Authors: Tilly Tennant
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Humor & Satire, #Humorous, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Comedy, #General Humor
Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn © Tilly Tennant 2014
All rights reserved in all media. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical (including but not limited to: the internet, photocopying, recoding or by any information storage and retrieval system), without prior permission in writing from the author and/or publisher.
The moral right of Tilly Tennant as the author of the work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Thank you to the guys at Staffordshire University English and Creative Writing department, for showing me the way. To Louise Coquio, for the late-night chats and for never being too busy to read my awful first drafts. To Kath Hickton, for a lifetime of friendship. To Mel Sherratt, for her valued support and encouragement, and for persuading me to take the first steps into publishing. To the fabulous, hard-working and endlessly patient Peta Nightingale, who took a chance on a girl with silly stories. To Victoria, Jack, Dan, Jaimie, Lizzie, Jane, Holly, Shaz and all the other friends both online and in real life, who have wandered into my life and offered their support (not to mention the excellent banter). To my family, for putting up with everything I throw at them and more.
For my family. Please forgive all the burnt dinners and Sunday afternoons spent locked away from you. I hope you approve of the result.
‘A letter’s more personal, right?’ Bonnie stood in front of the mirror and scraped her hair back into a ponytail. ‘If I take the time to write an actual letter, he’ll see just what a nice person I am. Maybe he’ll decide to get his bodyguards or whatever to bring him round to say hello?’ Bonnie’s reflection offered no reply. She was right, though, because it was a stupid idea and even her reflection knew it. Holden Finn was no more going to visit her home than Bonnie was going to get a job with the FBI. She sighed and fastened her tabard, grimacing as a new grey in her fringe caught the light. At thirty-five she was already battling the silvers in her natural ash blonde hair, when her mum hadn’t had to colour until she was well into her fifties. Bonnie winced as she tugged the offending hair out. Her mind returned to her mission. So, a letter was not going to get Holden to notice her, but working quietly and anonymously in a greengrocer’s shop wasn’t going to either. She had already tried emailing his management company
the record company to no avail, had tracked his mum down on Facebook and sent her what she thought was a polite and perfectly reasonable request (which had got her blocked the next day) and had tweeted him whenever she had a spare moment (her stats showed fifteen followers but two thousand tweets).
Devoid of a better solution, Bonnie went to the drawer in the kitchen table to fetch the matching floral paper and envelopes she had bought the previous day.
Passing Paige’s open bedroom door, she noticed that her daughter had managed to turn the alarm off and go back to sleep. Paige hated going to her grandmother’s house for the day and had clearly ignored the alarm in a cunning attempt to make Bonnie so late that she would have to leave her at home. There was no way that was going to happen. Paige might have been fifteen but Bonnie still wasn’t comfortable with leaving her alone in the flat all day; she had, after all, been fifteen once too. And keeping this tiny flat and their meagre income meant Bonnie keeping her job at Applejack’s, and that was not going to happen if she couldn’t even turn in on time. Whether she liked it or not, Paige was going to have to get up.
Bonnie’s gaze travelled around the rest of the room with a deep sigh. The floor was littered with clothes – many of them obviously dirty – a plate full of toast crumbs peeped out from beneath the bed, a mug that Bonnie didn’t even dare look inside sat
on the bedside table. It was just another teenage bedroom – Bonnie recalled her own being more or less the same, the décor and the styles of clothing the only clue that they were generations apart.
Just as she was about to shake Paige again, her gaze was drawn to the poster above her daughter’s bed, the young, impossibly attractive man posing on it smiling down at her with a cheeky yet seductive look in his eye. What did it matter if Holden Finn was almost young enough to be her son? It wasn’t like she wanted to have sex with him or anything (although if he showed an interest, of course, she’d have to give it some serious consideration), she only wanted to meet him, to say hello and tell him how much she admired his music… and the hair that begged to have her hands run through it…. and the eyes that twinkled with barely-disguised sexual dynamism, perfectly controlled so that his teenage fans couldn’t yet identify what it was that stirred them to a frenzy at the mere mention of his name. Suddenly noticing that her mouth was hanging open, Bonnie shook herself.
‘Paige, get up.’
Paige rolled over. ‘I am up,’ she replied groggily.
‘Looks like it. You know we have to leave for your gran’s house in half an hour and you haven’t even showered yet.’
‘I can shower there. There’s nothing else to do.’
‘She said last week that she was going to get some DVDs for you.’
‘They’ll be crap.’
‘Maybe they will, but they wouldn’t have been if you had given her some sort of clue about what you wanted when she asked last week.’
‘Ugh.’ Paige pushed herself to sit. ‘It’s not my fault her voice turns into a boring noise after two seconds of speech.’
‘That’s my mother you’re talking about.’
‘Yeah, that’s where you get your boring voice from then.’
Bonnie’s eyebrows knit together. The urge to smack her daughter’s legs still rose from time to time, despite the fact that Paige was far too old. But then she took a deep breath and gathered all her dignity. ‘Well… it almost certainly means you’ll have a boring voice too!’ She turned to leave, giving the frozen poster-Holden one last longing glance. ‘If you’re not at the table in ten minutes you’re going without breakfast.’
‘Whooo big deal…’ Paige’s voice faded as Bonnie trudged through to the kitchen.
‘So, what time are you going to rescue me from Jeanie’s?’ Paige mumbled through a mouthful of cornflakes.
