Saturday 1 September 2012

Hazel Osmond: 'The First Time I Saw Your Face'

Jennifer had it all. But a terrible accident has taken almost everything.

Moving back home, her future isn't looking too bright. Until she meets Mack.

Sexy, dishevelled and just a little clumsy, he starts to make her believe that she can move on from the past and embrace life all over again. But he has a secret he'd do anything to protect and he'll have to betray her to keep it...

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Jennifer works in the local library and is having a difficult time with a particularly demanding member of the public.

Jennifer tried to concentrate on what Mr Armstrong was saying and filter out the muffled laughter coming from the poetry section. Luckily Mr Armstrong was fairly deaf and would not realise that it pinpointed exactly where two other members of the library staff were hiding to enjoy another classic Armstrong performance.
‘Also, pet,’ he said, leaning against the counter and wetting his forefinger, ‘as well as the bad language, there are some scenes of a sexual nature on page thirty-four.’ He turned the pages of the book with the specially wetted finger until he reached the offending passage and began to read in a wavering voice: ‘Pulling her to his chest, he placed her hand on his iron-hard member thrusting against the confines of his rough, calico breeches and suddenly the two hard nubs of –‘
‘Yup, that’s definitely sex,’ Jennifer cut in, and looked towards the poetry section, where Auden through to Coleridge was actually shaking.
‘Aye,’ Mr Armstrong said eventually, ‘shocking.’
He glanced down at the piece of paper in his hand covered with faint, spindly writing, and, as he did so, his stick fell off his arm, causing him to lean more heavily against the counter.
‘Would you like to sit down, Mr Armstrong?’
‘Aye, I would.’
Jennifer fetched a chair and settled him in it, lifting his carrier bag up off the floor and placing it gently in his lap.
‘So what’s next?’ she asked when she was back behind the counter.
‘Page one hundred and eighty-four… blasphemy.’ Mr Armstrong turned the pages tortuously slowly, referring to his list from time to time, and Jennifer looked at the library clock, hoping that somebody would come in and give her an excuse to call Sheila and Lionel out of hiding. Not much hope of that: late-night opening and only an hour until closing time. The graveyard shift. The only voices Jennifer could hear were coming from the children’s section, a woman and a little girl by the sound of it. They must have come in when she was up in the office.
It was always a mistake, one way or the other, to come out of the office.
Mr Armstrong found the offending page and held the book up for Jennifer to read, obviously deciding that the blasphemous passage would sully him further should he reacquaint himself with it.
Jennifer scanned the words. ‘The character just says, “God’s Blood”, Mr Armstrong.  He is a pirate.’
Mr Armstrong sucked his teeth. ‘Then, on page two hundred, more sex.’
The tortuous finger-wetting and page-turning recommenced until he found what he was looking for.
‘Lord Percival Dennison feasted his eyes on Lady Cranleigh’s voluptuous form, from the milky mounds of her breasts to that place where he longed to plunge his…’ Mr Armstrong stopped and tutted and there was more pained sucking of teeth before he passed the book to Jennifer. ‘I’ll not read the rest.’
 Jennifer glanced at the page and snapped the book shut. ‘Yes, easy to see where that’s going… so, anything more then?’ She nodded at his carrier bag, hoping there was nothing else he considered improper lurking within it.
‘No, not this time. You’ll send a letter to the council?’
‘Of course. Would you like to see it before I send it?’
‘Why no, pet. I trust you.’
‘Fine, and you know, Mr Armstrong, what I was saying last time, about you perhaps being a bit more careful concerning the books you choose if strong language and, um, physical interaction offends you?’
Mr Armstrong looked up at her from under his brows and she ploughed on, picking up the book he had just laid down and looking at its cover.
‘For example, the title of this one – Plundered by Pirates - it should have warned you off really.’
‘Warned me off? How?’
If it had been anybody else, Jennifer would have thought they were pulling her leg, but Mr Armstrong’s eyes were devoid of humour. A faint tang of soap and toothpaste lingered about him.
‘Well, “plundered”, particularly in historical novels, is often used to describe the act of…‘Jennifer had another run up at it. ‘…when a man forces himself, um, upon a woman.’
Mr Armstrong studied her intently and then shook his head.
‘Well, I dare say it’s a modern thing. We never had that when I was young. We were Methodists.’
            In the poetry section, Jennifer heard several books thud to the floor…


Jen Black said...

Oh good lord, you bring back my years in the library! Must get this and hope it does well, Hazel,

Barbara Elsborg said...

ha ha, Hazel!! Good luck with the release.

Jane Richardson said...

Stunning cover! All the best with it, Hazel. :)

Jane x