Our Babies

I’ve had Eve’s Christmas, A Passionate Judgement and The Spaniard’s Suspicion on Amazon and Smashwords as eBooks for a few months. But my husband loves to hold a real book in his hand, so now all three are published through FeedARead, UK. They are his babies and he’s proud of them. Here they are with their big sister All Naked & Bare (which has been re-titled A Woman’s Place on the internet) Please no innuendo. We think A Woman’s Place – the way it was suitImages the story line much better than the original title.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

During the past few weeks I’ve friendship had some really moving experiences that have brought me to tears. I’m not talking about the weigh-in scales, which quite often can bring tears of frustration. No, it’s tears of joy welling up in my eyes. I’ve been given gifts from the heart. Naturally these gifts touched me deep inside and made me think of how important a positive attitude is. Personal problems have dragged me down to the point where I’ve realised emotional pain is much harder to deal with than physical. But when a colleague or friend, or several of them, show they care, it caused me to rethink. I decided I needed an attitude of gratitude. So I thought back to when I first lost 25 kilos. I was miserable about the loose skin, but I found a simple answer to deal with my problem. Maybe I can’t find a simple answer now, but I do know with the love and caring being offered to me, I can keep going and enjoy life.

This is my ditty:                                                                                                                                   So before i start, let me get this straight, I’m really chuffed to have lost so much weight   But into each life some rain must fall. I must decide if it matters at all.                               My arms have gone funny, with more wrinkles than skin, and my neck is so scrawny only a surgeon will win                                                                                                                         My family has a fund to resurrect me; my face needs a kniife, as does my belly                   My teeth are so loose they fall when I smile, and my shoes drop off if I walk for a while     The worst part of all, I hesitate to say, are my boobs, which I’m afraid, just won’t stay         They sag quite a lot, in fact they’re so thin, that I fold them in half and then tuck them in    But I have to say, as I get older and older, it’s become quite easy to get bolder and bolder   I step out in public quite readily you see, but I make sure I’m covered from neck through to knee


scales for weight




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Merry Christmas

Meg and Clyde Pilley would like to join Ron and me to wish you the happiest Christmas and New Year filled with love and sharing. We hope the gifts you give and receive are from the heart. Our wish is also that you will have good health and a peaceful mind as you look towards 2017. Each day we are faced with challenges as our lives change. But I know that with courage we can all have a wonderful future.

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Do You Love a Bad Boy?

A lot of readers seem to be drawn to a “Bad Boy”. How many prefer Colin Farrell over Tom Cruise? If you’re older, think of the effect of macho man Clarke Gable when compared to  the unassuming James Stewart. My personal hero, Clyde Pilley, is back in another adventure. He is mellowing – okay, only a little, but he seems to be accepting retirement.

I’m not about to tell you Clyde is fearless, although sometimes, when faced with life-threatening situtaions, he is. At times he can be a bit rude and thoughtless, and yes, definitely not politically correct. But isn’t that what we all wish we could do- think what we like and ocassionally express our opinion without fear of being labelled?

My new book, Brink of the Blue, is the third in the Meg and Clyde Pilley mystery series and takes them out of Australia for most of the book.I hope you’ll enjoy catching up with them again.20160808_090941


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First of all, I’d like to thank all the library lovers who borrowed Dark Visions. When I recently returned from overseas I had a nice payment waiting.  Now my new book, the third in the series, Brink of the Blue, is almost ready to be released. I hope those same readers will enjoy it.

In Brink of the Blue Meg and Clyde Pilley do what most Australians like to do – they go on an ocean cruise. But life for the Pilleys is never uneventful.  On board the ship they met scam artists who start  them on a journey into the world of art fraud.

Worst of all, they are faced with sexual bullying of the most evil kind with a devastating outcome.

Will they solve these crimes while in International waters?

Will their lives be safe when there is Brink of the Blue 2more than a million dollars at stake?

How are they going to come put on top with this one?


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More of Brink of the Blue


As promised, I’m posting chapter two of my latest book Brink of the Blue. The cover will be revealed within the next two months.

Clyde            Monday night and Tuesday morning

Clyde Pilley knew Death waited with open arms. Closing his eyes, he saw the ghastly figure astride a horse. It was the horrible image on the Tarot card his wife, Meg, liked to look at. And to prove him right, the grim reaper’s accomplice, the cruise ship, heaved through another wave. He groaned, rolled over in the bed, and clutched his stomach. Whose stupid idea was it to go on a cruise? It was Meg’s fault. She said a trip to the Pacific Islands would be relaxing. Relaxing! Ever since the ship had left Sydney and tackled the rough ocean his belly had been shitty: not to mention other parts of his body.

