The unpredictable conseq.., p.1
The Unpredictable Consequences of Love, page 1
Copyright © 2014 Jill Mansell
The right of Jill Mansell to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
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.
First published in Great Britain as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2014
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 5599 0
Jacket illustration © Kat Heyes
Author photograph © Paul Burns
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
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Table of Contents
About the Book
About the Author
Acclaim for Jill Mansell’s Fabulous Bestsellers
About the Book
In the idyllic seaside town of St Carys in Cornwall, Sophie is working as a photographer and putting the past firmly behind her.
When Josh Strachan moves back to St Carys to run the family hotel, he can't understand why Sophie has zero interest in letting any man into her life. He also can’t understand how he’s been duped into employing Sophie’s impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited.
St Carys has more than its fair share of characters, including the charming but utterly feckless surfer Riley Bryant, who has a massive crush on Tula. Riley’s aunt is superstar author Marguerite Marshall. And Marguerite has designs on Josh’s grandfather … who in turn still adores his glamorous ex-wife, Dot …
Just how many secrets can one seaside town hold?
Love has the ability to change people, sometimes for ever. And the consequences are impossible to predict.
About the Author
Jill Mansell lives with her family in Bristol. She used to work in the field of Clinical Neurophysiology but now writes full time. She watches far too much TV and would love to be one of those super-sporty types but basically can’t be bothered. Nor can she cook – having once attempted to bake a cake for the hospital’s Christmas Fair, she was forced to watch while her co-workers played frisbee with it.
But she’s good at Twitter!
By Jill Mansell
The Unpredictable Consequences Of Love
Don’t Want To Miss A Thing
A Walk In The Park
To The Moon And Back
Take A Chance On Me
Rumour Has It
An Offer You Can’t Refuse
Thinking Of You
Making Your Mind Up
The One You Really Want
Falling For You
Nadia Knows Best
Staying At Daisy’s
Good At Games
Miranda’s Big Mistake
Head Over Heels
Acclaim for Jill Mansell’s Fabulous Bestsellers
‘Bursting with humour, brimming with intrigue and full of characters you’ll adore – we can’t think of a better literary remedy for the gloomy last days of winter’
‘A heart-warming read which deals with loss, love and change’
‘This is a warm, witty and romantic read that you won’t be able to put down’
‘Mansell’s fiction is a happy leap away from the troubles of today’
‘Slick, sexy, funny stories’
‘Fast, furious and fabulous fun. To read it is to devour it’
This book is dedicated to the following fantastic people:
Awen Mai Parry-Williams
Jake Christopher Wilmott
Seeing some of these names here may come as a surprise to their owners, who were secretly nominated by friends and family. Isn’t that just lovely? Thank you so much
to everyone for your generous donations to
Comic Relief – you’re all absolute stars!
In the high-ceilinged drawing room of the Mariscombe House Hotel, Sophie Wells was putting the finishing touches to the setting for the photo shoot.
The original plan, to photograph the Ropers outside and en famille in a Marks and Spenceresque summer meadow, had been scuppered by the abysmal weather. The rain had been hammering down all morning and there was no way of postponing the event, as two members of the family were flying back to Australia tomorrow.
But Emma Roper knew exactly what she wanted. On the phone earlier she’d
Some clients liked to have the style and setting of their photo shoot suggested to them, while others preferred to make the directional decisions themselves. In Emma Roper’s case it was evidently the latter scenario, and Sophie was happy to go along with it. Accordingly, she’d brought with her the lighting system, the white muslin backdrop on stands, and more swathes of muslin for the floor. If Boden-style was what Emma had set her heart on, Boden-style she would have.
She stepped back to survey the end result and adjust the lighting as Dot Strachan popped her elegant head around the door.
‘Oh I say, I need my sunglasses in here!’ Blinking at the brightness of the scene, she went on cheerily, ‘Just wondered if you’d like a coffee, darling?’
Sophie wanted to be like Dot Strachan when she grew up. At seventy-two, Dot was effortlessly stylish, with killer cheekbones and light blue eyes that sparkled, offsetting her perma-tanned complexion and swept-back white-blond hair. Of course she had wrinkles, but they were the good kind that came of smiling so much and living well. She worked tirelessly, made running a hotel look easy and had never worn anything frumpy in her life.
