So I’m kind of finally settling in the new flat now, which I’m sharing with my sisters, one of which is Wanitta Praks, who is also a romance author. Though I must admit she writes more of the funny contemporary romance while I write more of the drama type. And don’t tell her this, but I think she’s a better writer than I am. Shit! Now she’d never going stop smiling.
Since it is Waitangi Day, which is a public holiday here in New Zealand, I get time to update my blog as well as my website. Awesome. Even better, it’s a horrible weather type of day, even though technically it’s still summer. What do you expect? It’s Dunedin, New Zealand. Right now it’s gray, windy, and drizzling with rain. And now and again, howling with rain. Perfect! I’m in bed, still in my PJs, and writing. My room has a good view of the angry sea and sad white-gray sky beyond. In a minute or two, I’ll probably go to the kitchen and hunt for food to ease my hunger.
I am now happy to also announce that Highland Kiss, Kiwi Bride Series Book 2 is available to download for free from major online bookstores. Don’t miss it.
Here’s the direct link:
Don’t forget to rate and write review ^_^
NOTE: This is not yet professionally edit. So I do apologize for the grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes.
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After the death of her beloved grandmother, Chandra Chandler, known affectionately as Chan, and her two sisters move to Australia to escape their tormented past and build a better life. When a fortune-teller reveals to Chan she will fall in love with a man who is as bright as the sun, she dismisses the very idea as nothing more than hocus pocus. Love, she knows, is beyond her reach. But when the drop dead gorgeous Sam Harrington and his cute daughter waltz into her life, Chan’s world turns upside down. Sam draws her to him like a moth attracted to a flame with his good looks, charismatic personality, and kindness. Most of all, his warm gaze and gentle touches tempts her with the promise of hot seduction — a dangerous territory she is very afraid to enter yet longed to experience. And what about the handsome Jeremy Harrington who is courting her? The man who according to her fortune reading is destined to be her soul mate? Is her attraction to Sam nothing more than a short, hot, intense blaze? Or is it something more?
After the death of his wife from a freak accident, multibillionaire Sam Harrington is sick of women throwing themselves at his feet simply because they are attracted to his enormous bank account and good looks. When he accidentally bumps into a woman named Chan, he instantly knows she is different. He finds he is powerfully attracted to her, and to his surprise, overwhelmingly wants her. When he realizes Chan is dating his cousin Jeremy, he relentlessly courts her none the less, if only to get to know her better and be with her for a stolen moment. When he discovers that this strong, beautiful woman is broken inside and in danger of losing herself, he vows to protect and love her unconditionally. But does Chan wants to be loved and protected by Sam or Jeremy?
The delicate china felt warm against her palms, and Chandra Chandler, known to her few close friends and relative simply as Chan, smiled.
Tea? She was being served green tea. In this very hot weather? It was so like Grandma Su to serve her guests hot drinks, no matter what the weather.
Chan stared long and hard at the light steam rising from the cup towards her face, as though she was fascinated by it. It wasn’t long before she lost herself in her own thoughts again though. Instantly, she felt that dull pain piercing deep within her heart and the lost and the loneliness after losing her grandmother whom she lovingly called Grandma Lin. It will get better, she reminded herself. It will.
Chan jilted back to reality when she heard a soft, gentle voice calling her name, a name which her beloved grandmother had given her because she was born at midnight during the full moon. The name Chandra, which pronounced Chun-druh or simply Chan which pronounced Chun, her grandmother had told her, means the moon in Cambodian.
“I’m sorry?” she queried the elderly woman sitting across from her.
Grandma Su glanced up, her dark eyes—full of wisdom and enlightenment—bored into Chan’s light brown ones.
“You’ve just lost another love one,” she said again. There was a hint of Khmer accent within her speech that Chan didn’t missed. Chan gave her a slight smile, her hands gripping tightly onto her cup of tea.
Yes, Chan had just lost another loved one. It was her grandmother from her mother’s side of the family whom she fondly called Grandma Lin. The kind, gentle ninety years old woman had passed on only three months ago from old age. There was only the three of them now; Chan and her two younger sisters, Dara who was twenty-three years old and Soriya who was twenty-one. Both their parents had died many years before their grandmother. Their mum had passed away from cancer when Chan had been eleven and their dad from a bunch of teenage-drunk-drivers when Chan had been seventeen.
