Authors: Jo Carnegie
Tags: #Chick-Lit, #Contemporary, #Drama, #Fiction, #Love Stories, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Romance, #Women's Fiction
At No. 5 The Green, Camilla stirred sleepily. Jed was out of bed and standing at the window. He pulled the curtain back, and at first she didn’t understand the bright light flooding into the room.
She sat up, hair mussed. ‘Has the rain stopped?’
Jed was dressed in his work overalls already. ‘Come and take a look.’
Camilla got out of bed and went over to the window. It was as if a fairy godmother had waved her wand over the village. The green was still sodden, but the skies above it were clear and blue. A pale yellow sun was rising steadily over the drenched landscape, which now looked shiny and new.
‘Thank God for that! I really thought we were going to get flooded again. The water was inches away from the back door last night.’
Jed put his strong arms round her, keeping her warm in the morning chill. In her cotton nightie, Camilla stayed pressed against him. ‘Come back to bed,’ she whispered.
He looked down at her regretfully. Camilla stared at the golden flecks around his pupils that made his eyes even more mesmerizing. ‘I’ve got tons to do today.’
Camilla untwined herself from Jed and let him go to work.
‘That was a close call!’ Brenda pounced on Calypso as soon as she walked in the shop. She looked tired but relieved, her hair sticking up all over the place.
Calypso smiled sympathetically. ‘I know. Granny
told me you’d got the sandbags out. It’s all over now though.’
‘Until the next time,’ Brenda muttered.
‘Hey, come on,’ Calypso reassured her. ‘Everything will be OK.’
Brenda didn’t look very convinced. ‘I’m sure you’re right! Anyway what can I get you, lovvie?’
Calypso dropped her voice. ‘Er, I’m after some tampons.’
Brenda looked apologetic. ‘We’re all out! The delivery let me down this week.’
Calypso groaned inwardly. She needed them
, bloody erratic periods. She’d come on two days early, but had luckily found a Lil-let in the bottom of one of her handbags. ‘Shit, I’m going to have to drive into Bedlington now, and I’ve got a meeting in half an hour.’
‘Hold on!’ Brenda announced. ‘I might have a spare box out the back.’ She disappeared behind the counter, while Calypso waited hopefully. After a minute or so, Brenda reappeared holding something. ‘Here we go! Thought I had one left.’
Calypso looked at the battered, dated-looking box. They weren’t tampons – they were huge, unwieldy looking sanitary pads. Even worse, they seemed to have some kind of belt attached to them, which a smiling model was wearing round her waist. ‘I’m not wearing those! They look like something out of the seventies!’ Calypso exclaimed.
Brenda looked at the box. ‘You’re right! The sell-by date was March 1978. I’m sure they’ll be OK, though.’
‘Jesus!’ Calypso looked down at the offending item. She had no choice. Opening her purse, she counted the money out on to the counter. At least the price tag was only 27p.
‘You young girls don’t know how lucky you are!’ Brenda called after her. ‘In my day it was like having a brick between me legs!’
Reeling from the unpleasant image of Brenda’s gusset, Calypso fled the shop. She had just crossed the village green when a sleek sports car pulled up beside her. She hesitated for a moment, and, thinking the driver might need directions, leant down to the passenger window.
A man sat in the driver’s seat, wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses. Calypso was just thinking he looked familiar when he pulled them off and smiled. The periwinkle blue eyes were unmistakeable. ‘Hello there,’ said Rafe Wolfe.
Calypso couldn’t keep the surprise off her face. What was Rafe Wolfe doing here? She regained her composure. ‘Driver got a day off?’ she asked acerbically.
Rafe Wolfe laughed. ‘I prefer to drive myself.’ He was wearing an open-necked blue shirt, a cashmere jumper chucked on the passenger seat.
All he needs now is a Labrador puppy
, thought Calypso.
Rafe cocked his head, trying to read her expression. ‘Sorry, am I missing something? Every time we meet you seem to be having a private joke at my expense.’
Calypso raised an eyebrow. ‘I don’t recall meeting you before.’
His eyes travelled down to the box in her hands. Calypso wanted the ground to swallow her up.
‘They’re for my sister,’ she said quickly, holding the box behind her back. ‘So how can I help you?’
Rafe smiled. ‘Do you play tennis?’
‘Gave it up when I discovered fags and boys. Why?’
