Pubished by Aria
Available in ebook and paperback (2 October 2018)
My thanks to Vicky of Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part in the tour. I wished I’d had the time to read and review this for the tour but for now have an extract to share.
| About the Book |
Carrie Nolan is devastated when she is dumped by Kevin Mulvey after more than a decade without even a backwards glance! On reflection, she has sacrificed her own long term happiness establishing their critically acclaimed Dublin restaurant and pandering to his excessive ego.
Meanwhile Kevin can’t believe his luck. Valentina, their new waitress is a stunner, the kind of girl that turns heads when she walks in a room and surprise, surprise she has chosen him! He is living the dream!
Carrie seeks solace from a circle of mismatched friends who need her as much as she needs them. Jane, who struggles to run the pub on the opposite side of the street, Luke, who has stopped drifting while his father settles in a nearby nursing home and Teddy, a dog who asks for nothing more than the chance to stay by Carrie’s side.
With Christmas just around the corner, all is not quite as it seems and a catastrophic sequence of events leads to the unthinkable…
How far do you need to fall before you learn the true value of family and friends? And is it ever too late to start again…
Carrie tucked the little dog beneath her jacket and left the restaurant early. Kevin would surely manage without her for one night. After all, he had Valentina now. Either way, Andrew was happy to hold the fort for her once he saw the state of her when she called him up to tell him she was going home. Andrew was more than any employee could ever be, they had become friends, in spite of Kevin’s barely masked homophobia.
Carrie was cold and miserable and empty. Her bones felt as if the sleet of earlier had cut deep wedges in them and she would never feel warm again. Normally she had a glass or two of wine when she finished up for the day. Usually, she was wrecked, the restaurant business was gruelling, torture on the feet and by the end of a twelve-hour shift her brain was either too hyped up to rest or too tired to sleep. Tonight, she felt she could do with something warmer. She looked at the shelf filled with bottles of wine and various spirits and reached for a bottle of brandy. This would warm her up.
Taking the first sip, she caught her reflection in the kitchen window. Did she really want to be one of those women who came home gasping for a drink each evening? If she was going to live alone, what would she turn into if she sat down with a bottle of wine every night? There could be no pretence now that she was sharing it with Kevin. Truthfully, he hardly touched the stuff anyway. She turned the glass into the sink, watched as the bronze contents flowed down the drain. The bottle of wine every other night had contributed to her expanded waistband and to her chronic sinus infection, she could admit that to herself at least. Perhaps without it, she might not have been such a fulsome snorer.
She washed out the glass, left it on the draining board, placed the bottle back on the shelf – she was better than that. She was going to be better than that, she decided, and turned towards the little dog at her feet. He was a tricoloured smooth-haired crossbreed. Carrie couldn’t decide what his parents were, but she’d hazard a guess that there was a mix of terrier, spaniel and basset hound somewhere in his lineage.
‘Teddy?’ she had checked his collar earlier and now he looked at her with a keen interest as though he couldn’t quite figure out how she might know his name. What had she been thinking bringing home a stray mutt? But she couldn’t leave him out in that weather. He could freeze to death by the morning if he didn’t find shelter. ‘Just one night,’ she told him softly as she rubbed his filthy ears. Food and heat were what he needed most and he seemed glad to take her conversation with him as a bonus.
She opened the fridge. Considering the meals she served up to customers each evening, her own stock was meagre. There were a few portions of lasagne in the freezer and she figured that they may as well go to her unexpected canine guest.
He lapped up the lasagne and seemed satisfied to let her wash the dirt from him in the bath filled with warm sudsy water. Then he settled contentedly on a fluffy bath sheet under the radiator.
‘Well, it’s just you and me tonight, Teddy,’ she whispered, when he nuzzled into her later. It was funny, but she’d used generous fistfuls of Kevin’s expensive shampoo and conditioner on him, and yet, to her mind, the fragrance sat much easier on this little fellow. She’d worry about finding his owner tomorrow, she promised herself. There weren’t any contact details on his collar, just a name, and Carrie wondered if perhaps he belonged to the man in the alley earlier.
Later, after she settled the little dog for the night, she dropped her clothes to the floor, while she selected the fluffiest pjs and thermal socks she could find. For a moment she lingered before the rails and shelves filled with Kevin’s clothes. A lesser woman might take a scissors to them, she told herself, but the truth was, she was too tired to think of revenge. Suddenly even picking up the clothes she wore earlier seemed like it might be too much. So, she left them where they landed, knew that if she wasn’t suffering from a broken heart, they would be put away as she always did. Instead, she folded herself into the king-size bed they’d bought together. Would he want to take this with him? For Valentina? They hadn’t thought of any of those things. She’d bet it hadn’t even entered Kevin’s head. They spent years gathering up the things that people work for. A home, a successful business, they had been the inevitable milestones along the way; tying them together, as firmly as any ring, or so she believed. Kevin’s clothes in the wardrobe, she had bought almost every item, apart from a few errant scarves, gifts from his sister, his mother, her mother.
