Jane Hollinger is the wrong side of thirty, divorced and struggling to pay the mortgage her cheating ex left her with. As a qualified genealogist, teaching family history evening classes is a way for her to make ends meet. But she begins to wonder if it’s such a good idea when a late enroller for the class is a little... odd. “Badly-blond Bloke” both scares and intrigues Jane, and when she discovers he is her all-time favourite actor and huge crush, Robert Armstrong, she’s stunned. Even more stunning to Jane is the fact that Robert is interested in her romantically. He’s everything she ever dreamed of, and more, but can she overcome her fear of living in the public eye to be with the man she loves?
Jane glanced at her watch. It was half past nine. She’d stayed late after this week’s class to work on a PowerPoint presentation. Now it was a bit too late for her to join her students at the pub.
She pulled the large bunch of keys from her bag and turned off the light as she left the room. After locking the door, she walked to the centre’s main entrance and began to punch the security code into the alarm system’s keypad. She stopped when a door banged shut some distance behind her, nearly jumping out of her skin when a figure left the Gents toilets and made a slow approach. She fumbled in her bag for her personal alarm.
“Stop!” she held the alarm in front of her defensively.
The man raised both hands in the air as if at gunpoint, dropping his notebook.
She was quick to inform him, “I can set both alarms off right now, you know?”
“I know, but I’m in your family history class and I just want to go home. If it’s all right with you?”
“Walk forward three paces.”
He complied, halting under a flickering strip light. It was the badly-blond bloke.
“Look,” he told her, sounding tired, defeated. “I’ve been wearing contact lenses all day and my eyes are killing me. So, the last thing I need right now is to be deafened as well. I just want to go home and go to bed.”
“You’ve been in the Gents for half an hour. If you’ve been doing drugs in there—”
“I’ve been taking the bloody contact lenses out!” he snapped, reaching into his pocket.
“Do you want to see them or not?” A nondescript English accent had replaced his Cockney one. “We can’t stand here all night. I’m just going to reach into my jacket pocket and show you the contact lenses, all right?”
She gave a jerky nod and watched him. Sure enough, a small blue and white contact lens case emerged.
“My eyes have been absolutely killing me all evening. It’s a complete nightmare putting them in and getting them out. You don’t wear them?”
“No,” she whispered, edging out onto the steps, still holding her personal alarm aimed at him like a gun. “Just get out.”
“I’m sorry for frightening you.” He retrieved the notebook from the floor and sauntered past her, close enough for her to see how red-rimmed his eyes were. “Good night.”
Standing at the door, she watched him cross the car park to a vehicle at the far end. It beeped once and he got in, pulling out of the space a moment later. As it crawled towards her, she could see it was a black Lexus. It was an odd choice for someone who looked like a gangster. Surely an SUV with blacked-out windows would be more his style? When the car left the car park, she slumped back against the door, fighting the urge to cry. After a few deep breaths and with the personal alarm clenched between her teeth, she eventually set the security alarm, turned out all the lights, locked the door, and fled to her Volkswagen.
Lorna Peel is an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction. She has had work published in three Irish magazines – historical articles on The Stone of Scone in ‘Ireland’s Own’, on The Irish Potato Famine in the ‘Leitrim Guardian’, and Lucy’s Lesson, a contemporary short story in ‘Woman’s Way’. Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she write, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).
Thank you for featuring me on your blog, Lynelle!