Copper a romantic suspen.., p.1

Copper: A Romantic Suspense Novel (Blackwood Elements Book 7), page 1

 

Copper: A Romantic Suspense Novel (Blackwood Elements Book 7)
 



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Copper: A Romantic Suspense Novel (Blackwood Elements Book 7)


  Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Blank Page

  Chapter 1 - Tai

  Chapter 2 - Tai

  Chapter 3 - Tai

  Chapter 4 - Tai

  Chapter 5 - Tai

  Chapter 6 - Tai

  Chapter 7 - Tai

  Chapter 8 - Tai

  Chapter 9 - Tai

  Chapter 10 - Tai

  Chapter 11 - Tai

  Chapter 12 - Tai

  Chapter 13 - Tai

  Chapter 14 - Tai

  Chapter 15 - Tai

  Chapter 16 - Tai

  Chapter 17 - Tai

  Chapter 18 - Tai

  Chapter 19 - Tai

  Chapter 20 - Tai

  Chapter 21 - Tai

  Chapter 22 - Tai

  Chapter 23 - Tai

  Chapter 24 - Tai

  Chapter 25 - Tai

  Chapter 26 - Tai

  Chapter 27 - Tai

  Chapter 28 - Tai

  Chapter 29 - Tai

  Chapter 30 - Tai

  Chapter 31 - Tai

  Chapter 32 - Ren

  Chapter 33 - Ren

  Chapter 34 - Ren

  Chapter 35 - Ren

  Chapter 36 - Ren

  Chapter 37 - Ren

  Chapter 38 - Ren

  Chapter 39 - Tai

  Chapter 40 - Ren

  Chapter 41 - Tai

  Chapter 42 - Tai

  Chapter 43 - Tai

  Chapter 44 - Tai

  Chapter 45 - Tai

  Epilogue

  What's next?

  What's next?

  Want to stalk me?

  End of book stuff

  Other books by Elise Noble

  COPPER

  Elise Noble

  Published by Undercover Publishing Limited

  Copyright © 2019 Elise Noble

  v5a

  ISBN: 978-1-912888-08-5

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organisations, places, events, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

  Edited by Amanda Ann Larson

  Cover by Sapphire Designs

  www.undercover-publishing.com

  www.elise-noble.com

  For Fairfax.

  CHAPTER 1 - TAI

  “COME ON. COME on!”

  Up ahead, brake lights glowed as traffic ground to a halt again. Yes, shouting at the queue was pointless, but it made me feel better, even if the businessman in the car next to mine gave me a strange look and inched forward to get away from the crazy lady. Okay, I should have left home earlier, but I’d barely got any sleep last night thanks to the party downstairs. Who held a New Year’s party on the first of January instead of the thirty-first of December? Nobody. Well, nobody except the inconsiderate idiot who lived in the flat below mine.

  It was the second of January, a brand new year, a brand new start. Or so all the adverts said. Change your life. Join a gym. Stop drinking. Who wanted to be exhausted and sober anyway? For me, it was back to the same-old, same-old. Same job, same traffic jam on the M25, same lonely evenings with only Netflix for company.

  And today, I had the joy of departing for a week-long trip to an exhibition in Holland where I’d be joining two of my favourite people in the world to sell our company’s new product, the jewel in the crown of our offerings for the next year. It didn’t actually work yet, but let’s not allow a little thing like that to stop us, eh?

  I’d worked for Garrett-Hart Safety Systems for over a year now. It was never my dream job, but until five months ago when I’d moved departments and met my new boss, I’d spent most of my time in the factory clipping big plastic widgets into smaller plastic widgets, and it hadn’t been so bad. Landing an interesting, well-paid graduate position in engineering wasn’t easy if you hadn’t actually graduated. Missing my last set of exams hadn’t gone down so well with the university, even though I had a really good excuse, and I couldn’t afford to repeat my final year. Hence the reason why I was stuck in the second of six lanes of traffic in my nine-year-old Honda going absolutely nowhere.

