Halloween at Hargreate Hall: Part 1 by Morton S. Gray

Happy Halloween! It’s time for this year’s Halloween Round Robin. And this year we have not one but TWO fabulously spooky tales written collaboratively by eight talented Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction authors to share with you 👻 We shared one yesterday (click HERE to begin reading it) and today we’re starting again with a new bunch of authors! 

Morton S. Gray starts us off today, taking us to the very atmospheric Hargreate Hall where we’re sure there’s potential for spooky surprises aplenty! Come back every hour until 2pm to read a new extract AND enter competitions to win chocolate & book prizes. Alternatively you can wait until all parts have been put up and read the story in its entirety! 

Each author taking part has no idea where their part of the story will go, which leads to a few spooky surprises along the way. But you’ll need to read on to find out more 😉 

Remember to read right until the end to find details of the competition! 

HALLOWEEN AT HARGREATE HALL – PART 1 BY MORTON S. GRAY 

Meredith had no idea why Joe had been so against her suggestion of a Halloween trail around the house and grounds of Hargreate Hall, but then he seemed pretty anti anything she suggested these days.

She was sure he hadn’t been like this when she’d first joined the staff at the hall as events co-ordinator two years ago. Having carefully analysed every time she could remember being in conversation, or a meeting, with Joe she still couldn’t decide what on earth she’d done to upset him. The atmosphere when they were in close proximity had become so frosty that she was even considering looking for another job just to get away from the man.

He was the head groundsman and in charge of anything outside of the main house. It didn’t help Meredith’s confusion that he was six feet of gorgeousness, broad shoulders and hair that flopped over his glinting blue eyes. His lips were full and expressive. Lips you could imagine kissing. Lips she’d studied often in boring meetings. Unfortunately these days those lips were usually turned down in an unhappy frown.

Joe’s objection to her Halloween idea wasn’t helpful when Hargreate Hall needed to increase visitor numbers just to keep afloat. Lord Warren had been open about the financial difficulties at the end of August, when it became clear that summer visitor numbers were the lowest ever recorded. He had asked everyone for any income generating ideas which could be put in place for the last quarter of the year. Her employer’s voice had contained a warble of desperation that made Meredith feel sad.

‘Why don’t we open the house and grounds after dark in Halloween week? With the hall lit by candles and part of the garden by lanterns, it would be magical and attract the crowds. Kids always love finding clues on a trail, Halloween-themed of course, and we could have a few surprises set up along the way – spiders, skeletons, ghosts, strange noises … and we could sell hot chocolate and toffee apples,’ Meredith had suggested.

‘A lot of work. Difficult to supervise after dark too,’ Joe had replied grumpily.

Lord Warren was positive though, so Joe was overruled. Hargreate Hall Halloween After-Dark Trail had been put into the programme, hastily blogged and tweeted about.

Now with a week to go and her article about the Halloween trail on page three of the free local newspaper, Meredith was in a panic. She’d been collecting props for the ghostly displays, pumpkins, lots of cotton wool, a few plastic skeletons and a huge spider. Could she pull this off? The downside of the hall being in financial difficulty was that she didn’t have the two assistants she’d had in previous years. She really needed Joe on her side to help set everything up in the grounds.

She knocked on the door of his office in the old stable block.

‘Come in,’ boomed his deep baritone.

It felt like entering the headmaster’s study at school after some misdemeanour.

‘Oh, it’s you.’ He greeted her with a sour expression on his handsome face.

Meredith decided not to challenge him about his attitude, although she knew that day was long overdue, but she’d hold back until after Halloween as she desperately needed his help. With her mind screaming ‘What on earth have I ever done to you?’, she smiled sweetly and plonked herself down in the chair opposite to his, pushing her long blonde hair behind her shoulders. ‘As you know, we have the Halloween trail evenings starting next Monday and I could really do with your help setting everything up.’

‘Humph …’

Oh dear, Joe didn’t look keen or helpful.

‘What exactly is involved?’

Meredith laid her newly printed trail map on the table between them. It was an adaptation of the one that had been used for the Kings and Queens and the Alice in Wonderland trails in the summer. She’d had the help of Colin and Mary for those two, but Colin had recently retired and Mary had left and in the current dire circumstances neither had been replaced. ‘I have everything ready.’ She crossed her fingers under cover of the desk. ‘It just needs to be put in place.’

