To overcome intolerance, she’ll have to stay true to her history―and her heart.
Brittany spends her days fearing arrest from the humanz , who have banned the word dwarfs to describe themselves, and the IMPACT police force for something that seems like it shouldn’t matter: she’s too tall. On the planet of Sympia, Talls are discriminated against. When one day the IMPACT surrounds her building, Brittany’s only hope is to escape with another Sympian species, the spherical little silfs with the ability to fly. The only escape route is up a chimney to the roof of their ancient building.
In Infinity Drive Missions, all our old friends are back including Brittany, Zane and the little silf Pepper, as well as their galaxy cruiser Strabo.
Brittany and her companions find themselves stranded on Fortitude, a spaceship orbiting their planet. After a mysterious start, they discover that the computer voices coming from the onboard computers are live beings. Yuri is a human trying to rescue his partner Darial from a closed planet. She is a pilot officer on a shuttlecraft that crash-lands on the planet and cannot leave.
Four humans find themselves in a village without knowledge of where they come from or who they are. Memories of a war and a different life flash into their minds that are unrelated to their lives … that is until they meet a farmer who isn’t even human.
A bombed out city is on the other side of the hills is reached though a railway tunnel. However, the city was destroyed a millennium before.
Nicole Turner resigns from her associate principal’s position at an intermediate school in Auckland, New Zealand to start a new career. She loves the early morning baking at Coffee & Chat, her coffee shop where her new life is in complete contrast to the stress of the position she left. One stormy winter morning she meets Rhett Fleming, a local lawyer who drops in for a coffee. Friendship soon grows into romance when they find they have much in common. However, two vindictive women and competitors cause problems and danger to their lives.
Ellie Parkes and Wyatt Sigley meet when he rescues her from the ocean at the remote Greystone Beach on the southeastern coast of Wairarapa, a district in New Zealand’s North Island in a ferocious southern storm. However, due to a collapsed bridge over a flooded river that also wrecks her car, Ellie agrees to stay at Wyatt’s homestead until she can get out.
Lawyers, Alina and Jarin meet while on a white water rafting trip. They survive being tossed from a raft and over a waterfall and manage to reach a bush hut just before a storm arrives. Silverstone Law where Alina works has a devious hidden agenda and corrupt leaders. Jarin, is the owner of a small law firm with mainly family law clients.
The Other Mrs Hayes
The story of two women who need to cope when it is revealed that they both have the same bigamist husband. How does Brendon Hayes’ dishonesty and possibly criminal behaviour led to Stacey and Jessica being placed in a dangerous situation?
N.B. The four excerpts from Coffee & Chat are not in the story-line order.
After another long and busy day, Nicole was helping out in the the main Coffee & Chat shop when she answered her mobile. It was an unexpected call from Dustin Harris, chairperson of Conway Intermediate School.
“Hi Dustin,” she said. “Yes, I know I was going to give you my formal resignation from the associate principal’s position by the end of the year but can do it earlier if you wish. I suppose you want to have the permanent position filled by the beginning of next year.”
“Anything but,” Dustin replied. “In fact, I’m calling about almost the opposite reason.”
Nicole frowned. “No, I don’t want to return to my position there.”
Duncan gave a small chuckle. “Your original opinion proved to be right.”
“And that was?”
“At the beginning of the year you said you didn’t think Danielle Plier was suitable to run a city intermediate school. That has proved correct.”
“Did I? So much has happened to me this year, I’ve almost forgotten about her.”
“It’s been a tough year here and the school has really crumbled under her leadership. There is too much to mention now but I can tell you the climax.”
“She applied for and was appointed as the principal of a country school and will begin there in February next year. It’s actually a demotion but her excuse is that she wishes to be nearer her elderly mother.”
“Interesting but why tell me at this time. It’s still November with four weeks to go before schools close for the Christmas holidays.”
“There’s more. She told us this at our Board of Trustees last night and has applied for stress leave immediately in lieu of her resignation from the end of January.”
“So Roger as deputy principal takes over. What’s the problem?”
“He’s retiring at the end of the year and really isn’t suitable.”
“I see, so all the senior positions will be advertised at once, which must look bad for any suitable applicant. You don’t want me to permanently resign now so the newly appointed principal and DP can get establish first next year?”
“Wrong!” came back Dustin’s blunt voice. “We want you to come back next week as Acting Principal until the end of the year.”
“Can you come to a special meeting of our Board of Trustee’s this evening? There, we’ll bring you up to date on the confidential situation and why we need you at the helm.”
Nicole mind was in a whirl.
“Are you still there, Nicole?” Dustin asked.
“Oh yes, sorry about the hesitation. It’s just a bit of a shock, that’s all. I’ve got my business to run, you know.”
“I’ve heard that it’s proving to be very successful but you can delegate. Didn’t you also say that was something that Danielle Plier wasn’t prepared to do?”
