TODAY I'M DELIGHTED TO WELCOME THE LOVELY SHANI STRUTHERS BACK TO MY BLOG TO TELL US ABOUT HER LATEST BOOK......
When worlds collide…
Two years ago death drove Aiden Taylor from UK shores and now death has drawn him back. Mourning the loss of his wife, he is returning to bury his father-in-law and support the remaining members of her family – her mother, Lily and sister, Leo.
Coming home on the same plane is Isabella, enthusiastic and with a zest for life, she is in many ways the opposite of him. Realising his history, she tries to fight the instant attraction she feels but her thoughts linger long after they’ve landed.
Leo is distraught – she’s lost her sister and her beloved father too. Her boyfriend Damien should be a comfort but he is far from it. Instead, it is Aiden she increasingly comes to rely on. In grief they understand each other.
Unable to forget her encounter with the ‘perfect stranger’, Isabella heads to Cornwall to track him down but, as three worlds collide, tragedy threatens to strike again…
Set in North Cornwall and featuring members from the popular Runaway series – Joseph, Layla, Hannah, Jim and Mick – The Return can be read as a standalone novel or as the third and final book in the trilogy.
“I have come down here to scout for Bryony, but there is another reason and I think you’ve guessed it.”
He waited for her to elaborate.
“To find you.”
He was stunned. He’d known that was her intent, instinct told him, yet still her honesty was incredible. She was transparent, this girl who stood before him, almost wilfully so. He’d expected more excuses, lies, denials, more insistence on what a coincidence it all was. What he hadn’t expected was a full-on confession and so soon.
He turned away, hunkered down on his knees and looked out to sea. The last girl to impress him like that had been Tara; but she had always impressed him, every minute of every day. He sensed movement by his side. Isabella was kneeling too.
“The sand’s wet. Your jeans will get dirty.”
“I’m not worried about my jeans,” she returned. Instead she pointed into the distance. “That rock out there, it’s huge, it looks like a shark’s fin rising up out of the water.”
“That’s Gull Rock, impossible to reach, even when the tide is out.”
“On foot you mean?”
“And the cliffs behind us, I bet they’ve got caves in them.”
“They must be incredible to explore. Scary I should think.”
“And the castle, I want to find out all about it, its history.”
“You do that.”
Like him, she clearly saw no point in engaging further in small talk.
“The reason this whole job with Bryony came about was because of you. I’d… well… I think you know I liked you from the moment we met, on the plane I mean. And I realise that feeling isn’t reciprocated, so please, don’t think I’m under any illusion about that.” She paused to take a breath. “I told Bryony about you, about how I felt, I told her you were heading for Port Levine. It just so happens she knew of someone in North Cornwall too, Hannah, her client, that much is a coincidence.” She shrugged her shoulders, but not in a nonchalant way, it held more gravitas than that. “We struck up a plan I suppose. I came down here not only to work but to look for you.”
“I see,” he replied although in truth he didn’t. Why on earth would this woman actively seek out someone like him? She seemed lively, eager and full of hope; his antithesis.
Adjusting her position, she sat down properly and stretched her legs out before her, they were long, he noticed, and slim. He did the same, not caring either about how damp it was beneath him. To the side of him were a few stones, so he leant over, picked one up, felt how smooth it was, perfectly oval, and then he threw it, watching as it disappeared.
“Hannah doesn’t know I know you, but she mentioned a funeral she recently attended. Was that funeral your father-in-law’s?”
“So you keep saying.”
Aiden turned to her, turned on her if he were honest. “No, you look, I held your hand because you were frightened, there was nothing more to it than that.”
“I don’t want someone chasing after me. I’m not in the market for a relationship.”
If he thought she’d recoil at his words, would stand up and leave, he was wrong.
“I’m just here to do my job now. Nothing more.”
Her calm took the wind out of his sails.
She turned to look at him, a smile softening already soft features. “I really am sorry. Coming down here, looking for you, a stranger virtually, I’ve never done anything like it before. If I knew why you’d come back to England and how upset you must be, I would have stayed away. The last thing I want to do is make you angry.”
“You’re not the reason I’m angry.”
He looked at her, held her gaze. “Do you?”
“Actually, I probably don’t. I can only imagine the pain you’re in.”
“Only imagine?” His bitterness was evident. “You don’t know how lucky you are.”
She gave a slight nod of her head. “My life has been blessed, I admit it. But I don’t think anyone gets through life unscathed. We all lose people we love in the end.”
“In the end. But for me, for us, it was just the beginning.”
“You’d just got married hadn’t you?”
“Who told you?” Even he baulked at the harshness of his tone; it was as though he’d forgotten how to speak normally, at least to Isabella.
“Layla, in the pub. We got chatting.”
“About me and Tara?”
“Strangely yes, although that too was coincidence, she didn’t know I knew you.”
“You don’t know me.”
“No, I realise that. But by the same token, you don’t know me either. I’m not a stalker, despite huge evidence to the contrary.”
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