An interview with @rathoreheena, author of the #pyschologicalthriller Deceived


Title: Deceived

Author: Heena Rathore Pardeshi

Genre: Psychological Thriller

~ Synopsis ~

How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.

A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.

A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.

And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, unwittingly to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.

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~ Interview with the Author ~

Deceived is your first novel. What inspired you to write it?

I guess the need to share this story with everyone is what really inspired me to write this book. I’m a huge thriller and slasher fan and I always craved a story that would give me a glimpse into the mind of the killer as I’m quite fascinated with them. I do love books that do this very thing, but most of them lack that brutality and the coldness, so I wanted to write something that was a mixture of all the elements I love in thriller books and even movies.

What inspired you to write a psychological thriller? Do you have a background in psychology?

I write psychological thrillers because I find the subject of human psychology very interesting and inspiring. I am drawn towards the various mental illnesses we humans go through without even realizing their leering presence in our day-to-day life. I haven’t studied psychology in a sense that I don’t have certificates for it, but I do a lot of research and have innumerous notes and files on the subject.

Describe Deceived in 140 characters (also known as a tweet).

Dark, terrifying, gripping and overwhelming … everything you wouldn’t want to read, buy something that you simply can’t resist.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

Names are very important to me; each and every name of each and every charcter in my stories has a special mening to it. I do spend a lot of time deciding the names of all the characters. Sometimes they come instinctively, but sometimes it takes me weeks or even months to figure out the right one.

What’s the most interesting thing that happened to you while researching and/or writing Deceived?

I came across a lot of interesting documentries on serial killers and got to know more about their behavorial patterns and their way of thinking.

What’s your favorite part about the writing process?

The feeling I get after completing each and every draft for the book. That makes all the stessfull day’s efforts and sleepless nights worth it.

Tell us about your next release. And when can we expect it?

My next book is named Sinister Town. It is a horror thriller and is going to terrify the audiences.

Citrus Publishers is planning to release Sinister Town sometime late next year.

~ About the Author ~

Author Profile Picture

Heena Rathore Pardeshi is a novelist, novel critic, as well as a book reviewer. She is also the Editor In Chief at a publishing house and an acclaimed YouTube Podcaster. An award-winning writer, she has won several NaNoWriMos and JuNoWriMos since 2014.

A fan of crime-thrillers, apocalyptic fiction and slasher movies and series, she draws inspiration from the works of legendary writers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Sidney Sheldon. She’s also a fan of Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan.

An introvert and freethinker, Heena prefers neatness to chaos – in her fictional themes as well as in her real life. She has a special place for German Shepherds and books in her heart.

Heena also manages her own book club, RMFAO on

Heena is twenty-six years old and lives in Pune, India with her beloved husband, Vishal – a successful entrepreneur, in a house full of books, music, and love. Heena passionately creates vivid fictional worlds; some to read and cherish, and some to live in.

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Read an excerpt of A Bride, a Groom, and Happily Never After a new #cozymystery from @klongauthor


Title: A Bride, A Groom, and Happily Never After

Author: Kathryn Long


Published: APRIL 18, 2017

~ Synopsis ~

It’s wedding bell blues and disaster when murder comes to the Paulmona Winery and Villa. Mystery author and part time snoop, Lilly Millenovanovich is the unlucky bride-to-be, but she gladly exchanges her wedding dress for gumshoes and brushes off her bag of spy tricks to solve the crime. After all, family obligation takes priority. Lilly and her zany trio of elderly aunties, must do their part to prove Cousin Mona didn’t kill groomsman Lenny Brioli with a corkscrew wine opener. Trouble is, the evidence keeps pointing in one direction with Mona as murder suspect number one. Detective Grezzo has his sleuthing hands full while handling the case on his own. Jake Kline, Lilly’s fiancé, obviously can’t work the case since Lenny is his best friend. That is, until Lilly convinces him to join her and snoop on the sly. Mona’s life and happiness depends on it. Will it be happily never after for the unlucky couple? Or can Lilly save the date and her wedding dress for another day? It’s a murderous and crazy adventure in this fourth and final episode of the Lilly M Mysteries.

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~ Excerpt ~

In seconds, I twirled around, forced by a strong pull on my arm. “Hey,” I exclaimed with a scowl, but turned it into a smile when Jake’s face came into my view.

“I thought we reserved a dance. They’re playing our song, if I’m not mistaken.” He grinned and held out his arms. “Shall we?”

I tugged his arm to wrap around my waist and stepped closer. Romance trumps food any day in my book. “Hi, handsome. You know, I’ve got to say it. I think you complete me.”

“I believe that line is taken. Tom Cruise, wasn’t it?” He twirled me around.

I nodded. “Though, Rene Zellweger’s words are quoted just as often.”

“Ah, that moment when she says ‘you had me at hello’. Yeah, that’s a good one.” He twirled me again. My head felt fuzzy.

“Maybe we should stop.” When he frowned, I quickly added, “I haven’t eaten since last night. You know how I get.”

In an instant he swept me up in his arms and carried me across the room. Everyone stared. I blushed tomato red and whispered. “I didn’t say I couldn’t walk.”

“Yep. I know this isn’t a threshold to a honeymoon suite, but I figure it’s the best I can do. At least, until we have the real thing.” He hugged me tighter.

“There’s still a real thing?” I searched his eyes, wanting to read every private thought.

“Absolutely. To quote you and Tom Cruise, you complete me.” We reached the table and he slowly lowered me until my feet touched the floor.

“I’ll hold you to it.” I picked up two plates. “Chicken?”

~ About the Author ~


Kathryn Long’s passion is writing mysteries, creating the intricate details and weaving them together into the clues which the reader will enjoy collecting to solve the crime. Many of her works include Native American elements and hints of the paranormal. She loves a scary ghost story!

Her writing inspiration began with reading about Nancy Drew and the heroines of romantic suspense authors such as Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. Her first creations were short stories meant to entertain anyone who’d listen or read. Playing the guitar led to song lyrics, which she insists taught her the rhythm and pace of writing prose.

Writing took a serious turn several years ago when she had her first book published. To date readers can find her self-published cozy Lilly M Mysteries, and her traditionally published work: paranormal mystery, Dying to Dream, and latest, a romantic suspense, A Deadly Deed Grows at online retailers and in bookstores.

When writing and the creative muse take a break, this author loves to travel, watch Castle, and of course, read mysteries. Oh, and there’s always an author event or two she will attend in order to – you got it – talk about mystery. Kathryn lives in the City of Green located in northeast Ohio with her husband and little pooch, Max.

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Book Blast ~ A Crime of Passion Fruit #cozymystery by @BakeshopMystery #giveaway


A Crime of Passion Fruit (A Bakeshop Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

6th in Series St. Martin’s Paperbacks (June 27, 2017)

Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1250088079


~ Synopsis ~

Torte―everybody’s favorite small-town family bakeshop―is headed for the high seas, where murder is about to make a splash. . .

Jules Capshaw is trying to keep her cool as Torte gets set to make its transformation from quaint, local confectionary café to royal pastry palace. Meanwhile, Jules’s estranged husband Carlos is making a desperate plea for her to come aboard his cruise ship and dazzle everyone with her signature sweets. She may be skeptical about returning to her former nautical life with Carlos but Jules can’t resist an all-expense-paid trip, either. If only she knew that a dead body would find its way onto the itinerary . . .

Now, instead of enjoying tropical drinks on deck between whipping up batches of sea-salted chocolates and flambéing fresh pineapple slices in the kitchen, Jules is plunged into dangerous waters. Her investigation leaves her with more questions than answers: Why can’t anyone on board identify the young woman? And how can she help Carlos keep passengers at ease with a killer in their midst? Jules feels like she’s ready to jump ship. Can she solve this case without getting in too deep?

What other readers are saying

“A warm and inviting atmosphere, friendly and likable main characters, and a nasty murder mystery to solve!” ―Fresh Fiction

“A perfect mix for fans of Jenn McKinlay, Leslie Budewitz, or Jessica Beck.” ―Library Journal

Grab a copy!