Joe pulled the piece of paper towards him, sighing. Despite his obvious reluctance, Meredith was distracted by the flex of his bicep as he moved the trail leaflet closer and the spark of physical attraction she felt made her blush.

Her interest was quickly drowned by his next comment. ‘Load of rubbish. Who’s going to pay to walk around an old damp house by candlelight and stumble across the muddy grounds in the rain to find plastic skeletons draped in cotton wool?’

She bit her lip as her hackles rose, but she replied in a calm voice. ‘Look, Lord Warren supports the event. I don’t need you to approve, just to help me set things up. Pretty please. It will have to be done on Sunday though, after we’ve closed for the afternoon I’m afraid.’

‘I suppose I can help, but I’ll have my daughter with me on Sunday.’

A daughter? That was news to Meredith. She hadn’t known he was involved with anyone, let alone a father.

She smiled, whilst wondering how old his daughter might be. ‘I’m sure I can find her a few jobs too.’

He leaned back on his chair, crossing his arms over his broad chest.

As he stared straight at her, she felt her cheeks colour yet again, despite her willing them not to.

His next words surprised her.

‘Why are you trying so hard?’

We love the idea of a Halloween after-dark trail but why is Joe being so mean to Meredith?! Maybe we’ll find out in the next instalment by Angela Britnell – up in the next hour! 

If you enjoyed Morton’s writing, you can find her books available to purchase from all good online book stockists and retailers – and her new Christmas book, Christmas at Borteen Bay, will be released in November! Click the image below for purchasing options. 

COMPETITION TIME! 

To be in with a chance of winning a Morton S. Gray paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What were Meredith’s two former assistants called? 

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton S. Gray comp’ by Friday 2nd November. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday 5th November.

When a Fictional World Becomes Your Reality

Yesterday Morton S. Gray’s gripping debut novel, The Girl on the Beach, came out in paperback. Today Morton joins us on the blog to chat about the setting of her first novel (which is the same for her upcoming second novel, The Truth Lies Buried) – the fictional town of Borteen – and how a made-up place has started to feel very real to her! 

My debut novel, The Girl on the Beach is set in my fictional seaside town of Borteen. It is amazing how quickly a fictional place can begin to feel completely real. I can walk down the streets and name the shops and their owners, I know what the views are like from various places in the town and surrounding countryside, even how wide the roads are.

When it came to writing Book 2 in the Borteen Secrets Series – The Truth Lies Buried – my editor asked if I had a map of the town, so I drew one and added pictures to show how I envisaged the buildings and various landmarks. It was surprisingly easy to do, because I had walked the streets so often in my head. I intend to tidy this up at some point so that I can let readers see it, but at the moment the map includes some pictures to which I don’t have sharing rights.

My characters are also very real to me. If any of them walked into a café I would recognise them. I know their appearance and demeanour, how they interact as if I was inside of them looking out of their eyes, as well as from observing them through the eyes of other characters. Not only do I know how their facial features change when confronted with the situations I put them into in my books, but I know how they feel too, how their heart rate reacts and the sensations on their skin.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I can put myself inside my story, fictional town and even inside the characters. I realise that makes me sound really odd, but it is how the process of writing works for me. I guess I see my books unfold like films in front of me.

This experience isn’t unique amongst writers, but friends who haven’t had this encounter with a fictional world can look at me a little strangely if I talk about it, especially when I mention that other Borteen residents mentioned in The Girl on the Beach and The Truth Lies Buried are clamouring for their stories to be told too. I guess that means there will be other books in the Borteen Secrets Series!

The Girl on the Beach is now available to purchase in paperback. Click on the banner below for purchasing options. 

Morton’s upcoming novel, The Truth Lies Buried, will be out on 1st May as an eBook. Click on the banner below for pre-order options. 

For more information on Morton S. Gray:

Follow her on Twitter: @MortonSGray
Like her page on Facebook: Morton S. Gray Author
Check out her website: www.mortonsgray.com 

 

A Valentine’s Wedding Fair – Part Two by Morton S. Gray

ValentinesRR2

Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day commence! It’s time for another Valentine’s Round Robin from Choc Lit, back by popular demand. Five talented Choc Lit authors have been working collaboratively on a super sweet short story – A Valentine’s Wedding Fair – which we will be sharing in five parts in the run-up to Valentine’s Day (with the final part falling on the big day itself!) Come back every day to read a new extract AND enter competitions to win chocolate & book prizes.

