- Women’s Fiction
Today, I have a sneaky snippet as our book feature of Finding Dreams. Published by Aria Fiction it’s available in Kindle and paperback form.
Lizzie Greene is about to lose everything when her husband suddenly dies and his debts come to light.
To make ends meet she opens up her quirky old house to be used as a set for a film based on a bestselling romance novel. Her life and household are turned upside down when a whole cast of colourful characters enters her family’s lives: from an enigmatic author, a handsome location scout, a brooding director, to a heart-throb leading man, never mind her now ex-mother-in-law camped out in her drive.
As Lizzie delves deeper into the film’s book, all is not as it seems.
Will her desire to save her house and unravel the secrets of the past lead to new love, or to mortal danger?
When Death came to Tanglewild, I was at the supermarket. I’d just dropped Katie off at ballet, and had fifteen minutes before I was due to pick up Jack from Little Kickers. Just enough time to nip into one of the parent and child spaces in front of Tesco and grab some loo roll, a pack of night pull-ups for Jack, a bunch of bananas, a tin of dog food, and a bottle of Rioja, stand in the baskets only line, and dig through my handbag for my Clubcard while the checkout assistant scanned my items.
My mobile rang – ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ – meaning it was Dave, my husband. Katie tricked me into giving her my phone for a school project and when I got it back, she’d made specialised ringtones for everyone in the family. Gran Connie is ‘Twist and Shout’, the house phone is ‘Shake It Off’, my friend Hannah is ‘The Sugar Plum Fairy’ and I haven’t a clue how to change it back. Fortunately, Katie and Jack are much too young to have their own phones.
‘Hi,’ I said, answering breathlessly, slinging up my bag-for-life to start packing.
‘Mrs Greene?’ A female voice.
Instantly, my stomach clenched. It was Allison, Dave’s new PA. Blonde, young, a body untrammelled by pregnancies, a gym membership that actually gets used, high heels from Karen Millen (and not even any trainers kept under the desk for walking to the Tube), time on her hands to meet friends down the pub after work without having to help with homework or drive Mum’s Taxi. In other words, I hate her.
I picked up the bananas and slung them into the bottom of the bag, not caring if they got squished.
‘It’s Allison here.’
‘Hi there. Why are you calling from Dave’s phone?’
‘Oh Lizzie… I don’t know how to say this…’
I picked up the bottle of Rioja, checking the label quickly to make sure it was at least thirteen per cent. An awful little fantasy popped into my head. Allison – at the airport with my husband; him not having the balls to call me himself to tell me that he was running off to Majorca with her, leaving me with two young kids, a fat old dog, and a big mortgage. But no… I laughed at my own groundless worries. Dave would never do that. He’s a good husband and a good father. But even more than that, Dave lacks… imagination.
So why is she calling from his phone?
‘What is it, Allison?’
The assistant finished scanning and looked at me like I was holding her up. I ignored her, my grip tightening on the neck of the wine bottle as Allison kept talking.
‘I’m afraid, he’s… um… God, I’m so sorry.’
My life flashed before my eyes. Working day and night in my twenties to build a career as a lawyer. Meeting a man – Dave – getting married, buying a house together. Giving up said career to become a mum; moving out of London to the countryside. We’ve had some great times together as a family – holidays abroad, kids’ birthday parties, cycling to the pub, winter evenings by the fire. Dave and I have things in common. We both love our quirky old house, Tanglewild; we’re both focused on the children and the family. We’re living the dream…
OK – I had to admit that lately, we’ve been going through a rough patch. Me always complaining about the kids and dithering about whether I should go back to work. Him either working all hours at the law firm, or else sitting idle worrying about his billables target for the year. My halcyon twenties slipped away long ago, and now, at thirty-seven, I’m on a collision course with my forties like a hurtling fast train. The house is a mess, our sex life non-existent, our days chaotic. Sometimes I’m not sure I like the person I’ve become. But still – we’re happy.
‘We’re happy,’ I heard myself saying, sharp and loud to the checkout woman. I brandished the bottle for emphasis. Her bored look morphed into one of ‘possible looney in the shop’ and I saw her glance sideways at the security guard next to the self-checkout.
‘Look,’ I said to Allison, my voice unnaturally high-pitched, ‘put Dave on the phone. Whatever he has to say, he can say it to my face. I’m not letting him off that easily.’
‘I’m sorry, I can’t put him on the phone,’ Allison said.
‘Why the hell not!’ From the corner of my eye, I spotted a manager on his way towards me.
‘I… I found him slumped over in his chair – at his desk. I checked his pulse and then I called the paramedic. But it was too late. He was already…’
It was like I’d slammed into a wall – an unstoppable force hitting an immovable object. ‘What?’ The word gurgled out of my throat. ‘You mean— he’s—?’
But I didn’t hear her reply. I held the phone away from my ear. My hand opened and the wine bottle crashed to the floor, shattering into a million pieces.
And as the manager came over, and the assistant called over the loudspeaker for the in-store cleaner, I collapsed against my bag-for-life, the bananas, the pull-ups and the loo roll, and my whole body began to shake. With the shock of life as I knew it coming to an end, and the sheering of my heart as it cracked in two.
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