In Twelve Days, there are a number of new couples introduced into the Blackbird world. One of my favourites happens to be Carl Elmer, one of the pack doctors, and Judith Norton, Ivy’s mother. They’re adorable together and have a history which surprised Ivy(and me while I was writing). I thought I’d share the teensiest of sneak peeks.
“Mum?” Ivy reached out to squeeze her hand. “Do you want to see Carl again?”
Judith patted her daughter’s hand. “I’m afraid I’m not the same girl who skipped stones across the water with him.”
“Carl’s a private bloke. He never really talks about his life outside of being a surgeon.” Gareth spoke around a large bit of scone, causing Ivy to swat him on his arm. He smiled at her and Judith couldn’t help but laugh at the way her daughter melted at the boyish grin. “He’s never been married or dated anyone as far as I know. I can have him in London in a few hours.”
“It’s Christmas, Mum.” Ivy’s eyes were filled with love and concern. “Let’s see if a bit of magic isn’t in the air, shall we?”
Despite having numerous misgivings, Judith allowed her Ivy to talk her into heading to the Blackbird office. She sat in one of the spare offices with a warm mug of tea and nattered with her daughter about wedding plans and the upcoming Christmas party. It was a pleasant enough distraction though she still felt as if a herd of Corgis was running rampant in her tummy.
Nerves like a silly schoolgirl.
The Corgis leapt into her throat when voices and footsteps seemed to pass by the door and linger. Ivy told her not to worry; it would all go bloody brilliantly. She got to her feet and darted out of the room, leaving Judith to her own racing thoughts.
What if he didn’t remember her?
What if he did remember her?
What could he possibly remember about a girl he’d known over thirty years ago?
Judith was struck with a sense of having let her daughter’s Christmas-inspired optimism carry both of them away. Despite the heavy blows life had dealt Ivy, she’d always managed to eventually find an unending amount of hope. It was inherited from her father, along with her dreadful tendency to curse at every little thing.
“Bollocks,” Judith whispered when the door handle turned.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, pardon my intrus…” Carl trailed off the minute he glimpsed who was in the room. “Judy?”
It might’ve been years since Judith had seen him last, but underneath the now-greying hair and the smattering of wrinkles was the same sweet smile. The dashing lad she’d met on a beach in Newquay stood before her all grown-up, weathered by time. It was as if time had simultaneously stood still and leapt backward thirty-plus years all at once.
“Judy?” He lifted his hand up to rub the back of his neck, a familiar gesture. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m Ivy’s mother.” Judith managed to stammer out the words while staring rather stupidly at the leather bracelet around his wrist. “You still have it?”
Carl glanced down at the braided bracelet with a sheepish smile. “It hasn’t been out of my sight since the day you gave it to me.”
They spoke at the same time and stopped. He chuckled the familiar laugh, though it seemed deeper than the one she remembered. He moved across the room to sit on the couch beside her and the heat from his body seemed to leap across the gap between their legs. Judith grazed her finger across the faded and cracked leather on his arm.
“There are an inordinately large number of women named Judith in London, did you know?” Carl covered her fingers with his hand. “I searched for you for years and never found you. Are you married?”
“Widowed.” Judith twisted to the side so she was facing him. She refused to act like a shy girl in her teens. “And you, no bevy of lovely ladies?”
“Just the one.” Carl’s fingers gripped hers when she attempted to pull her hand away. She relished the warmth and strength in his touch. “Just the one who danced along the sand on a moonlight night in Cornwall. You stole my heart Judy, and I’d like to know if I’m too late to steal yours.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Carl lifted her hand to graze his lips against her knuckles. “You’re still the most radiant woman I’ve ever laid eyes on.”
“And you still have a wicked way with words.”
“I’d give anything for another chance.” He watched her intently while his thumb caressed her hand. “Have dinner with me?”
Find out whether she says yes in Twelve Days now available for pre-order from Amazon: