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    Let’s read along together as I write – Playing With Trouble, Chapter 3

    I’m a day or two behind but I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m still finding my rhythm in the work at home world.

    Things are starting to heat up between Tiffany and Andrew. I hope you’re enjoying their story. I really like them as a couple and there’s a whole lot of trouble coming their way soon.

    (Remember this isn’t edited and there’ll be changes between this and the final version).

     

    If you missed the beginning – start here.

    ***

    Chapter 3

    Andrew turned up to the tennis centre with a smile plastered on his face because he was a professional, but that smile was fake. He hadn’t slept well because he’d slept alone and not with the beautiful woman whose face and body had occupied his thoughts all night long. She’d looked so sad, and so apologetic last night in the hallway. He knew she wanted what he wanted and he was pretty sure they could still have it without her being compromised but he understood she was the one who would be impacted. She might lose her job and have her professional reputation tarnished, not him. He was mad that was even an issue in the twenty-first century but he was even madder about that kind of double-standard.

    Yeah, he was mad but he realised he was also more than a little disappointed. He knew he like Tiffany. He didn’t spend time with women he didn’t like, he was not that guy. Still, the way he’d felt in the hours since it had been made clear he and Tiffany would not be reigniting their “thing” had shown him he cared for her more than a little. That bugged him because he prided himself on staying detached and because he was not used to not getting what he wanted.

     

    On the court his young partner for the week was dressed in an outfit perfect for a music video and not so perfect for tennis. Andrew felt like there was an old man living in his head but he couldn’t help thinking the guys shorts were hanging so low he might well trip over them.

    “Axel.” He said by way of greeting. “Ready to play.”

    “I’m ready to win.” The kid replid offering him a fist to bump.

    “Good attitude.”  He had a chat to the kid and it was clear he was athletic and had at least has some lessons.

    “My agent loves tennis. So, we play sometimes. It’s a big reason I’m here and also, man, is he excited we’re teamed up. He arrives tonight.”

    The kid’s enthusiasm was infectious. Last night he’s seemed like a bit of a punk but the more he got to know him the more he could see he had depths which reminded him he shouldn’t have been so quick to judge in the first place.

    “Awesome, can’t wait to meet him. Now should we get some practice in so we can wow the crowd at or first match.”

    The kid did a fist pump and headed down court and Andrew tried hard not to think about how this week would have been perfect if he’d just been able to have Tiffany as well.

     

    An hour later he was a hot sweaty mess when the woman herself appeared courtside. The tennis complex was filling up and fans had gathered to watch them. Axel went to sign some autographs and Andrew made a bee-line towards the beautiful blonde. Her hair was pulled back in a pony tail and she wore a cap and a t-shirt with the event logo on them and cute cropped jeans and runners.  She was holding a clip board and phone. She looked like an American teenager and he felt young and foolish walking over to her.

    “Nice warm up.” She said with a smile, lifting his towel and handing it to him.

    “Thanks. I think we’ll be a good pairing.”

    “Not as good as us.” She gave him a wink.

    “No.” It was nice that she was normalising it he supposed. “I missed you last night.”

    “Likewise. I spent a lot of time wondering if I over-reacted.”

    Ah there it was hope. “Oh yeah, what did you decide?”

    “My head says one thing, my hormones say another.” Well that was honest.

    “That pesky head.” He teased. “Well you let me know when the hormones take charge.”

    “Don’t you mean if?”

    He leaned in his voice low and grvaelly in her ear. “Oh no, I definitely mean when.”

    Then he grabbed his gear and walked over to join Axel before he did something stupid like kiss her here in front of the entire crowd.

     

    Well now her hormones were in overdrive. It was her own fault. She’d walked right over  and started the conversation. She also took it in that direction, but it was like her feet and her mouth had their own plans where Andrew was concerned, just like her hormones. She watched him walk away as she pulled herself together.

    Maybe she had overeacted. As she considered that her phone rang and the reason she had to be so careful was on the other end.

    “Hey mommy.”

    “Hi Dylan baby, how are you?”

    “Good. Aunty Fran and I are going to the park today but I wanted to say hi first.”

    “Well I’m glad you called. I miss you.”

    “Me too. You’ll be home in a few sleeps right?”

    “I absolutely will. You have a great day and put Frannie on.”

    He handed the phone over and her sister’s voice came on the phone. “All good here. No need to panic mama.”

    Tiffany laughed. She did have a small tendency to be over-protective of her son. He had been born premature and sine then he’d had several struggles. He was fine now, mostly. He still had chronic asthma but that was mostly under control. Being a single mom, because Dyaln’s father had died in a car crash while he was still in the NICU, had made her fiercely protective. Dylan was her world.

    “He called me, remember?”

    “I do. You two are peas in a pod, but he’s fine. How’s it going there?” She loved Frannie and she appreciated her sister using a week’s leave from her accounting job to come and do this for her every year. It was a shame she didn’t live closer than LA and that they couldn’t spend more time together. She’d moved to Vegas with Mick and once Dylan had been born and Mick died she just hadn’t quite found the energy to relocate and now with a job she loved and Dylan settled at school it seemed the timing was all wrong.

