[SNEAK PEEK] KATE

Kate by Claudia Joseph

 

Hidden away behind the red-brick walls of her parents’ substantial house in the Home Counties village of Chapel Row in Berkshire, Kate Middleton spent the evening of Friday, 13 April 2007 mourning the end of her love affair with Prince William.

While her former boyfriend drowned his sorrows in the nightclub Mahiki, Mayfair’s latest celebrity haunt, quaffing champagne and drinking its legendary Treasure Chest cocktails, Kate, then 25 years old, spent a quieter and more subdued evening with her family.

It was barely a week since Britain’s most famous romance had drawn to a close – and hours before their separation hit the news-stands – yet the couple’s behaviour could not have been more different, underlining just how far apart they had grown since leaving university. Whereas Kate was looking for more commitment from William, the 24-year-old army officer, who had just left Sandhurst, was not ready to settle down.

News of the couple’s split came as a shock to the public, who had been following every twist and turn in their relationship since they had begun dating at St Andrews University four years earlier. An engagement announcement had been widely expected and few had noticed signs that the relationship was on its way out.

It had all seemed so different four months earlier in mid-December, when Kate and her parents had been invited to watch the prince pass out from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, a ceremony that must have been heart-warming for the Middletons, who had grown close to their daughter’s boyfriend. A regular visitor to their home, William would drive the 33-mile journey around the M25 to visit his girlfriend after training exercises and must have relished the time he spent with her tight-knit family, something he had missed out on to an extent during his own childhood. But everything changed the moment he left Sandhurst and embarked on the next stage of his army career.

For those who looked closely, the cracks began appearing over the festive season, when Kate’s parents decided to rent a £4,800-a-week mansion in Scotland for their extended family. Despite speculation that she might be, Kate had not been invited to spend Christmas with the royal family at Sandringham – only fiancées are afforded that honour, not girlfriends. Instead, the Middletons decided to invite William to spend Hogmanay with them at the Georgian mansion Jordanstone House on the outskirts of Alyth in Perthshire. Set in rambling grounds, the eighteenth-century mansion, which had belonged to the Conservative politician Sir James Duncan and his second wife Lady Beatrice (an actress known in her heyday for being the voice of Larry the Lamb in the Children’s Hour series Toytown), was certainly fit for a prince. Crammed with antiques and old masters, the house still has its original two staircases (one for staff ), a vast kitchen and laundry downstairs, a library of rare books and wood-panelled reception rooms with vast fireplaces upstairs, and thirteen bedrooms furnished with four-poster beds. But William, who spent Christmas at Sandringham, 400 miles away, failed to make an appearance.

It would not be until the following weekend that Kate was reunited with her boyfriend, at Highgrove, but even then it was more of a farewell party for William than a birthday celebration for Kate. The future king was about to follow his younger brother into the Blues and Royals, a regiment with one of the longest histories of any in the British Army. He would wholeheartedly embrace his new role, teasing Harry that he would rise faster through the ranks because he had a university degree.

One of two regiments that make up the Household Cavalry (the other is the Life Guards), the Blues and Royals were formed in 1969 when the Royal Horse Guards (known as the Blues for the colour of their tunics) and the Royal Dragoons, both of whom could trace their origins back to the seventeenth century, were amalgamated. The only mounted cavalry unit in the British Army, the regiment has the unique role of guarding the Queen on ceremonial occasions as well as serving around the world. Its regimental emblem – an eagle worn on the left sleeve of the blue tunic – commemorates the occasion on which it seized an eagle standard from one of Napoleon’s infantry battalions at Waterloo. Now stationed at Combermere Barracks in Windsor, its Colonel of the Regiment is the Princess Royal.

Kate was working at Jigsaw on the morning of 8 January 2007, when Second Lieutenant Wales reported for duty. Little did she realise how much their lives would change in just a few months.

Stepping alone out of her front door 24 hours later to go to work on her 25th birthday, wearing a £40 black-and-white dress from Topshop (which subsequently sold out within days), she was greeted by a barrage of photographers fired up by the conviction that she and her royal boyfriend would soon be announcing theirengagement. For the first time, she showed that the pressure was getting to her and she scowled.

The unprecedented paparazzi turnout provoked comparisons with the treatment of Princess Diana in the final years of her life and led the royal family to swing into action. While Kate’s lawyers Harbottle & Lewis, who also count Prince Charles among their clients, tried to work out a compromise with the media, Prince William authorised his press officer to make a statement on his behalf. ‘Prince William is very unhappy at the paparazzi harassment of his girlfriend,’ he said. ‘He wants more than anything for it to stop. Miss Middleton should, like any other private individual, be able to go about her everyday business without this kind of intrusion. The situation is proving unbearable for all those concerned.’

It was a terrible day for Kate to have to face the overwhelming attention. Now working in London, she could no longer escape the limelight by retreating to the sanctuary of her parents’ home and she had to leave her flat each morning to go to work. Without William by her side, there was little that the royal family could do to help her, as she was not entitled to Scotland Yard protection until they became engaged. The pressure would soon prove too much.

At first, William remained the gallant boyfriend, driving up to London to visit his girlfriend and party in the capital, and Kate put on a brave front, donning a stunning £800 silver dress by BCBG Max Azria to attend a party at Mahiki with the prince on 1 February. Run by nightclub impresario Piers Adam and club promoter Nick House, and designed to resemble a Polynesian beach bar, it had become a firm favourite with the couple after they spent a night there before Christmas with Tom Parker Bowles and his wife, Sara. William’s party-loving friend Guy Pelly was the club’s marketing director, and Henry Conway, the son of the now disgraced MP Derek Conway and flamboyant self-styled ‘Queen of Sloanes’, ran Thursday-night parties there.

During his first few weeks at the barracks, William managed to make another two trips to the capital, for a night out at Boujis – when he reportedly gave his girlfriend an antique Van Cleef & Arpels diamond-framed compact as an early Valentine’s Day gift – and a trip to Twickenham on 10 February to watch England beat Italy in the Six Nations Championship. He and Kate cheered on rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson’s record-breaking comeback: he scored 15 points in the team’s 20–7 victory.

However, William’s nights out with his girlfriend gradually dwindled as he threw himself into the life of a Household Cavalry officer, enjoying the feeling of being young, free and single. Torn between spending time with his girlfriend and partying with his fellow officers, it seemed there was no contest. It was a testing period for their relationship.

Kate put on a brave face, clubbing with her girlfriends at Mamilanji on Monday, 26 February, but the writing was on the wall for the relationship as she slowly tired of having an absent boyfriend.

On 4 March, in a last-ditch attempt to shore up their romance, William whisked Kate of on a make-or-break holiday to Zermatt, a village at the base of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, where they stayed in an exclusive £1,500-a-week chalet. But instead of going alone with Kate, he invited some friends along, including Thomas van Straubenzee and Guy Pelly, the man often described as the princes’ ‘court jester’. From the outside, it appeared as if William and Kate – who missed out on a family holiday in Barbados in order to spend quality time with her boyfriend – were on the verge of an engagement announcement, staying in their chalet while their friends hit the nightclubs, and embracing and kissing on the slopes. In reality, however, things were far from rosy, and an engagement must surely have been the last thing on their minds.

Their last public appearance together was on 13 March 2007, the opening day of the National Hunt Festival in Cheltenham, which had been a favourite with the late Queen Mother, who rarely missed a festival, attending latterly in a buggy painted in her racing colours. Arriving in William’s black Audi saloon, Kate looked comfortable chatting with Zara Phillips and drinking champagne in a box belonging to racehorse owner Trevor Hemmings. But William and Kate’s body language was strained, and fashion writers criticised the pair for looking like ‘lamb dressed as mutton’. It was the first fashion faux pas by Kate, and possibly an indication of her unhappy mood.

Three days later, William was off to the depths of Dorset to begin a ten-week tank-commander course at the army’s training camp at Bovington. But that did not deter Kate from attending the Cheltenham Gold Cup without him. Wearing a sky-blue jacket, brown skirt and matching beret, she looked much more relaxed – and more fashionable – than on her previous visit with her prince. Met on arrival by two plain-clothes police officers, she was escorted to the royal enclosure for a lunch hosted by the Queen’s Master of the Horse, Lord Vestey. There she laughed and joked with guests including van Straubenzee, jumping up and down when she picked a winner and covering her mouth with her hand when she lost. Her appearance that day in the same box as William’s aunt Princess Anne and Camilla’s former husband Andrew Parker Bowles seemed just another confirmation that Kate was on the verge of becoming an official member of the family. But some commentators thought she might have overplayed her hand by appearing in the royal enclosure, a move that was rumoured to have rankled with William.

In any case, it was while William was in Dorset that the couple’s relationship began to fall apart, strained by their constant separation. Instead of making the 130-mile journey to London at weekends, William seemed to prefer to spend his down time with his fellow officers.

During his first night out with the Blues and Royals – nicknamed the ‘Booze and Royals’ in Bournemouth, the nearest large town to the barracks – William pushed Kate beyond her limits. She had always ignored rumours of his roving eye and put up with his flirtatious behaviour towards the girls who threw themselves at him, but his cavalier behaviour at the Elements nightclub on 22 March had unfortunate consequences. Although there is no suggestion that the future king cheated on his girlfriend, two of the girls he encountered that night sold their stories to the tabloid newspapers, which must have been humiliating for Kate. That Thursday night, William and his friends painted the town red as they downed lager and sambuca chasers and flirted with girls in the nightclub, unbothered that they were taking photographs of the prince on their mobile phones.

Ana Ferreira, 18, an international relations student, was in the club when she heard that William was dancing in another room. After going to watch the commotion, she posed for a picture with him, only realising afterwards that the prince had touched one of her breasts. ‘Word went round that William was in a section playing cheesy ’80s music,’ she told The Sun, ‘so we went to look…There were a lot of girls hanging around him and he was posing for pictures. He had me on one arm and my friend Cecilia on the other. I was a little bit drunk myself, but I felt something brush my breast. I thought it couldn’t be the future king but now I’ve seen the picture it’s no wonder he’s got a smile on his face.’