Amazon  B&N IndieBound

~ About the Author ~

author pic

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

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June 22

Books, Dreams, Life

Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Queen of All She Reads

Brooke Blogs

Christa Reads and Writes

Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder

Lisa Ks Book Reviews


Classy Cheapskate

Melina’s Book Blog

Socrates’ Book Reviews

A Holland Reads

That’s What She’s Reading

Carole’s Book Corner

Back Porchervations

Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

The Power of Words

June 23

A Blue Million Books

Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Texas Book-aholic

Read Your Writes Book Reviews

Girl with Book Lungs

Book Babble

The Book’s the Thing

Bookworm Cafe

Bibliophile Reviews

Celticlady’s Reviews

Cozy Up With Kathy

Laura’s Interests

Moonlight Rendezvous

Jane Reads

Island Confidential

StoreyBook Reviews

A Cozy Experience

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Read an excerpt of Avenging Kiss #suspense from @KTjebbenAuthor #giveaway


Title: Avenging Kiss

Author: Karen Tjebben

Genre: Psychological Romantic/Suspense

Published: December 2016

~ Synopsis ~

Some sins cannot be forgiven. Those must be avenged.

When Aditya Chopra stumbled upon the decimated camp, she vowed to hunt down the men who killed her sister. The stench of burnt flesh and the taste of death in the air haunt her dreams and power her lust for vengeance. She will show no mercy.

The men of Savage Security served their country. They’d done their time in the sandbox and now enjoy their peaceful lives in the States, far from the death and mayhem of war. Will living in peace blind them to the dangerous threat that’s poised to strike?

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~ Excerpt ~

Aditya had waited outside the American base, hoping to catch sight of him. His look was very distinct. At six foot four with hair the color of a raging fire, he’d been easy to spot. He’d pulled out of the base with another man in a jeep. The hot wind pulled at his scraggly red hair as he’d laughed at something the other man said.

She’d known where they were going. There was a hotel nearby that catered to Europeans and Americans. It boasted a full bar with live music, decent food, and willing women.

After donning her black garments and niqab, she’d made her way into the hotel. Other than the cameras that covered the entrances and exits, security at the hotel was poor. One only had to get inside to enjoy privacy.

Aditya had entered the hotel a few feet behind the men. As they’d headed towards the bar, she’d walked directly to the bathroom off the lobby. Entering the stall, she’d quickly removed her outer clothes and shoved them into her bag. Then she’d stopped in front of the bathroom mirror to check her appearance. After adjusting her skirt, she’d decided to open another button on her shirt. While he’d get a peek at her cleavage, she’d still look like a respectable woman. Playing a whore gathered too much attention. She’d added a touch of lipstick and powdered her face. And finally, she’d adjusted the Kanzashi Geisha sticks in her hair to make sure it would be easily accessible. Hidden inside the stick was a sharp two-sided blade. It was thin and slid easily from the decorative case. And after one more look in the mirror, she was ready.

She’d walked into the bar with the confidence of a Western woman and noticed Lieutenant Shaw sitting alone at the bar. His friend was dancing with a woman, his hand palming her ass and pulling her close to his body. Aditya didn’t waste time. She needed to get to Shaw before he found someone to screw.

She’d slipped onto the bar stool next to him and offered him a shy smile. He’d grinned as he raked his gaze over her. His high-wattage smile had nearly knocked her over. The heat in his gaze as he’d mentally undressed her pleased her. She returned his smile and stared at his muscular arms as she bit into her bottom lip. With that one interaction, she knew that he wanted her. He’d come to the hotel in search of sex, and she didn’t plan to disappoint.

He’d been such an easy target. Arrogant men never realized the threat a woman could pose to them, and she’d tirelessly worked that advantage. They’d quickly exchanged names and engaged in meaningless chatter. But once she’d stroked his knee, he’d taken the bait and asked her to join him in a room.

She’d played coy at first, acting as if she’d needed to think about it. But then he’d leaned in close and whispered in her ear promises of pleasure. And then, as he’d pulled away, he playfully tugged on her earlobe with his teeth. She’d responded by stroking higher on his thigh. That worked for him, and he stood to go back to a room. His pants had tented nicely; apparently it didn’t take much to turn him on.

She’d followed him to a room. He’d unlocked the door and waited for her to enter first. As she’d stood in the entrance, he’d closed the door and turned the bolt. After a dangerous smile, he’d lifted her and pressed her against the wall with his muscular body. She’d instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck. In response, he’d rubbed his cock against her center. The pressure of his body against her had lit her up. He knew how to kiss, and Aditya realized that fucking him would be fun. So many of the other men she’d entertained cared little about her pleasure. She hadn’t expected much from those lowlifes anyway. But little had they known that there was nothing more erotic than the warmth of your prey’s blood washing over your skin as you take their life.