Each author taking part has no idea where their part of the story will go, which leads to a few surprises along the way. But you’ll need to read on to find out more ;)  

Yesterday Kirsty Ferry started us off with Part One (which you can read HERE) and today Morton S. Gray takes over. What drama will unfold at the Valentine’s Wedding Fair? Read on to find out … 

A VALENTINE’S WEDDING FAIR – PART TWO BY MORTON S. GRAY 

Straight in front of Jess and Mark, parked to unload outside of Valentine Manor was a van emblazoned with the Bobbins logo. Harriet had arrived already.

Jess heard Mark sigh heavily. She guessed it wasn’t much fun being confronted on a regular basis by the biggest mistake of your life in the form of your ex-wife, who just happened to be a competitor for the same customers.

She turned to her boss. ‘Come on, let’s get unpacked. We’re going to be in the same room all day, so we may as well get the first meeting with Harriet and Armand out of the way.’

‘Guess so. I just felt my heart sink to my boots yet again.’

‘Look, if I’d said anything to you before you married her, you wouldn’t have listened to me … would you?’

‘They say love’s blind and it’s so true.’

It got worse when they got inside Valentine Manor. The beautiful ballroom, decorated in pink and white, where normally the wedding receptions were held was chaotically full of people and boxes. The wedding fair opened at ten and the retailers were rushing to get organised before the public arrived.

‘We’ve got stand twenty. It should be in the middle, opposite the main doors. Jess struggled to see past the boxes she was carrying. Mark followed behind her with an equally heavy load as they dodged past the other stall holders.

The awful truth dawned on her. Bobbins had been placed right next to the Buntings stand. Harriet must have spoken to Jake the Events Manager about prime positioning in the room too. Jess felt her own heart sink to her boots.

It wasn’t just the competition or the frosty relationship between Mark and Harriet after their divorce that worried Jess, but the fact that Bobbins had chosen bright red as the predominant colour for their display. Jess suspected that being right next to the tall red plastic shelving on Harriet’s table, Buntings’ display might look rather more shabby than chic.

She concentrated hard on smoothing the rosebud embroidered tablecloth on their own stand, trying to ignore that Harriet was watching her closely and was wearing a red apron with a heart-shaped top, showing an ample amount of cleavage at the V of the heart.

After piling up their food boxes on the table and pulling a have you seen that face at Jess, Mark went to park the van, leaving her to arrange the tasty delicate stock. She’d begun to assemble the cake stand centrepiece when Jake, her best friend Ellie’s dishy brother came walking towards her. Jess felt her heart rate accelerate.

‘All okay? Do you have everything you need?’ He appeared to be talking to Jess, but her smile was lost on him as his eyes were firmly fixed on Harriet’s cleavage. Hmm … maybe she wouldn’t be going for a drink with him after all.

Jess wasn’t the only one to notice Jake’s fixation with Harriet’s ample chest. Armand barged between the two stands to position himself in front of Harriet with a thunderous expression directed at Jake. As he pushed between the two stands, he didn’t seem to realise that his elbow had connected with the piled-up plastic food boxes on Buntings’ table. Jess watched with open-mouthed horror as her carefully prepared cakes, truffles and canapes went into an avalanche slide over the back of the stand with a sickening crash.

Having seen what had happened as he returned to the stand, Mark came flying across the room to confront Armand, who was still oblivious of what he had done and seemed about to challenge Jake for ogling Harriet.

Jess was frozen to the spot, torn between going to see if anything could be salvaged from the toppled food boxes and waiting to see if she needed to break up a fight.

Disaster! What a fabulously dramatic second part from Morton S. Gray. Question is, are you Team Buntings or Team Bobbins? We think we already know the answer! Come back on Monday when Angela Britnell will be taking over. Will punches be thrown? Will cakes be salvaged? You’ll have to wait and find out! 

