Desert Captive, episodes seventeen and eighteen…..

DESERTCAPTIVEBANNERbella1

Greetings from a steamy UK. The temperature today was thirty three degrees in Cheshire. It’s hot, baby. Let me begin by apologising for the lack of episodes last week, I was dealing with an arthritis flare, which the hot weather has fixed…. every cloud, etc.

Here’s the next two episodes…. It’s a slow burn….

Copyright © C C MacKenzie 2018

EPISODE SEVENTEEN

“Why do I get the feeling I’m not their favorite person?” Arabella asked Sarif an hour later as the room emptied and the huge double doors closed after the meeting.

Taking her hand in his, Sarif stood.

Arabella stood too.

“In time, once my son is born, they will come to love you.” His dark eyes found hers and held.

She tried to tug her hand from the heat of his, but his fingers tightened imperceptibly.

Seemed he wasn’t quite ready to let her go.

With a feeling of inevitability, she let him tow her out of the room.

“Where are we going?”

He glanced at her face.

“You said you wanted a walk. We’re going for a walk.”

“Outside?”

Again he glanced at her.

“Outside. It is time my people met their Queen.”

Arabella, the Queen of Quarram.

Somebody was having a laugh.

And if ever she felt like a big fat fraud it was now.

Sarif, still holding her hand, kept the pace out of the palace down to a leisurely stroll.

The setting sun turned the land from desert into a fiery glow.

As they proceeded towards huge metal gates far ahead, Arabella spotted Sarif’s close protection detail move into position. The men were uniformly tall, tough and lethal, but they didn’t come too close to overhear their conversation, she noticed.

Now Sarif brought her hand to his lips.

The jolt of attraction shot straight to her throat.

How on earth did every single move he made catch her breath?

“You have not asked me about your brother,” Sarif said in a soft voice.

She rubbed a hand over her throat.

“I figured no news was good news?”

“Go ahead, ask.”

The trouble with the way his thumb rubbed her hand was that she couldn’t think a single coherent thought.

Baby brain, she decided.

“Okay. I’ll play. What’s new?” she asked him in a sharp tone that brought a dark brow up.

A single cry from above had Sarif halt their walk to study an eagle.

“In less than forty-eight hours Rupert will be free.”

“You’ve organized an attack force?”

“But of course. Did you seriously expect me to leave your brother to his fate?”

She shrugged, and guessed. “Bruce and Wallace?”

“And others.”

She bit her lip, her mind spinning, thinking that her and Leila would need to refine the timing of their original plan.

“And you’re telling me this, why?”

“You’re anxious, which is perfectly understandable, but anxiety is not good for the baby.”

Of course his first concern would be for the baby, so why the belly plunge of disappointment?

“Plus,” he continued, “you are in no fit state to try something desperately stupid yourself. Don’t forget I am familiar with your, er… professional… capabilities.”

Arabella held in the snort of disgust at the implication that because she was pregnant she was helpless.

“True,” she lied straight to his face. “I can’t see me rappelling down the side of a building for a while.”

“Or at any other time,” he said and his deep voice held a clear warning that her military days were behind her.

That’s what you think, boyo.

Then another thought hit her.

“Is there a reason you’re preparing a rescue attempt now?”

He made a face.

“It seems Nazari has another captive, a Jordanian pilot whose plane was shot down last month. Apparently, he is preparing to murder him, streamed live on social media.”

A wave of nausea made her dizzy.

“Beheading?”

His jaw tight, Sarif shook his head.

“Put in a cage, poured with petrol and burned alive.”

“Omigod.”

“I leave tonight.”

Any idea of cancelling her plan to rescue her brother flew from her mind.

Time was of the essence.

He took her silence as a woman who was worried sick about her brother, which she was, and not as a woman who was busy reorganizing plans in her mind.

“I promise you, I will bring him back safe,” Sarif said in a soft voice.

Her gaze shot to his and held, while her heart fluttered madly against her ribs.

Relief warred ferociously with worry about her brother and worry for what she was about to do might mean for the safety for her and her child.

Worry won.

When she said nothing in response to his statement, he studied her face again.

“You are angry with me,” he said. “You have every right.”

Too true she had every right.

She was more than angry with him.

“I warn you now, if my brother has been harmed…”

Again he brought her hand to his mouth.

“You will… what?” his deep voice had gone soft again, and something in his eyes made something inside her simply melt.

He smelled of bergamot, probably something in his cologne and soap.

“Make you pay,” she whispered as her mind centred on the fact his bodyguards were within striking distance and might not react well to her threatening their King.

He nodded.

“Understandable under the circumstances, but don’t you think you have made me pay enough?”

Was he serious?

Hell, she hadn’t even begun to make him pay.

“Nope.”

