Confetti Confidential: They Do, I Don't
How can you be a part of a couple's big day when your own love life is crumbling?
Her once happy life in tatters thanks to a cheating husband, lacklustre career and a wrinkling face, Viv no longer believes in love and happiness. In fact, she hates them both. The problem is that as a marriage celebrant, gleeful love is what she has to deal with every day.
With ten hilarious and tragic weddings (and a funeral) to get through before she can give up being a celebrant, can she prove that love and happiness are the pathetic hopes of the naive, or will fate intervene and show her that what she secretly craves could be right in front of her?
Confetti Confidential: Annabel's Wedding
After the breakdown of her marriage and her life, Viv has finally found her place in the arms of her true love, Tom. But, can things really stay so perfect?
With the planning for Annabel’s wedding underway, family bickering, a sister with a secret and an unexpected life-altering discovery soon catapults her onto a path of tears, laughter and ultimately the realisation of what’s important in life –love. Annabel’s wedding is a tale of sisterhood, relationships and learning to find happiness in spite of the sometimes crazy hand you’re dealt.
They say "true love comes but once," but what if you missed it? Jennifer Bell knows she missed her chance more than twenty years ago. Heartbroken and alone, she fell into the arms of a charming guy and his violent hold. Barely escaping with her life and scars that will likely never heal, she vowed never to let herself fall in love again. Throwing herself into her work as a marriage celebrant, she spends her time helping others achieve their fairy tale ending. But what if the chance for love found its way back to her? While on a working holiday to Hawaii with her best friend Anna (who is having a major life crisis of her own), an encounter with the man she lost all those years ago could change everything. Will Jen have the courage to fight for what she wants or return home to her life before Hawaii?
A Moonta Bay Christmas - Novella
After three years in Sydney, Callie Ashton is reluctantly returning to her charming little home town of Moonta Bay with her spirits low thanks to a series of events that changed her big-city dream.
Quickly thrust back into her old life, Callie rejoins her family, immersing herself in her mother's upcoming holiday party. When she runs into her high school boyfriend, she takes comfort in the sugary offerings of the local bakery, befriending the owner and spilling her drama over delicious desserts.
With the holiday party approaching and bundles of mistletoe strategically placed around the house, Callie is ready to rekindle young love. Will the mistletoe work in her favor, or does the spirit of the holiday season have something else planned?
From Aloha Love
Excerpt from Chapter 11
I left the coolness of the hotel the next day, on sore and strained legs, and wandered down to the water’s edge. I made sure to take in the feeling, sensation and scenery so that I could draw on it later once I was back home. I grabbed a coffee from a nearby stand run by a gorgeous old Italian lady - who slipped me a piece of almond bread with my skinny latte, and sat on a bench in the shade. The metal liquorice strips of the bench were still cool and soothed my heated skin. As children skipped passed me, holding their parents’ hands and squealing with delight, I tilted my head back and let the strange feeling of looking up at the sky take hold. For some reason, I felt as if I could see things from a different point of view. I could see the entirety of my life up to this point. Like a helicopter hovering over a vast expanse of land, I could see the landscape that was me. The hills of my highs and the valleys of my lows, the dark areas almost hidden by clouds and the areas where the sun shone through and illuminated sections.
There was a feeling that came with the images. It was a mix of contentment, regret and excitement, if it was possible for the three to fit together. There was contentment with the good choices I’d made and the way I’d lived my life. I was a good person and always tried to do the right thing and I’d succeeded in being totally independent for most of my life.
There was contentment with my work and the couples I’d helped to begin their lives together as well as the lives I’d helped families farewell. There was also regret. There wasn’t a lot, but what there was felt like enough to last me a lifetime. Not following Jake was one of them. I should have put my pride aside and found him. I should have tried harder. Falling for Nick was another. And my baby.
I opened my eyes and stared up at the shattering blue of the sky that was beginning to fade to a pink sunset. I got up and strolled to the edge of the sand and picking up a handful, I let the grains fall in a slow trickle through my separated fingers. I tried to visualise looking down from my helicopter view. Beyond all of it that had passed, there was a brightness. There were no clear pictures, but there was an excitement. It was a feeling of the unknown, what could be and the possibilities. I sat back down and watched as the sky slowly succumbed to the inevitable darkness.
‘Isn’t it amazing?’
