Authors: Samantha Tonge
A story of icing and flour…and how love doesn’t always go to plan!
Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!). Instead she daydreamed of running her own teashop – serving the perfect scones – with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niko by her side…
Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niko and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project – The Tastiest Little Teashop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…
If you’re a fan of Lindsey Kelk or Lucy Diamond then don’t hesitate to step into Samantha Tonge’s truly delightful teashop.
Also by Samantha Tonge
From Paris with Love
Game of Scones
lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and two cats who think they are dogs. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels is her passion.
Firstly, I’d like to thank my hardworking, lovely editor Lucy Gilmour, along with the rest of the dedicated Carina UK team. Thanks also to Kate Nash for her input. Carina UK authors, I love you guys, thanks for brightening every working day. Hugs to Martin, Immy and Jay for their continued support. Appreciation to my many online friends who always know when to offer virtual chocolate. And a big shout-out to all those wonderful bloggers who generously give up their spare time to help us authors promote our books.
A special thank you goes to Frank de Jong, the very charming KLM flight attendant I met on the way back from Japan who inspired the character of Henrik. Thanks Frank, for putting up with my emails and requests for photos; for not running a mile when KLM tracked you down, having heard me chat about this book’s “hot Dutch hero” on Twitter.
Of course, these acknowledgements wouldn’t be complete without mentioning my favourite Game of Thrones characters Tyrion, Daenerys and Jon Snow. George R R Martin, I salute you!
My darling Immy, this one’s for you!
Word to the wise: never Google “Dutch” and “Sex” in the same sentence. Mmm, tempted you, haven’t I? A graphic image hovered in my mind, after I closed the page on my browser.
? How was that even possible? With a brief smile, I put my phone on the coffee table and snuggled back into the black leather sofa. On my lap lay a pen and sheet of paper. For important decisions, I had to map out my thoughts the old-fashioned way. On one side I’d scrawled a list titled HEAD:
reasons for staying together.
On the other, HEART:
reasons for breaking up
Breaking up, that was, from my six foot four boyfriend, Henrik from Holland. Okay, so he was only half-Dutch, thanks to his mum Greta, a divorced liberalist, who strutted around her house half- naked. However, he showed several of the stereotypical characteristics of a Dutchman that I’d just discovered on the internet, in a bid to come to a decision about our future. Despite Henrik’s ever-increasing earnings as a real estate developer, he counted every single penny. Plus he could be direct to the point of sounding rude – although I just called that honesty.
On the plus side… what can I say, his lack of inhibition in the bedroom had rubbed off onto missionary-position me. Talk about fifty shades of yay! In fact, on hearing that Christian Grey’s safe word was “red”, for a joke we’d set ours as “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”, the longest word in the English language. Just as well our love life, whilst adventurous, didn’t really include risky whips, clamps or cable ties.
A picture of Henrik came into my mind, with his slicked-back oat-coloured hair, Atlas shoulders and Titan height. This guy had the swoon-factor in excess – or at least that’s how I used to feel, until recent months. The first time our eyes had locked, his crinkled in a way that made me feel like a teenager crushing on a boyband. What’s more he was ambitious – for both of us – could wire a plug, kept fit and cooked a mean bowl of pasta…
Gushing now, wasn’t I, as the list under HEAD (to stay with him) grew longer? It sounds shallow, but hands up, I’ve been constantly bowled over by his Hollywood looks – until lately when, for some reason, his super suave appearance has grated. I know. Ridiculous. Talk about picky. Yet, thanks to my maths degree, I am analytical to the extreme, which means weighing up
the evidence – including my gut feelings. So I’d almost come to a decision – that just this once, I should listen to my heart and tell myself I’m actually
being silly. Despite Henrik’s considerable physical assets and appealing personality traits, my head needed to listen to my heart shouting that our relationship no longer felt right.
With a sigh, I stood up, went into the bedroom and slipped out of my trouser suit. I yawned. Would my body ever get used to the six a.m. starts, one hour commute to work and busy days in my power suit? Without concealer, dark rings circled my eyes and at night my brain found it hard to switch off. Henrik was the same, both of us often working in bed on our laptops. But that was good, right? Showed we were motivated and getting the most out of life?
Carefully I hung up my suit, pulled on cut-off jeans and a T-shirt, and headed into the open-plan kitchen. I tied a cake-themed apron around my waist. After one last look at my list, I tucked it into the front pocket. Now, flour, butter, milk, sugar… what flavour of scone would I bake today? Late afternoon sunbeams warmed my face and I gazed out of the window, onto the small regimental garden. Such a bright summer’s day called for sun cream-smelling desiccated coconut with a zing of fresh lemon juice…
I sieved the flour and rubbed in the butter, enjoying the sticky sensation. Scones were brilliant – like a blank canvas, you could colour with either a savoury or sweet theme. What’s more, gently kneading the dough, after adding the milk and sugar, never failed to lessen worries… It was the one time of day I took an hour out and emptied my mind of sums and equations. Stressed or happy, nothing beat creating something scrumptious out of such basic ingredients. However, you had to be careful not to pummel the mixture too much. Ideally, before you cut out shapes, the dough should still feel crumbly. Over the years I’d picked up the tips for perfect scones – keep the butter cold to improve the rise, too much milk would make the dough tough, and scones do best on a hot oven’s top shelf.