He bit his bottom lip, and although his eyes were serious enough, she got the feeling he was amused by something… her.

“You’re walking along a very shaky edge,” she told him, her eyes steady on his.

“I stand warned.”

As they approached the gates, they stopped while the gates opened.

About fifty yards away was a large encampment of tents, horses and camels.

The tinkling of goat bells rang out as night fell.

The smell of camel dung, oil lamps, smoking fire, desert and many unwashed bodies hit her.

Then something else hit her, everything about the scene, the scents and the sounds told her she was home.

“What is it?” he asked, and she realized she’d made a little sound of distress in her throat.

The sense of place felt so right, her eyes stung.

She shook the feeling off.

“Nothing.”

His look told her he didn’t believe her, but he let it go.

The thought that he could read her so well disturbed her.

It disturbed her a lot.

The last thing she needed was to let this man get under her skin again.

“I never thought you were a hypocrite,” she said, going immediately on the attack, to show no weakness. “Arrogant and selfish, yes. A hypocrite, no.”

The little tic in his jaw told her she’d hit the spot.

“I made a mistake. Perhaps you could find it in your heart to see me as a desperate man who did a stupid and desperate thing to get your attention.”

Hadn’t Wallace Monroe said pretty much the same thing to her earlier?

“I needed time,” she said, “to adjust to my rather unexpected reality.”

“I want you in my bed,” Sarif said again in that soft tone. He used that tone a lot with her these days.

The thought of sharing his bed had her whole body switch on to a state of high alert, and then something she’d overheard Hafar mention entered her mind.

She pulled her hand free.

“What about your French mistress?”

He didn’t even miss a beat.

“Our friendship is at an end.”

“I hear it cost you a swanky apartment in Paris and loadsamoney. Some friend you are.”

He shrugged.

“She was a loyal and good friend.”

“Good friends don’t need to be bribed, they either are or they’re not.”

His eyes narrowed. “You see the world through a very narrow lens.”

“Do I? I see the word in black and white with the occasional shade of gray. I like to keep things simple.”

“You are also, a coward,” he shot back clearly stung and going on the attack so fast it made her dizzy.

Not sorry at all she’d annoyed him, nevertheless Arabella bristled at the charge.

“That’s a first. I’m not the one who kidnaps young men…”

“I have apologized…”

She spun, her hands on her hips. Her chin lifted so high she peered down her nose at him.

“So that makes it all okay then?”

He shifted to enter her personal space.

“You ignored every single overture I made. What was I supposed to do?”

“You were supposed to wait, wait until I was ready to come to terms with the consequences of what we did.”

“You were taking too long.”

“Because I…”

She stopped and bit her tongue, reluctant to tell him the truth, because the truth sounded utterly ridiculous even to herself.

“Because what?” he ground out, his eyes glued to her face.

Oh, for the love of…

“It’s a hormone thing. I have… had… maybe still have… baby brain.”

He looked at her as if she’d lost her mind.

Maybe she had.

He scratched his chin.

“And what—” Sarif said, a bemused look on his face that made her hand itch to smack him,”—on earth, is baby brain?”

She sent him a bland look.

“Something you will never experience because you do not have a vagina.”

With a shake of his head, he reached for her hand and found it.

Then he turned towards a group of people, nomads, who stood watching them with wary eyes.

“I am beginning to think you are quite mad.”

Taking a deep breath, Arabella caught the heady scent of horse manure and human sweat.

She spotted a girl of about ten holding the hand of a small boy, pinned a smile to her face, and headed in their direction.

“That makes two of us.”

 

 

EPISODE EIGHTEEN

 

Even as she led Sarif towards the children, he refused to release her hand and it occurred to her that this was the first time in her life she’d ever held a man’s hand.

The strength in his fingers were a clear sign of his physical superiority, and again she felt that lovely little ripple in the blood, something she was coming to accept would probably never change between them.

Actually, when they’d come together that first and last time, it hadn’t been a ripple, it had been a tsunami—of lust—that had washed them both away—and left them stranded on the rocky shore of life.

The dusty-haired boy clutching the hand of the girl was around six years old. By their faces, she reckoned siblings. The boy had bright dark eyes, a scab on one knee, dirt on his cheek and the kind of angelic face that spelled trouble.

The elderly man standing next to them looked fierce.

Warrior fierce.

And not happy.

While Sarif spoke to the man, Arabella focused on the children.

She crouched down and studied the little boy dressed in an oversized T-shirt that had seen better days.

He could have done with a bath.

“You the Sheik?” she asked in Farsi.

“No.” He grinned, his dark eyes twinkling with fun. “You’re the Queen?”

“So they say.”

“You don’t look like a Queen.”

“True.”

He jerked his little chin towards the desert.