‘Thanks, but I’d better not.’ Sophie pulled a face and indicated the expanse of pristine whiteness. ‘Knowing my luck, I’d manage to spill it. Anyway, I’m fine. The Ropers’ll be here any minute and we’ll be out by four. Thanks again for letting us use the room at short notice.’
‘No problem. Any time, I told you before. When they turn up,’ said Dot, ‘I’ll tell Rose to send them through.’
When you’d grown accustomed to the surfing beaches of California, a grey rainswept afternoon on the north coast of Cornwall didn’t quite measure up. Weather-wise, it wasn’t what you’d call balmy. Josh Strachan had spent childhood summers here in St Carys, but today he was giving the icy waves a miss, leaving them to the diehard enthusiasts.
Like Griff, his grandmother’s long-haired terrier cross, currently barking his head off and launching himself into the shallow surf as it rolled up the beach. Josh shook his head, marvelling at Griff’s boundless enthusiasm for taking on the waves. OK, enough, the torrential rain was coming down even harder now; time to head back. He stuck his fingers in his mouth and let out a piercing whistle to attract the dog’s attention.
Griff determinedly ignored him, like a five-year-old in a playground desperate for one more go on the slide.
Well, he’d only been back in the UK for a week. They were just getting to know each other. Cupping his hands around his mouth, Josh called out with authority, ‘Griff. Here, NOW.’ Bloody delinquent animal, he was doing it on purpose. And to think he’d believed Dot when she’d told him the outrageous lie that the dog was well trained.
Josh made his way down to the water’s edge, kicked off his deck shoes and at the third attempt managed to grab hold of Griff, snapping the lead on to his collar and hauling him up on to the sand. The tail end of a wave caught them, soaking into the leg of his jeans. He gave the dog a stern-as-possible glare, and Griff returned it with a naughty, unrepentant tail-wag. God, the sea was freezing.
As they made their way back across Mariscombe beach before heading up the steps carved into the cliff that gave the hotel its unparalleled view of the ocean, Josh conjured up mental images of the Californian ones he’d left behind. Santa Monica … Laguna … Huntington … amazing stretches of sand, world-class waves, year-round perfect weather …
But it hadn’t been the UK, had it? It hadn’t been home. And most of the time he’d been too busy working with people he didn’t even like to take advantage of the surfing opportunities. Which was why he’d taken the executive decision to walk away, leave that artificial, stress-filled world behind him and aim instead for a better quality of life in the company of people he might actually enjoy spending time with.
That was the plan, anyway. After the Go Destry debacle, he never wanted to see another spoilt, whiny American teenager in his life.
‘Right, now you rest your chin on your left hand, and you lean back a bit, and you two tilt your heads up so you can both see your mum …’ Honestly, arranging five children and an adult could be as complicated as conducting an orchestra. ‘And you rest your hands on their shoulders … that’s it, that’s great, now all look at each other and say, “Wow, you’re gorgeous!”’
The brothers and sisters yelled it to each other then burst out laughing, and Sophie snapped away, firing off fifteen or twenty shots. ‘Brilliant, keep going, say it again to someone else, perfect …’
Amid the giggles and laughter and renewed shouts of ‘Wow, you’re gorgeous,’ the scrabbling noise on the other side of the door went unnoticed. Next moment the handle was pushed down, the door burst open and a wildly overexcited Griff launched himself like a hairy torpedo at the immaculate Boden group.
A hairy, wet, mud-strewn torpedo at that.
‘AAARRGH.’ The teenage girls shrieked and attempted to push the dog away as he scrambled over the boys, tail wagging furiously and paws leaving muddy prints over … well, everything.
‘No! Griff, down,’ Sophie shouted with predictable lack of effect. Emma was aghast, the boys had creased up laughing and the white backdrop was now spattered with dark spots where the dog had energetically attempted to shake off some of the mud.
‘My dress,’ Emma wailed. ‘My beautiful white dress!’