Not feeling at all happy with the state of things, he glanced around the cabin, their quarters for the remainder of the trip. The round porthole opposite the bed wasn’t large, and it was sealed. As far as he was concerned the best thing about the sea was the salty smell. None of that proved to be around on this cruise. Fresh air was shut out in the air conditioned closed off ship. Of course, if he wanted to go outside on the deck, he could. But who wanted to do that when looking at the choppy waves aggravated his sea-sickness?

According to Meg, most of the passengers had attended last night’s entertainment in the huge auditorium. The show had been on only five hours after they’d boarded. She’d raved about it when she got back: the costume changes, the choreographed dancing, and the familiar tunes.

Tonight she’d dressed in her finery and gone out again.  The perfume she’d sprayed remained in the atmosphere. He’d bought her that cologne for her last birthday, and it seemed an insult she’d doused herself while she happily prepared to let his brother, Mick, take her to a night’s fun outing. A comedy routine had been promoted in the daily activity newsletter they got, and Clyde cursed the fact he’d missed out. He could do with a laugh – a good belly laugh. He moaned and rubbed his aching stomach, being careful not to apply too much pressure to his unfortunate body.

Of course, his wife and brother didn’t care he was absent from their celebration. They’d talked to him as though he were a mooching idiot, not someone in real pain. This was the second night in a row he’d remained in bed while they’d gallivanted. Yesterday afternoon the ship had left port soon after lunch. Within an hour of setting sail on the open sea his stomach had started its churning. He hadn’t eaten for the rest of the day. And that had continued since. He’d only left his bed to go to the bathroom.

Did that make any difference to his wife’s attitude? No! Meg had suggested if Clyde were to get dressed and go with them, he’d actually feel better. He knew his face looked green, but that didn’t mean he was a total idiot. How he’d let his wife persuade him to come on this supposed enjoyable holiday against his better judgement remained a mystery.

That was probably unfair. If he thought about it, he shouldn’t blame Meg entirely. When she’d suggested the three of them could go away together to help Mick get over the death of his wife, Enid, Clyde had agreed. It sounded like a good idea.

Five months had passed since Enid’s murder, and Mick remained down in the dumps. Hell, his spirits had plummeted so far Clyde wondered why Mick’s face hadn’t turned a bluish green with algae: just like the buccaneers in limbo between the real world and death Clyde had seen in a ridiculous pirate movie. Mick had loved his wife, not that Clyde understood that fact. He’d found Enid to be loud, silly and unattractive. But it took all sorts.

Moonlight struggled through the porthole opposite his bed, but he wasn’t tempted to try to see if the scenery looked appealing. Who wanted to look at the ocean anyway? His luck was in such a spiral he knew if he got a good deal on a cemetery plot tonight, they would discover a magic potion so people would live forever. The whole cruise situation reminded him of a disaster movie. And to make things worse, he wouldn’t have the strength to put on a lifejacket and fight for a place on a lifeboat if the ship were to go down.

Giggling and silly yahoo noises came from the corridor outside. Clyde clenched his teeth. He’d heard about the hijinks on cruises. Bloody hell! Wasn’t there all kind of nightclubs and other activities happening on another level? What the hell were they doing cavorting around with their nonsense in his corridor? Those twits out there better keep their ruckus down or they’d have to deal with him. Even if he had to get off his deathbed, he’d take them in hand.

The disturbance moved away, and Clyde closed his eyes. For some reason, the rocking motion of the ship seemed to settle, and he drifted off to sleep.

Soft buzzing from Meg’s hair dryer woke him the next morning. The small bathroom was separated from their bed area by a combined wall and cupboard. The room wasn’t large, but sufficient for their needs; they were to eat out every meal. Clyde stretched his arms above his head before tentatively touching his gut. He felt better.

Before moving, he lay still contemplating the ceiling, then looked at the sunlight filtering through the porthole. Something was different.  Then the realisation hit him over the head. At the moment he felt as though a divine light shone from the porthole. It was his personal epiphany. Well, maybe there weren’t any angels with harps, but things couldn’t be better. There was no rocking! The ship was calm, so even, so lacking in movement, he thought perhaps it had stopped.