“There are strange men digging for bones out there. They say they are looking for dinosaur bones. Do you like dinosaurs?”

Strange men, eh?

Arabella guessed the strangers were MI5 and working with a certain Colonel.

“Doesn’t everyone like dinosaurs?”

He moved closer. “My sister doesn’t like dinosaurs. I like fossils.”

Delighted with him, Arabella grinned and rolled her eyes towards the men above still talking in clipped tones.

“Plenty of old fossils around here.”

The cough from above brought her eyes up to the girl who was trying hard, and failing, not to laugh.

“How do you do, I’m Arabella.” Arabella stood and offered her hand.

The girl studied her hand for a moment and then took it.

“Amira Hussein.”

“Cute kid,” Arabella said and ran her hand over the boy’s dusty head.

“He is Malik.”

“Brother?”

“Yes. Please come and sit with us, eat and listen to the music.”

Deciding that was the best offer she’d had all day, Arabella left Sarif and the older man to it and followed her two small guides towards a large gathering of women and children sat around a campfire. The scent of roasted meat, onions and spices filled the air. Four men with guns strapped to their backs and holding instruments sat cross legged on rugs. One held a violin, another plucked the strings of an Oud, while another held a wind instrument called a Ney, the last man held a percussion instrument.

She was led to a slightly raised area, covered in rugs and fat cushions.

As she sat, she found her elbow gripped by Sarif and nearly overbalanced.

These days her centre of gravity was affected by the weight of the child she carried.

“To be invited to sit and eat with the Bedouin is a great honor,” Sarif said as he sat next to her. “Sheik Al Qasimi believes it is unseemly of me to hold your hand and to sit with women.”

“You should listen to him,” Arabella told him.

“Changes are coming to my land and people need to adapt.”

“It seems such a little thing to cause trouble over.”

“I want to sit with you, therefore I will sit with you.”

“Stubborn,” she muttered.

When Malik appeared holding a heavy metal plate piled with flatbreads, Sarif washed his hands first in a silver bowl filled with fragrant water and dried it on a cloth held by Amira, before he thanked the boy and took two breads and placed them on plates.

Arabella went through the same hand washing routine, and waited until Sarif served her with a plate filled with fragrant rice, bread and meat and yoghurt mixed with spices.

The scent alone made her mouth water.

As she ate her fill and told Amira the food was delicious, Arabella let the music, the smells and the peace of the evening wash over her.

“If you want to understand a culture,” Sarif’s deep voice spoke in her ear, his breath kissed her cheek, “listen to the music. The tune, the words when there are words to hear. When you truly listen, hear it, you will begin to understand me and my people. Music is the heart of all peoples, all cultures, because it comes from here.” Sarif placed the palm of his hand on his heart.

She turned to him to find those dark eyes on her face.

“And that’s why certain terrorist organisations want music banned…”

“That, and they want the people left without hope. People left without all hope are easily manipulated.”

The music changed, the tone shifting to something so terribly heart wrenching, she blinked.

Sarif dipped his head.

“It is about a brave warrior, doomed, dying a terrible death of pain and torture, for his country, for his people.”

Arabella could understand that.

She understood a person being prepared to die for what they believed in.

Honor.

Duty.

Freedom.

“Like your culture,” Sarif continued, “in our culture we do not forget our heroes.”

***

Much later that evening, Arabella stood alone on the balcony of her rooms and studied the half moon lighting a landscape filled with dips and shadows.

The camp far below was almost quiet, except for the flicker from the fires and the occasional sound of an animal disturbed. Even the goats slept, huddled together for warmth. At night the desert was a cold, harsh place.

A sound had her turn to find Leila standing there.

The girl was dressed from head to toe in black, only her eyes were uncovered.

The machine gun strapped to her back, plus straps of ammunition and a lightweight backpack meant her hands were free.

Leila ran her gaze over an Arabella dressed exactly like her, except of course, for the baby bump.

Leila shook her head.

“I don’t like this. What if…”

Arabella held up her hand.

“We don’t have time to debate. We’re doing this tonight.”

“Don’t have much of a choice now anyway,” Leila muttered.

“The deed is done?”

“Yep. The guards are out for the count.”

“Then let’s go.”

Since they’d trained together in the same unit at Sandhurst, the women moved fast, their footsteps soundless as they sped down dimly lit stone corridors and the servant’s staircases until they came to a side entrance.

Leila went first, quick fingers making short work of the digital code to unlock the door.

Arabella knew that once Sarif had figured out how they’d left, he’d change the locks and the codes, but she couldn’t think of him at the moment or his reaction to what she was about to do. If their luck held, then Rupert would be safe, Yussuf Hassam Nazari would be dead, and she would be on her way back home in England.

Result.

Leila took the lead as they jogged at a steady pace away from the palace and the encampment, heading for the hills.

