Phipps Conservatory Opens Botany Hall Demonstration Kitchen

Phipps Conservatory is now offering garden to table classes and camps in their new state-of-the-art Botany Hall. The new hands-on culinary programs will be available for all ages, year round!  Participants will get to discover new ways to prepare foods while supporting the Phipps mission of advanced sustainability and human and environmental well being.

This sounds absolutely amazing to me.  I’m always looking for new idea and cooking techniques.

Picture Credit: Phipps Conservatory

Celebrate Tomato and Garlic Day on Sunday Aug 26, 2018 while enjoying the annual outdoor market on the front lawn of Phipps Conservatory. While you’re there sign up to attend one of the cooking classes in the Botany Hall Kitchen:

  • Dazzling Summer Spreads for adults
  • Fresh Salsa and Sopes for families with kids ages 6+
  • Tasty Tomato and Garlic Gnocchi for kids ages 8 – 12

Limited space so advanced registration is required:


Have you ever wanted to try cooking something different? What about vegetarian? Making your own hot sauce? or something different for date night? Expanded upcoming culinary arts courses now available for adults include Vegetarian Indian Cooking from Scratch: Fall Flavors, Make Your Own Hot Sauce, Date Nights for Foodies with Chef James Kaufmann from Café Chocolade and Risotto at Home with Chef Red from The Porch.

Kids’s aren’t excluded! A full line-up of engaging kids cooking programs are also available, including these fun Kids’ Night Out Cooking Classes for ages 4 – 8 and 9 – 13:

  • Culinary Art — Fri., Sept. 14
  • Fall Harvest — Fri., Oct. 12
  • Nature Configurations Cooking Class – Fri., Nov. 9

Learn more and register for culinary programs at:


The Botany Hall Kitchen can be found on the first floor of Botany Hall at Phipps. It accommodates 18 students per class. The instructor’s cooking station has cameras and monitors for close-up and multi-angle views. You’ll find state-of-the-art LED lighting and energy star appliances, energy efficient HVAC, and non-toxic building materials to meet Phipps’ greenest LEED® and Living Building Challenge certified structures.


If you’re never been to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh it is truly a site to behold. Seasonal flower shows, community events, and more.  They even have a corpse flowers.  If you don’t know what it is visit Phipps website.


The Princely Papers Book Tour & Giveaway

Princely Papers
Contemporary Romance
Ringham is like most twentysomething men. He likes fast cars and
women who look good driving them. As the spare in the Ringham
dynasty, he parties in the best nightclubs around the world while his
sister Victoria prepares to take the throne one day. When fate
thursts the crown back onto Albie’s head, three generations of
romance, hopes and frustrations come along with it. Can Albie fulfill
generations of his family’s obligation to become the people’s prince?
Or will he be lured away from duty by love when introduced to the
winsome Rachel?

