Read Liverpool Love Song Online
Authors: Anne Baker
Tags: #Sagas, #Family Life, #Fiction
|Liverpool Love Song|
|Tags:||Sagas, Family Life, Fiction|
The compelling new saga fromThe Sunday Times best selling author.
When Helen Redwood is tragically widowed, she and her daughter, Chloe, move to Liverpool to be closer to her family. But it is tending her beautiful garden with her handsome young gardener, Rex Kenwright, that ultimately saves Helen from grief. No stranger to bereavement himself, Rex finds comfort in Helen's company but it is seventeen-year-old Chloe who steals his heart.It is the swinging sixties, however, and Chloe has dreams of her own. When she announces that she is pregnant and moving in with her boyfriend, Adam Livingstone, she has no idea of the effect this will have on those she loves. Nor does she anticipate the rocky road to happiness that lies ahead...
Liverpool Love Song
Copyright © 2011 Anne Baker
The right of Anne Baker to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2011.
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
eISBN : 978 0 7553 7834 0
This Ebook produced by Jouve Digitalisation des Informations.
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette Livre UK Company
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Table of Contents
T WAS A SUNNY April afternoon, the warmest of the year so far, and it was Helen Redwood’s forty-third birthday. She sniffed contentedly at the scent of newly cut grass coming in through the open French window of her sitting room. She loved her garden, it had given her back her life.
She could hear her daughter Chloe clattering dishes in the kitchen. Chloe had said at breakfast, ‘I’m going to make you a birthday cake, and we’ll have a special tea in the garden.’ She’d spent half the day baking and decorating it.
Helen knew she had a lot to be thankful for. She’d clung too tightly to Chloe over the years, seeking comfort. She loved her daughter much more than her garden, yet while that had grown and thrived with her care, she’d not always been good for Chloe. But it seemed they’d both turned the corner now.
She went to the kitchen door and was pleased to hear Chloe humming softly to herself, sounding happy as she stacked the tea things on to two big trays.
‘Chloe! That isn’t the new blue dress you were telling me about?’
‘Yes.’ Her daughter turned to smile at her. ‘It’s the very latest style. D’you like it?’
‘Not a lot, it’s indecently short.’ It showed rather too much of Chloe’s long shapely legs and slim figure. ‘I wouldn’t call that a dress at all. It’s no more than a tunic.’
Helen knew she sounded as shocked as she felt. Chloe was still a few weeks off her seventeenth birthday and the dress made her look even younger. Chloe laughed. ‘I told you this style was all the rage. You should shorten your own skirts, Mum, and stay in fashion.’
‘At my age I couldn’t wear anything like that.’
‘Maybe not quite like this, but you’d look a lot younger if you wore more fashionable stuff. Why don’t you let me take you shopping?’
Helen tried to smile. ‘You know I stopped thinking about things like fashion when your father died.’
‘Yes, but that’s six years ago now and you agreed we’d both got over it.’
‘So we have,’ she said quickly. Any talk like this and she was afraid they’d both feel guilty.
‘Then why not a new outfit or two? It would do wonders for you. You aren’t old yet, Mum. This is the swinging sixties, everything’s changing now. If you wanted to, you could still be good-looking.’
Helen smiled. ‘That’s a bit of a back-handed compliment, isn’t it?’ She felt she didn’t deserve a daughter who tried so hard to help her.
She studied her daughter’s face. They shared a strong family likeness. Chloe had inherited Helen’s high cheekbones and straight nose, but her eyes were the colour of lavender and had come from John’s family. She was more beautiful than Helen had ever been.
Chloe had lustrous tawny-coloured hair that could hang in loose curls halfway down her back, though today she had it tied back with a blue ribbon. Tawny was as near as Helen could get to describing the colour, because there were so many different shades in it, from bright gold through copper to honey blonde and nut brown.
Her own hair had never been anything like that. It used to be plain brown but now it was showing a touch of grey. Helen had grown gauntly thin, while Chloe’s limbs were firm and rounded with the bloom of youth.
Helen stopped short. She mustn’t feel sorry for herself. Having another birthday had made her remember birthdays past with John. She’d been devastated when he’d been killed; shocked to the core at the suddenness of his end. She couldn’t bear to go on living in the house they’d shared; everything there reminded her of him and that terrible accident.