Arabella ignored the niggling stitch in her side, but was happy to catch her breath when she found two horses and supplies waiting in the dip of scrubland.

A closer look at the beasts, had Arabella blow out a low whistle.

“Sarif won’t be happy you’ve purloined a couple of his best Arabians.”

Leila shrugged as she ran a hand over a shiny black flank.

“Over thousands of years, the Bedouin’s breeding programme of natural selection in a harsh environment have perfected the ideal instrument of war. These horses are swift, responsive, agile and tolerant, with courage, loyalty and the ability to remain firm in the face of privation. I’d rather have a fine horse in the desert than a vehicle any day.”

Arabella placed her foot in the stirrup and nimbly settled into the saddle.

The beast was fresh and tested her mettle until she quickly brought it under control.

“How far?” she asked a Leila who was studying the gadget in her hand.

“Eight miles as the crow flies.”

“Shame we’re not crows.”

“No, but I reckon we might be called fools,” Leila muttered beneath her breath.

Arabella turned to her, only seeing her shadow in the darkness.

“They’re going to burn one of their prisoners alive.”

She heard Leila’s quick intake of breath and then, “Fuckers.”

“We can’t let it happen.”

“The Monroe brothers might not be too happy to have us along,” Leila said now.

“By then it will be too late for them to do anything about it.”

“Sarif won’t be happy either. I see the way he looks at you, Bella. He cares.”

“All Sarif cares about it is Sarif,” Arabella said and even as the words spilled from her mouth, she wondered if she was truly being fair to the man. Hadn’t he shown her how much he cared by the way he’d looked after her this evening, seeing to her every need in front of his people?

Then later, as he’d walked her to her rooms, he’d asked to come in and she’d refused him.

He hadn’t got angry, instead he’d held her close and rested his forehead on hers.

“Don’t be afraid, Arabella. I will never hurt you.”

The look for her in his eyes, stormy with needs that had almost brought her to her knees.

Almost.

She’d entered her room and closed the door on his handsome face.

Now she took a deep breath, shook off the memories, and told herself to focus on the task ahead.

As they trotted into a night lit only by the silvery light of a half moon and glittering stars cascading through the heavens, Arabella used all her military skill and expertize to halt the feeling of dread and the nerves dancing in her belly.

For once in her life she wasn’t following her instinct.

Then the words of her Colonel entered her mind, “If you quit, you fail.”

The phrase firmed her resolve to do what was right.

Failure was not an option.

 


 

I just want to say that next week shit hits the fan…….

AND, if all y’all want to read the entire thing from episode one to now then click on this  ‘rolling’ link. Keep the link because it will be updated each week.

https://ccmackenzie.com/about/test/

Love and hugs and smoochies,
Christine X

HAPPY PROCREATION DAY AKA – VALENTINES DAY

By awesome reader, the lovely, Jane Aschtgen Bowen via Facebook

By awesome reader, the lovely, Jane Aschtgen Bowen via Facebook

Happy Valentines Day!

The links to a free copy of Big Trouble In China are HERE!

My thinking behind the title of this post is that the word procreation was a better choice, more polite, than shagging. I could have gone for beget, breed, conceive, create, make, multiply, reproduce, sire, spawn. But since this is me you’re dealing with I went for shag.

According to certain people in the know in the scientific community and certain organised religions, the urge to shag is a primal one, meaning to shag is the reason we were put on earth, which would explain a lot.

Have you ever seen mismatched couples? I see them all the time. As a romance writer, I’m nosy an avid observer of the human condition.

So while I was watching H measure out four ounces of wholemeal pasta per person (we’re on the 5.2 diet) for our pasta and veggie bake he’s making for dinner, I got to thinking about the primal urge.

‘Perhaps,’ I said, ‘This is why a woman can end up with a well padded accountant from Pensacola who’s afflicted with folliculitis (I’ll wait while you Google it, it is not pretty.)’

H just gave me the look. And for authenticity I thought you might like to know that H has a deep, gravelly voice that has been likened to Sean Connery, there’s a lot of rolling of ‘r’s in our house.

‘The reason a woman might end up with a guy like that,’ he said. ‘Might be an overconsumption of warm Pinot Grigio at the office party, which might have resulted in a little surprise.’

Hmm. He has a point, didn’t think of that.

Undeterred, I ploughed on. ‘Okay, but the thing is that today women are not supposed to have hang-ups about shagging. We’re supposed to be able to express ourselves with gay abandon, liberated sexually, living in the new age where men no longer rule with their love muscles. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening at all. It never ceases to amaze me what women tolerate these days.’

He dumped the pasta in frantically boiling water, stirred, turned on the extractor fan before sliding a tray of chopped red onion, courgettes, peppers into the oven.

