Find more from this author on:
About the author:
Christina grew up in Kingston Ontario, Canada, and after getting married, moved to a small rural town in the country. She lives there with her husband Brad, two kids Josh and Megan and their dog Bailey. Even though her house is peaceful, surrounded by nature and the occasional deer, she is still a city girl at heart. She misses civilization, and visits with her mother and two sisters.
What inspired you to write your book?
I watch a TV show years ago about a woman who was abused and couldn’t get help because her spouse was a police officer. I wanted to show how easy it is to fall in love with the wrong person.
Here is a short sample from the book:
On the edge of consciousness, I gazed into the deep brown eyes that stared into mine. They were full of hate and disgust as the man attached to them drained the life from my body.
He said he loved me, but continually treated me with violence and ridicule.
He said he wanted to marry me, except to him, I was a possession.
He said he wanted to be together forever, but my life, my essence, my soul, was slipping away at the hands of the man who loves me.
“Shit, I’m late,” I muttered.
The silence of my empty apartment was the only answer. The clock hanging above my mahogany-framed mirrored dresser read ten forty-five. The second hand ticked by at what seemed to be an unnatural speed, mocking me. The meeting at my publisher’s office was in fifteen minutes, and I was still applying my make-up. Why the hell did I always wait so long to start getting ready? Thank God, the career I chose let me work at home, because otherwise, I would be fired for repeat tardiness.
After tossing my eye shadow into my red satin make-up bag, I assessed my appearance in the mirror. Hair was … decent. Make-up looked… acceptable. And all my clothes were on, so that was a bonus. My worst nightmare was rushing out and forgetting my pants. With my head full of ideas for novels, I’m always forgetting things.
I ran to fetch my briefcase that held my notes for the new children’s book I was writing, and took off out the door of my apartment.
“Hold the elevator,” I yelled when I saw it closing. I slid inside just before it shut. “Thanks,” I said to my neighbor, Mrs. Newman. She stood alone near the controls with her navy-blue sequined purse tucked under her arm. She didn’t go anywhere without it, not even the laundry room.
“Running late again, Abby?” she asked me as the elevator started to descend. The high pitched ping that sounded at each floor was annoyingly slow.
I smiled at her. She was in her seventies and still in good shape. Her silvery white hair was long and always pulled back in a braid or bun. The gray of her eyes sparkled, and the wrinkles on her face made her look wise instead of old. And for some reason she always smelled of spearmint.
I hoped to be half as healthy when I turned seventy. She moved here a year ago, after her husband of fifty years died. Her children lived on the other side of the city, so I looked out for her whenever I could, to keep them at ease.
“You know me so well, Sylvia.”
“What’s the rush? Do you have a hot lunch date?” she asked me with a wink while jingling the silver and blue beads she wore around her neck.
A snort escaped my lips. “No, not today.” Not likely ever. My romantic life was at a bit of a standstill, with zero prospects. I was fine with that. My life was full enough; my friends, family, and career kept me busy. Although that didn’t stop my mom from constantly nagging me to settle down, but wasn’t that expected of her? She is my mom.
I’m only twenty-seven years old, a long way from spinsterhood. I knew the reason I hadn’t dated in a while—men didn’t actually knock on your door to ask you out. And that was the problem, since I worked at home, and I was always working.
When the elevator stopped at the lobby, we stepped out together. “You know, I have a grandson who would love you—” she began, the sparkle in her eyes becoming brighter.
I raised my hand to stop her. “Sorry, Sylvia, but I don’t do setups. Last time that happened, I was covered in mud at the end of the date, and temporarily deaf in my left ear. Thanks anyway. See you later,” I called over my shoulder as I rushed out the front door into the bright sunshine.
“Good morning, Miss Watson. Lovely weather we’re having,” Spencer, the building’s doorman, greeted me.
A grin spread across my face. “It sure is, Spencer.”
“Would you like a cab?” He was exactly what you would think a doorman looked like. Short, a little on the round side, with a long black coat and top hat.
“You read my mind,” I said with a nod of my head.
