My New Blog!
Welcome to my blog! It has taken me ages to get this up and running, but I’m thrilled that I’ll have a space to share my news. Huge thanks to Deirdre Roberts for helping me navigate my website (I’m hopeless at such things) and, of course, to MCRC Design for designing it in the first place.
Be aware that there are SPOILERS in the extract below, so if you haven’t read Gabriella, please don’t read any more of this post! Just a small recap for those of you who have: James (Aurora’s beau) is the photographer. Lita is Gabriella’s granny – the woman who taught her to sew. Luca and Lydia (the main characters from the trilogy) meet Luca’s ex-wife, Charlotte, for the first time since the break up. Luca also runs into Victoria, his ex-mother-in-law, who is total COW. Colin is planning to adopt (and eventually finds Orlando – who features in Mosaic).
So, when the first draft of my fifth book, Gabriella, was completed, it was far too long. I worked with my editor to cut parts of it that were “unnecessary”, and one of those parts was the wedding at the end. I was sad to omit it as I liked the denouement, but it had to be done. I’d like to share it now (I did try and share it on my Instagram a few years ago but it was virtually impossible to read). Looking at it now, I really miss Oberon. I think I’ll bring him back in my seventh book, bitchy as ever. In fact, I will. He’s a joy to write.
By the way, Book 7 is really taking shape. Last night, I did a reading at an event for Skibbereen Arts Festival in Skibbereen. I chose an extract about a new character called Emilia Thomas who features in my new story. Unlike my other heroines, Emilia is middle-aged – a couple of years older than I am now in fact. Of course, other familiar faces will pop up – I especially want to explore the new relationship revealed at the end of Mosaic (I can’t say any more!) and add another few layers to the world I’ve created. I’m all over it!
I hope you enjoy!
Gabriella -Deleted Scenes -The Wedding
The reception was held at The Melrose Hotel as Gabriella wanted the whole event to be in The Bronx. First they stopped at The Botanical Gardens and James asked them to pose in various positions, taking every angle he could. Onlookers pointed and stared at the couple as they kissed for the camera, clapping loudly in approval.
There were drinks at the bar first – champagne and nibbles – and then a sit down meal of Lita’s pork stew and orange cake.
Diego stood up after dessert and tapped his glass. “If my papa was here today, he would have been so proud,” he said in his deep voice. “Gabby looks so beautiful and is a credit to us all.”
The crowd clapped.
“I was going to say a few words in his place, but then I felt that there would be a better person. Someone who has looked after our Gabby like a daughter. I give you, Oberon!”
Bertie choked on his wine. “You’re joking me!” he said in disbelief. “Oberon doing a Father of the Bride speech? Now, I’ve seen it all.”
Oberon stood up and raised his head haughtily. “Gabriella and I didn’t get off to the best start. In fact, I didn’t like her at all. However, as we got to know one another, we grew close, and now I consider her to be family.”
Gabriella bit her lip.
“You see, we’re quite similar, Gabby and I. We both had to fight for every single break we got. We came from nothing to become great. She is a wonderful girl and I am proud of her.”
The crowd said “Aw!”
Riku was openly crying and Jimin patted his back.
“Hugo was always in her heart. Despite the ups and downs, she always loved him and I was so sick of hearing about their star crossed love.” He rolled his eyes. “When that article from an undisclosed source was published, I breathed a sigh of relief as it meant that I wouldn’t have to listen to her bleating on about him anymore.” He raised his glass and winked. “To the undisclosed source.”
Everyone cheered and Victoria pursed her lips.
“So, I’ll give you over to the groom.” Oberon walked over to Gabriella and kissed her cheek. “Congratulations,” he said.
Hugo stood up and smiled. “Thank you all for coming.”
The crowd cheered. “Gabriella is a dream come true for me and I’m honoured to call her my wife.”
“When I proposed and she said yes, it was the happiest moment of my life. I went down on one knee on the Staten Island Ferry which is a special place for us.”
“Good God, the ferry?” said Bertie, making a face. “Well, each to their own.”
“It’s a special place because the first time we rode that ferry together, was the first time I realised that I was in love with Gabby.” His face softened. “I can’t wait to spend my life with her.”
Victoria downed her wine and coughed. Magda wiped away a tear.
“To my beautiful wife!” Hugo beamed at the guests.
“Victoria hasn’t aged a day,” observed Tara, forking up some salad. “She looks exactly the same.”
“Do you think she’s had work done? She’s quite shiny,” said Colin.