is a writer and scholar of gender, race, and writing. Her work has
appeared in academic journals and books. She is the award-winning
novelist of
Love Comes
and An
Unlikely Goddess
, among
others. As the host of the Expat Dilemmas podcast, she peppers each
show with reflections from a decade of living abroad. She teaches
courses on literature, argumentative and creative writing. You can
read more her website:
Albert leaned back, though he might as well have tried to move a brick wall. The ornate chair
gave no quarter. His lower back remained a knot of muscle, a remnant from his flying days,
whenever he sat still. Overhead chandeliers cascaded fifteen feet above the tables, laid for a
three-course meal. Oyster forks. Albert unbuttoned his jacket. The schedule read four hours – at
the rate they were going, this ceremony would be slower than the Oscars. At the opposite table, a
blonde bombshell flashed the valley of her breasts while bending forward for her napkin. Frigid
aircon blew on the top of his head though most of the women wore one-shouldered gowns, if
they had straps at all. Simpering glances from the others on either side of the blonde came his
way. As they had done since he was old enough to register women’s interest. When had that
been? When he was five? Shuttled from his mother’s side into boarding school and then the
army; his family worked to keep him as far from women as they could. Or was it women as far
from the century’s most eligible bachelor? In either case, the women themselves couldn’t be
stopped. Like father, like son the tabloid captions read, as Albert worked his way through a
stream of interchangeable blonde girlfriends while at university. He shuddered at the
Tonight no one of fuckable age sat in any of the eight seats at his table or at the one
immediately to his right. Two women out of the hundreds scattered in rows throughout the
ballroom were at his table and these were matronly types. Normally this would irk him. Torie
never missed a moment to remind him that, as the keeper of the family crown, her duty was to
ensure he stayed in line. Her darling little brother. The heir meant to be the spare.
Tonight, however, Albert could use a break after his weekend in the American city of Las
Vegas. Like they say, detox. He smirked at the gent in the tuxedo to his left. Seventy if he was a
day. Earl… Lord… something. Cufflinks glinted in the dimmed lights. There was a crest there,
he could make it out if he squinted a bit longer. Albert lost the summary card with the event
details and hadn’t listened while his aide, Edward, gave him the run-down of those seated at his
table. Albert shuffled through the notes tucked inside his jacket. Thank everyone for their time.
Recognize how important the events are.
“Sir.” A waiter, his face filled with wrinkles pulling at deflated cheeks, harrumphed on
Albert’s left.
“Yes, what is it?”
“I present Miss Heather Sparkle.”
“Spark—” Albert forgot his caustic remark as an olive-skinned woman slid into the seat
on his right. Her high-necked, black lace dress hugged a trim figure. Other than the men in
tuxedos, she wore the most fabric of anyone in the room.
The tuxedo on the other side of her rumbled about no one being seated after all the royals
were in the room. “Most unorthodox,” he said. The waiter looked down a long nose.
“I’m sorry, the studio’s helicopter was late.” Sparkle’s eyes darted around the room. Her
hands tugged at the ends of long, straight black hair. “Mixed up landing times or something.”
She pulled a napkin onto her lap. “Am I a course behind?” In her agitation, she picked up the
butter knife, to do what exactly with the empty charger, Albert couldn’t have guessed.
“Oh, Miss Sparkle, you made it.” Edward pushed aside the waiter who remained still as a
pillar.Albert leaned on one elbow – a sight Torie would have frowned on disapprovingly – to
take in the unusual occurrence of a breathless Edward. Normally his dour equerry, inherited from
his mother’s staff, would have nudged Albert’s chin off his palm. Except at the moment the
unflappable Edward focused entirely on the late arriving guest.
“They gave me a hard time at the door,” she said. Slender fingers tapped the bun at her
neck before flitting to the check the tear shaped necklace in the hollow of her throat. “No one is
allowed in after the prince.” Now she craned her neck as if looking for another prince, one other
than he seated next to her. “They didn’t say where he was.”
“Oh, he’s–” Edward coughed.
“I hope he didn’t see.” Sparkle dropped the knife back onto the plate with a clang.
“Those pesky rules.” Albert gave her a wink that the three hundred strong paparazzi
would have loved had they been allowed in the ceremony itself, not panting at the entrance for a
chance at a close up. “Surely he’s too busy to notice.”
“Yes, hopefully no one will notice,” she repeated to herself in a whisper. A fringe of dark
lashes lowered. The effect was – alluring. Albert toyed with his butter knife. She in no way fit
his type – or the type his sister accused him of having. Blonde, billionaire, party girl.
Edward stepped aside as a bevy of waiters approached with warm plates. They elbowed
him out of the way in order to set Albert’s dinner on the gold rimmed charger.
“The ladies first, please,” he said, in a deeper voice since the vision beside him still
hadn’t registered she was in fact sitting by the prince of her concern.
“Of course, sir.”
That got her attention, he noticed with satisfaction.
“Hello,” she said pointedly to Lord-what’s-his-name.
A mild shiver ran through Albert. He couldn’t place it as mirth or the sudden onset of a
cold from the continued blast of the aircon. She thought the tuxedo was him. No, surely no.
Surely everyone knew about the red-headed prince. They had television in America. Didn’t they?
The girls he invited to his suite during the last night on the Strip certainly had.
“It’s such a pleasure to meet you, Duke.” She repeated this several times because the
tuxedo – Earl of Nottingham, yes that was him, Louis, – couldn’t hear her.
Albert let out a cough at the twisted expression on the older man’s face as he tried to
make sense of what she was saying. “Young lady,” he began.
Albert raised his hand to stem whatever withering tirade would otherwise ensue. These
were the types of lecture he grew up; good deportment, paying attention, protocol, blah, blah,
blah. “Actually,” Albert interjected. “I believe you’re looking for me.”
A pair of deep brown eyes rounded on in him in growing horror. She sized him up, from
his hairline to his cufflinks. “You’re too young.”
“I don’t think we’ve been introduced.” He chuckled at the red flush creeping up her
“You are.” She closed her eyes in mortification. “Your Highness!”
“The only time a guest may enter at whatever time she chooses, is when she’s the guest
of honor,” Albert explained to the Earl. “Ms. Sparkle here is receiving recognition for her charity
work with children living with AIDS. You might recognize her from her work on – Sport of
“Game of Royals,” she corrected in a murmur.
“Yes, that’s the one.” Albert snapped his fingers. “Haven’t seen it yet,” he said by way of
apology. “Didn’t realize these period dramas now had people worth watching.”Despite her clear agitation, Sparkle gave a giggle. She tucked into the steak with that
peculiar habit Americans had of holding her fork in the right hand.
“Young lady,” the Duke began, aghast that the late arrival would eat before the head of
the table.
“Enjoy your meal,” Albert said. He shook his head at this peer of the realm, someone
Torie had placed here to stymie her brother’s evening. At least the gods sent him this paean of
beauty and earnestness.
“I usually don’t eat at these things,” Sparkle said, the first bite tucked into the side of her
cheek like a chipmunk in order to make conversation possible. “But I’ve been running around all
“By all means,” Albert said. He folded his arms on the table, eliciting another round of
frowns of disapproval from the Duke. “I know how that is.” This had the opposite effect of
warming her up – Sparkle froze with the fork halfway to her mouth. A cello played,
unaccompanied, a mournful string of notes competing with the click and clang of cutlery at
tables all over the ballroom.
“Oh God, I didn’t read the briefing card.” She gulped down the sizeable piece of meat
garnished with an orangy cream sauce. “It was in the bottom of my bag and it got wet when –”
“Your Highness.” Edward returned, sidestepping the departing waiter with the grace of a
dancer. “Your sister wishes to see you.” He said the second part into his ear.
“I’m at the table,” Albert hissed back. For the first time in months and months he sat next
to someone remotely interesting. How had Torie sniffed it out? He scanned the room for one of
her well-intentioned spies. No Thomas around to steady him if the waters got murky.
“Most urgent,” Edward whispered.
“I’ll have my meal first.” Albert reached for his napkin.
“Code jewels.”
Albert froze. They hadn’t ever used that word. This was their pact, a word that meant
they needed to discuss something big. Something on the level of your-mother-is-dead big. “I’ll
be right back,” he said to the downturned head of the woman attacking the mozzarella and
tomato accompaniment with vigor. He smiled tersely at everyone else at the table, British enough
to know they should stand when a senior royal left the table. She rushed to her feet at the last
minute, bumping her water glass. Canadian he mused as they led him out a side door into a
private lounge. Hadn’t picked that up in the accent.
They walked out of the side exit to the ballroom as the full orchestra filled the room with
the sound of popular concertos at least several hundred years old. The cement hallway magnified
their steps. As the music faded behind them, Edward passed him an oversize iPad. He led them
into a private event room, used for meet and greets with the musicians, with a white baby grand
in the center, and a marble topped bar.
“Can you get me the show? I’ll watch whatever episodes you can stream to me, on the
phone,” Albert called after Edward. “Game of Royals.” His long-time staffer said nothing and
pulled the doors closed, sealing him away from the glamour of the evening a few hundred meters
away. “In any order,” he added, confident of Edward’s excellent hearing. “Any chance of a
drink?” he muttered to himself, eyeing the bar. Albert hoisted himself onto a leather topped stool.
The iPad beeped an in-coming call.
Torie’s face filled the screen, her brow creased in the middle like a folded bedsheet.
“You’re alright.” He let out a whoosh of breath. Then his heart set to racing again.
“Granny?” His panicked mind tried to come up with the family agenda. “Thomas?” His panic

