Long time no see! In this edition of Be My Guest On Tuesday I’m bringing TL Clark to your attention. She’s a British author with a penchant for love stories and coffee according to her bio. Today she’d like to bring your attention to her latest release, a witty tale of Self Love. If you enjoy tales of personal growth with tears of both sadness and laughter that may be a good choice for you. Self is currently available for pre-order and you can read part of Chapter 1 below.
Have you ever wondered…
What if the most important love is the one you have for yourself?
Is it possible for a shrinking violet to grow?
Molly, a bumbling thirty-something single florist with issues, certainly hopes so.
With her health, happiness, and possibly her sanity hanging in the balance, Molly must find a way to silence her inner critic, which sounds uncannily like her mother and just won’t shut up.
This is her personal-growth-whilst-shrinking story, sprinkled with toils of weight loss, dredging dates, flowering friendship and blooming self-discovery.
As Molly discovers the path to personal growth is no bed of roses, will she blossom or will she wither?
NB This book is a stand-alone.
Suitable for 18+ due to mature content
Mascara warning; may cause tears of sadness and/or laughter
Chapter 1 – The Wedding
The bride looks resplendent as she wafts down the aisle like a drifting cloud, but a stone plummets into the deep well of my stomach.
No, I’m not the bride, I’m over here. Cooee! See me waving my hand? No, back further, in the…1, 2, 3…17th row on the bride’s side.
I’m sandwiched between two very fat people. Really, I’m big myself, but I expect other fatties to have respect for one another’s parameters. Too many parts of our bodies are touching, and I’m really not comfortable with that.
Yes, here I am. Hello, my name’s Molly. Pleased to meet you. I’m sorry it’s not under better circumstances.
‘But you’re at a wedding,’ I hear you cry, ‘Surely this is a time of merriment and celebration?’ Well, not this one. Before I launch into vitriol, I’d like to point out that I’m not normally this bitter. But today’s one massive ordeal, and we’ve not even got to the vows yet.
This bridezilla really takes the biscuit. She, who also answers to the name Amelia, contacted me a mere two weeks ago to call in a favour, as her florist let her down. Those were her words. But having worked on this wedding, I think the woman in white stamped her foot once too often and the florist quite rightly decided it simply wasn’t worth it.
I’m not even sure which favour Amelia thought I owed her. It’s not like she’s ever done anything for me. We worked together when I had an office job. She thought she ruled the roost even then, despite the fact we were on the same pay grade.
Anyway, stupid gullible me felt some sort of obligation to help out an old…acquaintance. God, I can’t even bring myself to call her a friend. Why did I do this?
I’m a florist. My business is still being built up, but it’s doing OK. I suppose I hoped a big wedding like this might help promote me a bit more. Oh, that sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But really, if she was as great a friend as she insinuated, wouldn’t she have hired me from the outset?
But no, she walked into my little house, armed with her mother. Yes, my business is run from home at the moment. Amelia oozed charm and implored me to come to her aid. What was I to do? I couldn’t say no. Maybe I should’ve, but I couldn’t.
Amelia, who had at best, disregarded my presence before, managed to enlist my services at mates’ rates. Her mother glared icy daggers at me the whole time, daring me to say no. I firmly believe she was disappointed that I didn’t give her an excuse to launch into a torrent of verbal abuse.
Looking around the church I can see just how conned I was. I’m getting virtually nothing for all this work, and yet they don’t seem short of a bob or two. Nothing has been spared anywhere else. That dress alone must have a price tag in the thousands.
That’s not even the worst thing. Do you want to know the most deplorable part of this whole sorry saga? Gyp! She demanded bloody gypsophila in her bouquet. You may know it as baby’s breath. The tiny white fluffy, ridiculous flowers are nothing but fillers used by lazy florists, or ones stuck in the eighties. It’s hideous and smells like cat pee.
I had tried to keep it to a minimum in the bouquet, and hid it as much as possible, but Amelia has only gone and bloody teased it out, so it’s sticking in all directions now. This is my professional reputation here. I’m spitting feathers.
