June Francis shares an extract from her book Mersey Girl.

They missed the parade of ships. Which was perhaps just as well because the ‘speck’ they found up Water Street would have made it impossible for them to see much.

They were in time to see aeroplanes from the carrier Indomitable screeching across the sky into the setting sun over New Brighton.

‘Fantastic!’ cried Lizzie.

Alex smiled down at her and she returned his smile. Why worry about Phyl? It was her choice not to be here. Lizzie determined to make the most of this time. His arm lay protectively across her shoulders for they were wedged tightly in a crowd that had continued to grow around them.

She in turn had her arm about a trembling Nan Eccles who seemed to have shrunk since the first time they had met. ‘Us thought them bats had gone,’ she muttered.

‘Time for us to go home, Jeangirl. It’s getting dark.’

‘It’s OK, love,’ said Lizzie in a comforting voice. ‘The enemy bats have gone for good.’

‘Are yous sure?’

‘Believe us, Nan,’ said Alex. ‘You’re safe with us.’

Safe, thought Lizzie, remembering how she had felt when she had seen her father dead. She wanted to feel safe for the rest of her life.

‘Look,’ Alex murmured. ‘Lights on the river.’ She followed his gaze to see coloured beams illuminating jets of water from two fireboats. Soon came the fireworks and a roar went up from both sides of the river as hundreds of rockets shot up in the air to burst like flaming chrysanthemums, showering down golden rain. ‘Glad you came?’ he said against her hair.

‘There’s no need to ask.’ She did not look up at him, in case her love showed, but was terribly aware of the feel of his fingers against her neck and the jut of his hip firm against her side. She heard the explosions that hurled showers of red, green and gold up in the night sky, silhouetting ships at anchor, and it was as if they were happening in some strange way inside her body. Had there ever been such magic in her life before? Yet soon these moments would be history and tomorrow it would be back to reality.

Happiness always comes at a cost…

Having grown up in a convent after the death of her mother, Lizzie Knight has never known what it’s like to have a real family. So when a strange woman turns up with promises of a new life in Liverpool, she is thrilled.

Warm-hearted and kind, Phyl is everything she wants in a stepmother. But then Lizzie falls in love with the one man who should have been out of bounds. Should she follow her heart and risk losing it all?

June Francis’ previous sagas include A Mother’s Duty, A Daughter’s Choice, Lily’s War and A Sister’s Duty. She had her first novel published at forty and is married with three sons. She lives in Liverpool.



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