Another girl, Lisa Agar, a 19-year-old performing-arts student with a lip ring, claimed that William pulled her onto a podium to dance with him. ‘He said something like, “Come on. Show us how it’s done. You’re too good for this place,”’ she told theSunday Mirror. ‘He was being very flirty and I was quite taken aback but just went for it. He was laughing his head off and waving his hands in the air.’ Lisa, who was dressed in a tight pink top, leggings and heels, claimed that William was following pints with shots of sambuca. ‘I call that stuff rocket fuel,’ she added, ‘because it does give you a huge hit very quickly and gets you rolling drunk.’

In the early hours, William’s friend invited her back to the barracks to continue the party. ‘When I said I wasn’t sure,’ she recounted, ‘Wills came over and said, “Are you coming back? It’ll be a laugh. Come on. We need to go.” I followed them all back to their base in a friend’s car and then we all went into a lounge area in the barracks, lying about on a leather chair and sofas. In the end, I only stayed about 20 minutes. Strangely, I felt a bit sorry for William and I thought maybe he was cheering himself up.’

William’s behaviour that night was by no means unusual for a serving soldier in his 20s, even one who is a member of the royal family. Two days later, Prince Harry showed his own excessive streak when he fell out of Boujis, having downed too many Crack Baby cocktails. The Blues and Royals officer had been in the club after spending a week on exercise with his regiment and was unwinding with friends, including former flame Natalie Pinkham, when he decided to try to avoid photographers by sneaking out the back. Angered that he had been spotted, he was reported to have lunged at one of the paparazzi, before falling over and landing in the gutter, although royal aides claimed he had simply lost his footing and stumbled.

Kate and William spent one last night together on 31 March, when they dined at the King’s Head, Bledington, with their friends Hugh and Rose van Cutsem, whose wedding they had attended the previous summer. However, at this point, the heart and soul had gone out of their relationship and it was drawing to a close.

A few days later, Kate popped over to Ireland with her mother Carole for the private view of an exhibition by a close family friend, Gemma Billington. Mother and daughter slummed it, staying in Dublin’s cut-price three-star Quality Hotel. After looking at Gemma’s paintings, Kate chatted to drummer Ben Carrigan and guitarist Daniel Ryan of Irish indie rock band The Thrills. The following day, she went to the National Gallery of Ireland.

Her appearance at the exhibition of paintings, which took place at the Urban Retreat Gallery in the city’s Hanover Quay, brought in a flurry of publicity for Gemma, the 53-year-old daughter of a Garda sergeant from County Kerry. She and her husband Tim, 63, a farmer and racehorse breeder, are close family friends of the Middletons. They live just down the road, on a 320-acre farm in the village of Stanford Dingley, where William and Kate have become familiar faces in the local pub, the Boot Inn. Their seven children grew up alongside the Middleton siblings and went to the same school, while Carole and Gemma play tennis together.

‘Kate is a lovely girl who is just one of our kids who happens to be going out with a boy called William who happens to be a prince,’ she said in an interview with theSunday Independent to publicise the exhibition. ‘He is just a normal boy, really. I think it’s tough on her, but she handles it well. The Middletons are a very close family who have meals together, watch movies, play sports and go on holidays together. It’s funny how you think people are different, but we are all just muddling our way through life. Whoever you happen to be going out with, you have to take the rough with the smooth.’

While Kate was having a cultured time in Ireland, William was leading an altogether different existence. He spent the evening of 4 April at Bournemouth’s late-night wine bar Bliss with a group of his fellow officers from the Household Cavalry. That night, the place was packed with 200 fans watching acoustic guitarist Dan Baker playing a gig. But halfway through the two-hour set, one of William’s rowdy friends leapt on stage, saying: ‘Please stop playing these crap songs. The prince wants dance music.’ The singer, who halted the gig for ten minutes until the officers had left the room, told a newspaper: ‘I was staggered when this drunken man scaled the stage and ran up to me mid-song. It was the rudest thing I’ve ever experienced. This gig was the pinnacle of my career. I’ve practised for years in the hope of a chance to perform like this.’

Meanwhile, for William and Kate, it was the beginning of the end. The couple’s final showdown came when they met up a few days later over the Easter weekend. William had turned down an invitation to spend the holiday with Kate’s family but the couple managed to get together for a face-to-face conversation and realised they wanted different things out of life. While Kate was looking for some form of commitment from her boyfriend, William felt he was being pressurised to propose. It seemed as if there was only one way forward, but Kate still hoped that William would change his mind.

At midday the following Wednesday, any hopes she might have had of a reconciliation were dashed. It was reported that she had a lengthy conversation with William on her mobile, after which she left work early and disappeared for the rest of the week. Meanwhile, William was said to have phoned the Queen at Windsor Castle, shortly before she left to visit the Earl of Carnarvon at Highclere Castle, to tell her that his and Kate’s relationship had drawn to a close.

By the time William turned up at Mahiki on Friday the 13th, news of the couple’s break-up had not yet emerged. But the prince was aware that he would be on the front pages the following morning and it seemed he was going to ensure he was seen to be having a good time.

Arriving with friends at 11.30 p.m., he was shown to a private table next to the dance floor, where the party downed £450 bottles of 1998 Dom Pérignon champagne before working their way through the cocktail menu, called the Mahiki Trail because it is devised around a treasure map. If guests finish all 18 concoctions, they are rewarded with the club’s infamous Treasure Chest, a mixture of brandy and peach liqueur, lime, sugar and champagne.

At one point during the evening, William is supposed to have yelled, ‘I’m free!’, before performing his own version of the robot dance goal celebration that Liverpool striker Peter Crouch had shown him during a World Cup training session. As the opening chords of the Rolling Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ rang out, his friends dragged him onto the dance floor. But the prince’s high spirits slowly turned maudlin, and at 3.30 a.m. he staggered out of the VIP exit to the club and got into his chauffeur-driven car. A royal-protection-squad officer settled the £4,700 bill and the prince went home. Within hours, the world would find out that Britain’s most eligible bachelor was back on the market…but for just how long?

 

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[SNEAK PEEK] CINTA SEJATI SEORANG PLAYBOY

Cinta Sejati Seorang Playboy oleh Syina

 

QAIREEN ketawa sendiri. Masih terbayang-bayang di matanya peristiwa tadi. Boleh pula Amanda mandi tepung. Semuanya gara-gara terperanjat luahan hatinya turut didengari oleh sang jejaka. Tapi comel aje Amanda dan Akid tu.

Lagu Hello dendangan Adele berkumandang kuat. Dia dekatkan badannya ke meja. Nama si pemanggil yang muncul pada skrin telefon bimbit membuat dia mengukir senyuman lebar. Ikon hijau ditekan. Telefon bimbit dilekapkan ke telinga.

“Assalammualaikum,” dia bawa tubuhnya bersandar pada belakang kerusi. Jemari bermain dengan hujung baju.

“Waalaikumussalam. Selesai dah semua?”

“Mission accomplished. Dia orang ada dekat dapur lagi tu,” ceria suara Qaireen memberitahu. Pandailah Akid memujuk Amanda.

“Kita?”

“Kita?” Dahi Qaireen dah berkerut.

Apa masalah dengan dia dan Adwan? Kalau pasal Natasha rasanya dah selesai. Beberapa hari selepas kejadian tu, Adwan bersemuka sekali lagi dengan Natasha. Adwan beri amaran akan mendapatkan perintah mahkamah agar jangan mengganggu hidup dia dan Qaireen lagi.

“Aah…”

“Kita buat kerja macam biasalah.” Qaireen ketawa. Itu sahaja yang dia mampu berikan jawapan sebab dia tak faham apa maksud Adwan.

“Sampai hati.”

“Laaa… kenapa pula nak sampai hati?” Dahi Qaireen berkerut semula.

Saat itu dia mendongak bila pintu bilik pejabatnya dikuak dari luar. Rahang dia jatuh sebelum dia menggeleng melihat si pembuka pintu. Matanya berbalas pandang dengan si pembuka pintu yang redup merenung dia.

“Patutnya kita pergi makan-makan ke? Atau apa-apalah.” Adwan tersenyum. Telefon bimbit masih melekap pada telinganya.

Mulut Qaireen dah herot ke kiri dan ke kanan. Telefon bimbit dimatikan.

“Nak jadi macam Akid juga. Surprise!” Qaireen pura-pura menjerit gembira. Memang bagus sangat Adwan dengan Akid ni pegang title playboy. Cara dan gaya tu serupa saja.

Adwan buntang mata. Kerusi di depan meja kerja Qaireen ditarik. Dia labuhkan punggung di situ. Telefon bimbit diletakkan sahaja di atas meja.

“Tak kelakar, okey?” Wajahnya berubah cemberut.

“Siapa suruh datang tak beritahu? Cara tu sama macam Akid. Elok sangatlah sebab awak berdua memang digelar playboy, kan?” Qaireen tersenyum. Suka pula dia nak mengusik. Nampak comel pula bila Playboy Malaya merajuk.

“Kedai adik kita. Suka hati kitalah nak datang bila- bila masa pun,” balas Adwan. Geram melihat senyuman mengusik kekasih hati.

“Oh, lupa! Kedai adik dia. Qaireen, kenapa tak sedar diri ni? Kaukan makan gaji dengan adik dia,” nada suara Qaireen berubah. Mendatar. Tidak seceria tadi.

Dia lantas menuntas pandang pada monitor komputer riba di sebelah kanannya. Melayan hati yang terusik mendengar kata-kata Adwan tadi. Mengada betullah Qaireen sekarang ni dengan Adwan, kan?

Tangan Adwan naik mengurut belakang tengkuknya. Sudah. Salah ke apa yang dia cakapkan tadi? Siapa merajuk dengan siapa ni? Baru nak merasa Qaireen memujuk dia, tapi lain pula jadinya.

