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About the author:
And what keeps me going… microdermabrasion and margaritas … seriously…
What inspired you to write your book?
I thought it would be interesting to handle the dynamic of two women forced together due to no real choice of their own, and the link being a child and a deceased husband/son. I wanted to have some fun with it and threw in how they would cope falling in love with the same man, and how/if there could ever be a compromise. The idea is that it’s funny and takes a wicked look at the scenario.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Today is my 43rd birthday. I should be happy reaching another a milestone but it feels like it’s painfully passing through my kidney. My husband’s best friend just got married and I wish it were to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being unfaithful. He passed away three years ago leaving me with a young daughter and a broken heart.
It was a tragic accident.
You don’t expect your husband to bugger off and leave you because a joy-riding juvenile can’t control the wheel of an ice cream van? And the man didn’t even hear it coming! Life is shit sometimes.
He died from multiple head injuries, however, I managed say I loved him on his death bed. I also called him a selfish bastard for breaking my heart. At the time, in a warped sort of way, I blamed myself.
I hate thinking about it.
I’m being rude.
I’m Belle Tate and my five year old daughter is called Beth. Belle and Beth, we sound like a little duo don’t we? She’s doing a lovely job as a bridesmaid. Excuse me, I’m just going to wave to her. Ah, how sweet, she has just poked her tongue out. My mother in law’s genetics I take it.
Her Dad would have been so proud.
We were trying for another child before he passed away, and if I knew then what I know now, I would’ve made sure he went down to a sperm bank as soon as we had a whiff he was going to die.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing.
They’re taking photos.
Poor Beth, she’s the littlest one, she takes after me. Her dad was tall but I’m 5 foot 3, so it seems her early years will be spent being short. Life already has dealt her a bitter blow. We always said with our combination she was bound to be beautiful (well, all parents think their child’s perfect, don’t they?). She’s gorgeous. Doesn’t look like me that much, more like her daddy’s dad, apparently? I wouldn’t know. I’ve never met him. He did a runner before Kai was born.
I don’t blame him.
Beth’s downside is that she’s headstrong and stubborn.
This is yet another trait from my mother in law.
Ah, I can see the bride and groom. She’s very pretty, quite young and beautiful. Meg is her name. She has known Josh for two years.
And there’s Josh.
Standing there, beaming from ear to ear. His brown eyes are sparkling. His blonde hair’s picking up the rays of sunshine coming through the window. They look like the perfect couple.
I want to puke.
No, I’m just being a jealous, bitter and twisted old hag.
I’m not a bad widow, coveting my husband’s mate. I liked Josh first because I thought Kai wouldn’t take a second look at me as he was too beautiful. Then, by some strange turn of events, Kai hounded me into submission (the sack, between you and me). I have no idea why but I was flattered and I fell big time.
When we got hitched, I thought we’d be together forever, give or take his chequered sexual history. I knew he wasn’t known for his fidelity.
I hate Mills and Boon sometimes for instilling you with hope.
I’m a foolish, romantic woman.
I’m not going to dwell on the past. I had my chance at love and it left me a bit early. Right, I’m going to be good and congratulate the bride and groom.
I can’t be arsed.
I check my hair. It’s straight today and about half way down my back. I’ll probably wear it shorter when I have to dye it black every six weeks to get rid of the grey. How depressing but that’s the problem with getting old.
I slyly look around to see who’s doing what. I’m going to hang about by the steps of this posh hotel and avoid speaking to anyone. No, that’s not going to happen. I can see Kai’s mother, Josh’s godmother and my sort of mother in law.
It’s vague what the relationship is, as I’m still effectively married to her son, except he’s dead. You could say we were ‘related’ but I choke even to say that. Joan Fitzsimmons is truly a thorn in my side.
After Kai died, the only thing keeping me going was I didn’t have to see that meddling woman any more. She’s Beth’s grandmother and hopefully none of her fucked up, excuse my language, mental genes will be evident in my daughter. Grin and bear it, the hawk is looking at me.
‘Hello Belle, you look… never mind. Are you enjoying yourself?’ Joan asks.
‘Yes, it’s a lovely do,’ I reply. ‘I like your outfit. Are you here alone?’
No chance of that.
Joan is extremely glamorous.
She looks like a cross between Debbie Harry and Helen Mirren and she’s beautiful, even if I, begrudgingly, say so myself.
‘I’ve got Robert with me. He’s over there.’ She points to a man who has got to be ten years younger than me.
‘Is he your regular shag?’ I ask.
I feel her burning stare on my flushed face.
