|Product dimensions:||5.12(w) x 7.75(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I descend the stairs and except for the slight feeling of nausea washing over me, I feel reasonably well and at ease with the world. Hovering mid-step, I listen, enjoying the sound of silence. How quickly things have changed in the years since my recovery. Instinctively, I reach up and touch my head. Fingers poised like the legs of a spider, I search and find one of several raised scars amongst freshly washed strands of hair and as always, I shiver. I prefer to think of them as battle scars, a constant reminder of both the strength and fragility of life. I danced with "the gloomy shade of death" but lived to tell the tale and for that I'm truly grateful.
Letting my hand fall to my side again, I quickly push the memory aside and find my gaze resting on the collage of framed memories adorning the stair wall. Examining the frames for dust, I linger on a photo of Cassie and Maisy before Maisy left for Australia. Both girls have their arms around each other and are laughing. I can't remember what the occasion was but I love the photo because it's completely natural. A spontaneous moment caught on film and not a selfie pose or pout in sight. I tap the glass affectionately and smile at my girls. Life was so noisy whenever these two were around, especially Cassie. In fact, I swear if I listen hard enough, I can hear an echo of the raucous comings and goings of her angst ridden teenage years bouncing off these very walls. It was hardly surprising the stair carpet needed replacing. Maisy, the Goth, my sulky, surly stepdaughter was less theatrical, less verbose than her sister but still as troublesome in her own way, like the time she went off, without permission, and got a full leg tattoo of a tree. I'll never forget the look on Simon's face when he first saw it.
As my gaze wanders, prompted by snapshots of the past, I find myself excavating old memories; Mum and Dad, first married and unbelievably young; Sean and I as children; Sean and Natasha getting married, he with his dreadlocks, she with her white Doc Martins; Sean and Natasha after the arrival of my niece, Summer; Simon, my man and one of my very best friends; Ruby, my other best friend, standing next to Andy, lovely, kind, generous Andy, taken from us in the mere blink of an eye.
Sniffing, I wipe away a lone tear running down my cheek, immediately cheered when my eyes fall upon a photo of Connor, pre-pubescent and still my little big man, so very different to my Connor of late. Far less emotional than his sisters were at sixteen years old, he is nonetheless chartering his own angst-ridden journey to adulthood. I miss our great big bear hugs. At least he has a nice group of friends though. I envy him in a way. Fast approaching the end of his GCSEs, his only major concerns in life appear to be having the correct gel for his hair, his phone, and earphones, and how much food he can consume. Actually, come to think of it, it's less about consumption and more about inhaling.
I shake my head and laugh, realising time is getting on. I need to get some work done. 'I am a writer, you know,' I shout playfully to my rather quiet, rather empty house. And it's true; I am. Who'd have thought it, me? Lizzie Lemalf, blogger extraordinaire and writer. I still have to pinch myself from time to time to believe it is actually true. But it is nonetheless. I still can't believe I have an agent and a publisher and, as well as finding me ensconced for months on end in my writing cave, I can also occasionally be found swanning around the country attending book festivals and signings.
Feeling a vibration in my pocket I look down. It's my phone and it's a text from my agent, Michelle.
Hi Lizzie. Just checking you are all set for the meeting with the publisher a week on Monday? Oliver and I will meet you off the train at Kings X. Nothing to worry about but if you have any concerns we can discuss further when we meet beforehand at your Author Q&A session at the Haversham Literary Festival on Thurs. If that's ok?
It is okay; at least it should be okay, except the text clearly states that Oliver, Michelle's personal assistant, will be with her. Oh god, why does he have to come? Just the thought of him has robbed me of speech and has my stomach performing tiny, slightly panic induced somersaults. Not that there is anything wrong with the man. As far as personal assistants go, Oliver is lovely, but that's the problem, he's actually too lovely. To look at I mean. The man is stunning. Perfection on legs. Reaching over six feet tall with a chiselled chin, a clearly defined, taut physique (especially when he takes off his jacket and rolls up his shirt sleeves) and piercing blue eyes, I'm barely able to think straight whenever he appears. I swear to god the song 'Take My Breath Away' by Berlin plays on a loop in my head every time he enters a room. I kept asking Michelle to please turn the music off at our last meeting, until I realised it was literally in my head. I also, somehow, lose my ability to talk when I am around Oliver. My words become jumbled and fall out in reverse order so that I always sound like I'm doing some terrible impersonation of Yoda from Star Wars.
