Thanks so much for your support with our journey of releasing Meet Me At 10! We are so excited to finally have others read what we have been working on for so long.
Link to order Meet Me At 10 here:
So….here it is!
About the Authors
Vicky Jones was born in Essex, England. She is an author and singer-songwriter, with numerous examples of her work on iTunes and YouTube. At 20 years old she entered the Royal Navy. After leaving the Navy realizing she was drifting through life with no sense of direction, she wrote a bucket list of 300 things to achieve which took her traveling, facing her fears and going for her dreams. At the time of printing, she is two-thirds of the way through her bucket list.
One item on her list was to write a song for a cause. Her anti-bullying track called “House of Cards” is now on iTunes to download whereby 100% of proceeds go to the charity Wipe Homophobia.
Writing a novel was on her bucket list, and through a chance writing competition at her local writing group, the idea for Meet Me at 10 was born. Vicky hopes she can change hearts and minds due to some of the gritty themes of the book. She will also be donating 20% of the profits to charity, split between Wipe Homophobia and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
Vicky is an avid traveler, stemming from her days traveling the world in the Royal Navy, and has visited around 50 countries so far. She has also recently graduated from The Open University after studying part time for her degree in psychology and criminology—another bucket list tick! She is currently writing a book about her bucket list adventures alongside planning and writing more fiction books.
She now lives in Cheshire, splitting her time between there and visiting her family and friends back in Essex.
Claire Hackney is a former English Literature, Drama and Media Studies teacher who, after attending a local writing group with Vicky and writing several of her own short stories, has now decided to focus her career on full-time novel writing. She is an avid historian and has thoroughly enjoyed researching different aspects of the 1950s as part of the creative language re-write of this novel. Claire is very much looking forward getting started on the many future writing projects she has in the pipeline, including several ideas for children’s books.
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Twitter: @VickyJones7 @ClaireHac
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Book Cover: WooTKdesign email@example.com
Edited: Gary Smailes Bubblecow.com
Proofreading: Melanie Bell firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Bridges email@example.com
This book has been a passion project, but we couldn’t have done it without all our friends and family supporting and believing in us every step of the way.
Special mention to Sharon Atkinson for being so supportive in the writing group.
To the amazing beta readers:
Julie Keylock Claire Deakin
Gloria McNeely Jessica Beauregard
Andrea Medd Tina Leigh McDonald
Vicky Prior Emma Mitchell
Nicola Bedlington Helen Louise Barker
Nyki Benson Stephanie Flowers
‘I read this book in 2 days … couldn’t put it down! I got completely caught up in the story. What I like about this book is that it tells the hard hitting truth of what life was like in that era for people that “didn’t fit the norm”. Although a love story, it’s not like one you would have ever read before. I thoroughly recommend it!’
‘This is a real page turner and it’s hard to believe it is a debut novel from Vicky Jones and Claire Hackney – what a great job! They have produced a book that makes you angry and sad but there is also a romance too. Towards the end it was really hard to put down, so much so that I was up until 1.00 a.m. this morning with my Kindle!
Hope these ladies will collaborate again and produce more great novels. If this book were made into a film, I for one would spend a lot of the time with a box of tissues!’
‘Absolutely beautiful. I was gripped within the first few chapters and as the story unfolds it takes you on a journey of emotions. A pure love story reminding the world to keep your eyes truly fixed on love. Thank you.’
‘This book was difficult to put down. On occasions it was heart stopping, and breath holding was frequent. I took it everywhere just in case there was an opportunity to read. I thoroughly recommend this book; it may open some eyes and hearts to the problems involved with prejudice.’
‘This debut novel from Vicky Jones and Claire Hackney is an absolute must read! You will hurt for characters you will grow to love, and you will detest the antagonists in ways you can’t even imagine. This story is made all the more haunting because it is so well researched and written, evoking a time in history where love was a dangerous entity, and hatred was more powerful and visible than it should ever be.
One of the best books I have read this year!’