If you enjoyed Morton’s story, you can purchase her debut novel The Girl on the Beach on all eBook platforms. It’ll also be out in paperback in April! Click on the cover image below for more details. Also make sure you keep an eye out over the coming weeks as we’ll be revealing further details about an exciting new release from Morton S. Gray. Stay tuned!

9781781893142

COMPETITION TIME! 

To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What is the colour of Bobbins’ stand?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin comp 2’ by Thursday 15th February. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday 16th February.

Choc Lit Easter Round Robin 2017 – Part Four by Morton S Gray

Easter Round Robin4

This year’s Easter Round Robin has certainly kept us guessing! Who knows where Morton S. Gray will take us this Easter Sunday? Let’s find out! Remember to read right until the end for a competition 🙂

To enjoy this story, make sure you read the extracts in order:

Part One by Berni Stevens is HERE

Part Two by Rhoda Baxter is HERE

Part Three by Kirsty Ferry is HERE

The Easter Bunny – Part Four by Morton S. Gray

Dan felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. Everything had gone very quiet. Too quiet. By rights, he should be able to hear Josh’s excited shouting and the blasted dog, Zaph’s barks, but in the shade of the trees all was completely silent.

Panic gripped his heart.

‘Josh. Josh, where are you? Josh?’

No reply, no sound at all.

Tilly hadn’t kidnapped his son, had she? Oh, help!

He began to move through the trees, scanning left and right, trying to fight down the blind panic and think clearly, trying to catch sight of his son, a blonde-haired woman and a dog. Nothing! How could they have just disappeared?

Unbelievably, ahead he could see a rabbit, sitting next to a sparkly egg. The rabbit made no attempt to run away, which in itself seemed very strange.

It couldn’t be the same rabbit they’d followed, could it?

Dan leaned down to pick up the egg, too late remembering Josh’s tale of rabbit poop.

He wiped the squiggly mass off his fingers on the grass and examined the egg. This wasn’t a crude wooden egg with a number on it, like the others. This looked expensive and could the sparkles be … no, don’t be silly, Dan … impossible. Why would anyone hide such an egg?

The rabbit began to bound off.

‘Hey, you, wait. What have you done with my son?’

He was talking to rabbits now?

Dan followed the rabbit, feeling very stupid, but not knowing what else to do. The trees were thinning ahead. Maybe the rabbit knew something he didn’t. Dan, you’ve gone mad!

Beyond the coppice was a flat lawn in front of a huge mansion. Dan breathed again, as he realised Josh was safe, playing with huge chess pieces on a part of the lawn that had been mown to resemble a chess board. The child didn’t look up.

Tilly, now minus her coat and wearing a blue dress was sitting on a bench next to an elderly woman who looked like a queen. Did she really have a daisy chain on her head?

The rabbit bounded over to the bench.

‘There he is,’ exclaimed the elderly woman.

‘Who?’ asked Tilly. Then, she broke into a broad grin when she caught sight of Dan emerging from the trees.

Dan wanted to shout at Josh for running off, at Tilly for not coming back with his son, but somehow the words stuck in his throat. Magic? They’d mentioned magic and he felt bewitched.

He walked over to the two women, as if he was on automatic pilot, and held out the jewelled egg on his palm.

‘I found this.’

The old lady giggled and took it from him. She nudged Tilly. ‘See, all we need now is a kiss.’

‘I really must apologise, Dan. We should have come straight back to you, but I found Aunt Elsie sitting out here and Josh got excited by the chess set. My aunt’s not supposed to be out on her own after a bad fall last year.’

‘Introduce me, girl and stop treating me like a ninny. I’m perfectly capable of sitting safely in my own garden.’ Even though she looked frail, her voice held authority, as if she was used to being obeyed.

Tilly sighed. ‘Dan meet Aunt Elsie.’

She watched Dan shake hands with her aunt. He had that glazed look that men got when they came into this part of the garden. Tilly had seen it before and could almost believe the tales of magic.

The rabbit was nibbling grass at their feet.

‘See, this is the egg.’ Elsie held it up in front of her eyes. The sunlight glinted off the jewels on its surface.

The rabbit stopped nibbling the grass and froze.

No, no. I don’t want to come back. I like my life. Don’t open the egg. No kisses, right. Stupid sparkly egg.

