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About the author:
Having long admired those brave enough to put pen to paper, or in this modern age of computing, keyboard to screen, I have finally found the stories that I am brave enough to tell.
What inspired you to write your book?
Whilst Thirty Days is a work of fiction, there are many emotions and scenarios that have played out in my own life. Having an outlet to work through these, even just on paper, has helped me maintain my own sanity.
Here is a short sample from the book:
I roll my neck and stretch my arms above my head. I have been so immersed in data that five o’clock came and went without my paying much attention. Glancing at my screen, I realise it is already 8:00 p.m., which would explain why it is already dark. My phone buzzes and I glance down at the screen. Michelle. I managed to avoid the Spanish Inquisition at lunch by pleading off due to workload, but I know she won’t let it lie. Michelle has a terrier mentality, which means she will sink her teeth into you. It is also why she is so effective as the financial director’s personal assistant. With a sigh I pick up, knowing that if I ignore her, she will keep bombarding me with calls until I answer.
“Hey, Chelle,” I answer.
“Bloody time too, Abby!” Michelle retorts. “Where are you?”
“Still at work. Got caught up in the data and still have so much to do before I can leave tonight,” I respond with a small sigh. “I know you wanted all the gossip, but really, there isn’t any.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” I can practically hear her salivating at the other end of the line.
“Can I take a rain check until Sunday? Meet you at Alfredo’s for a coffee before I head off down to Nonna’s?” There is silence on the other end of the phone. “Come on…my treat,” I wheedle.
“All right, then,” Michelle relents. “See you at 9:30 a.m.”
“Definitely, with bells on,” I reply, hanging up the phone, grateful that I have managed to stall for some extra time. At least this way I can have a chance to think through everything that has happened today with a clear mind.
Realising that I have now completely lost my momentum, I start to pack up my things. I am the only one left in the office bar security. Feeling happy that I at least made decent inroads into my report, I gather up my cake boxes and make my way to the lift. Within moments of pressing the button, the lift arrives, and I hop inside feeling a little giddy due to not having eaten properly all day. The movement of the lift suddenly makes me feel nauseous, and I am not the best with confined spaces anyway. With a start I realise the lift has gone up one floor. I am puzzled as to who would still be here that late, but I guess that if I have deadlines, so must others.
Trying to control the horrible feeling in my stomach by taking deep breaths, I barely notice the doors opening and a man getting in. The smell hits me first. The delectable citrusy scent that had bowled me over earlier in the day.
“Are you okay, Abby?” Taylor asks, concern showing in his eyes.
“Uh, you…you know my name” is all I manage to stammer back. Nice one, Abby. Now he is going to think you are a complete moron.
“Of course. Abigail James, who works for Eddy in the analytics department,” he responds. “What? You don’t think I know who works in my company?” he queries with an arch of his eyebrow. “Um, seriously, are you okay? You have gone really pale.”
The adrenaline coursing through my veins, combined with lack of food, produces spots in front of my eyes, and I feel like I am about to pass out. I am suddenly both very hot and very cold, and my ears start to ring. My hands tremble, and the boxes I am holding tumble to the ground. “Low blood sugar” is about all I am able to mutter when I feel Taylor’s arm slip around my waist as he guides me out to the reception area. “Wait here,” he murmurs as he deposits me on the couch. “I’ll be right back.”
Moments later I feel a straw at my lips. “Drink. It’s some orange juice,” Taylor commands. As I sip the juice slowly, I become more aware of my surroundings, and with that comes the stark realisation of who is crouched in front of me. I flush with embarrassment.
“I am so… sorry,” I stutter. “I don’t know what happened there.”
“When did you last eat?” queries Taylor, a little forcefully.
“Um, I don’t know,” I respond. “I have been busy. Lots to do, reports to write and all that.” I smile meekly at Taylor, unsure of what I am doing.
“Not good enough,” he mutters. “Come on, let’s get you something proper to eat,” Taylor says, helping me to my feet.
“No!” I say a little bit too loudly, my heart beginning to pound again. I don’t understand what it is about Taylor’s presence that makes me feel so nervous. “Um, sorry…didn’t mean to shout,” I prattle.
“I’ll get something at home.”
“Don’t be silly. My place is just a couple of minutes from here,” Taylor responds, a hint of amusement in his eyes.
I look back at him, all of a sudden feeling very unsure of myself. Seeing my response, he chuckles loudly.
