Title: Stone Ruins and City Smoke
Author: Charlie Martyn
Recovering agoraphobic, Tom Maynard, runs a converted Cornish tin mine in Sennen Cove as a rural retreat for the rich and famous. Melanie Taylor runs a successful London hotel, and wants to buy shares in the property he developed in his late wife’s memory, but he refuses her offer.
Sensing a connection between the pair, his daughter, Amy, sets them up on a blind date. But while together in London, during a storm, Amy goes missing. As they battle the elements to save her, they must decide if the distance between them is also worth fighting.
Hardy joggers breathed plumes of mist into the frigid February air as suicidal cyclists snaked between the slow-moving cars. From the backseat of the car, Tom Maynard admired the monolithic glass building with an external lift rocketing skywards, undoubtedly offering spectacular views across the inner-city greenery of Hyde Park. Purple neon lights carved the title: Carillion Hotel into the evening, signifying the arrival at their destination.
Easing the car into a short stop bay, a waiting concierge wrapped in a vintage grey great coat and top hat waved them forward. Tom watched as the gentleman in the first car helped a young lady in a satin dress to her feet and onto the red carpet. Flashes exploded as cameras stole moments in time. Beckoned forward by a second concierge, the chauffeur nudged the car to the foot of the carpet. The concierge leaned in and cracked open the door. A gush of cold air breathed onto Tom’s face, but it was most welcome against his clammy skin. Under his shirt, anxious bumps tingled as they travelled the length of his spine.
He paused. A soft touch fell on his forearm.
His companion wore a compassionate gaze as she whispered, ‘You’re shaking. Are you sure you want to go through with this?’
‘I’ve . . .’ Tom nodded as he cleared his throat. ‘Come too far not to.’
‘You’ve got this,’ she said, unblinking.
Despite the chilly midwinter air, it still felt chokingly thick as he drew a deep breath through his nose and held it. His heart slowed a fraction. Through pursed lips he released his breath and swung his legs from the car as the chauffeur bid him a polite goodnight.
Tom offered a hand towards his companion. She accepted, her fingertips reaching into his palm as she rose beside him. Producing their best fake smiles, the couple inched towards the entrance of the grand hotel. Tom’s heart rattled harder. His breathing hastened. Exploding lights swirled around him as his chest tightened.
Tom glanced at Kelly, whose eyes flared wide with excitement as she languished in the attention. This was too much. Kelly shrieked as Tom scooped her into his arms and rushed her away from the intrusive cameras and blundered into the foyer of one of London’s most exclusive hotels.
Before them, wearing a well-rehearsed smile that surely caused his jaw to ache, stood a tall, sinewy man dressed in an immaculate white suit and sporting a full head of thick silver hair. Appearing well-practiced in the art he balanced a silver tray laden with flutes of Champagne upon the fingertips of his left hand. ‘It’s perfectly safe to put the young lady down now, sir,’ he said, bowing in welcome.
Tom dropped Kelly without consideration for the high heels she wore, managing to catch a handful of her dress before she crumpled into a heap.
Steadying herself, she said, ‘Easy tiger, you could at least give me some warning next time. You okay?’ Gone was the superstar-smile she wore for the cameras.
Standing upright and relieved to be liberated from the media, he tugged at his dinner jacket. ‘I’m fine. You know how it is,’ he said, just loud enough for Kelly to hear.
Kelly squeezed his arm and pecked him on the cheek. ‘You’re doing great. Come on, let’s do this.’
Lifting a glass each from the proffered tray, they chinked the rims and took a sip. Several bubbles tickled Tom’s throat as they slid down, forcing him to let out a subdued cough before swallowing the rest.
‘You know, sir . . .’ The steward leaned into Tom’s ear. His English was impeccable, carrying only the slightest twang of a French accent. ‘That act of scooping your wife off her feet, carrying her down the red carpet and so elegantly over the threshold will be in all next month’s magazines. I promise you.’
‘Oh, she’s . . .’
Waving his free hand in a semi-circle as if emphasising world domination was about to come Tom’s way, he continued. ‘. . . Romantic headlines will blossom.’ He shot Tom a quick wink of approval.
‘Thanks.’ Tom hoped the crack in his voice went unnoticed. The last thing he wanted to gain was publicity.
Adrian lives in Cornwall with his wife and four children. He has a Bachelor’s degree in English with Creative Writing and a Master’s degree in Professional writing, both received from Falmouth University. Adrian grew up in Cornwall, only spending seven years away while serving in the British army. The inspiration for his writing is drawn from the landscape of the magical county – from the desolate moors to the rugged coastline.
Adrian didn’t discover the real joy of reading until his late teenage years, devouring such authors as Andy McNab and Dean Koontz. Writing came later while on active service overseas, starting with bad poetry before turning his hand to the novel. Originally published in horror, Adrian accidentally discovered his enjoyment of writing romantic fiction while at university, and subsequently enrolled on the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writer’s Scheme – an affiliation he would recommend to any new writer.
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Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stone-Ruins-Smoke-Charlie-Martyn-ebook/dp/B09LRBFR9M/
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Stone-Ruins-Smoke-Charlie-Martyn-ebook/dp/B09LRBFR9M
Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour!
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