Cathy Kelly 3-book Bundle

BOOK: Cathy Kelly 3-book Bundle
3.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Cathy Kelly 3-book Bundle
Cathy Kelly
HarperCollins Publishers (2012)

Three of Cathy Kelly’s bestselling novels, packaged together as ebooks for the first time. LESSONS IN HEARTBREAK, ONCE IN A LIFETIME and HOMECOMING make the perfect excuse to have some Cathy Kelly time. 

Three lives. Three loves. Three reasons to let go. 

LESSONS IN HEARTBREAK tells the story of three women and the lessons they learn – both past and present – which bring both joy and heartbreak. And the hardest lesson of all is learning to let go. 

In ONCE IN A LIFETIME, three women find that sometimes things can happen which change your life forever, and each learn that the chance for real joy comes only once in a lifetime… Four women, four lives, one place they all call home. 

HOMECOMING tells the story of Golden Square in Dublin, and four women who live there, their lives drawing ever-closer together…

Cathy Kelly 3-Book Bundle
Lessons in Heartbreak
Once in a Lifetime
Cathy Kelly

Table of Contents

Title Page

Lessons in Heartbreak

Once in a Lifetime


Extract from The House on Willow Street

About the Author

Also by the Author


About the Publisher

Lessons in Heartbreak
Cathy Kelly

To Murray, Dylan and John, with love


In her head, she knew what she was doing was wrong. She lay, open-eyed in the dawn, feeling the length of his naked body next to hers, warm despite the chill of the room. She’d never slept naked before, and now wondered how there was any other way

Of course, you needed another body beside yours; a body like his, hard with physical exercise, taut and lean, not an ounce of flab on him, and fiercely strong

Yet he was so gentle with her. His hands with their tender pianist’s fingers had drawn whorls on her pale skin the night before, his eyes shining in the soft light of the dim bulb

With his hands on her skin, her body became like nothing she’d ever known before: a treasured thing made for being wrapped up with his and adored

‘You’re so beautiful. I wish this moment could go on for ever,’ he’d said in the low voice she loved. There wasn’t anything about him she didn’t love, really

He was perfect

And not hers

Their time was stolen: a few hours here and there, holding hands under the table at dinner, clinging together in the vast hotel bed like shipwreck survivors on a raft. For those hours, he was hers, but she was only borrowing him

The awfulness of separating rose up again inside her. It was a physical ache in the pit of her stomach

He’d wake soon. He had to be gone by seven to get his train

If she had been the one who had to leave the hotel room first, she knew she simply couldn’t have done it. But he would. Duty drove him

It was dark in the room and only the gleam of the alarm clock hands showed that it was morning. She nudged her way out of the bed and opened a sliver of heavy curtain to let some grey dawn light in. It was raining outside; the sort of sleety cold rain that sank cruelly into the bones

There were early-morning noises coming from the street below. Doors banging, horns sounding, traffic rumbling. Ordinary life going on all around them, like worker ants slaving away in the colony, nobody aware of anybody else’s life. Nobody aware of hers

He moved in the bed and she hurried back into it, desperate to glean the last precious hour of their time together. If she closed her eyes, she could almost pretend it was night again and they still had some time

But he was waking up, rubbing sleep from his eyes, rubbing his hands over his jaw with its darkening stubble

Soon, he’d be leaving

She was crying when he moved hard against her, his body heavy and warm

‘Don’t be sad,’ he said, lowering his head and kissing the saltiness of her tears

‘I’m not,’ she said, crying more. ‘I mean, I don’t mean to. I’ll miss you, I can’t bear it.’

‘You have to, we both have to.’

She’d never known that love could be so joyous and so agonising at the same time. Every caress took them closer to his leaving. Each time he touched her, she couldn’t block out the thought:
Is this the last time he’ll ever do that? Will I ever see him again?

She could barely stop the tears. But she did, because she had to

In the end, she lay silently in the bed watching him get ready. Just before he left, he sat beside her, pulled her close and kissed her as if she was oxygen he was breathing in

Her hands clung to him, one curved tightly around his neck, the other cradling his skull. They kissed with their eyes closed so they’d never forget

‘I have to go. I love you.’

She couldn’t speak in case she cried again


He didn’t look back as he left and she wondered if that was the difference between men and women. Men looked forward, warriors focusing on the future. Women’s eyes darted everywhere. Searching, wondering, praying to some god to keep the people they loved safe

She lay back in the bed still warm with the imprint of his body, and wondered if she would ever see him again


The New Mexico sun was riding high in the sky when the Zest catalogue shoot finally broke up for lunch. Izzie Silver stood up and stretched to her full five feet nine inches, glorying in the drowsy heat that had already burnished the freckles on her arms despite her careful application of Factor 50.

Truly Celtic people – with milk-bottle skin, dots of caramel freckles and bluish veins on their wrists – only ever went one colour in the sun: lobster red. And lobster red was never going to be a fashionable colour, except for early-stage melanomas.

It was her second day on the shoot and Izzie could feel her New-Yorker-by-adoption blood slowing down to match the sinuous pace of desert life. Manhattan and Perfect-NY Model Agency, who’d sent her here to make sure nothing went wrong on a million-dollar catalogue shoot involving three of their models, seemed a long way away.

If she was in New York, she’d be sitting at her desk with the rest of the bookers: phone headset on, skinny latte untouched on her desk, and a stack of messages piled up waiting for her. The office was in a sleek block off Houston, heavy on glass bricks and Perspex chandeliers and light on privacy.

At lunch, she’d be rushing down to the little beauty salon on Seventh where she got her eyebrows waxed or taking a quick detour uptown into Anthropologie on West Broadway to see if they had any more of those adorable little soap dishes shaped like seashells. Not that she needed more junk in her bathroom, mind you; it was like a beauty spa in there as it was.

In between scheduling other people’s lives, she’d be mentally scrolling through her own, thinking of her Pilates class that night and whether she had the energy for it. And thinking of him. Joe.

Weird, wasn’t it, how a person could be a stranger to you and then, in an instant,
your whole life? How did that happen, anyway?

And why him? When he was the most inconvenient, wrong person for her to love. Just when she thought she’d cracked this whole life thing, along came Joe and showed her that nothing ever worked out the way you wanted it to. You have no control – random rules.

Izzie hated random, loathed it, despised it. She liked being in charge.

At least being here gave her the space to think, even if she was missing her eyebrow appointment, her Pilates and – most importantly – dinner with Joe. Because Joe took up so much space in her head and in her heart that she couldn’t think clearly when he was around.

Here at Chaco Ranch, with the vast hazy spread of dusty land around her and the big sky that seemed to fill more than the horizon, clear thinking felt almost mandatory.

Izzie felt as much at home as if she was sitting on the back porch of her grandmother’s house in Tamarin where sea orchids dotted the grass and the scent of the ocean filled the air.

Chaco Ranch, just thirty minutes away from the buzz of Santa Fe, was a sprawling, white-painted ranch house, sitting like an exquisite piece of turquoise in the middle of sweeping red ochre.

And though it was geographically a long way from Tamarin, the small Irish coastal town where Izzie had grown up, the two places shared that same rare quality that
was far too urgent a word and that perhaps the day after tomorrow was time enough for what had to be done.

While the ranch was landlocked with huge cacti and mesquite trees guarding the house and mountains rising up behind them, Tamarin sat perilously on rocks, the houses clinging to steep hills as if the roar of the Atlantic would send them tumbling down.

In both places, Izzie decided, the landscape made people aware of just how puny they were in the grand scheme of things.

The consequent tranquillity of the ranch had calmed everyone down at least as much as two hours of Bikram yoga would.

Bookers rarely went on shoots: their work was confined to the office, living on the phone, relying on email as they juggled their models’ lives effortlessly. But Zest were important clients and Izzie’s bosses had decided it was worth flying her in, just in case anything went wrong on this first shoot for a whole new Zest line.

‘I love this place,’ Izzie had said to the blonde ranch owner the morning before when the crew had arrived with enough clothes, make-up, hair spray and photographic equipment to make a small movie, and enough adrenaline to power a large town.

Mexican-inspired arches in the walls, tiled courtyards hung with Moroccan lights, and dreamy wall-hangings made locally gave the place depth. Local artists’ handiwork hung cheek by jowl with pieces by international artists, and there were two walls dedicated to haunting photographs of Anasazi ruins.

The ranch owner had waved slender brown arms that rattled with silver and turquoise bangles and explained that Chaco Canyon, where her treasured photos had been taken, was home to a flea that still carried bubonic plague.

