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About the author:
Claire grew up in Warwickshire, England, but for more than 20 years has called Australia home. She considers herself lucky to live near one of Adelaide’s beautiful metropolitan beaches where she loves to walk and think up stories.
What inspired you to write your book?
More Than Just Pretend is the second in a series of romantic novellas about the Selwood sisters. (Each book is a stand-alone story.)
Here is a short sample from the book:
Gwen clicked off the phone and put it down on the kitchen table.
Her sister’s expression was sympathetic as she said, “Problems at school?”
Gwen nodded. “Detention for Becky. Again. I thought that moving her here would help, but it hasn’t so far. We seem to lurch from one problem to another. I’ve begun to dread the phone ringing in case it’s the school again.”
When she’d made the decision to move home, it had been with the aim of giving Becky a fresh start at a new school, and a chance to complete her schooling without the constant reminder of seeing her father and his new family, but it hadn’t worked out the way she’d hoped. If anything, life with her daughter had become even more difficult.
“She’s still taking the divorce badly, isn’t she?”
“Well, yes, but mix in a dollop of teenage hormones and she’s a mess, poor girl.” Gwen sighed. “I could handle it better, I admit, but she knows how to push my buttons. She starts shouting and I yell back. And as for door slamming, it’s a wonder the one on her bedroom is still on its hinges.”
She rubbed the middle of her forehead. As guilty as she felt about Becky’s unhappiness, she couldn’t help wishing for some peace for herself too, for time to gather her own thoughts without the constant battle of wills.
“If it’s any consolation,” Lily said, “you used to bang doors a lot at her age and you turned out all right.”
“That’s debatable,” she said, grimacing. “Talking of doors and hinges, I wanted to speak to you about the house.” She glanced around the kitchen of their childhood, little changed since then though it had been years since their parents had passed away.
Lily smiled. “I’m glad it was empty so you could move in. It’s lovely to have you back in town.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m really grateful to be here, but…well, the old place does have a few problems. Damp, for instance. Can you smell it? I think the roof leaks.”
“Oh no! Well, I suppose that’s to be expected in an old house. The tenants never mentioned it, though.”
“Maybe they didn’t care. The wall in my work room is pretty bad.” She gestured towards the room off the kitchen which had been a formal dining room during their younger years, but which she now used as an office of sorts. “The window in my bedroom won’t open and I think it’s rotten. Plus, the kitchen cupboard doors won’t closely properly because they’re warped. There are other bits and pieces that I really think need to be taken care of before they get any worse.”
“Sure. If you get them done, we’ll split the bill three ways.”
“Should I ask Cora first?”
“I’ll mention it to her at work tomorrow. I’m sure she’ll agree to chip in. It’s not as if you have to get her permission — we’re joint owners, aren’t we?”
“It’s just that Cora’s always been responsible for the house since Mum and Dad died.”
“She handled leasing it out, because she’s got a business brain and I haven’t. I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do.”
“And I wasn’t here to help.” A pang of guilt reminded her that she’d left her sisters to deal with the aftermath of the accident, and all that was involved with the business, the house and their parents’ possessions. But she’d been living in Melbourne and it had been all she could do to hold her own life together with a cheating husband and a small child to raise.
“But we all have an equal say.”
“Okay. So, can you recommend any builders, or shall I look them up in the phone book?”
“Boyds have a good reputation.”
“Oh, I remember Mr Boyd. I’ll try him first, and I’ll let you know how much it’s going to cost.”
“Sounds good to me.” Lily checked her watch and got to her feet. “I have to pick up Rosie from her piano lesson.” She leaned down to give Gwen a hug. “You’re not on your own now, remember. I’m here for you, and so is Cora.”
Gwen returned the hug. Lily had always been her favourite sister, but then everybody loved Lily. The youngest of the three Selwood sisters, she’d received a triple share of the sweetness that had bypassed Cora and herself.
“Thanks,” she said, “but I think Cora’s a bit preoccupied with her toy boy.”
“Don’t call Alex that in front of her,” Lily said. “She’d hate it.”
Gwen laughed. “I’m only kidding. I’m happy for her. Really, I am.”