  My phone rang, and far from stifling my groan, I let out a huff any tantrum-throwing toddler would have been proud of. Matthew Smart, my aforementioned boss, was calling. To give you an idea of my opinion of Matthew, I’d ordered myself a voodoo doll and three dozen hatpins as an early Christmas present, printed out his mugshot from the “Meet Our Staff” page on Garrett-Hart’s website, and glued it on. Every morning, I sprinkled a pinch of the herbs Praktisha in the corner shop swore warded off evil spirits over the top of the doll’s head and poked another pin in. So far, zilch. Matthew hadn’t suffered a single heart attack or debilitating migraine, and now he wanted to talk to me.

  “Tai, where are you? We’re supposed to be leaving in fifteen minutes, and Jeffery’s here already.”

  “So sorry, Matthew. I’m stuck on the motorway. I think there’s been an accident.”

  He tutted, and I imagined him drumming his fingers on the desk as he browsed porn on his iPad. Yes, I knew his little secret. He’d left one of his dirty movies on pause one evening while he nipped over to the printer, and now I’d never get the sight of Naughty Nadine getting impaled by a masked dude who’d overdosed on Viagra out of my head.

  “If you don’t get here soon, we’ll miss our crossing on the Eurotunnel.”

  No, we wouldn’t, because he’d insisted the departmental secretary book a flexible ticket. What Matthew meant was that he might miss the chance to put his feet up with a croissant and a cup of coffee in the priority lounge before we got on the train.

  “I’ll be there as fast as I can. It’s starting to move again now.”

  “Just hurry up. Have you got that memory stick with the program on it?”

  “Yes, Matthew.”

  “And all the cables?”

  “Yes, and the spares.”

  I wasn’t even sure why I needed to go to Holland. I didn’t speak the language, and Matthew never let me talk to prospective clients. Mostly I was there to make the drinks and carry things, I suspected, plus my darling boss could pull his usual trick of claiming credit for everything I did right and blaming me for everything he did wrong.

  Oh, how I hated my job.

  My grandma had been ill for most of the last year, and I’d spent all of my spare time taking care of her, hoping she’d pull through somehow, but it wasn’t to be. Her death three months ago left me hollow. Matthew had grudgingly given me an afternoon off to attend her funeral, and that was the day I decided things needed to change.

  I’d started hunting for a new job, but in my three interviews, the story had always been the same—they liked my attitude, but I didn’t have the right qualifications or enough experience. Not only that, I didn’t trust Matthew not to screw me over with a reference because he had a vindictive streak too. Just last week, he’d bragged about blocking in a car with twenty shopping trolleys after its driver allegedly stole a space from him at the supermarket. Arsehole.

  I had one interview lined up for the new year, an entry-level position at a design firm, but the competition promised to be tough. What were my chances of convincing them I was the girl they wanted?

  Must try harder, Tai.

  With that thought, I made a New Year’s
resolution: change not just my job, but all the things I hated about my life.

  Like my flat. I’d rented it furnished, and the drab decor depressed me each time I walked through the door. Everything in there was either beige or brown except for the bathroom suite, which was Pepto-Bismol pink and obviously installed by a colour-blind person. Plus the faint smell of vomit permeated throughout no matter how many times I cleaned, although to be fair, that could have been drifting up from the alley below.

  Then there was loneliness. I needed to get out more and meet people my own age. Perhaps I could take up a new hobby?

  A sign overhead informed me the junction for Heathrow Airport was a mile ahead. My exit was the one after that, and at my current speed, it should only take me about three hours to get there. It would be quicker on foot. What would happen if I did just that? Abandoned my crappy car at the side of the road, got out, and started walking? Knowing my luck, I’d probably get arrested. And fired.

  Although would that really be such a bad thing? Getting fired, I mean, not getting arrested. Nobody wanted to get arrested, did they? Mind you, jail was probably more luxurious than my flat, and at least I wouldn’t have to cook.