As I waited for the cab, I lifted my face to soak in the sun. Renwood, the city where I lived, was colder this time of year, like its neighbor, Watertown. Being close to the Canadian border, you’d think we could blame them for our frigid weather, but no. We accumulated more snow then they did, since our city ran parallel to Lake Ontario. And it also didn’t help that we were in a snow belt.
Fortunately, this year, it was only rain that had made the weather cool and damp. After the soggy week we had, this change of weather was definitely welcoming. I felt the sun’s heat on my exposed skin as a warm breeze blew a strand of hair into my eyes. Since it was too early for the scent of grass or flowers, the day smelled only of crisp fresh air, but it beat the smell of wet dog and earthworms.
He waved as a cab approached. When it stopped, he opened the door for me.
“Thank you, Spencer,” I called to him from the other side of the glass.
That was something I would never get used to. Once my books started selling, I moved from my tiny bachelorette apartment to this one, which came with a doorman. To say it was different from my old building was an understatement. The age of my former home and the smell of must and mothballs in the hallways were only a few of the differences. The worst was the lack of an elevator. Trekking up seven flights of stairs on grocery and laundry day was extremely inconvenient, although my arms were more defined back then.
Once I arrived at my publisher’s office, the elevator took me up to the twelfth floor.
I stepped out into a large room filled with rows of desks. People were hard at work typing on their computers, the sound of tapping keys echoing throughout the room. The air smelled of ink, perfume, and air freshener. The large square fluorescent lights hanging from the ceilings were bright, and radiating heat.
Walking through the center aisle sometimes made me miss working with others. But thinking about how early they woke up for work every day, I got over it. A few heads lifted as I walked by, and I smiled in greeting.
Usually I emailed my outlines to my editor, and really, I preferred to do it that way since it gave me more time for actual writing. I enjoyed what I did for a living; it made me happy, so why would I want to stop?
I started my writing career with pre-K books. Introducing the world of words to young children was my calling. The only problem was that there wasn’t a lot of money in those. When a few of my fantasy pre-teen books really took off, I was able to return to pre-K, where my heart was.
The first book I ever wrote was for my niece and nephew when they were only a couple years old. I read a few paragraphs to them, emphasizing my words on the different noises from the story. I was surprised to see their eyes light up, their faces eager for more. I knew then what I was meant to do.
“Hi. Abigail Watson to see Debbie Frankford,” I said to the secretary when I reached the desk. She must be a temp. Gwen, the normal receptionist, was nowhere to be seen.
She gave me a warm smile that lit up her green eyes. “Yes, Miss Watson, Debbie’s expecting you. Go on in,” she replied politely.
I thanked her and strode down the long carpeted hall to Debbie’s office.
“You’re late!” my editor and best friend snapped when I had barely walked in the door. She sat at her desk reading what looked like an unpublished manuscript. Her long, cinnamon-colored hair was pulled back away from her face, a pencil stuck behind her ear. Her words sounded angry, but the expression in her hazel eyes didn’t match her tone. She set the pages down on the desk as I approached her.
“I know, I’m so sorry I’ll be on time at our next meeting, I promise.”
She continued to glare at me, and then suddenly smiled. “You’re not late. I told you to be here at eleven, but I don’t have you scheduled until eleven thirty.” She started to laugh at me and then covered her mouth to stop it. Probably because of the shocked look that was no doubt on my face.
“You bitch, do you know that I was in such a rush, I was worried I’d forget my pants?”
She laughed even harder, a cheerful sound that made me smile—on the inside, since I couldn’t let her see it.
“I’m glad I amuse you.” I glared at her, falling into the plush chair in front of her desk. “Why did I have to come down here anyway, I could have just emailed them to you.”
“Yes, you could have. But then you would never leave your apartment, would you?”
“That’s true,” I said, no longer angry. “Okay.” I reached into my brown suede briefcase; the earthy scent reminded me of my mother as she gave it to me for Christmas last year.