Luca scowled. “Can we change the subject, please? Who cares about her?”
Lydia squeezed his hand. “Don’t let it get to you. It’s all over now.”
Xavier was sound asleep in his buggy, his small eyes flickering as he slept. Sienna was eating nuggets in her high chair, her face smeared with ketchup.
“Listen up, everyone. We’ve news!” said Colin, clapping his hands for attention. He took a deep breath. “We’re going to adopt a baby,” he announced theatrically.
Val took a sip of his beer. “That’s the plan anyway.”
There was a pause. Tara clapped her hands. “Well, that’s wonderful, Colin.”
Luca stared at Lydia. “Did you know?”
She shook her head. “No!” she answered in shock. Then she turned to Colin. “What the hell? You tell me everything!”
“Sorry!” he said shrugging. “Val made me keep my mouth shut until we had the paperwork in order.”
Val held up his hands. “Hey, don’t blame me. I’m amazed that he kept it to himself all this time.”
“What about Britney?” asked Lydia, winking at Luca. “She might feel replaced.”
Colin banged his fist on the table. “Britney could never be replaced, Lydia. How dare you even suggest it!”
She raised an eyebrow. “You say that now.”
“Did Xav replace Sienna?” he demanded. “No, he didn’t. Nor will our future child usurp my darling pooch.”
“How will you get this child?” enquired Tara.
Colin shook his head. “We’re paying through the nose for a private adoption.” He sighed. “That’s why I couldn’t bid for Angelina’s Louis Vuitton at the gala.”
“Our baby isn’t even born yet,” added Val. “Then it takes a year before it’s all finalised.”
Luca raised his glass. “Well, best of luck to you both.”
“Best of luck!” chorused the occupants of the table.
The band played jazz and soon the dancefloor was filled with couples. Gabriella and Hugo swayed to the music, laughing and relaxed in one another’s company.
“It would melt your heart, wouldn’t it?” said Oberon to Riku, as they swept past.
“I mean, they’re so happy. I sometimes wish I could commit to one person.”
Riku sipped his mojito. “Really? I can’t see you settling down.”
“People change, Riku. People change.” He sighed. “I’ll miss having her around. I mean, I always suspected that she’d move back to New York, but still.”
“She’ll be over and back,” Riku consoled him. “Jade and Boris will need her help in the beginning. I mean, they’re running the London office and they’ve only about four years of experience between them.”
“Woo! Assistant bitching. I love it.”
“I’m just saying,” he said primly.
Charlotte walked out of the ladies room and bumped straight into Luca and Sienna.
“Oh,” she exclaimed.
Luca looked as good as ever. She gazed at his face, marvelling at his beauty. Then she focused in on the little girl by his side, who looked exactly like him.
“Hello!’ said Sienna, holding out her small hand.
“Hello,” said Charlotte faintly.
In a flash, she saw what could have been. Luca and their child – a small blond replica of them both. Her heart ached and she struggled to breathe. She didn’t think that she’d ever meet him again. She didn’t think that her feelings would still be as strong.
“How are you doing?” he asked awkwardly, clearly uncomfortable.
Her blue eyes met his. Eventually she said, “Fine, just fine.”
“Daddy!” said Sienna, pulling at his jacket.
“What is it, honey?” he asked, picking her up into his arms.
“Need to go potty, Daddy,” she said, kissing his neck.
“Okay, okay, let’s go.” He smiled apologetically at Charlotte. “So, I’ll see you around.”
“Sure, sure.” Charlotte turned away and walked back to her table in a daze. Time was supposed to heal. Whoever said that was a liar.
Gabriella, her face red from dancing, took a big gulp of iced water. She had been dancing non-stop since the music began. Her first dance with Hugo of course and then three times with Frank du Maurier, twice with Diego, once with Luca and twice with Oberon. Aurora, who was standing at the bar sipping a prosecco, watched her in amusement. “You must be exhausted,” she said in wonder. “I mean, you’re like a contestant in Dancing With The Stars. I’d never be able to move like that in a gown.”
“You’d be surprised,” said Gabriella grinning, wiping her brow. “Oh God, I can see Riku on his way over here. The Macarena is his favourite song but I just don’t have the energy.”
“Shall I distract him?”
Gabriella nodded. “Please.”
Aurora held out her arms. “Riku! I’ve heard you’re a professional at this song.”
He beamed at her. “Well, not professional but I am pretty good.”
