Have you seen my beautiful new cover? Isn't is gorgeous? I have to give full props to the wonderful Bree Archer who calmly dealt with my demands. You can find her here: http://breearcher.com/
I hope it's enticing you to give my little (57k word little) tale on illegal marriages a read over. Go on... It's a little bit Russian, a little bit sexy and a lot of lovin'!
Pasha flexed his fists back and forth until his father’s presence wasn’t settling on his skin any more. He glanced at the girl, Miss Asare. Her face was creamy coffee, set with righteous indignation, rose tinted lips tight in anger. She was giving him the sort of look he always got from South London girls. What the fuck is your problem?
If only they knew. “Miss Asare, please don’t think I don’t know how you feel. We both have fathers who disappoint us.”
“Your father is helping you.”
“No. He’s helping himself. It doesn’t seem like it but… It’s a way to help himself,” Pasha thought for a moment. “But at the same time, both of us can get out from under our parents. You do this and your father never asks you for a penny again. I do this and...” He hesitated.
“And you save me.”
She laughed. “I think you can handle your own daddy issues.”
“I can’t,” he admitted with a wry smile. “He’s got a gun to my head. I’ve done something that means... I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”
“It’s Lily, Mr. Articulation. What’s your problem?”
Apart from you right now? He thought. “I’ve got a father who’s hanging my bad deeds over my head. He pulls me into this, he’s in just as much shit as me. We’d be even.”
She breathed out noisily. “I can’t be dealing with this. I can’t.”
“Don’t you want to be free of him? Don’t you want this to be the last time he calls you because he’s lost all his money?”
“There is never a last time,” Lily cried. “I am always bailing him out. I am always writing cheques, and paying people off, and picking him up from police stations. I can’t do it anymore. What in God’s name makes you think that this will be the last time?”
“Because I can blacklist him,” Pasha said. “My father wouldn’t do it because he thought there was something to be gained from him, but I can make sure no betting shop touches him with fishing pole.”
“Barge pole,” Lily corrected, watching him suspiciously. “You’d do that? Make sure he can’t gamble anymore?”
“Not just betting shops but casinos, arcades. Everywhere. But you need to help me too. I’m running out of time here, Lily. I need to have my immigration documents sorted in the next few months.”
He could see her contemplating. His father could never read women. Lily’s concern wasn’t with money or the business, it was being unchained from her pathetic parent. “You wouldn’t need to worry about him again. Because with people like your father, he needs to hit the floor. And because of you, he hasn’t done that yet. He’ll find help by himself if I get you to stop.”
She turned to the side, presenting a profile that reminded him of the Nefertiti statue in the British Museum, a few curls winding along her neck. “I need to think about this.”
“I understand. Here,” he held out his hand. “Let me give you my number. You can talk to me, not my father. How much time do you need?”
“The last day of never would be helpful.”
Pasha bit on his lip to recall his patience. “How about this time on Sunday? Gives you a few days.”
“Why are you being nice to me?”
“Because I like to think you and I understand each other. We’re in the same position.”
“Crap dads? Yeah, definitely.” She dug into her bag and handed over her phone. “You just-”
“I’m phone friendly,” he assured her with a half smile. He dialled in his number, dropped a call to his phone, and added his name to her phone book. “There.”
She took the phone back from him. “What would I even tell my friends, my mum? Oh my god, my mother!”
Anything that would mean the Home Office would leave them alone until after he was granted citizenship would be good. “Just think about this first. Then we can get our stories together. We do share a language. A culture. A history. I wouldn’t expect a single thing from you other than changing the address for a few bills and a quick ceremony at the nearest registry office.”
Lily put the phone back in her bag. “I need to get out of here. Ummm. I’ll call you.”
He needed something, something just to hook her into the briefest notion that this could possibly work out and for the best. He curled his fingers around her forearm, pulling her gently closer to him. “Thank you Lily,” he murmured, touching his mouth ever so softly to hers. The flavour of toffee lingered on his lips. He wondered what on earth she had smeared on her mouth that made her taste that way.
“Um, okay, bye,” she muttered, turning and disappearing out of the changing room. His father eventually came inside, just as he was tugging on his gloves.
“I always bring the solutions,” he gloated. “No one would think twice that you’re not in a real relationship. You’re both the right age and she’s a good Russian girl who wouldn’t let anything happen to her papa. He’d hand her over for a five pound note.”
Pasha stared at his father until the older man started squirming uncomfortably. “She’s thinking about it. If anything happens to her, or her father before then, you’ll have to find a solution for yourself. She is a good girl. Who doesn’t deserve this.”
“Pasha, you go too far. I’ve done what I can for you. The only reason you are in this mess is because you put yourself in it.”
“The only reason I am here is because you dragged me here!”
“And you think you could have survived Russian prison? Boy, I have wiped your arse for too long.”
Pasha punched his gloved fists together which made his father jump backwards. “No one asked you to interfere.”
“It’s not interference if it’s for your own good. You wait, once you have citizenship, your career will fly. The sponsors are chomping at the bit to sign you. You’ll be on an international level, presenting for the Olympics... you will be truly great. And you will thank me for doing this for you. You will Pasha.”
“As long as you have a footnote in my biography?” Pasha sneered. “I’ve told you, leave that girl alone. This grand plan only works if I cooperate.” Pasha made his way towards the changing room doors. “And if I don’t, don’t think for a minute that I won’t take you down with me.”
Pasha saw the flicker of fear in his father’s face before he brushed past him to train. He always worked more easily when he pictured his father’s face on the bag.