My first novel, Stretching It, was published on 13th June 2013 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. It’s also available on Amazon and Kindle.
It tells the story of plump PA Jennifer Spendlove, who at 32, no longer wants to put her life on hold to care for her hypochondriac Mum, Alicia. A habit of telling white lies to keep the peace contributes to her sense of stuckness. But when she embarks on a quest to change her life – beginning with a series of lonely hearts dates – it’s very difficult to be honest. And when a sex-crazed Italian hairdresser enters the frame and her new boss offers her an opportunity that might be either a blessing or a curse, it becomes almost impossible. To add to the complications, Jennifer isn’t the only one stretching the truth…
And here’s another extract – from Chapter 26, Custard cream
Few personal items were in evidence in Salvatore’s bedroom: nothing stood by the bed except a box of tissues and a digital alarm clock. Perhaps if you’d slid open a wardrobe door, a jumble of jumpers and trousers would have tumbled out. But in front of that door, everything was antiseptically neat and tidy. The mirror above his bed reflected this. It also reflected them: her pale spreading acreage next to his neat brown allotment.
‘Why don’t we ever go out together?’ she asked.
He pulled a face. He was lying flat on his back, while she propped up the headboard. ‘Many reasons, I think.’
‘I am too horny. I would not be able to keep my hands off your body in public.’
‘We could always, um, do it first. Then go out somewhere afterwards.’
‘But where you want go that is better than ‘ere? What is point of meal, drink, pictures, when what we really want is what come after?’
She pulled the sheet over her cooling body. ‘The point is to enjoy each other’s company in a different way. They’re showing Il Postino at the Hyde Park next week.’
The Hyde Park was an independent cinema in the student area that had never been modernised. You sat on hard, torn velour seats, surrounded by ornate Victoriana. It had surely been the last cinema in England to dispense with usherettes. Jennifer loved it.
‘It’s an Italian film,’ she elaborated. ‘About a postman. About Pablo Neruda actually.’
‘The poet,’ she added.
He nodded vaguely. There were surprising gaps in his English.
‘So, shall we go?’ she persisted.
He rolled over to the edge of the bed and sat up. ‘How long is film?’
‘An hour and a half.’
‘And how long the mother stay, at the old biddy group?’
‘Oh, two hours. Two and a half, if you count getting there and back. We’d have time. But even if we didn’t, it wouldn’t matter.’
He put on his slippers. ‘But the way we make it now, you don’t ‘ave to tell her you going out. I thought that is what you want, eh?’
Jennifer sighed. ‘I did at first. Whereas now… well, I don’t want to skulk about forever.’
‘But is modern way! Is our little secret. Is more exciting this way, no?’
‘Well, yes. But…’
‘Also is difficult for me in the salon. I no want advertise private life, there. If you Mama know, maybe she tell other customer.’
Jennifer shrugged, not seeing what the problem was.
‘Anyway, is not right,’ said Salvatore decisively. ‘ Is not right, tell the mother about the sex life.’
‘I wasn’t going to mention sex. Just that we’re, well, going out together.’
It wasn’t the right expression.
‘In my country,’ he said, ‘you tell the mother you are going out together, as you put it, and the next thing she expect is the wedding bells.’
He reached for his dressing gown. ‘This poet film is important for you, yes?’
‘Well, it’s a good film. But a different film would do.’
‘Ah. Maybe then I get video, DVD? We watch ‘ere.’
It wasn’t quite the same. But at least he was making an effort.
He took her hand. ‘As for the mother, let us not disturb. I not want everything to be spoil.’
He lowered his head, rather gracefully, and kissed her hand.
‘Well, alright,’ she said. ‘But if you’re worried that my mother will disapprove, she won’t. She really likes you, you know.’
He put up his hand to forestall her. ‘One thing I know. What a woman like for herself, she not always like for her daughter.”
He spoke with such authority that she had to believe him.