There’s less than a month to go until What Happens in London is published!
I’m so excited to share it with you!
Since I’m so excited, I shared the opening chapter with members of my fiction mailing list (you won’t have gotten it if you signed up for the free fiction-writing checklist, but you will have if you signed up for Liam’s short story) at the weekend.
If you missed out, never fear!
You can read the opening chapter of What Happens in London below!
Don’t forget What Happens in London is available for preorder on Amazon RIGHT NOW!
If you haven’t read What Happens in New York yet, it’s just 99p or 99c on Kindle, so there’s no excuse 😉
So, without further ado, here it is: the opening chapter of What Happens in London!
Don’t forget to preorder your copy before 9 May!
‘What the fuck is this?’ snarled Patrick, slamming a glossy mag on to the kitchen island.
‘Didn’t peg you for a reader of gossip mags,’ said Fayth. She turned off the tap and began to wash up. The pub was busy and they were running short on crockery; she didn’t have time for Patrick’s theatrics.
‘It’s my sister’s,’ he said, a little too quickly.
Of course it was. His ex-wife being in it had nothing to do with it. She’d been waiting for him to confront her about it since she and Hollie had returned from New York three weeks earlier. Several punters had already popped in to show Fayth her face all over the front cover and in a double-page spread. Holding hands and ice skating with film star Liam York. Walking around Central Park with film star Liam York. Being film star Liam York’s ‘new girlfriend’.
The Cock and Bull had received a sudden surge in popularity thanks to Fayth’s new rank as a Z-Lister. She hid in the kitchen as much as she could. Most punters respected the rule that only staff were allowed in the kitchen. Her ex-husband did not.
‘Aren’t you even going to look at it?’ he asked as she continued to wash up.
Whatever she did, she wouldn’t get rid of him, so she reluctantly dried her hands, picked up the magazine, and flicked to the front cover. Liam’s floppy hair and espresso-coloured eyes stared back at her from one half of a broken heart. Trinity was on the other side, Fayth Photoshopped between them. They’d given her demon eyes, just because. LIAM YORK’S SHOCKING TWO-TIMING! read the headline. Ugh. How much longer would they insist she was responsible for Liam and Trinity’s break up?
She skimmed the rest of the cover. Exclusive details of Trinity’s ‘heartbreak’ from an ‘insider’ (that they’d made up – you needed to have a heart to be heartbroken); an interview with Camilla Persia; something to do with the boyband HATT. And a date. ‘It’s two weeks out of date.’
‘That’s not the point!’ he snapped, snatching the magazine from her and flicking back to the double-page spread. ‘Look!’ He pointed to a shot of her and Liam holding hands.
Fayth yawned. She still hadn’t caught up on the sleep she’d missed out on in New York. Her body ached from all the extra hours she’d had to do thanks to the pub’s newfound popularity. She rubbed her forehead. He was giving her a migraine. ‘I was teaching him how to skate. I held your hand when I taught you how to skate, too.’
‘Why should I believe you?’
Fayth clutched the bridge of her nose. ‘I don’t care if you do or not, but I never lied to you when we were together, and I have no reason to now.’
She grabbed some carrots from the fridge and began to peel and chop them. He wasn’t going to take the hint, so she may as well get on with things. There was nobody else to pick up the slack if she fell behind – her dad was on the bar, her younger sister Brooke was at college, and it was Ross’s day off. Conversations with Patrick only ever ended up going around in circles anyway.
‘I get it. You wanted to get even after what happened in Magaluf. Well, you did.’
Fayth snorted. Getting even after he’d cheated on her had never occurred to her. She just wanted to get divorced. He still hadn’t grasped that.
The knife slammed on to the chopping board as she hacked at a stubborn carrot.
Patrick tried to shove his face into her line of vision. She continued to attack the carrot. He refused to go away.
She looked up, her face expressionless.
‘Does our relationship mean nothing to you?’
She sighed. ‘We don’t have a relationship anymore.’ She resumed chopping the carrots.
‘You don’t mean that. You’re not supposed to make rash decisions after losing family members. You lost two. That means you shouldn’t make rash decisions for twice as long.’
Fayth ground her teeth. Would he ever take the hint? ‘That’s not how it works.’ Chop. ‘And it wasn’t a rash decision.’ Chop. ‘I’d wanted to do it for months.’ Chop chop. ‘Losing Mum and Mhairi made me realise life’s too short to waste it doing things you don’t want to do.’ Chop chop chop.
He fell silent for a few glorious moments. Then he said, ‘What happened to you?’
She stopped chopping the carrots and looked up at him. He looked like a sad, needy child who’d finally realised that his mum didn’t want him anymore. Guilt tugged at her heart. She’d once loved him. She’d once envisioned a future with him, happily married with kids and dogs and a picket fence. And then it’d all been torn away from her when her mum and sister were killed in a car accident, then Patrick had cheated on her less than a month later. What she wanted from life had changed. Who she wanted to be in life had changed.