Chloe had been eleven and had just started secondary school. Until then, they’d lived in London. John had left them well provided for, but Helen had sold up and returned to her home town of Liverpool, where she’d bought number 8 Carberry Road, a small detached modern house in the suburb of Woolton. On the next-door gate was a plaque with the name The Farm, as well as the number 9. It was an old sandstone house, set sideways on to the road, and almost all its original land had been sold for building houses.
Because Helen had always had periods of depression, she’d had to learn how to lift her spirits. She’d found gardening soothing and enjoyable and realising there was a three-acre piece of land for sale at the bottom of her plot, she’d bought it to make a new and beautiful garden. It was to be the interest that would help her build a new life.
She’d gravitated towards the nearby large garden centre and seen displayed in their shop an advertisement offering garden landscaping and design. She had noted the telephone number and rung it as soon as she reached home.
She’d talked about what she wanted to a man who said his name was Rex Kenwright. He made an appointment to come round to see her and the pony paddock where for the last few years the ground had been grazed bare and stamped solid.
When he turned up, he’d looked surprisingly young; she’d expected an older man. He told her the garden centre had been started by his parents, and now his father and two younger brothers ran it. Most of the plants and equipment he used came from there, and he found most of his customers by advertising in the shop.
Helen thought him shy but very knowledgeable about gardening, and when he showed her the designs he’d drawn up for her three acres, she could see he had a creative streak. Together they’d discussed his plans round her kitchen table. Rex said the ground needed to be ploughed, rotavated and raked first, then gradually over those early years, the garden Helen had envisaged came into being.
In their first lonely months in Liverpool, she’d wanted to be out working with Rex. Together, they’d dug a pond, planted shrubs and flowers and made a rose arbour. Helen now had a truly magnificent garden and was very proud of it.
On the back of his family’s firm, Rex had built up a sizeable gardening business of his own, employing six men. Occasionally he sent one of them to cut the grass and clip the hedges in Helen’s garden, but mostly he came himself and spent time talking enthusiastically to her about new ideas and new plants.
‘Landscaping is what I most enjoy, and to date, you’ve given me my largest and most rewarding contract.’
Helen had grown fond of Rex over the years and admired his work. The garden had been her salvation, though she’d been unable to put that traumatic accident behind her and move on. Occasionally she still woke up feeling lonely, helpless and that everything was hopeless. Thankfully these episodes were becoming less frequent.
Chloe was taking a cake out of the larder. ‘I hope this is going to be all right.’
‘Darling, it will be.’
‘It hasn’t turned out too well. I hoped it would look better than this.’ She’d covered the top with thickly whipped cream. The silver disc in the centre, printed with the words
, was rapidly sinking into it.
‘It looks fine and I know it’ll taste good. You make a very good Victoria sponge.’
‘Let’s find out. I’ve set out the table and chairs. Can you carry one of the trays out while I make a pot of tea?’
Once outside, Helen couldn’t resist pausing to admire again the pair of standard rose trees in ornamental pots, her birthday gifts this year. Both were hybrid tea roses, one that would have deep scarlet blooms called ‘Red Devil’ from Chloe, and one called ‘Evening Star’ with white blooms from Rex.
It seemed that when Chloe had consulted him about the best rose tree to buy, he’d very generously decided to join with her and get a pair. Helen couldn’t wait to see them in flower.
As she crossed the lawn to put the tray down on the table, she could hear the drone of the lawnmower in a distant part of the garden. She went in search of Rex and soon caught sight of him working against the far boundary of trees that were just coming into leaf. She called his name but he didn’t hear her and she had to go closer.
Rex Kenwright was tall, over six feet, and wore comfortable jeans and a blue T-shirt. She knew now that he was thirty-one years old and that his youth gave him an advantage. He had plenty of energy and huge enthusiasm for her garden because it was the first time he’d started from scratch on rough land. Physical work had given him a well-honed body without an ounce of surplus flesh. Being outdoors in all weathers had made his skin a healthy bronze colour, which he kept throughout the year. At last he saw her, waved and switched off the mower.