person ever to boss you around.’

Julian laughed. Eva pulled herself into a sitting position, slid over a little on the bed and reached out her arms. Julian passed their precious little one into the crook of his wife’s arm and sat on the edge of the bed. He draped one arm over Eva’s shoulders and with the other hand he placed a finger against his daughter’s palm. Her little fingers instinctively grasp his finger.

‘You blow my mind, Miss Andrews. I’m so proud of you.’ Julian kissed Eva’s forehead gently.

‘Ah-herm, it’s Mrs Harte – thank you very much. And I’m pretty sure that’s not all I’ve blown for you, Julian.’

‘Eva. Jesus. Not in front of the baby,’ Julian laughed.

‘Oh. I see. You’re a family man now. We have to keep this PG 13.’

Julian looked at the baby in Eva’s arms, checking she was asleep. ‘Too right I am. I have two women in my life. One I will damn sure no man ever touches.’

Eva rolled her eyes playfully. ‘And the other?’

‘The other I will make damn sure this man never stops touching.’

‘Ju-li-an,’ Eva blushed.

‘Now. I just need to get you home so I can kiss every inch of you all better.’

hands

 

The End… (for now😉 )

 

 

Rant Time…apologies in advance :(

Reviews. Reviews Reviews.

Honestly? I think that word is starting to freak me out. Bad ones, good ones, hoping for more, crossing fingers people will write one, crossing toes it won’t be terrible. I think every author at some stage in their career has obsessed over reviews. And I’m one of them. Reviews are worth their weight in gold. And pre-release reviews? Well, even better. Get a few great ones in the week or two before release and you could be hitting all sorts of highs on the charts. Get some stinkers … and, well, you see where this is going.

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I could try to play this cool and say I don’t read reviews because I’m so busy writing, blah, blah, blah but that would be a huge lie. I totally read reviews. ALL OF THEM! See, I’m nosy, and reviews are a bit like knowing people are talking about you behind your back but you can hear what they’re saying.

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Glowing reviews are great, of course they are. But one and two stars ones are equally as important. I honestly think negative reviews are essential…there, I admitted it *gulp*. It’s a realistic reflection of life. There’s just no way everyone is going to like the same thing. Food, music, books, movies. Varity is the spice of life and all that. How boring would life be if we all had the same taste?

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I can say with my hand on my heart that I appreciate five or one star reviews and all in between. Someone has taken the time to read my book and taken even more time to lend their opinion. It blows my mind.

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But, unfortunately some negative reviews cut a little too deep. I’ve been called terrible names, had my intelligence and ethics questioned. I’ve even been threatened. And yes, there are times when I ask myself ‘’what the hell am I doing’’. I could just give up, and it would all go away, right? But after some wallowing (and some wine, wine always helps) I pick myself back up and realise that those reviews are a teeny, tiny minority. And, they say a lot more about the people who write them than they do about the book or the author. There’s no point asking people who write reviews like that to remember there is a real person behind every book. You know, the person who gave themselves cramp typing, or a bad back because they spend hours hunched over their computer. The people who write nasty reviews know this. But they don’t care *shrugs* And, you know what? It’s taken me almost two years to realise that I don’t care either. The world is full of assholes and it always will be. Some people just get a kick out of putting other people down.

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Now, I’m not saying anyone who leaves a poor review is an ass. Quite the opposite, actually. Some one and two star reviews are constructive, well worded and polite while still making the point that they didn’t enjoy the book. And I LOVE those reviews. I truly admire someone who can put their hand up and say the book wasn’t for them without feeling the need to offend anyone who enjoyed it, or telling other people not to read it.

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Writing is a passion. It’s engraved somewhere in my soul. I wouldn’t know who I am without it. When I remember that, nasty reviews can’t hurt me, and, I have wine … did I mention the wine???😉

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The countdown is on

Scrubs tears #2

Around about this time with every book I get super nervous and drink a liver crippling amount of wine. See, I’m at the point where I’ve finished writing Scrubs (part one). It’s been edited, and I’ve done my very best to develop these characters who I love, but still leave them room to grow in the next books. It’s about to get proofread to within an inch of its life and in less than a week the very first ARCs will go out to bloggers. This is what I want, it’s what I need. You know, to get the word out there well in advance of release date. But, I’m bloody terrified. I’ve never written a book like this before and I’m worried about what people will think.

Lucas Callaghan is softer than I’d anticipated. Yes, he’s alpha. His job as an undercover cop demands it. But, really he’s a good guy with a big heart that’s been ripped to shreds and he’s just trying to get through one day at a time.

Aoife Brennan is a bit more complex. She can throw back one hell of an insult and she can drink coffee like it’s an Olympic challenge. But deep down she’s not tough at all. She’s barley scraping through college and she’s not living the life she wants.

I’m just not sure what people will make of two pretty flawed characters who are sometimes more real than they are likeable. When I plotted out this series a few months back I thought it was erotic suspense. But, as soon as I started to get to know the characters, when I really got inside their heads, I realised for sure this is romance. Okay, okay, so it’s suspenseful ( because I just can’t help it) and it’s erotic (well, a girl has to have a little fun). But it’s romance. Good. Old. Fashioned. Romance. Just with a messed up plot and a lot of mind f*ckery. Sound okay? God, I hope so.