I am delighted to share an extract with you today on my stop of Falling For The Competition Blog Tour….I hope you guys enjoy it.
It’s going to be the best summer ever for ambitious, overachieving Quinn. A huge history buff, not only has she landed her dream job interning in the archives department of the local castle, but her best friend will be working there too.
However, Quinn isn’t the only one to be working in Archives this summer; Quinn’s academic rival, Patrick, is sharing her office in Muniments. They’re competing for the Letter of Recommendation (singular) from the research historian that Quinn needs to get her dream future placement.
Their emotionally-loaded and competitive rivalry turns into a reluctant friendship, as they spend every day working together in silence (and sharing the occasional Twix). Until the Re-Enactors arrive. Between Patrick and Harry – the Golden Knight of the jousting team – Quinn’s carefully planned summer is thrown into complete disarray. Meanwhile, her best friend’s relationship may look perfect on the outside, but Quinn is starting to realise that there’s more going on than there seems.
Although Quinn is determined and single minded about planning every detail of her sparkling future, she comes to discover that the best things in life are the spontaneous ones – and that some people are more important than any Letter of Recommendation (singular) could ever be.
Okay, fine, my snooping will have to wait. “Do you want anything?” I say, knowing that he’ll say no.
“Twix.” He doesn’t even look up but I know he’s smiling.
“Ha.” No way is he getting another Twix.
I’m suddenly nervous coming up stairs after lunch. I finger the Twix in the pocket of my bag. Is it too much? He asked for a Twix, I got him a Twix. Is it petty that I don’t get him a Twix after he asked for one, or is it pettier that I do get him a Twix because he knows I won’t? I’m thinking too much about this, yeah. It’s a Twix, Quinn, get a grip.
He hadn’t even left Muniments, so I don’t even know if he’s had anything to eat. Not that I was obsessively watching for the cranking open of the heavy door and a twitch of the sacred Velvet Rope from the end of the picnic bench that Frankie had managed to wrangle from a tired looking set of parents.
I put the Twix on the edge of his desk as I walk past and arrange myself in my chair, not looking at him, taking the weights off my last pile of records.
Patrick leans back and taps the Twix with his pencil like it’s diseased.
“It’s a Twix, Patrick. You asked for a Twix, I got you a Twix.” I say, and force a smile at him. “Because I’m nice.” He frowns a little bit. “What?” I say. “I am nice.”
“If you say so.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I’m a little hurt. I apologised to him, I’ve got him a Twix because he asked me to, I’ve smiled at him all day and did he smile back? No. Not once.
He shrugs carelessly. “Just that I don’t really know you very well, only what I’ve heard.”
“What you’ve heard? What have you heard?” Acid is rolling in my stomach. Gossip? About me? It’s usually about Frankie and then, by proxy, me. So not directly me.
“Just that you’re,” he looks around as if the right word is stencilled on the rough Muniments walls. I want to wind him up like a music box and make him play faster. “That you’re, well, my shadow.”
“What.” Anger sparks, flares and takes hold inside me. His shadow? What does that even mean?
“That you copy everything I do. But obviously a year after me.” He swings that HB pencil around in the air. I want to snap it. “You’ve copied my choice of A Levels, you’re here,” he gestures around. “Pretty much every one of my teachers said some variation on, ‘Oh, Quinn Taylor is doing what you did last year’, or ‘Can you speak to Quinn Taylor, she’s doing the same as you’. Oh,” it was like he couldn’t even stop himself, “That beginners Latin course was good wasn’t it? I did that, too.”
Smoke is coming out of my ears and red dots are dancing around the edges of my vision. Words do not come.
Patrick gives a slow and easy smile, blatantly enjoying the absolute rage that I’m struggling to contain. I pull my features into a stony blankness.
“Speak to Quinn Taylor?” It comes out like I’ve been strangled. I want to strangle him, unfurl my clenched hands, kneel on his chair and wrap my hot little fingers around his skinny neck.
He just shrugs, clearly amused. “Yeah.”
“But you never spoke to me.” I choke.
“Nah, I had better things to do.” My nostrils flare and I’m Cerberus straining to be let off my leash. Patrick shrinks away from me. “You okay, Quinn? You look kind of tense.” He’s not sure whether to tease me any more or not because I’m leaning forwards in my chair now, hands clenched so tightly that the HB pencil that I’m still gripping starts to shake with tension.
The clear snap echoes through the room and the splinting wood pushes into the soft skin of my palm. It might draw blood. It should be his blood.
There’s silence as I calmly release the pencil onto my desk and retrieve another one from my top drawer. I am perfectly aware of him, of the silence around us, of every single thread of my clothes against my skin. Patrick doesn’t move an inch.
Author Bio –
Jen lives in the Midlands with her husband and two children. With a Masters Degree in Medieval History, Jen loves castles and King John a little too much. Strangely un-British, she does not like tea, oranges or marzipan, but adores French cheese, guava juice and Chinese food (not together). When not writing, Jen can often be found pointing out historical inaccuracies in period dramas, being a Lady that Lunches with close friends and playing board games with her family. Note: her handbags are always heavy due to multiple books (just in case she needs them).
Social Media Links – @jensmith950 Twitter