Amy Piper is a loser. She’s lost her confidence, her mojo and her way.
But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…
What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.
Once upon a time Amy was a winner – at life, at sport and in love. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, she is determined to reclaim the life she had, for herself and for Joey. And who knows, she might just be a winner again – at life, sport, and love, if she looks in the right places…
‘Hey, Mum. I’m starving, are there any of those cookies left?’
I clicked save and pushed my chair back to face him. ‘Hi, Joey, and yes, I had an okay day, thanks. How was yours?’
‘Oh. Sorry, yeah. It was good, actually.’ He paused, mid-search of the snack cupboard, to offer an apologetic smile. ‘We did this experiment in science where we had to heat up this white stuff, and— WHAAAAAAT!?’
In an instant, my strapping thirteen-year-old reverted to a frightened child, leaping up to sit on the worktop, cookie packet hugged protectively to his chest.
‘How long’s that been there?’ he shrieked.
‘Why didn’t you tell me the biggest spider in the universe was right behind me?’
It was a pointless question. We had been through this too many times before. Joey knew that the reason I hadn’t told him was because of what would inevitably happen next.
And, in line with the rest of the day’s predictability, it did. After a brief negotiation about Joey’s phobia, the value of the spider’s life and what I was willing and able to do about both these things, given that I didn’t think it was quite worthy of calling either the police or pest control, I ended up scooping the monster arachnid in both hands and facing my own worst nightmare.
‘Ready?’ Joey looked at me with solemn eyes as he gripped the door handle. He tried to keep his voice steady, but the rise and fall of his chest betrayed his terror.
I nodded, aware that my own eyes, while the exact same light brown as my son’s – caramel, his dad used to call them – were darting wildly like two wasps caught in a Coke bottle.
Before I had time to take another wheezing, shallow breath, Joey flung the door open and ducked behind it. I threw myself forwards, crashing against the door frame, eyes now firmly squeezed shut, and flicked my hand outside. A sudden gust of wind sent me reeling back in panic.
‘CLOSE THE DOOR!’ I gasped, clutching at my heart as it careened about my ribcage and stumbling back into the middle of the kitchen.
‘Is it gone? Are you sure it’s gone?’ Joey garbled back.
‘Yes! It’s gone. CLOSE THE DOOR, JOEY, NOW!’
I heard the door slam, took another two calming breaths and forced my eyes to take a peek. ‘Oh, please.’
The spider levelled me an ironic gaze from the welcome mat. It was so humungous I could see the lazy challenge in each of its eight eyes.
‘What? What? What is it? Is it still here?’ Joey spoke from where he’d scrambled behind me.
‘It might be.’
‘WHAT? Where-is-it-what’s-it-doing-is-it-moving-is-it-near-me-how-is-it-still-inside? MUUUUUM!’
‘It may have blown back in and now be sitting on the mat.’
‘Then throw it out again!’ Joey whined, the good nature that insisted we went through this palaver, rather than simply squashing the spider, hiding behind his fear. ‘Maybe you could lean right out this time, make sure it’s really outside.’
While I contemplated this impossibility, the spider took a couple of exploratory steps across the mat.
My teenage son screamed at a pitch that would have been unreachable if his voice wasn’t currently breaking, and before I could react, the spider was pinned to the mat beneath two fork prongs.
We stared in awed silence for a few seconds. The spider waved one leg, like a feeble farewell.
‘Joey, I can’t believe you hit it from that distance. You are one impressive athlete.’
‘I didn’t mean to hurt it.’ He grabbed my arm, distraught. ‘It was, like, an automatic reflex thing.’
‘It’s pretty cool, though. Maybe you’re actually a superhero and now you’re thirteen your powers are starting to manifest.’
‘A superhero wouldn’t murder an innocent life with a fork.’
‘They might kill a bug by accident while still learning to control their new capabilities.’ I put one weak arm around him, as the bug in question assumed the classic death curl, as best it could while stabbed in two places.
‘You’re still going to put it outside, aren’t you?’
‘It’s dead. Can’t it go in the bin?’
Thank you, Beth Moran and Boldwood Books
About the author
Beth Moran is the author of three previous romance novels, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest. Beth’s first novel for Boldwood, Christmas Every Day, was published in September 2019
Own website: https://www.bethmoran.org/
Profile on our website: https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/contributor/beth-moran/