Today I am delighted to be sharing an extract from ‘Love at the Northern Lights’ by Darcie Boleyn. Many thanks to Ellie and Canelo for asking me to be involved in the blog tour. Enjoy!
‘Climbing out the window in her dress and tiara wasn’t exactly how Frankie imagined her wedding day…’
Runaway bride Frankie Ashford hops a plane to Norway with one goal in mind – find her estranged mother and make peace with the past. But when a slip on the ice in Oslo lands her directly in Jonas Thorsen’s viking-strong arms, her single-minded focus drifts away in the winter winds.
When it comes to romance Jonas knows that anything he and Frankie share has an expiration date – the British heiress has a life to return to in London that’s a world away from his own. But family is everything to Jonas and, as the one man who can help Frankie find the answers she’s seeking, he’ll do whatever it takes to help her reunite with her mother.
Now, as Christmas draws closer and the northern lights work their magic Frankie and Jonas will have to make a choice…play it safe or risk heartbreak to take a chance on love.
In the airport cafe, Frankie tucked her suitcase under the table then wrapped her hands around the mug of coffee. She could see the entrance to the toilets from here and winced every time someone went in or came out, wondering if she’d see someone emerge carrying the tote bag of treats. The light was fading outside and she realized she had no idea what time it was or how long she’d been sitting there, lost in her thoughts.
Her bones ached and she wished she could curl up under the table and sleep. Instead, she picked up the almond croissant she’d purchased and ate it quickly, washing each mouthful down with coffee, aware that she needed to put something into her empty belly.
Soon, the croissant and coffee raised her blood sugar and the headache she’d blamed the tiara for began to fade. But there was still a question burning inside her: what was she going to do now?
‘What time’s your flight?’ The woman at the next table spoke into her mobile. ‘Uh… aha… right. Well, see you when we get there.’
She cut the call then looked at Frankie.
‘My brother.’ She waved the mobile. ‘He’s getting married in Cuba next week, so we’re heading out there early to take in some of the sights first.’
‘Yes and I’m so excited. It’s my first holiday with my boyfriend too.’ Her eyes sparkled and her cheeks were rosy, presumably with the first flush of love.
‘That’s nice. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.’
‘Thank you. Where are you going?’ The woman’s eyes flickered over Frankie’s tiara and she touched it self-consciously. It probably did look strange with her casual attire.
Frankie opened her mouth to answer, hoping something would spring to mind, but a tall sandy-haired man arrived at the woman’s table and she jumped up and hugged him, so Frankie was spared the embarrassment of admitting she had no idea. The couple gathered their bags then left the cafe arm in arm, leaving Frankie staring at the table they’d vacated. It must be wonderful to truly love someone. Sure, she’d enjoyed spending time with Rolo in the early days and they’d had some fun – in fact, she’d hoped it was love that she felt for him – but she’d never experienced a burning need to see him, to touch him and to be close to him. In reality, they’d been a lot more like polite acquaintances than lovers about to marry. Perhaps that had been because she’d known she didn’t really love him and had been holding back. And what had been holding her back? Not just a lack of love and desire but her need for independence. Her need to experience freedom, to know what it was like to be happy with who she was and what she was doing. Had she ever really had that sense of personal satisfaction?
Not in her job. Not in her relationship. And certainly not in her home life, where even though her father had tried hard to fill the gap left by her mother, it had been there… a chasm of emptiness and sadness, a constant awareness that the woman who should have loved her more than anyone else had walked away from her and not cared whether she lived or died. It had also, unsurprisingly, been laced with a bitter anger.
Until she dealt with that, Frankie realized, she would never be able to move on and be happy.
She drained her coffee then opened her bag and pulled out her purse. She had a variety of credit cards and some cash, so she could easily book a flight. At the back of her purse, folded over, was something she carried with her. Always. She pulled it out and unfolded it, then pressed it flat on the table and gazed at the image of a snow-covered landscape. It was dark and the trees cast bushy shadows across the ground. It made Frankie shiver just imagining how cold it must be there. But above the snow, brightening the dark sky with swathes of luminous green, blue and purple, were the northern lights.
Every time Frankie had looked at this postcard over the years since she’d turned eighteen, something had tugged at her heart and made her yearn to see these lights in person. They were beautiful, mystical, magical. Even though she’d read about them and knew their true cause, Frankie still believed that there was magic in nature if it could create such beauty. And, of course, she wondered if her mother had seen these lights… if she had thought of her daughter as she watched the shimmering display.
Her mother had sent cards every year on birthdays and at Christmas when she was growing up. They had been pretty cards featuring beautiful paintings but the messages inside had been brief, almost impersonal, as if her mother had either not cared to write more or had been holding back. However, now that she thought about it and tried to rationalize it, perhaps her mother had cared if she was alive and well. She’d noted every changing of the year in her daughter’s life, hadn’t she? And yet… how much did sending a card really prove? Was her mother actually just assuaging her conscience and nothing more?
Frankie wanted to believe that it was more than just that but what proof did she have other than cards?
She turned the card over and ran her eyes over the familiar words, words she knew without needing to read them, but still, looking at them again helped her confirm that they were real and not a figment of her imagination.
Happy 18th Birthday. I knew this day would come and yet, I cannot believe how the years have flown. Now that you are an adult, I feel able to give you my address. Please know that you are welcome to come and visit me anytime you wish. I would love to see you. However, I understand if you do not want to come. I will not contact you again unless I hear from you, because I don’t want to trouble you if you would prefer not to hear from me.
The postcard had arrived in a sealed envelope, presumably to prevent Grandma from reading the message, and Freya’s address was printed in the top-right corner, leaving her to make the decision. She had not gone when she was eighteen, nor when she was twenty-one, nor when she turned twenty-nine. It had seemed better to leave things as they were, to build her own life and not rake up the past. She didn’t want to hurt her father or upset her grandmother, and knew that visiting her mother could well do both. Her grandmother was a stern, aloof woman, but she had always been around – she had not left Frankie behind – and because of that, Frankie owed her loyalty – although her behaviour earlier today had made Frankie question her grandmother’s motives. Her father had been a kind and caring parent, but he had a haunted quality about him, as if he’d never recovered from losing his wife. Frankie had felt protective of him, even though he had been the adult and she the child.
About the author.
Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.