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‘I think if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that Gavin likes food regardless of flavour,’ Dale joked. ‘I think he’d eat clay if you’d let him.’

‘He used to,’ Talia replied, the edge gone from her voice. ‘He didn’t grow out of it until he was eight. Eight years old and he was eating dirt.’

‘To be fair, I think I can recall you doing the same!’

‘Oh please; it was the worms I was interested in, not the dirt.’


‘Hey, no, Richard can be strict,’ Dale replied. ‘Example: I kept telling Gav not to put his stuff in the walkway. So many times! And still, there it was, in the middle of the hall. Then Dick comes over, and POOF! Gone as if by magic! I don’t know what he said to the kid, but it worked.’

‘Probably “please”,’ Anna piped up. ‘Always works for me.’

Talia shook her head as a loud slurp followed, and Dale peaked in the rear view mirror to catch a glimpse of Anna meeting his eye as she drank her frozen cola.

‘You’re special though,’ he retorted. ‘Gav knows you’ll tell on him if he misbehaves.’

‘What, and you wouldn’t tell me?’ Talia scoffed.

‘I mean, depends on what he did and if he blackmailed me into not telling!’ Dale joked. ‘That kid knows how to dig up dirt.’

‘Ooh, boy, does he ever!’ Trish responded. ‘Big feel though. I don’t report anything back unless I have to.’

‘I can’t believe I let you two watch him,’ Talia rolled her eyes. ‘Well, congratulations. I certainly feel better about him being with Richard now. Not so much about ever leaving him with either of you two again!’

Anna’s next slurp was comically loud, and her shit-eating grin told Dale it was deliberately so. Then her eyes widened. ‘Oh, wow. That’s your house, Dale?’


‘Hey, I know someone else who knows Trish—’ Dale quickly stepped away, and Talia and Tiffany were left giggling together until he came back with Zoey. ‘This is Zoey, she went to … uni? With Trish. Zoe, this is Tiffany. She’s a friend of mine, and I also found out she’s friends with Trish.’

‘You gay?’ Zoey asked, so suddenly that Dale choked on his drink.

‘Bit bisexual, yeah.’

‘Girls in suits, am I right?’

‘Consider, girls in summer dresses.’

‘Girls in leather jackets are pretty great.’

‘I have a leather jacket.’

They fist-bumped, and then walked off together, chatting.


‘Do you want my honest opinion?’ Dale asked.

‘Yeah, sure. …’

‘Evan’s an arsehole.’

Talia was expecting more. For him to continue. To say Evan was just a kid when it happened, and it was unfair to expect him to give up his life and his future. … To say what everyone else seemed to say, over and over and over.

But then he didn’t. He didn’t say another word, and they both sat in silence until Talia sniffed and swallowed and finally managed, ‘Is that … it?’

‘Yeah,’ Dale confirmed. ‘My whole opinion. Evan sounds like an arsehole.’

‘Y. … Yeah,’ Talia agreed. ‘Yeah. He was.’

‘And you deserve better than that,’ replied Dale. ‘So, if you know where he lives I’m more than happy to break into his house and shred all his socks.’

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 10]


[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 2]

(300-word excerpt)

It was quiet. For a moment Dale wondered if he could knock Talia down and drive off— But then he heard a car door slam somewhere in the lot and decided against it.

‘Which is yours?’ Talia asked, passing the heavy-looking plastic bag from one hand to the other. ‘I don’t see any spy cars around, Bond.’

‘Ha ha,’ responded Dale, flatly. ‘It’s the blue sedan.’

‘Open it.’

Dale frowned. ‘You’re not getting in my car—’

‘—Yes, I am!’ Talia snapped. ‘Unless you’d rather I scream. Help. Someone. I’m being kidnapped. That sort of thing.’

‘I’m not kidnapping you,’ Dale snorted. ‘If anything, it’s the other way around!’

‘Open the door,’ Talia repeated.

‘Are you crazy?’ asked Dale as he unlocked his car and watched Talia settle into the passenger seat. A sigh, and he joined her. He adjusted his mirror, avoiding eye contact with her, and then slammed his hands into place on the wheel and let out an exasperated groan. ‘I could be a murderer, you know! What about that son of yours?’

‘You’re too much of a pussy to kill me,’ Talia responded nonchalantly. ‘If you were that tough, you wouldn’t have pissed your pants in the ally.’

‘I didn’t piss my—’ Dale cut off halfway through and turned to the windscreen, scowling. He let out a long, frustrated breath as he turned the ignition in the car. Then he drove in silence, not daring to even glance at Talia as he made his way through the quiet streets.

‘Who’s Richard?’ Talia asked. ‘You steal his wallet, too?’

Dale slammed on his brakes. ‘Get out of my bag!’

‘Why? You went through mine,’ Talia shrugged and, as if to make a point, noisily unzipped the next pocket and stuck her hand in.


‘MUM!’ Gavin called from his room. ‘MUM, CAN YOU HELP ME?’

‘I’ll help,’ said Anna. She made her way to Gavin’s room, then hurried back in. ‘Apparently not. He needs you specifically, Tally.’

