Desert Captive, episodes 19 & 20…..

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Greetings from a hot and humid and thundery Cheshire.

Here are the next two episodes and things are hotting up…..

DESERT CAPTIVE

by CC MACKENZIE

 

 

Copyright © C C MacKenzie 2018

 

 

EPISODE NINETEEN

The hours Sarif usually spent with his horses was his purest joy. Not today. Today he fought a losing battle between despair and fury. At the moment, fury was winning by a hair. In his position life had its ups and downs even if he was used to absolute control. Well, he wasn’t in control now, anything but. Being the leader of his country was something he was born to do. There was a joy in it, at times frustration, disappointment and pride in his people. He enjoyed seeing his people and their land thrive. The harsh desert climate was equal parts their friend and their enemy. He knew the temper of the wind often better than he knew his own.

The fine spring the country was enjoying meant his people worked hard and long, but so far without the bitter harvest of crops dying in a dust bowl, or so far, a plague of pests or a sandstorm.

Right now, his temper was black because his horses were for him and him alone and two of his favorites were missing, along with his wife and her maid. However, what frustrated him most of all was the way he’d begun to trust Arabella and that had been a mistake. He should have expected her to do something dangerous. He should have expected her to take a risk with his son’s life to save her brother. He should have kept her behind bars. He should have… his sigh was a deep one.

The key to finding his wife was to keep calm and find his centre.

His horses had always soothed him.

They soothed him now.

The sun shone down on his bare head as he clucked to a yearling, watching as the glossy chestnut gave a lazy swish of the tail. Horse and man, they knew each other well, and Sarif had to grin as he waited patiently for the game to begin.

Sarif put his hand in his pocket, and with equine hauteur the yearling tossed his head and approached.

“You’re a good boy.” He gave a soft laugh, running a gentle hand down the yearling’s flank as the horse nudged his pocket. “Yes, it’s your favorite.” He took half of a small apple and let the colt eat out of his hand. “I wish I could take you with me today and we’d ride like the wind. But bullets and death are not meant for the likes of you.”

Other horses ambled over to enjoy a small treat, then Sarif lifted his head and gazed over the land.

He knew his idea of putting Arabella behind bars would never happen. The woman was a free spirit. A little voice might whisper she certainly was not consort material, but he ignored it.

A movement by the entrance to the stables caught his eye.

Dressed in desert khaki and armed to the teeth, Wallace Monroe, his face set and without the usual twinkle in his blue eyes, stalked towards him.

“I ought to have known she’d try something like this as soon as my bloody back was turned,” Wallace said, his deep voice low.

“She drugged the guards,” Sarif muttered.

Wallace shook his head, his eyes narrowing into blue slits.

“That was Leila’s doing. When she arrived I should have checked her extensive baggage, but it was under the Queen Janaan’s diplomatic seal. God knows what else the girl brought in with her.”

Sarif bit down hard on his bottom lip.

It seemed his own mother was involved in this debacle, since she was the one who’d sent the maid here in the first place. The thought of how she’d encouraged him to accept the girl, to keep poor Arabella company, made his hand fist.

“How will they know where to look for Nazari?” Sarif wanted to know.

Wallace winced. “I might have mentioned the location of his base when I told her part of our plan. I was trying to reassure her everything that could be done to free Rupert was being done.”

Again, Sarif turned to scan the land.

“The words needle and haystack spring to mind,” he muttered.

Wallace whipped an electronic device from his black cargo pants.

“Actually, meet the needle.”

Sarif studied the tiny blip on a black screen.

“What is it?”

“Arabella. Gilchrist had a tracking device implanted in her. Works within a twenty mile radius as long as she’s out in the open.”

Well now, it seemed today was a day full of surprises, and why hadn’t the Monroe brothers told him about a tracking device before?

“Then what are we waiting for?”

“Bruce is already on his way with a contingent of men to intercept Arabella and Leila, while you and I stick to the plan to free Rupert.”

Torn between the need to find his wife and to fix the mess he’d made by capturing Rupert Faulkner in the first place, Sarif nodded.

“Very well, but Arabella will not go with you quietly. Stubborn is her middle name.”

Wallace’s grin was a lightning flash of white teeth.

“Bruce’s middle name is obstinate. My brother’s a bolshie bastard. Don’t worry, he’ll bring her home in one piece.”

As they strode towards the stables with members of his security services waiting beyond, Sarif could only pray the man was right.

But he couldn’t help but worry about what his wife was going to do next.

