Full bodied, rich and tempting on the palate, easy on the eye and ... is that the wine and the food at Berry Flavours Restaurant and Vineyard - or the boss?
I have been writing since a very young age. I was the one at school with the home-penned plays and stories, the entertaining ideas and the grand vision, believing I had great talent. Wrong.
I believed that because I could put words on a page in a grammatically acceptable way and tell a reasonable story that I was ‘an author’. Technically, I suppose I was, but the apprenticeship as a ‘writer' – to labour the difference - is a long and hard road.
One day, I had what I still call a little ‘thing’ – I saw my late grandfather in his World War One trench gear talking to ‘me’ at my desk and suddenly the words flowed and so did the short story which was published within two weeks in an Australian national women’s magazine.
So I revisited all my short stories and my novel-length stories and found success again with four short stories and then two short novels in 2001/2.
Alas, life got in the way once more. I kept writing, but in the dark so to speak. I used it as a means of escape, as a retreat and I was able to create my own HEA or HFN.
Then life took another turn and I figured that I had nothing to lose. I dusted off quite a number of manuscripts and began to whip them into shape. At a serendipitous meeting with my current publisher, Nicola at SteamEreads, she agreed to read my current work at the time. It was a 67,000 word unedited novel, which she accepted. It was published in June – Money For Blood.
Since then I have had two other novels and two novellas accepted, all HEA/HFN. The second published and the first novella, This Forever Game came out in September.
The next one out is the second novella, Berry Flavours which has just been published.
Good fences make good neighbours but it seems the Thomases have moved the boundaries and the fences so they and their neighbour, Berry Lockett are headed for the courts.
After a family breakdown and just a week before Christmas, Clancy was to start her dream job as chef at Mac Thomas’s restaurant on Australis Island. Unfortunately, she finds there is no restaurant - just a rundown, disused and dirty old shearing shed. When she meets Berry at the local hotel, the attraction is instant and he warns her to be careful on the Thomas estate.
So when things go badly wrong for Mac Thomas and his strange son, Greg, Clancy calls on Berry for assistance to leave the property and escape a progressively worrying situation, especially with Greg.
Things go smoothly for a little while until Greg decides to take matters into his own hands. Then it goes downhill from there with lies and accusations undermining Clancy’s new found confidence until unexpectedly, she is thrown in the deep end at Berry’s property.
“I’m guessing you’re the person Mac Thomas has employed.” He took a long drink then set his beer down and fished in his pocket for money which he placed on the bar.
Santa-dude swiped a tenner and returned with change.
“Good guess,” she said. “I’m Clancy Jones.”
“Berry Lockett.” He held out a hand.
“Berry?” She took the proffered hand, its roughness comforting and hospitable. It was a strong hand, a hand used to helping with heavy loads. Her heart beat thudded merrily.
“Beresford. Fancy name, I know. Great-grandma’s maiden name.” That low baritone rumbled through her again.
“Going to drink your drink?” he asked. “You look a bit gloomy just staring at it.” He slid a small wallet and a bunch of keys on to the bar alongside his change.
She pulled a face at her untouched glass. “I asked for a local sauv blanc. I hope it is.”
“It is. Taste it,” Berry said. “It’s good. Happen to know the vineyard pretty well. It’s just over the hill about four kilometres.”
She ventured a sip. “It is good.” She sipped again. Checked out the black chest hair above his tee shirt collar. “You drink wine sometimes?” She nodded at the beer.
“Sometimes. Probably too much. Beer’s a good change, but I can vouch for the local wines, really.” He grabbed his wallet and peered inside. “There are others but none better than this one.”
She looked around the bar. “I expected good food and wine here. The place looks a bit rough, though.”
“A bit rough. You’d expect some warmth in here for a country pub, too, wouldn’t you?” He waved his hand around.
They both looked across at the fireplace, empty of course at this time of year.
“The place lacks a certain je ne sais qois,” he said.
She ventured a glance at his face. “You know exactly what it lacks. How’d you fix it?”
His face lit up. “I’d put in some happy staff, for a start.” He inclined his head towards the dangly-Santa-dude. “Nice guy, but Alan over there doesn’t exactly warm the cockles of your heart.” Berry studied his hands. “Is this where Mac Thomas has you working?”
“I didn’t know he owned the pub, too. I’m supposed to be in the Vineyard Restaurant.”
“The Vineyard Restaurant.” Lockett frowned. “It’s not exactly up and ... ah, I wonder he didn’t say something about ...” His voice trailed off. Then, “Well, they need a bloody good cook in here, too.”
Clancy shrugged. “He said the Vineyard Restaurant. All I know.” She sipped her wine again, enjoying the conversation, hoping that he was as good as he looked and not some crazy noo-noo out here in the boondocks. That’d be her luck.
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