Qaireen masih buat tak tahu. Muka Adwan tak dipandang. Jemarinya laju menekan papan kekunci. Keras dan kasar bunyinya. Biar Adwan tahu yang sekarang dia tengah protes.

Adwan memerhati wajah masam Qaireen yang berjaya buat dia susah hati. Dia kena pujuk ke? Tunggu dia sejuk sendirilah.

Lama kedua-duanya senyap. Masing-masing buat hal sendiri. Qaireen menyiapkan kerjanya. Adwan pula leka dengan telefon bimbit. Hinggalah masuk waktu asar.

Adwan berdiri. Telefon bimbitnya diletakkan di atas meja. Kunci kereta dalam kocek seluar dikeluarkan. Turut diletakkan di atas meja. Begitu juga jam tangannya yang sudah ditanggalkan.

Wajah Qaireen yang leka membuat kerja dipandang seketika. Belum terpujuk lagi agaknya hati si dia? Adwan melangkah lemah. Keluar dari situ.

Qaireen memandang sekilas belakang Adwan yang beredar dari biliknya. Dia bersandar. Satu keluhan kecil dilepaskan. Sungguh dia tidak suka dengan apa yang berlaku sekarang. Terasa dia yang melebih-lebih. Dia kena buat sesuatu. Takkanlah nak biar semua ni berpanjangan.

Lantas dia mencapai beg telekungnya di dalam laci. Ingin ke tempat yang sama Adwan tuju. Sebelum itu, dia menulis sesuatu. Sticky notes yang bertulis tangan diletakkan di bawah telefon bimbit Adwan.

10MINIT berlalu, Adwan muncul semula di dalam bilik Qaireen. Terkejut melihat bilik itu tidak berpenghuni. Si dia ke mana? Matanya tertancap pada sesuatu berwarna oren di bawah telefon bimbitnya.

Perlahan-lahan dia mendekati meja. Telefon bimbit dialihkan. Senyuman terukir di bibirnya.

Solat Asar juga,

Qaireen

Macam-macam, dia menggumam. Sticky notes itu diletakkan semula. Jam tangan diambil. Diacu pada pergelangan tangan. Terdengar pintu bilik pejabat Qaireen seperti dibuka. Lalu dia berpaling. Senyuman dilorekkan bila matanya bertembung dengan mata Qaireen.

Qaireen membalas sedikit. Dibiarkan sahaja pintu terbuka. Dia melangkah ke belakang mejanya. Dia tahu mata Adwan mengekori setiap langkahnya. Rasa yang mengganggu hatinya tadi sudah hilang.

Hatinya sudah sejuk. Betul kata orang, mengadu pada Yang Maha Esa saat menghadapi kesulitan mampu membuatkan kita reda dengan apa yang berlaku. Ujian itu dari Dia dan kepada Dialah kita mengadu.

“Lapar.” Adwan memulakan bicara. Mengharapkan respon dari Qaireen.

Qaireen yang baru saja hendak duduk, mati tingkahnya. Wajah bersih Adwan dipandang redup.

“Kopi, shepherd pie,” tutur Adwan lagi.

Qaireen bungkam. Beg telekung diletakkan di atas meja sebelum dia menyibukkan diri. Mula mengemas kertas-kertas yang bersepah di atas mejanya. Dia tak tahu nak balas apa. Malu sendiri dengan perangai keanak-anakannya sebentar tadi.

Adwan jongket kening. Takkanlah Qaireen tak dengar apa yang dia kata. Merajuk lagi ke?

“Qaireennn…”

Diam lagi.

“Look, Qaireen. I’m sorry. Saya tahu saya salah. Janganlah senyap macam ni. Mati kutu saya.” Adwan merayu. Mata memaku pandang wajah Qaireen sambil tangannya memasukkan telefon bimbit dan kunci kereta ke dalam kocek seluar.

Qaireen nak menyahut tapi akal nakal dia beri idea lain. Biarkan Adwan gandakan usaha memujuk dia lagi. Biar Adwan sedar hati dia bukan senang-senang boleh dipermainkan.

“Qaireennn…” Adwan tak putus asa. Memanggil lagi. Lebih lembut dari tadi.

Masih lagi Qaireen diam.

Adwan hela nafas dalam-dalam. Qaireen mencabar dia. Dia nekad. Kalau cara ini tak berjaya juga, dia mengalah. Perlahan-lahan dia melangkah ke belakang meja. Merapati Qaireen.

“Awak nak suruh saya buat apa? Just name it,” dia mendekati Qaireen dan berbisik di tepi telinga.

Qaireen yang tak menjangka tindakan Adwan cepat sahaja menjarakkan kedudukan mereka. Terbuntang matanya. Sungguhlah Adwan ni. Dia bukannya maksum. Sempurna segala segi. Takut lain pula jadinya bila mereka berdiri terlalu rapat.

“Sekarang ni, saya nak awak berdiri balik dekat situ. Pergi sana,” jari telunjuknya menuding pada tempat asal Adwan terpacak tadi.

“Garang,” usik Adwan. Dia ketawa. Kembali ke hadapan meja, senyum meleret dihadiahkan buat gadis itu. Tahu pula Qaireen takut. Siapa suruh cabar dia. Kan dah mendapat.

“Saya bukan macam ‘perempuan-perempuan awak’ tu. Lembut, lemah gemalai macam tak ada tulang.” Qaireen membebel.

“Pandai-pandai aje cakap ‘perempuan-perempuan saya’. Awak, saya ni dah pencenlah jadi playboy,” balas Adwan.

“Pening kepala saya berkawan dengan playboy ni. Ada aje jawapannya.” Qaireen sambung bebelannya. Dia menghenyakkan punggung di atas kerusi. Terasa penat pula berdiri. Mata merenung tajam pada Adwan.

Adwan kenyit mata. Suka pula mendengar bebelan Qaireen. Itu lagi bagus dari Qaireen diam seribu bahasa. Diam yang boleh buat dia sakit jiwa.

Qaireen ketap bibir. Boleh pula Adwan bermain mata dengannya. Tak nampak ke dia tengah geram.

“Jomlah minum kopi. Kesian tetamu awak ni. Dahaga,” pujuk Adwan.

“Tetamu? Bukan ni kedai adik orang tu ke?” Sindir Qaireen.

“Qaireennn…” muncung Adwan dah sedepa.

Laju sahaja Qaireen berdiri. Terasa bulu romanya merinding. Lain pula rasanya mendengar suara Adwan macam tu. Merengek. Tak macho langsung.

“Buruk tau merengek macam tu,” Qaireen menggeleng. Mula melangkah keluar dari bilik pejabatnya.

“Cakap elok-elok awak tak layan. Kenalah tunjuk sisi manja.” Adwan membalas. Berjalan seiring dengan Qaireen.

“Manjalah sangat.” Qaireen julingkan mata pandang ke atas.

Adwan ketawa.

MEREKA untuk duduk di sudut kafé. Tak mahu ada gangguan. Qaireen dah buat pesanan. Kopi dan memilih shepherd pie menjadi pilihan.

Adwan memandang Qaireen yang sedang seronok ketawa. Apa yang lucu pun dia tidak pasti. Rasanya topik yang mereka bualkan bukan tahap maharaja lawak mega. Meja diketuk. Cuba menarik perhatian Qaireen.

“Yup?” Qaireen angkat kening.

“Kalau awak berterusan ketawa, nanti orang ingat saya dating dengan orang gila pula.” Adwan herotkan mulut. Bukan mengutuk orang gila tapi dia tak nak ketinggalan benda apa yang Qaireen ketawakan.

“So?” Qaireen tayang muka berlagak.

“Kongsilah dengan saya. Takkan ketawa seorang diri.”

“Tak takut dilabel gila?” Qaireen tarikan kedua-dua belah keningnya.

“Okey, okey. Saya minta maaf kalau apa yang saya cakap tadi buat awak terasa hati.” Adwan memujuk.

Qaireen hadiahkan satu jelingan.

Spontan Adwan tepuk mulutnya. Geram pada mulutnya yang tak bayar insuran. Suka sangat lontarkan kata-kata yang menyakitkan hati Qaireen.

“Cuaklah tu.” Qaireen mengejek. Senyuman mengusik menghiasi wajahnya.

“Qaireen, kalau awak selalu buat macam ni. Boleh kena heart attack saya tau. Tua sebelum waktunya.”

Adwan pamer muka serius.

Qaireen memang ada aura tersendiri. Aura yang mampu buat perasaan dia tunggang-langgang. Gadis ini mampu buat dia tersenyum, marah atau ketawa.

Pendek kata Qaireen telah merubah segala-galanya.

“Janganlah marah, abang sayang. Kata playboy. Baru usik sikit dah melenting.” Qaireen tersengih.

Bulat mata Adwan. Memandang Qaireen tak berkelip.

“What? Did I said something wrong?” Mata Qaireen turut terbuntang. Serius, apa yang dia tersilap cakap tadi?

“Awak panggil saya apa tadi?” Adwan meminta Qaireen mengulang semula kata-kata yang dilontarkan tadi. Dia tahu dia tak pekak lagi bila Qaireen memanggil dia abang sayang.

“Panggil apa? Abang sayang. Eh!” Qaireen tekup mulutnya. Crap! Macam mana boleh terlepas panggil Adwan abang sayang? Dia terasa rona merah sudah mula melatari pipi mulusnya.

“Sejuk hati saya. Awak sayang saya rupa-rupanya.” Adwan tersenyum senget.

“Jangan nak perasan. Abang tu sebab awak dah 32. Read my lips. Tiga. Puluh. Dua!” Bersungguh-sungguh Qaireen menegakkan benang basah. Siap disebut satu persatu maksud panggilan abang sayang tu.

“Sayang?” Sebelah kening Adwan terangkat. Menuntut penerangan lebih.

“Itu tergelincir. Tak bermaksud apa-apa.” Qaireen tersengih.

“Tak kisahlah apa-apa. Janji awak sayang saya.” Adwan menyisip sedikit kopi panas yang baru dihantar pekerja kafé sekejap tadi.

