Read the first three chapters of After Sunset.

Chapter 1

When Marcy came out of the shower, the woman in her bed looked like she had no intention of leaving. Playing a game on her phone, she took her sweet time sipping the coffee Marcy had made for her over an hour ago. Waiting for her to make a move, any move, was awkward, and she reminded herself once again that this was why she didn’t make a habit of inviting women to sleep over at her home. Well, home was an understatement. The caravan she was currently living in stood on a plot in a holiday park with over a hundred other caravans, the majority privately owned by retired British pensioners. The bedroom and the bathroom were tiny, but she spent most of her time outside in the private garden, so the lack of space didn’t bother her. As long as she was by herself.

“So, Bisou, what are your plans for today?” she asked, hoping the dark-haired French woman wasn’t planning on lounging in her bed the whole morning. At least she remembered her name. Bisou was a tourist who shared a room with a friend at Paradise Hotel in Benidorm, so going back to her hotel together hadn’t been an option last night. They’d met in a bar and Marcy had flirted with the straight woman purely to kill time while she waited for her friends to arrive. To her surprise, Bisou had reciprocated her flirtations and here she was. It really was that easy.

“Depends. What are your plans?” Bisou asked, glancing up from her phone for a split second.

“I have to work.” Marcy knew exactly what she was doing; messaging her friends and telling them all about her first experience with a woman. She was pretty sure there would be no complaints about her performance. Bisou had voiced her pleasure so loudly her screams had forced her neighbours to bang on the side of her caravan; something they only did when her music was too loud for their liking.

“But last night you said you had the day off.” Bisou looked up again and arched a brow at her. Then her screen lit up, her eyes flicked back, and her fingers continued to tap manically.

Marcy suppressed a groan as she dried her hair and slipped into a pair of boxers and an old T-shirt. Couldn’t the woman take a hint? “Yes, I’m off work,” she said, trying not to sound too impatient. “But I have another project I work on during my days off and I have some urgent things to take care of.”

“Okay. Do you want me to come with you?”

Marcy shook her head. “I’m sorry, I can’t bring anyone there.” That wasn’t a lie; no one knew about her secret project, not even her parents, and she certainly wasn’t going to bring a stranger there. With the amount of time Bisou spent on her phone, pictures would be all over the internet in no time.

“So, you want me to leave?” Bisou jutted out her bottom lip and batted her lashes.

“No, you don’t need to leave right now,” Marcy said, not wanting to be rude. “Take your time.”

“If you’re not in a rush…” Bisou patted the mattress. “Why don’t you come back to bed for a while?” She finally put her phone aside and sensually removed the cover, revealing her naked body. “Just for an hour, then you can kick me out.”

In two minds, Marcy stared at the pillow princess. She had a long to-do list for today, but she’d never been able to resist temptation, especially not in the form of a beautiful woman. Besides, she could think of worse ways to start her day. “Okay.” She grinned as she got on the bed and hovered over Bisou, steadying herself as she balanced on her hands and knees. “So, you enjoyed last night?”

“I did.” Bisou shot her a mischievous grin, her dark eyes flashing with desire as she ran her fingers through Marcy’s hair. “Will you do that thing to me again?”

“That thing that made you wake up my neighbours?” Marcy joked as she moved down Bisou’s body. She kissed her breasts, her ribcage and her belly, then moved back up to her breasts to suck a nipple into her mouth. She bit softly, just hard enough to cause the sting she knew would shoot between the woman’s thighs and smiled when she gasped in delight.

Bisou moaned and jerked underneath her, her head turning from side to side, and just like last night, Marcy felt a little smug for being her first woman. She felt Bisou’s muscles tense as she traced the inside of her thigh and kissed her way down her belly to the neat strip of dark hair between her legs. “Is this the thing you were talking about?” she teased, sliding her fingers through Bisou’s wetness before entering her. Simultaneously, she brought her mouth to her centre and ran her tongue up and down.

“Yes!” Bisou fisted Marcy’s hair so tightly she was worried she would pull it out. “Fuck, yes!”

Quick breaths followed by a high-pitched groan rang in Marcy’s ears and she smiled. “Good?” She recognised Bisou’s body language now, and knowing she was close, she put more pressure on her centre, moving faster until a loud cry escaped her. Marcy tried to muffle the noise with her hand, but Bisou’s head was tilted back so she couldn’t reach. Damn it. I should have closed the windows. Another cry, and another one, until Bisou collapsed into a panting heap of bliss. When silence finally returned, she shook her head and laughed.

“Good? Do you honestly need to ask me that?” She traced a hand over Marcy’s cheek. “I’m still here for another week. Want to meet up again?”

Marcy wiped her mouth, sat up in bed and let out a sigh. She hated this part, but she had to be honest. “I really had fun with you, and I think you’re great, but I can’t do that.”

Bisou nodded. “Are you one of those emotionally unavailable types? The one-night only type?”

“Something like that.” Marcy attempted a regretful look as she got up. “I’m sorry.”

