One week from today folks it’s Christmas day. Obligatory mayhem will ensue as presents are exchanged, family and friends visit and everyone will, no doubt, make merry with far too much drinking and eating.

As a special Christmas treat I have reduced the purchase price of my debut novel, 183 Times A Year on Amazon to **£1.99**  – for a limited time only!

Click here to buy the book.  

And as an extra special treat, you can read Chapter 28 of my book just to get you (if you’re not already!) in that festive, family mood!

Chapter 28



I scan our living room and take in the mass of bodies that are now very quiet but up until an hour ago were as riotous and strident as any football or rugby match. Such is the eclectic gathering of our family Christmas dinner.

Has it been stressful?


Am I exhausted?

Abso bloody lutely.

Is it worth it?

Without a doubt.

Life is so hectic—Christmas is the one time of the year that forces us to remember each other for a while; even if it just to remind us, in some instances, seeing each other once a year is enough.

Some of the bodies that made up the Christmas jamboree have disappeared for one reason or another and the sounds now filling the room with the remaining few are not silence but contented exhaustion. Dad and Uncle Teddy are almost mirror images of each other. Sat on one of the two cat clawed sofas, legs outstretched displaying compulsory Christmas socks and hands locked across full stomach’s—as if guarding an item of superlative and priceless value—sit with their Christmas cracker paper hat covered heads, leant back, eyes closed and open mouthed as if catching flies.

Connor, still going, is ensconced in one of the four corners of the room with Summer. His laptop perches precisely on crossed legs and he is clearly in his element, beating his younger cousin at one or other of his many amusing computer games. Mum, with one eye closed, the other focussed on the flickering images of the TV nods—mostly out of politeness—to the muffled ramblings of Aunt Marie sat next to her.

Sean is sat outside the living room via the patio door leading to the garden. He has pulled up an old plastic garden chair that has seen better days and, with his back to us, is smoking, a cigarette—I hope? Maisy has joined him and is—I’m pretty convinced—smoking too.

Simon, sprawled across the floor, is talking to his cousin, Mike. Andy would have been with them—if he were here. Their heads are lent against fully occupied sofas, sipping whiskey and talking inebriated bullshit. I feel sad that Andy isn’t here. Every now and then Simon looks up at me, and smiles. I smile back at my lovely man. The only people missing are Ruby and Andy. I miss them both dreadfully but seeing them is not an option. I feel lost without Ruby in my life, like I’ve lost a sister—except a sister wouldn’t betray and hurt me like Ruby did. I still can’t quite believe what she did. I wake up some mornings thinking it was all a bad dream—which it is in a way. I haven’t told Simon why I’m not talking to Ruby—he just thinks we’ve had a bit of a falling out and we’ll make it up. We won’t though—how can I?

Ruby did try to contact me—bombarded me with messages via phone and every form of social media known to man, woman and child, for a couple of weeks, imploring me to speak to her; to let her explain. I wanted to—at times—but when I remembered what she told me, what she’d done, I couldn’t—I just couldn’t. I can’t see her because—I can’t forgive her. I’ve tried—really tried—to find forgiveness in my heart but I can’t.

Cassie, who, surprisingly out of choice, is sat next to me on our other cat ravaged sofa, is both equally engrossed in the film (Love Actually—one of our favourites) I am half watching and her phone. She stares intently at the TV, smiling or frowning depending on what particular emotion is evoked with each scene but her viewing is constantly interrupted throughout. A continuous stream of various dinging, ringing, swishing, swooshing and tweeting sounds emanate from the small device that is as much a physical part of her as her hand itself.

Cassie doesn’t know I am but I’m watching her. Quietly laughing to myself as she holds her phone out in front of her—at arms length—pulling several strange faces, using her free hand to bouffant the back of her hair. She tilts her head to one side and puckering her lips—the most worked out muscle in Cassie’s entire body, Simon says—takes yet another selfie. One of several million I assume.

I’m slightly drunk, but happy—ish. It hasn’t been a particularly easy year, financially and otherwise but, whether it’s through blood or friendship, I’m very rich in the love that surrounds me tonight. As if on cue Hugh Grant’s voice reminds me—like the song—that Love Is All Around. Cassie and I look at each other and laugh realising we’ve both said the words out loud and in unison.

‘Mu-m,’ Cassie says.

‘Yes Cassie?’

‘Well—I just wanted to say—thanks.’

‘For what?’



Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! Love Eva x





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