    “All good. The matches begin shortly and the we’ll see. Good crowds and yeah, so far all good.”

    “Any cute guys?” Tiffany had not told Frannie about Andrew because it was the one thing in her whole life that was just hers. She didn’t want to dissect it or share it with anyone even Frannie who was her biggest supporter.

    “Please Frannie, we have more cute guys than you’ve ever seen in one place in your life, which may explain why women buy most of the tickets.”

    “Whatever raises the money, right?”

    “Exactly. Okay you two have fun and thanks Frannie. I appreciate it.”

    “Please, you’re my sister. I’ve got your back.”

    She hung up and headed towards the control centre only glancing in Andrew’s direction for a minute. If she wasn’t going to be getting any of that fine man she certainly didn’t want anyone even for a minute thinking she was. As to be expected it was a flurry of activity on opening day. They were sold out and there was lots of media around. Right now, Tiffany’s team was doing everything they needed to do and she was happy to be behind the scenes just waiting for whatever was going to go wrong happened early and they got it over with. That was the thing with organising events like this something always did.

    She took a seat at her designated desk and spent the next hour signing forms, answering questions and generally working like a maniac. She didn’t have time to think about Andrew or her decisions where he was concerned, except that every so often someone would say his name or mention on of his matches and she had to be sure not to look overly interested of concerned. No one said anything so she had to assume she was doing a good job.

    Just like she could assume that no one would be surprised when she went down to watch Axel and Andrew play their first match on centre ocurt against Alexi and his partner, a country music star. The tournament was round robin for points so that every pair had at least three matches before they could be knocked out. That way all the celebrities got some time and that drew in the crowds. It didn’t really matter which team won right now but she’d be lying if she hadn’t picked a favourite. She still had her headphones on and could take calls but she was able to watch most of the match.

    Andrew was different on the court. She found the dicotomy fascinating. Off court he was sweet and mellow but on the court he was focussed and intense. It shouldn’t be unexpected. No one got to be an elite athelet by lacking focus but she didn’t see that when they hung out. Then again the circumstances were entirely different. Here on the court it was obvious he was playing to win but unlike Alexi down the far end he was walso trying to make sure Axel got some skin in the game. In fact Andrew knew there were two games going on one was the tennis and the other was winning the fans over. Lots of the crwod, especially the young women were here for the celebrities and Axel was a big draw card he needed time to shine and Andrew gave him that. He was smart and strategic and as a result his team won.

    They met in the middle for back slaps and hand shakes and when he reached the courtside he caught her eye and gave her a chin tilt that said he knew she was there, she was still watching and her hormones were still in charge.

     

     

    It had been a long day. Andrew and Axel had won their match and by the end the kid had his total respect. Meanwhile andrew wondreed when he started refering to other men as ‘the kid’ even in his mind. He felt old next to the young buck who had left with a bevvy of beauties and asked ANdrew to meet him for drinks at the high roller bar at the casino they were both staying at later. Andrew wasn’t sure it was such a great plan and he for sure knew Nate would say it wasn’t but he’d also won his singles match against an ageing Czech player he’d never defeated before. He knew the other man wasn’t at peak but he’d take the win because the older guy had fought for it. Andrew had earned it and he was hapy about that.

    He and Axel weren’t playing until late the next day so maybe he’d get that drink. He didn’t have plans here in town because he had hoped he’d be spending his time with Tiffany but that wasn’t so. He hadn’t seen her since the match in the morning.

    He knew there’d been some incident with a female celebrity losing her mind over some big nothing so no doubt that had occupied a big chunk of her day.

    While he contemplated the evening ahead Andrew took a stool at the casino’s sports bar and ordered a whisky. Lucky for him it was American football on the screen so no one recognised him. He liked sports bars that way, oddly even though he was a high profile athlete they afforded him some anonymity. He was staring blankly at the screen when the seat next to him was taken and an elegant hand reached out snagged his drink and took a sip. He turned to see Tiffany eyeing him over the glass before taking a sip and sighing in satisfaction.

    It was one of the sexiest things he’d ever seen.

    “Thirsty?”

    “That day was…well there are no words.”

    The bar tender came past and he ordered two more. “I’m sorry. Do you want to talk about it?”

    She shook her head. “I can’t because sadly I signed a confidentiality agreement.”

    He knew all about those, in fact he had lots of people he worked with sign them too. “Should I have gotten you to sign one?”

    “I don’t know should I have asked you to?”

    He clinked his glass against hers. Fair play. She was fiesty tonight and he deserved it. Why were his secrets any more valuable really? Well they were because someone might pay for them but ultimately it was the privacy violation people wanted to stop.

    “Okay so no talking about it. What would you like to do instead?”

    “Well I don’t think we can do that either. My hormones and I are still in discussions. What were you planning to do?”

    “Besides hoping your hormones had caved?” She nodded. “Axel invited me to a thing with his posse.”

    “So, we could do that?”

    “Sure, although I don’t think it’s a jeans and t-shirts crowd Tiff.” He gave her ponytail a tug. “Sadly, I like this look on you.”

    She gave him a sweet smile. “Thanks. I’ll try and find something you’ll like even more. Give me ten.”

    “Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”

    The first two books in the series are live on Amazon and you can buy them here.

    *(Affiliate links are used in this blog post)
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    Let’s read along as I write – Playing With Trouble Chapter 2

    Chapter 2 a couple of days late.

    How is everyone doing on lockdown. I thought it would make me extra organised but not so far. I’m giving myself until April 1 and then I’m expecting only awesome and organised from myself. It’s good to have goals right? Sorry this is a couple of days late. I promise to do better from now on. The good news is Chapter 2 is today and Chapter 3 is tomorrow, so less of a wait!

    (Don’t forget this is unedited so there will be mistakes and those will all be fixed up before publishing.

    Ch 2: Tiffany

    Finally, Alexi wound up his story and she made her excuses to head inside, She encouraged him to go talk to the media before she left.

    Inside the club was pumping the heavy base of the music reverberating through her body. They did not play this music on kids television which was where her regular playlist came from.  Her co-worker and boss Cynthia grabbed her as she made her way through the throng.

    “Good crowd. Lots of celebrities and media. You’re doing an amazing job as usual.”

    She smiled, Cynthia was so generous and such a wonderful woman to work with. It made leaving Levi in day care for all those hours and now with an after school sitter so much easier. “It gets bigger every year which is so great for the cause.”

    “Absolutely.” One of the sponsors caught Cynthia’s eye and just as she was hoping find Andrew a hand wrapped around her forearm and a familiar voice whispered in her ear.

    “I was hoping I might see you here.”

    She turned and found him smiling down at her, his breathtaking smile lighting up his face and she couldn’t help but smile back. “Likewise.”

    He pulled her in for a hug. Nothing inappropriate there. She hugged a lot of the regulars. What he whispered in her ear might not have been, however and she felt herself blush as she pulled back.

    “We’ll see about that.”

    He smiled back, a wicked smile that promised he would indeed be more than happy to do what he’d said. And she just shook her head at him.

    The conversation was interrupted by Kevin Blanchard one of the regulars and one of her absolute favourites.

    “Ah the beautiful Tiffany, if I were twenty years younger and not married.”

    She watched Andrew tense beside him. She wanted to say ‘jealous much’ but that would have been wrong on so many levels. Everyone knew Kevin was the quintessential family man.

    She hugged Kevin and asked about his wife and kids.

    “Any chance we’ll be paired together again?” Kevin asked crooking his thumb at Andrew. “I could be the new Benji while his partner is out of action.”

    “You know it’s a random draw.” She said looking towards the stage where the DJ was currently set up. “Speaking of which I better get up there and make sure we do the draw or else we can’t have much of a tournament can we?”

    “Off you go honey, you go work your magic.” Kevin said sweetly.

    “I’ll catch you guys later.” She said looking between them.

    “Count on it.” Andrew replied. And she knew for sure they were on again for the week. She walked off with a little bit more of a sway of the hips than usual. She had to look professional, and she couldn’t let anyone know they were together, but he knew and that sway was all for him.

     

    Andrew watched Tiffany walk away and couldn’t help but smile.

    “Pretty girl,” Kevin said beside her.

    “Indeed.”

    “You could do worse. A lot worse.” Kevin said.

    “I don’t doubt that but we’re just friends, Kev. I see her every year and I enjoy her company. Just like us, man”

    “Sometimes friends turn into more than friends.”

    “Sometimes they do.” His tone was noncommittal. Andrew looked around the room. The tennis players he knew but the celebrities not so much. Kevin would point out a starlet or young man and give Andrew the whole back story.

    “Do you even watch TV?”

    “Not really, no.” The truth was he didn’t have a lot of downtime and when he did ,he just didn’t tend to spend it sitting. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid which was how he’d ended up in every sport under the sun. He’d loved them all but somehow tennis had been his thing and he’d excelled at it.

    “You, my friend are bad for business.”

    The music wound down and the DJ announced the draw was about to happen. Fifteen minutes later the official proceedings were done and Andrew was teamed up not with Kevin, sadly, but with a young up and coming movie star who got his start in kids TV according to Kevin.

    “Axel is Bit of a punk but it could have been worse.”

    Poor Kevin was paired with a young Greek hothead. He definitely drew the short straw. Maybe it was random after all. He caught Tiffany’s eye and she just shrugged a “don’t blame me” kind of shrug. He didn’t and he knew it would make for a good tournament for the crowds and that was what they wanted after all. They were here to pull in the crowds and raise some serious coin. He’d meant what he’d said to Nate, sure a win was nice but here it was all about the kids.

    He spent an hour making small talk with his new team mate and some of the other celebs, smiling and hamming it up for the cameras before seeking out Tiffany again. She was stuck in a conversation with Alexi. Andrew knew enough about her body language to knows she wanted that conversation done and dusted and fast.

    “Hey Alexi, Tiffany.” He did a chin tilt in the direction of each of them. “Great party Tiffany, am I right Alexi?”

    “Da, is great.”

    “Thanks. Las Vegas is a party town so its hard to have an impact.”