He sat up and lowered his legs over the side of the bed, and then rose into an upright position, taking his weight on shaky legs. The whole process seemed to be in slow motion, but he felt so good about being vertical he almost let out a cheer. Yep! He would be able to walk. It was truly some kind of divine intervention, proving his prayers had worked. For the past couple of days he’d felt he was close to passing into that other world Meg liked to visit when she was having one of her visions. But yes, he’d escaped death again.

‘You missed a great night.’ Meg stood, clad in her dressing gown, at the end of the queen-sized bed, her light brown hair shining around her smiling face. ‘As well as the comedy act, they did some beautifully choreographed numbers from Singing in the Rain.’

Clyde grunted. ‘Thanks for that titbit. What time did you get in?’

Shrugging, his wife turned back towards the wardrobe area. ‘I don’t remember. It wasn’t too late. You were snoring. Why don’t you have a shower and we can go get a buffet breakfast? I’ll put your clothes out for you so you don’t have to worry.’

Clyde let her know he’d do what she asked by making another noise that could pass for “Yes Dear”, and made for the shower. Surprisingly, once he’d enjoyed the warm water and pulled on his shorts and T-shirt he felt so much better he looked forward to venturing to the breakfast area.

‘Is Mick coming with us?’ he asked Meg, who stood before him, now dressed in a pink and blue sundress.  He had to admit she looked years younger. Even though she hadn’t been in the sun much, her skin glowed with a rosy pink flush of good health. At least this holiday was benefiting one of them.

She shook her head. ‘He didn’t know how you’d be feeling this morning, so he told me not to wait for him. We’ll probably see him at the buffet.’

They locked their room and started up the narrow corridor, knowing that the staff would be in later to do their bit, tidy up, and change the linen. Already a trolley full of cleaning equipment sat against the wall further up the hallway. A small Filipino woman bent over it, reaching for something. Clyde watched her for a few seconds. She seemed friendly, nodding and smiling at another couple that passed by her. Winning the customers over, Clyde thought. They’ve all been well trained.

Even though Clyde had been in bed yesterday, the little brown-skinned man who’d come into the room had twisted a towel or two into a cute dog shape and sat it on the window sill. Clyde had been puzzled as to what made a young man think that would be a useful job, or even necessary, but he’d been too sick to start a conversation to try to find out. Naturally Meg thought the blue and white striped pseudo animal was cute and had taken several photos.

It made him a little nervous to think the young man, plus other cleaners, had access to their room while they weren’t there. Perhaps he could consider coming back and surprising them sometime just to see if they were looking through his belongings?

‘We’re here,’ Meg said, interrupting his thoughts. He realised they’d walked up one snug wooden walled corridor, and around to another area where the lifts were situated.

‘I can’t remember which floor we need to go to.’

‘I think you mean deck,’ Meg said, pushing the button. ‘I’ll get it.’

Although Clyde felt he’d never eat again, once they reached the appropriate level and had strolled past the swimming pool and deck chairs, which were already occupied with sun-tanned people of every shape and size, his stomach began to growl. It felt good to take in a couple of breaths of fresh air and he did so. It seemed as though half the ship’s population were there to enjoy the open air. Briefly clad people were splashing and diving into the pool. Hopefully that meant the breakfast hut wouldn’t be too crowded, and he wouldn’t be held up as he waited to be served at the buffet counter.

Clyde peered towards the side of the open deck where the horizon met the sky, and the ocean seemed smooth enough. The old expression “get your sea legs” came into his mind, and he realised it must be true. They moved from the sunshine into the air-conditioned breakfast hut, and he adjusted his eyes to the apparent dimness. Looking around, he found the line-up wasn’t too bad. Just as well! He was bloody starving!

Clyde grabbed a tray and lined up. Then began the tantalising inspection of lush fruits, cereals, pancakes, bacon, egg, sausages and more, before he asked to have his plate piled high and looked around for his brother. Her hands full, Meg inclined her head towards his food selection before whispering, ‘You still have to watch your diet, you know.’

That was something he didn’t want to be reminded of, but he supposed she was looking out for him. ‘All right, okay, I’ll do better tomorrow. I’m starving. I didn’t have anything last night and for most of yesterday, if you remember.’

He promised himself he would do what his wife demanded and watch his food intake. After having heart problems and nearly losing his life, he didn’t want to go anywhere near nurses or doctors for a while. He mentally shrugged. All nurses weren’t bad eggs, but the last one he’d had looking after him had been a doozy.