“I’m so sorry to have turned up without informing you first, Grandma Su,” Chan said politely to her grandmother’s best friend whom she also called Grandma out of politeness. “She asked me to come and see you. She was quite persistent.” Chan chuckled a little at the reminder of the old woman’s stubbornness. She took another sip of the green tea. The warm, mild liquid soothed her, and she sighed pleasantly.
“It must be very hard for you and your sisters,” Grandma Su said. “Lin was my best friend. And now she has left me.” She sighed. “But for you, my dear, it is best you move on.” She placed her hand gently on top of Chan’s, a gesture of comfort.
“It’s hard,” Chan said, bowing her head. “But I am determined to move on.”
“Lin would be proud of you,” Grandma Su said. Then she placed her fingers under Chan’s chin and urged her face up slightly so that she could look at the young woman properly. Chan blinked, wondering why Grandma Su was examining her face so intensely. The old woman was staring at Chan’s smooth, round forehead, her brown eyes, tall straight nose, plum lips, and then chin.
“A beautiful face,” she said. “You’ve bloomed very late, Chan. Many bloomed at eighteen, you, you bloomed at twenty-five.”
Chan had to chuckle at Grandma Su’s remark since she had no idea what the woman was talking about. She knew for certain that she did not have a beautiful face, nor had she ever bloomed. She didn’t think she would ever bloomed at all, if she were a flower. And of course she wasn’t yet twenty-five, not until next month.
“A mix blood of yellow and white,” she said. “A lovely cherry blossom.”
At this point, Chan couldn’t really help herself and had to ask. “What are you talking about?”
“Hush, dear, I am reading your face,” she said. “Ah, a phoenix eyes and beautiful nose.”
Chan chuckled. “Thanks, I think,” she said. She didn’t ever think that her nose was ever beautiful.
“You’re entering a new phase in your life,” Grandma Su said with a note of concern. “It seemed there will be challenges.”
“Challenges?” Chan asked.
“Lin was concern,” Grandma Su said. “She asked me to read your fortune two years ago. That is why she insisted you come to see me.”
“Like I said, dear, she was concerned about you.”
“That I won’t move on?”
“That and many others. She worried about your future, Chan, about your career, your health, but especially about your future spouse.”
“You’ve spent all your time taking care of the family, but now it is time to take care of you. You’ll meet him. There will be challenges like I said, but relationship needs work, dear, so you must trust yourself. You must trust your heart. Your destiny does not define your future, it is you and your action that defines your future. Remember that, Chan. Of course I cannot tell you who he is, but I can tell you that he is out there, very bright, just like the sun. Yes, he is like the sun, a warm person who many adores and depends on.”
Grandma Su turned to look at Chan and cocked her head to one side, just like a small bird would, scrutinizing the young woman. “Ah, you will be a tiny thing standing next to him. He is a big man, Chan, this Sun Man of yours.”
Chan blinked. “I’m not exactly sure I understand what you’re talking about.” Though Chan said that, she had the distinct feeling that Grandma Su was talking about her possible future spouse.
Grandma Su laughed. “Ah, I see I have captured your interest. Do you want to know about your love life, Chan?”
Chan frowned. No. Not really. She glanced down, blushing a little.
Grandma Su noticed the blush and patted Chan’s hand. “Like I said, I cannot tell you who he is for I do not know myself. Of course you will understand, dear, once you’ve met him.” She chuckled again. “And very soon, too. Now then, come along, I will show you my vegetable garden.” She dismissed the subject with a wave of her hands and headed out the door.
Chan got up and followed the elderly woman, her thoughts still on the challenges ahead of her that Grandma Sue had mentioned. And of course, this future spouse of hers. But then she had already made up her mind to never marry or go into a relationship. It was just too toxic. Relationship is toxic. Love is toxic. And sex? Yes, that’s toxic, too. The worst come to think of it, and instantly, Chan felt her stomach knotted with that dread, that fear she always felt.
She felt herself shake uncontrollably. He’s not here, she told herself. You’re as far away from him as you can possibly be.
She calmed down and stepped into the beautiful sunshine outside behind Grandma Su.
“It’s good that you take time for yourself,” the woman said, nodding her head. “It will be a life-changing move, I assure you.”