 

EPISODE TWENTY

The desert wind blew hot and dry as three dusty trucks rumbled through the mountain pass. Containing twenty men, armed and exceedingly dangerous, each truck made their way through the last series of twists and they would eventually arrive at a large encampment hidden deep in the mountain range.

At his destination, Yussuf Hassam Nazari knew that he’d find the night’s entertainment, the torture of a British citizen and a Jordanian helicopter pilot shot down over a recent hot zone, was well underway and he could not wait to see the results of his torturer’s labour.

He was a man who lived for two things, money and power.

A man could not have one without the other.

Then again, he’d discovered he needed something else too—violence.

He enjoyed the pleasure that came from that swift explosion of aggression and the sound of sweet pain as fists beat on the flesh of another.

He’d been five the first time he’d heard the mellifluous sound of human suffering.

The boy he’d hurt again and again had been three and cried like a pitiful baby until, under the careful tutelage of his own father, Yussuf had fired a bullet into the boy’s blood-encrusted head.

Since then he’d evolved from torturing the weak and helpless to terrorising nations.

His name alone was powerful enough to bring a liquid fear to the bellies of the fearless, and dread to those who tried to keep their lands and peoples safe.

Nothing and no one could stop the evolution of Yussuf Hassam Nazari’s global business dealing in people and drug trafficking and the buying and selling of arms to the highest bidder. He cared nothing for global politics, a filthy, corrupt business at the best of times. Politicians, he’d found, spoke out of both sides of their mouth and any who had been stupid enough to betray him died a slow and painful death, but not before watching every single member of their family die drowned in their blood first. All it had taken was a couple of examples for his message to be received. These days no one dared double cross him. Fear, Yussuf had discovered, was an incredible motivator.

Long legs crossed, he relaxed back in the passenger seat of the middle truck, shielded by fierce men prepared to die for him. He was dressed in the loose cotton clothing beloved by his warriors, his head, nose and mouth protected from the dust and the sun. Sharp dark eyes narrowed as they scanned the vast walls of solid rock on either side of the narrow road. The road might be inaccessible for helicopter gunships, but there was still the danger of entrapment should the special forces of King Sarif El Haribe break the habit of a lifetime and get lucky. Then again Yussuf had been taught by a master to never leave anything to luck. Failing to plan is planning to fail were the words his late father had lived by. Therefore, Yussuf had a man on the inside, a man close to a King distracted by a woman. Sarif was truly a pathetic leader to allow himself to be pussy-whipped by an infidel of all things. Not that Yussuf, deep inside, was a particularly religious man. However, religion, like any other form of mind control, was useful in the way he and others could manipulate the words of a book and use those words for their own ends. Deep in their hearts human beings were weak when it came to believing in imaginary deities that never existed. As his father had often said, My beloved son, remember these words—we cannot fix fools.

Now the vehicles came to a halt and he emerged from the middle truck, aware of the men on either side, killers, like himself. Men he relied on. Men he called brothers. Still, he was different from them and he knew it, even if they never believed it.

He turned his head to the squat building made of mud and camel dung.

The sound of pain, a high and prolonged scream, broke the sudden silence.

The sound soothed him as he hooked his gun over his shoulder.

The English boy had been brave, but the beatings had worn him down, bit by bit. By now there wouldn’t be a place on his body that didn’t hurt.

If Yussuf had been a kind man, he’d put him out of his misery, but the boy had the potential to bring in big bucks, as long as he delivered him alive.

Shame the British Government hadn’t stipulated unharmed, or, in one piece.

Fools.

Now he nodded at one of his men standing guard outside the shabby wooden door of the building.

“Get some down time,” he said, his voice nothing but a low growl, the result of an attempted assassination, a throat cut, gone wrong.

“Can’t sleep. Too noisy.”

Yussuf placed a heavy hand on the guard’s broad shoulder.

“Take a break. You’ve earned it.”

When the guard moved away, Yussuf unwound the cloth over his mouth, pushed open the door and entered.

The smell of human waste and blood hit him first.

It took his eyes a few seconds to become accustomed to the lack of light.

On a long narrow table, instruments of torture, wet with blood, were lined up according to size.

In one corner the Jordanian, his flight suit sticky with blood and shit, was rocking back and forth, staring blankly into space.

Yussuf heaved a sigh.

The man had been broken too soon.

Pity.

Still, when his flesh burned he’d scream until he was hoarse before his body melted from within.

Then he turned to the young man huddled in the corner.

He wore nothing but filthy jeans that hung on his emaciated body.

He trembled as if in a fever and he reeked to high heaven.

