Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Exclusive Extract from The House on Sunset Lake by Tasmina Perry






Today on the blog tour for The Last Kiss Goodbye by Tasmina Perry, I have the pleasure of sharing a sneak preview of Tasmina's next book, the beautifully named The House on Sunset Lake. Enjoy!



THE HOUSE ON SUNSET LAKE
TASMINA PERRY


PROLOGUE

No one forgets a summer spent at Casa Bonita. You remember them so clearly you don’t even need to close your eyes to recall the heavy warm breeze, the smell of azaleas and the air that sticks to your sun-kissed skin.

People wonder why we stay here when it gets so hot, so humid from June through to September. When the afternoon storms turn the sky as black as a starling’s wing and the rain can drench the house in a heartbeat.

People ask why we don’t leave for the cooler beaches of the North or the cosmopolitan cities of Europe – Paris, London, Rome. But those who ask have never been to Casa Bonita. They have never felt its magic.

But if every summer at Casa Bonita is special, some sparkle just a little brighter than the others. Your memories of them remain just a little more vivid. Like the summer when we built the Tiki swing down by the lake and we spent the whole of July drinking Peach Iced tea and jumping into the water. Or when we sailed down the Moon River at dusk and the sunset was so brilliant that it was as if we were surrounded by fire.

But I know, even now, that this summer will outshine them all. For this is the summer that I met you. It’s the summer that I felt alive, when I finally understood how love can make you feel: happy, heady, oblivious to the world except the bits that have you in it. How can I ever forget that time you kissed me by the lake, or when you first took my hand in yours, and the way it seemed to slot perfectly into place?

A song is floating through my head – a song from the Summer of Love and I wonder if this is what they felt like in San Francisco in ’67. Drunk on a sense of newness, heady from the sex and freedom.

Except I’m not like the hippie chicks or the stoners. I can’t parade my feelings for you on a placard outside City Hall. For this is not just a summer of special memories, it is also a summer of secrets, which I know makes it fizz with a certain dangerous brand of sparkle.

In my heart I know that it won’t end well. The cream always sours, the sun always sets.

I can feel a storm in the air and dark clouds are gathering over the lake. The light in your room is on – I can see it twinkling across the water and if I narrow my eyes I can see your outline tempting me with your forbidden promise.

I want to see you before it rains.


CHAPTER 1

Scottish Highlands, New Year’s Eve

On the crowded castle ramparts there was a moment of quiet. Conversation halted, heads tilted, breath was held. And then there it was: a soft chime as the church clock in Munro village struck twelve.

Whooosh! The first rocket hissed into the darkness followed by a swell of cheering and shrieks of delight. Scarlet fireworks popped in the black sky, their spidery tendrils floating back to earth as ‘Auld Lang Syne’ rang out from hidden speakers. The New Year.

All along the stone parapet people were embracing and kissing each other, sharing the moment with a loved one or a handy stranger, exchanging whispered words or wishes of hope for the future. Everyone except Jim Johnson. He looked down at his watch then up at the sky. Eighteen and a half minutes, that was how long the pyrotechnics were due to last and by then the band in the ballroom needed to be in full swing.

‘Hey Jim, amazing party.’

He looked up and shook the proffered hand. Michael Strand, a big noise in oil and gas and prominent in Scottish politics. The fact that Strand was here for New Year’s Eve and not on a balcony overlooking Princes Street brought a smile to Jim’s face.

‘Thanks, Michael,’ he said, patting Strand on the back. ‘Spread the word, huh?’

The older man gestured with his tumbler, indicating the crowds of movers and shakers whooping and laughing along the castle roof.

‘Doubt I’ll need to after tonight,’ he said. ‘I think everyone who needs to know is already here.’

Jim shook more hands and accepted tipsy hugs as he made his way back down the stairs towards the Great Hall. It was Munro’s crowning glory, a stunning lobby-atrium formed from what had been until only weeks before the castle’s cobbled courtyard. Now it was the elegant entrance to the hotel, the cobble covered with oak and rugs, the ancient walls softened and warmed by drapes, art and concealed lighting. It was a breathtaking introduction to Europe’s new destination hotel and Jim had seen the impact it had had on the faces of the guests as they’d arrived. The launch had been a success in every way.

So far anyway, he thought, rolling his neck and feeling a little of the tension there ease.

‘Celine,’ he said, spotting a woman in a red ball gown by the bar. ‘Thanks for coming.’

Heads turned as the striking brunette kissed him on the cheek. Celine Wood was pushing forty but she was still one of the most famous models in the world, so it had been a real coup dragging her up to Scotland for the opening.

‘Happy New Year. Are you not going out to watch the fireworks?’

‘I’ve come in for a drink. Here, take this, you look as if you need one,’ she said, handing him a flute of champagne.

‘Cheers,’ he said, taking a quick sip. ‘I’ve not slept for forty-eight hours.’

‘Well, you still look as gorgeous as ever,’ she said, wiping a smudge of lipstick from the corner of his mouth. ‘Even more gorgeous than Munro.’

Jim smiled nervously, wondering if Celine Wood was coming onto him. They’d met and possibly flirted before but Jim was never sure when he met these showbiz sorts what was standard issue interaction or the green light for something else. He certainly didn’t want to make a fool of himself tonight trying to find out.

‘Mr Johnson, could I have a word?’

He frowned as the concierge approached.

‘There’s a rumpus at the front gates.’

‘A rumpus?’ he asked, quickly getting rid of his drink.

Celine started smiling and didn’t take her eyes off him.

‘A security issue, sir. I think you should come and deal with it.’

...

Exciting! You can pre-order The House on Sunset Lake here.





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