‘Just after six, the same as always. And don’t call her Jeanie. It’s grandma or gran, or nan or something similar to you.’
‘She likes Jeanie; she says gran makes her feel like an old lady.’
‘No she doesn’t, you decided that.’
Paige looked up and flashed a lopsided grin. Dark brown eyes, olive skin, thick black hair, cheeks just a little too plump for the thinness of her face but somehow it worked. It was at times like this when Bonnie realised just how much Paige looked like her dad and not really like Bonnie at all. Maybe she had Cartwright in the build – curvy but just on the right side of slim – but everything else was Henri’s. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind. Paige’s dad had left them and gone back to France and he was never coming back.
‘Nanas are supposed to be all sensible, anyway, like bake you cakes and stuff,’ Paige continued. ‘Jeanie doesn’t do any of that, so why would I call her nana?’
‘There is no rule that says nanas have to do anything. They’re still people with their own likes and interests.’
‘Well,’ Paige continued stubbornly, ‘I don’t know anyone else at school whose nan makes them mosh to Motorhead when they’re babysitting them. Or pulls out Ouija boards to contact dead rock stars.’
‘I bet all their grandparents have some unusual hobby or habit if you ask them. People aren’t always what they seem on the surface. Now eat your breakfast, eh? I’m late enough as it is.’
The autumn winds swirled leaves up the drive and around Bonnie’s feet as she hurried to Jeanie’s front door, dragging a reluctant Paige behind her. Bonnie rapped on the door with an impatient fist, stamping and huffing as she waited. Bonnie had always loved this house, and despite her annoyance at running late this morning, she couldn’t help a sweeping glance at the garden, noticing with affection the gnarled, stunted old
pear tree that she used to play under with her dad, and that, much to her dad’s annoyance, never seemed to bear more than the stingiest handful of pears. And there were the same old rose bushes where she had collected the delicate pink petals to make perfume for her mum. It never smelt like any perfume that Bonnie had ever sniffed while out shopping with her parents, but her mum had always taken the reused shampoo bottle full of water and mushed up petals (not to mention the odd unfortunate squashed bug) with a fond smile. Life had seemed so simple back then (apart from some of her mum’s odder hobbies) though Bonnie suspected, looking back, it was only her youth that had made it seem so. Then Henri had walked into her life one day – or rather, she had wandered into his while on a holiday to the Vendée as he backpacked across France – and it seemed that things had been complicated, in one way or another ever since.
‘Hey, Paige! How’s my favourite granddaughter?’ Jeanie opened the door with a broad smile, pushing a blonde dreadlock from her forehead.
‘I’m your only granddaughter,’ Paige said, pushing past her into the hallway before disappearing into the house.
Bonnie shrugged. ‘She’s a bit tired this morning.’
‘That’s because you let her stay up till all hours on chat rooms.’
‘Have you ever tried stopping Paige from doing something she wants to?’ Bonnie frowned.
‘You don’t show her enough authority; head in the clouds yourself all the time.’
‘What, like you did with me?’ Bonnie retorted, hands on her hips. ‘If authority means her hanging around at rock festivals while her mother flirts with band members then no, I don’t.’ She sighed. ‘I don’t have time for this, Mum, I’ll be late for work.’
‘What time will you be back?’ Jeanie called down the driveway after her.
Fred Black glanced up at the clock as Bonnie hurried through the doorway of Applejack’s, shrugging her coat off. ‘Just about, lass,’ he warned in a gruff voice. ‘One more minute and you’d have had a late mark.’
hat, am I at school or something?
‘Sorry Fred. I’ll be with you in two ticks, just hanging up my bag,’ Bonnie said, ignoring the impulse to say something much more insulting to her vertically-challenged, overweight boss.
‘Fridges need emptying before we open, you know, I’ve been waiting for you to get the cold stock out,’ Fred continued.
‘Couldn’t Linda have done it?’ Bonnie called from the cramped staff room at the back of the tiny shop.
Applejack’s was one of those little backstreet places that every town has; it seemed to have completely missed the arrival of the twenty-first century. They still closed at lunchtimes and had the same sun-bleached advertising posters hanging in the windows as they’d had when they first opened. Faux dark wood panelling lined the walls and the floor was tiled in scuffed and chipped terracotta. Somehow, though, the people of the small town of Millrise loved it and the shop still managed to thrive in the face of the out-of-town supermarkets that squeezed the town centre a little more every year. Nobody could quite say why the people of Millrise viewed Applejack’s with such affection; it was a dump in anyone’s honest opinion.
‘She’s out back fighting with some mutant cockroaches that arrived with a box of bananas this morning. Opened the blasted thing and there they were – scuttling like mad all over the place. The size of a baby’s head, some of them,’ Fred huffed as he came through to the back room and stood in the doorway.
Bonnie glanced at him. It was on the tip of her tongue to ask why he couldn’t get the fridge stock out while he was waiting for her to arrive, but she thought better of it. ‘Ok,’ she said. ‘I’ll do that first, then I’ll go and see if Linda needs a helping machete to take out those cockroaches.’
As she lugged out trays of peaches and crates of grapes, Bonnie’s mind wandered to the letter she was going to write as soon as she had five spare minutes at break time.
You don’t know me, of course, but I just wanted to let you know what a huge fan of yours I am. It would make me so happy to meet you…
No, too formal and not eye catching enough.