‘Could we get some?’ deadpanned Izzie. ‘Not for me, you understand, but I’ve got some people I’d like the flea to bite.’

‘I thought you fashion people had no sense of humour,’ the blonde woman grinned back.

‘Only me, sorry,’ Izzie said. ‘It’s a hindrance in fashion, to be honest. Some of these people cry at night over hemline lengths and if you are not a True Fashion Believer, then they try to kill you with their Manolo spike heels or else batter you to death with their copy of
: New Collections edition. Personally, I think a sense of humour helps.’

‘And you’re not a True Fashion Believer?’ asked the woman, staring at the tall redhead curiously.

‘Hey, look at me,’ laughed Izzie, smoothing her palms over her firm, curvy body. ‘True Fashion Believers think food is for wimps, so I certainly don’t qualify. I’ve never done the South Beach or the Atkins, and I just cannot give up carbohydrates. These are crucial in True Fashion.’

In an alternate universe, Izzie Silver could have been a model. Everyone told her so when she was a kid growing up in Tamarin. She had
the look
. Huge eyes, coloured a sort of dusty heliotrope blue with glossy thick lashes like starfishes around them, and a big generous mouth that made her cheekbones rise into gleaming apples when she smiled. Her caramel mane of thick hair made her look like a Valkyrie standing on her own longboat, curls flying and fierce majesty in her face. And she was tall, with long, graceful legs perfect for ballet, until she grew so much that she towered over all the other little ballerinas.

There was only one issue: her size. When she was twelve, she stood five feet six in her socks and weighed one hundred and ten pounds.

Now, aged thirty-nine, she wore a US size ten. In an industry where skinniness was a prize beyond rubies, Izzie Silver stood out for many reasons.

With her perfect hourglass figure, like a sized-up Venus, she was proof that big was beautiful. She loved food, turned heads everywhere she went and made the hollow-eyed fashion junkies look like fragile twigs in danger of cracking inside and out.

She liked her size and never dieted.

In fashion, this was the equivalent of saying that polyester was your favourite fabric.

Joe Hansen had been mildly surprised when she told him she worked in the fashion industry the first day they met. They’d been seated across the table from each other at a charity lunch – an event Izzie had only gone to by the strangest, totally random circumstances, which proved her point that random ruled.

She hadn’t thought he’d noticed her, until suddenly, she’d seen that flicker in his eyes: a glint to add to the mirror-mosaic glints already there.

Hello, you
, she’d thought wistfully.

It had been so long since she’d found a man attractive that she almost wasn’t sure what that strange quiver in her belly was. But if it was attraction, she tried to suppress it. She had no time for men any more. They messed things up, messed people’s heads up and caused nothing but trouble. Work – nice solid work where you toiled away and achieved something real that nobody could take away from you – and having good friends, that was what life was about.

But if she’d discounted him, he clearly hadn’t discounted her. From his position across the table Izzie could feel Joe taking her in admiringly, astonished to see that she was so earthy and real. She’d eaten her bread roll with relish, even briefly licked a swirl of butter off her finger. Carbs
fats: criminal. The city was full of fashion people and common wisdom held that they were skinny, high-maintenance beings,
always following some complicated diet. Izzie didn’t try to be different. She’d just never tried to be the same.

‘God made you tall so men could look up to you,’ Gran used to say. Her grandmother had stepped into her mother’s place when Mum died of cancer when Izzie was just thirteen. Izzie wasn’t sure how her grandmother had managed to steer her around the tricky path of being a big girl in a world of women who wanted to be thin, but she’d done it.

Izzie liked how she looked. And so, it seemed, had the man across from her.

He was surrounded by skinny charity queens, spindly legs set elegantly on equally spindly-legged gilt chairs, and he was staring at her. No, staring wasn’t the right word: gazing at her hungrily, that summed it up.

Lots of men looked at Izzie like that. She was used to it; not in a cavalier, couldn’t-care-less way, but certainly she barely glanced at the men who stared at her. She honestly didn’t need their stares to make her feel whole. But when Joe Hansen looked at her like that, he flipped her world upside down.

The most shocking thing was that when his eyes were on her, she could feel the old Izzie – uncompromising, strong, happy in her own skin – slip away to be replaced by a woman who wanted this compelling stranger to think her beautiful.

