Tuesday, 17 June 2014

NEW RELEASE - 'The All or Nothing Girl'

A date for your diaries, faithful readers ... THURSDAY 26th JUNE sees the release of my latest novel - 'THE ALL OR NOTHING GIRL'.

Here's my delicious new cover - what do you think?

And here's the blurb:

What happens when your comfortable life
is suddenly denied you?
When the Chanel make up’s dried up,
the designer gear’s been flogged on eBay
and the Persian rug has been well and truly
pulled out from under you?

Meet Francesca Milton-Harris
as she realises that one ‘little mistake’
is going to change her life in ways she
could never have imagined. 

because sometimes you have to lose it all
to see how much more you can gain.

 * * * * *

Want a little taster? 
Chapter One

My name is Francesca and I am a recovering spoilt brat.

Hah!  And of course I’m well aware that makes me sound as if I’m at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where instead of owning up to a booze problem, I’m admitting to being a filthy rich little madam without a care in the world but I don’t care.  See, the nasty side of me still pops up on the odd occasion.

But, I have to say,  as I stood waiting for the lift at my local hospital, with barely a penny to my name and a bellyful of arms and legs waiting to rip me asunder, I couldn’t have felt less like the privileged little diva I’d spent the best part of twenty-eight years perfecting.

I was alone, truly alone.  Well, that was if you didn’t count the embryo I’d been incubating (read: living off me like a greedy little non rent-paying parasite) for the past nine months.  The free-loading human I was about to meet, with absolutely no idea about what that entailed.

I remembered thinking, ‘Shit, this is it!  Me and a baby!  In a National Health hospital, of all places!  Who’d have thought it?’  But as the pains built in their intensity, I breathed a little deeper and prayed that the lift would arrive swiftly and deliver me to the comfort of the maternity ward - albeit one where poor people squeezed out their ugly babies.

Francesca Milton-Harris giving birth in an NHS hospital?  Not while I’ve got breath in me and they’re still serving cocktails at the Ritz - as my deceased mother used to say.

Yeah, and a fat lot of good that mantra did her too.

As I waited and jiggled (I’m never quite sure why I do it but it seems to work for all nervy situations - and for your information, it’s a kind of hop from one foot to the other with a little bouncy head sway thrown in for good measure) I saw (actually smelt first) the most stunningly attractive man I’d seen in months. No surprises there, considering where I’d been forced to live.  You don’t get many Armani models or multi millionaires wandering around my run down council estate in Shepherd’s Bush - but more of that later.  Anyway, he looked at his watch (expensive, I instantly noted) and then joined me in my wait for the lift.  He was my type of man - he oozed money, opulence and the finer things in life.  He would have been my ideal date, pre my baby-growing months and being relegated to the mould-ridden flat where I’d been forced to take up residence.

And there was I, with hair that hadn’t seen a stylist in months and a midriff the size of Vesuvius.  I won’t go into details about the stirrings in my nether regions but sadly they had nothing to do with the sight of this yummy man.  Talk about wrong time, wrong place.

I had no idea that things could only get worse …

The lift doors finally opened and Rich Guy smiled and stood back, gesturing for me to go ahead of him.  Hmm, a gentleman too, I thought as the pains subsided for long enough for me to appreciate his chivalry.

Once inside, he turned to me and smiled.  ‘I take it you’re going to the same floor as me.  Maternity?’

I nodded, suddenly feeling shy - most unlike me - and I instantly made a mental note to pull myself together.  Francesca Milton-Harris didn’t do cowering wallflower or helpless little lady.  Or rather the ‘Franny M-H’ of old didn’t - that one had balls and knew how to use them, so to speak.

But where had those balls gone?  Had they packed their Louis Vuitton cases - oh, how I missed my designer luggage - and hotfooted it out of town?

No, I wouldn’t have it.  I might have been on my uppers but that was through no fault of my own and if I could still entertain the idea of flirting with a tasty looking chappy whilst in the throes of labour, I could convince myself I still had my allure.  Sex appeal didn’t rely on cash or fancy labels, did it?  Although, thinking about it, I’d be hard pushed to list any of my revolting neighbours with an ounce of charisma or even one that I might consider romantically if he were the last man on earth.  Maybe money did make you sexy.

