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Authors: Talli Roland

Tags: #Humor, #romantic comedy, #talli roland, #Romance, #Chick Lit, #Contemporary Romance, #womens fiction

Build a Man (35 page)

BOOK: Build a Man
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“I am, it’s
just . . .” My voice fades away.

“Go on, now,”
the woman says, advancing on me. “Before I call the police.” As if
on cue, Judas gives a low growl, baring his teeth.

I hold up my
hands and back away, eying the fierce dog and the even fiercer
woman. “Okay, okay. If you do see him, can you tell him Serenity
stopped by?”

The woman
snorts, and Judas lets out a volley of barks.

“Guess that’s a
no,” I mutter, quickening my steps around the side of the barn and
back onto the track. It’s raining now, and clumps of sodden snow
plop off the trees. One lands with a giant splodge right on my
head, dripping down the side of my face. I don’t even bother wiping
it away, and the liquid mingles with the tears spilling from my
eyes.

That’s it,
then. Jeremy’s not here. And by the sound of things, he won’t be
back for a while – there’s no point waiting. I pull my sodden coat
around me and squish back across the footbridge, cold seeping into
my boots with every step I take.

“Find your
man?” Bronwyn sticks her head out the door of the still-deserted
visitor centre as I pass.

I try to return
her friendly smile, but the corners of my mouth refuse to budge.
“No.”

I’m beginning
to think I never will.

C
HAPTER THIRTY-ONE

 

 

The drive back
to London is endless. I sit in the car for hours, caught in traffic
jams as far as the eye can see. My damp clothes cling to me, and
even though I have the heating on high, I still feel cold and
shivery. Nothing can reach the pit of ice forming inside – the
little knot of fear that I’ll never find Jeremy; never be able to
tell him how I feel. Several times I reach for the phone to call
Kirsty before remembering it’s still in the lounge, on the charger.
Being cut off gives me a strange feeling, like I’m in my own little
cocoon of time and space.

It’s dark when
I finally head out of the Baker Street Tube after dropping off the
rental car. The rain has stopped, but everything is damp and
frigid. Christmas lights on the houses lining the street reflect on
the wet pavement. All around me, people hurry home, carrying
shopping bags and packages. Despite the rain, the air is festive –
making me feel even more isolated.

Tiredness seeps
through my bones with every step as I drag my aching body down the
street and open the door to Kirsty’s. Kirsty and Tim’s voices drift
down from the bedroom upstairs.

“I’m back!” I
shout, dropping my bag in the hall and rounding the corner to the
lounge.

I freeze.

There, on the
sofa in front of me, is the man I’ve been waiting – longing – to
hear from.

“Jeremy?” I
breathe, unable to believe my eyes. His cheeks are hollow and he’s
lost some weight, but it’s
him
.

He smiles, and
my heart leaps when I see that his face is back to normal.
“Yes.”

I take a small
step toward him, almost afraid he’s a mirage that will disappear.
“What are you doing here?” My brain spins frantically, trying to
work it out.

Jeremy fixes me
with those green eyes and my heart starts galloping. “I didn’t
think I’d ever want to see you again, you know.”

A stab of pain
hits me, so intense I can barely stay standing.

“When the
hospital told me about the column and I figured out what you’d been
up to . . .” His voice trails off. “Well, I wanted to put as much
time and distance between us as possible.”

“I’m so sorry,
Jeremy.” My mouth is dry with fear and my voice cracks. “I’m sorry
I lied. I never thought it would hurt you – it was all supposed to
be anonymous. But then my editor revealed who you were, and, well .
. .” I wince as my stomach twists with guilt and regret.

“I know you
tried to protect me,” Jeremy says, eyes softening. “Kirsty told me
everything.”

“But how–”

“I was at a
rehab unit for a few weeks in Newport. They released me as an
outpatient once I was well enough to get by without help. I
couldn’t face going back to London, with everything that happened
here. So I went to my place in Tintern. I just wanted to be on my
own.”

Tears fill my
eyes as I imagine him there alone. “I’m so sorry, Jeremy. I’m sorry
I pushed you to have that surgery.”

“I wanted to be
angry with you, Serenity; to blame someone for what happened to me.
When I found out you lied, it gave me the perfect excuse. I didn’t
want to hear any explanation. I didn’t think there could be
anything to justify what you’d done, so I blocked your number.” He
sighs. “The truth is, I was mainly angry at
me
– that’s why
I couldn’t bring myself to report you to the hospital. You weren’t
honest, sure, and you encouraged me to go through with the
operation. But none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been
on-board with the makeover. I was the one who made the decision.
Not you.”

We hold each
other’s gaze, tears dripping down my cheeks as the icy coldness
inside me begins to thaw.

“But I realised
that I missed you, despite everything.” Jeremy drops his head, then
meets my eyes again. “No, more than just missing you.”

I nod, unable
to push any words past the lump in my throat as a volcano of
happiness erupts in my belly.

Jeremy smiles
gently at me. “So I called the clinic yesterday. I had a whole
story made up about aftercare treatment, but I just wanted to talk
to you. See how you were.” His cheeks flush. “And then when the
woman who answered told me you were no longer working there, I
tried your mobile.” He gestures to the corner, where it’s still
plugged in. “I called and called, but you didn’t answer. So I came
down to London.”

A slow smile
tugs at my lips as the heat within me rises.

“Kirsty finally
answered your phone and told me everything – about you and Doctor
Lycett, the tabloid, your new job. She said you’d gone to Wales to
find me, and I came here to wait for you.”

I take another
step closer, my smile growing wider. “I’ve been trying to find you,
to get in touch for ages. Because” – I swallow hard – “because, I
really need to tell you . . .” My voice fades as I try to get the
words out, to let him know how I feel. Now that Jeremy’s here in
front of me, everything seems to be stuck inside. Everything except
for the bright flame burning in my chest, happiness streaming from
every pore of my body.

Jeremy lifts a
hand in the air to stop my halting explanation and struggles to his
feet. My eyes widen as I notice the metal cane he’s leaning on. I
almost move to help him before I see the determination in his eyes.
He takes a few shaky steps then I practically fly toward him,
closing the gap between us until we’re face to face.

I lift a hand
to his stubbly cheek and trace those little lines by the side of
his eye, and all of a sudden, we’re kissing. Jeremy’s cane clanks
onto the floor as he slides his arms around me, pulling me tightly
against him. His lips are just as soft as I imagined, and his heart
thuds away against mine.

I wind my arms
around his neck and breathe in the spicy scent, then pull back for
a second to look at his face again.

‘What?’ he
asks, brow crinkling.

I shake my
head, grinning so hard my face aches. I know things won’t be easy,
that the road ahead will be full of twists and turns. That Jeremy
still has a long way to recovery; that I’ll need to work hard at my
new job to be successful. In my future, there won’t be any glitz,
and there definitely won’t be glamour. Nothing will be perfect –
not by a long shot.

But you know
what?

That’s just the
way I want it.

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed
Build A
Man
, please leave a review on your
favourite e-book or reading site.

Thank
you!

Amazon.com
,
Amazon.co.uk
,
Goodreads
,
Barnes & Noble

COMING IN
2012

 

Construct a
Couple

 

With a great
new job at a reputable magazine and a man who’s the perfect match,
Serenity Holland thinks she’s laid the foundation for an ideal
London life.
When a routine fact-checking
assignment
uncovers shocking corruption threatening her
boyfriend’s struggling company, Serenity decides to take matters
into her own hands – coming up with a plan to set the world to
rights, not to mention saving her boyfriend’s business and
furthering her own career. Soon, though, Serenity realises her
scheme might make her a star reporter, but it could also destroy
everything else she’s worked so hard to build.

 

Join Talli’s mailing list
to keep updated on future
releases (and read about contests, chocolate and wine!).

ALSO BY TALLI
ROLAND

 

The Hating
Game

 

When Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to
save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail
through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's
perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating
strategy.
After all, what can go wrong
with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a
juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed
that the contestants are four of her very unhappy
exes.
 
Can
Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately
needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge?
And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on
stopping her from making it to the end?

 

 

I thought
The
Hating Game
was incredibly well written .
. . I really found myself blown away with Talli’s debut novel.
She’s a fantastic story-teller and I really can’t wait to see
what’s next from Talli. She could become a huge Chick Lit star,
there’s no denying it.

Chick Lit Reviews

 

The Hating Game
i
s a wryly observed take
on reality TV and the numerous twists and manipulations that take
place had me gripped but there is also a wonderfully romantic story
running underneath which had me rooting for Mattie to come out as a
winner. This is chick lit with attitude and I loved
it!

One
More Page

 

 

Watching Willow Watts

 

For Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull
routine: days behind the counter at her father's antique shop and
nights watching TV, as the pension-aged residents of Britain's
Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But
everything changes when a YouTube video of Willow's epically
embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation gets millions of hits
after a viewer spots Marilyn's ghostly image in a frame.
Instantly, Willow's town is overrun with fans
flocking to see the 'new Marilyn'. Egged on by the villagers –
whose shops and businesses are cashing in – Willow embraces her new
identity, dying her hair platinum and ramming herself full of cakes
to achieve Marilyn's legendary curves.
But
when a former flame returns seeking the old Willow, Willow must
decide: can she risk her stardom and her village's newfound fortune
on love, or is being Marilyn her ticket to happiness?

 

 

Watching Willow Watts
i
s made up of a bevy of
fun and interesting characters, which made this book interesting to
read throughout. Light-hearted, humorous, and a sweet happy ending
made me a happy reader!

Chick Lit Plus

 

A
fresh and well-thought-out narrative, likeable characters, dry wit
and an interesting perspective on overnight fame.

Chick Lit Club

 

 

AVAILABLE NOW
AS E-BOOKS AND PAPERBACKS.

ABOUT THE
AUTHOR

 

 

Talli Roland
has three loves in her life: romantic comedies, coffee, and wine.
She lives in London, on a street with two Starbucks and (at last
count) three other cafés that constantly tempt her outside her cosy
little flat. She has a secret crush on Lord Sugar of
The
Apprentice
and if she was forced to wax anyone's hairy chest,
it would have to be Simon Cowell. Clearly she watches too much
reality television.
Despite training as a
journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own
stories – complete with happy endings.
T
o learn more Talli, go to her
website
,
follow her on
Twitter
, or check
out her
blog
.

BOOK: Build a Man
4.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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