  On the gantry above, the variable speed limit sign switched from forty miles per hour to thirty. Thirty? Hurrah—now I could go faster according to the moron in the control room. Slowly, so slowly, I crawled past a taxi broken down on the hard shoulder. The bonnet was up, and the passenger stood behind the safety barrier looking as bored as I felt while the driver paced back and forth, yelling into his phone.

  Another sign for the airport, this time accompanied by a picture of an aeroplane, just in case you didn’t realise what an airport was. Maybe I should skip the walking-slash-prison idea and take a plane instead? Just hop on the next flight to…well, anywhere really.

  Seriously, why didn’t I just do that? I had a bag of clothes, I had my passport, and I had my grandma’s favourite gold necklace, which was the only possession I cared about, safely around my neck. The gold felt cool but comforting under my fingers. Tears prickled behind my eyelids, and I blinked them back. Thanks to Grandma, I had a little bit of money too—after she died in October, I found she’d taken out a small life insurance policy I knew nothing about, and I was the sole beneficiary. As long as I didn’t splurge on caviar or champagne, I could live on that for a few months. Who liked slimy little fish eggs anyway? I shuddered at the thought.

  Stay or go? Wait—I couldn’t seriously be considering leaving, could I? I was Taisiya Hermione Beaulieu, boring from the split ends of my drab brown hair to the tips of my scuffed black ballet pumps, apart from my unpronounceable name, obviously. My sole ambition in life was to get rid of it, but it didn’t look likely to happen anytime soon. The last time I got involved with a man, he’d turned out to be a psycho, and I’d been avoiding them ever since. Not just psychos—men in general. It seemed like the safest option.

  I straightened to check my reflection in the rear-view mirror. Yup, the hair definitely needed a cut. Just a trim, and I’d keep the same style, of course. I’d worn it this way since I was fourteen—long layers, no fringe, easy to tie back out of the way while I slaved over CAD drawings and circuit diagrams on my computer.

  What would Matthew Smart say if I rang and told him I wasn’t going to Holland? Oh, who was I kidding…? I’d send a text message or possibly an email. Non-confrontational, that was me.

  My phone screen lit up, and since we were stationary again, I scrolled through the message.

  Mum: You haven’t forgotten Peony’s dance recital this weekend, have you?

  How could I possibly forget Peony’s dance recital? I’d been dreading it for weeks, ever since Mum told me they were going to the south of France for Christmas but not to worry, we could do a turkey dinner with all the trimmings in the new year when they came back and combine it with Peony’s show. Because after spending an exhausting week in Holland, driving to Cheshire on Saturday morning so I could watch the stepsister who hated me prance around on stage in a leotard was exactly what I wanted to do. And did I mention I hated brussels sprouts?

  The phone buzzed again, this time with a message from Jeffery Docker, the salesman who’d be coming to Holland with us. Jeffery wasn’t so bad apart from the fact he chased anything in a skirt. Except me. I’d never been sure whether to feel relieved or insulted by that.

  Jeffery: Where are you? Matthew’s getting pissed. His nose has turned purple.

  Uh oh. That meant he was about to blow, and the traffic was still going nowhere fast. Another picture of a plane appeared ahead, taunting me. Half a mile to the airport. What if I did it? Swung the wheel to the left and abandoned my car in long-term parking, then bought a one-way ticket to somewhere hot... Or even somewhere cold. I’d never been skiing before. Exercise wasn’t really my forte.

  I giggled as I pictured the look on Matthew’s face if I told him I was skipping the exhibition. He wouldn’t just turn purple, he’d go full-on aubergine. An eggplant version of Mr. Potato Head. But what did I truly have to lose if I ran from everything? A mediocre job with disappointing career prospects and a handful of belongings left in the flat I dreaded going home to every evening.

  And what would I gain if I took off? A suntan—only on my hands and feet, of course, because I didn’t do bikinis—and a story to tell my children if I ever had any. Right now, the only way I’d get pregnant was by immaculate conception.

  If I stayed? I might get the job I was due to interview for next week, but it was a hundred to one shot. And with more time in the evenings, I could sign up for classes or try online dating. Oh, haha, dating. Right. What about a cat? I could adopt a cat.