One eye was swollen shut, sticky puss leaking from a corner.

Hmm.

Infection in this heat might be an issue.

The young man’s narrow feet were bare, covered in bruises gone black and the soles beaten bloody.

Yussuf nodded at Hakim, bare chested, holding a bloody cane in his meaty fist and standing to attention.

He approved of Hakim’s quick thinking.

Should the cavalry arrive, which was highly unlikely, Rupert Faulkner would be unable to walk anywhere, which would make freeing him without taking heavy losses difficult.

“You have done well, Hakim. Now you must rest.”

Hakim, his blood splashed cotton pants slung low on his lean hips, sweat glossing his vast chest, bowed his dark shorn head and left.

When the door closed, Yussuf shifted to crouch before the young man and caught the way his one good eye went wary as it held his.

Brave.

Unbroken.

Yussuf nodded, recognizing an opponent worthy of his close attention.

It had been a long while since he’d had one of those.

“I will send a medic with food and water and medication for your eye,” he said in his low, hoarse voice. “Tomorrow is a special day for the helicopter pilot. I promise you will enjoy the show.”

That one eye burned with a hate Yussuf totally understood.

He stood, towering above a human being who was beyond all hope and help, and yet refused to believe it.

Faith.

Hope.

Both were wonderful things.

But by the end of tomorrow he knew both would be snuffed out and all that would be left would be the broken husk of a young man who would never be the same again.

Yussuf left and immediately headed for the spicy scent of goat cooking over an open fire.

Oh to be a fly on the wall when Brigadier Hamish Faulkner received the shell of his son, alive but mentally destroyed and to see how the proud soldier dealt with the man who had caused all the pain and agony in the first place, King Sarif El Haribe.

It was a very satisfied Yussuf Hassam Nazari who took his place on a pile of thick carpets laid next to the fire, washed his hands in the scented water offered and nodded to his men to eat.

But then he stilled.

There was a tickle on the back of his neck.

Slowly, he turned his head, his sharp eyes scanning the high ground in the growing dusk.

“What is it?” Hakim asked.

“A feeling.”

Hakim studied the place where mountain met the sky and shook his head.

“Unless they are a mountain goat, no one can approach from that direction.”

Yussuf nodded, he knew that, and yet…

“Double the guards.”

With a single nod, Hakim rose and moved away to do as he was told.

Still, Yussuf studied the horizon as night fell.

All was still, and yet the tickle remained.

His men called his intuition magic.

Maybe it was.

Whatever, he never ignored it.

Time to plan.

 

*******

 

I’ve been incredibly busy with family and construction at the house, and with the heat and humidity it’s been difficult to find quiet space to write. However, undeterred, I shall write as much of Desert Captive as I can…..

Hugs,

Christine X

 

 

Episode 2 of Desert Captive…

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Hello, my darlings,

There’s a rumour going around that next Monday we’ll see the hottest early May day holiday since records began.  We can only hope!

Grab a coffee or a glass of wine…

EPISODE TWO

In his office suite situated on the third floor, Prince Sarif El Haribe frowned at the sound of the clamour of sirens and blue lights flashing outside the Embassy window.

Since it was summer, he couldn’t see the scene through the heavy canopy of oak trees.

Plus, his thoughts were focused on other things.

More important things.

Things like Arabella Faulkner, a woman he hadn’t been able to forget for many long months.

Of course, he’d tried to forget how she’d felt as her body had held his like a too tight fist in a velvet glove. He’d tried to forget how she’d writhed beneath him, her eyes glazed with lust. He’d tried to forget the way she’d chanted his name over and over as he’d taken her so hard and so fast his vision had clouded. More, he’d tried to forget her smell, jasmine and sunshine and womanly arousal.

He closed his eyes because he could actually taste her on his tongue.

He’d been like this for months.

He’d lost weight.

A disciplined and controlled man in all things, he’d lost that discipline, that control, when she’d run from him, from them, from their future, he’d planned.

How many times had he replayed in his head the last time she’d spoken to him?

Why hadn’t he shared his feelings with her?

Instead of telling her what their future held, why hadn’t he discussed her needs, her anxieties?

His brother Khalid and sister-in-law Charisse had told him to give Bella time and space.

He’d followed their advice. After all they understood how a marriage of convenience worked. They’d fallen madly in love and were now cosily ensconced in marital bliss, true partners who supported each other through thick and thin.

Khalid was a lucky man.

The trouble was, Sarif was a King, a ruler of people who needed him, a King with heavy responsibilities and duties and commitments.