Chapter 2

“My baby, come here!” Ling flew around her daughter’s neck and squeezed her tightly. “Oh, I’m so, so glad to have you back home.”

“Mum. I’ve missed you.” Zoe dropped her duffel bag and held her mother for long moments, then stepped back to take her in. “You look good.”

“Not as good as you.” Ling rubbed Zoe’s arms. “But you’re way too skinny. Come in, come in. You must be hungry after your long journey.”

“I wouldn’t mind some food,” Zoe said with a smile, leaving her suitcases in the hallway. She followed her mother into the kitchen and sat down at the dining table. “Mmm… did you make dumplings? I smell dim sum.”

“Yes, your favourite.” Ling chuckled, checking the bamboo baskets that were piled on top of each other and steaming over a big pan. “Although I bet you’ve had much better ones in Hong Kong over the past five years.”

“They’re never as good as yours.” Zoe glanced around the kitchen while her mother served her a selection of dim sum. Nothing had changed in here. Still the same tea towels, the same pictures of her and her sister—who also worked abroad—on the walls, the same kitsch curtains with strawberry print. And her mother, who looked a little older than last time she’d seen her, but she seemed happy and healthy. Zoe had indeed lost weight from working fourteen hours a day, but her mother had put on a few pounds, and it suited her. “Shouldn’t we wait for Dad?”

“No, your father will be home soon but knowing you’d be hungry, he wanted us to start, so I’ve kept some aside for him.” She took a seat opposite Zoe, shifting on her chair in excitement. “So, how was your flight?”

“Flights,” Zoe corrected her. “I had a stopover in Kuala Lumpur and one in Paris. Twenty-six hours. I’m totally exhausted but so happy to be home.” She reached over the table and squeezed her mother’s hand. “I’ve missed you and Dad, but it was worth the experience. I’ve had an amazing time in Hong Kong.”

“I know you did. It’s good to connect with your roots.”

“Yeah, it’s been good. My Cantonese is much better, and I’ve made some new friends,” Zoe said, then continued with her first mouthful. “And it was lovely to get to know our family better.”

“Good. I miss them.” Ling helped herself to food. “It’s time I paid them a visit again, now that travel has fully opened up. Last time I was there must have been…” She narrowed her eyes, digging through her memory.

“Two-and-a-half years ago,” Zoe said, finishing her sentence. “Way too long.”

“Yes, well, first I want to enjoy having you at home for a while, just like the old days. So, you said you have a new job lined up already and it’s here in Benidorm?”

“I do. It’s in a newly refurbished hotel and is due to open in two months. It’s not a touristy one, more like a boutique hotel that is also looking to attract businesspeople. I didn’t expect to find something so soon, but the headhunter did an excellent job. She had five interviews lined up for me within a week of signing up to her agency and they hired me on my remote interviews and CV alone.” Zoe shrugged. “It’s not how I would usually do it, but I’m not complaining. It’s a great opportunity when you consider what the hospitality industry’s been through these past couple of years.”

“I’m so proud of you.” Her mother shot her a warm smile. “And best of all, you’ve returned to your home town for the next chapter in your life.”

“Good old Benidorm.” Zoe chuckled and rolled her eyes. “I couldn’t wait to get out of here after finishing catering college, but it’s actually nice to be back. There’s a certain comfort about this town, knowing nothing ever changes. It’s predictable, and I could do with predictable right now.”

Her mother nodded. “You’ve travelled and worked all over the world since you were eighteen. No wonder you’re craving some stability. Well, you’ve got it here, honey. Your father and I were saying how nice it would be if you settled down near us so we can see you more often. Perhaps you’ll meet a nice man?”

“Please, Mum. No talk about men, you promised.” Zoe sighed in frustration and for a split second, her mind went back to Joanna, who she’d left behind. Their romance had fizzled out long before she’d decided to return to Spain; they’d always been better off as friends. With no hard feelings involved, her departure hadn’t been particularly difficult or emotional, but she was going to miss having someone to wake up with.

“I’m sorry, I forgot.” Her mother held up both hands in defence. “Just looking out for my single daughter, that’s all. You haven’t dated since that boy you met at school. What was his name again?”

“Thomas,” Zoe mumbled with little enthusiasm. Thomas had been her first and her last boyfriend. Handsome and fun, she’d felt no reason to say no when he’d first asked her out, but she’d never felt that spark that the girls in her class talked about. She’d never been in love with him, and she realised soon enough it was unlikely to ever happen. Because Zoe fell in love with a girl while she dated him, and even though she didn’t act upon her feelings until two years later, she didn’t need to sleep with a woman to know that she was gay.

“Yes, Thomas, that’s right. I wonder if he ever got married. You were crazy about him, had dinner there every Sunday. Do you remember?”

Because I had a crush on his sister. Zoe ignored the remark and helped herself to more food. She was saved by the sound of the door slamming and her father calling from the hallway.

Chapter 3

“Where the hell are we?” Bisou winced against the bright August sunlight as they stepped outside. “It was so dark last night; I couldn’t see anything while we walked here. Is this a caravan park?”