“Don’t worry. You’ll be safe with me,” Taylor says. “I don’t make it a habit to molest my staff—well, not in their three-month probation period anyway.” He delivers this with a deadpan expression, but the twinkle in his eyes reassures me that he is joking. Though given the feelings he is currently stirring in my groin, I am not sure that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
“Come on, I don’t bite.” Taylor motions me back towards the open lift. With a sigh I realise I am actually starving, so I follow him into the open elevator. Taylor reaches forward and presses a button that I have never noticed before. It takes me a couple of moments to realise that instead of going down, the lift has started rising instead.
“What on earth?” I stammer. Taylor just shrugs his broad shoulders with another grin. Before I can say another word, the lift stops and the door opens. I step out into a large atrium. As I look around, dim lights dotted on the wall highlight a large living area off to the left. I can see three large squishy-looking sofas forming a U shape in front of a brick fireplace. The walls, I notice, are stripped back to the original brick of the Victorian fire station that the building once housed. Above the fireplace hangs a flat-screen TV, just about the biggest one I have ever seen in my life.
My eyes follow the room round to an open-plan kitchen and dining area. I gasp internally when I notice the original AGA range built into the kitchen area. I have coveted one of those for years and for some reason feel a strange sense of jealousy at the sight. I can’t quite figure out why the lighting is strange until, glancing up, I notice that most of the ceiling is made up of skylights. I gasp audibly. “Wow, the moon looks amazing up there. And what an amazing, um, ambience all the light creates!”
“I know. I had those put in when I had the place renovated for the office.”
“You would never know that any of this is up here.” I marvel at the rest of the surrounds as Taylor starts pulling things out of the fridge. I can see the floors are original hardwood, with several large rugs in muted earthy tones scattered around. Large old-style radiators hang off the wall at intervals, warming the large open space.
“I planned it that way. I liked the idea of being close to the office but didn’t want people to know just how close.”
I stifle a small laugh, starting to relax at last in Taylor’s presence. “So how do you sneak in and out, then?”
“There’s a separate lift at the back, which goes down to the street”—he motions towards a set of double doors in the far corner—“or down into the basement, where I keep my car.”
“It’s all a bit James Bond,” I blurt, my mouth engaging before my brain can intercept.
“Something like that.” Taylor gives me a grin as he starts to chop some peppers and onions at the worktop. “Omelette okay for you?”
“Really, you don’t have to do this. I can get something on my way home,” I say quietly, suddenly feeling shy despite our banter.
Something dark crosses Taylor’s eyes, but as swiftly as it was there, it disappears. “Sit down,” he commands in bullish tones. I hop up onto the stool on the opposite side of the counter, feeling like a small child. “Yes, sir,” I mock salute him, a feeling of petulance welling up in my stomach. “Good girl,” he smiles at me.
I watch him in silence as he deftly wields the frying pan over the stovetop. The omelette mix, along with the peppers and onion, is poured into the pan, and it is only moments before a delicious smell wafts across towards me. My stomach growls with anticipation. While the egg is cooking, he crosses back and starts grating a block of cheese. I watch the fluid movements of his hands and fingers, and for a moment my imagination takes over, wondering what it would feel like to have those fingers on my bare skin. I feel a flush creep up my neck as Taylor glances up, catching me in my reverie.
As if he knows what I am thinking, Taylor raises an eyebrow. My blush deepens, and I glance down at my fingers, doing my best to control my erratic breathing. I am beyond turned on, and I find myself squirming in my seat as my pelvic muscles do a little dance.
“Are you okay, Abby?” Taylor asks, forcing me to look at him across the countertop. I am suppressing my desire with every ounce of my self-control. “Yes” is all I manage to whisper as the lump in my throat threatens to constrict my breathing. All I want to do is throw myself at him!
Where on earth have these fierce feelings come from, I muse, watching as Taylor sprinkles cheese and puts the pan under the grill. He turns to take two plates from the shelf, and I get an unobstructed view of his behind. My breath hitches. I. Want. Him. I have never felt this way before, and I don’t really understand this absolutely visceral reaction to the man who is standing in front of me. Yes, he is gorgeous, but that alone is not enough to knock me off balance like this. No, there is something in the way he holds himself, the way he moves, that spells ‘power’, and I feel completely overawed by him.
