As details of this years Mills and Boon New Voices competition begin to emerge, this is a great moment to introduce a writer who has used the competition as a stepping stone to publish her novella. Welcome, Sophie Rodger!
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Firstly, thank you very much to Liz for hosting my novelette on her blog. I am very honoured as I have been a fan of her books for years!
So, without further ado- onto my novelette.
‘Yesterday and Forever’ is my first novelette that I self-published just because I wanted to see if anyone would like my style. More an experiment than anything else.
I started with the characters first which is unusual for me as I am more a storyline starter. Originally, Cassandra, my heroine was a secondary character in a story I submitted for the 2011 Mills and Boon's New Voices competition. It didn’t get through but rather than get upset, I decided to give it another go. When revising the MS, for some reason I found I was more curious about Cass’s story than my main hero and heroine and felt it had to be told. Luckily for me, as she was already a character somewhere else, I already had her STATs and her line of work. From there it was pretty easy to let a story grow around her.
It was a challenge trying to figure out how to show the development of their relationship without the day-to-day descriptions so I settled with showing the start and then 3 years later at graduation. It was fun for me to show the growth of the characters from when they were 18 and 21 to 10 years later when they are 31. How despite the 10 years and being professionals in their careers they still reverted back to their younger selves when they saw each other again.
Here is one of my favourite scenes, when Cass first discovers whose office she has walked into...
She approached the desk. No silly flowers here though as she eyed the tall, thin vase of yellow roses. The blooms seemed to be drawing her closer to them, their scent wrapping itself around her senses.
“They're lovely aren’t they.”
Stopping abruptly, Cass realised she had been walking straight towards the vase and past the receptionist behind the desk.
“Yes they are”, she murmured, dragging her eyes away from the flowers back to the receptionist. “I’m Cassandra Regence, from CC’s Bakery. This is the retirement cake that was ordered.”
She placed the cake carefully on the counter as she unclipped the small electronic signature machine.
“They are ‘Midas Touch’ Roses. Very exquisite”, the receptionist continued as she scribbled her signature on the small machine.
“Midas Touch?” Cassandra repeated breathlessly.
The receptionist looked at her closely. “Yes they are. Mr Drake insists on having them fresh every week. I say, are you feeling okay? You’ve gone a little pale dear.”
Cassandra smiled shakily as memories, too painful even now, threatened to surface.
“No, I’m fine. You said Drake. I thought this was ‘Moringdon Asset Management?” she queried, her eyes jumping from the face of the receptionist to the bright yellow roses.
“It is. Mr. Drake’s company owns this. It was a very recent takeover,” she explained, still peering at Cass as though she expected her to faint any second.
Cass noded. The air around her seemed suddenly stifling. She pocketed the machine and turned quickly to leave.
“I’m sorry to ask this”, Cass heard the receptionist call after her, “Especially as you don’t look like you’re feeling well, but the person due to set up the cake has had to run an errand. Would it be a bother to do it? The stand is in there and everything.”
Counting to ten and plastering a helpful smile on her face, Cass turned around. “No, no bother. Where shall I put them?”
She was lead down a short, tan hallway. The plush, beige carpet was bouncy beneath her feet. Expensive paintings were liberally mixed with certificates and press cuttings. All reflecting the face of the one man she never thought she’d see again.
“Here we are.”
The receptionist pushed open a wide mahogany door and Cass let out a low whistle. The room was covered head to toe in balloons, banners, presents and flowers of all shapes and sizes. In the middle was a large, glass oval table covered in food and in the middle sat a tall glass cake stand.
“Will this even be enough?’ Cass mused aloud, looking down at the cake.
“Well, that was the order,” the receptionist replied, smiling pleasantly before closing the door.
Cass walked slowly over to the cake stand. The bill for cleaning any of these carpets should a cake fall would probably be a months wages!
Unpacking the cake gently, she looked up, her gaze falling over a long, framed photograph in the middle of the wall. The face of the man in that photo still held traces of the boy that she knew. Except now the coffee brown eyes of Luca Drake were harder, the smile tighter, as the hands held a ‘Businessman of the Year’ award.
She couldn’t look away.
The memories from that September day came flooding back as if they had happened yesterday and not 10 years ago.
I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.