29 Mar Scarlet Redemption!
It’s been a long time coming and you’ve all been super patient, thank you! A quick note to let you know that Scarlet’s story is complete. It has a beautiful cover, made by the talented James, and will be releasing first in digital ebook format, followed by paperback through all the usual channels. Bookmark this page so you won’t miss the book info as soon as it’s released. While you’re waiting, here’s a little snippet of Scarlet Redemption for you to enjoy!
The Opening (and Distributing) of the Wedding Gifts
The gift-opening begins. This is where the usefulness of having twenty million bridesmaids finally makes itself known. We have to unwrap each beribboned box, and hold it up so everyone can see it as we announce the name of the gift-giver. I feel like one of those chicks carrying the Round notice card at a boxing match. Except of course, minus the high heels and glossy blonde hair. And plus a hundred pounds and a voluminously satin puletasi. (Minor details ha…) The gathered crowd nods their heads appreciatively, sometimes they break into applause at a particularly fabulous present. Like the microwave from the faifeau. And the Plantation House bedspread set with pillows from Naomi’s office team.
Once we have unwrapped and displayed each gift, then it’s time for the sharing.
One by one, each senior member of the aiga gets a gift from the assorted feast of offerings. Aunty Valerie is in charge of the divvying up of presents. She points with her stick and we bridesmaids must leap to do her bidding. There are four rice cookers and Aunty designates the biggest and most shiniest is for the faifeau’s wife. I go to carry it and nearly tear something important in my back as I try to heft and heave the box up off the cement floor. There’s a titter of laughter and I think bad words about my kaea family who – typical Samoan style – would rather sit and laugh at me first, rather than jump to help me carry this monstrosity.
And then he is there. Jackson. Strong hands take the box from me. A macadamia honey voice says, “I got it.”
I straighten up, still holding on to the box. Because I’m stubborn. I can carry it! I’m strong enough! For a moment we face each other across a cardboard box, me sweaty and huffing out of breath. Him, cool and calm and giving me that look I could drown in. Staring down at me, with eyes I could get lost in. He’s not smiling. But there’s a softness in his eyes. Like there’s words he wants to say. Words like…
I don’t care about your weird family Scar…I still want you…I adore you! I can’t live without you! In fact, I just realised, I love you! Let’s run away into the sunset together!
Of course he doesn’t say any of that.
Yes, I have a wild imagination. I write romance novels remember?
Whatever words he’s really thinking, whatever feeling’s he’s really feeling – they are abruptly interrupted by Aunty Valerie snapping and reaching out with her walking stick to jab me in the backside.
“Hurry up! E ke valea? Are you stupid?”
Good old Aunty. I grit my teeth in a smile for her and the waiting crowd. Everything is a performance in faaSamoa after all. Jackson raises an eyebrow at me in question, but I give him a barely discernible shake of my head. It’s all good Jackson from America. This is normal Samoan family stuff. How we show our love for each other. I let him carry the box by himself and step back, then walk to where the pastor’s wife is waiting for her share of the bounty. Jackson makes the presentation the way he’s seen us do it, with a bow and an exaggerated show of humility, like we the gift-givers are incredibly blessed and lucky to be able to give gifts to our betters.
I may have ogled his backside as he did the bowing and scraping. Just for a moment. Because how can anyone with eyes not admire all of that fine-ness?
I go back to stand with the other bridesmaids and Malia, one of the nicer girls nudges me and whispers dramatically, “What was that Scarlet?!”
“What’s what?” I mutter out of the side of my mouth. All the aunties can see us up here. So can my crocodile of a mother.
“The way he was staring at you. See? He’s doing it again!” she says, vibrant with restrained excitement.
I look at Jackson, and Malia is right. He’s staring at me. A deeply intense, overwhelming gaze, like he’s thinking about how he can devour me. Savour me. 101 different ways. It’s the most erotic thing I’ve ever seen and I suddenly feel faint in this crowded fale.
“I need some water,” I mumble, and stumble out of the fale. I don’t have to look at her to know Mother is annoyed at my exit.
Chill Mother. There’s nineteen other bridesmaids. I’m sure the show will go on…