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Authors: Cate Kendall

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Chanel Sweethearts (27 page)

BOOK: Chanel Sweethearts
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Caro scooped up another load of eye-tearing compost and dumped it into the skip. Springforth, the beautiful property she'd shared with her family for the past fifteen years, had become a tip. A stinky, fly-blown, tip. A compost collection dump-truck came daily and dropped yet another load of refuse onto what once had been a manicured front lawn. The stench was unbelievable. The place was an eyesore. And she'd never been happier.

She waved as Jessica pulled up in her old Patrol. ‘God, it's bad on a hot, still day, isn't it?' Jessica said holding her nose as she came over.

‘It certainly is,' Caro said, removing her face-mask. ‘But we're only at the beginning. We have systems we're about to put into place to house the bio-mass so it doesn't smell so badly while it's waiting its turn to enter the pit. It's no wonder it creates such energy – just feel the heat coming off the decomposition.'

Caro was right, there was a definite warmth emanating from the rubbish heap.

‘So how goes it at the building site?' Caro asked as they headed to the back verandah for a cold drink.

‘Brilliantly,' Jessica said. ‘Thanks to the plans left from the renovation fifteen years ago, we'll be able to build an exact replica of the General Store. And I just found a demolition site in Schnapper Point with hundred-year-old oak floorboards for sale.'

‘Perfect. You're a marvel. And how's the mobile camp kitchen working out?' Caro asked as they sat and she poured the iced tea.

Jessica had opened a temporary cafe in an old shipping container at the edge of the site. Her staff served espresso coffees and a minimal menu in a quaint picnic-style set-up. Only Jessica could have given a slap-dash cafe an atmosphere of such quaint quirkiness that it drew tourists and locals alike. And to be close to the action she'd rented and moved into the little cottage next door, in which she baked the daily treats for the cafe.

‘It's working wonderfully, people don't mind at all – as long as they can get their coffee and their paper they're happy.'

‘Is breaking ground far off?' Caro asked.

‘Next week! The plans zipped through council and the same builder from last time is free and knows what he's doing. We should be operational in just over nine months. How about you? How's your new career working out?'

‘Oh, Jess, I'm so happy. The kids love their new school and it's just wonderful to be working side by side with Angus. I've never seen him so stress-free. He's completely embraced his new country life. I still can't get used to seeing him without a tie.'

‘Yeah, he seemed pretty chipper this morning when he came in for coffee. I'm glad you're getting along so well,' Jessica said.

‘Jessica, I must apologise for my behaviour over the last year. I was just sick with worry, and I came across as a bit of a cow.'

‘God, no, Caro, it's me who should apologise to you. You were right the entire time. I didn't listen to you. I was seduced by Genevieve's maternal ways with me, the way she babied me and fed my shaky ego. I was so blind. I was looking for a mother figure when I had a perfectly good big sister here all along. But what was with you telling Dad about the property value and all that? You did come across as quite mercenary.'

‘I was just ensuring Richard was one hundred per cent committed to retaining the property for future generations, no matter how valuable it was,' Caro explained. ‘I would never sell this place,' she added with fierce determination. ‘Anyway, I'm just so thrilled how it's all worked out. You know the ad agency sacked Genevieve?'

‘No! Where's she working now?'

‘At McDonald's head office as their advertising manager.'

‘Oh, that's just perfect!' Jessica laughed. ‘What a career change. Speaking of career change, look at you! Your boots are filthy and your jumper has holes in the sleeves: not at all what I'm used to seeing.'

Caro laughed and kicked a clump of mud off her gumboot. ‘And fancy me being a producer of fruit and veg. I've always loved my garden, but to have it be practical instead of picturesque is so thrilling. I have to keep an eye on my greenhouse, though. I keep scolding bloody Songbird and Rainbow for trying to grow their ‘special' plants in there. I have to remind them constantly we're partners with Peninsula Energy, who could pop in at any time.'

The women looked down across the property. The lush cornfield was reaching its peak and rustled in the sudden breeze. The other crops fought for space as they stretched up for the sun. The shiny canisters bordering the bottom paddock hummed as they created their organic energy. Caro and Jess laughed as Angus waved and made his way towards them, then tripped over a hillock of black soil.

Caro took a packet of tobacco from her back pocket and made herself a rollie cigarette as her husband approached.