By walking away, by leaving him, Arabella had shown by her actions rather than words that she wanted no part of him or the people of Quarram. The last thing his country needed in these dangerous times was a reluctant Queen, a Queen from a diametrically opposing culture.

And yet, like a smacked puppy, he’d followed her to London to make sure she was safe.

More importantly, to make sure the child she carried—his secret child—was safe.

Even now he could hardly believe it.

When he’d received her message that she was finally prepared to meet with him, he’d been almost relieved.

Almost.

But then he’d again read the detailed report of her comings and goings over the past few months. He’d first seen it six long weeks ago, a report compiled by his new private secretary, Hafar, areport that even now sat on his desk, almost mocking him, and a report that had broken something deep within him.

Betrayal was a bitter taste on his tongue.

Although to be fair, she’d walked right up to the shaky edge of betrayal and hadn’t actually taken that final step.

No matter, the picture, the report painted of a woman he’d been prepared to trust, was not a pretty one.

However, he’d plotted and planned and now everything was coming together.

Sarif checked the time on the wall clock.

She was late.

Annoyance stirred in his belly.

He’d dressed carefully for the meeting.

His dark grey suit tailored in Savile Row, a shirt of crisp white cotton and a silk tie.

The English liked their silk ties.

Never a patient man at the best of times, he checked the time on his slim watch of white-gold and frowned.

She was late.

But the thing that seriously annoyed him was the way his nerves jangled.

He refused to acknowledge such a thing as nerves.

Nerves were a sign of weakness.

No man from the house of El Haribe was weak.

He was a King, for God’s sake.

Then he wondered, why now?

Why had Arabella called him this morning  out of the blue and accepted his invitation to meet him here at the Embassy. He’d immediately cancelled his appointments for the day, much to Hafar’s clear disapproval.

So what had made Arabella change her mind after months of radio silence and agree to see him? Recently one of his security personnel had been on her tail at all times.

Perhaps it had been her recent neonatal appointment for an ultrasound scan. Perhaps seeing the living, beating heart of their child had, belatedly, made her grow a conscience? This was an appointment she’d kept alone, with no one to support her. He wondered why the fact she’d been alone bothered him?

He glanced again at the thick file of the report on his desk, months of detailed information on her movements, where she’d gone and who she’d met.

One part he’d read again and again as the dog-eared paper proved.

He couldn’t seem to help himself but shift to open the file and read the page one more time. The part where, six weeks after she’d arrived in the capital, she’d gone to a private clinic for an appointment.

His hand fisted.

An abortion clinic.

Of course, she hadn’t gone through with killing his child, which was just as well for her.

But as he read again, in black and white, that she’d even considered destroying an innocent, he finally faced the fact that her betrayal had killed something deep inside him.

She deserved every single thing that was about to befall her.

And so, Sarif accepted, he was about to cast aside all ethics and values of a life dedicated to duty and service.

He had plotted and planned and was almost ready to make his move to protect his son.

His son.

She carried a boy, as the ultrasound scan proved beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Gritting his teeth, Sarif El Haribe swore to Allah, he would break every single law of faith and country to protect his unborn child and take him home where he belonged.

Quarram.

And as for the woman who carried his son?

Well, Arabella Faulkner would do exactly as she was told, or, in the spirit of an eye for an eye, Sarif would put her brother to death in an instant.

The man-boy was nineteen and a student.

His name, Rupert Faulkner, youngest son of Brigadier Hamish Faulkner and his wife, Primrose.

A keen student of cultural anthropology, it had been all too easy to dupe Rupert into joining a fake archaeological dig to Quarram.

It had been even easier to plant a priceless artefact in his hand luggage as he tried to leave the country with the rest of his party. Now Rupert sat rotting in a Quarram jail. Sarif, since the King’s word overruled all democratic laws of man, had decreed the prisoner had no rights. No right to a lawyer. No right to consular assistance.

Now as he thought about him, Sarif had to admit the boy’s courage had impressed him.

No whining.

No begging.

He’d shown plenty of the famous British stiff upper lip.

As soon as Arabella Faulkner married Sarif, her brother would be set free.

Marry him, save her brother.

That was the deal.

Sarif was well aware his father and brother would look askance upon his appalling conduct, and see it as—extreme, which was why he’d told them nothing of his plans.

He lusted for revenge.

He lusted for justice.

Arabella had runaway like a coward.

She’d kept his unborn child from him and had thought, even briefly, to destroy it.

And for that he would never forgive her.

Revenge—Sarif decided with a righteous fury burning in his very soul—was a dish best served cold.

