Written by Fay Keenan
My thanks to Melanie Price at Aria Fiction for including me in this Blog Tour
Matthew extended a hand and shook Caroline’s outstretched one. ‘It’s lovely to meet you at last. Anna’s told me so much about you.’
‘Not too much, I hope!’
Matthew laughed and the two women joined in. ‘It’s great that you could make it. We’re both so happy you could come.’ Then, turning his gaze back to his wife fleetingly, ‘Anna said you’d booked into the Rose Cottage B&B in the village. You’re more than welcome to come and stay with us if you’d like.’
Caroline smiled. ‘Thanks, but I thought I’d save you the hassle of a houseguest during your own wedding. And Rose Cottage comes highly recommended.’
‘They’ve had five stars on Trip Advisor since they opened,’ Anna said. ‘But you are coming to dinner tomorrow night, aren’t you?’
‘Definitely,’ Caroline replied. ‘Wouldn’t miss it.’ Looking at the two of them, and her own niece, so happy in this new life, Caroline felt another wave of grief washing over her. Cursing what she knew to be the brightness in her eyes, she searched over Anna’s shoulder for where the drinks were being served. ‘I’d better go and get a glass of this famous sparkling cider!’ she said. Somehow, she knew Anna understood. Just as she was about to turn away, however, Matthew called out.
‘Jonno, come and join us for a moment,’ he said, beckoning to his younger brother.
Jonathan Carter paused on his way to the makeshift bar and took a detour in his brother’s direction. As he drew closer, he smiled at his brother and their guest. ‘Hi. I’m Jonathan,’ he said, extending his hand to Caroline. Caroline immediately noticed the tidy, square cut nails, the long, elegant fingers. ‘It’s lovely to meet you.’
‘Caroline Hemingway,’ Caroline replied. ‘It’s nice to meet you, too.’
‘You’re Anna’s sister-in-law, right?’ Jonathan smiled. ‘Ellie’s aunt?’
‘That’s right.’ Caroline took a moment to study the man in front of her. He was broad shouldered, although not as broad as her sister-in-law’s new husband, and up close, Jonathan looked like the watercolour version of Matthew’s oil painting. His features were similar, but softer, lighter somehow, as if more prone to laughter than his volcanic older brother. Caroline liked the look. The grey suit perfectly offset his colouring, which was itself enhanced by a light suntan. Unguardedly, Caroline wondered how far down the tan went below his clothes.
‘It’s lovely that you could be here,’ Jonathan said softly. He glanced at his brother and new wife. ‘It can’t be easy. Can I get you a drink?’
‘I was just on my way to the bar myself,’ Caroline replied, suddenly very much in need of an escape from Anna and Matthew’s almost incandescent love. ‘Why don’t I join you?’
Jonathan smiled. ‘Sounds good. I can point you in the direction of the better variety of sparkling cider that we’ve got on offer.’ Gesturing in the direction of the bar, he bore Caroline off.
As they walked away, conversation sparked between them. Anna watched them speculatively. Matthew gave his new wife a glance.
‘What are you smiling at?’ he asked.
Anna smiled back. ‘Oh, nothing.’ She slid a hand into Matthew’s, which was still nestled into her waist. ‘You know me; I like to see what happens when people meet new people.’
‘If I didn’t know you better…’ Matthew shook his head. ‘I don’t think Jonno needs any help meeting new people, if the tales Dad keeps telling me about overnight guests at the cottage are anything to go by.’
Anna laughed. ‘He’s still up to his old tricks, is he? And Jack doesn’t mind?’
‘Are you joking? He’s quite partial to a pretty girl, as you know. He might not feel the need to go out on the tiles himself these days, but I think living vicariously through Jonathan has certainly perked him up lately!’
‘You almost sound like you approve,’ Anna wrinkled her brow. ‘You’re not jealous, are you?’
Matthew ducked his head and gave his wife a lingering kiss. ‘What could I possibly have to be jealous of, when I’ve got you in my life?’ he said softly. He followed Anna’s gaze to where Caroline and Jonathan were standing. ‘Although if there’s a chance of making Jonathan as happy as you’ve made me… I’m all for it.’
My review of Springtime at the Cider Kitchen is available HERE
About the Author
Fay Keenan was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before finally settling in the West Country. When Fay is not chasing her children around or writing, she teaches English at a local secondary school. She lives with her husband, two daughters, a cat, two chickens and a Weimaraner called Bertie in a village in Somerset, which may or may not have provided the inspiration for Little Somerby.
Fay’s debut novel is ‘The Second Chance Tea Shop’ is the first in the Little Somerby series, and her second novel ‘Springtime at the Cider Kitchen’ is released on 1st January on all major digital platforms.