The bridal bouquet contains as many peonies as my limited budget would allow, along with some hydrangeas, sweet peas, and roses; all in white. All designed to disguise the appearance and smell of the gyp.
The bridesmaids’ bouquets have the addition of dusky pink roses for a subtle splash of colour and a touch of elegance. I actually managed to convince Bridezilla that gyp should be in her flowers only, as it would emphasise hers as the important one.
Phew, I’m a sweltering mess here. I daren’t look, but suspect there are pit stains on my dress. My hair is clinging to my face. I tried to sweep my long red hair up into a chignon, but strands have escaped already. It can’t be a good look.
Today is astonishingly hot. Who would have thought that Wiltshire in good old England could produce this on a June day? Maybe Amelia’s parents paid someone so the sun shone down on their precious daughter? Oh now, that really is too bitchy. I apologise. I’m hot, tired and grumpy.
A piece of toast and a cup of coffee has been the gross sum of my fuel as I dashed around like the proverbial fly. It’s beyond lunchtime, and hunger is making itself known with embarrassingly loud moans and groans. My arm is pressed against my stomach in an attempt to hush it.
Oh hang on, we’re rising to our feet like good parishioners to sing a wholesome hymn. What a joke. I doubt Amelia’s been in a church since she was christened. If you’re not religious you shouldn’t get married in a church. It just seems rude, doesn’t it?
My mouth silently opens and closes like I’m some sort of fish. My singing tends to hurt people’s ears, and I find hymns particularly challenging. Why are they all written in an odd key, which seems more suited to dolphins? I’m miming out of respect and compassion for the people around to me, who clearly don’t share my good manners.
I really hope there’s canapés upon arrival at the reception. Passing out seems increasingly likely in this heat if I don’t manage to eat something soon.
Pardon? Oh, why am I attending the wedding? Well, obviously I wouldn’t usually. But Amelia claimed acquaintance, and begrudgingly offered. She thought she was being polite, fulfilling the social obligation in return for putting someone out. But she had drilled my prices down so much, and raised my hackles to such high levels that I actually accepted.
To my shame, I’m here for the free food. I wanted to get some sort of return on my investment. And yes, I thought I may hand out some business cards too. Does this make me a bad person? Don’t answer that. I’m really not coming across well here.
I’ll be honest. I’m also hurting for other reasons. A plus one was supposed to be accompanying me today, but Nigel the wanker dumped me yesterday. Who does that? He actually dumped me the day before we were supposed to attend a wedding. What a cock!
So, my eyes are all red and puffy after I sobbed my heart out yesterday, whilst trying to create flower arrangements for happy brides. I’m sure that’s not a good omen for the couples today. Having ‘jilted person tears’ on their flowers can’t be good, can it? I really hope I haven’t unwittingly cursed them.
Nigel and I had been dating for a few months, and I thought it was going well. He was certainly coming round to my little house quite frequently. My house used to belong to my grandmother, by the way. I’m the only grandchild, and as my parents already have a house she left hers to me in her will. I really miss her, and would happily swap my house for her return.
Oh, now I’m sad about my grandmother and my breakup. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, quick…summer meadows, bees, butterflies. Lalala.
My body is getting squished and jostled as we all try to take our seats again. The happy couple are certainly popular. The church is bursting with people. It’s not a big church, but it’s still impressively full. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was a society wedding. It’s very fancy, and the guests all seem well-heeled. Apart from me, obviously.
Amelia really does look beautiful; the perfect bride. The long flowing gown, complete with lace detail which compliments her alabaster skin. Her long blonde hair is perfectly quaffed and supports her cathedral length veil effortlessly. Her train drapes behind her like a silky cascade as she turns to her equally beautiful almost-husband.
He looks like he was on the rowing team. He is incredibly tall, well-built and has the tan and blond hair that you can only get by being outside a lot. Perhaps he’s a sailor? Owns his own yacht, or something.
What a gorgeous young pair they make, still in their twenties, in the prime of life. Their children will be beautiful too. And they’ll all live happily ever after in the perfect house. A happy sigh escapes my mouth as I dream of their happy future. See, I can be nice.
I have to confess I’m more than a little jealous. They’ve got it all made. They’re there. They’ve won at the game of life. Me? I’m all alone again, back to square one. I must’ve landed on a snake whilst they rolled a six and landed on a ladder. It’s not their fault. I don’t blame them. Of course I don’t. I just wish it was me standing at that altar.
Each year seems to be flying past at breakneck speed. Thirty-four has crept up on me by stealth. How am I not married yet? Most of my old friends are, and have children too. I say old friends, as they seem to drift off once they give birth. I suppose there’s a camaraderie between new mums. They seek each other out, desperate to find someone else who is struggling to cope with motherhood. It makes sense.
Aww, they’re saying their “I do’s”. Tears prick the corners of my eyes as the couple gaze at each other lovingly.
“I, Amelia Wilson, take thee Richard Tomkinson to be my lawful wedded husband,” she parrots the priest.
Priest? Vicar? I don’t know. I told you I’m not religious. Anyway, the bloke in robes standing up the front is saying words and she’s repeating them. It’s very traditional and very sweet.
The choir bursts into action again as the important people gather round to sign the register. The singers are really very good, and their melody is softly hypnotic. My tension may actually be being soothed. My shoulders are starting to shrink away from my earlobes.
As others begin to crowd round the newlyweds with their cameras and phones, I take the opportunity to stroll towards the door.
“Are you alright?” a rather lovely usher asks me.
“Oh, I’m fine. Just getting a bit of fresh air.”
“It is a bit stifling, isn’t it? Mind if I join you?”
“It’s a free country.” Honestly, I’m smiling as I say this. I’m being cheeky, not rude.
We stroll through the arched door and into blazing, bright sunlight. The usher leads the way to a lovely bit of shade under a large tree.
“Mind if I smoke?” he asks.
“Not if you throw one my way,” I reply, rather saucily.
What? I’ve had a very stressful day.
I’m liking this chap. He may be a little young for me, but he’s quite pleasing on the eye and has lovely manners. He’s poked a cigarette out of the packet, and freely offers it up.
Oh, my heart skips a beat as he leans in to light it for me. I get just enough time to inhale his fresh, clean smell before the lit cigarette’s smoke takes over. I hope to hell that my body odour didn’t reach his nose in exchange.
Our gazes do not lock, the choir inside cannot be heard from here and so they do not serenade us. He’s average height, dark hair, nice looking and slightly tubby, but still miles out of my league. He’s simply being nice, humouring me.
My back leans against the tree trunk as I inhale deeply and puff out smoke, like the dragon I am. Well, I am a fiery redhead.
“I’m Luke by the way,” the usher says on an exhale, interrupting the silence I was enjoying.
“Hi. I’m Molly. Thanks for this. I needed it after my morning.”
“It’s been a busy day.”
“It really has. I’ve been rushing around like the proverbial fly. I apologise if I look a complete state.”
My rather dull conversation is interrupted by the church organ piping up.
“Oops, duty calls,” Luke half apologises, as he walks briskly back inside.
I’m quite happy to remain under this tree. It’s cooler, and I can still see the bride as she comes out. It’s not like she wants me spoiling her photos anyway. They’re all posing in groups outside the picturesque church.
Nobody bothers me. I doubt they even notice. They’re all preoccupied with jostling into family units and smiling for the camera. It’s organised chaos, but Amelia is smiling like a cat who’s got the cream. I suppose she has.
It’s such a happy scene. There’s elbow nudging, people rushing round, the photographer shouting orders, and it’s all wrapped up in laughter. Just as a wedding should be.
Sneaking across to my van, I make my getaway, wanting to check on the table arrangements before everyone arrives at the reception.
About the Author
She writes about different kinds of love in the hope that she‘ll uncover its mysteries.
Her loving husband (and very spoiled cat) have proven to her that true love really does exist.
If you would like to follow TL or just drop in for a chat online, you can do so here:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/tl.clark.775
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/tlclarkauthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/TLClarkAuthor
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7359253.T_L_Clark
Blog – http://tlclarkauthor.blogspot.co.uk/
Sign up to her newsletter here http://eepurl.com/dgVspj