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Published by Hobeck Books
14th November 2023
Psychological thriller/suspense
Best Served Cold

Best Served Cold

 – Chapter 1 –

Saturday, 14 November – The launch


It may be my eighth book launch, yet a cocktail of anxiety and exhilaration still makes me queasy. The launch is in my local Brighton Just One More Chapter bookstore at three this afternoon. Which gives me time to walk along the beachfront, padding over the pebbles in my bare feet, swinging my high heels by my side and listening to the sibilant waves sloshing up the shingle. The sea is gunmetal grey and blends seamlessly with the sky. As it’s mid-November, the air is chilled but fresh.

         Breathe, now. Breathe. I should try to get a handle on such emotions, except it gets to me every time. My feet numb, I sit on the steps leading up to the promenade and slip into my shoes. It takes a moment, and then I get chronic pins and needles. Ouch and double ouch! Brushing the sand from my coat, I  can tell the salt air has made my face and hair sticky. I hope no one notices.

         The bouquet arrived this morning. Twelve long-stemmed red roses. A pretty card tucked into the leafy-green foliage, but nothing on it except a kiss. They’ve arrived early morning for every book launch, and I still have no idea who is sending them to me. At first, it was cute. A secret admirer? A fairy-tale fan? But in the dark of the night, the kiss changes to X marks the spot. It’s not cute anymore, and I try not to be surly as I take them. Who the hell is it? Own up or ship out!

          I walk back up towards the bookstore, and when I push through the glass door into the shop, I spot the table with my books placed on it. The usual stand of best-sellers has been shunted to a different position, so the first thing anyone will see when entering after three will be me, sitting at my table, pen raised in anticipation. Well, that’s the crux, isn’t it? Will anyone come to see (and hopefully buy) the latest Lily Maye book? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a J. K. Rowling, but I do have a hardcore group of fans. I’m an illustrator, and the book I will be signing is a compilation of fairy tales: ten Grimm and ten Hans Christian Andersen. These are not the Disney versions. Most people don’t realise the original stories were too dark and scary for kids. Thinking about it, they are pretty dark and scary for adults, too!

         Three chairs are tucked behind the table. One for me, one for Mary, my publisher, and one for Mr Hudson, an academic researcher in folklore, here to tell us of the origins of the fairy tales in my book. About thirty fold-up chairs are placed in front of us, and I wonder if they will be filled.


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