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Opening Lines; By Virtue Fall by Carrie Elks

Posted by on Oct 18th, 2018 in Blog, Contemporary fiction, Contemporary Romantic Fiction, Fiction, Jenny Kane, Opening Lines Blog, Romance | 2 comments

‘Opening Lines’ time is here! This week I’m welcoming romance writer, Carrie Elks, to the blog with her brand new release, By Virtue Fall. Over to you Carrie… First of all many thanks to Jenny for featuring me on your blog. I was excited because as an author I spend hours trying to get the first few pages of a book completely right. 500 words isn’t a lot – for me it probably works out at a third of a scene – but it SHOULD be enough to engage the reader, give them a bit of information about the characters and set the scene for the rest of the book. The extract below is from my newest release – By Virtue Fall. It’s the fourth book in a series (The Shakespeare Sisters) but can be read as a standalone romance. It’s set in a small town on the East Coast of America (think Gilmore Girls meets the Chesapeake Bay), and features a single mother called Juliet who’s trying to juggle a divorce, bringing up a six-year-old daughter, and getting her new floristry business on its feet. As if she doesn’t have enough to contend with, a new man moves into the vacant house next door. Ryan Sutherland is a travel photographer, a single father of a six year old boy, and is so attractive Juliet finds him impossible to ignore. Here are the first 500 words. ‘But I’ve always dreamed of yellow roses,’ the bride said, leaning forward. ‘Yellow roses mixed with white lilies, hand tied with string.’ ‘Yellow is very vulgar, Melanie,’ Mrs Carlton, the older woman replied, waving her hand as if to dismiss her future daughter-in-law. ‘At the Smithson wedding they had peach flowers. They were very elegant and tasteful.’ She gave a nod at the end, as if that was her final word. Juliet chewed the top of her pen lid, watching the two women debating their wedding flower preferences. Since she’d started her florist business a year before, it had become a familiar scene. Sometimes she felt more like a therapist than anything else. Pulling the blue pen lid from her mouth, Juliet scribbled on the pad in front of her. ‘You know, yellow and peach roses can look fantastic together,’ she suggested, quickly sketching out a picture of a bouquet. ‘We did something similar at the Hatherly wedding in the summer, and it looked divine.’ She leaned in towards Mrs Carlton, as if they were bosom buddies. ‘And you know how discerning Eleanor Hatherly is.’ She was name-dropping but she didn’t care. Though she was an outsider, she’d lived in Maryland long enough to know that in these circles snobbery was still a thing. Hell, she’d been married to one of the biggest snobs in Shaw Haven, after all. Was still married to him, she corrected herself. For now, at least. Thanks to  Maryland divorce laws, she and Thomas had to live separately for a year before their divorce could be finalised. Six months in, and she was already counting the days. Melanie looked up at Juliet, a flash of hope in her eyes. ‘I’d love a peach and yellow bouquet.’ Patting her on the hand, Mrs Carlton smiled. ‘I knew we’d be able to agree on this. It’s the small details that...

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Imagine Retreating

Posted by on Oct 17th, 2018 in Blog, Fiction, Imagine, Jenny Kane, News, writing tips | 0 comments

Last week, in the beautiful autumn sunshine, the first Imagine writing retreat to took place at Northmoor House, Exmoor – and what a week it was! With 6 full-week guests,  4 part-week visitors and 2 very special guests (FaberFaber novelist Kate Griffin and Bloosmbury children’s writer, Dan Metcalf), it was nonstop creativity- be it writing, thinking, reading, tutoring or drawing. Most of all, it was fantastic to be with so many talented folk in such incredible surroundings. Our days were split into mealtimes (delicious food was provided by the brilliant Eve- caterer extraordinaire), optional one-to-one tutor sessions with myself or my Imagine partner in crime, Alison Knight, and free time to write. The most important thing Alison and I wanted to provide at Northmoor, was the freedom to do as much, or as little as each guest wanted. Space to simply be. Here are just a few photographs of the house, our guests, and a glimpse of the extensive grounds. (With thanks to our guests for sharing these pictures). If you’re sorry you missed out, then keep an eye on the Imagine website. The 2019 retreat date will be posted in the next few weeks. Thanks to everyone who came along. It was a joy. Jenny x Share...