    “The wait staff in the old fashioned tennis whites is doing that.”

    He wanted to get her alone but ten minutes of small talk with the Russian continued. It was tedious but Andrew knew it was important for Tiffany that their annual fling stay under wraps. She’d said it might make her look unprofessional and he understood that. He wasn’t used to being the sort of guy that women hid, he was much more likely to see them share a connection all over social media, but he had agreed to that. A decision he was regretting at present. Luckily Alexi’s phone rang and he had to step out and take the call.

    “Thank goodness,” Tiffany said rolling her eyes. “That man can talk.”

    “Do you say that about me when I walk away.” She just rolled her eyes at him in response. “So, when can you leave?”

    She looked around, the crowd was starting to thin. “Maybe half an hour or forty five minutes I guess. Why what did you have in mind?”

    He had a couple of things in mind but first dinner. “I need to eat. Maybe a steak, a glass of wine?”

    She nodded. “Sounds nice.”

    “I’ll make us a reservation at the Club Room in the hotel. Does that work? Is it okay to be seen alone with me or do you need cover because I’m sure Kevin would be happy to go with and maybe your boss?”

    “Maybe we should do that, at least tonight.”

    “There will be other nights then?” he asked, his voice a combination of hope and suggestiveness.

    “If you’re lucky.” She gave him a wink.

    He definitely felt very lucky indeed right now. He knew he’d been looking forward to seeing her but that promise of spending time together was now real and he knew he was grinning like a fool. He liked her. If his life was different, he were a different guy he’d pursue it further, but he wasn’t. He had no plans to settle down ever and he was fine with that but he had a feeling Tiffany was very much the settling down type. Maybe not today, but in a year or two so he would enjoy every moment he got and be grateful for it.

    “Okay I’ll book for four and make it happen.”

    “Thanks.”

    And he headed off to do just that. It was no hardship but he would much rather have been eating alone with Tiffany, preferably naked. But that could wait.

     

    Torture, that was the word Tiffany would have used to describe the dinner. Andrew sat across from her rubbing his foot up and down her calf as she ate. It was not at all fair and he knew it. It wasn’t that she hated it, it was just that it wasn’t enough.

    Then of course there was the fact that her boss started to tell a story about inappropriate staff fraternisation with celebrities a while back. Andrew’s guilty foot slunk away from her calf.

    “People are adults, they should be allowed to do what they want.” Kevin responded.

    “We’re a children’s charity, that’s all. It doesn’t look good.”

    “I don’t think should matter.” Kevin added.

    Andrew sighed. “I’m so sick of people’s private lives being a matter for anyone else but them. I kind of get the celebrity fascination but who cares otherwise. I mean you’re good hardworking people trying to make a difference in the world. That’s what people should focus on. I’d be disappointed to think any organisation I worked with would judge or penalise a staff member for their after hours decisions.”

    “Well, no of course we would never,” Chelsea said clearly trying to back track but she wasn’t especially convincing and the warm happy buzz Tiffany had been experienced was gone.

    “Excuse me for a minute.” The men stood when she went to leave. Such gentlemen. That was the thing. People could make her relationship, friendship or whatever the heck it was seem sordid but it wasn’t. He treated her with respect and kindness always. When she stepped out of the powder room he as waiting for her.

    “Hey.” He didn’t stand too close he just snagged her wrist. “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah, I just…I can’t lose my job Andrew.”

    “I know. I would never let that happen.”

    “Not intentionally, I know that, but I don’t want to be part of some sort of a scandal.”

    He looked down at her his eyes searching her face. He didn’t know the full story, the real reason that she couldn’t take the risk and it didn’t matter.

    “Of course not, my partner Ben and his girl Abby just went through something like this. It was a hot mess and it’s part of why he’s taking a break right now. I wouldn’t want either of us to have to go through anything like that.” She smiled at him, that was right. She’d watched that story from the sidelines just like everyone else who had any interest in tennis. “In our case we’re supposed to be having fun, so if it’s not fun we don’t do it.”

    “Okay, so we just are friends with no benefits then?” Even as she said it out loud it felt wrong. It was clearly not what either of them wanted.

    “I guess so.” He didn’t look any happier than she felt.

    They walked side by side back to the table. Neither of them having much of an appetite and Tiffany wondering if she hadn’t just turned away the best thing that had ever happened to her, even if he was only a temporary best thing.

    Have you read Playing at Love or Playing it Safe yet? Playing it Safe tells the story of Abby and Benjamin (The other Benji mentioned in this chapter above).

    (Note this post contains Affiliate links).

     

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    Wednesday Weekly Blog Challenge – favourite things to do in spring

    Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge Welcome to this week’s blog – I’m so excited to tell you I’m writing this on Tuesday – look what a little social isolation can do for a girl!

    So this week’s question is favourite things to do in the Sping. Right now I’m here in Sydney and the autumn leaves are turning on the trees. Also we – by which I mean the whole world- is locked away in their homes feeling more than  a little anxious about COVID-19/Corona Virus.

    I have a feeling that when Spring rolls around in my corner of the universe the world will be a very different place.

