Would you take the second chance you’ve always dreamed of?
It’s been ten years since Emma Stevens last laid eyes on Jake Murray. When he left the small seaside village of South Quay to chase the limelight, Emma’s dreams left with him.
Now Emma is content living a quiet and uneventful life in South Quay. It’s far from the life she imagined, but at least her job at the local hotel has helped heal her broken heart.
But when Jake returns home for the summer to escape the spotlight, Emma’s feelings quickly come flooding back. There’s clearly a connection between them, but Jake has damaged her heart once already – will she ever be able to give him a second chance?
To celebrate the release of The Summer of Taking Chances, Lynne has shared an extract with us today.
***** beginning of extract*****
Emma Stevens and Jake Murray grew up in the small seaside village of South Quay, both of them dreaming of glittering careers on the stage. Ten years ago, Jake left the village, and is now a successful actor living in London, while Emma is still living a quiet life in South Quay, renting a room in her best friend Lizzie’s cottage, working in a local hotel, and barely remembering the dreams she and Jake once shared. Then Jake returns to South Quay for the summer…
The day after she learns that Jake is back, Emma goes for a walk along the beach…
Calling out to let Lizzie know where I was going, I left the cottage, turning out of Saltwater Lane onto the appropriately named Shore Road. Heading past the shops selling beach-balls, sunblock, postcards and flip flops, and through the car park – empty now of day-trippers’ cars – at the end of the road, I came to the stones at the top of the beach.
The expanse of sea in front of me was as still as a mill-pond, and the sun was sinking towards the horizon, streaking the sky with red and gold. Two teenage girls were sitting on the stones sharing a portion of chips, while a family, mother, father, and two boys, were playing cricket on the strip of sand between the stones and the incoming tide, which had yet to reach the end of the breakwaters. I went down onto the sand and started walking westwards towards the headland, glancing up occasionally at the large houses, built in a variety of styles that lined this part of the shore. Gradually, the houses became fewer and further apart. I passed a woman walking a dog, and a fisherman in waders casting a line, and then, as I rounded a particularly high breakwater, I saw Jake Murray, standing on the water’s edge, with his back to me, throwing stones into the sea.
Meeting Jake alone like this, with no-one else around to deflect any possible awkwardness between us, was not what I’d have chosen, but it seemed to me that darting back around the breakwater before he saw me was not a rational option. I started walking towards him.
‘Emma,’ he said, his face breaking into a smile. ‘I was trying to skim stones, but I seem to have lost the knack.’ If he felt any disquiet at my accosting him on the beach, he gave no sign of it.
‘Want me to show you?’ I said. He passed me a flat round stone. I weighed it in my hand, turned sideways to the sea, and flicked my wrist to send the stone skimming across the glass-smooth surface. ‘You taught me how to do that.’
‘I remember,’ Jake said. He copied my stance, but the stone he threw immediately sank. He sighed, and turned his face towards the sea, and it felt natural for me to stand beside him, while the sun vanished below the horizon, and the daylight started to fade. The tide rose higher, reaching the end of the breakwaters.
He said, ‘It’s so good to see you again, Emma.’
I looked up at him, this attractive man in his late twenties, and despite the changes in him, the fine lines at the corners of his eyes, the dark shadow on his chin, I could still see the features of the boy I’d known. Suddenly, it seemed to me that standing here with him now, I was being offered a chance to renew a friendship that had been important to me, and I wanted to take it.
‘It’s good to see you again, too,’ I said. We both fell silent, but after a moment, Jake said, ‘Have you eaten tonight?’
‘Not yet,’ I said.
‘Would you like to come back to my place and share a pizza? If there’s nowhere else you have to be.’
This was so unexpected that all I did was stare at him.
‘If you need to get home,’ Jake said, ‘if someone’s expecting you, maybe we can meet up some other time?’
Recovering myself, I said ‘No, I don’t have to hurry home. Yes, I’d like to come back to yours. Where are you staying?’
‘I’m renting the old Victorian pile just up there,’ Jake said, gesturing landwards.
Together we walked up the beach, our feet leaving a double set of footprints on the wet sand…
***** end of extract*****
Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, French Kissing, was published when it won a national writing competition.
She has worked at a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actors’ chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time.
When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre watching a musical, or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Seattle, Athens – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand.
She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.