"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Close to You by Toni Lee

Seriously, I never expected this whole summer reading series to become a thing. It was supposed to be one post and that was that. But it's gotten enough hits that I'm guessing you all actually WANT to read these first chapters. So I will continue to oblige this week with a completely new name and voice.

Enter Toni Lee, a new client who lives in Sussex. (That's in England, ya'll.) She's writing her first novel in six installments and releasing it as a serial. So far, I like it, so give her a chance. Besides, the first installment will be free on Amazon Monday and Tuesday, August 26 and 27, 2013. After that, it will be just 99 cents. Eventually, we will publish the entire serial as one book. I promise to keep you posted.


Things had been better. Scarlet picked through the clothes on the floor to find something that wasn't either screwed up, wrinkled as a dishrag, or in need of a wash.

It was true she'd not caught up with her laundry lately (or her ironing for that matter) but she'd not had the spare change to feed the machines at the LAUNDROMAT down the street. When it came down to eating or doing the laundry, having a nice fresh top to wear out for the night was the least of her priorities.

But tonight was different.

She needed it. Scarlet had rinsed the last dregs from her bank account, collecting together what she needed for one final night out. A blow out. It'd be head down, back to finding a job after that. No more wild nights.

It's what she swore to herself every time, without fail.

Knuckle down, save the pennies, get herself back out of the red. The negative balance on her overdraft was like red quicksand. Once you got stuck in there, it was nigh impossible to pull yourself back out.

But at least she'd have tonight, and she'd forget all her problems and worries for a couple of hours. At least that was the plan, and it was one she intended to stick to.

"Ah! There you are!" she said happily as she found a white dress, with the tag still on, that was bundled inside a market bag. Something she'd got from a second hand shop and chucked under the bed. It'd never been worn, and she'd managed to get it at an absolute bargain price. Scarlet got up, held the dress out in front of her in admiration. "Finally, something goes my way."

Scarlet checked the clock, then got in the shower with the bathroom door wide open. She had the stereo going full pelt in the living room, blasting tunes by the Black Eyed Peas, heavy with base. She lathered her body with soap, shaved her legs and washed her hair. She felt renewed, refreshed, and reinvigorated.

"The three r's," she said to herself as she switched the shower back off and stepped out onto a towel. Scarlet wrapped another towel around herself and sang along to the music pouring out of the stereo as she got ready.

The apartment was only a one bedroom but she still seemed to struggle in keeping it clean and tidy. Maybe it just wasn't in her nature to be domesticated like that. Some women were just born to be mothers. They were literally mothering, stay-at-home material.

Scarlet knew she was far from the obedient housewife type, and was under no illusions that that would ever be the case, either. She lived for the night too much. For going out, drinking and dancing. Occasionally picking up a man and letting herself go, along with her clothes and underwear.

That was what she liked. Sometimes there was nothing better than pulling some random in a bar or club and enjoying a good fuck. No entanglements, no expectations of anything other than what was on offer.


Scarlet sat on the edge of her bed, reapplying the nail polish to her toes.

Three months ago she'd lost her cosy job as a receptionist at a dentist's and she'd struggled to find something -- anything -- to replace it. Now the last of her savings had fizzled away like flat lemonade and a kind of creeping panic had set in.

How will I eat? How will I pay the electric bill? How will I afford to go out?

Maybe tonight's a bad idea, she allowed herself to consider for a moment before pushing the thought aside.

No, I need this more than I care to admit.

Scarlet used her blow drier to dry her toenails then went to work on her hair, in front of the tall mirror that stood on the floor by the foot of the bed, leant back against the wall. No time to find a hammer and nail to hang it with. She brushed her locks through then straightened them, pleased as ever with her ability to make her hair look fabulous with a little work. Her silky chestnut bangs fell past her shoulders. She'd never been tempted to cut them.

Scarlet checked the clock again. Already the light was fading out in the street.

Better get my arse in gear, she told herself as she slipped into her panties. She always had clean underwear. You didn't need a laundrette for cleaning those. That's what sinks were for.

I'm a mess, she thought to herself as she surveyed the state of her apartment. The clutter and mess everywhere. It wasn't filthy in there, nothing like that. But it was an obsessive-compulsive's worst nightmare.

Scarlet looked at herself in the mirror. Slim physique, not one pound heavier than she had been at eighteen . . . and that was ten years ago. Her breasts were always her best asset. Not too big, not too small. Just slightly larger than a man's hand. She'd always been pretty and aging hadn't yet diminished her looks at all. She'd been lucky, really. When she ran across old school friends in the street, she was always amazed at how aged and weathered they looked.

No I'm not a mess, she corrected herself. The apartment is. Me? I'm one hot piece of arse.

That made her laugh out loud. She grabbed the white dress and pulled the tag free from the label at the back. Usually she'd be going out with her friends, or at the very least, meeting them somewhere. But not tonight. This one was a solo mission, no wing-mate. Not even her best friend James.

"Just you and me tonight, baby," she said to the dress. "And we're gonna do some damage."

Now we really are done. Next week, I promise, you will have a special surprise in the form of a new, free, crochet pattern I've designed specifically for the Blog Collection. It will be free here for the life of the blog, but it will also appear in my next crochet book.

Happy Summer Reading!


  1. When will Close to You part 2 be available on Amazon. It did not say at the end of the story. Thanks so much. Patti

    1. Hey Patti! We appreciate your interest. I will pass on your question to Toni. The reason I didn't tell you at the end of the story when Part 2 would be available is that I told you at the beginning that I would keep you posted.

      As soon as I know, you all will know.

      In the meantime, why not check out another romance by one of the other authors with whom I work: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=laurie+laliberte (The Reeni Austin Series is complete and The Girl from Tenerife by Bernard Schaffer is a stand-alone.)