‘I can see Mick. He’s over near the window,’ Meg said.

‘Well, there’s no room near him.’ Clyde glanced at his brother and then took a second look. ‘He seems to be doing okay.’ Mick’s face was animated, and no wonder. The woman he was speaking to was leaning towards him, exposing full breasts. And, Clyde noted, finally focussing on her face, she wasn’t bad looking either.

‘Hmm,’ Meg said. ‘There’s a space over there.’ She indicated a table near one of the two exits.

‘What does that hmm mean?’ Clyde knew his wife too well. She obviously had an opinion.

Before Meg answered, they sat down at a table and unloaded their trays. ‘She manoeuvred herself to sit near us last night. Josie, her name is.’


Meg shook her head. ‘Nothing. I didn’t get good vibes from her.’

Clyde raised his eyebrows, giving his wife a speaking look. ‘Bloody hell, Meg, you wouldn’t get anything good from anyone you thought might replace your friend, Enid.’

Before meeting his eyes, Meg took a sip of her orange juice. Then she lifted her face to focus on him, and he wished she hadn’t. ‘I thought you knew me better than that. At first I worried we were doing the wrong thing, bringing Mick on a cruise when the last holiday he had with Enid was a similar trip. Then, when he agreed to come, I realised it was probably the best way for him to move forward, to deal with his memories.’

Clyde gulped a mouthful of creamy scrambled egg. ‘You’re not telling me anything about the blonde.’

‘The dyed blonde, you mean?’

‘Holy mackerel! I can see the claws. What’s going on?’

Meg turned her head to look in Mick’s direction. ‘I wish I knew. I don’t trust her and I don’t know why.’ She gazed thoughtfully at her food, as though she expected an answer to pop up from her grilled tomatoes.

Clyde took another quick look at his brother and saw he and Josie were getting to their feet. It seemed they were planning to do something together; they began to weave through the tables coming Clyde and Meg’s way. Meg had her back towards them, so Clyde whispered a warning in case his wife made another remark about the sexy blonde.

‘Clyde, it’s good to see you back in the land of the living.’ Mick stood near their table, grinning like a schoolboy.

Taking the hint, Clyde got to his feet and waited, his eyes focussed on Josie’s face, making sure he kept Meg happy by not allowing his gaze to wander.

‘This is Jocelyn.’ Mick’s voice came from deep within, sounding as though he was presenting an award at the Oscars. His face beamed. No doubt his whole body was a ball of fire.

Clyde held out his hand towards Jocelyn, wondering if she had a second name. She answered his unspoken question while placing her soft, manicured hand in his.

‘I’m Jocelyn Tarrant, but please call me Josie. It’s lovely to finally meet Mick’s brother.’ She leaned forward and Clyde remained still, expecting a kiss. He was disappointed. Although she was close enough for him to take in her flowery perfume, she maintained her distance and blew an air kiss inches away from his cheek. He thought he heard Meg sigh.

‘So what are you two up to today?’ Clyde said, after sitting down. He flinched, as Meg’s sharp sandal made contact under the table. Obviously she didn’t want him to put them together as an item. Pretty silly of her, when they were already keeping company. And a bit more than that, if Mick’s expression was any indication.

A silly smirk remained on Mick’s face. ‘We’re going back to my room to look up the activities. Probably go for a swim or to an art auction we heard about.’

‘Have fun,’ Clyde said, before turning towards his food.

Meg sat sipping her tea and watched them walk away. ‘Now you’ve met her, what do you think?’

Clyde chewed slowly, thinking carefully before answering. ‘I think she’s a dish, and Mick is lucky to have met her.’

‘Oh, Clyde, can’t you see through the charade, the pretence, the falseness?’

‘Has she had a boob job? They looked real enough to me.’

‘Bloody hell, Clyde, now you’ve got me swearing. I didn’t examine that part of her body too closely, and I don’t care if the double D’s are real or not. I think her face has had an uplift or two. She’s trying to look forty, and I think she’s closer to sixty.’

‘Holy mackerel, Meg! I wished I looked that good when I was sixty.’

‘Don’t you mean you wished I did?’ Meg frowned at him.

Clyde knew he was digging a pit, and it was getting deeper by the minute.

‘I’m feeling so much better. What would you like to do today?’ he asked, grinning at his wife and quickly changing the subject.