“Nak tahu tak kenapa saya senyum-senyum tadi?” Qaireen cuba ubah topik. Garfu di tangan menguis pai di atas pinggan.

“Hmmm…”Adwan bersandar malas. Layankan.

“Teringat tadi yang adik awak mandi tepung.”

“Really?” Terjongket kening Adwan. Menarik. Adalah bahan untuk kenakan si adik.

Qaireen mengangguk. Senyuman dia kembali tersungging.

“Ambil gambar dia tak?”

Qaireen menggeleng.

“Why?”

“Tak sampai hati. Tapi serius buruk muka adik awak tu,” terhambur tawa Qaireen.

Adwan turut tersenyum. Cuba membayangkan sama keadaan Amanda tika itu.

“Hoi! Mengata aku eh?” Amanda menyergah. Mengambil tempat duduk di antara Qaireen dan Adwan.

Qaireen angkat dua jarinya pada Amanda.

“Alah, itu pun nak marah. Ni dah mandi ke belum?” Adwan menggosok kepala Amanda biar pun si adik menepis tangannya.

“Bro.” Akid turut datang menyertai mereka bertiga. Menghulur salam pada Adwan.

“Teruklah kau, bro. Sampai mandi tepung adik aku ni.” Adwan ketawa.

Akid kenyit mata pada Amanda yang sudah merah wajahnya.

“Dahlah, Akid. Merah dah muka kawan I ni,” usik Qaireen.

“Reen!” Bahu Qaireen menjadi mangsa pukulan Amanda.

Masing-masing tertawa. Gembira.

 

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https://www.e-sentral.com/book/info/266142/Cinta-Sejati-Seorang-Playboy

[SNEAK PEEK] RAHSIA DIARI MERAH

Rahsia Diari Merah oleh Iman Fadia

 

ADAM menunggu penuh sabar di sebuah restoran di Suria KLCC. Tadi dia sempat tanya ibunya di mana ibunya dan Hawa akan beriadah pada hari minggu itu. Dia sengaja pilih restoran di situ supaya dalam masa yang sama dia boleh perhatikan ibunya dan Hawa. Dari tadi dia mengekori mereka senyap-senyap. Jarum jam dilihat sekilas. Hampir lima belas minit dia menunggu Yahya.

“Ben pun belum datang lagi ni.” Adam panjangkan lehernya menjenguk ke arah pintu masuk restoran. Dia ajak lelaki itu sekali.

Adam senyum. Yahya sudah berjalan menuju ke arahnya. Mereka bersalaman seketika sebelum melabuhkan punggung di situ. Minuman dan makanan mula dipesan.

“Maafkan pak cik… Dah lama Adam tunggu?” Yahya senyum. Dia betulkan kerusi yang didudukinya.

“Tak adalah lama sangat. Errr… Alin tinggal dengan siapa?” Adam pula ramah bertanya.

“Pak cik minta tolong jiran sebelah temankan Alin di rumah. Mereka tu sama-sama ambil SPM tahun ni.” Yahya melakar senyuman.

“Oh… macam tu. Emmm… Ada apa pak cik nak jumpa saya ni?” Adam terus saja ke topik perbincangan.

“Ni hah… Pak cik jumpa satu gugus kunci dalam laci bilik arwah Melati dulu. Pak cik rasa mungkin kunci ni boleh digunakan.” Yahya hulur kunci yang dimasukkan dalam beg plastik kepada Adam.

Adam senyum. Memang betul tekaannya. Mungkin Yahya ingin serahkan kunci walaupun dia sendiri masih tidak tahu kunci apa sebenarnya. Dia belek seketika kunci itu. Ada beberapa kunci yang bentuknya lebih kurang sama dengan tempat kunci kotak besi itu.

“Saya simpan kunci ni.”

Mereka berdua mula berbual bersama daripada satu topik ke satu topik. Tidak sedar makanan yang dipesan sudah sampai ke meja.

“Adam!”

Adam mendongak. Benjamin berlari anak ke arahnya.

“Ben ada sekali?” Yahya pandang pula ke arah Benjamin yang kini sudah menjadi tunang Hawa.

“Apa khabar, pak su?” Benjamin bersalam dan mencium tangan orang tua itu.

Adam hanya memerhati tingkah Benjamin. Memang Benjamin sudah banyak berubah.

“Ada hal apa Adam, pak su?” Benjamin pula bertanya. Dia sandar di kerusi, melepaskan lelah berlari tadi.

“Ben, aku dah dapat klu baru. Kunci ni mungkin boleh digunakan untuk buka kotak besi yang aku jumpa di banglo putih tu.” Adam mula berterus terang.

“Kotak?” Serentak Yahya dan Benjamin bertanya.

“Ya, mengikut catatan pada diari merah tu, ada satu tanda X berwarna merah di bilik arwah Melinda, kakak Melissa. Saya pergi cari dan bawah tanda tu, memang ada kotak tanpa kunci. Mungkin salah satu kunci ni sepadan dengan kunci pada kotak itu,” jelas Adam.

Benjamin diam. Dia mula merasa cemburu pada Adam yang beria-ia menyiasat semua itu sedangkan dia yang sepatutnya melakukan semua itu memandangkan Hawa kini sudah menjadi tunangnya.

“Jadi, kat mana kotak tu?” Benjamin mula bertanya.

“Ada dalam simpanan aku. Kalau kita tahu apa isi dalam tu, mungkin kes ni boleh diselesaikan dengan cepat. Semalam, Razak ada hubungi aku, JD terpaksa dibebaskan kerana tiada bukti kukuh dia terlibat dalam kes ini dan juga kes pecah rumah aku dulu.” Adam sedikit mengeluh.

“JD?” Yahya pula terpinga-pinga.

“Errr… JD tu orang yang kejar Melissa dulu pak su. Dia yang arahkan orang kejar Melissa dan curi diari merah daripada Melissa tapi sayang, tak ada bukti kukuh. Terpaksalah dibebaskan.” Benjamin pula mencelah.

Yahya mengangguk-angguk.

“Pak cik kesian sebenarnya dengan Lissa tu. Dia jadi pelarian sampai macam tu sekali. Memang orang yang kejar dia tu tak berhati perut langsung!”

Adam diam. Memang tidak berhati perut. Mengejar seorang gadis yang tidak berdaya dan lebih sadis, ingin membunuh Hawa, waris terakhir Datuk Yusof. Kalau dia dapat tahu siapa dalang semua itu, tahulah nasib orang itu nanti.

“Maaf, pak su. Saya tak tahu selama ini Melissa adalah anak Datuk Yusof. Saya tak pernah tanya dia dulu masa di US. Hidup kami hanya berseronok dan belajar saja ketika itu. Rupa-rupanya baru saya tahu, arwah Datuk Yusof berkawan baik dengan papa.” Benjamin mula merasa bersalah pada Hawa.

Adam diam sahaja.

Tengah hari itu mereka bertiga berbual dan bersembang mesra sebelum beredar dari situ. Benjamin pula mempelawa Yahya bermalam di rumahnya. Adam hanya senyum. Yalah, pak su yang bertanggungjawab pada Hawa sekarang ini dan sudah tentu lelaki itu juga akan menjadi wali pernikahan Benjamin dan Hawa nanti.

SEKALI lagi Adam berjumpa dengan Encik Yahya untuk pulangkan semula kunci yang diambil semalam. Setelah berbincang serba sedikit, Adam menghantar Encik Yahya ke lapangan terbang. Benjamin sudah menempah tiket untuk Encik Yahya dan Benjamin sempat berpesan supaya menghantar pak su Hawa ke KLIA kerana dia terpaksa mengikuti mesyuarat penting.

“Adam, terima kasih.” Yahya bersalam dengan Adam.

“Sama-sama.” Adam senyum.

“Pak su!”

Adam berpaling. Hawa sudah berlari ke arah mereka. Dia berkerut kening. Matanya dialih pada Yahya.

“Pak cik yang beritahu dia.” Yahya senyum.

Hawa menghampiri pak sunya dan Adam. Tergamam dia melihat Adam turut berada di situ.

“Pak su… Ni untuk Alin.”

Hawa hulur sebuah kotak kepada Yahya. Adam di sebelah hanya dipandang sekilas. Mungkin Adam sudah tahu apa yang terjadi semasa di KLCC dulu. Sudah tentu lelaki itu melihat gambar dalam telefon bimbit itu.

“Lissa… Jaga diri baik-baik, ya? Datuk Malik tu baik. Dia yang jaga syarikat arwah papa tu,” pesan Yahya kepada Hawa sebelum dia melangkah masuk ke balai menunggu.

“Ya, pak su. Kirim salam pada Alin, ya?” Hawa mencium tangan pak su.

Yahya mula melangkah ke balai menunggu.

Adam mengalih pandang pada Hawa.

“Kotak besi tu… Saya dah dapat dari bawah lantai marmar.”

“Kotak? Maksud awak… bawah tanda X tu ada kotak?” Hawa terkejut.

“Ya, kotak tu ada di rumah ibu saya tetapi tidak boleh dibuka.”

“Maksud awak, kotak tu berkunci?” Hawa menelan liur.

Adam mengangguk.

“Saya rasa saya ada kunci… Tapi saya tak tahu kunci apa. Kunci itu ada dalam dokumen yang paksu beri kepada saya dulu.” Hawa pula berterus terang.

“Kalau macam tu, boleh saya pinjam kunci tu?” Adam senyum. Hawa dilihat sudah mengangguk.

“Saya nak juga tahu apa isi kandungan kotak tu.”

“Hmmm… Kalau macam tu, jomlah. Awak naik kereta saya. Kita ke apartmen awak… Errr … Maksud saya, saya tunggu awak di bawah.” Adam sudah teruja.

“Baiklah.”

Mereka berdua mula menaiki kereta bersama menuju ke Apartmen Anggerik.

ADAM menunggu penuh sabar di kawasan Apartmen Anggerik. Dia pandang jam. Sudah sepuluh minit dia menunggu Hawa di dalam kereta saja.

Adam berpaling. Ketukan di cermin keretanya menyedarkannya dari lamunan tadi. Kelihatan Hawa sudah tersenyum di situ. Perlahan Adam menapak keluar dari perut kereta.

“Ada tak?”

“Ni… Tak tahulah kalau kunci boleh pakai ke tak. Cubalah dulu.” Satu kunci dihulur kepada Adam.

“Hmmm… Nanti saya cuba. Errr… Awak nak tengok juga kan kotak tu?” Adam pandang Hawa yang masih tersenyum di sebelahnya. Terasa laju jantung berdegup.

“Ya, bila awak nak buka?”

“Malam nanti awak datang dengan Ben, saya tunggu di Restoran Rebung di Bangsar.” Adam beri cadangan.

Hawa diam. Dia tidak menjawab apa-apa.

“Maaf… Saya terpaksa ajak Ben sekali sebab dia tunang awak dan saya tak nak dia salah faham nanti.” Adam mula jelaskan situasi itu pada Hawa.

Hawa mengangguk.

Adam mula masuk ke dalam kereta. Malam nanti mereka bertiga akan bertemu di Bangsar.

ADAM bersiap untuk ke Restoran Rebung di Bangsar. Usai solat maghrib tadi, dia terus saja capai kunci kereta dan menapak keluar dari biliknya. Langkahnya diatur ke ruang tamu. Kotak besi itu diletakkan di atas meja sofa. Dia jenguk ke dapur, ibu sibuk mengemas ruang dapur setelah selesai solat maghrib tadi. Perlahan Adam mendekati ibunya yang leka mencuci pinggan.

“Ibu…”

Rohana berpaling. Dia melemparkan senyuman manis.

“Nak ke mana ni?”

“Saya nak keluar sekejap. Ibu nak kirim apa-apa tak?” Adam senyum. Dia menolong mengelap pinggan yang sudah dicuci.

“Tak ada…” balas Rohana.

“Kalau macam tu, saya pergi dulu.” Adam bergegas ke kereta.

Adam memandu ke arah Bangsar.

“Sangkut la pula.” Adam jenguk ke depan. Kereta hanya bergerak 20km sejam. Entah apa yang berlaku di hadapan jalan itu. Banyak kali Adam melihat jarum jam. Lapan setengah malam. Jam sembilan nanti dia perlu sampai di restoran itu.

Adam pandang telefon bimbitnya. Ada mesej. Mesej itu dibaca sebentar. Dia senyum. Hawa dan Benajmin juga tersangkut dalam kesesakan jalan raya, mereka akan tiba lewat di restoran itu.

“Hmmm… Ingatkan aku aje yang tersadai kat sini.” Adam sedikit lega. Dia tidak suka hanya pandai berjanji tetapi tidak ditepati.

Keadaan sesak tadi sudah mula beransur lancar. Adam membelok ke simpang masuk ke arah bangunan di Bangsar. Tiba-tiba terasa keretanya dilanggar seseorang. Dia pandang melalui cermin pandang belakang. Sebuah kereta berwarna putih sudah rapat dari belakang. Sekali lagi belakang keretanya dilanggar.

“Gila! Ni mesti road bully!” Adam mengetap bibir. Dia tidak hiraukan kereta itu tadi, dia teruskan memandu menuju ke arah restoran itu yang sudah tidak jauh dari situ.

Adam brek mengejut. Kereta putih tadi sudah memotong keretanya. Dia pandang kiri kanan. Jalan agak lengang dengan lampu jalan tidak bernyala di situ. Agak gelap suasana ketika itu. Dua orang lelaki sudah keluar dari perut kereta dan menghampiri keretanya.

“Samseng mana pula ni?” Adam masih berada di dalam kereta. Dia cuba mengundur tetapi keretanya sudah dihalang oleh sebuah kereta lagi di belakangnya.

“Keluar!”

Cermin kereta Adam diketuk kuat. Adam masih diam di dalam kereta. Kedua-dua lelaki itu sudah mengambil sebatang besi, bersedia untuk mengetuk cermin keretanya. Adam cepat-cepat keluar.

“Kau orang nak apa?” Adam pandang seorang demi seorang.

“Geledah kereta dia!” arah salah seorang lelaki itu yang memakai jaket kulit hitam. Adam dikilas tangannya ke belakang dan ditolak ke arah kereta sehingga tersandar Adam dengan pipinya melekat di bonet kereta.

“Tak ada, bos!”

“Tak ada?” Lelaki itu berkerut kening.

“Mana kotak tu?”

Adam menelan liur. Mana dia orang tahu pasal kotak tu?

“Aku tanya, mana kotak tu?” Lelaki itu tadi mula tonyoh muka Adam dengan batang besi tadi.

Adam masih diam. Dia cuba ingatkan semula semasa dia keluar dari biliknya tadi, dia terus ke dapur dan kemudian menaiki kereta. Baru dia teringat, kotak itu diletakkan atas meja sofa di ruang tamu. Mungkin dia terlupa mengambilnya.

“Mana aku tahu! Kotak apa kau orang cakap ni?” Adam tidak mahu mengalah.

“Dengar sini! Aku tahu kau ada simpan kotak tu. Aku nak kotak tu. Kalau tak, awek kau akan jadi mangsa!” Lelaki itu terus menumbuk muka Adam. Mereka terus beredar dari situ.

Adam yang jatuh tersungkur di tepi keretanya sudah berdarah mulutnya. Pipinya pula sudah pedih akibat ditonyoh batang besi tadi. Dia raba pipinya sendiri.

“Gila!”

Darah mula menitis kesan daripada ditonyoh dengan batang besi tadi.

Adam masuk semula ke dalam kereta. Dia mula mencari kotak besi itu. Memang tak ada.

“Hmmm… Jadi aku memang tertinggal kat rumah. Aku mesti balik cepat. Mana tahu mereka serbu rumah mak ayah aku pula.”

Adam segera menghubungi Benjamin. Dia terpaksa batalkan perjumpaan itu. Dia harus segera pulang ke rumah. Keretanya dipandu laju meninggalkan kawasan itu menuju ke rumahnya semula.

SAMPAI di rumah, Adam meluru ke ruang tamu. Matanya tertancap pada kotak besi di atas meja sofa. Dia bergegas pula mencari kedua-dua orang tuanya. Lega melihat ibu sedang membaca al-Quran di dalam bilik. Ayah pula sedang membaca di dalam bilik bacaan.

Dia menarik nafas lega. Sekali lagi Adam turun ke ruang tamu. Kotak besi itu masih ada di situ. Dia segera ambil kotak itu dan menapak ke bilik. Kotak itu diletakkan atas meja. Dia seluk poket seluar untuk mengambil kunci.

“Mana pula kunci ni?”

Adam seluk lagi poket seluarnya.

Dia bergegas ke kereta semula. Habis diselongkar keretanya mencari kunci di situ. Juga tidak ada. Sekali lagi dia memeriksa. Hampa. Adam menapak semula ke dalam rumah. Kali ini dia cuba mencari di sekitar sofa pula. Juga tidak ada di situ.

“Haih… Mesti Hawa marahkan aku nanti.”

Adam meraup muka.

Dia cuba mengingati kejadian tadi. Mungkin kunci itu sudah jatuh di tempat keretanya dihalang tadi. Sekali lagi Adam meraup muka. Dia sudah buntu sekarang ini.

 

eBook penuh boleh didapati di E-Sentral.com
https://www.e-sentral.com/book/info/266188/Rahsia-Diari-Merah

Sejenak Bersama Aliesha Kirana

Aliesha Kirana

 

Hello readers! Admin akan kongsikan hasil temu bual kami bersama seorang penulis dari Karyaseni dan Penulisan2u. Pada bulan ini, admin berjaya menemu bual seorang penulis buku yang terkenal dengan bukunya Love You Mr. Arrogant, Aliesha Kirana! 

Kalau readers nak tahu serba sedikit tentang penulis buku ini, boleh ikuti temu bual kami di bawah 🙂

 

Aliesha Kirana, 6 tahun bergelar penulis, 7 novel dan 1 kompilasi cerpen bersama Karyaseni dan Penulisan2u.

-Love You Mr. Arrogant

-Cinta Bersaiz XXL

-Miss You Mr. Arrogant

-Melodi Cinta II (cerpen Daim)

-Angin Cinta

-Mamat Muka Selenga

-Pak Cik Kerek Semanis Pavlova

-Jodohku Jejaka Jelita

 

Bagi yang ingin mengikuti perkembangan penulis, bolehlah mengikuti:-

Facebook Pages di fb.com/NovelisAlieshaKirana,

blog penulisan tintaalieshakirana.blogspot.com,

Wattpad @AlieshaKirana,

twitter dan instagram @alieshakirana.

 

1) Siapa yang memberi inspirasi untuk Aliesha Kirana menulis?

Saya sendiri tak pasti siapa yang beri saya inspirasi tapi saya rasa saya mula berminat untuk menulis sedari saya sekolah rendah lagi. Saya suka benar dengan karangan yang tak ada format. Jadi saya rasa saya harus bagi kredit kepada cikgu Bahasa Melayu saya dahulu sebab buat saya jatuh cinta dengan karangan. Dan sampai sekarang saya tak berhenti menulis.

 

2) Apa makanan kegemaran Aliesha Kirana?

Saya sejenis manusia yang tak memilih makanan, saya boleh makan semua (yang halal) jadi kegemaran saya pun ada banyak. To name a few; samgyetang, nasi ayam, ikan patin masak lemak, nasi kerabu, ayam percik, ikan keli bakar, daging kambing bakar dan banyak lagi. Oh terus teringat pasar malam. Lain kali jangan tanya saya bab makanan. Hahah.

 

3) Siapakah penulis kegemaran Aliesha Kirana? (tak kisah luar negara or dalam negara)

Ramai saja penulis yang saya suka, tapi kalau bukan semata sebab novelnya, saya akan sebut Illa Shanahila, Liz Haliza dan Aifa Batrisya. Sebab dia orang sahabat-sahabat penulis yang saya paling rapat. Aci kan? Haha!