Before I know it, he is putting a generous slice of omelette on my plate, along with a salad that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Moving round the counter, he joins me, bringing along a tall glass of juice. The proximity to him means that despite my hunger, I find it difficult to swallow. The omelette is delicious; I simply just do not have the stomach for it.
Within minutes, though, I find myself starting to relax as Taylor engages me with mindless chit-chat, telling me about the origins of the cheese and the spices that he has included. My appetite makes a reappearance, and before I know it, my plate is clear.
“Thank you. That was delicious,” I say, beaming back at Taylor’s open smile.
“You are very welcome.” Glancing at his watch, Taylor starts. “Um, I’d better get you home. It’s almost ten o’clock…way past your bedtime, young lady,” he jokes.
I find myself blushing furiously as images of him…in bed…with me suddenly cross my mind. Guiltily I look up and find him grinning at me, almost as if he knew what I was thinking. I stand and move to gather up my plate and glass, when he waves dismissingly. “Don’t worry about that. I’ll sort it when I get back.”
“Really, you don’t have to worry about taking me home. I’ll get the bus. It’s no trouble at all.”
A dark look crosses Taylor’s face. “I am taking you home,” he says firmly. “No arguing!”
Nodding my acquiescence, I gather up my bags and follow him across to the private lift. As the doors close and we start our descent, the atmosphere thickens and my heart starts to race as Taylor’s citrusy scent invades my senses. I start to feel light-headed again, and it continues as we settle into the confines of his car.
“This is a bit sporty,” I laugh, trying to lighten the mood.
Taylor grins at me, and I find myself melting as I look into his eyes. “Hmm, I always wanted something like this, so when I could finally afford one, I decided to splash out on an Audi R8. I like how it growls.”
Taylor clicks on the stereo, and soon the car is filled with the Foo Fighters rocking it out. “Ah, I love Dave Grohl,” I sigh.
“Funny, I wouldn’t have had you down as a rock chick.” Taylor gives me an incredulous look.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover. People tend to make decisions about me before I even open my mouth,” I bark, embarrassment making me appear harsher than I intended to sound.
“Sorry,” Taylor mutters. “That wasn’t exactly what I meant. I only meant that you are lacking the black hair, piercings and tattoos that normally go along with girls into rock music.”
“Um, sorry, I overreacted,” I concede. “I just get so sick of people judging me because of how I look. The downside of growing up in a house of people obsessed with image.”
Taylor arches an eyebrow questioningly.
“My mum and dad are pretty famous. They were international models during their twenties and early thirties and now do a lot commercial work.” As I continue to explain about my parents and the work they do, I can see comprehension dawning in Taylor’s eyes.
We settle into an easy silence, and the journey passes quickly. It is only when we pull up outside my block of flats that the tension starts to ramp up again inside the car. As I scramble to collect up my bags, I don’t notice that Taylor has already come round to open my door. His hand pops in to help me out, and as we touch, it feels as if electricity has shot up my arm. I gasp and try to pull away, but Taylor’s grip tightens, and I find myself upright, staring into his chest. My world tilts on its axis, and I find myself breathing in short, shallow breaths as I try to steady the rush of arousal that has seared through my body.
I hear, rather than see, Taylor take a deep breath and push himself gently away from me, though he doesn’t let my hand go. Tugging gently, he leads me down the path to my door. As we reach the porch, I turn to look at him, not sure what is going on between us. A glance at Taylor’s face tells me that he is not sure either.
“Um, thanks for dinner. Um…and for bringing me home,” I stutter, looking up into Taylor’s eyes. Suddenly Taylor’s mouth swoops down and captures mine with a fierceness that surprises me. I surrender as his teeth gently pull at my lip and his tongue invades my mouth. The kiss deepens and I feel his hands exploring my body, cupping the cheeks of my bum and working his way up until his fingers are buried in my hair. I moan into Taylor’s mouth, completely aroused. The experience is the most erotic encounter I have ever had.
Abruptly Taylor ends the kiss, pushing me away. Swearing under his breath, he briefly looks into my eyes before turning and stalking back to the car. Within seconds the engine roars to life, and without a backward glance Taylor is gone.
I stand outside the front door, stunned, like a rabbit in the headlights. It takes several minutes before I can move, my subconscious summoning Taylor back with all its will. My heart is pounding and my hands are shaking with the tension I feel coiled in my body. When it is clear he is not coming back, I slowly turn and fit my key in the lock.