Step across the cobblestones, pull back the curtains and peek behind the doors in the second instalment of The Hope Street Series. Catch up with old friends and fall in love with new ones in a story of friendship, second chances and new beginnings.
Livvy has no choice but to return to Hope Street, the childhood home she left over twenty years ago. Along with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Pip, she turns up on the doorstep, hoping for forgiveness from her sister.
Hannah thought she’d never see Livvy again. She’s overwhelmed with emotion but locks away her real feelings. How could Livvy stay away without any contact? And why has she come back now?
It isn’t long before the charm of the market town of Somerley begins to work its magic. Hannah is opening a book shop in the square, adjoining The Coffee Stop, and Livvy’s offer to help out brings the sisters closer together.
But when someone from Livvy’s past arrives unannounced too, he threatens everything she’s built up since her return. Can Livvy convince her sister, and her new friends, that her intentions to return were good ones? Or will her dreams of settling down and being happy again become nothing but a closed book?
Marcie Steele is the pen name of Mel Sherratt. For as long as she can remember, she’s been a meddler of words. Born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, she’s a romantic at heart and has always enjoyed writing about characters that fall in and out of love, have good friends to hang around with, and live in communities with great spirit.
She can often be found sitting in her favourite coffee shop, sipping a cappuccino and eating a chocolate chip cookie, either catching up with friends or writing on her laptop. Whether she writes crime or women’s fiction, she loves making up things for a living.
You can find more about Marcie Steele on Mel Sherratt’s website www.melsherratt.co.uk at Twitter: https://twitter.com/writermels and at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MelSherrattauthor/
One Month Ago
Livvy Perkins let out a dramatic sigh. Working at Pizza Palace wasn’t the jazziest of jobs, but it was a good fit for her circumstances. She’d worked there three nights a week between six and ten p.m. for the past six months, as well as working part-time during the day in a local café. It meant her daughter, Pip, nearly sixteen, wasn’t alone often, and not for too long. And if she did need her mum, Livvy was always on the end of the phone.
Livvy looked forward to, as well as dreaded, her last shift of the week. Fridays would always find the staff in the takeaway rushed off their feet, orders coming in rapidly and Roberto, the owner, expecting her to deliver everything on a Fast and Furious basis that she could never do to his satisfaction.
Pizza deliveries seemed to have become the new going out. Not that Livvy knew anything about that anymore. All her days, weeks, and months were rolling into one at the moment.
She pressed the handle down on the door and went inside, the smell of grease, garlic, and a hint of burning hitting her immediately. Pizza Palace was your typical takeaway, a few plastic tables and school-type chairs at the front and a high counter with a fridge showing drinks and salads to accompany the meal at the far end. A large board on the back wall listed everything they served, and the ovens to her right were already churning out a good heat alongside the first orders of the evening. Above everything, she could hear Roberto yelling.
‘They asked for two medium cheese and pepperoni and one large mushroom. Not the other way round. You need to listen more on the phone!’ He turned to Livvy, rolling his eyes as if to say, ‘I might as well do it myself.’
She couldn’t help but shake her head in jest. Honestly, if Roberto employed a manager rather than trying to do everything himself, and failing dismally, he wouldn’t look like a stress ball all the time. Now his arms flapped around, his dark hair was messy and there were sweat patches underneath both arms on his T-shirt.
‘Livvy,’ Roberto cried. ‘Come and sort this rabble out, will you?’
‘I’ll do my best once I’ve done a few deliveries.’ Livvy reached up for a pile of order slips. There were four, all within a mile of the shop. Quickly, she routed them out in her head. If she left now before Roberto collared her, she could be there and back within forty minutes.
A scooter was the best solution for the small and narrow streets of Manchester. Roberto provided them, but they were all old and decrepit.
The traffic was light as she made her way along the main road. Pizza Palace covered most of the area and had the monopoly on lots of other takeaways. Luckily for Roberto, his establishment had a reputation as one of the best.
Livvy parked outside the first address, knocked on the door, and only waited a few seconds for an answer. The next stop was a few streets away, and after pressing the doorbell twice, that too was delivered.
As she walked up the driveway of the third address, the door was opened by a woman in her thirties, heavily made-up, wearing heels and a black dress. Lucky her, Livvy sighed. She couldn’t even recall the last time she’d been anywhere that entailed dressing up so special.
‘Pizza delivery!’ Livvy put on her best sing-song voice.
‘That’s more than obvious,’ the woman snapped, almost snatching the box out of Livvy’s hand. She thrust a note at her and waited impatiently for change.
Livvy handed it to her, knowing it was useless making small talk.
She took it all and closed the door in Livvy’s face.
‘Thank you, and have a nice evening,’ Livvy replied, with the heaviest hint of sarcasm.
She was back on the scooter, helmet in hand, ready to head to the last stop when the woman came out of her house, screaming obscenities at her.
‘What is wrong with you people?’ She pushed the box at Livvy. ‘I ordered a plain cheese, but this has mushrooms.’
Livvy’s shoulders dropped. ‘I’m so sorry, let me check the other order to see if I’ve got them the wrong way round.’
‘I’m not giving my children anything that you’ve had your hands all over.’
‘I won’t have to touch it.’ Livvy couldn’t stop herself from answering back. ‘I just need—’
‘Save it.’ The woman put up a hand as if to dismiss her, then held it out. ‘Give me my money back. I’ll have to pop some chicken nuggets in the oven now, which means I’m going to be late. And it’s all your fault.’
‘Chicken nuggets. My favourite,’ Livvy enthused. But the woman wasn’t having any of it.
Her fingers curled greedily around the money Livvy gave back to her and then, turning on her pretty stiletto heels, she marched off.
Livvy could see from the state of the box that the pizza had been handled and shoved back in. Even if it was someone else’s order, it would have to be remade.
She tried to start the scooter up, but it wouldn’t kick in.
‘Useless thing,’ she protested, just as the woman from the house came out again and got into her car. She glared at Livvy as she reversed out and then was off in a screech.
Livvy looked at the woman’s house, her car, and had a guess at her lavish style. She reckoned she’d never had to work hard to make ends meet. And even then, she didn’t need to be that rude.
A tear rolled down her cheek, quickly followed by one on the other side of her face. She wiped at her eyes.
With resignation, she rang Roberto to tell him she wasn’t going to make order number four and the fate of order number three. Then she took a handlebar in each hand and began the mile-long walk back to the shop with the scooter.
Why was life so unfair? She was working two jobs but was in debt up to her ears, yet she grafted as hard as she could.
Bloody Kieran. This was all his fault.
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