‘I haven’t given it much thought yet. I didn’t know if you’d be up. I think we need to have a look at what’s on as well.’

‘I might leave this. I think I’ve taken too much.’ Clyde poked at his food and pushed his plate away.

Meg raised her eyebrows. ‘You really are turning over a new leaf. I’ve never heard that from you before.’ She started to get to her feet, before reaching out and grabbing Clyde’s arm. ‘Don’t turn around suddenly. There was a man sitting across from Mick. Before I sat down I noticed him staring in their direction, and I thought it might have been Josie’s boobs on display. But he’s followed them. He kept his turned away as he went out, and I didn’t get a good look at him.’

Shaking his head, Clyde stood. ‘That’s not a bright statement from you. I expect more.’


‘Where else would someone go if not out the exit?’ he said, exasperatedly.

Meg closed her eyes and Clyde took in a breath. She was going off into one of her trances. He didn’t want to attract attention, so pretended he was searching for something in his pocket. Although his wife was probably only standing still for two minutes, Clyde could see more latecomers loading up trays and looking for a free table. It was becoming a little embarrassing.  He cleared his throat and Meg opened her eyes.

‘I didn’t get much,’ she said, shrugging. ‘But I do know we’re going to have to watch Mick with that floozy. There’s something dangerous, or maybe just deceptive, about her. Whatever it is might even threaten his life in some way.’

‘But what a way to go,’ Clyde muttered under his breath.

Dutifully he followed his wife back to their room.
















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Brink of the Blue

cruise-114152__180My next book is in its early stages. I’m posting chapter one. If you’d like to make any comments they’ll be very welcome. Chapter Two will be put up in a few weeks time.

Meg and Clyde Pilley go on a cruise with Clyde’s brother, Mick. After the trauma they’ve undergone in the previous months, they start relaxing.

At first they have no idea of the conman, Fergie. But they will meet…


This cruising business was a breeze. Fergie Norman didn’t know why he hadn’t tried it before. The saps were laidback and ready to be plucked, and the on-board security sucked. He grinned, realising he’d put rhyming words together. Of course, he could think of another word he could add that would enlarge upon his rhyming vocabulary, but that activity wasn’t for him – not if he wanted to keep focussed. So far he’d found out most of the young ones on board were after a holiday fling, and he wasn’t going to fall into that trap.

His partner, Darlene, or Josie, as she was calling herself this time, had put together the plan to go on a cruise. They’d been ready to do another job, but the miserable sod they’d been after had gone into hospital, and they had to toss that idea out the window.

He’d been a little uneasy when Darlene had taken charge and booked last minute accommodation for them. They hadn’t done proper research on the passengers. But she’d assured him there were dozens of patsies waiting for him. All he had to do was single out women who were over sixty. Few travelled alone on these cruises so it would be hit and miss for the target, but once he hooked up with someone it would be an easy job. The best part of the deal was that he didn’t need to have sex with the old dears; they would most likely be happy with him paying attention to them – talking and taking them to activities.

He knew he shouldn’t be concerned he didn’t have anyone in place yet; it was only the second day since the cruise ship had left Sydney. Of course, if his partner and roommate Darlene, were to end up in bed with one of their victims it wouldn’t matter. It would probably advance their position. The trouble with Darlene was, he didn’t quite trust her. But then, he’d never met a woman he could completely rely on. Even his mother, the horrible cold woman who had given birth to him, had betrayed him. She’d left him with an “uncle” several times, knowing quite well what the perverse bastard had intended to do. Fergie had been eight at the time.

That incident, and those following, had determined his path. He couldn’t look at a woman with natural affection, and that had caused him a lot of unhappiness. At high school he’d been the one who sat alone. The boys didn’t like him because they were jealous of his good looks. He could never think of anything to say to the girls. Every time he looked at them he thought of his mother. Then he experienced his first loving sexual encounter when he was twenty-five. His life had been changed by that episode, but in the wrong way. He’d lost so much control to his partner he knew he couldn’t indulge himself again and remain in charge of his mind and body. He broke off with the woman.

Sexual restraint became his goal. He stuck to it a lot of the time. Someone in his peak physical condition could easily handle sex at least three times a day. The fact he kept himself under control, not indulging often when he was on a job, showed how mentally strong he’d become. It proved it wasn’t his physical fitness alone that made him who he was.

He’d never forgiven his mother over those long years – years when he didn’t fit in – although she’d pointed out that the gift she’d received at the time from his “uncle” had taken them on a trip: a holiday of a lifetime, she’d said. Conniving women!

