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Authors: Rowan Coleman

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The Accidental Family

BOOK: The Accidental Family
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“How long will you need to think? Do you think you will have finished thinking by Wednesday afternoon?”

Izzy asked.

“I don’t know,” Sophie said. “I’m not sure.”

“But you will come back? To live forever and be our …” Izzy started, then stalled.

“What sweetheart?” Sophie asked her.

“Be our sort of mummy,” Izzy finished, looking anxious, as if she’d just asked for something she knew she was not allowed.

Sophie pressed Izzy’s small body into hers and held her close. “I will always be there to look after you in every way that your mummy would have, I promise.”

Yes, but …if you don’t marry daddy, then there won’t be any rings and I won’t be able to say it, will I?”

“Say what, sweetheart?” Sophie asked.

“Say Mummy to you,” Izzy said, unable to look her in the eye.

Praise for
The Accidental Mother
by Rowan Coleman

“An exceptional and touching read about love and loss.”


Booklist

“A funny, touching story—and another unputdownable read.”


Company
magazine

“Fun, poignant.”


OK
magazine

Also by Rowan Coleman

Mommy By Mistake

Another Mother’s Life

The Accidental Mother

Rowan Coleman

The Accidental Family

Pocket Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2009 by Rowan Coleman
Originally published in Great Britain in 2009 by Arrow Books, a division of Random House

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

First Pocket Books trade paperback edition September 2009

POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or [email protected].

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.

Manufactured in the United States of America

10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Coleman, Rowan.

The accidental family / by Rowan Coleman.—1st Pocket Books trade pbk. ed.
         p.   cm.

1. Stepmothers—Fiction.   2. Country life—England—Fiction.   3. Cornwall (En gland : County)—Fiction.    4. Chick lit.    I. Title.

PR6103.04426A63     2009

823’.92—dc22                                                                             2009011114

ISBN 978-1-4391-5528-8

ISBN 978-1-4391-6505-8 (ebook)

The Accidental Family

A Bedtime Story

“Right …um, well—once upon a time, not that long ago, there lived an exceptionally beautiful princess who had long, golden hair and was a size ten as long as she stayed off white bread and cake.

“Princess Sophie lived in a very nice one-bedroom turret in an up-and-coming part of the kingdom, and she owned an extensive and extremely stylish collection of shoes and one cat named Artemis. Actually, she didn’t exactly own the cat; the cat just lived in the flat with her. More like a flatmate really, or a flatcat …
anyway,
Princess Sophie thought she was very happy because she had a very nice home, a lot of nice clothes and shoes, and a particularly nice white sofa that she and Artemis were very fond of, although they hardly ever sat on it at the same time because Artemis liked her space.

“The princess even had a very serious and important job that she was very, very good at. She was a career princess, one who knew
that events management wasn’t just planning a lot of big parties. In fact, Princess Sophie was very good at most things except being close to other people. She didn’t realize it at the time, but the princess was actually quite lonely.

“Then one day a very badly dressed fairy godmother came to visit her from the land of Social Services. She told the princess that a very sad thing had happened. The princess’s oldest and best friend, Lady Carrie, had died. And she had left behind two daughters who needed to be looked after. The fairy godmother reminded Princess Sophie that once, long ago, she had made a promise to Lady Carrie that if anything ever happened to her, Princess Sophie would look after her two little girls.

“Well, Princess Sophie didn’t exactly know what to think. She was very, very sad about losing her friend, but also she was scared. When she had made that promise, she never dreamed that one day she would have to keep it, and she wasn’t sure she knew how to look after two small girls—okay, one small girl and one big girl …fine, two big girls—because the only thing she had ever looked after before was herself and her cat. And she wasn’t sure that leaving out food and water constituted actual caring for a living creature.

“But when she thought about her lovely friend, Princess Sophie knew she couldn’t let them down. And so the two small—I mean big—girls came to stay. Their names were Bella and Izzy. Bella was an artist and pony expert who could fly as long as no one was looking, and Izzy was a true fairy, which was easy to see because she always dressed as a fairy even when she went to bed,
even
when she had a bath.

“At first Princess Sophie and Artemis weren’t sure at all about Bella and Izzy, especially when they turned her lovely white sofa into a green curry-scented one, ruined her makeup collection, and got stuck down the loo. Princess Sophie thought there was no way
she would be able to cope. But the two big girls needed a friend to look after them, and Princess Sophie was the only friend they had, so she stuck it out.

“And gradually, day by day, Princess Sophie got to like Izzy and Bella a bit more, and they got to like her a bit more too. And even though all three of them felt sad, they were all sort of glad they had each other.

“Then one day a handsome stranger called Prince Louis arrived at Princess Sophie’s door. He was Bella and Izzy’s daddy. He had been in a faraway land for three years, and as soon as he found out what had happened, he came back to look after his daughters. But no one had seen him in all that time and Princess Sophie didn’t know if he was a nice man or not. Pony expert Bella wasn’t sure if, after all that time, she still wanted him to be her daddy. Only fairy Izzy, who had never met her daddy before, decided to like him right away—and you know what they say: first impressions are always right. Apart from Princess Sophie’s first impression of Prince Louis, because she thought he was a tramp with mental-health issues.

