Emily Harvale shares an extract from her new novel, Bells and Bows on Mistletoe Row.
In this extract from Bells and Bows on Mistletoe Row, Harrison Bow is with his executive assistant, Kiki, on the way to spend Christmas with his younger brother, Luke, and their grandfather, from whom Harrison is estranged.
‘At least there’s a pub,’ Kiki said, nodding to her left.
‘And a church,’ Harrison said, grinning. ‘Not that you’ve probably ever been inside one of those, have you?’
Kiki tutted and pouted her bright red lips. ‘I’ll have you know, Harrison Bow that I was a Catholic convent school girl. I spent more years than I care to remember inside a church.’
‘I’m impressed. I didn’t know that about you.’
‘There’re a lot of things you don’t know about me, Harrison. And there are lots of things I don’t know about you, despite the fact that you and Charlie have been friends for at least ten years. We can spend this holiday finding out.’
He didn’t like the sound of that. It came across as more of a threat than a treat. Or perhaps that was just him being his usual stand-off self and putting up his barriers. Maybe it was time he stopped doing that? After all, he was back on Mistletoe Row for the first time in twenty years, wasn’t he? And hadn’t Luke begged him to come and to try to put the past behind him? Behind them all. Perhaps the time was right. Kiki was drop-dead gorgeous and he was pretty sure she liked him. Perhaps spending this Christmas with her by his side wouldn’t be all bad. Even if he would also be spending it with his grandfather.
He tried not to look at number 29 as he passed, but he couldn’t quite stop his head from turning briefly in that direction. The cottage looked warm, cosy and welcoming on the outside with its rows of white fairy lights, a garland of holly and mistletoe above the double front door and an amber glow from every window. Inside, he could imagine it would be even more festive, warm and welcoming. But not to him. If he knocked on that door, it’d be slammed in his face a second after it was opened. They’d probably toss out a bunch of garlic, and possibly even some holy water, for good measure. One of the last things Juliet Bell had said to him was that he was a bloodsucking pariah. Before she’d wished him dead. He hadn’t forgotten that. Even after twenty years.
‘Is that it?’
For a second Harrison wondered if Kiki could read his thoughts. Until he realised she was staring in the direction of Mistletoe Mount and The Grange.
‘Yep. That’s it. It looks bloody depressing, doesn’t it?’
She met his eyes. ‘It could definitely do with a bit of brightening up. Doesn’t your grandad, or your brother like Christmas? God! The place does have electricity, doesn’t it? I can’t see one light anywhere. Perhaps everyone’s gone out?’
Harrison laughed mirthlessly. ‘The old man will no doubt be in his study at the back of the house, and if I know Luke, he’ll be in the gym, or the indoor pool, both also at the back. Daphne, the live-in housekeeper is probably in the kitchen.’
‘Also at the back, I suppose,’ Kiki said, raising perfectly arched brows. ‘What’s at the front?’
‘The sitting room, dining room, library and my study.’
‘Your study? But you told me you haven’t been here for twenty years.’
‘I haven’t. When the old man bought the place – and I use that word charitably – he gave me a study. I know for a fact that’s exactly as it was. And nothing will have changed because that old man will never change. That’s simply the way he is.’
‘You really don’t like him, do you? What did he do to make you hate him so?’
Harrison sneered. ‘What did he do? He ruined my life. And not just my life, but other people’s too.’
‘Ruined your life?’ Kiki’s brows shot together and her voice increased by at least an octave. ‘If this is your life ruined, I can’t imagine just how wonderful it was before. God, Harrison. People would kill to have your life. And that includes me.’
He shot her a look and after a moment he nodded. ‘I suppose you’re right. And it wasn’t that my life was wonderful before. But it could’ve been. It could’ve been the sort of life people only dream about. He made sure that could never be.’
‘Will you ever tell me about it?’
Her voice was soft and soothing but when she laid a hand on his knee, he moved his leg away.
‘Sorry, Kiki. I’m behaving like a bloody jerk, I know. It’s this place. Seeing it again after all these years has brought it all back with a vengeance. But I’m being melodramatic. Ignore me. I expect you’re beginning to regret offering to join me for Christmas, aren’t you?’
‘Absolutely not. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait to see Luke again. It must be several months since he visited you. And I’m dying to meet your grandad in spite of everything you’ve said about him. Or not said, to be more precise. I think this is the most you’ve spoken of him since I’ve known you, and certainly since I started working for you four years ago.’
‘Four years? Has it only been four? It feels a lot longer than that.’
‘Thanks.’ She playfully tapped his arm. ‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’
He grinned. ‘You should. It was meant as one. You’ve become a good friend, Kiki. More like a sister, in fact.’
‘Great.’ She folded her arms and pouted.
‘What’s wrong with that?’ He stopped the car outside the front door of The Grange and turned to her and smiled.
‘You should’ve stopped at good friend.’ She twisted in her seat and met his eyes. ‘I don’t want to be your sister, Harrison. I want…’
The front door of The Grange burst open and Kiki’s voice trailed off as Harrison looked away to see his younger brother dashing towards them.
I hope you enjoyed the extract. Thank you so much for allowing me to share it with you.
It’ll take a miracle to make Juliet’s Christmas merry, but Mistletoe Row is the place to be when you need some Christmas magic.
The last person Juliet Bell expects to see when she returns home for Christmas is Harrison Bow. Especially with the most beautiful woman in the world by his side. Twenty years ago, Juliet and Harrison had the shortest romance in history, consisting of one date – and one blazing row. But Juliet will never admit when she’s wrong, and Harrison doesn’t forgive easily, so they haven’t seen, or spoken to one another since.
Harrison Bow vowed he’d never visit his grandfather at The Grange, again, or drive along Mistletoe Row, the scene of one of the unhappiest times of his life. He hasn’t been back for twenty years and he’s only here now because his brother pleaded with him to come. At least with his executive assistant joining him, he’ll be able to do some work.
But Juliet’s sister, Zoe and Harrison’s brother, Luke have some surprises in store for their elder siblings, and so it seems does Fate. After Harrison risks his life to save Juliet, the least she can do is be nice. The problem is, Harrison is hotter than the log fire in The Mistletoe pub, and when she’s surrounded by twinkling lights and softly falling snow, it doesn’t take long for her to realise she’s in love with the man she thought she hated. Even if he doesn’t appear to be in love with her.
Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily Harvale returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows.