Today, we have a treat: two heroes!! From Debra Ingram’s Forest of Brambles, published by Safkhet Publishing on 15 July, please welcome Mark, along with and man’s best friend, Teddy (or, in this case, little girl’s best friend).
Five Facts about Mark:
Gorgeous, tall, broad-shouldered, Mark Dwyer is a vet, who doesn’t realise how devastatingly attractive he is. This of course only makes him all the more appealing to all the women he comes in contact with.
Mark is not very confident with women.
He had a bad experience with a gold-digging girlfriend and has remained resolutely single since she soured his rose tinted glasses.
He does have an uncanny knack of turning up just when he is needed however.
His superhero cloak is never needed more than when Jess’ little daughter Polly falls into the frozen village pond.
Thank you, Debra. He’ll do quite nicely!
It was bitterly cold. The snow had settled and all the children were excited. The Christmas holidays were about to begin and there were snowmen to be made. Polly had held Robert’s hand and was talking animatedly by his side as they approached the village pond. Jess, Karenza and Mark were keeping a discrete distance behind. Mark had promised to keep the peace. He was not about to spoil Polly’s performance by throttling the odious Robert, even though the urge to punch him was growing stronger as each day passed.
As they approached the pond, Karenza spotted Eva walking the dogs. She waved and Eva came over. She grinned and inclined her head towards Polly who was busy chatting to her father near the water’s edge. Jess could not help herself.
“Be careful!” she called out to Polly and Robert, “It’s slippery by the water. Don’t go too close Polly!”
Robert looked at Jess disdainfully and ignored her. His phone had just rung and he now had his mobile firmly pressed to his ear.
Teddy wagged his feathery tail when he saw Mark, Karenza and Jess, and little Jim Jam wiggled in delight. Jim Jam was wearing a warm red coat to keep out the chill. Karenza and Jess took turns and fussed them both. Mark stroked Teddy’s massive head and he wagged appreciatively. Jim Jam came over to Mark in case he was missing out on any attention and Mark tickled him under his chin.
Eva said, “How did your little angel get on? Bless her, she looks so happy with her wings!” Jess laughed. “She loves her costume. I don’t think I’ll ever get her out of it.”
The three women looked up, as they saw Mark had suddenly stopped fussing the dogs and was running as fast as he could towards the water. Teddy barked furiously and abruptly jerked away from Eva’s grasp. Eva felt the lead pulled from her gloved hand. The enormous dog tore off and sped past Mark. Mark was slowed down by the snowy path, it was very slippery. Then they heard the screaming. Jess felt as if her life was going in slow motion as in a split second she realised what was happening and ran towards the sound.
Polly had been pretending she was on television on Dancing on Ice. Her daddy was too busy on his phone and was not paying her any attention anymore though. The edge of the pond had frozen and was covered in snow. She had unwittingly stepped onto it.
“Dad! Dad! Look at me! I’m the ice queen!” she had called happily.
Finally, Robert had looked in Polly’s direction when she was shouting to him. His face had quickly changed from mild annoyance at the interruption to a look of horror but he was rooted to the spot in shock.
He hastily took his phone away from his ear and shouted, “No!” but it was too late.
Polly had gone into the middle of the icy pond, sliding on the slippery surface. She had become so caught up in her game that she had not remembered her mother’s warning. Jess never allowed her to go too close to the water’s edge alone. Especially in the winter when it was icy and slippery. Polly could not swim yet. In her lessons, she could only manage a doggy paddle with her waterwings on.
The ice was thinner as Polly slipped on the frozen pond. She had never been ice skating before, and had longed to go. She had imagined it would be a lot easier than this. The dancers on the telly made it look very easy. Polly felt her feet growing cold even through her Wellington boots. She shivered. She tried to get back to the water’s edge, but it was very slippery and her legs ached. As she struggled to get to her mum, Polly heard the sickening sound the ice cracking beneath her. She let out a piercing scream as her legs plunged into the bitterly cold water. In a heartbeat, Polly was submerged. Her pink hat and her beautiful halo disappeared beneath the icy cold water. Jess heard her screaming to the frozen air as she ran as fast as she could toward her daughter. “”Polleeeeeee!!”
Teddy was already splashing into the water and swimming towards the splashing terrified child. His lead trailed behind him as he plunged forward. Mark marvelled at how powerful and purposefully he swam. The cold did not seem to bother him one bit. He was wading into the icy pond too. He ploughed into the freezing water and he heard his sharp intake of breath as the cold hit him. He managed to find his voice and yelled with all his strength.
“Polly! Polly!” he shouted desperately, “Grab hold of Teddy, Polly! He’s nearly there! Catch hold of his lead! He will pull you toward me! Grab him, darling! He will help you!”
The huge dog ploughed on effortlessly through the icy water and reached the struggling little girl before Mark was even close. The water was so cold it felt to Mark as if a thousand daggers were stabbing into his body and he heard all the air go from his lungs as the cruel water continued to take his breath away. He waded on despite the cold, desperate to reach Polly.
Polly was screaming in panic, struggling, splashing frantically, swallowing the muddy pond water, coughing and spluttering, going under the cold dark depths. Teddy had reached her and gently edged closer to the struggling child. She reached out, wildly flailing her arms and hitting Teddy’s massive head with her fingers. He patiently paddled closer, the terrified little girl at last managed to grab Teddy’s fur, and then she found his collar and lead and clung on as tightly as she could. Teddy swam confidently to the water’s edge alongside Mark where a near hysterical Jess was up to her knees in the icy sludge. She dragged her bedraggled daughter to safety, aided by Mark.
Karenza had taken off her coat and waded out , quickly wrapping it around her sobbing and shivering granddaughter. They all got soaked again as Teddy shook himself when he emerged from the icy pond.
Without further ado, the delectable Mark!
Forest Of Brambles.
When Eva and Eddie Harper decide to move from their London home in Islington and escape to the country, they get more than they bargained for. Far from being the quiet country idyll they were expecting in the sleepy little village of Marsh Prior, They discover some surprising secrets.
The villagers are mostly hostile toward them at first. All except the new village shop owner Karenza Mead, her beautiful spirited daughter Jess and the handsome local vet Mark Dwyer.
Eva wants to adopt as many unloved animals as she can to fulfil her long held dream of giving the waifs and strays a loving home. Vet Mark Dwyer is only too willing to assist her, and the Harpers take charge of an adorable puppy Teddy, who is a Newfoundland dog.
Mark’s friendship with the Harpers blossoms along with his longing for the lovely Jess, who helps her mum run the village shop. The only stumbling block for Mark is Jess’ avaricious estranged husband.
Karenza Mead has returned to Marsh Prior where she was born after an absence of almost forty years. Why did she leave so hurriedly as a young girl and why did she feel compelled to return? What is the secret sorrow she is hiding from the ones she loves?
As Eva and Eddie settle into their new lives, tragedies unfold and they are swept along and become caught up in an incredible tale of love and betrayal.
For some there are happy endings. Others however, simply get what they deserve.