‘It never ceases to amaze me what I tolerate these days,’ he muttered. I ignored it because he mutters all the time.

While he opened a carton of passata, emptied it into a glass jug, added dried oregano, black pepper and crushed garlic and stirred, my mind was mulling over how couples who’ve been together a looooooong time do it.

‘The reason most couples have been together for years is because they’re fairly honest with each other,’ I said.

His brows rose. ‘This, from the woman who demands honesty in all things.’

‘The odd little porky pie (lie) isn’t a big deal. Look at how men always say, You look lovely, to their wives when their girlfriends are secretly wondering, What on earth were you thinking wearing that? It’s what makes a relationship last. But it’s vital to get the big things out in the open like, No I do not want your mother staying over every weekend. And look at us, we never let things drift! If we have an issue we discuss it.’

Silence.

‘Look at us,’ I said again. ‘Two weeks after we met, you asked me to marry you. And you were a confirmed bachelor.’ I’ve always secretly felt a bit smug about that.

‘In those days getting married was the only way to get regular sex from an attractive woman,’ came the shocking response that burst my romantic bubble.

Stunned, I just looked at him, the love of my life, and my temper started to simmer right along with the pasta.

‘Are you telling me.’ You might like to know that my tone matched Siberia. ‘You simply married me for my body?’

By this point he drained the pasta, dumped it back in the pot, took out the roasted veggies and stirred. Then he poured everything into a heated oven dish, poured over the passata, added baby tomatoes and grated cheese. Put the dish onto a tray and placed everything in the oven for twenty minutes.

He looked at me, caught the expression and blinked.

‘Among other things,’ he said. ‘Mostly, it was your quick brain and how you made me laugh. You still make me laugh. But, yes, marrying you for your body ticked a big plus in my box. My life is much more fun with you in it. And although it would be a hell of a lot more peaceful, I can’t imagine life without you, so you can lose the face.’

And then there was a romantic interlude. Use your imaginations!

So there you go, my theory is correct, we cannot help ourselves but procreate.

Go forth and shag with abandon on Valentines Day!

And, since I feel nothing but love for you guys here’s a link to a fabulous idea by horror author Samantha Warren, a blind date to match readers with authors of their favourite genres, there are plenty of mystery, psychological/legal thriller, romance – sweet and steamy, paranormal, sci-fi and even a non fiction author too. So pop over and leave your name on the link below and you’ll be matched up with an author. The author will email either a Smashwords code or email a gift of a book to your eReader of choice. Sound good??? The link is HERE

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But I want to know what you guys are up to for Valentines day, will it be romantic with its logical conclusion or do you treat it like any other day?

You know I adore hearing from you!

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!

FREEBIE FRIDAY

Episode Five is up at the bottom of pages and you can download the story so far in pdf to read later!

I’m up against deadlines and writing like a crazy person!

Reckless Nights in Rome is doing great and I want to thank every single one of you who purchased the story, you guys seriously rock and I’ll keep you posted on what’s coming – A Stormy Spanish Spring – where we meet Bronte and Nico  (from Reckless Nights) again in the latter part of this book. The feedback for Reckless has been amazing and I’m thrilled you guys enjoyed it.

Christine

 

FREEBIE FRIDAY

Desert Orchid

Desert Orchid

Hello my darlings,

Episode four of Desert Orchid is on the next page.  You can download the pdf too for later.

AND the big announcement is that Reckless Nights is on a two day special promotion and free on Kindle – sweet dreams are made of this, trust me! Grab it here.

So if you fancy a sensual read, pull up a box of chocolates, light some candles, pour a glass of wine and relax with Nico and Bronte.

A short and sweet post today because I’ve just shot my heroine in my wip and loved every second of it!  Hmm, I feel a post coming on. I need to get her into a military helicopter with the medics before she bleeds to death. Can’t have that!

You know I love hearing from you guys and what I want to know is what you’re all up to? What are you writing? What are you reading?

DESERT ORCHID – EPISODE THREE KHALID AND CHARISSE MEET

Sea from the Desert

Hello my lovelies,

It’s Freeby Friday here today and episode three of Desert Orchid is posted on the next page. Just click the ‘Desert Orchid’  link next to ‘About’ on the menu bar above to read it. The episodes run consecutively so scroll down to find number three.  If you prefer, I’ve posted a pdf file with the three episodes for you to download to  Adobe reader or Calibre and will update it each week. Thought that was a better idea for you to read it later at your leisure rather than 2,265 words in one go.

The tale is about to enter a whole new phase now that Khalid and Charisse have met. They’ve no idea of the challenges ahead, bless them. A beta reader told me I’m a cruel witch which is very true. No point in having a dark and brooding hero if he’s not tortured is there? Hehehe.