Meet Me at 10
Trudging along the seemingly endless straight road, Shona Jackson shivered as she felt the temperature in the air around her starting to fall. Jagged hills on both sides of the road loomed over her, their interweaving faces sliding down into plush greenery. The emerging crescent moon brought with it fears of being stranded in its wake, surrounded by darkness with her path ahead illuminated only by the occasional glare of speeding truck headlights. Hunger pangs groaning within her reminded Shona that she had little choice but to push onwards in search of civilization.
Running a dry tongue over her parched lips in a vain attempt to lubricate them, she wrapped her coat around her body to keep out the icy chill as the roar of a truck engine sounded in the short distance behind her. She stepped to the side of the road, safely out of the truck’s path. She held a hand to her eyes, preparing herself for the expected whoosh from its heavy tires and for the cloud of dust that would no doubt be kicked up by them to choke and blind her temporarily. But there was neither a whoosh nor a dust cloud.
The truck was slowing down.
Its headlights remained on as the truck creaked to a halt, the driver’s hulking silhouette darkly framed by the windshield.
Edging forward, Shona pulled her crumpled cap down to just above her eyebrows and tucked her short blonde hair safely behind her small ears. Nervously, she hooked her thumbs underneath her coat collar, folding it up around the soft skin of her neck and pinching it against her chin.
“Need a lift?” shouted a gravelly voice from the driver’s side.
“Um–” she replied in her deepest voice, looking from side to side as she assessed her predicament.
“Look, I ain’t got all night, son.”
Stifling a relieved grin at his assumption, Shona reached up for the door handle, climbed up the three steps into the cab and slammed the door. She sat on the passenger seat furthest away from the driver, his malodorous stink making this a necessity if nothing else.
“Where you headin’, boy?”
The driver was easier to see now under the cab’s overhead strip light. Shona discreetly grimaced as she noticed his pudgy white belly overhanging a pair of ripped jeans, the waistband of which had long since given up the fight. His straggly brown beard appeared to have yesterday’s food still clinging to it and dark, grubby sweat patches adorned the armpits of his grimy red t-shirt, completing his stomach-churningly feculent look.
“Just the next town, sir.” She lowered her chin as she spoke, hugging her battered old brown satchel close to her chest.
“Well, that ain’t no five-minute journey, boy. What the hell y’doin’ out here at this time?”
Shona cast a surreptitious glance at the driver’s watch. It was 10:55 p.m.
“My ride bailed.”
He peered over the bridge of his blotchy red nose at his passenger, an air of suspicion crossing his eyes. He grunted, then returned his attention to the pitch-dark road up ahead. Hoping he wouldn’t pry too much, Shona tucked her satchel underneath her weary head and leaned against the door, then pulled her cap down over her eyes. The fingers on her right hand traced along the doorframe until she found the handle as the motion of the truck began to rock her into a deep, well-needed sleep.
After what only felt like five minutes to Shona, the truck hit a massive pothole in the road. The driver’s subsequent swerve jolted her awake. She rubbed her tired, red eyes and squinted into the bright lights of the oncoming cars, shaking her head a few times to clear it after being snatched from her dream. It was then she looked up at the driver’s staring eyes and recoiled in horror when she realized her cap had fallen backward, revealing her heart-shaped face and high cheekbones. Her satchel pillow now lay in the footwell, having dropped from underneath her head after the sharp swerve. Her coat had slipped open, revealing her delicate neck through the open top buttons of her checked shirt, and the thin straps of her bra peeking beyond. Shona, realizing her cover had been blown, buttoned up her shirt as quick as she could and pointlessly straightened her cap.
“You’re a broad?”
The driver’s face contorted with confusion, his nicotine-stained fingers gripping the truck steering wheel as he fought to control the swerve.
“Please, sir, I’m sorry. I didn’t intend to trick you. I just wanted to get to the next town, and when you thought I was a guy, I guess I just went along with it.” She shrugged.
“What game you playin’? You tryin’ to make me look like an idiot?” he growled.
“I didn’t mean to. I understand if you don’t wanna take me any further.” Shona looked through the windshield into the darkness with no way of guessing where in the hell they were. She hunched her knees into her chest and curled up into a ball, shrinking into the darkest corner of the cab.