"Hi Lizzie, how are you?" Oliver will ask.
"Oliver! Fine, am I. You are, how?" is often my ridiculous reply.
It's not a sexual attraction either, well, maybe it is a bit, but it's not like I'm having some crazy mid-life crisis and want to run off and have mad, passionate sex with this beautiful man. I love Simon and I've even told him about Oliver and the effect he has on me, which met with a raised eye and a wry smile, followed by an exaggerated patting of his slightly expanding waistline. 'I'd better get back to the gym then, eh?' he said. 'Or I'll be losing you to a younger, fitter man.' To which we both laughed.
Fingers hovering above my phone, I consider asking Michelle not to bring Oliver before dismissing the idea. I tap out a reply telling her I'll be there and am very much looking forward to it (as long as I avert my gaze from Oliver).
My thoughts about managing my meeting with Oliver are interrupted by a soft, warm sensation weaving between my ankles. I look down and spy Romeow. He looks up, his face a little craggier of late, and lets out a rather pathetic meow. I bend down and he allows me to pick him up, nudging my cheek, purring loudly. I talk to him for several minutes, like a baby, and again he allows me to, before deciding enough is enough and jumps from my arms. His landing is silent and graceful and, with a flick of his tail, he swaggers towards the back door. He waits, patiently. I laugh and grab the back-door key from the kitchen drawer.
'Oh ... I see ... you want to go out do you, Romeow?' I ask.
Romeow responds with another weary meow. I fiddle with the key and the lock before finally opening the back door, whereupon, much to Romeow's disgust, I scream, very loudly. Someone is languishing on one of the garden chairs. His hands are shoved deep into his jacket pockets and his head is leant skywards, mouth wide open. The large, motionless body is snoring. I step out of the door and walk cautiously towards the sleeping individual. On closer inspection, I realise it is Connor.
Why on earth is Connor sleeping outside at 6.00 a.m. on a Saturday morning?
This is it; I'm going to die. And I'm only sixteen years old. I haven't even lost my virginity and now I never will because I'm going to die. I grab my chest with both hands, desperate to stop the pounding against my ribs. My heart is beating so hard and so fast I swear it's going to explode, leaving nothing but a gaping bloody mess as the life drains out of me.
Bending forward I try and breathe, slowly. It doesn't work. I stand up keeping one arm locked across my chest. Tight. I'm scared. Really scared. It all seemed like such a good idea yesterday. "It'll be a laugh," Jake had said. I didn't expect to feel like this, though.
Struggling to focus I look for Jake. I see him, rolling all over the floor in hysterics, pointing at me. Bastard. Still keeping one arm closed against my chest, I throw the other one forward, pleading, without words, for help. But there's none coming. Gripped by fear I turn in the direction of another sound. Running water, I think? I see Robbo standing against the churchyard wall. Maybe he's having a piss or maybe, just maybe, it's the sound of my blood pumping through my veins. Yes, that's what it is. My blood surging through my veins feeding my pounding heart that is beating waaaaay too fast. This is not right, not normal. What the hell am I going to do? I turn away and look at Jake again.
'Help me Jake,' I beg. 'This is really serious man. I'm dying, I'm actually fucking dying.'
Jake, clutching his stomach and still pointing at me, laughs even harder. Double bastard. He doesn't get it, or doesn't give a shit, but I swear to god I'm going to die. I'm going to die, in front of my best friend. And he doesn't even give a shit!
Thinking of Mum, I try and remember the way home. She'd kill me if I died like this. That doesn't make sense, except it does, coz if I died, like this, Mum would find a way to find me, even though I'd be dead, and kill me all over again!
I start walking in the direction I think is home and focus on the sound of my footsteps instead of the pounding noise of my heart that won't leave my head. I walk fast, I think. My feet feelmushy and twisted, though, so it's hard to tell. I look over my right shoulder and see Jake, still laughing. I look over my left shoulder, and freeze. The Tracer, the evil soul sucker character from my computer game, hovers high above me, and he's looking straight at me. His twisted face is evil, and he's looking straight at me. Not Jake. Not the others, but me. ME!
Somewhere in the distance a girl screams, or is it me? I try and run but it's not easy with mushy feet. A terrifying whooshing sound tells me The Tracer is behind me, chasing me. Oh no! He's gonna reach right into my rib cage, pull out my live beating heart, then he's gonna eat my soul.