 

4) Apakah novel kegemaran Aliesha Kirana? (tak kisah luar negara or dalam negara)

Banyak sebenarnya novel kegemaran saya jadi susah nak senaraikan satu-satu dekat sini.

 

5) Ada haiwan peliharaan tak di rumah?

Tak ada. Tapi teringin nak bela haiwan eksotik macam burung hantu, iguana mahupun ular sawa. Haha.

 

6) Jika Aliesha Kirana diberi peluang untuk melancong secara percuma, ke manakah Aliesha Kirana mahu pergi dan mengapa?

Kalau percuma dan tak perlu memilih, maka semua tempat di dunia ni saya teringin nak jejak. Tapi kalau kena pilih a few saja, maka saya mungkin akan pilih:

-Mekah dan Madinah, untuk ziarah dan umrah.

-Korea, pernah pergi tapi nak repeat sebab best sangat!

-Jepun, nak tengok sakura berkembang masa musim bunga.

-India, mungkin untuk merasai sendiri macam mana berlari-lari di taman bunga yang terbentang luas. Haha!

-Iceland, nak kejar Aurora Boraelis

-Switzerland, sebab view dia masya-Allah!

 

7) Adakah Aliesha Kirana merancang untuk menulis dan produce novel terbaru?

Yup. Insya-Allah, selagi diizin Allah untuk berkarya. Nantikan!

 

8) Apakah pesanan Aliesha Kirana kepada pembaca di luar? 

Bacalah buku-buku saya dan rakan-rakan penulis yang lain, kerana insya-Allah walau karya-karya kami banyak kekurangan tapi kamu sudah mencuba yang terbaik untuk memenuhi citarasa dan kepuasan pembaca. Tolong sokong industri novel dan buku ini, jangan biarkan ia hambar ya? Sokongan pembaca buatkan kami terus bersemangat untuk berkarya di masa hadapan dan mencuba untuk terus melakukan yang terbaik. Terima kasih untuk pembaca-pembaca yang tak henti-henti menyokong kami terutamanya saya, Aliesha Kirana, daripada dulu hinggalah sekarang, di saat jatuh bangun, susah dan senang. Terima kasih!

 

9) Pada pandangan Aliesha Kirana, apa istimewanya novel Aliesha Kirana berbanding novel lain di pasaran?

Lemah betul bab nak memuji novel sendiri,  sebab bagi saya banyak sangat kekurangan novel-novel saya ni. Tapi bagi saya apa yang berbeza dan boleh dikatakan istimewa adalah saya selalu memberi kelainan dalam watak-watak yang saya cipta. Setiap novel ada pelbagai watak yang berbeza. Contohnya:

-Love You Mr. Arrogant – kisah lelaki yang berlagak sombong dengan gadis naif.

-Cinta Bersaiz XXL – kisah gadis saiz XXL bertemu jodoh dengan lelaki sempurna.

-Mamat Muka Selenga – kisah lelaki biasa yang sengal dengan gadis garang, jiwa kental.

-Pak Cik Kerek Semanis Pavlova – kisah lelaki bujang terlajak kerana menjaga anak saudaranya yang lumpuh.

-Jodohku Jejaka Jelita – kisah lelaki berwajah keperempuan dan berperwatakan lembut.

Berbeza kan? Jadi nantikanlah apa kelainan yang saya bawa untuk novel berikutnya ya.

 

10) Dari mana Aliesha Kirana selalu dapatkan ilham untuk menulis? Ada yang dari pengalaman sendiri ke?

Ilham ini sebenarnya boleh didapati daripada pelbagai cara. Sengaja atau tidak sengaja. Biasanya saya dapatkan ilham daripada pemerhatian dan tontonan. Saya suka memerhati sekeliling saya dan dari situ kadangkala muncul idea yang saya tak sangka. Drama, program tv dan filem juga ada membantu dalam memberi inspirasi tetapi itu tidak bermakna saya meniru apatah lagi mengambil bulat-bulat daripada cerita tersebut. Saya biasanya suka memerhati satu-satu watak dan karakter yang saya tonton. Sebagai contoh, karakter Jep Sepahtu yang lucu dan sengal, membuatkan saya mendapat idea untuk mencipta watak sebegitu di dalam novel Mamat Muka Selenga.

Kalau daripada pengalaman saya sendiri ada juga saya masukkan tetapi biasanya tidak banyak. Sekadar 5 ke 10% sahaja, hanya sekadar penambah perasa. Contohnya di dalam novel Love You Mr. Arrogant, watak heroin, Zaara Amirah sukakan warna merah jambu, suka makan ikan keli dan ayam percik (nampak tak perkaitannya di sini dengan soalan tentang makanan kegemaran saya tadi? Haha), sama macam saya. Dalam novel Cinta Bersaiz XXL pula, kisah-kisah sadis yang dialami heroin, Adeeba Addin kerana dia bersaiz XXL, kebanyakannya saya pernah lalui sendiri sebagai seorang yang bersaiz besar.

 

11) Apa rutin harian Aliesha Kirana? Ada yang rare tak?

Rutin harian saya teramatlah membosankan jadi nak share pun takut orang lain mengantuk mendengarnya. Haha. Jadi sebab itu saya suka menulis sebab menulis membawa saya mengembara ke alam khayalan yang saya boleh corakkan sendiri.

 

12) Describe diri Aliesha Kirana dalam 3 patah perkataan.

Penulis. Pencinta. Pemimpi.

 

13) Apa nasihat Aliesha Kirana kepada penulis-penulis yang masih baru dalam industri buku?

Buat semua penulis baru, sama ada yang sudah punya buku atau masih mencuba untuk karyanya diterbitkan, saya cuma nak pesan supaya jangan berputus asa dan lemah semangat dalam berkarya. Jatuh bangun itu lumrah dalam kehidupan, termasuk dalam industri ini tetapi kita harus sentiasa percaya yang rezeki tak pernah salah alamat, asalkan kita berusaha dan tidak menyerah kalah.

Terus belajar dan belajar untuk memantapkan penulisan kita dan jangan pernah puas dengan tahap kita sedia ada. Bagi saya penulis juga harus jadi seorang pembaca supaya kita dapat luaskan minda kita dan belajar sesuatu daripada penulis lain. Kalau kita tak baca novel orang lain, kita akan rasa novel kita dah cukup bagus dan tak perlukan penambahbaikan lagi. Kalau kita baca novel dan lihat cara-cara penulis lain, barulah kita akan sedar yang bukan kita seorang yang pandai menulis. Masih ramai lagi yang pandai dan mungkin lebih pandai menulis daripada kita. Kan?

Jadi jangan putus asa, teruskan membaca, teruskan belajar, dan teruskan menulis. Teruskan usaha kalian dan teruskan perjuangan! Saya doakan setiap daripada kalian akan berjaya menempa nama dalam industri. Amin!

 

14) Selain Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Inggeris, apa lagi bahasa lain yang Aliesha Kirana kuasai?

Saya boleh faham bahasa Hindi sikit-sikit, tapi nak bertutur tu gagaplah. Haha. Ini adalah hasil menjadi penonton drama Hindi tegar sejak kecil. Sekarang tengah cuba fahamkan bahasa Korea supaya bila tonton Kdrama tak payah fokus dekat subtitle sangat jadi boleh fokus tengok ahjussi-ahjussi yang berkarisma. Hahaha. Gurau.

 

Karya terbaru Aliesha Kirana boleh didapati di E-Sentral.com
https://www.e-sentral.com/author/filter/au_34513_aliesha-kirana/~

[REVIEW] CALON SUAMI BUAT NOVELIS

Calon Suami Buat Novelis oleh Eliza A.B

 

Nak cari calon suami bukan semudah ABC. Bukan macam pilih sayur di pasar. Kenalah pilih yang betul-betul sesuai dan kena dengan jiwa. Begitulah yang terjadi kepada Qaira Nur Imani. Cadangan Puan Noraini memperkenalkan dia dengan beberapa calon suami membuatkan dia rasa sesak nafas. Qaira Nur Imani, seorang novelis yang serik untuk jatuh cinta lagi. Cukuplah tiga kali dia kecewa kerana bertepuk sebelah tangan. Lantaran itu, pintu hatinya ditutup buat insan yang bergelar lelaki. Namun, perkara itu tidak menghalang Puan Noriani mencari calon suami untuk anaknya itu. “Selagi Aira tak bawa calon untuk ibu, selagi itu ibu akan kacau hidup Aira!” – Puan Noraini Bagi Qaira, nak cari calon suami bukan semudah ABC. Kenalah pilih yang betul-betul sesuai dan kena dengan jiwa serta dapat menggetarkan naluri perempuannya. Kalau boleh, dia menginginkan seorang suami sama seperti hero-hero dalam novelnya. Pertemuan dengan jejaka kacak Hadif Asyraf merubah hidup Qaira. Hadif yang juga mempunyai masalah yang sama dengan Qaira melamar Qaira walaupun mereka baru berkenalan. Bagi Hadif, dia yakin dengan prinsip 5B ciptaannya. Berkenalan, berkawan, bercinta, berkahwin dan bahagia. “Aku nak melamar kau jadi isteri aku. Kita kahwin?” – Hadif “Memang kita dah berkenalan. Kita pun dah berkawan. Tapi kita belum bercinta. Mana boleh berkahwin terus?” – Qaira “Kalau macam tu, kita kahwin kemudian kita bercinta. Aku nak jadi hero kau selama-lamanya.”- Hadif Qaira dalam dilema. Calon sudah ada tapi mampukah Hadif menjadi calon suami buatnya seperti yang diidamkan? Mampukah dia membuka pintu hatinya buat Hadif Asyraf buat kesekian kalinya?


