Paradise Is Not Forever

Now available on Amazon in ebook format. Paradise Is Not Forever is set in London, Sussex and an imaginary group of islands called Sawan. 

Ebook Cover - Romantic Fiction - Paradise Is Not ForeverImagine our hero - dark and brooding, a troubled soul on the road to self-destruction, then bring in a bright young heroine who seems to be a man! A complicated start to a love story that explores the power of attraction.

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Let's set the scene:- 

Owen Kingsley seemed to have aged considerably in the year since George Halycon had last seen him. George, not usually known as a sensitive sort, was immediately worried. Though he took care not to show it.

Friday, September 1st was a wet day with a feeling of early autumn in the air. A sense of summer’s end and times of change to come. The only good thing about the day so far was that it was a Friday and George was looking forward to the weekend relaxing with his lovely family.

It was lunch time and after a tedious morning in management meetings, George had escaped the office and decided to treat himself to a pub lunch. His favourite steak and oyster pie was on the menu at the pub around the corner from the office. It was the speciality of the Lamb Inn and he had salivated just at the delicious thought of it.

The pub was busy. A popular place with good food, so it shouldn’t have surprised him to find it so crowded. He cursed as he squeezed himself in between the crush of bodies to get to the bar. A quiet lunch was looking unlikely. He ordered his pie plus a half pint of best bitter to go with it. That would have to do. He was watching his waistline. Payment made, meal ticket accepted, he scanned the room for a corner to settle where he could enjoy his food. It didn’t look like he was going to get a table. It was then that he spotted Owen, crushed up against the wall on the opposite side of the bar almost obscured by a stack of menus.

George picked up his glass of beer and slowly savoured the first sip as he decided whether to push his way through the crowds to the other side of the bar or just call a casual hello to Owen from where he was standing. Friendship told him it should be the first action. The selfishly anticipated pleasure of his lunch urged him to do the latter. One more sip of beer and he decided.

“Well, this is a pleasant surprise.”

Owen looked up from his whisky and George noted the out of focus eyes. Just gone noon and it was clear Owen Kingsley was steaming drunk. The last time the two men had met, Owen had just finished working for the BBC. Not from choice, George recalled.

“George!” Owen’s delayed response was enough to tell him just how far gone his old friend was. “It’s good to see you.” Owen slurred. “Can I get you a drink?” he said, already fumbling in his pocket for money.

“No, thanks.” George shook his head. “Working this afternoon. Got to go steady. How about you - you doing anything at the moment?”

Owen shook his head. “Not much. This and that.” He slumped back against the wall, steadying himself. “You still with WIV?”

“Certainly am. Editorial Director now. The man in charge, for my sins.”

George’s meal number was called out and he held up the ticket so that the steaming pie, succulent with gravy, was delivered to him at the bar. Not where he would have chosen to eat it. He noticed Owen looking at the food. “You eaten?” Owen shook his head. George nearly said, I can buy you lunch, if you like, but stopped himself. Given the obvious circumstances in which he had found his friend, he knew it would have seemed like charity. He’d not seen the Owen Kingsley name in a by-line for a long time, neither had he seen or heard of him in the broadcast media for quite a while. That day – when was it? About a year ago when the BBC had to pull the plug on the Owen Kingsley program halfway through the broadcast seemed to have been a cut off in every sense. The moment when a stellar career plummeted straight off a cliff.

George forked some pie into his mouth and hardly tasted it as it went down. He could almost feel the indigestion that was to follow. He was very troubled to see his friend in this condition.

He had seen Owen drunk before, of course, he had. Their friendship went back all the way to university where they first met on the same history course. Three years in college with quite a lot of student heavy drinking had been followed by the first few years of their working lives, making their respective ways in the hard world of journalism. Of course, there had been times of over-indulgence of all kinds for both of them, but this was different. Owen seemed, George had to admit it to himself, Owen seemed like a broken man.

“It’s a stroke of luck I bumped into you.” Without thinking about what he was actually going to say next, George said. “I might have something for you.” Immediately, he hoped that had not sounded like an offer made out of pity as he turned to Owen and asked. “Interested?”

“Of course.” Owen nodded, thinking of the unpaid rent, the unpaid alimony, the unpaid…. He stopped. The list of unpaid bills was too long to contemplate. Of course, he was interested in any paid work he could get, even if it was for World in View, otherwise known as WIV.

 

Ellie sat at her desk, trying to look as if nothing was the matter, painting her fingernails in a bright cheerful red that did not reflect her mood. Since George was late back from lunch she had nothing to do except watch Alex. Alex Scott, the David Bowie look-alike photographer that she had now been dating for a full six months. According to those in the know at WIV, this was a record for love-them-and-leave-them Alex who right at that moment was using his not insignificant charms on Samantha Drake, the magazine’s resident agony aunt and women’s issues writer.

Alex had hardly spoken to Ellie all morning so she felt her hackles rising as she watched the two of them together. Had Alex slept with Samantha yet? She watched as Alex rested one hand on the ample and tightly clad Samantha Drake buttock. They laughed together. So intimate. Yes, Ellie decided that the answer to her question must be yes. She felt a tightening in her chest, a sickness in her stomach. Six months of playing it casual so that she did not scare off the commitment-phobic Alex and this was where she was, watching the man she was pretty certain she loved, coming on big time to another woman right in front of her eyes.

“Bring us coffee.” It was George back from lunch and heading to his office with a stranger in tow. The stranger looked rough. Not quite homeless-tramp rough, but rough none the less. “Make a pot of it,” George added just before he closed his office door.

Ellie stood up and found that everyone else in the office was looking at her. More precisely, they were looking past her at the now closed door to the office of George Halycon.

“Did you see who that was?” Victor Finchley, the oldest member of the staff was asking. “God, I thought he was dead!”

“You thought who was dead?” Samantha Drake asked, removing herself out of the reach of Alex’s wandering hands for a moment.

“Owen Kingsley.” Victor Finchley explained. “That man who just went into George’s office… I am sure it was Owen Kingsley. He was once a top foreign correspondent. Worked a lot for the BBC until he was drunk on air and got axed. Don’t you remember the scandal? It was only a year ago.”

Download Chapter 1 - Paradise Is Not Forever