‘Naughty boy.’ Putting down her Nikon, Sophie managed to catch Griff and scoop him up into her arms. Although it hadn’t been his fault. Shaking her head apologetically at Emma, she said, ‘I’ll be back in a minute.’
Outside the living room she saw at once what had happened. At the far end of the hallway, by the entrance, a tall figure stood with his back to her. His dark hair was slicked back and wet from the rain, he was wearing a sodden grey and white shirt and jeans and talking rapidly into the phone he was holding in his right hand. From his left dangled a thin leather lead with no dog on the end of it.
As Sophie made her approach, she heard him say, ‘… OK, no problem, I’ll get that sorted. Bye.’ Then he hung up and slid the phone into the back pocket of his jeans.
She tapped him on the shoulder. ‘Excuse me, I think you’ve lost something.’
He turned, eyebrows raised in enquiry, and saw who she was holding against her chest.
‘Oh, right. Thanks.’
Honestly, talk about unbothered.
‘You can’t just let Griff off the lead, you know, and leave him to cause havoc.’
‘I didn’t.’ Clearly taken aback at her tone, he said, ‘I put him in his basket in the back office.’
‘He’s all wet and muddy!’
‘I was about to fetch a towel to dry him off when my phone rang. It was an urgent call.’
‘Come with me. Let me show you what he’s done.’
‘Oh God.’ The eyebrows flattened out and he exhaled, following her across the hallway. When they reached the closed door to the drawing room he said defensively, ‘Hang on, you can’t blame me for whatever’s in here. I did check the doors on my way through. They were all shut.’
Sophie knew who he was; of course she did. They might not have met before, but it was no secret that Josh Strachan had just moved back to St Carys and into the hotel he’d bought along with his grandmother three years ago.
Goodness, though, he was attractive. It was actually quite fascinating to discover you could be this mad with someone yet simultaneously so hyper-aware of their looks.
‘And are you going to tell me Dot didn’t warn you about his party trick?’ As she said it, she put Griff down and lightly touched the brass door handle. Like lightning, Griff sprang up and grabbed the end of the handle in his teeth, swinging in mid-ai
She saw Josh Strachan mouth the words Oh shit as he took in the scene of devastation. To his credit, he held up his hands at once and said to the assembled group, ‘I’m really sorry, it’s my fault, I didn’t know he could open doors.’
Most of the assembled group ignored him; they were all far too busy shrieking with laughter and taking photos of each other on their mobile phones. Only Emma, their mother, fixed Josh with a baleful eye and said, ‘It’s all ruined. Our beautiful photo shoot …’
‘I know and I’m sorry, but can we rebook it for another day? I’ll pay for everything, obviously …’
‘The twins are leaving for Australia tomorrow morning. So no, we can’t. But thanks for wrecking something so important.’ Emma’s voice had begun to wobble; her eyes filling with tears, she said in a brittle voice, ‘I can’t believe this is happening …’
‘OK, let me sort this out.’ Sophie dumped Griff in Josh’s arms. ‘Here you are, take him away and get him dried off. Give us five minutes, then bring him back in.’
‘Back?’ Josh looked at her as if she’d gone mad.
‘Why would you want that creature back in here after he’s done this?’ Emma’s voice was shrill.
‘Just do it.’ Sophie signalled to Josh to leave the room with Griff. Then she turned her attention to Emma. ‘It’s OK, please don’t cry.’
‘B-but everything’s ruined.’
‘Listen, of course you’re upset. But isn’t part of all this because your boys are off to Australia tomorrow?’
Emma took a deep shuddery breath and carefully dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. She nodded and said, ‘Of course it is. I can’t bear it. They’re only eighteen … they’re my babies … how am I going to cope without them?’
‘I know, but it’ll be an adventure.’
The older woman’s shoulders sagged. ‘An adventure for them, maybe. Non-stop anxiety for me. I kept thinking they’d change their minds and stay at home.’ Her voice began to wobble again. ‘But it hasn’t h-happened. And goodness knows how they’re going to cope … If I don’t leave clean socks out for them every morning, they just put on yesterday’s dirty old ones!’
by Jill Mansell have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes