The Carnaby Affair (Preview Chapter) |

The Carnaby Affair (Preview Chapter)

A free-spirited events manager seeks respect for her profession and fairytale love from a stifled CMO who can’t get out of the grip of his overbearing family.

By Taylor Newman

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I'm excited to share new characters and their romantic adventures with readers.  If you love a good contemporary romance novel this book will not disappoint you!

Chapter One
Set in London, current day. The scene picks up as a couple visit Carnaby in London.

Lazy Sundays like this one recharged me for the upcoming week. I loved having the time to do absolutely anything, roaming free on the side streets of London popping into pubs and shops. Today I was in the Carnaby district where it was decorated spectacularly for the Harvest festival to happen in a few weeks. Between the buildings were strung wires that held a large Carnaby sign done all in silver sequins in front of a sequined flag. Large golden paper lanterns and multicolored parrots and toucans hanging from the wires appeared to fly above us. Rows and rows of turquoise fringe garland shimmered between the birds. The setting was fun and colorful bringing cheer to almost everyone that walked down between the row of shops on either side of the street. Everyone, except my boyfriend Harry.

Harry and I had been together now for several years, and we’d grown to understand what our likes and dislikes were as a couple. Harry knew that I loved to pop into a few stores and a pub or two on Sundays just to unwind. My job as a corporate events manager kept me in knots most of the week, but I always made sure to unplug and refresh on Sunday. Harry, however, never unplugged. As we walked along the street his head was down in his phone most of the time, only peeking up randomly when he saw shoes or a coat in front of him making him fear he’d run into someone. I preferred to keep my head up watching the people around me and absorbing the joy on the faces of newcomers to this area.

It was a slightly chilly day, not bad though for an early November day in London. For once in a really long time the sky wasn’t overcast. The blue sky was dotted sparsely with white puffs of cloud that were still because there wasn’t a breeze. With the forecast in mind, I’d dressed in a distressed pair of toothpick skinny jeans, a white cropped turtleneck shirt, my knee high Frye boots, and a black leather blazer. I’d also worn my favorite Monroe black felt hat that Harry said looked ridiculous. Lately he wasn’t keen on much about me. We’d been in a rut for a while now, but I was determined to get us out of it. I loved Harry, and I knew that he loved me. I believed we were headed to the altar soon, and I wanted us to start our married life off on a good foot. So I’d overlooked his comment and focused instead on having fun with him today.

I dipped into a couple of shops while he remained outside on work calls, then we looked for a pub to grab a pint and food. The Shaston Arms had a bright red storefront with the name of the pub above in big gilded block letters. Large buckets of petunias hung from three oversized plants just outside of the front windows. “Can we stop here, Harry?”

“Doesn’t matter to me. Sure.” He put his phone into his pocket and I breathed a sigh of relief that he might instead focus on me. We sat in a booth near the front windows that had tufted dark red leather seating and wooden table that was probably older than my parents. Carved into the edge of my side of the table was the phrase ‘Today is the day.’ I traced the letters with my finger letting my nail run in the grooves of the carving. It seemed like such a positive phrase to me. Was it a sign of things to come?

“Harry, I love you.”
“Yes,” he said as he wiped condensation from the bottom of his pint. “Love you too.”
“You know, our five year anniversary is coming up soon.”
“No, I think your wrong darling. It going to be our four year anniversary.”

“We got together after the New Years party at Club 49 where I was working the event. Don’t you remember that I asked to see your ID before I snuck you into the VIP area? I remember clearly that your ID said that you were twenty-five years old.”

He looked to be deep in thought, and then agreed. “Just so. Five years already? Doesn’t seem that long.”

“Well, it has been,” I said brightly. “Here’s to many more,” I said as I raised my drink to toast. We dove into our shared fish and chips board, and the conversation died. Once I’d had my fill, I told him that I was going to head to the shop next door and he could meet me there when he was done.

As I got to the doorway I almost ran into another man making his way into the pub. He was tall, maybe six feet two inches tall or more, and he was solid muscle that looked to weigh about 16 stone. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said quickly as I backed up to let him through. He backed up as well, and I looked into his face. He had dark blue eyes like the sea coming up to the cliffs in Cornwall, and dirty blonde hair that sat just below his earlobes and was combed straight back. Momentarily, I was caught off guard by how handsome he was.

“No, I insist, ladies first.” He had a deep, gravel tinged voice that sent a shiver traveling down my spine and landing squarely between my legs. I stared into his eyes two heartbeats too long, and by the time I realized what my look like I felt heat traveling up my neck and into my cheeks. The stranger gave me a lopsided grin that seemed to say that he knew exactly what I was thinking.

“Thank you.” I looked down to the floor and then quickly scooted past him before looking back in the pub window to see if Harry had seen that. He hadn’t though because he was nose-deep into his phone again.

Next door to the pub was this amazing shop called Lazy Oaf. The outside was painted all white which was a great contrast next to the all red exterior of the pub. The windows were covered in large yellow painted on smiley faces. This was my kind of atmosphere with it’s fun and quirky feel. Inside it was cleanly organized giving the store a modern feel, and the scent of oranges and grapefruit diffused through the air.

About ten minutes later Harry came through the door. “Gemma, are you almost done here?”

“I just got started. What’s the rush?”
“It’s just that I’ve got loads of work to catch up on.”

My happy mood evaporated. “Sunday was supposed to be my day. You promised me that.” Without meaning to, I crossed my arms over my chest. He must’ve sensed my mood changing because he put both hands up in surrender.

“Look, we’ll stay if that’s what you want. I just need to step outside to make a call.” My mind was only half on shopping after that. I watched him out the window laughing and smiling at whoever he was talking too. A quick twinge of jealousy raced through me at the thought that it might be another woman.

“Well, hello beautiful.” Striding towards me was a very handsome black gentleman. He was about the same height as Harry, but he had at least 2 stone of pure muscle more. His hair was shaved short so that just the outline of it showed, and his eyes were a beautiful light brown. When he reached me he grabbed my hand and pulled it to his lips to kiss.

“I’m sorry, do I know you?” I pulled my hand back, but smiled because I couldn’t help but feel his positive energy as it beamed from his smile.

“Dominic Prescott, at your service. And you are?”

“Dom,” someone called from the other side of the store. It was the man that I’d bumped into on my way out of the pub. His back was to me as he looked at the mens jumpers. Dominic excused himself and walked back over to his friend.

Then my eyes landed on an amazing pair of seventies floral tights. They were just my style. I heard the bell on the shop door ring and called out to Harry to come see what I’d found. “God no. Those are awful. Be serious…” He turned away from me and walked towards the door, but turned at the last second and said brusquely, “Let’s go.”

My eyes started to burn, and a lump began to form in my throat because I felt humiliated and angry.

“You should get the tights.” That gravelly American voice came from my left side. I turned to see him looking at me with his blue eyes filled with concern. “Don’t let him get you down. They’re cool.” My heart skipped a beat as I stared at him. All I could manage to get out was, “Okay.”

The girl at the register seemed completely disinterested in me or my purchase as she rang it up. Dominic and his friend waited patiently in line behind me, and after I got my receipt I turned and wished them both a good day. Walking out of the store, and back to Harry, I began to feel like maybe I was making a mistake in hoping for Harry to be more romantic and loving to me. I was a hopeless romantic, but I was also beginning to see that this relationship with Harry didn’t feel like a romance that was two-sided.

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