I tell myself this is not real. Keep repeating it over and over again, unsure if I'm saying it out loud or just to myself, but I keep saying it anyway. Like a mantra.
This is not real. This is not real.
But still I can't get The Tracer out of my head.
Think of something else, you idiot, something funny.
Again, I try and distract myself by listening to my footsteps. Think, you idiot. Think. Cassie jumps into my thoughts, but shit, that's really done it now coz instead of focussing on Cassie, my brain is taking me to the last conversation I overheard her having with Mum. They were discussing the right for women to have hairy fannies. And they're right of course. Women should be allowed to be hairy down there, if they want. Or they can shave it all off too, if they want to, but they shouldn't feel like they have to have a bald fanny, like in the porno movies. Cassie says too many boys watch porn on the internet and think that's how women should be and how sex should be, and it's degrading. Cassie says if too many boys mistake porn for real life then boys will expect girls to look and act like the women in those films. I don't. I've never thought real life was like any movie I ever watched, porno or not, and, if Hayley Patterson ever went out with me (which she wouldn't coz she doesn't even know I exist, except to help her with her maths, sometimes) I wouldn't mind if she had a hairy fanny. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want it to be really, really hairy, like hanging down her legs hairy. But a bit hairy would be okay. Jake thinks girls should be bald, says he'd dump a girl with a hairy fanny. Jake's a knob, even though he is my best friend. I can still hear him behind me, laughing, instead of helping me escape from The Tracer.
Petrified, I look over my shoulder to see if The Tracer is still there. I'm relieved to see he's gone. But now something worse has taken his place. A giant fanny, cloaked in never ending, wiry, black hair with one huge, pulsating red eye, hovers above my head. Pointing, I let rip a terrifying scream, as the glaring, one-eyed, bearded clam gets even closer.
'Hairy fanny, hairy fanny!' I shriek.
Again, I'm not sure if I've said this out-loud or to myself but right now I don't give a shit.
The hairy minge gives chase and, screaming all the way, I run for my life. Run for home, I think?
LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!
I hug Honey goodbye, press the buzzer on the door and step back inside the small reception area. I hand Jaz her change and the cheese sandwiches and Frappo she asked me to get for her.
'Thanks Cas,' Jaz says.
'No problem, babe,' I reply. The door buzzes again and I walk off towards the stairs, leaving Jaz to it but Jaz calls out to me to come back. The person buzzing at the door is Honey. Jaz releases the door and Honey pushes it open. She's panting like she's out of breath.
'God, I'm unfit. Too many fags. I need to quit. Here,' she says handing me my phone, 'you left this in my bag.'
'Shit. Thanks, hun!'
Honey smiles at Jaz then looks up, scanning the entrance of my workplace. 'So, this is where the magic happens is it?' she asks.
'Well, not here. Up there,' I reply pointing upwards, 'where the studios are.'
'I'd love to have a loo-ook,' Honey sings, all wide eyed and smiling.
'Not today, babe,' I reply shaking my head. 'The boss is in and –'
'Really! Hunter Black is actually in this building right now? Pleeeease introduce me. I promise I'll behave.'
'Honey, I've told you before,' I whisper, 'I can't do that. He gets really pissy about that sort of crap.'
Honey throws up her hands. 'It's not bloody crap. I'm a singer, a good one, who just happens to be your friend and all I want is for him to listen to me. See what he thinks?'
'I know, babe. Leave it with me, to pick the right moment, eh? Please, trust me. He can be really weird at times. I know what I'm talking about.'
Honey sighs and sticks out her bottom lip. She looks disappointed but says she understands. She kisses me goodbye for the second time and says she'll see me later at home. 'Oh yeah,' she adds, 'Carmel just phoned me back.'
'The landlady of the flat?'
'Oh yeah, weirdo.'
Honey laughs. 'She said she wasn't telling you to shut the door.'
'But she did,' I protest. 'One minute we were talking about rent charges in London compared to home and the next she was telling me to shut the bloody door. Crazy woman.'
'And I thought I was the dippy one! It's just the way she talks, you silly cow. She's an Essex girl.' Now I really am confused. 'Shut the door,' Honey continues, 'is just another way of saying "No. Never. Really."'
'Yeah, really.' We both laugh, then Honey whispers in my ear telling me she thinks Jaz is fit and asks me to pass on her phone number. I laugh and tell Honey I think Jaz is straight and Honey assures me she isn't. 'At the very least she's bi,' Honey replies.