    These are the things I look forward to doing:

    • Walking on the beach in the gorgeous sunshine
    • Fishing on our boat with a glass of wine in hand, or maybe a cheeky gin and tonic
    • Getting together with a bunch of friends for a long, slow Sunday lunch by the sea
    • Watching all the leaves come back on the trees and the flowers bloom
    • Picnics in parks surrounded by birds and the sound of laughter
    • Visiting art galleries and museums
    • Gathering with my writing buddies to talk about books and writing (in person)

    Don’t forget to Pop over here to see what the other bloggers like best about Spring.

    Don’t forget I’m serializing my next Courtside Romance book – you can read the first installment here.

    Spring bird
    Spring bird
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    Let’s Read along Together as I write Playing With Trouble – Chapter 1

    So I had an idea that I wanted to do something here on the blog that would keep readers occupied in these trying times. I have this third book in the Courtside Romance Series, Playing with Trouble,  about half done…so I thought what if I start sharing chapters regularly – like a serial? I know other authors have done this on their websites or in their newsletters so I thought – why not?

    The book is not edited  (so don’t be surprised if you find the odd error hear and there) and as I haven’t finished it yet it’s possible (no it’s highly likely) that this version will differ somewhat from what gets published later in the year.

    ***

    Playing with Trouble -Monique McDonell

    Ch 1: Andrew

    Andrew kicked off his shoes and sat on the sofa in his opulent suite, taking in the view of the Vegas strip. He loved Vegas. For some reason it was one of the few places he felt relaxed. When he thought about that he knew it was crazy, Vegas was not known for it’s mellow but somehow amidst all the chaos he felt at peace.

    Every year for the past eight he came back to play this same charity tournament to raise funds or teens with cancer. It helped put his own difficulties into perspective yet again. The past twelve months had not been easy. He’s missed several months nursing an injury and then just when he was back on the doubles circuit winning again with his best mate Benjamin Golden, his buddy, had fallen in love and taken a hiatus to get things right with his girl Abby.

    Ben was currently building a tennis training academy in small town America and Andrew was here alone.

    It was okay though because looking out at the madness of the strip he didn’t feel alone and maybe if he was lucky he wouldn’t be alone tonight.

    He never had any trouble finding women but that wasn’t really his style, no matter what the tabloids said. Sure he hooked ups but he tended to have two or three women he reconnected with on tour and here in Vegas it was Tiffany.

    Tiffany was the PR Manager for the tournament and somehow for the last three years they’d ended up spending the week together. There were no promises and they didn’t keep in touch in between but he liked her and if he was honest he even missed her. There’d been times this year he’d thought of hopping a plane to Vegas just to see her but that wasn’t their thing, and he was not a relationship guy.

    He’d been hurt too much in the past to make the mistake of letting someone close agai,n but Tiffany was the only woman he’d ever considered it with. Naturally he’d resisted the urge.

    Still, he hoped that he’ see her out at the pre-tournament mixer tonight. He knew shed be there but maybe she’d moved on. She could be in a relationship or just not interested, he had no idea.

    His phone rang and it was his trainer, Nate. Normally when he played on the ATP, Nate was with him but not for these charity events. It was part of the appeal, not that he’d tell the coach that. Nate was not good for his mellow. Nate usually called to bust his chops, that was the man’s idea of a motivational speech. He hit the speaker button and leaned forward his elbows on his knees, mimicking his coaches famous pose.

    “Hey Nate.”

    “You made it to Vegas?”

    “Of course. I do know how to get on and off a plane buddy.”

    “Just checking.”

    “It’s nice that you care. You’re like my work mom.”

    “Better than being your work wife. Okay ,so I know this is for charity and all that but this is a good chance for you to shine. You can win this thing.”

    “Not everything is about winning Nate.”

    “When you’re on the court it is.” Nate corrected him. “It would be good for you to have a win, set you up for the next solo gig if you insist you don’t want me to find you a temporary doubles partner while Golden Boy is out of the picture.”

    “I play doubles as The Benji’s or not at all. I’ll just play singles and I’ll play mixed doubles with Savannah.”

    Nate groaned at the woman’s name. There was a story there but neither he or Savannah were telling so Andrew didn’t ask.

    “If you say so. Well, all the more reason to nail your singles game.”

    “Nate, I’ll do my best but this tournament is about more than tennis.”

    “Yeah well just because you’re in Vegas doesn’t mean it should be all about chasing tail and drinking like a lunatic.”

    “Chasing tail? Nate who even says that?” He heard Nate growl down the phone. “Message received mommy, I’ll be  a good boy. Having said that I need to shower and get to the event mixer and get my photo taken with the fans. So we’ll talk later.”

    “Excellent.” And the phone went silent.

    The lights were coming on down on the strip. Time to get moving and if he was lucky go and find Tiffany.

     

    An hour later he took his walk along the celebrity red carpet outside the club. He smiled for the cameras, as requested. The tournament had a celebrity stream as well as the traditional tennis players and for doubles he would be teamed up with one of the celebrities. It was supposed to be random but he had a feeling it was less random than most people thought, because he’d been teamed the last couple of years with people who could actually play. That made it a much better experience. Ahead of him in the carpet was Kevin Blanchard an 80’s sitcom star he’d played with two years ago and with whom he’d won. The man was perpetually tanned and seemingly ageless.