Gabriella sneaked away and took a seat near the bar. Her feet ached and she needed a break. Isabelle tapped her shoulder.
“Raph and I are going to head home,” she said. “I ate way too much orange cake and I can’t breathe.”
“I understand,” said Gabriella grinning.
“I’m pooped too.” Isabelle tried to stifle a yawn. “Pregnancy really takes it out of you.”
“I can imagine.”
They stared at each other.
“I can’t believe it sometimes,’ said Isabelle. “You’re married and I’m about to become a mother.”
“We’ve come a long way since our chardonnay days.”
They embraced fondly. “Thank you for coming,” said Gabriella meaning it.
“I had a great day.” Isabelle smiled. “See you soon, Missus du Maurier.”
Upstairs in a family suite, Lydia kissed Sienna’s forehead and pulled the blanket up around her. Xavier was asleep in a travel cot, his small chest heaving up and down rapidly. Luca had booked a room in the hotel so that they could put the children to bed at a reasonable hour. As she was breastfeeding Xavier, she had opted to stay with them. She didn’t want to drink alcohol and she was exhausted from nights of broken sleep.
Luca appeared in the doorway. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“Mom said that she’d come up and look after them of you want to come back down for a while.”
“I’m okay.” She yawned. “I think I’ll get some sleep while Xav is settled.”
Luca walked over and kissed her. “I won’t be long.”
“Take your time.”
“See you in a while.”
Luca went straight to the bar and ordered a whiskey. The band were playing an Irish reel and the guests were flying around the dancefloor. Oberon was hopping around like Michael Flatley and Bertie was clapping and encouraging him. Vladimir stood behind him, his stern face as impassive as ever. Sophia and Penny were twirling around and around, making their skirts fan out.
“Here, sir,’ said the barman, placing a coaster and a glass of Jameson on the bar.
“Thanks,” said Luca. He took a sip and sighed. There was nothing like a whiskey.
“Hello, Luca,” came a voice. He turned around and found Victoria regarding him coldly. “I didn’t think I’d ever have to see you again.”
He groaned inwardly. “Hello, Victoria.”
“Then again, I didn’t think that I’d ever see my only son marrying the maid’s daughter either.” She uncharacteristically knocked back her wine.
“Hugo is the happiest I’ve ever seen him,” said Luca. “Surely that counts for something.”
“I guess,” she drawled. “Now, Charlotte is another story. I don’t think she’ll ever get over what you did.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought it was you who are to blame there.”
“Me? How in the Lord did you come to that conclusion?”
“Meddling and lying.” His eyes flashed angrily. “Don’t deny it.”
Victoria narrowed her eyes. “You carried on with that hussy behind my baby’s back.”
“That hussy is now my wife.”
“God help her.”
Luca held up his hands. “Look, let’s get through this for Gabby’s sake. We need never meet again. Today was always going to be tough.”
“Fine with me.” She straightened her dress. “I’ll never think of you as anything else but a no-good lying schemer.”
Luca opened his mouth, but shut it again. Instead, he walked away, his face in a taut line.
Hugo sipped his whiskey and watched his family and friends as they mingled and enjoyed themselves. Frank, his father, was making a big effort, dancing with Magda and partaking in all the various dances. Victoria was another story. Her face was sullen and she refused to mix. Still, he was grateful that she had showed up at all. Charlotte had left, citing a sick tummy, but he knew the real reason. Luca Jacob, his one-time brother-in-law, still claimed his older sister’s heart and probably would forever. Celine was dancing with Boris, who with his blonde looks and muscular body, was right up her street. Hugo stifled a smile. He was pretty sure a Polish fashion assistant would not be suitable in Victoria’s eyes. No one would be good enough for Victoria du Maurier.
Still, by marrying Gabby he had broken the mould. Even though his mother was here under duress, she had accepted their union and was trying her best. He had to give her that.
Oberon was deep in conversation with Lita, who despite her age and crippling arthritis, had a mind as clear as a bell. Colin was trying to initiate the conga and was rallying people to from the train. He could see Val saying “No” and shaking his head, followed by a vehement Tara. Bertie, however, agreed at once and even grabbed Vladimir to join in.
Gabriella appeared, her dark hair escaping from its chignon, and her eyes sparkling. He gazed at her. She was everything he wanted. She turned and their eyes met.
“Dance?” she mouthed as I Just Can’t Stop Loving You by Michael Jackson came on.
Moments later, he had his arms around her waist as they swayed in time to the music.