ShortBookandScribes #BlogTour #Extract from A Very Lucky Christmas by Lilac Mills @LilacMills @Canelo_Co
Today I’m so pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for A Very Lucky Christmas by Lilac Mills. Look at that lovely, festive cover! My thanks to Ellie Pilcher from Canelo for the place on the tour.
Things can’t get worse for Daisy Jones… can they?
Christmas is meant to be the happiest time of year so why is absolutely everything going wrong for Daisy? Reeling from a bad breakup, moving back in with her parents and hounded by trouble at work she really shouldn’t be surprised when things go from bad to worse..and she ends up in A&E!
Her great-grandmother persuaded her to plant a silver sixpence in the Christmas pud for luck but choking on the coin isn’t the ‘change’ she’d wished for. Yet when dashing Dr Noah Hartley saves the day things finally start to look up. With Christmas Day just around the corner Daisy’s determined to make her own luck…and hopefully bag herself a dishy doc in the process!
A heart-warming christmas romance perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Debbie Johnson and Daisy James
Links to Book:
Daisy drove up to her little house and gave a sigh of relief. Freddie’s car wasn’t there, though a blue Ford was pulled up alongside the house, almost blocking the entrance to their drive. Freddie would be furious if he couldn’t get his car in the drive when he got home, and he was annoyed enough that the station was too far to walk, so if someone had the temerity to park awkwardly, Freddie’s strop would be astronomical. You’d have thought the builders would have allowed for the fact that every house had at least two cars. Bloody hell, she was starting to sound like her mother, all moany and grumbly about domestic crap!
She clambered out of the driver’s seat, then pulled it forward to reach the parcels on the back seat. There were quite a few of them. Had she really bought this much? At least they weren’t all for her – she’d managed to purchase all of Freddie’s presents and most of her family’s. The only person she was stuck on who to buy a present for was Zoe. Just what did you get the woman who had everything? Especially when whatever her sister-in-law bought was exclusive, expensive, and far too nice for words.
Bags hanging off each arm, her handbag on her shoulder, and her keys in her teeth, Daisy staggered up their very short drive, taking only five lumbering steps from the car to their front door, and she still managed to drop something.
Muttering curses, she freed up one hand and found her house key, stabbing it in the lock, then fell in through the front door, scattering bags everywhere.
She scrambled to her feet, rubbing her bruised knees, and reached for the nearest bag, then paused.
‘Hello?’ she called, positive the faint noise she’d just heard had come from upstairs.
She must have imagined it. That was the problem with these new houses – walls as thin as paper – and being semi-detached meant that she and Freddie could often hear the couple next door arguing. Then making up. Noisily. Freddie usually resorted to turning the volume on the TV up to full and waiting half an hour, claiming that burst eardrums were better than grossed out ones.
Daisy gathered up the various bags and their spilt contents, and carried them into the kitchen, glancing at the clock. Nearly four. Freddie would be at least another hour, possibly two, if there were leaves on the line, or there was the wrong type of rain, or one of the other silly excuses for the train to be late. She had time for a quick drink before she tackled the clothes-hiding and the present-wrapping.
Hot chocolate with a splash of Bailey’s Irish Whisky would get her back into the Christmas spirit. She’d had plenty of it before she’d hit the shops, but it had soon been swiftly drained out of her by the forced cheerfulness of the decorations, and the glum and harried expressions on her fellow shoppers’ faces.
While she waited for the kettle to boil, she wandered into the living room to stare critically at the tree. She’d bought a natural one this year, much to Freddie’s disgust (he hated the mess the fallen needles caused) and the smell of pine filled the room, competing subtly with the aroma of berries and spice from the plug-in air freshener. She breathed deeply. Lovely.
Without even looking at the tree, the scent alone would make her think Christmassy thoughts. Add the glitter and sparkle of the decorations on the tree, and the lights which Daisy insisted be left on all the time, and the scene was satisfyingly festive. Not too overdone, but enough to show visitors that Christmas had well and truly arrived at 10 Red Deer Close.
Before she returned to the kitchen, Daisy couldn’t help walking over to the tree and kneeling down. Freddie, Mr Organised, had already placed several immaculately wrapped parcels under the drooping lower branches (she made a note to remember to water the poor tree), and it took all of Daisy’s willpower not to give each one a good shake and a sniff. He’d even put ribbon around them, topped off with matching bows.
