It gives me great pleasure and much excitement to welcome, Jane Lovering onto the blog.With an exclusive peek at Jane's upcoming release, Starstruck! Take it away, Jane...
Hello. It’s me again. Gosh, I like what you’ve done with the place since my last visit, walls are always a nice touch. And a waterproof carpet..ah, you know me too well...
Anyway. Before I start rambling...oh. Too late. Well, never mind, I’ll just have to get on with it. I’m paying this short visit.. more of a visitette, I suppose, a visitina... to tell you about my latest novel Starstruck (out on 01 September from those lovely and tolerant people at Choc Lit) and also to drop another clue (or more) for the hugely popular Competition (which I know you are all foaming at the mouth to be able to enter).
So. Starstruck. I expect you’ve all been over to http://www.choc-lit.co.uk/html/star_struck.html and checked out the blurb and the cover (and a truly lovely picture of me) so I thought I’d give you a sneak preview of a snippet...
I didn’t have a long wait. Fe shook his head hard, like a horse that’s been bitten by a fly, then looked at me with dead eyes. ‘You stupid little bitch,’ he said.
‘Fe, I didn’t…’
‘Didn’t what, lover? Didn’t do it? Oh, maybe not, but you wanted Gethryn Tudor-Morgan, and you’ve been fooling around with Whitaker for anyone to see. If you’d had any sense you’d have stayed clear of the both of them but, no. Skye sees, Skye wants, Skye takes.’
‘That’s not fair!’
‘But they weren’t playing, were they?’ Felix had both hands bunched by his sides, his words were coming out in short bursts like verbal punches. ‘They weren’t falling for the poor little girl routine. Maybe they saw right through it, saw the real you underneath this whole “I’m so damaged” act, maybe they saw you for the manipulative, self-obsessed whore that you really are!’
‘Hey.’ I looked up and Jack was standing beside us, unlit cigarette between his fingers. ‘It’s a misunderstanding. No need to take it out on Skye, Felix.’ In one smooth move he turned away from Fe, caught me by the elbow and half-dragged me out through the doors into the yard outside, my shoes still hanging from my finger. Once in the open air he lit his cigarette. ‘Why did you tell him? In the middle of all this? Couldn’t it have waited?’
‘It had to come from me, Jack. That was only right.’
There was a noise behind us. Felix was standing a few feet away, hands on hips. He’d taken off the fur coat and his T shirt was sweat-drenched. His hair had flopped from its spikes across his forehead and his eyes were almost dark in his pale face. He came fast, before either of us knew what he intended; his compact body hit Jack in the midriff, shoulder first, sending Jack skewering down onto the dusty ground, then his fists followed up with a poorly-aimed double blow to the face. But Felix was drunk and Jack was fitter and taller. He sliced to his feet underneath Felix, pushing him over until Fe thumped onto his back, lying sprawled and breathless with fists still balled. ‘Don’t,’ Jack said, straightening up. ‘Really. Don’t.’ He retrieved his cigarette and blew the dust off the tip. ‘Bugger. It’s gone out.’
I looked up and saw a small crowd beginning to gather in the doorway, all staring out into the yard, where Felix lay trying to get his breath back while Jack, looking rumpled, frantically tried to relight his cigarette. I wanted to say something, anything to make this all right again, but I couldn’t think of a bloody thing.
Lissa rescued us. She arrived at the front of the crowd, looking spectacular and thin and bringing with her two of the burliest security men. ‘Okay, nothing to see, guys.’ She spoke over the speculative rumblings. ‘Just a private matter?’ The question was aimed at Jack, over my head. He did the twisted-mouth thing again and blew smoke high into the air, and she marshalled the security team to push everyone back inside the diner. Just before she followed, she hissed at Jack, ‘just take your bar-brawl somewhere else, Ice, yeah? Go play out the jealous boyfriend performance where no-one can see, I can’t hold this forever.’
Jack jerked his head at me and I followed as he walked further out into the night, stopping when we got past the circle of lights which described the edge of the car park. Felix came with us at a wary distance. This wasn’t over.
‘Okay.’ Jack leaned against the tree under which I’d met Gethryn. ‘What’s this really about?’
I shook my head. ‘Felix is angry that I hung around with you and Geth, he thinks I blew the quiz.’
But Jack wasn’t looking at me. He was looking at Felix, whose head hung forward as though it was too heavy for his neck, the soaked T shirt had pulled out of shape and twisted around his body and his carefully trendy jeans were caked with dust. He was crying, lumpy tears streaking down his face and rolling onto his chest. I thought back to what Lissa had said, about watching for the real Felix, behind the drugs and the nymphomania. Was that what I was seeing now – the real man?
A slow, uneven headshake and a long sobbing intake of breath. It didn’t even look like Felix any more, this leaden, hunched figure. His hair had gone flat, and the old Felix would have been frantic, teasing fingers through it to spike it back. This man just stood, unaware.
‘Leave him a minute, Skye.’ Jack’s voice was surprisingly gentle, considering that Felix had tried to beat his head in. ‘Let him settle.’
Felix collapsed forward, landing on his hands and knees then crouching back so that his legs were against his chest and his arms encircled them, pulling himself in. He laid his head on his updrawn knees and continued to sob, white-knuckled.
I felt sympathetic tears prick my own eyes and gulped past the wideness in my throat so that I could speak. ‘Is this drugs?’
Felix spoke then, his voice harsh and torn. ‘No. It’s you.’
Jack, showing extraordinary courage I thought, crouched beside him. ‘Felix,’ he said softly, ‘losing the quiz prize doesn’t have to be the end of it, you know. I’m writing a part, not huge but pivotal, Seran Vye. I think you’d be perfect for it. I’ll recommend you.’ Then he looked up at me. ‘Course, the price of that is that I have to complete Vye’s story arc. That’s at least three more scripts.’
‘You’d do that, just for this?’ I stared at him.
‘Hey, it’s still my show. I can do what I like until I hand over.’ A steady look. ‘It’s partly my fault you lost out. I should have known. I should have stayed away from everyone, like I usually do. It was just…’ He lowered his head and hid his expression. ‘So, yeah. Making amends.’ He reached out and rubbed Felix’s back gently. ‘But this, this is more.’
Fe looked up then. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘It’s more. It’s fucking everything.’ Jack waited. A few seconds passed and Felix reached out. Grabbed Jack’s hand and held it. ‘I’m falling apart.’
‘You’ve been holding it together too long.’ Jack blew a ribbon of smoke. ‘Let us in, Felix. It’ll help.’
Their joined hands were white with pressure from Felix’s fingers. ‘Fe.’ I bent down too, letting the dress sweep the dust. ‘If it’s me, if it’s something I did, I’m sorry.’
A muffled laugh. Felix had his mouth pressed against his knees now, as if he was afraid words would leak out without his permission. ‘You! It’s all been about you, hasn’t it?’
So, there you go. A tiny peek at the HERO, our HEROINE, a bit of NAME dropping... WHAT more could you want?
Thank you all for having me. Er. Not that you did, of course. Have me, I mean. No. I’m just smiling because I’m happy...
Jane Lovering is the author of three novels (Starstruck will be her fourth), mother of five children, owner of cats, dogs and chickens, and will maintain with her dying breath that she is human – she’s got certificates to prove it and everything – despite persistent attempts to beam her off the planet for the good of humanity.