  The countdown boards for the junction began. Three… Two… One… Time to decide. Try a new life or stick with the old one? Should I stay or should I go?

  CHAPTER 2 - TAI

  I JERKED THE steering wheel to the left.

  “Oops, sorry,” I muttered as the driver of a fancy Mercedes swerved and missed me by inches.

  Mental note: must use the mirrors for more than checking my hair.

  From today on, Matthew Smart could carry his own boxes of product brochures, and if he—yet again—got lost in a foreign country, he wouldn’t be able to blame it on me anymore.

  As I got to the end of the slip road, a strange lightness came over me. A glow. Oh no, my mistake. That was the oil warning light on my car. It had been leaking for a while now, and since car mechanics scared me a bit, I’d just been pouring more oil in and hoping the problem would disappear.

  No such luck, it seemed.

  Another sign materialised. Oh, joy—Heathrow Airport had five terminals, and I had no idea which one to pick. Quick, Tai… Two. I chose terminal two. Two was my lucky number and had been ever since Grandma taught me about the joys of BOGOF deals at the supermarket.

  I pulled onto the roundabout, only to get cut off by a white van and completely miss my turn. Okay, terminal five. Terminal five was a good option as well. I headed for the long-term car park, but when I saw the cost, I almost cried. After a moment of careful consideration, I reversed out of the entrance and parked neatly in a no-parking zone on the other side of the road. As well as the oil leak, my Honda needed a new clutch and new tyres, so I figured it would work out cheaper if someone stole it. I even left the keys in the ignition to help them out.

  My feet felt decidedly chilly as I rode the shuttle bus to the terminal, and not just because of the British weather. Right now, I could still turn around. Still run back to my car, drive to Garrett-Hart, and grovel to Matthew with a million apologies for being late. Sure, I’d be on coffee duty for life, but…

  Tai, enough!

  Before I changed my mind, or rather, regained my sanity, I typed out a quick text message.

  Me: I’m really sorry, but please could you tell Matthew that I’ve quit?

  Hmm, no, I couldn’t ask Jeffery to do my dirty work. I tried again.

  Me: Dear Matthew, I hereby tender my resignatio
n, effective from…

  Too formal.

  Me: After a year of living hell, I’ve finally decided you can do your own damn job. Good luck unjamming the photocopier.

  That was what I wanted to say, but…no.

  Me: Matthew, I know this is short notice, but I’ve decided to leave Garratt-Hart. Thank you for all your help and guidance over the last year. Please accept this as my resignation, and best of luck for the future.

  There, that worked.

  I pressed send just as the bus drew to a halt in front of the terminal, then I quickly turned the phone off. If Matthew called me, I didn’t want to speak to him. Heat from the bridges I’d just burned singed my heels as I scurried into the building. Keep breathing, Tai. Having a panic attack or passing out wouldn’t help matters.

  All around, the place buzzed with quiet activity. Businesspeople, families, backpackers, tour groups—they all drifted past as I paused inside the doors, wondering what the hell I’d done.

  “Don’t just stand there, lady,” a teenager muttered as he skirted around me.

  “Sorry.”

  I needed to move before I annoyed anyone else. The ticket counter. Where was the ticket counter?

  “Excuse me?” I waved down a man in a hi-vis jacket. “Where can I buy a ticket?”

  He pointed wordlessly at the British Airways counter, and I joined the queue. If there was one thing the British were good at, it was queuing.

  Although when I reached the front of the line fifteen minutes later, I still had no idea where to go.

  “Hi.”

  The lady behind the counter, Londeka according to her name badge, gave me a perky smile. “Can I help?”

  “I need to buy a plane ticket.”

  “Well, you’re in the right place. Where do you want to travel?”

  “Uh… I’m not entirely sure.”

  “Oh?”

  “Actually, I think I’ve lost my mind. I was on my way to work, but then I realised I hated my job and I hated my boss, so I kind of quit and drove here instead.”

 
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