“Possibly.” Nicole retorted. “Okay I’ll come to your meeting but promise nothing. Can I bring Rhett to represent me?”
“Yes, he’ll be welcome. Danielle Plier won’t be there but she has a lawyer coming to represent her interests. He will have no say in any offer we make to you and will really be there just to see that her name is not defamed.”
“Sounds like her,” Nicole muttered. “But isn’t Monday somewhat rushed?”
“The sooner the impasse is settled, the better. It’s delicate and we don’t wish to make matters worse by refusing her application for medical leave.”
“You’ve certainly given me something to think about, Dustin. Usual time and place for the meeting, I guess.”
“A bit earlier. Would six be too early?”
“It should be okay but I’ll need to talk to Rhett about your offer. Thanks for the call.”
She clicked off and immediately called Rhett to tell him the news.
When Nicole arrived at the BOT meeting at Conway Intermediate School she realised that she knew most but not all the members. They greeted her warmly and it wasn’t long before she had an outline of what was happening at the school. In her opinion it was a sad list with not only the technology section but just about everything else at the school affected. There was also a list of requests from Danielle Plier that the board had rejected such as the request to stop using school bells. This showed that the principal had not managed to get her own way about everything.
When invited, she stood and faced the others, thanked them for inviting her and continued with a question. “So why has she banned Christmas decorations next month?” she asked.
Anna Jared, a senior teacher and staff representative on the board, replied. “She stated that it was wrong to expect students of different cultures to participate in western society beliefs.”
“I see,” Nicole replied and turned to face Dustin. “If I accept this acting principal position, can I change any practices the school now has or do I merely guide the school as well as I can until the end of the year?”
“In this case of a Christmas ban on decorations what would you suggest?” Dustin replied.
“Part of the thrill of school life as I remember it and I might add, that of this school had under the previous principal, was the fun and excitement of this time of the year. We had Christmas trees and decorations everywhere. I would reinstate this and also allow other celebrations to be included.” Nicole stopped talking, glanced around the room and flushed. Everyone’s eyes were on her! “Sorry, I guess I waffled on a little.”
Everyone broke into applause, which embarrassed her more. With her face burning she grinned slightly and sat down.
Unanimously, the BOT agreed to let Danielle Plier take medical leave for the remainder of the school year and to accept her resignation from the end of January. They also agreed that Nicole could make any changes she considered necessary to help the school if she was appointed as acting principal and to offer her the position starting from the following Monday. This would continue throughout the Christmas vacation or until a new principal was elected in term one of the following year.
“We apologise for the restricted time frame, Nicole but do you accept this appointment?” Dustin asked
She glanced up at Rhett who gave a slight nod.
“I may need massive help from this board,” she said.
“It will provided,” Dustin said.
“In that case I accept,” she said and again the room erupted into applause.
“How do I look?” Nicole asked Rhett after she stepped out of the bedroom dressed in a modest summer dress and sun hat for the springtime November days were becoming quite hot.
He grinned. “What, no formal suit, high heels and your hair pulled up into a bun?” he asked.
“I am not Danielle Plier,” she retorted. “One of the first things I am going to do is to cancel the staff dressing code of formal attire even on hot days.”
Having received the keys from Dustin, she arrived at the school at seven-thirty after that extra hour of free time in the morning, to find the caretaker, someone she had not met, unlocking the premises.
“Can I help you, Lady?” he asked after he waited by the front door. “I am afraid no other staff are here, yet.”
Nicole held out her hand. “You must be Warner, our caretaker. I’m Nicole the new principal for a while.”
Warner gulped. “The new principal!” he gasped. “Here already. I expected…” He wiped a hand over his chin. “Well someone different. You look so… err… ordinary, not a big boss.”
Nicole chucked. “And what did you expect, Warner?”
“Someone older and in a business suit, Miss Turner,” he spluttered.
“Call me Nicole.”
Warner grinned. “I know you used to teach here, Nicole but let me show you around.”
“That’s okay,” she replied. “Just unlock the office for now and perhaps boil the kettle in the staffroom. Dustin will be here at eight for he called an early meeting to introduce me to the staff. Except for the new teachers, I know most of them anyway.”
An hour and a half later, Roger the deputy principal introduced her to the six hundred students seated in the school assembly hall. It was a tight squeeze with thirty or so sitting on the carpet before those on seats. Three board members and senior staff sat along from her on the stage while the other teachers stood along the walls near their classes.
“‘Many of you who were here last year will know me so I am not a complete stranger,” she began in her reply after being welcomed. “I know it has been a hard year for you all but with your help we can have an enjoyable last month of the academic year. There will be some changes, of course, but it is really up to you to help us all pull together.” She smiled. “Oh yes, I almost forgot to tell you, our Board of Trustees have accepted an offer from a local forestry company to provide us with Christmas trees for every classroom. We’re going to have a small contest to see what room can have the best decorated Christmas tree and classroom. This contest will start as soon as the trees arrive tomorrow.”
Applause broke out throughout the hall.
“There is one other thing that will affect half of you,” she continued. “The Board have approved to alter the girls’ summer uniform. As soon as they arrive at school or local clothing stores, your parents or caregivers will be able to buy shorts for you to wear. You will have a choice of these or the traditional skirts.”
Applause followed. When the clapping subsided a cheeky male voice called out “What about the boys?”
Nicole smiled. “Of course boys will be allowed to wear skirts if they wish,” she responded.
Laughter erupted everywhere. She glanced across at Dustin who gave her a thumbs up sign. This was a good beginning for her arrival.
Nicole’s mobile buzzed. She frowned for who would be calling at this hour?
“Hello, Nicole Turner speaking.”
“This is Paul Stanton speaking, manager of the supermarket. Sorry about this early call but I know you arrive early and want to let you know what’s happened at Coffee & Chat before the police contact you.”
Nicole knew the manager but had had little to do with him. She frowned and pressed the speaker button so Rhett could hear the conversation. “Go on, Mr Stanton,” she said.
“Your shop has been vandalised with the front windows broken and graffiti sprayed across the outer walls and footpath. The police and fire brigade are here at the moment.”
“Just my shop?” Nicole gasped.
“It appears so, though the Indian restaurant next door also had windows broken. The stores further along weren’t affected nor was the supermarket itself.”
“Thank you for calling. I’ll come straight away.” She rung off and stared at Rhett with quivering lips and told him the bad news. “I’d better go.”
“I’m coming too,” Rhett said.
They arrived a few moments later to find two police cars and a fire engine in the carpark outside Coffee & Chat. When a police officer allowed them through a taped off area after Nicole said who she was, they parked and ran forward to see how bad the damage was.
A police constable came across and introduced herself as June. “The interior has some damage from glass fragments and some graffiti but does not seem too bad,” she said. “After you have looked around would you mind if I take a statement from you both?”
“Not at all,” Nicole gasped.
Several fire-fighters were sweeping up glass off the footpath and a high-pressure hose was washing down the footpath. However, the words Bitches, Whores and other graffiti in green paint were still visible.
“We’ll get it all off, Ma’am,” a sympathetic fireman said. “The paint is barely dry so comes off easily.”
Nicole stared around as she inspected the interior. As well as the broken window glass across the floor, several tables and chairs were flipped over and everything on the counter lay scattered across the floor. Luckily, her usual precaution of locking the door out into the service area and ovens remained locked and it had not been entered.
“Oh Rhett,” she sobbed. “It must have been Shelby.”
“It appears so,” Rhett replied and turned to June who was waiting nearby. “We think we may know who did it. Can we make those statements now?”
By seven, the windows had been covered in wooden seven-ply sheets, a sign Temporarily Closed sign showed and the fire brigade had gone, as had all except one police car. Chantal had arrived at her usual time and insisted on making up the school lunches while Nicole straightened out the table and chairs.
“Just leave them,” Rhett said as he tucked his arms around her.
“I have to do something,” Nicole sobbed inconsolably. “What have we done to deserve this?”
“Just don’t let her get to us. I’m sure she’ll calm down and regret what she did.”
“And try something else to push us apart.”
“She will succeed only if we let her. You’re a talented strong woman and I actually think this may help Coffee & Chat?”
“Not at the moment.” Nicole wiped away her tears and used the vacuum cleaner to suck away tiny fragments of glass.
By eleven, glaziers had replaced the broken windows for both shops and a sign went up proclaiming that Coffee & Chat was open. By noon every table was full and customers queued out the door. Rhett stayed and helped serve the sympathetic customers and Paul Stanton sent two of the supermarket workers across with baking supplies from their own bakery.
“There will he no cost to you, Nicole,” he said when he came across later. “It’ll all be covered in our insurance that extends to our shops on the property.”
With only a week to Christmas, all Coffee & Chat shops were busy. Even with Lois, Gretel and herself cooking from before the six in the morning sunrise they had to buy in extra food. The supermarket bakery provided this at a reasonable price in an agreement that used many of their own recipes for sale in their food section.
Nicole drove Gretel’s van loaded with food over to the kiosk at Takapuna Beach on the two days Chanel had off during the mid-week. She arrived in the dawn light with the promise of another hot sunny day. She left the food ready for when the kiosk opened in a couple of hours and took her usual walk along the beach before the crowds arrived.
In denim shorts and white top, she strolled down the vehicle ramp onto the beach itself. It was close to high tide with tiny surf lapping between her toes and there was hardly anyone around. Thoughts about how everything was turning out so well filtered through her mind as she glanced across at Rangitoto Island.
