‘I do like this new cover, Ms Hall.’ Cynthia opens the book and riffles the pages in front of her. ‘And I love the smell of a brand new book!’ She holds it out in a finely manicured hand and examines the cover again. ‘It conveys an air of romance, but without all those bulging biceps and bosoms like so many of the genre.’
Connor frowns. ‘I’d never really thought of it as a romance novel per se; it’s more gritty and down to earth, but with the elements of mystery and fantasy cleverly woven in.’
‘Oh, but Connor, it’s full of romance, right from the start. When Pierre sweeps Lucy off her feet… But you’re right; it has much more substance to it than a typical romance.’
For a moment I bathe in my characters’ praise.
Connor hands me a cup of tea, then picks up the whisky bottle from the sideboard and waves it in my direction. I shake my head. Connor shrugs and returns it to its place. ‘I hear you’re running another promotion*, Ms Hall; riding on the wave of Valentine’s month, so to speak.’
‘Romance Reading Month!’ exclaims Cynthia clapping her hands together so that the fine bracelet on her wrist jingles. I haven’t seen that before. ‘Charming idea.’
‘And you have a couple of interviews lined up, I gather,’ Connor continues. ‘You know, my few days at the Edinburgh book festival last year made such a difference.’ Connor sips his whisky-enhanced tea. ‘My agent’s got me an advance for another slim volume of my poems on the back of an interview I did.’
Okay, so my poet’s doing better than me. I did give him the agent though. And the gig at the book festival.
I change the subject. ‘Where’s everyone else?’ Normally I’m confronted with a roomful of my characters.
As if on cue, there’s a tap on the door.
‘It’s open, darling,’ calls Cynthia.
Lucy appears, her long blonde hair shining. I notice her face and arms bear a lovely honey-coloured tan.
‘You’re back, Lucy!’ I exclaim.
‘Of course I am; we’ve Gina’s wedding to plan.’ Well, okay, I knew Gina had got engaged after the book ended, I saw the ring.
‘Is Pierre with you?’ I should know, but my characters have a habit of making it up as they go along.
Lucy nods. ‘He’s got a job at Probe Records.’
‘I suppose having a…’ Connor interrupts himself with a cough. ‘Sorry, I almost gave an important piece of your plot away there.’
‘And guess who else is coming over for the wedding… oh,’ Lucy clamps her hand over her mouth, ‘now I nearly did I!’
‘There seems to have been a lot happening in your lives,’ I say.
Connor raises an eyebrow in my direction. ‘Enough to write a sequel perhaps? Of course we know you’re busy with another project but…’
‘…maybe next year?’ Lucy winks at me.
If you’ve no idea who these people are, or what they’re talking about, you’d better read the book!