Fergie had made sure he protected his brother by not allowing his mother to farm him out. Matt had been four years younger, and Fergie had always felt the need to protect him, especially when their father had taken off as soon as Matt was born. In a way Fergie didn’t blame his father; not that he’d known him well. But his mother was a true bitch. Any time she tried to get Matt alone, or send him to one of her depraved friend’s homes, Fergie would come up with a way to stop her. When he thought about it, the hatching up of ways to outmanoeuvre his mother had probably started him on his chosen career.

Thinking about his career brought an image of Darlene to his mind.  Despite the fact they were supposed to be equal partners, she wanted to do her own thing, particularly on this trip. It had better work out. He supposed as long as they got together to talk over what they’d achieved so far, it would have to do.

He stood in front of the inadequate bathroom mirror and checked his physique, turning from right to left and flexing his muscles. After pushing Darlene’s clothes to one end of the wardrobe, he did without one of his body hugging T shirts and picked out a loose cotton one. It was a shame to cover up such a beautiful body, but he didn’t want to be too obvious. Not yet, anyway.  He grabbed a towel and his book on graphology, and made for the door. Staying inside wasn’t moving him forward. He’d see who was lounging near the pool.

Once on the pool deck, Fergie stared around the area, pretending to be looking for a vacant chair. He wasn’t. He was searching out his next most likely victim, a rich bitch. They didn’t know what his Achilles’ heel was, and if he chose wisely, all the silly woman would want was some harmless flirting – harmless for him. If he played his cards right he’d end up with a lovely nest egg of cash.

He found one, his first potential patsy. A black-haired woman smiled in his direction, and he moved towards her. Her hair was obviously dyed, and although she wore sunglasses, he could see the wrinkles fanning out from the corners of her eyes. She’d spent a lot of her life in the sun, as when she removed the large glasses to point to a lounge chair near her, her leathery skin became more apparent. She was thoroughly doused with sunscreen. Fergie could smell the distinct odour and see the sheen on her exposed skin.

At a distance she could pass for thirty-five, but Fergie had her pegged. She was at least sixty-five, maybe even seventy. He’d had a lifetime of experience. He mentally shrugged. Maybe not a lifetime, but certainly a concentrated period of six years when he’d studied the female species.

‘Looking for someone, dear?’

Fergie’s stomach jumped with nervous excitement. This had been almost too easy. She’d instigated the conversation, making him appear less threatening.

He shook his head, lowering it just enough to indicate his sad mood, but not enough to avoid eye contact where he could manipulate his victim. ‘I’ve come on this trip alone. I’m recently divorced.’ He held up his hand displaying a gold wedding band, before grinning sheepishly at the woman. ‘To tell the truth, it was nearly eighteen months ago, but it’s taken me this long to accept it.’ He drew in a sobbing breath.

‘Oh, you poor darling.’ The older woman leaned forward and patted the deck chair near her, guiding him to sit down. ‘I hope you won’t think me too forward, but you are an incredibly good-looking young man. I’d guess thirty?’

Fergie nodded and allowed a slight mist to come into his eyes. ‘I’m thirty-three. You’re very perceptive, I mean, guessing my age.’ He would be forty next month, but there was no need to tell her.

‘My name is Kay. I’d like to introduce you to my daughter one day. She’s been through a personal hell herself.’

For a brief moment, Fergie wasn’t happy with the direction of their exchange. He didn’t want the conversation to go off on a tangent. The focus had to remain on him. He turned his most charming smile on full force and met the older woman’s eyes.  ‘It’s lovely to meet you, Kay. You remind me of my mother – a much younger version, of course.’

‘Is she able to give you support?’ Kay leaned forward, and her sarong parted, exposing veined legs.

This time Fergie permitted a tear to trickle down his face. He sniffed. ‘My mother passed on just a year ago.’ How he wished that were true.

‘Oh you poor, poor darling! You’ve had one catastrophe after another. I want to give you a hug.’

He grinned and offered his arms in an outstretched movement.

‘What’s going on here? I leave for a few minutes to get a cup of coffee for my wife and find her flirting with an Adonis!’

Shit! Fergie had to stop himself from expressing his thoughts out loud. He’d just wasted fifteen minutes or more. A giant of a man stood before him, dressed in board shorts and a wildly patterned floral shirt. Fergie got to his feet. If pushed, he could manage two chumps, but he’d already established a mood with Kay, and her partner didn’t seem as though he’d be a likely candidate.