~ About the Author ~


Karen Tjebben lives in central North Carolina with her wonderful husband, twin daughters, and two hamsters. When her girls left for kindergarten, Karen discovered that she needed to fill her days with something, and that was the beginning of her writing career. She loves to create worlds filled with unique characters that she hopes will delight and raise goose bumps on her readers. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and seeing the world through her daughters’ eyes.

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~ Giveaway ~

$5 Amazon Gift Card

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Promo Blitz! Patriot’s Passing, a Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Mystery #cozymystery from @SummerPrescott1 #giveaway

patriot passing cover

Title: Patriot’s Passing

Author: Summer Prescott

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Date Published:  October 2016


The indomitable widow of a Marine sniper is faced with the reality of starting a new life with her teenage son, after hearing the awful news that her loving and brave husband was killed in the line of duty. Drawn back to her childhood home, Rossalyn Channing meets up with old friends and begins her healing process, safe in the loving company of her parents.

Irresistibly drawn to a mysterious little building in a small town, Rossie impulsively buys it and makes big plans for an eatery that her late husband would have loved. Things are not always as they seem in quaint small towns, however, and she begins to wonder if the challenges that she faces are insurmountable. The determination of the fearless military wife is strong, but will she prevail as a stranger in a strange land?

Add to the mix a body found on her property, and scary strangers randomly appearing to torment her, and you set the stage for the first book in the Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Series. This poignant tale of courage in the midst of adversity will inspire you, and leave you hungry for more.

 Grab a copy!

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Other Books in the Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Mysteries Series:

Baby Back Murder

Baby Back Murder

Hawg Heaven Cozy Mysteries, Book 2

Published: December 2016

Rossalyn Channing’s savory new bacon-heavy business in a small town is booming, and she, along with son Ryan, is settling in quite well, until one of her favorite television shows comes to town wanting to film nearby. Rossie directs them to a place that she knows and is dismayed when her location turns out to be tragic. Sinister character emerge on all sides, and Rossalyn fears for her life and Ryan’s safety. With the help of some unexpected friends, will she manage to solve the murder before it’s too late? Find out in this next exciting installment of the Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Series!

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  macho usual cover

Nacho Usual Murder

Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Book 3

Published: January 2017

Rossalyn Channing’s world is rocked when a stalker gets up close and personal. She receives surprises visits and surprise bouquets from a would-be suitor who was recently released from jail. Things take a dramatic turn for the worse as she becomes the suspect in a local murder, and everything turns upside down when a close ally seems to suddenly be acting suspiciously. Will the events that occur be enough to drive the newcomer Rossalyn, and her son Ryan out of their small town? Or will Rossie figure out who’s been lurking in the shadows, before it’s too late?

 Grab a copy!


hawgs dogs cover

Hawgs, Dogs, and Murder

Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Book 4

Published: April 2017

 Rossie’s accountant confesses a possible connection to the untimely demise of her coworker, and Rossie fears that the woman’s life might be in danger. Meanwhile, the single mom wonders if she’s losing her mind, or if there really is a stranger lurking about. Throw in a heaping helping of Jose’s amazing cooking, and a love triangle that just might be the end of her, and you have a hearty recipe for a good old-fashioned mystery, filled with action, drama, and suspense.

 Grab a copy!


 About the Author

 author pic

Summer Prescott is a best-selling Cozy Mystery author. Her highly regarded INNcredibly Sweet series continues to be a reader favorite, and The Hawg Heaven series has been tremendously well-received. The author spends her days creating new and inventive ways for her characters to solve crimes and save the day.

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What makes the perfect beach book? @djwilliams316, author of Waking Lazarus, divulges

I’ve got a treat for you today. D.J. Williams, the author of Waking Lazarus, reveals what makes the perfect beach book:

When summer rolls around we’re ready for long vacations, blue skies, sparkling oceans, and sand wedged between our toes. It’s that time of year where we escape the day-to-day routine, recharge our batteries, and catch up on the stories we’ve been wanting to read. Now, all we have to do is pick where to start.

So, what makes for a great summer read?

I’ve found that I’m drawn to characters who are compelling and entertaining. I’m always on the hunt for characters that grab and pull me into their world. And when I find those characters, I’m hooked. I’ll read day and night while the waves crash against the rocks, or roll up on the shore. I think of characters like Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher, Harry Potter, Jason Bourne, and others who captured my attention from the first page.