‘You really are coarse! Robert’s my escort for today.’
Nothing surprises me with this woman. He’s very handsome. Surely she’s not sleeping with him as well as her secret shag? Oh well, she has a better figure than me and ninety per cent of the population, so you can’t blame her for flaunting it but heaven help him with her cruel streak.
‘Beth looks beautiful. When are you going to come round, I haven’t seen her for ages?’ she says.
‘Joan, you haven’t been around that much. I tried to phone you.’ That’s not exactly true. ‘You never answer and you know I hate leaving messages.’
Yes, another set of lies.
Luckily her housekeeper, Maggie, tells me when Joan is away and that’s when I strike up a deal to try to get in touch. Maggie’s a sweetie. She’s more of a grandmother to Beth than this old piece of mutton. I know, I’m mean about Joan but you wait and see what she says about me!
‘Josh’s wife is gorgeous isn’t she? I can’t remember you ever looking this lovely on your wedding day.’
See, I told you so.
I was quite slim at my wedding because I was literally shitting myself she was going to show me up. She did.
I’ve filled out now.
I lost a hell of a lot of weight after Kai died. I’m not humungous probably between a size 12 and 14. I could say I’ve got big bones but, the truth of it is, I’ve got some meat on my skeleton and, frankly, when you’re heading towards your midlife crisis, it’s either your face or your arse. Personally, I’d rather have liposuction than a face lift any day, so my fat is keeping those wrinkles at bay.
Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Now, our Joan prays every night thanking God for scalpels. She wouldn’t be the same tucked and sucked woman without them. Plus a heavy dose of Botox.
‘Meg looks stunning,’ I sigh, a pang of jealousy creeping in.
‘Yes, well, she had a head start in that department,’ Joan smugly replies and looks at me up and down as she fails to hold back her sneer.
Let me explain.
I was never good enough for Kai. I’m not some model wife and neither am I from the background Joan wanted, you see Kai’s choice wasn’t met with open arms.
First of all, I’m not white. She was alarmed she’d have grandchildren of a funny brown tinge. My colour has never been an issue with most people, this is the twenty first century and I dealt with all the racial confrontations very early on in life, from both black and white.
Then again, if you were to speak to Joan, you’d think I came straight off a banana boat with shackles, not from a mixed race relationship. She has managed to swing it in her mind Kai was doing something good for mankind, sacrificing his happiness to be with me, giving the third world people a fighting chance by integrating them into society. I wasn’t invited to her house until we had been together two years and that’s only because she got wind we were getting hitched the following month.
To be honest, I’ve always secretly wanted her approval but it never happened. It’s horrible when you admire someone and they think you’re like shit on their shoe. I tried, I really tried. Maybe I tried too hard, I don’t really know.
It hurt at first, mainly my pride.
We all like to think everyone likes us, it’s upsetting when you find out they don’t. Now, I don’t bother. I didn’t expect to be left with her… another gem from my husband.
To make matters worse, I’m not from a wealthy background. I never went to private school and I can’t speak ten foreign languages. Oh, and my dad left my mum for another woman when I was little, so I’m from a one parent family.
And as for my job! You’d think I was doing something down and dirty. I’m a failed food writer (I never managed to get a cookery book published) but I do write some articles here and there, mostly ‘there’, on the Internet. To make ends meet, I do low budget catering for parties, some office temping, you know, this and that, pays for the bills. There has to be flexibility due to Beth as she comes first. See, not cutting edge but I like it. I’m happy, sort of.
‘Belle are you listening to me?’ Joan’s posh round vowels echo through my head.
How could I not hear her?
‘Sorry Joan, I was a million miles away. What did you say?’
‘I’ve never seen Josh so happy. He’s looking over at us.’ She blows him a kiss.
I’m not trying to look.
This is like acid being rubbed into a wound.
After Kai died, Josh and I were devastated. I had to focus on Beth. I think Josh didn’t know how to handle the loss, plus he had to deflect my attention from Kai’s misdemeanours. Josh’s family spent time comforting Joan, who was beyond grief! She blames or wishes it were me. I think it’s both.
Over the past eighteen months, Josh has been more involved with Beth. He is her godfather, though he keeps me at arm’s length.
I have this sinking feeling.
I’m not happy about being a single mum, in her fifth decade, in love with her husband’s best mate. It’s a terrible up-hill struggle and who would have thought I’d end up with Joan longer than Kai?
I need a drink.
