Kendra Smith shares an extract from her new novel, A Year of Second Chances.
They were having Spanish chicken and chorizo with a warm baguette and green beans. She studied his chocolate brown faded corduroys, his checked shirt, the little curls of hair that touched his back collar and noticed how his profile had changed over the last few years. The outdoor work had taken its toll. He had a sort of lived-in face now. Nice, but crumpled, like a shirt you’ve worn to bed.
Once, it had been such a handsome face – it was just that all the sunshine, wind and outdoor work had left its mark. The once dark, mahogany curls were nearly all grey, his broad shoulders slumped a bit these days as the pain in his lower back got to him.
‘All right?’ She came up behind him and squeezed him tightly.
‘That’s nice.’ He turned around and she rested her head on his chest, inhaled that familiar smell of the outside air mixed with his musty aftershave. He was still her wonderful husband of twenty-five years, the one she’d married at twenty-four – all those years ago… the one who had stolen her heart then. The one she couldn’t take her eyes off – back then, a man six years older than her had been very attractive. Now though, he was acting more like sixty-five than fifty-five. Tsk, tsk, Dawn.
‘Dad!’ Alice bounced in; her school socks slipping down by her ankles, her beautiful blonde hair tumbling down her back, held vaguely off her face by a sparkly pink hair band. Her eyes were like two shimmering sapphires. She was clutching her Barbie doll in her little paw.
‘Hey, my angel.’ Eric beamed and let go of Dawn. He bent down and scooped his seven-year-old up in his arms.
‘Daddy, we got to do lacrosse at school today – I really liked it!’
‘Did you now?’ He grinned at her and kissed her hair.
‘And who’s this?’ Eric gently held the doll in his hands, twisted it round and admired its tight blue skirt and frowned when he noticed its enormous bust. Alice appeared to have stuffed something greasy down the front of Barbie’s dress.
‘This is Princess Cleav-age! I heard Mummy use that word when she was on-the-line shopping! She was looking at chicken fillet things! Mummy was squishing her boobs together, weren’t you, Mummy? Looking down at them to see how big they were. Mummy says you stuff the chicken things in your bra! Chicken in your bra! That’s funny – I put some from dinner into my Barbie’s dress!’ Alice wriggled out of Eric’s grasp, clutching the double-D plastic figurine, and skipped out the room.
OK, so maybe chicken fillets weren’t going to set the world on fire – but she was determined to shake up the status quo in some way.
Three women. Three very different lives. One life-changing adventure.
Charlie is a single mum unlucky in life. Her multiple jobs make barely enough to feed the family cat, never mind being able to give her son the life he deserves. So when an opportunity to make a lot of cash comes along, she simply has to take it.
Suzie has always wanted to be a mother. But fate has been cruel and now time is running out. Soon her final frozen egg will be destroyed and her last chance of having a baby will go with it. With her husband resolved to their childless life Suzie takes matters into her own hands.
Dawn is about to turn fifty and seems to have misplaced her mojo along with the car keys. But with an interfering mother-in-law and a gaggle of judgemental mums at her children’s school, it’s proving harder to find than a decent fitting bra. Especially after a series of highly embarrassing incidents…
Over the course of a year, three lives are about to collide and as they do be prepared to laugh, cry and fall in love with these women as they discover how life can give you a second chance.
Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial – and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children.