To celebrate Easter Summer Moved On, the first book of my South Devon Duo is on special offer from Friday to Monday.
For each of the four days this offer is posted I will be including an extract from different parts of the book as a taster…
After a long-buried secret tears her family apart, Jess Hayden moves to the South Devon village of Lynbrook to live with her uncle. Rufus owns the village pub, The Black Bull, and having visited before, Jess knows the villagers well…especially one of them.
Talún Hansen has a reputation, making him the kind of man no decent girl should get involved with. Jess, however, has been under his spell from the moment they first met. Although they always seem to bring out the worst in each other, there is no denying the attraction that simmers between them – an attraction Jess knows she needs to keep under control after repeated warnings from her uncle.
As she settles into village life she begins to learn more about this wild, dark-haired gypsy with the compelling eyes, and realises their lives hold many similarities. Despite her uncle’s warnings, she begins to spend time with him. For Jess, the coming summer holds passion; for Talún the hope that he has at last found someone who truly cares for him.
But as autumn approaches, a dark shadow from Jess’s past returns, bringing far-reaching and unwanted changes for both of them.
EXTRACT ONE – TAKEN FROM CHAPTER 1
Jess, her father Leo and boyfriend Zac are with her uncle Rufus who is showing them over the pub he has just bought in the South Devon village of Lynbrook
Jess followed the others towards the back of the lounge and through a half-glass door where a narrow passageway led to the bar. She stopped and stared at this very different world they had stepped into. The large square room had a flagstone floor and scrub-topped tables; a wall of assorted sepia photographs giving it the atmosphere of a time long gone. To her left there was a huge stone fireplace similar to the one in the lounge, where flames licked greedily over thick, fat logs. Rufus had been right; it would be a huge mistake to change any of this.
Behind the copper edged bar, warm light glowed off the optics and the place buzzed with cheerful conversation – raised voices with the occasional burst of laughter and clink of glasses. Yes, this had all the ingredients of a comfortable, rural, social cocoon occupied by a mixture of wellington or boot-clad locals, most sporting wax jackets or sheepskin coats. Heads turned, conversations halted and glasses hovered halfway to mouths as the four emerged into the bar. A few eyed them curiously; others gave an acknowledging nod or verbal greeting to Rufus as they passed through. Although he had not yet taken over the pub, it appeared many already knew him. He stopped at the end of the bar for more introductions and another quick chat. After a few moments he stepped towards the door indicating they were about to leave and they departed to a flurry of raised hands and goodbyes.
‘I’m thinking of having a welcoming party,’ Rufus said, stopping to hunt for his keys as they crossed the car park. ‘I’ve decided it would be a great way to break the ice properly and for them to get to know me. They seem a friendly lot but I know how apprehensive villagers can be about change. But I’ll be bringing good change and I think it’s something they’ll realise when I’ve had a chance to tell them my plans.’
‘You be careful they don’t see you as a soft touch,’ Leo warned, somewhat smugly. ‘These country types can be crafty bastards.’
Jess held her tongue, blowing out an angry breath instead. She waited while Zac opened the rear door of her uncle’s Volvo Estate and then eagerly slipped inside. As he joined her and slammed the door, a maroon Land Rover Defender swept into the car park and pulled up next to them. A solid, middle-aged, balding man emerged from the driver’s seat. Dressed in overalls, a battered wax jacket and with mud-splattered wellingtons on his feet, he levered a worn, tweed cap onto the top of his halo of brown hair before raising a hand in greeting.
As he slammed the door, another younger figure materialised from the passenger seat. Tall, with thick, black, wind-teased hair falling untidily over his collar, he made such a compelling sight that Jess felt unable to tear her eyes away. Pulling on a well-worn wax jacket, he stood for a moment appraising the small group. His penetrating gaze settled on her father and uncle, making her aware of arched brows over smoky brown eyes and a firm mouth that angled slightly upwards at each corner – something that told her he probably owned a killer smile. The swathe of shadowy stubble which graced his jaw put the finishing touches to his dark gypsy looks, giving him the brooding quality of a Bronte hero.
The older man smiled and began a conversation with Rufus, who indicated her father to his right. Nodding a greeting to Leo, he then beckoned to his young colleague to join them. Farmers, Jess decided, noticing his dress mirrored the older man’s, although from the condition of the jumper he wore – which seemed more darns than garment – he resembled a…
‘What’s that? The local scarecrow?’ Zac’s warm breath on her cheek interrupted her thoughts as he leaned forward to whisper in her ear. ‘No, wait a minute, it’s a farm boy, isn’t it?’ He pressed his lips to her cheek and nuzzled her gently.
‘Scarecrow? Farm boy? That’s an appalling thing to say.’ She twisted her head to look at him.
‘Sorry,’ he said, in the kind of tone that indicated appeasement rather than apology, his lips briefly brushing hers.
Jess turned her face away from Zac and gazed out of the window only to find the subject of their conversation staring directly at them. For the briefest moment his eyes met hers, dark and expressionless. She attempted a smile but he simply drew a deep breath and turned away, a look of boredom on his face. No killer smile today then, she thought, feeling strangely disappointed as she watched him zip up his jacket. He said something to the older man before turning to make his way across the car park towards the pub. This seemed to draw Rufus’s conversation to a close and, with a friendly nod and a few parting words, the older man turned to follow his younger companion who now stood in the middle of the car park waiting for him.
‘Sorry for the delay,’ Rufus apologised, leaning back to look at Jess as he slipped behind the wheel and fastened his seat belt. ‘That’s George Selby; he farms on the edge of the village. Mostly dairy, some beef, and if you need a horse stabled he’s your man. His companion is Talún Hansen, he…’
‘A foreigner?’ Leo almost spat the words out as he climbed into the passenger seat. ‘Typical. Someone else here taking our jobs.’
‘Talún is English,’ came Rufus’s unusually sharp response. ‘He was born in this country. God, Leo, sometimes you are such a small minded bastard!’
Jess held her breath. Given the whole atmosphere of today’s outing, she guessed her normally easy-going uncle had at last run out of patience.
As Leo turned his head to respond, she noticed a slight pink stain had begun to creep into his cheeks. ‘Rufus…’ his tone, level and reprimanding held its normal condescending superiority, ‘…do you really think it’s appropriate to react quite so violently in front of Zac and Jess? Let’s not argue over such a trivial thing, eh?’
Rufus didn’t reply. Through the gap in the seat, Jess could see where his hands were gripping the steering wheel, his knuckles white as he backed the car out of the parking space. Leo expelled a harsh breath and tilted his head back against the headrest. Jess felt Zac’s hand sneak over hers, his interlocking fingers giving hers a reassuring squeeze. She returned his gesture with an uneasy smile as they began moving forward.
As the car passed George Selby, she saw him raise a hand in farewell. Beside him, Talún stood watching them, his hands deep in the pockets of his wax jacket. Exiting the car park, she took one last opportunity to glance back at the pub, noticing both men had now disappeared into its interior, leaving her with the memory of dark windswept hair and a hard, measuring stare.
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