Title: Warwicks’ Mermaid
Author: Ellie Gray
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources and Ellie Gray for the opportunity to take part in Warwick’s Mermaid Blog Tour!
The Excerpt …
This extract is where Chloe first meets Luke Warwick. They are both the victim of game playing by a supposed friend of Chloe, who has also invited Chloe’s ex-boyfriend to the party. This is the first time we see Chloe starting to believe in herself and stand up to Chris.
Luke relaxed back in his chair, his body angled towards Chloe, one arm resting casually on the table, the other along the back of his chair. In stark contrast, Chloe was sitting bolt upright, her hands clasped tightly in her lap, and his gaze narrowed thoughtfully as he watched her battling with some emotion. He had been taken by surprise when he saw her walk into the room with Lucie, recognising her instantly as the girl he had been captivated by on the beach below his cliff-top cottage. He remembered how her auburn curls, tumbling down to the base of her spine, had shone brightly in the sunlight as she collected shells along the shore, oblivious to his gaze. And now here she was again; except tonight she was tense and uneasy, whereas on the beach she had seemed relaxed, carefree, and somehow ethereal.
‘Red or white?’
She looked up in surprise and Luke smiled faintly, gesturing to the wine bottles sitting on the table. ‘Do you drink red or white?’
‘Oh, er…white, please.’ She briefly met his gaze before adding, ‘Can’t stand red.’
As he reached forward to pour her a glass, she snapped around to face him.
‘This isn’t a blind date, is it?’
He favoured her with a curious glance, taking his time with pouring himself a glass of water before settling back into his seat. ‘I’ve just moved to the area. A friend suggested the ball and put me in touch with Clive, and I couldn’t think of a good reason why not. He mentioned Lucie would be bringing a friend, but in answer to your question, no, I didn’t understand it to be a blind date.’
Chloe nodded and sipped at her wine, clearly unconvinced.
‘I gather Lucie has persuaded you here under false pretences?’ Aware that this was somehow a big deal for her, Luke frowned and leant forward. ‘Look, forget Lucie’s intentions, blind date or otherwise. Even if I hadn’t been invited as part of the group, you would still be sitting next to a stranger. Why don’t we start again as two people who happen to meet up at a ball, safe in the knowledge that, after this evening, we don’t have to see each other ever again if we don’t want to?’
‘Luke Warwick.’ He reached out his hand, holding her gaze.
After a brief hesitation, she took it, the tension visibly leaving her body as she smiled at him in relief. ‘Chloe MacGregor.’
‘That’s better, Chloe MacGregor.’ He smiled back, relieved to see her begin to relax. ‘That’s the first genuine smile I’ve seen from you all evening. You’ve got a lovely smile.’
His heart sank when she immediately dropped her gaze with a frown, turning away from him to sip at her wine. What had he said?
He watched her curiously as she avoided his gaze, lifting her head to look around the room and rolling her shoulders as if to ease tension. About to speak, he paused when she froze, her glass halfway to her mouth as she drew in a ragged breath. Luke glanced across to the far side of the room where her gaze was fixed, but he could see nothing amiss. Turning back to her, he saw a frown creasing her forehead and she shook her head slightly, obviously having some sort of internal conversation with herself. The next minute, her eyes widened and she shot to her feet, making him jump as her chair fell backwards.
‘Chloe?’ Luke got to his feet beside her, his hand brushing her elbow to draw her attention from the far side of the room. ‘What is it?’
‘Lucie, did you know Chris was going to be here?’ She ignored him and turned to Lucie, her voice oddly tight. The colour creeping along Lucie’s neck and into her face was answer enough.
‘Of course, I did. He suggested it actually.’ Lucie gave a shrug. ‘I don’t see what the big deal is. You split up over a year ago. Get over it.’
There was a long, tense moment and then, without a word, Chloe turned and walked away from them.
Weaving her way through the maze of tables, Chloe willed her shaking legs not to give way, and tried to keep one eye on Chris. What had she been thinking? She knew what Lucie was like — only interested in number one. She wouldn’t put it past her to have invited Chloe simply to provide a bit of entertainment; to see what would happen when she saw Chris again and learned, by the look of his companion, that he was soon to be a father. Lucie had always been a bitchy troublemaker at school, but at other times she could be a good laugh, and had continued to make sporadic efforts to stay in touch with Chloe over the years. Efforts that Chloe had always accommodated, just as she had tonight. Well, not any more. She had had enough.
Lucie could go and take a running jump. With friends like her, who needed enemies?
Fingering her temple lightly as she recognised the beginnings of a headache, Chloe absently took a sip from the glass of wine still clutched in her hand while she lingered in the corner of the room with her back to the couple she was trying to avoid, waiting for them to move so she could make her escape. A quick glance over her shoulder left her struggling to draw breath as her eyes met those of her ex-boyfriend, and a satisfied smile played around his mouth as he began slowly and deliberately making his away across the room. Chloe turned away, desperately trying to control the panic threatening to overwhelm her. Why now? Why was he here now?
About the Book
Having escaped an abusive relationship, Chloe MacGregor is determined to put the past behind her. The little cottage high up on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful North Yorkshire town of Whitby is her safe haven, somewhere she is free to be herself.
When the arrival of her new neighbour and boss, Luke Warwick, threatens her peaceful, sheltered life, Chloe is forced to confront her past and to re-evaluate who she really is. Falling in love with Luke is not part of her plan but, to her surprise, Luke is falling for her too. The only thing preventing their happy ever after is Chloe herself. Will she ever truly learn to leave the past where it belongs?
About the Author
I’m a contemporary romance author, published with the lovely Tirgearr Publishing, and am a proud member of the Romantic Novelist Association. I live in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire in the UK and, although I work full-time in the public sector, my favourite pastime, when not writing, is wandering around old stately homes.
My debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published in February 2016, closely followed by my second, Love on the Nile, which was released in the Summer of 2016. My third novel, Warwick’s Mermaid, was published in October 2017 and I’m currently working on my fourth.
A few random pieces of information about me:
- Favourite TV shows – The Walking Dead, The X-Files, Nashville, Dr. Who, the Great British Bake-off.
- Favourite Music – I’m an 80’s girl!, country, sixties, Elvis, classical (when I’m writing)
- Favourite Food – Indian, tapas, crisps
- Favourite Drink – black coffee (copious amounts when I’m writing) sauvignon blanc
Don’t forget to check out the other amazing Bloggers who are covering this publication! 🙂
Happy Reading, x