“The Lady of the Pier: The Ebb“, Effrosyni Moschoudi’s upcoming paranormal summer romance, set in Brighton in the ’30s and in Corfu in the ’80s, has cleared Round 2 in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest and is now a quarter-finalist! I’m not surprised, as I had the honor to beta read the manuscript, and I know first-hand that it was well deserved. You may read an excerpt here, but please make sure you head to its ABNA page, download the free excerpt from there and review it to help this amazing new author move to the semi-finals! Also, check out an excerpt from Effrosyni’s debut fantasy novel, “The Necklace of Goddess Athena” which has reached Amazon’s #1 in Mythology and #2 in Fairy Tales!
THE LADY OF THE PIER: THE EBB (EXCERPT)
Outside, Meg announced that she had to rush to her post and Laura thanked her again. She felt reluctant to leave the Pier just yet. After saying goodbye to Meg, she made her way leisurely to the eastern landing stage in order to gaze out to the open sea.
She sat on a bench at the sun terrace and watched the world go by for a while. Generous views of the Hove and the open sea that stretched towards an indigo horizon made it a pleasure to be there, even though it was late afternoon and the remaining sunlight was fading fast. She stood up and walked to the railing, dreamily watching the sea horses breaking on the shore. The breeze had picked up in the past few minutes and she was almost shivering now in her dress and woollen cardigan. She looked up to see clouds travelling to the west, growing darker and darker by the second as the feeble sunlight continued to be engulfed by the growing darkness.
“Excuse me,” she heard a voice from behind her. She turned around to face a young man around her age. He didn’t look older than twenty-two, twenty-four at most. He had short dark hair and sparkling blue eyes. He wore a rather shabby-looking jacket, dark trousers and a pair of worn out shoes that had seen better days. His choice of clothes would have been totally unworthy of notice had it not been for a thick, rusty-brown scarf that was tied snugly around his neck. He stood smiling at her rather awkwardly, his thin lips twitching and all the while, his eyes seemed to speak to her through their amazing sparkle. She felt drawn to them as if they were sending out signals she was meant to interpret. He was nervous; she was sure of that. It was evident in the way he had dug both his hands in his pockets, looking a bit lost for words. And yet, the look in his eyes seemed quite confident.
“Yes?” she asked, mystified by his body language.
“Hello miss, sorry to disturb….” he finally said, rather unsurely.
“Yes?” she asked again after another awkward pause.
“Um, I was wondering if you could do me a favour…” His voice trailed off as he scratched his head.
“How can I help you?” she urged him with an encouraging nod.
“Well, I was wondering if you could pretend that we are friends…” he hesitated shifting his weight from foot to foot.
“I don’t understand….” she responded, puzzled.
“Could you offer me a handshake please? Or smile and give me a hug or something?” he asked, managing a faint half smile that could also be perceived as a rather cheeky smirk.
“What?” she protested. “What on earth for?”
“You see that geezer behind me sat on the bench?” he motioned with a slight movement of his head, shifting his eyes to one side. “No! Please don’t stare! He mustn’t suspect anything!” he pleaded, his blue eyes huge.
“Why not? Who is he?” she asked even more intrigued now, as she darted her eyes surreptitiously to the young man on the bench once more. He wasn’t even looking and she wondered what the fuss was all about. Silently, she thought the whole thing was rather amusing but she wasn’t going to show that to the dashing lad before her. Instead, she fixed him with a stern stare that demanded an instant explanation.
“Look, I’m sorry – alright?” he said then, realizing that her patience was wearing thin. “It’s just that I made a bet with him that I can prove that we are friends. He sort of said you are too beautiful for the likes of me and I wanted to prove him wrong – that’s all!”
“So you told him a lie about me and now you want me to help you confirm it?” she asked, trying to sound stern despite aching to dissolve into laughter by then.
“In essence, yes!” he answered managing a smile that this time, could definitely pass for a cheeky smirk.
“But how does this benefit me?” she retorted with a naughty look in her eyes.
“Excuse me?” he asked taken aback.
“What is there for me to gain from helping you out?”
“I’ll buy you a drink if you like!” he offered immediately and she wondered if that had been his goal from the start.
“No thanks!” she answered sternly but felt sorry for him when he regarded her silently in response with sorrowful eyes. It was a sad look of such intensity that the thought that crossed her mind was that he was doing it on purpose. In the end, she gave in anyway. He surely was heaven. She had to admit it. And he seemed harmless enough. She took a step towards him and offered her hand to him. He took it gratefully and to his surprise, totally unprompted, she reached up then and left a kiss on his cheek.
“Thanks! It’s more than I hoped for,” he whispered.
“Now what?” she questioned him, visibly amused.
“Is he still there?” he enquired. Laura looked behind him and the smile on her face froze instantly. The lad on the bench was no longer alone. A young girl, barely older than sixteen, sat next to him now. They seemed lost in conversation together, totally oblivious to what was going on around them.
“You never spoke to that young man, did you? There is no bet, is there?” she put to him as realization hit her. With her green eyes squinting at him, she placed a hand on her hip defensively, waiting, demanding the truth.
“My daddy always said, ‘never lie to a beautiful girl…unless you’re after her heart!’ So I took my daddy’s advice…is that so bad?” he asked mischievously, tilting his head slightly, amused by the stunned expression on her face.
“Oh I see! So you were pretending to be nervous all this time! What an act! And for what?” she asked when she finally found her voice again.
“I got a kiss on the cheek, didn’t I?” he said shrugging his shoulders.
“You make it sound so trivial!”
“It is, isn’t it?”
“Oh…. I beg to differ miss… miss…. I didn’t quite catch your name!”
“Huh! As if I’m going to tell you that!” she snapped at him. “I’m not falling for another one of your tricks!” she added and turned to go but the spring in her step revealed that she was light-hearted.
“You’re wrong though….” His voice trailed behind her and she turned to face him again.
“Wrong about what?” she responded, puzzled.
“That the kiss you gave me was trivial…. a kiss from a pretty girl like you will keep me warm after you go, all through the night!” he said with a grin and a hand over his heart.
“Why don’t you get under a blanket to be sure….’ she teased him and turned away.
The echo of his laughter hung in the air between them as she strode off along the deck, her hand over her luscious red lips, stifling her giggle.
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