‘You know, honey, from what I hear, that whole fashion world sounds kinda like hard work,’ sighed the ranch owner to Izzie now, hauling her mind away from the Plaza and the first time she’d met Joe.

‘I tried that South Beach once and it takes a lot of time making those egg-white and spinach muffins ‘n’ all.’

‘Too much hard work,’ agreed Izzie, who worked in an office where the refrigerator was constantly full of similar snacks. Quinoa was the big kick at the moment. Izzie had tried it and it tasted like wet kitchen towels soaked overnight in cat
pee – well, she imagined that was what cat pee tasted like. Give her a plate of Da Silvano’s pasta with an extra helping of melting parmesan shavings any day.

‘Pasta’s my big thing,’ she said.

‘Spaghetti with clams,’ said the other woman.

‘Risotto. With wild mushrooms and cheese,’ Izzie moaned. She could almost taste it.

‘Pancakes with maple syrup and butter.’

‘Stop,’ laughed Izzie, ‘I’m going to start drooling.’

‘Bet those little girls never let themselves eat pancakes,’ the woman said, gesturing to where two models sat chain-smoking. Even smoking, they looked beautiful, Izzie thought. She was constantly humbled by the beauty of the women she worked with, even if she knew that sometimes the beauty was only a surface thing. But what a surface thing.

‘No,’ she said now. ‘They don’t eat much, to be honest.’

‘Sad, that,’ said the woman.

Izzie nodded.

The ranch owner departed, leaving the crew to it and Izzie wandered away from the terrace where the last shots had been taken and walked down the tiled steps to the verandah at the back where Tonya, at eighteen the youngest of the Perfect-NY models, had gone once she’d whipped off the cheerful Zest pinafore dress she’d been wearing and had changed into her normal clothes.

A brunette with knife-edge cheekbones, Tonya sat on a cabana chair, giraffe legs sprawled in Gap skinny jeans, and took a first drag on a newly lit cigarette as if her life depended on it. From any angle, she was pure photographic magic.

And yet despite the almond-shaped eyes and bee-stung lips destined to make millions of women yearn to look like her, Izzie decided that there was something tragic about Tonya.

The girl was beautiful, slender as a lily stem and one hundred per cent messed up. But Izzie knew that most people
wouldn’t be able to see it. All they’d see was the effortless beauty, blissfully unaware that the person behind it was a scared teenager from a tiny Nebraska town who’d won the looks lottery but whose inner self hadn’t caught up.

As part of the Perfect-NY team, Izzie Silver’s job was seeing the scared kid behind the carefully applied make-up. Her stock-in-trade was a line of nineteen-year-olds with Ralph Lauren futures, trailer-trash backgrounds and lots of disastrous choices in between.

Officially, Izzie’s job was to manage her models’ careers and find them jobs. Unofficially, she looked after them like a big sister. She’d worked in the modelling world for ten years and not a week went by when she didn’t meet someone who made her feel that modelling ought to include free therapy.

‘Why do people believe that beauty is everything?’ she and Carla, her best friend and fellow booker, wondered at least once a week. It was a rhetorical question in a world where a very specific type of physical beauty was prized.

‘’Cos they don’t see what we do,’ Carla inevitably replied. ‘Models doing drugs to keep skinny, doing drugs to keep their skin clear and doing drugs to cope.’

Like a lot of bookers, Carla had been a model herself. Half Hispanic, half African-American, she was tall, coffee-skinned and preferred life on the other side of the camera where the rejection wasn’t as brutal.

‘When the tenth person of the week talks about you as though you’re not there and says your legs are too fat, your ass is too big, or your whole look is totally last season, then you start to believe them,’ Carla had told Izzie once.

She rarely talked about her own modelling days now. Instead, she and Izzie – who’d bonded after starting at the agency at the same time and finding they were the same age – talked about setting up their own company, where they’d do things differently.

Nobody was going to tell the models of the Silverwebb Agency – the name had leaped out at them: Izzie Silver, Carla Webb – they were too fat. Because the sort of models they were going to represent were plus-sized: beautiful and big. Women with curves, with bodies that screamed ‘goddess’ and with skin that was genuinely velvety instead of being air-brushed velvety because the model was underweight and acned from a bad lifestyle.

BOOK: Cathy Kelly 3-book Bundle
3.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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