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Guest post from Phyllis Newman: The Vanishing Bride of Northfield House

Posted by on Oct 16th, 2018 in Blog, crime, Fiction, ghost story /gothic, Jenny Kane, News | 2 comments

I have a great blog for you today. Phyllis Newman is here explaining her motivation and how she satisfies her desire to kill… Why not grab a slice of cake and a cuppa, and have a read?   What could be more natural than writing murder mysteries after a long career in finance and human resources? It satisfies in some small way my desire to kill someone! I spent many decades at a large Midwestern university steeped in the various whims and vagaries of self-centered academics. As an administrator, I witnessed resentment, jealousy, fear, love, compassion, and hate (but no murders, fortunately! Not that promotion and tenure isn’t something to die for.) These emotions form the basis of all motives, the rationale for what we do in any walk of life. Motivation is a theoretical construct used to explain behavior. It represents the reasons for people’s actions, desires, and needs. Motivation can also be defined as one’s direction to behavior, or what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior. A motive is what leads to all acts of love and devotion as well as every crime. At the heart of every story you find motivation. Understanding one’s fellow man is essential if you are to write about people believably, for to reveal the rationale behind their behavior is to make them live and breathe. Real world interactions with people—especially those who are dealing with difficult situations—can yield a plethora of revelations about humanity. Every writer must search within themselves to find truth about their characters, and to reflect what they know, to write what they have experienced themselves. Yes, that old chestnut, write what you know! (It only now occurs to me that given the subject matter of THE VANISHED BRIDE OF NORTHFIELD HOUSE, this makes me look like a pretty creepy person.) Motivation—whether to keep secrets, fall in love, or murder someone—defines the action in any novel but is most particularly important in a mystery. As a writer I must create events and portray thought processes that jumpstart and maintain the action. Without understanding what motivates them, your characters remain flat and unknowable to the reader. A connection with the characters is essential for a reader to identify with and appreciate the story.  In this newly published novel, my main character Anne Chatham ends up in the English countryside typing scholarly manuscripts of an agricultural nature. What gets her there and into the ensuing intrigues is determined by the sweep of history following The Great War, the social and political upheaval of the times, and a rich tapestry of family lore, dark secrets, and forbidden love. In THE VANISHED BRIDE, I believe I have delivered a fun-to-read ghost story. It is a creepy supernatural gothic tale with a spirited heroine, intriguing mystery, engaging romance, and spirits who make the action lively. The story is a mix of mystery and romance with touches of supernatural spookiness and gothic horror. All the characters in The Vanished Bride are haunted, either by disappointment, the unresolved past, unmet desire, or guilt. They are motivated by the same desires, love, hatred, jealousy, and a whole panoply of human emotion, making them like people everywhere. This is a psychological thriller where the details unfold one by one, death by death. Extract: My...

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Retreating

Posted by on Oct 7th, 2018 in Blog, Books For Children, Contemporary fiction, Contemporary Romantic Fiction, crime, Fiction, Historical fiction, Imagine, Jenny Kane, News | 0 comments

It’s time for the Imagine Writing Retreat! Based in the beautiful Victorian Manor of Northmoor on Exmoor, a small group of writers will be joining myself and my fellow ‘Imaginer’ Alison Knight, for 5 days of writing time, chatter, author talks and – very probably- wine sippage. I’m banking on being considerably fitter on my return (there are lots of beautiful walks and plenty of stairs up to my attic bedroom)- and, hopefully, I’ll be in a position where my next novel is plotted, my latest proofing commission is complete and all my student workshops for the rest of 2018 are drafted. Do you think maybe I’m asking too much? Our prime concern however, is to make sure that every single person attending has a fantastic time! We have two amazing guests (Dan Metcalf and Kate Griffin) a quiz, optional one-to-one advice sessions and lots of biscuits. What more could a writer ask? While I’m on Exmoor the chances of decent Wi-Fi is slim, so there won’t be an Opening Lines blog this week. If you try to contact me, then please be patient. I will get back to you asap. See you on the other side… Jenny xx           Share...

