Sporting a variety of snappy red cocktail dresses, Lyn, Mary, Mac and Patsy stroll down the sidewalk stopping in front of a stately building reminiscent of a huge box of chocolates.
Lyn pushes back her heart-shaped sunglasses to get a better look.
“Love the sunglasses!” Mac comments. “Where’d you get them?”
Lyn readjusts the glasses over her eyes. “Off the sale rack at Macy’s! Pretty cool, hey?”
“You should have grabbed us all a pair,” Mary exclaims. “I would look so good in them.”
“Only set left,” Lyn pats the glasses protectively.
The women lean back, admiring the huge edifice. Red hearts and pseudo-truffles edge the stained glass windows. Red and gold double doors covered with gleaming cloisonné slide open.
Patsy sighs. “If I was a hunk of chocolate, I’d melt right here and now.”
“You and me both,” Mary mutters. “Makes me want to…”
“Remind me why we’re here.” Mac strides through the door and stops in front of a statue of a Greek God completely sculpted in chocolate.
“It’s a formal chocolate tasting party in honor of Valentine’s Day and Sheryl’s birthday , today. Double the fun!” Lyn runs her finger up the statue’s arm and then licks her finger. “Omygosh! It’s edible.”
“Are you kidding me?” Mary leans forward and sniffs. Satisfied, she samples a small taste. “It is!”
“Look,” Mac points down. “Even his fig leaf is chocolate.”
“Think he could have been fine with a strawberry leaf,” Patsy snickers. “Nothing much hiding behind that leaf.”
“You’re so bad,” Mac giggles as she leans down for a better look. “But I have to agree.”
Following Oliver, the ladies stroll down a long hallway. Red brocade wallpaper and deep red carpets line the walkways. Overhead, crystal chandeliers sparkle with a thousand diamond lights.
“I don’t know about you,” Mary lightly taps the wall, “but I’m completely impressed.”
“Oh, me too.” Lyn pushes back her sunglasses. “I’ve never seen such opulence in a place.”
Oliver leads the girls into a gymnasium-sized ballroom. Red swathes of shimmering fabric drape from the massive chandelier in the center of the room. Beneath the chandelier, a huge heart-shaped fountain gushes warm chocolate filling the base and then spilling down into chocolate rivers winding through the crowd. Plates of dipping pieces line the banks of the chocolate rivers—fruit carved in heart shapes, lush strawberries, spongy marshmallows, heart shaped cinnamon bears and a variety of caramels, maraschino cherries, and soft centers for those more adventurous who like to create their own taste delights.
“Good thing we didn’t bring the animals. They’d be at the vet clinic right now from chocolate poisoning.” Lyn takes a sample. “Oh YUM! I could eat my way through this place.”
Resplendent in a flowing red evening gown, Sheryl joins the ladies. “Better start with some real food.” She leads them to the side tables. “We wouldn’t want you swinging from the chandeliers on a chocolate high!
She reaches for a long pronged fork and stabs a raw shrimp, dipping it into the sizzling hot oil and wine fondue. “You have to try the lobster with garlic sauce, oysters on the half shell, shrimp, crab, filet mignon. Oh, and don’t forget the fresh veggies. They’re cooked in the wine sauce. My favorite is the asparagus.”
“Dessert for those who don’t want to make their own. Forget-me-not fudge, milk and dark chocolate heart-shaped tarts, cupcakes with little love messages on them. But me, I’m dipping strawberries.” Her brows arch. “Great for dipping, biting and even perhaps…sucking!”
|Oliver's chocolate Martini|
Berry Sweethearts, Blushing Ladies, Brazilian Rose and Cherub’s Cup.
If you don’t see what you want, let Oliver know and he'll find it.
“I’m going for a Blushing Lady,” Mary grabs a cup. “With all this stimulation, I expect to be blushing very soon.”
A male chocolate statue suddenly stands up, rotates and changes position.
“Did you see that?” Mary’s eyes round in surprise.
“Uh,” Lyn gulps. “He moved.”
Sheryl giggles. “Of course. All the statues are models from a nearby agency. They’re dipped in chocolate for the event. Pretty cool, huh?”
Mac chokes on her drink, face flushing as red as her dress. She peeks over her cup at the other ladies. “I think I owe a statue a heart-felt apology.”
“I’m so embarrassed,” Patsy groans. “Let’s make sure we exit by another door.”
Lyn explains their encounter with the fig leaf.
“Don’t worry about it,” Sheryl bursts out laughing. “I’m sure he’s heard worse.”
“I can’t imagine when,” Lyn wipes her flushed face. “I could just drown myself in the chocolate river—after I’ve had another Cherub’s Cup.”
“In that case,” Sheryl leads them into another room. “The pièce de résistance!”
A kidney shaped swimming pool covers the entire center of the room. Couples in red swimming suits wade through the chocolate waves as romantic strains of music waft from the loud speakers. As they watch, a muscular young man mounts the diving board and swan dives into the shimmering chocolate below.
and Happy Birthday Sheryl, wishing you many happy returns and many happy sales with 'A Little Bit Of Madness'.
A Little Bit of Madness
Saving Charlton hall will burrow into your heart.
Celia Summers loves her job as an art therapist at The Harbour Rest Home, even if her partner, Martin, is disparaging of her efforts.