What was that? Daisy stopped feeling the presents and cocked her head. It sounded like a creak, from directly overhead, but Freddie definitely wasn’t home yet, so it must have come from Mandy next door. Sometimes, when their neighbour’s door banged, it sounded like their own front door.
The kettle clicked off and Daisy walked back into the kitchen, trying to make her mind up between the laced hot chocolate she’d promised herself, and the half-full bottle of Prosecco which she’d just remembered was chilling nicely in the fridge.
The wine won. She’d have a glass and get changed into her slouchy clothes, and hide her “me” purchases from Freddie, before she tackled the present wrapping. Freddie’s would have to be wrapped first, because she didn’t want to risk him walking through the door and seeing the beautiful watch she’d bought him, or the new lamb’s wool jacket in a soft tan colour.
The wine bottle was less full than she remembered it being, but she shrugged and poured a large glass, emptying the bottle, then took a hefty swig. The cool bubbles hit the back of her throat and she sighed in bliss, the sigh deepening as she kicked off her shoes to release her aching toes.
I wish every day could be like this, she thought, taking another sip. Mornings in work, and afternoons spent shopping. She’d even treated herself to lunch out: a coffee and a sandwich. She could get used to this. Half days suited her, especially when Freddie was in work, and he had no idea what she’d bought. ‘This old thing? I’ve had it ages,’ didn’t work on Freddie. He knew what was in her wardrobe better than she did, so she had to resort to saying she’d found that dress/jacket/handbag/pair of boots in one of the numerous charity shops in town, or telling him the item cost a fraction of what she had actually paid.
They were supposed to be saving up for a place of their own (owned jointly that is, and not just by Freddie as was the case at the moment), something a little more substantial and not in the middle of hundreds of similar houses. So Freddie kept a close eye on expenditure, though he happily treated himself to the occasional Ralph Lauren sweater, and Daisy never uttered a word. She didn’t feel she could, not when he earned more than double the wage she brought home.
Taking her glass of wine with her, she grabbed the “me” bags and trundled up the stairs, with the intention of stashing her ill-gotten booty in the never-used spare room, and drip-feeding them into the wardrobe, one sneaky item at a time.
But first, she wanted to change into something a little more elasticated. The waistband of her work trousers was digging uncomfortably into her stomach – the result of too many pre-Christmas parties (plus the daily mince pies Joyce brought into work and insisted on everyone eating).
She dropped her parcels on the landing by the door to the spare room, which was always kept firmly closed because there was nothing spare about that room – it was full to bursting with assorted junk, more like the “dump-it-in-and-shut-the-door-quick” room, and went into their bedroom. The state of the bed gave her a brief flash of annoyance and dismay. She’d left earlier than usual this morning, wanting to get as much done as possible before absconding for the rest of the day, leaving Freddie with the duvet pulled up to his chin and his eyes tightly shut. He hadn’t even bothered to straighten the duvet when he’d gotten out of it. And he’d left a couple of glasses on the bedside table, and—
Daisy picked up one of the glasses, kicking a scatter cushion out of the way, and sniffed at the contents of the glass.
Was her boyfriend a secret lush?
And what was that smell? The unfamiliar aftershave (if that’s what it was, and not some new cleaning product – Freddie had a habit of buying the latest item on TV guaranteed to make your home smell fresh; he was responsible for the berry and spice plug-in in the living room) mingled with an almost animal aroma. It reminded her of the way their bedroom smelled after a good session in bed. Not that they’d had a good session, or even a not-so-good session, lately. They hadn’t “done it” for a long time, if she was honest. A quick jump in the sack now and again, often over far too quickly, was all she and Freddie had managed in months.
Daisy opened the window to air the room out, then picked up the duvet from the floor and flung it on the bed.
Those were not Freddie’s shoes. They were far, far too big, for one thing…
Daisy picked up a scatter cushion and aimed it at the bed, then she froze again.
The shirt which had been hiding under it wasn’t his, either. Neither were the scruffy jeans.
Another noise. This time the creak of a floorboard and a kind of rustle.
It came from the spare room.
Freddie was home, after all, but what was he doing in there with the door closed? Maybe he was wrapping another present for her, but… something nagged at her, something wasn’t quite right, and although she knew he’d be cross if she walked in on him mid-wrap, she put her hand on the handle and-
The spare room was full of junk, and some of that junk was sported by two naked men. One of them was Freddie.
Lilac Mills writes feel-good romantic women’s fiction, and is the author of Love in the City by the Sea, A Very Lucky Christmas, Summer on the Turquoise Coast, and Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm. Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework! Home for Lilac is Worcester, England.