‘I was wondering if you’d like to play a game with me.’
Tennis! Calypso tried to keep a straight face. Was this guy for real? ‘Thanks, but I don’t make a habit of going round playing ball sports with strange men.’
Rafe held her gaze. ‘Coffee, then.’
‘Haven’t you got a girlfriend?’ Calypso asked, before immediately regretting it. He probably thought she was a groupie.
‘Had,’ he corrected her. A smile hovered on the corner of his mouth.
Calypso straightened up. ‘Sorry, I only drink tea. If you’re that desperate I’m sure there’re plenty of other coffee lovers out there.’
A look of disappointment crossed Rafe’s face, but he smiled. ‘Shame. Well, if you ever fancy it …’
He reached across and gave Calypso a card. ‘That’s my personal mobile number.’ With that, the passenger window slid up again and the car glided off.
‘Can you believe it? Handing me his card like I was some kind of minion. He probably thinks all us “simple country folk”…’ Calypso put on a comedy burr. ‘“… are gagging for a piece of him”. And can you believe he asked me to play
with him? I mean, how random is that? Does he think we all live in an episode of
, or something?’
‘He still asked you out, Calypso!’ said Camilla.
They were sitting round the kitchen table with cups of tea and Calypso had just relayed her experience.
‘Who’s asked Calypso out?’ said a voice in the doorway.
Camilla spun round. ‘Jed! I didn’t expect you back. Is everything all right?’
He came over and kissed the top of her head. ‘I had an hour off for once. Thought I’d come back for lunch.’
‘Calypso’s just been asked out by Rafe Wolfe!’ Camilla said. ‘He drove past her in his sports car.’
Jed raised an amused eyebrow. ‘Ay-up. We’ll be rolling out the red carpet for you, next.’
‘Oh shut up,’ said Calypso. ‘He is
not my type.’
‘What, good-looking, famous and millions in the bank?’ Jed asked wrily.
‘I’m not into all that shit,’ Calypso retorted.
Jed opened the fridge and brought out a plate of ham. ‘If you say so.’
Calypso rolled her eyes at him. ‘You’re
‘That film lot got to Clanfield today. It’s bedlam up there,’ said Jed, as he set about making a sandwich. Camilla got up to help him.
‘Did you see any of the actors?’ she asked, getting the butter out. ‘Sophia Highforth was at the welcome party, she looked jolly glamorous.’
Jed looked nonplussed. ‘Don’t know who she is. I think it’s just the crew setting up.’
Calypso stood up and tossed aside the paper she’d
reading. ‘I’m going back to work, see you guys later.’
The door slammed shut behind her, making Camilla wince. She looked at Jed’s sandwich. ‘Do you want anything else with that?’
‘You,’ he replied, with a serious expression on his face.
Camilla raised a teasing eyebrow. ‘Oh really?’
‘Come here,’ he said, and sweeping her up in his arms, carried Camilla up the narrow staircase to their bedroom. He put her down on the bed, peeled off her clothes and made gentle love to her, their bodies moving together with a comforting familiarity.
Afterwards, they lay entwined, Camilla in post-coital bliss. ‘Hey,’ she said softly. ‘Shouldn’t you be thinking about going back to work?’
He hesitated. ‘I was just thinking.’
‘Thinking about what?’ Camilla propped herself up on one shoulder to look at him.
‘Well, maybe we could set up a bank account for the future. I could start paying some of my wages in. You know, for our kids, so they’d have a good start in life. Better than I had, anyway.’
‘I think that’s a lovely idea,’ she said, quite taken aback. ‘I can get something set up, and …’
‘No.’ Jed stopped her, caressing her collarbone. ‘I know your parents would help us out, and I appreciate their generosity. I just want to make sure it’s me looking after our children, not your family. Does that make sense? Of course, it won’t be anything grand …’
Camilla felt a lump in her throat. ‘They won’t need anything grand,’ she whispered. ‘Neither do I.’
Jed smiled his crooked smile, making her heart do a somersault. ‘Let’s have another practice before I go back to work.’
CAMILLA WAS DUE
at the travel agent’s in a few hours, and as she emerged from the shower felt that all-too-familiar feeling of dread creeping into her stomach at the thought of another afternoon being treated like a general dogsbody. She sighed and hung her damp towel on the back of the door.
At least I can make a good cup of tea
, she thought self-deprecatingly.