“Here you go.” I handed Debbie a file that held an outline for my next book. She took it from my fingers and placed it on her desk. “I’m thinking of making it a series called The Little Miss books.” She scanned the first page as I went on. “You know, Little Miss goes to the mall. Little Miss rides the school bus. Little Miss goes to the carnival, and so on. What do you think?”
She glanced up from the pages and smiled. “I’m so glad we work together.”
“Does that mean you like it?”
“I love it. So much so, that I’m taking you to lunch.” She stood up and pushed her chair back, hitting the papered wall behind her with a thump.
“Aren’t you going to finish reading the outline? I thought that’s why I was here.”
“No, I’ll read it later. This was just was a ruse to get you out of that apartment so we could go eat.”
“Are you kidding, I could be writing right now. You know my editor is a slave driver.” I leaned over the desk, plucking the pencil from her ear and tossing it onto the discarded manuscript, creating lead marks on the white paper.
“I know, isn’t she?” She winked and walked around the desk. “Now let’s go, I’m starving.” After pulling her jean jacket on, she threaded her arm though mine and we headed to the elevator.
Strolling past a couple of desks in the main workroom, we saw a man in a police uniform talking to a woman who had black hair and wore a gray business suit. She looked vaguely familiar, but I was terrible with names.
He sat on the edge of her desk, talking in a low voice. Whatever he said made her laugh. She covered her mouth to hide her giggle.
“Is someone getting arrested?” I asked Debbie.
A smile tugged at his lips when he saw us approach. His gaze followed as we passed.
“You probably, for wearing mismatched socks,” she said, shaking her head in disgust.
We reached the elevator and stood in front of it. “My socks match.” I glanced down to see one white and one black. “How the hell did that happen?” I mumbled to myself.
“With you, who knows?” she grumbled, pushing the elevator button. “Besides, you shouldn’t even be wearing socks. How many times have I told you to wear heels, not sneakers.”
The idea of squeezing my unusually wide feet into heels for a casual lunch with a friend was laughable. Of course, I was no stranger to dressy shoes, or fancy clothes, for that matter, but to me there had to be a damn good reason to do so, and this was not one of those times. I peered down at my black canvas shoes, wiggling my toes. “I like my sneakers. Besides, I’m wearing jeans and I’m not wearing heels with jeans.” Once the elevator door creaked open, we stepped inside.
She gaped at me like I had two heads as the car started to move. Her thick lashes blinked at me. “What am I going to do with you? I have to trick you to get you out. Am I going to have to dress you too?”
“You love me the way I am, and you know it.” I bumped my hip against hers.
She held her exasperated expression a few beats, and then smiled. “You’re right. I do, there’s no one like you, Abby.” She sighed as we exited the elevator and headed out the building’s front door.
The trendy restaurant we chose was crowded with people on lunch break from the nearby offices. The large dining room was welcoming with splashes of creamy white and burgundy throughout the space. A single white lily peeked out of crystal vases in the center of each table. A buzz of conversation filled the aromatic air. Most of the customers were dressed like Debbie, in suits or casual dresses. I felt a little underdressed in my jeans and purple cotton top.
We were seated along the front window in a comfortable burgundy banquette. I asked her where Gwen, the regular receptionist, was.
“She left two months ago, I told you that. Honestly,” she said, shaking her head. “How do you make it through the day? You’re constantly in your own little world.”
She meant it as an insult, but I grinned. “I like it in my world; it’s bright, colorful, and shiny.”
She laughed, a soft chortle that had the man in the booth behind us glance in her direction.
There was a certain aroma in the room that I couldn’t quite name. A mix of yummy smells all rolled into one. Since identifying the specific one I liked the best was impossible, I asked the waiter, once he arrived, for a cheeseburger and fries. I was in the mood for something greasy.
Debbie ordered a chef’s salad—how boring. While we waited for our lunch, she filled me in on her love life. She was dating a hot mystery writer. He had taken her out five times and she was getting ready for the big night. “So what about you, any dates lately?” she asked with a smirk on her face. She played with the cubes of ice in her glass, creating a soft tinkling sound. The sweat from the glass made her fingers glisten.
