Hope you had a good Easter. What's your favourite chocolate? I'm English, but when I was three years old I lived in Detroit, Michigan. The babysitter used to feed me and my little brother Hershey's Kisses, and they've been one of my favourites ever since. I usually have a big bag of them sitting by my desk tempting me.
I'm sorry this newsletter is later than usual - I wanted to be sure to give you the links for a sweet romance competition running until Monday 12th April. There'll be two grand winners, who'll win an e-copy of every book in the competition (at least twenty five), and another twenty five runners up who will win one ebook or a paperback. And everyone who enters gets access to the sweet romance book fair, with free and discounted books.
Also in today's newsletter we have an Easter Treasure Hunt to tempt you - free books in a range of genres - as well as the monthly win an ereader competition (another reason I delayed, to be sure I had the April links for you).
If you've read Strand of Faith, you'll know it ends on Easter Sunday with Leonie looking for a new life. In Behind the Scenes this week we've got an Easter extract from Thread of Hope - Prospero searching for Leonie on Easter Monday.
Your Freebies and Competitions
Easter Treasure Hunt : This is another all-genre giveaway, so whatever your favourite type of book you're likely to find something to enjoy here. Available for the whole of April, why not find yourself something (or several somethings) to read over the holiday period?
There'll be two grand prize winners of all the books in this competition, and more than 25 winners of individual ebooks (randomly selected). And you'll get access to the Book Fair, full of other discounted books and deals.
Only open until Monday 12th April, so enter now for your chance to win all these books.
This extract is from Thread of Hope, early on Easter Monday.
Prospero came to a standstill almost as soon as he’d entered the shielded shopping area. Where would she be? The place was a maze of little streets and alleyways. Without thinking, he reached out to look for her with his mind, and hit the Dampener Shield. Idiot. He was going to have to do this the hard way.
Right, where would I hide if I were her?
He studied his surroundings, trying to concentrate, to think instead of rushing headlong. There were one or two people around, starting to roll up blinds, unlock shops, set out café chairs. Leonie wasn’t likely to be in the busier areas, the ones that opened for the early trade. She’d have found somewhere quieter, one of the lanes where the shops opened later, surely?
Or, given that she’d somehow got into this place when it was locked, might she have also got into the back room of one of these shops? How could he possibly find her if she’d done that? It would be easy enough to miss her in this maze even if she wasn’t trying to hide from him. With no other option coming to mind, he headed towards the central plaza.
One of the workers setting out chairs caught his eye with a smile. “Good morning, Brother,” she said.
Ask, you idiot, ask for help.
Prospero turned towards the worker. “Good morning,” he replied. “I wonder if you can help me. I’m looking for Lord Gabriel’s ward. She’s about this tall”—he indicated her height—“with curly red hair and I think she’d be wearing grey trousers and tunic.”
The woman shook her head. “I’ve not seen anyone like that around this morning.” She called a colleague over from inside the café.
The second woman agreed, “No one answering that description, today, no.” She studied Prospero. “There used to be someone like that working at one of the bakeries. Leonie, she was called. But I’ve not seen her for a while either.”
“Leonie, that’s her,” Prospero said. “Which bakery was it? Can you tell me where it is?” If Leonie knew one of the shops here well, that would be where she’d hide for sure. And a bakery. No wonder she got on so well with Pedro.
The woman shrugged. “Sure. You don’t want to go all the way to the centre or you’ll miss it. Take the next left up here, then there’s a right turn. Don’t take that, but go past the next shop, then up a little alleyway to your right. It twists a bit, but it opens out onto the lane the bakery is on. When you get to the end of the alleyway, you want to turn left again, away from central plaza, and it’s the second shop on your right. Got it?”
Prospero nodded. “Left, alleyway to right, turn left, second on the right. Thank you so much.”
He set off, trying hard not to run, at least not until he was out of sight. Left turn, alleyway – he ran through there – left again, and there was the bakery, just being opened up.
“Excuse me,” he said to the man out front, “I’m looking for Leonie. Have you seen her today?”
The man shook his head. “I’m sorry, Brother. She hasn’t worked here for a while.”
“I know that,” Prospero replied, trying to keep calm. “She’s Lord Gabriel’s ward but she’s gone missing. I thought she might have come here.”
“She’s good at hiding, that one. You’ll not find her unless she wants you to.”
Prospero sighed and his shoulders slumped. “That’s what I was afraid of. Thank you anyway.”
He turned towards the central plaza, his head down, feet dragging, not sure where to go next. He might as well sit there and think about what to do now. He looked up as he entered the space, still all but empty in the early morning.
And there she was, perched on one of the benches to one side, hood pulled over her head, knees drawn up to her chin, and looking as if she was lost in thought. As delight surged through him, he breathed out her name in relief. She couldn’t possibly have heard at that distance but she looked towards him. He caught the sheer joy on her face and body language for a moment before it was replaced by overwhelming sadness, loss and rejection. She scooped up her backpack and turned away from him. Terrified she would run again, he was at her side in a moment, taking her by the shoulders and pulling her towards him. She didn’t resist but nor did she move closer. He didn’t know what to say and again blurted out the first words at the top of his mind.
Want to read more? Click here to get Thread of Hope now.
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It's a short story that's a prequel to my Choices and Consequences series, free exclusively to all newsletter subscribers - only available as an ebook.
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