 

Again he moved to the window to calm his thoughts, to clear his mind.

He’d need to play it smart.

Arabella was no fool.

The woman was highly intelligent, and a trained fighter.

All he had to do was keep his head, and his temper, and persuade her to marry him.

Once she’d safely delivered his son, he’d divorce her and kick her out of his country.

And she would never see their child, or Sarif, again.

Result.

A knock at the door had him give permission to enter.

His private secretary, Hafar, entered, bringing with him the scent of Jeera Goli, a candy laced with cumin.

For a young man with a sweet tooth, Hafar was strikingly skinny.

And since Hafar refused to wear western dress, he wore his thwab and besht to denote his status as a servant of the King. He’d replaced his father, Ekram, in the position after the latter’s sudden retirement due to family issues. To tell the truth, Hafar’s obsequious ways got on Sarif’s nerves.

Looking on the bright side, Hafar might be considered a godsend.

His information technology skills were particularly impressive.

“My Lord,” Hafar’s nasally voice was smooth as silk, and annoying as hell. “There has been a most unfortunate occurrence outside the Embassy gates.”

Sarif frowned. “An accident?”

“A young woman has been hit by a car. The driver did not stop.”

Safir made a face of distaste.

“A hit and run.”

Hafar bowed again.

And waited.

Sarif lifted his brows.

“Something else?”

Looking back at the conversation later—the way Hafar’s tongue had licked his thin lips, like a snake, and pressed his fleshy palms together, as if in prayer, and all the while his dark eyes had stayed on him—it should have been a warning.

But what followed erased the conversation from his mind, until it was too late.

Far too late.

“The woman is Arabella Faulkner.”

***

Ooooooh, tune in next week…

Hugs,

Christine X

DESERT ORCHID IS ALIVE!

IT'S ALIVE

IT’S ALIVE AND AVAILABLE NOW IN ALL STORES

AMAZON  iBOOKS  KOBO  GOOGLEPLAY 

BARNES AND NOBLE  SMASHWORDS

 

Some of you might remember the original Desert Orchid story featuring Charisse and Khalid that I began in weekly episodes on this blog… two years ago (how time flies). And some of you might have wondered what on earth happened to Charisse and Khalid. Well, the story has sort of morphed, as my stories are wont to do, into something bigger. Something more exciting. Something a little bit… different.

First of all let me make clear that at the heart of the tale is a romance (this is me you’re dealing with). The story is a nail biting suspense thriller, with plenty of twists and turns, that readers (they tell me) did not see coming. In this book I get to shoot, poison, kidnap and kill. THE best fun in the world! I also emotionally torture two characters who had gone through more than their fair share of grief and torment. I just tormented them even more. I even got to deal with a couple of sociopaths – and let me tell you, writing those guys was dealing with a different kind of human.

Towards the end of editing the story, there were lengthy discussions between my editor and H and myself regarding a change of direction for the series. Deep in my heart I’ve always wanted to write a continuity series – where each book stands alone as a complete tale – with two characters strong enough to take centre stage right through the books to link the series. With Charisse and Khalid I’ve found those characters. I know them better than I know my own family. And so their story, along with their close friends, siblings, and the story of their country, Onuur, and the people who inhabit that land will carry on. The El Haribes will continue to fight against unseen forces including a terrorist War Lord, people trafficking, the drug trade and much more. And all the while, against all the odds, and personal sacrifice, a deep and abiding love prevail.

It all begins with Desert Orchid where Khalid and Charisse meet. And just let me say that the road to true love is a pretty rocky one. Against the background of falling in love, the couple deal with the reality of an unseen enemy who has waited many years until the time is right to strike. There’s heartbreak, death, betrayal and a relentless evil who will not stop until it gets what it wants. But what strengthens the couple’s initially fragile bond, is a very real selfless love that is growing between them. A love that will be tested again and again.

And since it’s Mother’s Day in the United States of America, this post is dedicated to all mom’s everywhere. Especially my own mom, Ruth, who died very suddenly before the book was completed.

Big hugs,

Christine X

 

A FILM-STAR, A BABY, AND A PROPOSAL

IT'S A LUDLOW HALL CHRISTMAS!

IT’S A LUDLOW HALL CHRISTMAS!

Hello my darlings,

It’s been a while since my last post, and that’s because I’ve been writing, visiting London, writing, and attending a wedding! Writing. Editing. And writing.

As a family, we love this time of year. There’s something about Christmas that makes me all warm and fuzzy. And from the lovely feedback and comments I’ve been receiving about my books, I know my readers love feeling warm and fuzzy too.

