He’s never had to chase a female before. Jake discovers it’s make a move or miss out. Chasing Charlie isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Jake Bannerman, aka Jake the Rake, isn’t used to doing the running, it’s usually the other way around. He hasn’t been given that sobriquet for nothing.
Charlotte—Charlie—Allsop, newly arrived in Scotland, is in for a culture shock. She has no time for his attitude and no intention of making his life easy. If he wants her, it’s up to him to make the first move.
Which he does—just not in the way anyone expects. He teases, she retaliates, and when he discovers her middle name, she enlists his sister’s help.
As they continue the most unconventional courtship, where neither will give way, sparks fly. It’s amusing to watch, not so much to be part of it.
Until the cookery contest.
When they both enter, the competition takes second place to their one-upmanship. Or does it? Will Jake be Jake the no longer rake? Will he have no need to be chasing Charlie? Only time will tell.
Publisher's Note: This book was previously released in the Bully for You anthology.
General Release Date: 16th June 2020
A red nose and freezing ears were not the best look. Especially when she wanted to appear cool, calm and collected and not at all bothered that instead of heading to uni in Hong Kong, across the harbor on the Star Ferry with her mates, she was standing in the freezing cold, waiting for the local bus back on the east coast of Scotland. Without any mates.
Life and its bloody curve balls.
Charlotte Xiǎo Méihuā—phonetically Shu-Mai—Allsop, usually known as Charlie, stamped her feet to try to keep the circulation going and swore under her breath. Who on earth thought it a good idea not to bring hat and gloves out? It might say it was only autumn on the calendar, but no one had told the east coast of Scotland that. The uni playing fields which she passed on her walk to the nearest bus stop were white, and the pond nearby appeared as if it would freeze you if you went within three feet of it. Not that she intended to. She preferred to swim in warm and probably chlorinated, or salty, water. For one wistful moment she allowed herself to remember Big Wave Beach in Hong Kong, and long, hot, fun-filled days with her mates. One in particular, but that was over now, with no regrets. It was as they say—good while it lasted—but it wouldn’t have lasted much longer, even if she hadn’t moved away again.
Charlie blew on her fingers—it made no difference, and she suspected her nose was blue with cold because her hands were white. All she needed was something red and she could have a job imitating a flag!
Why the hell had she chosen to live where she did? Okay nice house, great garden and independence, but shit, maybe she should have said sod it and found a flat share.
When would the bloody bus arrive? She’d been told it left at ten past and it was almost that now. Charlie stuffed her hands into her pockets and glanced around. Two girls, both in padded jackets and woolly hats, were huddled together giggling over something on one of their phones. Three boys—without padded jackets or hats and without blue noses—had given her the once-over then ignored her. Much to her relief. She was too cold to think of any good put-downs or pithy comments.
As they were all standing around in the same area, she had to assume they were all waiting for the now overdue bus. One of the halls of residence wasn’t far away.
“Hi, no bus yet?”
Charlie swung around to see a newcomer—female, thank goodness—behind her. She shook her head. “Nope. I was told ten past.”
The newcomer, tall and redheaded like Charlie herself, shrugged. “Ten past is a moveable time when it comes to good old Duckman’s Coaches. It’s turned up anytime from five past to twenty-five to, with no reason why. They’re quacking shite. The one they send us is as old as I am, I swear. It’s broken down on the way, run out of petrol twice, leaked rusty water all over my unsuspecting brother and had a window fall out halfway over the bumps. You know where the local council in its infinite wisdom decided to do traffic calming measures without realizing it’s probably the least used street in town. The joys of living on the outskirts of town and getting the worst bus service in the world. I’m guessing you’re new, or at least new to the joys of Duckman’s. I’m Lily Bannerman, by the way. Are you new, or have I just never met you?”
Charlie took a swift glance at the pleasant-sounding girl next to her. Her long, red hair was almost covered by an overlarge woolly hat and she was another one who wore a padded jacket and a pair of gloves. Sensible.
At least I’ve got the jacket. She’d been tempted not to bother, but thank goodness her mum had put her foot down with, ’If you get pneumonia, I’ll have to look after you. You’re a rotten patient.’ Both true.
“New to this part of town. Did my last year at a uni in Hong Kong, you know, like we can?”
