Guest Blog, Jeff Gardiner

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‘Treading On Dreams’ by Jeff Gardiner is a contemporary romance set in modern day London. Below is the blurb and a short extract from the novel. Jeff is giving away two e-book copies of the novel (Kindle or PDF). To win just answer the following question: Which poet and poem inspired the book’s title?

Donny is obsessed with his housemate, Selena – but his love is unrequited. He enthusiastically accepts her willing friendship, which only fuels his deepening fantasies.

Jaz is their crazy landlord who likes sleeping with women – lots of them. He takes pleasure in educating the once innocent Donny in the hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It blows Donny’s mind.

Selena is engaged to Melvin – the perfect man – but is also keen to befriend the ever-demanding Donny … until she falls pregnant and her wedding looms.

Donny expresses his true feelings at the wedding, causing mayhem and anger. But there remains a chink of hope: perhaps Selena’s marriage to Melvin is not quite as perfect as it seems.

Treading on Dreams by Jeff Gardiner - 500

 Extract from ‘Treading On Dreams’ by Jeff Gardiner

The marriage service seemed to go on forever.

Long, monotonous choruses accompanied the strumming of two guitar chords. The prayers began with ‘Lord I just wanna…’ followed by the obligatory praying for the bride and groom with laying-on-of-hands. When the bearded elder pressed his hand on Selena’s bosom, it occurred to Donny it was an excuse to touch the bride.

Then the photographs took days to complete, while the guests, ensconced at a nearby posh hotel, starved to death with only small glasses of Schlöer to stop them from dehydrating.

The dreaded speeches followed.

‘Thank you, so much, everyone, for sharing our special day,’ said Melvin, the groom.

Donny couldn’t help staring at Selena. She looked stunning in the simple ivory dress. It showed her magnificent figure in all its glory, unspoiled yet by the swell of pregnancy. Her hair curled in ringlets at the side of her face, falling from her veil and framing her lovely cheeks. Donny continued his gaze as her hand caressed her lips. The desperate urge to touch her became an overwhelming feeling of sorrow and loss.

The people at his table laughed at Selena’s father’s comments.

‘Does anyone remember that time my new son-in-law nearly burnt my house down last year when he lit the barbeque?’ Everyone laughed politely. ‘But anyway, we’re here to celebrate the love this couple clearly feel for each other. I can see how much they are in love from the joy in their eyes.’

Donny swallowed bile.

Then Melvin stood up to speak. ‘God has blessed me today by letting me marry the most wonderful woman in the world. With Jesus beside us, we aren’t so much a couple as a threesome.

A few guests sniggered.

Donny looked around with narrowed eyes. Scowling, he wrung the tablecloth as if it was wet.

The best man took his turn. ‘As a doctor, Melvin saves lives every day; as a Christian he works tirelessly for charity. He also finds time to help lead our church, preaching and ministering to the sick and infirm…’

Why did nobody mentioned Selena’s baby? As if it wasn’t why they were there today. Did they not know or were they ignoring it? He wanted them to know Melvin wasn’t the great shining example they assumed, but a total hypocrite—shagging his girlfriend whilst preaching morality. Could no one else see the hypocrisy?

Once the speeches were over, the servers poured more wine while the happy couple mingled. Donny sat back and listened to the clamour of myriad conversations. Voices buzzed around him until the hubbub became a grating irritant. Every sound intensified behind his eyes, which he momentarily closed.

‘Melvin truly is a holy man of God.’

‘Amen.’

‘They make such a perfect couple—so young and in love.’

As Donny sat listening to the inane conversations around him, they began to reverberate in his head and squeeze his temples like a pincer. Something uncomfortable stirred, churning his insides.

‘I was feeling quite depressed and then I remembered Melvin prophesied about Jesus healing the sick and that afternoon I made an amazing recovery.’

He didn’t know how much more he could take. The cacophony of voices became a crashing wave of atonal sound. Every sound was a spike hammering through his brain.

‘…Isn’t Melvin just the best…?’

‘…I’ve never seen a couple so in love…’

‘…and they’ll have such beautiful children…’

With a roar, Donny stood, his chair crashing to the floor. He grabbed the table with all his strength and knocked it on its side. The dishes hit to the floor, shattering. He had their attention.

‘Fatuous bullshit! You’re talking absolute, fucking bullshit. Can’t you see what’s going on? Melvin ‘goody-two-shoes’ got her pregnant, and you still think he’s wonderful. Selena doesn’t love him, but she’s too scared to say.’

His sister, Hazel, tried to stop him. He pushed her away. ‘I can’t bloody stand it any longer. I’m in love with you, Selena.’

People sat, speechless.

Some other guests got up, moving quickly towards him.

‘You can’t marry him…what’ll happen to me?’ He stopped, breaking down completely and slowly melted into an indistinct blob on the floor. ‘Who the fuck am I kidding? Why would she ever love me?’

Melvin, his father, and a few other men grabbed Donny. They carried him like a rolled up carpet. He kicked and struggled to no avail as they took him from the room.

‘Leave me alone, you bastards!’

Where the hell were they taking him?

His head ached. He was getting hotter and hotter while the world outside burst into flames. Finally, he tipped into a burning abyss.

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