We’re being ushered to the reception and Joan’s still standing close by. I get the impression she wants to keep an eye on me. My theory on Joan is she has eyes that rotate a whole 360 degrees. Not only can she see what you’re doing, she can also check on her insides to keep an eye on what she eats and how well she’s deteriorating.
I grab a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and sense Joan is going to say something. Yep, her mouth is opening.
‘Belle, don’t get drunk, you’ve got Beth to look after.’
Yeah and teach me to suck eggs. I should put the glass back but I’m not going to.
‘I’m only going to have a couple. Anyway, we’re staying here tonight and so I shan’t get shit faced and shag an under aged usher,’ I snigger.
‘That mouth of yours needs to be washed out, darling,’ she says, smiling at someone else.
‘I was only joking.’
‘Don’t embarrass me any more than you do on a daily basis,’ she snaps. ‘And why can’t you stand up straight and look like a lady?’
She hates me so much nothing even my breathing upsets her. One day I’ll find her Achilles heel.
‘Why can’t you look happy?’ she hisses in my ear. ‘You look like the hired help.’
‘I am happy,’ I say through gritted teeth.
‘Then smile,’ she snaps and I show some teeth but decide to sip my champagne.
I catch Josh’s eye and he smiles while my gut sinks lower, if that’s at all possible. How I love him! And he will never know.
I want to go home.
I glance over at Beth who looks besotted as she speaks to a boy a few years older than her. It’s so sweet. I’m a bit jealous she has a better chance of pulling as a kid than I do as an adult.
Chat, chat and chat. Eat, eat and eat. Drink, drink and drink.
Before I know it it’s ten thirty. I can see poor Beth flagging. I’m going to make a quick exit and take her to bed as the newlyweds smooch and a blur of people are throwing themselves around the dance floor. Why do people forget their ability to dance at weddings? If they were in a club they wouldn’t be strutting around like pillocks.
I get Beth. Poor baby just comes up and gives me a hug. She’s out within a second. The perfect chance for me to escape!
I walk up the stairs to the first floor. The décor’s a bit kitsch and-.
‘Are you enjoying yourself?’
Who’s that? I turn to see Josh standing at the bottom of the stairs.
‘Yes, it was a lovely day.’
I’m trying to give my winning smile but I really can’t seem to summon it while my heart beats faster.
I look a bloody mess.
‘Do you want me to help you with Beth?’ he asks.
He’s flashing his pearly whites and he’s drop dead gorgeous. That happens when you’re in love with someone who doesn’t love you back, I guess. I’d give anything to shag him right now.
Oh bloody hell, that’s the drink talking. Behave!
‘No. I’m fine.’
I carry on walking up the stairs.
Beth is now dribbling on my shoulder and gently snoring. She does take after me on a few things.
‘Belle?’ His voice sends shivers down my spine. That’s the reaction of drinking nearly a bottle of fizz. ‘Happy Birthday.’
‘You still there?’ I whisper loudly, trying not to wake Beth.
Josh takes a few steps up and comes closer to my face. He has beautiful skin, so smooth and-.
‘I love you Belle,’ he says.
Oh, how sweet, the evening has made him sentimental. Such a lovely man! See what I’m missing out on.
‘I love you too, Josh!’ Oh, I really do. ‘I think you and Meg make a wonderful couple and I hope you’ll be really happy.’ I don’t but you can’t say that can you? ‘I didn’t know what to get you for a present so Beth thought-.’’
‘Belle, I love you. I wanted you to know.’ Josh’s not smiling now, he looks serious.
He must be pissed but he’s holding himself well on it.
Weddings, I hate them.
‘That’s nice to know,’ I say with a fixed smile on my face.
‘You don’t get it do you?’ he says, shaking his head and smiling. ‘I got married today to a woman I adore but it has always been you.’
I’m stuck. Yes, I’m definitely stuck on the stairs. This isn’t happening.
What to do next?
‘Has someone slipped something into your drink?’ I nervously laugh as my palms sweat.
Right, I’ve just bolted away leaving the man stranded on the staircase. You can tell I’m good in tricky situations.
‘You never let me sleep,’ comes accusingly out of my child’s mouth. ‘Who do you love?’
‘You of course! I’m taking you to bed at top speed.’
‘Can I have a cat?’
‘No. Where’s the bloody key card. Ha, got it!’
‘You swore, I’m telling,’ she says sleepily.
I ignore her quickly pushing the door and closing it hard with my sturdy rump.
What just happened there? Breathe deeply, calmly. Good.
I, not so gently, put my now snoring daughter on the bed. My head is feeling quite fuzzy now. What the hell is Josh up to?