escalated at the thought that after all this, on the eve of his sister’s engagement, her fiancé might
be in peril. No she’s fine. No tears. She’s fine. In searching for relief, flashes of the edges of their
mother’s coffin came into focus. Oppressive summer heat as they walked behind her – behind
her body – through the streets of London.
“We’re all fine,” Torie said in muted tones. The camera focused on her aquiline nose, her
blue eyes glittering with something – not grief – an emotion he hadn’t seen before. “Your tie is
crooked, Albie.”
“I’m in the middle of dinner,” Albert snapped. “Did you really use Mum’s code to correct
my attire?”
“I didn’t,” she sighed. She swiveled, the camera sweeping across their mother’s desk, the
one that they had climbed across as children. Newspapers littered the wide expanse.
Albert’s mirror image in the insert fidgeted with his bow tie in the circle in the lower
right. “What is it, then? Stop frowning. You’re going to ruin that perfect forehead.”
“You’re going to send me to an early grave,” Torie said. She rubbed at her forehead, the
lines still tight around her mouth. Their childhood ribbing hadn’t worked to ease the tension.
“I’m not going to another event tonight.” His mind churned through the reasons she
might have called. “I’m only back from America a few hours and –”
“About that.”
Albert halted in fidgeting with his tie. “I don’t know what they told you but I kept a low
profile as you asked. No paparazzi, hats all the way, no one knew I was there.”
“No one besides the girls in your private party.” Torie paced across the room, scanning
her camera across a set of glossy shots, spread across the coffee table. They showed a panorama
of his suite in the Bellagio; several thousand pounds spent in alcohol and food. A few select
party guests. Women. Blondes.
“Now just a minute. What I do in the suite stays in the suite.”
“Not when your guests share it with the world.” One week, the bags under his sister’s
eyes accused. You couldn’t behave for one week?
Albert flopped into a brocade covered wingback as the camera steadied on an image of
him. Edward wasn’t the only one regretting his week’s vacation. Torie would be furious. Her
brother, nude, save for a pair of hands covering his nether region, kneeling on the bed. Head
thrown back in mirth. No mistaking who it was. Flaming red hair and all.
“Everywhere,” Torie said in the crisp tones of their family. “Twitter. Facebook.
Instagram. All the tabloids. Top of the ticker on the 24-hour cycle.”
“Cousin Torie!” Sophia’s twins burst into the room behind Torie. His sister scrambled to
gather the photos. “Nanny,” Torie called, not quite a shout, ever the lady. “Someone please bring
the nanny.”
“Cousin Bertie!” Andy’s chin filled the screen with Alice clamoring behind him.
“Listen, it’s easy enough to explain,” Albert said, waving to their cousin’s children. “A
game of strip billiards. I mean, I lost. You know I’m crap at games.”
Torie flashed an image at him. Full length of Albert hugging a woman from behind, her
also nude. Thankfully her long hair hid her face. “She’s not great at them either.” Not even a
A woman with a thick waist and heavy-soled shoes came in to take each of the protesting
children out, holding their hands. “Come now, let’s see if we can find some biscuits.”
“Head home now,” Torie called from off screen. “We’re handling it.”

