AVAILABLE MAY 2ND 2017
International bestseller Jill Mansell weaves a heartwarming tale of love, family and friendship in her latest novel
- A brief encounter that could have become so much more…if only everything were different
- Step-sisters, bitter rivals in every area except one—by unbreakable pact neither will ever steal a man from the other
- A love triangle that starts out as a mess of secrets and mix-ups, and only gets worse from there
Friendship, family ties, crossed wires and self-discovery, second chances and first impressions
Welcome to Jill Mansell’s blustery seaside world. Once you step inside, you’ll never want to leave!
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Clemency wasn’t accustomed to setting her alarm for five thirty in the morning, but in fact, she was wide awake before it even went off. By six o’clock, showered and dressed in jeans and a gray sweater, she’d left home and headed over on foot to the address she’d given Sam last night. At this time of the morning the sun was nothing more than a bright white blur in a hazy white sky, and there was still a dense mist hovering over the sea. But the temperature was set to rise significantly.
Hers too, it seemed. As she neared the address, her palms grew damp. Always attractive.
He was there ahead of her, leaning against the side of his rental car as he waited for her, and on his own. The butterflies in Clemency’s stomach took flight like a swirling flock of birds.
“I didn’t know if Belle would be coming with you,” she said.
“At six fifteen in the morning?” He looked amused. “She decided to go for the extra hour in bed.”
“OK,” said Clemency. “Well, I wouldn’t have asked you to view this place if I didn’t think it was the perfect fit. Like I told you last night, the vendor’s desperate. She’s due to close next week and the buyers have pulled out. The whole chain’s on the verge of collapse.” She shrugged. “You’re a cash buyer. It’s a stunning property. It was more than you were looking to spend, but Cissy’s prepared to accept an offer. Honestly? If I could choose any flat here in St. Carys, this is the one I’d go for.”
A flicker of a smile. “Is that your hard-sell sales pitch?”
“I don’t do hard sells. When you view the place for yourself, you’ll see what I mean.”
“Why did the buyers pull out?”
“The wife just discovered her husband’s been having an affair. So instead of them moving down here from Nottingham, she’s filing for divorce.” Clemency held up the keys to the property. “Want to take a look?”
Sam nodded. “That’s why we’re here.”
But it wasn’t the only reason they were here. He knew that as well as she did. There was an elephant in the room, and Clemency wasn’t going to be the one to mention it.
Instead, with a brisk professional nod of her own, she said, “Let’s go.”
The apartment was empty. Cissy was currently in Edinburgh and most of the furniture was already in storage, waiting to be moved into her new house.
It didn’t take long to view the open-plan kitchen, the two bedrooms, the bathrooms. and the spectacular living room. As they stood outside on the wide wraparound balcony and surveyed the view over Beachcomber Bay, the sun finally broke through the early morning haze. The sea was visible now, glittering and palest turquoise. A lone jogger was running along the pristine, just-washed sand with a dog at his heels. Seagulls wheeled lazily overhead, no doubt keeping an eye on the fishing boats chugging into the harbor.
And now the sun was growing stronger, brighter, warming their faces. Sam said, “Did you arrange for this to happen?”
“You mean for the chain to collapse and the sale of this place to fall through? Yes, of course I did. Just call me Machiavelli.”
He looked at her. “Actually, I was talking about the sun coming out.”
“Oh.” Her stomach tightened. “Well, that too. Obviously.”
“What’s the verdict then?”
“It is perfect. Exactly what I wanted. But you already knew that.” Sam paused. “What are the neighbors like?”
“Scottish. Very fond of bagpipes.” Clemency smiled. “Don’t worry. It’s a retired couple below, very charming and very quiet. And a middle-aged divorcée on the ground floor. No orgies. I already checked.”
“Shall we go back inside?”
Clemency allowed him to lead the way. When she’d locked the French windows, he said, “Are we going to talk about it?”
“About you buying this property? I do hope so.”
“I meant the other thing.”
“Oh. The other thing.” Her heart broke into a gallop. “We don’t have to. Really, it’s fine. It was…nothing.”
For a couple of seconds Sam didn’t say anything. The silence was broken only by the distant swoosh of waves breaking on to the beach and the cry of a lone seagull overhead.
When he spoke again, his gaze was unwavering and intense. “But it wasn’t nothing, was it?”
Clemency turned, walked through to the kitchen, and poured herself a tumbler of water from the tap. She drank half of it and seated herself on one of the high stools around the marble-topped central island. “It was three years ago. You passed the time by flirting with a stranger. When the flight was over, you remembered you were married and guessed your wife might not be too amused if she found the stranger’s card in your pocket. It’s actually a sign that you’re not a complete bastard,” she said lightly. “You resisted temptation. You should be proud.”
“I wasn’t proud.” Sam shook his head. “I should never have done it.”
“Well, you’re divorced now, so it’s irrelevant anyway. What happened?” asked Clemency. “Did you do it again and get caught?”
She’d said it in a lighthearted way so he’d know she wasn’t bitter, that she understood these things had a habit of happening, especially to men who walked around looking like he did.
There was, after all, only so much beauty a girl could resist.
“Actually,” said Sam, “she didn’t divorce me. She died.”