Authors: Georgina Troy
A Jersey Kiss
Copyright Georgina Troy 2013
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
To RBC, JC, SC & MC
There are many people who have helped me with my writing ambitions and I’m grateful to all of them. I’m especially grateful to, Christina Jones, for her unwavering support and generous quotation for the cover of A Jersey Kiss. To Kirsty Greenwood and Edward Jordan for their gorgeous cover - I expected it to be lovely, but I still can’t quite believe how fantastic it is. To my beta readers, Karen Clarke and Helen Hunt; to Jay Dixon, my wonderful editor; Claire Algar for the amazing photos; the Novel Racers, Story A Fortnight group and my other online friends, who have continually supported me; and my non-writer friends, who never fail to believe in me and who are always ready to crack open a bottle of champagne, whether or not we have something to celebrate. Most of all, I’d like to thank my husband, children and extended family who are used to my far-away look when I'm focusing on a storyline rather than listening to what they are talking about.
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Praise for A Jersey Kiss:
“Enticing, enchanting, intriguing - with a gloriously romantic island setting - I absolutely loved this book!”
Chapters and Headings
June - Blowing Dandelion Clocks
I'm coming, I'm coming,” Bea shouted breathlessly, stepping out of the shower and almost losing her balance as she slipped on the mat. She grabbed hold of the shower curtain, in an attempt to stay upright, snapping it from its rings in the process before wrapping the nearest towel she could reach around her dripping body and running down the stairs.
Bloody builders,” she cursed stubbing her toe on the oak banister. Why did they choose today to arrive early, the one time she was running late? She pulled open the heavy front door.
Sorry, love,” a man in paint-spattered overalls said, his eyes widening as he took in her lack of clothing. “We, um, seem to have caught you on the ’op.”
Yes, well, I’m in a bit of a rush.” She held the door open for the builder and his apprentice to enter the hallway. Making sure she held on tightly to the front of her towel with one hand, Bea pushed back a stray lock of her blonde hair with the other. “I’ll take you up to my bedroom.” The spotty-faced boy stifled a giggle, raising a pierced eyebrow at his boss until he was nudged sharply in the ribs. Bea cleared her throat. Realising what she’d just said, she added, “So that I can show you the work I need you to quote for.”
Right you are, love.”
She could hear the builder grumbling under his breath to his apprentice and led the two men up the carved oak staircase trying not to think about how little her towel was covering and hoping they couldn’t see her bottom.
“My bathroom is en-suite, or at least I hope it soon will be,” she explained, her face hot and cheeks pink at the thought of what she'd just said. “So I thought the best place to start would be my room.”
I'll need the wall from this room knocked through, and a doorway put in down that end.” She pointed across the room, noticing her knickers and bra had dropped off the chair and onto the floor. Kicking them under the bed, she took a breath to continue.
Can’t be done,” said a gruff voice from the hallway.
She took a backwards step out of her room to see who was talking.
“Why not?” she asked, her intended rant immediately catching in her throat when she came face-to-face with the owner of a pair of the most piercing blue eyes she’d ever seen. Bea was sure he must be handsome under all that facial hair and despite her annoyance with him couldn’t help staring.
This is a very old house, and that, young lady, is a load bearing wall,” he said, his perfect lips drawing back into a slight smile she instinctively knew was more amusement than appreciation of her appearance. He cleared his throat before tapping the wall for emphasis. “I wouldn’t advise you to knock through it.”
Young lady? He couldn’t be much older than her, she mused. Then again, thought Bea, he could almost be any age under all those whiskers.
“But I’d planned to,” Bea argued, not liking his condescending manner or his amused gaze. He may be used to women being stunned into submission by his overpowering presence, but she had just got rid of a bullying husband and wasn’t about to replace him with a bossy builder.
And you are?” she asked, wishing she wasn’t in such a compromising position. Being late was one thing, but not being dressed in front of this scowling builder was another entirely.
Luke Thornton,” he said studying the wall. “I was a bit delayed so I asked Bill to come ahead.” He motioned for Bea to follow him and walked down the hallway to another bedroom the other side of hers. “This would be a better option.” He narrowed his eyes, contemplating the wall in front of him. “This box room would make a perfect en-suite.” He peered out of the window. “Imagine soaking in your bath and staring across the fields at that view of Corbiére lighthouse.” He stepped back making room for Bea to have a look. She leant forward and gazed at the uninterrupted view across the fields to the white tower perched at the edge of the sea. He was right. She always enjoyed looking at this majestic building on the rocks at one end of St Ouen's Bay.
Pretty spectacular, don't you think?” he said, coming to stand behind her.
Bea gripped her towel wishing she’d at least taken the time to put on her underwear and nodded. He was right of course.
“Then,” he continued without waiting for her to answer, “you could keep the other as the house bathroom. It’s bigger, after all, and closer to the rest of the bedrooms.”
She thought through his suggestion for a moment.
“I see what you're saying, but I’d got the whole set up planned out in detail,” she said, not wishing to give in to him too readily, but desperate to put on some clothes. “It doesn’t sound like I have much of a choice really, so I suppose I’ll have to go with your suggestion.”
“You can do as you like, it’s your house.” He studied the clipboard Bill handed to him. “According to my secretary, apart from replacing the house bathroom and creating an en-suite, you also need the downstairs cloakroom to be refitted, some plastering in the hall, and a bit of painting and decorating throughout the rest of the house.”
Bea nodded silently. It sou
nded as if this was going to be mammoth when he listed everything like that. Luke withdrew a biro from the top of the clipboard and began making notes. “You two can get going if you like, I’ll catch up with you later.” He walked slowly down the stairs, his hand grazing paint surfaces as he passed the walls.