Suddenly, Tilly’s dog, Zaph ran barking out of the undergrowth at the far side of the garden. Josh yelled as the dog scattered the chess pieces he’d been arranging so carefully. As one, Tilly and Dan bent to scoop up the rabbit. Their heads collided. Dan saw stars. The last sound he heard was the old lady’s laughter.

Oooh, a fabulous penultimate part from Morton S Gray – but how can Angela Britnell possibly end this magical little story? You’ll find out tomorrow in the last part of our Easter Round Robin. Make sure you’re back here for the ending!

9781781893142

If you enjoyed Morton’s writing, you might like to check out her debut novel  – The Girl on the Beach. Click the image above for more information.

COMPETITION TIME!

To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate simply answer this question:

What is Josh doing when Dan finds him?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton Gray comp’ by Tuesday 18th April. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 19th April.

READ FINAL PART BY ANGELA BRITNELL HERE

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Final Part of Choc Lit Mother’s Day Round Robin by Morton S. Gray

MothersDayRoundRobinFinal

A very happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there – we hope you are all thoroughly spoilt today, and that you have the chance to spoil your own mums too 🙂 We’re sure your day will be full of treats but start off with this treat from Morton S. Gray – the final part of our Mother’s Day Round Robin. One final competition at the end too!

To enjoy this story make sure you read the other parts first:

Part One by Margaret James HERE 

Part Two by Jane Lovering HERE

Part Three by AnneMarie Brear HERE

Part Four by Kirsty Ferry HERE

FINAL PART BY MORTON S. GRAY

I found myself enveloped in Mike’s arms. He rubbed circles on my back and I could feel his warmth dissolving my misery and drying my tears.

Lucy and my mother were sitting next to each other on the settee, as I peered over his shoulder. They both looked contrite.

‘So, Lucy, what’s wrong with your car?’ Mike asked. I could tell he was deliberately changing the subject.

‘I don’t know really. It’s just making a strange noise.’

‘What sort of strange noise and can you tell where it’s coming from?’

My mother piped up. ‘It sounded like a steam engine when she arrived.’

‘Something vibrates underneath me.’

With a feather light kiss on my forehead, Mike released me and walked to the window. ‘It’s stopped raining. Let’s leave your mum and gran to open the chocolates and you can start your engine and let me listen to this noise.’

The door had hardly closed when mum rounded on me. ‘He’s nice. You want to hold onto that one. So, useful to have a man who’s handy. He can sort out my garden and I’m sure Lucy will come around. You’ve done your best for her. Don’t ever believe any different. I hope Mike’s good in bed too.’

It was all I could do not to spit out the mouthful of red wine I’d just sipped.

Mum and I went to stare out of the window.

‘I always regretted not finding someone else when your dad died, love. Life is much better shared … I wonder if Mike could recommend me to his dad?’

When I looked askance at her, she said, ‘I met John once. He’s a good-looking man, a waste single. He might like a companion for concerts, or … or bridge, perhaps.’ I could swear she was blushing and her face took on a faraway look as if she was imagining a cosy tête-à-tête with John Philips.

Lucy was behind her steering wheel revving the engine. Mike circled the car, occasionally yelling instructions to my daughter as he peered beneath the car.

She switched off the engine and jumped out, handing a duster to Mike. He launched himself to the ground and put his duster-clad hand under the car. I couldn’t see what was in his hand when he got up. They stood talking earnestly to each other for a few moments. I worried about what Lucy might be saying. Was she warning Mike off? Extolling the virtues of her father?

Lucy got back into her car and started the engine again. The noise appeared to have miraculously disappeared.

Lucy was laughing as she and Mike walked back towards the house.

‘What was it?’ I asked.

‘Just going to wash my hands,’ said Mike, as he disappeared upstairs to the bathroom.

Lucy was beaming. ‘Mike is Liam’s dad.’

‘Liam?’

‘The guy I’ve fancied for ages. Mike says he’ll invite him to have a drink with us at the pub later. The noise was a piece of metal stuck above the exhaust. Mike says it was vibrating and making that awful noise. So, nothing serious or expensive after all, thank goodness.’

She walked over and gave me a brief hug, which I took as an apology for her earlier behaviour. ‘Mike’s nice,’ she whispered.

Mike came back into the room and looked at each of us in turn, a surprised expression on his face. I realised we were all grinning at him.

