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These are a few extracts from the first half of book one, "New Beginnings".  The insertion of double horizontal lines between extracts denotes a section of 'missing' blog updates; they are, of course, included in the original book.


Natasha Arden is 31.  She’s recently single after an acrimonious break-up with her boyfriend, and she lives in a small town in Cheshire.  She works for a children’s charity which provides short-term accommodation for teenagers with family difficulties, and she loves her job.  She also loves music, food, sex, and clothes (not necessarily in that order).

Family background:  Tasha has an older sister, Lucy, who lives in London.  Their mum died last year after a short illness which had followed a fairly recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.  Mum is survived by her brother Phil and sister Ann; sister Mavis died several years ago.  Dad died when Tasha was 12; he’d been a violent alcoholic throughout Tasha and Lucy’s childhood.  Dad’s family haven’t been in touch since his death.

This is Tasha’s blog, written in three parts over twenty-three months of her life – January to July, August to February, and February to November.  "New Beginnings" is the title of part one (January - July).

Natasha may write in a chatty, light-hearted way, but her story is not a romantic comedy: she faces moral dilemmas, heartache, and difficult choices.  You may laugh with her at times, but you'll also cry with and for her as she tries to make the best of what life throws her way.


Friday 4 January

New Year, new blog!

I'm not sure who I'm writing this for, but Hayley said on Facebook that everyone's doing it so I thought I'd give it a go. Plus, given how things ended with Gavin, and seeing as I've actually made NY resolutions this year, it might be a good idea to give myself somewhere to record my feelings and then I can look back later and see how I'm doing.

New Year's Resolutions

1. Lose weight - at least 1 stone

2. Pay bills on time - no more arrears!

3. Stop biting nails

4. Finish NVQ

5. Save for trip to New York

6. Remember birthdays - buy birthday book

7. Join the gym

I've finally written my letter to Gavin's mum and told her the truth about what happened, rather than Gavin's edited version of it.  I only posted it on Monday so she probably hasn't got it yet, but I feel so much better about it all now - writing it all down was very cathartic.  I think I can even forgive him now, too, which is new.  Hopefully this means that I'm moving on.

I still fancy Jamie like mad.  I know he's married and it's obvious he adores his wife and their little girl, but a girl can look, can't she? I wish I didn't find him so attractive - I get all flustered when he's around, and I know it's never going to go anywhere so it's a complete waste of time - but he's just so bloody gorgeous.  He came in wearing a new red jumper yesterday and I couldn't take my eyes off him - had to take myself off to the laundry room to clear my head.  Lisa said he'd had it for Xmas, and she said he had a lovely new aftershave on too but I didn't let myself get close enough to get a whiff .... might have lost control if I had hehehe.

Christmas and New Year seem to have flown by in a flash, even with the two weeks I had off.  Coming back to work yesterday I felt like I hadn't been away! The Xmas party was good, but I was gutted that J wasn't there.  I know he doesn't do those things, but I'd hoped he might have had a change of heart.  He said yesterday that his little girl had been poorly on New Year's Eve so I don't suppose he got to do much then either, even at home.  Darren snatched a kiss under the mistletoe; nice kisser, nice looker, but he's not J. [sigh]

Work is going fine.  The kids we've got at the moment are a rowdy bunch but they're no trouble really and we're all working really well together now that Maxine has left.  We've all come to realise what a negative affect she'd had on us as a team, and J made a point of telling us to not keep worries to ourselves again like we'd been doing.  He's so good - so much better than Barry was as a manager - and so lovely with it.  The only downside is that Vinnie now thinks he should be Deputy Manager and he's a bit grumpy that that's not happened, but I'm sure J and the Area Director will be doing something about that.  Not sure I want V as DM, to be honest - he's too bossy as it is - but hey ho it's not for me to decide.

With it being Friday I worked the late shift today, so no drinks night for me tonight.  I'm not that bothered, if I'm honest - I'm sure if I cut down on booze it will help with the weight loss plan, and it's mostly talk about work stuff that's already been talked about during the day, and I'm usually just sitting there wishing that J would join us.  The fact that he's a devoted family man does nothing to detract me from lusting over him. I am a bad, bad woman hehehe.

I'm off to bed now.  I bought a new duvet and cover at lunch time, and it's all soft and snuggly. I will NOT think about snuggling under there with J ......


Wednesday 16 January

I've been resisting the urge to write about Jamie every day.  Every time I've sat down to write something new here, the only thing that's come to mind has been some thought or 'news' of him, and I really need to not go there.  But ... I've been booked on a training course on 31st January .... and J will be going too! He's offered to drive, and Lisa, Ben and I will go with him.  I'll have to make B or L sit in the front.  It's a full day training course (9 - 4.30) so including the drive there and back I'll get nearly nine hours with him.  Will I be able to concentrate?????

Gavin's mum rang me on Sunday.  She was lovely, and she said she'd suspected that G had been glossing over things. Bastard. We talked for ages, not just about him, and she said I sounded so much happier now. Bless her.

Hayley says I should be nice to Darren and go out with him.  She doesn't know about my feelings for J. No-one does (although I think L might suspect).


Sunday 27 January

The Burns Night do at the Pig and Whistle on Friday was brilliant.  We'd tried to persuade J to come, him being Scottish and all, but he declined.  I was going to say 'declined graciously' because he did, as always, but how bloody besotted does that make me sound? I'm rolling my eyes at myself.  We had a great time, though, and I've even discovered a liking for haggis!