Home? What about Sparkle – the screen went blank in his hands. The silence in the
empty sitting room rang in his ears after the commotion of the last few minutes. They were
handling it. Albert pulled off his tie in frustration.
True to form, Edward opened the double doors at the far end of the room. “This way,
“I’m not leaving,” Albert protested. “I have an award to give out.”
“All arranged,” Edward said. He persisted in holding the door open. “The Earl of
Nottingham was happy to be of service.”
“What, old Louis?” Albert’s voice rose. “For a cinema honor.” He had no one to be mad
at but himself.
“They wanted someone from the peerage,” Edward said. “The car is here.”
“Peerage? They asked for me,” Albert growled. This man had seen him through far
worse. From the dark days of his parents’ divorce into the oblivion afterward.
“Someone. Anyone.” Edward flicked a hand. “This way sir.”
You couldn’t reason with them that you might need to blow off a little steam. Not that
there was any way to justify his romp. Those girls assured them they knew how to keep a secret.
“A prince! I can’t believe I’m with a real life prince,” they squealed throughout the night,
kicking the phrases back and forth like footballs. At the time, their chorus washed over him, like
a soundtrack to his life. The spare was exciting enough for some – particularly Americans. He
scrolled through the headlines, searching for the worst as a preparatory strategy.
Sexy Soldier!
Private Prince.
Grainy photos, backlit by a floor lamp, him kneeling in rumpled white sheets. Thank God
for those hands he thought, a second time, albeit for completely different reasons. The woman
who held his genitals left him a shred of dignity. From Sandhurst to this. His grandfather’s ire
would be inescapable. Albert recoiled at the questions that awaited him from his family and the
paparazzi. He flung the iPad away and stormed out of the room, winding his way through a
series of hallways to the back of the Victoria and Albert hall. Edward ushered him into the back
seat of a tinted SUV, murmuring, “I’ll follow.”