The Ludlow Hall series has struck a chord, especially Nico and Bronte. Readers are enjoying watching how their relationship and marriage unfolds with all their trials and tribulations. It was something I always wanted to read – how a couple I loved in a romance – coped with real life challenges in subsequent stories. The reader response has been nothing short of amazing and has truly humbled me.

So to keep all y’all going until book five, The Fall of Jacob Del Garda, comes out next year I had the bright idea to write a Ludlow Hall Christmas special featuring the usual suspects, Nico and Bronte, Alexander and Rosie, and the fabulicious movie star Mathias Carter and super-model Eve Langan, who gives Matt a run for his money. Bringing two independent and successful career people, who’ve overcome many early challenges in their lives, together is always fun. Especially when they don’t have time for love, marriage, children, or a happy-ever-after. How the might fall flat on their face. Hehehe. Watching them climbing out of the deep hole they’ve dug for themselves is always a blast. And Nico Ferranti steps up to lend his best pal Matt a hand in his hour of need. The scene where Matt returns the favour brought a tear to a couple of beta reader’s eyes, and that is very a good thing.

Man, I love this job.

I’m waiting for the story to go live on iBooks and Barnes and Noble. When it does, I’ll add the links. Until then, here’s the Amazon links USA and UK and SMASHWORDS.

As y’all know I’m part of a boxed set called Sugar and Sin, which has been really well received. Well, we’ve got together again to bring you more of the same – Sugar and Sin, The Sexy Seven. Seven books by the same authors plus one. The plus one is the talented and all round awesome romantic suspense writer Dana Delamar, who keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Dana has joined our ranks and we’re thrilled to have her.

We’ve been touched by the Amazon Angel who has very kindly given us a pre-order button for the set, so thank you, Amazon! The set is on pre-order at a very special $3.99 and due for release on 15th January 2014. I love the way Kim Killion of the Killion group has branded Sugar and Sin – the colour of this set is warm and sunny – just like us! I love it!

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Here are the pre-order links (we’re waiting for B&N):  Kobo  AMAZON  iBOOKS

While I have your attention, I’d like to thank you, dear reader, for your continued patience while I’ve been juggling my writing calendar.

My publishing schedule (hopefully not subject to change) is:

Book one of a new Desert Princes series – Desert Orchid (cover reveal coming very soon) January 2014.

Book five of The Ludlow Hall series, The Fall of Jacob Del Garda (cover reveal coming very soon), February 2014.

Book six of The Ludlow Hall series, A Daddy For Daisy, late Spring 2014.

For those of you waiting for the next Vampyre Legal Chronicles instalment, I have an exciting announcement in the New Year about what’s happening to the entire series.

So stay tuned!

Thank you so much for taking the time to email/FB message/Tweet and leave very kind comments on my website. Readers rock!

You know I adore hearing from you guys, so any questions feel free to fire away.

Christine X

 

 

 

 

 

 

DESERT ORCHID – Coming early 2014 – Get the skinny here

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Here’s the prototype cover for my stand-alone adventure romance coming early 2014.

Here’s the short blurb and back page blurb:

Think Memoirs of a Geisha meets Taken.

…An Arabian Queen must marry a wild, wicked and wilful Desert Prince to save her people from civil unrest and protect the wealth of her Kingdom…Charisse never expected to find love…But events in her tragic past threaten to destroy not only her Kingdom but her life too…Can their fragile love survive…

He didn’t want a country. He didn’t want a wife. He wanted whisky. And he wanted to forget.

Charisse El Haribe is committed to her adopted country. But after her husband’s death covetous eyes are turned towards the vast untapped mineral wealth of Onnur. The country’s only hope is for her to marry her husband’s nephew, the wild, wicked and womanizing Prince Khalid El Haribe.

To make amends to his family and to assuage his guilt for the death of his sister, Prince Khalid El Haribe agrees to marry his late uncle’s widow and to reign over the small state of Onnur. However, he’s stunned to find his intended is young, intelligent and beautiful.Their attraction is instant and burns too hot.

But a nightmare from Charisse’s past returns and threatens to destroy not only her, but the man and the country she loves.

Christine x

LICKING MY MAN INTO SHAPE

Okay now, children, settle down. (I knew the title would get you all going.)

Every now and again it’s shake-down time in this house and the red mist of temper descends. You all know what I mean. It usually follows the unparalleled agony of standing on a tiny Lego figure in your bare feet, the air turns blue and every red blooded male runs for the hills because we women have finally hit our limit (an event that tends to be cyclical) with the chaos that now reigns in our domain, all thanks to the men in our lives.