‘I seem to have taken your seat. It was lovely talking to you, Kay.’ Waving his hand, Fergie strode away. He couldn’t afford to start on someone else too nearby in case she’d been watching what had happened with the last one. He decided to go into the breakfast hut and have a cup of coffee. He might be lucky and find someone else straight away.

Once seated at a table, Fergie looked around. Most of the early breakfast crowd had moved out at least an hour ago. There were some typical yobbos over in the corner, laughing together and eyeing off two young women who were seated a few tables away. Neither group interested him. The men were obviously out for a sexual adventure, and the girls looked as though they were barely out of their teens and too young to fit into his requirements.

Shooting them disapproving glances was an older guy accompanied by what looked like his wife. She seemed as though she was trying to calm him down. Those two weren’t for Fergie either. The man in particular looked as though he was too straight-laced to fit into his set-up. He didn’t need anyone who might prove to be an impediment. This trip was only for twelve days and his time was precious.

Then he spotted a single woman. She was almost hidden, seated at a corner table. Silver-haired, she looked rather elegant. He’d have to change his approach for this one. He stood, picked up his cup of coffee and graphology book, and walked towards her.

‘Good morning,’ he said, giving her the full-force of his most charming smile. ‘I hope you won’t find me too forward, but I’m conducting an experiment and wonder if you could help me?’

The woman looked him up and down, starting with his carefully coiffed, slightly long black hair, down his well-toned body, and taking particular note of his tight board shorts. He’d almost put a sock into the front before he left the room this morning but had stopped himself. He knew the gym work he did every day had produced an excellent rippled physique, and it provided enough appeal. God! He’d even seen men giving him a second look. Who wouldn’t admire his body?

As the woman’s gaze moved slowly over his form, he had to stop himself from flexing his muscles and taking up a pose. When she finally met his eyes, she certainly looked impressed.

‘Of course,’ she said. ‘I need some mental stimulation. There’s too many of that sort taking up my vision this morning.’ She indicated the louts in the other part of the room, who were now standing around the seated giggling young women.

‘They look a bit old for those girls,’ he said frowning in their direction, before pulling out a chair to sit across from the pleasant-faced woman. ‘You don’t mind, do you?’

Her smile lighting both her face and eyes, she nodded and held out her hand. ‘I’m Angela Lang. How can I help you?’

Fergie’s mind went into overdrive, and he had to hold himself back from showing his excitement. Things needed to be moved along one step at a time. This one could prove to be bigger than a pigeon. She might be a sitting duck. Pleased at his clever play on words, he grinned, before managing to form a serious expression on his face.

‘Some people seem to think graphology belongs up there with astrology and all kinds of superstitions, but I’m doing research into how it can really show a person’s aptitude by analysing her personality, even character.’

Angela nodded again. ‘I’m familiar with the art of handwriting analysis and I’d love to be involved, but I can’t help wondering if you might be better asking some of the younger men or women for help. Surely someone at the beginning of their life journey might need your skills more. Besides,’ she added. ‘I saw the admiring looks you got from those girls over there when you walked in. I would have thought they’d love to talk to you one on one.’

Fergie leaned forward. He’d prepared an answer for everything. And he loved communicating with women who stretched his skills. He could always prove himself superior, even if sometimes the weaker sex showed a little intelligence.

He sighed. ‘That’s just it. I’ve tried asking some of the young women. They seem more interested in having a good time than talking about anything serious. Besides, by helping me you may be able to give me some insight into how I’m doing. Someone who has experienced life would understand your own personality traits better than a girl.’

He didn’t add that he had to keep away from the younger women in case he came across someone really interesting. One of his tricks was to regularly visualise a tree made of gold with himself running towards it, fighting off those who tried to stop him. And yes, his attackers were usually naked women.  He was always tempted. But in his dream like state he only allowed himself to take a fleeting touch. For now, his imagination was all he allowed himself. It was difficult. He wasn’t made of stone, no matter what Darlene thought.

‘What would you like me to do?’ Angela said, interrupting his straying thoughts. She reached for her handbag.

‘No! No! No money!’ Fergie shook his head and put up his hand in a stopping gesture.

Angela smiled and took a pen from her yellow Alexander McQueen handbag. ‘I was merely retrieving something to write with.’

