9 October 2016
Blog Tour: The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft
Please enjoy the extract below, and make sure you pick up a copy of The Christmas Promise! Thank you to Sue Moorcroft and the team at Avon for asking me to be part of the blog tour!
Saturday 1 December
Battling her way along the crowded pavements of Camden High Street, under the red and green Christmas lights and past the huge boots and aeroplanes displayed on the shop fronts, Ava didn’t feel entirely in the mood for going out and having a good time. Today, her first day as a ‘casual’ stallholder in the West Yard market, had seemed endless. And she was pretty sure there would never be a second.
‘Even though I’ve been home to warm up, my feet are still burning and freezing both at the same time,’ she complained to Izz. They’d linked arms to share body heat as sleet danced in the air around them but she wished her dress would magically transform itself into a thick waterproof coat until she reached the warmth of Blaggard’s Bar. ‘It’s only the beginning of December and I’ve already had enough of Christmas shoppers who browse without buying, try on without buying, and especially, especially those who gasp, “How much? For one hat?” and drop one of my precious samples. Also without buying.’
Izz’s teeth chattered, although she was marginally more warmly dressed in glittery jeans and a top. ‘Sales were a bit thin, were they?’
‘To the point of being anorexic, even though I slashed my prices and prayed that none of my bespoke customers would appear and demand to know why they’d previously paid double.’
‘Your hats are amazing. You should be charging more, not less.’
Ava gave Izz’s arm a squeeze. ‘Aw, thank you! But needs must. I do need to eat, even if I can manage without luxuries like restaurants or the gym. I get anxious every time I think how much I spent on tarpaulin, skirting cloth and display stands, all of which look likely to end up on eBay after Christmas. If another casual hadn’t offered us a lift home I’d probably have stuffed the lot in a bin. I should have listed my stock on Etsy or Notonthehighstreet and saved myself a lot of freezing disappointment.’
She gave a little skip to keep up with Izz’s long stride. ‘I hope this drinks party is worth coming out for. It’s a bit early for a Christmas do, isn’t it?’
‘PR and marketing people will be frantic for the rest of the month with clients. Anyway, three of the associates from Jermyn’s were already over here today with a new client. Oh, look, there’s Tod, going into Blaggard’s.’
Ava watched the back of their mutual bestie Tod with envy as he hopped out of a cab and into Blaggard’s Bar, safe from the December drizzle. ‘Clients on a Saturday?’
‘It’s not necessarily a Monday-to-Friday industry.’ Izz was on a short contract at the communications agency where Tod was an associate. Tod was taking his newish and bossy girlfriend, Louise, to the agency Christmas do, and so Ava had agreed to be Izz’s plus one, Izz not currently having a boyfriend or feeling sufficiently brave to go alone.
Izz’s next words illuminated why giving the event a miss had not been an option. ‘Sam says the agency Christmas bash is a cornerstone of team building, so everyone will probably be here.’
‘Ah! If Sam said it then it must be true,’ Ava teased, shooting thankfully through a midnight-blue door spangled with stars and into the happy and familiar din of Blaggard’s Bar, the rough-hewn wooden pillars incongruously strung with fairy lights and mistletoe tied with red and black ribbon.
Typically Camden, Blaggard’s was about crowds and diversity; suits mixing happily with gothic black or steampunk satin.