Written by Angie Coleman
My thanks to Victoria Joss of Aria for inviting me to be a part of this Blog Tour
Gillian Bennett has always dreamed of opening a luxury hat shop, and when she finds the opportunity of a lifetime in the shape of a rent-free shop she thinks her dreams have come true.
Her parents are less than thrilled and she has two years to prove to them that this isn’t just a pipe dream, or she’ll be shipped back home and into an office job.
But she wasn’t counting on a distraction in the form of sexy but enigmatic Jared, a completely unreadable man that she soon finds herself falling for. Yet, Jared has a secret, and when she finds it out, it shakes Gil to her core.
With everything spiralling out of control around her, will Gil ever realise her dreams?
Tags: family saga
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1757 KB
- Print Length: 350 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1788548442
- Publisher: Aria
- Publication Date: 18 September 2018
- Purchase Links: Amazon UK
- Amazon US
- Google Play
“You were right, Gil, this place isn’t bad at all,” Father says, casting a glance over the room. He looks enthusiastic, and this makes me even more determined. We barely managed to pack everything we’d need to begin furbishing into the pick-up truck, including a ladder and the drum vacuum cleaner, on which I wouldn’t have been able to get my hands otherwise. No scaffolding, but that’s ok, because Father is going to take care of the ceiling in any case. There’s no way I’m climbing beyond a certain height. We unloaded the truck in a hurry so Father could take the time to assess the work to be done. I was a bit tense until he declared his unconditional support of my choice; now my breathing’s back to normal.
“Well? What do you think? Can I fix it all up in a month or so?”
“We’ll manage, we’ll manage,” he nods, continuing to study every corner of the room. “Tomorrow you can start sanding the walls, always begin from the top and the longer walls, you can do this one with the door and that one with the windows and the entrance over there last. Careful of the sockets and remember to give it a coat of sealer before you paint – you need to treat the wall before you whitewash it. Oh, and here are a few spots you’ll have to plaster over; use the plaster I gave you and wait for it to be completely dry before you go over it with sand paper,” he reminds me, as if I hadn’t done it with him the last time we painted the house. Luckily, he seems truly optimistic.
He carries on in this fashion for a while, with his thousand and one recommendations, until I notice that the owner is approaching us. “Here is Jane,” I catch my father’s attention.
He turns, caught by surprise, but as soon as his eyes meet the landlady’s he relaxes. “Good afternoon, Mrs Marlowe, I’m Wendell, Gillian’s father,” he hurriedly introduces himself, extending his hand.
“The pleasure is mine, Wendell, and please, call me Jane. You have an enterprising daughter, it’s a rare quality these days,” Jane’s smile brings out the myriad creases around her eyes and above her lips.
“I know, Jane, and she’s also very determined. Thank you for giving her this opportunity.”
“Don’t mention it’ this place needed fixing up, and I can’t wait to see it return to its ancient splendor. You’ll see, I’ll also find a way to make the work easier for her,” she reassures him, turning her gaze on me. She still seems to have little faith in my ability to cope with heavy labor.
“I’ll come on Sundays to help her, don’t worry. Mostly I would be grateful if you kept an eye on this young lady to make sure she doesn’t try anything too dangerous on her own.” A sneaky sideways glance tells me that he’s talking to me more than Jane.
“I’ll gladly keep an eye on her,” she says with a laugh. And with this we’re done, I’m afraid. Goodbye credibility, and it was a pleasure knowing you. Better change the subject.
“Are there any building rules I have to know about?” I ask, while my brain goes into practical mode.
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know, mandatory silent times, cleaning regulations, stuff like that.” I’ve always lived in a house, I have no idea what rules you have to respect in an apartment building.
“Oh, no dear, you can do whatever you want, as long as you don’t tear down the walls at two o’clock in the morning,” she makes fun of me, increasingly amused. “There aren’t many of us here and there are no building rules. The whole place used to belong to my family, then I was left alone and I couldn’t live here by myself, so I rented most of the apartments out and now there are five of us. All respectable people… sure, I don’t know much about the second floor tenant, he moved in about four months ago, but he shouldn’t cause any trouble, he’s barely ever around.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that since I rented the apartment out to him, I’ve never seen him set foot on the landing again, except for two or three times late at night. Aside from that, he seemed like a nice young man to me, he pays his rent regularly, and Ernest guaranteed he’s a good person – he’s seen more of him these last few months,” she explains, drumming a finger on her lips. She looks thoughtful, the fact must be odd here in the city, too.
“Maybe you should go and check that he’s still alive,” I joke, unable to stop myself, making Father glare at me. Ok, remember to think before you speak, Gil, think!
Jane laughs heartily, so much that tears glisten in the corners of her exceedingly pale eyes. She can’t stop. For a moment I ask myself if a fit of laughter could kill a woman her age, but before the thought catches hold, she regains her composure and passes two chubby fingers under her eyes.
“You’re really funny, Gillian, really funny!” she exclaims catching her breath. Obviously she didn’t consider the possibility that mine was not a joke. I begin to fear that there is a body not far above my head and that the killer is the man with the penetrating gaze and impeccable manners. At least it looks like Jane has a good sense of humor, tenant notwithstanding, which pleases me all the more because it seems to have surprised Father, too.
“Oh, dear, I would like to see some of your hats,” Jane confesses, returning all her attention to me.
“Of course, I’ll have my father bring a few next weekend. What do you think, Father?” I ask for his confirmation, since he’s the one who’ll have to do me this favor.
“Absolutely. You know, Jane, my girl even won a County Prize with one of her creations. She’s very talented,” he announces proudly.
“I had no doubt about it.” Jane’s smile is an unexpected bolster to my self-esteem. Now saying that I adore her is no longer sufficient.
Jane gave me the keys to the main door and the shop, so this morning I avoided ringing her. It’s 7 a.m. and I didn’t want to wake her. Luckily it occured to her, I hadn’t thought to ask.
Once I’ve let myself in, I take a deep breath and immediately sneeze – darn dust! There’s no denying it, no cleaning has been done in ages. The walls are flaking in several spots, I’ll have to use a fair amount of plaster, that’s for sure. At least it looks like the floor is intact under its layer of dust. I wonder how I’ll bring it back out after I’ve finished burying it in a layer of my own making. Before I begin sanding, I’d better win a first round against my enemy, and I have the perfect ally for the task. For the walls I’ll have to do almost everything by hand if I don’t want to fuse the sander, but luckily two of the four sides of this room are occupied by elegant windows that look out onto the street, though now, dirty as they are, you can’t see the urban traffic at all. I take the vacuum cleaner and connect the cord to the extension so I can reach the whole room, or nearly. I have no intention of remaining buried in dust, so the more I can remove every day, the better it will be in the end.
I quickly cover my hair with a kerchief and pull a mask over my mouth to protect myself from the dust. There’s no point overthinking this, it’s time to begin!
Meet the Author
Angie Coleman was born in 1987 in Lanciano, Italy. She graduated from Organization and Social Relations at the University of Chieti. Winner of the 2016 Ilmioesordio prize.