Happy September, everyone. This week’s post is a preview to my upcoming short romance, It Happened on a Lie. Here’s the blurb:
Zoe Lawrence believes that the end justifies the means when it comes to preserving historically valuable buildings, especially such a rare shipyard as Wakefield was. So a little trespassing doesn’t much weigh on her, until she gets caught by the owner. Who happens to be an extremely attractive man, who absolutely refuses to listen to her.The lifelong dream of Aiden Rowe has been to build a luxury estate on a prime location. Now that he has found what he wants, he isn’t about to change his plans just because the historical preservations society says so. Not even if their representative happens to be a beautiful woman who captures his interest from the start.But Aiden isn’t above asking Zoe for a favour: if she pretends to be his girlfriend for just one night, he will give her a fair chance to convince him to preserve the shipyard. One lie leads to another, and things soon get out of their hands, and they hardly know what’s real themselves.But they know the truth in their hearts. If only they could make their heads listen.
And here is the preview, a mix of the first two chapters. You can read the first chapter in its entirety here, and the second chapter here.
[…] It was a fine August Saturday to conduct a preliminary survey. Perfect for taking beautiful photos of the buildings that would show them in the best light. She dug out her camera and tripod from the backpack and started to work.
As always when she was photographing, the task immersed her completely. She spent ages finding perfect angles and waiting for the correct light to land on details she needed to capture. The workshop might be ramshackle, but it looked charming in photographs.
She tried to get inside the dry dock and the workshop too, but like with the new gate, all the doors and windows had been recently covered with plywood. It had to be the work of the new owner, but she couldn’t fathom why they were so determined to keep people out. If they intended to demolish the place, what did it matter if local kids did some damage to the place.
Only because she relied on perfect light did she notice the sky darkening alarmingly fast. A storm was rising from the sea. It was overdue, the month had been hot, but in her opinion it could have waited for one more day.
Frowning in annoyance, Zoe considered her options. She couldn’t get home fast enough to avoid the downpour. Even if she could catch a bus immediately, the shipyard was some way away from the nearest stop. And she would have to make her way over the fence first.
She dashed towards the main building. She might find cover in one of its niches. Preferably on the far side where the wind wouldn’t throw the rain on her.
As she turned a corner to the far end of the building, she saw a window where the plywood had been partially removed to allow illicit access into the building. It was slightly too high up for her, but she would have to try – and fast. Already the first drops were falling.
She put her camera and tripod back into her bag and fastened it to her back. Taking a hold of the windowsill, she hoisted herself on the level with it and dove into the opening just as the skies opened. Only to get stuck.
“Bloody hell!” With her backpack on, she couldn’t fit through. She made to drop on the ground again to take it off, but she couldn’t move. The backpack was stuck on something.
No matter how much she wiggled, the bag wouldn’t come loose. She didn’t dare to make large movements, in case she broke her camera, but she couldn’t hang here much longer either, her torso inside the building and her legs protruding out of the window, in the heavy rain.
She couldn’t even reach her pocket to get her mobile phone. Besides, she couldn’t exactly call the fire brigade, could she. She was trespassing here.
Exhausted, she let her body sag. The sill ground painfully into her stomach, making it difficult to breathe. She couldn’t take this much longer.
And then someone grabbed her legs.
“Gotcha! What do I have to do to keep you kids out? Don’t you know better? It’s dangerous here.” Aiden pulled the bare legs hanging out of the window, surprisingly shapely for a young kid, but they just wriggled and kicked against his hold. “Stop fighting and come out.”
He’d had a safety and security assessment done when he bought the place, and at its recommendation had put up a security fence and boarded all the windows. The dry dock especially had been deemed dangerous with its deep, unfenced basin. His insides went cold with a thought of what would happen if the children hurt themselves while on his premises.
The kid wouldn’t obey. Taking a better hold of the legs – and he really shouldn’t notice how great they looked – he pulled, only to be kicked in the chest. “That does it. Come out or I’ll call the police.”
“Don’t you think I’d come out if I could, you twit?”
The voice didn’t belong to a kid. “What do you mean?”
“Gee, I don’t know, maybe that I’m STUCK!”
Aiden paused to assess the situation. Rain was falling heavily, soaking through the jacket of his suit and her shorts. She was hanging over the sill on her stomach, a backpack on her back. The bag seemed to have got stuck to what was left of the window frame.
He was a tall man, but the window was a bit too high up for him to help her. “Hang on, I’ll have to get inside.”
“As if I have a choice.”
Pressing his head low against the downpour, he dashed around the house. The front door opened easily, the lock changed after he bought the place. It was dark inside and the penlight he had didn’t make a great difference, but he managed to get to the correct window without mishaps.
The torso protruding through the opening definitely didn’t belong to a teenager. “Are you sure it’s your backpack that’s stuck?” he asked innocently.
“Witty. Help me out.”
Chuckling, he went to detach the backpack. It took some manoeuvring, but eventually she was free. She made to glide back out the way she had come in, undoubtedly to run away before he could catch her. He would have none of that.
He grabbed her under her arms and pulled her easily in, even though she tried to wiggle free. She stood in front of him, full of defiance, and he saw why he would mistake her for a teenager. She barely reached his chin. “You’re not very tall.”
“Well aren’t you astute.”
She might have the attitude and the height of a teenager, but the body belonged to a grown woman with nice, lush curves that made his mouth dry for just looking. Her hair was a shoulder-length mess, but he couldn’t see the colour clearly in the dim light. Her face, likewise, was hidden in shadows. He shone the light to it and she grimaced and closed her eyes.
“Could you please point that thing elsewhere?”
“It occurs to me that I’m the one who should be making demands.” But he lowered the light.
“Are you the owner?”
“Aiden Rowe, at your service.” He bowed, the gesture elegant despite the soaked condition of his clothing. “Who might you be, and what are you doing here?”
“Zoe Lawrence.” She hesitated before offering her hand to him and he shook it. Her hand was small like everything about her. “I represent the Greenwich Conservation Society.”
“Those old biddies?”
She arched a brow. “Are you always this offensive?”
He bowed again, more stiffly this time, her words – and lofty tone – like an echo of his school days. “My apologies. I was merely surprised that a representative of such an esteemed society would stoop to trespassing.”
She had a good grace to look embarrassed. “Yes, well, you wouldn’t return our phone calls.”
“There was no need. I didn’t spend all that money to preserve this place. It needs to turn profit.”
“And it can even if you keep the existing buildings and merely convert the insides.”
“I’ve already discarded that option. It’s too time consuming and expensive.”
“But think of the PR value it would bring to your company,” she pleaded, but he shook his head.
“Out of the question. This plot needs to be empty by the end of the year.” He had a clear vision of how the estate would look and it didn’t include buildings that had been allowed to rot for half a century. […]
I hoped you liked the preview. The book should be out next week the latest. Stay tuned.