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Opening Lines: The Mistress of Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble

Posted by on Oct 4th, 2018 in Blog, Fiction, Historical fiction, Opening Lines Blog, Romance | 0 comments

One of my favourite people is joining me for some ‘Opening Lines’ this week. I’m delighted to welcome, Rachel Brimble, to share a little from her bestselling book, The Mistress of Pennington’s. This is the opening 500 words to my latest release and first book in my brand-new Edwardian series, THE MISTRESS OF PENNINGTON’S. The series theme is ‘female empowerment’ and the first book deals with women in business and the struggles they faced against both commercial and social society. Elizabeth Pennington is the book’s heroine and one of my favourite characters to date. “Perfect for fans of Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.” FIRST 500 WORDS Chapter One City of Bath – January 1910 Elizabeth Pennington turned off the final light in the ladies’ department of Pennington’s Department Store and wandered through the semi-darkness to the window. She stared at Bath’s premier shopping street below. Christmas had passed three weeks before, and all the excitement and possibilities of the New Year beckoned. Nineteen ten. Even the year held the ring of a new beginning. A new start for something bigger and better. Yet, how could she revel in any possible excitement when her plans to advance her position within the store were still halted by her father? She crossed her arms as, once again, her frustration mounted. Would this be yet another year where she remained static? Her father holding her caged and controlled? As the only child born to Edward and Helena Pennington, Elizabeth had been a happy child under her mother’s care, home-schooled by a governess, before being launched into society. Yet, the balls and teas, at home visits and theatre, had soon grown tiresome and she had longed to accompany her father on his days at work. Edward Pennington, amused by his daughter’s emerging passion for all things retail, had consented to her coming along whenever possible, teaching her the basics of merchandising and marketing, allowing her to serve as a shop girl. A role that had satisfied Elizabeth for a while… Until, in 1906, her father had opened the largest department store fashionable Edwardian Bath had ever seen. From the moment she’d stepped into its sparkling, breath-taking foyer, Elizabeth would not be shaken from working as the head of the new ladies’ department. Having finally won her father’s agreement two years ago, she’d launched herself into the role with determination and commitment, proving her worth through steadily increasing sales, footfall and morale amongst her staff. Now, she wanted more… deserved more. Elizabeth breathed in deeply as she stared at the hatted men and women who streamed back and forth on the busy street; the trams slowing to pick up or allow passengers to disembark. How many of these women had she dressed and accessorised? How many had she helped to spend their father’s or husband’s money? Did they, too, long to stand tall and proud and spend their own earnings, from their own success? Although Bath was still only a small-scale industrial city, it was identified by its social elite. A city that was a bustling oasis of the firmly established upper class, but also a newly emerging middle class. It was these people that Elizabeth grew more and more determined to entice through Pennington’s doors, thus demolishing its reputation of being a place where...

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End of the Month: 273 days in

Posted by on Sep 30th, 2018 in Blog, End of Month, Jenny Kane, News | 9 comments

Yes- I know- you don’t want me to mention that another month has gone by…However, it must have because Nell Peters is here with another fabulous end of the month round-up. Over to you Nell… Hello, my sweeties – I trust all is well with you on this 273rd day of the year? That means there are just ninety-two to go before we get to sing Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne again. Tempus certainly does fugit. Celebrating her Ruby Wedding anniversary today is Mary Louise (better known as Meryl) Streep, who married sculptor Don Gummer in 1978, having been in a relationship with fellow actor, John Cazale (The Deer Hunter, amongst others) until March of that year, when he died of lung cancer. Mother-of-four Streep’s versatility as an actor apparently knows no bounds, and she has won multiple awards, including eight wins out of a huge thirty-one Golden Globe nominations. She even somehow managed to pull off her British-accented roles as Maggie Thatcher in The Iron Lady (2011), Emmeline Pankhurst in Suffragette (2015) and sing a passable Abba in Mamma Mia! (2008) although she apparently only appears in flashback in the current sequel. And now I have the song rattling around my head, making a nuisance of itself. On the same day that Meryl and Don were cutting cake and dodging confetti, American actor, comedian and ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (originally the Swedish Berrgren, meaning mountain branch) died – sadly, he was three days into his two week Farewell to Show Business retirement tour. While still in high school aged eleven, he studied a booklet called The Wizard’s Manual – nothing to do with Harry Potter, but a basic lesson in ventriloquism, and he then paid a carpenter $35 to carve the head of his first dummy, Charlie McCarthy, in the likeness of a red-headed Irish newspaper boy he knew. Bergen created the body himself, using a nine-inch length of broomstick for the backbone, with rubber bands and cord to control the lower jaw mechanism of the mouth. Gottle o geer, anyone? Edgar and his wife, fashion model Frances, had two children – Kris, a film and TV editor, and the actress Candice. Her debut role was in the 1966 film The Group and this year she can be seen as Sharon in Book Club – with a whole lot of other TV and film roles in between. At one time, Bergen and her then boyfriend, Terry Melcher, lived at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles, which was later the home of Sharon Tate and her husband, Roman Polanski. This was where Tate and four others were murdered in August 1969, by disciples of Charles Manson. On September 27 1980, Candice married French film director Louis Malle and they had one child, Chloe Françoise, in 1985. Malle died from cancer a decade later and she went on to marry New York real estate magnate and philanthropist, Marshall Rose, in 2000. Another American actress, Angeline (Angie) Dickinson, will need eighty-seven candles for her cake today – that’s going to take an awful lot of puffing and blowing. Born in 1931 to Fredericka (née Hehr) and Leo Henry Brown, she shared her date of birth with Teresa Ellen Gorman (née Moore), British Conservative MP for Billericay 1987 to 2001, who died in...