Keep me posted on how you’re enjoying this story – I LOVE to hear from you guys.

That’s it! Short and sweet since it’s been a manic week in this household and my brain’s been through the Kindle blender.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Hello my darlings,

How’s Monday treating you? Well, I trust?

Have you ever wondered about your name? Where it came from and why your dear parents decided to give you your handle?

What made them look at a tiny bald infant with a face like a squashed prune and think ‘Hmm, we’ll call him Miles. He looks like a Miles, doesn’t he, darling?’ Or if they had a baby girl with a shock of black hair and jaundice and a face that resembled a squished raisin they thought ‘Oooh, we’ll call her Pebble. She looks like a Pebble, doesn’t she darling?’ Sometimes I look at a person and you just know that his/her parents had been sipping too much happy juice and simply weren’t thinking when they named him/her.

Take my DH. His name is Hugo. I was introduced to him as Hugo and everyone I knew called him Hugo – I met him at work.

So, we got engaged – the ring was so impressive my hand dragged along the floor (jesting) and in a happy haze I was taken to meet his parents up in the snowy mountains far, far up  in the wilds of the North of Scotland. As you can imagine I was nervous. Would they like me? Would they approve? I’m nine years younger; would they think I was too young? What should I wear? Would jeans be too casual? You know all the stuff we always worry about when we’re presented to our future in laws. Before I continue, I just need to make it clear that I am not a stupid person – normally. But nerves sort of got the better of me.

So, anyway, there I was sipping tea with his mother, aunt, uncle, brother and young cousin all staring at me as if I’d just beamed down from Pluto whenever I mentioned Hugo. And they were chattering away in their lovely lilting highland accent, sort of singy songy if you know what I mean. And they kept referring to Kenny and they looked at me as if I knew this Kenny. So I just nodded politely waiting for Kenny to appear. He was obviously an important person and part of the family and this went on for over four hours. I was befuddled, but thought perhaps I’d missed a bit of the conversation and didn’t want to appear thick.

That night I was taken for a baptism of fire to the ‘pub’ (bar) where I happily downed as much booze as his friends could tip down my throat – and they flirted with me too, just say’in. And they kept referring to this person called ‘Shy’ and looking at me as if I knew this person very very well.  Since I’d had a couple of drinks or five I turned to this terribly attractive TDH (tall, dark & handsome) pal of my fiancé and said ‘Who’s Shy?’ and he said, ‘Hugo’s Shy.’  I shook my head because if there’s one thing my DH is not, it’s Shy. ‘No, he’s definitely not shy.’  Mr TDH howled with laughter and said, ‘No – that’s his nickname from when he played football.’ I must have looked confused because he added, ‘It’s what we call a throw in from the touch line at football.’ Oookay. I should mention that I met people called Toots, Frog, Panda & Poogie. (!)

As we staggered on our way back to his mother’s house groping holding each other. I said, ‘Who’s Kenny?’ Hugo just looked at me as if I was incredibly stupid (and believe me I was feeling incredibly stupid by this point) and said, ‘That’s me! My second name is Kenneth and they all call me Kenny because my mother’s never liked the name Hugo.’

So I ask you, seriously, why in the name of the Lord would you name a baby Hugo Kenneth and permit his school friends to call him from the age of eight (yes eight) Shy? So his family was totally at sea when I referred to Hugo and I had no bloody idea who Kenny was. And then in the pub not a clue who Shy was. Wouldn’t you be confused? I tell you the people in the far North are a strange bunch.

For many years – it might have had something to do with War & Peace being serialised on TV – I desperately wanted to be called Natasha or Natalie and I wanted to be Russian and come from Vladivostok. But no, I was called Christine from Glasgow, Scotland. In my class at school there were six girls called Christine  (common as muck) and they all had various nicknames, Chris, Chrissie, Tina, Christie, Two Chins (terrible isn’t it? Bless her) and I was called ‘wee teen’ because I was titchy small. Actually these days I’m 5’5” – hardly a midget! My life was a living hell, good job I could run fast.

So, what about you lot? Does your name suit you? Do you wish you were called Poppy, Fleur, Nanette, Sorcha or Oriole? Or if you’re a guy would you rather be called Adam, Sandro, Tobias or Fabrizio?

Come on, tell us the truth. Or are you one of those sickening beautiful people who love their name and strut around like a peacock proud as punch?

My comments section in this blog is looking pretty piss poor. So I need a response, even if it’s just a 🙂 and don’t tell anyone but my first book is out today and the Amazon link is to the right.

Until next Monday, be good and if you can’t be good be careful and if you’re not careful I’ll buy you a pram. (Old Scottish farewell usually said to a daughter before she goes out for a night on the tiles.)

