Blurb; When Jess Rigby lost her dad, the family coped in different ways, alone in their grief. Now, her mum seems to be going off the rails and her sister, Isla, who moved to France, is now back and determined to get the old family home on the market. But the last thing Jess wants this Christmas is for renovations to start on the house. It’s sure to stir up old memories she’s desperate to forget. And to make things worse, Isla seems to have hired the most obnoxious builder in the world to do the work. Jess could ignore the fact that women seem to be putty in his hands. But what she finds harder to ignore is the frisson she gets every time she squeezes past him in the mess that is now their beloved family home! Soon, the house begins to give up its secrets, some of them shocking. Can the family finally start talking and find a way to move on from the past this Christmas?
My mind is whirling like a big wheel at the fair, thanks to my sister turning up without warning, and I’ve got an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s not like her to get drunk. Certainly not in the afternoon.Isla lives for her work and her fitness these days. (According to her posts on Facebook.) She takes selfies all the time, looking slim and perfectly groomed in running gear,setting off on her early morning jog around the streets of Paris (I like her pink lycra two-piecewith the cute cropped top best). Blonde hair in a cute ponytail, she’ll smile and glug down bottled water as she takes the pic, and add some cute comment underneath. Fourteen-hour work day ahead? No problem!
I feel exhausted just looking at her posts sometimes.The last time Mum and I saw Isla was last Christmas when she came back for a flyingvisit. She spent most of the thirty-six hours on her mobile phone, talking business, and we’ve had two phone conversations since then. Both times I called her and both times our conversations were cut short because she had a sudden emergency to deal with. Each time, she promised to call back after she’d handled the problem, and each time, she ‘forgot’.Why is she here now?I can’t imagine it’s because she’s missed us and fancied a heart-warming autumn reunion.
I make for the hotel’s revolving door, leading out onto the high street, recalling the time I got stuck in one when I was about eight. I froze, too scared to move, so I just kept going round and round in it until Dad rescued me. I’ve had a thing about revolving doors eversince.Someone has just gone out, so it’s still going round.I psyche myself up and go for it.
The trouble is, I’m so focused on judging my leap-in correctly, I fail to notice the figure moving swiftly from my left, a little ahead of me. He steps in and, unable to halt my momentum, I stumble in after him.‘Oops. Sorry.’ I stare up at my revolving door companion. It’s a tight squeeze in here, to say the least, and he’s a big man. Very tall and broad. His chest in the fitted denim shirt is inches from my nose and embarrassingly, we appear to be temporarily wedged, the door refusing to revolve at all.
‘This is cosy,’ he comments, his voice a deep rumble.‘Isn’t it?’ I’m staring at his lightly tanned neck which is at eye-level and breathing in his rather delicious man-scent. I laugh nervously. ‘I usually like to have dinner and a trip to the cinema first, before I get this up close and . . . um . . .’ Glancing up, I’m stunned by the startling blue of his eyes and I lose my train of thought completely. ‘Personal. Yes.’ He fills in the blank, with not even a hint of a smile at my stupid joke.
He reaches over my head and then somehow, we’re moving, shuffling round together until the door spits us out onto Lower Luckworth High Street. We exchange a look of bemusement and then he’s gone, leaping behind the wheel of awhite van parked outside the hotel. I watch him drive away, heat flooding my face.
I usually like to have dinner and a trip to the cinema first? God, how embarrassing. I wish it was possible to un-say things. The person who invents that app will be a billionaire. Thinking of his stern, unsmiling face, the words ‘ruggedly handsome’ pop into my head. Those dark shadows under his eyes made him look as though he hadn’t slept properly in weeks, though.
My heart is gambolling about like an untrained puppy told to sit. Probably the result of getting stuck in that damn revolving door. I feel all shook up, to quote Elvis.A few deep breaths then I’ll go back in to face my sister.