The mid-morning sun streamed in through the window. Camilla’s heart lifted: it was a beautiful day. She went to open the window and stepped back, wondering what to wear. She was still floating on air from her conversation with Jed about trying for a family. While her friends had been settling down and producing babies by the dozen, Camilla had never pressed Jed. She hadn’t wanted to scare him off, and it seemed her tactics were paying off.
We’re going to have a baby!
Camilla wondered if they should start thinking about converting the spare room into a nursery. It was
sweet little room that looked out on to the apples trees in the back garden. A perfect nurturing environment. Camilla smiled at herself, she was getting carried away. Still, it wouldn’t do any harm to start planning …
Lost in happy thoughts, she absent-mindedly looked down at her bikini line. God, it was getting rather overgrown; she must book in for a wax at the beauty salon in Bedlington. Calypso had been urging her for months to get a Brazilian – ‘Big muffs are
1970s’ – but Camilla didn’t know if she could bear the pain.
Camilla noticed an ingrown hair.
time to get a wax. Especially with the amount of action she was getting at the moment. It wasn’t fair on poor Jed, although, to be honest, it never seemed to put him off. Camilla squeezed the offending hair, and to her great satisfaction it popped free. Camilla looked round for her tweezers, which were on the dressing-room table. She was in the process of pulling out the offending hair, when she suddenly got the feeling she wasn’t alone.
Slowly, afraid of what she might find, Camilla raised her head and looked out of the window.
Twenty-six pairs of eyes looked back.
‘Oh my God!’ she screamed. Rushing over, she wrenched the curtains shut.
Outside, the driver of the double-decker bus taking extras to the film set re-started his stalled engine and drove off.
At Clanfield Hall, Frances gazed out of her own bedroom window at the melee below. She’d known that it
a big production, but she had had no idea just how many
there would be. Girls in black with clipboards, men in overalls lugging toolboxes, white vans lined up side by side, from which a startling array of things – from lighting equipment to a life-sized pair of stocks – were being carried out. Frances found it all rather fascinating, but was equally apprehensive about Ambrose’s reaction when he returned from visiting his sister in Scotland – to find his estate taken over by men shouting into megaphones and gaggles of filthy fake peasants with pustules and brown teeth. Even more so when he had to get through the paparazzi who had clustered at the front gates, hoping to get an off-guard shot of one of the cast.
For a moment Frances questioned her judgement in letting the film crew in. She wondered if her longing for a change of routine had influenced her decision. Seraphina Inc. were taking over the little-used east wing of the house, and the shoot was scheduled to last three weeks. The Frasers’ fee for filming was going straight to the village fund, which would add much needed cash to the kitty.
Frances was roused from her thoughts by her mobile ringing. It was probably Harriet, for whom Frances had left a voicemail earlier. She picked it up and was surprised that rather than her daughter’s number, the word ‘call’ was flashing up on the screen.
Maybe she’s calling from work
, Frances thought. She pressed the answer button. ‘Darling?’
There was a chuckle down the phone. ‘That’s a helluva of a greeting.’
‘Devon! Is that you?’ Frances sat down in the chair heavily. Her hands started shaking.
The familiar cockney voice. ‘The one and only, princess. How yer doin’?’
‘Fine, thank you,’ she replied awkwardly. Instinctively Frances ran her hand over her chignon to compose herself.
There was a pause. ‘What’s wrong, Frannie?’ Devon Cornwall asked. ‘You don’t sound very pleased to hear from me.’
‘Oh I am! You just caught me off guard.’ Frances couldn’t keep the smile out of her voice. ‘Oh, Devon, it really is marvellous to hear from you!’
Another throaty chuckle. ‘That’s more like it. You know, I’m sitting here on some rich git’s yacht having a bit of chill time, and you came into my mind. So I said to myself: “Sod it, Devon, get on the old dog and bone and give the lady a tinkle.”’
Frances laughed. ‘Where
‘Somewhere bloody hot in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Don’t ask me where, I’ve done eight countries in as many days.’
‘I assume the tour is going well, then?’
‘Going a blinder, but I don’t want to talk all about me, princess. Tell me what you’ve been up to, and all the Churchminster news.’
They chatted for several minutes and Frances filled him in on the Britain’s Best Village competition and the film.
Devon sounded impressed. ‘Blimey, it’s all going on there. Makes me quite nostalgic for the place.’