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Blog Tour: Dakota Son

Posted by on Sep 28th, 2018 in Blog, competition, Contemporary fiction, Fiction, YA | 2 comments

I’m delighted to welcome Mary Ramsey to my place today, as part of the blog tour for her YA novel, “Dakota Son.”  Over to you Mary… “Dakota Sun is a novel that will make readers, laugh, cry, and encouraged to do more for the people they love.“- Ella Vincent, Pacific Book Review. Although, throughout Dakota Son, there are many instances one of people standing up the ones they love, my favorites is the friendship and compassion displayed by London Sharp. The idea of a reality star turned supermodel was inspired by Kendall Jenner, with the name ‘London’ coming from London Breed, San Francisco’s first female African-American mayor. London is a role model by virtue of her family’s wealth, and her hard earned fame.  But  it is by choice that she is also the kind of person that is everyone’s best friend. When North Dakota native Sean Foster makes it to California he is convinced by his wife Jen, to try for the LA dream. He is signed by a small time agent and sent on a once in a life time casting call. But despite his strong, sexy features Sean has been living with the struggles of cystic fibrosis all of his life. His confidence is put to the test, as his body is scrutinized by the panel of judges.  But despite this being their first meeting London takes on the role of the mentor, older sister- the kind of person who can make the worst situation a little less stressful- The type of person who makes the world a better place. Excerpt I wasn’t even sure how to dress. I simply threw on a tank top and dark jeans, assuming I needed to look like a veteran model that didn’t care what people thought. Nineteen-year-old London looked like a ballerina with her long black hair in a tight bun. She sat on a panel with her mother Linda, a middle-aged Italian woman with blonde hair and a fake looking tan, and Sofia, a marketing representative from the company launching the makeup line. When it was my turn, I made the sign of the cross before approaching. I handed over my envelope of Jen’s photos. “Oh look, we have mail,” Linda laughed. “I know Angelina sent you, but at least have the professionalism to invest in an actual portfolio.” I figured she meant a book, or at least a binder. Or maybe a binder would have looked just as amateur. “I’m sorry, Ms. Sharp.” I need to cough. Dear Lord, if you can hear me, please calm my lungs. Linda looked me up and down. “What is that girl trying to pull? You’re not eighteen. You have the look of someone at least twenty-five.” I wasn’t sure what to say. Linda reminded me of Jen’s mother, so easily able to knock the chatter out of me. “I’ve always looked old for my age.” “Tell us something about you,” London said, looking at my headshot. Her smile was kind. Before the audition I’d done a quick internet search on her, since I don’t exactly follow fashion. I knew her four sisters married celebrities and built their stardom on tabloid rumors. London was different. She was an artist in her own right—a model, but also, according to Vogue magazine, a creative...

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Opening Lines: Life…; and Other Dreams by Richard Dee

Posted by on Sep 27th, 2018 in Blog, Fantasy, Fiction, Opening Lines Blog, thriller | 3 comments