A roar ahead made her look up. An SUV was roaring in her direction. They shouldn’t even be on the beach at high tide! Water spun up from the wheels on its right side and the expected turn back towards the sand didn’t eventuate. In fact, the vehicle moved further into the surf, not away from it!
It was heading straight towards her!
As in all emergencies, thoughts ran faster than her movements. She knew that she was targeted and somebody wanted to hit her! Also the driver would expect her to attempt to run across the sand towards nearby trees.
Without hesitation she ran directly in the opposite direction, straight into the surf.
The vehicle was there and the driver had actually turned landward in anticipation of her going that way. She couldn’t see the driver but saw hands on the steering wheel a second before it sideswiped her. She felt a violent bump and found herself propelled sideways.
As well as the engine roar she heard a cracking sound, agonising pain shot through right arm, followed by a burning sensation as sand scrapped across her bare legs.
She attempted to get up but her right arm refused to function. Any attempt to move it resulted in excruciating pain. She flopped back and found that the quite cold water that saturated her actually helped for she remained conscious and managed to use her good side to stagger up and plunge further out into the surf. It was now up to her waist and hindering her. She stopped, turned around and saw the SUV attempting to turn around with water showering up from every tyre.
But everything became a blur. She toppled sideways; her damaged side now felt like being thrust by a red of poker and water covered her face. She coughed but managed to keep her head above the foam. When the spinning stopped, her vision returned to normal and she saw that SUV was now attempting to get to higher ground. Sand now spun up from the tyres on the landward side. It shuddered, the howling engine became quieter as the vehicle went out of the surf but would it attempt to reach her?
Moments later, Nicole crawled out beyond the surf, drenched and shivering and collapsed on dry sand. If the vehicle was gone she would he safe but had it?
Floyd grinned for as far as he knew Shelby hadn’t found out he’d cleaned out her account. However, he must move on. He’d had survived the last twenty years by knowing when to leave the women, there was usually more than one, for he did have an appetite for sex-starved women. The name he had chosen had come from a deceased person who would be about his own age had he lived. Just making up a name had drawbacks with modern technology soon tracing names with no background.
New Zealand had the advantage in that births and tax returns were not linked with deaths. The real Floyd Willis had died from a heart attack and not as the result of an accident. Again, accidents resulted in news media accounts that could be traced back easily, whereas death from so-called natural causes were usually unreported.
The doorbell chirped. He frowned for he was not expecting anyone, shrugged and ambled over to the door. He recognised the woman standing there looking quite wet in a long raincoat for it was raining outside. But how did she find his address? He hid his annoyance and turned on the charm.
“Oh hi Sweetheart,” he said. “Come on in out of the rain. I was about to call you but with all the staff off work, well you know how it is?”
“Bastard!” she spat, “Thought you’d get away with it, didn’t you?” She reached across with her right hand beneath her raincoat held out by her left hand. Oh hell she had a shotgun there!
Within seconds it was aimed directly at him. She was still a few metres away and out of reach. Her expression showed a grim determination that made him hesitate. Somehow, he knew that if he attempted to rush her, it wouldn’t work. Her hands were steady and a finger was across both triggers.
He moved his hands wide and attempted to talk his way out while frantically working on a plan to overwhelm her. If she forced him to go inside he could perhaps use his feet to trip her up. Even if she pressed the triggers, the chances were that the shots would miss him. She was quite petite and all he needed to do was to grab one arm.
“Just take it easy, Sweetheart,” he said. “It’s not what it seems and I can explain everything…”
“No Floyd or whatever your real name is.Your time of ripping off women is about to end.”
She was grim and again he noticed that the shotgun aimed at him was as steady as a rock.
His coolness disappeared!
“Don’t!” he screamed. “Just lower the shotgun and … ” He was now almost blabbering. “You were the one I loved, Sweetheart… there was nobody else..”
“Shut your mouth!” she whispered. “I know everything you fool, even about this house you conned from Elsie’s family.” She grimaced. “That was her name wasn’t it? Did you sleep with her, too, a woman thirty years older than yourself?”
A faint light of hope flickered in his mind. If he could keep her talking!
But it was too late! He saw the flash from one barrel, micro-seconds later heard the boom that was followed by excruciating pain as he was flung back through the door and landed on his back. He screamed as he clutched his shredded blood-stained shirt. It was his blood pouring out from his shirt.
He heard a second report followed by nothing…nothing at all!
“Bastard,” she said yet again.
He looked dead but that was what he deserved! She knew not to touch him with her hands but kicked him sideways with her boots so the door could be closed. It shut, she turned and walked away up, rather than down the driveway. Her escape route was planned out the back beyond the garage where a small gate led to a pedestrian lane with high wooden fences to the properties on each side. Moments later she reached her car, placed the shotgun across a canvas sheeting on the back seat and drove away.