I hadn’t realised there was anyone behind me, but I knew the voice instantly. It had the effect of making my stomach squirm and my skin bead. I turned to see Jake’s blue eyes, as deep and soulful as they’d always been. I stared into them and studied the lines of his face. There were far more than there had been, but in spite of them, he was more handsome than ever.
Jake was pointing at the sky. I followed the line of his finger to see the moon, full and casting a white light across the rippling water. I stared at it for a moment, taking in the beauty of it before I turned back to him.
‘It reminds me of the night we…..’ I caught myself before finishing the sentence.
A smile spread across Jake’s face, lighting his eyes. ‘The night we first made love?’ He asked.
I nodded, feeling my cheeks start to burn. I opened and closed my sticky palms to help them dry, but sand had already begun to cling to the moisture, making them gritty.
‘Will you walk with me?’ his voice was hypnotic, even just in saying something as normal as that.
I looked back at the moon, afraid that if I stared at him any longer my legs wouldn’t carry me. I knew without any reservation or doubt, he was and always would be, the one and only love of my life.
‘I’ll walk with you,’ I answered, happy that we would be side by side and not face to face.
We headed away from the area in front of the busy bars and pools and made our way toward the lagoon. It was quiet at night after closing to swimmers. Neither of us spoke at first. I wondered what I could say after all these years. To talk about insignificant things, like the warm night, or our holidays seemed stupid, but could we really discuss anything deeper than that?
‘I’m glad I found you,’ he said, staring at the water. ‘I was worried you wouldn’t see me before you leave.’
I wasn’t sure I would have either, but I was glad now that I was here at his side.
He stopped near the water’s edge and turned to face me. ‘I have to be honest. Your friend Vinnie came and spoke to me.’
‘Vinnie?’ I was momentarily stunned before annoyance surged.
‘I’m thankful he did,’ he quickly added, noticing my irritation. ‘Please don’t be angry.’
The feeling faded as quickly as it had risen. He was right. I was glad too and knowing Vinnie, he would have been doing it as a gesture of friendship.
He turned and continued walking. Following, I noticed how easily we fell into step alongside each other. It had always felt so easy with Jake.
I pulled myself from the memories of what we had and reminded myself that he had a family that he clearly adored. As much as I loved being near him again, like this, it was only going to lead to my heart feeling shattered and alone again. It had taken years to mend it to the beaten up mess it was now.
‘What did Vinnie have to say?’ I asked, unsure whether I really wanted to know. If he’d told him how much I was pining for him, I’d murder him.
‘He said that seeing me had rattled you and that he thought we should at least have the opportunity to talk after all these years.’
‘His words, not mine,’ he said, holding his palms up defensively and flashing a cheeky smile.
I stared at his hands, large and strong, remembering how they’d felt on me; around me. I shivered remembering the way they would caress the side of my face and neck and make their way around to my back beneath my shirt. Whenever we walked, he would intertwine his fingers in mine. The memories were like a longing that brought with them a pain, tugging at my insides. I’d have given anything to feel that touch again. I closed my eyes and wished it away. When I felt the familiar touch on my face, my body no longer cared what I told it to do. It reacted as it always did to him.
‘Are you okay?’ He asked, his voice gentle and low.
It was too much. Imagining and remembering were one thing, but actually feeling his touch was more than I could bear. I pushed my face against his warm hand, unintentionally savouring the moment before pulling it away. ‘I can’t…’
‘Sit with me for a minute?’ he asked. There was a pleading in his eyes that made me feel weak all over.
I nodded and sat down on the soft white sand. Jake sat beside me, but turned his body so that we were facing each other.
‘What did you mean the other day when you said you came back?’ I asked.
From 'Confetti Confidential - They Do, I Don't'
Excerpt from Chapter 3
The Wedding of Cadence and Christian
“Where the hell are you, Viv? Everyone’s waiting.”
“Tom, I’m stuck on Direk Rd behind the slowest drivers in the world. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“Jesus, the groom’s freaking out and his mother is having a fit.”
“Oh, bloody hell, hang on – Moooooooooove,” I shouted out the window, waving my fist.
“Why the hell are they all looking at me like I’m a crazy person? They are seriously going, like, ten kilometres an hour.”
Silence filled the phone line as my breathing increased to a pant.
“Viv? You there?”
