Today I’m joining the blog tour for Martha’s Cottage. I’m sharing an extract from the book with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell and the team at SpellBound Books for inviting me on the blog tour and for providing the extract.
Sarah and Ben Stephens had it all. Attractive thirty-somethings, upwardly mobile; good careers in the city, a sizeable house in the suburbs.
To all concerned it was the perfect picture of marital bliss.
Or was it?
Years of infertility treatment have taken its toll on their marriage. Barely speaking, they’re strangers who share the same bed.
Then the fallout from a surprise birthday party and a lifechanging discovery send Sarah fleeing to the West of Ireland. And there, at Martha’s Cottage, a tiny stone house by the wild Atlantic Ocean, she licks her wounds and must decide on the course of her future.
A heart-warming and humorous tale of marriage, motherhood, friendship and betrayal. Lost chances and new beginnings.
From the author of ‘The Lights Went Out and Other Stories’.
He sat in the car smoking nervously and feeling ridiculous. Shifting down in his seat in case anyone saw him, he knocked ash onto his jacket and cursed as he brushed the brown corduroy. He regarded the jacket critically. It had been difficult deciding on an outfit, he wanted a balance between casual but not too smart and in the end, he decided on a pair of dark jeans, a navy button down shirt and jacket. Halfway across town he nearly turned back. Just what was he doing? Was he crazy? It’s just a dinner, he answered. Just dinner.
At precisely seven o’clock he managed somehow to get out of the car and cross the road looking right and left, wary of being ambushed by an acquaintance when he was this close to her door. The road was quiet, the coast was, it seemed, clear. Glancing up he saw a light on in one of the upstairs windows through a crack in the curtains. He scanned the buzzers until he came across – “A Meagher” printed in a neat, concise hand. Before the last vestiges of courage left him he pressed it.
Willing his heart to start beating in a normal manner, he waited. He struck a bargain with himself, if she didn’t answer after two rings he was leaving, it would be a sign. A sign from God. He really hoped she wouldn’t answer the doorbell, praying for a last chance to redeem himself.
And then the door swung open and all bets were off. She was real, no figment of his imagination. The light from the hallway framed her, an angel straight from a painting by Botticelli. Strands of auburn escaping from her ponytail softened the angles of her cheekbones. She wore a cream peasant blouse with loose sleeves, the fabric sheer enough to allow him a glimpse of the lace underwear beneath. Faded blue jeans encased her long legs, her feet were bare; the toenails painted a pale pink. Ben swallowed hard and took a deep breath, inhaling sharply as if it were his last chance for air. Every fibre in his being was pulled tight like he had stepped out of his body momentarily and was watching himself from a great height.
“Hey, you came,” she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. Her lips a soft caress.
“C’mon up Ben, I’m nearly ready”. She turned away and started back up the stairs. When she was halfway up she turned and smiled encouragingly “I won’t bite.” And as he followed her up the stairs Ben realised he had developed the most awful crush on Aoibhe Meagher.
The stairs led up to a small apartment. He followed her into the living room where she asked if he would like something to drink while he was waiting. He settled on a glass of merlot which she handed him before disappearing into what could only be the bedroom, he guessed.
The bedroom. Best not to think of the bedroom, he told himself as he took a large sip of the wine.
The room was an uneven L shape with the narrowest part angling around into a small kitchenette, the living room section was the largest. Ben sat uneasily on the edge of a small two-seater leather sofa and looked about him: there were two old stuffed armchairs covered in throws and cushions, she had a few plants and some nice reproduction prints hanging. A fat tabby cat eyed him warily from a beanbag in the far corner.
“Easy, puss,” he muttered quietly in its direction. It looked mean. Cats didn’t like him, they sensed his fear.
The bedroom door opened and Aoibhe emerged trailing perfume as she moved, a light floral scent that was unfamiliar but nostalgic, an old-fashioned classic he was sure Sarah would recognise. Realising the ridiculousness of his thoughts he blushed and mentally shook his head. The room felt small, stifling. He needed air.
“Is the wine alright?” She asked pouring herself a glass.
“Yes, thanks,” he took another large gulp. She set her glass on the little glass table beside her, Ben followed her with his eyes holding his breath as she sat down beside him, the couch being so small that their knees were touching. She reached and took his hand. Her touch was soft and warm as she curled her fingers around his larger ones. Ben exhaled a shaky breath.
“You didn’t really come for dinner did you, Ben?” she smiled her lazy smile and he was lost. Making no protest, he stood and took the hand that led him into the bedroom.
Martha’s Cottage is available from Amazon.
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