I jumped as the front door to our swanky ground-floor Notting Hill flat opened and slammed shut.
‘Had a good day?’ I said and turned around to face Henrik. He leant down to brush my lips with his. At five foot ten, my inner cavewoman had always loved the rare experience of a man towering over me. I used to think he’d make a heartbreaker of a uniformed hero, like a scrubbed-up surgeon or cabin crew member.
‘The best, thanks – but nothing compared to this evening when I’ll reveal a surprise.’
He put his shiny briefcase on the laminate floor. Not for the first time, I appreciated how well an expensive suit showed off his athletic outline. Henrik removed his jacket, slipped off his tie and undid the top two shirt buttons. This revealed a patch of tanned chest that I’d have once found tantalising, in the extreme. Henrik led me to the sofa. My stomach had lurched when he mentioned a surprise, thanks to a recent night out with Greta, who’d texted, asking to meet.
‘My boy is about to propose to you,’ she’d said after too many gins. ‘Marriage can get messy – make sure you carefully consider your reply.’
Despite feeling annoyed on his behalf, at her indiscretion, I secretly appreciated the heads-up – but hence the pressure on me to make up my mind about her son. I’d rather break up with him before any proposal, to avoid bruising his pride even more – to not witness the hurt on his face if I refused to accept a ring. My mind swirled for a moment. But what else could this surprise be? His eyes shone and his smile exuded warmth, so it was unlikely to be something he’d dislike announcing such as… a promotion abroad or
wanting to break up with me.
‘Tell me about your day first, Pippa Pattinson,’ said Henrik. ‘How is the new team that you’re overseeing?’ We sat down, hips and legs touching. The list in my front pocket rustled and with a grin he plucked the sheet of paper out of my apron. ‘I can’t believe you still have to consult recipes, after all the baking practice you’ve had. What’s on the menu today?’ He waved the list in the air, before turning away to unfold it.
With a squeal I draped my arms around his taut waist, jostling for the paper. My heart thumped. What if he read it? Did I really want to split up? Would he be upset or agree with me that things between us had changed? Either way, I wasn’t yet ready for a confrontation.
My knotted stomach unfurled as he chuckled and gave it back.
‘It’s, um, also a surprise,’ I said, cheeks burning as I stuffed the list back into my apron pocket and folded my arms.
His lips twitched into a smile. ‘Bet it won’t be as big as mine.’
Henrik had the knack for surprising people, as his mum found out last month. He arranged an amazing fiftieth birthday spa morning for Greta and her best friends, followed by afternoon tea at The Ritz. My arms loosened and out of habit, our fingers intertwined. In truth, his caring nature had been the biggest turn-on of all, although just occasionally I wished conscientious Henrik could be a little less perfect and forget someone’s birthday. Again, urgh! Talk about ungrateful. The prospect of a proposal from such an impeccable lover should make me super-happy.
‘Today was okay, thanks. Although the customer service supervisor is twice my age and probably considers me too young to be training for management.’ I shrugged. ‘But that’s not new territory for me. She seems hardworking…’ Plus had the cutest photo of a cat on her desk – must ask her about that.
‘And the vending machine?’ he asked, with a serious expression.
I smiled and gave the thumbs up, my heartbeat having returned to its normal pace. It was our little joke – whatever office we worked in or visited, we rated it by the supply of drinks. A rich mochaccino or creamy latte never failed to perk up a gruelling day.
Henrik tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear. ‘I’m so proud of you, Pips, you’re zooming through the bank’s trainee manager internship. It seems like only yesterday you graduated from university.’
My eyes tingled. More supportive than an under-wired bra, how could faultless Henrik not be the ideal man? Yet over the last few months, a slight sense of unease had crept over me, because of phone calls he’d leave the room to deal with… Then there were really late nights at the office and unexpected trips that totted up more air miles than ever… But then why would he bother cheating? He could just end the relationship. When I’d asked, Henrik said, in an excited voice, that the company was developing fast and it meant more man hours if he was going to get promotion.
I sighed. Okay. Really my suspicions were unfounded – Henrik hid nothing in life, including his One Direction CD and tub of anti-ageing cream. So onto the main reason that I’d recently felt he and I fitted together no better than a phone with the wrong charger… If you’d only ever had one proper relationship to talk of (um, life’s been busy,) how do you know if you’re really head-over-heels? Movies rave about love at first sight… Sex scenes on telly show couples tearing each other’s clothes off. Occasionally I still felt leg-trembly over my boyfriend’s movie star looks, but physical attraction aside, what remained?
Was Henrik my soulmate out of bed, or even in it?