Saturday, 8 October 2016

All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll

Release Date: 6th October 2016
Publisher: Avon
Genres:  Romantic Comedy

One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage…
All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare…  


The Present
And so it was happening. Now. Today. This morning. There was no getting out of it and certainly no turning back. At that thought alone, she felt another huge, violent stomach retch and this time barely made it as far as the bathroom. Her third time to throw up so far today.
Oh Christ, she thought, slumped against the bathroom floor – for a brief, fleeting moment savouring the cool feel of the marble tiles against her skin – have I really brought all this on myself? Have I really been that stupidly short-sighted? Isn’t there any way out of it?
She felt as weak and useless as a butterfly pinned to a card. But like a character in a Greek tragedy, the inevitable was slowly coming to get her and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. If it’s any small consolation, she thought bitterly while she waited on yet another wave of nausea to pass, you’ve got absolutely no one to blame but yourself. 


The present
What would Kate Middleton do?
Easy, I thought, fidgeting with the letter that had just arrived and forcing my shaky legs as far as the bedroom window for a few nice, deep, soothing breaths. Kate Middleton would stay serenely calm and at all costs not let a potential disaster like this get to her. She’d call Carole and Pippa who would instantly rush around to her side with wise words of wisdom and support. She’d book herself in for a nice, relaxing blow dry, shoehorn herself into a neat little coat dress from Reiss, then get back out there, arm clamped onto Prince William’s with a bright smile plastered across her face.
It’s impossible to plan any wedding without a blip and it would seem that this is mine. So now I just have to figure a way out of it, that’s all.
Oh, I’m a lumberjack, and I’m OKAAAAYYY!’ I hear my dad warbling from out in the back garden, as he waves the hedge trimmer in huge threatening swoops, Darth Vader-style. All to the soundtrack of electronic buzzing that’s only marginally more deafening than that instrumental bit in Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’, and Christ alone knows that’s bad enough.
‘Jacko? You’ll do yourself an injury!’ Mum yells from the kitchen window. ‘If you lose a limb cutting back those bushes, you needn’t come crying to me, you roaring eejit.’
I cut down treeeees, I wear high heels, suspenders and a braaaaaa! I wish I’d been a girlie, just like my dear Papa!’ Dad keeps on screeching in a surprisingly passable baritone, considering that Mum never tires of reminding him how useless he is in all other walks of life.
‘And where’s Tess gone? I thought she was out there helping you?’
‘She was meant to be, but she vanished the minute the post came,’ Dad shrugs. ‘More wedding shite, I suppose.’
I can hear the conversation as loud and clear as that. The only problem is that as I’m listening, the four walls of my bedroom tilt a bit and I suddenly have to focus very hard on breathing.
In for two, out for four, in for two and out for four . . .
‘Tess, are you in the loo?’ Mum yells up the stairs. ‘You’ve been up there for ages. Are you a bit constipated, do you think?’
‘No, Mum,’ I somehow manage to squawk back down at her, in a voice I barely even recognise as my own.
Stay by the window and keep breathing, just keep breathing.
‘Well I think the base of the wedding cake is nearly done, are you coming down to do a Mary Berry on it?’
‘Did I hear you say wedding cake?’ Dad butts in from the garden, switching off the hedge trimmers. ‘Ahh lovely, you can cut me a nice, juicy, big slice while you’re at it. I’m starving.’
‘It’s not for you, it’s for the guests; I wouldn’t waste it on you. Now you just pick up those branches and stop annoying me,’ is Mum’s comeback, as she slams the kitchen window firmly shut.
All this is for me, I remind myself, trying my damnedest to blank out the letter that’s just arrived; this curt, five-line letter that’s just caused my whole world to shift on its axis. Which side is it if you’re having a heart attack? I wonder. Left or right? Because right now my breath will only come in short, jagged shards and the tightness around my chest is almost making me want to black out.
Twisting the letter in my hand, I force myself to keep on breathing and look down onto the garden, to the grass, the leaves, to my mother’s petunias in full bloom, to the peaceful, lovely sight down below. To absolutely anything that might take my mind off this.
Exactly half an hour ago, I hadn’t a care in the world. There I was, out the back helping Dad with the garden, mowing the lawn and picking up dead leaves. Half an hour ago, I was happily bustling in and out of the kitchen checking on the wedding cake base and trying to convince Mum to relax and leave me to it. That I’d take care of everything. That getting married at home needn’t be the huge stress-inducing nightmare you’d think. That I could expertly organise my wedding reception in our own back garden and that I could easily manage all the catering myself. That with a bit of imagination, Bernard and I could have a simple, intimate, homely wedding and save ourselves a complete fortune in the process.
No, not now, this cannot be happening now.


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