I shook myself and got up. ‘Right, if Lucy’s car is fixed, I’ll serve lunch. Mike, would you help me in the kitchen?’

He followed me and after a glance into the other room to make sure my mother and Lucy were occupied, he said, ‘Well, how am I doing?’

‘Wonderfully. Although I think you’ve got the role of matchmaker later. Lucy’s after Liam and mum has her eye on your dad.’

Mike came and hugged me from behind, narrowly avoiding launching the steaming lamb joint which I’d just extracted from the oven to the tiles.

‘Hmm … might make for a very complicated family tree when you agree to marry me,’ he laughed.

Maybe Mother’s Day wasn’t that bad after all.

What a truly gorgeous ending! The Choc Lit authors do it every time. We hope you’ve enjoyed our 2017 Mother’s Day Round Robin. Let us know what you think in the comments 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day all!

9781781893142

If you enjoyed Morton’s writing, check out her debut release The Girl on the Beach which is available to purchase in eBook format from all platforms.

COMPETITION TIME

To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate simply answer this question:

What was the problem with Lucy’s car?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton Gray comp’ by Monday 27th March. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday 28th March.

Choc Lit Valentine’s Round Robin 2017 – Part Three by Morton S Gray

Round Robin MG

We hope you all enjoyed a lovely Valentine’s Day yesterday – but the romance and fun isn’t over! We still have three days of our Valentine’s Round Robin to go – three more days to spend in the village of Thistlethorpe AND three more competitions too!

Today, it’s Morton S Gray‘s turn – and you might remember yesterday that a certain handsome vicar was introduced. Who will be Harriet’s date to the ball now? 

Come back each day until Friday 17th to read part of an amazing Valentine’s-themed story by five authors. Read right until the end so you can enter our daily competitions too! 

To enjoy this story make sure you read Part One by Kirsty Ferry HERE and Part Two by Christina Courtenay HERE first. 

Harriet picked out two of her favourite vintage tea cups and placed them on the tray with the tea pot and milk jug. She glanced over at Zack. He had removed his dog collar and undone a couple of buttons on his shirt. As he stretched his shoulders, she glimpsed golden chest hair. Hmm, nice.

Putting the best iced bun, a muffin and a huge slice of chocolate cake on a plate, she carried the tray over to the table and set about making the tea.

‘Milk?’

‘Just a drop please.’

She pushed the sugar bowl over to his side of the table and then sat down carefully, arranging her limbs so as not to brush against Zack’s outstretched jean-clad legs. Did vicars wear jeans? He was sure challenging her stereotypical image of a minister of the church.

For once she found herself tongue-tied, so it was a good job Zack was bursting with questions about the village. He told her he’d already met Vera and been subject to an extensive interrogation about his credentials to take over at the church. Harriet became mesmerised by the flashes in his grey eyes and her tea went cold, as she filled him in about the movers and shakers in Thistlethorpe.

‘You’ve been so helpful, thank you. The problem with moving to a new parish is the immense possibility of putting your foot in things and upsetting parishioners before you’ve even taken a service. Vera terrified me. Shall I see you on Sunday?’

‘Erm …’ Harriett wasn’t a regular churchgoer, more a christening, wedding and funeral type of girl, apart from the annual carol service, although intense staring at the new blond vicar in action might make sitting on the hard, wooden pews more appealing.

She was trying to decide how to reply, whilst simultaneously indulging in a fantasy about joining the flower arranging committee to have Zack admiring her flowers, when the café door bell sounded and her friend, Tammy bounded in accompanied by Paul.

‘Harriet, you’ll never guess … Oh … Ooooh.’

Harriet found herself blushing at her friend’s obvious excitement at finding a new attractive man in the café. She needn’t have worried. Zack was staring at Tammy open-mouthed, desire dripping from every pore. He appeared to be instantly besotted with her friend. Maybe there wasn’t a Mrs Vicar after all.

Harriet sighed. Another man off the list. What with Tony bringing unknown Jamie to the Valentine’s Ball and Zack only having eyes for Tammy, her sister’s promise of a blind date was looking like her only chance of a slow dance on her birthday.