God. She couldn’t face telling them yet. At least, she wouldn’t have to tell Kevin’s mother. Maureen Mulvey would be Kevin’s worry now and that at least made her smile as she lay in bed. For tonight, she’d just close her eyes.
A slight whimper and the sound of a tail thumping on the carpet outside her door made her smile. Teddy.
‘Okay, you,’ she said opening the door softly, ‘you can sleep on the floor, but one sound and you’re back in the kitchen,’ she ran her hand across his curled-up body. He settled himself just outside her bed on the deep shag rug that Kevin always hated. Soon, he was sleeping gently, his breath an easy accompaniment to her own, so Carrie realised she was drifting towards sleep with the hint of a contented smile on her lips. She reached out, turned off the alarm so she could sleep right through. The next day was Sunday and that’s what normal people did, wasn’t it? They slept late on Sundays.
Carrie woke at five, perhaps it was the niggling worry that Teddy might need to relieve himself. She herded him downstairs and out for a quick round of the garden, although he was not keen. He moved slowly and grumbled like an old man at the disruption of his beauty sleep. Would Kevin be sleeping late with Valentina? He must be staying with her now. Kevin couldn’t go out and buy himself a pair of socks without Carrie. He would need someone to slip into that role. Carrie couldn’t imagine Valentina hitting the men’s underwear section any time soon. It struck her that Kevin hadn’t really thought about this at all. He couldn’t survive without Carrie; he needed her. The problem was, she suddenly realised with the clarity of that sheeting snow against her window, he didn’t want her anymore. He just didn’t want her.
There was light outside when she woke next, that sort of sterilised whiteness that always comes with snow and made her feel as if, in some way, her life had been untainted and made purer. The notion was in itself an odd if satisfying surprise. It was a dull insipid bright, but still much better than the heavy leaden look of the day before. On the other hand, she knew, with her sleep-filled eyes, it may just be very late. It was after eleven in the morning, as late as she could remember getting up for years. Normally, on a Sunday morning, she got up early and headed for mass with Kevin’s mother. She’d completely forgotten that today. She did the journey more for Kevin than for his mother. Maureen Mulvey had a way of getting them all to jump to her command. Carrie didn’t even like mass. She wasn’t sure she believed in any God anymore; maybe less today than any other Sunday. She hadn’t thought about it before, but she picked up Maureen every Sunday morning, while Kevin slept late. She drove her the short distance from Maureen’s semi and parked where she was told and then trudged to the same seat each week. At least, Maureen had stopped giving her digs about ‘living in sin’ with Kevin. Maureen had all the benefits of a daughter-in-law, without having to part with her son.
Carrie lay in her bed looking up at the ceiling. It needed a good painting; a crack ran right down the middle, as though it separated the two sides of the bed beneath it. This house was ninety years old. The crack in the plaster over her head was nothing to worry about; perhaps it had been trying to tell her something all along.
Reaching out for her phone, there were five missed calls, four of them from Maureen, the fifth Carrie didn’t recognise, so she let it slip. She wondered idly, if perhaps some poor neighbour was roped in to take Maureen in the end. She presumed Kevin had not contacted his mother nor had he brought her to mass. She wasn’t surprised, he would put off telling his mother. He would put off telling everyone. Kevin hated any kind of conflict. He’d miss that too; Carrie had removed as many of those stressful situations from him as she could. Not this time. She pulled her phone closer to her and flew off a text to Kevin.
Better explain to your mother why she has no lift to mass anymore – unless Valentina will oblige.
She’d hesitated about putting an x on the end. Kevin would know she was only being bitchy, she wasn’t a kiss-kiss sort of woman. She was good old Carrie, get things done, keep things moving along. On the drive, outside her door, she had a BMW. It was a compromise. She’d have preferred a Volkswagen, they were meant to be so reliable, but Kevin insisted that they needed to look the part of successful business people. With the sort of customers they had coming in, having a twelve-year-old crock outside the door just wasn’t going to cut it. There it was, in a nutshell, the difference between them. Valentina would probably give her false eyelashes for a Beamer. Carrie assumed Valentina’s eyelashes were false, after all no one gets the eyes, the legs, the teeth, the boobs and the lashes – not unless they’re a Victoria’s Secret model.
| About the Author |
Faith was born in Ireland and currently lives there with her husband, four children and two fussy cats. She gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate from University College, Galway. She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair- an international competition for emerging writers. When she’s not writing, she’s an enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger.