ROME AGAIN – the sequel to ROME ALONE is due to be published on Amazon Kindle in December and the story will take homemaker Bee and Dr Neil McCarthy back to the Eternal City for another long weekend.
ROME ALONE is available to download FREE at Kindle Unlimited and charts a darkly humorous long weekend in Rome, as Bee and Dr McCarthy flee marital discord and heartache.
Bee suspects that her City trader husband Max is having an affair and her marriage is on the rocks – while newly-divorced Dr McCarthy fears for his sanity out of the safe confines of his laboratory, after a traumatic break up with his wife. To Bee and Dr McCarthy, nothing is quite what it seems – or is it?
ROME ALONE has a five-star review on Amazon – as well as a two-star review.
“This is a scorcher. Funny, poignant, steamy, un-putdownable.”
“I love Rome and hoped to find a nice story to read on the cold autumn evenings… very simply written, with naive language and plot, very predictable story. I just couldn’t believe in these characters – couldn’t imagine a scientist behaving like that and all his trousers being constantly dirty…All the main characters of course have a lot of money… Nothing original in this story.”
ROME ALONE was one of 100 winners in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’s New Novel Centenary Award.
Warning: Adult content and themes which some readers might find upsetting.
Features scenes of a sexual nature, suspicious frontal lobe brain activity, some long words, shopping, sightseeing, heartbreak and amore.
“McCarthy, is that you?”
Dr McCarthy swung round to find himself facing his arch nemesis, Professor Sir Nigel Ponsonby-Standen, his former supervising tutor – who had, at every turn, blocked his way along the career path. Sir Nigel stood with a tall, willowy, Italian girl, whom Dr McCarthy took to be his latest assistant. Sir Nigel and his sidekick were fast approaching across the concourse. Dr McCarthy noticed the girl was carrying a designer carrier bag and hanging adoringly onto Sir Nigel’s tweedy arm.
“Fancy seeing you here, McCarthy,” said Sir Nigel, surveying the wreck of the man standing before him. He cast his eye over Dr McCarthy’s bright blue cagoule (now with a small tear in the back, which Dr McCarthy had failed to notice); he eyeballed the safety pin holding up Dr McCarthy’s trousers, detected the tomato sauce stain, plus the water marks down each leg, which his excellent contact lenses had picked out, as he surveyed Dr McCarthy from short range before assaulting him with his greeting. Sir Nigel also noted the crumpled, sweat-scented shirt and air of damp and mildew – the sign of a divorced man forced to do his own washing if ever there was. He observed Dr McCarthy’s sunburned nose and forehead – and inhaled the smell of cooked eggs gone rancid in the fabric.
“Well, well, well. Have you been to l’Istituto?” Sir Nigel enquired, forking the Italian vowels round his mandibles as if chewing olives and preparing to spit out the stones.
“No, I have not been to l’Istituto,” replied Dr McCarthy, annoyed at this social interruption by the man he considered his arch enemy in the sphere of scientific medical research. “I have been on holiday.”
“How splendid,” commented Sir Nigel. “And what did you get up to on holiday?” he insinuated, as if he did not believe Dr McCarthy capable of being “on holiday”.
“Oh, you know,” replied Dr McCarthy, casually and feeling a little bullish. “Saw a church, had a pizza, got laid. How about you?”
Thinking about her father that morning had affected her deeply. She sat on the bed staring at the photo she had been given in her mother’s kitchen – a photo of a man she could not remember and would never see again, but who had held her in his arms, had cradled her, sung to her, fed her and changed her nappy. She wondered if she had come to Rome to run away from Max – or to find Finbar, the father she had never known and would never know. Rome was, after all, the place where she had started her life – where she had begun to grow into being in a cheap room in a cheap pensione some time during one hot summer. Rome was the city Bee had been created in and it was a part of her history she could no longer avoid.
Suddenly Max faded from view, and her father came clearly into focus. She stroked the thick, curly hair at his temples, and traced his eyebrows. Tears suddenly began to fall – she moved the photo out of reach of them. She had many copies it now – scanned, saved and committed to a disc, uploaded to her phone. But she would never hold him or speak to him or hear him sing or feel his touch. All she could do was trace the features of his face, with an expression so much like her own. Was it any wonder she was beginning to look backwards in a city that had helped create her and that was so unfalteringly made from the past? There was no going forwards in Rome – everything reeked of the ancient, was time-blown by all that had gone before like a thick piece of glass turned ochre with age.
ROME ALONE is available free at Kindle Unlimited or £1.99 to download.
Bee turned and smiled – but she realised suddenly that she was being dragged down the Via Sistina by Paola and away from the chance of spending the night with an attractive man who was divorced and possessed evening dress.
“Not all men in Rome are like that,” said Paola crossly, as they tripped their way down the steep Via Sistina.
“He was on the plane,” replied Bee, feeling irritated, but aware that annoying her landlady might not be the best idea.
“They come here for a bit of fun,” said Paola. “That’s all. Wives and children and grandchildren at home.”
I would like a bit of fun, thought Bee, as they approached the dark archway of the apartments. I would so like a bit of fun.
I cannot get lost, Dr McCarthy was telling himself. This is Rome – all the streets are at right angles. I shall simply find my way back eventually – or find a taxi somewhere.
In his eagerness to escape Verity, Dr McCarthy had blindly set out into the night, intending to reach the Via del Corso and simply turn up another street back towards his hotel. However, the darkness, the streetlights, the crowds and the traffic had set him off on another path altogether and he was now lost in a myriad of winding backstreets. He remembered seeing the giant pylon of the Piazza Colonna in the distance, but he seemed to be heading for the Piazza Navona, where tourists and locals were congregating. In truth, it was rather exciting to be out and about in Rome by himself and free from the cloying Dr Gazzwell. Had he not been addressing the conference the next day, he might have strayed into a bar, sat down, ordered a Scotch and let Fate take a hand in the proceedings. Now he was edging his way down a dark alley – seemingly quite alone – and was feeling that his expedition might be going the same way as the Ninth Legion, missing, presumed done for, somewhere along Hadrian’s Wall. The ground ahead was uncertain, the streets were falling silent, the lamplight barely reflected off the dark cobbles underfoot. Shadowy figures passed by at the end of the street, he had rubbed against scaffolding holding up an ancient church, a cat spat at him from a stone windowsill, an old woman glared at him through the window. I am well and truly lost in Rome, thought Dr McCarthy. He had passed a small rotunda and was relieved to see a row of Vespa scooters, signalling human life was still in evidence. He walked towards what he thought were lights, only to find an empty church with the moon dancing off the black windowpanes. A dog had barked behind a fragile wooden door, disembodied voices rang out from distant streets, but Dr McCarthy could not reach them. Slowly, he was beginning to panic. It was too dark to read the street signs – and most of them were too high on the walls or buildings to be read. In desperation, he turned and decided to trace his steps back. It was then a firm arm grabbed him and he was flung against a strong chest. The impact almost knocked the stuffing out of him as he saw two inky eyes gazing at him and felt a tight grip on his upper arms.
“Ti abbraccio,” said a man’s voice, husky in the darkness.
Oh dear, thought Dr McCarthy. I did wish for dark crevices and gullies – and Fate, it seems, has led me to them.
ROME AGAIN will be published on Amazon Kindle in December. Look out for a special free download offer on publication.