Some might think carrying a Harry Potter book to the beach is like carrying a brick in your carry-on, but that’s why we love ebooks, right? Believe me, I’ve carried a Harry Potter book in my carry-on, and it resulted in airport security scanning my bag for an explosive device, as the book was tucked next to my cell phone and watch. But with ebooks, we can take an entire library with us on vacation without risking being held in an interrogation room.

Now, once the character grabs me and I’m on the journey, I’m searching for a plot that keeps me flipping through the pages. Mystery. Suspense. Plenty of twists and turns. I’m a sucker for the writing style of James Patterson, who writes each chapter like a scene in a film so the chapters are short. Especially when I’m on vacation, shorter chapters keep me engaged. If the plot is a page-turner, I’ll be obsessed with finding out how the story ends.

I also look for stories that are an escape from the world around me. I want to be taken to another place much like the worlds of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, or the Narnia novels. And I’m especially captured by stories that have messages woven within that open my eyes to a greater cause, whether that be the fight against slavery, the forgotten in the world, or political issues that blur the lines between reality and fiction.

When I’m headed off for summer vacation, I’ll search for novels set in the place where I’m traveling or even places where I’ve been. Location. Location. Location. I love finding mystery and suspense stories where I’m walking alongside the characters on the streets of Paris, dark alleys of London, slums of the Far East, and even behind the Hollywood curtain. I’ve always believed that locations in a story are a character unto themselves.

Characters. Plot. Location.

It’s the trifecta for a great summer read.

Get the #1 Beach Read for Summer 2017 – Waking Lazarus ($14.99) by D.J. Williams.


~ Synopsis ~

Jake Harris’ life hasn’t turned out the way he planned. Battling his addictions, and the shattered pieces of his family, he is hired to ghostwrite a memoir. From the 1920’s story of a controversial evangelist, to the present day mystery of a former District Attorney, everything changes when his search for the truth leads to an atrocity hidden from history. With a past he can’t remember, he begins to discover that he is not the person he believed himself to be. Rather, he is a threat to a secret society that has remained in the shadows for nearly a century. Jake is drawn deep inside a world he never knew existed that brings him closer to his own extraordinary destiny.

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 Read the first 10 Chapters for free by subscribing:

~ About the Author ~


With the DNA of a world traveler, D.J. Williams was born and raised in Hong Kong, has ventured into the jungles of the Amazon, the bush of Africa, and the slums of the Far East. His global travels have engrossed him in a myriad of cultures, and provided him with a unique perspective that has fueled his creativity over the course of a twenty year career in both the entertainment industry and nonprofit sector.

In this latest novel, Williams has written an epic global adventure filled with riveting characters and page turning twists and turns. Think Jason Bourne meets Homeland. It is a brilliant follow up to his previous novel, The Disillusioned, that garnered the praise of Hollywood’s elite, including Judith McCreary, Co-EP, Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, and CSI, who said, “The Disillusioned is a fast-paced mystery…you won’t put it down until you’ve unlocked the secrets and lies to find the truth.”

With the release of Waking Lazarus, Williams is once again capturing the attention of industry veterans including Peter Anderson (Oscar Winner, Cinematographer), who has already endorsed this latest adventure, “Waking Lazarus is a captivating visual story with a colorful narrative. Once I started reading, it was hard to put down.”

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Read the first chapter of Poppy’s Proposal, a #chicklit novel from @gavinough1

Ough 1

Title: Poppy’s Proposal

Series: Old Hampton Tales

Author: G. Ough

Genre: Chick Lit

Published: April 13, 2017


With a handful of crap GCSE’s under her belt, Poppy’s resigned to her life in the small Cornish resort of Old Hampton. Her house mate, Rhea, seems to have it all together but for Poppy, life’s not quite what she wants it to be. Until Andrew Castleton enters her life. Tall, handsome and sexy as hell, could Andrew be the turning point in Poppy’s life? Or could it be surf instructor and tanned God Aussie Greg? Torn between rich and handsome Andrew or muscled and handsome Greg, Poppy stumbles upon a unique proposal. But the course of love never runs smooth in Old Hampton and even Rhea’s plans for global domination appear to be going awry. So what’s a girl to do? Find out in the funny debut novel from G. Ough

 Grab a copy!



Chapter 1

“Is there any chance we can book in today, Poppy?” The diminutive, red-faced man demanded. I took in his balding head, the angry set of his mouth, the bored looking, overdressed wife behind him and his glare which had been directed at my breasts.