Grandma Su was referring to Chan and her sisters moving to Australia. After all, there was nothing left for her and her two sisters in New Zealand now since their grandmother had died. Well, there were still Amie, their father’s second wife, and hence, their step-mother, and of course, Lisa, their step-sister. Perhaps she should stop thinking of Amie as their step-mother. After all, her father had already passed away years ago. And right now, Chan didn’t want to think about Amie and Lisa, because thinking about them always reminded her of how weak she was, of how she could never stand up to them. The results of their bullying and harassment never left her. She was always so conscious of herself, of the people around her, of how they’d judge her, like how Amie and Lisa judged her.
And then of course there was Dave, Lisa’s husband, the one she feared and hated most. The one who had whispered un-meaningful words of love to her, words of lies, words that made her feel sick.
She felt dizzy again thinking about him. She reminded herself, you are far, far away from him now. He won’t hurt you anymore. He can’t.
Chan said, “I know, Grandma Su. I know for a long time now that it’s time to get out.”
Grandma Su turned to look at Chan then, as if she understood the meaning of her words. In a way, Chan knew the woman knew because she was so wise, just like her grandmother who had known for a long time the torment of Chan’s secret. She had done her best to help Chan keep the people responsible at bay, and of course, to bring Chan out from her lonely darkness.
She stayed with Grandma Su for another hour, enjoying the sound of the woman’s light chatter as she was led about the large garden.
Once Grandma Su had given Chan some of her precious vegetables, mainly water spinach, cucumber, and pepper, Chan kissed her goodbye. When Chan returned to the house along Bay View Avenue she and her two sisters shared, the dilapidated house they had inherited from their father, a few hours later, she hit the shower immediately because she felt stuffy and was sweating like a pig. She hadn’t yet gotten used to the super-hot weather here in Australia, which was so much different from New Zealand where she used to lived.
She took her time, letting the cool water pounding down on her as she thought long and hard about what Grandma Su had told her this morning. The woman had been right. She needed to move on. Yes, most of her loved one had passed on, but that didn’t mean that she, too, had to pass on. She still had her sisters and her whole life ahead of her. Just look at her childhood friends Alexandra, Ruby, Nikita, and Isabella. They were enjoying their lives; traveling around the world and doing new things. Chan, unlike them, hadn’t yet experience what the world had to offer her. Now, more than ever, she wanted to experience, taste, and feel everything. And especially, she had to forget about Lisa, Amie, and Dave, the people who had hurt and tormented her.
She finally got out, wrapped herself in a fluffy, white towel and came to stand in front of the mirror. She stared at herself long and hard. She had to chuckle, wondering what Grandma Su saw in her that made her say she was beautiful. Her hair was a mixture of ash brown and dark blond, a rare thing for a mix-blood woman. Her eyes were brown, like the color of chestnut. Her skin was not too fair and not too dark but a nice light tanned color, and her nose, well, there was nothing special about it. Grandma Su had said it was a beautiful nose, and Chan wondered how it could be a beautiful nose when it wasn’t the type of nose that the current fashion favored. It wasn’t tall, small, and thin like most celebrity aspired to have with surgery. No, hers was slightly on the plump side though she must admit that it was quite elegant and pleasant to look at.
She quit examining herself and got dress quickly since she wanted to go to the Thursday night market along the beach. She had missed out last week because Soriya and Dara had insisted on doing a grand dinner to celebrate their first paycheck from their jobs. She must admit it had been pleasant and she had enjoyed it.
Because it was so hot today, Chan wore a short floral maxi dress. She had her long hair, un-brushed and still wet, down. It was her habit since brushing while still wet usually brake the strands. And last but least, she put on her makeup, light and neutral, and then she headed out.
The sun was just about to set when she got to the market, and there was people everywhere. Soon, she lost herself at the enthusiastic, entertaining sight before her and simply enjoyed herself. Now and again, she lift her camera and took loads of photos. That was when she saw a big crowd a few meters away from her, cheering and laughing excitedly that it was contagious.
“There are monkeys performing!” One of the boys ran pass Chan, nearly throwing her off balance. He was followed by a strings of his friends. Luckily, Chan moved back just in time before they could bowelled her over. She chuckled at their enthusiasm and began to click her camera away as they ran, taking shots of them in mid-action.
“Daddy! Daddy! I want to see!” Chan heard a sweet, little voice begged behind her.
