The Flower Girls

The Flower GirlsAvailable now from Whiskey Creek Press …

Poppy leaves all she loves in Florida to join her sister in Yorkshire. Jasmine has been writing frantic letters letting Poppy know that she is frightened of her husband, Seth Sanderson. Yet when Poppy arrives in Yorkshire, she finds that Jasmine is away. No one seems to know where she has gone but Poppy learns it is something she frequently does. Seth does not know and although his cousin Edward appears to know more than he is saying, the mystery cannot be solved.

Poppy finds Seth not frightening at all, in fact she finds herself more and more attracted to him.

Guilt overwhelms her when she discovers what has happened to Jasmine, yet the attraction to Seth continues…


Published by: Whiskey Creek Press. Currently available in e-book format.

EBook formats ISBN: 978-1-61160-799-4

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Excerpt – The Flower Girls

Poppy Lord gave her apartment a last loving examination. She loved the colors, mimosa and orange, so appropriate for the hot Florida sun. It was too bad, if she had been the kind of girl who cried over material things, she thought she could have sobbed. As it was, stiffening her spine, she turned and walked out, quietly closing the door behind her.

The keys were in an envelope, duly stamped. After popping the envelope in the mail slot, she took out her phone and dialed a taxi number. The sun was warm, not hot and sweaty as it could be, but a delicious seventy-five degrees. A brief resentment rattled its way through her and it stayed as the cab pulled up and she slid inside. It was there with her right through security at the airport as she slammed her small onboard luggage onto the belt.

She wandered through the scanner, pleased that there was no bleep, and then struggled to drag her bag from the belt and pull on her soft white sandals. The air terminal, although small and clean and neat as only a Tampa airport could be, did little to ease the resentment.

Wandering over to Starbucks, she ordered a latte and then went and sat by one of the windows overlooking the runways. Her life was going to be so different.

The short flight to Atlanta was crowded; they asked if anyone had any bags they could check. She mused on checking her little bag but then couldn’t be bothered. That was the trouble; she couldn’t really be bothered about anything anymore.

Damn Jasmine.

Eschewing the train at Atlanta, she walked to the international terminal; she’d be sitting for eight hours and decided she needed the exercise. They were just calling her row when she arrived and she tagged herself onto the end of the queue. As she shuffled along she said a little prayer silently to herself. Something she always did when she was flying. After all this time she still felt a little apprehensive.

Exhausted on arrival she nevertheless marched through the airport to the train station. There was only a ten-minute wait; she had to have done something right, she mused. Anyone with any decency would surely have met her at Manchester. So what if Heaton Grange was over fifty miles away, it was nothing in US terms. But how could she expect Jasmine’s husband to do anything for her, wasn’t that the reason she was coming to stay with her sister? To act as—what—a buffer or whatever between Jasmine and the man she’d married? The dreadful Seth Sanderson. Seth, who called their kid Seth? It was the name of the Egyptian god of chaos and storms. The god Seth had murdered his brother. It was a name that had doom all around it and her younger sister had married the guy. Marry in haste, regret at leisure, that was what Jasmine was now doing.

Jasmine had told her what station to alight at. From here she was to take a taxi. It would cost her thirty pounds. The lazy lout couldn’t even be bothered to drive that distance to collect her.

She shivered violently.

God, it’s so damned cold.

The wind whipped around her, penetrating the soft silk of her jacket. It was spring in England and she’d forgotten how cold a British spring could be. The station looked desolate. There were tubs of daffodils and a freshly painted green bench but little else. She was the only passenger to leave the train. No ticket collector or stationmaster. Outside there was a small forecourt and parked up was a private hire car. “Donalds car hire,” it stated on the door. She noticed there was no apostrophe after the d in Donald.

“ Are you here to pick me up?” she asked.

The man was about fifty, overweight and wearing a T-shirt on which was written the name of some football club she’d never heard of.

“ No, why? Have you booked someone?” he muttered, glancing at the back of her as if expecting a line of people.

“ No but I thought my sister might have. Are you free?”

“ Depends where you’re going.”

“ Heaton Grange.”

“ Oh well, ’eaton Grange, eh? It’ll cost you.”

“ Thirty pounds I believe.”

“ Aye, that’ll do. Get in then.”

“ Right, two bags…” she said. Without leaving the car he popped open the trunk. Obviously she had to put her own bags in the back.

No wonder you’re so fat, she thought but did not feel like alienating him. After all she had no idea where she was or what direction to travel in.

Once settled in the back, she refrained from trying to have a conversation. The man just started the car, steered off the forecourt and took a left. He didn’t seem like he wanted to talk either, which was a relief.

They flew through a small town, past a row of tired-looking shops, through one set of traffic lights and then onto an open road. On either side there were a couple of grand-looking villas and then nothing but desolate moorland, extending as far as the eye could see. These were dotted with sheep, an occasional lake or reservoir, but it was really an empty landscape that didn’t appeal to her sense of beauty. It was too harsh, too cold and colorless—even the sky was a dirty gray color. The hills were a brownish-green and she could see no flower, tree, or anything that she could remotely call attractive.

What a dump, she thought, thinking about lush green and warm Florida. No wonder Jasmine’s going mad here. What one earth persuaded her to live in this miserable corner of England with a man who patently doesn’t love her and who dragged her to this dreadful place?

Now and again they sped by a small village or hamlet. She remembered her own county, in the south, soft and verdant. She’d left that as soon as she could and through various circumstances had ended up in the States where she’d been for nearly ten years.

The car turned at last, taking a narrow road. On one side—the side she was sitting—the path was precipitous, and down below she could see a stream. There had to have been a lot of rain for the water was rushing by at tremendous speed, causing lots of white spray. Now and again, a stream of water tumbled down the hillside, and like a mini-waterfall poured itself into the water below.

Another turn and they were going upwards. The car bumped over loose stones, she could hear the driver muttering ominously, but then another turn and they were on a well-tarred path. The ride smooth. It was a driveway; there were a couple of trees, leafless and bent into weird shapes that would look like long-fingered monsters in the gloaming, she surmised. Then it was there. Heaton Grange.

“ Oh my,” and the words came out loud. The driver turned and gave her a leer that she supposed was his idea of a smile.

“ Aye, Heaton Grange. Nice place eh?”

I wouldn’t dispute with you over that statement, she thought.

A Stuart house she guessed, perhaps a tad later—slate colored stone, mullioned windows. No turrets, no gothic twist, but pleasing lines. Not a palace, or a castle but a gentleman’s house, that was for certain. How on earth had Jasmine managed this? In the beginning, when she thought about Jasmine and the man she’d married, she’d imagined a small, old farmhouse, either that or a large Victorian terrace but this…this was something else.


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