I’m offered so many books that I would like to read but simply can’t add to my TBR pile so it’s always a pleasure to have an extract to give me a flavour. Today I’m delighted to welcome Cristina Hodgson to Linda’s Book Bag with an extract from A Little of Chantalle Rose.
Published by Crooked Cat Books, A Little of Chantelle Rose is available for purchase here.
A Little of Chantelle Rose
At the age of twenty-four, Chantelle Rose has all a city girl can expect: a tiny bed-sit in South London, a lousy poorly-paid job, a tyrannical boss, and quite a few exes added to an ever-growing list.
Desperate for change, she becomes an extra in a seedy crime film. When that leads to the opportunity of a lifetime – a role to play with a million dollars to win and seemingly nothing to lose – she accepts without thinking twice. After all, what could possibly go wrong? In any event, she´ll earn enough to buy her dream home, set up her own business and never worry about money again.
And what about love? Two men have won her heart: Robbie – sultry, silent, mysterious; and Lionel – Hollywood heart-throb, charm, wealth, adventure.
But who can she trust? Who is bent on scaring her away, and why?
There seems to be more at stake than just her heart. Will a million dollars be worth it?
An Extract From A Little of Chantelle Rose
My elation over the cottage vanished in a flash as I read and re-read the note. It was just seven words long, but each made me shiver. Cut-out newspaper letters had been strung together to form the message:
HOLLYWOOD BITCH, YOU ARE NOT WANTED HERE.
My legs wobbled slightly as I glanced around me, wondering if the sender was watching me from the dense woods. Despite my thumping heart, I had to pretend I was calm. Despite tears of fright welling up inside, I had to pretend that I wasn’t on the verge of breaking down and crying. Pulling myself together, I opened the car door, which I’d left unlocked, and before I got in I held my right arm high and stuck-up my middle finger, swinging it around in a clear gesture of FUCK YOU. I hoped that if the crazed stalker was still lurking around, he or she would get a clear view of my cool, unimpressed and bravo attitude.
Boy, was I scared. I whammed the door of my Mini shut so forcefully that the whole vehicle vibrated. I punched down the lock on the door and mumbled over and over as I fumbled for the car keys.
“Please, please, please God, let the car start first time…
Then it dawned on me, with a wave of pure and utter dread, that I’d left the car keys on the windowsill in the master bedroom on the first floor as I’d tried, unsuccessfully, to open the window.
I peered through the car window at the surrounding woods. I really didn’t fancy going back into the house, or even getting out of the car. I’d a good chance of getting attacked by the lunatic who’d followed me out here.
Where was my showy spunk now? So much for sticking my finger up in the air in a bravado pretence that I didn’t care.
I took several deep breaths and braced myself. This is when I see what I’m made of! With that I swung the car door open and pelted up the driveway towards the house, practically hurdled the gate and took the doorsteps in one flying leap. My hands shook uncontrollably as I let myself into what I now began to think of as a dark and sinister house. I shot across the living room like a bullet and took the stairs two at a time. I swerved into the master bedroom and drew a deep sigh of relief on seeing my car keys glinting in the sunlight. I pounced on them and as I was about to turn to leave I heard a distinct noise from down below. At least I thought I did, but my heart was pounding so hard that I could hardly hear anything except the thump-thump, thump-thump as blood pulsed through my veins.
Then I heard a voice.
“Chantelle? Where are you?”
Just as I reprimanded myself for being so spiteful, her long legs that positively went on forever appeared as she descended the stairs.
“You have a really cute house,” she cooed as soon as she saw me. That left me momentarily stunned. I’d just about learned to deal with her cattiness, so her unexpected courtesy threw me somewhat.
In all truth I thought we made quite a convincing Tom and Jerry team – me being Jerry, of course. This new Tom in her, consequently, left me wary as hell.
Vivien pulled up a chair by the kitchen table and sat down directly opposite me. For a moment we just stared at each other in awkward silence. Accustomed as we were to out-and-out slanging matches, getting a civilised conversation going was quite a challenge. I sat silent, thinking that I’d let her start the ball rolling, and depending on what she said I would decide whether to throttle her or not.
What I didn’t expect was for her to turn her baby-blue eyes on me. I noticed they were brimming with unshed tears, and though she attempted to keep them at bay, it was with little success. Her chin started wobbling and her cheeks glowed from rosy pink to deep crimson. Soon the wobbling of her chin spread and her shoulders commenced to tremble.
I sat there petrified. She was obviously on the verge of some sort of spasm attack. I hadn’t a clue where she kept her medication, or if she had any to start with. A Valium would come in handy. I couldn’t dial 999 either, as my mobile battery, which had a life span of three hours or less, needed to be charged. My charger was in the van, and the van had been taken by Tammy to load with kitchen devices.
And, shit, I’d forgotten to phone Lionel.
My mind was in a whirl, and now I was getting as jumpy and apprehensive as she was. If I didn’t soothe myself pronto, I would be in grave danger of going to pieces. And Vivien, in her disarray, was going to be no help to me.
I took a deep breath to try and control myself as I continued to witness Vivien’s chronic decline. Her bright crimson cheeks had started to go blotchy and her whole body had started to judder. She’d closed her eyes momentarily. I don’t want to be bitchy, but she looked truly bloodcurdling, like she was possessed or something. She looked like the girl out of The Exorcist – the original version – the one I’ve always had nightmares about.
So there was Vivien, my living nightmare, and I waited in hushed trepidation for her head to turn through 360º.
Vivien suddenly opened her eyes, and it was like opening a sluice gate. Tears just flooded out in non-stop waves. She was leaning against the table and even this started to vibrate alongside her quivering body. I didn’t know what to say to attempt to lessen her anguish. I’m always so tongue-tied in these circumstances. Eventually, in desperation, I blundered ahead and said, rather ineptly, “Is there anything wrong?”
At the rate she was going, she would surpass the previous day’s rain! On hearing my words Vivien started to shake her head vigorously from side to side.
Is that a NO? I was puzzled, because I would have said that there was something very seriously wrong.
About Cristina Hodgson
Cristina Hodgson, mother of two, born in Wimbledon, London, currently lives in southern Spain. Cristina had a long career in sport, reaching national and international level and still actively participates in Triathlon races and enjoys outdoor activities. In her spare time she also enjoys reading and writing. She won a sports scholarship to Boston College. After a period in Boston, she returned to the UK and graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in PE and Sports Science.
A Little of Chantelle Rose is her debut novel. Amazingly, it has nothing to do with running!