It happened this week and my son and Hugo still haven’t recovered from the tornado that was Christine as she tore through kitchen, bathrooms and (Oh My God) the biological hazard that was my son’s bedroom. I’ve promised next time I will name and shame him.

The salad drawer in the fridge was shocking with something that might have been a baby carrot in a previous life, tomatoes which had dried out without the aid of the sun – withered chorizo anyone?

The breadbin offered up a ping pong ball, one chocolate button and a burger bun that was evidently taking part in some weird Year 6 science experiment.

The oven needed two full cans of Mr Muscle.

The microwave – well – all I’ll say is I cried, readers, I cried.

I found three socks, not matching, empty chip packets, car keys that went missing three months ago and six one pound coins down the side of the couches in the lounge.

Then just to compound the horror, I decided to clear out my closet. Why, Christine? I hear you ask. Don’t you have enough to do with editing two books at the same time as well as writing a weekly serialised story on your blog and have a new book coming out this week, along with social networking and guest blogging. What are you doing, woman?

In my defence all I’ll say is I was demented by this time, so I set about shovelling through T-shirts/vests/leggings/hoodie. Pointless, thankless task. The wonderful streamlined look will last for all of three days, max. No matter how fabulous and liberated you feel after a mammoth clear out, as you survey the six bursting black bin bags, colour co-ordinated T-shirts, sweaters and neatly folded jeans, within a couple of heart beats your favourite best silky top is trapped under a stool, and two sweaters and a pair of pants are found stillborn on the floor.

It’s the same with shovelling clearing out the cars. I’ve tested this in the past: as soon as the last apple core is cleared out from the glove compartment, the melted candy from between the seats, 48 hours later it morphs back into a dumpster on wheels.

Or is this just me?

Sometimes I worry and promise to do better.

Friends of mine are always smart and very well put together. And I’ve seen their kitchens, they (or their cleaners) must spend hours scrubbing the white grout between their tiles with toothbrushes. And I bet their ovens are sparkling and their microwaves are a thing of beauty.

So here’s my ‘will do better’ list:

Hang up and put away.

Do not leave clothes in a scrunched up ball on the floor.

Wear matching bra and panties and not just for visits to the GP/hospital.

I will do a little and often (cleaning that is).

I will stop terrorising the men in my family and ask them nicely to please clean up after themselves (they asked me to put that in btw.)

Anyway, peace and tranquillity has now returned to the household. It’s all looking sparkly with the surfaces gleaming and glass glistening.

Hugo’s just stepped out of his study (a room I never set foot in because the dust bunnies on the floor are breeding) and he put his arm around me.

‘Don’t worry, honey. Your friends might have cleaner houses. But they can’t tell a story like you can and bring sheer entertainment to the masses.’

And do you know something? He’s absolutely right, no wonder I adore him.

What’s more important, my readers or my oven?

No contest really, is there?

You know I love to hear from you guys, tell me I’m not alone and share your dirty little secrets with us, we won’t tell a soul!

And chapter sixteen of Desert Orchid is up. This story’s nearly at THE END.

AND A STORMY SPRING IS OUT ON MONDAY! YAAAAAY!!!!!

WHY HUSBANDS COME IN TWO VARIETIES

My friend, Jeanette, has a very interesting husband.

I’ve thought so for quite some time. You see, he gives her unsolicited advice on what to wear and when to wear it and has even bought an entire outfit for her when she wasn’t with him.

This made me realise that husbands come in two distinct varieties. The first type roll through life tremendously interested in bikes, iPads and the latest football score, without unduly bothering about what’s living (or hiding) in their wives closets. Fortunately for me, I’m married to this first character, and I must admit, it’s a very good thing. I can surf from new shoes to new purse to cooking spaghetti bolognaise to an evening dress to my ripped jeans and he’ll never notice, unless I leap into his line of vision and SHRIEK about the absolute fabulousness of my NEW DRESS. Otherwise, I could walk into the house carrying twelve shoe boxes, teetering under the weight and he’d say, ‘Hey, babe, have you seen the remote?’ Or, ‘Did you know we’re out of chips?’

Of course, there are one or two disadvantages to being married to type one. He wouldn’t notice if I ran around the garden naked, shouting ‘Hello! Here I am, wearing nothing but a silver bracelet and ready for luuurrvvve.’ But most of the time, it works. If I had a husband like Jeanette’s, I’d be spitting nails and swearing like a trooper.