Typical of the summer guests who booked into the Helmsman, this couple was middle-aged and miserable. They came to Old Hampton in droves to lie on the golden sands, go as red as boiled lobster, spend most of their holiday drunk, try out a swingers party or two and either go home better for it or separately.

“Yes, of course, sir,” I said in my most obsequious, subservient voice. “If you would be so kind as to write your name and address down here, I can find your booking,” I added, watching the sweat break out on his forehead and balding pate. He snatched the Bic from my hand and scribbled something barely legible on a piece of card. “Please feel free to relax in the hotel bar…” he cut me off with an angry grunt.

“Oh I see how it is, Poppy. You can’t find,” he twitched his fingers in air quotes, “our reservation but we can go and spend money in the bar.”

“Where I’ll arrange some complimentary refreshments,” I said, making him look and probably feel stupid. “Feel free to leave your luggage, it’ll be perfectly safe here.”

The pair strode off with the wife falling obediently into step behind her husband who stamped off like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

“No, thank you, sir,” I whispered as they disappeared through the lounge doors. Grabbing the phone I called the barman who I was disappointed to find wasn’t Aussie Greg.

“Awright Pops?” Jimbo Danes’ Cockney accent crashed into my ear. “Whachoo after?”

“Don’t call me Pops, Jimbo,” I said. “It makes me feel like I’m in an American sitcom. I’ve got a heads up for ya,” I warned him. “I’ve just sent you a pair of morky buggers for some freebies while I get Techno Alan to fix the PC again.”

“Cheers, dorlin,” Jimbo said.

I tapped a couple of keys on the old phone and called Techno Alan. He answered on the third ring.

“Miss Peters, I assume,” he said in his high-pitched, feminine voice. Alan was so familiar with the Helmsman’s number and who was on reception by now he knew it’d be me.

“Morning Alan, you’ll never guess what?” I said in a falsely chipper voice.

“Don’t tell me,” Alan said, playing along. “You won the lottery, bought the hotel and you’re going to knock the place down to make room for your new meditation centre?”

“Shockingly not,” I said. “Can you come and rescue me, Alan?” I whined. He laughed.

“You know I’m only sitting here waiting for your call, Poppy, gimme a sec and I’ll be round.” I hung up, thanking the Gods of PC World that Alan only lived about five minutes down the road.

As I was flicking through the frayed pages of an antique book, attempting to decipher the scrawled hieroglyphics misery-guts gave me in the vain hope someone actually wrote down the booking, I heard the falsely cheerful voice of Sheila Masters.

“Morning Poppy.”

One half of the Laurel and Hardy duo that owned the Helmsman, Sheila was, unfortunately, Oliver. Short and round with a ruddy complexion and one of those bottoms that stuck out, almost at right angles, making it look like she was wearing Victorian skirts.

“Computer’s packed up, again,” I said to her uninterested face.

“Call Alan!” Sheila said as she whisked past the reception desk in a cloud of Avon Rose perfume.

Christ did she buy it in bulk?

“Already have!” I said in the same high-pitched voice Sheila used.

Wordlessly she closed the door, sealing herself in her little cocoon of Vogue and Cosmopolitan, Heat and Hello magazines. I felt a sigh explode from me and wondered why Sheila even bothered coming in when all she did was hide in the office all day. The other owner, Jonathan Green had only ever made one appearance during my whole tenure of five years.

True to his word Techno Alan – all six and a half feet of him – slunk through the front door. Wraith-thin with a pale complexion and protruding Adams Apple, I thought he’d probably been called beanpole or something like it at school, kids being as inventive as they are. Acne scars marred his cheeks and chin making his face look a lot like the surface of the moon. Square-framed glasses and wild eyes completed his look and he smiled nervously as he almost tiptoed across to where I waited.

“Morning Poppy, did you wind the mainspring?” Techno Alan asked, tittering at his standard joke. I must have heard it thirty, forty times and been unamused from the first but Alan still snickered every time.

“You know it, Alan,” I said distractedly still flicking through the guest book for misery-guts’ booking.

Techno Alan slipped behind the desk and tapped the keyboard a few times, reset the system and generally fiddled with stuff. Afterwards he dropped to his knees and dragged the sepia toned, dusty tower system from under my desk. I stepped back a few paces, seemingly to give him room to work but actually because now he was knelt down, Techno Alan was at groin level with me.