the tour HEREfor exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!


Haka Ever After Book Tour & Giveaway

Ever After
Sin Bin #7
Dahlia Donovan
M/M/ Contemporary Romance
You are cordially
invited to the Sin Bin wedding of the year—kilts required,
undergarments optional.
Taine Afoa has faced
opponents on the rugby pitch without an ounce of fear.  He hopes
to find the same courage when asking the love of his life to marry
him. First, though, he has to ask Freddie’s fathers for their

If Taine survives,popping the question should be a breeze.

Freddie Whittle knows
Taine has something up his sleeve. A yes forms on his lips before the
question is even asked. But can they survive the madness of friends
and family, all wanting to help plan their wedding?
As their May-December
romance tumbles into happily ever after, one surprise after the other
brings them more joy than they ever imagined possible.
The short story
Ever After
is the seventh (and last) book in Dahlia
Donovan’s international bestselling gay romance series, The Sin
Bin. Each one features hot rugby players and the men who steal their




Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about
shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and
unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her
life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive
collection of books and video games.



the tour HEREfor exclusive content and a giveaway!



Lux Book Tour & Giveaway

Veritas Series Book 1
MJ Vieira
Dark Fantasy, Paranormal
being found, inexplicably, standing over a brutal scene involving a
pair of recent murder victims, Jade comes to in a hospital with
limited memories. Labeled as paranoid by the seedy medical team and
locked up, she seems more a victim than a deviant. Promptly drugged
and plunged into sleep, she is submerged into a chronic dreamland
that seems controlled by another, she soon gives in to a lavish life
with a Malum who seems all too eager to see to her every desire. She
awakes in yet another reality with no memories of her past, or even
herself. Something is making her forget… and just like that she
steps into her new life.



is deeply in love with Jade and is only agenda is to give her the
world… Or so he claims. Blindly followed by his people, the Luxans,
he works tirelessly to keep them safe from the Rebels, with Jade by
his side. Surely his motives are pure… yet, the more time Jade
spends with him, the further she seems to fall from herself.



the while, Jade is plagued by vivid dreams of another life… one she
struggles to understand while Malum works to make her forget. As Jade
struggles to hold onto her soul and discover her past, Malum seeks to
possess all that she is.


Vieira resides in Southern Maine with her husband, Alan, son, AJ, and
their St. Bernard, Roxy. As a child, she traveled around the state
with her parents, seeing the vast history the New England state had
to offer as well as touring the nation while showing her American
Quarter Horse. While traveling, she read many of the great authors of
the time including JRR Tolkien, Stephen King, CS Lewis and Ann Rice.
It is these writers combined with power of music, mainly hard rock
and folk, MJ draws her inspiration. 



