Sampler: Torn by Gilli Allan

Some see Jessica as a debauched woman. Some see her as a friend, and some fall in love with her.

Jess has made a series of bad life choices and all have let her down.

Escaping London, she sets out to recreate herself in the idyllic countryside, and this time she wants to get it right.

She wants to lead a responsible, tranquil life with her young son Rory but soon discovers stresses which pull her in opposing directions –conflict over a new bypass, between friends, and worst of all, between lovers.

Educated, experienced, and pragmatic, James is a widowed farmer whose opinions differ from and enrage Jess.

His young shepherd, Danny, is an uneducated and inexperienced idealist.

Jess is attracted to them both and realises if she wants her idyllic countryside life to survive, she must choose her Mr. Right. The only problem is ? which one is he?

Gilli Allan

Sampler: Torn by Gilli Allan

New year’s Morning

 Jess opened her eyes. Though her brain was crystal clear, her head ached and her mouth was sour and parched. Drunk’s dawn. Brilliant.

For a moment she had the sense she was alone. What a relief. The man had had the decency to creep away while she slept – she could get up and fetch herself a glass of water. Then she heard his breathing and the dip of the mattress as he stirred. She froze, revolted by the thought that her skin might come into contact with his. The idea of touching a bony, hairy male leg – or worse – was repellent. And if he was rousing she didn’t want him to know she was awake. He turned over and then turned back again. She remained still, feigning sleep.

It was a long time since she’d done anything so impetuous, so stupid, and she had lost some of the brazenness needed to face the stranger in the morning. Especially after you’ve thrown your guts up down the loo a few hours earlier, she thought. Had he fancied her sufficiently, after she’d vomited, to proceed with what he had every right to believe was on offer before? If there had been any sex she’d been too far gone to remember it now.

She had only the haziest memory of what he actually looked like. More importantly, did he use a condom?

Chapter One

 A Few Weeks Earlier

 Coloured lights were strung in swags from lamppost to lamppost. Lights delineated the stone gables and studded the fir trees on shop front pediments. She smiled, enjoying the sting of the night air on her cheeks as she paused on the step of the Prince Rupert to shrug on her coat. It had only been a few months, but the fact was undeniable. Already she’d begun to relax, begun to see the future with optimism, begun to feel safe – safer than she had for a long time.

She must bring Rory into town one evening soon. He had many childhood years ahead of him – plenty of time to make trips back to London for its bizarre cocktail of the gaudy and the glamorous. For the present, the simple Christmas decorations in this quiet old market town would seem magical enough to him. His happiness and security were all important. It might just be the two of them from now on, and their pleasures might be simple, but life would be normal and safe; on that, she was determined.

Without warning the lights jagged upwards, meteor tails zigzagging through the sky. The ground tipped. A jarring thud reverberated up her spine. At first, she was too stunned by the heavy fall to understand what had happened. Then came the flush of embarrassment and self-blame. Why had she chosen to wear stilt-heeled boots? Who on earth was she expecting to impress in this backwater? Already, in the split second, since the world had tilted up and smacked her on the bottom, she sensed the damp chill of the stone flags seeping through her clothes, reaching her skin.

‘Get up. Fucking histrionic cow!’

Comprehension shocked through her in a sickening rush. Only then did she register the drag on her scalp, the whiplash pain in her neck. She tried to get up; the urgent need to retrieve her dignity overriding fear. But again, he’d grabbed her hair and was hauling her up from the ground  – her high heels slid and scrabbled to gain purchase on the slick surface.

‘Stop it. Stop pulling my hair you bastard!’

‘Then fucking get up, fucking c … bitch!’

‘You pulled me over!’

‘Balls. You throw yourself on the ground and scream blue murder as soon as anyone looks at you!’

Anyone? Did he really believe he was one of many falsely accused?

‘You’ve always been a drama queen.’

Why was she so surprised? Because until this moment she’d managed to convince herself she would be safe here, that he would rather pretend he didn’t care than add to the indignity by running after her. As time passed her confidence had grown, the tight, hard knots in shoulders and neck gradually loosening. Now, disillusion took over from surprise. Defeated fatigue weighted her limbs, fuddled her brain.

‘Why have you come here?’ she asked bleakly. ‘What do you want, Sean?’

‘You know! Don’t be fucking stupid as well as fucking deceitful and cowardly. No one runs out on me! I want you to come home. I want us to be a family again.’

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