    Kevin pulled him in for a back-slapping man-hug and they posed for the camera.

    “I hope we’re together again buddy.” He said.

    “Me too.”

    “Last year that Russian player was no fun at all. I want to win but I also want to smile.”

    “I hear you.” The cameras clicked as they struck a pose. “How about we go find ourselves some drinks and get started with the feel good vibe?.”

    Walking in he thought he spotted Tiffany talking to the Russian in question but it could have been someone else. He hoped so, Alexi was a hideous flirt and even though he had n say in the matter he didn’t want the man any where near Tiffany.

     

     

     

  • Blog

    Weekly blog challenge – another double header – a skill I wish I had and weirdest thing fiction has taught me

    Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

    Time for the Wednesday Weekly Blog Challenge and yes I did miss last week and again I’m sorry. We were on a roadtrip down through NSW and Victoria and while I wish I was organised enough to pre-write these blogs so far that hasn’t been the case…maybe next week.

    So the first one is a skill I wish I had but don’t…this will be short and sweet. I can’t sing. People beg me not to sing around them. I can lipsync like nobodies business but my singing sucketh so I choose that. I’d take being mediocre at this point – I don’t need a chair to spin for me on The Voice but people not running from the room would be much appreciated.

    The second topic is The Strangest Thing I’ve learned from fiction. This’ll be short and sweet too becasue I no longer even know what I learned from fiction and what I learned from non-fiction, or school or TV or my parents (well most of the Catholic knowledge in my head is definitely school and my parents but beyond that it’s all a wild card).

    I was an early reader. I was reading before I started school (my mum was an infants school teacher) and I was a voracius reader as well – nothing new there either. I read widely and I read often.

    So do I know about the Civil War from Little Women or did I already know and then read the book? Did I learn about Australian wildlife before or after I read Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie? I really don’t know.

    There are a lot of extraneous facts in my head but pinpointing where they all come from is hard. And what’s the weirdest in the mix, that’s even harder to answer.

    What I do know is that reading opened up world to me I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to – knights and castles, adventures on the high seas, life in New York in a turn of the centure tenament or life in a quanit post-war English village. Some of those things may not have been weird but they were weird to me in suburban Sydney in the 1970’s.

    Book old clouds
    Books unleash the imagination

     

     

     

  • Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge
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    Weekly Blog Challenge – Characters who remind me of myself

    Given the topic of this week’s blog challenge I guess I should say  The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland because yet again, “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date.” Except I’m actually very punctual in real life so that doesn’t work.

    I’d say in this case maybe I should channel a charcter who isn’t a quitter instead.

    This is actually a tricky topic for me. I love so many characters in books but I don’t necessarily think they remind me of me. I mean I used to want to be like Jo March from Little Women becasue she was a writer but she also was a fish out of water and kind of a non-conformist which I am too. She didn’t marry the man everyone expected her too in the end and neither did I and we’re both fiecely loyal but I don’t know if she reminds me of me.

    I rather fancy myself as a bit of a Pippi Longstocking. She had a crazy imagination, red hair and freckles and again was a non-conformist.

    Here’s one of my favourite quotes from her story:

    The children came to a perfume shop. In the show window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign, which read: DO YOU SUFFER FROM FRECKLES?

    ‘What does the sign say?’ asked Pippi. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.

    It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?’ said Annika.

    ‘Does it indeed?’ said Pippi thoughtfully. ‘Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.’

    She opened the door an”d entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. ‘No!’ she said decidedly.

    ‘What is it you want?’ asked the lady.

    ‘No,’ said Pippi once more.

    ‘I don’t understand what you mean,’ said the lady.

    ‘No, I don’t suffer from freckles,’ said Pippi.

    Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, ‘But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!’

    ‘I know that,’ said Pippi, ‘but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.’

    She turned to leave, but when she got to the door she looked back and cried, ‘But if you should happen to get in any salve that gives people more freckles, then you can send me seven or eight jars.’

    Unlike Pippi, I would have probably been hurt and angry rather than defiant in that situation but I love that energy. I loved all of Astrid Lingred’s books as a child but Pippi most of all.

    When my bookclub and I read the Time Travellers Wife, which I loved but remains one of our biggest room-dividers after 13 years, I complained about Claire being a bit of a doormat. My friends all informed me that I was Claire. My husband ‘s job met he dropped in and out of our home-life on a whim and I had little to no control of that which sent the rest of our lives in a constant spin. I wasn’t flattered and it definitely didn’t make me very Pippi-like.

    Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    Mr Right and Other Mongrelas

    In my own books many people have told me that when reading my first book Mr Right and Other Mongrels it was like talking to me, I like to think that was meant to be a compliment but who knows. Allegra the main character did share my dog phobia so there’s that.

    This was a hard one. Pop over to Long and Short Reviews to see what everyone else wrote this week.

    (Please note this blog contains affiliate links).