Inbetween writing, MJ enjoys reading, collecting music and attending
concerts. Lux is the first installment in the Veritas series which is
MJ’s first published work.


I sense Malum before he speaks, and I can’t help stiffening at his presence. Despite my best efforts, my
dreams still cling to me like spider webs — a most unwelcome feeling. “I am relieved to see you awake,
Pet,” his voice rumbles from the far side of the bed. His tone matches the floor: icy. I keep my focus on
the windowpane opposite me. I am too far away to truly see my reflection or his. But I don’t need to see
him to picture the expression on his face —an arrogant mask of indifference. His eyes are always his tell.
They will be flashing periodically with anger, lightning to match the thunder in his speech. I let the
seconds tick by to see if he continues his lecture, but he says no more. Without warning, he appears out
of thin air, before me. From where I sit, my eyes rest on his sculpted chest, but I can see that he is
dressed in form-fitting black pants and nothing else. Malum’s bronzed skin glistens with sweat, which is
another surprise. We hadn’t been having sex. At least not that I remember. Why on earth is he
sweating? Running and training aren’t things he participates in. I allow my crawl up, tracing the lines of
his muscles, until I meet his eyes. As expected, his expression is haughty and tight. Anger crackles about
him, and I know I must tread carefully. The problem is that I don’t know the exact reason for his anger.
My failed mission? Losing to Jager? Visiting the dream reality? I highly doubted he was concerned for my
wellbeing. I train my features to stay as neutral as I can make them and wait for the tirade to begin.
Hindsight is twenty-twenty, but little good that does me. Looking back on the situation, I realize it
wouldn’t have mattered how I looked at my master.
My punishment is at hand either way. Malum is going to teach me a lesson, a painful one. A lesson I’d
never recover from. If I’d just said that one word sooner, I could have avoided the entire situation. But
stubbornness and pride got the better of me. Sinner to the core, in more ways than one.
“You failed, Pet.” A clawed hand reaches and gently tucks a stray strand behind my ear. My breath
catches in my throat. A clawed hand? My eyes slide sideways to look at the unnatural black claws that
are protruding out of my lover’s fingers. I rack my brain for any memory of claws, and none present
themselves. Black eyes? Yes. Knives for hands? No. I plead with my heart to calm its frantic pumping, but
it does not listen.
“I told you to bring Jager to me. I told you exactly where he would be and how many would be there. I
provided you with everything, and yet you come back to me poisoned and delirious. I sucked your
poison out, Jade, took it into myself.” Malum hisses the last words, and I dare to glance back at his face.
The demon’s eyes are black as I’d seen them while we came together, but now thin lines of crimson
trickle throughout. They resemble a field of lava that has partially cooled and hardened. The surface is
black, but cracks show where the boiling magma still lies, waiting to be released. I know that once the
inferno bubbling within Malum is released, I will be incinerated. Only this time, there will be no pleasure
with it. Malum trails his index claw along the side of my face. Applying slight pressure, he forces me to
lift my chin as high as I can to keep from being sliced by the razor-sharp talon.
“You’ve ruined my plans and allowed the Rebels to go unscathed with their charge. I needed it killed,
Pet. We needed it killed.” He allows his dagger like appendage to rest just under my jaw, at the softest
point, where it could sever my flesh easily. “I cannot allow this to go unpunished, Jade, unless you will
finally accept my offer.” There it is, the crux of his irritation with me lately. I’d denied him at every turn,
and thus far, Malum had been forgiving. I can tell he won’t be any longer.

the tour HEREfor exclusive content and a giveaway!

Manipulated Lives Book Tour & Giveaway

H.A. Leuschel
Psychological Fiction
heart-breaking and utterly gripping!’ 




brilliant and important book … I could barely put it down’

Nerdish Mum Book Blog



NEED to read this. Your family needs to read this, your friends need
to read this, your children … NEED to read this’



fictional, compelling true-to-life stories about how people can be
manipulated by others.