Even this little girl, she thought adoringly, was interested. And why not? It’d be entertaining. So she headed after the boys to the crowd, and not long after, begged her way to the front where some of the boys posted themselves. In what appeared to be the center of the stage, two monkeys, wearing clowns costume, were performing some cool tricks. It was hilarious and cute to say the least. Chan kept taking photos after photos after photos. Suddenly, she felt a small being pushing herself against her legs.
“I can’t see! I can’t see!” the little voice muttered.
Chan heard a male chuckle, which was followed by, “Lilly, sweetheart, be careful.” The voice was timbre deep and resonant, and caused Chan’s body to tingle just a little. It was odd, and she told herself that it must be the cool breeze that was setting in for the night. Not a moment later, the little girl named Lilly appeared beside her. She was a small thing, wearing a pink sun dress and her dark hair was tied with a pink ribbon. She was struggling to stay in her claimed position because the boys behind her was too excited about the monkeys doing some fantastic kung fu moves to stay still. Chan noted that she was beginning to get a bit upset about the whole thing, and when she nearly fell forward, Chan caught her in time before Lilly hit the concrete.
Chan pulled Lilly into her arms, her heart hammering within her chest. “Are you all right?” she asked with concern.
The little girl tightened her grip on Chan. “I nearly fell,” she said, looking up at Chan.
Chan blinked as Lilly gazed at her. Good Lord! She was such a beautiful child, with rich black hair, dark brown eyes and petal-white skin. She was going to grow into a heart-breaker.
“Why don’t you stand there?” Chan said, positioning Lilly in front of her so that the boys won’t push her about.
“Thanks,” Lilly said, smiling up at Chan.
Chan returned the smile, and that was when she noticed Lilly waving to someone. Suddenly, Chan felt tingling sensation. She was aware of the warmth of a male body behind her, mere inches from her, and she could feel his warm breath above her. She tried to ignore him and the feeling of him so close to her, but it was impossible. When she couldn’t take it any longer, she crouched down beside Lilly.
“Look, the monkeys are dancing,” Lilly said excitedly. “I like dancing. It’s fun. Do you like dancing?”
Chan laughed. “I don’t know how to dance,” she told the little girl the truth.
“Why can’t you? It’s easy.”
Chan chuckled. “I’ve never learnt.”
“I can teach you,” she said honestly.
“It’s okay, I think I’ll survive without dancing,” Chan said, patting her cheek.
Shoot! Chan had just realized that she had touched this child without her parent’s permission. She hoped her father, the man behind her, won’t think of her as a child molester or worse report her to the police or something.
God, she could feel his gaze on her, intense and hot. Her stomach was fluttering and her heart was pumping like crazy. What was wrong with her?
She withdrew her hand from Lilly’s cheek to her side and turned her attention to the show before them. They continued to watch, and all the time, she was very aware of Lilly’s father behind her, and sometimes, his gaze on her. Of course, her heart never stopped racing, and neither could she concentrate on the show. Finally, it was over and a big applause followed.
“Thank, ladies and gentlemen,” the ring master said to the audience. “If you’ve enjoyed our little show, please do give donation.” He gave his tall, black hat to his dog. The canine took it between his teeth and obediently started heading around the crowd. When it came to stand in front of them, Chan put in five dollars. Lilly pet the black beast fondly. Then she looked rather upset when it moved away and even more so when she saw another little girl placing some golden coins into the hat. Chan realized that Lilly also wanted to give donation and looked as though she was about to cry. Chan couldn’t help myself and gave Lilly her other five dollar.
Lilly looked at her with large, adoring eyes, pleased. “Can I really?”
Chan just wanted to pinch her cheek. She was just too cute. But she couldn’t really because her father was just behind her, guarding his daughter like a mother hen. So she resigned to simply giving Lilly an encouraging nod and smile instead.
“Can I, Daddy?” she looked up to her father, her eyes large.
In a flash, he was on his knees beside them, and Chan’s heart started to jump into silly rhythm again. What was wrong with me? And damn! He was so near that she could feel the heat of his large body. She felt like a dwarf next him.
“Since the pretty lady is being very nice, yes,” he said smoothly. Chan hinted an American accent, and wondered if he and his family were here on holiday in the Gold Coast, like the majority of the people in Surfer Paradise.
