Chapter 03 sneak preview of my current work-in-progress:
Luca – Book 1 of the Demon Born Series (paranormal romance).
Pre-edit version. May change before publication.
Hope you’re all having a great weekend.
Ready for the third instalment of ‘Luca’?
Just to recap, this is the paranormal romance novel I’m writing. And it’s the first book in my new ‘Demon Born’ series. I’ll be posting the follow-on parts over the coming weeks.
The car’s passenger door opened and a beautiful blonde in a pristine white dress and high heels stepped out.
Belle’s hopes crashed. Not so perfect.
The man whipped off his sunglasses, and taking the woman’s hand, came up the steps and into the shop with her.
Belle snapped into professional mode and greeted them both with a bright smile. “Hi. Can I help you?”
Interest flickered in the man’s brown eyes on seeing her; his gaze raked her up and down, and he let go his girlfriend’s hand.
Instant irritation replaced whatever mild attraction Belle might have felt towards him.
“I need flowers,” the blonde woman said, drawing all attention to her. “I’m having a pre-Halloween party on Wednesday. A sudden decision, but I’ll need plenty of flowers for it.”
Her high-pitched voice rounded the vowels, thumped the consonants, and twanged with impatience. Belle’s ‘difficult customer’ sense tingled into overdrive. But with an inner sigh, she forged on, determined to end this Friday evening as quickly and smoothly as possible. “Did you have a colour scheme in mind?”
“It’s a vampire theme, so ‘red’, of course.” The woman’s look made it plain that Belle should have read her mind before asking such a stupid question.
Belle held onto her smile. “We’ve a wide selection of red flowers to choose from.” And she reeled off a quick list of blooms that would look amazing arranged in vases. “But if you don’t want real flowers, we also have silk ones. Like those.” And she pointed out the shelf with the artificial flower arrangements.
“Tania, why don’t you look around and see if you like anything,” the man drawled in a posh tone identical to the woman’s, but bored.
With an unimpressed shrug, Tania went to wander around the shelves.
A little relieved, Belle again busied herself at the counter with her tidying up.
“You live in this village?”
She looked up into the man’s keen eyes. He was leaning against the counter a mere step from her. “I do,” she said.
“How come I haven’t seen you around then, flower girl? I’m sure I’ve visited this shop before.”
Flower girl. Was he fishing for information? But customer or not, she wasn’t going to give him her name, nor was she going to let him know he was lying about visiting Sweet Blooms before. She’d spent nearly every day in this shop since she was eight years old, owned it outright since she was eighteen, and then worked with barely a day off. She’d have remembered seeing him around. “You don’t much strike me as the flower type,” she said instead and moved away from him as she tidied leaflets on the counter.
“Always thought them a waste of time, to be honest.” He narrowed the distance between them. “But with such a sexy ambassador working for them, I might be willing to get to know them better.”
“Look, I’m sorry. I’m not interested. I—”
“For fuck’s sake, Dane! You’re not panting after her? Seriously?” Tania stood glaring at them, her face red as the Porsche outside.
Dane’s expression instantly blanked. “We finished here?” he asked Tania curtly.
“You’re finished. I’m not.” And Tania swung all her rage on Belle. “What sort of crap shop are you running anyway? You don’t even have roses. And I wanted roses.”
For God’s sake! Belle struggled to keep her cool. The way Tania was railing at her, anyone would think Belle had been humping the wandering-eyed boyfriend behind the counter. But still… they were customers. She swallowed back her anger. “We don’t keep roses in stock. But I can order them in time for your party.”
“What the fuck? Call yourself a bloody florist, and you don’t stock roses?”
Belle’s fragile control frayed inch by inch. “I doubt you were going to buy them today. And since your party is on Wednesday, there’s plenty of time to order them.”
“Fucking useless!” Tania turned to Dane. “I knew we should have gone to London. It was your idea to come to this stupid place. And all they’re good for is slutting it up for any rich guy who comes along.” She punctuated her words with a finger jabbed in Belle’s direction.
Dane threw Belle a cool look. “I wouldn’t waste my time. Not my type.”
Anger that had been bubbling inside Belle boiled up and burst like a geyser. It zinged as electric current to the very tips of her fingers and toes. And then… poof! …shot out of her with a force that rocked her back against the counter. For a moment she stood disorientated and strangely empty of feeling. But then dread crept in as she realised what had just happened.
Tania was still mouthing off at her, but Belle heard nothing. She watched in horror as the straight stalks of the Arum Lilies, on the shelf behind Tania, twisted and curled like green cobras ready to strike. “No! Don’t!” she shouted.
But too late. The white flowers furled like mouths with fangs, and dive-bombed Tania from above. They bit into her sleek blonde locks and tore out hefty chunks of what seemed to be extensions. Tania let out a squeal like a stuck pig and tried in vain to bat away the attacking lilies with her flailing hands. But by then, the golden ivy on the shelf below had decided to go into hog-tie mode. It whipped around Tania’s arms and legs and pulled her down onto the ground for some proper wrapping.
Belle rushed to her, and grabbing fistfuls of ivy, tried to yank it off. But no amount of physical force was helping. And even trying to call on her magic and get the plants to listen to her was drawing a blank. She couldn’t reach them.
Dane had been standing open-mouthed and staring all this while, but then snapped to his senses. “Fucking hell!” he yelped and hurried over to help Tania. He didn’t get far though. The dwarf Yucca he passed whirled its shaggy green head around like a battle mace and whomped him solidly in the stomach. He crashed back against the counter, winded.
“STOP!” Belle screamed with all her might. And where her energy hadn’t reached, her voice did. As one, the plants gave up the battle and quietened down.
Tania screeched on. She scrambled up from the floor, tearing bits of clinging ivy from her body. Her face was a blotched red, and her ragged hair bounced around her head like something the cat had coughed up. “You’ll pay for this,” she shrieked at Belle. “You’ll pay for this, you bitch.”
A little out of breath, Belle got to her feet and glared at the other woman. “It’s best you leave. Now,” she said, her voice shaky.
“She set them on me!” Tania yelled to Dane who was rubbing his stomach and standing up. “Those fucking plants, she made them do that.”
“Don’t be stupid!” But the look he gave Belle was wary. “Just come on.” And catching Tania’s arm, he quickly tugged her towards the door, giving the now docile Yucca a wide berth as he passed. The final look he shot Belle was a mixture of doubt and apprehension. Something had happened, but for the life of him, he seemed unable to say what.
Belle let out a breath of relief as soon as the two of them were out the door.
“What the hell happened here?” Kathy’s shocked voice came from the stairs behind her.
Belle winced and turned. The lilies now sported chic blonde extensions, and clumps of hair and ivy littered the floor. How on earth was she going to explain it all away?
“Oh, I get it…” Kathy gave the mess a knowing look. “They were drunk, weren’t they?” She shook her head in disapproval. “Jesus Christ! No manners them toffs, coming in and smashing the place like their daddy owns it. We should report this.”
“No. No… it’s over. It’s all over,” Belle said weakly, and grabbing a broom from by the stairs, she quickly set to cleaning up the chaos.
The plants were now serene, and nothing lingered of her wayward magic. But still, she couldn’t wait to escape to the safety of her home. That had been more than enough excitement for one day.
To be continued next week…