‘What’s this I hear about a Valentine’s Ball?’ She’d forgotten Paul was even there as she’d been too busy watching the interaction between Tammy and Zack. ‘Put me down for a ticket, oh and at least one dance, of course.’ Paul winked. He’d been at school with Tammy and Harriet. It was almost like your brother asking you to dance. Great! Why Paul? Why was it always the ones you didn’t fancy who came on to you?

Paul had recently taken over his father’s business. He was an optician and wore designer specs on his aquiline nose. She realised she’d never seen him without glasses, as he’d worn them even at junior school. In fact, she hadn’t ever studied him at all, he’d just always been around.

Zack stood up and was talking animatedly to Tammy. She introduced the two men as they made their goodbyes and left Harriet sitting alone in the café. Tammy hadn’t even told her why she’d come in and Zack had left his chocolate cake uneaten.

She picked up the plate and tucked into the delicious gooiness, knowing that if she was going to look sylph-like in her dress for the ball, it wasn’t a good idea. In fact, the ball didn’t feel like such a good idea any more. She’d have to watch Tony dancing with Jamie, Tammy with Zack and make do with jiving with Paul or the unknown blind date her sister was supplying, not quite how she imagined the evening going at all.

What could she do to make the Valentine’s Ball her dream event?

Aww, poor Harriet. We really thought Zack might be the one. But anything could happen on the night – and there’s always that blind date! Looking forward to the next instalment by Rhoda Baxetr tomorrow. 

9781781893142

If you enjoyed Morton’s writing in today’s extract make sure you check out her stunning debut novel, The Girl on the Beach. Click the image above for purchasing information. 

COMPETITION TIME

To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate simply answer this question:

What slightly ‘unvicarly’ item of clothing is Zack wearing?

To enter, send your answer to info@choc-lit.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton Gray comp’ by Friday 17th February. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday 20th February.

Part Four by Rhoda Baxter is now available to read HERE

Who is the Girl on the Beach?

9781781893142

In January we released Morton S. Gray’s fast-paced and suspenseful The Girl on the Beach, which is set in the fictional seaside town of Borteen. Today on the blog, Morton talks about her love for the seaside – and who ‘the girl on the beach’ might be … 

I do like to be beside the seaside … It’s quite apt that my debut novel is called The Girl on the Beach. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved being by the sea. A walk along the sand, especially with incoming waves, is good for the soul like nothing else on earth.

We used to holiday at the beach when I was a child, Tenby, Saundersfoot, Woolacombe, being amongst some of the resorts I remember. I’m the blonde one in the picture with my sister – didn’t I look sweet? I must be about nine here.

Untitled

Ironically, I probably live as far from the sea as you can get in England, but then maybe that is why it’s special for me to go to the coast.

There is nothing I love better than beachcombing, trawling the edge of the surf for interesting stones and sea glass. I’m fascinated by those who produce jewellery incorporating things found on the shore and I want to learn to set stones and glass into silver jewellery sometime very soon.

Sea

Llandanawg, near Harlech, North Wales – Morton Gray with little white dog.

My favourite beaches these days are Bamburgh in Northumberland, Llandanawg, near Harlech in North Wales and Barricane Bay Beach at Woolacombe.

My fictional seaside town – Borteen, from The Girl on the Beach is an amalgamation of many seaside places I have visited. When we first meet my hero, Harry, he is disappointed that Borteen doesn’t have a surfing beach like those in Devon and Cornwall he’s used to. Ellie, the heroine, has her gallery in one of the alleyways off the High Street in the town and she loves the beach. A lot of the action in the book takes place on or around the sands and the promenade behind the beach.

I’m busy writing more books centred around this fictional seaside town and its beach, so I do hope my readers like the setting too. The sound of the waves and the wind near the shore, the smell of the sea, the soothing feel of the sea and sand on bare feet – I’m sighing just thinking about it!

Untitled

Bamburgh Sands, Northumberland

One of my favourite memories is sitting on the café steps above Barricane Beach in Woolacombe, sipping hot tea and watching the sun go down. That moment when the sun merges with the water is truly magical.

Who is the real girl on the beach? It’s me! In my heart, anyway.

The Girl on the Beach is available as an eBook on all platforms. Click HERE for buying options. 

 For more on Morton visit:

Website: www.mortonsgray.com

Twitter: @MortonSGray