I scowled at her. “Why would you ask if you already know the answer? Are you trying to rub it in?” The waiter placed our meals in front of us. I took a big bite of my burger. It tasted so good, my stomach rumbled and I realized that I had completely forgotten to eat breakfast.
“I’m sorry. But I do have this guy in mind for you. He’s a writer too, and I know you’ll hit it off.”
Once I swallowed, I groaned and rolled my eyes. “Do I have a sign on my head that says ‘please fix me up’? God, between you, my mother, and my neighbor, I’m going crazy.”
Throwing her head back with a laugh, she picked up her fork, pointing it at me. “Well, we know you need a life other than writing, so maybe dating someone will get you out of your place and back out into the world.” Her fork stabbed into lettuce and cucumber. Placing the half-filled utensil into her mouth, she ate like a bird, chewing daintily. I hadn’t been out to eat with her in a while, but this was not the Debbie I knew. In college she could even out eat me and not gain an ounce. It was sickening.
I watched her with raised brows as she nibbled. She didn’t even notice. “No thanks, no more blind dates from you. I’m still not over the last one. All he talked about was monster trucks. Then he took me to a rally and it was so loud I couldn’t hear for two days.”
She laughed, quickly covering her mouth with her hand. “I’m sorry, but that was so funny. I remember what you looked like when you came over afterwards, covered head to toe in mud. Weren’t you lucky he had front row seats?”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Yeah, great fun. Let’s talk about something else please,” I complained, remembering that horrifying evening.
We finished our meal as she discussed my pathetic love life. After a few minutes the waiter came with our bill.
I left her in front of her building. Once she disappeared through the glass doors, I turned to hail a cab.
The policeman from upstairs was leaning against his car, in front of me. The bright April sun glared off the white paint from his police cruiser.
He was staring in my direction. After a quick glance behind me and seeing no one there, I guessed he was watching me. I took a step toward him, and he smiled.
“You’re the girl I saw earlier.” He nodded his head to the building Debbie had disappeared into.
A car squealed its tires in the street in front of us; shortly after, a horn honked.
“Brilliant observation, Officer. I can see why you chose your particular line of work.” I folded my arms, taking a quick step sideways to avoid a stroller coming at me. The woman pushing it seemed to be in a huge hurry.
He chuckled and shook his head. “What’s your name?”
“You’re a cop, shouldn’t you already know it?”
He laughed, showing perfect white teeth. “I could find out, but wouldn’t it be easier for you to just tell me?”
“Who would you find out from? The girl you were hitting on only an hour ago?” The cold sarcasm in my voice was obvious.
He arched his brow in confusion, then when understanding hit, he smiled. “That was my cousin, Maria. My mother asked if I’d stop by and ask her over for dinner since the station is just down the road.”
Okay, now I felt dumb. “Oh, well, I’m still not giving you my name.”
He opened his mouth to speak just as a cab pulled up against the curb, the squeaking breaks echoing through the air. Ignoring the urge to stay and flirt some more, I said, “Sorry, cab’s here, gotta go.”
“I’ll give you a ride in my car.” His voice was deep and sexy.
“Am I under arrest, Officer?” I said, with my head tilted.
“Have you broken any laws lately?”
I opened the door of the car and leaned in. “Not that I know of.”
He folded his arms in front of him. “Then, no.”
“In that case, I’ll stick with the cab.” I climbed in before the cabbie complained. He sighed a few times, obviously annoyed at having to wait.
As we rolled away from the curb, I saw the cop watching me from out of the corner of my eye.
Was it pathetic that even though I had only spoken to him for a minute or so, it was still the longest conversation I’d had with a guy in weeks?
He was very cute—tall, with short dark hair. I couldn’t see the color of his eyes because he was wearing sunglasses, which also added to the look. His height could be a problem though; I’d have to use a step ladder to get a goodnight kiss. I grinned at the thought; the idea that after one meeting with this guy and I was already daydreaming about him was ridiculous. I knew I’d never see him again. It must be the uniform; it was a definite plus for me. What was it about a man in uniform?