Her husband watches her like a raptor, always wittering on about what’s appropriate attire for the trip to the supermarket or that the plunging neckline is not suitable for the pub quiz night. He even buys her underwear not kidding, and usually red or black. Jeanette appears thrilled by all the attention and lovely gifts he bestows on her. It would drive me to drink. I don’t know about you, but I feel a man who’s interested in woman’s clothes is well, odd. I’ve never met a straight man for example who can genuinely understand the brilliant cut of Victoria Beckham’s clothing line.

In my humble opinion, a woman’s closet should be a very personal space, a place where she can simply be herself, where she doesn’t have to follow anyone else’s personal agenda.

To be honest, I don’t think my husband even knows what’s in my closet or even where it is. He certainly has no idea I have ‘fat’ clothes and ‘thin’ clothes, ‘winter’ and ‘spring’ clothes.

Which is why I was not at all surprised when Jennifer Lopez divorced the odd Marc Anthony due to his endless enthralment with what she wore and when she wore it. According to those in the know (miles of gossip fodder) he threw all his toys out of the pram because her clothes were too sexy (hello, this is J.Lo!) and not ‘appropriate’ for a 42year old mother of twins. I know exactly why she did it – she was saying ‘Up yours! I’ll wear whatever the hell I like!’ If I had a body like hers I’d be shaking my booty up and down the red carpet. Just try stopping me.

However, all this being over particular about what your wife wears is an insidious form of control in my honest opinion and can only end in tears. Just remember, marriage is about devotion not about ownership.

And J.Lo’s moved on and we’re seeing a great deal more of her amazing body – you go girl!!

So tell us the truth women (and men). Does your nearest and dearest buy your clothes?

Does he know the difference between boot cut and skinny jeans?

Does he know if you’re an Apple or a Pear?

Does he buy your knickers in packs of five from Wal-Mart or pure silk from Victoria’s Secret?

Tell us! We demand to know!

You know I love hearing from you! Don’t be shy, you’re among friends and we won’t tell anyone – so come and share your closet secrets!

Oh, and Episode fifteen of Desert Orchid is out and Khalid in on his knees. Just say’in!

DESERT ORCHID EPISODE 10 AND OLYMPIC TORCH THROUGH MY TOWN YESTERDAY

 

 

Hello my darlings,

 

As promised, here’s the Olympic Torch on its way through my town yesterday in the rain (typical). The torch was handed over to various people who contribute a great deal of their time  to serve our community. There was an elderly man and various others along with this girl, a star who’s overcome many hurdles to help others.

 

Aaaaand, Episode Ten of Desert Orchid is in pages and the whole pdf file is available to download too.

 

I’ll post pictures of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations being held over the next four days. The UK is coming to a grinding halt while we all celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s sixty years on the throne. Wow!

What are you all up to? Please come in and share!

 

Right, diving back into the writing cave.

DESERT ORCHID CHAPTER NINE

 

 

Desert Orchid

Desert Orchid

 

Hello my darlings!

The heat is definitely on with the temperature here in the UK a balmy 89 degrees and rising!

After the wettest April in living memory the gardens resemble plants on crack cocaine and the poor bees are starving because of no flowers, ie no food.

I took a few days off from writing and tweeting and  facebooking and blogging. My friend, August, calls it taking a mental health break and I absolutely get what she’s saying.

Reckless Nights In Rome is still ticking along. A Stormy Spanish Spring is ready to rock for a July launch and Desert Orchid is rocking. The things I do to this pair has had me crying (in a good way) and I LOVE Khalid who Charisse calls the ‘Rock Star’.

How are things with you guys? What are you working on and how are you doing? How’s the weather with you? Hot, cold, wet or dry? Is it just the Brits who care about the weather?

Next weekend is the Elizabeth II, the Queen’s 60th Anniversary of when she took the throne and the whole country is having a party. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to celebrate a wonderful woman who put her country and duty before herself.

Then the UK is hosting the Olympics at the end of July this year and the torch is running through my town this week! I shall post photos!

DESERT ORCHID EPISODES SEVEN AND EIGHT

Hello my darlings,

Episodes seven and eight are posted on the Desert Orchid page and also in the pdf files.

Having amazing fun with this and the discipline is a great lesson. I’m also working on my work in progress, editing a novel and writing a couple of other short stories and a novella. It appears that writing daily is sparking my creativity, so I’m making the most of it!  Reckless Nights In Rome is holding its own without any promotion at all from me and that’s interesting isn’t it?

What are you guys up to?

 

Christine