Written by Zoe Folbigg
My thanks to Melanie Price of Aria Fiction for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour
From the author of the bestselling novel, The Note, comes this beautiful, romantic tale of finding love in the most unexpected places.
Under the midnight sun of Arctic Norway, Cecilie Wiig goes online and stumbles across Hector Herrera in a band fan forum. They start chatting and soon realise they might be more than kindred spirits. But there are two big problems: Hector lives 8,909km away in Mexico. And he’s about to get married.
Can Cecilie, who’s anchored to two jobs she loves in the library and a cafe full of colourful characters in the town in which she grew up, overcome the hurdles of having fallen for someone she’s never met? Will Hector escape his turbulent past and the temptations of his hectic hedonistic life and make a leap of faith to change the path he’s on?
Zoe Folbigg’s latest novel is a story of two people, living two very different lives, and whether they can cross a gulf, ocean, sea and fjord to give their love a chance.
‘I didn’t think we owned champagne glasses,’ Hector says, taking the flute from Pilar’s proffered hand.
‘Something borrowed,’ she winks. Pilar’s hooded Moorish eyes, a constant reminder for Hector of her Old World blood, aren’t usually this playful, but this morning she is giddy. She takes a cigarette from the red and white Delicados packet on the bedside table and lights it with her free hand.
‘Baby, you’re a schoolteacher, you’d lose your job!’
‘Something borrowed!’ she repeats, irritably, then laughs as she blows the first cloud of smoke into Hector’s face. His eyes narrow in discomfort. He feels too rough to have a drag, and so shields himself by raising the glass to his lips and taking a sip of tepid cava. ‘I’ll take them back!’ Pilar snaps, when she sees Hector isn’t laughing. ‘Well, I’ll take this one back anyway.’ Her defensiveness softens with a husky laugh as she pulls the glass away from Hector and tops it up from the bottle resting on the bed between her thighs.
Hector lifts the cigarette balancing dangerously between her thin lips and concedes to take a puff before resting it on the overflowing ashtray on the bedside table. He slips his hand inside her white-satin dressing gown and strokes her shoulder, his eyes less flirtatious than usual.
‘You didn’t steal them from Lazaro’s, did you?’
Pilar tuts and changes the subject. ‘Wanna surprise?’ she asks with a mischievous smile.
The robe drowns Pilar’s slight frame and her black backcombed hair looks three-days tousled, even though she just spent half an hour doing it while she watched her lover sleep. Pilar loves watching Hector sleep. When he sleeps, his long lashes sweep down over earthy brown cheeks, kissed with a pink hue from the heat he works up while he’s dreaming. His small straight nose that looks like it was carved from clay is perfect and still, and his usually loud mouth is poetically plump and sealed in silence while he breathes rhythmically. Everything is peaceful and harmonious when Hector Herrera is in one of two states: sleeping or sketching in his notepad. There are no exuberant gestures or loud laughter, just serenity. His silence calms Pilar’s rage, and with a haughty nose she gazes down at him and wonders how she ended up with a man as beautiful as Hector.
‘More surprises? I’m still traumatised by that crash.’
‘That was an accident, baby. I planned this one,’ she says with a naughty wink as she sips more cava from the glass.
Hector pulls Pilar in closer, waking his dry mouth to place a kiss on hers. His Cupid’s bow lips are small but full and Pilar imagines the same mouth when she pictures their son in a far-ahead future. Hector tastes the cava on Pilar’s tongue and it takes away the stale remnants of vodka and excess on his. She slips her robe off her shoulder.
Hector gazes at Pilar’s chest. Past the dents above her left breast he sees a blue heart with his name etched across a ribbon in a swirly script. It is too big for such a small space. Hector’s eyes widen and he is lost for words among the famine of her sternum.
‘You don’t like it?’
‘A blue heart? For our wedding?’
‘Yes. You make me sad,’ Pilar says matter-of-factly. ‘I thought it could be my “something blue”. I thought you’d like it. You don’t think it’s cool?’
Now Hector understands why Pilar had been so unusually coquettish for the past few days. He thought she might be saving herself for their wedding night, or might feel uncomfortable that her parents and sisters were in town when she wanted to give off the aura of a virginal bride, despite the fact she was straddling him in a bar in front of thirty friends last night after her three prudish sisters had returned to their hotel to get some sleep before the big day.
‘You didn’t want me to see it,’ Hector says, piecing together the jigsaw puzzle around her heart, distracting her from his dislike.
‘I was saving myself for you too,’ she says, taking another drag of the cigarette from the ceramic ashtray. ‘Imagine how great I will taste tonight, mi amor.’
The bell on the cathedral clock chimes twice, meaning it is half past the hour. Hector must get up.
Pilar hands the glass back to Hector to finish the warm dregs as she swigs the remnants from the black bottle and puts it on the bedside table. She winces from the hit of bubbles and alcohol and gives Hector a quick double clap to move him along. ‘Right, let’s get moving,’ she commands, as Hector stretches his body into his yawn. ‘I’m so excited, baby,’ she adds with wide eyes.
Hector, usually the giddy one, always the life and soul, the person people gravitate towards, is finding it hard to galvanise himself this particular morning. He doesn’t feel excited right now. He just feels sad.
Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She has since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. She is the bestselling author of The Note.