Valentine’s Day extract + Clove and Ella get engaged!

Last year on Valentine’s day I posted a romantic extract from The Next Together. Let’s do the same thing this year, from The Last Beginning! Here are Clove and Ella being flirty cuties in love.

(You can also read it on Wattpad)

C a r l i s l e , E n g l a n d , 1 7 4 5

When Clove finally went back downstairs, Mrs Samson scolded her for disappearing halfway through making breakfast and put Clove to work in the wash-house doing laundry.

“Did you find the ingredients which you need for your spell?” Ella asked, as she arrived an hour later with another load of dirty clothes for Clove. She dipped a hand into Clove’s bucket of fresh water and flicked her with it. Clove leapt back, but the freezing cold water still splashed her arm.

Hey!” she said, trying to be serious, but she couldn’t help the way her mouth just wanted to smile. She ducked her head, giving in to the urge to grin.

When she looked back up, Ella’s expression took her by surprise. She looked … awestruck. Like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, when what she was seeing was Clove. Just Clove. No one had ever looked at her like that before.

“What?” Clove asked, a little defensively.

“Nothing,” Ella said. “It’s just… I’ve never seen you smile before.” She sounded winded.
Clove swallowed hard, her laughter dying in her throat.

It was true that she had been very stressed recently. But surely she had smiled before? She couldn’t remember, right now, when Ella was looking at her like that.

Flustered, Clove flicked her hand into the water. Ella skittered away and let out a giggle.

Clove chased her out of the wash-house and across the lawn. But by the time she had cornered the girl by the kitchen door, all that was left of her attack was two damp palms. She pressed them to either side of Ella’s neck as she tried to squirm away.

Ella winced at the coldness of the water on her skin. The two girls were standing so close that Clove could see droplets of water clinging to Ella’s collarbone and the goosebumps standing up on her neck. Ella’s cap had come off and her hair was falling out of its bun again, messy spirals curling off in all directions.

There was a moment when they just stared at each other, breathing in unison. Clove felt like every molecule of her skin was alert and attuned to Ella’s movements.

Something had snapped their bickering into a meaningful tension. She parted her lips. If she just leant a little closer, if Ella just tilted her head a little to the right, then—

Ella stepped back. Then she lifted her arm, holding up Clove’s bucket of water – which she must have grabbed before running out of the wash-house. Clove didn’t have time to react before the water fell through the air in an iridescent arc, splashing Clove right in the chest. It was so cold that Clove couldn’t catch her breath to speak, and when she did all that escaped was helpless laughter.

“Ella!” she gasped.

Ella was laughing so hard she nearly fell over. “Yes!” she screeched. “Got you!”

“I’m soaking wet!” Clove’s bodice was drenched, and her skirts were rapidly darkening as the water spread.

“I’m going to throw you in the pond,” Clove threatened, tugging the damp fabric away from her skin.

Ella only laughed harder. “You look like a drowned cat! All bedraggled and furious.”

Clove hissed at her, baring her teeth like an angry feline. “If I get a chill and die, it’ll be all your fault.” Clove held a hand to her forehead, letting out an overly long groan of pain, which turned into laughter when Ella jabbed her in the ribs.

“I think you will recover, Miss Tabbycat,” Ella said.

“Especially as the last time you were dying you managed to wander off and escape me.”

“The salad days,” Clove muttered, sighing to herself and leaning into Ella’s side.

Ella tightened her arm around Clove’s shoulder.


If you liked this extract, The Last Beginning is published by Walker Books in the UK and Australia. It will be released in the US in Fall 2017 by Sky Pony Press.

Amazon UK| Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles  | Hive | iTunes | Kobo | Wordery | WHSmith

You can add the book on Goodreads or subscribe to my mailing list for updates, or read the prologue on Wattpad.

P.s. I also recently wrote a thing on tumblr about how Clove and Ella got engaged. You’re welcome.

After school, Clove does a degree at St Andrews while Ella finishes her degree at her home uni. Then Clove moves to Ella’s uni for a masters in theoretical morality, while Ella starts a PhD in classical history control potentiality. They live together in a tiny terraced house with a back garden, which Ella turns into a vegetable patch. It produces approximately 3 Brussel sprouts and a cucumber every summer. That’s all.

When they both finally graduate with a million degrees between them, Clove goes back to St Andrews to start running tests on the time machine with Jen, who now runs the St Andrews Physics department. Ella moves back with her. She commutes using her skin to a theatre company, where she works to gather accurate details about ancient greece for their productions, using her Skim.

They adopt a rescue dog, who Matt babysits during the day, because he works from home with Tom (they started a business together. they argue constantly.) Alfie, kate and matt’s three year old son, cries every day when Clove picks up the dog after work. Alfie hates goodbyes.

When Ella turns 25 she gets really nostalgic for how she and clove met (she reads a lot of fic written about then. Clove kinkshames her. It’s a Thing.). They drop the dog off with kate and matt and alfie and go on holiday to 1745. They hang out with 1745 Katherine and Matthew, and then Ella takes Clove on a picnic by the river, at the exact place where they met. The picnic is the same as the one Ella brought then, except there’s smoky bacon crisps too, this time.

After they eat, Clove naps with her head on Ella’s stomach. When she wakes up, there’s a bouquet of violets resting next to her. She laughs when she sees it, hysterically, and Ella gets offended that she finds her romantic gesture funny. Then Clove reaches into her bag and pulls out a box. She hands it to Ella.

Inside, there’s this:ring-in-silver-colour-flower-made-of-zircon-hearts-in-dark-violet

“I guess we both had the same idea,” Clove says, blushing bright red. “You gave me a violet once, a long time ago. I thought it was about time I repaid the favour.“

Ella’s eyes flick down between the ring and Clove. “Are you…?” she says.

Clove nods. “Elenore Walker. Will you marry me?”

Ella bursts into tears. “You weren’t supposed to propose for another two years!” she yells. “It’s in your autobiography!!”

Clove grins. She’s been planning for a while that when she gets around to writing her ‘autobiography’, she’ll include some lies. Gotta keep Ella on her toes somehow. “Surprise?”

tumblr_o9ifjaadOV1tmnkcso1_1280 (1).jpg


Ella says yes, they get married the next summer, it’s very stressful for everyone involved. The wedding photos go viral on Ella’s social media. Obviously this is their wedding song.

#obviously as soon as they get home ella pulls out a ring she bought before she even officially met clove #she saved up her pocket money for it

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including Green Rising, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. She is a RLF Royal Fellow, freelance editor and screenwriter. Lauren is the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and on the board of the Authors & Illustrators Sustainability Working Group through the Society of Authors. Her books have sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide and been translated into six languages. The Quiet at the End of the World was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and STEAM Children’s Book Award. Her other novels include The Next Together series, the dyslexia-friendly novella series The Watchmaker and the Duke and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. She was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2022. She has taught creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands.

2 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day extract + Clove and Ella get engaged!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: