Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we’ve teamed up with Rachel’s Random Resources for a stop along their current promotion featuring a book about taking life by the reins and letting the world see you as you are. With a special excerpt to boot, let’s get this party started! Ladies and gents, today’s featured title and blog tour guest…
About the book…
Sometimes you have to stop trying to be like everyone else and just be yourself
Bea Stevens and Ryan O Marley are in danger of falling through the cracks of their own lives; the only difference between them is that Bea doesn’t know it yet.
When her world is shaken like a snow-globe, Bea has to do what she does best; adapt. Homeless man Ryan is the key to unlocking the mystery of her friend Declan’s disappearance but can she and Ryan trust one another enough to work together?
As the pieces of her life settle in new and unexpected places, like the first fall of snow, Bea must make a choice: does she try to salvage who she was or embrace who she might become?
Just Bea takes the reader on a heart-warming journey from the glamour of a West End store to the harsh reality of life on the streets and reminds us all that home really is where the heart is.
~~~ EXCERPT ~~~
The previous night Bea invited a homeless man Ryan to take shelter from the snow in her flat. She invited him to take a shower and help himself to her toiletries whilst she went out to buy them something for breakfast. Bea was bitterly disappointed to hear that she was passed over for promotion as she did not have the necessary people skills.
A crisp wind chafed her cheeks and nipped at her nose. Maybe it would be a white Christmas. She was going to spend it with her family in Hampshire. Then, it hit her again – a wave of disappointment. Bea had pictured herself dropping the news into conversation at the dinner table. They would have to take her seriously then. Except they wouldn’t, because she was still a sales assistant. It didn’t matter to Mum and Dad that it was Hartleys, she might as well be serving at the pick and mix counter in Woolworths, just as her mum had once predicted – although the chain had long since disappeared from the high street.
At this hour, before the snow turned into sludge, Kings Cross was magical. Ryan was right, Sal’s shelter did look like an igloo. Bea stomped across to the white dome. ‘Hello? Sal?’
There was no reply; maybe she was asleep.
A few minutes later, Bea left a tea outside the igloo and returned to the flat with a bag of sandwiches, her skinny oats, and a couple more drinks balanced in a cardboard tray. Other footprints had joined hers, maybe a size nine and smaller prints – perhaps a child’s. Paw prints too. Who were these people that flowed around her? She had never noticed before, wasn’t interested, but Declan missing had made her think. Everyone had a story. They existed alongside one another, in separate worlds.
Bea lived precariously between two spheres – Hartleys, where she thought she had created an image of normality, and her own world where she could be herself. Last night, she had fallen through the cracks. Inviting a stranger into her home wasn’t normal, she knew from her mother’s reaction when she brought home the injured cat. Hurt by her colleagues’ impression of her, maybe she had been trying to prove that she was caring. Her sense of self had been shattered and she was too weary and miserable to piece herself back together. She looked up at her flat, no longer a place of refuge, and then down at the footprints dissolving in the melting snow.
‘I’m back,’ Bea called from the front door – just in case he was naked. The money for the maintenance man was still on the table. It wasn’t much, just fifteen pounds, but it confirmed that Ryan was trustworthy.
There was no reply and then the bathroom door opened bringing with it the scent of geranium. Bea ducked her head and was relieved to see Ryan’s bare feet and denim clad legs. But when she looked up her heart bounced against her ribcage. He was different – so different that he seemed strange again and her old fears returned.
‘You said to help myself to stuff in the bathroom. I used one of your disposable razors, hope that’s okay.’ He rubbed a hand across his cheek, the exposed skin endearingly pink like peeled fruit. His hair was blond, almost golden.
‘Yes, of course.’ Bea closed her mouth. ‘I, um, bought a few things.’
‘Here.’ Ryan relieved Bea of her load and took it through to the kitchen.
‘I’ll fix your window before I go.’ Ryan sat at her kitchen table, watching Bea as she fussed around with plates. In three years, the only visitors to her flat had been her parents when she first arrived. Her heart was beating a little too fast and she was hot. Bea went to take off her jumper but stopped. It was too intimate. And having this stranger in her personal space was way too intimate.
‘No, it’s okay. The maintenance man can do it. Here.’ She pushed two packs of sandwiches across the table. ‘I didn’t know if you were a vegan or not, so I bought a meaty one and a veggie one.’ Please let him just go and then she could forget this ever happened.
‘I can’t accept these if you won’t let me pay my way. I may not have any money but I have these.’ He presented two red callused palms.
And your dignity, Bea thought. She knew how important it was to feel that you mattered. ‘Of course, I’m sorry. That’s a kind offer, thank you.’
He was waiting for something more.
‘I accept,’ Bea said and eventually he relaxed and inspected the sandwiches.
He bit into the ham one. A little bite for a big man.
About the author...
Deborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.
Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.
Just Bea is her second novel. Her debut The Borrowed Boy was published last year.
Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.
Special thanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for the chance to bring this tour to you. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, this promotion, or those on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more bookish fun!
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!