I sat on my little chair and carried on searching for misery-guts’ booking. Eventually I saw something that looked a bit like what he’d scribbled. I grabbed the phone immediately and with PC guts around my feet, called Clive the Gopher.

“Yo!” He answered his little phone. “You on board with the Clive-ster, whaddup home-girl?” I smiled in spite of the stupid, faux-American voice he put on.

“I’ve got some bags need taking to room two-oh-four, Clive-ster,”

“And what about their luggage?” He asked laughing like like a sea-lion mating. “Be down in two shakes,” he said. I waited for the obligatory addition. “And more than two shakes is a wa…” I hung up.

Clive the Gopher did anything and everything round here. All the shitty jobs no one else wanted to tackle as well as repairs, portering and rolling the stinky bins out when they were due to be emptied, but he was always happy and joking. Just turned twenty, he lived with his parents and hadn’t really shaken off his teenage years yet so this was where he was stuck until he matured a bit. I couldn’t talk, I’d been here five years and there wasn’t much hope of anything else.

I called Cockney Jimbo to tell him he could send the miserable couple back through whenever they were ready.

“She’s a goner this time,” Techno Alan said from my crotch. I looked down into his eyes as he shook his head. “It’s a new base unit or nothing unfortunately,” he actually looked sad that his techno-savantism or wizardry had failed and he had to admit defeat.

“I’m in awe you managed to keep it going this long,” I said, trying to make him feel a bit better as the lift doors opened and Clive the Gopher appeared.

He had on painting overalls, white dungarees splashed with every colour the Helmsman was coated with and a grey t-shirt underneath which might actually have read ’Pornstar in Training.’ Thank God the dungarees covered most of the words, Sheila would have gone mad if she caught sight of it. Clive made some hand-gestures at me which I thought were supposed to be gangsta and pointed to the only luggage in the foyer with a questioning eyebrow. I nodded as Techno Alan started harvesting bits of green board up into a bag like he was picking Minecraft lettuce. Clive roughly handled the miseries luggage into the lift, kicking one of the bags so hard I heard it smack off the back wall. The doors closed and he was gone.

“I can’t understand why you’ve never given Sheila a quote for a new system, Alan,” I said.

“I did, about six months ago, cheapest price I could do on a year old base unit and installation. She said it wasn’t cost effective.” I shook my head.

No but spending all day sat on your big ass reading about celebrities is?

“The stupid thing about it is, I’ve charged more in those six months, repairing this old thing, than the other one would have cost,” he shrugged. “But you can’t tell some people.”

“Are you going to tell Sheila we need a new one?” A wicked little grin spread across Techno Alan’s face and with his proximity to my privates, something odd shot up through my belly.

WTF? Techno Alan!

“My pleasure, Poppy,” he grunted, unfolding himself from the floor like a six foot pen knife. Knocking on the office door, Techno Alan let himself in and I prepared for the histrionic attack Sheila was about to throw.

A door opened to my left and the rotund, balding Mr Enthiss emerged still red faced, but with alcohol now, his wife in tow.

“Jimbo told us we could check in,” he said to me in a much nicer tone.

Thanks Jimbo, you always manage to diffuse the live ones.

“Certainly, sir,” I completed the registration and handed over the keys, telling them their luggage had already been taken up and how to get to their room. They both lumbered off towards the lift and disappeared into the upper levels of the Helmsman.

I spent the rest of the day fielding calls, trying to figure out who was supposed to be checking in to where and greeting guests. Techno Alan emerged from the office and gave me a thumbs up before grabbing the remains of the computer and telling me he’d try and dump the data from the hard drive but not to get my hopes up – whatever all that meant.

On time as usual, evening receptionist Lisa Clarke strode in, all model looks and perfect hair. Why she worked here was a mystery, apart from it giving her the opportunity to lounge around on the beach all day checking out the men who strutted about her in Speedo’s to display their wares.

“Hi Lisa,” I greeted her. “You’re in for some fun today, the PC’s gone,” Lisa made her way round the reception desk and gazed down at the gaping hole left by the computer’s absence, screwing up her face.

“You’ve had Techno Alan down there sniffing your frou-frou all day then?” She asked with a shudder. “He creeps me out.”

“Lisa!” I gasped but had to giggle at her turn of phrase. “He’s not that bad,” she grimaced and shivered again. “Taxi Dave outside?” I asked.