Martin, a solicitor, made speculative investments and needs to get his hands on his mother's assets, her home, Charlton Hall, to bail himself out of debt. In order to sell the house, he has to get Rosemary re-housed at The Harbour Rest Home and tries to get Celia on his side with a fabrication of lies.
Meanwhile, Celia fights for gallery space for her charges' artwork, and to keep The Harbour from being closed.
Police Constable Alex Burrows, son of Colonel Burrows, comes to her rescue when she crashes her car. Alex turns out to be considerate and caring with a witty, wicked, sense of humour, which makes Celia laugh, though when she learns of the circumstances surrounding his the loss of his wife, she wants to cry. She ignores his reputation as a womaniser. His trying to influence his father’s Will though, she can’t. Alex, who little by little has stolen her heart, appears to be just as much a liar as Martin.
Despite all efforts, The Harbour is doomed to closure. Celia decides to take Rosemary home and forestall Martin's plan to sell Charlton Hall. Celia is soon joined by the rest of her elderly independents, who rally together to stop Martin evicting them. Colonel Burrows is ready to thrash the enemy to death with his walking stick when his son arrives in his uniform. Alex explains that Colonel Burrows is the buyer of Charlton Hall and finally does what he's been trying to do for ages: ask Celia to marry him.
“I wasn’t talking about the Porsche owner.” Celia glanced at the driver, who, competing with an idling bus in the next lane, revved his engine even louder. “I was talking about PC Plod. What’s he doing?”
“His duty, I believe,” Eleanor informed her. “He’s just told Annie White he’ll have to charge her with causing an obstruction.”
“Jobs-worth,” Celia huffed. He could look as exasperated as he liked, she wasn’t about to sympathise with someone who’d sided with the enemy.
“Whoops-a-daisy. Now he’s looking a bit put out. His father’s just told him he’s not orf duty either and plonked himself down.”
Uh, oh. Celia snuck a peek.
“Da-ad.” Alex pushed his cap back, exasperated. “Would you please stop this, before I’m in it up to my neck?”
“No can do, lad. Sorry. Can’t let the chaps down. Wouldn’t be cricket.”
“Christ, Dad, this isn’t cricket! It stopping traffic and it’s against the law.”
“So should making people homeless be, m’boy. Can’t move, lad. Principle at stake, y’see?”
“And so is my bloody job! I have to move you on, Dad. Please?”
The colonel notched his chin up and stayed put.
“Right.” Alex sighed, ran his hand over his neck and motioned to his partner. “Sorry, Dad,” he said, as they heaved the colonel cross-legged from the road. “Duty and all that.”
“Damned outrage! Contravention of civil liberties!” Colonel Burrows blustered.
“No, Dad, I think you’ll find preventing people going about their business is a contravention of civil liberties.” Alex gave Celia a disparaging glance as he ‘escorted’ his father to a waiting police van.
Celia reciprocated and turned away. Then back quickish as he muttered, “Ouch! Shit! May, for Christ’s sake!”
“Unhand him,” said May, beating Alex about the head with one removed trainer, whilst someone else did banner duty. “Put him down, I say, sir, or I shall…”
Celia blinked astonished as May, having failed to deter Alex from removing the colonel with her lethal weapon, resorted to the use of another. ‘Oh, God, she’s going to bite him.”
“Gum him, you mean.” Eleanor placed a hand over her eyes.
Celia placed one over her mouth. Don’t let him drop the colonel, she prayed as May, in the absence of teeth, pinched Alex instead.
“Jesus.” Alex winced. So did Celia and Eleanor. “That had to hurt,” said Celia.
“Definitely,” said Eleanor. “Delicate area, that.”
“I’ve had just about enough of this,” Alex growled as he returned from depositing his protesting father in the police van. “May, that was below the belt!” May, who’d trotted over to join Eleanor and Celia, flushed from her cheeks to her now bare feet. “Assaulting an officer of the law is—”
“Against the law,” Eleanor suggested helpfully.
Alex glared at her. “A criminal offence.”
“Ooh, smouldering eyes,” Eleanor swooned. “Doesn’t he look gorgeous when he’s angry?””
Sheryl Browne grew up in Birmingham, UK, where she studied Art & Design. A partner in her own business, a mother and a foster parent to disabled dogs, Sheryl has also been writing for many years, the road along the way often bumpy. She was therefore thrilled beyond words when Safkhet Publishing loved her writing style and commissioned her to write her debut novel.
RECIPES FOR DISASTER - combining deliciously different and fun recipes with sexilicious romantic comedy, is garnering some fabulous reviews and was shortlisted for the Innovation in Romantic Fiction Festival of Romance Award.
Sheryl has since been offered a further three-book contract under the Safkhet Publishing Soul imprint. SOMEBODY TO LOVE, a romantic comedy centring around a single father’s search for love and his autistic little boy, launched July 1. WARRANT FOR LOVE, Blackmail, lies, adultery, entrapment - three couples in a twisting story that resolves perfectly - released August 1 and A LITTLE BIT OF MADNESS -White Knight in Blue rescues the Harbour Rest Home - releases Valentine’s Day 2013.
Sheryl is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association
A loveahappyending featured Author and Editor
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