Christine

TO DATE OR NOT TO DATE? THAT IS THE QUESTION

Today is Monday.

Since it’s my sworn duty is to make you guys smile my thoughts quite naturally led me to the emotional minefield that is the dating game.

Just last week I understood for the very first time that dating in the United Kingdom and dating in the United States is approached by horny interested people in a totally different way.

In the UK if you go out with someone once or twice and ‘like’ them, you’re dating. You don’t date anyone else. You are exclusive until you break up. This means people in the dating game are put under a huge amount of pressure, especially if they live in a small community where everyone knows everyone else’s business. This can make girls in particular very reluctant to date at all. I know this because I have two daughters at the dateable age and they find the whole thing ‘stressful’. I wonder if this is why we have a huge surge in internet dating sites and speed dating.

However, in the USA, it’s perfectly acceptable to go out with two to three people at once until you’re sure you want to go steady. Once you start dating exclusively it becomes a very different thing. MAKES SENSE TO ME. And I think we should import this brilliant idea to the UK.

However, I foresee issues ahead. If a girl was seen out with three different men in the same week she would be called a certain name, not a nice name, which in the USA is called ‘ho and in the UK would be a slapper. And if a man was seen out with three different women in the same week he’d be called a ‘player’.

In my novels I’m not shy in using certain real events mined from my kids and their friend’s experiences. They’re enough to make your hair curl! I put the protagonists through the dating wringer and when people say to me, ‘Oh, that would never happen in real life. Who would jump out a ladies’ rest room window in a hotel bar to get away from a blind date?’ I have no problem replying, ‘my daughter did. Twice!’

All I can say is that things were a lot different in my day. I dated a right couple of dozy buggers before I met my DH, who proposed within two weeks of meeting me – this is the God’s honest truth btw – he was thirty and I was twenty one. That might seem young today, but when I had my second daughter at twenty four I was regarded as an ‘elderly mother’ (We work fast in this family!) Anyway, as ever, I digress.

Questions:

How do women/men girls/boys in the USA overcome this issue? Are they upfront that they’re casually dating?

How many frogs did you kiss before you found your prince/princess?

Tell the truth, what have you done to avoid an awkward scene/moment in the dating game?

Any tips/advice from you guys out there dipping your toe in the dating pond?

You know I love to hear from you, so please leave a word or twenty, below.

And don’t forget – Episode two of Desert Orchid here on Friday. Come and meet Charisse.

FREEBY FRIDAY

Hello my lovlies,

In the spirit of paying it forward, every Friday I’m publishing an episode serialising the story of Desert Orchid, the montage of which is above.

Here’s the blurb:

Queen Charisse El Haribe is deeply committed to the health and education of the women and children in her country.

And to bring the tiny Arab Kingdom of Onnur into the 21st century.

Now her beloved husband is dead, covetous eyes are turned towards the vast untapped oil and diamond reserves of Onnur. The country’s only hope is for her to marry her husband’s nephew, the wild, wicked and womanising Prince Khalid El Haribe.

Ostracised from his wealthy family since he was held responsible for the death of his young sister and her friend in a speedboat accident, Khalid El Haribe has thrown himself into a life of wine, women and song. His only passion is for his painting where he can lose himself for days and weeks creating vast avant-garde canvases in vivid oils.

But his path to self destruction comes to an abrupt halt when he’s named heir to the tiny Kingdom of Onnur. Could this be the chance to make amends to his family? To make them proud of him again? He agrees to a marriage of convenience.

Expecting the bride to be in her late thirties or early forties, Khalid is stunned to find his intended is young, beautiful, articulate and funny. Their attraction is instant and burns hard and hot.

But Charisse has appalling secrets in her past. A past that not only threatens Onnur and their love but their lives too.

DESERT ORCHID

by C C MacKenzie

Copyright C C MacKenzie

EPISODE ONE

“Inform my brother I am here.”

The bitter cold of a London winter made his voice hard, the tone filled with impatience and irritation, Prince Sarif El Haribe permitted the butler to remove his cashmere coat as he eyed the mountain of a man who stood before him. Immaculate in a black suit, white shirt and black tie, he resembled a bulldog with no neck, he had a shaved flat head and a face that bore the marks of a pugilist. Perhaps it was the small bird like eyes but something about the man always made Sarif uneasy and looking at him now that feeling returned times ten.

His brother’s protection officer snapped to attention. Trained never to show emotion, a muscle jerking in his wide jaw was the only outward sign that Sarif’s unexpected arrival caused dismay. Omar bowed from the neck, turned and ran up the wide marble staircase.

Sarif couldn’t say he was looking forward to the meeting with his only brother, he should be in his own country, Quarram, dealing with his own issues rather than bringing a wild and out of control puppy to heel.