“I moved to this part of town last week, after the place I was due to live in was flooded because some numpty in the upper flat left the bath tap on. Thank goodness it was the cold one,” Charlie explained, glad someone acknowledged her existence. “I was due to move soon anyway, but I just brought the date forward and accepted I’m living in a building site for now.” Her new house was not quite finished, but, thanks to a sum of money handed to her by her beloved godmother, she had been able to buy it and move in before the kitchen cupboards had handles on and the downstairs loo a door. She held out her hand, used to the politeness of Hong Kong. “Charlie Allsop. I’m doing French and Mandarin. Hi.”
“Mandarin?” Lily’s eyebrows disappeared behind her fringe as she returned the handshake. “Wow. Isn’t that hard?”
Charlie shrugged, a bit embarrassed she might have sounded as if she were boasting. She hadn’t meant to. “Probably, but I lived in Hong Kong, as a teen, so I’ve got the basics.” She had more than that, but wasn’t going to show off, or explain she could get by in Cantonese as well.
“Wow again. And now bonny Scotland. Chalk and cheese. Why?” Lily sounded genuinely interested and not merely nosy. She stamped her feet. “This weather is the pits. Sorry, go on.”
Charlie smiled. “You’ve got it right about the weather, though they’re just coming out of typhoon season over there, which can be pretty hairy. Long story. Short version, I was born here, we moved to Shanghai when I was around a year old, Singapore when I was three, then California and then Hong Kong for the last seven years.”
“Scotland instead of Hong Kong? Why?”
She shrugged. “Who knows? I got a place to study in Hong Kong or Beijing if I wanted one, but Hong Kong would have meant living at home for a while and Beijing…hmm.” She wriggled her nose. “I love the city, but I didn’t want to study there and this uni has a great reputation. Plus, I knew I could do my overseas year in Hong Kong if I wanted to.”
“Bit of a culture shock, though?”
“You can say that again.”
Lily shivered. “How about our balmy weather, eh?”
“Weather-wise is a shock as well. Where’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness my mum waffles on nostalgically about?”
“Missed us out this year, as it often does. The weather is pants, I agree,” Lily said with an exaggerated shudder. “I’m not sure you ever get used to winter lasting ten months, or that’s what it feels like. Seriously, it was gorgeous for two or three months last summer. This year, we’ve had about two or three weeks. One of those in April.” She rolled her eyes. “I remember my mum saying they all wore short long johns—if that’s not a misnomer—under their skirts years ago. I wish we still did. Mind you, leggings under trousers work. Weather apart, though, we’re not that bad when you get to know us,” Lily said as she glanced around. “Well, most of us, anyway. Some just can’t help being assholes. But you’d know that from when you were here before, I guess?”
Charlie grinned. “I was too young, but males are the same the world over.”
One of the three boys in a huddle appeared to notice her for the first time. “Oy, Lil,” he bellowed. “Who’s our mate? Where’s Jake then? Having a quick fag before he eats a mint and tells you he doesn’t smoke?”
“As I was saying,” Lily muttered under her breath. She raised her voice. “My mate? Hands off. About Jake? Your guess is as good as mine, Hamish. We left together. My brother is the one he’s yabbering about,” she explained to Charlie. “Doesn’t smoke ’cause he’s a rugby fanatic, but those idiots like to pretend he does. He makes a point of never hanging around here, and rolls up as the bus does on the days he has to catch it. Never missed it yet, but one time…”
The boy—presumably Hamish—laughed. “Get yer bet on what day he comes round that corner as we go round the other?”
“Nah, he’d make it a different day on purpose. He would too,” she added to Charlie. “A bit up himself is our Jacob. My twin and never forgiven me for popping out first.”
“You said it,” Hamish, who had overheard, replied. “Older sisters are the pits. Fair enough, save your money.”
He turned away then high-fived a boy who came around the corner at the same time as a clapped-out single decker that seemed to jerk and judder as the engine spluttered as it jolted along.
The guy and the bus arrived at the stop in unison. The bus wheezed and stopped a few feet away from Charlie and Lily. The guy grinned and stopped even closer.
“Who’s the bird?” His attitude was of someone full of themselves as he winked.
After 30 plus years in Scotland, Raven now lives near the east Yorkshire coast, with her long-suffering husband, who is used to rescuing the dinner, when she gets immersed in her writing, keeping her coffee pot warm and making sure the wine is chilled.
With a new home to decorate and a garden to plan, she’s never short of things to do, but writing is always at the top of her list.
Her other hobbies include walking along the coast and spotting the wildlife, reading, researching, cros stitch and trying not to drop stitches as she endeavours to knit.
Being left-handed, and knitting right-handed, that’s not always easy.
She loves hearing from her readers, either via her website, by email or social media.