“Ever so slowly the two big girls and Princess Sophie got to know Prince Louis. Izzy first, because she was the best at making friends, and then Bella and Princess Sophie, although Princess Sophie found Prince Louis quite irritating because he was so handsome and mysterious, and he made her heart beat faster whenever he was near her, which was highly inconvenient.

“One day it was time for Prince Louis to take Bella and Izzy back home to the Land of Mermaids, by the sea. Princess Sophie felt very, very sad, but she knew they had to go. She knew they’d be happy there, in the place Lady Carrie had loved best. And so she drove all of them there in her magic chariot, Phoebe the car.

“And when they got there Sophie realized something wonderful and scary too. She realized that she loved Bella and Izzy, that
she loved them with all her heart—and even more scarily she realized that she loved Prince Louis too.

“Well, Princess Sophie didn’t know what to do about that, because she wasn’t used to loving anyone apart from her cat, who she wasn’t at all sure loved her back. She didn’t know how to show or tell the people she loved how much she cared about them. She didn’t know if they would want her to love them. So when she saw how happy Prince Louis, Bella, and Izzy were, she decided to leave and go back to her turret, even though it broke her heart.

“Once she got back home, she felt sad every day. She felt sad even though she was crowned queen at her office and became the boss of everything, which was really only what she deserved because she was so very good at her job. At night she lay on her slightly green and smelly sofa missing the three people she loved.

“Then Princess Sophie’s friend Cal, who isn’t a fairy exactly but who does have magic fashion powers, told her that if she stayed in her turret pining away, she would never be happy. He told her she had to be brave, she had to go on a quest to the Land of Mermaids and find Prince Louis and Bella and Izzy and tell them she loved them, and that, come what may, she wanted to be near them.

“Princess Sophie wasn’t sure she could be that brave, but magic Cal told her to pull herself together and get going. And so she did.

“She traveled down to the Land of Mermaids, and when she got there she told Prince Louis and Bella and Izzy how very much she loved them, and the best thing—the happiest thing of all—was that they told her they loved her back.

“And Princess Sophie decided to stay in the Land of Mermaids forever and ever.

“The end.

“Or perhaps it’s just the beginning.”

Prologue

The room was dark except for the artificial orange glow cast by the fake coals of Louis’s 1970s electric fire.

Sophie stared into the dusty coals, her head on Louis’s chest, listening to the rhythmic beat of his heart. His fingers had been gently smoothing her hair away from her face for the last twenty minutes or so and neither of them had said a word to the other, principally because there had been far too much kissing for small talk.

“You’ve been here for six hours and eleven minutes,” Louis said quietly, almost to himself. “You’ve actually, physically, really been here, and not just in my imagination, for over six hours.”

“Have I?” Sophie lifted her head from his chest to look at him, finding two tiny golden reflections of the fire glinting in his dark eyes. The trouble was, whenever Sophie looked at Louis she wanted to kiss him, and so for the last twenty minutes she had tried not to look at him. She felt, particularly given the circumstances of her
arrival earlier that afternoon, that they should probably be doing less kissing and at least
some
talking about what was going to happen next now that she’d left her entire life in London to be with him and his daughters in Cornwall. Only kissing was so much nicer, and it didn’t involve her having to talk about all the things she was thinking and feeling, which was always a plus where Sophie was concerned.

Still, there was something unseemly about the fact that the last six hours and eleven minutes had been largely comprised of kissing, with a break for tea and putting Louis’s very overexcited daughters to bed. She was sure there should be more speeches, more declarations of intent. Sophie found herself worrying, wondering if Louis minded all the kissing, and then she wondered how she would ever go about asking him such a question. Perhaps it was better just to kiss him and think about the consequences later; after all, it was that kind of rationale that had brought her here in the first place.

Sophie Mills was being uncharacteristically impulsive.

Just as Sophie was caving in to her desire to kiss Louis, he spoke.

“I think six hours and eleven minutes is the longest time we have ever spent together, in one go,” Louis said. “Apart from that night when—”

“Do you think I’m crazy, Louis?” Sophie asked.

“You probably are a
bit
mad,” Louis said, smiling fondly in the artificial light. “I don’t know many women who’d give up their job, their
career,
their home, and their life in London to come and be with a single dad and his two unruly children in St. Ives, Cornwall.”

“I am mad!” Sophie sat bolt upright, feeling a chill rush along the parts of her body that were no longer welded to Louis’s. “You hardly even know me, and I’ve just landed on your doorstep telling you I’m here to stay! You must be horrified.”

Louis tapped one long finger on his thigh three times. “Yes, yes I am,” he said, nodding. “I’m totally horrified. Hence all this kissing, that’s me in turmoil, that is. Look—getting to know you is one of the most wonderful things I have ever done, and I feel as if you know me better than anyone else ever has. I don’t know what Bella and Izzy would have done these past few months if it hadn’t been for you. You were there for them when no one else was, and they need you in their lives. I think you need them too, and hopefully, you need me a bit too. At least for one thing.”

BOOK: The Accidental Family
11.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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