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • March Freebie Frenzy Graphic
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    March Madness for Me

    Welcome to March – is yours as crazy as mine is? I’m having my own mini version of March Madness it would seem.

    I haven’t done a life update here in a while, so why not now?

    So I’ve resigned from my day job to go back to consulting. I’ll still be working with that NGO and I already have my first client, so really that’s two clients. That’s the good news.

    The bad news is I don’t finish until April and my new client has a big project in March so I’m working two jobs.

    Mr Monique and I already have an #emptyesky trip planned mid-March. Basically I’m doing an ARRA (Australian Romance Readers) book signing in Sydney on Sunday and then on Monday night we’re hitting the road to Melbourne where I’m doing a second signing the following Saturday.

    We were flying but after the Australian bushfires a campaign with the hashtag #emptyesky has happened encouraging people to visit the areas ravaged by the bushfires so that’s what we’re doing. We’re really looking forward to it and it happens to co-incides with our wedding anniversary so that’s fun. I’ll be posting on social media so keep an eye out.

    Meanwhile I have a book releasing on March 6. No Time for Trouble, my next contribution to the No Brides Club Series. I’ve popped the blurb below and the goregous graphic my fellow Cinnamon Bay author, Connie made for me. I’m graphically challenged. I know what I like, but I often make graphics that are just plain ugly. It’s nice to have friends who are awesome!

    So that’s a whole lot already. Oh yes and Something of a Spark is free right now so you might want to grab yourself a copy because you can’t get a better deal than that. I really love that series and I hop you do to. I didn’t do the best job of promoting it honestly so I hope more readers find there way to it because it’s a really sweet series about a bunch of very different sisters who each find their way to love. Something of a Spark is part of the March Freebie Giveaway, check out the others books in the giveaway as well and be sure to enter.

    I know there’s more happening – oh yes I’m finishing a novella for an amazing boxset I’m in mid-way through the year. That story is a prequel to a new trilogy I’m launching in late 2020. And finally the Cinnamon Bay romance series is getting a whole new set of books later this year so there’s lots going on behind the scenes there too.

    Like I said, March Madness.

     

    No Time For Trouble, Blurb

    When six friends make a pact not to let love get in the way of their careers, the No Brides Club is born. But could meeting the right man at the wrong time cause them to break their vows to each other?
    One bad date too many leads Marnie to the No Brides Club but a fake engagement to a New Your playboy might just lead her to love.

    When Marnie Bates’ sister announces her engagement and she’s summoned back to Lemon Tree, Tennessee for the engagement party she accidentally implies she has a fiancé. Unfortunately, the first name out of her mouth is Mal Cooper’s, he’s a friend and a player and she’s already turned him down. Still she’d rather swallow her pride and ask Mal for help than go home embarrassed and alone. She just has to keep reminding both of them, this isn’t real.

    Mal can’t believe his luck when Marnie asks him to be her fake fiancé for a visit to her hometown. He’s been looking for a way to get closer to her and this is opportunity to prove he can be the best boyfriend ever. Let the wooing begin! From daily surprises at the office visits to chihuahua cuddling at the dog shelter Mal is ready and that’s before he even gets to Lemon Tree.

    Can their time together prove to Marnie that they both want the same things and that Mal might be just the guy to give her everything she ever dreamed of, and so much more.

    No Brides Club graphic

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    Check out the March Freebie Frenzy & Giveaway 03/02 – 03/06! Our Romance Authors are offering so many FREE books… Most of them are ONLY FREE for a limited time. It’s just our way of thanking our loyal readers. Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card just for subscribing to our newsletters or following us on social media. Here’s the link to the March Freebie Frenzy & Giveaway Page: https://lovekissedbookbargains.com/2020/02/28/march-freebie-frenzy-giveaway-3/

    March Freebie Frenzy Graphic
    March Freebie Frenzy
  • Blog

    Weekly Blog Challenge – My Favourite Memory and why

    I’d like to call “not fair” on this topic. In a life well-lived we all have so many wonderful moments to remember and it’s almost impossible to pick one. So many moments of friendship, of lost loves and departed relatives to sift through.

    I’m very lucky to have lots of friends that have been in my life for decades. Sometimes when we get together we talk about incidents that still have us laughing until we cry. What about the years of Christmas parties when my house was overflowing with kids and adults, where people came for my ham and the paella, for the icecream sunday bar, the waterfights and the outdoor movies?

    What about the moment I got married? Or met my husband? When we bought the block of land for our house, buidling it together, moving in? What about all the travel we’ve done or the candlelit dinners.

    What about the Christmases? Or the day we surprised our daughter with a puppy? Or riding Central Park in a horse drawn carriage with my parents after seeing the Rockettes at radio City Music Hall? Or the first time I went to Disneyland?

    Yet I have to choose one. So that’s what I’ll do.