As I leaned back against the rail around the lift, I could see that it wasn’t just money that made Rich Guy so enticing.  Oh yes, he had all the right gear - beautifully cut suit, handmade shoes and the subtle odour of wealth - but there was a whole lot more going on.  He had the hair, the cheekbones and the complexion of someone who worked hard and played hard - the sort of look that came from a combination of various therapies and a good healthy dose of sun and sea.  As I said before, in another life, I knew his type.

I could almost hear my best friend Tiggy having a jolly good giggle at me and saying, ‘Atta girl, Frannypoops!  Still checking out what’s on offer even though your lady bits are well and truly closed for business.  You poor, past-your-sell-by-date little fatty.’

Yes, the pregnancy and my change in living conditions hadn’t gone down too well with Tiggy and whenever I’d been looking for sympathy or a shoulder to cry on, she hadn’t been my first port of call.

Would I have been the same if the situation had been reversed?  In all honesty, probably, yes.  It’s what we were, what we were made of - and that wasn’t sugar and spice and all things nice.  Oh no, not by any means.

Thrown together at boarding school, we’d lived the lives of those with little parental love - although we were compensated by being showered with everything that money could buy.  We asked for it, we got it - and boy, did we ask.  The only difference now was that Tiggy continued to demand, and indeed receive, yet I’d been totally cut off.

Well, that and the fact that I was about to become a single parent living in a one bed flat on the kind of estate I’d only ever seen in documentaries on the 52 inch plasma flat screen which used to pop seamlessly out from the foot of my queen sized bed.

Yep, things had certainly changed.

Rich Guy looked at me and smiled again.  I smiled back - nobody could rob me of the twenty-five grand’s worth of dental work I’d had done over the years, so I made the most of it.  Men had told me I had a smile that could light up a room, so I could surely add a sparkle to the six foot square metal box we were currently sharing - even if I was heavy with child.

‘Baby due soon?’ he asked.

I nodded.  ‘Any minute now actually,’ I told him as another contraction reached monstrous proportions.  My smile may have turned into a grimace but I was sure it still displayed my snow white veneers to their best advantage.

‘Better get you to the safety of the ward quickly then, hadn’t we?’ he comforted at the exact moment that the lights flickered off and then back on and the lift ground to a halt with a shuddering thud.

Not ideal, huh?  Certainly not for a pathetic specimen who needed a double whisky before her twice monthly bikini wax and had written ‘Knock me out’ on her birth plan.

I wasn’t sure if I was grateful for the fact that the lights had flashed back on or not.  If Rich Guy was about to find himself delivering my sprog, did I really want him seeing my untrimmed lady garden?  (Hair removal had been one of the first luxuries to bite the dust and I’d learned very quickly that those areas were too delicate to attack with a blunt Bic - let’s not go there.)  Oh my!  Tiggy would lunch out on this debacle for months.

‘Damn!’ my travelling companion uttered.  Then he turned to me and added, ‘Don’t panic.  We’ll be fine.  All we need to do is press the alarm and they’ll have us out in a flash.’

By this time I’d slipped to the floor and was panting and sweating quite a bit - Mummy would have insisted that I was doing no such thing as ladies merely ‘lightly glowed’, but trust me on this, it was pouring off me.

I’d suddenly become aware that I was sitting in a rather larger puddle than I could possibly have perspired and I stupidly wondered if I’d peed myself - C minus for failing to attend any ante-natal classes or making it past the ‘Conception’ chapter in my ‘What You Need to Know About Having a Baby’ book.

Rich Guy’s voice seemed to be floating in and out of my consciousness like a badly tuned radio.  It was most disconcerting and I tried desperately to make myself concentrate on what he was saying.  From my prone position on the floor, I became aware that he was talking into the speaker on the wall of the lift and frantically running his hand through his previously immaculate hair.

‘Yes!’  His Gucci feathers were well and truly ruffled by now.  ‘In lift A and we’re stuck - a lady here about to give birth.  We need help and quickly!’