Sarif strolled into a room that on a good day would be an opulent drawing room. Yes, he thought studying the evidence, Khalim certainly enjoyed the high life. His eyes narrowed in distaste on a couple of empty champagne bottles.

His long finger picked up an absurd fragment of acid pink silk. A matching padded bra hung on a lampshade. Knowing his brother, he’d probably paid for the impressive breasts that filled it too. He studied another bra, black silk this time as revulsion fanned the flame of disgust in his belly.

“My Lord, His Highness will be but a moment.” The bodyguard’s high voice didn’t fit with the physical picture Omar presented to the world. Perhaps that was why he found him repulsive? Why it mattered, Sarif didn’t know. The bodyguard bowed his head.

“How many?”

Omar kept his eyes glued to his shiny shoes standing on a lush Persian carpet. “Two, my Lord.”

Sarif’s unremitting stare had the man swallow audibly. He kept his voice silky soft, “Return these items to the, er…ladies.”

He scrambled around the room picking up underwear, scraps of fabric purporting to be dresses along with killer heels before bowing out of the room and closing the double doors with a soft click.

Sarif moved to the bar, poured himself a soft drink in a glass of Edinburgh crystal and a brandy for his brother. He would need it, after he broke the news. He wondered how Khalim would take it, no more parties, no more whoring and no more freedom.

The doors opened and he turned just as a voice hoarse from sleep demanded in a slow drawl,

“What the hell do you want?”

The accent reminded Sarif of their American mother. He met Prince Khalim El Haribe’s grey eyes with a bland stare, sipped his drink, studying his younger brother over the rim of the glass. He hadn’t seen him in six months and his eyes narrowed at both the tone and the appalling decline in his physical condition.

Khalim flushed. Eyes bloodshot and underlined with dark circles, deep lines of dissipation ran down either side of his mouth. Black hair, damp with sweat, curled over his ears and neck. The hair badly needed a cut and the gaunt face needed a shave. He wore too loose soft denim jeans, white at the knees and seams.

There were times when deep brotherly affection battled through anger and a desperate sadness that their relationship had deteriorated to the point where they barely tolerated each other these days and this was one of those times. God, Khalim had lost too much weight, his stomach was concave and he could see his ribs. Loathing the feeling of complete helplessness, he finished his drink and turned to place the glass on the bar to hide the swift shaft of anxiety that shot up his spine.

He took a breath and turned to find his brother tugging a black T-shirt over his head which told the world, ‘Elvis had left the building’. Khalim ran a shaky hand through his hair.

“If you spoke to me like that in my Kingdom you would lose your tongue, little brother,” Sarif said softly.

Heat rose over his brother’s high cheekbones. “Sorry, had a bit too much bubbly tonight.” He gave a jerky shrug. “You know how it is.”

“I know how it is with you.” Sarif held up a hand as his brother’s eyes flashed with a temper that was always too near the surface. “I’ve brought news, sad news, from home.”

Sarif made himself comfortable on the couch, deciding his brother’s manners were deplorable.

“The King? Mother?” Alarm flared in Khalim’s grey eyes. And Sarif was very pleased to see it; perhaps there was hope for his brother after all.

“No. They are well.” Sarif paused as the butler entered with an ornate gold tray holding tiny cups of aromatic thick black coffee and refreshments. He waited until the door closed before he continued, “King Assim of Onuur has died. He was seventy-five. A heart attack.”

Khalim blinked, shrugged again then helped himself to a coffee and sweetmeat.

Waiting patiently for a response that wasn’t forthcoming, Sarif ordered himself to be patient. “Do you remember our Uncle?” he wanted to know.

Khalim frowned and yawned hugely. “I met him a couple of times. Into ancient history, that sort of thing. He was an eccentric, wasn’t he?”

“That might account for it,” Sarif muttered, his eyes narrowing again as they remained on his brother.

“Account for what?”

“Naming you his heir, among other things.” He paused, his smile didn’t reach his eyes as he watched blood drain from Khalim’s face before he continued, “Onuur is tiny, but wealthy. Diamonds, oil and of course the strategic advantage of having an El Haribe Prince ruling the Kingdom ensures political stability for the region.”

Khalid blinked twice. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

If only it was. “The King is delighted. I’ve been instructed to bring you home. Tonight.”

His brother shook his head even as those grey eyes met his. “I’m not King material, Sarif.”

Too true. “Apparently, our late Uncle didn’t agree.” Watching his brother very carefully he took another sip of coffee and delivered the killer blow. “Oh, and you’re to marry his widow, Her Royal Highness Queen Charisse. You have six weeks to sober up.”

Hope you enjoy! Don’t say I’m not good to you! I won’t do a search and destroy if you don’t leave a comment. Just remember I have a memory long memory! Just say’in!

Christine