    To say the journey to having my daughter was fraught would be an understatement. She remains to this day my greatest achievement and my greatest joy. I never wanted anything more than to be a mother and I was told that it was essentially impossible. Somehow I got my miracle. I had the worst pregnancy (my green bucket and I went everywhere together and I was hospitalised I was so sick). I always wanted a girl but I told myself and everyone I was sure it was a boy. I convinced everyone so no one, especially me would be disappointed if that happened. (truthfully I’m sure I wouldn’t ahve been but this was a one-shot deal.)

    baby feet
    baby feet

    I won’t say giving birth was a great memory but later that night after my family left and my husband had given our baby her very first bath we were sitting in the hospital room. It was dark and the ward was quiet because it was after midnight.

    I was holding her and I looked at him and said. “Can you believe we have a baby?”

    He looked back at me and smiled. (He was already smiling. We smiled non stop for months even through tears and sleepless nights ( I always say I had post-natal euphoria I was on such a high)).

    Anyway, he said. “Yeah, I can believe we have a baby, but I can’t believe we actually got a girl.”

    Somedays you get everything you want. Not every day and not often but some days are perfect.

    To read all the other responses go here.

     

  • Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge
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    Wednesday Weekly Blog Challenge – What kind of exercise do I enjoy?

    This week’s challenge topic is exercise that I enjoy – based on my performance in the challenge so far you’d think it was running…as in running late. (Drum roll for the dad joke please). That would be incorrect. I am generally disgustingly punctual and I hate to run.

    I in fact do not enjoy the exercise at all. Yes, that’s correct an woman who spends her entire life at a keyboard  or trying to find time to read doesn’t like to use that time sweating – that’s quite the shocking revelation isn’t it?

    There are however two exceptions.

    If you follow me on social media you’ll see that I’m very lucky to live in Sydney’s gorgeous Nrothern Beaches area and just as the name suggests there are lots of gorgeous beaches to wander along. So I do spend a lot of time walking along the beach. I don’t know if it counts as exercise if you’re holding a cup of coffee and chatting with a friend but it gets those elusive ten thousand steps in that we all aspire towards.

    The second exception is tennis. I wanted to play tennis from the time I could walk. Who knows why? I liked the pom pom socks and the frilly tennis knickers I know that but I think it just looked like a good social game as well. my mum always worked but when I was sick i’d stay with her friends who were stay at home mum’s and I often ended up at tennis where the women laughed and had a game and then ate moning tea. There was something about that combination that appealed to me immensely.

    The world has changed because when I was seven my mum had to beg the tennis intructors to give me lessons because I was too short to see over the net. (Fast forward to the 21st century and it’s almost too late to start if you want to be a champion at 7). From then on until I went away to college I played tennis every weekend, had a lesson every week and went to tennis camp in the school holidays.

    After uni I played mixed doubles for a couple of years and even met my husband on a tennis court…(that is a whole other blog post). After I had my daughter I played weekly tennis with a group of friends I still call “the tennis gals” even though we haven’t played for six years.

    What I have done however, is channel that love of tennis into writing and started my Courtside Romance series which features Australian tennis players on the international tennis circuit.

    That’s about it for me an exercise…don’t forget to hop  over to Long and Short Reviews  and see what the other more active participants are doing  with their free time to keep fit and fabulous!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge
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    The 3 in 1 Weekly Blog Challenge (or already playing catch up)

    Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

    I’m aready behind on the Wednesday Weekly Blog Challenge and there’s no way I can pretend it is Wednesday anywhere on the planet so I thought I’d get creative and do a 3 in 1 post to catch me up.

    I missed best book/ movie/tv couples, my celebrity crush and books I want to reread or have already.

    Let’s go in ascending order because that’s starting with the easy stuff.

    I’ve reread a lot of books. I used to do this much more when I was relying on paperbacks which are around $20 a pop here in Australia and one can’t always go get a new $20 book (and don’t even talk to me about libraries because library fines and I are well-acquainted).

    Now I can’t even remember what I’ve reread but certainly  as a kid the What Katy Did series, Little Women,  all the Beatrix Potter, Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie, the Naughtiest Girl in School series by Enid Blyton, War Games (the book based on the movie starring Matthew Broderick – this nicely segues into celebrity crushes and he was one of my first).

    I’m not really much of a celebrity crush swooner. I’m not sure why that is exactly. I’m pretty much more about character and personality in my book heroes and my movie heroes so while I like the handsome it isn’t my main thing.

    Still to answer the question properly I really like Jason Baldoni from Jane the Virgin – mainly for the way he looks at Jane like she hung the moon. (I’m two seasons behind so don’t spoil it for me). I’m not going to lie Chris Hemsworth is a cutie. All the Chris’s are right?

    Now for TV couples. Did you ever watch Psych? My daughter and I watched every epiosde together – for a while it was our thing.  It was like a cozy mystery with comedy. My answer is the unconventional answer of Shawn and Gus, sure they were buddies but the banter between them was amazing. They were like an old married couple. I also loved Shawn and Jules in that series. Another couple I loved were Lily and Marshall in How I Met Your Mother. I loved that he was the sweet senstive one and she was tough as nails. I also liked that they broke up and got over it without bitterness, you don’t get that a lot on TV.

    How did my express 3 in 1 blog go? I’ll try and do better moving forward. Just like characters in books I’m imperfect. I have to hope my flaws are endearing rather than the kind that make you shut the book never to return.