“Oh no, oh my God, Tom, I’m going to hell.”
“What? What’s wrong? Don’t hyperventilate while you’re driving.”
“Oh Tom, I’m going to hell, those ‘idiots’ I’ve been swearing and waving my arms at…”
“What? Was there an accident?” The pitch of his voice had elevated.
“No, it’s a funeral procession, and I just cut off the hearse! That’s it, I’ve had it! Cancel the wedding. I’m not coming because I’m going to throw myself off the nearest bridge. Tell them I died.”
“Okay, deep breaths, calm down and just get here when you can,” he pleaded. “I’ll cover for you, I’ll make something up. Just relax, you’re heading for a nervous breakdown.” His tone was stern but gentle. “I’ll be right here with you. You’ll be fine, we’ll get through it.”
“Okay,” I grunted. Everything won’t be fine. I’m not fine.
“No stops on bridges,” he insisted “I’ll be here waiting for you.”
To my relief, the bride was running forty minutes late anyway. Tom had calmed the groom and his mother by explaining that I was merely in the carpark rehearsing my ceremony and awaiting the bride’s arrival. He calmed me with a swig from his hip flask.
“I love you,” I said, downing the amber liquid that soothed my tingling nerves.
When the pink and white Cinderella-inspired carriage drew to a halt at the top of the path, Cadence’s arrival was met with gasps from the gathered guests. Christian was already bawling his eyes out.
“She’s here,” I said with a little clap, trying to get him to pull himself together.
As the music began and the carriage doors opened, the gorgeous Cadence emerged smiling. The gasps, however, soon turned to shrieks of horror as she lost her footing on the carriage step and planted face first into the concrete. Christian, giddy with nerves and fright had to be seated on one of the chairs as everyone else rushed to poor Cadence’s aid. She bounced back to her feet and I clasped my hand over my mouth.
You’re awful, what an awful thing to do, to laugh at the poor girl falling. But I couldn’t contain myself. I’d always had trouble not giggling when someone fell over or banged into something. I patted Christian and then headed to the drinks table to get him some water.
My eyes immediately sought out Tom, who was helping the unfortunate girl’s father brush her off. Stunned and slightly bleeding from the bridge of her nose, Cadence took her position on her father’s arm. By the time she reached Christian she had composed herself and dabbed the blood from her grazed nose. I had to give her credit, she was one tough cookie. Christian on the other hand was a complete mess.
“Do you, Mr Chips …”
I couldn’t believe they were actually making me say that out loud.
“…Take Ms Chips to be your lawful wedded wife?”
“I do,” he sobbed.
“And do you Ms Chips, take Mr Chips to be your lawfully wedded husband?”
Cadence hesitated for longer than expected. As she looked into Christian’s eyes, her smile fading, I wondered if she was seeing the life that she would have with him. He hadn’t rushed to her aid when she fell from the carriage, he’d taken care of himself first. And there he stood, crying like a baby. I watched as the implications of what she was about to do seemed to consume her. Would he protect her? Would she end up just having to do everything for him like a mother instead of a partner? Was she remembering past loves, stronger men who had made her feel safe, and wondering if she had chosen wisely?
Cadence looked at all the loving friends and family that had gathered to support them today, and as she turned her attention back to Christian, her expression told me that she had made her decision.
“I do,” she beamed, squeezing Christian’s hands.
I let out the breath I had been unintentionally holding, feeling bad for secretly hoping she would walk away. I wondered where I’d be today if I’d walked away. I would have travelled, definitely, and probably gotten a degree. But I wouldn’t have the kids, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
As the guests swarmed on the happy couple to offer their congratulations, Tom and I fell to the back and swigged from the flask.
“Did you see that face plant?” He laughed. “I nearly had a heart attack.”
“That poor girl.” I tried to maintain a serious face, but as Tom flicked through the photos on his digital screen, the images of poor Cadence’s contorted face as she lost her footing brought tears of laughter that refused to be stifled.
“No more, it’s so mean and I’m going to wet myself,” I warned Tom, which, of course, only made him laugh more. “I’m glad she was okay. She was so courageous, I really like her. Most would have cried and made a big scene, but she just got on with it.”
“I give it a year,” he waved, as he set off to take thousands of happy smiling pictures that would get stuffed in a drawer somewhere and never looked at. Mine were in a box in the shed. Fitting really.