Pertama kali admin membaca eBook ini, admin rasa tertarik dengan perkembangan jalan cerita dan perkembangan watak antara Qaira Nur Imani dan Hadif Asyraf. Dari benci antara satu sama lain hingga lah masing-masing akhirnya terjatuh cinta terhadap satu sama lain. Bibit-bibit percintaan mereka memang sangat sweet hingga bersemut eBook ni admin baca. Jalan ceritanya untuk suatu kejadian agak sedikit meleret dan dicerita berulang kali menyebabkan admin melonjak ke beberapa muka surat seterusnya ketika bacaan. Pada mulanya, Qaira sering kali menghadapi kekeliruan dengan hatinya. Manakala, Hadif pula cepat membaca naluri hatinya, dia cepat sedar yang dia sebenarnya dah jatuh hati terhadap Qaira apabila 3 bulan mengenali gadis itu. Disebabkan Qaira tidak pasti dengan hatinya, bermacam-macam hal yang terjadi selama perkenalan mereka. Admin rasa kesian pun ada terhadap kedua-dua keluarga Qaira dan Hadif kerana Qaira banyak kali buat masalah. Admin rasa mungkin ada antara kita yang boleh relate dengan apa yang Qaira hadapi. Qaira takut bertepuk sebelah tangan lagi sepertimana yang terjadi waktu dahulu sebelum dia berjumpa dengan Hadif. Admin kagum dengan keberanian Qaira untuk luahkan perasaan terhadap lelaki yang diminatinya dahulu kerana walaupun ini generasi yang baru, bukan ramai perempuan yang mahu dan berani untuk membuat langkah pertama. Tetapi jika dah namanya perempuan, maka akan terasa kecil juga diri apabila luahan hati dipandang sepi. Beberapa hari sebelum tarikh perkahwinan Qaira dan Hadif, Qaira menghilangkan diri selama sebulan. Memang remuk hati Hadif bila Qaira buat dia sebegitu rupa. Tapi kenapa Qaira melarikan diri? Apa sebenarnya yang terjadi? Nak tahu dengan lebih lanjut tentang novel ini?

 

[SNEAK PEEK] SALTING ROSES

Salting Roses by Lorelle Marinello

 

The morning interview with her grandma and Sam’s watchful gaze had taken more out of Gracie than she cared to admit. She still hadn’t glanced at the date on her birth certificate. It seemed like a simple thing, just a few numbers—something she’d always wondered about—but just knowing the actual date would make the last week just a little too real. Already she was beginning to lose track of where Gracie Calloway ended and Katherine Hammond began.

Sam had sensed her need to be alone and reluctantly let her leave with a promise to go straight home. Her grandma had backed off when she said she had to pack for the trip to Montgomery to sign papers, which was the truth. But first she had to fix things with Alice.

Old Man Guilt had been following her around all day and wouldn’t leave her be. The image of Alice’s wobbly lips and dog-sad eyes kept popping into her mind. Alice had come out fighting for her, and she’d just stood there, tongue-tied like a fool with her mind looping around the sparkly image of her flesh-and-blood mama.

Gracie kicked off her sandals on Alice’s back porch and smoothed the wrinkles out of the yellow dress, hoping Clare had delivered her regrets and softened Alice up. Her girlish side had always admired Alice’s frilly kitchen in a moth-to-flame sort of way. It was practically a religious experience, complete with a hand-painted statue of a smiling Lord Jesus who stood guard over Alice’s row of fancy china cups and saucers.

The smells—a mixture of fresh-baked pies, coffee, and Alice’s lavender body powder—hit her as soon she stepped through the doorway. Gracie’s apology went still on her tongue.

Alice clutched a rolling pin in her right hand and offered it to Clare. “Now, if the piecrust isn’t kept chilled, it will get sticky, then hard as wood when it bakes. Might even break your sweetheart’s tooth. And he won’t thank you for it. Then you’ll have a toothless man smiling at you from across the table the rest of your days. Makes me shudder just to think of it.”

Clare looked up from what she was doing. “Your neighbor, Skip Evers, has a nice smile.”

Alice quickly swallowed her surprise, then beamed back at Clare. “Why, yes, he certainly does. Mind you, that’s because I told Millie Evers to make sure he brushes twice a day.” As sly a smile as Gracie had ever seen spread across Alice’s lips. “I hear he came by twice to check on you while I was at work this morning.”

Clare blushed. “He did, and the second time he brought me flowers. No one has ever brought me flowers before.”

“Oh my, but how sweet our Skippy is. Flowers, like teeth, are the mark of a true gentleman. Gracie is immune to his charms. But that’s just as well now that she has her fancy mama to make a fuss over her.”

Alice let out a sorrowful sigh, then reached over to guide Clare’s hands. “Roll it gently now, dear. Not too thin. There you go. Now, that wasn’t too hard, was it?”

“This is fun. I could do this all day.” Clare’s voice had a skip it hadn’t had when she arrived in Shady Grove. “What’s next?”

“Hand me that pie dish from the table, would you?”

Gracie stepped out of the shadows and hurried toward the dish. “Here you go, Alice.”

Alice’s hands flew to her chest as she spun around. “Lord Almighty, you scared the livin’ daylights out of me, child. Haven’t I told you not to sneak up on me when I’m in the kitchen? Clare, bring me my stool, would you? My heart’s nearly out my throat. I need to catch it before it runs off.”

Clare plunked the stool down beside Alice. “I can finish. Just tell me what to do.”

Alice reached for Clare’s arm as she lowered herself onto the stool. “Why, thank you. You are such a dear.”

“I’m just so happy to be here. I can hardly find the words.”

Alice tightened her grip on Clare’s hand. Gracie couldn’t believe her eyes … or her ears. Was that a drawl she’d heard slipping over her sister’s New England accent? Alice had turned Clare into her clone, right down to the calico apron hugging her sister’s waist. Where was the brave girl she’d been sharing secrets with just this morning?

Gracie felt her temper bump up a notch. “Are you feeling sickly? Do I need to call the doctor?”

Alice pulled a tissue out of her sleeve and dabbed at her eyes. “I thought you’d be packing for your tea party at the Riverview.” Alice’s sharp gaze was taking in her new dress.

Gracie swallowed the inclination to snap back that she had nothing to pack. “Not yet. I’m only going for one day. I’ll be back before you know I’m gone.”

Alice leaned toward Clare. “Tell me, dear. What do you think of Gracie in yellow? Did I choose the wrong color?”

Clare’s gaze did the jitterbug, flitting back and forth between Jesus and the teacups behind Gracie’s head. “Yellow turns my skin green, but on Gracie it looks great.”

Bless the teacups and the happy Jesus. The spell was lifted. The Clare she knew was back.

But Alice didn’t seem to notice. She was still considering Gracie’s dress with her finger propped against one cheek. “I suppose it will do for tea with your new mama.”

Clare dropped the rolling pin on the counter and shot Gracie a panicked look. “But I thought you said she’d gone home—”

Alice’s gaze was intent on Gracie’s. “She arrived at the crack of dawn with an entourage of paparazzi.”

“The press was here? Why didn’t somebody tell me?” Clare’s voice jumped an octave.

Alice didn’t seem to notice. She had her laser stare fixed on Gracie. “The street was cluttered with news vans of all sorts, just when that nice Mr. Fontana had told them to stay away. She brought them on purpose, I’ll bet.”

Gracie glared back at Alice. “You don’t know that for sure. She came to invite me to tea.”

“Most folks send a proper invitation.” Alice’s bottom lip jutted out, and her eyes narrowed behind the glare of her glasses. She was still on a snipe hunt.

Clare untied her apron and thrust it at Gracie. “If my mother finds out Lillian is still here, she’ll be right behind her … I’ll have to leave. Where will I go?”

Alice commandeered Clare’s hand and patted it gently. “Don’t worry, my dear. She wouldn’t dare come here, where she’s not welcome.”

Clare stopped dithering and sent Gracie a look of apology. They both knew Alice wasn’t talking about Clare’s mother, but Gracie’s own mama. Artie had been right: This wasn’t a battle Gracie couldn’t win without losing an arm or a leg. She’d only made things worse with Alice.

Gracie slammed through Ben’s kitchen and snatched up the envelope Kate Hammond had given her, then peeked into Artie’s room. He was lying in a sea of new pillows. The oxygen tube still ran from his nose. Playing cards were spread over the coverlet in front of him.

“Quit your spyin’ and get yourself in here. I ain’t had nobody but ornery women bothering me today.”

She’d spent endless hours playing solitaire with Artie: when it was too hot to move, then again when the rains came and they couldn’t go outside and play ball. Artie was the only one she knew who could beat Old Sol with any regularity. Never once had she suspected him of cheating, but Alice claimed he did.

Gracie perched on a stool and studied the cards. “You’ve reached a dead end. Time to fold.”

Artie worked through the cards in his hand one more time. Magically an ace of spades surfaced. Then there was no stopping him. One-by-one, the cards fell into place. A smile tugged at his lips. “You been draggin’ your sorry ass around too long, girl. Don’t you think it’s time for you to pull yourself out of it?” Artie set the last card into place with a snap.

“I’ll drag as long as I want. Besides, I’ve got reason.” Gracie fumbled with the envelope of photos she’d taken from her grandmother.

“Some folks would say you don’t … but they’re not standin’ in your shoes, so you just go on and wallow, now, you hear?” One of his gray brows lifted her way expectantly.

“I haven’t had time to wallow. I’ve got visitors coming out of the walls.”

Artie laid the two of spades on the ace, then shuffled the pile one more time. “That so?” You gonna tell me who, or are you gonna make an old man wear hisself out guessin’?”

“My sister showed up in her mama’s car with a trunk full of fancy new clothes. Now Alice is in her kitchen teaching her to make pies. And I’ve got a grandma who puts a whole new twist on the word Yankee.”

Artie was quiet for a minute, but Gracie wasn’t fooled; his thoughts were working at lightning speed, making connections. “I see you’s wearing Alice’s new dress—even though I knows you never liked yellow.”

“I can change my mind, can’t I?”

“I told you not to worry ‘bout Alice. She might fuss a bit coming out of the gate, but she’ll come ‘round.”