“Thank you, Daddy,” Lilly said.
“What do you say to the pretty lady?”
Lilly turned to Chan and said, “Thank you, pretty lady.”
Chan laughed. “You can call me Chan.”
“Thank you, Ch … Chun … Chan?” she said, having a little difficulty pronouncing the name correctly. Then she proceed to take the five dollars.
She waited patiently for the dog to come back to her, and when it did, she petted the canine again and then placed the money into the hat. “You’re a very good pup,” she said.
By this time, the crowd had dispersed, and Lilly rushed up to her dad behind Chan, who still refused to take a good look at the man who was clearly interested in her. She was about to stand when her cell phone rang. She quickly searched for it in her bag as she got up. When she found it, which was as usual way at the bottom of the bag, she put it to my ear as she lifted her head.
“Hello?” she said as she stared at the massive brick wall of chest that belonged to Lilly’s father in front of her. He was wearing a pale blue shirt, the expensive type that men wore to the office. He had it parted at just the right spot, exposing a very enticing muscular tanned chest. Chan licked her lips, wondering why her heart was pounding so hard and her stomach was fluttering so badly.
As she listened to Amie verbally abusing her as to why she had resigned from her job in such short notice and why she and her sisters had moved away without telling her, Chan dreaded the moment when she finally have to meet Lilly’s dad face to face. She could feel that he was watching her intensely, patiently waiting for her to look up at him. Suddenly, she knew she just couldn’t do it. It was as though she couldn’t find the strength to lift her face just a little more so that her eyes could meet his.
Before she could stop herself, she turned around and walked away. She knew it was rude of her, but she felt as though she wasn’t ready to talk to people she didn’t know yet, especially this man who, oddly enough, fascinated her beyond believe. Why? She hadn’t even seen his face. But oh his voice. It was to die for, and she didn’t understand why she was attracted to him without even seeing his face. And his chest? Her palms itched and a liquid warm sensation coursed through her being.
Amie continued to tell Chan off as she headed further away from Lilly and her father.
“Bye, Chan,” Lilly’s voice drifted to her.
Chan just kept on walking, and in the distance, Lilly said, “Maybe she didn’t hear me.” The little girl sounded disappointed and sad, and Chan’s heart cried out for her. I’m sorry, Lilly, she said internally to herself. Why are you such a bitch, Chan? Why?
“She’s busy on the phone, sweetheart,” the dad said.
Chan took a deep breath, feeling her heart quivering.
“Chandra! Do you hear me? Do you know much work you’ve put me through, you irresponsible little piece of shit! You have to come back here and sort this all out.”
Chan took a big sighed and control the urge to tell her step-mother to go pissed off. Instead she said, “What more do you want, Amie? What more? I don’t have any more to give you. You’ve got everything that belonged to Dad.”
“Not everything, you bitch. Not everything. That house in the Gold Coast along Bay View Avenue, that belonged to Craig.”
“Yes it did belonged to him and my mother, and now it’s our; me and my sisters’, it’s under our name, it said so in Dad’s will.”
“Don’t patronize me, you bitch. Oh, I should have never taken you lot in after Craig died. And now look at what you do to me, you ungrateful piece of shit.”
“You’ve never looked after me and my sisters, Amie, Grandmother did. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have other more important things to do. Good bye, Amie, and I hope to never hear from you ever again.”
Chan ignored Amie’s shout of outrage and shut the phone. She took another deep breath, and oddly enough, she could still feel Lilly’s father’s eyes on her even this far away.
Finally, after a few more deep breaths and throwing Amie out of her mind, she had the courage to turn around. From the great distance and though she couldn’t see their faces at all properly, Chan smiled and waved at Lilly, who was now sitting comfortably in her father’s strong, powerful arms. Lilly waved back, laughing. Then Chan shifted her gaze to the man who had taken her interest.
Good Lord! He was tall and muscular, and well, just everything that was the opposite of her. He looked as though he could take on the world and would come out the winner. He set her pulse racing and her heart fluttering, the likes she had never experience before. He was watching her, she could feel it, and then she wondered if she will ever see him again. She didn’t know, but life, as her grandmother had always said, is very unpredictable, but at the same time, very predictable. If you’re destined to meet someone, no matter how much you try to avoid him, you will still meet him, in the most unexpected way.