Fergie focussed on her hands. A huge emerald adorned one finger and a diamond cluster another. He knew enough to know this woman had money plus style. For a moment, a brief moment, he wondered why she’d be wearing jewellery like this while having a late morning cup of coffee. But he pushed away his thoughts. Although he’d studied women for years he’d never completely understood what drove their vanity.

He reached across the table and touched her hand. She didn’t withdraw, and his energy level spiked. ‘Not now, Angela. You don’t mind if I use your first name, do you?’ When she smilingly inclined her head, he continued. ‘Angela, what I’d like you to do is take some time while you’re alone today and write about half a page on something that has interested you since you’ve been on board.’

Angela looked puzzled. ‘How is that going to help you?’

Fergie got to his feet; he needed to go somewhere private and scream his excitement at how well things were progressing with this woman – his first conquest on board.

‘I’d like to meet with you later today and talk about what you’ve done, and look over your handwriting to analyse it. Perhaps lunch in the restaurant on the lower deck? We could meet outside. At one?’ He raised his eyebrows.

‘That would be lovely, Fergie. I’ll see you then.’

He almost skipped away. He needed to talk to Darlene to see if she’d made any progress with her patsy before he started looking for another one. Maybe he wouldn’t need to. He had a feeling this woman would be enough to make a killing.

A flash of pure adrenaline surged through his body. He recognised that his sexual appetite had been sparked and knew he’d have to burn off this energy in a second visit to the gym, before committing a serious mistake and chasing after a woman. He was feeling so aroused he knew he couldn’t go back to their shared room in case Darlene was there. He’d be tempted to let her take care of him, and he recognised that would be really messing things up.

Even though she was years older than he was, Darlene based everything on her undoubted attractiveness. Just because she couldn’t entice him didn’t mean he didn’t have any sexual drive. But there was no way he was going to give her power over him by falling into bed with her. If he lost focus by looking forward to another encounter rather than concentrating on the next target, he could lose a valuable opportunity.

If he were going to stray, he would choose one of the young willing women on board – so much more alluring than Darlene – and so much more able to be kept at a distance.  Last night he stood outside the nightclub and watched, wanting desperately to join in the dancing. It had taken a massive effort, but he’d managed to maintain his discipline.

Dismissing his distracting thought, Fergie started jogging, hurrying towards the gym. His mind analysed everything that had taken place this morning, and he knew he was meant to meet Angela. As he went over the conversation a stray thought came into his mind. He stopped suddenly in the corridor, and a man bumped into his back.

Without meeting Fergie’s eyes, the man mumbled an apology and moved past him. Frowning, he watched the man scurry away. Fergie had noticed him once before on the ship; he was a non-descript looking guy between forty and fifty with a silly 1980’s moustache, similar to that sported by Tom Selleck. He wanted to tell the guy he wasn’t Tom Selleck and couldn’t get away with it. He shrugged. Some men didn’t care how ridiculous they looked.

Fergie was about to open the door to go into the gym when he remembered what had been niggling his brain, just out of reach. He hadn’t told Angela his name, had he? Shaking his head, he rejected the thought as bordering on paranoia. He must have mentioned it.










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Toastmasters – a confidence Booster.

As a child, a teenager and a young woman I was extremely shy – a natural introvert. I carried this personality trait into middle age. Along with many other introverts I wanted to write: to express the thoughts and emotions I found it difficult to articulate.

My writing journey really started in 1990’s, and I discovered I needed to be able to talk to readers about my books. The thought terrified me.

Then one auspicious day something happened: an author, Phyllis McDuff, presented a talk at the local library. I was mesmerised by her presentation and approached her after the workshop to find out how she could talk for nearly an hour, and in such a polished professional manner. Phyllis advised me to join Toastmasters.

Immediately I asked my husband if we could join together(I needed the extra confidence of two of us). We turned up for the first meeting. If I was terrified before, I was petrified now. They held segments where members were asked impromptu questions to form a two minute answer. Ron joined that night. I didn’t, but agreed to accompany him to the next meeting.

There, the person doing the Impromptu approached me and asked if I would be willing to have a go if I received the question beforehand. One of the questions was made for me, and I recited a ditty I’d written about my weight loss journey. I won the Bright Spark award.

Yes. I joined the following meeting. Over the past three years I’ve presented at least a dozen talks about my books (first published in 2013). Thanks to twelve years in Toastmasters, my confidence has grown.Janice_at_Garden City



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