Thirty-four-year-old Kitty Bennett is trapped in a loveless marriage to criminal barrister, Dan, who’s gradually isolated her from her family and friends. Until the day she (literally) bumps into her first love, the handsome and easy-going Ollie Cartwright – someone she’s done her best to avoid for as long as she can remember. Looking into Ollie’s eyes awakens feelings for him she thought she’d buried deep years ago, and he clearly feels the spark, too. As she walks away, Kitty can’t help but wonder what might have been…
Dan senses that his marriage is on shaky ground and knows he needs to win his wife round. He turns on the charm, skilfully using their two children, Lucas and Lily, as bargaining tools. But Kitty’s older brother, Jimby, and her childhood best-friends, Molly and Violet, have decided enough is enough. For years they’ve had to watch from afar as Kitty’s been browbeaten into an unrecognisable version of herself. They vow to make her see Dan for what he really is, but their attempts are no match for his finely-honed courtroom skills and, against her better judgement, Kitty agrees to give her husband one last chance. But, all-too-soon, a series of heart-breaking events and a shocking secret throw her life into turmoil…
Will she stand by Dan, or will Kitty be brave enough to take the leap and follow her heart to Ollie?
Life is anything but peaceful in the chocolate-box pretty village of Lytell Stangdale, where life unravels, and hearts are broken. Full of heart-warming moments, this book with have you crying tears of joy, laughter and sadness.
Kitty had been expecting it, but its arrival that sunny spring morning still sent a flurry of butterflies racing around her stomach.
She reached down and picked up the envelope; it felt cool and crisp and stiff with formality. Her eyes hovered over the neatly typed rows showing her name and address, the tell-tale frank in the corner. She drew a deep breath as anxiety — that unwelcome old acquaintance — inched its way up inside her.
She swallowed, reminding herself that this was what she wanted. What she needed to silence the niggle in her conscience. But that did little to stop the fresh bunch of worries that jangled away.
As she made her way into the kitchen, Kitty relaxed her shoulders — suddenly aware that they were hunched up around her ears — puffed out her cheeks and slowly released her breath as if exhaling any lingering dregs of negativity. She placed the envelope on the scrubbed pine table; she wasn’t ready to open it just yet. She’d have a cup of tea first; calm herself down.
She filled the kettle and set it on the Aga hotplate, then headed over to the mullioned window, pushing it half open. She was relieved to see it had stopped raining, and the tumultuous grey clouds that had hung heavily over the thatched rooftops had been pushed back to reveal a bright expanse of crisp, blue sky. White wisps of cloud now hurried across it, whipped along on a light breeze that made the air smell deliciously fresh. She shivered as the cool air sneaked in, giving the curtains a gentle shake before slipping onto the window sill, brushing over the smiling faces of the daffodils in their squat Spode jug, and mingling with the warmth of the kitchen.
Kitty’s nose tingled as she breathed in the year’s first earthy scent of spring, laced with the whiff of wood-smoke from the chimneys of the cottages in the moorland village of Lytell Stangdale. She smiled as a wave of sunshine came pouring into the room, molten and golden, splashing up the uneven lime-washed walls and casting muted, lacey shadows across the age-worn flagstone floor. After a bitingly cold winter — even by North Yorkshire’s standards — spring was at last showing its face.
She lifted the kettle off the hotplate, silencing its shrill whistle. Boy, was she ready for a cuppa.
Cradling her mug in her hands, Kitty headed back to the Aga. Leaning against it, she took a sip of tea, sighing as it delivered a wave of warmth across her chest. The school run had been surprisingly chilly — raw, her mum would have called it — and it felt like the cold had crept right into her bones.
The letter loitered in her peripheral vision, setting off a ripple of nerves in her stomach as she contemplated the recent changes in her life. To say the last six months had been eventful would be an understatement. And, not for the first time, she wondered what her parents would have made of things. God, it still hurt how much she missed them, especially her mum. A shadow of sadness crossed her face as painful memories loomed. She took another gulp of tea and briskly flicked the thoughts away. Yes, the numb, slightly dazed feeling she’d had for months was still there, still had a grip on her, but its fingers were, very slowly, being loosened by the stronger fingers of hope. There was light, she told herself, at the end of the tunnel.
The sweet song of a blackbird pulled Kitty back to the window. The leaded casement objected with a groan as she pushed it wide open, before offering up her drawn, pale face to the sun’s rays. She took a deep breath of the crisp breeze as it washed over her, shivering as it tingled its way into her soul.
Spring, a time for fresh starts and renewal. How appropriate, she thought, that the letter should arrive today.
The sense that she wasn’t alone drew her back into the room. Her heart pumping faster, she set her mug down on the granite worktop, rubbing her arms that were suddenly peppered with goose-bumps. She was the only one in the house; the kids were at school, Ethel, her loyal black Labrador, was sniffing around the garden and Dan, well…
Nibbling at a hang-nail, she glanced around her, relieved to see that everything seemed as normal, but as she headed towards the door something caught her eye. She looked carefully, squinting, as a small white feather weightlessly zig-zagged its way down from the ceiling, landing silently on the letter.
Kitty stopped worrying her nail as the faint smell of honeysuckle wrapped itself around her. ‘Mum,’ she said softly, smiling as her eyes prickled and a tear escaped. She swept it away with her fingertips. It wasn’t the first time she’d experienced this; there’d been several occasions throughout the bumps and blips of the last six turbulent months. Always appearing at a significant moment, it comforted Kitty to believe that it was a sign from her mum. She’d read about such things, guardian angels sending messages to loved ones from the other side. She liked to think that her mum was watching over her, saying, ‘I’m here, looking out for you, my darling. Stay strong, and you’ll be fine.’
Taking a deep breath, she picked up the letter. ‘If ever there was a time to be strong it’s now, Mum,’ she whispered. She knew just how easy it would be for a tiny chink in her new-found resolve to grow into a gaping weak-spot. Or for her customary self-doubt to start nibbling holes in it, like a moth nibbling holes in a jumper. The proverbial corner had been turned and the black, miserable days of the last few years were forming an orderly queue, ready to be put firmly and resolutely behind her.
Or they would be if she’d let them.
Author Bio – I live in a village in the North Yorkshire Moors with my husband, two daughters and two black Labradors. When I’m not writing, I can usually be found with my nose in a book/glued to my Kindle, or in my garden. I also enjoy bracing walks in the countryside, rounded off with a visit to a teashop where I can indulge in another two of my favourite things: tea and cake.
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