“There was no gate. She cut straight through the fence. All it took was one look at my mama, and she was like a fast horse heading down the track. I tried to slow her down by putting on this silly dress, but she just ran me down and stole my sister. I give up.”

“You know damn well you and Alice ain’t never seen anythin’ with the same pair of eyes. That’s been goin’ on long before this new trouble come along. Why you so worried about what she thinks now?”

Artie’s look told her he knew why, but he wanted her to say it out loud so she could hear the words for herself. What could she say? “My world is burstin’ at the seams. Alice is running off to marry the reverend. Who knows what’s going on between Ben and the Widow Perkins? Did I mention Jimmy is squeezing me out of my job? And you tell me you’ve already bought a space in the Big Man’s parking lot—” She didn’t even bother to add Sam Fontana to the list. “I got more rights than most to feel out of sorts.”

“Yes, you do. But some of those things that’s sucking up your smile is things you can’t change. Let those go. Worry about the things you can change. Facts is facts.” Artie reached for her hand and laced his fingers through hers. “Now, what about your new family? I suppose their faces are witchy and ugly like yours, long-nosed with warts. You bring them along?” Artie pretended to peer past her shoulder. Something told her he already knew the details. From the look on his tired face, she’d guess he’d missed his nap waiting for her to show up and spill the news.

Gracie tucked Alice to the back of her mind and offered Artie a smile. “Chantel’s been tattling, hasn’t she?”

Artie nodded, then released her hand and settled into the pillows. “She came over to brag about how that Yankee gave her time off, paid. That girl is so busy looking for easy street, she gonna miss the turn—unlike you. You’s gonna miss it ‘cause you gots your eyes shut so tight you can’t see where you’re goin’.” Artie’s gaze dipped to the envelope. “What you got there?”

“A headache.”

“I mean, in that envelope you’s huggin’ so tight.”

“Oh, this?” Gracie lowered the package to her lap. “Just some old baby pictures. Nothing much.”

“Hand me my glasses, girl. I want to see if you were as ugly as I remember.” Artie cracked a smile, but it was a good twenty calibers weaker than his usual sassy grin.

Gracie’s heart seized up. He was fading right before her eyes. Reluctantly, she dumped the pictures into his lap, then reached for his glasses while she tried unsuccessfully to press the tears back into her eyes. “Here you go. Knock yourself out.”

Artie let her watery voice slide by without a second glance. “Well, look at you. Why, you weren’t nothin’ but a tadpole. I seen kittens born bigger than you. And this must be your daddy.” Artie moved the photo up and down until he found the right focus through his bifocals. “You got his chin. Must have a pair of mules in his britches, jus’ like you.”

Gracie resisted the urge to grab the picture away before Artie saw something she wasn’t ready to admit to. For some reason, the picture was painful for her to look at, but she’d wanted it more than anything. If her grandmother had refused to give it to her, she would have found a way to get a copy, even if it meant stealing.

Artie moved on to the next photo. Gracie held her tongue through his grunts, snorts, and nods. When he’d finished, he tucked the snapshots carefully into the envelope—all but the one.

Gracie reached for it, but he snatched it away.

Slowly he raised his one-eyed laser stare in her direction. “I figured this would be the one you’d like the best. I knowed, if it was me, it would be the one I’d pick. Makes me feel sorta like I gypped your daddy.”

Gracie swallowed the lump in her throat. “Why’s that?”

“Well, ‘cause he’s lookin’ at you like you could move heaven and earth. I’m thinkin’ he was a lonely man and you was his North Star.”

“Save your pity for someone else. He lived in this town, shopped in my store, sent me flowers, but he never told me who he was. I had a right to know, and he never said boo. Now I don’t know who the hell I am.”

“You’re Gracie Lynne Calloway—the girl who pitched three no-hitters in a row; the girl who spends her Thanks-givin’ deliverin’ food to folks who ain’t got none, and it wasn’t ‘cause Alice and her churchy friends made you. You’s still the same girl—except for them shoes. They’s some kinda ugly.”

“They’re yours.” Gracie blinked away her tears.

“I thought I taught you not to lie. They ain’t ever been on my stylish feet. No, siree. Arthur Dubois may be poor, but he gots his pride. You been fishin’ in Moses Day’s trash heap, that’s what.”

Gracie felt tears crowd her eyes again. She dashed them away with the back of her hand. “Alice burned my clothes.”

Artie laid the picture down on the coverlet. After a long silence, he nodded his head. “Me and Alice don’t agree on much, you know that. But I’m thinkin’ maybe this time she’s right.”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Artie had always been on her side when Alice got pushy. “Right? About what?”

“That you need to leave the nest. Burnin’ your clothes is her way of shovin’ you out. Ben and me, we got too used to you doin’ for us. Don’t you see, this is your big chance, girl, to do something in a big way besides take care of two old men who smell more every year. Ain’t you got no dreams?”

Gracie stared back at Artie. No one had ever asked her that. The answer had to be yes, ‘cause everybody had a dream, right? She could feel Artie’s gaze hanging on hers, waiting for an answer.

But if she was still Gracie Calloway, not Katherine Hammond, like Artie said, then she was the same child who’d been left on the front porch. Even that girl had had dreams at one time—dreams of a fairy-tale mother who thought she was the cat’s meow. But she’d learned over the years just because she wanted something to be true, dreaming didn’t make it so. Gracie met his prying look with a stubborn frown. “I don’t have time for dreams, Artie.”

“Uh-huh, that’s what I thought. You’s been so busy worryin’ about other folks, you forgot all about little ol’ Gracie Calloway. I’m talkin’ about big dreams like the ones Martin Luther King and John Kennedy had.”

Gracie felt the day creeping up on her. Her arms and legs ached along with her head. She stared at the forgotten photographs in Artie’s lap, then shifted her gaze to Artie’s face. “You don’t ask for much, do you?”

“I’m askin’ ‘cause you ain’t, don’t you see?”

Gracie felt her voice go small in her throat. She propped one foot on her knee and toyed with the frayed shoelace. “I wanted to sing once. But we both know that isn’t gonna happen.”

“Ain’t that the truth. You got the singin’ voice of a crow. What else? There’s got to be somethin’.”

Sam and his grin skated uninvited into Gracie’s mind. Gracie tried to shoo the image away without success. As soon as one version of Sam was gone, another replaced it, until she felt a serious frown tugging at the corners of her mouth.

When she glanced up, Artie’s eagle gaze fixed on her face. Finally his eyes lit and he cracked that smug grin of his that made his ears crinkle along his cheeks. “You’s in love. Hot damn. About time.”

Gracie hopped off her perch on the bed. “You’re crazy. I’ve got to go pack. I’m going to Montgomery—just for a day, mind you. Don’t go getting any funny ideas about me and Mr. Fontana, because they’re just not so.” Gracie collected the envelope from Artie’s lap.

A broad smile curved his face. “I been prayin’ for this day a mighty long time. Yes, siree. My little chick is about to spread her wings.”

“Well, don’t stop, because it’s not here yet. I’m just going to sign some papers.”

“You go on, now. And get yourself some pretty new clothes while you’s there.” Artie started to cough. The raspy sound was deeper this time.

A rush of fear and lack of sleep the night before made Gracie’s head swim. She reached for Artie’s hand. “I can stay here. Sam can arrange for them to come to Shady Grove, if they need me so bad. I don’t give a damn about the money.”

“You met someone else you want to give it to? Someone who will do good with it? From what you tell me, that money could end up in the hands of some mighty shortsighted folks. I know you, girl. You’d never forgive yourself. It would eat at your socks. Seems to me, you gots some serious thinkin’ to do.”

“I’m beginning to think that’s the problem—too much thinking.”

“Maybe you’re startin’ in the wrong place. First off, you gots to know what your dreams is, ‘cause if you don’t, I don’t see how you can know what to do.”

They were back to that again. Gracie still didn’t have an answer—at least any she was ready to admit to. She prayed that as long as she was still looking for an answer, he’d be waiting. If Artie could trick Old Sol as many times as he had, he could trick the Grim Reaper just once.

 

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[REVIEW] Q: A NOVEL

Q: A Novel by Evan Mandery

 

“Q, Quentina Elizabeth Deveril, is the love of my life.”

Shortly before his wedding, the unnamed hero of this uncommon romance is visited by a man who claims to be his future self and ominously admonishes him that he must not marry the love of his life, Q. At first the protagonist doubts this stranger, but in time he becomes convinced of the authenticity of the warning and leaves his fiancée. The resulting void in his life is impossible to fill. One after the other, future selves arrive urging him to marry someone else, divorce, attend law school, leave law school, travel, join a running club, stop running, study the guitar, the cello, Proust, Buddhism, and opera, and eliminate gluten from his diet. The only constants in this madcap quest for personal improvement are his love for his New York City home and for the irresistible Q.

A unique literary talent, Evan Mandery turns the classic story of transcendent love on its head, with an ending that will melt even the darkest heart.

 


 

This novel seems to be narrated by the author himself because the narrator is never mentioned by his name. The genre of this novel is science-fiction, a time-travel love story. He invented a character whose name was Quentina Elizabeth Deveril, known as Q, an incredibly beautiful, flawless and a kind woman. I love that the premise was set in contemporary New York which the author could have written various scenarios within the set, perhaps about Q because Q is barely in this novel, given the novel is named Q. Q is only in the beginning and at the very end of the story. The title is sort of misleading but I wouldn’t want to elaborate longer about that. I want to talk about how the narrator was visited by his future self one day. He was told by the older version of himself that he must leave Q or else he will be faced with a lot of awful fates. This novel makes us question our present time decision. Would we change our decision if we meet out future self and knowing what will happen in the future? Of course, there will be consequences if we mess with time-travel. Imagine if your life journey is supposed to go to A but if you decide to go to B, it will mess up the universe and various awful scenarios would be happening. The narrator didn’t seem to realize this at first. Do you think he will realize about the consequences and make the right decision or will he still be listening to his future self and keep going down the B road? If you wanna know how the ending would be, you can buy the eBook now!

 

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https://www.e-sentral.com/book/info/227731/q-a-novel