Tuesday 19 June 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ With Or Without You by Shari Low


Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for With or Without You by Shari Low where I have an extract from Shari's latest novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Melanie Price from Head of Zeus Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this extract so without further ado, here it is:

Prologue
The Last Minute of 1999

There were sixty seconds left of the twentieth century.

Hogmanay. The biggest night of the Scottish celebratory calendar, when we eat, we sing, we dance, and we welcome in the New Year with the people we love. The music was blaring, the revellers were dancing up a storm, and glasses were being topped up with champagne, as I leant close to my husband’s ear.

‘I wish you’d had an affair,’ I said, my voice cracking. ‘It would be so much easier to do this.’
Nate, smiled, leaned in and kissed me, but not with any grand passion. That was part of the problem. We’d been together since midway through uni, and then married the year after we graduated, and since the day we’d danced up the aisle we’d had five years of contentment.

Contentment.

I hated that word. Imagine the obituary. RIP Liv Jamieson – a contented life. Worse, who wanted to be content at the age of twenty-eight? I wanted passion and excitement and maybe the odd little bit of danger, but contentment? It was like a scarf of boredom that got tighter with each passing year, until I could barely breathe.

I loved Nate, but – clich√©d as it was – I wasn’t in love with him anymore. There was no-one else, no drama, no big scandal or cataclysmic event. Just a gradual drifting apart. A disconnection. And, in a twisted demonstration of our compatibility, he had reluctantly admitted that – while he wasn’t as far along the road of acceptance as me – he knew there was something missing too.

I loved him. He loved me. It just wasn’t enough.

Nate pulled back and pushed a stray curl of my red hair back from my face. ‘An affair? What if I told you I’ve had Kylie Minogue living in the loft for the last year because we’re having a torrid fling and she can’t get enough of me?’

‘I’d say please tell her I’ll let her have you – as long as she’s willing to trade you for her entire wardrobe.’

Nate’s brown eyes creased at the side as he laughed. It was my very favourite thing about him.
We’d tried. We really had. The previous January, just a day into 1999, we’d talked, and we’d agreed to give it everything we had for a year, determined to reignite the spark between us. We’d had weekly date nights. Lazy Sunday sex. Weekend breaks to quiet country cottages and busy city hotels. A fantastic holiday to Bali where we’d taken long moonlit strolls along the sands. We’d hung out with our gang of mutual friends and we’d laughed, celebrated, partied, and discussed it long into many nights.

Yet, much as it destroyed us to admit it, we were still in that ‘best friends’ zone. My heart didn’t flutter when he entered a room. His gaze made me smile, but it didn’t make my libido throb with lust. And neither of us could shake the feeling that there was something – or someone – else out there for us.

So we’d decided to call it a day. To wish each other well, split the CD collection and move on. That makes it all sound so simple, when the truth was that a piece of my heart felt like it was being surgically removed by a jackhammer.

Nate wasn’t one hundred per cent sure. He didn’t like change. Preferred familiarity and stability to the unknown. But he said he loved me too much to make me stay in a marriage that didn’t make me happy. And if he were honest, our marriage wasn’t making him happy either, not like he should have been. I wanted more for me, for him, for both of us. 

Tonight was our last night together. It seemed apt. Fitting. The final day of the century, a chapter closing, and a whole new world out there for us to explore.  And if I kept telling myself that this was a positive move; the right thing to do, it squashed the part of me that was terrified. 
I saw his lips move again. ‘Liv, are you…?’
I missed the last bit. It got carried away on the wave of noise that suddenly engulfed the room.
Ten…

The lead singer of the band was counting down the seconds to midnight. Every year we headed to The Lomond Grange, a gorgeous stately manor hotel on the edge of Loch Lomond, about forty minutes from home, to bring in the coming year. Despite our sadness, we hadn’t wanted to bail out on the people who shared our lives, so here we were. One last hurrah. On the dance floor, our closest friends, Sasha and Justin stood next to Chloe and Rob, all of them with their champagne glasses in hand, party poppers at the ready, expressions oozing excitement, braced for the big moment.
Nine… Nine seconds until my marriage was over.

A wave of sorrow.
Eight… ‘What did you say?’ I asked him.
Seven… Seven seconds until my marriage was over.
He had to lean right into my ear so I could hear him. ‘I said are you absolutely sure?’
Six… A stomach flip of doubt. We’d discussed this to death. Yes, I was sure. Of course I was. So was he. We’d agreed.

Five… Five seconds until my marriage was over.
‘Yes. Why are you asking now?’
Four… ‘I think…’ I could feel his breath on the side of my face. ‘I think I want to give it one more try.’

Three… Three seconds until my marriage was over.
A sick feeling of panic rising to my throat.
Two… ‘But Nate, we both know it’s time to move on.’ We did. Didn’t we?
One… ‘One more try, Liv. We owe it to each other to give it more time.’
Noooooo. This wasn’t the deal. We’d tried. It hadn’t worked. We weren’t right for each other. It was time to move on, to take different paths.

A deafening cacophony of sound erupted in the room. Happy New Year. Streamers shot in the air. Bagpipes bellowed out a chorus of Auld Lang Syne to say goodbye to the past and welcome the twenty first century.

We were entering a new millennium.
But was I going to spend it with Nate…
…Or without him?


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