With Christmas just around the corner, what better time to turn to love as a theme? I’m thrilled to be hosting an extract from The Season for Love by M.W. Arnold on Linda’s Book Bag today because I think we could all do with a bit of love in our lives.
The Season for Love is published today, 16th December 2017 and is available for purchase here.
The Season for Love
Believing she was responsible for the death of her husband, Chrissie Stewart retreats from all those who love her. A chance meeting with mysterious stranger, single-parent Josh Morgan and his bewitching young daughter Lizzy, breathe new life into her and gradually, she feels able to start to let go of the memory of her lost love.
Unexpected links are revealed between the two families that strengthen the growing bonds she feels to this man and with the encouragement of her best friend Annie, herself hiding a hidden conflict from Chrissie, she battles with her demons to believe in her ability to trust and love again.
Everything comes to a head on Christmas Day; which all goes to show that this is truly The Season for Love.
An Extract from The Season for Love
You never get over a broken heart. You just paper over the cracks and try to keep going.
Goodnight Richie. I miss you.
Pressing a kiss to the picture she kept on her bedside table, she placed her diary down and turned off the light. Staring into the darkness, Chrissie could do nothing but wait for the tears to start. It had been the same routine each and every night since that terrible day eighteen months ago and tonight would be no different. So, drawing the duvet tighter, she succumbed to reliving the day that her husband had been killed. Drawing her knees towards her chest, she let the guilt and tears flood out until exhausted, she collapsed into the usual haunted slumber.
The next day dawned way too early and through bloodshot brown eyes. Swinging her feet out of bed, Chrissie shuffled into the tatty pair of her husband’s slippers, tugged on her old fluffy white dressing gown and reluctantly made her way to the bathroom. She shrugged her shoulders and slid the mirror on the bathroom cabinet sideways. Looking at her reflection was not something that she wanted to deal with that morning. Ten minutes later, she’d tied her shoulder length auburn hair back into a pony-tail and pulled on a pair of black jeans, matching pullover and a pair of yellow Doc Martens that clashed horribly with the rest of her outfit. Everyone at school had been nagging her to add a bit of color to the predominantly black she’d taken to wearing and she’d found that Richie’s old boots fitted her perfectly; so long as she wore a thick pair of socks.
Working in the school’s IT Department had been her first job after she’d left university and it was where she’d met Physical Education teacher Richard Stewart. It so happened that they’d been starting on the same day and consequently, they’d spent the whole day trawling through the usual endless orientation and paperwork and found they’d gotten on like the proverbial house on fire. When they’d been introduced and he’d said, ‘call me Mr. Fit Guy or MFG for short,’ and she hadn’t either laughed out loud or slapped his face, an unspoken understanding had flashed between them and, as they left the premises later that afternoon, they’d wandered off to the nearest pub and spent until closing time talking about everything and nothing and loving every minute.
Grabbing her bag, Chrissie locked the car and trudged up the steps of Parkway Grange Primary School, through the still empty atrium and down the corridor towards her shared office. If she was lucky, she’d be able to settle at her desk before her boss got in. She loved Annie Suso, but though they were best friends, she was getting a little tired of starting each day by being asked how she was doing? Annie wasn’t saying the actual words these days, but Chrissie was finding it very annoying at how much you could put into a raised eyebrow!
As the door opened, she knew her luck was out, so she plastered on her most convincing smile and looked up into her friend’s emerald green eyes. The daily routine followed its expected course. Annie didn’t need to know that she’d rushed out of her cottage that morning because the stupid radio DJ had insisted upon playing “their song”.
Picking up the To-Do list, she scanned down it for the most mind-numbing job, quickly locating a teacher who’d been using his DVD tray as a cup holder. Grabbing her diary from her bag, she told Annie where she was going and that she’d see her later. One of the benefits of working with her best friend was that she had the freedom to do pretty much what she wanted, it being just the pair of them in the whole department. The children were just starting to arrive so hurrying along the corridor she nipped into the staff toilets, opened a cubicle door, sat down on the seat and took out her diary.
‘Hi Richie. Well, things are still the same as yesterday, and the day before and the day before that. You know, I visualize you watching over me, it’s the only comfort I have. Oh, I could sit here all day and talk to you, just like we used to in the common room. Do you remember how many times we were called in to see the Headmistress because I’d made you late for your classes? Felt very much like a kid, but I miss those times so much.
Right, sorry, got to go and see some idiot about a computer now.
Love you babe. I miss you.’
Driving home that night, Chrissie wondered for the thousandth time why she didn’t change jobs and move away. Truth was she didn’t want to be too far from Richard’s grave. He’d grown up in Parkway Grange, been educated in the same Primary school, then the neighboring village’s Secondary and finally the College in the nearest town five miles away. He’d only been away to University to get his Physical Education Degree and then hot-footed it back when he’d lucked out with the offer of Physical Education teacher at the Village’s Primary school. Then, he had died in the village.
Automatically, she took a left turn before her cottage and parked up outside the cemetery. It was a typical late November evening so sighing resignedly she put up her umbrella as she got out of the car and, shielding her face as best she could from the rain, pushed open the gate and strolled down the pathway to the shade of an ancient beech tree. Sitting down on the bench, she leant forward, ignoring the dripping of the rainwater down her neck and brushing some leaves off the small granite headstone, focused on the most important words in the world:
See you in my dreams Richie. Forever, Your beloved Chrissie.
About M.W. Arnold
M.W. Arnold (Mick) is a hopeless romantic who was born in England, and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elisabeth II in the Royal Air Force, before putting down roots, and realising how much he missed the travel. This, he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and writing a regular post at the www.NovelKicks.co.uk blog site.
Mick’s the proud keeper of a cat bent on world domination, is mad on the music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, and enjoys the theatre and humouring his Manchester United supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, with the forthcoming publication of this, his debut novel, The Season for Love.