I'm doing the fun Sample Sunday Cookoff again this week! You can read an excerpt from my chicklit comedy mystery, The Fashion Police, and discover Amber's mum's secret recipe how to make Marinara Pasta! The more garlic, the better - unless you're going to be kissing someone! 

The smell of marinara pasta, laced with extra garlic, wafted under my nose when I opened my parents’ door. 

‘Hi.’ Mum stuck her head out the kitchen door. ‘We’re just waiting for Suzy.’

She had no sooner spoken than the front door opened again and my sister walked in.    

‘Hi, everyone.’ Suzy waltzed into the kitchen with her permanent frown locked in place. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I saw her smile.

‘Hi, sis,’ I said.

‘Whose car is that in the drive?’ Suzy asked as she sat her Prada bag on top of the cream shaker-style island in the center of the kitchen. She shrugged off her tailored jacket and hung it on the back of a breakfast stool.

‘That monstrosity is mine for a while, unfortunately,’ I said with a grimace.

She just raised her eyebrows, not commenting further. ‘Where’s Dad?’ she asked as Sabre barreled into the room and leaped up, planting his muddy front paws on Suzy’s pinstriped trousers. ‘Get off!’ She pushed him down, wiping at the mud. ‘Go to your bed.’ She wrinkled her nose and pointed to Sabre’s half-eaten doggy bed in the corner of the room.
Sabre whined and did as he was told for once. I didn’t blame him. Suzy’s voice was enough to scare the dead.

‘No Romeo tonight then?’ she asked.

I shook my head. ‘Not tonight.’

‘Why haven’t you moved in with him yet?’

‘I’m still thinking about it,’ I said defensively.

‘What’s there to think about? It’s been over a week since he asked you to move in with him.’

‘It’s complicated,’ I said.  

‘OK, let’s diagnose this. You’ve been romantically involved for a year, which is long enough to make your mind up about what you want, especially when you consider the fact that you were friends, and worked together for a long time before that. It’s not like you don’t know him well enough to make a decision, is it? And he’s been in love with you for years. In fact, Romeo was the one who brought you back to normal after the Brad fiasco. He helped you climb out of the pit that Brad left you in.’

‘There’s no need to get so dramatic, Suzy.’

‘I’m just trying to establish what the problem is, Amber. Don’t you love him?’ Suzy asked.

I blushed. ‘Yes.’

‘OK, so Romeo wants you to move in with him. You love him, he loves you, that’s good, isn’t it?’ Mum asked. 

I sighed. ‘Its great…kind of. I’m just worried about him being the one. Not whether he isn’t the one, but what if he is? Let’s just say that he is the love of my life. What if we took the plunge and then something bad happened to him? Then I would’ve lost the idea, the possibility of Mr. Right. Maybe the anticipation of not knowing is better than losing that possibility. And if something’s working, what is the point in changing it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?’

‘You’re not getting any younger. You could die tomorrow and then you would’ve missed out on sharing your life with the man you love,’ Suzy said.

‘Gee, thanks for that cheery thought.’ 

She shrugged. ‘I’m just telling it like it is. You’ve got classic commitment-phobia symptoms. You don’t want to die as a lonely old spinster, do you?’ Suzy rested her elbows on the island, trying to catch my eye.

‘I’m not lonely. I’ve got all the voices in my head to keep me company.’ I plastered a fake grin on my face.

‘What voices? Do they tell you to do things?’ Suzy asked.  In case you hadn’t figured it out already, my sister is a psychologist. ‘If they do, I can help you with that. How does it make you feel when the voices start talking?’

I stuck my fingers in my ears and hummed. 

Suzy rolled her eyes at me and exchanged a glance with Mum. She reached over and pulled my hand away from my head. ‘Are you still feeling depressed?’
A nervous laugh slipped out as I looked between my mum and Suzy. ‘I wasn’t aware that I had been depressed.’

Suzy threw me a stern look. ‘You have to admit things before you can cure them. Not wanting to get out of bed in the mornings, not eating, not tidying up your flat, not bothering with your looks – those are all signs of depression.  They all happened after you lost your job.’ 

Mum gave me a hug. ‘Especially the not eating part. That’s not like you at all.’

I stepped out of Mum’s grasp and poured a glass of the red wine that sat breathing on the counter. ‘Well, obviously I was…upset about losing my job.’ I took a gulp of the dry, fruity liquid. ‘Anyone would be. But I wasn’t depressed. Anyway, my new job is getting a lot more interesting. People are even trying to kill me again. And I’ve got a cunning plan. If I can solve this Fandango case, I’m hoping the Chief Constable will offer me my old job back.’
‘Is that how you measure your job satisfaction, by the amount of people who want to kill you?’ Suzy watched me like I was an alien who’d just been beamed down from a spaceship. 

‘You need to get out and socialize more, Amber. You can’t just live for your work.  It’s not healthy. I should know that better than anyone,’ Mum said, pouring her own glass of wine.

‘You’ve done alright with Dad though, haven’t you?’ I asked.

‘I had to accept that he was a workaholic and find other things to fill my life. It wasn’t easy,’ Mum said. She opened her mouth to continue but just then, a clattering sound came from the hall. 

‘Ah, here are my girls.’ Dad wobbled into the kitchen in his brown wedges, wearing the same outfit from earlier.

Mum and I didn’t bat an eyelid, but Suzy’s eyes nearly popped out of her head.

‘Why are you dressed like that?’ Suzy asked him. ‘Are you having some post-retirement issues?’

‘He’s undercover.’ Mum stirred the sauce. ‘For the neighborhood watch scheme.’

‘Undercover as what?’ Suzy looked at us all like we were nuts. ‘Is there a call for transvestites in the neighborhood, then?’

I shrugged and dipped a spoon into the sauce. ‘Yummy,’ I told Mum after I licked the spoon dry.

‘He’s not using the right accessories, is he?’ Mum said to Suzy. ‘His makeup is getting better, though.’

‘Do you want to talk about it?’ Suzy whispered to Dad.

‘Don’t try that psychoanalyzing babble on me,’ he said. ‘I sectioned a few people when I was on the force, and most of the time you can’t tell the difference between the psychiatrists and their patients.’

‘That’s true, actually.’ I nodded and chugged the rest of my wine.

Suzy rolled her eyes. ‘Am I the only sane person in this family?’ 

None of us bothered to answer her.  

 Copyright © Sibel Hodge 2009

The Fashion Police is available in paperback and all ebook formats. For more details, please check out my Books page.

And here's Amber's mum's recipe for scrummy Marinara Pasta...

 Spaghetti marinara


Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 tbs olive oil, plus extra to toss
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup (250ml) dry white wine
  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 x 410g cans crushed tomatoes
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 500g mixed seafood (squid, prawns, scallops)
  • 300g black mussels, washed, de-bearded
  • 2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley



  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened.

  2. Add garlic and wine, and simmer 2 minutes. Add paste and crushed tomatoes, and simmer 15-20 minutes further, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened. Season well.

  3. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and toss in a little olive oil.

  4. Add marinara mix and mussels to tomato sauce, cover with lid and cook 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat, discarding any mussels that do not open.

  5. Stir in parsley, then toss the sauce through the pasta and serve 

Happy Seafood Sunday! 

And if you're looking for some more great reads and recipes, check out these other blogs...

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Sibel xx