“It’s a residential caravan park, love,” Marcy’s neighbour, Maevis, shouted in a raspy voice before Marcy had the chance to answer. “Had a good night, did you? When I heard the screaming last night, I thought there were a couple of foxes outside but now I can see the error of my ways.” Taking a long drag of her cigarette, she curiously gave Bisou a knowing look.

“Morning, Maevis,” Marcy said with a smile, ignoring her question. “Sorry about the noise. It won’t happen again.”

“No problem, love. I’m glad someone’s getting some action around here. Sounds like Jake could learn a thing or two from you.”

Marcy laughed and walked on before Jake, Maevis’ husband, came out to join in the conversation. “Everyone knows everyone around here,” she explained to Bisou. And yes, it’s a residential caravan park that also includes holiday homes, but most people live here all year round.”

“Oh.” Bisou looked unimpressed and that didn’t surprise Marcy, but she liked living here, at least for the time being. “Are we far from my hotel? I don’t remember the taxi drive very well.”

“No, we’re quite close. Want me to drop you off at Paradise?” Marcy greeted everyone sitting in front of their caravans, some shaded by parasols and some smothered in sunscreen as they baked in the full sun.

“Morning, Marcy! Are you busy tomorrow?” one of the residents asked. “I’m having trouble putting up a shelf over my kitchen worktop.”

“Good morning! I can drop in before work tomorrow. Just after eight okay with you?” Marcy couldn’t recall the woman’s name, yet everyone seemed to know hers. Being the youngest and strongest in the park, and owning a wide range of power tools that she was very good with, people asked her for help with just about anything from moving heavy objects to fixing things.

“That would be great. Thank you so much!”

Marcy gave her a thumbs up and turned left towards the car park. The park consisted of long, straight paths with homes on either side. The standard low fences surrounding the small static homes meant there was little privacy, but people here seemed to like that as no one bothered to raise the height of the fences or grow hedges. There was a ‘clubhouse’, a communal swimming pool and a shop that sold a very limited selection of mainly British food products and the site’s committee often organised events such as bingo or quiz nights.

Marcy’s parents didn’t understand why she hadn’t bought a house yet. Being a contractor for her father, who owned the biggest building company in the region, it wasn’t like she was short of funds, and her mother kept reminding her she wasn’t going to find a girlfriend if she only hung out with old aged pensioners. But Marcy had other plans. Living here meant she had more money left to pour into building her own house, and after three years, her dream home was close to completion. She hadn’t told her parents about her project as it was something she wanted to do on her own—something that didn’t involve her father’s tradespeople and where she could ignore his advice and not have to explain why she didn’t want his money. He meant well,  but he could be quite opinionated, and although she knew her mother only had her best interests at heart, she equally tended to get too involved in her business.

“Climb in,” she said to Bisou, unlocking her pickup truck.

“Okay…” Bisou laughed as she struggled to climb in. “Are you seriously going to drop me off in this monstrosity?”

“Why, what’s wrong with it?” Marcy tapped the steering wheel. “I love my girl. She’s reliable, spacious, beautiful…”

Bisou laughed even harder at the ‘beautiful’ comment and shook her head. “Oh, God. So, you live in a caravan and drive a truck. You’re such a stereotypical lesbian. All you need is a cat and you’d tick all the boxes; I can’t wait to tell my friends about this.” She was typing on her phone as she spoke.

“I guess I am.” Marcy felt a pang of annoyance at her barbed comment because she liked her life, and she wasn’t ashamed of anything. The caravan site was a nice place to live and her truck was her best friend. Deep down, she kind of wanted to show Bisou her project, just to see the envious look on her face, but if she were to choose anyone to see it first, it would be her father. Instead, she pulled over a few minutes’ walk away from Paradise Hotel. “Well, this is my turn,” she said, pointing to the right. “Your hotel is just a short walk that way.”

“Oh… you’re not dropping me off at the door?”

“No. It’s not far, but it takes forever to turn there with all the tour busses waiting. Besides, what if your friends see you in my nasty old truck?” Marcy added with a hint of sarcasm.

Bisou looked taken aback as she stepped out and for a brief moment even stopped looking at her phone. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s fine, I’m just kidding. It was lovely to meet you, Bisou. I had a great night. Enjoy the rest of your holiday.” Marcy sped off before Bisou had the chance to ask for her number and saw her stunned expression as she looked back in her rear-view mirror. What was it with people and their phones? She hardly spent any time on hers.

Relieved to be alone again, she turned on the radio and hummed along to a song she didn’t know the lyrics to. Driving out of town, the scenery gradually started to change, with high-rise buildings soon replaced by the mountainous landscape of Benimantell. She passed the Guadalest Reservoir with its emerald-green water, and dozens of farms until she reached the private road that spiralled through forest and fields, heading for her soon to be home.

Did you like this sample? After Sunset is available for pre-order and will be out on 14/02/2022

1 thought on “Read the first three chapters of After Sunset.”

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