Don’t mind him, love,” whispered Bill from behind her. “He doesn’t mean to be so abrasive, it’s just his manner.”
He’s had a lot goin’ on,” the apprentice added, before receiving another nudge in his bruised ribs. “Ouch, what was that one for?”
You can get in the van.” The builder shook his head and frowned. “Bloody kid is too ready to give his opinion when it’s not needed.” He tilted his head in Luke’s direction. “He’s a grand chap though.”
Bea glanced at Luke’s broad back as he stepped into the downstairs cloakroom.
“He hides it well, doesn't he?” she murmured before hurrying to her bedroom to dress. Once clothed, she slipped on her shoes and went to wait for him in the kitchen at the back of the house. What was his problem with her anyway? He made her earlier moodiness seem positively chirpy.
Bea checked the time and wished he would hurry up. She didn’t have long and it would take at least fifteen minutes to get to her appointment, even if she took the open road all the way along St Ouen's Bay past the sand dunes and over by the Golf Course to St Brelade’s Bay. She took out a small mirror from her handbag and re-applied her cherry lip-gloss. Butterflies imitated kanga-hammers in her stomach; she wasn’t looking forward to this meeting. Business associates were one thing, but dealing with the spoilt wife of her biggest client was another entirely.
“Wow, this room's a shrine to orange Formica,” Luke announced from the doorway.
Bea frowned. He was right, but there was no need to be rude.
“It is a bit, but I can’t afford to do everything I want with the house, unfortunately. It's functional, even if it is a little, um, orange, so it’ll have to wait until I can find enough money to fit in a new one.”
Luke raked a hand through his messy brown fringe.
“It's not too bad.”
She noticed the glint of
merriment in his eyes. “I think that's a matter of opinion.” Bea raised her eyebrows, unable to help glancing up at the kitchen clock and checking the time once again.
Right,” he said, smiling down at her. “You obviously have to be somewhere and I’ve made all the notes I should need. I’ll pass this on to my secretary in the morning, and she’ll post a quote on to you.”
Bea couldn't help noticing how his smile seemed to light up his entire face, or what she could see of it through his stubble
. Her stomach did an involuntary flip when his dark blue eyes gave away his amusement, and looking away from him, she pushed her hand deep into her bag. She wished her aunt was still with her; they’d have laughed about his stunned expression on seeing the kitchen for the first time. “I can never find anything in here,” she said, aware of him watching her as she rummaged around trying to locate her car keys.
I know better than to comment on women's handbags.” He shrugged. “Was there anything else you need me to add to this list before I go?”
Flea jumped out of his basket
and started barking. He trotted over to the French doors and tapped the glass with his paw, frantic to be let out. “Stop it,” Bea snapped, knowing the aging Miniature Schnauzer her aunt had adored wasn’t listening to her.
What’s wrong with him? Did he see something do you think?” He squinted out of the window in the same direction as the dog.
Bea bent to pick Flea up and put him down in his basket.
“Stay there. You know you can’t catch the birds.” She looked over at Luke. “He goes mad if a bird comes into the garden. He also does the same in the autumn if a leaf dares to blow past the window. It can get a little exhausting at times.”
Luke shook his head and smiled.
“Silly boy.” He stroked Flea’s soft fur. “He’s a character though, I’ll bet?”
“He can also be a pain in the bum, but I love him to bits.” She remembered the time and tried not to panic. “Right, about that work?” Bea mulled over what she’d asked Luke to price for, and picking up her suit jacket from the back of her chair, she hesitated for a moment. “This is a bit awkward,” she said. “I’m not sure I'll be able to afford to have all the work done at once.” She chewed her lower lip. “When I spoke to my sister about contacting you I’d hoped to be able to take out a loan for the work.”
His expression softened.
“Yes, I was sorry to hear about your aunt. I heard she was a remarkable lady.”
Bea swallowed. It was too soon to hope to be brave when talking about Aunt Annabel, but she needed to at least try.
“She was.” She cleared her throat determined to draw her mind away from her heartache. She couldn’t afford to mess up her mascara now; she didn’t have time to fix her face before leaving. “If you wouldn’t mind only quoting for the bathrooms and plastering for now, I’ll probably have to do the rest myself.”
Luke nodded and scribbled something in his notebook.
“Not a problem. Give me a call if you’re happy with the quote. The guys should be able to start early next week.”
Bea was surprised they would be beginning the work so soon, but didn't like to say so.
“Okay, thank you.” She walked through to the front door with him. He’d seemed so gentle then for a moment. “Sorry to rush you, but I’m a little late for an appointment and need to get a move on.”
She waited for him to go out and step into his blue pickup truck and watched in silence as he disappeared down her long gravel driveway in a cloud of dust. It was like blowing a dandelion clock, she mused, you never knew where the seeds would end up. She sighed heavily. This was no time to start panicking about the massive responsibility she was taking on. How many people would swap places with her in a second if they could own a house and garden as grand as The Brae, she wondered. Bea glanced around the large panelled hallway. This house should be enjoyed by a family though, not a solitary, newly separated, grieving thirty-year-old. Was she mad to try so hard to keep this place?
She walked back to the kitchen to check Flea was calmer and still in his bed. “Good boy,” she soothed. “I won’t be long.”
As she walked through the hallway to the front door, Bea looked up at the assortment of paintings hanging from the panelling.
“Are any of you A Jersey Kiss?” she asked, doubting it very much. None of them looked like they could be. What was A Jersey Kiss anyway and why hadn’t her aunt left some sort of clue in her will?