I can't remember how it came up, but Ben said that J's family still live in Scotland, and his dad's got Alzheimer's. It made me think of Mum, and I got a bit tearful, and Ben was so sweet and apologetic, bless him.  Why are all the nice ones unavailable?


Tuesday 29 January

Lucy rang from the airport while I was at work this morning, reminding me that all her hotel and excursion details are on that email she sent me last week. She sounded so excited, and I just wish I was going with her. Roll on August and the trip to New York :)  We got a bit tearful when she was saying goodbye though - four weeks is a long time for her to be away on her own and even if she is older than me I still worry about her travelling alone. I made her promise to ring me every time she changes hotel.


Saturday 2 February

OMG! Training day on Thursday was fantastic! The training was actually quite interesting and I learned a lot, but more importantly I got to talk with J outside of our normal work environment and it was lovely.  Not just me, obviously - we were quite a big group and at lunch-time we all ate together - but there were a couple of times when it was just me and him talking and I didn't get all flustered like I normally do, so that's progress.

This is what I've learned about the very delicious J.A.MacD:

- He grew up near Glasgow and went to Glasgow Uni. That's where he met his wife.

- He was a Social Worker before he came to work here, and he started as a project co-ordinator and has worked his way up to manager. He's been with us for 3 years.

- He was promoted to manager at our project last May, so he'd only been there for three months before I started.

- He likes music and dancing and cycling and low-budget films and reading. (This made me swoon.)

- His favourite meal is chicken arrabiatta which he can make from scratch (another swoon).

- His middle name is Alasdair (swanky!) and he's 36 (37 in April but I don't know the date)

- He smelt bloody lovely - Obsession for Men, I think (guuuuuh)

- He has absolutely no idea how gorgeous he is.  Even the new girls from other projects were ogling him and he was totally clueless.

- He trained as a teacher (and he'd have made a brilliant one, I reckon), but he went into social work after volunteering in his last year at Uni. Their loss, our gain.

- He's very very passionate about his work, and the work that we do.  I knew that already, but it really shone out during the training.  He had us all really motivated and energised - it was fantastic.

- He worships his wife and daughter.  He didn't give much away about them - never does, apparently - but it's bloody obvious.

All of these things - even the last one, damn him - have made me fall for him even harder.  I don't know what to do - I'm getting really obsessed.  Lisa calls it a crush but it's much deeper than that - I absolutely adore and respect and idolise him.  Yes I lust after him too but who wouldn't? 

I need to find a boyfriend.


Sunday 10 February

I went out last night with Darren.  He's been asking me for weeks, ever since the Xmas party, and I finally caved and we arranged to go to the pictures and then for a drink.  The film was good (National Treasure 2, Nicolas Cage) and we had a lovely long chat afterwards and seem to have a lot in common but he doesn't push my buttons.  We got into a fairly hefty snog at one point - nice kisser - but I'm just not attracted to him in the way that I want to be attracted to him.  I like him a lot, and I'm fairly sure that if I wasn't so hung up on J I'd probably fancy him quite a bit, but all I'm doing is comparing him to J and he comes out lacking (Darren, obviously).  He's asked me out to dinner on Thursday - Valentine's Day!! - and I've said yes so that I won't spend the day and night mooning over J.  I really need to get over him before I fall any deeper.

Lucy rang from Las Vegas. She's having a whale of a time and I wish I was there :(


Friday 15 February

Well I've had 24 hours to think about it, and I'm still thinking 'SHIT!'

We went out to dinner, and Darren was lovely, very attentive and wouldn't let me even buy a drink.  It felt a bit weird at first, it being only our second date, but he's so sweet that he didn't come over as overbearing or desperate or anything like that, just really genuine and attentive and nice.  So I ended up inviting him in and we shagged and he stayed the night and he got up all happy and skippy this morning.  SHIT. I don't know if I'm ready to start another relationship! I've asked him not to say anything at work and he's agreed.

What's worse is that while we were shagging I was thinking of J and I had the most amazing orgasm I've ever had in my life.  I am a very very bad woman :(

And worse still ... when we were having a coffee break this morning, L asked J if he'd had a nice evening last night (he'd let slip that the wife was planning something) and he did that sweet little shy smile that he does and I felt so-very-jealous.  It's ridiculous. He's been married for at least 12 years and is still very much in love with her, and I've no right to be jealous.


Monday 18 February
7.50 p.m.

Lucy's in bloody San Francisco, and I'm sitting here wishing I was J's wife because it's her birthday and he left work early to make a special dinner for her.  I should be at the gym, and I said I'd meet Darren afterwards, but I can't be bothered.  I need to stop wishing my life away like this and get on with it but I'm so miserable and so bloody obsessed with this gorgeous, gorgeous man.  Maybe I need counselling or something?  If I can't pull myself together by the end of the month I'm going to see the doctor and get myself referred to a psychiatrist or something.

11.05 p.m.

Hayley talked me into going to meet Darren.  She still doesn't know about J - she just thinks I'm depressed - and I let her talk me into it.  We had a few drinks and now he's in my bathroom and I daresay he'll stay the night again because I need to take my mind off HIM.


Author's Note:
If you'd like to read more,  "New Beginnings" is  now available at