Manipulators are everywhere. At first
these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because
that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty,
disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey –
but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and
angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to
satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy
for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you
meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each
of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a
manipulative individual.
First you meet Tess, whose past is
haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced
Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled
father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a
better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to
make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa,
who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to
what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our
very feeling of self-worth.





Andrea Leuschel gained a BA in Journalism & Communication, which
led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and
Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in
the study of the mind. 



has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social
well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated
Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the
dangers of interacting with narcissists.



lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.


‘Are you playing hard to get then?’ He was right there, slumped in one of the chairs in the far
corner of the café, watching her walk through the door.Theaccusation was written all over his
face and she instantly felt guilty. She had not been able to see him through the café window but,
rather than completely give up on the possibility that he had turned up, she decided to enter and
give the place a quick scan.
He added one of his irresistible winks to his reproach and lifted his hand to indicate the empty
chair next to him. His legs were confidently spread open and for a brief moment she thought
that he looked like a younger version of Theo James.He had the same brown eyes and full lips,
thick blond hair that seemed to style easily and a lean body which looked good in any clothes.
Added to his appearance, he knew how to disarm a girl with an assertive, deep gaze and a
smile that conveyed cocky self-confidence.
Her knees felt like jelly and her heart was racing so fast now that it felt as if it was on the brink of
bursting through her chest. She grabbed the handle of her bag to settle her shaking hand. She
wondered what her friends would have to say about all of this. She had never exchanged a
single hello with this guy ever since he joined the school last year, yet a brief chat in the
morning had now meant they
were looking into each other’s eyes as if they’d always wanted to be together. This was what
falling in love at first sight must feel like, she thought. The only thing was though, she told
herself in an attempt to sober her excitement, that this was not first sight. Next, she felt his handreach out to hers, patting it gently. It made her feel like an inexperienced little girl, which she
knew she was.
Don’t spoil this Holly, pull yourself together, her voice muttered in her head.
‘What would you like to drink?’
Holly sat down on the empty seat he had kept for her, placing her bag at her feet and shrugged
her shoulders, suggesting a 7 Up.
He returned to the table with a glass and a can and she was amazed about how confident he
was at starting a conversation, talking about himself and how soon they were engaged in
general chitchat. It was when her mobile beeped with a new message that she realised the time
and that her mum would wonder where she was. It was her job to look out for her two brothers
until her parents arrived
home for dinner.
She gathered her bag, giggling with him now, already more at ease and relaxed.
‘Sorry, I’ve got to go,’ Holly said, but before she was able to get up and say good-bye, he was
by her side, leaning towards her ear and whispering.
‘Don’t ever make me wait again, babe.’ She looked up in shock, and then sighed with relief
when she saw him smiling and blowing her an air kiss and reaching his right hand to her cheek
to stroke it with his index finger. ‘Wow, I’ve never met a girl with such perfect skin.’ Her cheeks
prickled just hearing his words. Compliments did seem to come easy to him but they felt
wonderful, even though he was clearly quite full of himself. Don’t make me wait again, he’d said,
as if he was some kind of VIP.
‘Oh, and best not tell anyone we’re seeing each other. They’ll just make fun of us. OK? See you
tomorrow.’ She nodded and before she could say anything else, he winked one more time and
was out of the door.
She was almost out on the pavement herself when she heard a gruff voice coming from the
‘Oi, you’ve not paid for your drink, young lady.’
‘Oh, I’m sorry, I thought my friend paid for me.’ She ruffled through her bag and fished out a few
coins, handing them over the counter to the lady’s outstretched palm.
‘A right friend that is then, eh?’
‘Ah, he must have forgotten.He was in a real rush. I’m really sorry.’
Her cheeks were crimson, this time with embarrassment.
‘That’s alright, pet. You watch who you go out with.’ The lady shook her head slightly and her
forehead was still set in a frown as Holly left.
She was fuming with anger.How could he have forgotten to pay? He seemed to have made it so
clear that he’d invited her for a drink. Or had he? Maybe she had been assuming too much. He
was just a student too, and it had been their first date.

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