Welcome, welcome! Today I’m thrilled to be sharing this tantalising excerpt of A.L. Michael’s brand new book: Prosecco and Promises
Here’s the cover:
Doesn’t it look gorgeous? And now I’ll hand you over to the author herself, who will introduce the series and give you a sneak-peak at what you’ll find.
Prosecco and Promises is book two in The Martini Series. Book one, Cocktails and Dreams, was about Savvy’s journey towards living her life more fully. This book is about her best friend, Mia. Mia’s been given an impossible task – she’s been sent away at the end of her dad’s illness to get to know her Italian family.
I’ve loved writing Mia’s story – she’s fiesty and strong and brash, and everything I wish I had the strength to be. But she’s also vulnerable and needs a little support. The book is set on the island of Ischia, which is a little bit magic.
I really hope you enjoy the excerpt below!
‘Babe, I love that we’ve become friends since Savvy jetted off into the sunshine, but I do actually need to work,’ Jacques wiped the bar down, moving my elbow. My arm thunked down on the table, and I let my head rest. There had been four rum and cokes, maybe five. In very short succession.
‘Yeah, sure,’ I garbled, ‘You work. Aren’t bartenders meant to be here to listen to people’s problems?’
‘Nope, they’re meant to make people drinks.’
‘You did that part!’
Jacques raised a perfectly arched eyebrow, ‘Yes, and you’ve repaid me by being an incredibly irritating drunk.’
I pouted, fluttering my eyelashes. ‘Come on, my best friend abandoned me. You’re my only friend in the world.’
‘My sympathies,’ he snorted, ‘give me half an hour and I’ll play agony aunt. But I’ll warn you, darling, it’s bad drag.’
The time passed slowly. I pushed my dark curls over my shoulder and stared down the bar. It was a quiet Tuesday. I’d ended up spending more time at The Martini Club after my best friend Savvy left to go to cookery school in Barcelona. She used to work at the club, and I hung out there partly because I missed her, and partly because I liked having somewhere secret and beautiful to go. A retreat in the centre of the city, where there was no light, you had no concept of time, and everyone was vibrant and alive.
A shape shifted to my right and a man slipped onto the bar stool next to me. I could have guessed what he’d looked like before I even turned my head. Carefully coiffed, suit and a smirk to match.
‘Can I buy you a drink?’ Smirky face smirked, so sure of himself.
I blinked to focus on him, ‘Mate, I’m resting my head on the bar. Do I look like I need another drink?’
‘Well, uh, unless you’re a prowler pervert who wants to get done for trying to coerce a drunk lady, I suggest you slither back in the hole you came from.’
He blinked, then scowled.
‘Darn tootin’,’ I wiggled my fingers at him, ‘Buh-bye.’
Jacques came over not long after.
‘Is that coffee? God bless you!’
‘You’ve got twenty minutes. Hit me with your problems.’
‘Tomorrow I am being put on a plane to an Italian island against my will.’
‘Oh,’ he rolled his eyes, ‘poor you.’
‘Ugh, I wish Savvy was here, she’d understand.’
My best friend was the only person who was there when my dad got sick the first time. She was the one who held my hand when I cried over chemo treatments and sat drinking with me when I didn’t want to sleep incase there was bad news. She was the only one who didn’t lose touch with me when I stopped going out, stopped answering texts, when the world seemed too hard to be anything but the daughter of a man who was dying.
But he got better. He married Marjorie, his girlfriend who was a mere 7 years older than me, which drove me crazy, but he was alive and he was allowed to do anything he wanted as long as he stayed alive. And now…
‘Okay, glibness aside,’ Jacques sat down next to me and placed a hand on mine, his kohl rimmed eyes soft and serious, ‘why are you being sent to Italy against your will?’
I took a breath, ‘My father’s dying wish.’
Jacques looked astounded, and in the few months I’d known him, I’d never seen him speechless. He squeezed my hand. ‘When…did your dad pass away?’
‘He hasn’t…’ I pressed my lips together to try and ignore the irritation that crept up every time I thought about it, the desire not to say the word yet. ‘He doesn’t want me to be here at the end, whilst he declines. We went through it before, and this time…he says it’s a gift. His wish for me. And I need to do what he says, but I am so mad that I could explode.’
‘Do you have to do what he says? Couldn’t you stay anyway?’
‘Ignore the dying man? So that I forever live to regret denying him the final thing he wanted?’ I snorted, ‘Sure, a life of regret along with being an orphan. Awesome.’
I knew this wasn’t fair on Jacques. We weren’t those kind of friends yet. I had hoped we might be. His sassiness complemented mine well, and I’d enjoyed bitching with him about my work at the makeup counter. He was also a keen historian, outside the bar, away from the eyeliner and stage presence. He was secretly a cardigan-wearing dork, and we’d wandered around a few museums whilst I joyfully geeked out, using the long dusty knowledge from my barely used archaeology degree.
That was another point Dad had made. I had come back home in the middle of my first dig after graduating, when he got sick, and I’d never tried again. I worked at the makeup counter in the local department store, staying nearby, moving home so I could be there if anything happened. And now, it was happening, and I wasn’t going to be there.
‘I guess you’re faced with an impossible choice – do what he says, and be mad at him, or ignore his wishes and let him be mad at you.’
‘You think I could let my dad die mad at me?’ I suddenly realised that of course, Jacques didn’t even really know what type of person I was, what family meant. That my dad had been the only person I’d ever had, the only person who’d been there no matter what, and yet, I didn’t really even know him. I knew he liked two sugars in his coffee, and he watched TED talks religiously. I knew he pretended to hate how everyone talked about his much younger wife, but in secret preened and swanned about, joyous at the incredulity of his good fortune. His friends would ask him how the hell he got a girl like Marjorie, and he’d say, ‘Get cancer, does wonders for your love life.’
And before that, before the sickness, he was the kind of dad who would encourage me to climb trees and make mess. One day, not long after Mum died, he presented me with the empty, white wall of our living room and told me we were going to put the colour back in the world. We painted that entire wall with leafy-green handprints, a jungle of fingertips and lined palms. It’s still there, that wall, our fortunes told a hundred times in repeat.
Who was going to help me put the colour back when he was gone?
‘I think you’re the kind of person I’ve known for months, who never once mentioned her dad was sick. You’ve got a control I didn’t think you were capable of.’
I snorted at that, ‘That’s my charm. I seem impulsive and fun, but in fact it’s very tightly reigned in and controlled chaos.’
‘So what are you going to do?’ He left his hand over mine, and I started to feel sweaty and irritable.
‘I’m going to drink my coffee, buy a kebab on the way home, and finish packing my case. And then tomorrow, with the world’s worst hangover, I’m going to kiss my father goodbye, and get on that plane.’
No matter how hard it was.
About the author:
A.L. Michael is hurtling towards the end of her twenties a little too quickly. She is the author of 10 novels. Her most recent collection of books, The Martini Club Series, started with Cocktails and Dreams, to be followed by Prosecco and Promises, and Martinis and Memories.
She likes to write about difficult women. Well, they say to write what you know.
Andi works as a content writer, as well as a therapeutic facilitator. She has a bunch of degrees in stuff to do with writing, and wrote her MSc dissertation on the power of creative writing in eating disorder recovery. She truly believes stories can change your life.
She is represented by Madeleine Milburn Agency, and you’ll be seeing a lot more from her in 2018.