I’m delighted to welcome friend and fellow member of the Exeter Author Association, Richard Dee, to my place today for this week’s ‘Opening Lines.’ Let’s get cosy, sit back and enjoy the first 500 words (exactly), of some fabulous fantasy fiction…   Hi everyone, my thanks to Jenny for the opportunity to post here. I’m Richard Dee and I mainly write Science Fiction adventures, although I also dabble in Cosy Crime and Steampunk. Up to now, I’ve kept to straightforward tales of adventure, corporate misdeeds and conspiracy. With the odd murder thrown in. Life and Other Dreams, the story I’m sharing with you today is a hybrid, a dual-time thriller. It started with a dream I had, where I found myself living in a slightly different version of my real life. That gave me the idea for Rick and Dan, two men separated by half a galaxy and six-hundred years. Or are they? Rick lives here on Earth, now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly. In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live in the future, exploring another planet, searching for valuable minerals on an alien paradise. However, Dan is oblivious to Rick, he has no dreams about Ricks life, as far as he is concerned, he lives on Ecias and has no alter ego. When the two worlds start to overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up. Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Rick’s wife thinks that his dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him. Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, two times, at once? And which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold? The first 500 words are set on the planet Ecias, six hundred years from now… “Whoa! Vanessa, what are you trying to do? What’s the rush?” The words were torn out of my mouth as we raced over the bumpy road, the open top of the buggy meant that you had to shout, especially when Vanessa was driving. She approached driving like she approached everything else, flat out and head on, daring it to get in her way or spoil her fun. I gripped the armrests firmly and felt the harness dig into my shoulders every time we bounced, the suspension was doing its best, but at this speed it was fighting a losing battle with the rough surface. The road had been cut through the forest; the uneven sections filled in and levelled with rows of hardwood logs, held in place with a hard-packed mixture of earth and stones. The road swerved around the bigger trees and clung to the hillside. It was the sort of journey that you could sell to adventure-seeking tourists. At best, it was only just wide enough for two vehicles to pass. You were supposed to sound your horn and slow down at the corners, in case there was...

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The Folville Chronicles 1: The Outlaw’s Ransom

Posted by on Sep 22nd, 2018 in Blog, crime, Fiction, Historical fiction, Jennifer Ash, medieval, News, Romance | 0 comments

With the third book in The Folvilles Chronicles series only days  away from being sent to my editor for proofing, I thought it high time we took a look back at Book One in the series: The Outlaw’s Ransom When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’. Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most infamous men in England. With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival. Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful… Here’s a little extract for you… Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her. As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air. Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down. Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor. Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot...

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Opening Lines: Torn by Gilli Allan

Posted by on Sep 20th, 2018 in Blog, Contemporary fiction, Fiction, Jenny Kane, Opening Lines Blog, Romance | 6 comments

It’s that time again. Is it me, or is Thursday arriving more quickly each week? Anyway! I have a great set of opening lines for you once again. This week the fabulous Gilli Allan is with me…and she’s a little Torn… I chose TORN as my ‘Opening 5oo Words’ offering for this feature, as it holds a special place in my heart.  It was the first book I wrote in the second era of my “career” (I use the word loosely) as writer. After having the first ever book I wrote published in the pre-digital age, I thought I was set up for life as “An Author”. My second book was also published a year later, but then the publisher ceased trading. There are many reasons, even excuses (which I won’t go into now) why there was then a hiatus. Suffice to say that after an interlude that was probably far too long I began an entirely new project. Up until I began to write this book, I had always used myself as a sounding board when I imagined my heroines. How would I react to this? What would I do if? And supposing I had done this instead of that? But Jess is as unlike me as it’s possible to get.  The consequence was, when imagining how this woman would negotiate her way through the challenging set of circumstances I gave her, I was far more tested as writer.  The result is TORN. FIRST 500 WORDS New Year’s Morning Jess opened her eyes. Though her brain was crystal clear, her head ached and her mouth was sour and parched. Drunk’s dawn. Brilliant. For a moment she thought she was alone. What a relief. The man had had the decency to creep away while she slept – she could get up and fetch a glass of water. Then she heard his breathing and the dip of the mattress as he stirred. She froze, revolted by the thought that her skin might come into contact with his. The idea of touching a bony, hairy male leg – or worse – was repellent. And if he was rousing she didn’t want him to know she was awake. He turned over and then turned back again. She remained still, feigning sleep. It was a long time since she’d done anything so impetuous, so stupid, and had lost some of the brazenness needed to face the stranger in the morning. Especially after she’d thrown her guts up down the loo a few hours earlier. Had he fancied her sufficiently, after she’d vomited, to proceed with what he had every right to believe was on offer before? If there had been any sex she’d been too far gone to remember it now. She had only the haziest memory of what he actually looked like. More importantly, did he use a condom? Chapter One A Few Weeks Earlier Coloured lights were strung in swags, lamppost to lamppost. Lights delineated the stone gables and studded the fir trees on shop front pediments. She smiled, enjoying the sting of the night air on her cheeks as she paused on the step of the Prince Rupert to shrug on her coat. It had only been a few months, but the fact was undeniable. Already she’d begun to relax,...

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