Yee har! I'm a multi-published author! After a nervous wait last night... yes I have no idea why but I was so nervous I couldn't sleep... Secret Intentions is now published in its e-version.
You can get it from...
Here is an excerpt of the first few pages...
Sheltering in the lee of the bell tower, Zani Best stared up at the imposing façade of Edes House and wondered whether suicide would be an easier option than going inside. It probably would, if she chose a painless, non-messy version. A bus roared past, charging up North Street toward the Market Cross. She almost managed a smile at the irony.
Cyanide, perhaps? Strychnine? She glanced around at the grey council chambers across the road and the huge cathedral that loomed behind her. Little chance of finding cyanide around here.
A movement in the shadowy cathedral porch made her hesitate and look more closely. She peered toward it, shivering a little, trying to make out the dark figure she thought she’d seen. The light rain had misted her glasses, and she pulled them off, squinting uneasily as she polished them dry on a corner of her scarf. The porch was empty when she put them back on. Must have been the ghost.
The wind gusted, and a cold drip from the roof of the bell tower landed on her head. She couldn’t stand there forever. She had a choice: Go inside, face Corbin de Villiers, lie, spy, do everything required to find out if he’d begun to stealthily orchestrate a management buyout. Or she could leave, go back to her own warm, safe office at the marina and seal her father’s fate.
She looked up at the building again. Her father’s words echoed in her mind: “Please, Zani, I could lose everything. We need you, darling.”
A tight ball of guilt lodged in her throat. She didn’t have a choice at all. She never had. Suddenly impatient, she hurried into the building.
“Just go on up, two flights of stairs then first door to your right.” Sunberri’s cheery receptionist pointed the way. “He’s expecting you. Don’t take the lift, it’ll be hours.” She was a local girl with a soft Sussex accent. Hours sounded like “aaahs”. “Good luck,” she added with a grin.
Zani climbed the stairs slowly. Her legs felt like lead. Each step took her closer to Corbin de Villiers. Closer to the man who could ruin her family. Anger at his transparent greed warred with fear. What if he succeeded? She couldn’t bear to think about it.
“Hello,” she called, and cleared her throat peering anxiously into the empty office, then took a couple of hesitant steps through the door.
Papers rustled and there was movement through a doorway on the opposite side of the room.
“You’re nearly four hours late.” He strode in frowning. “And then you go and waste even more time hanging about outside.”
“What?” stuttered Zani. “I’m sorry, I…” She scrambled to come up with an apology, twisting the end of her scarf around her fingers. The truth, that she’d been hiding in her own office at the marina until guilt and emotional blackmail from her father drove her to reluctantly drag herself to the Sunberri office in Chichester, would not help in this situation.
“Still, I suppose you’re here now, and that’s better than nothing,” he continued. “Do you think you’ll be as useless as the last temp I had?”
Zani knew one thing for sure. She’d make the last temp, no matter how woeful, look like an administration angel.
“Only if she spat in your coffee,” she said.
She tried not to enjoy the startled silence.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I said, only if she spat in your coffee. It was a joke.”
She’d seen a couple of blurry photos of Corbin de Villiers in the local papers, but they hadn’t done justice to the black smudges under his eyes and his grey face. He looked dreadful.
“I don’t appreciate your sense of humour,” he snapped.
Zani unwound her fingers from her scarf and settled her bag more firmly on her shoulder.
“That’s probably because you’ve got a cold.” She smiled sweetly.
“Somehow I doubt that, and I’m not sick.”
“You look sick. Your eyes are all bloodshot and your nose is red,” she said with some satisfaction. It wasn’t every day you got to tell local most-eligible-bachelor he looked awful. Though, despite his cold, his wavy chocolate hair and crystal blue eyes made an enticing combination. She’d imagined him to be shorter, more evil looking, with piggy greedy eyes or a cunning squint. “You should take something for it.”
His scowl became even more forbidding, and there was another silence, this one not quite as enjoyable as the last.
“Look. Here.” She dug about in her handbag and produced a crumpled foil packet of painkillers. “Take two of these, they’ll make you feel better.”
His frown didn’t budge. “Thank you but no, I don’t believe in drugs. When I’m sick I believe in letting my immune system fight the infection.”
“What, your body’s a temple, is it?” she asked, snorting in amusement at the thought.
“Which agency did you say you came from?” He asked the question mildly, though the threat was crystal clear.
Zani twisted her fingers in her scarf again. She hadn’t come from an agency. Her brother Paul, Sunberri’s Chief Financial Officer, had hurried her into the role, telling the head of Human Resources she was his stockbroker’s niece. Obviously nobody had mentioned it to Corbin de Villiers.
She hesitated, the carefully rehearsed explanations fading as she realised how ridiculous they were going to sound. Stockbroker’s niece? What had Paul been thinking?
De Villiers’s gaze dropped to her hands and the twisted scarf.
“Is this my desk?” She pointed with the end of her scarf and strode past him in a brusque, businesslike way.
Zani glanced around quickly enough to see him examining the ceiling with an expression of pure exasperation. He muttered something that sounded distinctly uncomplimentary and shook his head slightly. “You haven’t told me your name yet,” he said and followed her across the room. She moved quickly around the desk, wanting to keep it between them, as if it’d provide some protection.
“Oh Zaniah, er, Chis…um, Chiswick, but everyone calls me Zani.”
The lie came more easily than she’d thought. Chiswick had been her mother’s maiden name, and to say it aloud was almost a comfort. Almost. Corbin de Villiers watched her expectantly, and she wondered if she should hold out her hand, shake his, but then baulked at the thought of touching him. Touching tended to be something she avoided, especially when bad-tempered, virus-ridden company CEOs were involved.
“Zani, then. My name is Corbin le Joli de Villiers de Saint Marc. I shorten it to de Villiers, but you can call me Corbin. This is your desk, Zani.” He gestured toward it with a faintly mocking smile. “Please, take a seat.”