Creative Writing

A Summer to Remember by Victoria Connelly - Exclusive Extract

Escape deep into the English countryside in this perfect summer’s day read. Fans of Alexandra Potter and Katie Fforde won’t be able to resist. Nina Elliot is tired of her life. She’s not sure how it happened but, somewhere along the way, she lost track of where it was all going. So one fateful day, she makes a brave decision: she’s going to leave it all behind. Taking a job deep in the English countryside, Nina does just that. Ensconced at the Old Mill, she settles into daily life with the Milton family, where she works as a researcher for author Dudley. With endless summer days stretching out ahead of her, Nina couldn’t be happier. But her quiet life is soon interrupted when the handsome Milton boys return home – for they plan to make sure this really is a summer to remember… Relax and enjoy a breath of warm summer air with every turn of the page in the delightful new novel from Victoria Connelly - bestselling author of ‘Wish You Were Here’.
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     Chapter 1   Nina Elliot glanced at the clock on the wall above the filing cabinet, willing the hands to turn a little quicker. The tiny office was so hot. The air-conditioning had broken yet again and the warm spring weather had sent indoor temperatures soaring. Or perhaps it was just Nina‘s inner rage that was making her feel decidedly uncomfortable. She looked across her paper-strewn desk towards her boss on the other side of the room. ‗No, I‘ve told you that‘s not good enough!‘ she was yelling into th e telephone. ‗Listen to me –  why does nobody listen   to me?‘  Nina zoned out as the person on the other end of the line got their ear chewed off. She‘d been working for Hilary Jackson in the marketing department of a doctors‘ locum agency for ten months now and, as far as she was concerned, it was ten months too long. Her previous boss had been a sweet woman called Melanie Philips who‘d worn pink chiffon scarves and rose -scented perfume and had never batted a blue-shaded eyelid if her staff were running late after their lunch break. The work would get done eventually, she reasoned, but let‘s have a nice cup of Earl Grey first, shall we? Melanie Philips was one of those people who seemed lit from within, Nina had often thought, but motherhood had called and the dark shadow of Hilary Jackson had descended. Hilary Jackson was a tall, thin, rake-like woman with a pale face devoid of both make-up and humanity. She dressed in sombre-coloured clothing which usually  consisted of a navy trouser suit or, if she was in a more buoyant mood, pale grey. Today, it was the turn of the navy trouser suit. Nina sighed and then gulped as Hilary put down the phone. ‗Have you got hold of Keith Maltby yet?‘ she barked across the room.   ‗I spoke to his assistant ten minutes ago,‘ Nina  told her. ‗Well, why hasn‘t he called me back?‘ Hilary said. ‗This is very important, Nina, or don‘t you understand that? I have   to speak to him now!‘   ‗I‘ve left three messages for him,‘ Nina explained. ‗His assistant said that he—‘   ‗Honestly! I sometimes   think you‘re trying to ruin this company, I really do! You can‘t seem to do anything right. I always end up having to do everything myself. And where‘s my tea? I asked you hours—‘   ‗It‘s on your desk,‘ Nina said, deciding it was her turn to interrupt.   ‗Oh,‘ Hilary said, momentarily floored. ‗Well, it‘s stone - cold now, isn‘t it? Get me another and be careful not to add too much sugar. I‘m sure you do it on purpose sometimes.‘  'Yes, your majesty,' Nina whispered under her breath as she left the office and went into the tiny communal kitchen to make yet another cup of tea for her boss. Her hazel eyes felt dry and gritty, her shoulders felt tense and she knew she had knots in her back the size of golf balls. This is no way to live , a little voice inside her said, the thought occurring to her for the first time. You’ve got to do something. You can’t stay here  or you'll go mad! Her mind spiralled across the long, weary months of working for Hilary Jackson and the countless infuriatin g things she'd been made to do. Like when she‘d worked through an entire weekend whilst her boss sauntered off to some holistic retreat. Or  the way Hilary gave her impossible deadlines to meet whilst screaming at her so much that Nina would invariably leave for home in tears. She looked at her watch now. It was lunchtime. She‘d deliver Hilary‘s fourth cup of tea and then she‘d get out of there. She‘d feel better once she was outside.  Stepping out into the street five minutes later, Nina breathed deeply as she forced herself to calm down. Count to ten. Empty your mind. Calm down. The mantra only occasionally worked around Hilary Jackson but it was worth trying. Her foot had just left the pavement when she heard the car horn. Startled out of her trance, she turned around, her fair hair swinging about her face as she glared at the offending driver. For a moment, everything seemed to happen in slow motion. Standing as if rooted to the spot, Nina looked into the window of the white car and, thought she recogni sed the man at the wheel. Dark hair, dark eyes, dark mood. He didn‘t smile, and the ensuing blasts from angry drivers urged her to make her mind up quickly. Nina's heart raced as she jumped back onto the pavement as the car swerved to avoid her. That, she thought, was a close call. She shook her head at her stupidity, cursing herself at the danger she‘d put herself in because of her inner turmoil. Taking a deep breath, she crossed the road safely and, once she was on the other side, glanced back over her shoulder to get another look at the driver, but the car had moved on. ‗Calm down,‘ she told herself again. ‗You‘ve got    to calm down, otherwise you‘ll have a heart attack before you reach thirty.‘

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Aug 2, 2017
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