Sighing, Talia pushed herself off the couch and made her way to her son’s bedroom. She found him showing Jacob the new soccer ball he’d gotten on a shopping trip with Dale.

‘Hi mum!’ Gavin grinned.

‘Hey honey, what did you need help with?’

‘Nothing,’ responded Gavin, his grin growing wider. ‘I just wanted to see if I could make you come in.’

‘Gavin!’ Talia snapped.

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 7]


Talia rolled her eyes. ‘Any more surprises I should know about?’

For a minute, Dale bit his lip and thought. Then he clicked his fingers and let out an excited exclamation,

‘Right! Richard wants me to teach you how to use a gun!’

‘WHAT? WHY?’

‘Well, it’s a long story,’ Dale rubbed the back of his neck. ‘But to cut it short, I’m the reason he limps.’

Talia put her face in her hands. ‘So let me get this straight: you shot Richard—’

‘—Yep—’

‘—And he wants you to be the one to teach me how to use a gun?’ Talia let out a long sigh as Dale gave her a confident nod. ‘Is he sure about that? Or is he actually wanting to end up in a wheelchair?’

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 6]


[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 8]

(400-word excerpt)

Talia sniffed, rolling over and pulling her face off the couch cushion as the clinking of cutlery filled her ears and the smell of cooked meat wafted her into the waking world.

‘Why is the pillow sticky?’ she muttered. She shook her head as she realised it was her makeup, not the fabric, and frowned. ‘When did I get home?’

‘About ten minutes after you fell asleep,’ Dale’s voice laughed from the dining table.

Talia snapped her head up and looked at the group of people sitting in her apartment. She stared at them for a moment, taking them in. Dale. Gavin. Richard. Trish.

‘Anna’s not back yet?’ Talia yawned.

‘It’s only nine,’ Trish commented, taking a bite out of some very wet-looking, off-coloured bread. ‘Good beef. Try it as a sandwich. Tastes like heaven.’

‘I like it with the potatoes!’ Gavin giggled.

‘Potatoes?’ Talia asked. ‘I didn’t think I made potatoes?’

‘Dale did,’ Richard commented. ‘We were waiting for you to wake up, so we made some extras to pass the time. Then Patricia came in and started eating, so we figured it wouldn’t be too rude to begin without you.’

‘Of course she did!’ laughed Talia. Then she sat up and stretched. ‘How’d I get upstairs? Oh— No. Dale? You didn’t—’

‘—HE DID!’ Gavin shrieked. ‘He carried you! All the way up!’

‘It’s three flights!’ Talia exclaimed.

‘You’re not too heavy,’ said Dale, sipping his drink. ‘Though I almost dropped you at one point. I don’t envy the me from the universe where I did.’

‘Yeah, nah. He’s dead and you know it,’ Talia snickered. ‘So, what else did I miss?’

‘Gavin took his meds,’ Dale commented. ‘And a bird flew into the kitchen window while we cooked. Scared me so much I accidentally threw a carton of juice into Richard’s face.’

‘It went everywhere!’ squeaked Gavin.

‘Kind of like your lipstick,’ Trish commented, pointing to her own mouth and wiggling her finger. ‘Might want to go wash your face.’

‘Christ,’ Talia muttered, slipping off the couch and hurrying into the bathroom. She dared a look in the mirror and was met with the ugliest version of herself she’d ever seen. ‘Frick!


Another scene from A Man Worth a Million; but this one is from the first draft, not the final. It's chapter 26 of the first draft but, we'll see how much content gets cut/added and where it is in the final, eventually.

Talia meets her ex in a supermarket. She's pregnant again, wearing real gold and diamonds in a dress that costs more than a car (coming home from a VERY fancy party), and eating whip cream directly from the can. Because she's Talia, and Talia does what she wants.

600 words.

‘So … how’ve you been?’

Talia managed to swallow the whipped cream.

‘How have I been lately, or how have I been over the last twelve years?’ Talia asked bitterly. She felt the whip on her cheek, but didn’t wipe it off as she stared down her ex. He looked … well. Better than he had in high school, Talia thought. Though he still dressed like an arsehole. …

‘Look— Talia— I’m sorry,’ it came out as a sigh, and Talia almost believed it was genuine.

‘Yeah, imagine facing the consequences for your actions,’ Talia scoffed. She didn’t feel like talking and squirted another glob of whipped cream into her mouth.

‘I’m sorry—’

‘—I don’t accept your apology!’ Talia snapped, mouth still full. ‘You’re a coward who ran away and left me to clean up your shit, and I don’t have time for someone like you!’

‘Talia—’

‘You ruined my life!’ Talia growled. ‘So you didn’t lose your chance to play football!

‘It was wrong of me!’ Evan blurted. ‘And I really am sorry. I’ve felt so bad about it. …’

‘Then why didn’t you contact me sooner?’ Talia snorted, spraying another lot of cream into her mouth. ‘Oh, wait. It’s because you’re too much of a coward to actually face the people you’ve hurt.’

‘N-No, I didn’t know h-how,’ Evan stammered.

Talia didn’t budge. ‘Huh, well it’s weird that everyone else knew how to find me. Did you miss the memo? I wasn’t exactly hiding.’

‘I—’

—Coward,’ Talia hissed. She downed the last of the whipped cream from the can and threw it in the trolley with a loud clang.

Evan shuffled as Dale came out of the bathroom and put an arm around Talia, kissing his wife, laughing, and wiping her cheek before glancing to her companion.

‘Who’s— Oh,’ the drop in his tone was telling. He recognised him from the photo.

Gavin grabbed his mother’s hand and looked from her to Evan, back to her. ‘Mum? Are you okay?’

Evan shifted even more awkwardly at the sight of Gavin, and awkwardly rubbed his cheek to hide his face from the child. ‘I suppose I should be going.’

‘Alright. Bye then,’ Dale said dryly, turning away with a wave of his hand. He put his arm around Gavin and quickly pushed his family away, only turning back to grab the trolly, dropping his voice as he glared at Evan. ‘Have a fun life, arsehole.

‘Was that my dad?’ Gavin asked. ‘Like, my other one?’

Talia sighed. ‘Yes.’

‘Dale’s better,’ Gavin shrugged. Then he looked to his mother and frowned before spinning around. ‘Dale’s a better dad than you’ll ever be! YOU’RE STUPID AND EVERYONE HATES YOU!’

Talia scoffed a laugh and shushed her son. ‘Gavin, don’t yell.’

‘But I have to stand up for you!’ Gavin declared.

‘I can defend myself,’ she told him. She glanced up and saw Evan staring awkwardly back. ‘He’s just a dumb coward.’

‘COWARD!’ Gavin shrieked.

Shush!’ Talia repeated. ‘You win by being better than him!’

‘But I want to win by yelling at him!’ Gavin declared, drawing looks from the surrounding shoppers. ‘He made you cry! I wanna make him cry back!’

‘Gavin,’ Talia sighed. ‘I’m sure he’s cried enough already.’

‘Then I’ll— I’ll break his legs instead!’

‘You will not!’ Talia snapped. ‘You will behave yourself and get in the car without any more yelling.’

‘Come on, Gav,’ Dale wrapped his arms around Gavin and heaved him over his shoulder. ‘I’m her husband. It’s my job to beat up people who make her cry.’

Talia shook her head and rolled her eyes, huffing loudly. ‘You boys, I swear. I can’t take you anywhere!’


Gavin had been chatty the entire drive home.

To be expected, Dale thought, with the day he’s had.

Glancing into the back of the car as he pulled into the apartment’s parking lot, he couldn’t help but sigh. Talia looked too peaceful to wake up. He wasn’t sure he’d have the heart to do it.

‘Told you she gets tired,’ Gavin gloated. ‘Are you going to carry her up the stairs again?’

‘Don’t think I have a choice,’ Dale laughed his response, clambering out of the car and walking to the back seat to retrieve Talia.

She didn’t seem to notice as she was hefted into the air, and simply lay heavy and limp in his arms. She didn’t even give a mumble of protest as Dale used her head to push the car door shut.

‘She’d be so mad if she knew you did that!’ Gavin snickered.

‘Well, don’t tell her,’ Dale replied.

[A Man Worth a Million - Chapter 10]


‘Really, Dale?’ all of Talia’s anger was replaced with surprise as she yanked a pair of pink, feathery handcuffs out of the bottom of Dale’s bag. ‘All those jokes you made! I didn’t realise you actually owned a pair!’

About five different expressions passed over Dale’s face —which Talia could almost swear matched perfectly with the five stages of grief— until he settled on acceptance.

‘I forgot those were in there.’

‘But why?’ Talia laughed. ‘Why would you need these in your work bag?

‘It’s. … I. … An indescribably weird no-questions-asked favour for Richard?’ Dale gave a cough and took the handcuffs from Talia. He played with the safety latch for a minute before clicking them open and holding them out. ‘Do you … want to try them on?’

For a minute Talia stared at him. Then she sighed and figured … why not?

She held out her wrists and let Dale clip the handcuff around one of them. ‘Oh, please officer. I have a son! I have a son!

‘Well, that’s too bad!’ Dale responded. ‘My name is Sergeant Awesome, and I’m arresting you for being too pretty.’

‘Please! No! I won’t do it again!’ Talia mock-cried as Dale tugged her towards the couch.

He sat her down and clipped the other side of the handcuffs to the coffee table’s leg, then snatched the remote off the floor. ‘We both know that’s a lie! Repeat offence means you’re sentenced to watching TV with a friend! Sorry, I don’t make the rules.’

‘Oh, no! Not TV! Anything but TV!’

[A Man Worth a Million, Chapter 9]


Meet Talia! She's from a romance novel I’m writing. She’s got an attitude problem and does not like showing Weakness(TM). She’s on her first day working at Moore for More, an investment company run by Richard Moore. She’s Richard’s personal assistant, and is 100% ready to staple things directly onto her coworker’s foreheads if they try and bother him.


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