The driver sat with his eyes fixed on the road ahead, his gray teeth grinding as he shook his head with embarrassment at his earlier assumption. After a few minutes his indignation appeared to fade as he chewed on his bottom lip, seemingly deep in thought.
It wasn’t noise this time but silence that woke Shona again that night. Still dark out, the truck was now parked in the middle of nowhere, with no sign of civilization or any kind of landmark. She turned her head left in the hope of gleaning an explanation from the driver, but as she did so her eyes widened with revulsion, the dim light of the cab revealing a sight that turned her stomach.
“What the hell y’doin’?” Shona stared in horror.
The driver had fixed his black beady eyes on her, his body reclined into a more comfortable position. His pants were wide open, exposing his fat, hairy thighs. The cab window had misted up from his hot breath as he steadily rocked his hand backward and forward inside his stained underwear.
“There’s one way you could earn your ride,” he drawled.
Shona kept her eyes on the driver as she tried to plan her next move.
“I’m sorry. I don’t want that.” Holding her left hand up, she reached down to the footwell with the other, feeling around for the strap of her satchel.
“Come over here, help me out, darlin’. You’re a real pretty girl and I’ve had a long journey.” His eyes rolled back in his head as he pulled his semi-erect penis from his underwear.
Scrabbling along the surface of the door, Shona’s shaking fingers finally located the metal handle. At that same moment, the driver lunged towards her and dug his dirty nails into her neck, forcing her downwards onto him. Gagging from the stench of his body odor, she struggled with all her might to keep her face out of his lap as he squeezed her throat tightly. She spread her arms out wide, her right hand gripping the dashboard, her left clinging desperately onto the seat next to him as she fought to stop him entering her mouth.
“No!” she squealed.
As the driver’s arousal reached fever pitch, his grip began to increase in pressure around the back of her thin neck. With a frustrated grunt and a fistful of Shona’s messy blonde hair, he jolted her head fiercely, causing her sweaty hand to slip from the dashboard. Shona’s head fell forward, but instead of falling onto his penis, she found herself met with the top of his chubby thigh. Instinctively, she bit down on it so hard that within seconds the rancid taste of blood oozed into her mouth. Yelping in white-hot agony, the driver lashed out, punching her square on the right side of her jaw. Flying back into her seat, she slammed her head against the door window, cracking the thick glass. Through blurred vision, she watched the driver grimace as he tucked himself away, inspected his injured thigh, then wiped his bloody hands on his grubby jeans.
With the driver distracted, Shona grabbed her satchel and wrapped her fingers around the door handle. Her heart pounded as she took a final look across at the driver, who was now staring murderously at her as he tried to stem the blood flowing freely from his bitten thigh. His face twisted in pain as he buttoned up his jeans, then bent forward and reached into the glove box. Panicking, she pressed heavily against the door, relieved to hear its hinges groan as it opened behind her, sending bitingly cold air rushing into the stuffy cab. She stumbled down the steps, landing in a crumpled heap on the ground. With a tight hold on her satchel, Shona sprinted away as fast as her trembling legs could carry her.
Running in a zigzag formation, she ducked as the crack of a gunshot pierced the silent night air and whizzed inches past her ear. Then another. Then a third. She dropped to her knees behind a mound of fallen rocks to catch her breath, listening for any further shots. In the distance, she heard the truck’s engine restarting and then the whoosh of wheel-spinning tires as it skidded away, its headlight beams disappearing into the bitterly cold night.
A few hours and several miles later, Shona sighed with relief as the dawn finally began to break. Tentatively, she touched the back of her throbbing head with her fingers, groaning when she saw the dark red blood that had coated them.
Just as her exhaustion threatened to overwhelm her, she spotted a river in the distance. Knowing it had to lead into a town somewhere, she headed towards it. With the sun beginning to pour its light into the sky, landmarks that the darkness had hidden were now illuminated. She could see a shed-like building on the horizon and began to make her way over to it, treading cautiously over uneven rocks littering her path. Approaching the shack with caution, she reached out for the latch on the wooden door, hearing a welcome click as it bore no resistance. Over in the far corner, a small pile of hay looked as good a place as any to snuggle down and get some longed-for rest. She lay down, placed her satchel underneath her pounding head and instantly fell sound asleep.
“Who the hell are you?”
Shona jolted awake as the metal barrel of a shotgun cast its long shadow over her.
“What? Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I was dog-tired last night. I’ve been traveling and I found this place. I’ll move on, I’m sorry–” she sat upright and reached for her satchel.
“Don’t you move, not one inch. You plannin’ on stealing my animals?” He edged closer, the shadow of his gun now crossing the beam of sunlight that had been burning her dry eyes. An old man, with tousled white hair and weathered skin, stood glaring at her.
“No way, sir, I just needed to rest.”
She held her hands up in surrender for the second time in less than six hours.
“Get up.” He gestured with his gun, keeping his suspicious eyes fixed on the young blonde girl he’d found on his property. Shona rose, wobbling slightly from the ache still thundering around the back of her head. He lowered his gun a little and backed up until he was almost outside the shack. In the dawn light, his sharp gray eyes softened when he saw the girl he was pointing his shotgun at was injured.
“You been in a fight or something?” He furrowed his brow, noticing the angry bruise on her right cheek.
“Some jerk tried to attack me. I ran, and I been hiding out here to rest until I move on, sir.” Her bright blue eyes pleaded with him for mercy.
He lowered his rifle, his aggression towards her waning. “Well, you won’t get much rest out here. The cows are gon’ want that bale of hay you’re lyin’ on for their breakfast soon. Come back to the house. M’wife can make you some food for your journey. I’m Tom, Tom Bird, and you are?” He unloaded the cartridges from his shotgun, placed them in his top shirt pocket and slung the open gun over his forearm.
“Shona Jackson, sir.”
“Would you like some more sweet tea?”
Ruby Bird’s smile had straight away put Shona at ease after Tom returned to the house for his breakfast with a stray in tow. She put down the jug in front of her guest, readjusted the handmade shawl that was draped around her neck and smoothed back a lock of graying hair into the bun on top of her head as she busied herself in the kitchen, ensuring there was plenty of food on the table.
“Thank you, Mrs. Bird.”
“Please, call me Ruby,” she said, tapping Shona’s forearm.
“So, Shona…heck, that’s a strange name for these parts. How’d you end up with that one?” Tom chuckled as he buttered his toast.
“Well, sir, my momma had some real good friends when she was a girl, called Shane and Fiona. They came over from Ireland, y’see, to start a new life. So, I guess when I came along she just decided to honor them by namin’ me Shona. Heck, I guess y’could say I’m all mixed up!” She grinned back at Tom, who nodded his head and took a huge bite of his toast.
“So, what’s next for you, lil’ lady? What are your plans?”
“Not sure really, sir. Just keep on movin’ on until I figure somethin’ out.” Her voice tailed off. She had no idea where the hell she was.
“Tom, call me Tom. I’m not one for formalities,” he said.
Shona smiled. “OK, Tom. I don’t have any exact plans. It was just to find a job, somewhere to sleep. Live the simple life, y’know?” She leaned forward to take another bite of her toast, her elbows planted firmly on the table.
“Can you sew?” Ruby asked as she sipped her coffee.
“Pardon me, ma’am?” Shona spluttered.
“Can you mend clothes?” she elaborated.
“I’m sorry, no … but I can mend vehicles, any kind you put in front of me! I may be a girl, only twenny-four, but I know more about trucks than any man. I can ride too, tame any damn horse you give me, I swear I can.” Her keen eyes shone.
Looking at each other, Ruby and Tom chuckled at her enthusiasm, overlooking the fact that she was chewing her toast heartily with no regard for table manners.
“Where you from, Shona?” Ruby asked, clearing the breakfast plates off the red and white gingham tablecloth.
“Claybank, Louisiana, ma’am.”
“Never heard of it.” Tom took another bite of his toast.
“Nobody has.” Shona chuckled. “It’s a small town. I worked on a farm with my father until I was sixteen.”
“Why’d you leave?” Ruby asked, sitting back down to face her.
“Yeah, and how the hell did y’end up all the way out here in Alabama?” Tom added.
Shona’s smile faded. “See now, that’s a long story.”
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