Maddie Meadows adores her family and loves her work. But she has good reason to keep them separate.
For single mum Maddie, home is a flat on a run-down estate. And family consists of an excitable toddler, a lonely Dad and a younger brother mired in a love triangle.
Meanwhile, professional Madeleine balances a tricky day job, made worse by a jealous colleague. No one at work knows about her other life, and she needs to keep it this way: one of the bosses has made his feelings very clear about single parents and the people on her estate.
Thank goodness for her fun-loving and loyal friends – although Maddie wishes they’d believe her when she insists she has no time for love. Or so she tells herself as she fights to quell her hidden feelings for her gorgeous colleague, Oliver, who comes from the posh part of town.
When her friends line up their ideal man for her – Sean, more beanstalk than Bean – Maddie wishes she’d told them the truth. It’s hard enough juggling two lives. But, with all the added complications, how long will be it be before Maddie’s carefully created world comes crashing down?
Sharley has shared an extract today so grab that coffee, comfy chair and enjoy.
*****beginning of extract*****
It’s the first week of Maddie Meadows’ new job working for the Neighbourhood team at a local council, where she is known as Madeleine. She’s trying to make a good impression but the best-laid plans never work out with a young child in tow. Josh, her son, has had an accident at nursery followed by a tantrum when he didn’t want to leave. So, when Madeleine leaves her laptop at work, it is with a sinking heart that she has to return to collect it.
“I thought you’d be back.” Emma swivelled around in her chair and caught sight of Josh. “Hello, little one! That’s a nasty bump.”
Josh rewarded her with a vacant stare.
“Actually, while you’re around, do you mind if I check a few things with you ahead of your meeting tomorrow?”
“If it’s not a problem with Josh being here.”
She shrugged. “He looks a lovely, quiet boy.”
“After you left, I had a phone call. It turns out the group’s chairman won’t be at the meeting. The new person who’s chairing it is one to watch. I’ve tried to shuffle my diary around so I could attend, but I can’t.”
While Emma ran through the list of queries she needed me to raise, I kept a watchful eye on Josh, who seemed subdued after his outburst.
When she reached the end of the list, she laid down her pen. “You’ve handled tough sales meetings and dealt with politics at the charity you worked at before. This will be a doddle.”
I stifled a grimace. Nothing I’d done before sounded as challenging as all the politics – big and small ‘p’ – that seemed to be at play here. But I needed her to think I was professional and capable, so I gave her a confident smile. Then I noticed that Josh had disappeared, leaving pens and a few scribbled sheets on the floor. I jumped up in panic – where was he? – and rushed into the centre of the office to scan the corridor between the rows of desks, before dropping to my knees to check beneath them. Nothing but legs, bags and bins.
Emma came over, her voice calm. “He can’t have gone far.”
As she spoke, a man laughed. “That’s a picture!”
On the other side of the office, people by the filing cabinets had turned to where he pointed. It must be Josh, I knew it. What on earth had he done now? As I rushed over, a grinning woman took a photo on her mobile phone. Chuckling, she showed it to her companion.
Josh sat on the carpet beside the open drawer of a filing cabinet, sucking a strange blue object, which he pulled from his mouth to show me. My hands shot to my burning face. No, it couldn’t be! It looked just like a blue dildo. It even had balls, although they were flat at the bottom.
Beside me, Emma laughed. “He’s found the teenage pregnancy drawer, I see.”
A woman stepped forward to take the object from Josh, but he stuck it behind his back. “My lolly.”
“Bless him,” she said.
She wouldn’t think that if she’d seen him earlier. If he wouldn’t give up Thomas without a fight, how would I wrestle this blue thing from him without causing a scene? I knelt on the carpet and held out my hand.
“Give it to Mummy, please.”
He shook his head then clamped the thing in his mouth, leaving me stymied. I really didn’t fancy dragging a screaming child from my workplace.
The woman joined me on the floor beside Josh. “We take these out to teach young people about safe sex.” She took a green one from the cabinet and placed it on the floor, out of Josh’s reach. The flat bottom enabled it to stand upright. “We’ve got them in a range of colours. It stops them from looking quite the real thing.”
Emma rested a hand on my shoulder. “If you don’t mind, I can swap it for a real lollipop. The drug and alcohol team have a stock of them.”
My eyes widened. “What sort of lollipops would they have?”
She laughed. “Normal ones. The street teams take them out at night on their patrols. I’ll introduce you to Simon and he can tell you more about the work they do.” She nodded towards Josh. “But let’s get that off him first.”
Five minutes later, Josh and I hurried out with my laptop. He’d picked a red lollipop – the colour of my face. But one positive had come from this – if you could call it that. I was no longer quite so scared about tomorrow’s meeting. Instead, I was dreading coming back to the office to face everyone again.
***** end of extract*****
About Sharley Scott…
Her latest book ‘The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows’ is being published in early July 2020. The second in the series ‘The Gift of a Rose’ will be available in the autumn.
Sharley is a guesthouse owner in South Devon. She is thankful to have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the characters featured in the Devon Seaside Guesthouse series.
The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows is a fictional account, but Sharley has never forgotten how interesting life can be with a toddler. Some of the mischief Josh gets up to will be familiar to all parents. Sharley has carried out the threats she made to her son decades ago and now embarrasses him by telling tales to his girlfriend, although he gets her back by recounting stories about his mum.