Jaz, who is now on the phone, releases the door with the buzzer thing behind her desk and Honey disappears again.
'Yep, will do,' Jaz says into the phone as I once again pass her desk and head towards the stairs. 'That was Hunter,' Jaz shouts to me, 'he wants you go to his office before you go back to the studio.'
My tummy flips. Oh no, now what? I pass the studio on the second floor and head towards Hunter's office on the floor above. I get a whiff of him even before I reach the third floor. He wears the same aftershave all the time and I can smell it a mile away. I reckon he baths in the stuff. It's not cheap but I hate it all the same. The door to his office looks closed but as I get nearer, I realise it's slightly ajar. He has someone with him. I can hear his and another man's voice and they're both laughing. I put my ear to the door and listen.
'Yeah, but let's be honest, women are just not cut out for it. They don't think like men. Far too bloody emotional for a start,' Hunter says. They both laugh again and the other man says something I can't hear. 'I've told you before, put it in their coffee in the morning,' Hunter replies and both men laugh even louder. I'm not sure why but the back of my neck prickles. I don't know what the hell they are talking about and if I'm honest I don't really give a shit. I can't be arsed to listen to anymore. Taking a deep breath, I knock on the door.
'Come in,' Hunter shouts.
A fat man with a huge neck and squinty eyes sits opposite him. He looks me up and down then screws his face up like he's just stepped in dog shit or something. 'Thought you said she was pretty,' he says.
Hunter looks at the man then looks at me. He starts at my feet then slowly his eyes climb upward, sometimes lingering longer than they should. He's doing it on purpose, of course, trying to intimidate me, and it's working. I feel my cheeks burn and have to look away, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other. Hunter says my name and I look up again. Our eyes lock. 'If I'd have known you were going to dress like a fucking bag lady all the time I wouldn't have hired you,' he says.
Excerpted from "All the Colours in Between"
Copyright © 2017 Eva Jordan.
Excerpted by permission of Urbane Publications Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Four-Twenty,
Chapter 2: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!,
Chapter 3: God of Chaos,
Chapter 4: Bad News Travels Fast!,
Chapter 5: Worry, Mother's Ruin,
Chapter 6: Absent Fathers,
Chapter 7: Cantankerous Times,
Chapter 8: Old Friends, New Friends,
Chapter 9: Stage Four,
Chapter 10: The Hallway of Hell,
Chapter 11: Love Hurts,
Chapter 12: Nicolas Flamel, Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy,
Chapter 13: Code Red,
Chapter 14: Take my Breath Away,
Chapter 15: The Love Monkey,
Chapter 16: It's not a Life, It's an Adventure!,
Chapter 17: Good Friends and Bad Secrets,
Chapter 18: That's What Friends Are For,
Chapter 19: Mirror, Mirror on The Wall,
Chapter 20: Funny Old Ladies,
Chapter 21: Life,
Chapter 22: Everybody Must get Stoned,
Chapter 23: Confession,
Chapter 24: Fishy Dreams,
Chapter 25: Stranger than Fiction,
Chapter 26: A Writer's Life,
Chapter 27: It's a Dog's Life,
Chapter 28: Unexpected Visitors,
Chapter 29: "Hell is Empty and all the Devils are Here",
Chapter 30: Mr Blue Sky,
Chapter 31: Salocin Lemalf,
Chapter 32: Incey Wincey Spider,
Chapter 33: Effervescent Whisper,
Chapter 34: Broken,
Chapter 35: Sorry,
Chapter 36: Descent,
Chapter 37: Use it or Lose It,
Chapter 38: Going Underground,
Chapter 39: "Guilt Spills Itself in Fearing to be Spilt",
Chapter 40: Under Pressure,
Chapter 41: Betrayal,
Chapter 42: Home,
Chapter 43: Helplessness,
Chapter 44: Remorse,
Chapter 45: Choose Life,
Chapter 46: Our Choices Seal our Fate,
Chapter 47: It's Christmas!,
Chapter 49: "We shall have Spring Again",
Chapter 50: The Haves and the Have Nots,
Chapter 51: Warrior Queen,
Chapter 52: Big Brother,
Chapter 53: Primal Instincts,
Chapter 54: Suspicious Minds,
Chapter 55: Reconciliation,
Chapter 56: Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas,