MY IDEAL VALENTINE’S DATE
I’m a bit of a traditionalist. My ideal date is dinner followed by a show. My husband and I are mad about musicals – so much so that he blogs about them at www.wheresthatmusical.co.uk. In real life we’d usually go for a Chinese buffet meal followed by cheap balcony seats, but since I’m dreaming, I’d give it the red carpet treatment and go for dinner to the China Rose, a pretty restaurant in a small town near us, and then have a chauffeur whisk me (and the hubby, obviously) into Sheffield where we’d have a box at the Lyceum to watch the latest musical. Instead of hanging around outside the stage door in the cold to meet the stars, we’d get backstage passes and chat with them in the warm. (That matters, in Sheffield in February!) My ideal choice of musical would be Kinky Boots as that’s top of my wish list at the moment, but as that’s still running in London and not yet touring, I might have to settle for Hairspray, which is a longstanding favourite.
Djinn and Tonic
As fashion photographer Sally Purdew sets up her studio for a special shoot, she wishes for the perfect male model, and he appears. Sal just wants to win at the Alternative Fashion Awards, but her model, Ashtad, is a djinn with the power to grant her wishes and turn her into anything she wants to be. From the pretty English town of Whitby to a tropical beach, Ash whisks Sal away on a magical trip neither of them can forget. When Sal finds herself falling for Ash, she has to decide: do they have a future together, or will his magic always come between them?
Sal let out a gentle whistle. Her hands twitched around the shiny new digital SLR camera she had on loan from her friend Simon, who owned the camera shop. Normally this was the only sort of equipment she’d be caught drooling over, but she had a feeling the guy who’d just walked through the door would have the same effect on her.
He had straight dark hair that swung past his shoulders, and piercing eyes that shimmered somewhere between blue and violet. His deep damson-colored lips were so sharply outlined against his pale skin that she’d have sworn the make-up artist had already got to work on him. That alone would have been enough to set an alternative fashion photographer’s fingers twitching on the shutter button, but then there was the leather. Sal had always been a sucker for Goths, and she saw a lot of them around town as well as in the course of her work, but this model was something else. Lean legs encased in smooth black gleamed under the lights, and the tight trousers gave her a good idea what else there was worth drooling over.
You don’t fall for models, she scolded herself.
The midnight eyes turned in her direction and a warm glow spread across her cheeks.
“I am Ashtad Parisa, and I never walk away from a challenge.” His voice was accented, but clear and beautiful. He strolled toward Sal and offered her his hand.
Great. A weird, gorgeous foreign guy who could read minds. That was all she needed.
What if Cinderella ditched the prince’s ball and sent her fairy godmother to find love in her place?
Suppose a streetwise hero hired to steal an all-powerful Genie (stuck in a flash drive rather than a brass lamp) for a tech company ended up running for his life with the CEO’s gorgeous, intelligent daughter?
Or what if the bed that a certain golden-tressed girl accidentally napped in belonged to the hot and famous middle brother of a notorious boy band?
Can you envision the sparks that might fly if a bitter and downright beastly wheelchair-bound woman propositioned a handsome bookseller to stay with her in exchange for her rare book collection?
This spellbinding anthology features modern and sexy spins on four classic fairy tales that will enchant you by Jennifer DeCuir, Stephanie Cage, Andrea R. Cooper, and Nancy C. Weeks.
“So, tell me about yourself … Goldie, is it?”
Hannah pulled a face at that most hated of interview questions.
Kayleigh kicked her under the table, and she hastily rearranged her features back into a mask of blandness.
“Actually, it’s Hannah. Hannah Loxley. I’m twenty-four; I live in Surrey. I worked as a PA for three years, in London, and recently moved into marketing, but I’d like to get back to being a PA.” She wasn’t lying— just being a little selective with the truth.
“Hannah. Not Goldie?”
“That’s my nickname,” she explained. “As Kayleigh said, we’ve known each other since school. Nobody else gets to call me that, though.”
Hannah gulped as she realized she’d just laid down the law to a major celebrity. And a major hunk at that. Even on this small screen, his charisma was obvious. Though he presumably hadn’t been expecting Kayleigh’s call, and it was late in the day, his dark hair was perfectly slick, and his dark navy suit jacket sat smoothly over a perfectly ironed striped shirt. Altogether too perfect for Hannah’s liking, but she wasn’t looking to date the man, just get a job and a roof over her head.
“What’s he doing back in London after all this time?”
Eight years ago, Lisa Darby’s dancing partner and first love, Redmond Carrington, left London for a fun summer on the cruise ships – and never came back. Lisa’s grown up a bit since then, and she’d like to think she’s prepared for anything, but when Red comes back from America with a proposal for her, she’s not sure she’s ready for what he’s suggesting. A T.V. studio is filming a knockout competition of six of the world’s best couples – each of them partners both on and off the dance floor.
Redmond wants Lisa to pose as his girlfriend so that they can compete. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for an aspiring professional dancer, and the spectacular prize money would help save Lisa’s beloved dance studio, which is in need of major renovation. Scooping the prize is going to take the performance of a lifetime from Lisa and Redmond, but with the sizzling tension between them, they might just pull it off. It turns out that putting on an act for the cameras is the least of Lisa’s worries. As time goes on and she rediscovers her feelings for Redmond, she’s left questioning what’s really behind his offer, and where their partnership is heading this time.
Lisa never knew why she said what she said next.
“Wouldn’t it be easier if we didn’t have to pretend?”
Redmond stared at Lisa for a long moment and she couldn’t read his expression. She wished she could swallow the words back, but they were spoken and a lump of tension was forming in her throat. Then he began lifting his hand slowly. She watched, mesmerised, almost feeling the heat of his hand before it reached her cheek. Her mind ran ahead of the reality, seeing his strong fingers cupping her face and drawing her into the kiss she’d found herself daydreaming about earlier.
Even as she imagined his hungry lips on hers and the familiar warmth of his body close against her, the cautious, hurt part of her mind was warning her not to believe it.
There was no future. With his job in America and his footloose, fancy-free ways, she was bound to get hurt. Still, she did nothing to stop him as he ran his fingers gently down from her cheekbone to her chin and turned her face towards him. Despite the heat of his touch, it sent a shiver through her.
She looked up at him then, and the seriousness she saw in his eyes threw a cloud across the sunlight of her imagined happiness. How had she ever thought he would even consider her suggestion? This wasn’t a real romance, a fairy-tale ending for her. It was a cynical business ploy, a sham and a lie, and if she took part in it, she deserved every bit of misery it brought her. And yet, she’d known from the first moment that she couldn’t refuse, if it bought her another chance to dance with her perfect, infuriating dream of a partner from long ago.
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Stephanie Cage is a British romance writer, author of the novel ‘Perfect Partners’, and several novellas including ‘The Santa Next Door’ and ‘Djinn and Tonic’. She studied English Literature at Oxford University and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. One of her most exciting writing moments was winning a holiday to Sicily in the Woman’s Own Short Story Competition. More recently she won the Yorkshire Ridings Magazine’s Romance Story competition. Oddly, both short stories were set in the same location in Yorkshire, her beloved adopted county. As well as romance, she has a passion for dance, musical theatre and personal development. She is a member of Doncaster Speakers, part of Toastmasters International.