Christmas WeddingsBy: Georgia Hill
Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Café, Book Three
It was weird coming back. Weird and cold.
Berecombe looked at once comfortingly familiar and slightly distorted, as if seen through a special-effects lens. Alf the Taxi dropped Millie off on the promenade outside the café, helped her with her rucksack and drove off with a cheery wave.
Feeling desolate, she looked around her. The sea was churning a dull grey in Lyme Bay and the sky was threateningly low and of a similar hue. In fact, Millie decided, everywhere was grey. The town had lost its bright bunting and bedding plants and was shuttered up for the winter. It was home, but it all looked smaller, inward-looking. After the vibrant noise and colour of Thailand, Berecombe, in the first week of November, was depressing.
She shivered violently. She was freezing and bone-weary. Heaving her rucksack onto her back, she made her way to the flat. All she wanted to do was to crawl under a duvet.
‘The wanderer returns!’ Tessa threw her arms around her friend and ushered her inside. ‘Come inside, pet, it’s brass monkeys out there.’
As usual, the Tizzard family home was in a state of chaos. Several very male-smelling pairs of trainers littered the hall and Millie had to navigate around an airer over which hung a pile of school uniform. She followed Tessa into the kitchen, which was an oasis of calm in comparison and smelled comfortingly of freshly made bread.
‘Cup of tea and then you can tell me all about it. Oh bab, it’s so good to have you back.’
Before Millie could answer there was a frantic scrabbling at the kitchen door. ‘Think there’s someone a bit desperate to see you,’ Tessa said, as she grinned and opened it. A barking woolly blur hurled itself onto Millie’s lap.
‘Trevor!’ Millie surrendered to his ecstatic welcome. ‘Oh, how much have I missed you.’
While dog and mistress became reacquainted, Tessa made tea and, once everything had calmed down, perched herself on a stool. She shoved a mug across. ‘First English cup of tea since you’ve been back?’
Millie nodded and reached over Trevor’s head to pick it up. After the first sip, she sighed in ecstasy. ‘Heaven!’
‘Digestive biccies there. Just don’t let Trev get hold of them. He’s a devil for them. Worse than the kids.’
Millie dunked half and crammed it into her mouth, ravenous. She gave Trevor a sneaky fragment while Tessa’s back was turned. ‘I still don’t understand why you ended up taking him,’ she said, with a full mouth. ‘Back in the summer Jed said he was happy to look after him until I got back. So, he and his brother are living at The Lord of the Manor now? What’s the deal with that?’
‘Alex has bought it. Taking a sabbatical or something from hedge-fund managing, or whatever he does in the city.’ Tessa made a face.
‘Blimey,’ Millie said, impressed. ‘How much money must he have? What are the plans for it?’
‘Don’t know, kiddo. He and Jed are living there while he decides what to do. Reckon it’ll be another swanky-wanky place with scraps of food and hot and cold running helipads.’
‘Plenty of room for a dog, though,’ Millie said thoughtfully. ‘Not that I’m not very grateful that you took Trevor in,’ she added hastily. She hid her nose in the dog’s fur and received rapturous licks in return. ‘I know he adores it here.’
‘The boys have loved having him. It was no bother. In fact, Trevor can stay and I’ll boot Roland out. Trev makes a lot less mess than my youngest.’
‘I hope you weren’t put out that Jed had him. It’s just that he offered and it all happened so quickly.’
‘We’ve loved having him, Millie.’ Tessa’s voice was firm.
‘So, why did Jed not keep him all autumn? Poor Trev, he must have been so confused,’ Millie said indignantly.
‘Think he’s working long hours. Didn’t want to leave the dog on his own.’
‘I suppose that makes sense. What’s this new job of Jed’s, then? You mentioned something when I rang but I was too knackered to take anything in.’
Tessa concentrated on drinking her tea. ‘Dunno. I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it when he sees you.’ She put the mug down. ‘Now come on, I don’t want to talk about Jed, I need to hear what you’ve been up to. It’s been a miserable, wet autumn in Berecombe and I need to hear about sunshine and hot men.’