‘Agggggh!’  The sound was primal and terrifying and I was amazed to discover that it had come from me.  Who’d have thought I could make such a vulgar and earthy noise?  Oooh, but it helped.  It helped quite a lot, actually, so I did another one for good measure.  ‘Agggghhh!’

Rich Guy jumped and I could see that he was now whispering into the speaker.  I strained my ears to listen but it was fruitless so I went for another guttural moan.

‘I really think the baby might be coming NOW!’ I heard him say.  Gosh, he was tuned in.  Perhaps he was a doctor, maybe even a top notch private one, and I’d be OK after all.

‘No.  No experience whatsoever, I’m afraid,’ he said, continuing his conversation with the wall.  ‘I’m a business consultant - you don’t get to witness too many births in my profession.’

Well, that was just great - not a doctor after all and I was well and truly stuffed.  Images of a cosy private ward at the exclusive Portland hospital floated through my mind as I felt an overwhelming need to start pushing.  Would my child’s future be determined by its undignified entry into this world?  If that were the case, he was doomed and he’d have an ASBO before nursery and be doing his first stint in a youth offenders’ prison before his Eleven Plus.

‘Unnnnggggh.’  My vocal repertoire had taken on a whole new tone and I was mortified to discover that I was actually removing my underwear - La Perla, of course, but sadly last season and a little past their best.  OK, so I hadn’t done the classes or prepped myself about what would happen to my body when the little shi… darling … made its appearance but thankfully my body seemed to have taken over and knew what it should be doing all by itself.

Which was just as well, as I shortly found myself with a furry little head poking its way out of my frou-frou.  Oh yes, my body knew what it was doing alright!

‘No.  I don’t think she’s got anything with her.’  I could still hear him talking to whoever was at the other end of the stupid speaker and clearly being of no help to us whatsoever.

‘Do you have a bag with you?’  He was in my face now and the sight of his calming eyes flanked by sweeping lashes took my mind off the pain for long enough for me to take a normal breath.

‘A bag?’  What did he mean?  A Chanel?  A Birken?  No - I’d flogged off all but one of mine long ago on eBay - how was a girl meant to live?

‘Your overnight holdall.  You know?  Nappies, a blanket, clothes.’ 

Ah!  No.  I didn’t.  And I must admit I felt pretty stupid but, as another gut-wrenching pain tore through me, I simply shook my head and emitted another farmyard noise.

‘The head’s right out now.’  He was back speaking to the useless person in the wall again.  ‘I can see it quite clearly … OK … yes … I’ll take my jacket off and get it ready for … oh shit … I can see shoulders now … really quite broad ones …’

‘BOLLLLLLOCCCCKKKKS’  Yep, those shoulders were pretty broad!  I huffed, puffed, panted and wondered if I’d ever walk again after the pain I’d just experienced.

But there was that beautiful face again - right in mine - and I could smell luxury and toothpaste.  I could trust that face - and let’s consider the facts here, I had no choice.

‘Listen to me,’ the face said.  ‘They say you’re doing really well.  We can do this.  OK?  Apparently, the shoulders are the worst bit.  A couple more big, big breaths and I think we’re there.’

We?  Where did this ‘we’ business keep coming from?  I didn’t see him writhing in agony and hyperventilating.

‘It’s pretty ouchy,’ I told him pathetically, and those delicious eyes crinkled and smiled into my own.

‘You’re being so brave … sorry, I don’t even know your name!  But I’m going to call you Ms. Plucky.  Come on - push that little plucker out!’

I would have laughed but I’d found that I needed every last ounce of energy for one final humongous grunt.

‘Oh, wow!’  Rich Guy was sitting on the floor between my legs, with a bucket load of guts and gore on his approximately two grand jacket and a screaming new baby blinking up at him.

I couldn’t ever remember seeing a man looking quite so happy in the whole of my life.

SO that's THURSDAY 26th JUNE - at Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at Lulu.  

1 comment:

  1. Ok now I officially hate you! How on earth can you tease me like this again???? Something's have to change missy or I'll drink all the Babycham myself! #Baggiesbeta x