“Taxi Dave’s outside,” she confirmed.

Taxi Dave was like a big brother to me. A big, stocky, square-jawed rugby player of a man with short brown hair and green eyes. In a deal with the Helmsman, Taxi Dave had agreed to ferry some of the girls to and from work for free in exchange for us recommending him to guests. His big Mercedes was luxurious and comfy, like a living room on wheels.

“Hi Dave,” I dropped into the passenger seat, belting in.

“Poppy!” He said as if he hadn’t seen me for ages. He’d only dropped me off that morning. “Good day?” I grunted and regaled him with my day as we sailed through Old Hampton’s streets.

“What about you, Dave, anything exciting happen?” He laughed.

“What, driving round these harrowing streets?” His Welsh accent came through strongly as he talked. “No, nothing exciting. I had egg and cress salad for lunch, though.”

“Careful Dave, living on the edge like that,” I said as he pulled up outside my house. “See you,” I said. He winked at me.

“Bye, love,” Taxi Dave said before driving off.

Up the two steps and in through the front door. The scent of baking bread made my stomach growl. My house mate, Rhea, liked to bake and cook, so I counted myself lucky there was always a meal on the table – or near it at least.

“What you making?” I asked without saying anything else. We’d known each other since school so Rhea knew I needed feeding before I made any kind of sense.

“New lasagne recipe, babes and some French bread to mop up the juice.”

I started salivating like Pavlov’s German shepherds before I even got to the kitchen.

There she stood, petite and dark haired, which earned her the nickname Pixie at school. Rhea was in her element in the kitchen, the oven glowed and I could see the dish inside with short loaves underneath. Her plan was to buy her own restaurant so she was always coming up with some new version of classic dishes to serve there. Of course that meant she needed a taste tester which is where I came in. I was bravely resigned to the fact I would just have to take one for the team.

The downside of eating Rhea’s delights was that I had to do all the washing up while she relaxed with a glass of chilled wine behind me. I was up to my elbows in yellow Marigolds and soap suds as she interrogated me about the Techno Alan incident.

“What,” Rhea said in her deep, sexy voice. “He was down on his knees and all he did was grin and you…?”

“Yes,” I squeaked, so embarrassed I couldn’t turn round.

“Techno Alan?”


“Are you gonna…?”

“Hell no!” I shouted. “Techno Alan? He’s a nice enough guy but no thanks,” I finished the dishes and dumped my gloves, poured myself a glass of wine, watching the last few drips land in my glass like sad tears. “Where’s all that gone?” I cried holding up the bottle. Rhea shrugged innocently.

“Evaporated?” She asked flippantly. I pursed my lips. “Rob’s coming over later,” Rhea said. “Is that okay?” I fixed her with a look.

“You’ve already arranged it and now you’re asking?” She grinned at me impudently. “Yes. Yes, it’s fine with me for you to get it on while I remain celibate,” I threw my hand up in front of her as soon as I heard her take a deep breath. “And don’t start about Techno Alan.” Rhea laughed her filthy chuckle as I escaped to the shower.


“Hi, Poppy.” Rob greeted me later. “How’s things?”

“All right I suppose. You?” I was comfortable with Rob. He’d been with Rhea for what seemed like forever so answering the door in my pyjamas was no problem.

“Same old, same old, you know,” he said, following me in.

“Your woman’s ready and waiting in her room, you know the way.”

Rob grinned and made his way upstairs. I cranked the telly up to drown out the sound of their antics. A sad twinge of jealousy cut through me at the thought of what they shared. It wasn’t that I fancied Rob or wanted to keep Rhea for myself, I just wanted a bit of what they had. There had been a few hints they might be talking about getting a place together too and a finger of fright crept into my chest when I thought about having to either move out or find someone else to share with.

About the Author

 Ough 2

Ough spent decades cutting grass and cleaning toilets before deciding to follow his passion of writing fantasy. From there he discovered a passion and talent for writing chick lit and romantic comedy. He lives in Herne Bay, U.K. with his gorgeous wife and three incredible daughters. A Yorkshire Terrier with personality problems, a slightly soppy chocolate Labrador and four cats that think he’s about to attack them at any given moment. In addition to writing Ough likes woodturning on his Arundel lathe, playing video games with his youngest daughter and attempting to draw – badly!

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