She wiped her hands on her apron. ‘I grew up.’
‘No, it’s not that. You seem…different. What happened to the woman I married?’
‘She wasn’t a woman: she was a naive little girl that thought she could get a fairytale from the first guy that came along. She was wrong. Relationships are about so much more than that.’
‘Yeah,’ she agreed, ‘I have. And I hope that one day you realise it’s for the better.’
He gave her one last look of longing then left, leaving his glossy magazine behind.
She waited until she heard his dirt bike spit and sputter past the window, then picked up the magazine and studied it further. They’d picked the most unflattering photographs they could find. There wasn’t a single photo taken at a good angle. The content of the article was fairly tame compared to what had been said about her online though. They probably couldn’t get away with such slander when they had advertisers to please. She’d almost gotten to the point where she found all the trolling funny instead of hurtful. Almost.
She took a photo of the magazine and sent it to Liam with the caption, Look what the ex dropped off. It took a few attempts to send – the phone signal was having another of its off days – but when it finally did, it wasn’t long until she had a reply: Tell him to get a better hobby. She laughed. When she and Hollie had left New York, she’d expected that to be the end of their Hollywood adventure. She was under no illusion that Hollywood was a welcoming place, or that most of its inhabitants were genuine. But Liam was different. He texted again before she had chance to reply. It was a photo of a mound of brown sludge on a plate. Mushed chocolate cake?
Wtf is that?
Oh my god. Is that
supposed to be an
Did you set the
fire alarm off?
No. But I did have
the windows open.
Good. Maybe next
Maybe next time
I’ll just get my
cook to make it for
me. It is what I
pay her for…
You’ll get there with
Offering cooking advice to Liam York. If her mum and sister could see her now.
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Against her will, Fayth worked the bar that evening. It was technically her turn. She’d also lost Rock, Paper, Scissors to her dad, meaning he was tucked away in the safety of the kitchen while Fayth was left to deal with people. She didn’t mind it sometimes. When she wasn’t featured in gossip magazines or hounded by people who were more interested in what Liam was like than being served. The trouble with villages was that there were no secrets. Everyone knew everyone, and everyone knew everything.
She was pulling a pint when one of the regulars, Monica, hopped on to the barstool in front of her. ‘Long time no speak,’ she said, flicking her shiny red hair. Fayth couldn’t remember the last time her own hair had looked so healthy. How did Monica manage it when she worked twelve hour days as a solicitor? She was also Fayth’s divorce solicitor, but she hadn’t had much chance to do anything given that Patrick wouldn’t sign the papers and they were still waiting on a court date.
‘How’s life as a high-powered solicitor?’ asked Fayth. She finished pulling the pint, handed it to the punter, and took his money.
‘Wouldn’t call it high-powered. I did have some pretty shocking news this afternoon though.’ She fidgeted in her seat. ‘You got a sec to talk in private?’
Fayth glanced around the pub. Nobody was at the bar, and those sat at tables were preoccupied with themselves. ‘Sure.’ She and Monica went into the kitchen where her dad was crouched over the oven, putting some chips in. All the bending and lifting at the pub was starting to give him back problems, but he still worked harder than anyone else, despite being close to retirement age. Even though he had two grown-up children, he insisted on doing most of the hard work himself. That, along with losing his wife and daughter, had taken its toll. His once dark hair had faded to salt and pepper, his once chubby cheeks were gaunt. Fayth had tried to talk to him about it many times, but he wasn’t interested in looking after himself, only his daughters and the pub. He closed the oven door and turned to them. ‘Monica, how’s it going?’
‘Good, good,’ said Monica, standing just beside the door. ‘You?’
‘Can’t complain,’ he said, massaging his lower back. Even if he was in pain, he wouldn’t complain. He wouldn’t even take painkillers.
‘Dad, could you give us a minute please?’ said Fayth, gesturing to Monica.
He looked between his daughter and her solicitor. ‘I’ll go keep an eye on the bar,’ he said, patting Fayth’s shoulder as he went past. The door swung a few times after he’d gone through. Fayth waited until it had stopped, then leaned against the island. ‘So.’
Monica paused. If it was for dramatic effect, Fayth didn’t appreciate it. ‘Patrick’s solicitor got in touch just before I left. He wants to move forwards with the divorce. No court date necessary. It’s going to be an easy and amicable—’
Fayth raised an eyebrow.
‘—Ish – divorce.’
Fayth’s legs turned to jelly. She clung on to the island for support.
Had it really only taken a stupid article in a gossip magazine to make Patrick change his mind?
‘Sorry. Should’ve mentioned you’d need to sit down,’ said Monica.
Fayth stared at her friend and solicitor. She grinned. It was a genuine I’m-not-shitting-you smile. Patrick really was ready to move forwards with the divorce. After all the fuss he’d kicked up for the past six months, he was finally, finally ready to let her go.
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