The bit on the back...
The first time she’d seen him had been less dramatic, but in its own way just as memorable. She’d been with Ellen, in the park. Three days earlier.
“I think I might die of oestrogen poisoning if this carries on,” Ellen had said, looking on in disgust at the scene playing out in front of her.
“It’s like all these yummy mummies have died and gone to totty heaven. Not a single one of them is watching their kids – they could be smoking crack or eating dog poo for all they’d notice. They’re obviously all just thinking about shagging, and I now feel like I need to scrub my entire brain with bleach. I mean – come on, he’s wearing a Christmas jumper! Surely it’s in the feminist rule book that you should never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper? ”
It was the first day of December, and the temperatures had plummeted overnight, as though the weather gods had consulted a calendar and decided to up their game. Ellen’s invective was accompanied by a cloud of warm air gusting in front of her; and trainer clad feet kicked impatiently at the frost-rutted soil beneath the bench.
Her usually pretty face was twisted in contempt as she ranted, and she shook her head sadly as she unscrewed her water bottle. They’d just reached the end of a three-mile run around the park, and Ellen looked untouched by the effort apart from a slight flush to her cheeks, and a few auburn tendrils clinging to damp skin.
That, thought Maggie O’Donnell, was what happened when you were 18, and your body hadn’t yet been battered by life, childbirth, or too many nights in alone with Colin Farrell movies and a box of cream horns.
She herself had been battered aplenty by all three of those things, though at 34 she was still in pretty decent nick. Internally, at least. Not decent enough to have spare breath right at that moment, though. Instead, she attempted to smile at her irritatingly athletic daughter, sprawled on the bench next to her, and looked on at the playground panorama that had annoyed Ellen all the way into an anti-Vagina Monologue.
Maggie had to admit she was kind of right, even if she was being overly judgey. There was a man. A real life, honest-to-goodness man, invading the territory that usually belonged solely to the female of the species – at least on a week-day.
He wasn’t just any old man either. He wasn’t one of the harried stay-at-home dads who sometimes turned up, covered in pureed peas and scuttling from the nappy bag to the swings with as much joie de vivre as a hippo with a hernia.
No, this man was...well, frankly gorgeous. Tall – over the six foot mark anyway. Broad. Brawny. Dressed in cold-weather duds of Levis, a sweater – one with a giant snowman’s face on it – and an expensive looking navy blue gilet. Dark hair that was starting to curl and looked like it was usually kept shorter. Yep – she could definitely see why the other mums had started to melt into a collective puddle of hormones on the frost-tinged grass. He looked like he’d stepped out of a rom com about a talented yet tortured rugby player.
She took a long drink of her water, sucked in a restorative breath, and continued to eyeball him as subtly as she could. Not, it seemed, quite subtly enough.
“Mum!” Ellen exclaimed, turning her piercing green gaze towards her. “You’re doing it too! It’s revolting – get a grip of yourself, you’re behaving like you’ve never seen a man before!”
“Well, sweetheart, I’m not sure I’ve seen one quite like that for...well, ever. And you’ve obviously never watched Bridget Jones’s Diary – a man in a Christmas jumper can be a force for good in the world.”
About the Author
Debbie Johnson lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework. She writes romance, fantasy and crime - which is as confusing as it sounds! Her first humorous contemporary romance, Cold Feet At Christmas, a seasonal tale of snow-bound fun, was released by HarperImpulse last year, and became an Amazon top ten best-seller. You can also find her supernatural crime thriller, Fear No Evil, featuring Liverpool PI Jayne McCartney, on Amazon, published by Maze/Avon Books. Debbie also writes urban fantasy, set in modern day Liverpool. Dark Vision and the follow-up Dark Touch are published by Del Rey UK. Debbie blogs at www.debbiejohnsonauthor.com. She lives with her family in Merseyside and is available to write features.
Debbie's full length novel The Birthday That Changed Everything is out in January! Check out the rest of the tour