Summer at Seafall Cottage

By: Lily Graham

A beautiful summer romance to warm your heart

For Rui

Part I

Present day, Cornwall

Chapter One

The past has a way of calling out. Memories are living things that whisper beneath the floors and run their fingers along walls. They wait and they hope that someday you’ll come and find them.

That day, the past called for me alright.

Though I almost didn’t hear it. That’s the part that makes me catch my breath, and makes me wonder how different things might have been. What if I’d never found Seafall Cottage?

Would I have just driven back that day? Picked up the broken pieces and tried somehow to put it all back together again? Tried to ignore the bits that I simply couldn’t?

It’s strange how sometimes the smallest thing can have the power to change everything. For me, a small bit of loose rock in my path was all it took to change my life. Though I didn’t realise it then. How could I? I was too busy walking. Too busy not seeing beyond the all-consuming anger and pain to notice anything, except very distantly, like a dull toothache. I was freezing cold in the dead of winter in rural Cornwall, still wearing the ugly, highlighter-pink cardigan my mother had given me for Christmas two weeks later, when my foot stumbled on the uneven earth. I straightened and looked up, and in that moment the old place with its half-forgotten secrets let down its guard – and that’s when I saw it.

Beyond the vast expanse of wild countryside, and the rocky outcrop that hugged the coastline, my eyes alighted on an unusual house, tucked high up into the cliffs, yet seemingly ready to fall into the hungry sea below.

I’m not sure if it was some unknowable pull from the place itself or simply curiosity that drove me forward, wanting to see it up close, but for the first time in days I wasn’t thinking about what had happened, why I’d run away to Cornwall, the failure of my marriage, about anything really, and perhaps that was enough to drive me forward, wanting to see more of the house I’d spied.

I set off, feet slipping up the steep path that time had forged into the rock face, the seagrass silver-green and rustling as I moved.

My mobile began to ring, and I switched it to silent. I didn’t need to check to know it was Mark, one of several calls he’d made since yesterday.

I swallowed, attempting to get the words Mark had hurled at me out of my brain, trying not to think about what had happened, but it was hopeless…

The door echoed shut as I hurried down the drive, loaded down with the mishmash of gym bags that I’d hastily crammed with clothes, not wanting to delay my exit from our house any further with something as meaningless as luggage.

A second bang followed and Mark hurtled down the drive after me, tearing a bag from my hands, the strap scraping my shoulder and causing me to wince in pain. His eyes were cold. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Victoria – you can’t leave.’

I shot him a look of disbelief as I ripped open the car door, flinging the rest of my stuff inside. It landed with a hollow thud against the passenger window.

‘I think you’ll find that I can do whatever the hell I want!’

‘Victoria – please,’ he said, grabbing my arm. ‘Let’s just talk about this.’

I wrenched myself out of his grip. ‘Maybe you should have thought about talking about things before you invited someone else into our bed?’

He ran a hand through his brown hair, and it stuck up wildly. ‘Jesus, I did try, that’s all we’ve done this past year – we haven’t stopped talking. It’s not like this is out of nowhere. And you’re acting as if you found her here or something – I wouldn’t have done that—’

‘Oh yes, you’re such a bloody gentleman, thank you so much for telling me instead of having me find you two together. What do you want – a gold star?’

‘For Christ’s sake!’ He wiped a hand over his face in anger. ‘Because you’re so fucking perfect? You haven’t been home in WEEKS. You’re never here! What the hell did you expect?’

‘What did I expect? Um, perhaps that you wouldn’t cheat on me just because I had to WORK!’ I screamed, my fists balled at my side.