It's Friday, end of week one of my HDYSL blog tour, so I thought I'd post up an exclusive-to-this-blog extract from my novel.
How Do You Spell Love? (HDYSL) is my recently released romcom with a magical theme, published by Crooked Cat.
“Cupcakes? You’re kidding?”
Kat shook her head. “Nope, not kidding. It’s the latest idea from my boss, Janice. She wants to see how well they’re received. Go ahead, try one, they’re free, just for today.”
“Yeah, go on. Jason, try that pink one. You’re a right fairy anyway, it’ll suit you,” jeered one of the other builders.
“And you’re a…”
“Lads! Lads!” Alex strolled over to Kat’s van just in time to diffuse the tension. “If Kat’s boss wants feedback on her cupcakes then you lot are well qualified to give it. I’ve never seen any of you refuse a cake yet…”
“But they’re pink and glittery…” one of the younger lads said, staring at the tray of cupcakes as though they might bite him or worse.
“Don’t worry, it’s edible glitter,” chimed in Kat encouragingly with a smile.
“It wasn’t the sparkly bits he was bothered about, was it, John?”
“Look, just all of you get a cake, sort your sandwiches and stop bothering Kat,” chipped in Alex in an irritated voice. “We’ve more important things to worry about than pink cupcakes and how they might or might not affect John’s manhood.”
The others broke into gales of laughter but did as they’d been told. Selecting cakes – the pastel blue and pale yellow ones went first, Kat noticed – and then sandwiches before the majority disappeared off to the various little dens on the site in which they sat and ate their lunches.
“Something wrong?” Kat asked as she ferreted in her cash box for change for a five pound note. “Only, you seem a bit agitated.”
“Sorry,” Alex replied, rubbing the back of his hand across his forehead. “Bad day I guess.”
“Anything I can help with?” Hastily Kat grabbed a roast beef and mustard bap from the tray – seconds before one of the builder’s hands grasped it. “Sorry, that one’s reserved,” she said, slipping the cob into the pocket of her apron and smiling apologetically at the builder in question. She knew that beef and mustard was Alex’s favourite and it had been the only one left on the tray.
“I doubt it.” Softening his voice as the last of the crew walked away, Alex added, “Unless you have hidden detective prowess that will enable you to catch whoever is steadily trashing this site at night.”
“More vandalism?” asked Kat as she offered the beef and mustard bap to Alex.
Taking it with a smile he retrieved some coins from the back pocket of his jeans and offered them to Kat. “Thanks for saving my favourite for me. Much appreciated.”
“You’re welcome,” Kat smiled back. “And you didn’t answer my question.”
He nodded, unwrapping the bap. “Yep, more vandalism. Last night. They broke into the site office and smashed up the two computers in there. Then they trashed some of the portaloos.”
“My God, that’s terrible,” Kat found herself saying. OK, so she was against the development in principle but over the past few weeks she’d grown increasingly fond of the lads who worked on the site. Especially Alex. On several occasions they’d chatted and shared a cup of tea or coffee when she’d visited the site whilst the lads debated over their lunchtime refreshments.
“Has your boss been to visit the site since the trouble began?”
The frown reappeared on Alex’s face. “Yes. Last week. Didn’t help matters any. I’m under strict instructions to secure the site last thing at night and to make sure everything inside the gates is also locked up tight. You know, try to minimise opportunity and all that. I was doing all of that anyway but somehow they’re still getting in.”
“And you’ve no idea who might be behind it all?”
Alex shook his head and, bap finished, rolled up the cling film wrapper into a tight ball before slipping it into his pocket. “No specifics. Like you’ve said before though, there are plenty of folk around here who object to this development. Could be anyone really.”
Tidying various trays back into the van and preparing to leave, Kat asked, “Is your boss going to arrange for some night security then? Get someone to patrol the place after dark?”
“He said he didn’t want to have to pay out for that but would if things got any worse.”
Kat closed the van doors and then leaned back against them. “Surely the damage must cost more than it would cost to pay for security?”
“He can claim back computer repairs and all that on the insurance but the insurance company won’t pay for security guards.”
“I see,” Kat replied, watching as a stunningly gorgeous woman made her way towards them from one of the few site buildings that was nearing completion.
Following her gaze, Alex turned and spotted the woman. The frown returning yet again to his forehead.
“Trouble?” asked Kat, curious who the woman was. She was wearing a tasteful lilac chiffon blouse with tailored back trousers and neat, low heeled shoes that managed to combine femininity with building site practicality.
The woman stopped close to Alex, took off her yellow hard hat and tossed her ponytail. Grinning at Alex she said, “Well, I think I’ve got a good idea on how I’d like things to look for that show property now. When you’ve got a moment, perhaps we could go into your office and chat things through?”
“Er, OK. Give me a few minutes to finish up here, Sal. Why don’t you go on inside and I’ll be with you shortly.”
With a curious glance at Kat, the woman nodded and then reluctantly turned away and headed towards the site office.
“That’s Sally,” explained Alex. “She’s the company’s interior designer. Plot four is almost ready for final fixings inside so she’s on site working out what style to do the interiors in. She’ll sort out the decoration and furnishing of the house ready for it becoming the first show home.”
Jason walked past, his arms laden with bricks. “See Sally found you then,” he winked at Alex.
Turning to Kat, he added, “Our Sally’s got the hots for Alex, big time. Made it blatantly obvious that she’d like the two of them to get together, so she has.”
“Jason, don’t you have a wall to build?” Alex admonished.
“Yes, boss.” Grinning at Kat, he continued his gossip, “Rumour has it she’s even asked him out to dinner on more than one occasion but for some reason he refuses. The lads reckon we should get him booked in for one of those eye tests, his sight can’t be right if he’s turning down a woman like Sal.”
“Jason! Work!” Alex snapped.
“Sorry, boss. Yes, boss. On my way now, boss.” As a parting shot he added, “Anyway, you don’t want to be keeping Sally waiting in your office, now do you?”
“Well, I’d better get going,” Kat said hurriedly as she fiddled with checking that the van doors were closed and locked properly. Suddenly she felt very irritated. “I’ll let you get to your meeting with Sally. See you tomorrow.”
As Kat climbed into her van and turned the ignition, Alex walked round to the door and crouched down, leaning his elbows on the open window. “You don’t have to rush off. Maybe we could…”
A growing sense of panic and confusion crowded in on Kat. Selecting first gear, fixing a smile on her face and in her most cheery voice she said, “Got to go. Bye, Alex.”
As she carefully negotiated the bumpy track out of the site, Kat tried to calm her breathing. This couldn’t be happening. She wouldn’t allow it. She was just starting to get over the whole Nathan episode. Finally. The last thing she needed was to fall for Alex. Even if you ignored the fact that he was project manager of a controversial housing development, something she was in theory still against, contemplating getting involved with Alex still wasn’t a good idea. Especially with women like Sally on the scene. She wasn’t about to try to compete with the likes of her, all swishy blond hair, perfect figure, immaculately dressed and intelligent to boot. No. She would just have to ensure that things between her and Alex stayed purely on a delivering sandwiches basis.