Have you ever had one of those sliding doors moments when if you hadn’t been in a certain place at a certain time your life would have turned out completely different?
I have had a few of those times in my life when serendipity/ luck/ fate/ destiny –call it what you will- have conspired to bring about circumstances that would never have occurred but for that seemingly chance moment or encounter.
Meeting a person who gave me exactly the right advice at the right moment. Making a decision that seemed insignificant and minor at the time but later turned out to be the best thing I could have done.
Have you ever had a chance encounter that literally changed your life?
What if you met the grand love of your life when you weren’t free?
My heroine Eliza Lincoln in His Final Bargain had one such chance encounter. On a short break in Italy four years ago she met Leo Valente in a bar. The tall, dark, lonely stranger captures her attention. The circle of loneliness that surrounded him was so very like her own. Trapped in a relationship she can’t get out of, the short passionate encounter with Leo was never intended to be anything other than a temporary fling before she went home to the prison of her circumstances. But on the night before she was to leave he asked her to marry him… a proposal she rejected without telling him any of the tragic details, other than she is already promised to another man …
Four years on Leo needs a nanny for his motherless daughter, and Eliza – as a highly trained and gifted Kindergarten teacher – is the only one he wants for the job.
She waited for him to speak. The silence seemed endless as he sat there quietly surveying her with that dark inscrutable gaze.
‘You’re not wearing a wedding ring,’ he said.
‘No…’ She clasped her hands together in her lap, her cheeks feeling as if she had been sitting too close to a fire.
‘But you’re still engaged.’
Eliza sought the awkward bump of the solitaire diamond with her fingers. ‘Yes… yes. I am…’
His eyes burned as they held hers, with resentment, with hatred. ‘Rather a long betrothal, is it not?’ he asked. ‘I’m surprised your fiancé is so patient.’
She thought of poor Ewan, strapped in that chair with his vacant stare, day after day, year after year, dependent on others for everything. Yes, patient was exactly what Ewan was now. ‘He seems content with the arrangement as it stands,’ she said.
A tiny muscle flickered beneath his skin in the lower quadrant of his jaw. ‘And what about you?’ he asked with a pointed look that seemed to burn right through to her backbone. ‘Are you content?’
Writing the scene when Leo finally finds out the truth about Eliza’s fiancé was heart wrenching for me. I sat at my computer with tears rolling down my face as I typed the words.
Here is just a snippet:
Leo saw her from half a block away. She was standing talking to with an older woman in her fifties outside the UCL Institute of Neurology. The older woman looked very distressed. She kept mopping at her eyes with a scrunched up tissue. Eliza was holding the hand of a gaunt young man in his late twenties who was strapped in a wheelchair, complete with breathing apparatus and a urinary catheter that was just visible under the tartan blanket that covered his thin, muscle-wasted legs.
Leo felt as if someone had thrown a ninety-pound dumb-bell straight at his chest.
I hope you enjoy my twist on the Jane Eyre theme. Eliza and Leo and little Alessandra certainly deserved their happy ending and I had great satisfaction in giving it to them.
I have a signed copy of His Final Bargain for a posted comment describing a life-changing encounter.