‘It's remarkable that all this has come from Dad's belief in the girls' vision. It's such a shame he's not here to see it,' Jessica said.

‘Yes,' Caro mused, ‘I loved that man like my own dad and I knew how important this place was for him. It made me sick to think somebody could whip it away from under his nose. But he had the last laugh, didn't he. This place is more like paradise now than it's ever been.'


Jessica was busy serving tables, taking orders up to Linda in the temporary shipping container kitchen and seating guests. Although the cafe's capacity was only a quarter of what it used to be, it was still a tricky business juggling the customers.

It did look very beautiful and was perfect for the summer season. Jess would have to organise a marquee for winter, but the market umbrellas and floral tablecloths were gorgeous and elicited many compliments from her customers. Small glass juice bottles filled with jasmine kept the place fragrant and the sea breeze was never too strong, thanks to the bulk of the foreshore acting as a windbreak.

The small menu of the old General Store's standards was a hit. One muffin flavour – different each day, the famous flourless chocolate cake and a range of toasties were all that was on offer, yet no one complained. It was a simple enough operation that one girl and Linda could manage most days, leaving Jessica free to concentrate on the building. Except on crazy days like today, where all hands were required on deck.

Jessica was so proud of herself. She couldn't believe how far she'd come. She'd developed fantastic organisational skills at her job in the city, yet managed to maintain her creative spirit. She often felt like pinching herself that she was personally in charge of building her General Store from scratch; with no help from the men in her past who'd usually stepped in and taken over. Angus gave great advice, but the majority of the project was her responsibility. She was doing it on her own and she loved it.

She walked over to clear the cups from the front table, when a shadow fell over it.

‘I'll just clear this up and the table will be free,' she said without looking up.

‘That's okay, Red, I'll wait.'

She squealed and spun around.

Nick wrapped his arms around Jessica and squeezed so tightly he thought he'd break her.

‘Where have you been? I needed you!' she scolded.

‘Do you still need me?'

‘No,' she said proudly, ‘I did it on my own.'

‘Well, I've timed it perfectly then, haven't I?' he said. ‘I should have said this long ago, Red, but will you please not go anywhere ever again? Will you please stay with me?'

She cocked her head and pretended to think. ‘Okay,' she said and they grinned, holding each other's faces in their hands.

Lisa Blundell:

Thank you to Mark Smith of Sunrise Energy Management for his determination to make this a better place to live, and his knowledge of terra preta as a good basis for a big idea.

The bio-char system in this novel has been subjected to creative licence for the sake of the story. The concept, however, is real and for information on the magic of bio-char or terra preta start at Wikipedia – the links take you from there.

Cousin Leonard is an actual popular band although their number one hit success in the book is my personal future projection for them:

Thanks to Rie Southwell of Chook Leaf and Danni Brancatisano for their fashion knowledge.

A special thank you to my husband, Ian Blundell, for his knowledge of science and great research skills. But more importantly, for his untiring patience and support.

Finally thanks to Leisa Wharington, Steve from the coffee shop, Lisa from Hardware and all the other lovely Balnarring locals who inspired this book.

Michelle Hamer:

It takes so many people to make a book and I feel privileged to have such talented, generous people supporting Cate Kendall's endeavours.

Big thanks to our publisher Larissa Edwards, our editors Jessica Dettmann and Chris Kunz, and the Random House marketing team.

Thanks as always to my agent, Selwa Anthony, and to my co-writer, Lisa Blundell.

At home Harley, Ruby, Darcy and Ollie continue to be my own personal cheer squad.

Kell, Ads and Benji, thanks for the bed in the spare room, the dating advice (so he will call, right?), the telephone counselling and the hilarity of hard-rubbish day. You all mean so much to me.

To Tracey, who always has my back. My world makes more sense with you in it.

To John, thanks for trying to make me laugh when the editing made me grumpy. Thanks also to Kyan, Mirrami and Pier. I can't wait to see your book in print one day, Pippi!

To Jasmin and Vince, thanks for the coffee-and-crying sessions – and everything else!

Thanks to Suzy and Zak, who make family life so much fun.

And to Mum and Dad. You helped to get me through the year in so many ways. This one's for you.

BOOK: Chanel Sweethearts
11.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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